Thursday, February 4, 2016

BOOK TALK: January 2016 in Review

Life has proven to be very chaotic, and posting here on the blog (or the lack thereof) is proof of that; however, I anticipate a change coming soon to aid in calming this chaos.  And, I have plans for when that change comes.  I won't say big plans because I may start with small steps, but I will take the small steps!

Now that I've given you that little update, let's take a look at my stats for the first month of 2016 . . .

The TOP POST for the month was my to-do list and announcement post for the Winter 2016 Mini Bloggiesta, both in hits and comments.  On the other hand, I do believe that one post needs MORE LOVE . . . my #OneWord for 2016.  I posted it a bit later than planned, but it is the one that I have put some of the most thought into.

The TOP PIC for the month was my (overly ambitious) January TBR pile.  I thought it would be fun to share the stack I will be reading from for the month, and I hope to continue with the habit for the rest of the year (as you will see in the picture below).

My BOOKS READ for the month is a short list, but they were pretty good reads to kick off the year.  Here's the full list . . .
  1. Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  2. The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
  3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Choosing a FAVORITE READ for the month is hard because two of the books stand out.  If I have to choose only one, I would go with The Girl With All the Gifts, but The Song of Achilles would be a very close second.

Last, but not least, I will leave you with my reading plans for February.  This is the stack of books that I will be pulling from this month.  Some of them are books for my class, some are review books (that I'm very behind on!), and then I have my stack of comics and graphic novels that I hope to fit in for a bit of Comics February.  Here's to a great month of reading!

How was your reading and blogging in January?  What do you have planned for February?

Friday, January 29, 2016

#OneWord: REFLECT in 2016

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a wrap-up for my word of 2015.  I also took a quick peek back at my words from previous years.  For a quick wrap-up before diving into my word for 2016, here is the full list complete with links . . .

I did not have as difficult of a time this year trying to come up with my word for 2016.  I just have not had the time to sit down and write about it ... which ultimately has me wondering how well I am doing for the year!  Let's take a look at my word . . .

REFLECT.  This word actually has multiple definitions, and I really want to be working on three of these meanings.

Reflection, as in giving back or looking within a mirror.  

This one comes from a very personal side of my goals.  At the end of December, a loved one was diagnosed with dementia.  Since then, she has been living with me and I have been caring for her when I am not at work or tending to my children's activities.  I am not sure how long this will last until we can move her into a more long-term care facility, but I am trying to enjoy and soak up every moment I can with her.  It is proving to be difficult, but it also has its rewarding moments that come in the form of her telling stories from her past.  When she has these very lucid moments, I want to document them.  I want to tell her story because her story is ultimately my story.  I have been trying to write down these stories, but I have so much more that I need to do.  Some of it is in journal entries because I have been trying to get back into writing down my own thoughts on a regular basis.  I want to incorporate my words and her words into one.  

This may sound like a lot of rambling when I guess what I am trying to say is that I want to journal more and write my loved one's story.  I feel that my love and care and words can somehow give back.

To reflect, as in to ponder or think about.

My goal last year was to persevere through some pretty hard times, particularly in regards to my career.  I made quite a bit of headway on this goal last year, and now I believe it is time to move forward and truly ponder my new role in the field of education.  What can I do to become a better professional?  How can I incorporate my love of books into this professional goal?  The first year back into a field can be complicated and I feel like many days I am just flying by the seat of my pants.  I believe that I can become a better person and professional by reflecting on this past year, what I have done well and all that I need to improve upon or change for the better.

To reflect, as in to demonstrate.

The above goals really are my personal and professional goals.  This last one is really twofold and encompasses this blog for the year.  For many years, I have expressed how much I love to write.  I will be celebrating nine (9!) years of blogging this May.  I have spent a number of those years freelance writing in a variety of ways, and I have sworn to myself that I will someday finish a novel.  That novel has never reached completion and I have seen my writing as a whole decrease substantially in recent months.  I want that to change.  I want to see myself blogging regularly again about all things books (and more!) that I love.  And, I want to take that novel that I'm working on (or at least one of them!) and get it finished.  It is time for me to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk!

As I look over my one word and the three goals within it, I feel a bit overwhelmed.  I thought it would be easier than my word that I set for myself last year, but for some reason, REFLECT seems more loaded than PERSEVERE.  I'm going to take a deep breath ... many of them actually ... and I'm going to dive in.  Here I go . . . I'm diving in to REFLECT  in 2016!

Did you choose one word to live by in 2016?  Did you set specific goals?  Or, do you prefer to live by the seat of your pants throughout the year?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Winter's Respite Readathon Wrap-up

I am a little late in getting this wrap-up posted, but I figured it was better late than never.  For the latest readathon (A Winter's Respite Readathon via Seasons of Reading), I decided to change up my goals to total pages read or minutes listened.  Let us review the specifics for each . . .

