i'm darkness and light, bubbles and faerie wings. i am sparkles and glitter, shadows and clouds. i love purple, and faeries, and books, and music.

Ramblings by Category

Ramblings by Year

Reading in 2011 or This Isn’t One of Those “Best Of” Type Posts That Are All the Rage Right Now

I have to admit, I’m not feeling the end of year recap right now. I have been skimming over posts in my reader but I haven’t really been reading many of them. My apologies, I’m just in an odd head space.

This year was very challenging for me as far as personal life goes and sadly, it did sort of show through in my blogging on both blogs and in my reading experiences. The last two months were abysmal on the reading front and even when I did finish a book I had no desire to blog about it. I forced myself, of course, because it bothered me almost more that I wasn’t blogging about the books. I was at war with myself and it was exhausting. I can be quite the nag. Sheesh.

I’m not big on setting goals and issuing challenges, but I did do a little of that in the reading part of my life. Not only that, I did so successfully. Big surprise to me.

Because Goodreads had a nifty widget this year, I joined their Reading Challenge (since I like widgets that keep track of things.) In 2010 I read 120 books, so I figured that should be doable again and even increased that amount by 5 just to make it more exciting.

I managed to read 140 books in total, therefore surpassing my goal.

I reached my goal in mid-October. With the way I was reading, I should have reached at least 155 by now, but November and December kicked me in the shins and I’ve hardly read a thing. That being said, 140 isn’t a number to sniff at either. I think that’s the most I have ever read in a year since I have been keeping count of the books. Maybe when I was working in retail books I’d read something close to that, but I don’t know because I wasn’t counting then.

I read way more YA than I normally do this year but mostly a lot more MG than I normally read. Why? Because I am tired of books seeming to be exactly the same story. I am tired of love-triangles, unnecessary graphic sex scenes and insta-love. I find that Middle Grade books are becoming more exciting because they have these great, imaginative plots and fantastic character development and still have a shred of originality that a lot of YA and Adult fantasy/paranormal/mysteries just don’t have anymore.

The only challenge I joined in 2011 was The 2011 Debut Author Challenge. I managed to read 26 books on that list, which I think is also a record for me. Normally many of the debut books are difficult to find in stores here.

I also didn’t BUY as many books this year. I tried very hard to read many of the books I already own that have been sitting there on a shelf, table, floor, unread for so long. Financially this year was difficult so I cut out book buying immensely. I think I received more books for review this year than I ever have and I’m always picky about what I accept.

Blogging about books still remains fun for me, and I shall continue as long as it does. I just like to blog in general and the few dear friends I have made through this blog will always be cherished. I like that I hold true to my own vision of this blog and I seem to stay out of the drama loop almost 100% of the time. I like that.

I appreciate every comment I ever get and I try very hard to reply to them all. It was tough while I was down in the dumps because I wasn’t interacting with anyone anywhere, but I do try. So thank you all for reading this past year, I know my reader base grew a ton and I want you all to know that I truly appreciate your visits.

Not sure what 2012 will bring, but as I mentioned on my personal blog, I will work at taking it one day at a time and trying to just cherish each day as it happens – no matter what happens.

I wish you a very happy and healthy New Year, Internet and I look forward to seeing you on the flip-side!

that time when i do that thing where i look back at the last 12 months

I have been going through all my December wrap up posts and have noticed a theme – I have had a lot of sucky years in a row. I used to be really good at finding the positive and having hope that there will be a bright side coming our way, but I have to say I’ve lost that ability and it makes me sad. Even through all of the negative there is always positive and that positive is more and more close to what really matters in life – the love of my husband, family and friends. All those little things that often get overlooked because you’re spending too much time fretting over the ones that don’t matter – money, objects that can be replaced, work, name brands, all that stuff.

What I have learned over the last few years is that Shawn and I just get stronger together. Our love grows with each challenge tossed our way. It doesn’t shrink or vanish. What we have is real and it’s been tried and tested so many times that I’m pretty secure thinking that it won’t ever end.

