Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TBRs I Own Challenge

I've decided to not officially join any reading challenges for 2015, except for setting the goal of a number of books to read in the year, as I do on Goodreads every year. However, I am going to set my own goal, which I am calling the "TBRs I Own Challenge." I am going to see how long I can read books I already own before I break down and buy a new book. If you are a true bibliophile, you know this is much more challenging than it sounds. Adding a new book to my shelf satisfies me as much as reading one.

Two inspirations behind this personal challenge. My husband is job searching and I really shouldn't be buying any new books when I already own plenty to read, plus the library. Second, I keep looking at stacks of books by my bed, thinking I'll get around to them soon. The three at the bottom of the stack have been there a year-and-a-half! I have other books on shelves that I've owned for ten years, but haven't read. I want to take down my TBR pile in 2015!

A couple rules for myself:
1. E-books and physical books I pay for count against me as buying a book, obviously, but not if someone else gives them to me as a gift. (Who in their right mind would turn down free books?)

2. Library books do not count against me, but must be two year or older publications I've been meaning to read.

3. Newer books I get for free (from publishers or as prizes) do not count against me. I must still take advantage of great offers from publishers. But I will limit these big time.

4. Wishlist answers from paperbackswap do not count against me. They are all TBRs, some on the list for years now, and the credits I have are already paid for through previous trades.

5. Every book I already own counts as an option.

6. The challenge begins January 1st.

If I make it for any length of time, then the blog will be a mishmash of older publications, but maybe there will be something you all missed previously? Nothing like going back and finding a gem. I think I've set myself up with a fun little challenge to start the New Year. Anyone is welcome to try it as well. Maybe if I like it and work out some bugs, it'll become "a thing."

Anyone else determined to take down their TBR pile this year? 
Any other rules I should apply to my challenge?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Christmas Book Joy: Holiday Guest Post at I'm Lost in Books

Hi there! Today I am guest posting for Becca's Holiday Extravaganza over at I'm Lost in Books. It's been a huge gathering of books bloggers and their holidays thoughts. Fun things to read every day and I'm honored to join in the fun! 

So head on over (my guest post here) and see how I plan on spending my Christmas gift cards...hint, hint...it's books!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

I came across some quotes from a book I read five years ago. One of the most inspirational and life giving books I've ever read: The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch. If you aren't familiar with his story, Randy was a professor at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh, PA who was given a terminal diagnosis from pancreatic cancer in 2007. Randy used his remaining time to pass on everything he had learned about life in a speech he gave called The Last Lecture: Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. It went from his original audience, to YouTube, to a published book before his death in July of 2008. The Last Lecture is a gem - an absolute tribute to one man's legacy of goodness and optimism for life. If you haven't read it, you are missing out.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Ship of Brides

Source: NetGalley.com
The Ship of Brides, by Jojo Moyes
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication date: October 28, 2014
Category: Historical fiction
Source: I received this e-galley from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I read my first Jojo Moyes, Me Before You, this past summer (my review). I enjoyed it and knew I'd read another of Moyes's books when one came across my path. Sure enough, I soon found The Ship of Brides on NetGalley and here we are.

The Ship of Brides is historical fiction about a topic on which I've read very little: women who married soldiers during WWII and later left their homes to join their husbands on foreign soil. Goodreads has a concise summary: The year is 1946, and all over the world, young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they married in wartime - and an unknown future. In Sydney, Australia, four women join 650 other brides on an extraordinary voyage to England, aboard the HMS Victoria, which also carries not just arms and aircraft but 1,000 naval officers and men. Rules of honor, duty, and separation are strictly enforced, from the aircraft carrier's captain down to the lowliest young stoker. But the men and the brides will find their lives intertwined in ways the Navy could never have imagined.

The story follows four women making this journey to their husbands. They come from different walks of life - the farmer girl, the socialite, the unruly sixteen-year-old, and mysterious war nurse - and don't always mesh well. I cannot imagine traveling six+ weeks in such living conditions as the aircraft carrier Moyes describes! I would be freaking out the first day on board. Besides the confines of the ship, there are so many issues that arise to knock the brides' lives off course. Husbands who change their minds, rival brides, and checkered pasts all make an already challenging situation nearly impossible.

I have to say, I found the two books surprisingly different. Me Before You was a good story that seemed like just that, a good story with a touch of romance, which I had no problem with. The Ship of Brides seems more literary. I'm sure the true-to-life setting impacts the tone and mood greatly. As different as I felt they were, I enjoyed both books. If I had to pick a favorite of the two, I'd say The Ship of Brides; however, be aware that the literary feel (historical fiction genre) sways me.

Do you have a preference when it comes to "the feel" a book gives you (such as literary, etc.)?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Begin the Week with Words

Spent Thanksgiving in North Carolina this year and had a Gatsby moment. Having read The Great Gatsby so many times, teaching and discussing it over so many years, I get excited to see the connections to real life.

