Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Summer Activities

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and it's a way to share what you're loving in list form. The topic changes every week, so there is always something new to discover!
This week's topic is:  FREEBIE...but I liked what the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish did, so Top Ten Favorite Summer Activities That Aren't Reading it is.  Now, it's no secret that reading is my favorite activity year round, but there are few things that are great when the weather is nice.  Here are some of my faves:

A Perfect Pitcher of Sun Tea
I am kind of a sun tea snob.  I like my tea super strong (thanks, Dad) and unsweetened (sacrilege).  Recipe for success:  take your standard glass (or plastic...if you're an amateur) pitcher, fill with hot water, place between 9-11 Lipton tea bags into the pitcher, put the lid on, and place that sucker outside in the sun until you remember to bring it inside, pull the tea bags out and SQUEEZE all the liquid out of them into the pitcher (more flavor!).  Chill and consume.  MMMM...now I need to make some sun tea this afternoon.

Movies In The Park
I live in an awesome little town that has a pretty spectacular outdoor amphitheater right on the river.  During the summers, they put on all kinds of free things in the park and movies are no exception.  Thursday evenings starting in July, you can find the park and downtown overflowing with people watching a wide-range of movies.  This year's lineup is pretty on point:  Jurassic World, McFarland USA, Hotel Transylvania 2, Jumanji, Inside Out, Avengers Age of Ultron, Star Wars The Force Awakens, The Breakfast Club, Zootopia, and Batman v Superman!
Music In The Park
The same venue above, as well as the newly built on in the town where I work (two miles away...seriously), put on free concerts every week in the summer.  Wednesdays are spent in the newly built amphitheater near the university and Fridays bring everyone back to the amphitheater by the river.  The lineups this year:  Petty Fever (a Tom Petty tribute band), Aaron Crawford, Infamous Souls (rock), Highstreet Band (10-piece, zoot suit band), Ty Curtis, Heart By Heart (a Heart tribute band), Longstride (reggae), Beth Willis Rock Band, Shoot to Thrill (an AC/DC tribute band), Ted Vaughn Blues Band, and Pyromania (a Def Leppard Experience).  And that's just one of the lineups for these two awesome venues!

Small Town Summer Festivals
Another awesome thing about the small town I live in:  Summer Festivals!  Aside from movies and music in the park, you can find a ton of festivals going on throughout the summer at the amphitheater.  For example, there is the annual 4th of July celebration (of course) fondly called Western Days.  How can you live in a town called Independence and NOT have a pretty stellar 4th of July set?  It's not possible.  We don't have just one firework show.  Oh no.  There are two:  locals night and 4th of July.  Needless to say, locals night is so much better than the show on the 4th.  Shhh!  That's a secret!  There's also the Hops & Heritage Festival in September (Independence used to be the hops capital of the world).  Community Fiesta is also a pretty awesome event celebrating Hispanic culture that takes place the Sunday after Labor Day.

Beach Trips
Who doesn't love a good beach trip?  I am down for heading to the beach anytime throughout the year, but Summer is the best because the weather is ALWAYS cooler than it is in the Willamette Valley and it's always a beautiful walk along the sandy shores.  I love the beach and would totally live there if the opportunity arose.

There's something about camping that I love.  It's a lot of work and you always smell like campfire, but isn't that the best at the time?  Relaxation...water...nature...yeah, buddy!  And s'mores.  You can't forget the s'mores!

BBQ Gatherings
I'm a huge fan of BBQ.  All kinds.  BBQing is even more awesome when you're surrounded by friends/family and laughing your ass off.

Outdoor Dining
There's something special about outdoor restaurant seating.  It's not always perfect, but it adds another layer of uniqueness to your dining experience.  With such unpredictable weather in the PNW, sitting outside for a meal is a treat and I love taking advantage of it.

Tasty/Refreshing Adult Beverages 
Though there are great beverages to be drank year round, there is something about those that pair so nicely with warm weather that really make sipping on them a treat.  Mojitos, Spritzers, Coolers...anything with some fresh fruit and herbs, I'm game!  My fiancé is a bartender and he has this one drink that I equate to summertime weather...a Bourbon Cooler.  Yum!  Bourbon, Champagne (not my fave), simple syrup, lime, and fresh basil...down the hatch!  I'm also a huge fan of Mojitos and Vault 244 makes a damn fine coconut lemongrass one.

