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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Reading Challenges

     When it came to reading, 2015 was a crazy year for me. At the beginning of the year I decided to do a reading challenge that I had stumbled upon on Pinterest. I've been doing reading challenges on Goodreads for the past few years, but they simply ask you to set a goal of how many books you want to read throughout the year. I still did this challenge, increasing my goal from 30 books to 35. For those who have never visited Goodreads, it is free to sign up and is a great way to discover new books and keep track of what you've read. As you finish books during the year you get to see if you're on track for your goal. There are even tons of book giveaways in nearly every genre. Go check it out if you haven't already.
     What I did different this year is I decided to do an added challenge that, as stated above, I found on Pinterest. The link on Pinterest redirected me to Popsugar. Here's the link to the challenge I did. This challenge is a list of 50 different things to read. Some of them are very specific, such as reading a book by an author with the same initials as you (I had trouble finding one for this). Others were a bit broader, such as reading a book from your childhood.
     Now, I knew from the start that I would not be able to read 50 books in one year. So I would count a book for multiple items on the list if I could. Yeah, I know this is technically cheating, but I just didn't have the time for 50 books!
     So, do you want to see what I read? Well, here we go!

1. A book with more than 500 pages

The first book I read that had more than 500 pages this year was Reached by Ally Condie. This is the final book in the Matched trilogy. If you like dystopian stories with love triangles than this series is for you.

Other books I read with more than 500 pages include City of Glass (The Mortal Instruments #3) by Cassandra Clare and City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare. I also read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand coming in with 500 pages even.


2. A classic romance

Ok, I'm cheating big time on this one. I technically didn't read a book that would fall into this category. I ran out of time and couldn't get a book read for this so I cheated. I read a book of fairy tales that had condensed versions of stories such as Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and Snow White. I'm counting it as a classic romance because, well, who doesn't love these stories? And they all end up with their prince so there's romance, right? Yep, big time cheating.

3. A book that became a movie

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand was the first book of the year that fell under this category. The story follows Louis Zamperini from childhood, through his career as an Olympic runner, a short stint in the movies and on to his military career that ended as a POW in Japan. Hillenbrand was able to insert enough funny moments from Zamperini's life to balance out the horrible circumstances he was in while a POW.

The movie, directed by Angelina Jolie, actually does a decent job of following the book and Zamperini's life. There will always be differences but it was, in my opinion, close to the real events.

Other books I read in 2015 that became movies include Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

4. A book published this year

I read two books published this year. The first was The Heir by Kiera Cass. This is the fourth book in The Selection series. I like to describe this series as the bachelor/bachelorette with royalty set in a dystopian future. Love triangles abound while teenagers fight a rebellion they don't understand. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and cannot wait for the next in the series.

The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville was picked by a lady in my book group. It is a re-imagined Goldilocks and the Three Bears told from the point of view of the Bears private tutor for their young cub. Coville sneaks bits and pieces from numerous fairy tales into this enchanting story. I highly recommend this book for kids and pre-teens who don't want to let go of those magical fairy tales.

5. A book with a number in the title

Again, I read two books for this category. The first was Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas. I was a huge Veronica Mars fan when the show was on T.V. for the three seasons it lasted and was thrilled when I found out Rob Thomas had written a book to continue the story. I'm looking forward to reading the next book.

I also read Thousand Pieces of Gold by Ruthanne Lum McCunn. I will talk more about this book a little later.

6. A book written by someone under 30

I didn't go and research every single author whose book I read, but there are two that I know of for this category. First The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank. Anne started her diary as a new teenager and, as most of us know, died in a German concentration camp at the age of 16. I also discovered while reading The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton that Hinton was only 16 when she wrote the book.

7. A book with nonhuman characters

This one can go two ways. We can say it has to be a book with no or few human characters. We can also decide that the book can be mainly human characters but has to have at least one or two nonhuman ones as well. I chose the later. Here are the books I read in 2015 that contained at least one nonhuman character. The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare along with City of Ashes, City of Glass, City of Fallen Angels, and City of Lost Souls all part of The Mortal Instruments Series. Favorite Fairy Tales by Logan Marshall. The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley. Everblue, Evergreen, and Everlost (Mer Tales books 1, 2 and 3) by Brenda Pandos. And also Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula.

