Friday, December 31, 2010

Farewell 2010

After doing my Top 10 books of 2010, I thought it would be fun to also do a list of my favorite memories/moments of the past year. Like the books, these are in no particular order.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter
This had to have been one of my favorite things of the year. I had been anticipating this park for quite some time and I told the Hubs that we were going to be going the same year it opened. We took our vacation in August and it was breathtaking. I felt like I was a part of Harry's world and the details were phenomenal. I can't wait to go back. 

 Second Wedding Anniversary
I know it's not a picture of the hubs and I, but for our anniversary we went to Chattanooga. While we were there Julie and her husband took us to the Aquarium and I just love this picture. Every year we try to go somewhere new for our anniversary and it's always fun planning for our new destination. 2011 will bring me back to Tucson, Arizona.

Book Festivals / Signings
This was definitely the year of books for me. I bought a lot and attended as many book related events as I could. The Alabama Book Festival started it all. I also attended the Decatur Book Festival which featured TONS of amazing authors (including Diana Gabaldon who I'm pictured with above) and individual signings for Rachel Hawkins, Lindsey Leavitt, Jen Lancaster, Kathryn Erskine, and Rachael Ray. I look forward to more festivals in 2011 including the LA Times Festival of Books (!!)

Auburn Writers Conference
 Not only was this my first conference, but it was also in my favorite town (and former home). I got to meet some really cool people and learn about various aspects of writing. The conference was Chantel's brainchild and she and everyone else did an amazing job.

Backstreet Boys concert
2010 finally allowed me to live out my teenage dream (and okay, current dream) of seeing the Backstreet Boys live in concert. Julie met me in Atlanta for a night of pure BSB Bliss and it was all I had hoped for and more. We had amazing seats and the only thing that could have made the night better would have been meeting them. I heart BSB.

Going to Auburn Football Games
 I had never gone to a non-high school football game until I started attending Auburn University in 2006. Once I started going, I was hooked and looked forward to the atmosphere. I now love Auburn Football and after moving away from Auburn, I was so happy to be able to go back and attend some SEC matchup games (Arkansas, LSU, and UGA) inside Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Hubs and I are going to try to get season tickets in 2011.

Auburn winning SEC Championship / Playing in National Championship
If going to games made the list, so does Auburn winning the SEC Championship game and making it into the National Championship game. I look forward to the games and I never imagined that we'd be undefeated and playing in Arizona a few months ago. War Eagle to that.

Meeting Amazing People
I have met SO many amazing people this year and feel so blessed to have turned cool internet friends into some of the best friends I've ever had. Not all of us live in the same town but we live close enough to get together at least once a month. They're all incredible and it never ceases to amaze my husband just how similar we all are to each other and how similar all our husbands are.

To the year 2010, you've brought me great friends and good times. I'll remember you for it but I'm excited to see what 2011 has in store. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I can't help myself..

Yet another year is about to come to a close and although I'm not quite sure where it went, I want to leave you with my top 10 favorite books of 2010.

Let it be known that it was a hard decision. There were over fifty contenders but the following ten stuck with me for one reason or another. All books were enjoyed by me at some time this year, not necessarily published in 2010.

Without further ado, I give you my Top 10 books of 2010 (in no particular order):

Anna and the French Kiss
  I waited for all of 2010 to find out what my favorite book of the year would be and of course I didn't find her until almost the last minute. Jessica was kind enough to share her ARC with a few people in our writing group and after all the high praise, it was my turn. I feared that the hype would make me a little disappointed with the book but I quickly fell in love and all the fears vanished. I couldn't get enough and Etienne gave me pit-of-the-stomach-butterflies that only a few other characters (Marcus Flutie and Jamie Fraser) have done. Talk about saving the best for last.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares
I know I say I love covers a lot but I LOVE this cover. It's cute and fun and totally mirrors those characteristics from the story. I flew through this book so fast thanks to the great writing and the back and forth between Dash and Lily. The ending left a little to be desired, but everything else made up for it. 

Hex Hall
You had to have known Hex Hall would be on my list, didn't you? This book gets major cover love from me, of course, but the story, the voice, the writing was all fantastic. Sophie is a great character and someone I'd totally want to be friends with. I must admit, I liked her so much because how many characters move from Arizona to the Dirty South when they're around the same age you were when you made that same move? Plus, I've gotten to know Rachel Hawkins in 2010 and this book is SO her. She brings her personality and the funny to every single page and she just makes it seem so effortless. She has a reader for life right here and if she were to publish her grocery list, I bet you it would be frexing hysterical.

