February Reads 2017

In keeping with the 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge, I went to the library a few weeks ago and got a recommendation, as well as picking up several books that met the challenge criteria. My librarian recommendation just happened to come from the children’s librarian, so I picked up another book in the series, as it is a series I liked as a kid and is a graphic novel. So, for February, my goal is to read as many of these books as I can, and since I can renew the books again, push any I don’t read on to next month.

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Now, without further ado, here is my February reading list, and the Reading Challenge criteria they meet.

  • Level Up Your Life by Steve Kamb – Audiobook.
  • The Big Book of Ghost Stories by various authors – Book with multiple authors.
  • Invincible Summer by Alice Adams – Book with one of the four seasons in the title.
  • Invisible by James Patterson and David Ellis – A book with a red spine (though multiple books on this list could have fallen under this category).
  • The Babysitters Club: Claudia and Mean Janine by Raina Telgemeier – Recommendation from a librarian.
  • The Babysitters Club : Kristy’s Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier – hard to choose one category for this one, but I went with book with pictures.
  • Grim Tidings by Caitlin Kittredge – A book about a mythical creature. And,
  • Don’t Die Under the Apple Tree by Amy Patricia Meade – A book set during wartime.

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I have already finished reading Hell Bay by Will Thomas. This wasn’t a book I chose for the Reading Challenge, it was chosen because I love the Barker and Llewelyn series and had yet to read the latest book. Thanks, yet again, Kim for introducing me to this series!

January Reviews

January was a good month for reading, I finished my To-Read list for the month and added one more, though I just finished reading it yesterday so it counts for February. Currently, I am 2 books ahead of schedule, and I am aiming to keep it that way in case the slump that happened last year occurs again.I have several books from the library to keep me occupied and continuing on with the 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge.

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The first book I read was The Maze Runner by James Dashner. It was a good, quick read, and I managed to read it in one day. I wasn’t looking for anything specific when I started reading the book, and I know it’s got a lot of mixed reviews, though I didn’t read any before reading the book. I have also not seen the movie

The writing was what I would expect for a YA novel, not bad, but not fantastic either. The author painted enough of a picture of the various aspects of the world, that my mind could fill in whatever was missing. However, there was a point where I found myself being slowly brought out of the world of Maze Runner by thoughts of “Really? That’s all there is to that?” or “Why would they do that? It doesn’t make sense!”

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I went in with no expectations on what it was like, and I found it enjoyable to a point. Probably would never read this book again, so it’s going into my To Donate pile.

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The second book I read was The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht. This book took me 10 days to read, mostly because I had to work and life kept getting in the way. It was an easy read, and quite enjoyable until I got to the end. To me, it felt like the ending had been rushed. Too many story lines were quickly closed up and threads were left hanging. The book left me wanting more, and not finding any. There are too may questions and not enough answers left at the end of this book for me. I did enjoy it, but will never read it again. Currently, I have lent it to a friend for her to read.

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The third book I read was Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. This is a book I started in June 2016, and kept putting down and not getting back to. The beginning of the story had me hooked, but then it began to slow down and I lost interest. I never really cared for any of the characters, though moments of Old Man Jacob, as I will call him struck home with me, as he struggled against dementia (though this was never explicitly stated) in his nursing home. I watched my Grandmother battle with dementia, and I work as a Unit Clerk on the neurology/stroke/neurosurgery floor, so I watch some of our patients and their families struggle with it as well. Having personal knowledge of the struggle people with memory loss go through, and how dementia can demoralize and bring fear, is the only thing that gave me a connection to the character. Again, this is a book that will move on in my To Donate pile.

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Finally, I started reading Hell Bay by Will Thomas, the latest book in the Barker and Llewelyn series. Work and life got in the way, so it took longer than usual to read a book in this series, but I did sit down and finish it yesterday. I will include a review of it in my February Review post. For now, I am going to go work on my February Reads post, and get started on reading!

*Note: I do not take any credit for the images in this post. These are all book covers from Goodreads, and they all belong to the authors and artists who created them.

January Reads

After seeing it mentioned in several places, I have decided to follow PopSugar’s 2017 Reading Challenge along with my 25 book challenge on Goodreads. So, with those goals in mind, I set out to find books that qualified. The two books I’ve chosen for January are:

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The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht, which has been on my TBR list since at least 2012, and The Maze Runner by James Dashner, which is the first book of a series I haven’t read before. I will also be trying to finish reading Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, which I started many months ago, put down and never picked back up.