In case there was any doubt, yes, I love fantasy books. That would be why there are so many with nonhuman characters.

8. A funny book

Kelly Oram's books V is for Virgin and A is for Abstinence had me laughing out loud. The first is about Val, a girl who is accused by her ex-boyfriend of "being easy". The rummer is started by her ex when he is frustrated that Val is waiting to have sex until marriage, an ideal I wholeheartedly agree with, but causes him to break up with her. Val announces to the cafeteria that she is, indeed, still a virgin and the proceeds to start a campaign to get high school students to wait to have physical relationships. During this first book, Val meets the sexy and famous Kyle who tries to get Val to break her no sex before marriage rule. This leads us into the second book told from Kyle's point of view as he abstains from sex in order to win Val's heart. It was refreshing to read a book where the main character holds firm to a belief that in today's world seems old fashioned. I hope that many young people read this and learn that they should wait until they are ready before jumping into a physical relationship. Peer pressure on today's youth to have sex is much too intense.

9. A book by a female author

I'm just going to list these, as there are too may to go into detail.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Crossed and Reached by Ally Condie
Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer (real name Laura Schaefer)
Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey
V is for Virgin and A is for Abstinence by Kelly Oram
Ever by Gail Carson Levine
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Dying for a Living by Kory M. Shrum
The Heir by Kiera Cass
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Books 1 through 5 of The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
Atlantia by Ally Condie
The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Thousand Pieces of Gold by Ruthanne Lum McCunn
The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley
Books 1 through 3 of  the Mer Tales series by Brenda Pandos
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
and finally To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

10. A mystery or thriller

I don't really care for thrillers so these are going to lean toward the mystery side of the category.
Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas.
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King

If you are a fan of Sherlock Holmes then get ready for this book. Sherlock is retired, or at least he is trying to be retired and just study his bees. Mary is an intelligent young woman who, quite literally, runs into Sherlock. Holmes takes Miss Russell under his wing and together they solve crimes. Lives are at stake when Sherlock's past catches up to him in this fantastic detective novel.

11. A book with a one-word title

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell--I would have enjoyed this book more if the author hadn't felt the need to use countless swear words. That's my only complaint. Bad language is not necessary. Ever.
Crossed and Reached by Ally Condie
Ever by Gail Carson Levine (author of Ella Enchanted)
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Atlantia by Ally Condie
Everblue, Evergreen and Everlost by Brenda Pandos

12. A book of short stories

Favorite Fairy Tales by Logan Marshall

These fairy tales have been super condensed. There are only 196 pages in this book. Eighteen fairy tales are covered in this book.

This would be great for some quick bedtime stories. Although you must keep in mind that some of the original fairy tales have some gruesome aspects in them. Such as in Cinderella--the stepsisters cut parts of their feet off to try and fit them into the slipper.

13. A book set in a different country

I'm going for ones that actually tell you what country they are set in. Some fairy tales and fantasy books could easily take place anywhere.
Ever by Gail Carson Levine takes place in Mesopotamia (basically ancient India)
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand takes place in both the United States and Japan
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank takes place in Amsterdam
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King takes place in England
Thousand Pieces of Gold by Ruthanne Lum McCunn takes place in China and the United States
Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula takes place in England
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs takes place in the United States and England

14. A nonfiction book

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Also The Heart of Everything That Is by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

15. A popular author's first book

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe that City of Bones is Cassandra Clare's first novel. Her works have taken off and she is being hailed as the new Queen of Fantasy.

I've enjoyed this series for the most part. I'm currently reading the sixth and final book. I did get the feeling that she could have ended the series more than once before now and am finding that I'm loosing steam reading the last book.

16. A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet

The Heir by Kiera Cass
Atlantia by Ally Condie

17.A book a friend recommended

I started reading Cassandra Clare's City of Bones after a close friend had me over to watch the movie. When she found out I hadn't read the book, well, she kind of freaked and told me to read the series.

