2013 book report

Last year, I wrote in my 2012 book report:

In all I read 40 books this year. Short of my goal, but more than last year. … I shall strive to best this goal in 2013… if I can ever finish the two books I’ve started.

Well, 2013 has come and gone and I failed. Miserably. My book count was only 30 for the past year, and six of those were gorgeous picture books (in my defense, they were for adults). For some reason, between August and December, I simply… stopped reading.

My favorite book of 2013.

My favorite book of 2013.

I have no idea why! It wasn’t for lack of good books. I had seven new releases of series I follow come out in October alone. I can’t even blame the television, as I stopped watching several of my “regular” (read: crappy) shows. So why I stopped reading for 3+ months remains a mystery.

Therefore, I am determined — determined — to read more than 30 books in 2014. I set my goal at a modest 32, so I don’t disappoint myself as badly as I did this year, should I fail for some reason.

With that goal in mind, I take a look back at what I read last year, and choose, in no particular order, the top 5 reads of 2013.

1. Jumper by Steven Gould

I think I’ve read this one about 100 times now. OK, maybe not quite that many, but my copy is old and worn. I discovered it when I was a teenager and have devoured it many, many times in the long years since. Forget the movie. The movie has little in common with this marvelous book about a teenager who finds he can somehow teleport, or “jump.” It’s a wonderful coming of age tale with a sci-fi twist.

2. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

My only 5-star book of the year, I couldn’t put this one down. I don’t know what it is about young adult dystopian novels that have so captured my interest, but this is right up there with my favorite, The Hunger Games. The book follows teenage survivors of an alien invasion. But who can you trust? Can’t wait for the sequel!

3. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Told from the unique perspective of a girl in a coma, the story centers around 17-year-old Mia who must decide whether to stay or let go after she loses everything in one fateful, tragic accident. Made me tear up a time or two.

4. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Sad, yet beautiful

Sad, yet beautiful

I found this one when Amazon recommended it after I purchases If I Stay. I hadn’t heard of it before, and was therefore unaware of the big following it had when I started reading it. Hoo-boy. This one was… difficult to get through, though not in a bad way. I would have given it 5 stars if it hadn’t been so damn sad. Although what else did I expect when I picked up a book about two teenagers with cancer? Heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time.

5. Bastion by Mercedes Lackey

The fifth and final book of Lackey’s Collegium Chronicles was really hard to put down. Finally, all was answered in this long-awaited sequel to last year’s Redoubt. I’ve heard rumors that Mags’ story will continue on in a new series perhaps (or maybe this wasn’t the final book after all), so I’m really hoping it will. I’m not ready to say goodbye to these characters yet.

Speaking of saying goodbye, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about this year’s honorable mention, Dead Ever After by Charlaine Harris. It was the final book in the Sookie Stackhouse series. And while it didn’t end the way I hoped it would, it was a good sendoff for one of my favorite heroines of all time. Farewell, Sookie. It was great getting to know you.

 

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Arachnophobia

I don’t like bugs. But there’s just something about spiders that give me an extra dose of the willies. Logically I know that there’s a place for them on this earth. My parents are constantly preaching to me, as I’m shrieking down the house, that blah, blah, food chain, blah, blah, ecosystem, blah. But that is no comfort when I’m paralyzed by fear at a spider on the wall.

cute_spider

The worst arachnid, in my opinion, has to be the shower spider. There is nothing worse than disrobing in the morning, when you’re still half asleep, and draw back the shower curtain to find one (or more!) of the little vermin waiting for you in the shower. My coworker says car spiders are worse, but I maintain that at least in the car, you have a layer of protection between you and the spider… your clothes. Getting ready to step into the shower? No such protection. I always have to put on a towel before attempting to kill it, because I’m always afraid it’ll jump at me and then it will be on my skin. Ewwww.