Sporting Events
I love the Olympics (specifically the summer ones), the Euro Cup, and the World Cup.  Sadly, these events don't happen every year.  But when they do...watch out!  You probably won't see me for a month or so.  Currently the Euro Cup is going on and boy has it been an interesting tournament.  Some crazy upsets and some great games!  The Copa America just ended too...the US was a trainwreck... And the Rio Olympics are gearing up to begin.  It should be interesting with all the controversy and health concerns in regards to the Zika virus.  We shall see!

Whew!  That was lengthy...and I apologize for it.  What are some of your favorite summer activities?

Also, look for next week's Top Ten:  Top Ten Books I Enjoyed That Have Under 2000 Ratings on Goodreads.

Happy reading!

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  Mozart's Last Aria

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"I gathered myself and approached her.  'Madame Hofdemel?' I said.  'I am--'
'I know who you are.  It's obvious, to look at you.  When he cut my face, my husband didn't take my eyes.'  Her voice was curt and bitter." --page 57
  Mozart's Last Aria by Matt Rees 

I'm a little obsessed with Mozart and Vienna in general, so this book seemed right up my ally.  Not too shabby so far :)

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  Library of Souls

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"I stopped to gape at them, stunned to realize they weren't lampposts at all but desiccated heads impaled on long spikes.  They were horrible, skin drawn and gray, tongues lolling--and yet, despite not being attached to throats, three of the heads had spoken to us." --page 137
          Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

It was a little slow going getting into this final installation of the Miss Peregrine series, but it has definitely picked up.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated 2016 Releases

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and it's a way to share what you're loving in list form. The topic changes every week, so there is always something new to discover!
This week's topic is:  Top Ten Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2016.  Man, oh man.  There are a TON of good books coming out between now and the end of the year.  It's so difficult to narrow it down to just ten, but here I go (in no particular order)...

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by JK Rowling (July 31)

United as One by Pittacus Lore (June 28)
Island of Glass by Nora Roberts (December 6)
Turbo Twenty-Three by Janet Evanovich (November 15)

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (July 26)

The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz (June 28)

The Last Woman Standing by Thelma Adams (July 1)

From Sand and Ash by Amy Harmon (October 25)

Broken Prince by Erin Watt (July 25)

Here I Am by Jonathan Safran Foer (September 6)

What 2016 releases are you looking forward to?

Also, look for next week's Top Ten:  Favorite Releases of 2016 So Far

Happy Reading!

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  The Gift

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"Ready now, he raises his arms above his head, pulls back, and with all his strength pushes forward and releases the object in his hands.  Then he stands back to watch with bitter joy as a fifteen-pound frozen turkey smashes through the window of the living room of number twenty-four." --pages 3-4
          The Gift by Cecelia Ahern

I am a big fan of Ahern's writing and am working my way back through some of her novels I've missed.  This is one of them and I'm quite enjoying a crisp holiday read during the heat wave we've been having.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  The Lake of Dead Languages

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"I remember the conversation I had with Athena before her last exam, when she saw me looking at the scar.  She told me that her aunt had sent her here to dry out from boys.  I had laughed and turned away from her." --page 62
          The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman

I've heard good things about this book and, while it's interesting, I am finding it a little difficult to really get in to.  Fingers crossed is really sucks me in soon.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  Heart-Shaped Box
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"He turned and looked.  She was naturally pale to begin with, but now her face was bloodless, like polished bone, so she resembled a vampire even more than usual.  He wondered if it was a trick of makeup before he saw that her cheeks were damp, the fine black hairs at her temples pasted down with sweat.  She stood in pajamas, clutching herself and shivering in the cold." --page 70
          Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

This book has been on my bookshelf for a long time...figured I'd finally get around to reading it.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  Flawed
Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"I've learned that to be courageous is to feel fear within, every step of the way.  Courage does not take over, it fights and struggles through every word you say and every step you take.  It's a battle or a dance as to whether to let it pervade.  It takes courage to overcome, but it takes extreme fear to be courageous." --page 107
          Flawed by Cecelia Ahern

I'm a big fan of Cecelia Ahern's books and this is her first foray into the YA genre.  It's pretty good so are!

Happy reading!


Monday, May 16, 2016

B.O.B 16 Wrap Up

Bout of Books 16 Wrap-Up
Sadly, this round of Bout of Books has come to an end.  Though I didn't get nearly as much reading in as I would have liked, I still had a great time! 

Here are my overall stats:
Number of Books Read From
Finished Books
Total Number of Pages Read
Challenges Completed
Fun Had
I'm very excited for the next round of Bout of Books (August 22nd-28th!).  Hope to see you all there!
Happy reading!