18. A Pulitzer Prize-winning book

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. This was my first time reading the classic and, once I wrapped my mind around the era it takes place in and the language of the time, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

19. A book based on a true story

Refer to number 14 as they are the same books.

20. A book at the bottom of your to-read list

Natalie Babbitt's Tuck Everlasting has been sitting on my bookshelf for more years than I can tell you. There were always other books that seemed more appealing to me sitting on my bedside table. I enjoyed this cute story that questions if immortality is really all it's cracked up to be.

21. A book your mom loves

There are probably a few other books that I read in 2015 that my mom loves, but I know for sure that she loves Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula.

22. A book that scares you

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs isn't really a scary book, but there were parts that totally gave me the creeps. I don't enjoy being scared and have no intention of making myself scared. When I asked some friends about books they had read that were a little scary or creepy this one came up. It is an interesting read with fantastic old photos to help the story along.

23. A book more than 100 years old

 Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson was published in 1883


24. A book based entirely on its cover

The simple, yet beautiful cover of Atlantia by Ally Condie caught my eye one day in the grocery store. I enjoyed Condie's Matched trilogy so much that I thought I would buy this and check it out. An intriguing story about an underworld society and the struggles they face as their world starts to fall apart.


25. A book you were supposed to read in school but didn't


26. A memoir

I'm putting these two together as I read the same book to cover both categories. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was assigned reading my eighth grade year, but I only read the first couple of diary entries.

27. A book you can finish in a day

 I read A Day in Dogtown by Mark J. Asher in just a matter of hours. The book is only 157 pages long and is told from the point of view of a young girl. I'll talk more about this book a little farther down.

Another book I could have finished in a day if it hadn't been for the craziness of the Holiday season was Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula. This book is only 116 pages long and is in a bit larger print than most books.

28. A book with antonyms in the title

I struggled with this one for the longest time. As you most likely know, an antonym is a word that has an opposite. For example, the antonym for good would be evil. Part of the reason I struggled with this one was that I wasn't quite sure what they meant by reading a book with an antonym in the title. Did they mean that it just had to have a word that has an opposite, even if the opposite isn't in the title? I finally came to the conclusion that they wanted both the word and its antonym in the title. Then came the struggle to find such a book. In November of 2015 I was still trying to find such a book when I went onto Goodreads website to look at how my challenge on there was going. One of the good things about the Goodreads website is that you can easily see all the books you have read during the year. I was looking back at those books and realized that I had already read a book that fulfilled this category. Dying for a Living by Kory M. Shrum was an interesting book. I really liked the idea behind the story, a girl who can die for other people and then she regenerates and can come back to life. There are numerous people in the world who have this ability and they work for an organization that uses them to take the place of their clients when they should be dying. I had issue with the language used in the book and also some sex scenes. Also, this was a kindle book and the editing got worse the farther I got into the book.

29. A book set somewhere you've always wanted to visit

I have long wanted to visit England. I was able to take a trip to Europe when I was 18, but England was not part of the trip. The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King takes place in England, bouncing back and forth between the country and city.

30. A book that came out the year you were born

This was another one that I struggled with. Apparently there were a lot of sequels published in 1984. I refused to read a sequel without having first read the books leading up to it. Also, finding a book that appealed to me took some time, but I was pleasantly surprised with what I found. Robin Mckinley, author of such books as Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast and Dragonhaven wrote a fantastic adventure published in 1984 that won the Newberry Medal called The Hero and the Crown.  The lone child of the King, and a daughter no less, struggles to fit into her role. She secretly becomes a dragon slayer and sets out to save the kingdom.




