Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Book Blab POSTPONED! (And a few links)

Hi folks. If you're here because you were wanting to watch the live feed of The Book Blab Episode 3, I'm sorry to tell you we've postponed until further notice. Apparently Amy has completely lost her voice, and since I didn't necessarily want to do all the talking for the two of us, we decided to wait until she's better. I'll let you know when we get our schedules matched up again.

However, if you no longer know what to fill up the next half-hour of your life with, here are a few links of interesting lists or bookish items to keep you company. Enjoy and happy Wednesday!

  • I am notoriously bad at being up-to-date with currently published books. I blame it on my to-read backlist and my library's waitlist for new releases, but it's truly mostly because I'm horribly uninformed and must wait for other people to tell me what new and wonderful books to read. This list, however, has got me thinking about upcoming releases and the possibility of actually reading more books in the calendar year they are published. I'm particularly intrigued by Carrie Fisher's memoir (although that title is atrocious, in my humble opinion).
  • On the note of being more on top of current books, the short list for the Tournament of Books has been released. And I was proud that I've actually read one of the books on the list (A Spool of Blue Thread, just finished it this month). I'm interested in following the Tournament as it progresses, just to get more info on these books and see which ones I think are worth reading.
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy has released a podcast, and she is now four episodes in, I think. I love the bookish chit-chat, and her ability to recommend books is a serious gift. After listening to first few episodes, my take away is that I need to read Me Before You, because apparently I'm missing out here? 
That's all I have for now. See you soon!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Peru and Bolivia: A Brief Photo Tour

So look, I know this is a book blog and not a travel blog. And I also know that some people love travel writing, and some people can get easily bored with it (I am in that second category). But our trip to Peru and Bolivia over Christmas break was just kind of too incredible not to share. I promise I will try to keep this as brief as possible, just the highlights (although it was super hard to narrow down pictures to share, especially of the incomparable Machu Picchu.)

First, a little background. We spent ten days total on the trip, leaving very late on Christmas night and returning to the States on January 4th (my parents watched our boys while we were gone). We traveled with most of the adult members of my husband's family: my mother- and father-in-law, my husband's older sister and her husband, and his younger brother and youngest sister (another sister and brother-in-law did not come with us, and we missed you Melanie, but I've got to say, this would've been a terrible trip to make being first-trimester pregnant).

This trip has been in the works for years. Both my mother- and father-in-law served LDS missions in Bolivia, and as long as I've known my husband he's talked about going on this trip to visit his parent's mission areas with them, and throw Machu Picchu into the mix because, hello? It's Machu Picchu.

I was the reason for the timing of this trip. I have two stipulations for international travel: 1.) I cannot be pregnant, and 2.) I cannot be nursing (inherent in that last stipulation is that I don't want to travel internationally with babies or small children, I just personally would not enjoy that). When we were looking at long term planning a few years ago, I realized this Christmas break would be the only window where international travel would be possible for a while, so we pitched the trip idea to the rest of his family. It took a lot of planning (traveling with eight people takes serious coordination) and a lot of prep, but in the end we all had a fabulous time. Here are some of the highlights:

Peru: Cusco

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Goals for 2016

While I was perusing my book stats on Goodreads in preparation for my last post, my husband looked over my shoulder and commented, "48 books this year? That's great! But woah, what happened in 2014?"

If you remember (you probably don't), in 2014 I read a measly 26 books, half my rate in 2015. So I told my husband what happened in 2014. I was pregnant.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 In Review

You guys, 2015 was a fabulous year for me. It was a routine kind of year, and I mean that in the best possible way. There were no major life changes. No births or pregnancies, no moves or job changes, nothing life-altering. Thank heavens! We definitely still had some mini adventures and fabulous trips (see above), but by and large, it was a year of figuring out and living my routines. As a creature of habit, I loved that.

Rather than do a blow-by-blow account of how I did on my resolutions for 2015 (as a side note, I'm about 50/50, in that 5 of my goals were obvious successes, and the other 5 were less clearly so), I figured I would just highlight some of my personal successes and lessons learned in 2015.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Top 10 Books of 2015

I've mentioned before how much I love the stats feature of Goodreads. I love being able to track the books I read year by year and see them all laid out in neat little graphs. It's just thrills me to see, and tickles some slight competitive bone in me that makes me want to read more and more just to see the numbers stack up.

This year, I read 48 books. My goal at the beginning of the year was to read 25 books for pleasure. Some of those 48 were books assigned for school, but the vast majority were for pleasure, which means I blew my goal out of the water. (I like setting the bar low, it always makes me feel so good when I super exceed.) 48 still feels like kind of low number to me (after all, it's less than a book a week), but since I am a full time grad student as well as a mother of two, I try to cut myself some slack.

All in all, the reading was pretty good this year. As per tradition. I've gone through and selected my top 10 favorite reads from 2015. It's kind of a fun exercise to do this, because it always reveals to me how arbitrary the five-star rating system is for me. I find that by the end of the year I've often changed my mind on some of the ratings I gave immediately after reading a book, or find that another book I didn't rate very highly has actually stayed with me in a surprisingly powerful way. Anyway, in order of when I read them (not order of value), here are my top 10 from 2015:

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Back to Real Life

So, if you've noticed my recent absence around here (and all of the internet, for that matter), I have a perfectly good excuse. I was out of the country.

Um, yes, that would be the incredible Machu Picchu behind us there.

We spent our Christmas vacation on a once in a lifetime trip to Peru and Bolivia with my husband's family. It was an incredible experience, but also a little bit draining. I meant to have some end-of-year posts written up before I left, but what with finishing up school, packing up Christmas to spend it with the grandparents in Utah, then leaving the boys with said grandparents while we hopped on our international flight Christmas night, I just never found the time to get on top of things like that.

And after 10 days, 8 cities, 3 countries (if a layover in Panama counts), 5 time zones, a bout of traveler's diarrhea, and way too many nights trying to grab sleep in uncomfortable plane and bus seats, I'm still not quite on top of things. We made it home late last night, and were greeted by a deconstructed kitchen (we were fumigated for cockroaches while we were gone), no food to speak of, and all our Christmas decorations still patiently waiting to be put away. Needless to say, I will probably still be taking things easy for a while as I focus on getting our lives back in order and back to routine.

But I still plan to inundate you with all my end-of-year recaps and new year goals, no matter how far into January it takes. And maybe a few pictures from our trip, if you're interested. Just be patient with me.

Right now, I'm still marveling at the novelty of brushing my teeth with tap water instead of bottled water. America is amazing, y'all.