Wednesday, December 26, 2012

End of the Year Book Survey - 2012

 I found this year-in-review survey at The Perpetual Page Turner and thought it sounded like fun to write.  Hopefully it will be interesting to read, as well.
Best in Books 2012
1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)
       The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
       Insurgent by Veronica Ross -  I LOVED Divergent and was very disappointed in the 2nd book of the trilogy.  I'll probably read the third book but I'm not counting down the days.
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 
       Probably Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.  I thought Anna and the French Kiss was ok cute, but fell in love with Lola.
4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?
       Tie between Attachments by Rainbow Rowell and We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.
5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
       I'm going to say The Passage by Justin Cronin, but with an asterisk.  I haven't read The Twelve yet and since I was so let down by several other second books in trilogies I'm hesitant to get too excited.
6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?
       Jillian Flynn and John Green
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?       Incarnate by Jodi Meadows - I don't read much fantasy and I wasn't expecting much from it, but it was a lot of fun and interesting.  Excellent world building.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?       Gone Girl by Jillian Flynn.  Holy sh*t is all I have to say on that one.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:       Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?       The book was a bit of a disappointment but I still LOVE the cover of What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang

11. Most memorable character in 2012?        Kevin from We Need to Talk about Kevin.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?       This isn't really a category I feel I notice a lot.  I'll go with The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh or April Fool's Day by Bryce Courtenay.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?        This is a tie.
       The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti - This one just changed how I view our cultural/media/political discourse on women's issues.
       We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver - I may not have thought about this one every day since I read it, but darn close.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?        The Stand by Stephen King

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? I can't pick just one.  How bout top 7?
      “You don't have to stop thinking and asking questions to believe in God, child. If He'd wanted a flock of eight billion sheep, He wouldn't have given us opposable thumbs, much less free will.” - When She Woke

      “Teachers were both blamed for everything that went wrong with kids and turned to for their every salvation. This dual role of scapegoat and savior was downright messianic but even Jesus was probably paid better.”    - We Need to Talk about Kevin (how timely is that quote right now?)

      "Maybe I do not know what to call it, that Thursday.  The atrocity sounds torn straight from a newspaper, the incident is minimizing to the point of obscenity, and the day our own son committed mass murder is too long isn’t it? - We Need to Talk about Kevin

      “It’s awful, telling it like this, isn’t it? As though we didn’t know the ending. As though it could have another ending. It’s like watching Romeo drink poison. Every time you see it you get fooled into thinking his girlfriend might wake up and stop him. Every single time you see it you want to shout, You stupid ass, just wait a minute and she’ll open her eyes! Oi, you, you twat, open your eyes, wake up! Don’t die this time! But they always do.”   - Code Name Verity

       “But the plans were on display..." "On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them." "That's the display department." "With a flashlight." "Ah, well, the lights had probably gone." "So had the stairs." "But, look, you found the notice, didn't you?" "Yes, yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.” ― The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

       “We are literally in the heart of Jesus," he said. "I thought we were in a church basement, but we are literaly in the heart of Jesus." "Someone should tell Jesus," I said. "I mean, it's gotta be dangerous, storing children with cancer in your heart." "I would tell Him myself," Augustus said, "but unfortunately I am literally stuck inside of His heart, so He won't be able to hear me.” ― The Fault in Our Stars
        “To be fair to Monica," I said, "what you did to her wasn't very nice either." "What'd I do to her?" he asked, defensive. "You know, going blind and everything." "But that's not my fault," Isaac said. "I'm not saying it was your fault. I'm saying it wasn't nice.” ―  The Fault in Our Stars

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 
       The Longest - The Stand by Stephen King @ 1153 pgs.  I enjoyed it, but would have been just fine (and probably happier) with the original version at about 800 pgs.
       The Shortest - The Bridesmaid Lotto by Rachel Astor @ 192 pgs.  Honestly this was either free or $1 on Kindle.  It was predictable and if it had been much longer I wouldn't have finished it.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
       Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.  "KISS ME, HARDY! Kiss me, QUICK!"   Ahhhh, nononononono.  And I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
       Another Tie.
       Eleanor and Park from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Perfect portrayal of first love.
       Maddie and Julie from Code Name Verity.  I hadn't realized how much I was ODing on typical YA romance.  Loved this friendship!

