Weekly Recap (8)

 
On Fridays I post a recap of books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read, as well as any other tidbits I feel like sharing. The format was inspired by Small Review’s Recap posts and On a Book Bender and 25 Hour Books’ Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge posts.

Blogging

This week on the blog:

  • Writing Wednesday: Character Names – Biweekly check-in on writing progress and process

Reading

Finished: 

  • Summer Knight (Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher
  • Death Masks (Dresden Files #5) by Jim Butcher
    • I liked the fae element in the fourth book, but the fifth wasn’t my favorite. I just didn’t connect with it as much. I’ve never really cared for Susan as much as Harry does.
  • Hex Hall (Hex Hall #1) by Rachel Hawkins
    • I waited way too long to read this! It’s very cute so far. Boarding schools, FTW!
  • Kiss of Midnight (Midnight Breed #1) by Lara Adrian
    • It feels like a Black Dagger Brotherhood knock-off, but it’s still entertaining.

Watching

  • PBS on Sundays
    • The return of Downton Abbey and Sherlock have my Sunday nights pretty covered. I’m hoping they can help me cope with the loss of football again until August. Only one game left! *sob*

Exercising

  • Dancing machine!
    • I mentioned last week that I was going to go try and hear andhim play at Chicago house music staple Smart Bar on Friday night. And I did! Husband and I went out to dinner at the Rivers Casino buffet, then played some slots, and then I dropped him off at home before heading out to the bar around 11pm. The hubs cannot handle the sick techno beats, so I was on my own. I was pretty tired when I got there, so I perched at the bar and sucked down a couple of Red Bulls before making my way to the dance floor around 1am. I danced my fool head off until 3:30, and according to my FitBit, walked the equivalent of 8+ miles in the process. That’s a lot of calories burned! I had the time of my life, so I’m going to try and make this a weekly thing. So! Much! Fun!

What have you been up to this week?

 

 

 

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Weekly Recap (7)

 
On Fridays I post a recap of books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read, as well as any other tidbits I feel like sharing. The format was inspired by Small Review’s Recap posts and On a Book Bender and 25 Hour Books’ Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge posts.

Blogging

This week on the blog:

Reading

Finished: 

  • Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews
    • The first few books in this series were good, but these last two were phenomenal. It keeps getting better and better!
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
    • To sum up my full Goodreads review: “The brilliance is in the way she builds up hope, only to dash it to pieces. Flynn manages to manipulate her readers just as the characters manipulate each other, and it’s through that process that we come to understand them.” 

Still working on:

  • Summer Knight (Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher

Watching

  • Girls
    • I did not get into this HBO series when it first started, but on Sunday I got sucked into a marathon before the Season 3 premiere and got hooked. I still have a lot of issues with it, but as often as I want to strangle Hannah, I also find her somewhat endearing.

Listening

  • andhim – “The Wizard of Us”
    • I have always been a fan of electronic music, but recently I’ve decided to more actively try to discover new electronic artists. I used to rely on the BPM channel on Sirius/XM, but now that we’ve gotten rid of that service, I need to be more proactive. This duo is performing tonight in Chicago, and if I can keep my 30-something self awake that long, I plan to try and go catch them live. But honestly, I can’t even remember the last time I was out after 1am.

What have you been up to this week?

 

 

 

Weekly Recap (6) – Challenges for 2014

 
On Fridays I post a recap of books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read, as well as any other tidbits I feel like sharing. The format was inspired by Small Review’s Recap posts and On a Book Bender and 25 Hour Books’ Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge posts.

Blogging

This week on the blog:

  • I started the process of integrating book information from old reviews into the Ultimate Book Blogger plugin, so that I can start using its awesome automated review index feature. 
  • Review: Immortal by Gillian Shields – A gothic YA from 2009 – 3 stars
  • Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2014
  • Writing Wednesday – Biweekly goal check-in

Reading

Finished: 

  • Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder (Hannah Fluke #1) by Joanne Fluke
    • This series includes cookie recipes between chapters. Of course I have to try them this weekend!
  • Immortal (Immortal #1) by Gillian Shields

Started:

  • Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews
  • Paris by Edward Rutherford
    • This was a beast I picked up from the library. I don’t know if I’ll have time to finish it, but I figure I’ll give it a try.

Challenging

Watching

  • Cougar Town
    • One of my favorite comedies returned for a new season on Tuesday. Let’s pound some grape!

Exercising

  • Swimming
    • I started a new swim class this week. The Park District was offering weekly technique classes and I couldn’t resist the cheap price for a chance to brush up on my swim stroke and maybe learn some new drills. 

What have you been up to this week?

