Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mid-January Update

I didn't want to get out of the habit of posting so here's a little look into what I've been doing so far this month.
The Raven Boys by Azeher on DeviantArt
I just finished a relisten of The Raven Boys and loved it more than I did the first time. I caught a lot of the clues that I wouldn't have known to look for before and I felt so much more for these characters that I now know. As soon as The Raven King comes out in paperback, I'll get a nice matchy set of the books to own (even though I ADORE them on audio).

I am just past the mid-point of The Old Curiosity Shop. I decided to start the year with a Dickens chunkster from my TBR and I'm not regretting the decision. It's a great story and I'm totally invested in finding out what will happen to Little Nell, Kit, and more.

And, finally, I'm working on a massive project with all of the CDs I've collected over the years. I have most of them stored away in boxes and the rest on a tower and the tower had accumulated a rickety stack of unfiled discs on top. So, I pulled out the boxes to file stuff away and realized that not all of the discs were on my server. Since I'm also getting ready to move my music to the cloud (if anyone has recommendations, let me know!), I decided to digitize everything. I'm done with the tower and halfway through the 16 boxes--did I mention that I worked at two different record stores when I was in my teens and 20s and took ample advantage of the employee discounts??--and it's taking forever but it's worth rediscovering things like rare tracks on singles.

Anyway, what have you all been up to? Any big home projects? Reading something fantastic? Making something beautiful?

Doing all of the things,

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Release: The Book Jumper

I know I'm posting a lot at the moment but I just checked the release date on this gem and it's TODAY in the US and I wanted to make sure that I helped spread the word about this fantastic new YA novel.

When I needed a book to get me happily reading again in early December, I spotted Mechthild Gläser's The Book Jumper on my review stack and couldn't resist the beautiful cover and intriguing title. Well, the premise is exactly what you might think it would be. Amy Lennox and her mother have had some tough times in Germany and so they retreat to the family estate on the island of Stormsay, a fictional Shetland Island off the coast of Scotland. What Amy doesn't know before going is that both the Lennox family and the other ancient family on the island, the Macalisters, while teens, can enter the book world and they have charged themselves with maintaining order and the integrity of the stories. Amy's grandmother sends her right off to book jumping lessons which she takes to immediately. At these lessons, she meets Betsy and Will Macalister and they all get involved in a mystery that is emerging both on the island and in the world of fiction. Who is stealing ideas and items from stories and why did the thief kill Sherlock Holmes?

Though you might be familiar with the idea of book jumping from Jasper Fforde's stellar Thursday Next series, its use in this story still feels fresh and unique. Amy is a girl damaged by bullying and she is more than ready to escape into fiction. The book world is fun for her but quickly becomes dangerous, just as the happenings in the real world become more mysterious and unexpected. It's a fantasy YA that still explores some very real issues.  I enjoyed just about everything about this book even though parts were bittersweet. I hope that more readers fall in love with it the way I have!

Trying to jump for the millionth time,

Monday, January 2, 2017

Announcing #Discworldathon

I keep meaning to mention a really cool event that this blog is actually going to be a part of in 2017! Bex of An Armchair By The Sea is hosting #Discworldathon through the entire year and I'm the March portion of it with #MarchMagics (and yes, #DWJMarch will still be happening as well ... don't worry!).

From Bex:
Whether you're an afficionado, a total newbie or somewhere in between you're more than welcome to join at any point throughout the year.
We have lots of fun bookish stuff in store for you and fellow bloggers will be hosting events throughout the year. If you'd be interested in hosting a readalong, themed month or anything else get in touch as there are a couple of hosting spots open still.
January starts at her blog and the entire schedule for the year is up as well. The readalong book for the month is Wyrd Sisters.

I'm not quite sure yet what my focus will be for March Magics but I'm thinking about Discworld short stories. There are some, right? ;)

In health (so not in Ankh Morpork),

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, Ahoy!

So, big lesson learned ... Don't Write My End of Year Post Right After Finishing Reading a Book About The Holocaust. I was not feeling my best or most positive last night when I finally sat down to write and I honestly couldn't really see the point of summing up such a disappointing year. But today I finished re-listening to A Hat Full of Sky, the second of Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series, and felt entirely different. I *want* to set goals for 2017. I want to make a difference in the world. I want to be the change.
“There's always a story. It's all stories, really. The sun coming up every day is a story. Everything's got a story in it. Change the story, change the world.” - Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
Today, I made some incredibly delicious banana bread, ran a bunch of errands, and decided to write this, my 1400th post for this blog! It's only 8:40pm on the west coast of the U.S. but I'm seeing lots of New Year's wishes coming in from around the world and it's giving me hope (as is the snow that is coming down). I grabbed a chunkster off of my TBR last night to start the new year with -- The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. In the coming year, I'm going to keep reading from my own shelves, throw in some library books that will expand my worldview and educate me, and find the causes that will benefit the most from my attention.

I know the days ahead are going to be up and down emotionally and intellectually but I really want to make an effort to push the balance toward hope, light, and love. I hope that you all will join me in this goal.


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thankfully Ending 2016

Well, this has been a year. I started it by reading a book from a favorite series and ended it with Elie Wiesel's Night. I was very sporadic with my blogging and, honestly, don't know if 2017 is going to be much better. I've thought more than once that perhaps my heart isn't in this anymore but the truth is that my heart isn't in much of anything at the moment so I'm going to keep this going until I'm sure one way or the other. There may be lulls, there may be changes, but I sincerely hope that it also remains a place that brings joy to me and to you.