The one thing that had the biggest impact on me this year was the loss of Annabelly. I have had and lost dogs that I loved before, but to this day I still get moments where I am hit with such an overwhelming sense of sadness I can’t breathe. We even have two dogs in the house now, and we weren’t very long with only one before Sophie joined us but it’s not the same. Annie was, I guess, my soul animal. I still find it difficult to believe that she’s gone. I miss her so much.

I haven’t listed my memories by month the last two years but I feel like doing it again. Here we go!

January (6 posts)

  • I didn’t blog much, apparently

  • finally painted the bedroom so that I could sleep without the nightmares the cigarette orange walls were giving me (it worked, too!)
  • turned 35

February (7 posts)

  • we lost Annabelly
  • still not blogging much, but February was pretty much focused around Annie

March (9 posts)

  • sort of wondering why I even kept the blog since I still wasn’t blogging much 😉
  • we found a dog (because that’s what we do in March)
  • Shawn turned 34
  • I finally had an official “diagnosis” of fibromyalgia
  • we canceled cable because we just weren’t watching tv & wanted to save money

April (12 posts)

  • getting better at this blogging thing finally
  • my parents put their house up for sale!
  • I thought I might try to start jogging. HAHAHAHAH! Yeah, that didn’t work.
  • I started practicing driving again FULL SWING!
  • we drove to Michigan where I got the worst food poisoning ever AND
  • we got Sophie!!

May (7 posts)

  • jumped the gun thinking I got better at blogging last month
  • had my first ever cavity 🙁
  • pretty much just wrote about Sophie and posted many dog photos

June (5 posts)

  • I think this is my worst blogging year ever
  • one of my favourite friends got married & it made us happy
  • Shawn started a new job! Things were looking up!

July (10 posts)

  • married for 6 years ?
  • began an obsession with my tomato plant, resulting in many photos 😉
  • failed my first driving test & felt like a loser at life
  • stopped taking birth control pill to see if it effected my pain (didn’t then did)
  • realized I had lost my whimsy 🙁
  • accidentally killed Shawn’s macbook but discovered that Apple has awesome customer service

August (3 posts)

  • apparently August wasn’t all that interesting?
  • tomato plant obsession continued
  • stupid union voted to go on stupid strike though we were hoping it wouldn’t come to that

September (13 posts)

  • STUPID BLOODY STRIKE!!!!
  • my pain (fibro) which was getting worse since June finally incapacitates me & my dr put me on sick leave, which I was torn about, but happily took. Shawn had to help me exist because everything hurt so bad.
  • went full-out purple (with pink) hair! Figured since I was off work, I might as well try it out.
  • PASSED MY DRIVING TEST!!! *throws confetti*
  • started watching tv again (online – legally!) because I was in too much pain to even hold a book
  • started cooking, or trying to, discovered obsession with Clean Eating magazine

October (15 posts)

  • did not put up any Halloween decorations because I have lost my whimsy 🙁
  • STUPID BLOODY STRIKE STILL GOING ON!
  • still on sick leave
  • discovered Revenge & have watched it religiously ever since. Going to marry Nolan Ross.
  • did a lot of cooking, which upon reflecting back on this now makes me realize I need to actually get BACK to cooking!

November (11 posts – ha! 11 posts on the 11th month. I like that!)

  • STUPID BLOODY STRIKE STILL GOING ON! GAH!
  • no money, no morale, no health, no hope (at least it felt that way)
  • did a lot of thinking about who I am and what I want to do with my life
  • sick leave ended, strike did NOT , therefore back on the picket line I go!
  • realized how bad my health was before sick leave when I was able to actually walk 4 hours a day and not collapse after
  • our blasted driveway was dug up again! GAH!

December (11 posts counting this one)

  • mood so bad it took me almost a week into the month to put out my Christmas decorations
  • STRIKE FINALLY ENDED! Woot! December 6th we were back at work!
  • I still suck at blogging, but at least we got a Finnegan Christmas video up, right?
  • my parents sold their house!! (I didn’t blog about this, but it happened just recently!)
  • read 140 books!

And that about sums up my year. I continued to Do Things to the best of my ability and I seem to have given up having hope that things will ever get better (I don’t mean that to sound as dire as it does), I’m a little more cynical and jaded than I was at the start of the year, but I’m also stronger and I have different – better – priorities now.

