TSS ~ Blindfold the Groundhog! I’m Protesting Winter!

The Sunday Salon.com
Okay, so I’ve had just about enough of this wispy white and cold crap.  I’m not fond of having my breath stolen from my lungs because it’s so cold it’s painful to breathe in at all.  Maybe if I just hibernate for the rest of the winter?  Gah!  I’d still have to go out to get groceries.  Oh, well… I guess it’s either run away to Florida or just suck it up.  Since I don’t have the money for a road trip, I guess that means I’m in for the sucking part.

So, January was a fairly productive reading month.  I finished off eight books, and am about half way through two others.  Since just having year-long goals only made me quick to start and race to the finish, while dropping off the face of the reading world the other five or so months, I decided to post monthly plans to keep me accountable :-)

I was surprised I hit 8 last month, but I need to get that every month if I’m going to accomplish all the challenges I’ve signed up for.  There were two books I had planned to read in January that I didn’t get to, so they go on the top of the list.  Also I have  a blog tour book, so that goes to the top, too.  And I’m doing the Lord of the Rings Readalong, so The Fellowship of the Rings is a topper, too.  LOL, heck, they’re all top books!

Currently Reading:

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl ~ I’m reading it with Magggie, and we’re on page 30.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore ~ Really, I’d only picked this one up because Fire is on my ARC-alanche pile, but I’m completely wowwed by this YA fantasy book!  I only wish I’d read it sooner!

Planed Reading:

The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green by Terra Wellington ~ This is one of the two I’d meant to get to in January.  It was won in the March 2009 ER batch, so I’m needing to get it done this month.

Holy Roller by Julie Lyons ~ The second overdue ER book, I think it’s also a March 2009.

Tainted by Brooke Morgan ~ I’m down for February 24th for the TLC Book Blog tour.  I’m looking forward to reading this one, it sounds intriguing.

The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy ~ I have a second book for a giveaway for this one :-)

Strange but True, America by John Hafnor ~ I also have a second book to giveaway on this fun book ;-)

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkein ~ I’ll probably space this out all month so I can both enjoy it to the most, as well as get it done while reading everything else.

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I also intend to keep up on my Google Reader.  I’ve done really well at keeping it under 100, which I was feeling panicky about that much until Jen and Natasha were laughing at me and wanting to get theirs below 1000.  Okay, I’ll stop stressing because there’s 20 still sitting in my reader… lol.  And I’m trying to post something everyday.  I only missed 3 days in January, and if I can get a few rainy day posts in the can, I should be able to have one everyday.  I’ve been thinking about doing some mini-reviews of books I read before blogging. 

So what kinds of post would you like me to do?  Does anyone miss Viral Video Wednesday?  What are you planning to read in February?

Reading May Be Challenging, But So Is Saying NO!

Literary Escapism New Author Challenge 2010Yeah, yeah… I’m already in book-deep with all I would like to accomplish with my reading this year, especially if I get distracted by some new fancy and forget to read for a couple months, but I couldn’t help signing up for a couple more reading challenges!

Well, one isn’t really a stretch for me.  Literary Escapism is hosting the New Author Challenge 2010, and I figured this would be an EASY challenge for me given the majority of my planned reading this year (and it’s pretty much all planned already) is reading ARCs by authors new to the publishing field and therefore new to me.

I want this to be an easy challenge, so you can pick to do either 15, 25 or 50 new authors.  It all depends on how fast you read and how adventurous you want to be.  For me, I’m trying another 50 new authors.  If you reach your goal halfway through the year, don’t stop.

So, if you’ve seen the ARC-alanche page, which I plan on reading everything on it by the end of this year, then you’ll see that signing up for 50 new authors is an easy thing since there are over 60 titles there ;-)  AND I’ve already finished 2 with Erick Setiawan and Lori Handeland, so I’ve only got 48 more to go!

By the way, if you hurry over and sign up for this one, you could be the 100th person in Mr. Linky :-) (Mr. Monk would love that!)

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Terry Pratchett 2010 ChallengeDuring Bloggiesta, while doing the “comment on a new-to-you blog” mini-challenge, I found out there was a Terry Pratchett reading challenge and squirmed with delight… and pain.  I wanted to do it so badly!  I loved Nation by Pratchett, as well as The Color of Magic mini-series, and wished I could read a few of his books this year.  But, ALAS! my reading schedule is so full already, when and how could I slip in more?

Then I found out I’d only have to read ONE book for it, and surely I could slip in ONE book, right?

