Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#ONEWORD 2017: Going Practical!

Every new year, I like to set goals for myself, something for myself to work on throughout the year.  The last four years, I have gone big with one little word:  Reflect (2016), Persevere (2015), Resolution (2014), and Discover (2013).  Each of those one little words packed a real punch, and I had large goals that were associated with each one of them.  A couple of those years, I felt that I was successful.  In others, not so much.  As for the most recent one, reflection, I honestly could not even tell you what the goal was.  I forgot about it with all that occurred this last year, and I really lost sight of the big picture.  And, that is why I am changing things up this year.


In 2017, I have decided to go big with a smaller, more practical word:  WRITE!  I know that this sounds a bit crazy to just have the goal of writing for the year, but I believe this could really branch out and effect so many other aspects of my life.  Because . . .

When I write ... it's cathartic.  I am better able to process everything around me.  I am able to vent and heal.  It's a release for me in so many different ways, which in turn puts me in a better mental state for my family and my work.

When I write ... it's developing.  The more I write, the better writer I become. I have been writing in one form or another most of my life.  It started out as a hobby offline and turned into a hobby online where I met a ton of great like-minded friends.  From there, it even took me into the realm of freelance writing, and I now find myself attempting to write a novel.  I love growing in my writing, and because of it, growing as an individual.

When I write ... it's reflective.  Journaling has proven to set down memories in stone, sometimes memories that I thought were lost, or the past that would have been lost if not recorded.  I love those stories, the real stories of real people, whether it is my own or someone close to me.  I like to look back on those memories and feelings of the past, and I want to continue to do so in a more thorough way.

When I write ... it's fun.  I find that I have so many thoughts and images and what if's running through my head, and it allows me time to explore both realistic and fictional worlds.

For all of those reasons above, my goal for the year is to write as much as I can.  This may be every day during some weeks or 3-4 times in other weeks, but the point is to get back in the habit of writing on a regular basis.  The writing may consist of journaling, blogging, or any other form of writing, from getting back into the freelance world to writing a short story or two or working on my novel.  In addition, I hope to share that progress right here on the blog to check in on my progress because this year I need to hold myself more accountable.

As of today, I can tell you that I have been making writing a priority in this new year, and I have already been developing that habit.  Sometimes, my writing consists of 15 minutes here and there.  Other times, I get to sit down and write for longer.  I am starting small, and hope to build on my writing time every day until the end of the year.

WRITE.  It's seems simple and practical enough, but as I wrap up my thoughts on my one word goal for the year, I feel that it packs a punch just like all of my past year's words.  However, it also feels like something that I can more efficiently measure, and I hope is much more tangible by the end of the year.  And, I can't wait to see what that year will look like!

What are your goals for the year?  Do you choose one word to live by or do you do something different? 

Friday, January 13, 2017

BOOK CHAT: The Best of 2016


We are almost half-way through January, so it is time to get the rest of these annual year-end posts shared with all of you.  I still have one more that I want to get posted, so that will likely come early next week.  This is one of my favorites to share every year, but it is also one that takes some time to prepare because I have to go back and look at all the details of the books and the blog.  In the end, it is completely worth the fun to see the end result.  It's a little reminiscing about the best of the year, and it's a help to me in planning for the new year. With that, let's take a look, starting with the favorite blog posts from the year.

TOP TEN BLOG POSTS  

There are two different categories for the favorite blog posts:  the number of comments and the number of hits.  I decided not to break it down evenly this year, but in the end it still adds up to ten.  That's all that matters.  Each of these lists are ranked, starting with the highest comments/hits.

