Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Books I Read in 2013

I keep track of the books I've read on a calendar. I've been doing this since high school and it's a pretty decent system, except when I accidentally go weeks without writing something down and then I have to guess when it actually was that I read it. So some of the dates are probably off. Still, it allows me to keep track of when I read what. And that's really all I need. For 2014, I might switch over to keeping track of things on GoodReads, which I recent realized lets you keep track of what date you finished a book. So maybe this year, I'll actually use my calendar for keeping track of upcoming events (and drooling over how gorgeous Paris is). So here is the list of books I read this year, with my top 10 in bold.

1. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl (January 4th)
2. A Royal Pain by Megan Mulry (January 8th)
3. Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes (February 4th)
4. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (February 19th)
5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman (February 22nd)
6. The Runaway Princess by Hester Browne (February 28th)
7. Broken at Love by Lyla Payne (March 18th)
8. Altered by Jennfer Rush (March 18th)
9. Written in Red by Anne Bishop (April 22nd)
10. Asunder by Jodi Meadows (May 8th)
11. Poison by Bridget Zinn (May 17th)
12. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (May 20th)
13. The Elite by Kiera Cass (May 29th)
14. The Goddess Inheritance by Aimee Carter (May 31st)
15. This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith (June 1st)
16. When Calls the Heart by Janette Oke (June 3rd)
17. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (June 10th)
18. The Art of Wishing by Lindsay Ribar (June 14th)
19. The Assassin and the Pirate Lord by Sarah J. Maas (June 16th)
20. The Assassin and the Desert by Sarah J. Maas (June 16th)
21. The Assassin and the Underworld by Sarah J. Maas (June 17th)
22. The Assassin and the Empire by Sarah J. Maas (June 18th)
23. Shadows on the Moon by Zoë Marriott (June 20th)
24. Free Four by Veronica Roth (June 21st)
25. Natural Born Angel by Scott Speer (June 24th)
26. The Beautiful and the Cursed by Page Morgan (June 26th)
27. Born of Illusion by Teri Brown (June 27th)
28. Revel by Maurissa Guibord (June 28th)
29. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (July 1st)
30. The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen (July 14th)
31. The First Star to Fall by Diana Peterfreund (August 8th)
32. Guns for the Dead by Melissa Marr (August 12th)
33. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (August 19th)
34. Gravity by Melissa West (August 22nd)
35. The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (September 2nd)
36. The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell (September 10th)
37. Silver Phoenix by Cindy Pon (September 12th)
38. Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon (September 16th)
39. If You Were Mine by Sara Farizan (September 26th)
40. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas (September 29th)
41. Battle Magic by Tamora Pierce (October 8th)
42. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (October 16th)
43. Huntress by Malinda Lo (October 21st)
44. Antigoddess by Kendara Blake (November 4th)
45. The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell (November 21st)
46. Just One Year by Gayle Forman (December 4th)
47. You Knew Me When by Emily Liebert (December 27th)

I would say that 2013 saw a major change in the kinds of books that I enjoy. I read outside of my comfort zone a lot, especially towards the end of the year. I read more adult books than usual, and that will probably continue in to the coming years. I read more books that weren't about straight white girls, and I enjoyed them immensely, so I intend to read even more of those as well. One big thing about my changing tastes, is that it means I was disappointed by a lot of books. I read books that had been sitting on my to-be-read list for years, only to discover that they weren't really holding my interests. I read a lot of sequels that I didn't enjoy as much as the first book, and I think that has more to do with me than it does the quality of those books. It happens.

Some things didn't change. I think that a maximum of four of the books I read had exclusively male protagonists. I tend to read mostly books about women characters and I tend to read mostly books by women authors (as far as I can tell, only 2 of the books I read this year were written by men). I still read mostly fantasy books, followed by realistic fiction. In 2014, I intend to try and throw a little science fiction into the mix, since I've been enjoy a lot of sci-fi television. I'm hoping to read a little more this year, with a goal of at least 60 books in 2014. It shouldn't be too hard, my list of titles I want to read is already more than twice that number.

