Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry After Christmas!

Season's Greetings, all!

I hope you had a very Merry Christmas (or whatever else you might happen to celebrate this time of year)! I spent some great time with my family this year, and got a bunch of great gifts like a Wii Fit and the complete paperback boxed set of Harry Potter books that I've been itching to have ever since I had to give back the first five that I'd borrowed to read. I know I had a great Christmas season and an excellent holiday, but I am more than ready to get my life back on track. It seems I've been letting a ton of things slip, not least the blog you see before you, while I've been frantically bouncing between one Christmas thing and another.

This month has been a colossal blogging failure. That said, I have good news! I think its rejuvenation is on horizon because, you see, though I may not be blogging, I have been reading and enjoying it more than I have since something like a few months ago. I'm imaginging that this whole loving reading thing combined with that inevitable "I'm going to do everything better, faster, stronger, etc!" feeling that comes with the new year will help me get back on track.

I've been thinking about this year's reading and mulling over some loose blogging and reading goals for next year. Once I hash them out in my head, expect to see a post here. Hopefully if I actually publish a few goals this year, it will help me to keep to them a little better. I'm also considering the recipients for this year's Leafy Awards, to be bestowed early in the new year. And yet more, I'm considering, you know, actually reviewing some books here at some point. My reviewing mojo has been way, super off in the latter part of this year, and believe you me, the when and the how of book reviewing are two things I'm really working over for that goals post.

So what's new, everybody? Get any great bookish Christmas plunder? Do you have any admirable reading and blogging goals that I, too, can aspire to for next year?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Loose Leafing: Christmastopia!

Hello, blog, it's me, Megan! I know, content around here has been sparse lately. As usual, I have just buckets of excuses several of which involve me never being home, several others of which involve Christmas, still others of which can be blamed on the TV, and one more that can be blamed on Damn You Auto Correct! Well, that last one is pretty self-explanatory. Nonetheless, this week is likely to be more of the same, ergo, I am writing this post to assuage any fears that I may have just fallen off the face of the earth. Because I'm sure you were totally just worrying about that, right? Because you have nothing better to worry about? ;-)

First, Christmas. It's coming. I'm not ready. We got a (real!) tree that we decorated while drinking wine (one of the great new holiday traditions!). I've been to see a local production of The Santaland Diaries, and we even finally made it to the Christkindl Market in local Mifflinburg where we devoured delicious German foods, drank hot mulled wine, and purchased some items from local crafters all while marveling at things like an itinerant Christmas tree.

In between all this and you know, working at my job, I've managed to order a few presents, and even buy a few in person, but they are decidedly not enough, and I am totally stalled in the whole Christmas gift inspiration thing. Despite the fact that there are no good bookstores that I know of less than 45 minutes away from my house, buying the books is the easy part. ;-) I'm afraid, though, that I've stumbled into one of the pitfalls of online shopping. The books that I ordered from Barnes and Noble (in my valiant but only token effort to patronize an online business other than the dread Amazon) arrived without incident on Wednesday. Yesterday I tracked the CDs which departed for here via "Smart Mail" the same day. These CDs, if they ever get here, will be more well-traveled than I am. I live in Pennsylvania. The CDs started their journey in Kentucky, traveled to Maryland (almost here!), and then they went to..... California? There they have been cooling their heels cases (?) for several days now. I beg to differ on the assumption that this mail is "smart." If they don't start working their way back across the country tomorrow, somebody will be receiving an irate phone call from this Christmas shopper.

In other news, my mother, who doesn't share any of my reservations about Amazon purchased this beauty for our (male) dog for Christmas (in theory). Here is the promotional photo (compliments of Amazon.com):

Here is the photo that made my dad and I eat our words ($80??? It's pink???) as Rudy happens to thoroughly enjoy what we are now affectionately referring to as the "Barbie Hut."

Mom 1, Dad & Megan 0.

