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Book Club v. Polar Vortex

7 Feb

If you weren’t aware the American Midwest (where I live) got blasted with a polar vortex last week that had temperatures below zero with wind chills that took us to about -20 here in Michigan. It was -60 in other places. (This is all in Fahrenheit, by the way. Yeah, we’re shocked, too.) With such extreme weather, some things had to step aside.

One of them was my book club. Monday night, we got about six inches of snow starting at noon and going until midnight. We needed it so the roads would be super icy come the freezing weather. Anyway, with such poor road conditions, the library closed early. Which made it hard for my book club to meet.

We were supposed to discuss The Gilded Hour by Sara Donati. I was already nervous about this meeting because I read the book so long ago, wrapping it up in late December. I wasn’t sure how much I would remember in late January.

Our discussion leader and our librarian contact discussed some options for us. The book that we are set to discuss in February, Kiss Carlo, is part of a program at our library and if we push it back, other groups won’t have access to our copies and won’t be able to read it before the author comes to speak. So we must push ahead with Carlo. But what to do with The Gilded Hour?

It was decided that we’ll push The Gilded Hour to March and bump all out future books back a month to compensate. I’m even more nervous about remembering the details of Donati’s book now, with three months between finishing it and discussing it. I bet I’m not the only one who forgets a lot.

I’d like to think there’s not a lot that can come between me and reading. But I guess sub-zero freezing temperatures can.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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2018 in Books

5 Feb

I can’t believe I didn’t post about this yet! It’s been a month already and I’m late to the recap. Well, better late than never. I was able to find my 2018 recap much easier this year than last year.

I read 51 books in 2018. My goal was 55 and I’m sad to have missed it. I’ve lowered my goal for next year to 52 and I think I’ll make that one.

I read 18,339 pages. That’s an increase for the third year in a row, even if it’s a book-number decrease from last year. I knew I was reading long books!

The shortest book I read was The Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr and E. B. White. I should have guessed this one, it was such a short audiobook! The longest book I read (or listened to) was A Column of Fire by Ken Follett. Over the past five years, the longest book I’ve read each year was either Follett or George R.R. Martin. Man, can those guys write long books!

The most popular book I read (re-read, really) was Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows). Not a big surprise there! I’m glad to have finished my Spanish re-read of the series. Maybe I need an English one next! The least popular book I read was Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt. I guess he’s more of a one-hit wonder.

My average rating was a 3.7, a tenth higher than last year. I must have had a lot more 5 Star reviews this year because I did, unfortunately, have one 1 Star review. Here’s how my ratings skewed this year:

5 Stars: 8
4 Stars: 24
3 Stars: 13
2 Stars: 5
1 Star: 1

No surprise to me that 4 Stars is my most common rating. To me, it means I liked a book a lot and that it was just shy of perfect.

Thanks for taking a look with me! If you’ve been here a while, you know I love numbers and book-related numbers are the best.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursday: 2019 Goals

31 Jan

I usually address my reading goals in my monthly recap posts but I wanted to dedicate this Off Topic Thursday so some non-blog related goals I’m working toward. I’ll revisit these briefly at the end of each monthly post as well.

  1. Finish a 70.3 Half Ironman. This has been a goal for a long time and I decided that 2019 will be the year. I’m signed up for a race at the end of July and I’m excited to finally do it! I start my training plan next week so I’ll be a bit tired for the next six months.
  2. Attend six weddings. That’s how many we’re invited to this year and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I go to all six of them! I’ve never missed a wedding before and I absolutely love them. We’ll see if I can keep it up.
  3. Finish a weather blanket. I’ve done these the last two years and I’ve loved the project. I’m going to do one in green/white this year. I’ve bought most of the yarn but I have yet to start knitting.
  4. Write. I had the initial idea of writing one day a week, but I’m not sure how feasible that will be. I think twice a month is good to start. I’ll set aside one weeknight each week but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t hold myself to it too strongly as long as I get to it a few times a month. I know this is a small change, but it’s a big difference from where I’ve been the past two years.
  5. See friends more. Now that I’m done with graduate school, I need to make an effort to see my friends more. I’ve started making plans more often, even if those plans are of the ‘Netflix and Chill’ variety. It seems ‘craft night’ is a big hit with most of us.