TOP COMMENTS
  1. #BBAW (Book Blogger Appreciation Week):  Books = Me
  2. #BBAW (Book Blogger Appreciation Week):  A Conversation Between Two Bloggers
  3. Spring 2016 Bloggiesta
  4. Announcing the #SchoolsOutRAT (School's Out Readathon)

TOP HITS
  1. Hinges of Broams Eld by Jennifer Cano
  2. Interview With Sara Dobie Bauer, Author of BITE SOMEBODY
  3. #30Authors Presents Sara Dobie Bauer on The Book Thief
  4. Announcing the #SchoolsOutRAT (School's Out Readathon)
  5. Author Jamie Ford Shares His Favorites
  6. Operation #ReadSherlock Guest:  The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes

I was so excited to see many of these posts on the top list, especially a book review that I feel needs a bit more love.  I also hope to be participating in all those events highlighted, especially the two that I hosted myself:  #SchoolsOutRAT and Operation #ReadSherlock!


TOP NINE PICS

I'm sticking with the easy route on the pics for the year, just like I did last year, and am using #2016bestnine.  This is an app that pulls your most liked pictures from Instagram for the year, and creates a nice little collage.  I've included the stats with the picture for some additional fun information.



TOP TEN READS

I have saved the best for last:  my favorite reads of the year!  Before I dive into the list of books, let's look at the stats.  I read a total of 59 books, a significant decrease from previous years.  The total number of pages read was approximately 18,500.  Now, for the favorites of those numbers . . . 

This first collage features my reads that I ranked the highest on Goodreads after reading each one.  At the end of the year as I reviewed those ratings, I definitely agree that each of these books were standouts for the year.


Listed in no particular order:
  1. The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian
  2. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
  3. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling
  4. Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
  5. The Girls With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  6. Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
However, I still believe that there are a number of books that did not make the list that should have, so that's where these last four books come into play.  Because they stand as my favorites at the end of the year because I'm still thinking about them.


Again, listed in no particular order:
  1. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
  2. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
  3. Bite Somebody by Sara Dobie Bauer
  4. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
If I had to absolutely narrow down my favorite read of the year to just one, I honestly could not do it.  But, I could narrow it down to two, and both of them are new (or at least new-to-me) authors. I can't wait to read more!!




Even if I didn't get to read as much as I would have liked during 2016, I did read a lot of good books throughout the year.  Here's to another great year in reading and blogging, preferably even better, in 2017!

What are some of your favorites from 2016?  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Wrapping Up Bout of Books 18 & More!


A great way to start the new year is with a week-long readathon via Bout of Books 18.  I had high hopes to get off on the right reading foot, and I only sort of succeeded.  Let's take a look at the stats from the week . . .

295 total pages read

3 hours, 27 minutes total audiobook listening

1 book completed (Introvert Doodles by Maureen "Marzi" Wilson)

With these numbers, I am currently at a total of two books for the year and one book ahead of schedule.  Even if I didn't get as much reading in this last week as I had hoped, I'm walking away from this event feeling successful!

What's up next?  More readathons, of course!!


I'm thinking I will join in on the 24 in 48 Readathon taking place on January 21 and 22.  I have only participated in this readathon once before and didn't make the full 24 hours, so am looking forward to improvement from the previous attempt.


Also, Michelle of Seasons of Reading is hosting a two-week readathon called A Winter's Respite from January 16-29.  I think this is the first time this event will be a full two weeks, so I'm curious to see how things will go on this one.

Lastly, I am hosting a readalong over at Book Bloggers International this month for A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman.  I just kicked off the event yesterday with our first round of discussion, and chatter has already begun in social media using the #12mos12rals hashtag.  I would love to have more readers join me!

I think that is it!  I'm looking forward to a great month of reading, and it's bound to be with all of these great events!

Will you be joining in on any of these?  Did you participate in Bout of Books?  How did you do?

