FFI ~ Kittens and Dead Bodies? Back Through the Stargate, Everybody!

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1. The lesson I learned yesterday was reading a book with your ten-year-old while the new(ish) kitten is diving under the covers and attacking your feet is NOT easy, and very hard to talk over the giggling.

2. Weddings and funerals are where friends and family meet.

3. All these years I’ve looked forward to the kids growing up, and now that they’ve become interested in boys, I’m wishing they could be little again.

4. Like I told the cops, those bodies were like that when I arrived.

5. The truth is I was enjoying the Kyo the kittens play-time as much as Maggie was.

6. The feeling I could’ve died had it not been for the zip line is what I remember most from that day. (I went repelling, and I let go of the hand-loops, but luckily I was also hooked up via a clip, as well)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to finishing up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Maggie and Kyo, tomorrow my plans include our trip to the library and lunch, and watching The Seeker with Mags and maybe starting James and the Giant Peach with her and Sunday, I want to have finished Islands Apart, which I’ve been really enjoying, and watching a few episodes of Stargate!

Check out more Friday Fill-Ins here!

BTW, I’m a little frightened of the fact that when I went and added “dead bodies” to the tags, I had already used that before 😮

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Welsh Reading Challenge Blog is Up!

The Welsh Reading Challenge 2010 blog is now online and ready to go 🙂

I’m so excited!  It is, of course, NOT done… are they ever done?  But I think it’s ready to receive visitors 🙂

I’m fairly pleased with the theme, a nice green and red coloring that goes well with the Welsh flag and our challenge button.  I’m open to suggestions on what more I can do with it, so feel free to let me know.

The Welsh Reading Challenge 2010

The Welsh Reading Challenge blog is open for business!

Also, I need a Mr. Linky, but the site hates me.  I paid for the gold subscription so I can make my own meme, since the Mr. Linky blog said I had to for WordPress… or something.  All I want is a nice, EASY, challenge to manage so I can spend as much time reading and researching for it without having to spend to much time learning GEEK.  I suppose that’s the wish of most book bloggers.

There’s a suggested reading page for titles that I’ve found, plan to read myself, or have been otherwise suggested but not necessarily reviewed.  There’s a separate page for the reviews, of which there are none at the moment, but I expect at least one soon… Charlie and The Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl isn’t taking Mags and me very long to read 😉

I’ve also included a call for Welsh material in the “Contact Me” widget, and I made a dedicated email account just for the challenge in expectation of a flood of offers 😀  Okay, I hope… am optimistic… or just want to keep the challenge stuff separate from my regular reading and email.  I get a bunch of junk in it, and would hate to accidentally delete something good. 

Feel free to suggest anything else I might have missed, especially since it is my first challenge.  I’m open to all the help I can get!

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 😉

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 😀
  • 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 😀

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!

Welsh Reading Challenge

Well, after Googling ever combination of Welsh, Author, Book, Reading, Challenge, etc, that I could think of, I can’t find a single reading challenge that focuses on my own family heritage (that’d be Welsh, if you didn’t guess it already 😉 ).  So, what better to make my very first sponsored challenge than a Welsh one?

I’m both nervous and excited about starting a book challenge, especially since I’ve got such a focused reading plan for this year.  How can I fit more books in?  But if I don’t plan to read them, I may never “be in the mood” to read books I really DO want to read.  Which is why I decided to create the WELSH READING CHALLENGE 😀

So the first thing a challenge needs is a button, and I got that.  It’s not the most incredibly creative, I suppose, and if anyone wants to make one for it, I’m open to it.

Welsh Reading Challenge 2010

1.  So next we need some rules…

Read at least one book in 2010 that is either by a Welsh author, takes place in Wales, or is about Welsh people (immigrants, descendants, etc).  Pretty simple 🙂

2.  And now we need levels to shoot for:

Efydd bathodyn (bronze medal) – Read one to three Welsh-related books between now and December 31st, 2010 to receive a bronze medal.

Arian bathodyn (silver medal) – Read four to six Welsh-related books by December 31st, 2010 for the silver medal rank.