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
       The Garden of Happy Endings by Barbara O'Neal.  I love how O'Neal writes women. 
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:       The Passage by Justin Cronin.  Thanks to All the Books I can Read

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012?        I pretty much just discovered book blogs this year.
              Don'tTake my Books Away
              All the Books I can Read

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 
       Eleanor& Park by Rainbow Rowell

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
       I don't have much of a following yet so I'll pass on this one.
4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?         Maybe Elizabeth's review of Gone Girl by Jillian Flynn (and our subsequent email convo after - to avoid spoilers to those who haven't read it yet).
5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
       I really enjoy Top 10 Tuesdays @ The Broke and the Bookish

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?       
       Hmmm - I'm pretty proud of this post.  I feel like it's honest and well written.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?       
       One week I participated in TGIF at Greads and that post has 5 times as many views as anything else.  Unfortunately that meme went away.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
       My Review of We Need to Talk About Kevin.  After reading that one I DESPERATELY wanted to discuss it with someone.

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?    
      Goodreads - Yeah I was living in the dark ages.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?       I set a goal to read 75 books.  Just barely got it done.  (Although I don't count romance novels - If I did I'd have been pretty comfy)

Looking Ahead…
1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?       The Twelve by Justin Cronin.  It came out too close to the busy season at work.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?       Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?       
       Yeah I've got three goals for this year.
              1. Read 50 new books. 
              2. Review all the books I read - even if it's a very short review.
              3. Complete two Challenges
                     1.  TBR Pile Challenge 2013
                     2.  Back to the Classics Challenge 2013

Back to the Classics Challenge 2013

To broaden my reading list a bit I'm going to participate in Sarah's Back to the Classics Challenge 2013.

There are six required Classics categories and 5 optional categories.  I'm going to shoot for getting all the required and optional categories.

I have a plan and a backup plan in every category (except Russian Lit - if I can't make it thru Lolita I don't know what I'll do), but these can change if I want them too.

The Required Categories:

1.  A 19th Century Classic - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte or  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen or  A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

2.  A 20th Century Classic - The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

3.  A Pre-18th or 18th Century Classic: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe or Love in Excess by Eliza Haywood

4.  A Classic that relates to the African-American Experience - Beloved by Toni Morrison or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

5.  A Classic Adventure - Moby Dick by Herman Melville  

6.  A Classic that prominently features an Animal - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee or Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Optional Categories:

    A.  Re-read a Classic  - Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell or The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

   B.  A Russian Classic - Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

   C.  A Classic Non-Fiction title  - Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R. Hofstadter or A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

   D.  A Classic Children's/Young Adult title - The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis or Across Five Aprils by  Irene Hunt

   E.  Classic Short Stories The Overcoat and Other Short Stories by Nikolai Gogol

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2013 TBR Pile Challenge

In an attempt to curb my book buying habit I'm going to participate in The Roof Beam Reader's 2013 TBR Pile Challenge.

The goal of the challenge is to read 12 books from my TBR pile that have been there at LEAST a year. 
Select 12 books and 2 alternates (in case a couple of the 12 are unfinishable), read and review them all in 2013.
My Selections (as of 12/31/12) - I reserve the right to change these until 1/1/13)
1.  Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
2.  Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris
3.  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
4.  The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
5.  Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
6.  The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver
7.  An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
8.  The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
9.  Going too Far by Jennifer Echols
10.  The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
11.  1984 by George Orwell
12.  Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez 
1.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer
2.  Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday - Favorite Books of 2012

This week’s Top 10 from The Broke and The Bookish is Top 10 Books read in 2012. 

Even with my blogging hiatus I had to take a shot at this one.  Plus I sort of maintain this list in my Books Read in 2012 page anyway so it isn't a big time commitment.  Here are my favorite books of 2012 in no particular order.  The first seven link to my reviews.  The last three I haven't reviewed and link to Amazon.

