Wednesday, January 30, 2013

2012: My Year in Books

Here it is! The listyou’ve been waiting for. Or that I’ve been waiting for… so that I could finallygo back and remember the books that I read this past year in their entirety. Itried to write a short blurb about each one so that you were actually gettingsomething out of it by reading this list. Hope you enjoy!
  1. American Gods - NeilGaiman
    • Great book. Not a light, fast read, but keepsyou thinking and the plot keeps moving. Gaiman has such a wonderful style thatit's hard to compare to anyone else. I think I liked Anansi Boys just a tadmore, if only because it was a bit more focused.
  2. Nevermore - KellyCreagh
    • This was an interesting YA read. Edgar AllenPoe's world comes to life in this novel (literally) for a seemingly unlikelypair.
  3. Hunger Games -Suzanne Collins
    • I had to wait on themiles-long list at the library for this…but totally worth it. Movie was a greatadaptation, as well.
  4. Catching Fire -Suzanne Collins - see above
  5. The Scorpio Races (audioand book)- Maggie Stiefvater
    • In love with thisbook’s idea and execution – much better than Stiefvater’s Linger series. Greatif you love man-eating horses from the sea, adventures, and orphans.
  6. Page by Paige - LauraLee Gulledge (graphic novel)
    • Character moves fromCharlottesville, VA (!) to NYC, and struggles with identity and self as anartist along the way. Coming of age, poignant, very creative.
  7. Dead Until Dark (audio)- Charlaine Harris
    • Harris is hilarious.I watched True Blood first, so I saw all of it coming, but it didn’t take awayfrom it for me. I would read more of these fun little mysteries.
  8. Copper (graphicnovel) - Kazu Kibuishi
    • Creative, fast, read.Great for children, teens, adults, anyone. Drawing style is awesome.
  9. Max’s Logbook (graphicnovel)  - Marissa Moss
    • This and Amelia’sNotebook are told in drawing-diary format, which is cool and interesting.Not real deep or mind-blowing, but realistic. I liked them.
  10. Amelia’s Notebook (graphicnovel) - Marissa Moss - see above
  11. Mangaman - BarryLyga
    • Such an innovativeconcept. I showed this to two of my guy friends who seem to know everythinggraphic novel, and was delighted to show them something they hadn’t seenbefore, and which they loved. Woot!
  12. Mockingjay - SuzanneCollins
    • Took soooo muchlonger to get this than the last. Others said they didn’t like this end to thetrilogy as much as the other two, but I think that’s just because they wantedto see another 24 people fight to the death in an arena.
  13. Horns and Wrinkles - JosephHelgerson
    • Fun, quirky read forchildren. A girl’s bully-cousin grows a horn when he does something nasty, andshe must undo the “rivery” business so she can set her family right. Involvestrolls, an eccentric old lady, the Mississippi, and people turned to stone.
  14. 11 Birthdays (audioand book) - Wendy Mass
    • Realistic fiction with a twist - a tale about agirl who must relive her 11th birthday over and over again until she figuresout what's keeping it from moving on. Like the movie Groundhog Day, only withan 11 year old girl. A great story, and great on audiobook.
  15. Witches! The absolutelytrue tale of disaster in Salem - Rosalyn Schanzer
    • Fun non-fiction ofthe Salem witch trials. Great for teens.
  16. Rowan Hood - NancySpringer
    • Great adventure tale for those who are fans ofthe Robin Hood tales and those who like a strong female lead-- it followsRowan, who decides to find her father Robin Hood and his band of merry menafter her mother is killed. She makes a lot of friends along the way. Lovedthis!
  17. Dragonbreath - UrsulaVernon
    • A fun and silly read for those who are juststepping into chapter books, and good for those being weaned off of graphicnovels or picture books. Semi-graphical in nature, it follows a DannyDragonbreath and his iguana friend as they take an ocean adventure that willhopefully help Danny get good marks on a school report.
  18. Bless Me, Ultima -Rudolfo Anaya
    • Big Read 2012 pick -- Six-year-old Antonio'sgrandmother is a curandera, a healer who uses herbs and magic, and Toni mustcome to terms with his own religious beliefs in this coming-of-age tale set inthe New Mexico area around WWI. Some magical realism involved, which I alwayslike.
  19. Journey to the River Sea - EvaIbbotson
    • This should become a new children's classic, asit reads like E.B. White or Francis Burnett. Ibbotson creates a fantastic worldfull of wonder in the Amazonian rainforest, where a British orphan girl namedMaia goes to live with her long-lost relatives who have taken her in hoping toget the money her parents have left her. She's adventurous, quick-witted, andmakes friends despite putting up with her truly terrible family.