Aur bathodyn (gold medal) – Read seven or more Welsh-related books in before the end of 2010 and be a gold-medalist!

I’m planning to read one Welsh-related book per month which will put me well into the Aur bathodyn range 😉  (BTW, I do not speak Welsh… try as I might, I have no one to practice with so my Cymraeg pretty much always sucks… so it’s quite possible that I’ve totally botched up the translations.  I used this online translator, so if you know the correct terms, leave a comment and I’ll correct it.)

3.  Post about it on your blog, leave a comment here to let me know and leave the link of reviews.  I’d love to make a page and do a monthly update of what everyone’s doing.  LOL.. though, everyone may just be me.  You can list which books you plan to read, but you don’t have to.

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And now for my planned Welsh Reading Challenge books:

1.  The Mabinogion – From the Amazon.com page -“Drawing on myth, folklore and history, the stories of the “Mabinogion” passed from generations of storytellers before they were written down in the thirteenth century in the form we know. Set in dual realms of the forests and valleys of Wales and the shadowy otherworld, the tales are permeated by a dreamlike atmosphere. In “Math Son of Mathonwy” two brothers plot to carry off the virginal Goewin, while in “Manawydan Son of Llyr” a chieftain roams throughout Britain after a spell is cast over his land. And King Arthur’s court provides the backdrop to tales such as “How Culhwch Won Olwen”, in which a young man must complete many tasks before he can marry a giant’s daughter.”  Basically, it’s like this… last year when I was looking for Welsh books, this one popped up.  It’s ancient, and so it’s like Uber-Cymraeg, right?  (LOL… linguists all over the world are having a stroke over that one)

2 and 3.  Aberystwyth Mon Amour and Last Tango in Aberystwyth by Malcolm Pryce – Noir detective novels with cool cover art and fun titles that take place in the Welsh city Aberystwyth.  He’s the best… and the only… Private Eye in town.  I’m really looking forward to reading these.

4.  A Writer’s House in Wales by Jan Morris – Journalist and National Geographic writer, Jan Morris, reflects on her home in Wales, her heritage and the history of the land.  Another one that I’ve been looking forward to reading.

5.  Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas – I don’t think a Welsh reading list could be complete without something by Dylan Thomas on it.  Most people know the line “Do not go gentle into that good night,” which is a Thomas poem.  Under Milk Wood is a play, and it’ll be new to me.  Before coming across the play, I’d only thought Thomas had wrote poetry.

6.  How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn – When I came across this treasure at the library sale last year, I actually broke out in a little victory dance.  I have been wanting to read it for a long time, and NOW I could finally do it!  Well… lol… can and actually DOING so are two different things.  This book is one of the reasons for THIS challenge.  It’s the story of a Welsh family in a coal town, how close they are as a family and community, and how the mining strike and later mechanization affected and fractured them forever.  It’s a before and after view, and shows how we have to give up a lot to get modern conveniences and luxuries and who has to pay.  Sometimes, even, we may want to take a second look at whether it’s worth the loss.

7.  Here Be Dragons by Sharon Kay Penman – LOL, I got this book basically because of the name.  It’s the first Penman’s Welsh Trilogy.  Oddly enough, I generally run in terror from “historical fiction” stuff… but because it’s “Welsh”, well, that’s a different matter.

8.  The Welsh Girl by Peter Ho Davies – I had planned on reading this for the World War II challenge last year, but never got to it.  I’m hoping to get it read for sure this year.  I read a few blog reviews of it late 2008-early 2009, and thought it sounded really good, but it just never migrated off the long-range TBR shelf.

9.  On Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin – is a story of twin brothers living on a farm on the Welsh/English border.  The book description says it gives a wonderful description of the loneliness of life in rural Wales.  Hmm…  sounds a bit like rural Appalachia, which makes sense, given quite a few of the Welsh immigrants (including my own family’s ancestors) came through that area.

10.  The Journey Through Wales and The Description of Wales by Gerald of Wales –  after my failure to get through The Conquest of Gaul, I’m not sure how I’ll fair with this one.  Hopefully, the whole “war report” stuff Caesar wrote is why I couldn’t make it, and Gerald will be a wonderful historian to read.  For some reason, though, I’m feeling a bit like Catherine Morland at the moment… Historians inflict torture on people by writing books. 

