January 6 Week in Review: All the snow, all the plans.

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

 

A lot happened on the blog this week! You can read my rambling about the start of my KonMari project, catch my January reading tracker (do any of you read those? I have doubts!), see why I still love Fire and Hemlock so damn much, and maybe possibly join this virtual companion to the Mock Printz program my library does every year.

Off the blog it was a weird week. I went back to work on the second and then had a snow day on the fourth but it still felt like a long week. I’m weeding picture books which is always interesting but is giving me terrible allergies this time around (yay dust).

How are you coping with the snow and the cold? Were you hit with this bomb cyclone madness?

It won’t be bullet journaling but I have a plan for the things I want to track in an analog notebook this year. I also bought some notebooks and stationary accessories on sale. I’m excited for them to come. Hopefully soon.

What goals are you tracking this year? Are you a planner person?

I’ve decided to try to post every day this year on Instagram so if you aren’t following me there yet, now is a great time to start if you want to cheer me on.

Here’s my latest from Instagram:

Next read of 2018: Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda. 📚📚📚 Jessa has no desire to to clear out her ex-boyfriend’s room but when his mother asks, she can’t say no. Jessa knows this is her penance—her punishment for being part of the puzzle of Caleb’s last day even if she can’t explain why he was at her meet that day anymore than anyone else can. 📚📚📚 As Jessa sorts through the fragments of Caleb’s life she starts to remember details of the start and end of their relationship. She also starts to wonder if everything they know about Caleb’s death is still just mismatched fragments waiting to be put together. 📚📚📚 Have you read this one? Is it on your list? What fragments tell your life story? 📚📚📚 #instabooks #currentlyreading #amreading #instareads #bookgram #bookworm #bookblogging #bookblogger #bookstagrammer #bibliophile #bookphotography #instabook #reading #reader #booknerd #yalit #yabooks #instareads #books #booktography #bookstagram #igreads #book #ilovebooks #booklove #booksofinstagram #goodreads #bookaholic #bookish #bookfeaturepage #reyesfilter

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If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my January reading tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

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Let’s Talk About the Printz Award, my library’s Mock Printz, and how you can join in

Every year the American Library Association’s (ALA) division called YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association) has committees of dedicated librarians choosing the best of the best books in various categories for things called the Youth Media Awards. In YA literature, the biggest award is the Printz for outstanding overall books. Other awards include the Morris which is for best debut.

Speculation on what will and will not make the Printz cut is a hot topic in library circles and heavily debated since the official criteria leaves a lot up to interpretation. I spend a lot of time trying to guess contenders both for myself and for my job where I chair a committee that chooses shortlist titles for a systemwide Mock Printz.

This year, I thought it would be fun to get blog readers involved and try to do a Miss Print Mock Printz.

As a starting point here is the shortlist my committee came up with:

  • Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  • The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • Spinning by Tillie Walden

Because of time constraints (we do the Mock Printz as a live two hour discussion) we only cover five or six books at most. This list is determined based on titles the committee enjoyed, books getting buzz and critical acclaim (starred reviews from publishers and the like), and general appeal. We also try to cover a variety of genres which is something the real Printz doesn’t have to do. Now, a few of my favorites of the year did not make the cut with our shortlist so to the above contenders I would add:

  • Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  • I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  • Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  • American Street by Ibi Zoboi

There could be other books I’ve read that are just as likely as contenders which I’m forgetting. There could be titles I’ve never read or even heard of that will get attention from the committee. It’s hard to say and they read much more widely than I would.

That said, I feel good about this list and comfortable predicting that at least some of them will be Printz contenders.

This year I’m feeling pretty on point with my pre-awards reading. I have read 4 of the 5 Morris finalists (still need to get to Devils Within from the titles there) and 2 of the 5 nonfiction award finalists (The 57 Bus and Vincent and Theo). These are the only two awards that give a shortlist before the award announcements at ALA’s midwinter conference. Knowing and having read so many of the titles in play this year I’m very excited to see how the awards shake out this year.

I’m going to post an update for this post after my library system has their Mock Printz with our winners and then I’ll do another follow up after the actual awards are announced.

Until then:

Have you read of the Youth Media Awards? Do you follow them? What books would you predict for the Printz award?

