Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Christmas 2014

The holidays were a bit weird round these parts.

Despite hours and hours of Christmas-music-listening logged since October (yes, October), it didn't really feel like Christmas Eve as I boarded a plane to get home for Christmas. I think partially because I didn't really have the budget to buy presents this year, and gift giving is my favorite, and because I didn't really have anyone here in Colorado to Christmas with.

Then, as we drove to my hometown from the airport, my mom filled me in on my grandma's health which, to be short, was quickly deteriorating.

My grandma ended up passing on Christmas. Our planned Christmas dinner ended up being cooked 100% by me and my little sister -- which is funny when you consider I haven't eaten meat in 10 years and was in charge of the Christmas ham -- and eaten in shifts on couches instead of as a full holiday dinner.

So the holidays were a bit different this year.

After Christmas, Emily was able to come home, too, and all of us worked on putting together a memorial service for my grandma, including a 15-minute slideshow that got applause at the end (thank youuuu).

If there's one thing I'll remember from this trip home, I think it's the hours of combing through old photos -- Grandma's and ours -- to put together a tribute to her life. We all picked the photos, Emily digitalized them using an app, I put them into a powerpoint, my mom gathered music, and Anna combined the music and made it match the timeline in the pictures.

If you're interested, here is the slideshow. It moves really slowly because we wanted all the old folks to have time to read the caption and appreciate the photo. Also, it's 15 minutes long. So, you know, don't feel obligated. I think it's really neat but, duh, it's my grandma.

So. Anyway. All this is why you haven't seen any cheery happy Christmas or New Years posts from me. As ever, I am hopeful to blog more consistently. But you know. We'll see.

Hope you got to spend some time with someone you love this holiday season.

PS - I've turned the comments off on this post. I appreciate all of you anyway. :)

Friday, January 2, 2015

Because apparently all I write about anymore is books

I thought I'd do a look back at 2014 in books.


(If your answer is "no," please feel free to click away now :)

I'm using a survey I found through Ginger but originally posted here. :)


Number Of Books You Read: 81
Number of Re-Reads: 21 (holy wow!)
Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary YA, I think? Some realistic fantasy thrown in there?


1. Best Book You Read In 2014?
Holy cow that's hard. I think my favorite that wasn't a reread was probably The Host by Stephanie Meyer or one of the Raven Boys books by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
Maybe Raging Star, by Moira Young. It ended the Dust Lands series in ways I did not expect.

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Probably Fangirl, Rainbow Rowell. I loved Fangirl. Also got my mom and little sister to read the Lunar Chronicles series, Marissa Meyer.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
THIS IS SO MUCH AT ONCE. I'll just say two best series(es?) were The Raven Boys, Maggie Stiefvater and The Lunar Chronicles, Marissa Meyer.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Rainbow Rowell

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I read pretty broadly, so that's a tricky one for me. I don't read much that isn't YA, though, and I read and loved One Plus One by Jojo Moyes.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read in 2015?
Any of the Harry Potters since I plan to re-read them as soon as I get back to Colorado

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Maggie Stiefvater and The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
I feel like this survey is definitely affected by what I've read more recently, because everyone from the Raven Boys series is sticking out. Before that, though, probably Cinder from the Lunar Chronicles.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, Leslye Walton

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?
Redefining Realness, Janet Mock

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Cinder. I judged it too harshly by the description and didn't think I'd like it. Clearly, I did!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?
Nothing sticks out -- since I read mostly during my commute and mostly library books, I don't have much opportunity for note taking. Or maybe I'm just not a note taker. 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Longest was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 870 pages according to Goodreads
Shortest was Finding Cinderella, 90 pages according to Goodreads

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
Didn't we already do most surprising?

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar = favorite couple pair)
Maybe Cath and Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Or, let's be real, Ron and Hermione from Harry Potter. I also really like the idea of Blue and Gansey in The Raven Boys.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Cath and Reagan from Fangirl.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Host by Stephanie Meyer

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
The Host  and One Plus One

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
All the boys in The Raven Boys.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
I don't even know which books I read are debuts. I'm not book-bloggy enough.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
If we're just talking new books, I loved the world building in Stardust by Neil Gaiman. Slowly, slowly revealed. But, if we're counting rereads, always always Harry Potter and The Hunger Games

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Probably Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. 

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
The Host. I think it's the only one.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Not sure what this question means? But I'll use it as a chance to plug The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. More people should read that book.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Maybe Allegiant by Veronica Roth, but not for the reason most people were crushed by it.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Fire, Kristin Cashore. Sequel to Graceling. I really like that world.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
I was mad at Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. I thought it had a great premise but it was just a really annoying book.