B.O.B 16 Progress: Day 5, 6, 7 (Final Update)

Bout of Books 16

To keep track of my progress for the challenge, I will be updating this post listing what I'm reading, what I've finished (if anything), pages read, challenges completed, and thoughts on how the event is going for the week.  Here we go!

Day 7 Progress
Current Read:  Flawed by Cecelia Ahern
Pages Read: 176
Total Pages Read:  605
Books Finished:  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Challenges:  None..whomp whomp
Thoughts:  I took it super easy on the last day of the challenge and didn't really check in on any social media.  Instead, I stayed in my pajamas and read to my heart's content, watched TV, and drank coffee.  I finally finished my second book of the challenge and dove into my third. 

Day 6 Progress
Current Read:  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist by Sunil Yapa
Pages Read:  88
Total Pages Read:  429
Books Finished:  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Challenges:  Not a single one...
Thoughts:  I had to work on Saturday, so there wasn't a lot of down-time for reading and participating in challenges.  I did get a decent chunk read (despite having to work), but my evening was spent drinking too much beer and subsequently going to bed a 9pm.  Oye...

Day 5 Progress
Current Read:  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of Your Fist by Sunil Yapa
Pages Read:  54
Total Pages Read:  341
Books Finished:  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Challenges:  #freakyboutofbooks Photo Challenge...Twitter and Instagram :)
Thoughts:  Not a super successful reading day, but it was a fun one!  I liked this photo challenge.

Day 4 Progress
Current Read:  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Pages Read:  54
Total Pages Read:  287
Books Finished:  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Challenges:  None.  I had every intention of doing the "If you like this, then try this..." challenge, but time just got away from me.  Whomp whomp...
Thoughts:  A little more successful reading day, but still not too stellar.  I spent the majority of my evening cutting directions and registry crap for our wedding invitations...it's never-ending!  My weekend reading should be pretty good...for the most part.  I do have to work tomorrow for part of the day, but will be able to get quite a bit of reading in this weekend.  Woohoo!  Here's to a better day five :)

Day 3 Progress
Current Read:  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Pages Read:  19
Total Pages Read:  233
Books Finished:  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Challenges:  Five Favorites
Thoughts:  Day three was a less successful reading day for me.  I got a few pages in here and there throughout the day, but nothing substantial.  In the evening, the fiancé and I took advantage of the glorious weather and headed downtown to have a couple drinks and play some outdoor yard games at one of our local bars.  Once we made it home (close to 9pm) we caught the last half of the Blazers v. Warriors game and rooted for our beloved Rip City until the bitter end; such an accomplishment for our team considering they lost four starters after last season and weren't even slated to make it to the post-season this year.  I didn't even read when I went to bed!  Tomorrow will be better :)

Day 2 Progress
Current Read:  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
Pages Read:  64
Total Pages Read:  214
Books Finished:  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Challenges:  #shelfie4boutofbooks...again, check out Twitter for that
Thoughts:  While not nearly as successful as day 1, day 2 wasn't disappointing.  I moved on to a book that is a little more mentally challenging that yesterday's and I was distracted in the evening with wedding stuff...ribbon...so much ribbon...and going to the library to pick up more books!  Haha.

Day 1 Progress
Current Read:  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien
Pages Read:  150
Books Finished:  Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
Challenges:  Introduce Yourself #insixwords...not really a blog post about this, so pop over to Twitter :)
Thoughts:  I feel really confident about this round of Bout of Books and Day 1 went pretty well.  I am confident that I will have better "pages read" days in the next week and am excited about really diving in to me selections! 

Happy reading, fellow Bout of Bookers! 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Beyond the Books: Tattoos

This week's topic is:  Tattoos.  Do you have them?  Why or why not?  Talk about one.

I actually got my first tattoo this year...and immediately followed it up with another!  It's true what they say: tattoos are addictive.  It took me a long time to finally get a tattoo because I was indecisive.  I had ideas of what I wanted, but was never totally certain on placement/exact image/etc.  I was also worried that it would be more painful than I wanted it to be.  It took my fiancé making me schedule an appointment to force my decision.  And I'm glad he did because it wasn't painful (really) and now I am on the path to possibly doing a full sleeve!  YIKES! 

My first tattoo is totally FOR ME.  I specifically turned it upside down to face me (not the correct placement for tattoos) because I wanted to look at it.  It's not for anyone else's pleasure but my own.  It speaks to my nerdy-ness and my love for Harry Potter and the German language.  
The Deathly Hallows (obviously) with the house colors and "always" in German. Super fresh tattoo.