I will survive 2012 (assuming the Mayans are wrong about the end of the world thing) and I will chronicle all the things that happen to be as I normally do. Hopefully I will blog more, I sort of sucked at that this year. I have plans for things that I want to do but I shall not worry too much if the plans fall through.

Mostly, I just want to take 2012 one day at time and cherish each thing that happens as it happens. I think that makes the best sort of year I could possibly have. As long as I have Shawn & the dogs, my family and my dearest friends around me, that’s pretty much all I need.

Happy New Year to you my dear reader(s). See you in 2012!

reflecting on 2011

One of the strongest feelings I had when I turned 35 was that I needed to reevaluate my life. I knew that there would be change coming soon, I just didn’t know what it would be. I knew at the turn of 2010 into 2011 that this year would be the start of change. My original thought was that I would go back and re-enrol in the Theatre program that I never completed in my early 20s. That didn’t happen, but not for any lack on my part. The more I thought about it the more I felt deep down that it’s not what I wanted to do. It wasn’t what I needed to do.

So I was stuck. I felt trapped. Something needed to change because I really felt like I wasn’t getting anything out of life anymore. This doesn’t include my relationship with Shawn or family, it was something about all the extras in life. What I do for a living. Where I live. stuff like that.

2011 was the first year that I actually realized I like living here. Sure the politics in Quebec piss me off to no end and make me very, very, angry. If the Province would spend less time trying to force everyone to be French I think people would actually enjoy visiting and living here. Suddenly that stuff didn’t bother me as much. At least not as obviously. So I am no longer desperate to move away, I like where I live at the moment. My goal changed from wanting to move to another Province to just wanting to move onto the street a block away. We call it Dream Street. Maybe one day.

The last few years has seen the almost eradication of any and all of my creativity and imagination. I no longer write songs or sing for fun. I very rarely write anything that isn’t some sort of work-related email or meeting minutes. That part of myself that I have lost I ache for. I need to bring creativity back into my life because without it I feel like an empty shell. I thought perhaps that the theatre program would help with that, but my heart wasn’t in it and I truly didn’t feel like failing at University for a third time. I needed something else.

With the financial struggles over the last 2 years a lot of stuff has been put into perspective for me. With the addition of stress related to the strike I just went through for three months, my brain opened up. There is more to life than just sitting in an office all day and doing a job I hate because I like the people. Sometimes the people aren’t enough and when you suddenly find yourself in a situation that shines a light on those people who are truly counted as friend and others you realize you could live without ever having to see or talk to again, well, things change. Thankfully for myself, I had no trouble with my own bosses. In fact, I was extremely lucky and blessed to have those two people in my corner over those three months. People’s true colours come out during situations like that – on both sides of the fence.

The entire experience just forced me to do the thinking that I had been putting off for various reasons, mainly, fear. I don’t like change. I never have. Changing your life and your path at 35 is scary. I’m not young, but I’m not old, either. I just know that a change has to be made if I would like to continue getting older without doing myself in (mentally).

So I have done some research, joined online resume things and made a decision – sometime in my near (?) future I hope to embark on a journey that will allow me to work more with books and book related people. In an industry that I know I actually enjoy. I already do this for FUN on my book blog. I go to bookish things, I have made bookish connections. I read. A lot. I just finished my 140th book for the year this morning. I LOVED working at Coles more than I have ever loved anything except for singing. I had to move on because I had to pay bills and working in book retail isn’t really what you do if you want to pay the bills. I miss bookstores and that environment so much sometimes I ache for it.

I now know I can take publishing courses online through a University in Toronto. This excites me. I did the research a little too late in the fall though and there is no way I can afford to start in January. My plan is to save some money and sign up for courses for September 2012. Of course if the world ends in December next year, I’m sort of up the creek, but I’ll take that chance.

I’m not running off and quitting my job any time soon. I am just building the tools I’ll need for when I am ready to do so.

