Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Favorite Things of 2014

I started the My Favorite Things posts a few years ago and now I look forward to doing them every year. It's so very fun to look back over the year and figure out what new (or new to me) things I discovered, enjoyed, and loved.

I've tried doing this for years, but finally got the true
bug for it this year. Love it!

I went for the first time finally and am
now addicted!

Speaking of addicted!
I marathon watched this last spring on
Netflix to catch up and now I can join
the rest of the fanatic world.

My most recent TV addiction. Love this show!

I've been a fit bit wearing for a couple of months
and can see how challenging each
other really does make you get up and walk more!
My new desk!!!

The book writing program that I'm still learning how to use.
Speaking of writing books,
sometimes they cause you to have really weird obsessions that
make life even that more interesting.
Like Skinwalkers for instance!
I have to buy these every time I go to Costco.
Then the family inhales them.

Loved this song.
But more on songs for another post!
That's all I can think of for now. I'm sure there's something I'll remember that I wish I'd included, but for now, I think it's a fun list!

What things did you love this past year?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Cary Elwes Experience!

As you know, we (my daughter and I) saw Cary Elwes at Comic Con in September and loved him. I mean, he's pretty much just like his Westley/Pirate character... charming, funny, and adorable.

The book in hand.

So after falling in love with him all over again at that event, we were so exited to find out he was coming to the local bookshop to sign and promote his new book, As You Wish, a memoir on the making of The Princess Bride. And then we were devastated to find out that we had a conflict and wouldn't be able to go.

Several weeks later, the bookshop announced that Cary himself had a conflict and so the date was changed! Now we could go! So I called to order the book, which was how they were selling tickets. One book purchase got two people in.

Shortly after I called, the event was sold out. Whew. Just in the nick of time!

Waiting for him to come!
Jenni, Kami and Toto

And finally, Monday night was the big event. We were so excited. All went smoothly. We got there early enough to get a fabulous seat. They had our book and tickets waiting. And then we realized that the signing line order would be according to when you bought the book. So we were toward the end... letter M. Kami and Jenni who ordered earlier, ended up in group C! Lucky ducks!

Anyway, the event started.  We cheered Cary onto the stage. A local author and employee of the bookshop, Ann Cannon, casually interviewed him, and then the audience asked a few questions. And it was so so short! I was so bummed that they didn't have that bit go a little longer.

The very short interview with Ann Cannon.

I wish I could have focused better
(I didn't want to use a flash)
it looks like he's looking right at me!
And then it was time to get our books signed. Actually, he'd already signed them, but if people wanted them personalized, that's what the line was for. So they laid out the rules... no posed pictures, no signing of anything but books, etc etc. The normal for someone of his status.

Kami and Jenni went and we waited for them to come back to us with their tales of meeting him. Jenni talked to him quite a bit but Kami was rendered speechless from his charm. And they said he asked them their names, and shook their hands it was all wonderful. We were so excited for our turn!

My phone was dying (from taking video clips of some of the stories he told) and they both said, no worries, we'll take pictures!

Finally, after about 45 minutes of waiting, it was our turn. I had prepared some things to say, just in case, and was really nervous. We went out to the hall and there wasn't really a line. I was like, wow, we are up NOW! And then we got to the table and the two girls just ahead of me didn't have books, they just wanted their up close and personal moment. So while they were saying hi to him the bookshop lady was yelling "WHERE'S THE NEXT BOOK? BOOK!!!! Book!  Next book!!!" And so I handed her my book and she shoved it to him and so he was opening it and starting to sign it before I was even there! I totally should have said to her "I'll give to him when I get there, thank you very much!"

Anyway, we "pushed" those girls out of the way and he was looking down, said our names as he wrote them down. When he said my daughter's name I said, "Yes, this is Toto!" hoping he would at least look up at her. And then he shook her hand and said Merry Christmas. And then I thought, crap, I'm not even going to get a hand shake if I don't be assertive here! So I stuck my hand out and he shook it and I said, "Thanks for coming" and he said "my pleasure" in a way cute British accent and then the next book was shoved at him and we off the assembly line.

