Sunday, March 29, 2015

Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge: March Update + Free Book Sources


My main source for free books I can add to my collection is giveaways -- I regularly enter Goodreads First Reads giveaways and other contests on blogs I follow and have won quite a few over the years. When I was blogging and reviewing more regularly, I also entered contests and filled out request forms through the ShelfAwareness Pro newsletter. I've since unsubscribed as I don't feel I qualify as a reviewer anymore (and I also don't want the pressure of release dates hanging over my head -- I have enough to read as it is!) I still love their Reader newsletter though and think it's a great resource for finding out about new books. I occasionally download a freebie ebook from Amazon, but it's not my preferred reading format, so most of them are just sitting there unread. 

And while I (obviously) don't get to keep them, I do love all the free books from the library. Sometimes I get in the mood to try a new genre or author and (especially now with this challenge!) I don't want to spend a lot of money cluttering up my shelves even more, so my library card has really come in handy. I especially love borrowing digital audiobooks because it's so convenient to do from home and I have absolutely zero desire to own audiobooks the same way I own print books. A lot of people think Overdrive is a pain, but I've had no issues. My wishlist on my account is overflowing and there is always something available for immediate borrowing. And the waiting lists aren't usually too long for anything else I've had my eye on. Well, except for super high profile books like The Girl on the Train where I am currently #82 in line, but they have a bunch of copies, so it always goes faster than I expect. They even have an easy system where you can recommend your library purchase a title and if they do, you get notified by email and have the opportunity to borrow it first. So awesome.

On to my March update! I'm still holding strong overall, but must admit that my exceptions are probably the only reason I've been able to stick to my goals. I still have a bunch coming in, but it's mostly books for the baby and I'm quite happy with my ratio of new acquisitions vs. books read from my shelves.

One new book per month -- 0/3

January-March:
* Thanks to my rules/exceptions, I still haven't used any of my new book allotment for the year -- I have a few spring titles in mind that I'm saving up for though :)

Gift card purchases -- 2

January/February:
The Rosie Effect, by Graham Simsion (hardcover)
Angels in the Dark, by Lauren Kate (ebook)

Giveaways/Freebies -- 2

January/February:
* Won an ARC of The Silver Witch, by Paula Brackston from Goodreads
* Won Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman from Book Riot

Review Books -- 1

January/February:

Books for baby -- 66

January/February:
* 3 received as gifts

March:
* 60(!) received as gifts
* The Berenstain Bears We Love Our Dad!, by Stan & Jan Berenstain
* Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McClosky

Cookbooks -- 6

January/February:
* Love Bake Nourish, by Amber Rose
* 5 America's Test Kitchen books (on clearance!)

Library Book Sale Books -- 4

January/February:
Those Who Wish Me Dead, by Michael Kortya

March:
* Frog Music, by Emma Donoghue
* Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, by Chris Bohjalian
* TransAtlantic, by Colum McCann

Used Book Store Credit -- 2

March:
* The Sunday Philosophy Club, by Alexander McCall Smith -- I received the 3rd in this series as a Christmas gift, so I've been trying to track down the earlier books
* The White Woman on a Green Bicycle, by Monique Roffey -- this Orange Prize shortlist nominee caught my eye

Book Club Books -- 0
January-March:
* Still borrowing from the library, except for the April book which I already own.

Year-to-date:
TOTAL new books purchased from monthly budget: 0/3
TOTAL books purchased/received (exceptions): 17 + 66 for baby
TOTAL books add to TBR: 10
TOTAL books read from my shelves: 13

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #2


1. I finally finished Voyager! I've only been reading it since Christmas Eve. This is what happens when I decide to re-read a series with 1000+ page books, but don't want it to be the only thing I read for months. I could read a lot faster if I read Gabaldon exclusively, but it would also take forever until I could crack the spine of a book by another author, so I guess I can live with the snail-like pace -- sure to become even more snail-like in a few more weeks!

