Monday, January 6, 2014

OhMyGod. It's a Post!

Hey guys!

(For those of you who want to skip the life update and go straight to the bookish stuff, check out the last paragraph).

Wow. I bet you'd thought you'd seen the last of me. No posts since July? Crazy. Then again, most of you know I'm currently in my last year of my Master's program, and unfortunately, keeping up with grad school and teaching has pretty much meant no time for book blogging (much less fun reading). Until two or three days ago, I hadn't read a "fun" book since my last blog post, which was six months ago. Yikes. That sounded even worse when I had to type it. Truth is, this semester has easily been the most challenging, stressful semester in my life. With my coursework, teaching two different classes (instead of two sections of the same class), writing my thesis proposal, and putting together my Ph.D. applications, I've averaged about 3-4 hours of sleep a night since August. Not kidding. To make things worse, my semester ended with the unexpected death of a friend, along with Christmas, and me being a bridesmaid in the wedding of another friend, all occurring within a week and a half of each other. 

I'm not trying to turn this into a pity party (though it definitely feels a little bit that way now) . . . I just want you guys to get a feel for what's been going on with me over the last few months. Because I didn't get to blog this semester. Not once.  Not even to check in. And that's okay, because grad school is important, and even though it sometimes feels like I will be in school forever, I won't be, and maybe life will eventually get a little less chaotic. I really do miss book blogging. I miss getting to interact with such a warmhearted community of book lovers on a regular basis. I miss keeping up on all the latest publications. Though, admittedly, blogging can be stressful at times, I miss the relaxation it offered--being able to share things I loved (or didn't) with people who cared. I miss getting up in the morning and getting to sit down with my cup of coffee and read through all of your wonderful posts. 

I realize that my longtime followers and book-loving friends will tell me not to worry about keeping up with the blog, because it's something that will be waiting for me when I finally have the time. And I know that at some point, the book blogging community will welcome me back with all the kindness and support they've shown me over the years. I guess I'm just having a moment of nostalgia and even a little bit of regret, having to give up something I enjoyed so much in order to pursue something else, which is also incredibly important to me.

Anyways, the serious part of this post is over, and now I want to focus on good things! Over the last week, I have gotten the chance to continue Ann Aguirre's fantastic Sirantha Jax series. I just finished the fifth book, Aftermath, last night. I've already ordered the final book in the series, Endgame, and I'm planning on finishing it this week before school starts again on Monday. Getting the chance to read Killbox and Aftermath has been the highlight of my winter break, both because Aguirre really is a kickass author, and because getting to read such thoroughly enjoyable books that I got to pick out to read for fun has given me some relief from the insanity.



This brings me to the question I've been wanting to ask you all: what were YOUR favorite reads of 2013 (or, if you've been on the ball, your favorite read so far of 2014)? They can be books that were published last year or ones that you just read last year, but I'd love to know your recommendations for some awesome reading. If you reviewed the book(s), leave me the links so I can check them out. And most of all, I wish you all the best in 2014. I hope I'll get to check in now and again, but if not, I'll see you when I see you! :)

17 comments:

  1. Hey Natalie! You really are quite a busy lady. I could never handle all that. I think it's bad enough just being in grad school, working and doing the blog. I can't imagine having to teach classes and all the rest! And I'm in grad school, yes, but it's the beginning so I don't have to work on any FINAL big projects yet either. So best of luck and I hope you enjoy what you can! I'm also sorry about your friend's passing. *hugs*

    As for 2013, I'm the one who added a ton to their wish list but didn't get to read many of the big titles I'm sure others will recommend. However, if you like mysteries/thrillers/what-have-you, I would recommend Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. Really really good, and my sister just read it and loved it too. My review is here: http://shootingstarsmag.blogspot.com/2013/09/review-dangerous-girls-by-abigail-haas.html

    happy new year,

    Lauren

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    1. Thanks Lauren! I really appreciate it. Best of luck with your own grad school pursuits! What are you studying again? I know we've chatted about it, but I can't seem to remember.

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    2. Thanks! No problem - I can never remember much. LOL I'm studying Library and Information Science. My main goal is to work in a library, whether public or academic.

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  2. So great to hear from you Natalie. I'm sorry school has been so hectic, but glad that the end is near. I bet you'll be excited to finish. I forget - what are you studying?
    My favorite 2013 was probably Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

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    1. Thanks Alison! I'm studying English (what else is there but books?) Lol. Love it, but lots to do!

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  3. Natalie!!! Wow, I can't believe how much you got going on! I'd never be able to handle that much krazyness. I'm glad you're surviving though!

    I had never heard of those books but I have read the first two books in Aguirre's "Razorland" trilogy and got the first one signed when she was in KC a couple months back. They're pretty cool although my favorite reads of 2013 were the Gallagher Girl books by Ally Carter. I read the first one last January and finished the last one on Christmas (and I read book #5 three times in a month). It's an amazing series =)

    Hope the new year goes well for you!