My second tattoo is, again, for me, but I did position it in the correct way (facing the viewer) and is of a Scottish thistle.  I lived in Scotland while I was working on my Master's degree and completely fell in love with the country, the people, the culture, and all that goes with it.  This commemorates my time spent there and the memories I made.
A Scottish thistle (more traditional style than the one above).
Next on the block...a portion of Gustav Klimt's Life and Death.  This one represents the following:  my love for Klimt and his work (my favorite artist), my love for Austria (I taught English for a year just outside of Vienna), my love for the German language (again), and my love for things that are kind of macabre and dark.  It's a much larger tattoo than the others I have, so that makes me a little nervous.  But it's going to be so awesome!
I plan on getting the death side of the painting on my forearm.
In general, I am of the firm belief that people should do whatever they want with their bodies.  If they want to tattoo their face, let them!  If they want fake boobs or a nose job, go for it!  Shave your entire head except your bangs?  Whatever floats your boat!  Gender re-assignment?  You do you!  Nobody should be able to tell you or have the right to tell you how to adorn your body to make yourself happy or to make yourself comfortable. 

What are you thoughts on tattoos?

Beyond the Books is a weekly event hosted by Karen at Kissin Blue Karen.  Feel free to join in!  

Writer's Workshop: 10 Reasons I Love Spring

Spring has officially begun here in the PNW...we have the allergies to prove it!  Despite the scratchy eyes, runny noses, and overall itchy feeling Spring often gives us, there is still a lot of room for love during the season.  Here are 10 reason why I love Spring!

Colorful Flowers
The abundance of flowers and colors in Oregon is astounding.  This is the best time of year to really experience a fragrant, beautiful array of eye-candy (the other kind) and freshen up any room.  My favorite is the peony :)

Warm Days (that don't get too hot)
I am NOT a fan of warm weather.  Spring (and Fall) offer the type of weather that I am most comfortable in: 60-80ish.  Though we've had a much warmer Spring so far, it hasn't been completely unbearable yet.  I'm very worried about Summer temps though...yikes!

BBQ's Galore
You really can't beat the smell or taste of BBQ.  And the fact that BBQ's are often comprised of getting together with a group of friends...that's the best!  Now I really want some BBQ...charred...mmmm

Outdoor Drinking
It's not very often that we are able to sit outside of an establishment and enjoy a nice, hoppy beer or fruity wine.  Spring allows us to do that!  Since I live in Willamette Wine Country (it's a thing...and AWESOME), the number of local vineyards/wineries with outdoor seating is astonishing.  Nothing beats a nice glass of wine and a wood-fired pizza while gazing out at the rolling vineyards.  Our breweries also offer these types of settings.

Stoller Family Estate; Dundee, Oregon

Picnics in the Park
Springtime offers the perfect setting for throwing a blanket down in the park and basking in the weather.  It's relaxing and a nice change of pace.

Fresh Cut Grass
This is, hands down, one of the best smells in the world.  While the smell of grass is a year round occurrence in the PNW, it becomes amplified during the Spring.  MMMMM

More Daylight in the Evenings
Longer lit evenings give people more time to be out and about...and you don't always notice the time during this season (Summer as well).  Having more daylight in the evenings also forces me to do more things that I would during the Fall and Winter...

Fresh Fruits
Farmers markets start popping up in nearly every town during the Spring and they are the BEST place to score local fresh fruits (and veggies).  Even small towns have them!  You really can't beat purchasing your produce from local vendors and supporting your local economy.

This is the time of year when outdoor festivals and celebrations really start gearing up in our area.  Some notable ones are:  the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, Oregon Ag Fest, Cinco de Micro Brewfest, the Keizer Iris Festival, and the Wineries Memorial Day Weekend Open House to name a few.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest w/Mt Hood in the Background

The Spring Dance Concert
Every Spring, the Dance Department at the university where I work puts on a Spring Dance Concert over three days.  The concert is comprised of student pieces (graduating Seniors are required to choreograph a piece for the show), a notable guest choreographer, and a piece by the Rainbow Dance Theatre.  I've been going religiously for the past five-ish years (after taking a hiatus when I lived overseas) and it's become a tradition to attend with one of my fellow alums and dear friend, Jenna.  This year's performances were stellar; probably the best I've seen in terms of both choreography and dancing.  It was also the 40th Anniversary of the concert this year, so that probably added some extra incentive to be awesome.

So, what are some of your favorite things about Spring?

Writer's Workshop is hosted by Kat at Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

B.O.B 5 Favorites

Today's mini challenge for Bout of Books 16 is 5 Favorites!