If you want to try to read some of the shortlist (including my four extra picks) you still have plenty of time to track them down at your library and I’d love to hear thoughts as you read them!

  1. Landscape With Invisible Hand by M. T. Anderson
  2. The Nowhere Girls by Amy Reed
  3. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  4. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater
  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  6. Spinning by Tillie Walden
  7. Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore
  8. I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
  9. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman
  10. American Street by Ibi Zoboi

Fire and Hemlock: A (ReRead) Chick Lit Wednesday Review

Polly Whittacker is nineteen and preparing to return to college after visiting her grandmother over break. She has a flatmate, a boyfriend, and all of the other things she would expect as a college student. It’s ordinary but it feels like enough.

That is until Polly stares at the picture that’s hung above her bed for as long as she can remember. Here, now, of course, Polly knows that “Fire and Hemlock” is just a photograph of some hay bails burning with a hemlock plant in the foreground. But when she was younger didn’t the picture used to have figures dancing and racing around the fire?

The more Polly remembers about the painting, the more she realizes that her memories of the past ten years aren’t quite right either. She has the ordinary set, the ones she always thought were true. But if she thinks back far enough and hard enough, Polly starts to remember another set of memories from a very different, very not ordinary life.

It all started nine years ago when Polly accidentally crashed a funeral and met an odd cellist named Thomas Lynn. Her friendship with Mr. Lynn took the form of fantastical letters, exchanged books, and one very odd visit to his flat in London. Those memories are easy to hold onto once they start to come back.

But something else happened the last time they met. Something worse. And now, here, Polly knows that she and Tom are inextricably tied together–maybe as friends and maybe as more. But Polly won’t have the chance to figure any of that out unless she can gather her memories and figure out not just how to get back to Tom but how to save him in Fire and Hemlock (1985) by Diana Wynne Jones.

I originally reviewed Fire and Hemlock in 2007 just a few months after I started blogging when I first read the novel. Even a decade later I still think about Polly and Tom all the time and almost since the moment I finished it, this book has held a place as one of my most favorite books of all time.

I read this book again in 2017 and was thrilled to see that it absolutely stands up to closer readings. If you can, get your hands on the edition I like to above–it has one of the best covers this book has ever gotten, includes an introduction from Garth Nix, and features an essay Jones wrote about writing this novel–something she rarely talked about in interviews.

Fire and Hemlock is a retelling of Tam Lin, a meditation on what it means to be a hero, a sweeping romance, and one of the best fantasies you’ll ever read. I still haven’t read all of Jones’ novels, the thought of running out is a bit too depressing so I try to keep a few in my figurative back pocket. But if you have to pick just one to read, consider starting here.

Possible Pairings: The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black, The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough, Entwined by Heather Dixon, The Accident Season by Moïra Fowley-Doyle, Caraval by Stephanie Garber, Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey, Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge, Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper, Thomas the Rhymer by Ellen Kushner, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier, , The Glass Casket by Templeman McCormick, Beauty by Robin McKinley, The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope, Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter, Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab, The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick, The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, The New Policeman by Kate Thompson, Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin, The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff, Dust Girl by Sarah Zettel

January 2018 Reading Tracker

You can also see what I read in 2017.

Books Read:

  1. My Plain Jane by Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, Cynthia Hand
  2. Exploring the Original West Village by Alfred Pommer and Eleanor Winters
  3. Fragments of the Lost by Megan Miranda
  4. Reign the Earth by A. C. Gaughen
  5. Say You’ll Remember by Katie McGarry
  6. Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles edited by Natalie C. Parker
  7. Warcross by Marie Lu
  8. Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in the Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson

Books Bought:

  1. Everless by Sara Holland (shelflovecrate)

ARCs Received:

  1. The Pros of Cons by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar, and Michelle Schusterman (not requested)

Here’s my planned to read list:

January 1: Another year, another reading tracker. As part of my ongoing effort to really and truly KonMari my life I may soon be sorting my books again. This ties well with a goal to buy fewer and continue being discriminating in what I request from publishers.

January 5: I have a lot of thoughts on My Plain Jane but you’re all going to have to wait a long while to hear them.

January 19: I haven’t read as much as I usually do this month but I’m really hoping to at least knock out my last two books from my planned to read stack. We’ll see.