The Fault in Our Stars - John Green

The Passage - Justin Cronin

Lola and the Boy Next Door - Stephanie Perkins
Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell

The Purity Myth - Jessica Valenti

Code Name Verity - Elizabeth Wein

We Need to Talk about Kevin - Lionel Shriver

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

The Language of Flowers - Vanessa Diffenbaugh

When She Woke - Hillary Jordan

Monday, December 10, 2012

Church Guilt or Dog Guilt

I've been trying to avoid controversial topics on my blog.  I made it through election season, but I feel I need to post this and it's about faith.  Just an FYI.

On Sunday I chose Church guilt.  I was totally planning on going to church, but my poor puppy has been home alone WAY too much lately with my busy season at work.  Add the fact that I was gone a good chunk of Saturday and I decided I needed to spend some time at home.

But of course I still had a little bit of guilt for not going to Church on a day when I clearly could have.  Anyway I was surfing the 'net a bit and I stumbled accross a blog that linked to three different YouTube videos.  I knew that the topic of all of them was religious, but didn't know anything else and I chose to click the 2nd video.

It turned out to be Nadia Bolz-Weber, a speaker at the 2012 ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans.  I'm a member of the ELCA and attended the 1996 ELCA Youth Gathering the last time it was in New Orleans.

Listening to Nadia Bolz-Weber moved me to tears and cheers, but towards the end of her speech she said something that I feel I really needed to hear.  If we are open to God he works in us thru our weaknesses, not just our strengths. 

I am not perfect (stating the obvious).  I know that God forgives my sins, but I fear turning people away from God if I'm not perfect in my faith - which is contrary to the Word of God.  I am a sinner.  That is the reason I need God.  It's something to be shouted and not feared.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Blogging Hiatus

The company I work for is EXTREMELY busy during the holiday season so I don't anticipate having much spare time to read let alone blog.  I finished a couple DIY projects that I'm hoping to find time to write about, but don't be surprised if this blog goes silent until January. 

I should have posted this a couple weeks ago so I'm sorry for the delay - the craziness started earlier than I was anticipating this year.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My first DIY fail

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was refinishing my kitchen cabinets.  They were in good shape, but I was sick of medium oak - it's EVERYWHERE in my house. 
I decided against painting because I wanted to keep the wood grain, but knew that staining would be considerably more work since I would have to strip off the existing poly.  Plus I'd heard that poly is not fun to apply.

I chose a dark (but not black) stain.
Anyway over my last week of vacation (from work) I took all the cabinet doors down.  I bought a power sander and sanded all the flat surfaces.  Then applied the stripper to the parts that couldn't be sanded (the stripping had to happen in shifts because I didn't have space to lay out all the doors at once).  And then scraped the stripper and poly off the cabinet doors - it was NOT a fun process.

I used this stripper - no smell and I think it worked pretty good.
The doors took quite a bit longer than the cabinet boxes because I could just sand 95% of the boxes eliminating the time consuming stripping process.  That's why you've already seen this pic.

Once I finished with the boxes I focused on the doors.  I used the sock applicator method.  Basically I put a rubber glove on my hand, covered the glove with an old sock and dipped the hand into the stain and then applied to the wood.  The first time I waited to wipe the stain for 10 min cause I wanted it to be darker.  Yeah in 10 min it was too dry and ended up streaky - I had to do those 7 doors all over.  My advice is to apply the stain to the whole door and then wipe immediately.

After two coats of stain (front and back) I applied the poly with a brush.  I used Rustoleum Poly and LOVED it.  I was careful to brush it on really thin, but I didn't have any problems with visible brush strokes or drips.

Finally I put it all back together and here it is...

The good news is that I'm very happy with the color of the cabinet doors.  The bad news is that they are a different color than the boxes.  I think that since the stain was applied to the cabinet doors when they were lying flat more was absorbed.  And since I did the doors in the garage, I didn't notice the difference in color until they were up.  It's even more obvious up close.

Once Christmas season is over I'm planning to pull the doors back off and re-do the boxes (and a couple of the doors), but for now I'm going to live with it.  Sigh.  I am going to paint the walls very soon because as much as I HATED the maroon with the medium oak, it's even worse with the darker cabinets.