a month of faves

#AMonthofFaves: Reading Challenges & Goals Update

So I had some goals and signed up for some reading challenges last year. You can see the original post about all of that here.

I switched to self-hosting, which I thought was what I really wanted but decided it was not. I came back to LJ after much angst. Then, today, I posted on my Englishist blog that I am actually going to keep blogging there because it is useful for some of the blogging I want to do. Basically, I'm going to keep it going for in-depth book reviews and to sign up for challenges and talk about teaching. I'll keep using LJ for other loosey-goosey stuff like posting about my days and more reflective stuff (i.e., A Month of Faves!).

I do love my new layout over at Englishist, and while I enjoy it, I may revert back to being hosted at Wordpress and keeping it simple. I will keep my domain name since I plan to keep using it. Sometimes you have to get what you think you want to realize what you really need. It happens.

As for reading goals, I read way more audiobooks this year than last year (12 vs. way less than that). I definitely read over 20 adult books (so far). I exploded both my Goodreads and Diversity on the Shelf challenges (GR: 99/50; DR: 46/25). Normally, at this point, I would say we don't talk about the TBR Challenge, but I guess now is the time to talk about the TBR Challenge.

Here's the deal: I hate assigned reading. I do so much of it throughout the year as an instructor and with my book clubs that I really do like to just read what I want when I want the rest of the time. You know, as the wind takes me. So while the TBR Challenge was good in theory, the prescriptive nature of it didn't work for me. However, I did attempt to read a good portion of the books, so in that way it was definitely a good thing.

My TBR challenge list:

  1. What Our Stories Teach Us: A Guide to Critical Reflection for College Faculty by Linda K. Shadiow

  2. Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker by Marla Martenson — DNF on 1/10/15 (29/253 pgs)

  3. Skim by Mariko Tamaki — finished on 1/17/15 (review)

  4. Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking: A 14 Day Mystery by Erin Dionne — DNF on 1/23/15 (160/256 pgs) (review)

  5. The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media by Brooke Gladstone

  6. Life Is a Verb by Patti Digh

  7. The Candymakers by Wendy Mass — finished on 1/23/15 (review)

  8. Truly, Madly, Deadly by Hannah Jayne — finished on 1/27/15 (review)

  9. Black No More by George S. Schuyler

  10. 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody -- finished on 3/15/15

  11. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

  12. Over You by Amy Reed


  • Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley — finished on 2/13/15 (review)

  • Tell Us We’re Home by Marina Budhos

So I attempted to read 7 of the 14 and actually finished 5. That's not bad at all.

I want to do the Diversity on the Shelf challenge again, but Alysia has fallen off the face of the blogging earth (she is in school and swamped so it's totally understandable). If anyone knows if someone is hosting a similar challenge, please let me know.
a month of faves

#AMonthofFaves: Picking Favorites #2

Another two-fer today. First, authors I will be checking out more work from that I read for the first time this year:

  • Aimee Bender (The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake)

  • K.L. Going (Pieces of Why)

Since I got back into audiobooks this year after a year-long hiatus, I'm also super excited about these two narrators I discovered this year:

  • Bahni Turpin (Smek for President!, Till You Hear from Me)

  • Bronson PInchot (The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom)

They are both fantastic. In fact, I may even seek out more books that Pinchot has narrated whether I know the author's work or not. He is that good.

Finally, some cool stuff from reading everyone else's posts this week:

  • I learned about The Republic of Tea Peppermint Bark tea from Tara @ Running ’n’ Reading. My daughter loves peppermint bark AND tea, so I will probably get her this for Christmas next year.

  • I'm probably going to read The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck by Sarah Knight based on Andi’s recommendation

  • Katie in MA’s description of how she and her family celebrate Advent and Christmas made me jealous and now I want to play.

Grades go in Monday, so I'm hoping to participate in and read even more posts this week. Happy end of the semester to me!
reading is crazy!

A Month of Faves: Top Ten Most Memorable Books Read This Year

None of these got five stars! Also, some of them I was going to blog about at The Englishist, but either didn't get around to it or got too busy.

1. Till You Hear from Me by Pearl Cleage -- It has my new most hated fictional character behind Umbridge.

2. Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova -- Super cute and funny middle grade with really fun artwork.

3. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews -- Fun with format!

4. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender -- This was more of a 4.5 star book for me, and I really wish I had someone to talk about it with in depth. In fact, I want my book club to read it.

5. Diary of a Girl Next Door: Betty by Tania del Rio -- I was super into Archie Comics when I was younger, and I really dug this book from Betty's POV.

6. The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy -- I listened to this on audio and Bronson Pinchot's narration was so flawless that I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.

7. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon -- This book made me so angry. I was at a holiday party over the weekend and got a chance to rant about it. I WILL RANT FOREVER IF GIVEN THE CHANCE. *grumble grumble*

8. A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray -- There is a grossly irresponsible plot point in here that I found pretty unforgivable and that soured me on the book.

9. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley -- There are bird people. It's weird.

10. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron -- Okay, one five-star book. It did change my life after all.
a month of faves

Picking Favorites

This is a combo post for Dec. 3's topic and today's! Basically, I only have one new favorite of 2015, and it is the GIF Keyboard, which used to only be available on my phone but is now available for the Macbook! So, basically, I can be insufferable both in text messages/on FB/on the ENTIRE INTERNET.

It is the greatest most magical thing ever.

Also, aside from reconnecting with all of the wonderful people here on LJ, I have ALSO discovered the dirigible plum's blog, and she is an academic who mostly reads/posts about YA lit but also kind of realized she may want to branch out into some other loves. So, basically, I could relate deeply to this post.

I am definitely looking forward to discovering more blogs and bloggers and amazing wonderfulness. 😍 for this event. Seriously.

ETA: I have visited almost all the blogs, but if you don't allow anon comments, I can't comment with any of my other accounts because Blogger hates me, apparently.
a month of faves

5 Popular Books Worth the Hype

Hype is subjective here, I know. Mostly I'm thinking books other people have said are good or life-changing or amazing. I don't really follow new releases or anything, but I do notice what other people are talking about, so here are five books that have gotten a lot of press or buzz or come highly recommended that I actually dug.

1. The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron - Melissa told me that this book is "magic." I read it (and did the whole deal) because I taught creative writing for the first time, and the woman who taught it previously used the book. Her students all seemed to love it, and she raved about it. So is it magic? Absolutely. It changed my life.

2. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - Well, Shonda Rhimes is kind of a big deal (you may have heard of her: her production company owns ABC's Thursday nights) and she's been doing a ton of press for it, and she is everywhere. The book itself is amazing and I loved it. Very chatty, lots of humor, and, of course, honest. She also manages to be extremely personal without divulging details about her personal life.

3. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson - Lots of people I follow on Goodreads and in the blogosphere have raved about this series. I've read volumes 1-3 of this series, and Kamala Khan is the best ever. I love that the series tackles real life issues while also letting Kamala be 100% a teenager and the biggest and best fangirl EVER.

4. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume - Well, it's Judy Blume, and people tend to love her. I skipped over most of her books when I was an adolescent. I don't really know why or how. (Seriously, the only books of hers I remember hearing anything about is Just as Long as We're Together and Here's to You, Rachel Robinson.) She was so not on my radar, basically. But this book right here shows why she is JUDY BLUME. I wish more current YA was like this.

5. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews - I saw the movie first and read the book second. Reading the book made me appreciate the movie a whole lot more. This book is about how cancer sucks. Period. But it is funny and real and the voice and characters are great. I won't pretend it isn't problematic, but I found it to be worth my time and the read. I recommend it.
a month of faves

#AMonthofFaves {My Reading Year}

So I super dig this blog event and am happy to participate in it again (last year I was posting over at The Englishist). Basically, I'll spend the month of December talking about a few of my favorite things--mostly books. All of the topic posts can be found here.

Hahahaha, so I started this post during class and then my browser crashed and nothing saved except the previous paragraph. Because why not? Sigh.

Anyway, I have read a ton this year, more than years previous. I exploded my Goodreads challenge. My goal was 75 books, and I've read 95 as of today. And the year's not over yet! (I have two must reads on my Kindle right now that I know I'm going to finish, so.)

So, I was going to write a bit about how I'm disenchanted/dissatisfied with YA right now, but then I looked over my books read list and saw that YA still makes up the vast majority of my reading. By a huge margin. However, I have started dipping my toe more in middle grade (it lacks pretentiousness! which is what I usually love about YA!) and also even into more adult fiction that's not just prescribed by my book club. So I think I just need to vary my reading a bit more so I don't get as frustrated by the sameness of the YA I read.