Page Goal: 350 pages
Hours Goal: 4.0 hours

Now, let's take a look at the specific numbers for the week . . .

43 pages read
20 minutes listened

41 pages read
41 minutes listened

58 pages read
36 minutes listened

12 pages read
63 minutes listened

20 pages read
42 minutes listened

29 pages read
110 minutes listened

29 pages read
29 minutes listened

TOTAL PAGES READ:  232 pages
TOTAL HOURS LISTENED:  5 hours, 41 minutes

I only met one of my goals, but I will take it!  I also did not finish reading any books during the week, but I did come close and some of the pages listed had to do with class lectures that I had to read for my online class that I am taking.  All things considered, I am still going to count this readathon a success!

I won't be participating in any events anytime soon.  I have a lot of things on my plate right now, so I'm going to be chugging along with those while trying to fit in as much reading for enjoyment as possible in the weeks to come.  I'm going to focus on getting back to posting here regularly and getting caught up on a list of reviews that I want to complete.  And, since it's almost the end of the first month of 2016, I probably should finally post about my word for the year.  I'm off to go work on all this right now!

Did you participate in A Winter's Respite Readathon?  How did you do during the week?  Any comments on your current reads?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Winter 2016 Bloggiesta Wrap-Up

What a weekend!  I decided at the last minute on Saturday morning to join in on the Bloggiesta fun. I had a huge list to get through on top of a lot of other things.  Let's see how I did . . .
  • Back-up Blog 
  • Back-up Template 
  • Catch-up on Emails (currently at 14) -- made it down to 3!
  • Update Books Read in 2016 (view it here!)
  • Update A-Z Review Index (view it here!)
  • Update BBI Blog Index (view it here!)
  • Update BBI Guest Post Index (view it here!)
  • Clean Out TO READ Notebook & Facebook Saves (currently at 160) -- Nope!  May have actually added more!
  • Catch-up on Blog Reading (Feedly currently at 643) -- Narrowed it down to 281!  Some progress!
  • Catch-up on Reviews (too many to count!) -- Nope!

I also got a few more things done in addition to this list.  I wrote a piece for Book Bloggers International to be published later this week.  I scheduled one more post for that site as well, all for the monthly theme of Bookish Beasts.  I also backed-up the blog and template for that site, just in case.  In addition, I was able to finally replace my stolen phone (with a less expensive version that is good enough to get me what I need until I qualify for an upgrade).  I hosted a handful of pre-teen boys for my son's birthday party.  I got a few projects done for work, organized a bit of household stuff, and even looked over a few things for my class.  I didn't get everything done that I had hoped to this weekend, but I can't complain because I did get a LOT done overall.  Here's to hoping that the productivity streak continues through the rest of the week!!

Did you participate in Bloggiesta this weekend?  How did you do?

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Winter's Respite Readathon 2016

I have decided to join in on another readathon, but this time I have very low expectations!  I am currently in the middle of taking a class on top of the usual family chaos, so I need to plan accordingly!  Let's get to the details . . .

The Winter's Respite Read-a-thon is hosted by the fabulous Michelle of Seasons of Reading (among other blogs!).  I love her week-long readathons, and am a frequent participant.  This time around, the purpose is to read and relax, which is just what I need.  For more information, here is what she posted over on the sign-up post . . .
This is the official sign up for A Winter's Respite Read-a-Thon! Dates are January 18 - 24, starting at 12:00am Monday and ending at 11:59pm on Sunday. Times are central standard time so adjust your times accordingly. Of course, like most read-a-thons, the books read must be novels or novellas, adult or young adult are fine, and you can read children's books too (as long as you do read some novels too). Note: Non-Fiction is also okay! You DO NOT have to participate the entire week. Join in when you can, start in the middle, end early...whatever works best for your schedule. As with all of my read-a-thons, it will be a week of relaxed reading during which we can personally challenge ourselves and whittle away those ever looming TBR piles/shelves/libraries.

What will be my goals this week?  I am going to shoot for a total number of pages read/hours listened this time around because I feel that this will better incorporate my class readings as well as my reading for enjoyment.

Page Goal:  350 pages
Hours Goal:  4.0 hours

I will be keeping a tally for each day, and will post updates online via Twitter and Instagram as I can.  A full wrap-up post will be shared next week after the readathon concludes.  For now, I'm off to read!

Will you be participating in the readathon?  If not, what are your reading plans for the week?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Winter 2016 Mini Bloggiesta

I am getting a late start this morning, but I have still decided to join in the Bloggiesta fun this weekend!  I have so much I want to get caught up on and because I have a three-day weekend, I'm going to see how much I truly can accomplish on the blog, for my class, and around the house.

