…Hi?

*peeks out*

Hi, guys. Um, it’s been awhile.

2016 sort of got away from me. I won’t lament the year like so many have done. It wasn’t terrible for me personally. Sure, I’m a bit terrified for the future of our apparently-fragile republic and saddened over the passing of a few too many public figures, but neither of those are why I stopped blogging.

I just got busy.

Around the same time that I had Kai, I am pretty sure the world started spinning faster and the hours in the day actually shortened. Life with one kid wasn’t easy, but I still seemed to find time to do the things I loved. But life with two kids? Nope. I wake up, I drop off kids, I go to work, I pick up kids, I pick up toys, and suddenly it is time for bed so I can rest up and do it all again the next day. And weekends aren’t any better.  I don’t even want to know what happens when you have a third baby. Do parents of 3+ kids even sleep? I doubt it.

Well, I like sleep. So I gave up on the blog. And, honestly, it seemed silly to keep up the guise of a book blog when I was barely reading (see previous paragraph). And it felt good to let myself off the hook and not feel guilty about not blogging.

But I miss it.

I miss having a place to share my thoughts. Twitter is fine, but 140 characters only gets you so far and everyone just wants me to call my congressman (spoiler: Gus Bilirakis is never going to do what I want). Instagram is still my favorite form of social media, but it’s hard to get out more than a sentence or two. Facebook is still basically the worst, so that’s out. It was always my blog where I could say what I wanted, when I wanted, and sometimes people listened without trying to get their own agenda out in front of mine.

So I am going to see what happens if I let myself give this another try. I will talk about books if I ever find myself reading them.I might share some photos if I ever pick up my camera again. I may talk about politics (y’all should really call your representatives) or work (oh, btw, I just started a new law firm), and I will most definitely talk about my kids.

I don’t know if anyone is still reading this thing or if anyone even noticed that I was gone. But I hope to reconnect with some old friends and try to find my voice again. We’ll see what happens.

Starting Over. Again.

Dinner is over. It’s not yet bedtime. I can’t put Kai down. It’s dark and cold (well, Florida cold) outside. Ben is teaching. I am standing up at my kitchen island, bouncing an unhappily teething baby in the ergo, while the preschooler watches an episode of Mickey in the living room, typing this post.

My free time is almost nonexistent. By the time the kids are asleep, the bottle dishes are done, the lunches and bottles are prepared for tomorrow, and the diapers are in the wash, it’s 9pm. We go to bed at 10pm, knowing at least one kid will wake us up in the small hours and that they will be up for good before it’s light out. I get that one hour of free time (and maybe an extra hour on the weekend if – big if – the boys both nap simultaneously). Sometimes I read. Mostly I watch television. But I definitely don’t blog. Nope. I cannot bring myself to use my one hour of free time to “work” on what was once my primary hobby. So I don’t. And this blog stays silent for weeks on end.

Yet I don’t give us all closure and pack up and move on from this space. While I can’t bring myself to spend my free time writing book reviews, I don’t want to give up this space that I made my own – this tiny, minuscule piece of the internet that is all mine.

When I think of officially declaring an end to this blog, I start to get nostalgic. I think about how much life has changed since I began blogging in 2007. I was a law student, with more free time than I thought I had. I read for fun and I chatted about it online. I met other readers and developed deep friendships. I began officially reviewing books at some point and I eventually made it my goal to review every book I read.

But the law student became a lawyer and then a mother and then a mother again. And slowly through all of this change, this blog became less of a hobby and more of a chore. A chore I did not want to do. I read less. I reviewed less.

So now, here I am. 32 years old. A mother. A lawyer. A wife. And yet…still a reader beneath it all. And still wanting to hold on to this little corner of the internet that I create.

So I am going to hold on. But I am not going to be a “book blogger” anymore. I promise no more official book reviews. To be honest, I have come to loathe writing book reviews. I am not clever or patient or thoughtful enough to stand out among all of the other book reviewers. I don’t think my reviews add anything meaningful to the conversation about a particular book. And I generally don’t end up having a conversation at all, but just shouting at the world my generic thoughts about a book.