(True story: my daughter read Joy Luck Club and LOVED IT and said she wanted more books like that because she totally identified with one of the characters. She does not find that same identification in the YA novels she has read. And, in fact, said to me: "All the books you read are the same." I have felt the same way lately is what I'm getting at. Mostly because I want to read about real teens doing real things and most of the YA I have encountered is...not that. So! That's where we are.)

My favorite reads of the year have, of course, been about real teens/people doing real things. Except for maybe one or two about superheroes and possibly one about a crayon. But even those are mostly grounded in reality.

Also, despite SOME PEOPLE thinking that I rarely give five stars to book, I have read 10 five-star books so far this year. So there.

I also got back into audiobooks this year and read 12 books that way so far. That number should increase by at least one since I'm next in line for an audiobook at the library right now.

Reading, man. I did a lot of it, basically.
randomly ever after

November is over, hello: reading and TV roundup

That makes no sense!

Anyway. I did enjoy doing monthly roundups, but since I'm back here I'm going to talk some about TV, too. TV! YAY. But first,Collapse )

I liked ALL of these books, which is A+. Stand outs are Year of Yes and Pieces of Why, which were five-star worthy on Goodreads. (I'm on Goodreads, btw, if you're into that sort of thing.) I'll talk more about them next month during A Month of Faves, which I'm super excited about. I LOVE END OF YEAR LISTS. And lists in general. So it's going to be a big old list-o-rama around here.

I am also interested in this event even if I have nothing to contribute to some of the topics. (I haven't read that many 2015 releases, for example, nor do I keep up with when books are released) I figure on those days I'll just do my own thing. And I cannot in good conscience list my top ten books of the year on December 21. I do so much reading over winter break! So I may just do that on the 30th. Basically, I probably shouldn't even sign up for it, but I might anyway. Or at least link back to it when I actually post my bastardized versions.

As for TV, WELL. I just have to accept that I'm in the half-hour comedy phase of my life. I had to delete my season pass to The Flash because I am always three or more episodes behind. (Also, stuff about the show was getting on my nerves, so I think I need to just save it for summer.)

I also had to delete Blackish because I find the humor meanspirited and I don't like ANY of the characters. It's kind of a problem.

Current season passes, in no particular order:
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Masterchef Junior doesn't count in the no hour-long shows because I can totally do other stuff while I'm watching it. Even if I am about two episodes behind.

Also, I feel like I'm missing something from that list.

Mom & The Grinder are the whitest shows I watch (SERIOUSLY. SO WHITE), but I love them both anyway. Grandfathered is great. My daughter and I have decided that Josh's character's name should be Ernest because he is SO EARNEST. Also, that baby is the cutest baby ever. Seriously, she is so cute. I comment on it at least twice per episode. Fresh Off the Boat and B99 continue to make me happy and bring me joy. So yay for that.

Today while watching Jeopardy! I learned that Agatha Christie wrote six romance novels under the name Mary Westmacott, so you know that stays in rotation. (I watch it while I eat breakfast, which means I'm usually behind on that as well.)

That's all I got for TV talk this week. Oh, except: Tell me where I can find icons for these shows!

Okay, that's really it.

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, today is Thanksgiving. I'm spending it with friends in TN where it is cold. However, today is actually a pretty decent day (near 60˚) and sunny. Just one of the many things to be thankful for. rachg82 posted 30 things she's thankful for in honor of the number of days in November, and I'm going to try for 30 as well.

What I'm thankful for today:

1. recovery, always
2. my daughter's recovery
3. the amazing team my daughter has guiding her through managing her ADHD and anxiety
4. my family -- specifically that I can share a place with my parents and we're getting along relatively well
5. although I spent most of the Sept. through the beginning of Nov. in the red, all of my needs were met
6. having good credit
7. no longer having to take probiotics for my stomach
8. my stomach has mostly settled so that I am no longer constantly bloated, in pain, or on the toilet (TMI!)
9. having a job that I love
10. getting new opportunities at work
11. having a great network of friends
12. the coffee shop where I do most of my grading
13. Songza
13. Coffitivity
14. the GIF keyboard
15. TV
16. the library
17. living in Florida where it is warm

I know there's more, but I can't think of anything else (I started the list before we left for dinner and now we're back and my brain is fried. I had to take an allergy pill because the people hosting have four huge dogs, so I'm pretty much done). So yes, lots to be thankful for, for sure.

