November Wrap-Up!

Um, how is it almost Christmas?  Seriously.  This year went by crazy fast, and it's hard to believe that we're already into the Christmas season (although I really need to get my butt in gear and start my shopping!) and that it's almost time for all those year-end posts and resolutions and all the fun stuff that happens around the blogosphere in December!

The Books

Books Read: 5 (A Discovery of Witches, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, The Evolution of Mara Dyer, Night Film, November 9)
I finished A Discovery of Witches, which took me most of October and into November!  Then I re-read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer (because I couldn't remember what happened in the story, even after reading the summary on the Recaptains site) and then gobbled up The Evolution of Mara Dyer.  I was going to read the third one right away, but Colleen Hoover's November 9 came in at the library, so I thought I'd take a contemporary break!  I've been slowing working my way through Marisha Pessl's Night Film on audio, which took me close to two months!  It was weird, but good, but really, really weird.  Review to come.

Books Acquired: 9 (yikes! -- book haul to come, so I won't spoil which titles!)
If my counting is correct, I acquired 34 books this year!  I tried to read them as I bought them, but Book Outlet was my downfall in that regard.  I'm not too disappointed with myself though, as I realized that making myself read books as I buy them was also preventing me from reading the backlist titles on my shelves, so I split my focus for the rest of the year, which meant that I did buy a lot more than I read.  But that's okay -- I just have more TBR books to choose from for next year!

The Challenges

Prequel & Sequel Challenge: +2 (The Evolution of Mara Dyer)
Flights of Fantasy: None.
TBR Challenge: +3 (A Discovery of Witches and both Mara Dyer books) 

The Blog

It was a pretty quiet month on the blog, although I'm surprised looking back that I actually wrote eight posts!  I feel like it was a lot less, although I am really proud of the posts that I did share.  My two favourites are part of my yoga-inspired posts, Reading On My Mat, where I shared about giving up on perfection and about joy.  Writing these posts definitely re-invigorated my sense of blogging, as it reminded me that my blog is mine and that I have a lot to share that isn't necessarily book-related.  I truly hope that my words connected with the handful of readers who did click on the post, and I hope that you'll enjoy the future posts too.

I participated in one Top Ten Tuesday post about debut writers (although I struggled with finding a full list), and shared one discussion post about long unread series.

The Other Stuff

We're still working on hiring a new marketing person at work, so I've been helping with the hiring process, which has been awesome!  Ultimately, I'd like to get into more of an HR/Management type role, so it's been great to have this experience under my belt.  I'm looking forward to going back to my old job, and hoping that we find the perfect new employee who will stick around!

I'm in the home stretch for my coursework, with a paper due on Friday and my final exam this coming weekend.  It's going to be a crazy weekend, with my company Christmas party and a really good friend's birthday, so I'll be completing the multiple choice section while Marko naps on Saturday, and then racing to finish the short answer questions before the submission deadline on Sunday evening.  I'm looking forward to a few weeks of non-school reading before I'm back at it in January.

I'm really excited for Christmas this year, since we'll be heading to my hometown to spend Christmas with my family this year.  It'll be Marko's first Christmas in Victoria, and my parents are really looking forward to it.  Plus, this is the first year that I feel like he actually has a concept of what Christmas is.  The whole Santa thing is still a little bit foreign, but he's absolutely enthralled with Christmas lights.  We'll be putting our tree up on December 1st and I just know that he'll be excited to help (unlike last year when he spent most of the month pulling the decorations off the tree!)  Seeing the magic of Christmas through his eyes is really special.

What's happened in your life this past month?  Have you read anything interesting lately?  Are you ready for Christmas?  Or still in shock that it's December already?  Let's chat in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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On My Nightstand - November 25

Although I'm not really writing reviews these days, On My Nightstand is a weekly-ish feature that allows me to share what I'm currently reading, some thoughts on what I just finished reading and what's coming up next from my TBR pile!

Recently shelved as read:

I picked up The Evolution of Mara Dyer, and quickly realized that I had absolutely no recollection of the first book!  I re-read it, and enjoyed it the second time, but was less enthused about the second book.  Maybe it's the over-hyped aspect again?  I'll still read the third book, hopefully before the end of the year, just so that I can knock it off my TBR.