  20. The School of EssentialIngredients - Erica Bauermeister 
    • Great light read that involves multiplecharacters and their back stories, all tied together through a cooking classthey are taking. It's a novel of the senses, a short read, and makes you wantto go cook something!
  21. Theodosia and the Serpentsof Chaos - R. L. LaFevers (audiobook)
    • Wonderful audiobook, Theodosia is a fun andinquisitive girl, and much smarter than she ever gets credit for. Mystery,adventure, and cool old Egyptian stuff. Great for elementary age kids wholike historical stories or mysteries.
  22. An Abundance of Katherines - JohnGreen
    • My FAVORITE of JohnGreen’s novels. And that is saying something. Everything he touches is gold.
  23. Dunderheads - PaulFleischman
    • Kids using all theirskills to show up a teacher to save a classmate’s item which she has unfairlyconfiscated.  
  24. Jack Blank and the ImagineNation - Matt Myklusch
    • A boy asking aboutthis book’s sequel intrigued me, so I had to pick it up. Full of robo-zombiealiens, infectious disease, a floating island in the sky, which is inhabited byheroes that you thought only existed in comic books. Great read-alike for thosewho like the Lightning Thief, but I like this even better.
  25. Donuthead - SueStauffacher
    • OCD neat-freak boymeets a dirty in-your-face girl from the wrong side of the tracks, and has todeal with her or be pummeled into oblivion. Not a love story, but they bothlearn a lot from each other. Nice realistic fiction for children.
  26. Legend - MarieLu
    •  I loved this dystopian novel – action-packedand has a revenge factor. Well-done, Marie Lu, well done. I thought it wouldpale compared to Hunger Games, but Legend held its own.
  27. The Art of Forgetting - CamilleNoe Pagan
    • Weird to read anadult book in the midst of all this teen and children’s lit, but I like a goodamnesia story, so this worked for me. A woman finds herself after hertake-control best friend gets amnesia and therefore no longer overshadows her.
  28. A Dog's Journey - W. BruceCameron (sequel to A Dog's Purpose)
    • Not as good as thefirst, but continues on the premise, now taking care of the original “boy”’sgranddaughter. Very sweet, and great for dog-lovers.
  29.  Ashfall - Mike Mullin
    • When a super volcanoerupts in Yellowstone Natl Park, a teen boy who has stayed home from a familyvacation sets out to find them amidst an ash-covered and government-absentlandscape. Realistic, survivalistic, sometimes gritty, with a bit of a love subplotthrown in. I LOVED this, and couldn’t stop raving about it.
  30. A Mango-shaped Space - WendyMass
    • I always wondered howit would be to have synesthesia ,and now, thanks to Wendy Mass, I think I’m starting to get it.
  31. The Night Circus - ErinMorgenstern
    • Beautiful book—theplace was extremely magical, and I kept reading to see how the circus wouldchange, but the characters were a little lackluster for me.
  32. The Top 10 Deadliest Sharks -(Graphic novel) Joe Brusha
    • Leave it to theDiscovery Channel to make a great graphic novel about sharks based off of theirsharks week. The title and format say it all. Bravo! Give me more!
  33. Peter and the Starcatchers - DaveBarry and Ridley Pearson (audiobook)
    • Jim Dale reads thisseries, which is awesome, and I could not be more impressed with the authors for this story abouthow Peter Pan gets to be Peter Pan. I absolutely love this story.
  34. Paper Towns - JohnGreen
    • Not as great as Katherines,but still, it’s John Green.
  35. Blankets - CraigThompson (Graphic novel)
    • Not my style of plotlineas far as graphic novels go, but the drawings were exquisite.
  36. The Age of Miracles - KarenThompson Walker
    • Disappointed by thisone – one of those natural-disaster dystopians which really fell short ofrealistic for me. The character was weak, didn’t ask almost any questions, andI felt a little cheated once I’d finished.
  37. Rip the Page! Adventures inCreative Writing - Karen Benke
    • Please, PLEASE readthis if you like playing around with words or just want some fun activities toget writing. I loved everything about this.
  38. Artemis Fowl - EoinColfer
    • Great for boys who want to rule the world, andanyone who likes the idea of an underground array of mythological creatureslike fairies, gnomes, goblins, and the like.
  39. Ivy + Bean - AnnieBarrows
    • Fun read about twogirls who are slight troublemakers. Great early chapter book.
  40. Junie B. Jones and theStupid Smelly Bus - Barbara Park