The top floor of our beach house was nothing but a little reading nook with big windows. The whole house, and every other house on the street, was nothing but big windows on the top floors (living room and kitchen). And as I sat looking out and practically into the windows of neighboring houses, listening to the conversation and games of my family in my own house, I felt what Nick Carraway explained during the crazy party in Myrtle's New York City apartment:

"Yet high over the city our line of yellow windows must have contributed their share of human secrecy to the casual watcher in the darkening streets, and I was him too, looking up and wondering. I was within and without, simultaneously enchanted and repelled by the inexhaustible variety of life."
                                                 Nick Carraway in The Great Gatsby

Yea, I totally took a picture of the neighbor's house.
 I made sure no one was in the windows first! It was
truly crazy how well you could see into other houses!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Personal Thanksgiving Read-a-thon (aka Vacation)

My husband, kids, and I on the beach.
I'm a homebody. The person who likes vacation time, but is just as happy spending it at home. There's a word for it now...staycation. It's about time! I mean, I can read anywhere, so I might as well read in the convenience of my family and home, right? There's more to it than that I'm sure, and I don't know why, but it's just the way I am. Homebody for life.

But when the holidays roll around, I can't help but notice people traveling...usually visiting family or going to a beach. Only once have I ever spent a holiday away from home. In high school my band marched in the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade - we were even on National TV! Besides that, I've NEVER spent a major holiday away from home, but I've always been curious. What would it feel like to take a trip mid year? (We're talking teacher year here people, August to July.)

Well, my question was answered this Thanksgiving, as my parents, siblings, husband, kids, and I (and even our dogs) made a trip to Avon, North Carolina, a town within OBX, for the Thanksgiving week. We stayed in a beautiful beach front beach house that was plenty big for our family. The purpose: a most relaxing trip, just to spend time with family and be thankful for some really big things my family came through this year. Of course, this also meant reading for me. I took the last of my TBR Challenge books, thinking realistically maybe I'd get to two - Memoirs of a Geisha and The Memory Keeper's Daughter.

To die for book nook all on its own at the top of the stairs.
As luck would have it, our beach house came with its own personal reading nook. At the very top of a fourth flight of stairs sits this one little space with two chairs and chandelier displaying windows that overlook the neighborhood. On a beautiful day with the windows open or a cold day wrapped in a fleece blanket (I experienced both), that reading nook was a dream come true! I napped there daily too! My little dog was by my side every single minute! She loved it as much as I did.

Samoa, my cuddly bookworm buddy.

As usually happens, I didn't read as much as I thought I would. Vacations typically consist of a fair amount of down time, but we spent it eating, playing cards, napping, watching Thanksgiving specials, shopping, walking the beach, and playing with the dogs. The dogs were quite entertaining...my little dachshund didn't want to be near any other dog or person except for me, and routinely barked and growled at my siblings' dogs, which was quite unexpected. She's usually so friendly and knows all of my family well. (Meanwhile, my typically high maintenance dog, Chloe, was at my in-laws being an angel. Go figure.)

When I did read, it was Memoirs of a Geisha. Although I didn't finish it, I definitely had enough time to get myself invested in the story and hungry to finish it! My TBR Pile Challenge 2014 is going to be a close call, if I make it!

Oh and of course, I bought a book on my trip. I picked up a secondhand copy of Case Histories by Kate Atkinson at an Indie bookstore called Buxton Village Books in the next town over. It was one of my first experiences with locally owned booksellers. The secondhand section was full of big names and titles, so selection was not a problem.There were so many books to look through, I figured I'd go with an author I'd read and liked before.  My daughter picked up a handmade wool hat and my husband bought a beautiful nautical journal for our son. It was a cozy little place with some unique gifts.

Any lovely ways in which you've spent favorite holidays?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

#BookishThanks November 22-30

#BookishThanks November 22-30
I usually post #SundaySentence/Begin the Week with Words today,
but since it is the last day for #BookishThanks, I figured I'd finish it off instead!

I am participating in a most wonderful bookish Thanksgiving meme, #BookishThanks, put together by Monika at A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall. A category is given for every day in November, to which you can apply the book of your choice, posting it on your social media. It has been so much fun, I figured I'd post them on my blog weekly! Feel free to leave your choices for any categories in the comments. I've really, really enjoyed this month of #BookishThanks!

22. Favorite indie/self-pub author - Adria J. Cimino, wrote Paris, Rue des Martyrs.

23. Bookish event/link-up/meme - Sunday Sentence

24. Bookish technology - Overdrive

25. Relevant to me - The Truest Thing About You, by David Lomas

26. Reminded me of childhood - Charlotte's Web, by E.B. White

27. Made me hungry - I really couldn't think of one for this category!

28. Reminded me of my family - The Color of Water, by James McBride

29. Took me someplace new - A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith

30. Inspired me to take action - Crazy Love, by Francis Chan