Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My Mailbox (12)

Great week for my mailbox! I promised links in the video, and I will be posting those tomorrow from work...tonight I've got a sewing project hanging over my head!

Visit my friends:
Tameka at Imperfection Is The New Pink
Amy at My Friend Amy
Crystal at Crystal Clear Reading
Crystal's Etsy Shop

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bookcases preview shot

I'm really tempted to not even post this because the picture quality is so bad and doesn't do my beautiful new babies justice, but I can't resist.  I've lost the charger on my nice camera and had to order a new one, so it'll be next week before I'll post pictures of the entire library with my decorations and everything.  But, because I'm reading very slowly right now and don't have a review to post, enjoy this preview picture of my beauties:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Book Review: Perishable by Dirk Jamison

Perishable is a memoir written by a man who grew up in unusual family circumstances - his mother was a devout Mormon and his father developed his own religious beliefs based around not doing anything.  Part of these beliefs included only getting food out of dumpsters, which eliminated the need for those pesky time wasters we refer to as "employment".  My school has an online library, and I usually have a book going on there that I can read a page or two of when things are slow.  Thank goodness this was not for review, because I would feel even more terrible about posting what I'm about to say.

The writing was terrible.  Abysmal.  Worse than awful.  I've read a lot of blog posts where people say they don't like negative reviews and that bloggers should try to find something positive to say about any book and what if the author reads it.  And I truly hope Mr. Jamison doesn't read this and get his feelings hurt, but I have nothing positive to say.  Honestly, this should have been a "did not finish".  I'm not really sure why I kept going after the first few chapters other than sheer boredom and the assumption that it could not continue to be as awful as it was.  And I'm not referring to the content, although you can see my opinion of that below.  The writing was bad.  Period.

Hrm.  If awkward, make-you-squirm-but-not-in-a-good-way descriptions of children eating garbage and abusing animals appeals to you, maybe you will be entertained.  I was horrified.  There are extended descriptions (which I had to skip) of animal abuse.  Which I think were supposed to be funny.  Kittens are killed, puppies are tortured, it's truly disturbing.  There's also a very detailed description by the son of the mother's genitals, which kind of weirded me out (see my post on incest fiction, except this is not fiction).  Once again, I have no explanation for why I didn't just stop reading, especially when I saw that the animal abuse was going to be a recurring "joke". 

My advice: save yourself and don't bother picking this one up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I'm such a tease...

I can't remember if I mentioned it on here or not, but my wonderful husband got me more bookcases for my birthday!  We're in the process of putting bookcases wall to wall in the library and he added to what we already have as a birthday gift.  This means that all the book had to come off the shelves and are now stacked all over my living room.  I'm slowly getting them put back up in the right order.  Hopefully tonight or tomorrow I'll have an awesome post where I show the whole thing, but for now all I have is this sneak peek (from my iphone camera) at part of them:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Book Reivew: The Raising by Laura Kasischke

This one isn't due to be published until March, but I wanted to write the review while it was somewhat fresh in my mind.  This is the first book of the year that I absolutely could not put down.  I was lucky enough to receive an ARC for review from NetGalley and it was a great book to start the year with.  A college girl is killed in a tragic car accident and her boyfriend is blamed.  The first person on the scene of the accident claims to have seen the girl alive and unharmed, but the official reports are that the girl was so disfigured by the car accident she could only be identified by her jewelry.  As the new school year starts, people begin reporting that they have seen the dead girl on campus.  A popular professor who teaches a class called Death, Dying, and The Undead begins to work with the boyfriend, his roommate, and the first woman on the scene of the accident to determine how the dead girl has reappeared.

Perfectly fine.  Nothing leaping out at me as extraordinarily positive or negative - although I will say that one reason I didn't notice much of the writing was that I was so wrapped up in the story, which, for me, is an indication that the author did her job.

Perfect!  I was completely immersed in the lives of these college students and professors and could not wait to find out what was happening.  The author had me in suspense for the entire book - one moment I'd think something supernatural/paranormal was going on, the next I'd be convinced that there was a logical explanation.  I won't reveal anything, but for me there was nothing obvious in the plot.  It's a great read for a rainy winter afternoon and I think anyone who enjoys a suspenseful/psychological/paranormal book will be thrilled with it.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

2011 Challenges

I am absolutely terrible at keeping up with challenges, but you may be interested to note that there are two now listed in my sidebar.  The first is my personal challenge, which I had originally said would be to read more than I read last year.  I've ammended that because I realized that it ended up making me pressure myself to read shorter books or easier books and now that I'm done with grad school I want to let myself read some chunkers and some harder titles.  So, my goal is officially 100 books and I'll bump it up should I reach it early.  My amazing friend Jacki, from Lovely Little Shelf gets credit for creating an awesome button for our online book club which I'm using on my sidebar.

