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Friday Fun! (May: Cooking, Fitness, Writing, Spring Cleaning, and Reading Of Course!)

Spring means I get to read outside in the sun for my lunch break!

Spring means I get to read outside in the sun for my lunch break!

Hello my lovely readers!

As previously promised, Friday Fun has now become a monthly check-in on the last Friday on the month to touch base with you guys and help you get to know (or stay in the know on) the blogger behind the reviews (and the novels/novellas/short stories of course).

May was a busy month for me.  I attended a conference for medical librarians, which invaded this blog a bit, as I summarized what I learned for both myself and for other librarians.  Thanks to that conference, I worked 12 days in a row, so I took off a few days the week after to give myself a nice long weekend.  On that long weekend, I did some spring cleaning and got started on sorting through and getting rid of stuff.  I usually do this in the spring, but I’m doing it with more vigor this year as my boyfriend and I are planning on moving in together when my lease is up.  I’m of course incredibly happy to be moving in with my partner but also nervous!  To that end, if any of you want to check out my ebay store, there’s mostly lp’s/records, clothes, and of course, books!  This is also why I’ve been reading so many books for my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge.  Most of my print books are for that challenge, and I’m trying to clear off my shelves.

My vacation also consisted of a lot of cooking.  Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies, and I hadn’t had much of a chance to make more complex recipes since I was so busy and exhausted.  I made: 4 hour lasagna (I call it that since it takes me…4 hours to make), twice-baked rutabagas, and pumpkin monkey bread muffins.  You can see all of the recipes over on my Pinterest Pinned It And Did It board.

This month also brought back the real motorcycle riding season.  My boyfriend got me an awesome vegan jacket (for safety) and a helmet (obviously, for safety), and we’ve been going on some nice evening rides together.  I’m looking forward to some longer ones out into western Mass later in the season.  I also got to dig my bicycle out of winter retirement and go on my first ride of the season.  I’m pleased to say my legs stayed in much better shape over this winter season than previous ones, although my seat bones weren’t so happy with the first ride. Ow.

In related work-out news, my gym’s 60 day challenge completed last week.  I had signed up for the body composition challenge, which was about body fat percent rather than body weight.  Over the course of the two months my body fat percent went down by 1.2%, and I gained 2 pounds of muscle!  I was totally shocked by those results, as I mostly just kept on doing my regular fitness routine, where I focus in on being healthy and acquiring more personal bests in weights/cardio/etc… I mostly wanted to see what impact my routine really has on my body, and it clearly is helping me build muscle.  I’m very excited about that.

I’m also pleased to report that writing is progressing on the sequel to Ecstatic Evil! I’m really in a paranormal frame of mind right now, and I’m having fun with it.  I hope to give the Tova fans the sequel as soon as possible.

In reading news, this month I read 7 books, which is the most I’ve read so far this year in a month.  I’m not even going to try to guess as to what made it go up, but I’m glad that it did!  I read a wide variety including scifi, urban fantasy, historical fiction, thriller/mystery, and horror, and I read across all reading platforms (ebook, print, and audio).  I have yet to write up reviews for 4 of these books, so rest assured, more reviews are coming!  For June I intend to continue my focus on predominantly choosing books that appeal to me most in that moment, although I would like to knock out at least one from my Bottom of the TBR Pile Challenge that is unappealing.  Additionally, I got an arc for the next book in Madeline Ashby’s artificial intelligence series that is releasing next month, as well as the final book in Jackie Morse Kessler’s series that is also releasing in June, and I’d like to read/review both of those around their release dates.

How were your Mays? What was your favorite read of the month?

Friday Fun! (Where the Hell Has This Weekly Meme Been Anyway?)

March 30, 2013 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

So, I knew I hadn’t written a Friday Fun post in a while, but was floored to see it hadn’t happened since November 16, 2012.

o_O

I know we all hate it when bloggers talk about their crazy busy lives, even though it’s true, because, hello, we all have busy lives!  Suffice to say, what I thought was a busy phase is actually the new stasis of my life.  I’m proud of the fact that I’m still managing to find time to blog, because I do love book blogging.  But I want to continue to touch base with you all periodically.  Weekly is just too overwhelming though.  So I’ve decided to move Friday Fun to just occurring on the last Friday (or Saturday) of every month.  Treating it more like a special event instead of a weekly meme will help me keep up and enjoy it.  I hope you all enjoy the new change!

On a similar note, I am still closed to review requests, and I don’t expect that to be changing anytime soon.  I still periodically request ARCs, if I’m highly interested, but that is a rare occurrence.  I also, you may have noticed, switched my reading from about 50% things I felt I “should” be reading (for ARCs, to better myself, etc….) down to about 10%.  This means 90% of my reading is for funsies, because frankly I need that stress relief in my life.  Reading “should’s” worked great when I was in a life limbo and needing to fill the time with actual things to do that made me feel like I was accomplishing something.  But now when I read, I want it to be for fun.  I need it to be a stress reliever.  Something that helps give me a few moments of internally-focused peace in my day.   So any changes you’ve noticed in the books being reviewed here reflect that choice I made at the beginning of 2013.