And here is what I stumbled upon this morning...

Rudy 1, Barbie Hut 0.

On the reading front? I'm finally giving myself the gift of The Hunger Games series this holiday season. Okay, actually my aunt (hello, stealth blog reader! LOL!), the one who always buys great books as gifts (see previous post), gave them to me last holiday season, but I am giving myself the gift of actually reading them this holiday season. So I can join the rest of the free world. And what says Merry Christmas more than a pack of starving teenagers slaughtering each other in a woodsy future arena? But seriously, I just finished the first book, and loved it as much as everyone said I would. Really, the only reason you're seeing me now is that I've briefly come up for air between books.

These are the perfect holiday season books because during this time of year reading time isn't found, it's made, so I needed something totally engrossing that would keep me reading despite the odds, and I've looked in the right place! Unfortunately, I've "made" my sleeping time into reading time, my blogging time into reading time, my eating time into reading time, my Christmas shopping time into reading time, my...well, you get the idea. This is killing my noble goals of closing out my backlog of reviews before the end of the year and giving my Christmas shopping a tendency toward the uncreative and easy to buy gift cards, but jeez, am I enjoying it!

How's December treating you? Are you crazy busy like me? What great books are getting you through?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Childhood Favorites

I'm late, I'm late! But this week's Top Ten Tuesday from The Broke and the Bookish is too good to miss. It's all about our childhood favorites, and I'm excited to share 10 of the best books I grew up with.

1. White Fang by Jack London - Okay, maybe it started with the movie with young Ethan Hawke, but I liked the book quite a bit, too!

2. Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder - When I was a kid, I had one of those tiny chalkboards, and one of the things I did to pass my lonely only child time when I was young was to transcribe Little House in the Big Woods on my tiny chalkboard, in small pieces of course. Is that weird? Okay, yes, but in short, I loved these books. I can't believe I gave them away when I got older!

3. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg - I love Chris Van Allsburg's books. This was my first one given to me by my aunt for Christmas. She was always the best at picking me out a decent book or few for the holidays. Van Allsburg's books are just magical. This one, Jumanji, Just a Dream...loved them when I was a kid, and I still love them now!

4. Animalia by Graeme Base - This is another great book my aunt got me. It's got it all. Stunning illustrations. A clever animal alliteration for each letter of the alphabet. And if you didn't feel like reading or ogling the pretty pictures, you could always search for the kid in the striped shirt hidden in every picture.

5. Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine - I devoured these when I was a kid. Couldn't get enough of them.

6. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst and Ray Cruz - There's plenty of kids books out there with sugary sweet messages. This one tells it like it is. Some days just suck, but maybe (hopefully!) you'll laught about it later like you'll laught at this book.

7. A Break With Charity and pretty much anything else by Ann Rinaldi - I credit Ann Rinaldi with a healthy portion of my love for historical fiction. When I read her books, I felt just like I was in whatever portion of history she was telling about. A Break With Charity is about the Salem Witch Trials which are very interesting to start with!

8. The Cat Who... books by Lilian Jackson Braun - For whatever reason, when I was in middle school, the library just began getting nice, new copies of these books in, and I was totally hooked on them. I'd never even *had* a cat, but I had a great time reading about Jim Qwilleran and his feline sleuths.

9. Black Beauty by Anna Sewell - I can't believe I almost forgot this one. This story, told by a horse, is one I'd gladly read again.

10. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli - "Maniac" is an orphan who becomes a legend in his small town. He's super-fast, he can untie impossible knots, and hit the pitches no one else can. Here's another one that's due for a re-read!

Honorable mentions (meaning, I forgot them, and remembered them after the post went up and couldn't believe I'd forgotten them in the first place): Something Big Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky (I can still recite the title poem from memory!) and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein (If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hope, a prayer, a magic bean buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire... Love this book, too. Sooo much!)

What books do you have the fondest memories of reading as a kid?