 

 

 

Weekly Recap (5) – Lots of News

 
On Fridays I post a recap of books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read, as well as any other tidbits I feel like sharing. The format was inspired by Small Review’s Recap posts and On a Book Bender and 25 Hour Books’ Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge posts.

Blogging

This week on the blog:

  • I updated my theme to make the colors a little more cohesive with my header. Do you like the new look? Any weird color clashes I didn’t catch?
  • Out With the Old… – A fresh start to blogging
  • …and In With the New – My 2013 challenge wrap-up

Reading

Started: 

  • Summer Knight (Dresden Files #4) by Jim Butcher
    • I am trying to work my way through this entire series by the end of the year. These books are funny, gut-wrenching, and totally entertaining. I love Harry Dresden!
  • Immortal (Immortal #1) by Gillian Shields
    • I tried to squeeze this one in last year for my Gothic book in the Literary Exploration challenge, but didn’t quite make it before the end of 2013. I’m a sucker for boarding schools and creepy moors, so I’m loving it so far.

Watching

  • Football!
    • I came in second in my fantasy football league this year, and I still can’t shake the football viewing addiction. My favorite college team (Nebraska) won their bowl game, and the NFL playoffs start on Saturday. I’m a happy camper.

Exercising

  • Ironman 70.3 Racine
    • This is perhaps the biggest news I’ve had in a long time. In September my husband and I took the plunge and registered for our first Half Ironman triathlon. I’ve been trying to shake a very persistent case of plantar fasciitis, so I’m not in the shape I had hoped I’d be in at the start of the year. Our training program starts in March, so I have 3 months to get my butt in gear! The holidays are over, so no more excuses.

What have you been up to this week?

 

 

 

…and In With the New!

The year 2013 is done, and so my many challenges have come to an end. I’ve updated my 2013 Challenge Index and overall I did pretty well, though some areas definitely could use some improvement. Here’s a quick recap of how I did on my reading challenges:

2013 Goodreads Challenge: 130/75 books read

My previous high (since I started tracking everything I read on Goodreads) was 120 books in 2011. In 2012 I had a pitiful 50 books read. This year, I was glad to get back on track and I blew my conservative estimate out of the water. I think I reached my initial goal of 75 books by July or August! 

Debut Author Challenge: 4/12 books read

Once again, I didn’t read very many debuts. My self-imposed restriction on advance review copies has limited my access to debut author books, and they are harder to find at the library. I also found that I love reading new authors, just not necessarily debut authors.

Seriously Series Challenge: 12/12 series read

My focus for this challenge was to get up to the last book in a series that I had already purchased. I ended up getting quite a few from the library too. I’m happy I finally caught up on the Black Dagger Brotherhood, and I also finally read the entire trilogies of Across the Universe and the Infernal Devices. 

Get Steampunked Challenge: 5/5 books read

I managed to read more than my goal of five books, actually. I read 9! My favorite was the first in a new series combining steampunk and faeries, A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz.

Off the Shelves Challenge: 20/50 books read

I did better than last year, but still not as great as I would have liked. I made copious use of the library this year, and my shelves suffered as a result. I’m doing two challenges on Goodreads this year that focus on whittling down our TBR lists, so hopefully I can exceed this number in 2014.

Graphic Novels Challenge: 6/12 books read

I think I read all 6 of these in January and then promptly ignored my collection after that. I acquired two new graphic novels this year, one of which I’m reading for my YA book club in the spring. It would be nice if I could read another 6 this year.

Back to the Classics Challenge: 2/6 books read

I had so hoped to devote some time to the classics this year, but this was a pretty spectacular fail. I only read one of the required six, and read one alternate. I think in 2014 I’ll consider it a win if I read just one!

TBR Pile Challenge: 6/12 books read

There’s no cheating in this challenge run by Roof Beam Reader. The lists were set even before 2013 began, and I did pretty well. Ultimately, the rest of the list just didn’t appeal to me over the newer, shinier choices as the year progressed. 

Authors After Dark Challenge: 2/8 books read

I thought I would do better in this one this year, given the amount of PNR/UF I read. Turns out I just read a bunch of authors who happened not to be going to AAD. After two years of limping to the finish, I think it’s time to give this challenge a rest.

Literary Exploration Challenge: 33/36 books read

I came so very close to finishing this one, but just ran out of time. The five books I had left included a play and some sonnets – easy and quick reads. But the others I couldn’t quite sneak in. I had a lot of fun challenging myself to read such varied genres, and I struggled with the ones I expected to find more difficult. In many ways, however, it was easier than I expected. I learned that I tend to read in a lot more genres than I thought. This challenge has its own widget and group on Goodreads for easy tracking, and they’re offering it again in 2014 if any of you are interested in giving it a try.