31. A book with bad reviews

The Heart of Everything That Is: The Untold Story of Red Cloud, An American Legend by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Please remember that this is my own opinion. I honestly don't know how this book ended up on the New York Time's Bestseller list. I struggled through this mess of a book. The first half jumped around on the timeline of America history so much that I couldn't keep up with what time period the authors were talking about. Also, it seems as though the authors took turns writing and one of them, I'm not sure which, is very pretentious. Again, remember this is my opinion. I also don't see how this is the "untold story of Red Cloud" when all of the stories told are cited as being from other books. There were also numerous times in the book when the authors put in opinions from not only themselves but also historical journal entries, and the authors put these opinions in as if they were facts. They also spent a good deal of print telling, in detail, the mutilations to human bodies done by the Native Americans. I understand that these atrocities happened, but I really don't need to hear the details every time the army would stumble upon a mutilated body (and this happens quite often in the book).
     It took me five months to finish reading this book of 432 pages. I almost stopped reading it somewhere near the middle but my stubborn streak kicked in. I started to look at the reviews on Goodreads at that point and noticed that all of the good reviews were from everyday people. I looked a little deeper and started finding reviews from professors and anthropologists who have made Native American History their field of study. Their reviews called into question many errors within this book.
     All in all, I did not care for this book and suggest that if you would like to learn about Red Cloud, go find something else to read. Red Cloud seemed like a distant character throughout the majority of the book.

32. A trilogy

I'm going to cheat again, although just a little this time. I technically didn't read a trilogy in 2015. I read the second and third books in the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie, but I had read the first book in 2014. I'm going to say that I fulfilled this item on the challenge though as I read 5 of the 6 books in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Seeing as that is more than a trilogy, I'm counting it. I also read the first 3 books in the Mer Tales series by Brenda Pandos (there are 4 books in total).

33. A book from your childhood

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton follows a young teen named Ponyboy Curtis through the trials of a Greaser in the late 50's or early 60's. From fist fights to switchblades, Ponyboy and his friends find themselves in big trouble. I read this book when I was twelve and all I could remember about it was having to learn the difference between "tuff" and "tough" in reading class. Reading this book again as an adult was much more meaningful. If you read this during your childhood and can't remember why your teacher put this on the reading list, then I encourage you to read it again.



34. A book with a love triangle

 Crossed by Ally Condie, The Heir by Kiera Cass, and Everlost by Brenda Pandos all contain love triangles.

35. A book set in the future

Crossed and Reached by Ally Condie
The Heir by Kiera Cass
Atlantia by Ally Condie

36. A book set in high school

 Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer is about a teenage girl who, at the beginning of the book, suffers a terrible accident leaving her with damaged and/or missing memories. The story follows along as she struggles to find herself while enduring her peers who think she pushed her friend off the amusement park ride they were climbing. At the suggestion of her therapist, she makes notes to herself to remind her of things she likes and needs to remember while she comes to terms with what happened to her and her friend who has remained in a coma.

V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram, Everblue and Evergreen both by Brenda Pandos also take place during the character's high school years.



37. A book with a color in the title

Everblue by Brenda Pandos is the first book in the Mer Tales series. I've never read a book about mermaids and, honestly, never really thought about them. I was skeptical that I would like this. I was wrong. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately downloaded Evergreen, the second book, once I was done so I could continue the story.

I suppose that Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Thousand Pieces of Gold by Ruthanne Lum McCunn both have colors in their titles as well.



38. A book that made you cry

A Day in Dogtown by Mark J. Asher

If you are a dog lover, make sure you have some tissues with you while you read. I have a chocolate lab myself, so the cover picture kept making me think of her as I read the book. A young girl finds out that her family must move and dogs aren't allowed at their new home. While taking the old loving dog to be put down, he escapes from the car and runs away. The young girl ditches school and attempts to find her dog. Along the way, tired out from walking, she falls asleep and visits a wonderful place where dogs have treat dispensers and sniffing tubes. There are mechanical squirrels to chase and ponds to play in. I won't say more because I don't want to spoil the book, but I think you can see where this is going.


39. A book with magic

Books with magic are my favorite. My all time favorite book series is Harry Potter (have you seen my blog? Lots of Harry Potter posts!).