Here’s what happened when I KonMari-d my life: Part 1

I’m a big fan of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method of organization. In December I re-read all of Marie Kondo’s books and I am in the process of using the KonMari method to get my life in order. If you are a longtime reader, you might know that I did this once already. You are right. It didn’t stick as well as I had hoped.

If you aren’t familiar with the KonMari method, it boils down to a few basic ideas:

  1. Finish discarding everything before you start tidying. Do it all at once, intensely and completely.
  2. Keep only those things which spark joy. Visualize the life you want after you tidy and instead of focusing on what to get rid of, focus on what you want to keep.
  3. Tidy by category, not by location. Go in order: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, sentimental.
  4. Treasure who you are now and thank the possessions you are discarding for getting out there. I didin’t thank everything individually but as I let go of certain items I am trying to thank them for the purpose they served before moving on.
  5. Store like with like. This should be obvious but it’s been a game changer as I’ve started moving all of my clothing, shoes, etc. into designated spaces. In this vein I’d also add: put things back where they belong the moment you finish with them.
  6. Vertical storage is key. You can find things at a glance and everything is easier to get to.
  7. Follow your intuition. There’s no right answer for how much to keep or discard, focus on what you love and when you hit that sweet spot that’s “just right” you’ll know you have enough.
  8. Appreciate your possessions. This goes back to thanking that which you discard and also treating items with respect.

In re-reading her books (I’d recommend starting with the original The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or the manga adaptation rather than going for Spark Joy which feels very superfluous.) I realized I had been doing KonMari completely wrong in my previous attempts. I stopped midway through. I never finished discarding. I didn’t think about who I wanted to be once I was tidier. These were my mistakes.

So now I’m doing it all again.


The lifestyle I want:

My goal is pretty simple. I want to have more space in my storage areas in the apartment. I want to be able to find everything in one go. I want to think less about finding things and more about if I want to start yoga or sitting down to write or craft.

Clothes:

Last weekend in a fit of hubris I got the process started and KonMari’d all of my clothes, shoes, and handbags. It was a lot.

But something amazing happened as I started with my shirts. I got to one and realized I felt nothing. It did not, in fact, spark joy. It sparked no emotion at all. It went right into a bag of things to donate along with a lot of other stuff. All told I donated four bags of clothes and one suitcase that I knew in my heart I didn’t need anymore.

When I started sorting my dresses I found two that I had bought spares of to save because I knew they’d wear out quickly. I let go of the older, worn dresses and was shocked when I realized how much happier the new dresses felt as hung them in my closet. I even made a subtle change to store my shoes and they all actually fit in one place now.

KonMari recommends waiting to figure out storage, but my options are pretty set since I’m not buying new furniture or anything so i decided to finish up clothing storage before moving on. KonMari recommends arranging a closet from light to dark with things moving up (in length and lightness of color) and to the right. I never thought this mattered and instead arranged my closet according to the ROYGBIV color spectrum because I am that person. This time, since I am all in, I followed Kondo’s advice.

I still hang more than she recommends because I hate folding and am very bad at it (and don’t have storage space for it) but I arranged my hanging tops, dress and skirts with an up and to the right mindset. I can’t believe how well it’s working. I am finding things more easily and I am actually happier every time I reach into my closet now. Also, even though I felt like I hadn’t made a ton of progress after I reorganized and hanged everything I realized I had reduced the space I was using by half.

I had a few things that I wanted to wait and try on but as if the clothing sensed what was coming, these decisions have become very easy. The boots I kept because they were so warm hurt my feet, the pants I saved for the dead of winter ripped when I went to put them on. It’s as if my wardrobe is helping me to finish these last decisions.

Things I still have to do: My sweater storage is a mess. Vertical folding storage (KonMari approved) is hard with bulky sweaters and I’m still figuring out how to deal with that. I think my next step is making one drawer in my dress for pullovers and lighter things I can actually fold and then leaving the heavier button downs elsewhere. I have been wearing so many of my sweaters lately (it’s freezing here) that this has become low priority for now especially while I decide what to do.

I have covered all aspects of clothing now except for jewelry and hair accessories. I’m hoping to tackle both of those this weekend–maybe even as you’re reading this post–with the help of a new jewelry box and some freshly acquired insight in the form of my joy radar.