    • Junie is a bit of abrat, but from a kid’s point of view, she’s just right. She does the things youwish you could do, and her mischief is kinda fun. I mean, what kindergarteneractually likes the bus? I’d hide in the craft closet, too.
  41. Bink and Gollie - KateDiCamillo and Alison McGhee
    • Short and sweet.Great for stepping up to chapter books.
  42. Flight of the Phoenix - R.L.LaFevers (Bk 1 of Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series)
    • Great adventure storyfor kids stepping into chapter books. Great mythological beasts are in store!
  43. Fahrenheit 451 - RayBradbury (audiobook)
    • Loved this. I figured that I would, but afterBanned Books Week, decided I needed to finally read this one. Great audio(downloaded from Overdrive), and I literally would sit in my car long after Igot home just to finish listening to it.
  44. Life As We Knew It - SusanBeth Pfeffer (audiobook) - DNF (did not finish)
    • I wanted very badly to like this one, and gaveit multiple shots. Having just read The Age of Miracles andbeing disappointed by it, thought this would be better since it came out beforethat one. But no. The main character bothered me and didn't seem to have anyperspective, and said maybe every chapter, "How could it possibly get anyworse?" Overall, I'm not a huge fan of the diary format. Though I triedhard, I just couldn't finish this book.
  45. Giants Beware! (graphicnovel) - Jorge Aguirre
    • Great adventure storywith a tomboy girl who decides she has to prove herself by showing she is agiant-killer. She cons her friends into coming with her on her journey. Fungraphic novel and great for younger kids, but a lot of humor that older kidsand teens will enjoy too.
  46. The Butterfly Clues - KateEllison (DNF)
    • I wanted to like this YA thriller-mystery, butdislike the character so much I had to set it aside. Creepy, but not in anI-want-to-see-where-this-goes kind of way.
  47. Ingo - HelenDunmore
    • Magical underwater world. Strong femalecharacter, but not too girly. Reminded me a little of Scorpio Races for theyounger set.  
  48. Lulu and the Brontosaurus - JudithViorst
    • Quick, funny read about a girl with a nastyattitude who wants to own a brontosaurus. Judith Viorst at her best. Great forstep-up readers with a good sense of humor.
  49. The Light Between Oceans - M.L.Stedman
    • This book was okay, but given its hype, Iexpected more. Great premise, but didn't connect with any of the characters orcare too much about their plight. Setting was beautiful though, and dilemma wasa great idea.
  50. Cinder - MarissaMeyer
    • Fun dystopian take on Cinderella, where Cinderis actually a droid. Includes a plague, a handsome prince, and aliens that liveon the moon (Lunars).  
  51. Sees Behind Trees -Michael Dorris
    • Nice coming-of-agebook in a seemingly Native American tribe, but it focuses more on the characterand his relationships than trying to be an “book about Native Americans”.
  52. Little Dog Lost - MarionBauer
    • SO. FREAKING. CUTE. Great dogbook for children (or anyone, really). Told in verse, but not rhyming. Tellsabout how a dog brings a neighborhood together unexpectedly. Very fulfilling.
  53. Granny Torelli Makes Soup - SharonCreech
    • Great short book byCreech. The girl is very realistic and relatable, and Granny Torelli is full ofall the right information.
  54. The Fault in Our Stars - JohnGreen
    • It’s about a cancerpatient, so you know there will be sadness, but it is SO funny too. My secondfavorite John Green book, which is still saying something.
  55. The Invention of HugoCabret - Brian Selznick
    • This lived up to thehype. Selznick is a genius. The time period and the subject seems untouched,and I love that.
  56. Wonder Show - HannahBarnaby
    • After reading TheNight Circus and Water for Elephants, I was afraid the thrill of thecircus scene might have been done, but this felt different – it didn’tfocus on love or the magic of the show, but finding yourself amongst a group ofmisfits. A great YA read for those intrigued by the circus.
  57. The Lemonade War -Jacqueline Davies
    • This was a fast readabout sibling rivalry, and incorporated some business scheme that really had megoing. It’s been a while since a realistic fiction for children really spoke tome, but I devoured this book!
  58. The Best Christmas PageantEver - Barbara Robinson
    • It's interesting to me that I've never read thisbefore. I was asked to read this to an afterschool care center. It actually wasreally fun to read aloud, and while I usually think that reading chapter booksaloud is hard (attention-wise) for the elementary set, this held them reallywell. 