Friday, January 6, 2017

GIVEAWAY ALERT: Hinges of Broams Eld by Jennifer Cano

In 2016, I read this little book called Hinges of Broams Eld by Jennifer Cano.  It's a fun fantasy that brings imagination to the forefront, and features characters that I came to love.  In fact, here is a little snippet from my original review . . .
Cano has created a magical world that blew her own Livy's imagination out of this world. It's a world filled with unimaginable foods that may not tempt your tastebuds, but it does tempt your desires to explore the world around you. You will see a tree and wonder what story it may hold within. You see a door and envision a place you may be transported beyond. You see an average girl and wonder what powers may be hidden within her to change the world.

In 2017, I am excited to bring an amazing giveaway to all of my readers courtesy of the author!  We are working together as a team to bring FIVE lucky winners within the continental US their own copy of this book to enjoy in the new year.  All you have to do is complete the form below by 11:59 MST on Sunday, January 15.  I will draw the FIVE winners and contact each of you via email with further instructions later that week.



Best of luck to all of you!  This is one book that you will want to ensure is on your TBR in 2017!!

For more information on the book and the author, visit the author's website or Facebook page.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

BOOK CHAT: Books Read in 2016

JANUARY

1.  Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
2.  The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey (audiobook)
3.  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

FEBRUARY

4.  The Creature in the Closet:  Lord of the Hat by Obert Skye
5.  Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo (audiobook)
6.  Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver (audiobook)
7.  Cogewea:  The Half-Blood by Mourning Dove

MARCH

8.  The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
9.  Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko
10.  Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson (audiobook)
11.  Fool's Crow by James Welch

APRIL

12.  The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
13.  Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (audiobook)
14.  The Truth About Stories by Thomas King
15.  The King of Plagues by Jonathan Maberry (audiobook)
16.  Road Rage by Richard Matheson, Stephen King, and Joe Hill (audiobook)

MAY

17.  What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander (audiobook)
18.  Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian (audiobook)
19.  Spirit Animals #1:  Wild Born by Brandon Mull (audiobook)
20.  Deep, Dark by Jonathan Maberry (audiobook)
21.  Green Grass, Running Water by Thomas King
22.  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

JUNE

23.  The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian (audiobook)
24.  Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
25.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
26.  The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (audiobook)
27.  Landline by Rainbow Rowell (audiobook)
28.  Bite Somebody by Sara Dobie Bauer

JULY

29.  Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr (audiobook)
30.  Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum (audiobook)
31.  The Fireman by Joe Hill
32.  The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
33.  The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian (audiobook)
34.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne
35.  The Giver by Lois Lowry (audiobook)

AUGUST

36.  Why I Can't Read Wallace Stegner and Other Essays:  A Tribal Voice by Elizabeth Cook-Lynn
37.  Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
38.  Wild by Cheryl Strayed (audiobook)
39.  Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
40.  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

SEPTEMBER

41.  Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham (audiobook)
42.  Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
43.  The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (audiobook)
44.  Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (audiobook & print)

OCTOBER

45.  Hinges of Broams Eld by Jennifer Cano 
46.  Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry (audiobook)
47.  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (audiobook)
48.  The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan
49.  Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
50.  Jedi Academy: A New Class by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
51.  Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Fabulous Life by Rachel Renee Russell
52.  The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradley (audiobook)
53.  Smile by Raina Telgemeier
54.  Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
55.  Messenger by Lois Lowry (audiobook)

NOVEMBER

56.  A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley (audiobook)
57.  Son by Lois Lowry (audiobook & print)

DECEMBER

58.  I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley (audiobook)
59.  Unnamed Manuscript by J.K.

*************************

PAST BOOK LISTS

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

BOOK CHAT: December 2016 in Review


Now that we are days into the new year, I thought it was time to start sharing my usual end of the year thoughts.  However, before I can get into the 2016 details, I thought I had better look at the final month of the year.  So, let's get to it!

The TOP POST for the month was two-fold:  Hinges of Broams Eld by Jennifer Cano had the most hits for the month, but Weekly Wanderings:  Currently . . . Sick & Tired had the most comments.  This was a bit exciting, especially to see a book review back to the top of the list!