Before Midnight by Cameron Dokey
Ever by Gail Carson Levine
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
The Mortal Instruments books 1 through 5 by Cassandra Clare
Favorite Fary Tales by Logan Marshall
The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley

40. A graphic novel

Until this challenge I had never read a graphic novel or comic book. Being the gigantic nerd that I am this is kind of shocking. My book group was reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and since I had already read it, I decide to read the graphic novel version. The Lightning Thief: The Graphic Novel (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan was a great review for me. Reading a graphic novel that is  based on a book is like taking a super condensed refresher course. It got me back up to speed on what had happened in the book so I could get in on the discussion at out book group meeting. Will I ever read a graphic novel again? Probably not. It's just not my cup of tea.

41. A book by an author you've never read before

I had never read any of Cameron Dokey's books before but I am glad that I came across Before Midnight. It is a retelling of the Cinderella story. Dokey focuses more on sisterly love though. The prince doesn't even come into play until the last couple of chapters. Instead she learns to love her stepsisters and stepmother.

I enjoyed Dokey's retelling so much that I purchased some of her other fairy tail books and will hopefully read them this year.

Other books by authors I had never read before include:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer
V is for Virgin by Kelly Oram
Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham (yep, I hadn't read any Grisham before this)
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Dying for a Living by Kory M. Shrum
A Day in Dogtown by Mark J. Asher
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King
Favorite Fairy Tales by Logan Marshal
The Heart of Everything That Is by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin
The Hero and the Crown by Robin Mckinley
Everblue by Brenda Pandos
Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Only the Brave by Gerald Lund

Lots of new authors for me this past year.

42. A book you own but have never read

I'm assuming they meant a book you have owned for quite a while, but haven't yet read. I own 99% of the books I read. I live in a rural mountain area and it's hard to find time to make my way to a public library to lend books. This means that I have lots of books laying around that I haven't read yet. The only book that I read last year that had been sitting around for a long time (we're talking more than 2 years) is Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.

43. A book that takes place in your hometown

I feel validated in my cheating this time. I technically don't live within any city limits. My zip code says Boise, Idaho but I'm about 30 miles from Boise. The nearest town at only 5 miles away is Idaho City, Idaho. I tried to find a book that took place in Idaho City, but they were all history books. I'm not talking, lets tell the story of the Chinese miners in Idaho City type books. No, they were all full on history books that you would study out of in a high school class.
     So I looked towards Boise. I grew up in Boise so I could call it my hometown. I found a book that supposedly takes place in Boise, but after reading the first chapter I could tell it would be horrible. The language, sexual innuendos and editing were atrocious.  And this was just the first chapter.
     Well, I couldn't find anything else set in Boise that seemed appealing, so I settled for a book that took place in Idaho. Thousand Pieces of Gold by Ruthanne Lum McCunn is about a Chinese girl whose father sells her to bandits in order to save the rest of the family from starvation. She is then sold to a Chinese brothel and illegally brought into America. She is sold at auction and shipped to Lewiston, Idaho. She then has to make her way on foot to what is now Wallace, Idaho. The man who bought her is a Chinese man who owns a saloon in the mining town.
     Polly, as she has been named, does not know that it is illegal to own another human in America and works for Hong King (saloon owner), secretly steeling gold dust that has fallen to the floor in the hopes of buying her freedom. She falls in love with an American who owns the other saloon in town. The story continues to follow Polly through her life until her death in the early 1900's.

44. A book that was originally written in a different language

Originally written in Dutch, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank has been translated into more than 60 languages.

45. A book set during Christmas

Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol by Tom Mula is a fun twist on the original A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. It starts out the same: "Marley was dead..." but instead of following Scrooge, we stick with Marley. Marley goes to the afterlife and finds out what his reward is for how he lived his life. His reward is Hell.  He has the opportunity to change his fate by redeeming Scrooge. A daunting task, one he nearly gives up on, but eventually he conquers. A fast read with only 116 pages and some delightful artwork.




46. A book written by an author with your same initials

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

This was another challenge. Trying to do internet searches for authors with the initials A.F. isn't as easy as it would seem.

47. A play

This is the last time I'm going to cheat. I promise! I didn't technically read the play version of Anne Frank, but I'm going to count reading her diary entries for this category. If I would have had more time I might have found a play to read.