My plan is to try and tackle one area every weekend until I’m done (sentimental might be quick because I’m just not discarding photos–it’s not who I am) but this might end up running a little longer with having to take down holiday decorations and some other family obligations.

I will be blogging about the entire process though so stay tuned!

 

Week in Review December 30: 2018 Resolutions

missprintweekreviewThis week on the blog you can check out:

I really loved Jane, Unlimited and I’m excited to finally be sharing my review of it with you here on the blog. In addition to my top ten booklist, I also did another year of reading tracker stats.

Moving into 2018 I am going to try to make these posts a little chattier again and not just a roundup of what I’ve published on the blog in the past week (and, you know, maybe I’ll post them on time too).

Since this post happens to come right at the end of the year (December went by so quickly for me), I decided to share some of my resolutions for 2018.

In 2016 and 2017 I was focused on being mindful and intentional. I’m not sure how I did with either of those. In 2017 I have been working on being neater and on using what I have–but I slipped up a few times. I also completely lost focus of what I was trying to do for my yearly goal which was, of course, a stumbling blog too.

In 2018 I am going to try to have deliberate and intentional as my guiding words. I have some specific things I want to accomplish this year and I’m hoping remembering those words throughout the year will help me focus on what I need to do.

I’ve been re-assessing my possessions through the eyes of KonMari again (more on that tomorrow because it’s getting to be a long post all by itself!) and I’m hoping to start budgeting and saving more. I also want to try to get back in the habit of using the library and buying fewer books (something that became increasingly difficult as a book blogger/reviewer).

I have no idea how this is going to go but I also bought a non-leather planner (I am doubling down on my commitment to a leather free life except for shoes/gifts and cruelty free makeup) and I’m going to try to use that to sort of get organized and stay focused. I’m not sure if I’ll be bullet journaling because I kind of hate the cult following “bujo” has at this point but it will be something. I don’t know.

What are you goals for the new year? What do you hope 2018 has in store?

Here’s my latest from Instagram:

I’m a little behind but I’ll be posting more pictures from the city’s holiday displays soon. Another thing I’ve realized about myself (and hope to remember moving forward) is that just because I’m using a camera phone it doesn’t make my pictures less artistic or less valuable. I am trying to remind myself that I am a photographer and that it counts even with so called “low tech” tools. I’m also trying to put more value on things that I might deem as disposable (like pictures I take or even some of my blog posts here) because the effort is no less real.

If you you want to see how my month in reading is shaking out be sure to check out my December reading tracker.

How was your week? What are you reading?

Let’s talk in the comments.

2017 Reading Tracker Year in Review

It’s time for my annual break down of my reading tracker posts for the year.

January:

  • Read: 14
  • Bought: 1
  • ARCs: 9

February:

  • Read: 14
  • Bought: 0
  • ARCs: 9

March:

  • Read: 20
  • Bought: 3
  • ARCs: 6

April:

  • Read: 8
  • Bought: 0
  • ARCs: 2

May:

  • Read: 15
  • Bought: 1
  • ARCs: 1

June:

July:

  • Read: 22
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 3

August:

  • Read: 13
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 0

September:

  • Read: 9
  • Bought: 2
  • ARCs: 1

October:

  • Read: 15
  • Bought: 0
  • ARCs: 5

November:

  • Read: 11
  • Bought: 3
  • ARCs: 5

December:

  • Read: 15
  • Bought: 5
  • ARCs: 2

Yearly Totals:

  • Read: 166
  • Bought: 21
  • ARCs: 49

Details:

Books read jives with what I expected from my Goodreads challenge (which always skews higher because I count picture books I read for work).

Here’s the breakdown for the ARCs I received:

  • Requested: 15
  • Amazon Vine: 15
  • Not requested: 19

I am thrilled with these numbers. One of my goals for the year was to request fewer books. I still have a substantive pile of ARCs to read and review from publishers but it feels very manageable and I feel like I’m in charge of my to read list instead of the other way around.

I also bought slightly fewer books than last year and hope to continue to be even more mindful about purchases (which was an overarching goal I had for the year). I’m not entirely sure I succeeded there but I made progress and that’s kind of the same thing.

So that’s my year in reading according to the blog. You can also see my year in books on Goodreads. And check out my Top Ten list for 2017.