Though a case can be made for the above-the-bed spider being the worst. You know you have to kill it because it might fall into your bed. But if you try to swat it, you might kill it, but it’ll still fall into your bed. However, I am too short to be able to reach it with a tissue, even standing on said bed. So swatting is the only option, followed by an hours-long search to either find its corpse or kill the survivor.

I confronted one of the dreaded shower spiders the other morning, and in my zeal to kill it, I apparently made too much noise. My dad came up to make sure I was OK. Apparently, it sounded like I had fallen in the shower. No, Dad. I’m OK. Just spider-killin’.

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I’m not dead. (Not yet.)

So, I haven’t updated this in…. months. I haven’t even been busy. I’ve just been boring. Story of my life.

The Christmas season is upon us. When did that happen? Though I think I frittered away August, September and October waiting for my doll convention to arrive. (You can find the recaps of that over on Shelf Life.) As my nephew would say, it seemed like it was “taking for-ever” for the Wilde Halloween Convention to arrive. But it did and Dad and I went and it was a blast. But that’s really the only news I have since my last post at the end of July.

charlie-brown-christmas-tree

I haven’t even read any good books lately! It seems like, after I gorged myself on young adult dystopian and fantasy novels over the summer, I lost my appetite for reading. Since August, I’ve read exactly one book. ONE! I AM SO ASHAMED. I had a goal of reading 42 books this year, but I’m not even going to come close. I did, however, finally buy Veronica Roth’s Allegiant, and am about a quarter of the way through it at the mo’. I did pick up some new reads during Amazon’s Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale, so maybe I’ll stop being a lazy ass and pick up a book this month.

I’ve been selling a lot of dolls on eBay and other places, but I still seem to collect more than I sell. I have half a dozen dolls still in their boxes because I’ve nowhere to put them at the moment. However, I did have a rather rotten experience today on eBay. I have a doll up for a Buy It Now/Best Offer. Now, I suppose my mistake was not putting in an automatic decline for low-ball offers. I got one such today and made a counter offer… something that’s been done to me many times. Sometimes I accept, sometimes I don’t. It’s all good. But after I countered, the potential buyer sent me a rather rude little email saying how I must not want to sell the doll. No… I want to sell the doll, but not at an unacceptably low offer. Instead of arguing with the little upstart, I just blocked her from bidding altogether. Wouldn’t want to do business with someone like that anyway.

And that’s it for my update. Buying/selling dolls, not-reading and trying to get ready for Christmas. So… how y’all been?🙂

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Boys have a penis; girls have vaginas

ImageMy 5-year-old nephew is staying with us this week. Last night, we were having a tickle fight on the bed when he kneed me in the stomach. It was an accident of course, but damn, did it hurt. When I told him I needed a minute, he asked me, in all seriousness, “Did I hurt your wee-wee?”

Cue the groan.

“No, Ben. Girls don’t have wee-wees.”

“They don’t?”

So that’s how I got drawn in to explaining how girls and boys are different. Not in graphic detail. That’s not my job. But I could tell he wasn’t quite following along, so I got one of my more-anatomically-correct dolls and showed him that girls did not, in fact, have wee-wees.

He looked at it for a moment before announcing, “I don’t like girl butts.”

And that was that.

Until this morning. if there was any doubt in his mind that girls and boys had different parts, it was put to rest when the little squirt walked in on me getting dressed for work this morning.

*sigh*

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SIM card saga

ImageI had a little bit of a shock this week when I was trying to get my iPad ready for travel to Lombard, IL, next week for the Tonner doll convention. I tried to sign up for cellular service (through Verizon) and received an error message saying my SIM card was no longer supported.

According to the Apple iPad website:

When you decide to activate data service, you can choose the amount of data per month you want to buy — with no long-term contract. So if you have a business trip or vacation approaching, just sign up for the month you’ll be traveling and cancel when you get back.

What they don’t tell you is, if you cancel your cellular service and don’t sign up again for five months, your SIM card is essentially “burned.” Meaning deactivated. Meaning it ain’t gonna work no more.