Book to Movie Challenge: 6/6 books read and movies watched

This was the most fun to complete, I think. It helped that there were so many new movies this year based on great books. I saw Beautiful Creatures, The Great Gatsby, Ender’s Game, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and snuck in two oldies: The Princess Bride and One Day. I managed to read Austenland, The Book Thief, and Carrie, but didn’t get a chance to see the movie adaptations. I also haven’t seen City of Bones yet.

Did I miss any biggies? What book to movie adaptations did you see this year?

That’s it for my challenge round-up. Are you doing any challenges this year?

 

 

 

Weekly Recap (4)

Every Friday I post a recap of books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read, as well as any other tidbits I feel like sharing. The format was inspired by Small Review’s Recap posts and On a Book Bender and 25 Hour Books’ Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge posts.

Blogging

This week on the blog:

Reading

Finished: 

  • Spider’s Bite (Elemental Assassin #1) by Jennifer Estep
    • I was really enjoying this one until the ending dragged on forever. Plus the writing got irritatingly repetitive. Still a great read, though, and I’ll be continuing with the series. 
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • I’m working myself into a fever pitch over the upcoming movie, y’all. I forgot how great this book is.

Acquiring

Borrowed:

  • Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls #2) by Ally Carter
    • Fun and fluffy. Can’t wait to start.

Watching

  • 42 (The Jackie Robinson Story)
    • This was an incredible story to see on the big screen. I just wish the screenplay had been better.

Listening

  • The video of the National Anthem sung at the Boston Bruins game on Wednesday night gave me chills.

Exercising

  • Back full-force into the running. After almost 5 months off, this is not pretty. I also had a Groupon expiring at the Bikram studio, so I had to squeeze in a couple of classes.
    • Saturday – 2 miles
    • Sunday – 60 minutes on the helliptical
    • Monday – Bikram yoga
    • Tuesday – 4 miles
    • Wednesday – Bikram yoga
    • Thursday – 3 miles

What have you been up to this week?

 

 

 

Weekly Recap (3)

 
Every Friday I post a recap of books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read, as well as any other tidbits I feel like sharing. The format was inspired by Small Review’s Recap posts and On a Book Bender and 25 Hour Books’ Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge posts.

Blogging

This week on the blog:

  • FAIL. No posts this week. Feel free to shame me in the comments, but my excuse was another bout of illness. This spring is kicking my ass!

Reading

Finished: 

  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
    • Loved it. I learned a lot about the rise of Hitler that I hadn’t known, and the Dodd family was a fascinating bunch of characters.
  • Clockwork Angel (Clockwork Angel #1) by Cassandra Clare
    • I got so thoroughly sucked into this series. I had to start book 2 immediately.

Started: 

  • Clockwork Prince (Clockwork Angel #2) by Cassandra Clare
    • See above.
  • Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller
    • I flew through the early years, but now that I’ve hit the mediocre ’80s I’m getting bored. This may be a DNF.
  • Spider’s Bite (Elemental Assassin #1) by Jennifer Estep
    • I have a weakness for assassin tales, and after 40 pages I’m already in love with this one.

Acquiring

Borrowed:

  • Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller

Watching

  • The Following
    • We’re playing catch up on DVR’ed episodes. This show is so creepy and tense and scary in all the best ways. If you’re not watching it, you really should be.
  • Jurassic Park 3D IMAX
    • We paid the ridiculous $25 parking fee at Navy Pier to see this beloved favorite on the best IMAX screen in town. It’s astounding how well those dinosaurs stand the test of time, and I am so very glad I got to see it in the theater again!

Listening

  • Olly Murs, “Troublemaker”
    • My friend and I heard this on the radio and couldn’t decide whether it was Maroon 5 or not. Luckily it popped up again in the car and thanks to Sirius XM displays, we found out the real artist!

Exercising

  • I got in one measly run this week thanks to being sick again. I used the time off to plan out my racing season, though. Here are the races I’m aiming for this year:
    • 05/25/13 – Soldier Field 10 Mile (registered)
    • 06/23/13 – Bigfoot Triathlon, Olympic distance
    • 06/30/13 – Twin Lakes Triathlon, Sprint distance (registered)
    • 08/10/13 – Zooma Half Marathon
    • 08/25/13 – Chicago Triathlon, Sprint distance (registered)
    • 09/15/13 – TriRock Lake Geneva Triathlon, Olympic distance
    • 10/12/13 – Prairie State Half Marathon
    • 11/03/13 – Hot Chocolate 15K

What have you been up to this week?