Marg at ReadingAdventures is hosting the Terry Pratchett 2010 Reading Challenge

The challenge will start from 1 December 2009 and run through to 30 November 2010. There are several different levels of participation for you to choose from:

1-3 books – Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint
4-5 books – Guard of the City Watch
6-8 books – Academic at the Unseen University
9-10 books – Member of Granny Weatherwax’s Coven
10-12 books – Death’s Apprentice

You can either be reading the books for the first time, rereading, or even watching the TV adaptations if you like! As long as everyone has fun I will be happy! Please also do not feel limited to only reading the Discworld books as any books by Terry Pratchett will count for this challenge.

I’m going for the Cashier level, but may end up a little higher, given you can watch the shows, too.  I wouldn’t mind watching The Color of Magic once or twice.. or ten times.. more.  Tim Curry, Sean Astin, that guy from Braveheart who played Hamish’s dad, and Rincewind.. lol.  I have to smile just thinking about Rincewind and Death (who was voiced by Christopher Lee) arguing. 

My planned reading for this so far is:

  • The Color of Magic -already on my “currently reading” pile
  • Good Omens co-authored with Neil Gaiman – I’m dying to get to this one!

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Jane Austen ChallengeHonestly, I’ve felt a bit lazy and guilty for not having a Jane Austen challenge on my list.  I failed miserably on last year’s challenge, but I think that was due to poor planning and organization.  Hopefully that’ll improve this year, so I’m signing up for another go ’round with Jane.  I still have Persuasion to read of her novels, and I have Sanditon, Lady Susan and The Watsons on my to-read list.  Plus Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is somewhere on Mt TBR.  AND I know I’m gonna read her anyway, so why not do it in a challenge.

Haley at the Life (and Lies) of an Inanimate Flying Object (what a name for a blog!) is hosting a Jane Austen Challenge this year.

–Levels:

**Newbie 2 books by J. Austen, 2 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

**Lover 4 books by J. Austen, 4 re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

** Fanatic 6+ books by J. Austen, 5+ re-writes, prequels, sequels, or spoofs (by other authors)

I believe this is a READING challenge, so movie adaptations and such wouldn’t be included, so I’m just going to shoot for Newbie level since, as I said before, my reading planner is already exploding.  My planned reading for this is:

  • Persuasion – already on my currently-reading stack
  • Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon
  • Pride and Prejudice and Zombies with Seth Grahame-Smith

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Maybe I should change this blog title to “Confessions of a Reading Challenge Addict”?  Though, I KNOW some of you are even WORSE than me.  Y’all are a BAD influence!  LOL  Which is why I love ya ;-)

Bloggiesta progress update #2

Pedro

I’m still trying to figure out how to use the Google Reader sharing thinger, and if I make comments there, do they show up on the original post?  IDK… I’m trying to find a more effective way to use the blogroll without it taking up 29 inches long of blogspace.  Meghan at Medieval Bookworm has a nice little widget, why can’t I get one for mine?  *whine whine whine*

Other things I’ve done:

I updated all the links on my I Want More Kool-Aid! page.  Apparently, the BookMooch link there took you to a member’s only page, and was therefore sorta broke.  I also added my Goodreads profile, so if you want to add me on goodreads, now ya can ;-)  And my facebook link is on there, too.

I removed the Giveaways page.  I’ve really been bad about keeping up with that thing anyway.  There was only ONE giveaway listed, and it was for my giveaway of Something Beyond Greatness, which was HOW LONG AGO?

***** ADD break – Since the kids came home and noticed RIGHT AWAY that I was busy and took IMMEDIATELY to fighting like cats and dogs, I put on my MP3 player and cranked it up…. Currently playing:  Mere Saath Chalte Chalte (from the Humko Deewana Kar Gaye soundtrack)

 The girls in this video are all so beautiful, and I just love this movie!  AND… It’s hard to listen to Hindi music without dancing!  Okay, back to work :-) ******

Okay, I cut the ARC-alanche list and pasted it over the Mt. TBR Inventory, deleting all the previous mess.  Then I added the link to my LT catalogue, and renamed the new page It’s an ARC-alanche!!  I had went through and updated the list in anticipation of focusing entirely on these books this year, and STILL I had a book that had escaped the pile… lol.  I think it’s complete now.  As I review books, I’ll add the links and strike off the completed titles.  1 down, 66 to go :-/

And now I’ve got my challenge page updated, including the books I plan to read for each challenge so I can strike them out and link the reviews as I finish them.  I’ve retitled the page Reading is Challenging!