I'm going to go ahead and skip this section since I'm not a strictly "book" blog and I was a ish blogger this year. Weeeeeeeeeee!


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
I have Bitterblue, the third in the Graceling series, on my Kindle, so I'll probably end up reading that first in 2015.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
Sarah Dessen's next, Saint Anything, because, Duh.

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
Again, I'm not ingrained enough in the bookish world to really track debuts and whatnot, but I did see a description for Vivian Versus the Universe, which I originally saw called Vivian Apple at the End of the World, and it looks pretty good.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
The Raven Boys and Cinder series(es?)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
I am not that privileged. 

Hope you all are doing well. Hopefully I'll post soon with a life update. Holidays were kind of weird in these parts, but Pat comes to visit for a week tomorrow, so I'm really excited about that!

If you're a big reader -- tell me your answers for a couple of these!


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Friday, December 19, 2014

Book review: Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

From the moment Mary Poppins arrives at Number Seventeen Cherry-Tree Lane, everyday life at the Banks house is forever changed.

It all starts when Mary Poppins is blown by the east wind onto the doorstep of the Banks house. She becomes a most unusual nanny to Jane, Michael, and the twins. Who else but Mary Poppins can slide up banisters, pull an entire armchair out of an empty carpetbag, and make a dose of medicine taste like delicious lime-juice cordial? A day with Mary Poppins is a day of magic and make-believe come to life!

I'm not sure how I got to be 25 years old without reading Mary Poppins. But after seeing Saving Mr. Banks, I wanted to read the original story.

The original Mary Poppins is not the Mary Poppins of the classic Disney movie, that's for sure. It's hard to treat the story as the original since I've seen Mary Poppins as the movie character as long as I can remember.

But Mary Poppins the original is more stern. She's vain. She has no time for your nonsense.

Still, the story manages to be just as magical as the movie, maybe even more so since book-Mary isn't really likeable, but makes every day incredible.

Some scenes from the movie are straight from the book, but I have a feeling the movie has some invented scenes or stole scenes from books later in the books. I don't intend to read more of the series now, but maybe someday when there are small children in my life, I will read it to them.

It's not the most entertaining children's book to read as an adult, but I had fun reading it and comparing it to my memory of the movie. So, if you're curious too, it's worth a read!

Have any of you read Mary Poppins? What did you think?


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Friday, December 12, 2014

Book review: We Were Liars

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

I'm not sure there is anything new to say about this book. It's been talked and written about so much since it hit shelves last May. But, just in case you haven't heard of it yet, here are my thoughts.

I've read E. Lockhart's work before, but didn't realize it until after I read We Were Liars -- none of her other work has stuck out to me. But this book was everywhere this year, so I put my name on the list for it at the library and waited behind more than ten people.

It's a short, quick read. It focuses on the teenage children of some very well-off New Englanders and their relationships as they grow and change during summers shared on the family island (yup, family island -- I told you they were well-off). They call themselves the Liars. The narrator, Cadence, suffered an injury a couple summers before the telling of the book that caused her amnesia, and she spends her summer trying to unravel the truth behind her injury and trying to discover what her family isn't telling her.

While the circumstances of these teens' lives make them difficult to relate to (again, family island), most of the emotions in the book were familiar to me.

I shot through this book -- it's only a couple hundred pages and easy to read. And then I wanted to read it again immediately. I didn't (because I only had it for a couple more days from the library) but I will want to reread this one eventually. When Cadence finally figures out what her family isn't telling her, it leaves you wanting to go back through to see if you can pick up the clues she was missing.

The hype on this book is HUGE -- and I think this might be a case where it does the book a disservice -- hard to not be looking for the twists, and hard to live up to the hype. But it was a good book, and I recommend it! I gave it three stars.

Have any of you read We Were Liars? What did you think?


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Friday, December 5, 2014

Book review: Shiver

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Add me on Goodreads!

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

Shiver was an experiment for me. Forever and ever ago, I tried to read Shiver on audio and hated it. I quit reading more than halfway through the book because the characters finally annoyed me so much. A while later though, I read and loved The Scorpio Races and, when I went on Goodreads, realized they were by the same author. 

Um, what? 

So I decided to give Shiver another try, but this time actually reading it rather than listening to it.

Shiver still isn't my favorite book, and I still don't love the characters, but I enjoyed it much more when I read it. Shiver is magical realism -- everything in the world is the same as our world... except the tiny little thing of the main character, Grace, falling in love with a werewolf. 

It's definitely the story line that kept me going, rather than attachment to the characters, but I'll probably finish out the series. I gave Shiver three stars.

Have any of you read (or listened to) Shiver? What did you think?


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