What are your reading goals for 2014.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lust List: Christmas Gifts for My Parents

I really struggle with buying gifts for my parents. It's not super difficult to find something for my mother, but Christmas is also her birthday, so finding two presents at the same time can be a bit much. And my Dad has pretty much always been impossible to shop for. He doesn't give any clues, and while he collects stamps, he always puts a specific list together and my mother buys those for him. So I tend to get my parents repetitive gifts. My sister and I usually split the cost on some sort of sentimental piece of jewelry for my mother, and then I panic on the second gift until she tells me what she wants. And then I buy my father some sort of desk tchotchke, but he's specifically told me he doesn't want one of those this year. After scouring the internet for what felt like forever, I think I've finally picked out gifts for both of my parents, but here's some of the other stuff I was considering.

For Mom
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Cozy Robe     $24.99 (5 additional colors)
Peacock Pill Box     $12
Wire Art Tree     $20
Knitting Bowl     $36
Ceramic Cup     $26

For Dad
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Charlie Brown Shirt     $19.99
Antique Map Paper Cup     $19.95
Apple Paperweight     $18.95

My sister and I already purchased the bracelet set for my mother (as well as another bracelet from the site), and I'm trying to convince my sister to go for the candle holder as well. I bought the vintage baseball for my father a couple of Christmases ago, and he loved it. This year, I'm probably going to go with the teacher nutcracker (my father is a teacher, you'd be surprised how hard it is to find teacher nutcrackers that are men).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Things I Loved in November 2013

I'm having a very hard time accepting the fact that it's December. I feel like this year has just flown by so fast. I have made virtually no progress on my New Year's Resolutions, which is disappointing. But I have managed to start graduate school, which means that this year is automatically more successful that 2012. At least I have that. Hopefully, December is fairly kind to me (and limited in the snow department until I'm done with classes for the semester). I'll probably be spending the month with family and watching my bank account drain as I attempt to buy everyone's Christmas presents. But this post is about November, not December. November was fairly low-key to me. I spent a lot of time on the computer (just like every other month, really), but I did manage to get up to Buffalo to visit my two best friends. I also had some great discoveries!

I made three different things for Thanksgiving dinner, but this fruit dip was definitely the biggest hit. Even my cousins children (who are always picky eaters) devoured it. It's also incredibly easy to make, all you do is measure out three ingredients and mix them together with a spoon. In addition to the apples recommended at the source, I put out strawberries and bananas for everyone to dip into it as well. Personally, I though the bananas went best with it, but I had multiple servings of each fruit.

The Springsweet by Saundra Mitchell
This is the second book in Mitchell's The Vespertine trilogy. I thought the first book was great, but this one is my favorite so far. It focuses on a characters introduced in the first book, as she recovers from tragedy and moves to a frontier town in Oklahoma to help her aunt. Much like the first book, it contains magic and romance, but I especially loved watching the main character develop. If you like historical fiction and fantasy, you should definitely check it out.

I have no shame in admitting that I love a good boy band. And Big Time Rush is definitely my favorite. There music is so much fun. I've been listening to in the car lately, and it's a great way to beat the freezing cold early mornings when I drive to work. And the freezing cold darkness when I leave work at night.

Agents of SHIELD premiered to huge numbers a few months ago, but had a bit of a hard time finding its footing. I've been watching since the premiere, and it definitely gets better with each episode. After episode 6, things start to get really good. At this point, I've completely fallen in love with this show, and I spent a lot of time talking to friends about it. In fact, my interest may have reached the point where fan fiction is involved.