After all that waiting and all that anticipation, I couldn't believe that our exchange was literally about 5 seconds. I turned to Kami and Jenni and said, "I guess that's what happens when you're at the end of the line" then I turned to snap another picture as I walked away. He heard me, turned to me again, smiled and said Merry Christmas one more time. And then I was embarrassed.

Merry Christmas!

And it all happened so fast that Kami couldn't even get her camera up fast enough and Jenni managed one picture! LOL!
The handshake.
You can see he's already looking down to the next book.

So... that's the story of our Cary Elwes encounter!

He is so nice and yes, charming and cute in his black leather jacket and red high tops, and I'm sure if he could, he'd spend more time but I suppose he had a deadline, a plane to catch or something. And also, the place where we were (the book store was using a school auditorium as they often do for big events) wanted to kick us out any second. And everyone was panicking.

But they knew what to expect. They are experts at all this. So my big complaint was... why couldn't they start the event sooner... and why didn't they rush the first groups through too if they were truly freaked about the timing? You know? And then I see other people who broke the rules and did posed pictures. This is where I get crazy and think, what makes them so much more special then everyone in line behind them that they can ignore the parameters? You know?

Sigh... again.

So, while he was very awesome and I was happy to even be there, it turned out to be a bit anticlimactic and somewhat of a let down. I hate it when that happens.

What signature, eh? I see a C and an E.
I guess that works!

I was going to show you my videos, but they are kinda long. (If you are interested, here's the link to the stories about Billy Crystal, and this one is about learning how to sword fight.) Instead, just watch this and you'll get the gist of what he said, along with some awesome pictures.

And because it simply must be shared, I give you the beginning of The Princess Bride including the swoony "as you wish" scenes!

So, despite the bit of a let down at the end, we had a great time and it was so fun to see him again!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review, Blog Tour and Giveaway: Begin Again by Brittney Mulliner

Book: Begin Again by Brittney Mulliner
Genre: YA Romance
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For: Blog Tour
From: Book Blast Blog Tours. All opinions are my own.

Short Synopsis: Escaping her past, Aubrey Tate moves to Southern California for a fresh start with her older brother, Brandon. Starting over at a new school seems easy with her cousin, Mckayla, and her two best friends at her side, but handling the new guys is another matter. Aubrey ends up in the middle of three rivals that each want her to themselves. Mike claims her first and declare himself her friend and protector. Luke is the school heartthrob that stops Aubrey in her tracks, speechless. Gage is the mysterious, dark outsider that Aubrey can be herself around. How will she navigate her new life while she's still haunted by her past?

My Response: A fun and fluffy story about a rich privileged girl, which I found interesting because it seems most of the YA stories are about characters who are struggling to survive. But this girl has it all, except one thing, she has crappy parents. Also, some pretty scary stuff happened that made her leave to go live with her brother. We only get a little taste of this incident and I was curious to know more. Maybe that's to come in the following books. But anyway, she acclimates really well and really fast and soon has her pick of several guys. While I enjoyed the story, I found myself rolling my eyes at much that happened. Maybe I just couldn't relate. It was almost like things were too easy... until the end when we get a glimpse that maybe all is not well after all.

Bottom Line: Fun, cute, easy to read romance full of a bunch of interesting characters.

Other Reviews:

Check out the other links on the blog tour including reviews, spotlights and more:

December 12th
A Writer’s Dream – Spotlight
BiblioSmiles – Spotlight
BookHounds YA – Interview
Coffee Books & Art – Spotlight
Home Is Where the Wine Is Book Blog – Spotlight
Margay Leah Justice – Review
December 13th
Getting Your Read On – Spotlight – Spotlight
Michigan Saving and More – Spotlight
Susan Heim on Writing – Spotlight
December 14th
Booky Thoughts and Me – Spotlight
CBY Book Club – Spotlight
Mythical Books – Spotlight
December 15th
Cassandra M’s Place – Spotlight
Mom With A Kindle – Spotlight
It’s All About Books – Review
December 17th
Kelly P’s Blog – Spotlight
Simply Sweet – Spotlight
KindleObsessed – Review
Mel’s Shelves – Review
Shelf of Imagination – Review
December 19th
Bound 2 Escape – Spotlight
Just Jeanae – Spotlight
ReadWriteLove28 – Review
Unwrittenwords – Review
Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Review