Speaking of Jacki and being awesome, she is also running the only challenge I'm really participating in this year, which is the Presidential Challenge.  Another friend of ours, Jessica, started this last year and Jacki and I decided to jump in this year.  I'll be reading one presidential biography each month, starting with George Washington and continuing chronologically.  You can read all about the challenge and join in on Jacki's blog!  And if you aren't following her already, you really need to be.  Lovely Little Shelf is one of my all time favorite book blogs.

One more challenge that I'm not "officially" participating in because I don't think I can read enough, but that I think is awesome and highly recommend looking into is the Morbid Romantica Challenge at Steampunkery and Book Reviews.  Mad Scientist is also a personal favorite of mine and her challenge is so much fun - I'll be participating in this one as much as I'm able.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Book Review: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton is my first five-star read of the year.  I'm going to try my very best to avoid unintelligible gushing during this review and organize my thoughts beyond "LOVE LOVE LOVE" but it's hard.  Because I fell head over heels for this one.  It's the story of a daughter who learns that her mother was evacuated from London to a castle in the country as a child.  The daughter, Edie, has never been close to her mother and begins to investigate the castle and its owners to learn more about her mother's history.  Three sisters live in the castle and are sheltering a mysterious secret past.

Beautiful!  I have little reading tabs that I use to mark passages that I find especially beautiful and I used up about half my pack on this book.  Each character in the book has a unique relationship with books, reading, and the literary world that is revealed throughout the book.  Edie is a publisher who felt books were her refuge growing up, the three sisters are living in the shadow of their father's fame as an author and his expectations for their own literary accomplishments, and Edie's mother has a connection to literature that her daughter never knew about.  The development of each character centers to a large degree around her relationship to books and literature - which produces amazing passages on what it means to be a reader and a writer.

Another aspect of the writing that I loved was the fact that the characters were multi-dimensional.  Each character had unlikable traits, as well as endearing traits.  I also liked that some of the story was left to the reader's imagination.  Don't get me wrong, the author does an amazing job of wrapping up the plot, but leaving out all of the minute details about past relationships and loves really did a great job of making the reader feel like the characters were real - as if things had happened to them before the book began.  Instead of telling the reader exactly why and how the characters were motivated, some was left to the imagination.

I loved the story as much as the writing.  It's an excellent example of gothic literature, which is a genre I particularly enjoy.  The length and breadth of the story reminded me in some ways of The Historian, which is another great gothic novel.  The atmosphere of Milderhurst Castle is perfect for the story and the descriptions of the castle and the grounds are stunning.

One negative review I read on Goodreads that really jumped out at me was that the author used words for the sake of words.  I wanted to jump out of my chair and scream "Yes!  Exactly!!  That's the point of the whole thing!"  But for me that is what makes the story so beautiful - the writing so accurately reflects the characters and the plot.  The book centers around women who have intimate relationships with language and who have spent their entire lives in the shadow of words.  How appropriate that the author uses written language in such a beautiful way!  In a book about the beauty and danger of the written word, it is perfect for the author to use words for their own sake.  Not just any words though - beautiful words.  Some authors write a string of words for the sake of taking up space, but Kate Morton has obviously chosen each word with care.  There are times when writing is worth being included for the sole reason that the words and their combinations are beautiful - and this is one of them.

Congratulations to Kate Morton on a beautiful novel.  I highly recommend it and cannot thank Simon and Schuster enough for giving me the opportunity to review it.  I'd love to include some quotes from the book, but my copy is an ARC and reviewers were requested not to quote from it.  I'll be purchasing a hardback copy of the finished book however, and will post quotes when I get them. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (11)

In which I ramble for way too long about such varied topics as my love for Jacki at Lovely Little Shelf, cat hair, and pornography. And a whole bunch of great books. Interesting to note as you watch: I have an awful habit of buying books for no reason other than they are on sale. Watch how many times I say "I saw it and it was on sale".