2. It figures that as soon as I signed up for a read-a-thon (because I was on such a reading roll...) that my reading pace would immediately slow down. Things were just too crazy with preparing for the baby shower and having family and friends stay with us. Not to mention starting to sort through, wash, and put together ALL THE BABY THINGS. There is some serious nesting going on over here. But I've regained a bit of my reading mojo this week and am going for a strong finish to March Madness -- I've so far read 7 books from that giant stack I posted, mainly the comic collections.

3. My best friend's mom and aunt got us the cutest bookcase for the baby's room which is now filled with all the books we got at the baby shower -- something tells me baby is going to need more bookcases, just like his Mommy :)


4. I knew my best friend had included a note in the invitation about helping to build baby's first "library," so I was really good about not buying any books for him myself. Yet. But now that the shower is over, it's my turn to pick out a few favorites to add to the collection and I'm super excited about it. The books I remember best from childhood are for when he's a bit older, but will that stop me from getting some of them now? No, probably not.

It's my turn to pick out books :)

5. I knew that diaper cakes were a popular baby shower thing, but what I failed to realize was just how many creative people there are amongst our friends and family who would make us these creations filled with baby goodies -- we got no less than five including this bookcase diaper cake:


And while the others are not bookish, I still have to share photos, because they are all seriously awesome -- it was painful to have to take them apart!

Diaper ATV

Diaper bike

Washcloth cupcake tower & lollipops

Onesie bouquet

6. When asked what kind of cake I wanted for the baby shower, most people would think I would pick a sheet cake flavor that could be iced and decorated. Nope. I requested crumb cake. I love my Grandma's recipe and she was quite amused by my request, but graciously agreed to make an extra large one for the party which was delicious, as always. These four other recipes are also amazingly good.

7. I am officially less than one month from my due date -- how is it that time seems to go so fast and so slow at the same time? I hear that does not change one bit after the baby is born though, so I guess I should get used to it!

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That's it for my (mostly) baby shower edition of Bookish and not so Bookish Thoughts -- what have you been up to this week?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bookish (and not so Bookish) Thoughts #1


I always love reading these posts, so I thought it was finally time I joined in! Click on the badge above for more info.

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1. I have finally joined the 21st century and upgraded from my shitty flip phone (yes, they still exist) to a smartphone. I think my aunts, grandma, and mom might now be among the last holdouts.

2. I am not very good at taking selfies -- it took a lot of tries to get this shot. I'm not a big fan of being put on display, but I thought I should have at least one bump shot on record here.


3. I really want to do this bookish project for the baby's room -- I'm debating between favorite childhood books or a book of nursery rhymes. I think a trip to the used bookstore is in order.

4. I'm finally driving again! Very little and only locally, but I'm no longer afraid I'll get light-headed and pass out on a short trip, so I've been trying to get out and about on my own on occasion. What destination have I gone to more often than any other? The library, of course. Priorities.

5. There's a bit more of a story behind Henry the elephant I shared a picture of the other day. Back when we were dating, my husband was being silly one day and started saying he "loved me more than the biggest elephant." Why? I don't know, but it was silly and adorable and it stuck. For his next birthday, I got him a little elephant magnet as part of his gift that we still have on our fridge almost 10 years later. So at Christmas this year when the first two baby gifts we received were Henry the elephant and a clothing set with elephants on it, my heart pretty much melted. NO ONE else even knew this story, so those first two gifts are extra special to me.


6. Though now that people DO know the elephant story, we've had to make sure they don't go crazy and get us elephant everything. My mother- and aunt-in-law sent me a photo of this elephant humidifier when they were out shopping. No. Just, NO.

7. Other than the adorable elephants, the best gift I have ever received is this Snoogle body pillow from my brother and his girlfriend. I am convinced it is the only reason I still sleep well (almost) every night at 7+ months pregnant. I'm 33 weeks today, so we've got 7 weeks left, give or take.

8. I love seeing my brother get so excited about the baby. He's always texting me to see how things are going and was counting down until my ultrasound appointments. At Christmas, I figured the Snoogle was probably his girlfriend's idea, seeming like the kind of thing a woman would think of, but he indignantly told me, "well, she ordered it, but it was MY idea."