11.  A String In the Harp by Nancy Bond – YA fantasy that takes place in Wales.

12.  Evans Above (Constable Evans Mystery) by Rhys Bowen – takes place in a small Welsh village, and looks like such a fun read 🙂

Okay, there’s my twelve.  MAYBE, I’ll try for some more, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to fit much more into it.  There’s more I’d like to read… like Sheepshagger by Niall Griffiths, that one looks like it’d make Palahniuk sick.  And I’d love to know what other great Welsh books there are out there.

I’m so excited to get reading!

Update:  The Welsh Reading Challenge now has it’s own blog.  Click here and explore!

And here’s Mr. Linky if you want to sign up now:

 

The Sunday Salon ~ Reading Can Be Such a Challenge!

 The Sunday Salon.com

Okay, I’ve been sitting back this last week and evaluating my last year in reading and blogging.  I’ve come to the conclusion that my mama was right, I need more organization!  LOL…  Seriously, I think I need to do a monthly proposed reading list and see how close I get, as opposed to a yearly one.  The yearly one ended up with me in the sprints for the first half of the year, then almost nothing from June through November, then sprinting to the end for the last six weeks.  I did actually make it to 75 books, with one to spare, even, but was it quality reading that way?  Some of the books I’ve read I don’t even remember, except what’s in my blog posts.

Which is another thing…  I used to think I was blogging reviews of books for other people to read, but I think I’m the one who has benefited the most from them.  I can look back to a book I read in 2008 and get an accurate feel for how I liked the book.  Sometimes, I don’t really even remember reading the book at all.  So blogging is as much for my benefit, if not more.

So, 2009 was my first full year of reading and blogging (In the Shadow of Mt. TBR began in June of 2008) and I tried to join a few challenges, to varying degrees of success.  First off, I completed the 75 book LibraryThing challenge, and I’ve already joined it for 2010 (The Kool-Aid Mom cracks the whip!).  I’ve also joined LibraryThing’s Books Off the Shelf challenge, a challenge to read books you already own *what a concept!*.  I’ve started out with the conservative goal of 35, but I think I’ll hit higher than that.  You can find my thread here, The Kool-Aid Mom’s Wet Dream of 35.

My reasoning for believing this will be a low figure is because I intend to clear out my intimidating stack of ARCs that have sat and loomed over my right shoulder for almost a year (before that, they were a smaller stack of books on the desk to my left, but after we couldn’t find the phone anymore, I decided to move it).  It mocks me, points out my failures, and never lets me get a moment’s peace.  So, 2010 is the year I will slay this beast once and for all!

**?**?**?**?**?**?**?*    Was that over the top?    *?**?**?**?**?**?**?**

And it is in this spirit of conquest that I have decided to join Teddy Rose’s ARC Reading Challenge 2010 at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time.  I’ve recently updated my ARC-alance Pile page to reflect where I am right now, and It’s a list of 65, which leaves me only 10 extra in the 75 books to play with.  Also, if I do the Manga Challenge again, then I’ll either go over the 75 (which is a good thing)  or I’ll have to take the manga’s out of the 10.  AND, I’m in the Sookie Stackhouse Challenge, which I signed up for 2 books, and it ends in June.  So, I’ll probably go over…. oh, crap!  forgot a book… fixed.  66 ARCs to read… you do the math on the rest of all that, I have a brain ache.