Book Review: Wilber Winkle Has A Complaint

Wilber Winkle Has A Complaint, by the supposed Wilber Winkle, is a book written by a man who decides he has had enough of being controlled by corporations and begins a complaint letter campaign.  The book is made up of letters he actually sent to corporations to either complain about their products or suggest new ideas and the replies he receives from the corporations.  Of course his complaints/ideas are all ridiculous, and the replies from the corporations are all very serious.  So it's funny.  Get it?

I'm not trying to be sarcastic, I promise.  It's a cute book.  And it's short.  And parts were really funny.  But after a while it was kind of just the same thing over and over.  It was a fun way to pass an afternoon, but I don't recommend it as a serious, sit down and laugh out loud humor read.  Maybe more like a put it in the bathroom read.  Not that I read in the bathroom....that would be gross, right?  Definitely don't do that...and if for some reason I did, I wouldn't keep a stack of books in there just in case!  Nope, not me!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

CSN Preview

My favorite online furniture company, CSN, has offered me another opportunity to review a product for them!  My day is officially made.  Definitely the kind of news that perks me up on a dreary afternoon.  So the question now is...what do I want?

They've got some pretty awesome modern bar stools, but I'm all bar-stooled out at the moment after my recent bar stool refinish.  I'm still always a fan of new bookends, and I looooove the kitsch of the plastic soldier candle holder.  Any other suggestions?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another Book Craft

I'm neck deep in a fabulous book that I can't wait to review, but while I'm waiting, I thought I'd share a little book craft I whipped up tonight on my new sewing machine.  I have the Lyra clip on light cover for my nook, which is awesome for reading in bed, but not so awesome for protecting my nook while it bangs around in my purse.  I saw another blogger make something similar to this as a cover and I had some time tonight, so I pulled out some fabric remnants and felt pieces and made this cover  - if you are the blogger, I can't remember where I found you, but I'd love to credit you, so let me know!

Let's start with an honest look at how my house typically is.  I always clean up to take pictures for my DIY blog, but this is the real deal.  As you can see, I went shopping over the weekend and didn't put things away.  I know you should have a clean workspace, blah, blah, blah, but I like to just jump in and do whatever when inspiration strikes.  I am a free spirit with no time for cleaning.

So I pretty much just shoved some bags on the floor and jumped right in to the sewing.

I started by sewing two cheap 29 cent felt pieces from Joann into a bag.  That will give cushioning for my nook as it gets hauled around everywhere I go.

Then I used a damask remnant from my upholstery project to make another bag that was just a bit bigger than the felt bag. 

Ta-da!  I didn't sew the two bags together because I want to be able to change the fabric patter without changing the felt lining.  Luke was worried that I'd pull the bags apart every time I took the nook out but I've had no problems keeping the bags together.  All three pieces come apart easily enough and I'm in love!  And not nearly as broke as I would have been if I got the $100 Kate Spade cover I was looking at!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Incest Fiction Makes Me Wonder

Oh my.  Jumping right into this one seems the best way to go.  It's a topic I've been thinking about, not because I'm pervy, but because it's been in literary news a lot recently.  In mid-December Amazon pulled several incest-themed erotica books from its store and from Kindles.  You can read news stories here and here.  There have been several blog posts on the topic, such as this one from Annoyed Librarian and this one from The Deranged Book Lovers.
Obviously, from Annoyed Librarian's post, I'm not the only one who finds this incredibly disturbing.  And it makes me wonder...

Do the authors of these books have siblings?  Or parents?  Or cousins?  I have a brother who writes and publishes his work quite often.  If my brother wrote a story or poem about his love affair with his sister, I have to say that I'd be completely creeped out and disgusted.  Or what if your child wrote a book about having an affair with his mother?  Ugh.  Wouldn't that just completely ruin your relationship with the person?  I don't think I could ever hug my brother without thinking "this man wrote a book about having sex with his sister - and I'M HIS SISTER!" 

Regardless, I also feel the need to point out that there is a reason for the social stigma regarding incest.  I've read several blogs that talk about how love overcomes all obstacles, even those posed by being immediate family members, but let's just be honest.  That is not the case.  Incest is a tabboo that transcends cultures for a reason.  It isn't healthy, physically for offspring or emotionally for anyone.  I'm sorry but I cannot jump on the incest "free love", romance is all that matters train.  Even if an author writes it in a "romantic" way, it's not appealing to think about my brothers, cousins, uncles, or father that way. 