As for my non-blog life!  The holidays happened.  I taught my first library orientation by myself for the incoming class of one of the schools affiliated with my library.  I created my first library tutorials.  I finished my first archival finding aid.  Those have been the big-hitters in work life.  In regular, non-librarian Amanda life I went on vacation with my boyfriend to an off-the-grid cabin!  We snowshoed and built fires in wood stoves and generally thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.  I went home to visit my dad in Vermont and learned how to make the perfect grilled cheese.  I got an iPhone.  I became addicted to Instagram and taking photos in general.  I survived Blizzard Nemo and got my first real snowday in *years*.  I learned how to play the Call of Cthulhu tabletop game.  Finally, I just last week joined my gym’s 60 day fitness competition, and I am loving how much it has reinvigorated my passion for fitness.  And I’m still trying to figure out how to be a part-time indie author in amongst all of this.

How was everyone’s March?  Ours came in like a lion and out like a lamb, just like the old saying goes. 🙂

Friday Fun! (Updates! Boston Organics, Halloween, and Hurricane Sandy)

November 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Hello my lovely readers!  I know you can all tell I’ve been very busy since there hasn’t been a Friday Fun from me in….over a month. I am pleased that I managed to at least keep a few posts trickling in, but even so I have three books waiting to be reviewed. No one thing in particular has kept me busy, it’s just….life is busy!  So, beyond my usual work, reading, exercising, cooking, general hanging out, what have I been up to?

First off, a friend told me all about Boston Organics, and I signed up for it!  Basically you get a box of fresh produce delivered to your door either every week or every other week. You can choose organic or organic and local. I chose organic and local.  So far it has been totally awesome and removed my sense of boredom I had recently acquired over choosing recipes. Getting produce chosen and sent to me challenges my cooking skills, and I’m really enjoying it!  Plus knowing that my food is coming locally, organic, and fresh makes me feel good both about what I’m feeding myself (and my boyfriend), but also makes me feel good about supporting local farmers.

Of course Halloween also happened.  Friends of mine are on the organizing committee for a Boston area scifi/fantasy group (I am so nerdy), and so boyfriend and I went to their costume party. We were Gem and Sam from Tron, and it was awesome. My friends did a great job organizing, and it was the nicest Halloween I’ve had in a while.  We also carved pumpkins! Since my current work in progress is set in the Lovecraft universe, I decided to do Cthulhu!

Cthulhu jack-o-lantern.

Ia ia Cthulhu fthagan!

Hurricane Sandy also arrived. Thankfully, it really did not affect Boston very much. Most people either didn’t have work or got sent home mid-day. The T stopped running partway through the day as well. I briefly lost power, but frankly Nstar did an amazing job maintaining power to homes in Boston during this storm.  I was a bit disturbed that my building was shaking, but truly nothing adverse happened.  My cat spent the morning trying to dive out the window to chase the wind-whipped leaves (her survival instinct is clearly amazing *eye-roll*) but by afternoon needed some serious snuggles. I actually had to wrap her up in her favorite fuzzy blanket to calm her poor little kitten nerves.  I was saddened to see that the National Park I worked at through Americorps in New Jersey suffered severe damage.  Almost every single historical building was flooded, but more importantly, the dunes that the endangered piping plovers nest on were demolished.  It’s very sad, and I can only hope that Americorps will have enough funding to send larger conservation teams than usual there in the spring.

Currently, I’m revving up for Thanksgiving this week!  Since neither boyfriend nor I can make it home to our respective home states to visit, we’ll be making our own vegetarian Thanksgiving. The planned menu is chili and pumpkin pie with vegan maple whipped cream. Nom!

Be expecting some book reviews to come up!  I’m hoping to get caught up writing them this weekend.

Happy weekends all!

Friday Fun! (Blogger and Writer News, Ahoy!)

October 12, 2012 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

Just a couple of quick blogger and writer related updates for you all this week.

First off in very exciting blogger news, you all may remember me telling you about the new initiative called Bookstore Book Blogger Connection, which is all about connecting online reviewers and reviews with brick and mortar bookstores.  Welp. I popped on over there to check in on how things are going and lo and behold there were some photos from a bookstore showing off their new displays with book blogger quotes, and my recommendation for Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner was one of the two shown off!

Pile of books with a recommendation placard.

Not that this isn’t cool enough already, but what moved it up a level in the squee factor is that this is from a bookstore in the Netherlands! The American Book Center to be exact.  And they look pretty damn cool.  There’s something that’s just extra-exciting about being part of a bookstore that isn’t even in my country.  So thanks, guys, for sending the shots to the Bookstore Book Blogger Connection website. You gave this blogger warm glowy feelings, and I do hope the display helped introduce more readers to the awesomeness that is John Brunner’s writing.