On my nightstand:

I picked up Colleen Hoover's November 9 from the library, and I'm really liking it so far!  Her books are always a nice, easy read, which I think I need right now.   I've got two weeks left of school, and my reading attention is waning these days.

Calling my name from the shelf:

I really have no idea -- I'll see what I'm in the mood to read after my final exam is over.  I'm thinking of maybe tackling Fairest and Winter, or maybe Six of Crows?  I really haven't been in the mood to read much these past couple of months, but I'm hoping that disappears once school is over.

How about you?  What are you reading this week!  Let's chat in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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Reading On My Mat - On Joy

One of my favourite bloggers, Estelle @ Rather Be Reading, shared this update post and mentioned that she'd completed the #30DaysofYoga challenge.  (As a side note, these "just checking in" posts that she's started sharing are freakin' AWESOME, and a total inspiration!)  That night, I'd completed the first 20 minute class from Yoga Download (it's a podcast -- check it out here!)  Traffic has been horrendous over the past few weeks, which has resulted in me getting home late from work and, consequently, missing the opportunity to head to a yoga class.  Coupled with a head cold that lasted for close to two weeks, I've been seriously missing out on the opportunity to practice lately.  I didn't realize how much I crave yoga as part of my life, until I finished this short class, featuring sun salutations, and realized that I can still have yoga as part of my life, even if I can't make it to the studio.  Just 20 minutes left me feeling refreshed, energized and focused on my happiness, and I resolved to make it a part of my daily life.  When I saw that Estelle felt emotional about completing her yoga challenge, I completely understood how she felt.  Although I had just completed one class, I already felt a feeling of joy surging through my body, as well as feeling at peace and content.

Although I haven't had the opportunity to practice this weekend, I have spent a lot of time walking outside with my two loves.  We spent Saturday morning at a local park, and then this morning we went walking at a local lake.  It was chilly, but not insanely cold, and the sun was shining.  Marko was just so happy to be outside and enjoying the fresh air.  Most of our winter is cold and rainy, so we don't get the opportunity to be outside all that much.  We enjoy every moment that we can, since we never know when the sun will come back out again.  Seeing him shriek with glee as he ran across a little bridge, or gaze in wonderment at a heron across the lake (so BIG, Mama, like a DINOSAUR!) filled my heart with such joy and contentment.  I am overjoyed at the opportunity that I have to share in these experiences with him, and it is such a blessing to see the world through a toddler's eyes, as he experiences the wonders of the world for the first time.

Plus, I've had the Christmas music going for about a week now (Shhhh, don't tell my husband though, who insists that the Christmas season can't begin until December 1st!)  This will be the first Christmas that Marko will start to understand about what the season means.  I already can't wait to put up the Christmas tree, decorate gingerbread men and sing carols together.  It's going to be a special season, just one of many, many, many more to come.

Hope that your Sunday has been filled with joy, and that your days to come are filled with even more joy and wonder.

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Top Ten Clues You're Clueless - Liz Czukas

From the Goodreads summary:

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000 

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

I couldn't have said it better myself.  I read this book in the summer of 2014, which was a bit out of season because the book takes place on Christmas Eve.  It's the perfect fluffy contemporary read with a hint of the festive season permeating through the book.  

If you liked Liz's first book, Ask Again Later, you'll definitely like this one too!

Note: I received an e-galley for review from Edelweiss, but this did not affect my thoughts on this book in any way.

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Reading On My Mat - Giving Up on Perfection

I shared my first Reading On My Mat post over the summer, outlining my yoga journey.  I was a bit disappointed that the post didn't get much love and that made me a bit shy to write more.  Coupled with the fact that I felt a bit shy about branching out a new direction with the blog.

But then two things happened.  As I've shared before, I have a new obsession with watching BookTube videos and one of my favourites is TheBookHoarder.  Her videos are fresh and exciting, and my favourite thus far has been her video about not following through on her big projects.  This rang true for me, because I fall victim to the same thing.  I have all these big ideas, but then never quite get around to doing them.  Writing about yoga was something that I felt passionate about, but the longer I went since my initial post, the more I felt like a yoga fraud for even thinking that I could even try.  But Dana makes a great point in her video: that it's okay to go crazy on a project, and then put it away for a while and revisit it when you're ready to do so.  That resonated with me since it relates to how I feel about this blog -- it's always here and waiting for me when I'm ready.