Not quiteup to 60, so that will give me something to look to next year. Early in theyear went surprisingly well considering I was still in school (but also parttime). With graduation in May, moving into town, and starting a full time job,I don't feel too bad about not getting to 60. That's on next year's list.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

List-It Tuesday 1/29 - Things You Collect

I could think of way too many things that I collect, mostly with good intentions, some intentionally, some unintentionally. Either way, the drawings below flesh out the general basis of my collections, and some of their flaws. 

As for organizing materials, craft supplies, things that might be useful one day, jewelry-making supplies, and magazines--  it would be best if I actually put all of these things to use. Coupons I'm okay about using. Every once in a while, I somehow wrangle the scraps of notes into an index card file to be dealt with later -- mostly lists of blog ideas, great ideas for books I could write if I had the time, or sparks of genius that I have sometimes, etc. It's not the best system, but at least my greatest ideas have a place to live! And as for the books...I have narrowed it down to books I cannot part with, and my husband is a very VERY good sport.

Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year's Resolutions: Celebrating Me in 2-0-1-3

So the slogan for this year is going to be "Celebrating Me in 2-0-1-3". I finally feel as though I can get some time to focus on myself now that we are settling into our place in town and getting into a rhythm. For this reason, I'm trying to focus on things for myself that I've been ignoring or leaving behind and I want to make sure I'm getting the most out of my life. In that vein, here are my:

Resolutions for 2013
  • Make more "me" time!
    • Journal once a week
    • Do art at least once a month -- doodling in between
    • Create something fun for self once a month
    • Make a new playlist once a month
  • Make a new (untested) recipe once a week
  • Read 60 books, and review 12 on this blog
  • Finish 23 Things once and for all (seriously)
  • Take a daily picture
    • I downloaded Instagram (finally gave in)
  • Gym once a week and get back into soccer
  • Write/send more letters
  • Take a monthly trip with the hubby - this includes taking day trips to the zoo, to museums, or what have you. Essentially this is to ensure we are doing cool things each month. I'm really hoping to get some more camping in our lives too, and I got him a sweet tent for his birthday to help this along.
  • Try a new restaurant with hubby once a month


Things to Accomplish This Year
  • Take pictures in a photo booth
  • White water rafting
  • Zip line
  • Go to California
    • Getty Museum and Villa
    • Touch the Pacific Ocean

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 Reflections: I Open at the Close

This past year has been a crazy one, and reflecting on it, I have certainly accomplished a lot! Although I didn't post last year's resolution list, I did do most of them -- including:
  • Move to town (less drive, more space, nice change)
  • Finish school - Master's in Library and Information Science? Check.
  • Got rid of 50 things - Since I was moving, I really needed to lighten the load. Giving myself a number was wonderful, and I surpassed that!
  • Learned basic gardening skills (Thanks, Dad)
  • Payed off one of my student loans in full
  • Got a full time job
  • Improved my timeliness 
  • Stayed healthy -- I joined the gym, and started taking Zumba classes -- which was a little easier for me to do than soccer this past fall. Though I intend to do both this spring! 
Once I moved into town, I lost my resolutions list along the way, and once it was no longer posted, I dropped off a bit. So here's to tying up a year, and to a fresh beginning for a new year!