So, other challenges…

I read about Beth Fish’s What’s in a Name? 3 Challenge on BermudaOnion’s 2010 Challenges post and thought it sounded cute.  Basically, it works like this:

1 book from each of the following categories:

  1.  
    1. A book with a food in the title: Clockwork Orange, Grapes of Wrath, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
    2. A book with a body of water in the title: A River Runs through It, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, The Lake House
    3. A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: The Murder of King Tut, The Count of Monte Cristo, Lady Susan
    4. A book with a plant in the title: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Wind in the Willows, The Name of the Rose
    5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: Out of Africa; London; Between, Georgia
    6. A book with a music term in the title: Song of Solomon, Ragtime, The Piano Teacher

Making a total of 6 books for this challenge.  I’m going to try to get as many of them to overlap with my ARC challenge, but I’ve only gotten 3 that I can for sure make work:  The Crying Tree will fill #4, The Mysterious Receding Seas will cover #2, and Strange But True, America:  Weird Tales from All 50 States takes care of # 5.  I’ve been debating where “Father” counts as a title, since that’s not the man’s name, in which case I can read My Father’s Paradise for #3.  And would Spiced count as “A book with a food in the title”?  If I can slip those two in, then I just have to find a music term… WAIT!  The Organ Grinder‘s Monkey takes care of #6 😀

So what’d’ya think?  “Father” and “Spiced” count?

The Sookie Stackhouse Challenge continues through June 30, 2010, and is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  As it stands I still have my original TWO (so pathetic!) books to read.

  • Dead Until Dark
  • Living Dead in Dallas
  • And I guess I’ll go ahead and go for the Manga Challenge.  Mags will demand I continue to read Fruits Basket with her, so I might as well fill a challenge with it.  LOL, too bad I don’t have ARC mangas 😀

    The goal is to read a minimum of 6 mangas. There will be the odd prize throughout the year and bonus points if you manage to watch at least one anime film or 3 episodes of a series.

    Well, the bonus will help A LOT, since we’ve been watching xxxHolic (I’m dying to get my manga for it, but it got lost in the mail… boo!), Oh! My Goddess season 2, and plan to watch Negima, as well as a few other anime serieses… serii? just series? SHOWS.  lol.  And they watch Fruits Basket anime constantly, so I’m good to go on the bonus 😉

    Planned books at the moment:

    1. Fruits Basket volume 5 by Natsuki Takaya
    2. Fruits Basket volume 6 by Natsuki Takaya
    3. Fruits Basket volume 7 by Natsuki Takaya
    4. Ranma 1/2 volume 1 by Rumiko Takahashi
    5. Ranma 1/2 volume 2 by Rumiko Takahashi
    6. Vampire Knight volume 1 by Matsuri Hino

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    Okay, so in an attempt to start out this year a bit more organized, here is my planned reading for January (Subject to change at a whim, though I’m going to try to be stronger than whimsy 😉 )

    1. Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan – This was the Barnes & Nobles First Look book sometime last summer or so, and I’ve been “reading” it since then.  Okay, so I’m trying a little harder to actually read it now, but still… every time I crack the spine a gazillion interruptions fly in.  I feel like Elias being annoyed by the bees.  And when I’m left alone, and it’s nice and quiet, I get about 3 paragraphs read before falling asleep.  I swear, I’m shocked I don’t have a permanent crease mark running down my face like a vertical hold pattern!  It’s a really cool book, I just seem to keep slipping into unconsciousness with it.
    2. Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland – I got this book back in FEBRUARY as a LibraryThing Early Reader book.  FEBRUARY.  10 months ago.  I feel like I’m going to go to LT Hell for this, and it gets worse…
    3. The Mom’s Guide to Growing Your Family Green by Terra Wellington – A BONUS book in the February (or March, not sure anymore) LT ER round.
    4. The Blue Notebook by James A Levine – Won in the March batch of LT ER program.  This book thoroughly fascinates me and I’ve been wanting to read it… but just not done so.  Did I mention I have reserved seats for LT Hell?
    5. Holy Roller by Julie Lyons – Snagged in the April ER batch.  I don’t even look at the ER list at this point, because I feel horribly guilty for taking books that have sat so long, and other people never even get a book.  Yeah, I’m at the right hand of the MC in LT Hell.

    These are the ones I plan to get through this month.  You can see why they’re so urgent, as well.  If I get through these 5, I plan to read The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy and Strange But True, America by John Hafnor, as I have copies of these to give away.