The second thing was that I read this amazing article on DoYouYoga.com on the shape of your asana.  The article speaks to how yoga practitioners often look around the room to compare the shape of their poses to those of others, and often feel inconsistent from class to class.  I've wrestled with this both on and off the mat.  Sometimes, I'm in the zone and feel like I'm pushing my poses to the next level, other times I wobble unsteadily and feel like I'm going to fall over.  The first suggestion that the article offers is Close your eyes.  By closing your eyes, you stop looking around at others and, therefore, stop comparing yourself to how others are doing.  I've done this in a yoga class before and it is liberating.  It takes the focus off the external, and shifts it to the internal.  What I still need to work on is taking this practice off the mat.  I need to close my eyes more often and stop worrying about what the world around me with think or say, and just take the plunge.  Stop worrying about whether anyone will read these posts, and just write them because I want to.  Stop thinking about whether I'm saying the right thing, and just be.

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On My Nightstand - November 11

Although I'm not really writing reviews these days, On My Nightstand is a weekly-ish feature that allows me to share what I'm currently reading, some thoughts on what I just finished reading and what's coming up next from my TBR pile!

Recently shelved as read:

I finished Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches a few days ago and, wow, what a book!  Lauren @ Lose Time Reading adores this series, and I knew that I would too.  I'm glad that I picked this up when I wasn't in a mood to read and race through a book, since it took me close to a month to finish it.  I savoured the book, reading a chapter or two a day, and enjoyed the slow pace of the story, coupled with the epic storyline, the historical details and the perfect slow-burning romance.  I can't wait to read the next two books, but I think I'm going to take my time with this series and not binge read it.

On my nightstand:

I picked up the next three Saga novels from the library, and am going to try to read those ones before they're due back at the library.

Calling my name from the shelf:

I had wanted to read the Mara Dyer trilogy in October, but instead spent most of the month on A Discover of Witches.  I'd like to finish this series before the year is over!

How about you?  What are you reading this week!  Let's chat in the comments below and thanks for stopping by!

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On Long Unread Series

I was signing up for The Broke & The Bookish's Secret Santa yesterday (if you haven't already done so, go now -- it's one of my favourite parts of Christmas!) and I was updating my Goodreads wishlist.  While working on that, I was also browsing through my TBR list for series that I have to finish, and I realized just how many OLD series I have on that list.  For example,

  • Bone Series by Jeff Smith -- I read the first four (or maybe five?) books in the series long before I started blogging.  I can hardly remember what happened in the books that I did read, but this was one of my very first graphic novels and I loved the ones that I read.
  • Magyk Series by Angie Sage -- I read the first one (I think in late 2005 or early 2006) and remember really enjoying it.  I don't read much middle grade these days, but I own the next three books in the series, and would love to binge read them all.  It was Harry Potter-esque (and I use that term loosely because nothing is REALLY Harry Potter-esque!)
  • Wings Series by Aprilynne Pike -- I'm not much of a fairy book person, but I really did enjoy the first in the series, since it was a unique take on the topic. I own the second book (received from my very first Secret Santa three(?) years ago!) but I haven't jumped back into the series yet.
  • Luxe Series by Anna Godbersen -- I started this series right when I started blogging, so it's been close to four years since I read the second book.  I liked it -- it was historical, but fluffy and kind of Gossip Girl-esque.  Plus, those covers -- so pretty!
  • House of Night Series by Kirstin Cast & P.C. Cast -- Again, I was reading these books near the beginning of my blogging "career" and I kind of lost interest in the series.  I've read nine books so far, and the series wrapped up earlier this year, so there's only three books left to read.  I kind of feel like I've invested so much time into the series that I should just read the rest ... or maybe not?
  • The Cemetery of Forgotten Books by Carlos Ruiz Zafon -- This is perhaps my greatest embarrassment on this list.  I ADORED the first book when I read it during the summer of 2011 and bought both of the other books in hardcover right when they were released, yet they sit on my shelf unread.
There are more than a few other series on the list, but these are the ones that have been unread for years and years.  I would love to knock a few of them off my TBR pile, and am hoping to read a mix of newer and older series next year.

