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!

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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!

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!

Reviews and a fungi

In my April post, I mentioned reading Fatal Enquiry and Anatomy of Evil by Will Thomas and Fractured by Kate Watterson. I finished Fatal Enquiry pretty quickly, but the other two took some time to finish.

The latest books in the Barker and Llewelyn series managed to completely enrapture me, though I didn’t have as much time to devote to Anatomy of Evil as I would have liked. Fatal Enquiry, which had Barker and Llewelyn on the run for most of the story while trying to solve their latest case, came along at a time when I had two days to devote to reading. As with the other books in this series, I raced through to the end, finding myself unable to put the book down.

Then, between work and the rare time my social life picked up, I lost track of Anatomy of Evil. It ended up sitting in my backpack, waiting for me to look in the smaller front pocket where I keep the books I read while waiting for the bus and my wallet. When I finally realized I still hadn’t finished the book, I fished it out of my bag and sat down to read, excited to still have one more book in this series to read. Anatomy of Evil took Barker and Llewlyn down yet another strange path, this time looking for the now infamous Jack the Ripper. I quite enjoyed Thomas’s take on the Victorian era serial killer, though some of his descriptions had me gagging.

After finishing the last available book in the series, I took a small break to rest my eyes from reading. I went for a short walk with my hubby and our dog to a field nearby, where we happened to find some interesting mushrooms growing along the edge of two tree stumps. I, being the odd duck that I am, decided to snap a picture, for no real reason, so I’m adding it to this post.

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Last night, I finally finished reading Fractured, which I bought at the nearby drug store in April to read while waiting for the bus. This novel, the fourth in a series though it works just as well as a standalone story, follows Homicide Detectives Ellie MacIntosh and Jason Santiago as they search for a brutal serial killer, with the help of their mutual therapist, Dr. Georgia Lukens.

At first, I found this story slow, dry, and hard to get into but once I hit the halfway mark, things began to get interesting. The pace picked up, and a few clues were given that allow the reader to form some theories on who is going about brutally killing men. By the time I reached the three quarter mark, I’d pretty much figured out who the killer was, but couldn’t see how they were going to get caught. My only issue with this novel is that it ends on a strange cliff hanger, which I can only assume is an attempt to hook the reader into looking for the next story. I liked this novel enough that I’ve decided to see if my local library has the rest of the series.

Twelve

Twelve is a good number. Lots of things come in twelves; eggs, donuts, and roses, to name a few. However, being twelve books behind in your reading goal makes the number look like a bad one. I let myself get behind and then just kept slipping. Other things like games and movies have convinced my mind that they’re better than reading, however I know this is not true. A good book can relax me faster than a good game or movie can.

In order to remedy this deficit in my reading, I’ve acquired some new books. The first one, Fractured by Kate Watterson, I picked up from a nearby drug store after I’d found myself with some time to kill before catching my bus to work. I chose it because the description sounded interesting and I liked the cover art. Normally, I don’t buy books from the drug store, but I didn’t want to walk all the way back to the bookstore, a big chain store called Chapters. Partially because the drug store was right beside the bus stop, and partially because I knew I’d never leave the bookstore if I went in.

DSC_0025Fractured is the fourth book in a series, which I found out after I’d started reading it, though you’d never guess it was. I’m not very far into it, mainly because The Black Hand by Will Thomas (book #5 in the Barker and Llewelyn series) came in for me at the library and I was more interested in reading that. However, the book seems to be really interesting.

A few days after getting Fractured, I found myself wandering through Chapters with a friend. An employee came up and asked if we’d been told about their promo. You could get double points on books for a limited time. Always interested in racking up more points so I can earn enough to get a free book, I set about looking for some books I was interested in buying. In the end, I settled on 11/22/63 and Finders Keepers by Stephen King and two bookmarks featuring cute owls and sayings.

Stephen King has long been one of my favourite authors. I began reading his novels when I was about twelve (there’s that number again!). I remember sneaking them from my mum’s bookshelves at first, since they were not the books she initially wanted me reading, but eventually she relented and I got to read whenever I wanted. The only trouble I ever had with them was when I’d take them to school and the teachers saw me reading them. Apparently Stephen King novels are inappropriate for twelve year olds, who’d have thought?

My final acquisition was just yesterday, when my friend Ryan wanted to meet up at Chapters. After declaring that I wanted to buy the Barker and Llewelyn series, but being a stickler and wanting to get them in order, I went searching for the books in store. They had one copy of book 6 and one copy of book 7.

I wanted the books badly enough, and having just finished The Black Hand, I reeeeeaaaaally wanted to read Fatal Enquiry so, I gave in and purchased Fatal Enquiry, I couldn’t find the copy of Anatomy of Evil so I went looking for another bookmark. I found one that fit perfectly with both the book and me. It’s dark blue and says “Happiness is a cup of tea & a good book”, which I fully agree with!

Now, off to go do some reading!