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    Oh yes!  and don’t let me forget about Bloggiesta! Last year, I didn’t officially participate, but I did do a lot of the activities.  So this year I’m gonna throw my sombrero in the ring and partic-a-icpate.  This year’s event will be from January 8th-10th.  Here’s a quick description from the Maw Books Blog announcement page:

    Some of you may be asking what is Bloggiesta?  In short, it’s a blogging marathon.  An opportunity to cross those nagging items off of your to-do list and improve your blog while in the good company of other awesome bloggers doing the same thing.  Break out the nachos, enchiladas, drinks, mariachi music and whack a pinata or two!

    I’m gonna grab some tortilla chips and medium-heat salsa to munch along for the event, just to keep in the spirit of things.  Maybe I’ll even make Saturday here Taco Night… mmm… better yet, make my own taco casserole 😀  * homer drool drool homer drool *  ‘K, now I’m hungry.

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    Edited to add:  I solved my trouble with which books to put in the What’s In a Name?3 Challenge’s food and title title.  Since I’m doing the Manga Challenge, I’ll be reading Fruits Basket books and Vampire Knight, so those will cover the WIaN3 needed titles.

    Also, I’ve added another challenge to my reading for 2010.  I’m hosting it, as well, and that is The Welsh Reading Challenge.  I’m planning to read 12 books for that.  I’ve realized that if I get ALL my challenges done this year, I’ll have nearly 100 books read by the end of the year.  I can do it, but it’ll mean sticking to it all year and not getting bored, or distracted, or sidetracked, like I am prone to do.  The REAL challenge for me in 2010 will be to stick to my schedule and stick with it.  I think it’ll be good for me. 🙂

    TSS ~ I’m Planning a Realignment

    The Sunday Salon.com

    This is the last Sunday Salon of 2009, and it’s got me thinking about how things has gone this year, as well as what I want to do next year.  For one thing, in looking back at all the books I’ve read this year (76 as of right now), it seems like it’s been a LOOOONG year, lol.  AND I started the year late, finishing my first book, Bedlam, Bath and Beyond by J.D. Warren on February 10.  I also took a detour into the land of Azeroth, discovering the world of MMORPG (the acronym for “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game”) when I decided to check out what all the WoW fuss was.  And while I still enjoy playing, I’ve gotten over it as such an obsessive distraction.  Recently, a friend of mine tried to get me into another game like World of Warcraft (or WoW is like it, since it was first) called Guild Wars, but I didn’t really dig it.  I also gave Warhammer a try, and was unimpressed by it, as well.  Books just beat any other medium of escape!

    This past year I’ve read a variety of genres from sci-fi like Freedom’s Landing, Dune and Dune Messiah (not yet reviewed) to classics such as Silas Marner, Emma, and Northanger Abbey (not yet reviewed).  I’ve read horror, like Heart-Shaped Box, children’s books, like The Tutu Ballet, and serial books like Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6 of the Harry Potter series), Marked (Book 1 of The House of Night series), and Brisingr (Book 3 of The Inheritance Cycle).  I’ve read books that have been made into movies, sometimes for the better, like Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day, The Curious Case of Benjamin Buttons, and Confessions of a Shopoholic.  I didn’t limit myself to fiction, either, and read The World Without Us, The Stettheimer Dollhouse, and  An Inconvenient Book (not yet reviewed) and read poetry and plays like Dr. Faustus and Custard and Company, too.

    For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the books I’ve read this year and it’s hard to pick favorites.  But I shall try!  The following are my stars of 2009 (in no particular order):

    1.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak ~ My all-time favorite book, I fell in love with the story and Zusak’s writing style.  I hope to give his other books a read as well someday.  After finishing this book, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I couldn’t start another book for awhile.  I still find myself thinking about the beauty of the writing, the characters, and I want to reread it sometime soon.

    2.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury ~ First off, I love dystopic books, it’s probably my favorite genre.  My definition of dystopia is:  Someone’s Utopia is another’s HELL.  I’ve been thinking a lot about this book lately, as I look at pictures I’ve taken of my 16-year-old this year.  In every one she’s got her mp3 player going in her ears.  At one point in time this year, all four of us were sitting in the same room, all of us listening to our own little soundtracks of our own lives.  We were all in huggable difference, and yet we were in different universes.  All I could think about were the seashells that Montag’s wife wore in her ears.  It was a disturbing and surreal moment.