Even with a reading break in November, I managed to finish 128 books this year with only one DNF. I had a goal that my reading and rereading would include 80 of my own books and I will hopefully be finishing my 77th before midnight tonight. I call that a success. Many thanks to Andi for creating the Read My Own Damn Books challenge. It was the perfect motivator.

I'm not feeling up to compiling statistics right now as reading has necessarily become more of a haven lately and I need to keep a feeling of lightness around it. I do have some lovely review books that I read this past month that I will share with you in the coming weeks and I have some loose goals around what I will be choosing to read in 2017 but nothing concrete. I do know that I want to limit the numbers of challenges and events that I participate in, sticking to those that are stress-free and joyful (Readathon and RIP Forever!).

I hope that we all will have plenty of moments of peace and joy in the new year. I thank each and every one of you for being my friends and reading companions.

With love,

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Favorite New Gift Books #AMonthofFaves2016

Today's topic was about how we blog but I haven't been doing that great with schedules or technology or anything blog-related lately so instead I'm going to share a couple of books that came into my house this year that would make beautiful gifts.

When I couldn't get back into reading after the election, I finally turned to Celtic Tales, a collection of "Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment from Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales". The unfamiliar stories and the beautiful artwork by Kate Forrester immediately drew me in. There's a great interview with the illustrator here about her inspiration, color choices, and more.

I mean, looking at this picture, one is practically inspired to write their own tale, right? Each story has its own artwork and there's even a bookmark ribbon -- always the mark of a quality volume! Celtic Tales would be the perfect gift for kids or adults who love tricksters, heroes, and creatures.

The other book I fell in love with this year was Timeline: A Visual History of Our World by Peter Goes. This is an oversized book that covers everything from the oldest marine fossils to the current turmoil on our planet. The pictures are detailed and funny and, in places, heartbreaking. Because this is from Gecko Press and translated from Dutch, it has a European slant but this shouldn't preclude American households from reveling in the beauty of this tome and learning from it.

Just click in to this image to see the detail and how the timeline is laid out. There are certainly dark parts in the book as there are in history. In fact, the final image of the book is a group marching with a "Je Suis Charlie" banner and the text says:
On January 7, 2015, 12 people were shot dead by Muslim extremists after the French magazine Charlie Hebdo published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. People massed on the streets to defend freedom of speech.
As you can see, this book would be best paired with an adult that is willing to answer questions and provide context for many of the things presented in the book. Nuanced situations can't be covered in two sentences in a children's book but exposing kids to the good and the bad of our history can never hurt. In fact, when I received this book, Z and I sat and went through the whole thing together, talking and laughing and learning.

Is there a book that caught your eye this year that you think would be a good gift?

Giving beauty and knowledge,

Monday, December 5, 2016

This Is How We Read #AMonthofFaves2016

Today's post is one that I love -- sharing reading stats!

I'm on my 120th and 121st books of the year -- one audiobook (a reread of The Wee Free Men) and one review book (The Ferryman Institute). So far this year I have listened to 17 books, have read 9 non-fiction books, and have read 11 books for review.

There are quite a few authors that I've read three or more books by this year:
Christopher Fowler (3) -- Bryant and May Off the Rails and The Memory of Blood and The Invisible Code
Roald Dahl (3) -- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator and Matilda
Kage Baker (3) -- Sky Coyote and Mendoza in Hollywood and The Graveyard Game
Diana Wynne Jones (6) -- Witch's Business and The Lives of Christopher Chant and Archer's Goon and Dark Lord of Derkholm and House of Many Ways and Howl's Moving Castle
Terry Pratchett (4) -- Equal Rites and Guards! Guards! and Nation and Sourcery
Beverly Cleary (3) -- Ramona the Pest and Ramona and Her Father and The Mouse and the Motorcycle
Catherynne Valente (5) -- The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making and The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There and The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two and The Boy who Lost Fairyland and The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home
Maggie Stiefvater (4) -- The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily, Lily Blue and The Raven King
Maile Maloy (3) -- The Apothecary and The Apprentices and The After-Room

As you probably could have guessed, DWJ is in the lead.

For the rest of December, I would like to do a couple more rereads (A Christmas Carol, more Flavia de Luce stories), get through a couple more review books, and read one or two more from the TBR. I'm also waiting for the audiobook of The Raven Boys to be available so I can start that series again!

And, as for my favorite book of the year so far ... it's a middle-grade book with a ship whose name shares a quality with me. Any guesses? (I posted about it in September.)

Counting my chickens, er, reads,

Friday, December 2, 2016

5 Popular Books Worth the Hype #AMonthofFaves2016

Today we are supposed to list 5 Popular Books Worth the Hype. So, looking back at my reading list from this year, the number one through four spots go to ...

I didn't start the Raven Cycle series until this year because somehow I didn't believe all of my lovely bookish friends that were raving about them. Now, even though I only read them all between the end of May and the end of September, I'm about to start a series reread. I miss the characters and world so much that I need to go back already!

And the fifth spot is going to ...

Okay, so that's technically two more books but I *loved* the first two books in this series. I had heard great things about this series but only picked them up on a whim this summer. Again, the world building is amazing and the characters complex and diverse. I can't wait for Ash and Quill to come out next year.

What book did you read this year that deserves the hype it has gotten?

Reminiscing about great reads,