 

 

 

Weekly Recap (2)

 
Every Friday I post a recap of books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read, as well as any other tidbits I feel like sharing. The format was inspired by Small Review’s Recap posts and On a Book Bender and 25 Hour Books’ Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge posts.

Blogging

This week on the blog:

Reading

Finished: 

  • Darkfever (Darkfever #1) by Karen Marie Moning
    • This was an interesting world and I’m looking forward to the rest of the series, but I need to read something else first.
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
    • My pick for book club this month. I can’t wait to discuss!

Started: 

  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
    • I love the way Larson writes non-fiction. His use of foreshadowing may not be for everyone, but I like knowing where the story is headed.
  • Clockwork Angel (Clockwork Angel #1) by Cassandra Clare
    • This is much darker than I thought it would be, and I really like it so far. Why did I wait so long to read these?

Acquiring

Bought:

  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald 
    • I can’t even explain how excited I am for the Baz Luhrmann movie next month. 

Watching

  • Downton Abbey, Seasons 2 and 3
    • It’s official. We’re addicted. We blasted through season 2 in two sessions, and are working our way through season 3 this week.
  • Game of Thrones, Season 3
    • Still the best show on television.

Listening

  • Bad Religion at Congress Theater
    • As advance repayment for making him go with me to the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert this summer, my husband is taking me to a Bad Religion concert tonight.

Exercising

  • Registered for 2nd quarter of Masters Swim Team at my gym, and am trying out a new Pilates-inspired class called BOSU-Core Synergy.
  • Running is on hold since I got a nasty chest cold this week. Blerg.

 

 

 

Return of the Weekly Recap

 
Way back, long ago, in the dark ages of this blog, I used to do a weekly recap as part of my TGIF or Follow Friday meme posts. When GReads! retired TGIF, I tried out a few other memes (like Clock Rewinders and It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?) to try and scratch the itch I had to share what I was reading, posting, and thinking about during the week.

During Bloggiesta, I spent some time working through some ideas for the kind of post I really wanted to write. Why was I trying to fit what I wanted to say into someone else’s mold? So starting today, every Friday I’m going to post a recap of books I’ve read, am reading, and plan to read, as well as any other tidbits I feel like sharing. The format was inspired by Small Review’s Recap posts and On a Book Bender and 25 Hour Books’ Clock Rewinders on a Book Binge posts.

Blogging

This week on the blog:

Reading

Finished: 

  • Graceling (Graceling Realm #1) by Kristin Cashore
    • Solid start, but lost me in the endless mountain climbing.
  • City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #4) by Cassandra Clare 
    • Though I mocked myself for reading this silliness, I tore through it like it was a bag of cinnamon bears.

Started: 

  • Darkfever (Darkfever #1) by Karen Marie Moning 
    • Mac is the opposite type of character I expected from this type of series. Like a non-annoying Sookie Stackhouse.

Acquiring

Bought:

  • Etiquette & Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger 
  • Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
  • Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2) by Marissa Meyer
    • I had an Amazon gift card burning a hole in my account, so I finally caved and bought 3 books from my wishlist. I initially read Cinder from the library, and definitely needed to own a copy, as well as the sequel.

Borrowed:

  • In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson
    • Erik Larson truly impressed me with The Devil in the White City (which if you haven’t read, is a must, and is getting a movie version starring Leonardo DiCaprio) and I have been meaning to give this one a try.

Placed on hold:

  • Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls #2) by Ally Carter
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain
  • Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller
  • The Twelve (The Passage #2) by Justin Cronin

Donated to Books for Africa: 

  • Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
  • Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
  • Graceling by Kristin Cashore
  • The Dark Glamour (666 Park Avenue #2) by Gabriella Pierce

Recycled:

  • 25 old ARCs and freebies that I will never read. It felt so good to get them out of the house!

Watching

  • Downton Abbey, Season 1
    • I realize I’m the last person alive who doesn’t watch this show religiously, but I finally got on board. LOVE. Except for O’Brien. HATE.
  • College basketball
    • I am typically anti-basketball (So many points! Only the last 3 minutes really count! Fouls are considered offensive strategy! It is a game that frustrates me.) but I am a sucker for bracketology and become very pro-basketball during March Madness. (My brackets suck.)
  • Awkward, On Demand
    • Season 3 premieres April 16th!
  • Game of Thrones and Doctor Who premieres this weekend
    • AAAUAUAUAUAAUUAAUGGGGHGGHHHHHHHHH *breath* *breath* AAAAUUUUAAUAUAUUGGHGGHHHHHHH!!!!

Listening

  • Justin Timberlake, The 20/20 Experience
    • Duh.