9. In terms of exercise, I still feel a bit like a shadow of my former self, but have to remind myself of how far I've come lately. I may not be doing the 50 lap swim workouts of the first 4 months of my pregnancy, but I can now walk 45 minutes straight at a much improved pace when we go walking at the local middle school. It's a far cry from those mid-pregnancy weeks when I could barely hobble down the hall without my heart pounding out of my chest, feeling light-headed, or both. I am so grateful our town has this free program where there are hours Monday to Friday you can walk laps indoors at the school in the winter. We don't have a treadmill and walking circles inside my house isn't the most appealing idea, so having this opportunity so close to home couldn't be more perfect.

10. My (non-surprise) baby shower is next weekend. Unconventionally, it's actually going to be at my house, because at the time it needed to be planned, we had no idea how I would be feeling and no one thought it was a good idea for me to travel with the issues I had been having. So it was going to be at my house or not at all, so my house it is. I'm really just looking forward to seeing everyone, especially my best friend who I haven't seen in four months and is flying up for a long weekend.

So, yea, clearly my thoughts are baby-related these days! Occupational hazard of growing a human being :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

March Madness 2015 Sign-Up

Hosted by Cedar Station

A reading March Madness is much more my style than your traditional basketball March Madness! I'm a little late with this sign-up, but when I read Alysia's post yesterday, I knew it was the perfect read-a-thon to join for my last month before baby. Who knows if our little guy will be early, late, or right on time, but with a due date of April 23rd, March is definitely the last month I would consider joining any sort of blogging event like this. And I've been on a reading roll lately, so it'd be nice to keep it going a little longer. My reading choices often change depending on my mood, but here's what I have queued up at the moment:

Isn't Henry the cutest? A baby gift from my brother's
girlfriend, he's been on my nightstand since Christmas

Now that I actually look at them in a giant pile, this number of books looks slightly insane for one month, but I actually think I have a decent shot of reading them all. The bottom six are the remaining installments of the comic collection Y: The Last Man that I started last month. I flew through the first four, so I don't think the final six will be all that time-consuming either -- they are so addictingly good though, I might not want them to end!

Above those are the last two mysteries by Sara Blaedel that have been translated into English so far. I'm no mystery aficionado, but I was in the mood and decided to read The Forgotten Girls last month. It had been so long since I read a mystery, but I really liked it and promptly went back and read her first English translation Call Me Princess and borrowed Only One Life and Farewell to Freedom from the library. So far, Blaedel's books have also been fast, addicting reads for me.

Then we have Fiercombe Manor by Kate Riordan, a new release I've had my eye on and requested from the library (published as The Girl in the Photograph in the UK). I will likely read this one first because it has a shorter loan period.

Unremembered, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and Paper Towns are for the next few months of book club. (And I grabbed Unremembered's sequel Unforgotten in case I want to continue with the series.) If I manage to read these three, I will have no reading schedules or deadlines to think about until the summer. YA books also tend to be faster reads, so I am hopeful I will be able to get ahead of the game.

Than I have two more short books from the library I couldn't resist borrowing. Forgotten Bookmarks just looks like a lot of fun. And Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated by James Thurber is one I picked up after loving a short story of his I listened to as part of an audio collection.

Lastly, we have the doorstop that is Diana Gabaldon's Voyager, but that one I am already over 800 pages in, I just want to finish it! I'm still ahead of the game for Kay's Outlander Reading Challenge, but am anticipating a lull once the baby arrives, so I'll take as much of a headstart as I can get! It's also likely I will read something on audio while doing chores and things around the house, but I don't have anything picked out yet -- it will depend on what is available from my library when I get the opportunity to listen.

So, is 16+ books over-ambitious? Maybe. But considering that I read a total of 41 in January and February thanks to the types of books I've been in the mood for lately (comics, audio, & shorter books in general), I don't think it's terribly unrealistic. Whatever I manage to read, I'm planning to enjoy my last few weeks of quiet reading before the chaos of adjusting to life with a newborn begins!