So yesterday, I left work early and took myself and my iPad to the local Verizon store here in town to see if they could help me fix the problem. From having researched the problem on Google beforehand, I warned my coworkers I might not be back, as it could take a while.

It took an hour and 45 minutes.

Now, to be fair, the folks at Verizon were some of the nicest people I’ve met in a while. They didn’t try to sell me a phone. They didn’t try to get me to upgrade any services. They were only concerned with my SIM card problem. At one point, I had six Verizon employees trying to figure out how to fix my iPad cellular service.

The problem, it turned out, was they couldn’t just give me a new SIM card without activating it first. But they couldn’t activate it with a prepaid plan. But they tried. They tried for an hour and a half. In the end, I just had to sign up to a monthly plan with a promise that I could cancel it when I got back from my trip. No contracts, no deactivation fee. Not what I wanted, but at least I’ll have cellular service on my trip. And I won’t have to go through all this again next time I travel. I’ll just have to go in and resign up for a monthly plan. A little bit of a hassle, but one I can live with.

I would like to thank the Verizon folks for putting me at ease. My social anxiety was going through the roof for the first half hour, but by the time I left, I felt like I had made new friends.

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Getting ready for convention

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Tonner’s Antoinette in spring time.

Next week, my dad and I will be attending the 2013 Tonner Doll Convention in Lombard, IL. I signed up for it in January, and the time has gone quickly by until the convention is almost upon us.

I am way beyond excited, but at the same time, very anxious about it at the same time. We’re driving from our house in Tennessee, all the way up to Chicago, IL. That’s at least a 10-hour drive. We’ll be leaving at 4 a.m. next Wednesday.

There’s always so much to do to get ready for trips like this. What to wear, what to take… I’m a nervous wreck just trying to get ready. I don’t even have my suitcase out… am not even sure where they are (probably in the attic). I am sure I will be spending the majority of next weekend just getting ready to go.

This isn’t my first doll convention. I’ve been to one other, this past October, but it will be the first time I enter a competition piece. Not in any of the doll categories… can’t sew to save my life, but in the craft category. I did a cross stitch piece I designed myself. It’s approximately 8×6 and took over a month to complete. I have no illusions of winning anything, I just wanted to participate.

I wanted to enter the photography category, but the weather has not been cooperative this month. Hopefully I can squeeze in a quick shoot sometime this week in between rain showers. Otherwise, I’ll have to forego entering. I waited so late because I wanted spring to arrive to take some outdoor shots. Indoor shots never look as good.

Wish us luck in traveling… that’s something else I have to do, print out driving directions! Maybe I should start making a list of everything that needs to be done before we leave.😀

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Ode to a website

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The last layout I did for my blog, Epiphany. *sigh*

I miss my old website. Sometimes I’ll visit the Way Back Machine and type in my old URL, just to revisit the past. And to see my old layouts. I think I made some damn good layouts for anime fan sites back in the early ’00s.

I would make a new layout for my main site every few months or so. Same with my blog, back when I used Blogger. And I used Blogger a LOT back then. It seems weird, looking back on some of those old entries, how much head garbage I used to pour out into my blog. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I can think of anything to write about. Take today for instance. I’ve been scouring Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and HuffPost looking for a topic until I remembered my old blog.

I can revisit the pages I made at home, on my computer where all my files are. Unfortunately, over the years and the newer computers we’ve had, I’ve lost some. I don’t think I even have my old blogger archives anymore. How sad.

I finally gave my website up a few years ago when my domain name, yanagi.nu, just got to expensive to maintain, not to mention the monthly site hosting fees. I do miss the designing though, and wish I knew more about how WordPress worked so I could design my own layout, but when I think of the time and effort I put into it, it makes me tired just thinking of it. I don’t think I have the energy anymore.

Alas, my poor website of yore.

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