What do you think?  Could you read a book of erotica about sibling love?  What about if it's not "erotica" but just about a teenage brother and sister who fall in love?  If you do think that could be romantic, do you have siblings?  And what would you think if a sibling, cousin, nephew, parent, etc wrote a book about incest with the intention of it being sexy?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lazy Week

I have to confess to you guys that I've done very little reading this week.  It's weird, but I always seem to read less when I have more time.  We've been snowed in since Monday, so I haven't had to work at all this week.  But for some reason I've ended up reading a lot less.  I've done a ton of crossword puzzles and watched some tv and movies.  I also took a few naps.  But my main project while we were snowed in had nothing to do with books.  I don't typically pimp my other blog, but today I'm going to because I don't have anything book related to post.  So enjoy these snow pictures from my backyard!

Gorgeous, untouched snow on Monday morning

Down by the creek

The closest we came to playing in the snow - we aren't big fans of cold and wet unless you're talking about a swimming pool.

More gorgeous pictures of the back yard before the dogs got into it.

Sweet little puppy prints (that are almost as big as my shoe prints)

Dexter looooves eating snow

Dex is a huge weenie about getting his feet dirty (we have to drag him out to potty when it's raining), so we were sure he wouldn't like the snow.  But it turned out that he loved it and Chief, our mud-loving pup, wasn't so thrilled.
And one last picture by the creek.  I know it takes longer to load big pictures, but this one is so pretty I just had to make it big.

Archvillain Giveaway

Remember like a month ago when I hosted a giveaway for a signed copy of Archvillain and only TWO people entered???  I finally chose a winner using the completely random scientific method of yelling out to my husband "One or two?" while he played Warcraft in the other room.  He yelled back "two" which makes the winner Kristi!  Kristi, send me an email at cla37619 at gmail dot com within the next 48 hours and you get the book.  If not, I'll post again for Mad Scientist.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Book Review: Love On Assignment

Cute cover, no?  When TLC Book Tours contacted me about reviewing some Christian fiction, I jumped at the chance.  It's a genre I haven't read since I think March of last year, and it's a genre I found myself missing.  Christian fiction can be a touchy genre, but I've always had something of a soft spot for it.  Janette Oake's Love Come Softly series, which I read when I was ridiculously young, had a huge impact on my reading choices during middle school and high school.  It's like most other genre fiction in that it can be ludicrously bad, but it's a genre I feel like is consistently improving, very similar to YA. 

Cara Lynn James' Ladies of Summerhill series leans more toward the frivolous side of fiction, but makes for a great read.  In fact, I also took the opportunity to read the other book in the series Love On A Dime.  Each book is set in turn of the century Victorian New England and follows the typical romance set up: man meets woman, man and woman fall in love, obstacles arise, love triumphs in the end.

I can't lie, there are some cheesey lines in the series.  A few even had my eyes rolling.  But some parts made me question my beliefs about what constitutes cheesey and what doesn't.  There's a moment in Love On Assignment when a character prays and is describes as talking to the Lord as if to a friend.  My first reaction was to eye roll.  But I reread the paragraph and it hit me that it really fit for that character.  It also hit me that in this situation the character was praying for a friend.  And although I felt it was really cheesey at first, it made me think of how maybe instead of trying to offer my friends advice when they're going through hard times, it might be better to offer to pray with them.  I always say "I'll pray for you" but I wonder how my friends would react if I offered to pray with them instead.  Deep thoughts, I know, and it all came from a "cheesey" little line.

Very enjoyable.  As a pre-teen and later as a teen, I had very bad insomnia.  Up all night insomnia.  Which, let me just tell you, is really stressful.  And to keep myself calm I'd stop looking at the clock and pick up a Christian romance novel (obviously the only kind of romance novel allowed in the Clark home).  Reading Love On Assignment and Love On A Dime really reminded me of those nights.  And I ended up reading both books in two days - and staying up way into the night to do so!  While it's not a book I recommend to my readers who are into literary fiction or the classics or more hearty fare, it's definitely one I recommend as a light diversion.  And who knows, it may make you think a little bit harder about your faith?  I was surprised to find myself considering some of the aspects of faith brought up by the books in a deeper light than I did as a teen.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

In My Mailbox (10) + puppy

Welcome to another In My Mailbox! This week I'm joined by a co-host who basically steals the show. I'm trying to work with Chief on being able to be still and quiet in many situations because we eventually plan for him to be a therapy dog. It's still early days, but we're trying to get him used to being still and quiet in "exciting" places. The library is off limits for him, so getting to sit in there with me is a big treat. Combined with the stimulation of the Christmas tree, the computer, and the cat, it's about as much as he can take. Still I think he did a pretty good job for his first vlog ever...