New Year, New Horizons

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great holiday season! Mine was stressful, but good overall, despite depression sneaking back into my life.

2016 was quite the year: A lot of my favourite celebrities and authors passed away; I transferred to a new unit at work; I started eating low carb and began to lose some weight; I did not manage to meet my reading challenge, even after lowering the goal; I lost a cousin to cancer; I found a great and supportive group on Facebook that has begun to help me get back into doing the things I used to love; and so much more.

As I look back on the year that has passed, I can’t help but hope that 2017 brings new and exciting adventures, and better luck, for my family and friends. My husband and I have a few plans that we hope to at least set in motion this year. Most importantly is getting him back to college so he can work toward a new career.

I hesitate to say the word ‘resolution’ as I’m not really resolving anything. I’m setting goals with the intention of creating good habits. My goals for 2017, which I’ll go further into detail below, are:

  • Continue eating low carb;
  • Add exercise into my daily routine;
  • Build my stamina enough to start riding my bike again;
  • Read 25 books by the end of the year (I acquired new books to assist with this!);
  • Do at least one hour of creative endeavors each day; and,
  • Declutter, reorganize, and schedule cleaning times for my house.

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My low carb way of eating is paying off. I currently sit at 278.9 pounds, which is 21.6 pounds down from my starting weight on October 23rd. As I look back at the post I put up about it, I realized how overzealous I was. I am very happy with my achievements thus far and am looking toward continuing on the path of and average of two pounds per week lost. Moving forward, I am aiming to add in at least 30 minutes of exercise, no matter the form, per day. I would like to get back into riding my bike by the end of the year. I have set a micro goal (smaller goal within the larger goal) of another 40 pounds down by my anniversary, which is May 3rd. That’s about two pounds a week, which is totally reasonable.

My book goal, I set at 25 books. I want to push myself a little bit, but not make an outrageous goal. The 75 book goal was a bit overzealous of myself, but I kind of needed that push to get back into reading again. I am working toward reading for at least an hour each day. 25 books means just over 2 books per month, which seems easy enough.

Creative endeavors to me is crafting or writing. I have always been a crafty person, and I love to work on my cross stitch patterns. I’ve been trying to teach myself to knit and crochet, which is going alright, but I don’t dedicate enough time to it at the moment.

As for decluttering, reorganizing and cleaning of my house, well, depression sucks the life out of you. It makes it so you want to clean but just don’t have the energy to do so. Currently I have several small messes around the house that are mainly just piles of things waiting to be put into their proper place, or to have a place found for them. Also, my vacuum cleaner is broken and we need to look into getting it fixed or replacing it. Hopefully we’ll be able to go to a vacuum repair shop tomorrow.

As for now, I am off to spend some time with a good book!

Guest Post ~ I’ll Show You Mine if You Show Me Yours: How Pinterest Changed the Crafts Game

Note: This is a guest post by Sandra Coleman.

There was a time, not all that long ago, when the term ‘crafts’ conjured up images of grandmothers and knitting needles, or maybe the crocheted afghan that always hung on the back of Roseanne Conner’s couch throughout each season of the television show.

These days, however, when thinking of crafts, most people think of a little white ‘p’ with a red circle around it.  It’s the Pinterest logo, and you either know it well, or you’ve probably heard about it.  Pinterest launched in 2010 and has become a phenomenon with various demographics, many of them crafters.

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A quick search through Pinterest reveals crafts that definitely do not conjure up visions of grandma.  Sunflower string art, horseshoe wreaths, beautiful hand painted mason jars, and distressed wooden signs are just a few of the crafts that I scrolled by in the first thirty seconds of tapping my Pinterest app.

According to socialdraft.com, Pinterest now boasts over one hundred million users, and yes, you did read that right, one hundred million.  That’s a lot of Pinterest boards.  Over 85% of users are women, and being a user myself, I would wager that a huge chunk of those are either crafters themselves, or those who purchase crafts from others.

Pinterest isn’t just a place to look at and pin pretty crafts, though.  Many small business owners, including those with Etsy and Facebook stores are finding a way to use Pinterest to their selling advantage.  One only needs to create boards and pin their own crafts for sale to have the potential to drive up visibility, foot traffic, and even sales in their online stores. Online statistics from Socialdraft.com show that 75% of Pinterest users have purchased something that they saw on Pinterest.