I was fully prepared to rant to you about how much I love AoS, and leave it at that. But about 10 days ago, a friend finally talked me into checking out Haven, which airs on SyFy here in the US. I marathoned all 50 of the currently aired episodes in 8 days, and now I'm anxiously awaiting the start of it's two-part season finale. It's a great fantasy show, and I love all of the characters so much. You should definitely give this show a try, seasons 1-3 are currently up on Netflix. You won't regret it.

Like I said earlier, I flew up to Buffalo to visit friends earlier this month. And, in general, Buffalo is really cold. So the night before I left, I ducked into Target and bought a pair of cheap gloves. These aren't incredibly warm, but they do really well for their $3 price tag. And they have the special tips that allow you to use your phone/iPod without taking them off. And they're small enough that my tiny hands actually fit into them properly. All in all, a very useful purchase.

I have really oily skin, which is naturally prone to acne. And ever since I started using this cleanser, my skin has been the best its ever been (aside from when I was taking pills for acne... maybe). I'm so happy with this product (and all of the REN skincare items I've tried). I did go through my first bottle of it very quick, though, so I'm trying to be a little more careful with the second.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Lust List: My Christmas Wishlist

As a rule, I like to have my Christmas wishlist done by November 25th. I find that it gives my parents a decent amount of time to actually shop for the presents (although considering the fact that most of my wishlist comes from online stores these days, that's not much of an issue) and there's usually a good stock of winter items in store by that time. Also it means that, when Black Friday rolls around, we can take advantage of any deals the stores are offering (and I certainly have; most of my Black Friday shopping was completed shortly after midnight). This year, I gave myself a few rules: 1) No makeup (I did some serious damage at the Sephora VIB sale earlier this month) 2) Try to keep the clothes I ask for work appropriate (even though that seems like the only type of clothing I buy these days). I successfully stuck to those rules. My wishlist this year was actually pretty small (4 total items), because I'm trying to allow myself some room to be surprised (I've always been the kid who snoops for presents, and knowing my mother's email password makes it so easy to find the online receipts these days), so I threw in some of the presents I bought myself from the Black Friday sales.

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Knit Sweater in Dark Gray     $34.95 (3 more colors)
Luck Be A Lady Dress in Avian     $74.99 (I bought one of their other prints, which has since sold out)
Rib Collar Biker Coat     $127.14 (marked down from $170.12)
Urban Developer Top     $47.99
Wool Pencil Skirt in Cabernet    $44.50 (4 more colors)

Just a note about the Black Friday/Cyber Monday discounts I used to buy some of these:
Asos: 20% off everything thru 5AM EST 12/2 with the code "gimme20"
H&M: free shipping on order $50+ thru 11/30 with the code "1088"
J. Crew Factory: 50% off all orders $50+ and free shipping with the code "holiday50"
Madewell: 25% off all orders thru 11:59PM EST 12/2 with the code "feast 25"
Modcloth: Hundred of new items marked down to 50% off (see their sale section) thru 9PM PST 12/1

***I also asked for membership to two local library associations (I'm in grad school for Library Science). And I totally broke my own no makeup rule and bought the Stila Lip & Cheek Palette and the   TokyoMilk Dark Set from the Sephora Black Friday deals.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Book List: Novels in Verse

If you're looking for a quick read, novels in verse are a good thing to look into. When I was in high school, I was really into reading as many books as possible. And I went through a phase where I was reading so many novels in verse, because I could get through two, or even three of them in a day. My reading pace has slowed down substantially since then, but I still do enjoy a good novel in verse.

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Who Will Tell My Brother? by Marlene Carvell
Splintering by Eireann Corrigan
Keesha's House by Helen Frost
Split Image by Mel Glenn
Things Left Unsaid by Stephanie Hemphill
Street Love by Walter Dean Myers
Boris by Cynthia Rylant
Jinx by Margaret Wild

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lust List: Jewelry for Christmas

When it comes to jewelry, I do a lot of online window shopping, but not a lot of actually purchasing. In fact, despite probably having hundreds of jewelry items bookmarked across multiple websites, I've probably only worn 4 different pieces of jewelry in the last year (a watch, a necklace and two brooches). Still, I love looking at the stuff. More than clothes or makeup, there's just so much interesting and different jewelry out there. I wish I was better at remembering to put on the jewelry I do own.