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Are you joining any challenges or read-a-thons this month? What books do you have queued up to read next?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge: February Update + Book Budget


The February topic for the Show Your Shelves Some Love challenge is book finances. Before this challenge I never had a book budget. I wasn't putting myself in the poor house, but I definitely could get easily carried away. Amazon deals, Half.com, gift cards, credit card points, bargain bins, cheap used bookstore finds, splurges at my local indie store -- I just love buying books. But with so many still unread it was time for me to make a conscious effort to curb the influx. And besides, I'm running out of shelf space!

So by joining this challenge, this is the first time I have ever set a book budget for myself and decided on one new book per month. That may not seem like enough to a lot of avid readers, but the challenge doesn't count gift card purchases or freebies and I also allowed myself a few exceptions, so my budget is a bit more flexible than a strict 12 books for the year. I thought I slipped up in January by buying two books (1 print + 1 ebook), but forgot they were both bought with a Christmas gift card, so I'm technically still ahead of the game. 

To keep myself accountable, I'm going to share a breakdown of my budget and exception categories. I'm trying to not take advantage of the loopholes too much because I still want to focus on actually reading the books I own and not adding to my TBR too much. Spending less is an important aspect of this challenge, but certainly not the only one!

One new book per month -- 0/2

* Since gift card purchases don't count, I haven't used my new book allotment for January or February yet :)

Gift card purchases -- 2

The Rosie Effect, by Graham Simsion (hardcover)
Angels in the Dark, by Lauren Kate (ebook)

Giveaways/Freebies -- 2

* Won an ARC of The Silver Witch, by Paula Brackston from Goodreads
* Won Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman from Book Riot

Review Books -- 1

* Psy-Q: Test Yourself with More Than 80 Quizzes, Puzzles and Experiments for Everyday Life, by Ben Ambridge -- I haven't accepted any new review books in quite a while, but this one was just too intriguing to pass up.

Books for baby -- 3 received as gifts

* I'm being good because I know my baby shower is coming up. The three gift books were an early shower gift from a relative who won't be able to attend. So excited to start a "library" for our little guy :)

Cookbooks -- 6

* Bought Love Bake Nourish on Half.com for a really great price
* Splurged on five new cookbooks from an America's Test Kitchen $5 clearance sale. Most of them are of the quick & easy variety which is the only kind of cooking (if any!) I might be able to manage for a while, so I couldn't pass up that deal.

Library Book Sale Books -- 1

Those Who Wish Me Dead, by Michael Kortya

Used Book Store Credit -- 0

* I'm still doing very little driving by myself, so I haven't been taking any leisurely visits to my favorite used bookstores like I used to. I'm trying to save most of my credit for the baby once I do get a chance to go shopping though.

Book Club Books -- 0

* So far I've been able to borrow from the library. I'm trying to read ahead so I don't have to think about any deadlines for a few months after the baby is born -- I already read March's book and have April, May, and June ready to go.

TOTAL new books purchased from monthly budget: 0/2
TOTAL books purchased/received (exceptions): 12 + 3 for baby
TOTAL books add to TBR: 5 (would have been 6, but I already read one)
TOTAL books read from my shelves in 2015: 12

I've also been reading library books like crazy! Since I'm limiting my purchases, my library card has been getting some serious usage -- 27 books so far this year! Library books are neutral for this challenge, but if I want to read more of what I already own, I probably should aim for a little bit better balance. And if you're wondering how the heck I've read so many books in just under two months, I've recently gotten hooked on graphic novels and comics, so I've been flying through those. Plus I've been gravitating toward shorter books in general and have even read a few kids' books that have caught my eye -- I love reading all kinds of books :)

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Do you have a book budget or any book-buying goals/limits for 2015? 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Show Your Shelves Some Love Challenge: January Update + Sharing My TBR Piles


The January topic for the Show Your Shelves Some Love challenge is "Show Us Your TBR Piles," so I'm sneaking my post in at the eleventh hour. I must admit, I don't just have a TBR pile or a TBR shelf -- it's more like TBR bookcases. I don't shelve my TBR books separately from ones I've already read, so I'm just going to share some photos of our home "library."