Exercising

  • With the Soldier Field 10 Mile race looming in 8 short weeks, I purchased the Hal Higdon 10 Mile plan through Training Peaks to hopefully help me get my training act together.

Time Wasting

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had incredibly happy holidays and had a great New Year’s Day. I spent the majority of my holidays traveling, so I’m looking forward to some time at home the next few months!

In reflecting over the past blogging year, I took some time today to update my 2012 Challenge Index. Here’s a quick recap of how I did on my reading challenges:

2012 Goodreads Challenge: 50/100 books read

Compared to the 120 books I read in 2011, this is a pitiful number. I’m not sure why I read so many fewer books this year, but I think I simply wasn’t as motivated to power through so many review copies. I focused much more on library books and didn’t pressure myself to read quickly. I’ve adjusted my 2013 challenge to 75 as a “split the difference” strategy between my 2011 and 2012 reading goals.

Debut Author Challenge: 6/12 books read

I read far fewer review books this year. I even had my NetGalley account deactivated and changed my review policy so that I no longer accept advance copies at all. As a result, I read fewer debuts as their availability at the library is more limited than older titles, and I only purchased a couple of them. I probably won’t participate in this challenge anymore.

YA Historical Fiction Challenge: 6/10 books read

This is a favorite genre, so I’m not surprised I got closer to completing this one. I was derailed by finding lots more adult historical fiction this year, which doesn’t count for this particular challenge. I think I’ll try a less narrow genre challenge this year.

Get Steampunked Challenge: 3/15 books read

Yikes! I’m surprised I didn’t get through more of these. I have amassed a large selection of steampunk books this year, so now I need to get to actually reading them. I’ll be signing up for this one again.

Off the Shelves Challenge: 1/30 books read

At least it’s not zero! This was a challenge to read books sitting on my shelves, which did not happen (obviously). Because my book horde is approaching unmanageable proportions, this is a MAJOR goal of mine in 2013 – read the books I already own before I buy (or borrow) old ones. The library is proving to be the toughest competition, because I justify borrowing books because they are free, but doing so does nothing to increase the books read on my shelves. I am definitely doing at least a couple of TBR-oriented challenges this year to get my butt in gear!

Books Started But Not Finished Challenge: 2/6 books read

The idea here was to finish books from my short list of abandoned titles. It did not go well. There’s usually a reason I didn’t finish them, so most of these titles just didn’t appeal to me over shiny new books that might be the best book ever. I’ll give this challenge a miss in the future.

Graphic Novels Challenge: 0/12 books read

Another embarrassing failure. Because my graphic novel collection is precious to me, I don’t really want to take them out of my house. This means I don’t take them on the train, which is where I do most of my reading. Still, I plan to keep the same list and try again with this challenge. I can usually finish a graphic novel in a relatively short amount of time, so I need to pick a gloomy weekend this winter and get through a few at a time. Maybe that should be the primary focus of a read-a-thon?

Why Buy the Cow? Challenge: 0/12 books read

No freebies read this year. I also think I acquired very few (if any) of them. I have plenty of paid-for books to read, and I’m not really interested in glutting my Kindle with more freebies. Unless it’s a title I’ve been itching to read anyway, no thanks. After two years in a row of failing, I won’t be doing this challenge again.

Speculative Romance Challenge: 3/12 books read

This was another one that surprised me. I really thought I would read more than that in this genre. Instead of doing a strict romance genre challenge, I’ll be substituting the Seriously Series challenge, since I have so many UF/PNR series books in my TBR pile.

Dusty Volumes Challenge: 3/6 books read

Finishing half of my list is a definite step up from 2011, so I’m happy with that number. It’s entirely thanks to the Austen in August event hosted by Roof Beam Reader that I even got this far! I don’t think Midnyte Reader is hosting this again (so I’ll probably do her Authors After Dark challenge instead), but I’ll attempt a different classics challenge, since I have a good list in mind that I want to finish this year. 

Outlander Reading Challenge: 1/6 books read

This didn’t turn out to be a big priority for me, so it fell to the back of the pack. I know I’ll get to the rest of these eventually, but I don’t need a challenge to do so.

1st in a Series Challenge: 9/12 books read

I did the best in this challenge, partly because I like starting series, and partly because it’s hard to find books these days that aren’t part of a series.

Finishing the Series Challenge: 1/3 series finished

I guess I got too distracted by new series to finish the ones I’ve already started!


Now, on to 2013!

In the coming weeks I’ll be posting challenge sign-ups and getting my 2013 index ready. It felt really good to update links and do, well, anything, blog-related. Maybe this year I can get around to posting my challenge progress bar widgets to help keep me on track. 🙂