So here’s where I start and where I hope to go. I’ll keep my fingers crossed and we’ll hope to see this happen! I think it’s feasible, it’s just a matter of watching less TV and planning my days a bit more. I’ve got this.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursday: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

3 Jan

I know that these posts usually come at the end of the month, but the end of December was crazy and I figured I’d start off the new year talking about something that’s become very important to me over the past year: plastic and recycling

I should really say using less plastic has become important to me. My husband and I were contemplating when I’d become such a hippy, and we pinpointed it to the day I saw the video below. Many of you know I love turtles, so this hit me in a very sensitive place and made me cry for days. When I was done crying, I decided I needed to start reducing the amount of plastic I consumed.

Be warned, this video is rather graphic.

I knew I needed to do something to help me deal with a man-made threat to my favorite animal. So I started finding ways to reduce not only plastic but as much waste as possible from my life. None of these have been very extreme but together, I think they are making a difference.

  • Brushing up on my recycling to make sure I’m recycling everything I can
  • Bar soap, shampoo, and conditioner instead of plastic bottles
  • Cardboard tampons instead of plastic (Diva Cup would be better… not there yet)
  • Cloth napkins instead of paper
  • Reusable grocery bags and produce bags instead of plastic
  • Wearing clothes twice when possible/not dirty
  • Wool dryer balls instead of sheets
  • Buying products in recyclable packaging (ex. eggs in cardboard, laundry detergent in a box)
  • Turning lights off when I leave the room
  • Wrapping gifts in newsprint or using reusable bags
  • SAYING NO TO PLASTIC STRAWS!
  • Carrying a set of bamboo cutlery and metal straws in my purse
  • Telling as many people as possible about the harm plastics are doing to wildlife and easy ways they can reduce their impact

I know these are small steps, but that’s the beauty of them. None of these have made large impacts on my life. They are easy steps that you can take if you want to which will positively impact the planet and help save turtles and other wildlife. If you’re interested in more information on any of these, please leave a comment. I’m no expert, but I can share with you what I know.

What do you do to reduce your impact on the planet? Is there anything else I should start doing?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Happy New Year!

1 Jan

I’ll be back tomorrow with WWW Wednesday but I’m taking today off. I hope you all enjoy your New Year’s Day and are dreading the return to work tomorrow as much as I am.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

When Are You Reading?: Challenge Insight 2

27 Dec

For the 2019 When Are You Reading? Challenge, I’ve moved the time periods around a bit. One of the reasons is that I was finding it more and more difficult to find books for the 1600s time period. If you’re thinking of doing the challenge in 2019, you’ll have more leeway with 1500-1699. However, if you want to read a 1600s book, here are a few suggestions.

I’ve still got a few days to finish my Shakespeare of the year. I should still manage.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

In lieu of a post today, I just want to say Merry Christmas to those celebrating, and a Happy Tuesday to everyone else. I’ll be back tomorrow with WWW so we can keep reading until the new year.

Until next time, write on.

Giving Books for Christmas

18 Dec

This year, I came into a situation that should be a bibliophile’s dream. My brother-in-law and his girlfriend both asked for books for Christmas! However, I panicked and am getting them socks instead (sorry if they somehow read this!). But I had to wonder, why was I panicking?

I honestly don’t like getting a lot of books for Christmas. I feel an obligation to read them and sometimes they’re books I wouldn’t have picked out and don’t want to read. Sometimes, they’re amazing. But I’m feeling pessimistic because it’s the holidays so I’m going to focus on the negative.

I still have books for Christmas three years ago on my TBR. I have some from last year, too. I’m in no rush to get to them and that’s fine with me. However, every time I see those people (and one is my husband so it is quite often), I feel like I have to explain why I haven’t read their gift yet. It’s a bit overwhelming.