When I first started “blogging,” I was on vox and I had maybe 15 readers. I posted about what I’d just read, with maybe a few sentences about how I liked it. And those 15 people replied and posted on their own vox pages. I posted about what I was going to read next. I also posted about my travels or school or dance or whatever was going on in my life, but mostly I had small conversations about books.

So I am going to go back to this. I am hoping for more of a “real time” blog again (which is why I am hitting “post” now and not “schedule”). Posting what I’ve just finished reading, what I’m about to start, what I’m listening to at the moment. I am hoping this will be less of a job to me but still allow me to keep this blog going in some form. I hope to also post about my kids and any adventures we go on.

I hope this brings back some of the joy I had in writing.

And now the baby is asleep. Mickey is over. It’s time to play pirates for 10 minutes and then go put these boys to bed. In the words of Evan’s favorite mouse, see ya real soon.

Fresh Start

As much as I love yearly recaps, I am not usually one for new year’s resolutions. But this year I am going to take advantage of the new year and try a fresh start here.

I recently realized that I may have accidentally quit book blogging. My last real review was nearly two months ago. I can’t even muster up enough blogging mojo to write a mini-review.

But that’s okay. I am a different person than I was when I started this thing. I am a mom and that takes up a tremendous amount of my time. And in whatever free time I have, I have shifted some of the priority from reading to other activities, like photography.

So here is what I am going to do. Because I think having a PLAN will help me.

  • I will do my best to resume Sunday Salons where I will discuss what I am currently reading.
  • I am going to write one review a week. I will post it on Monday.
  • I am committing to Wordless Wednesdays, so expect regular photo posts.
  • On Fridays, I am going to talk about something health-related: food, running, dance, yoga etc. I need to be held accountable.
  • I will continue to do a monthly recap. Because I like those.
  • The remaining days of the week will be free days. I will most likely not post anything. But if I want to, I can blog about anything I feel like blogging about. An extra book review maybe? Some more photos? My current views on parenting?

I am going to try my hardest to stick to this for the first three months of 2014. I want to really give it a try. This blog needs to shift topics a little if it is going to survive and I really would hate to see it go. Honestly. This is the direction I’ve been going so I’m just taking it a little further.

If  I do go missing here for some period of time, please look for me on twitter or instagram. I rarely go missing there.

Do you have any blogging plans for 2014?

My Reading Year In Review

I couldn’t let the end of the year pass without at least one recap, right?

My Seven Most Loved Books in 2013:

And Ten Runners Up:

And my husband’s favorite books of 2013 (his actually has an order):

  • 7. Symposium by Plato
  • 6. Death in Venice by Thomas Mann
  • 5. A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
  • 4. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • 3. The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder
  • 2. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi
  • 1. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

A (Very) Few Book Stats:

  • Books Read: 62 (down from 80 in 2012)
  • Audio: 33
  • Print: 29 (including 8 ebooks)
  • Ben’s Books Read: 60 (Michelle with the win!)

Note: I usually do an extensive stats post (2012|2011|2010|2009|. It takes a long time to prepare (especially since I never keep up with my spreadsheet during the year) but I love the result. However, I don’t have hours to spend recreating a reading spreadsheet this year, so as sad as this makes me, these stats are going to remain unknown. Likewise, my favorite books of 2013 lists above were not given the level of thought and creativity which I usually put into them. They are simply a compilation of the books I gave 5 and 4.5 stars to, respectively. If anyone is still reading this blog, bear with me here. And stay tuned for tomorrow’s post where I talk about the upcoming year.

How was your reading year? Are you ready for 2014 for a fresh start like me?

New Look

You came here expecting this:

Right?

Well here is my story.

So yesterday afternoon, I started thinking about changing my blog theme. By the time I went to bed, I’d picked a theme and customized it just a bit, and here we are, not too many hours later, and I’m using the theme. Patience is a virtue which I do not possess.

I didn’t promise a good story.