I have made other changes too. I will no longer have anyone work-related as a friend on facebook. I realize for many people this is a no-brainer, but for me it never mattered. This last year has made me reflect on choices I make and people I want to keep in my lives. If you see me every day in the office you know what’s going on in my life. That’s enough for me. I am an open book anyhow, and it’s not like this blog is a secret. I just felt like I needed to draw some lines in my life that were obvious to myself. I made this decision for my own personal reasons not because of anyone in the office. I know who my friends are and I know with whom I feel like sharing things. There are two exceptions to my work/fb decision, and they are of course my two best friends who are more like family than coworkers. They stay because they are such a part of my life it matters to me. Not that I need to justify this, but I know I’ll get comments.

Health wise, I am going to try and continue to cook and follow the Clean Eating way of, er, eating. I have been very bad at it this month, but I was having trouble adjusting to being back at work after being on strike for so long and then trying to rush around and get holiday prep done. It just wasn’t a good head space month for me. I am hoping to get back on track next week though.

Our Body Design class starts up the second week of January and for that I am extremely excited. I am a little miffed that the strike voided our registration for the fall semester, but I guess I had walking every day as exercise until I got sick. Between the exercise and cooking I am hoping to slim down a little. Now, I never obsess about weight and size, but I know I have pounds to lose and I am sort of fed up by my inability to lose them. I am not thrilled with my body but I don’t really think about it much, not for a long, long time. I feel like since I’m happy and not suicidal anymore, I’d rather take the weight over the mental illness. But I want to feel HEALTHIER and I do when I eat better and am more active, so that’s something I’d like to force myself to keep up in 2012.

I know if I give myself a numbered goal for the weight I’ll be ruining any plans I have, but I’d like to try and lose 50lbs in a year. I think that’s doable if I make sure to cut out all the stupid fast food I tend to eat. I don’t know how well that will go though since I am horrible at resisting McDs cravings. I think they have filled those cheeseburgers with crack or something. NEED THEM. I don’t really like looking in the mirror and not knowing who is looking back at me. The face I see isn’t what I am used to, even though it’s been the same one for 8 years. I just want to work at being better and healthier in the choices I make.

So these are all thoughts and decisions I came to in 2011. It was a very tough year for many people and I don’t see 2012 getting a lot better very quickly. What I am thankful for are the people in my life who have made a difference to me. Those people who are truly meant to be in my life. With love and support from those family, friends and my husband, I think I can tackle anything that’s thrown at me.

I just really prefer that the throwing stops for a while so I can try and catch up. If that’s ok with you, 2012? Thanks.

The Autumn Palace (Ondine, 2)

The Autumn Palace (Ondine, #2)
by Ebony McKenna

One boy, one girl, one plot to be foiled! Hamish the gorgeous man (and part time ferret) has a new job with the Duke as a spy in his Autumn Palace. So Ondine goes with him. She imagines a hugely romantic escapade together that involves lots of kissing. What she hadn’t imagined was having to do endless laundry, go to school and keep Hamish the man a secret. All the while trying to find out who is plotting to kill the Duke. And if that weren’t bad enough, it seems that Hamish is more interested in getting the Duke’s attention than hers. Plus he’s always in ferret form. Things can’t go on like this! Can Ondine foil the would-be assassin, save the Duke and get her man back in gorgeous human form? It’s going to take a little bit of magic, a lot of stolen kisses and some ferreting around… (goodreads.com)

The love I felt for the first Ondine book just grew and grew with the sequel. There was laughter and reading aloud to my husband from the hilarious footnotes and just a general sense of contentment as I journeyed with Ondine, Hamish/Shambles and her aunt, Old Col to the Duke’s Autumn palace.

I blame the author herself for my inability to picture Hamish as anyone other than this YouTuber. Since she linked to him one day on Twitter and said “THIS is Hamish!” Of course I have to agree with her and now I have a channel subscription to a young fellow that I am just waiting to see turn into a ferret during one of his vlogs (hasn’t happened yet, for the record).

But I digress… There is just something so refreshing and carefree about the Ondine novels. Again I am wondering how they should be categorized. They are written a little young for pure YA but there is plenty o’ kissing and stolen kisses and thoughts about doing nothing but kissing that would make this a little older for MG. There needs to be a middle young grade adult or something. The kissing and hints at kissing are not graphic or inappropriate at all, but Ondine is a 16-year old girl and well, her mind reacts as one. I will say she’s awfully innocent though and it comes through in the story. There’s nothing overly R rated, even PG13 would be stretching it. She reminds me of myself at that age (only I had way less kissing experiences. As in, none. I had my first boyfriend at 19.)