Yay!!  Getting soooo much done!

Okay, so one thing I need to do is to go through and check all my images to make sure they have alt titles, as MawBooks pointed out that the ALT title helps the search engines find the images, and by that, my blog :-)

Then I’m good to go on checking out the mini-challenges, I think :-D

Chips, Dips, Memes and Quips ~ Comenzamos La Bloggiesta!

 Began at 11:05 am, Friday January 8th, 2010

Say hello to my little friend, Pedro! 

Plan.  Edit.  Develop.  Review.  Organize 

K, got my coffee… ate my sausage, egg and cheese biscuit from Hardee’s and I’m working on my country potatoes (mmm… soo much better than hashrounds!), and I’m saving the cinamon raisin biscuit for later.  My rat terrier, Missy, is full and happy after her Monster Biscuit (ham, cheese, egg, cheese, sausage, cheese, bacon and did I mention cheese? on a biscuit – It’s her new favorite from her FAVORITE restaurant), but would you believe that, after all that, she’s still bumming potatoes?  LOL..  Hardee’s is her one vice… that and cat turds fresh from the litter pan. 

My snow boots are kicked off, I’m feeling warm and relaxed, and I’m reading to get down with PEDRO!  Baila conmigo, buddy! 

So here’s what my plans are so far: 

  • I need to update my widgets!  Some of them contain info from last summer, some from last year, in general.  I need to bring them up-to-speed.
  • I’m evaluating whether or not to begin a seperate blog for The Welsh Reading Challenge.  A few people have joined (to be honest, more than I had expected, even), and there’s a wealth of titles and resources out there that I could tap.  The question is, however, how deep do I want to get in the challenge when my main reading focus for 2010 is to clear out all my ARCs by the end of the year.
  • I’m debating whether or not to chuck Viral Video Wednesday.  I’ve been lazy with it anyway, and it’s a distraction all week long when I’m really trying to focus on my reading goals.  I love it and enjoy it, but maybe set it aside at least until next year.
  • I need to update my Challenge page, my Mt. TBR inventory and ARC-alanche pages, as well as decide what to do with other pages.
  • I need to update my accepting books policy, because I really don’t want to add more books to the pile unless it’s one I’m dying for and can’t live without.
  • I need to establish a comprehensive and well-defined ratings system.  I feel the way I’ve been rating books is a bit arbitrary, and luckily I’ve found a good one to steal :-D
  • I want to visit everyone’s mini-challenges and check out what everyone else is doing in case there’s anything else I want to steal :-D

That’s about it for now.  But I may add more later.  I’ll update as I complete things! 

 Visit MawBooks‘ Bloggiesta!  Ready, Set… Let’s Fiesta! for other participants, list of mini-challenges and to link your Bloggiesta party!

TSS ~ Birthdays are Challenging for a Jane Austen Spaz!

The Sunday Salon.com

K, so I started doing a Jane-a-thon last year, fully intent on reading all Jane Austen’s books, straight through, in order of publication.  I made it through Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, and Mansfield Park with no trouble…. then came Emma, and I hit a wall.  She was so dense and droning and hard to read… even harder to like any of the characters except Mr. Knightly and Miss Taylor… and I lost steam.  I did finally finish Emma a couple weeks ago, but I’m thinking I need a shot of something to get back on track with it all.

So….

I’ve joined 65 other people in joining Stephanie’s Written Word‘s Everything Austen ChallengeIt’s my first book challenge, other than LibraryThing’s 50 and 75 book challenges, and I’m excited to be doing it :-)

The challenge runs from July 1st, 2009 to January 1st, 2010, and in that six months, I need to do at least six Austen related things, either reading books by her, books about her, books about the characters she wrote or watching movies of the same ilk.  Six Austen-related things will be easy for me…  the hard part will be not doing them all in July out of excitement. :-D

 So my six Austen-themed things are:

  1. Read Northanger Abbey, it’s up next on the Jane-a-thon anyway.
  2. Read Persuasion, which will complete my Jane-a-thon.
  3. Read Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon, which are all by Jane Austen.
  4. Read The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler, which has been on my TBR list for awhile, but I’ve been waiting to finish the novels first.
  5. Read Austenland by Shannon Hale, also a long waiter on Mt. TBR.
  6. Read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which I spazzed out about when I saw it on the shelf at Walmart.