For those that are not aware what Bloggiesta is, it is a weekend (in this mini case) to set aside some time to work on cleaning up our blogs.  For more information, check out the devoted blog for sample to-do lists, challenges, etc.

This will be the list that I am working from this weekend for the blog:
  • Back-up Blog 
  • Back-up Template 
  • Catch-up on Emails (currently at 14)
  • Update Books Read in 2016 
  • Update A-Z Review Index 
  • Update BBI Blog Index 
  • Update BBI Guest Post Index 
  • Clean Out TO READ Notebook & Facebook Saves (currently at 160)
  • Catch-up on Blog Reading (Feedly currently at 643)
  • Catch-up on Reviews (too many to count!)

I have many other things on my overall to-do list for the weekend:  reading for my class, watching a movie or two for my class, taking notes for my class, completing some projects for work, cleaning out my garage, helping my daughter finally organize her room, and getting in a bit of fun reading for myself.  Oh, and I can't forget to mention that my boy is having a little sleepover celebration for his birthday and we are heading to see the Star Wars movie again!  And, I'm hoping to finally replace my stolen phone this weekend because I can no longer live without one!


Despite my slow start this morning, I've still got some high hopes for this weekend!  I will be posting updates on Twitter and hopefully, Instagram, but a full wrap-up will be shared here on the blog at some point in time on Tuesday.

Are you participating in Bloggiesta this weekend?  If so, what are your goals for the weekend?  If not, what do you have planned?

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Did I Persevere in 2015?

Over the last few years, I have found myself choosing one word to live by for the year.  Before jumping into a detailed look of 2015, let's take a quick look at my words from past years . . .

That's a word that really packs a punch, and holds very high expectations.  As I look back on my thoughts for the year, here is an excerpt from what I had to say about my purpose behind this word . . .
The latter half of 2014 found me struggling with health issues that trickled into a lot of other areas: personal and professional responsibilities, reading, writing, and more. After a lot of conversation, I made the decision to resign from my job, get healthy, and re-evaluate my personal and professional goals. That's where PERSEVERANCE is really going to come into play. I need to figure out how to maneuver through all these obstacles and continue to move forward, possibly on a completely different path.

Well, 2015 definitely saw me taking a different path  I took a bit of a detour in my career and found the place where I am meant to be.  The path has not been an easy one.  Despite my experience and training in the area, returning to the field after more than ten years has proven to come with challenges and a very steep learning curve.  I have even had to return to school to ensure my full licensure.  But, I feel that it suits me.  I enjoy my work.   And, I have appreciated the opportunity to expand my knowledge.

Figuring out my life goals was the huge goal for the year.  I'm still in the midst of finalizing this goal, but I have set myself on the right track and consider this alone a huge success.  For those curious, I am completing one more class that began earlier this week.  It's a class on Indigenous Literature, housed within a Native American Studies program, and I have high expectations and a huge stack of very intriguing books to read.

I also had a number of smaller goals to accompany this very large one.  Let's take a quick peek at each of these now . . .

  • GET HEALTHY.  I was exercising on a regular basis . . . until we moved in September and I can't seem to find all of my workout gear or it is still buried somewhere.  Must fix this because I feel so much better when I am eating right and exercising at least a little bit every day.
  • READ MORE.  I had a goal to read 80 books for the year.  I read 74 for a total of 20,160 pages.  That was 3 less books than in 2014.  Technically, I did not read more.  I'm okay with that.  Here's a fun infographic generated by Goodreads with a peek at my reading for the year.  A manuscript that I have included in my final totals is not reflected here.
  • WRITE MORE.  I wrote, but not as much as I had hoped or than I have in previous years.  This goal is coming back in full force in 2016.  More info to come!
  • BLOG CONSISTENTLY.  I started out doing well, but the last couple of months were pathetic.  You will see this one return again in 2016 as well.

Overall, I consider 2015 a success.  I closed out the year feeling better than I did a year before.  I have had some very difficult things land in my lap in the last few weeks, but I am learning to roll with them.  I will address some of these with my new word to live by in 2016.  Stay tuned for more information coming soon!

What did you think about your year in 2015?  Did you live by your one word or did you meet your goals/resolutions for the year?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The BEST of 2015: Books, Pics, & Posts

Now that we are almost halfway through the first month of 2016, I thought it time to share my BEST OF 2015!  Read on for a bit of the favorites from the year.

I am going to tease you by starting at the end of my title list:  BEST POSTS.  Let's start with the top five posts with the most hits of the year:
I also thought it would be fun to list the top five posts based upon the comments received.  There is overlap in only one post!
What does this tell me about my blogging in 2015?  It tells me that reviews don't always drive the traffic, but the blogging events surely do!  I think I will be continuing to participate in blogging events throughout 2016, and maybe even creating/hosting my own!