The living room, a.k.a the library room

$5 yard sale find that fits mass-markets perfectly

My bookcase nightstand

My husband's bookcase nightstand

I'm pretty diligent about updating GoodReads which tells me that of all the books I own, I have 545 books that are TBR (this doesn't count cookbooks or other reference-type books). I know there shouldn't be any shame associated with books or reading, but I can't help being a little embarrassed by that number. And while I've certainly read a lot more books in my lifetime so far, of all the ones in my house, only 159 are ones I've already read. (Yes, I walked around and tallied them up because, why not?) Given my tendency to purge the collection periodically, that number actually isn't as low as I thought it would be. But still, 159 read vs. 545 unread is not exactly the balance I'd like to see in my collection.

Now, I certainly did not buy all 545 of those unread books -- some were gifts, a handful are Kindle freebies, and lots were gotten on trade from used bookstores (I don't know about you, but a 25 cent handling charge doesn't really feel like a "purchase" to me). Not to mention the $1 or $2 library book sale books that just barely count as purchases, if you ask me. Now, how much I spent (or didn't spend) on a book doesn't make it any more or less "worthy" as a reading option, but I was curious to see how many books I read in 2014 that I actually bought. As it turns out, the answer is 15 -- out of a total of 100 books read. And you can be darn sure I purchased WAY more than 15 books last year. Granted, a lot of books read earlier in the year were review copies, so while I didn't buy them, they were physically present in my house and reading them reduced the number of unread books lying around. But given the amount of money I've spent on books, it's a bit ridiculous that only 15% of my reading for a whole year came from books I bought. My other big source of reading material is the library. Don't get me wrong, I love libraries -- they are such amazing resources that I am lucky to have access to, but I think I should probably try to ease up on the library books just a little this year if I want to have a bit more balance.

But regardless of my library borrows, as long as I cut way back on the number of new book purchases this year, I will be one happy camper. I won't feel so bad about my number of unread books or how many I pick up from the library if the number of new purchases doesn't continue to outpace the number of owned books I'm reading. So far, I've stuck to my budget/rules for the year and have only purchased one book for the month of January (OK, OK I also bought one ebook collection of short stories related to a series I'm catching up on, but I read digital so infrequently I'm not sure that even counts? OK, I know it counts, but at least it's not cluttering up my shelves!) And of all my books read so far in 2015, seven have been from my shelves plus three re-reads of books I own, but I listened to the audio from the library instead. I call that progress!

How are you doing on your 2015 challenges or goals so far?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

National Readathon Day

 

After recent events put a bit of a kink into my Bout of Books plans, I've really been looking forward to giving another readathon a try. This coming Saturday from 12-4PM is the very first National Readathon Day being launched by Penguin Random House and the National Book Foundation and I'm really excited to be participating, especially since it's for such a good cause. Money raised by this event is benefiting the National Book Foundation to promote literacy and fund education programs. Since I first heard about this event from the Books on the Nightstand podcast, I've made my donation to their fundraising team. (Awesome bookish podcast, by the way, especially if you are an audiobook fan.)

I'm not exactly supposed to be glued to the couch for four hours straight given all my pregnancy craziness lately, but there's no reason I can't take breaks to get up and move around. I haven't decided yet what I will read, but I have a stack of graphic novels from the library as well as a short book club selection I am considering. I'm attempting to read ahead for the next few months of book club anyway, so this seems like a good opportunity to get started. And of course, whatever audiobook I'm in the middle of is always an option, especially if I feel like I am sitting for too long.


Will you be making #timetoread this Saturday?

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Wrap-Up Post (+ another personal update)

Note: Most of this update is pregnancy-related, so if that's not your thing, you've been warned!