Bonus points will be:

  1. Watching Northanger Abbey
  2. Watching Persuasion
  3. Watching The Jane Austen Book Club
  4. and any other Austen-themed thing I come across :-D

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And since I’m being such a joiner, I think I’ll go ahead and join the War Through the Generations World War II Reading Challenge.  Since it’s running from January 1st, 2009 to December 31st, 2009, I can count books I’ve read since the challenge began.  Pretty easy, really… only 5 books and I’ve read two already.

My list for the WWII Reading Challenge:

  1. The Zookeeper’s Wifeby Diane Ackerman
  2. The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies
  3. The True Story of Hansel & Gretel by Louise Murphy
  4. Stones From the Riverby Ursula Hegi
  5. The Secret Holocaust Diaries:  The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister by Nonna Bannister, Denise George, Carolyn Tomlin
  6. Sarah’s Keyby Tatiana de Rosnay
  7. The Readerby Bernhard Schlink
  8. The Pianist:  The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945by Wladyslaw Szpilman
  9. Number the Starsby Lois Lowry
  10. Night by Elie Wiesel
  11. Guernica by Dave Boling
  12. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  13. The Boy in the Striped Pajamasby John Boyne

These are the WWII-related books on the WWII Reading Challenge list that I have on Mt. TBR.  I’ve already read The Book Thiefby Markus Zusak and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, so I only have 3 to go for the 5 book challenge, and I’ll probably do more. 

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2009 ARC Reading Challenge

2009 ARC Reading Challenge

As they say, “In for a penny, in for a pound,” so I’m going to add one more challenge to my book-challenge-lovefestI’ve got going.  So Many Books, So Little Time is hosting an ARC Reading Challenge.  I know I need to get it in gear with my ARC-alanche pile threatening to cave in… and poor Missy’s bed is just below the stacks, she’ll be crushed!

So, to save my dog and get motivated to get on the stick with these, I’m joining the 2009 ARC Reading Challenge.  For this challenge I am suppose to list all my ARCs and review books (done that on the ARC-alanche pageof Mt. TBR’s inventory), and read 12 of them.  Coolness :-)

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And other tidbits of info….

  • Tomorrow, June 29th, is my birthday, so yay me!  LOL… 
  • In the Shadow of Mt. TBR is a little over a year old, June 16, 2008 was my first post. 
  • Monday is my stop for the Something Beyond Greatness blog tour, and I’ve got an extra copy to give away, so make sure to sign up for a chance to win.  I’ll have a daily post for you to comment on for an extra entry, too.

Have a great Sunday, everyone! :-)

Bloggiesta ~ I Didn’t Play, but I Wish I hadda!

blogiestaI hate housekeeping. 

When I was a kid, and my mom was trying to force me to do my chores, I’d mouth off that I was going to get a maid when I grew up, so I didn’t need to learn how to do dishes or laundry or clean the toilet. 

I’m still waiting for my maid.

This past Friday and Saturday (June 19-20), Natasha at Maw Books hosted the first ever BloggiestaOlé!  The idea was to clean out the broken links, write the reviews you’re behind on, clean out the clutter, and in general bootify yer blog.

Housekeeping.  For my blog.  Blech!  Needless to say, I didn’t sign up. 

However, as I read through everyone else’s Bloggiesta updates and challenges, I found myself doing all the activities and wanting to fix up my blog, too.  I don’t wanna be the family in the trailer with four foot grass and the car on blocks while everyone else has mansions…  Wait, I wanna bootify my place, too!

So here’s some of the things I ended up doing.

1.  Updating Mt. TBR’s inventory page, adding a page for my ARC-alanche pile.  Unfortunately, I got about halfway through the TBR page when LibraryThing pooped out on me, so I’ve still got some more work on that.  It’s no where near what’s allon my TBR shelves.

2.  Stealing a page from Stella Matutina, literally, I’ve written up a review policy for Mt. TBRand linked it in my “contact me” widget on the sidebar.  I didn’t really have a policy before… not one set in stone, anyway, just a  kinda-sorta flimsy plan.  This fact is made painfully obvious by the amount of books on my ARC-alanche pile.

Other things to improve my blog, more on the cosmetic side of life:

One of the things that irk me is that I can’t find a theme that I like… I mean, really like.  The colors on this one seem a bit pale, and the sidebar and main area run together for some unknown reason sometimes, but my problem is:  I wanna knew layout, but hate all the wordpress ones, halp?  Is there a site somewhere that makes them to paste in the CSS thingy like MySpace does?