48. A banned book

Even though it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and has been called classic literature, the book, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee still remains on the banned booklist. The profanity (which is minimal), racial content, and rape references have led people to challenge this book and remove the novel from all classrooms and school libraries.
     The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was banned by a school in Alabama for being "a real downer." This book has appeared on may banned booklists throughout the world.
     Did you know that "Where's Waldo?" was put on banned booklists in more than one state in the U.S.? How about The Complete Fairy Tales of The Brothers Grimm by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm? Did you know the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling appears on numerous banned lists? Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has been banned from some libraries. Nothing could go wrong with a Judy Blume book, right? Wrong. Forever was published in 1975 and was quickly banned and is still being challenged in school libraries today because the story is about a girl and her boyfriend who decide to have premarital sex.
     When it comes to banned books, my advice would be to look at why it was banned and make your own judgment call. There is also a wonderful website called Rated Reads, free to use, that will tell give books rating like movies have. They review the book and tell you exactly why they gave it that rating. They rate newer books and tend to leave the classics alone. If you can't find a newer book on their site, you can request that they read and review it for you.

49. A book based on or turned into a TV show

Veronica Mars, created by screenwriter Rob Thomas, made its series debut on September 22, 2004. The show lasted three years. A kickstarter campaign earned enough money for a Veronica Mars movie to be made which came out in 2014. Kristen Bell, who plays Veronica Mars, was a major part of getting the movie funded.

Veronica is a highly intelligent teenager who moonlights as a private detective. She solves small cases for classmates and friends while working a bigger case each year, starting with the murder of her best friend.

The series is witty and dramatic with amazing stars such as Francis Capra, Amanda Seyfried and Enrico Colantoni who plays Veronica's dad.

The book, Veronica Mars: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Grahm, picks up where the kickstarter funded movie leaves off. Veronica is back in California and working as a private detective. The case involves Veronica's mom, who ran out on her when she was 16.

It was fun to revisit Veronica's world and I look forward to reading the next book.


50. A book you started but never finished

Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island was one of the three free books that came already loaded onto my cell phone. I started to read this in April of 2014 and just couldn't get it finished. I had a hard time reading on my cell because the screen only fit about a paragraph at a time. Well, I finished it in 2015 and so was able to count it for this category.

That's it! I read 38 book total, exceeding my Goodreads challenge by 3 books. I mentioned all of the books at least once, but you can see what I meant about using the same book to cover multiple categories. I won't be doing this challenge again this year, but I did enjoy breaking out of my reading comfort zone a bit and trying some new stuff.

 If you've read something great that you think I might like, let me know in the comments!

Happy reading!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Movie Storage

I loooove movies! I also happen to live in a mountain area, in a little pocket that, for some reason, doesn't get reception. I'm talking no cell phone reception, no TV reception, and the mountain behind our house blocks us from the satellites. We can't get high speed internet either, only a 26k dial up connection that isn't worth the money we would have to pay for it. So what do I do? I watch movies and do crafts. And while I do crafts, I watch movies. This means that I have what most people would consider an extensive movie collection. We're talking closing in on 600 movies and TV shows on disc and my collection is still growing. Hey, I have to pass the time somehow during the winter when I can't go outside and it's a 45 minute drive into town.

I'm sure some of you have figured out the downside to having so many movies. Where in the world do you put them all? I had bookshelves full of movies. It seemed like my room was being over run with them! We have a small house with little to no storage room. My sister keeps her movies out in the living room, and so to keep our collections separate I have mine in my bedroom. Well, I finally got fed up with not having room for my craft supplies (I'm sure you can see where that's going to go, too!) so I found an alternative solution to storing my movies.

I went onto amazon.com (a dangerous site for some of us) and ordered some CD sleeves and a double wide CD box (shown below). I took all of my single disc movies and put them into the CD sleeves. I'm a little OCD and so my movies are in alphabetical order. To make them easier to find in the CD box, I made dividers out of card stock and these wonderful little paperclip flags I found.

I labeled them as #, A-S, THE, and T-Z with letters P Q, U V, and X Y Z together on flags. The box would hold about 175 movies on each side for a total of  350 movies!