How about you?  Do you have any long unread series sitting on your TBR list?  Are any of my series also on your list?  Let me know in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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Top Five Debuts That I Want More Of and Top Five Sophomores That Didn't Disappoint

Top Ten Tuesday is, as always, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.   Today's topic is either  Top Ten Debut Authors Who Have Me Looking Forward To Their Sophomore Novel or Top Ten Sophomore Novels That I Loved Just As Much If Not More As The Author's Debut!  I've decided to combine the topics, and give you five of each...

Top Five Sophomore Reads That Were Just As Good As the Author's Debut:

1. The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
2. After I Do by Taylor Jenkis Reid
3. 99 Days by Katie Cotugno
4. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
5. The Way The Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald

Top Five Debuts Novels Where I Need MORE From This Author:

1. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson
2. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
3. Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

I've had this post sitting in my drafts for weeks, expecting that I could think of a few more debuts where I was waiting for more.  Unfortunately, I just can't think of any.  BUT, there are a few books that I've read this year, where it was my first book by that author, and I know that I want to read more of her books...so here are my last two picks for this week's topic:

4. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
5. This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales

Did any of my choices make your list?  Let me know in the comments below, and leave a link to your post and I'll stop by!  Thanks for visiting =)

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October Wrap-Up!

It's hard to believe that we're already a month into fall!  The rain is here in spades, and I've enjoyed reading under my Harry Potter snuggie the past few evenings, sipping a cup of tea.  I can get used to this weather!

The Books

Books Read: 1 (Black Iris)
It was a very slow reading month for me.  Black Iris was a bit tough to get into, partly because it's a strange little book, but partly because I'd just finished Queen of Shadows.  I'm mostly finished with A Discovery of Witches too, but it'll count towards next month's reading, and I'm also halfway through an audio book.

Books Acquired: None!
I have acquired a total of 25 books so far this year, and have already read 17 of them, so only 8 acquired and unread books -- still pretty proud of myself!  I have placed an order for two new releases though, so stay tuned for a book haul in the coming weeks!

The Challenges

Prequel & Sequel Challenge: None -- the only book that I read this month was a standalone.
Flights of Fantasy: None, again.
TBR Challenge: None, yet again.  I'm definitely not going to make my goal on this challenge, but I think it's also due to my reading books as soon as I acquire them goal.  I've already started re-thinking my resolutions for next year =P 

The Blog

I started the month off with launching the fall-long readathon that I'm co-hosting with Lauren @ Lose Time Reading.  It's very low key, and we have a prize, but there's very few people who have signed up so far.  If you still want to join, it's running until December 31st, so sign up now!  I also shared a fun TBR post which, at my reading rate, will definitely not be completed this year =P

I'm really struggling with guilt over unread review copies and end of the year reading blahs.

Finally, I brought back my Friday Favourite posts with a look back at The Truth About Forever, and another look back at my very first Marko Monday post!

The Other Stuff

We had our performance reviews at work, and I got the raise that I asked for!  The newly hired marketing person left, so I'm doing that job again for the time being.  Instead of juggling both roles, the company brought in a temp to handle my job, and it's actually been quite fun working at a totally different job for a while.  I'd consider putting my name forward for the job permanently, except that I don't have much in the way of Adobe skills, or web design, both of which are important components of the job.  I've been enjoying the proposal writing and the template design components though, especially because I've learned some fun new tricks in Word.

I just finished my midterm for my course before writing this post and, phew, I'm glad that's over.  I don't do well with multiple choice questions, but I managed to get 37/40.  Hopefully I do just as well on the written answers, but I have to wait a bit to hear my results.  I'm really enjoying the course, since it's more of a practical application to what I do at work all day.

Hallowe'en was pretty low key in our household.  Marko wore his costume at daycare (he was a minion), but wasn't too impressed with the whole thing.  We took him to a pumpkin patch, which he loved (especially the "kumpkins"), but the trick or treating was a little over his head.  It poured rain on Hallowe'en night here, so we went to a friend's house for dinner instead.  I think he'll be more into Hallowe'en next year, when he's a little older.

What's happened in your life this past month?  Have you read anything interesting lately?  Let's chat in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by!

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