But, it seems that most Pinterest users, this one included, just want to ooh and ahh over the handmade paper flowers, share pictures of immaculate craft rooms, and occasionally try our hand at making glitter ornaments, and that’s ok too. So, whether you are already a crafter, or just like looking at pretty things, log onto Pinterest and check out a crafty board, or even make one of your own. Oh, and don’t forget to read about the ‘Seventeen Hot Glue Gun Tricks That Will Change Your Life.’ I’m still reeling from that one, myself.

 

Sandra Coleman

Wanna see mine? You can find me at: Pinterest.com/Sandra1023 & Twitter.com/SandraLSC

NaNoWriMo and Guest Post

Note: I planned my NaNoWriMo announcement to happen on Nov 1st but that didn’t happen. Life happens, work happens, so I’m not going to stress about it. I am just going to announce it now.

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I am doing NaNoWriMo this year!!

For all of you who don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s National Novel Writing Month where the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (the month of November). Oh, wait! 50,000 words in 30 days? Uhhhhh, crap. Why do I keep forgetting how stressful this is? Right, because despite all the stress, it’s actually quite fun to do! There is a great community of NaNo participants and if you click that banner, it’ll take you to the NaNoWriMo website.

I have done NaNo in the past, every year (except 2014) since 2011! I made it to 50,000 last year, an all other years came pretty close. I’m hoping to ‘win’ again this year, but I’m off to a bad start. All that stuff that kept me from writing this post about it? Yeah, it all slowed me down. I’m at 10,012 words as of yesterday afternoon, which is great but also 6,658 words behind today’s goal. I’m not stressing too much. I have a 7 day stretch off of work (starting today) to get caught up or maybe even get ahead!

Now, for the other part of the title. A guest post will be appearing on my blog in a few days. One of the awesome ladies in a group I’m part of on Facebook needs help expanding her writing portfolio, so I am volunteering my blog up to her for a guest post. I already have it, and it’s great (written so much better than my posts! :P)

And now, it’s time to get back to writing that NaNo novel!

Progress and Puppeh Noses

Cross Stitch Progress Update: I completed the 2nd quarter of my tiger in grass cross stitch pattern about two weeks ago. Haven’t picked it up since, though. Don’t know why, but I just haven’t been in the mood to cross stitch. It will get done eventually.

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The other day on my way home from work, I decided to look around the bookstore that I live behind. Yes, this is the best and worst possible place for me to live, I have to pass a bookstore every time I need to go somewhere. While there, I perused my usual genre shelves (horror, mystery, sci-fi) but this time, something caught my eye. Some Neil Gaiman books were picks of the month, I picked up the two on display and went searching for the rest. They were all on a shelf that was way above my head (typical, really. I’m 5’4″, so a lot of things end up too high for me to reach), but I was able to reach a couple more books. In the end, I walked out with four of his books, Stardust, Neverwhere, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and American Gods.

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And finally, another change in my life: I finally stopped beating around the bush on dietary changes and started a moderate low carb ‘diet’ last Sunday (Oct 23rd). Moderate means I aim for under 50 grams carbs net (net = carbs – fibre). It’s kind of embarrassing to share this, but my starting weight was 300.5 pounds. Ugh. As of this morning, I’m down to 292.3 pounds! A total of 8.2 pounds lost! My initial goal is to get under 180 pounds (the weight I was at 18), overall goal is to get to about 150 pounds. From all of my research, that is still overweight for my height (which again, is 5 foot 4 inches), but I don’t want to lose too much weight and end up under weight. I may revamp this goal as I get closer to the 150 mark, but that is still a ways off. I am aiming for 30 days on this new way of eating at the very least, though I’m hoping to keep this up forever, in a nutshell.

Being a person with anxiety, I worry about if I can keep up this weight loss. So far, I’ve found it easy to do, but it’s only been a week and tomorrow is Halloween, my favourite holiday of the year! I don’t know how I’m going to make it without sampling some candy, but I’m going to try my hardest! Day 30 is my parent’s anniversary, so it’ll be a triple celebration for me. Making it to 30 days, 38 years of marriage for my parents, and another anniversary my dad has made it to despite having terminal cancer (told 2-3 years, MAAAAYBE 5 if chemo went well, in 2010!)! If I can maintain the weight loss around at least 5 pounds per week, I will reach my goal by the middle of May. If I’m lucky, I’ll reach the under 180 pounds by Dad’s birthday and he can celebrate my first milestone with me while we celebrate his birthday!

Ugh, this got serious and sappy fast, and no, I’m not crying over here, someone’s cutting onions!

To lighten things up and for your amusement, some pictures of my dog sleeping in a cute and funny position. All pics taken with my phone, which turned out pretty well considering it’s not the greatest camera out there.