Book of Lists

the start of a new project: a book of lists!

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The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

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(reading challenge: Full House @ The Book Date category: First in a Series)

N.K. Jemisin is a relatively new fantasy author and this is the first book I’ve read by her. I am so glad I did! It was fast-paced, exciting, and the twists at the end completely surprised me. Actually, the whole plot was unpredictable, and the characters were interesting. The book alternates between three different stories, all of them fascinating, and all of them with strong, complex female protagonists. I spent the whole book trying to predict how the stories would eventually connect, and let’s just say I failed 🙂

Jemisin is an amazing world-builder. But I’m even more impressed by her characters. I’m really hard to please when it comes to female characters, especially in fantasy where they often are rather disappointing. Jemisin’s characters, both male and female, feel very real, make sense in their world, and are intriguing to follow throughout the story.

I can’t wait for the sequel, which is coming out later this year.

 

One more reading challenge…

Well, I’m probably crazy, but I’m adding one more reading challenge for 2016: the 2016 Reading Challenge at Modern Mrs Darcy. First of all, I just discovered her blog and LOVE it. I’m probably going to spend all of Alec’s nap today reading her blog. Forget cleaning. Second, I’m reading at a faster than anticipated pace so far this year (2 books in 3 days!) and this challenge isn’t overwhelming at all. 12 books in 12 categories at any time this year- totally doable, right? Here are the categories (I’ve also pinned this at this quiet morning):

2015

(Inspired by Soule Mama)

I have way too many resolutions for 2016. Some are perfunctory, like the resolution to eat healthier food, make more meals from scratch, exercise more, and so on. In other words, the resolutions everyone discards on  January 2nd or 3rd (or 1st, though perhaps it doesn’t count if you made the cookies in 2015?? heh.)

This year I’m changing things up a bit. In addition to the above resolutions (still necessary in order to justify pretty much anything in the week between Christmas and New Year’s) I’ve decided to make a few resolutions that are more like exciting promises I’m making to myself. I’m going to find more time to read (going well so far, as I started an incredible new book this morning) and I’m going to take more photos.

In that spirit, I’m going to reflect on this past year with photos I love, and hopefully next January 1st I’ll have more photos of my older kids, my husband and myself (especially if I can keep up the photo projects I’d like to try this year, but more on that later). I don’t seem to have much trouble taking pictures of my little guy 😉

JANUARY

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FEBRUARY

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MARCH

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APRIL

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MAY

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JUNE

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JULY

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AUGUST

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SEPTEMBER

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OCTOBER

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NOVEMBER

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DECEMBER

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Happy New Year!

Let’s start with a book.

This week, I read one last book for 2015: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I loved it almost as much as his book Remains of the Day, which has been a long-time favorite of mine.
I can’t comment much on the plot without ruining it, but the writing! It is sparse, haunting, and beautiful. I’ve read only two of his books, but I feel I can safely say that he is one of my favorite writers. Never Let Me Go is about very unusual kids in very unusual circumstances, but what strikes me the most about this book is how beautifully ordinary the characters are. They could be teenagers anywhere. Ishiguro doesn’t have any flat stereotypical characters, either. Clearly, he loves them all, faults and all, and you can’t help but love them too.
One of my favorite things about both Never Let Me Go and Remains of the Day is the way the story builds. At first, you might think the story is good but a bit ordinary but, almost without realizing it, you get drawn into a story that gets progressively more complex, more heart wrenching, and you feel almost surprised by how much you love it. Because he draws you in at the perfect pace. He makes you love his characters without you even realizing it and after the story is over, you are in awe. I’m telling you, Ishiguro is a sneaky genius. A few days have passed since I finished this book, and my love for it is still growing. These characters are sticking with me, without a doubt.
I’m annoyed with myself for waiting so long to read this book. I read Remains of the Day years ago! I spent the first several pages thinking about how butlers aren’t really my thing and didn’t even notice when I became completely hooked. I read that book in one sitting (and I would have with Never Let Me Go too but, well, life). Perhaps I forgot how amazing Ishiguro’s writing is, because he is so unassuming. There are no unnecessary flourishes. He isn’t trying to showcase his brilliance; I think he just can’t help himself 🙂
I definitely need to read more of his books.