Friday, January 7, 2011

How To Be A Good Wife

Isn't this just the cutest little book ever?  It's published by Bodleian and is taken from a 1936 publication on being a "good wife".  Unfortunately I have to tell you that I seem to have failed my husband in many ways. 

"Don't ever allow yourself to become angry at the same time as your husband.  That will always results in matters becoming more serious."

"Don't forget that it is every married woman's duty to come down in the morning with a smile...Don't let breakfast become a scrap or hurried meal.  See that everyone allows at least half an hour for it.  Do not forget that among the things most dangerous to love are untidy hair, faded negligee, curlers and bedroom slippers at the breakfast table."

So I'm guessing this means that waking up and saying "turn OFF the alarm clock NOW" while laying in bed wearing one of luke's old t-shirts is NOT what I ought to be doing in the mornings.

"Do a certain amount of dressing for the evening meal and make your menfolk do the same."

We both usually wear pants on the rare occasion that we eat dinner at the same time - does that count?

"A refreshing feature of the present time [regarding conversation] is that even the once popular subject of servants and their misdoings is now rapidly losing ground."

Well now I'm going to have nothing to discuss at dinner parties - I always rely on describing the misdoings of my servants.

"Don't go to the door to let any one lady out while there are remaining guests.  Ring for the maid to do it."

What if your maid is lazy and doesn't come when you ring?  I know I can't discuss it with my lady friends at our next bridge party, but can I at least walk my guests to the door?

"Above all, don't ask them [guests] to carry back a book they have lent you.  Borrowed books should always be taken back personally or sent by post."

This one is my favorite.  I'm not really sure what it has to do with being a good wife, but poor Luke is stuck with a wife who frequently returns books to friends while they are visiting.  I even expect them to carry those books to the car themselves.  Shameful!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Book Review: My Fair Lazy

My Fair Lazy chronicles Jen Lancaster's attempts to move away from her obsession with reality TV and become more culturally educated.  If you haven't read her books before, you ought to know that she is hilarious.  I suppose you could consider her books to be made up of essays, but were originally inspired by blog posts.  She writes about her every day life and the things that happen to her - which are always so funny.  She tells it like it is and it's usually the things I've been thinking but don't have the guts to actually say.  Irreverent, sometimes crude, but always hilarious.  It's hard for me to judge humor on the quality of writing because it's either funny or it's not.  My Fair Lazy fits into the funny category. 

My one complaint is that the footnotes are really hard to read on an e-reader.  They are listed as hyperlinks within the text, so you have to click on each one and wait to get to the page with the footnotes and then click back to the page you were reading.  Not a big deal, but it got annoying when there were 3-4 footnotes on each page of the book.  It was too much clicking back and forth, so I gave up on the footnotes about 100 pages in. 

Definitely recommend this one and all of the author's other books as well.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Book Review: Strangers At The Feast

Try not to be shocked Reader Friends, but I did not finish reviewing last years' books by the New Year as I had intended.  I'm still determined to catch up, and I've only got a few reviews left until I'm completely current, so be looking for more frequent posting during the week this week. 

After reading several books of non-fiction, I decided it was time to give another literary fiction title a try to make sure my brain can still handle it.  It's been a while (probably since Room) since I've read truly great, adult, non-genre fiction.  Turns out my brain can handle it just fine!  Strangers At the Feast is the story of one family's tragic Thanksgiving Day dinner.  They are the typical all-American family, but a shocking act of violence mars their holiday and each character must deal with the consequences. 

The writing was excellent.  It was a great change of pace to get into a character-driven work rather than a plot-driven work.  While the book does center around a violent act, the majority of the book depicts the characters and the circumstances that lead to violence rather than the act itself.  I would consider this book to be mostly character development with a small emphasis placed on the plot itself.  The author does an amazing job of creating detailed, nuanced characters, who are both sympathetic and at times despicable.  Throughout the book we learn the justifications for each character's choices as well as the repercussions, but the development of each character is obviously the most important part of the novel.