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Royal Gem Cuff Bracelet     $28 (7 colors)
Hard Time Watch     $39.99
Bow Link Bracelet     $28 (3 colors)
Mini Book Pin     $12.49 (8 colors, I own this in yellow)
Crown Ring     $58

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Lust List: Christmas Gifts for My Sister

As the winter holidays draw closer, I've decided to throw gift lists into the mix more frequently. So both this blog and the next blog will be Lust Lists. Right now, I'm trying to figure out what I want to get for my younger sister. She's 20 and extremely difficult to shop for, half because she and I have such different taste, and half because she refuses to give me the slightest hint as to what she wants for Christmas. So here are some of the possibilities. Personally, I'm leaning towards #3.

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Knit Sweater     $19.95

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Book List: Science Fiction

I know that the science fiction and fantasy genres have a tendency to be grouped together. But while I've always been a huge fantasy reader, I've never read much science fiction. I think that's going to change. At this point, I'm really into three different science fiction tv shows (Arrow, The Tomorrow People, and Agents of SHIELD), so I should probably expand my book reading to match. Here's what I've enjoyed, let me know if you have any recommendations!

The Future of Us by Jay Asher
Matched by Allie Condie
Karma Girl by Jennifer Estep
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Hero by Perry Moore
For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund
I Was a Teenage Popsicle by Bev Katz Rosebaum
Altered by Jennifer Rush

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lust List: It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas (Etsy Picks)

It snowed this morning, so I'm in the Christmas mood (despite Thanksgiving still being weeks away). And that means I've been browsing Etsy for the best in Christmas themed decor and other items. I should probably get started on my present shopping soon (keep an eye out for some future gift-themed Lust Lists), but first I need to deck the halls (and possibly my body).

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Reindeer Brooch from solitttimeco     $33.37

All I need now is a festive sweater (and maybe some hot chocolate) and I'll be ready for Christmas

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Postcard Habit

I collect postcards. I fell into the hobby a few years ago when an internet friend mentioned the website It allows you to send and receive postcards from other users around the world. I've since joined their forum, which allows you to set up private swaps, and participate in other postcard-trading activities. It's been a little over three years since I started collecting and I should hit the 2,000 card mark by the end of the year. I used to post my cards on my tumblr account, as I received them. But I've gotten really bad at scanning them in a timely manner, so I'm usually scanning close to 50 cards in one go. But here are some of my favorites.

*Note: All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them

I collect UNESCO World Heritage Site cards. I think it's really cool way to learn more about history. And some of the natural sites are so gorgeous.
Ayutthaya, Thailand & Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

My childhood love of fairy tales has definitely lead to a love for postcards with castles and palaces. The fact that they're a rarity in the US doesn't hurt.
The Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia & Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany

As a future librarian, I'm also a huge fan of library and book-related postcards:
Trinity College Library, Dublin, Ireland & Kremsmünster Abbey Library, Austria

I can't resist the cuteness of Korean Jetoy cards and Russian Kotovasiya cards. They appeal to me so much, as a cat lover.
Kotovasiya & Jetoy

We're now approaching my favorite time of the year for postcards. I love all the different varieties of Christmas-themed cards, but my absolute favorites are photos of cities and towns lit up for the holidays, and the gorgeous Christmas markets of Europe.
Christmas Market in Vienna, Austria & a postcards shaped like a reindeer

Of course, the thing that gets me the most excited is seeing a postcard in my mailbox from a new country. I've got pretty much all of the common ones at this point, but the rare ones get me really excited.

Faroe Islands & Iraq & Valparaiso, Chile & Georgetown, Guyana

My full collection can be seen here.