So I don’t want to give them stress for Christmas. Even more, I don’t want to get them books they already own. Or books they don’t want to read at all or have no interest in reading. I’m trying to help them live a zero-waste and zero-stress life. They live in Colorado, so I figure that’s what they’re after all the time.

So I’ve devised a plan. I’m going to put recommended reading lists in their stockings. That way, they can look at the book summary online and decide if it’s one they want to read. They can ignore my suggestions and I won’t be hurt. They can find the book at the library and not be stuck with it if they hate it. Best of all, they can ‘lose’ my list in the trip back west! It’s foolproof. Right?

Help me out, readers. What lists would you recommend to 25-year-olds who like fiction? I have a few in mind but I need to fill up these lists. The more, the merrier.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Vacation Time!

6 Dec

I’m off to Florida today for a quick girls’ get-away. I’ll be back Monday with more content and, hopefully, I’ve finished a book or two!

I’m going to Universal to visit Harry Potter World again. Check Instagram for pictures.

Bye!

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Off Topic Thursday: Michigan

29 Nov

I think everyone is proud of where they’re from. I know I am. I was born in Metro Detroit and after living in southern Indiana for four years, I moved back and I’ve been here ever since. I’m very proud of where I’m from and I’d love to give people an idea of Michigan that’s not a bankrupt murder capital. I mean, that’s not wrong, but it’s not the whole truth.

When I was in fourth grade, we focused on Michigan history. We talked about Detroit (day-twa) founding Detroit and the Native American tribes that were common in this area. We visited Lansing, our state capital, and learned about state government. The summer after that year, my mom took my brother and me on a trip around the state that I’ll never forget. She was intrigued about the things I’d learned that summer. She wanted to see the Mackinaw Bridge, the boat wrecks in Lake Superior, the cherries in Traverse City (TRAV-erse), and the waterfalls in the UP (upper peninsula). So we spent a week driving around the state and seeing all these things. So when my brother started fourth grade, he’d already seen it all.

I’ve been lucky to see the city of Detroit change. When I was young, we didn’t go downtown. No one did. Unless you worked there, you never went and if you did work there, you came home right away. When I came back from college, things had started to change. The crime was better controlled and businesses were starting to see the future of the city. There were desirable things to do downtown. We went for fun and if there was a sports game, we’d go early and grab dinner or stay late and have a drink. Detroit is a rare city with four professional sports teams (Lions, and Tigers and Wings, oh my! [and the Pistons]) so there’s often a good reason to visit. I’ll be graduating from a downtown university soon and I got used to being in the city by myself and enjoying my time there.

The metro area is hugely diverse. The city has a majority African-American population and ten minutes west, in Dearborn, we have a majority Arab population. The high-tech automotive industry draws educated people from around the world. My husband’s high school was 40% East Asian. I went to high school in an area that was so heavily Jewish that we got Jewish holidays off in the public school district. Moving to Indiana, I really missed this diversity and never had appreciated it until it was gone.

I’ve made a point to visit more of my home state now that I have the means to. My husband and I had a wonderful camping vacation in the UP a few years ago. We explored old copper mines and had a campsite right on Lake Superior. My parents have a cottage 20 minutes from Lake Huron and we go up a few times a summer. One of my running goals is to do a race in every county of the Lower Peninsula and I’m making steady progress (though it will take some time!). As much as we’re known for Detroit, a lot of the state is rural and forested. There are a lot of farms and deer hunting is a major past time in the fall.

So I hope I can give some of you a slightly different look at Michigan. We’re not all Eminem and only a small part of our state still doesn’t have clean drinking water (Flint Water Crisis). Not all our cities are bankrupt (just the biggest one) and it’s not always cold. I love my state and every terrible and beautiful inch of it. I bet your hometown is great, too, but I wouldn’t trade Michigan for anything.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!