When I implemented my old theme, it was after hours and hours of customizing the CSS. This one, with a couple exceptions, is pretty much right out of the box. Maybe that makes me unoriginal. But there are only so many hours in the day and I’d rather not spend very many of them playing with computer code. There are still a few quirks to work out (for example, I can’t figure out how to change the color of hyperlinks within the actual body of a post and I have no idea why it made all of my book covers gigantic). But this is basically it. For now.

I am pretty sure this theme was meant for a crafty blogger – a quilter or a sewer – and I am definitely not crafty and have no intention of sewing anything in the near future. But I think it’s cute, so there you go.

As my blog has changed over the past year (as I’ve embraced my new role as a new mom and reading isn’t always a priority), I felt like I needed something new. I may shuffle some pages around and add some new ones, but things won’t be changing too much. You can still expect sporadic book reviews mixed in with baby pictures.

 Thoughts?

Top Posts of 2012

I am trying a new type of wrap-up post this year. One that is focused more on blogging than reading. These were the top posts – by traffic – on my blog this year. I would have liked to track them by comments because I think that’s a better metric, but page hits is much easier. Enjoy.

Top Book Reviews*

Top Non-Review Bookish Posts

Top Non-Bookish Posts

Did you see anything you missed the first time around?

*Interestingly, these are all print reviews. No audio.

BBAW Interview Meme

I completely missed the Book Blogger Appreciation Week memo this year. I couldn’t figure out why people were appreciating me yesterday.

But when I realized it was BBAW, I headed over to the website to see what was happening and stumbled upon this list of questions for those partnerless in the interview swap. Figured I’d play.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack? Not usually. But I love a cup of tea with a book.
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you? I don’t mark my books but that is more out of laziness. If I like a quote, I usually note the page in a note on my phone so I can find it again come review-writing time.
How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Whatever handy “bookmark” I can find. Usually a library receipt. 
Fiction, Non-fiction, or both? Fiction, generally. 
Hard copy or audiobooks? Both!
Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you able to put a book down at any point? I can put a book down mid-sentence. Which is handy now that I have a baby.
If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away? Usually. Yay, smartphones. 
What are you currently reading? Print = Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate; Audio = Messenger of Truth by Jaqueline Winspear; Ebook = Gone Girl
What is the last book you bought? A bedtime book for Evan. For myself? Probably Shine by Jeri Smith-Ready. I haven’t been buying books lately.
Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can you read more than one at a time? See my answer to what I am currently reading.
Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read? I love reading on weekend mornings. But that’s a thing of the past for now. 
Do you prefer series books or stand alone books? I appreciate both.
Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over? It goes in phases for me. I’ll recommend one book to everyone for awhile.
How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?) By genre. Within fiction, by author’s country.

I Heart Book Bloggers [BBAW]

BBAWThere is no way I can create an exhaustive list of everyone who makes this whole book blogging thing brighter. We are a supportive group and we don’t shy away from proclaiming our admiration on any given day. You all already know I love you, right?

But one of the great things about book blogging is that there are always new players. They might be new to blogging or they might just be new to me. I am finding new bloggers all the time. It often starts with a random conversation on twitter about a book or a song or tv show and then the next thing I know, I am talking to this person every day, reading their blog, and picking up books they recommend.

So my take on today’s BBAW topic is to highlight a few bloggers who are new to me since last September.

  • Jen from Makeshift Bookmark (@makeshiftjen): Jen started her blog last fall but you would think she’s been around forever. She makes me laugh, understands my Michigan football obsession, and gives me AMAZING YA recommendations (like Shade/Shine).
  • Jamie from The Perpetual Pageturner (@pageturnerjamie) and The Broke and the Bookish (@brokeandbookish): I am pretty sure we first bonded over music the night I was drunkenly playing Apples to Apples while home for Christmas. See, that’s how memorable Jamie is.
  • Ginger from GReads (@greadsbooks): While we have been at least acquaintances for some time, it wasn’t until recently that I realized Ginger and I have similar taste in almost everything and should be BFFs. So now we are.
  • Sandy from You’ve Gotta Read This (@youvegottaread): I met Sandy in person at the UCF Book Festival in April. Now hers is one of the first blogs I read when I actually sit down and read blogs. Plus she is an awesome commenter.
  • Heather from Raging Bibliomania (@zibilee): Like Sandy, I met Heather at the UCF Book Festival. She is the Best. Commenter. Ever.