This isn't one that I just zipped through in one sitting, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it.  I don't tend to read character-driven novels as quickly, but I certainly enjoyed the days I spent getting to know these characters.  I particularly appreciated the nuances and subtle motivations revealed for each character and his or her actions.  There were parts of each character that were completely unlikable, but also parts that were completely sympathetic.  I found myself intensely disliking a character for a few chapters and then sympathizing with them suddenly as a new motivation was revealed. 

I definitely recommend Strangers At The Feast to anyone interested in character driven books, literary fiction, or family studies.  The interactions among the family is brilliant and complex and very realistic.  It's not necessarily a fast read, but it's also around the 350 page length, so it's not terribly long either.  The action at the end, and the excellent writing, propel the reader forward, making the book hard to put down.

Thank you to Wendy Sheanin and Simon and Schuster for sending me a copy!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What to expect in 2011

I broke this into two posts, because it was getting way long AND there were no pictures, and if anyone else is like me, that doesn't always read very easily.  So I gave you a short break between posts but now I'm back with my 2011 goals and what you can expect on the blog.

Physically: Lose some weight and get in better shape.  Pretty simple, but I really need to do it.  I want to have more energy and spend more time outside with the dogs.

Academically/Professionally: Keep current with librarianship now that I'm done with grad school.  Read blogs, publications, and books to stay fresh on relevant topics.  Read at least three articles, books, blogs, etc a month about the field of librarianship.

Personally: Read more books/pages than I did this year, finally post some of my crafts on my etsy shop, and start posting on Golden Girl Does It Herself again.  Make Zombie Awareness Month a success in May.  Read at least three different genres a month: nonfiction, fiction, poetry, drama, essay, textbook.

Spiritually: Two words: quiet time.  Read my Bible and pray daily along with Bible study.  Find a new church and develop relationships with people who share my beliefs.

Socially: Keep seeing the Nesties Besties all the time!  Meet more of my online friends.  Continue making an effort to go to various book festivals and meet more people who blog, write, and publish.

I think one of the reasons I did so poorly on my goals for last year is because I wrote them down and then didn't think of them again until, well, this week.  I'm coming up with a DIY project that I can put somewhere in my house to help me remember, and I'm planning to start using my monthly summary to post how I'm coming along with my goals as well as my reading stats.  What do you think?  Any suggestions for more detail on my goals or how I should develop a way to remind myself?

2010 In Review

Another year has begun and I'm already late posting my summary from last year and my goals for the new year.  Oops!  Hopefully this won't be a trend in 2011.  Of course the reason I'm late is because I was spending the day with family yesterday, which I certainly do hope will be a trend in 2011. 

On to the review.  I had planned to list my goals from last year and how I did on each of them, but I have bad news for you, Reader Friends.  I failed.  I didn't lose weight, I didn't graduate with a 4.0, I didn't read more books or more pages than I read last year, I did nothing to continue working on my computer skills, and I honestly didn't spend the time getting to know Jesus the way I wanted to.  Depressing, yes, but I want to be honest with you guys.  I fail a lot.  It happens.  But it's not going to get me down.  I may not have accomplished those goals, but some amazing things happened in 2010, such as:

I met my Nestie Besties!  I met a bunch of my internet friends this year and got to know them as in real life besties and not just internet people.  I've seen some of them almost every month of the year and it has been amazing doing things with them like the Backstreet Boys concert, Decatur Book Festival, shopping in Altanta, and even just having sleepovers at Crystal's.  I love these girls and I'm looking forward to lots more fun in 2011.

Luke and I bought our first home and I started teaching myself to decorate it.  Being a first time homeowner has been so much fun and making our house into a home has been equally exciting.

We got two Great Dane puppies.  Yes, we are crazy people.  We only intended to get the one, but the situation with the second fell into our laps and we couldn't say no.  And I am thrilled every day that we didn't.  We are madly in love with our little boys and I'm becoming something of a dog person (although Sly still rules the house)

I finished grad school and got my master's degree in library science.  I didn't do it with a 4.0 but I think a 3.75 is close enough.

I was published for the first time.  I edited (basically ghost wrote) a book and it was published with my name not only in the acknowledgements but also on the title page. 

I grew my blog and started to branch out from having just Nestie followers and commenters to getting to know other bloggers as well.

I also have a few quick book stats to share that I've been tracking this year.  I didn't read as many as last year, but I did finish 129 books, reading 38,758 pages.  I also kept track of money I saved this year by borrowing books, reading books I already own, using the library, and reading ARCs (basically anything I didn't spend money on).  This year by not buying new books, I saved $1330.32.  That's a lot of money!