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Well, last week definitely did not turn out as expected! I was looking forward to Bout of Books as a bit of a distraction and a fun thing to do at home when I wasn't working since I couldn't fly down to Florida for my friend's wedding, but the read-a-thon quickly got put on the back burner when I went for my pre-natal appointment on Tuesday. I had been feeling worse day by day and was still waiting for my cardiologist appointment to get fully evaluated for my symptoms, but as soon as my OB saw me struggling to walk back to the exam room, it was decided this couldn't wait any longer (thank goodness!). So I was sent next door to get the full work up in the ER instead and I ended up getting admitted overnight. Honestly, I was relieved to go to the hospital. I was frustrated that I couldn't see the cardiologist sooner to begin with and for anyone who's never had a rapid heart rate, it is downright scary especially when you don't know what's causing it. I had been told previously it wasn't urgent and it was fine to wait, but it was still nerve-wracking, especially while pregnant.

Anyway, the sort-of short version is that there is nothing wrong with my heart (yay!) despite having symptoms of tachycardia (rapid heart rate.) Resting, taking it easy, and not exercising (which I was told to do and which makes sense before you know for sure what the problem is) while waiting to be evaluated was actually the worst possible thing for me. Turns out that starting with a cold I got after Thanksgiving when I took a week and a half off my regular exercise routine started the process of deconditioning my body and then as I started feeling lightheaded and the beginnings of the fast heart rate, I started limiting all my activity which made me weaker and weaker the less I did. So basically I got out of shape, only it happened really fast and much worse because of all the extra blood supply my body is pumping for the baby. So after just a few weeks, my body thought a stroll down the hall was major exercise and my heart pumped accordingly, at an alarmingly fast rate.

So after tons of tests to confirm that my heart is indeed healthy, the prescription is actually to exercise, believe it or not. To start, that just means walking and doing things around the house which has felt like a ridiculous amount of effort, but I'm happy to say that it does seem to be helping already. My mom came to stay with me a few days so I wouldn't be home alone while my husband was working as I started this process. The Dr. said I'm going to feel really crummy and I'm going to feel the tachycardia kick in, but to know my heart is healthy and can handle it and that making it work is the only way to get stronger and reduce the symptoms. Just going on an errand is a form of "therapy" right now, though I am still not driving -- I can push myself, but I see no need to graduate to operating heavy machinery quite yet! I'll work on going for longer walks first and I dream of the day I can get back to swimming laps, but I'm afraid that's still a ways off.

And I should also note that through all of this the baby has been perfectly fine and kicking up a storm. His (yes, it's a boy! I don't think I officially announced that here yet) heart rate has been perfectly normal. His crazy mother's heart rate has been faster than his at times, but that is a problem with me, not him. For anyone who's had a baby and knows how fast their hearts go, you can guess just how fast I've been thumping!

So, basically what I'm trying to say is that I didn't read a whole lot this week. Duh. Though actually, I did reach my Bout of Books goals. I finished my audiobook and my book club book. I didn't think I was going to make it to the meeting, but since my prescription was to do more, I did go. I was exhausted when I got home, but it went really well and I was very happy to be out of the house. You'd think I could read a lot waiting around in the ER and being in the hospital overnight (especially since I had two books in my purse), but I just didn't have the concentration for more than a few pages here and there. After I got home, I did read two short books from our Harry Potter Page to Screen set (which were mostly photos, to be honest, but really fascinating) and a bit of my Voyager re-read, so I did read a little bit every day. I had fun with my reading as much as could be expected this week and I didn't put any pressure on myself because I had much more important things to worry about, obviously!

Books finished: 4 + started a 5th
Pages read: 445
Time listened to audiobook: 1 hour
Total time read: No idea!
Challenges completed: 1

I did do the Scavenger Hunt challenge (pre-hospital):


How was your week? Hopefully less eventful than mine!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bout of Books 12: Sign-Up & Goals (+ a personal update)

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 5th and runs through Sunday, January 11th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 12 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

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Even though it would be my last opportunity pre-baby, I had decided against joining Bout of Books 12 because I was supposed to be down in Florida for my friend's wedding half the week. As a matter of fact I was supposed to be an almost-6-months pregnant bridesmaid, but after a very uneventful first half+ of pregnancy, things started getting a little interesting. I hate writing super vague things that probably sound more alarming than the truth, so I'll give you the short version of the story. Basically, I'm OK and baby is OK, but I've been having dips in blood pressure that make me feel lightheaded and also a rapid pulse which I have some follow-up appointments to investigate further. I'm not driving and it's kind of a crap-shoot how I'm going to feel just standing up and walking down the hall. For someone who was feeling great and working out regularly up until a month ago, this has been very weird and a major adjustment, so we're sticking close to home for now. Bummer.