The TOP PIC was an amusing one!  My family did a little white elephant exchange, and I got this very fitting gift!  I did have it stolen at one point in time during the evening, but by the end of the night, it was all mine!


I did not get a lot of BOOKS READ during the month, but they were both fabulous reads.  In fact, I'm going to say that my FAVORITE READ was a tie between the two!
  1. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
  2. Unnamed Manuscript by J.K.

I was so thankful to see this month and the year 2016 come to an end.  It did not start on a high note, and it did not end on one either.  In fact, at the very end of the month I woke up to all of my Christmas decorations vandalized in my front yard.  I had to throw my lighted Christmas trees and a lighted reindeer in the trash, and it just broke my heart.  I'm definitely looking forward to a new month and a new year.  We have a lot of things up in the air going into this first week, but I am trying to remain positive.  Thankfully, I can already say that reading is already off to a better start than in 2016.  

I will be back soon to begin my end of year posts now that December is officially wrapped up.  I can't wait to share these posts with you!

How was your final month of 2016?  

Monday, January 2, 2017

Starting 2017 with Bout of Books 18!


What better way to start a new year than with a readathon, Bout of Books 18 to be exact!  It's a low pressure, week-long readathon that tends to have LOTS of participants to chat about reading with.  And, it couldn't have better timing than the beginning of the year, so I can hopefully get a great start on my Goodreads Challenge!

What are my goals for the week?  My only goal is to read as much as I can.  Other than that general goal, I do not have any specific numbers that I am shooting for.

What will I be reading?  I will be starting with my first book of the year, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  I will be potentially working on many of the other current reads that I started in 2016 (you can view the full list here).  I will also be pulling from my January TBR pile (pictured below).


Where will I be sharing updates?  I will be posting updates throughout the week on Instagram and Twitter, but will share a wrap-up post right here on the blog at the completion of the event, probably on Monday sometime.

I'm off to get in a bit more reading!  Be sure to check back later this week as I get all the end of month/end of year posts up for all to read:  December 2016 in Review, Books Read in 2016, and a special giveaway!  I will have even more ready to go live next week:  The Best of 2016, Looking Back on Another Year (2016), and Planning for 2017.  So much goodness to come!!

Will you be joining in on the fun reading?  What will be your reading plans for the week?

Monday, December 19, 2016

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Currently . . . Sick & Tired


Time:  8:24 PM MST

The Scene:  Hiding in the office with the door closed, the heater on, and a box of tissue close at hand.  I just put my kids to bed a bit early tonight, and I will not be far behind them.

Drinking:  7UP

Reading:  Too much, but not enough!  I am in the middle of 10 books, but do not have nearly enough time to read these days.  Some of them are short story collections.  A couple of them are book studies for work.  Others are ones that I have started and set aside to read when I have more time.  I'm hoping to finish all of them by the end of the year so I can start fresh.

Writing:  Not much!  I have pulled out an old story that I started a few years ago, and I've been exploring that world again.  My main focus has been my holiday newsletter, which will hopefully be heading out in the mail in the next few days.  Better late than never!

Blogging:  I'm trying to get back into the groove.  I haven't had much luck with all that I've had on my plate lately, but I'm determined to get back to a routine.

Watching:  Ummm ... not much of that either, which makes me wonder where all of my time is going these days!  I did finally get to watch the latest WALKING DEAD episode.  I've been watching some HELL'S KITCHEN with my husband, and we also did finally finish INTERSTELLAR over the weekend.  The movie was nothing like I expected it to be, but we ended up really enjoying it.  I'm hoping to be hitting the theaters this week for ROGUE ONE and maybe another flick with the kids.

Thinking:  I need a break!  My plate was already full, then my internet was giving me problems last week, my dishwasher broke (had to be replaced), and my fitbit broke (hope that I can fix it).  My mother-in-law is still living with us, and Christmas is just around the corner and I'm not ready for it.  On top of that, I have been battling a horrible cold.  I'm supposed to give a little chat tomorrow afternoon about self-care, but I'm thinking I need to perform a little of that for myself.