 As I stated before, I put all my single disc movies into the CD box. All of the other movies that are multiple disc sets such as TV shows or blu-ray/DVD combos I left in their cases. I freed up so much space with the single disc movies that I don't feel overwhelmed with what is left on my shelves.

For the most part, you can see the movie title through the clear window in the CD sleeve. Every now and then you get a disc that doesn't have a name or picture on it. For these I simply wrote the name of the movie on the outside of the CD sleeve.

To make for easy movie searches, I printed out my movie list. What I've done is created an excel worksheet that lists the name of the movie, genre, leading actors/actresses, rating, and format (DVD or blu-ray). I even have a column for if the movie has been borrowed and who has it. I highlighted all the TV shows which are in one bookcase and then highlighted in another color the movies with multiple discs which are kept in a DVD stand. It's easy to peruse the movies in this list then be able to quickly find them where they are stored.

When a movie is being watched, I put a small post-it note in the space where the movie belongs so I don't have to search through that alpha section to put the movie away.

I hope this helps and happy organizing!

DIY Ink Pad Storage

 I'm always looking for new ways to store and organize my craft supplies. One day while trying to figure out if I could do something with the two bamboo place mats I've had sitting around for years, thinking I would just end up throwing them out, I thought, "You know, if I just had some elastic I could thread it through the bamboo and make some kind of holder out of these." So, the next day I headed off to the craft store and got some elastic. This is the result.

           1/2" elastic in the color of your choice
           bamboo place mat(s)
           needle and thread to match the color of elastic
           ink pads you will be storing (or markers, paint, etc.)

Start by figuring out the spacing you will need for your ink pads. You don't want the elastic too loose or the ink will fall right out. You also don't want it too tight or you will have problems getting the ink in or out. This is the hardest part. Once you have figured out the spacing, take one end of the elastic and loop it through the end of the place mat and sew the end together. Start threading the elastic through the bamboo. Sew the other end on. Repeat as needed across the place mat. I did two rows, but if you have smaller ink pads (like the square distress ink pads from Ranger) you may get three rows on a mat.

 Put in your ink pads and viola! Your done! I stuck a binder clip on mine and hung it from a command hook attached to the side of the bookcase that hold my craft supplies. I also found that the mat will fold nicely, as shown below, and can be stored on a shelf in this manner.

Please note that the elastic will loosen when you remove an ink pad. I haven't had problems with my ink pads falling out when I've removed just one from a side, but if you remove too many they may start to fall out.

Happy crafting!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Wreath

I just love making holiday wreaths to hang at work! I'm starting to get quite the collection of them!

Supplies needed for this wreath:
  • 12" wreath form
  • pot of gold, gold coins, shamrocks, etc. for decoration
  • ribbon--preferably St.  Patrick's Day theamed
  • Tulle or netting (I used heavy scrubbie mesh/tulle) in the following colors: 
              red--------4 strips
              orange----4 strips
              yellow----4 strips
              green------about 35 strips
              blue-------4 strips
              purple----4 strips
Strips should be 1.5" by about 28"

To apply the tulle strips, fold the strip in half. Place folded strip under wreath form with fold on the inside of the wreath. Pull the loose ends of strip over the wreath and through the fold's loop. Pull tight. Continue applying strips, overlapping some, until wreath is full.

*Note: if your mesh/tulle has large holes, you will be able to see the color of the wreath form underneath. Also, it should be a stiff mesh/tulle so that the ends stick out well.

Trim the edge of the mesh/tulle to desired length. Add embellishments with a hot glue gun. Wrap a ribbon around the top and you're done!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Yes, my dog is my child

On December 18th, exactly one week before Christmas, my day was a normal day. I got up, went to work, and drove home. Everything changed when I arrived at my house. I live on a highway, right on the highway, in the mountains of Idaho. We have animals. When I approached the house and saw a car on the other side of the highway with its hazards on, I wasn't worried. I thought they had just had car problems. Then I see a man in the middle of the road waving his arms above his head to get my attention. Now I'm starting to worry.