Now, let's move on to BEST PICS of 2015.  I shared my #2015bestnine over on Instagram, and I thought I would just share the collage here as well.  There were no surprises to see all those books!

Last, but not least, let's take a look at my BEST BOOKS of 2015, in no particular order!!  You will see a variety of reads on this list, from nonfiction to novels and classics to graphic novels.  There is even a short story on the list.  (If you are looking for reading stats, I will be sharing those in a future post.  Today is focused on the BEST!)

What were some of your BEST OF 2015?  Do you agree with any of my favorite books from the year?  

Monday, January 11, 2016

Bout of Books 15 Wrap-Up

Last week was another Bout of Books, and I had to join in on the event.  I had high hopes.  No specific goals, but rather to read as much as possible.  Let me share my details with here, and then I will comment on the good and the bad.

24 pages read
approximately 15 minutes of audio listened

47 pages read

26 pages read

38 pages read

170 pages read

74 pages read

90 pages read

TOTAL PAGES READ:  469 pages

  1. Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple (completed)
  2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (still reading)
  3. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (still reading)

Overall, I am happy with my progress.  I got in some good reading with my physical books, especially over the weekend.  However, my time spent listening to audiobooks was a huge disappointment on so many levels.  I listen to my audiobooks via my phone.  I can listen to and from work, while running errands, folding laundry, washing dishes, etc.  I find it calming more than anything else these days.  Sadly, they took a huge hit this week because my phone was stolen on Monday afternoon!!!!  I have not yet been able to replace it, and it is driving me CRAZY!!  And, not just because I can't listen to my audiobooks.  Anyways . . .


I won't burden you all with my feelings on that incident anymore.  Let's hear about you!

Did you participate in Bout of Books 15?  How did you do during the week?  Any comments on your current reads?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Books Read in 2015


1.  The Maze Runner by James Dashner
2.  The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
3.  The Death Cure by James Dashner
4.  Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
5.  The Arrival by Shaun Tan
6.  Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
7.  Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
8.  Ape House by Sara Gruen
9.  Ms. Marvel #1:  No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
10.  Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel


11.  The Secrets of Droon #1:  The Hidden Stairs and the Magic Carpet by Tony Abbott
12:  The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
13.  X:  A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz


14.  Wishful Thinking by Kamy Wicoff
15.  American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
16.  Boxers by Gene Luen Yang
17.  Saints by Gene Luen Yang
18.  Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford
19.  Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
20.  Bossypants by Tina Fey
21.  Pet Sematary by Stephen King
22.  The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen
23.  On Writing by Stephen King


24.  Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
25.  The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones
26.  The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
27.  Legacy:  An Anthology by Various
28.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
29.  Jedi Academy #1 by Jeffrey Brown
30.  Jedi Academy #2:  Return of the Padawan by Jeffrey Brown
31.  Apocalypso Scenario #683 by Mira Grant
32.  The Creature From My Closet #1:  Wonkenstein by Obert Skye


33.  The Creature From My Closet #2:  Potterwookie by Obert Skye
34.  The Creature From My Closet #3:  Pinocula by Obert Skye
35.  The Creature From My Closet #4:  Katfish by Obert Skye
36.  Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde
37.  Fables #19:  Snow White by Bill Willingham
38.  Fables #20:  Camelot by Bill Willingham
39.  Ms. Marvel #2:  Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson
40.  The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick


41.  The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
42.  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
43.  The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
44.  The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore


45.  Four by Veronica Roth
46.  Bear Witness by Melissa Clark
47.  Patient Zero by Jonathan Maberry
48.  The Walking Dead, Volume 20 by Robert Kirkman
49.  The Walking Dead, Volume 21 by Robert Kirkman
50.  This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki
51.  French Milk by Lucy Knisley
52.  Sculptor by Scott McCloud
53.  Mother Mother by Koren Zailckis
54.  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl


55.  Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
56.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
57.  Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford


58.  Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
59.  13 Days of Midnight by Leo Hunt


60.  Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northrup
61.  Dragon Factory by Jonathan Maberry
62.  Misery by Stephen King


63.  The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
64.  Around the Writer's Block by Rosanne Bane
65.  Christine by Stephen King
66.  The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
67.  Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
68.  Fables #21: Happily Ever After by Bill Willingham
69.  Fables #22: Farewell by Bill Willingham


70.  Dog Days by Jonathan Maberry
71.  Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
72.  Boy Snow Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
73.  Indian Summer by Kerri Sue Jenson (manuscript!!)
74.  Jedi Academy #3: The Phantom Bully by Jeffrey Brown