Looking forward to . . . having a nice long holiday break, and spending some good time with my husband and kids.  Sleeping in and spending some time reading some great books will make it even better!  I only have two days left of work.  I can do this!

How are you currently?  What are you looking forward to?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

FLASHBACK REVIEW: The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones

The perks of renovating my home is that I have had things packed away, and when a room is done, I get to unpack and discover all sorts of items that I have forgotten that I have.  One of these things is a pile of my notebooks that I frequently write book reviews in once I have finished the story.  This is one of those reviews, written in April 2015.

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Every March, Kristen of We Be Reading hosts DWJ March in honor of Diana Wynne Jones and her fantastical work.  I have thoroughly enjoyed this event ever since Kristen first introduced me to DWJ.  Sadly, this year I did not participate as much as I had hoped, but I was able to sneak in one new DWJ - The Time of the Ghost.  

The Time of the Ghost is truly a mystery at heart.  The story opens with the narrator realizing "There's been an accident!"  We follow along her path to figure out what this accident was and what must be done to move forward.  I cannot share more details than that without giving away crucial spoilers from the story.  I will tell you, however, that the story involves four very different sisters.  The narrator happens to be one of these sisters.  Fantasy elements make an appearance, but it is done in a realistic way.

I had fun with The Time of the Ghost.  There were times that I was confused.  There were times that I was enthralled.  I also found myself stumped and I think that I would understand and appreciate this one even more on a re-read.  Some day, I will do that.  In the meantime, I will have fun discovering more DWJ adventures.

Have you experienced the mystery of The Time of the Ghost?  What did you think?  What are some of your favorite DWJ titles?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

BOOK CHAT: November 2016 in Review


November has come to a close, and that means that 2016 is about to come to an end.  Thankfully!  It's been one heck of a year!!  This month really threw me for a loop, starting with the election.  We traveled a good bit and had a great Thanksgiving dinner.  And, to close out the month we kept up the excitement and moved my mother-in-law in for an undetermined amount of time.  (Please tell me that you could sense the sarcasm in that last sentence.)  On that note, let's take a look at the book stuff.  It's pretty light on all fronts this month, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed to finish strong in December!

The TOP POST for the month was quite a few.  In fact, I did not have many posts total, and with my usual parameters I am going to highlight almost every single post!  The post with the most hits was Thankfully Reading Weekend 2016.  However, the posts with the most comments was threefold -- BOOK CHAT:  October 2016 in Review; WEEKLY WANDERINGS:  Currently Reading & Final #ReadSherlock Giveaways; and The End of #ThankfullyReading Weekend.

The TOP PIC was no surprise because it featured books!  To be exact, it was my picture from my local independent bookstore on Small Business Saturday.  I purchased a stack of books, and it completely made my day!



My BOOKS READ for the month is the smallest list yet, and both of them were actually audiobooks.  I didn't finish a single print book all month.  Ugh!
  1. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley
  2. Son by Lois Lowry
In order to meet my annual reading goal of 80 books this year, I will need to read 23 books during the month of December.  I don't think that is very likely!  At this point, I am hoping to read more books than I did in November.  If I'm lucky and finish all the books that I am currently reading and then some, I may be able to finish 13.  That's a lot of reading!  I don't work the last couple of weeks of the month, so let's see what I can do.

I really do have a lot to look forward to during the month of DECEMBER.  I've got Christmas parties and my kids' holiday concert.  I've got Christmas with my amazing little family.  We are continuing to work on my library and we are slowly making progress.  (Well, my husband is since he is doing most of the work these days!)  And, I've got some good time off at the end of the month to chill and relax and start fresh in 2017.  Maybe I will be able to get in some good reading along the way, too!

How was your November?  What are you looking forward to the most during this last month of 2016?