So while I really would rather be at the wedding, if I'm stuck at home anyway, I think participating in Bout of Books will give me something fun to focus on when I am not working. And even though there is no longer a goals linky to discourage negativity and feelings of *failure* I think setting a few goals will help give me some direction. So here's my plan for the week:

1. Have fun!

2. Read at least a little bit every day

3. Finish my current book club book & audiobook (I thought I would finish these over the weekend, but didn't quite get there.)

4. Read from my TBR shelves (I can only send my husband to the library for me so many times, so it seems a good excuse to focus on books I already own. Plus, I want to read more from my TBR in 2015 anyway, so I might as well get off to a good start!)

5. Read mostly short books. (While I like to keep track of my reading, I really don't let myself get hung up on the numbers. But I still think it would be fun to start off the year by reading a whole bunch of books and it's much easier to do that if I pick some of the shorter ones on my shelves. All the books I've been eyeing to read soon are on the short side anyway. I will probably still read a few chapters in my re-read of Diana Gabaldon's Voyager that I already have started though -- and that one is definitely not short!)

6. Read whatever I feel like (Despite #4, which I still think is a great idea, I am giving myself the freedom to change my mind if I want to. I've sometimes fought against it since starting this blog, but I'm very much a mood reader at heart. Back to reading the way it should be -- for me!)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Favorites of 2014

I was on the fence about doing any sort of year-end wrap-up because, to be honest, I don't have the patience for those long surveys (writing them or reading them -- sorry!) I also usually don't think I've read enough books in a year to make it worthwhile, but since I did read 100 (!!!) books in 2014, I thought I'd take a cue from Kay and Charleen and do an "award" type post instead (though they came up with much more original and interesting categories). These are always my favorite posts to read this time of year, so I thought I'd take a stab at it myself.

This list is, of course, limited by my own reading choices in 2014 and I've made my selections from the pool of all books read without regard to publication date. All books selected I rated 4- or 5-stars and I am only allowing a book to *win* one category. And yes, I made up some categories, just so I could feature a particular book :)

Favorite Cover

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Favorite Creepy book
The Winter People, by Jennifer McMahon

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Favorite Mystery

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Favorite Historical Fiction
The Major's Daughter, by JP Francis

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Favorite Fantasy/Re-Telling
While Beauty Slept, by Elizabeth Blackwell

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Favorite Contemporary Fiction
Bittersweet, by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

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Favorite Guilty Pleasure book
The Heiresses, by Sara Shepard

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Favorite Humorous book
The Rosie Project, by Graham Simesion

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Favorite Adult Re-Read
Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

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Favorite Classic
The Crucible, by Arthur Miller

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Favorite Banned or Challenged Book
by Sherman Alexie

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Favorite Book Club book
Graceling, by Kristin Cashore

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Favorite Contemporary YA book
One Man Guy, by Michael Barakiva

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Favorite Dystopian YA book
Divergent, by Veronica Roth

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Favorite YA/Children's Re-Read

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Favorite Children's book
BookSpeak! written by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Josée Bisaillon

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Favorite New-to-Me Holiday book
The Polar Express, by Chris Van Allsburg

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Favorite Holiday Re-Read
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson

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Favorite Graphic Novel
Embroideries, by Marjane Satrapi

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Favorite Poetry book
A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein

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Favorite Non-fiction book
Empty Mansions, by Bill Dedman & Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

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Favorite Memoir

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Favorite Food-Related book
In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

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I had to wait until 2014 was officially over to post this because you never know if a book from the final days of the year will sneak its way on! Have you read any of these? What was your favorite book of 2014?