A simple challenge where you select any categorizing topic you'd like (genre, heroines, trope, cover, anything) and highlight your five favorite books that fall into that category.  Super easy to do, but very difficult to narrow down.

My chosen topic is...My Five Favorite Books from Elementary/Middle School

This is probably one of my favorite books of all time and one I've re-read multiple times since I first discovered it in elementary school.  That's saying a lot since I rarely re-read books.  I loved Charlotte and her relationship with Zachariah and I wanted to go on adventures with them.  Her initiation into the crew left me completely on the edge of my seat and wanting to know what would happen next.  So good! 

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor
I read this in middle school during a phase I went through where I was obsessed with anything to do with the South, slavery, the Antebellum, and the Civil War.  Though the setting is significantly later than the war, the ramifications and resentments are still felt throughout the South and portrayed in this book.  I should probably read the first three books in the Logan series...

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Again, this book falls into the "favorites of all-time category" but I've only read it twice.  My first encounter was as an 8th grader when I asked my Language Arts teacher about reading recommendations.  Since we had been studying the Civil War and I was pretty into the era (see above), she recommended this and boy, oh, boy I was hooked.  I loved EVERYTHING about this book...Scarlett, Rhett (sigh), Melanie, Mammy...everything.  I even love the movie!

This book was just fun for me.  It's not anything significant, but I was immediately enamored with it as a kid.  I mean, what young girl hasn't been completely mortified in front of her crush when she has to do something as silly as carry around a sack of sugar dressed like a baby?  No one?  Huh...

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
This book.  What can I say about this book aside from the fact that, as an adult, I specifically searched for it in used bookstores everywhere until I found my very own copy.  Like Confessions, this is one I've re-read several times.  I was so creeped out by this book as a kid and still find it unnerving.  Creepy kids are creepy, man! 

There are so many more that I could easily add to this list, a lot were entire series of books, but I tried really hard to pare it down.  What are some of your favorites from when you were a kid?

Happy reading, fellow Bout of Bookers!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Teaser Tuesdays

Teaser Tuesday:  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn @ A Daily Rhythm. Here are the rules: grab whatever you're reading, open to a random page, select no more than two sentence (NO SPOILERS), share the title and author, and GO!

Here's today's teaser:
"Something was happening in the street.  She saw a woman standing next to Park's horse.  Saw her touching the horse.  Saw Park's baton begin to rise." --page 54
          Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

I have been eagerly waiting for this book to become available at the library and finally have it in my hands!  Super excited to read it :)

Happy reading!

Top Ten Tuesday: Non-Bookish Websites

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish and it's a way to share what you're loving in list form. The topic changes every week, so there is always something new to discover!
This week's topic is:  Top Ten Websites I Love That Aren't About Books.  Let's see what I come up with here!

The Bloggess
  • If you've never checked out Jenny Lawson's AWESOME blog, please do so now.  You will laugh.  You will cry.  You might find someone you can relate to.  Her entries can be serious or completely insane...and that's what makes it so beautiful.  Jenny is a hilarious, inspiring individual.
  • A great time-waster and loads of fun...though sometimes completely ridiculous.
  • If you want to waste time, but tease your wrinkly dome, then this is the website for you!  There are brainteasers, quizzes, and fun games galore.  I promise that you will find something to completely wile away your hours.
The Huffington Post
  • Because you have to stay up on what's happening in the world, right?
  • Again, keeping informed!
  • I can spend hours virtually shopping (and not buying a damn thing).  But it's oh so fun to dream...
  • I pin the shit out of stuff.  AND!  I've actually made several things that I've pinned.  Victory!  Of course, I have waaaaay more pinned than I could ever possibly make or afford or whatever, but it's still an addictive little space.
The New York Times
  • I love reading the book reviews and whatnot...news.  NEWS!
  • As a product tester, this is where it all happens.  The more you participate, the more products your receive to test out and review.  If you would like an invite, let me know!
The Onion
  • Because it's hilarious!  Seriously.
What are some non-bookish websites you tend to visit often?