Before I Fall
I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book from the description and I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought that it sounded like the high school version of Groundhog Day. Lauren Oliver did an amazing job with her debut book and if I hadn't known it was her first book going into it, I would have been shocked. The characters in this book had such depth and felt so real to me, it was like I knew them at some point in life. Even the girl you're supposed to hate had me feeling sorry for her by the end.

When I first heard about this book, I kind of rolled my eyes and thought, "oh great, another paranormal book." Then I found out there were fairies and I REALLY didn't think I would like it. However, after sharing a few tweets with Kiersten and seeing how sweet (and cute as a button) she was, I was ready to start reading. The cover is gorgeous and when my signed copy came in the mail (Thanks again Jess!), I started it right away. It was fun and I loved that Evie had a pink bedazzled taser (appropriately named Tasey) in her life and that she didn't fall for some hot, undead guy from her Biology class. Even the fairies were tolerable (and I really hate fairies). I can't wait for Supernaturally to come out and see what happens next for Evie.

If I Stay 
 I'm a crier. When it comes to books or movies and I know something is going to make me sad, I avoid it. I kept hearing how great this book was and received this book as a gift and not knowing much about it, I picked it up. It's a good thing I didn't know much about it before starting, otherwise I would have put off reading it until I felt ready for a good cry. There were parts in this book that opened a fairly fresh wound of personal loss and hit VERY close to home that caused my tears to flow to the point I couldn't see. The writing was beautiful and this is one of those books that will stay with me for a long time. I'm really looking forward to Where She Went in 2011.

First I have to say, Kody Keplinger makes me feel so..behind in life. She wrote and had this book published as a teenager. If that's not the mark of awesome, I don't know what is. Kody definitely used her age to her advantage when writing Bianca. She was cynical, sarcastic, and everything a seventeen year old girl is. I did have a few issues with the book but regardless, I LOVED it. It was very easy for me to go back to when I was seventeen and be able to know how Bianca was feeling and because of that, she was one of the characters I was able to most relate with.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians / The Heroes of Olympus
Rick Riordan's books captivated me like you wouldn't believe. I ate these stories up and you could throw a hundred more books about Camp Half-Blood at me and I still wouldn't get tired of them. I don't know what it is about these books and their spin-offs, but I absolutely adore them. I've always enjoyed mythology and these books are just plain fun. I cannot wait until the 2nd Heroes of Olympus book makes it way in front of me.

Oh, Suzanne Collins. This was the most anticipated book in 2010 and rightly so. I first read The Hunger Games last year and I remember finishing chapter 2 and telling my husband what had already happened. Instead of the blank stare and him just saying "ok...?" he said that it actually sounded interesting and like something he might like! So thank you Suzanne for having an amazing trilogy that would get my husband to listen to audiobooks. Some people didn't like Mockingjay for whatever reason, but I thought it was a nice, and the right, ending for such a fabulous work. Team Katniss for life.

The Darkest Powers Trilogy 
When it comes to book recommendations, there are people who like the same thing I like and I trust them completely. I haven't been steered wrong yet. When my friend Leah told me I should give Kelley Armstrong's trilogy a try, I got it from my library that week and was hooked. It was a fun ride and as I was reading it, it felt like I had a movie playing in my head. It was fitting because that's how Chloe processed things in the book, as if looking through her camera. I remember having the second book on hand for when I finished the first, and it was after midnight when I did. I couldn't stop thinking about what was going to come next that I got up, grabbed book 2, and read the first three chapters.

My honorable mentions include:
Looking for Alaska
 The Dark Divine
Forget You

Some Girls Are
Sean Griswold's Head

Did any of my Top 10 books make your Top 10 list?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Fitness Friday (1)

My girl Stella is also doing P90X and asked me to join her in Fitness Friday so here I am!

There's not much to report on my end though. I know I was going to start last month but I got sick and then when it came time for the Hubs and I to start, I kept putting it off. One reason was that since we were going to be working out together, we'd have to do it when he came home from work. I would rather do it earlier in the day and relax at night so I made an executive decision.

We have now officially started, I work out during the day and he does the same thing that night when he gets home. This way we're still doing the same thing and holding each other accountable, but at the time that serves best for each of us.