You should all know these ladies. If you don’t, you’re welcome. They are all awesome and have been a positive addition to my book blogging experience.

[Note: It’s Book Blogger Appreciation Week. I will be participating in a few of the daily topics this week.]

The Inimitable Jeeves [Audiobook Review]

The Inimitable JeevesTitle:The Inimitable Jeeves
Author: PG Wodehouse
Narrator: Jonathon Cecil
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 1572705426
Pages: 272
Audio: 6.2 hours
Year: Originally published in 1923
Publisher: BBC Audiobooks America
Source: Personal Collection
Rating: 4.5/5

My Thoughts:

The Inimitable Jeeves is a short-story collection but the stories are somewhat connected so it reads more like a novel than some of other Jeeves collections. Most of the stories involve Bertie’s pal Bingo Little who just can’t help falling in love with every girl he meets. Many hijinks and much hilarity ensues.

I never get sick of Jeeves. As mentioned in my other reviews, no matter how similar the plot structure is (Bertie and/or friend get into trouble, Bertie makes it worse, Jeeves comes to the rescue), I always find them entertaining.

And, once again, I recommend these stories on audio. They are so much more entertaining when listened to.

If you have yet to meet Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves, you are truly missing out on something special. Go to your library. Now.

[Note: I am skipping the “Others’ Thoughts” and “Buy It Now” sections for audiobook week only. They will return soon.]

 

Join the fun and head on over to Devourer of Books for all of the Audiobook Week goodness.

Nurturing Relationships = Join Twitter

Today’s topic is about nurturing relationships in this lovely little book blogging world. I’m putting a little bit of a different spin on it and using it as a chance to convince all of you nonbelievers why you need to be on Twitter. Because I really think that Twitter is where I nurture relationships. I find that I can sometimes go days weeks without checking Google Reader and during those periods the only way I stay connected outside of my own blog is through Twitter. It’s easy to check while you are anywhere and it doesn’t have to be a huge time commitment. When I am not reading blogs in my reader, I still click through links via twitter and read blogs that way. I chat about books and not books and anything I feel like chatting about. Someone is always game.

Which brings me to my biggest point: you get to meet the most AMAZING people. And it often starts with something really innocent and unremarkable. Some examples:

NOTE: I have many twitter friends that I love and talk to every day. These are the people that I specifically remember bonding with over a particular subject early on in our twitter friendship. And that one little conversation led to the solid blogger friendship we have now.

Jen/ Devourer of Books /@devourerofbooks
We bonded over: Books based in Ann Arbor.
Result: She is pretty much my best friend. Which makes my husband insanely jealous.

Jen / Makeshift Bookmark /@makeshiftjen
We bonded over: Michigan Football.
Result: She makes me read super awesome YA books.

Jamie / Broke and Bookish and The Perpetual Page Turner / @brokeandbookish
We bonded over: Music
Result: She cracks me up every day. She might be #1 on my Must Meet IRL List.

Jennifer / The Literate Housewife / @lithousewife
We bonded over: The Decemberists and being Michiganders
Result: I cheated here. Jennifer and I were friends long before the bonding at issue. But I think it took our twitter friendship to the next level and I now consider her one of my very best blogging friends.

Lessons:

(1) Twitter is TOTALLY worth it
(2) I really like people named Jennifer (+ a Jamie)
(3) One little conversation can spark a more meaningful friendship.

AND, for those of you who still aren’t convinced, you get to talk to authors and publishers and bloggers all day long. And when a favorite/famous author tweets you, you get to squeal with delight like the fangirl you are. Yes, I am talking to you R.L. Stine. You made my day a few weeks ago.

Join Twitter. Use Twitter. Follow me.