I pull into the driveway and see my nephew running up the walkway from the house. I roll down my car window and all I hear is "Tali got hit by a car." Thankfully I didn't go into panic mode. This isn't to say that I calmly walked into the house. No, I ran into the house, not even taking the time to grab my purse out of the car, I'm just saying that I was able to keep my wits about me.

As my nephew and I are running to the house he tells me that it looks like her leg is broken. I'm worried deeply about her but am relieved that she isn't dead. I get in the house and run to her. After examining her leg it looks like it's dislocated. I could also see a laceration on her back leg and cuts around one of her eyes. I'm worried about internal bleeding. The man who hit her came to the door and talked to my nephew while I examined Tali. He said that she went under his car (a small SUV).

We live an hour away from town, and there was no getting her to a vet that night. I put her in her crate so she wouldn't be able to move and didn't let her eat dinner.

I took her down to the vet first thing in the morning. I had to drop her off so I could get to work. I anxiously waited for the vet to call me. They confirmed that she dislocated her elbow on her right leg, had a laceration on her right knee, and thankfully no internal bleeding. Unfortunately they were unable to re-locate her elbow and referred me to the emergency vet in our area (which is twice as expensive as a normal vet).

She had to have surgery and cost me $2,100.00, but at least she's still with me. I was a little shocked when I went to pick her up and saw this bright pink bandage holding her splint on.

They had to put 5 staples in her knee to help close the laceration.

She had three different medications she was taking, one of which had to be dissolved in water and shot into her mouth in a syringe. She hated that one and fought with us as we would try to open her mouth. We also had to keep her bandages dry. Dry?! We live in the mountains, it's winter, and they want me to keep her bandages dry!? Let me tell you, it was a challenge that involved a lot of Glad press and seal.

She now has staples and bandages out/off and thinks she can run and jump. She is supposed to have restricted movement for another week, three weeks in total. She also has multiple physical therapy exercises she gets to do for a total of six weeks.

I hope she's learned a lesson about running into the road, but I highly doubt it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Santa Wreath

I'm sure I saw this on Pinterest, but I apparently didn't pin it because I can find it on any of my boards! Good thing I remembered how to make it!

To make this Santa wreath you will need red and white feather boas (I had to use 3 6ft white boas and 2 6 ft red boas; go figure), wooden letters, black and gold/yellow felt, and a hot flue gun. Oh, and a wreath form.

 Start by wrapping the wreath form with the boas, half white and half red. I cut the black felt into 2 inch strips. It took three strips to make it all the way around the wreath. Hot glue the ends of the strips so that it fits snugly around the wreath. For the buckle, cut the yellow felt into a 2 1/2 inch square, a 2 inch black square, and a 1/2x1 1/2 inch rectangle of yellow. Hot glue pieces together and glue to belt.

Paint your wooden letters; I choose silver. I hot glued these on. You may find it necessary to secure them with thread that is the same color as your letters. Hang it with some ribbon and you're done!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Riddles In The Dark

So, as mentioned in my last post, we had a scavenger hunt at our Middle Earth party based on the Riddles in the Dark. I noticed as I was preparing the images for this post that two of the riddles got run together and I only carved one stamp. Oops!

Here is the riddle sheet they were given. Once they figured out the riddle, they could then look for where the stamp might be. For instance: "wind" was behind a fan in the kitchen and "teeth" were in the bathroom. Two of the stamps required the guest to give the answer to Carma in order to get a clue to find the stamp. This brought our love of letterboxing into the mix.

Here is the sheet again with the answers filled in and the stamps inked on the page.

We were having a problem trying to figure out where to put the fish. Out of nowhere, as fun ideas usually come, I thought: "We should put a bowl of candy fish out for the guests with a sign that says Smeagol's Food and put the stamp behind it!" Needless to say, once people found the stamp, the bowl of candy disappeared fast.

I also carved an additional two stamps to put on salt dough and clay tags/ornaments. The salt dough was too porous to stamp an image on well but the clay tags were perfect. The images are of J.R.R. Tolkien's symbol and the White Tree of Gondor.

I hope you've all enjoyed what we did for our party! Hopefully I've given some ideas for anyone planning a party of their own!