I am definitely feeling soreness in the muscles I've started using. We still need to get some bands for some of the work outs, but I created my own modification for those using weights.

The Hubs is currently having some shoulder issues that make even getting in and out of the car hard, so we're going to wait to continue until he feels he's able to do so. I guess it works out though because his dad is staying with us for a few days for Christmas.

I'm really excited to continue, especially knowing that I'm doing something to make myself healthier and happier.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In My Mailbox (9)

In My Mailbox was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren and all you have to do is post about what books you received that week by mail, library, or store.

For the first time in a few weeks, I've gotten more than two or three books.

About two weeks ago Simon and Schuster had a Groupon deal for $40 of books for $20 so you know I had to jump on that. When I was able to use my code, I ordered:

I've already read Forget You but I had to have this one for my collection. I can't wait to get started on the others. 

Then I came across a coupon for our local used bookstore for a buy one, get one free and I had to go take advantage of that. I bought Kay Cassidy's The Cinderella Society and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares. I must admit, part of the reason I bought the Sisterhood books was due to the color. I needed a little more yellow and purple on my color-coded portion of my bookshelf. Don't mock me.

Lastly, I took part in a Christmas gift exchange and my lovely elf, Becca, sent me Brenna Yovanoff's The Replacement. Thanks B! I can't wait to read it!

What do you think of my books? Have you read any of them? What did you get this past week?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Well, well, well..

Look who decided to finally come out of hiding. Yup, ME! Miss me?

I know I haven't been around much lately, but the last three weeks seem to have just flown by. I was sick for about a week and a half and of course the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part one fell right smack in the middle of that. Yes, I put on my "I've been waiting forever to see this movie, I'm not letting a little illness get in my way" hat and went to the midnight show. It was AMAZING! I don't have to tell you that though, do I? You've probably already seen it and if you haven't then get thee to a theater now. Please?

This past week I have started a new earring making hobby. Want to know something kind of funny? I don't even have my ears pierced so I can't even wear my hobby. So I've opened an ETSY shop and you can check it out here if you'd like. I don't have much on there yet since I've only started a few days ago, but I'm going to be a busy bee next week and hope to add a lot more stuff soon.

If you know me AT ALL you will know that I'm a huge Auburn fan. I'm not going to gush because I pretty much did that here a few months ago. A lot has happened since I wrote that but nonetheless, I have always been (well, since 2006*) and always will be proud to be an Auburn Tiger. The following graphic pretty much describes the last few weeks pretty nicely, so I'll say WAR DAMN EAGLE and leave it at this:

Sadly, I will not be cheering my team on in Glendale, Arizona but the Hubs and I, along with our close friend will be traveling instead back to Auburn to watch the game there. If things go the way I hope, we'll end up at Toomer's Corner and take part in rolling the corner and making it white with toilet paper.

I must say I'm pretty bummed about not going to Arizona next month. It's not just because Auburn will be playing in the National Championship game (YAY), but because I have family and friends there that I haven't seen in years and also because I really want to meet Becca.

Hopefully I won't go this long without a non-meme post. I'm not going to promise anything because we all know how busy December gets, but you should be hearing more from me soon.

Have a great weekend!

*I grew up a tumbleweed and only moved to Alabama when I was in 8th grade. I had no clue about the Alabama/Auburn rivalry until I moved here and one of the first questions I was asked in school was "Alabama or Auburn?" I was asked so many times I was forced to pick one so I picked Auburn because my favorite color was blue and I always liked Tigers. My real fan-ness didn't come until 2006 when I became a student at Auburn University. Now I'm an Auburn girl for life. You may mock the whole Auburn Family thing, but it's real. You feel a connection with all Auburn people and when you're in freakin'  Haines, ALASKA on your honeymoon (like we were) and hear someone say War Eagle, it's special.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

In My Mailbox (8)

In My Mailbox was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren and all you have to do is post about what books you received that week by mail, library, or store.

I may have had the chance to read Anna and the French Kiss by debut author Stephanie Perkins due to an ARC tour a month ago, but it wasn't my copy to keep. You know I had to pre-order a copy for my collection. Yes, it was the only book I got this past week but it's by far, a favorite of the year. I can't wait to read it again!

What books did you receive this past week? Have you read Anna and the French Kiss yet? If you haven't, you really should. Happy reading (and WAR EAGLE to any Auburn fans).