About the Author Brittney Mulliner:

Brittney has been an avid reader since she can remember. Her parents' form of punishment for her growing up was taking away her books and making her go outside to play. She was born and raised in Southern California, with a brief hiatus in Arizona. She loves the beach, exercising, sleeping in, and cookies. She is an obsessive dog lover, although her affection currently has no outlet. Something that she is planning on remedying soon. She currently lives in Utah while she and her husband finish college.

 Blog Tour Giveaway : $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 12/29/14

25_Amazon_PaypalOpen only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.

Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 12, 2014

Book Review Discussion: Atlantia by Ally Condie

Book: Atlantia by Ally Condie
Genre: YA Dystopian
Rating:★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
For: Fun and to Support Local Authors
From: Bought at the launch party a month or so ago

Short Synopsis: When the world started being too harsh to live in, the people sent some of their loved ones to live in a city below the water. They stayed above to send them supplies, knowing that they were sacrificing their lives so their families could live. Many years have passed and the city Below, Atlantia, is dying. Only a miracle can save them. Even though Rio has spent her whole life wanting to go Above, it appears she might be Atlantia's only hope.

My Response: It took me awhile to get into this one. A very slow moving book. But rich and beautiful in its description and world building. Also, very religious. This was something I wasn't expecting. The people below have created quite the stories and myths and strong base for their religion. Rio, our character, is deeply entrenched in this culture. It's a fascinating look at our own society and culture, and sometimes maybe too deep for me to even grasp. But I enjoyed the story and the relationships, especially what is said about sisters.

Bottom Line: I enjoyed it, though I must say, I wasn't glued to the pages.

Let's Talk About:  Sisters! What do you think? Do feel there's a special bond with sisters? Are you lucky enough to experience this? Tell me about it!

Other Reviews:

Though the plot is not particularly remarkable, the story sets itself apart from other books on the YA market with its elements: sisters driving the narrative instead of a love triangle, a protagonist who works with machinery and is not considered unfeminine, and a love interest who genuinely works for the good of the protagonist and is not around just because “romance sells.” From Pages Unbound

All of the elements that made the underwater city work and evolve fascinated me, and I loved seeing the blend of mythology and futuristic science. From A Backwards Story

The writing is vivid and rich, the world is fascinating, and Rio's story is compelling from the first page. From YA Book Queen

As she searches for her sister, she uncovers some pretty shocking family secrets, including one that involves the leaders of Atlantia. It was a good combination of personal strife and political intrigue. From Ex Libris

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Orem Library Holiday Author Extravaganza and Other Stuff

What an author party we had the other day! I don't think I've ever seen so many people at the library before. It was awesome!

I think I managed to talk to every author there except for Shannon Hale, which was kinda sad. I should have just said hi... sorry you've signed all my books already! Or something.

Anyway, here are a few pictures I managed to take during all the craziness:

This is the stack of books I took to get signed.
Most just from my house, only a couple purchased
special for this event.

Brandon Sanderson's line was SO LONG!
Here we are standing in it (the line on the left)
and Brandon Mull's line is the one on the right.
Brandon Sanderson signed books for four and a half hours
until everyone in his line was taken care of.

Here we are looking down the line:
Ann Dee Ellis
Natalie Whipple
Brandon Mull

Julianne Donaldson on the far left,
Shannon Hale
Ally Condie

The Brandons:
Sanderson on the left,
Mull on the right.

Looking down the line the other way:
Sarah M. Eden
Julianne Donaldson
Shannon Hale
Ally Condie
Brandon Sanderson
And I swiped this one from the library's Facebook page
because look who's right there in the front of the crowd
talking to Julianne Donaldson
and looking like a the nerdiest of all nerds!
It's me, wearing my Grinch t-shirt!
Another author that I did not get a picture of, Gerald Lund, was also there. He writes historical LDS fiction, among other things. I read his books years and years ago and have many of them, but only took the first one of his most popular series to get signed.