    3.  Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen ~ This book was vivid and well-researched, and it made me feel the magic of going to a circus as a child for the first time.  It had intrigue, romance, and the Great Depression.  The moving back and forth from the present Jacob Jankowski (who was 92, or 93, or 94.. he couldn’t even remember anymore) to the young Jacob who walked away from his vet finals after the death of his parents, becoming the vet for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

    4.  Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen ~ I recently finished this one, but in my rush to reach my goal of 75 books I’ve put off writing a review.  Hopefully I’ll get to it this coming week, but it’ll probably not happened until after the kids get back to school in the new year.  Northanger Abbey is my FAVORITE Austen book.  It’s witty and fun and Austen uses it as a great vehicle for arguing the criticisms of her day.  Reading this book was like watching myself as a teen.  I was soOOo Catherine Morland!  Dreamy, romantic who read way too many books and had no grasp of how the real world worked.

    5.  Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper ~ Probably the book with the longest full title I’ve read:  Homer’s Odyssey:  A Fearless Feline Tale, Or How I Learned About Love and Life with a Blind Wonder Cat.  This is my pimping-book for the year, meaning it’s the book I’ve been telling EVERYONE I see to read.  In addition to mad reco’s, I gave away copies as Christmas presents.  It’s such an inspirational and heart-warming story that I just can’t stop talking about it.  I know I’ll reread this one again and again 🙂

    So, what are my plans for the New Year?  Well… I don’t really want to say I’ve made RESOLUTIONS because they never really work.  I’ve been thinking in terms of REALIGNMENTS.  I’ve gotten a bit lazy or distracted about things and have gone a bit off mark from where I wanted to go at the beginning of this year.  So, here’s what I’m wanting to do as we begin 2010:

    1.  Um… I really need to do some house cleaning.  Bad.  I keep waiting for Miss Niecy to show up, lol, but I don’t think she’s coming.  Honestly, with all my online game-playing (WoW and facebook games being the main offenders) in the last few months, the laundry has piled up as have the dishes, and it’s starting to look like we have a dirt floor in the kitchen.  So, that’s first on my list of what I need to get done.

    2.  I need to get back to cooking dinners.  Again, I’ve been lazy about not wanting to stop playing the games, and Domino’s has become #1 on my speed dial.  My kids are probably the only ones in the world that have said “Please, no more pizza!  I’m sick of pizza!”  And no,  frozen dinners don’t count as “cooking more”… lol.

    3.  Get back to blogging regularly.  I’ve been bad about writing meme posts (which I enjoy) and writing reviews (which is sometimes a bit of work, but I also enjoy), mostly because *cough* it’d require me to get off the game and write them.  Yeah… like I said, I’ve been bad about the games here lately.

    4.  Try to take things in balance.  I have a bad habit of going “all one thing at the expense of everything else”.  When I’m reading, that’s all I’m doing.  That’s how I’ve managed to read almost 20 books in a little over a month.  It’s pretty much all I’ve done.  When I was playing WoW, that was all I did, too.  All day, every day… sometimes for more than 24 hours straight.  I just don’t seem to know how to do moderation.

    5.  Get through all my ARC-alanche pile.  Period.  Some of them have been on this pile for almost 2 years now.  I still have Stealing Athena, The Aviary Gate, Zoe’s Tale, and The Good Thief on it.  SOME are now available in AUDIOBOOK FORM.  I really need to focus on getting these books done.  I have FIVE LibraryThing Early Reader books to read, including Any Given Doomsday which I received back in February. 

    So, how about you?  Any resolutions?  What do you hope to do in the year to come?

    Mags and I love watching Style Network’s Clean House (the ones with Niecy Nash… not the other lady) and we love to veg in my bed together and watch marathons of the show.  Miss Niecy is lovely and hilarious, and after a few shows we can’t help but walk around doing Miss Niecy impressions… lol.  But, of course, it’s never as good as the original 😉