Another thing I’ve been wondering lately:  Is my site too busy?  Too many pics?  TMI?  Is it navigable and readable, or does it overwhelm and turn off?

A third, and major… in my opinion it’s big, is that there will be a book review change.  I’ve learned that blog posts look a lot different on Google Reader, and I’m beginning to see that the whole itemized list of title, author, publisher and date and page numbers… blah blah blah… is unnecessary.  Who cares what year it was published and how many pages!  It’s making the post needlessly longer.  From now on, the reviews will have the title, author and ISBN only and smaller covers.  Personally, I like the ISBN handy to grab and paste to my wishlist instead of having to sift through similar titles and other books by that author.  Smaller covers, again something I’ve learned from Google Reader, because, while the big ones with detail are pretty, they take up soOOoo much space.

Website Grader, FINALLY!  After months and months of trying to make the web grader inspect my blog, and every time the ‘tarded thing telling me my URL was invalid, I clicked the link “free seo tool” in the gray box to the right and MAGICALLY! it took the URL in the next page.  It was so frustrating to hear everyone tell all about the wonderful things they discovered through this thing, and I couldn’t even get past the front dang door!  BTW… I gots a 95 :-)

Meta whota whata?

Some of the things in the report from Website Grader made sense, but some things left me very confuzzled.  like Meta.  Meta tags.  Meta description.  I’m missin’ out on the Meta deal, but have no clue on how to get hip and get with it!  How do I add the Meta parcels?

 

File that under miscellaneous…

I took time to add the newer awards I’ve received, added the Viral Video Wednesday button, and put my 4Rchallenge button and linked them all up, so now they’re all good to go :-)

RSS feed ~ Fail?

 

  IDK… I’ve tried to use the RSS feed (thank gawd for Google Reader!), but this is what I see:

My view of an RSS feed

Is this what I’m suppose to see?  With all the code and stuff?

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So that’s where I’m at on all the “Keep the Bloggie Beautiful” stuff, though… I figure it’s probably a lot like my desk.  No sooner than I clean it all up, someone will dump a load on it and I’ll have to start over.

Now here’s where I need your help, everyone…

What kinds of things would you suggest to improve Mt. TBR?  Any help is appreciated!

BTT ~ The Library Is the Heart of a Community

btt2

Suggested by Barbara:

I saw that National Library week is coming up in April, and that led to some questions. How often do you use your public library and how do you use it? Has the coffeehouse/bookstore replaced the library? Did you go to the library as a child? Do you have any particular memories of the library? Do you like sleek, modern, active libraries or the older, darker, quiet, cozy libraries?

The trouble I have with borrowing books from the library is that I am horrible at reading them in a timely fashion and I can never decide on one book or two, so I just get all twenty; the result of these failings is that I end up with a lot of fines, my highest fine balance  being over a hundred dollars.  Instead of borrowing books from the library, I get books from BookMooch and PaperBackSwap, as well as buying them from the thrift stores and an occasional brand-new book from Wal-Mart (I used to be a permanent fixture at Waldenbooks, but Border’s shut our store down… I’m still grieving over that loss).

If I never brought home  another book, there are enough books in Mt. TBR’s inventory, and even more in the rest of my home library, to keep me busy for three or four years, maybe more.  What’s more, I also receive ARCs and books from publishers to review, so I doubt I’ll ever run out of books, barring a disaster like a fire or a book thief :-D

No, my main use of our local library is as a place to take my kids.  Our library has family movie events once a month, the last one we went to was “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” and shows for local artists and musicians.  They also have a monthly book sale, though the prices have gone up and up so I’ve gone less and less.  Our library also has a nice computer farm that occupy my kids, during which time I sit in a quiet corner away from everyone and read.

As we live about seven or so blocks from the library we walk there, which gives us time to enjoy the flowers and the world around us, as well as chat about whatever little thing crosses our minds.  A little over six years ago, we lived right behind the library and the kids went everyday, but now we go about once a week, sometimes more, and usually on Saturdays.  The library is a large part of our life, both as a source of entertainment as well as a backdrop for memories.

A few years ago, our library underwent a major renovation that brought the building into the 21st century.  With the installation of a gas fireplace and an open curving staircase with a glass ceiling and window walls, it went from a dreary cement box to one of the most beautiful libraries in our state and winning awards.  After the old one retired, the new director has enlarged the DVD, audio book, and music CD inventory a thousand percent, and has returned the library to public.

Some of my happiest childhood memories take place in a library, and I’m glad that I’m giving the same gift to my children. :-)

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