There is once again this glorious mixture of present day and fantasy world among the pages. The country of Brugel seems like a far odd land, but it’s just somewhere on our very own map. It’s just a little behind the times and, well, odd. Whatever it is that it has, it WORKS.

I am secretly hoping that with titles like The Summer of Shambles and The Autumn Palace that Ebony McKenna plans to grace the world with two more seasonally-titled stories in Brugel. I will gladly read about Ondine and Hamish’s escapades in both the Winter and Spring. If my wish comes true I shall be ever so delighted!

Lest you think that this book is merely about stolen kisses, let me assure you that there are also delicious plots to kill the Duke. The poor man certainly has his fare share of enemies. The mystery and hijinks that make up the story are so much fun to read about. The characters we meet along the way are entertaining and often suspicious. I will say that I sort of guessed the outcome of this particular mystery pretty early on, but I think it’s just because I am innately a suspicious person and trust no one in books where something is amiss. I was rather tickled when I discovered what I thought might be going on was actually going on. I gave myself a mental gold star and a real, delicious cookie for my accomplishment!

The Ondine books are a complete delight to read! I assure you that they are worth the handful of hours you’ll spend reading them and will make you laugh out loud more than once!

PS – Woohoo! This is my 140th book for 2011! Go, me!

Ondine

  1. The Summer of Shambles
  2. The Autumn Palace

i’d like to return this gift, please

Ah, Christmas time. The time when people exchange tokens of their appreciate in object form. However the one gift I that I didn’t particularly want, or need was this stupid cold plague. I woke up with it on Monday morning, felt a little better by dinner time but then spent the night wide awake as I couldn’t breathe through my nose.

I’m on day 4 of this bloody plague and I feel like it’s never going away. Tuesday I even had a fever, which made me extra cranky because I was supposed to have my friend Jill over for a couple of days. We only get to visit once a year and the germs were just too strong for me to even fathom having her come over. Originally we postponed it by a day, but when Shawn woke up at 5am on Wednesday with a sore throat and blocked nose, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

I don’t give the plague for Christmas. It’s not in my nature.

There was no way I would infect Jill before she had to fly back home to California.

So my Jillmas celebration was postponed. Sadness.

As much as I hate having a cold (who doesn’t really?) I am sort of happy that I got this sick on my week off. I didn’t have any plans other than seeing Jill so I can pretty much spend the week moping on the couch with tissues all around me. I’d much rather be sick now than when I go back to work next Tuesday (I don’t want to go back to work next Tuesday!!). After all, we only just got back from being on strike, I’d feel all guilty about calling in sick. This week I don’t even have to think about work at all. So I can just focus on getting better.

Though, day 4 of the blocked nose has me convinced that I’m never getting better. I hate not being able to breathe through my nose! Argh!

So far there is no cough involved in this plague, so I guess it’s not a true plague. I am hoping the cough will stay away, though I might have just jinxed myself here. My chest is tight and sore when I breathe though, I’d like that clear up soon. Blech.

I don’t know who gave me this lovely gift but I’m going to be rude and let you know that I would like to return it. Not re-gift it even. I just want the money for it. Heck, at this point, I won’t even ask for the money, just take it back!

That being said, I’m not complaining about being sick on my week off. I’m honestly relieved that I am sick this week. I made it through work and Christmas without any problems and I hope to be all healthy for work next week. (Did I mention I don’t want to go back to work? – oo, I should check my lotto ticket from last Wednesday!)

Have to say, this is the worst cold I’ve had in a long time, too. The other times I thought I had colds, they mostly lasted one day and vanished. I think everyone needs one good cold a year. It keeps us on our toes (and keeps the tissue companies in business!) I have been taking Buckley’s Complete liquigels and they work like magic, but without the awful taste! Yay!

Hope the rest of you are healthier than we are here in the House of Plague. 😉

I shall go back to working on my 2011 in review post now which should be up Saturday at some point.