Happy reading!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

B.O.B 16

Bout of Books 16
I'm very late to the game this year, April and the beginning of May have not been the kindest to me, but I'm totally going to do this round of Bout of Books.  I need this round...badly!  Consider this my sign up post :)

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, May 9th and runs through Sunday, May 15th in whatever time zone you are in.  Bout of Book is low-pressure.  There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional.  For all Bout of Books 16 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team
What I hope to accomplish for the challenge:
  1. Finish The Walking Dead, Compendium 3 by Robert Kirkman.  I'm about 100 pages in as of now (5/4)...there are nearly 1100 pages.  It is a graphic novel, so there is always the chance that I will totally have this done before the challenge begins on Monday because it's super quick reading.  If that's the case, see number 2.
  2. Read Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of your Fist by Sunil Yapa.  It's been sitting on my coffee table for about two weeks while I've been plowing through some public library books that have actual return dates.  I might start it before the challenge, but I doubt I'll have it done by Monday.
  3. Work on completing books for a Bingo reading challenge that my officemates and I do every two-three months.  I'm not doing very well for this round, so I'd like to get some bingos in there soon.
  4. Participate in the daily challenges.  The topics look super fun this go-around and this will force me to do better than I did during the last challenge.
  5. Participate in Twitter parties!
  6. Most importantly...HAVE FUN!  And relax.  Get away from life for a bit.  You know, the usual ;)
On the Radar (always subject to change) 
There is still time to sign up for this awesome, low-key challenge if you're interested.  Simply head over to the sign up page to declare your intent to particpateand add your name! 
Happy Reading!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Admitting Defeat

Okay...I have to admit defeat for this year's A-Z Blogging Challenge.  Who knew that working loads of overtime (and being incredibly exhausted because of it), planning a wedding, participating in the challenge, and attempting to have a semblance of a life would be this difficult to juggle?!  I feel like an absolute failure but I know that I won't be able to catch up.  And I know that any attempts will be half-assed. 

I probably should have done an easier topic...like Wedding Planning From A-Z!  Or Hiring a University Tour Guide Team From A-Z!  Haha. 

Perhaps I'll retry this theme next year as I was/am really excited about it.  Sigh...

Sorry, dear readers...

Back to my regularly (sporadic) scheduled posts...

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Little Behind

Hey All!  I promise that B, C, and D will be up later today!  This weekend was crazy and I am so behind...

Friday, April 1, 2016

A is for

Andy scuffed his foot over the hard packed, dusty dirt road, staring at the cracks in the surface, and hitched his pack into a more comfortable position.  His shoulders had been rubbed raw long ago and thick callouses had formed where the straps of his pack had chafed for the past three months.  He'd started out walking for no other reason than to walk, but his pilgrimage seemed to morph into something more.  Something deeper. 

He felt grimy.  Dust was etched into the creases and folds of his clothing.  He hadn't seen a proper shower in weeks; instead, rivers, lakes, and streams had become Andy's bathing vessels.  Never able to fully cleanse himself, Andy had taken to side roads and copses to avoid the looks often caste his way when he encountered anyone.  These detours often left him without human interaction for long stretches of time. 

The road leading to the small, faded church stretched out in front of him, appearing longer with each step he took.  Surrounded by golden wheat fields and spotted groups of trees, the lonesome church was the first offering of shelter Andy had seen in a while; and Andy desperately wanted some shelter.

When he reached the front of the church, there was a stillness to the air that was only broken by the occasional chirp of birds roosting in the trees and eaves.  The wooden steps, leading to a set of doors, sagged in the middle and splintered in various places.  Scratches had been etched into the posts holding the railings on either side of the risers, whether from animals or humans, Andy couldn't tell.  Mounting the steps, Andy pushed open the door on the right side and stepped inside.  He set his pack in the last pew on the left and scanned the church.


This post is for the 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge and the story will continue tomorrow!  Feedback is always appreciated :)  Happy blogging (and reading), fellow A-Zers!


Monday, March 21, 2016

2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge Theme Reveal

Oooo...the day is getting closer; creeping stealthily, it will smack you in the face in no time!

While we impatiently await the start of the challenge, it's time to reveal our themes.  Yay!  I'm going for something drastically different this year.  Something much more challenging than I've ever done in my previous four years participating in this particular challenge.  Normally my posts are pretty straight-forward, contained, not overly ambitious.  This year is going to be another beast all together.

My mission, should I choose to accept it, will be to write one continuous story for the entire challenge.  I know my characters, setting, and where I want it to go...kind of.  All I need to figure out is how to get from point A to point Z.  The first word of each post will start with the letter for the day; some of these will definitely be more difficult than others, but I'm determined.

I look forward to writing this, receiving feedback, and having a rip-roaring good time while doing so.  I hope you're all ready for April!

So, what are you planning on posting about for this year's challenge?  And, if you have never participated (or heard of the A-Z Blogging Challenge), definitely check it out and SIGN UP (there's still time).  I promise you will be challenged, frustrated, elated, and pleased as punch by the end of April.  You will also feel incredibly accomplished!