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    1. The Gallagher Girls books probably wouldn't be something that I'd normally pick up on my own, but I have heard some great things about Ally Carter. How are you, by the way? It's weird that we're in the same place and we get to see so little of each other! Then again, I don't have much of a social life. I pretty much see my roommates, classmates, coworkers, and students, and that's about it!

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  4. Yay Natalie! I'm not sure how I made it through my Masters and still blogged... Kate picked up a lot of the slack I guess. :) Anyways, I made a list of my 2013 faves. :)

    Best Books of 2013

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  5. Hi Natalie,

    You're my hero. After getting my undergrad, I'm hoping to teach and get through a Masters program, so to know that you're doing what I want to eventually do and you're surviving... that's awesome.

    Glad to see you getting back in the swing of things, as much as you can right now.

    I liked a lot of the books that I read during 2013 (it was a very good year for more than just book blogging), but a few of my favorites were 'Beauty Queens' by Libba Bray, 'Bridget Jones's Diary' by Helen Fielding, and 'The Girl's Guide to Homelessness' by Brianna Karp.

    Feel free to stop by for a visit if you have time! Have a great week!

    http://judesenglish10.blogspot.com

    --Jude

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  6. *hugs* Grad school is insanely busy and I completely understand how easy it is to not have time for reading. One semester, I "sneaked in" reading during fall break and that was it. I also seem to recall that the thesis proposal is like adding another class to your schedule, which... yeah. Makes that fall semester craaaaaaazy. I hope this semester will slow down a bit for you. I know my last one did. ;)

    Hmm. This may be a 2012/2013 crossover, but I'm in love with the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer. (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress later this month)

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  7. wow you are busy and that's fine. best book I read was written in RED :) grad school is so worth it, as someone who finally went back lol

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  8. So glad to hear from you. Don't worry about the not blogging. We'll be here when you have time. And not surprised you don't have time to read for pleasure. My daughter's in high school and she doesn't either.

    One debut book I loved was All Our Yesterdays, a time travel dystopian. Won't add any more book as don't want to stress you out with a list of books to drool over.

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  9. YaY! You!! Love that you are going for the PhD. You will probably have less time when that starts. However, so glad you checked in here! :)

    My fave book in 13? Um... I don't even remember what year I read what in. LOL Seriously, I would have to look back and then decide what is my fave. Too hard... can't pick one above my children you know! :) So far this year though I enjoyed Shatter Me (audio), Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen and Cruel Beauty. The last 2 will be pubed later this year.

    Have lots of fun finishing the masters and going for the PhD! Dr. Mindful Musings! :D

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  10. Hey Natalie! So, this is kind of weird because I actually discovered your blog AFTER you’d stopped writing regularly, but I have loved spending time going through the archives. I really enjoy your posts a lot. I think it’s really interesting that you’re pursuing a PhD in English Literature, and would actually be really interested in a post about your studies… I’m in my last semester of my BA in English Literature and am considering doing a Masters and a PhD eventually, but don’t really feel too confident about what I would be getting myself into.

    As for my favourite book of 2013, I did not really have a good reading year… however, some titles that I really liked were The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, Fire and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, and Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. Most were not 2013 releases, so perhaps you’ve already read some of them.

    Kaitlyn @ Bookish Comforts

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  11. Hey Natalie! So, this is kind of weird because I actually discovered your blog AFTER you’d stopped writing regularly, but I have loved spending time going through the archives. I really enjoy your posts a lot. I think it’s really interesting that you’re pursuing a PhD in English Literature, and would actually be really interested in a post about your studies… I’m in my last semester of my BA in English Literature and am considering doing a Masters and a PhD eventually, but don’t really feel too confident about what I would be getting myself into.

    As for my favourite book of 2013, I did not really have a good reading year… however, some titles that I really liked were The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton, Fire and Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore, The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie by Wendy McClure, and Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. Most were not 2013 releases, so perhaps you’ve already read some of them.

    Kaitlyn @ Bookish Comforts

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    1. Hey Kaitlyn! I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed some of my posts, even after I stopped blogging regularly! :) I would love to chat with you about Master's or doctorate programs if you're ever interested, you can just shoot me an e-mail at my blog address (which I still check regularly). Honestly, I applied to my MA kind of on a whim. I didn't know what I would do with just my BA, and I liked what I was studying a lot, so I figured why not do another two years? It ended up being a great decision. One semester in, and I'd decided to get my Ph.D. My MA has focused a lot on Victorian literature, popular culture, critical theory (especially gender studies), and I plan to try for a similar route with my Ph.D. It's been a stressful but awesome experience, and I wouldn't trade it for anything! Like I said, shoot me a message if you ever want to chat or have questions! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Hi Natalie, just stopping by to say how delightful your blog is. Thanks so much for sharing. I have recently found your blog and am now following you, and will visit often. Please stop by my blog and perhaps you would like to follow me also. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Chris
    http://chelencarter-retiredandlovingit.blogspot.ca/

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I'd love to hear your opinion! Comments are a fantastic way to build discussion and make connections with other book lovers. If you're a fellow book blogger, know that I will do my best to return the favor by visiting your blog. I also frequently respond to comments on Mindful Musings, so feel free to check back for a reply!

 
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