Hello out there!

edited to add a fourth reading challenge, because I like to set my goals perhaps too high 🙂

My (albeit cliche) plan was to start this blog January 1st, but I have a couple things to mention before the new year (and my first blog!) “officially” begins. I have huge, as in, unreasonably huge, goals for this blog and for 2016. Totally unsurprising if you know me. However, I am officially giving myself permission to not follow through with all of my plans. I’m not perfect and so my blog won’t be either. I have lists upon lists of things I want to make, books I want to read, photography projects I want to try, etc. But ultimately, I have two goals for this blog: to motivate myself to be more creative and to record the joy and beauty of my daily life, both as a way of better appreciating life as I live it and as a record for my children.

So, if I don’t meet my lofty goals of posting several days a week, taking pictures every day, teaching myself to sew, or completing multiple reading challenges, oh well. With that said, I’m really excited about blogging and I think it will be fun and inspiring. And, hey, maybe eventually I won’t only be writing to myself! 😉

As for the above mentioned reading challenges, I’ve found four that look fun and doable.

READING CHALLENGES FOR 2016:

  1. The 2016 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge at Girlxoxo. I’m really excited about this one! Some of the motifs will definitely force me to branch out a bit with my reading habits, which should be fun. Here’s the complete list of motifs:

JANUARY- Who Dunnit?
Crack the case and solve the mystery with your first book of the year.

FEBRUARY- New Releases
Read a book released in the last year.

MARCH- Take a Trip
Time Travel or read a book set in a country different than where you live

APRIL- Best of the Best
Read a book that has won recognition or a literary award

MAY- Story of Survival
Make it out alive, beat the odds, save yourself stories. Try thinking beyond the typical wilderness survival. Surviving high school? Surviving a family road trip? Yep- those count too! PS. Dystopians would work great in this motif too.

JUNE- Girlxoxo Recommends
We’ve read a lot of great books. Check out our archives and pick one of our recommendations off our book lists.

JULY- LOL
Hilarious memoirs, silly chick lit, comedic scifi. Pick a book that is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

AUGUST- Genre Jumble
Read from a genre that you don’t normally read from

SEPTEMBER- Steampunk, Science Fiction, and Fantasy
Pretty self explanatory and loads of great books to pick from in this motif.

OCTOBER- Things That Go Bump in The Night
Cozy mystery ghost stories, paranormal creeptastic, murder mystery- it’s up to you!

NOVEMBER- Fiction Takes A Break
It’s all about Nonfiction November this month!

DEC- That’s a Wrap
Finish a series you’ve been meaning to finish or read the next book in a series you started but never finished.

  1. The Full House Reading Challenge at Book Date. Not to be confused with the old school (and awesome) TV show. There are 20 categories to be filled in any order, including some tricky ones such as “setting begins with B” or “way out of your comfort zone.” I like the flexibility with this challenge.Full House Challenge Grid 2016

3.The 2016 Re-Read Challenge at Tea and Titles. Another challenge with a theme for each month, this challenge is perfect for my already somewhat compulsive tendency to re-read my favorite books. Monthly themes for this challenge:

January: A Re-Read of a favourite childhood book.

February: A Re-Read that tugs at your heart strings.

March: A Re-Read in preparation for a sequel.

April: Re-Read a book that made you cry.

May: Re-Read a book with less then 250 pages

June: Re-Read a book with 500 or more pages

July: A Re-Read of a book you read this time last year.

August: Re-Read a book from a favourite author.

September: Re-Read a favourite sci-fi book.

October: Re-Read a book featuring a mental disability

November: Re-Read a book written in interesting prose ( verse, email, letters etc)

December: Re-Read a trade or graphic novel

4. The 2016 Reading Challenge at Modern Mrs. Darcy 12 books in 12 categories over the course of the year, at any time and in any order. The categories are broad but interesting, so this challenge should be easy and fun!

I’ll have to read about five books every month to complete all four challenges, which might not happen, but why not try? I’m looking forward to reading more next year. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll write a book review every once in a while!