Friday, February 19, 2016

The 2016 A-Z Blogging Challenge

YES!  It's nearly that time of year when the BEST blogging event hits the internets...

This will be my fifth year participating and I'm so incredibly excited.  My first year was a bunch of random posts about things I liked or whatever popped into my head that was associated with the letter of the day.  Year two brought about all things Oregon.  Three was dedicated to authors who inspire me.  And last year was all about music that moves me. 

Needless to say, I never stick to one genre year to year.  And I've already decided what this year will consist of...and it is daunting!  I'm terrified to attempt it, but I'm really excited about it. 

If you're interested in participating, please sign up!  Check out the co-hosts and past entries for inspiration.  I promise you can do this...even if you think you can't!  I never thought I could.

Look for my theme reveal post in March :)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Writer's Workshop: Happy National Wine Day

February 18th...National Drink Wine Day...yum!

How do I take my wine?  Great question!

To be honest, it took me quite a while to enjoy wine.  I started off, as most do, with the whites...a Reisling...a Pinot Gris...a Gewuertztraminer.  All were pretty tasty, though I did prefer the slightly sweet, not too-dry options.  Sweet wines have never been my thing. 

Between 2006 and 2007 I was living in Vienna, Austria teaching English at a high school just outside of the city, in Klosterneuburg.  The region is HUGE in the wine business and the school I worked at was actually a boarding school for students whose families were in the fruit growing or wine industry.  These students would eventually be taking over the family business or starting wineries of their own.  Needless to say, I learned a LOT about wine that year.  I also learned that you don't have to drink every single taster that is put in front of your face.  Ugh...that was a bad drive on the autobahn.

After that disastrous tasting in Austria, I kind of swore off drinking wine for a long, long time.  It all smelled and tasted like vomit or raw meat (reds).  Not pleasant or appetizing at all.  Give me a nice, refreshing IPA any day!

Fast forward to the last few years and I have really gotten back into wine drinking.  It helps that I live in a pretty awesome wine industry region of Oregon (yeah buddy) and am literally surrounded by excellent wineries.  That being said, I have developed a much better appreciation for the complexity of wine.  I have moved on from the introductory whites and have embraced the glorious reds.   

My tastes now tend to run toward Old Vine Red Zins and Blends.  Mmm...
Some of my favorites (not all are from Oregon...):
So, what kind of wine are you drawn to?

Writer's Workshop is hosted by Kat at Mama's Losin' It

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

End of Year Book Survey: 2015 Edition

The End of the Year Book Survey
This is my second time participating in Jamie's End of the Year Book Survey and I'm so excited to wrap a great year of reading up!  If you're interesting in participating, simply pop over to Jamie's site, The Perpetual Page Turner, and check out the categories.

2015 Reading Stats
Number of Books Read:  84
Number of Re-Reads:  2...I am not a big fan of re-reading books
Genre Read the Most:  Literary Fiction

Best in Books
Best Book You Read
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell...because it made my heart so warm and fuzzy :)
Book You Were Most Excited About, Thought You'd Love, But Didn't
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell.  I had such high hopes and I was very disappointed...
Most Surprising Read
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan.  I love this book so much!
Book You "Pushed" People To Read
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson.  Really, I push people to read either of Lawson's books...and her blog.

Best Series Started?  Best Sequel?  Best Series Ender?
StartedAll The Things I've Done (Birthright #1) by Gabrielle Zevin.  This was chosen solely on its cover (for a challenge) and I loved it!
SequelThe Fate of Ten (Lorien Legacies #6) by Pittacus Lore.  This one was probably my favorite in the series thus far...and I can't wait until the next installation.
EnderBlood Magick (The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy #3) by Nora Roberts.  I didn't love this series, but it was the only series completer I finished last year...
Favorite New Author
Elizabeth Wein

Best Book From a Genre You Don't Typically Read/Out of Your Comfort Zone
Seeders: A Novel by AJ Colucci.  Science Fiction/Thriller.  Really good!
Most Action Packed/Thrilling/Un-Put-Downable
The Fate of Ten by Pittacus Lore or Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall or Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes.  Gah!  There're too many to choose from...
Book Most Likely to ReRead
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell or any from The Lorien Legacy Series by Pittacus Lore.

Favorite Cover
Yes Please by Amy Poehler.  I could have chosen one that has a beautiful dress (as so many did), but this one popped out to me.  Yay for hot pink!
Most Memorable Character
Habo from Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan.  I just wanted to cuddle him in my arms and protect him from the world.
Most Beautifully Written
H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald for its sensitive dealings with grief, acceptance, and moving on or Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson for its honest portrayal of anxiety, depression, and social disorders.

Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing
This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman
Book You Can't Believe You Waited Until 2015 To Read
1984 by George Orwell.  This was never required reading for some reason.  I love Orwell and I can't believe it took me this long to read it!  So good!
Favorite Passage/Quote
"How strange the way we wade into disaster, step after step, not realizing how far we've gone until we're drowning." The Hundred-Year Flood by Matthew Salesses

Shortest/Longest Book
ShortestMarvel Zombies 4 by Fred Van Lente (128 pages)
LongestThe Walking Dead, Compendium 1 by Robert Kirkman (1088 pages)
Book That Shocked You
Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk.  It's pretty graphic in some of the sexual situations...
OTP Of The Year
Cath and Levi from Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  Sigh...so adorable...
Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship
Queenie (Verity) and Maddie (Kittyhawk) from Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Favorite Book from an Author Read Previously
Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson
Best Books Read Solely Based on a Recommendation
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.  I loved this book so much.  So much!
Newest Fictional Crush
Will Cooper from Slammed by Colleen Hoover...I guess...
Best 2015 Debut
Shadowgirl by Kate Ristau.  Though technically not Ristau's first book, it is her first fiction piece...so I'm counting it!

Best Worldbuilding/Vivid Setting
Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy.  It is such a fun series and you can really see the paths the characters take.  The hamster fortress?!  Awesome!
Most Fun to Read
As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of the Princess Bride by Cary Elwes.  The behind the scenes shenanigans of such a beloved movie were great to read through. 
Book That Made You Cry/Nearly Cry
The Fate of Ten by Pittacus Lore.  I can't give anything away...but Eight! 

Hidden Gem
Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall or Shadowgirl by Kate Ristau.  These two Northwest authors are off to a great start.  Both stories are engaging and suck you in.
Book That Crushed Your Soul
Fairest by Marissa Meyer...only because I could totally see where Levana was coming from...but I still couldn't excuse it!  Ugh...
Most Unique Read
Liz A Stratton Closes the Store by Maren Bradley Anderson.  A great independent read based on the comedy, Lysistrata.
Book That Made You Mad
Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan.  I wanted to hurt everyone who was after Habo. 

Blogging/Bookish Life
New Favorite Blog
Victim to Charm.  I have really enjoyed the variety and thought-provoking issues that Sabina posts about.  It's also pretty random that she's a fellow Oregonian...who just happens to live on the other side of the country at the moment.
Favorite Review Written
The Cellist of Sarajevo: A Review It's such a beautiful, quiet book.  I really slacked on my reviews the past year, so there weren't that many to choose from. 
Best Discussion/Non-Review Post
Top Ten Tuesday:  Freebie!  I went with a selection of series that I had recently begun and needed to finish.  There are, not surprisingly, quite a few!
Best Event Participated In
Bookish Bingo was awesome!  I am also a huge, huge fan of the A-Z Blogging Challenge and have been participating for the past several years.  It really promotes consistent posting.
Best Moment of Bookish/Blogging Life
It's really lame, but when Matthew Salesses favorite my Tweet about his book, The Hundred-Year Flood
Most Popular Post
Most popular by views:  Writer's Workshop:  I'd Live There
Most popular by discussion:  Writer's Workshop:  Disney Princesses
Post You Wish Got More Love
All of them ;)
Best Bookish Discovery
Bookperk and Ebooks
Reading Challenges/Goals Completed
GoodReads Challenge 2015 (84 books); The A-Z Blogging Challenge; Bout of Books 13, 14, and 15; the 3rd Annual Beat the Heat Readathon; Bookish Bingo New Year Edition 2015; and a few personal reading challenges with fellow readers.

Looking Ahead
Book Not Gotten to in 2015/Top Priority in 2016
All the books!  There are so many that I totally meant to read last year but wasn't able to get to.  I'm hoping to finally knock some of my TBR down...
Book You're Most Anticipating (non-debut)
Duh!  The newest Harry Potter!  I am so freakin' excited for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!!!

2016 Debut You're Anticipating
Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa.  This book sound so intriguing.
Series Ending/Sequel Most Anticipating
The Winds of Winter by George RR Martin...if it ever gets published!
Hope To Accomplish in Blogging/Reading Life
Consistency in blogging.  I start off really well at the beginning of the year and then fade away...
2016 Release You've Already Read/Recommend to Everyone
Nothing...I can't believe I haven't read a 2016 book yet!  Whoa...

Whew...what a long post!  Thanks for sticking it out :)

Happy reading!