It was crazy fun!

And the rest of the day continued to be crazy fun! Here's just a sampling of what else we did that day:

Concerts and parties! Let the festivities begin!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

North and South Read Along January 2015

Have you seen the movie but never read the book? Have you read the book but never seen the movie? Have you somehow missed out on both of these experiences? Or maybe you've done both of them several times and love it so much you'd be happy to do it again?

If any of these scenarios fit you and your relationship with North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell then now is your chance to read, watch and discuss with other like minded fanatics!

Kami, Jenni and I have talked about doing a read along for this book all year and now, the year is just about over and we haven't done it! But we are going to start the new year with a bang and fit it in during January. And we want YOU to join us!

Kami has seen the movie countless times and therefore has fallen madly deeply in love with a certain actor we'll call Richard Armitage. But, she has never read the book. I'm feeling a huge responsibility to make this right! I feel like there's so much more to Mr. Thornton in the book. I can't wait for her to fall even more madly in love with this character.

And Jenni, she hasn't seen the more OR read the book. I'm so jealous of her that she has the experience of falling in love for the first time with both of these creations.

As for me, I think I've read the book two or three times. I can't remember. And watched all of the movie twice and certain parts over and over again. (Anyone wonder which bits I'm talking about? Ha!)

Does this sound like something you'd like to do with us during January? Which North and South category do you fit into? If you want to join us, write a post about our read along (to help us spread the word) and link up here.

The dates and reading sections we are proposing are this:

**January 1 to 10: Chapter 1 to 28
(Discussion hosted by Jenni Elyse.)

**January 11 to 20: Chapter 29 to 35
(Discussion hosted by Kami's Library Thoughts.)

**January 21 to 31: Chapter 36 to end
(Discussion hosted by It's All About Books.)

We'll post discussion and questions on our blogs and also host a twitter chat that day (or right near that day) to talk in real time. We'll have month long random Twitter discussions too. #NorthSouthRAL I hope to live tweet as I read, which always sounds fun, but always ends up harder than I think.

And then, to celebrate, we plan to watch the movie together at my house, probably the first Saturday in Feb. but we'll let you know as it gets closer. Any local readers can join us! And if you aren't local, you can join us in real time on Twitter and we can still watch together that way. (Yes, this movie is on Netflix... I think.) I've done that a few times before and it's a blast.

Don't have the book? No worries! It's free! Here's the link.

Have I convinced you to join us? If so, leave a link to your post here: (If you don't blog but have a Twitter, leave a link to that. If you don't do either one, but want to join us, be sure to comment and let us know!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors This Year

One thing I love about looking back at the year's reading experience, is what new authors did I discover? New to me authors that is. Some of them you might be thinking... what took you so long? Yeah, well... I'm trying!!!

Here's a few authors I discovered this year:

1. Kate Morton: We read her book, The Forgotten Garden, for book club and I'm anxious to find more of hers.

2. Rene Denfeld: a review book that I sort of accidentally ended up reading and it turned out to be one of the most unique books of the year.

3. Daniel Coleman: I talked to him at a local author event and was fascinated by the fact that he's a firefighter that writes fairy tale retellings on the side. I was blown away by how much I enjoyed his book about the Jabberwocky.

4. Lisa Jensen: Lovely retelling of Peter Pan from Hook's point of view. I will be keeping her name in my sights.

5. Heather Young: She approached me to read her book. I was glad I did it!

6. Kiera Cass: popular author of a popular series that I finally jumped into this year.

7. Sarah M. Eden: another popular local author who writes fun historical romance. I need to read more!

8. Cristin Terrill: she wrote a book I hadn't heard of until I read it, All Our Yesterdays, and I loved it!

9. Claudia Gray: I was asked to be part of blog tour for her and her new book, A Thousand Pieces of You, and I loved it! :)

10. Luanne Rice: I think she's written many books that have not been on my radar at all, but after reading a little book called The Letters this year, I might be paying more attention.

What new (to you) authors did you discover this year? Link up over at the Broke and the Bookish!


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