I hope everyone had a wonderful day.

Why I came back to LJ

1. I started real name blog because, at the time, I wanted to establish a professional online presence for myself. Then, I thought I was going to be a young adult lit scholar who discussed books all the time, so it seemed like a good idea to take my book posts to another platform and establish myself as a book blogger. I am no longer interested in being a YA lit scholar, nor do I care about having that type of professional presence. I am instead going to do a webpage at my job and let that be that.

2. When I say I could never relax into it, I could never relax into it. Almost everything I posted over there felt stilted and formal. Not only that but i felt this overwhelming pressure to Produce Content. And schedule posts and think about when people would be reading and more likely to respond, etc. While no one specifically ever told me to do these things, lots of posts in the blogosphere are about creating content and sticking to a posting schedule and monetizing your blog and on and on. And features! Have a feature so people will associate your blog with something!

Yeah, that was sucking the life out of me. And while intellectually I know I could post whatever I wanted, something about the platform made me feel differently. I couldn't make the unconscious shift. So I made a physical one.

3. I would rather just post my book reviews at Goodreads and maybe do a round up post about what I'm reading. So basically how I used to talk about books over here.

4. I found myself wanting to talk about TV, but I am always behind on TV. And cut tags are so much easier than spoiler brackets. And also, again, see #2 about the time table and the schedule.

5. I decided to let the paid domain expire and just go back to the free Wordpress blog. If I did that, I reasoned, I could post whenever I want. Oh, and I could also do posts on different stuff. But guess what? I already have a place where I did that. Here.

6. I noticed that the book bloggers who seemed most comfortable were blogging on the platform they had started with--whether it was blogger or Wordpress. Then I remembered that I used to have a voice. And that the posts I liked over at real name blog were the ones where I posted off the cuff and/or talked about my life more. I wanted to do more of that, but I also wanted to be able to choose what was public or not. And, oh wow, sounding more and more like LJ again, yes? Yes.

7. I never worried about creating visual interests with my posts. Finding GIFs. You know what creates visual interest at LJ? Icons. You know what I miss? ICONS. I LOVE THEM. They are the thing I miss most about posting at LJ (except the people/community, of course). Even on Twitter or FB, I would think, "Ugh, I sure wish I could use an LJ icon right now to perfectly encapsulate what I'm thinking/feeling." You know what I have over 200 of at LJ? Icons.

8. It would take me FOREVER to write posts. I was so self-conscious. So annoying. Forever and ever and ever. I would leave them and come back to them. Again, something about the platform.

9. I can still participate in all the memes and stuff like Month of Faves (which I'm super excited about) from here. (That is what almost got me hanging on to real name blog until the new year, and then I was like, "Duh.")

10. When I was thinking about how maybe it was time for a return to LJ, I ran across this article, which really reminded me how great LJ is and why I always enjoyed posting here.

11. No other platform works for me like LiveJournal does. I enjoy Facebook a lot because all of my RL friends that have moved away are there, and it's a great way to keep in touch with them and their kids. But it's not a blog. I still have a love/hate relationship with Twitter. On the days I like it, I really like it. On the days I hate it...well. I still don't get Tumblr. And I hate that you can't actually have a conversation on there without reblogging or some other such nonsense. I know fandom left LJ, which is fine, but I'm not on LJ for fandom, and I never have been. I don't even do anything that fannish except maybe talk about TV and books, and I stopped doing that with the intensity I used to a long time ago. So, you know, I stll need a blog space that fills the needs I always used LJ for and still offers the community--even if it is smaller.

12. I'm old. I don't need what's new and hot. I need what works for me.

13. There is no thirteen.
contrary for contrary's sake

like that time Jordan quit basketball

So, I have decided to get my head out of my ass and start posting here again. More importantly, I am shutting down my other blog and just being about my LJ business. IT SUITS ME.

I have missed you all.

Also, I know I was an asshole to bunch of people here when I didn't care about my own feelings so didn't care about anybody else's. First and foremost, I'm truly sorry for mistreating you. Second, if you're still around and reading, let me know so we can friend/refriend each other, yeah?

Plus also, if you want to know how serious I am about sticking around, I have updated my layout and plan to reorganize my icons. So.

I look forward to reconnecting with you all, basically.