In writerly news, I got to participate in Ang’s blogoversary over on Eastern Sunset Reads.  She gave Waiting For Daybreak her top rating of four paws (out of a possible four), saying, “I was expecting Waiting for Daybreak to be a book mostly about zombies and fighting them, but what I found was more a journey into a survivor’s psyche. I don’t know what was scarier, the zombies or being in Frieda’s mind.”

I also was able to contribute a guest post to her blogoversary where I talked about her theme for the month on where a love of reading came from for me.  My guest post is quite personal, and I really enjoyed writing it.  Big thanks to Ang for inviting me to be part of her special month!

Although my blog tour is not still going on, book bloggers are always welcome to request review copies of both my novel and my novella.  I appreciate any and all signal boosts. 🙂

That’s it for the news for this week!  I hope you all have completely awesome weekends. *waves*

Friday Fun! (Welcome, Fall!)

October 5, 2012 2 comments

Hello my lovely readers!  It is finally fall in lovely New England. If I was forced to pick, I’d choose fall as my favorite season, although winter would come in a very close second.  I might not feel this way in other areas of the US where there is no leaf changing or crisp autumnal weather or orchard season.  But here all of these awesome things exist, so yayyyy!

Things I love about Fall, in no particular order:

  • Cooler weather, which means I don’t immediately look like I ran a 5k when I step out my door
  • Fall fashion, particularly knee high socks! And denim jackets! And getting to wear my hair down periodically!
  • Also my hair no longer looks like I stuck my finger in a light socket.
  • Pumpkins!
  • Pumpkin. Spice. Latte. (with soy)
  • Pie
  • Fall leaves
  • Kicking fall leaves
  • Hiking in the woods
  • Hot chocolate
  • Spiked hot chocolate
  • Giant pots of tea
  • The perfect weather for snorgling
  • Gourds
  • Pie
  • Did I mention pie?
  • Squash dishes
  • Slow cooker season!
  • Long hot baths
  • Halloween!
  • Related: horror everywhere. Oh how I love horror.
  • Cinnamon and nutmeg in everything
  • CIDER for the love of fsm, I almost forgot cider.

I had a long weekend this weekend, which was partially a reward to myself for making it through what I have been told are the toughest two months in medical academic libraries’ calendar year and also partially to spend some time with my bf who just got back from a two week trip abroad.  🙂  Many things on this list were covered, including pumpkin spice latte and pie.  We made an apple pie together with apples we got from the orchard ourselves, and it was amazingly delicious.  Special thanks to my daddy for sharing his pie crust secrets.

As for the blog, you may have noticed that my most recent read was actually four books in one, and you really should check it out particularly if you are a scifi or 1950s American culture fan.  That slowed the reviews down a bit, but I have this new rule where I won’t kick myself over my book numbers being lower because I read a long book (or two. or three!).  Big books shouldn’t be left on the sidelines purely for being big. 😉

Happy weekends and happy fall, all!

Friday Fun! (Camping and Where I Have Been!)

September 15, 2012 4 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

Yes, I realize it’s technically Saturday, but things have been rather quiet around here the last couple of weeks, and I didn’t want to leave you hanging any longer!  So why have things been so quiet?

Well, first, it was Labor Day weekend here in the States, and I actually for once went on vacation for it. Shocking, I know.  I went camping in the Green Mountains.  This was the view from my tent:

Gorgeous, eh?  And it was such a great break!  Zero technology. My cell phone didn’t even have reception.  I got disgustingly filthy, and I loved it.  I went for a swim in the pond and for a hike and cooked over a campfire.

Oh, yes, and the boy I’ve been dating asked me to be his girlfriend, and I said yes. 😀 He’s an awesome boyfriend, and I love him.

Beyond the vacation and personal development, it’s the start of the semester at work, so I’ve been incredibly busy with beginning of the semester library classes, orientations, and just general helping out the new students.  Also, the audiobook I’m currently reading while completely *awesome* (Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi), is also super-long.  The other book I was reading on my kindle that will be reviewed next week was kind of dullsville, so had trouble holding my interest.  All of these things came together to make for a bit of silence, BUT!  Never fear. I will always return! With bells on. 😀

Happy weekends all!

 

Friday Fun! (Relaxation and Final Week of Blog Tour Updates)

August 31, 2012 3 comments

Hello my lovely readers!

I had the best weekend last weekend. It included bicycle rides, farm stands, picnics, and listening to a record player. Super relaxing. 🙂  Which is a good thing because this week was orientation for another school (think of them as like departments) at my university.  Busy busy!  I found ways to relax though.  I of course got in my gym time.  I don’t always manage to do spin classes because of how the timing works with my schedule, but I was able to this week.  I was really pleased to see that my leg strength has drastically improved.  My level ten of difficulty used to be gear twelve. Now it’s gear eighteen. Yay!  I also started playing a new videogame this week.  I picked up Donkey Kong Country Returns for my wii.  It’s super fun!  Very old school side-scroller but still integrates the wii motion controllers in well.  I do die a lot in it, but I’ve never been a great videogamer. I just enjoy it.

This was the final week of the Waiting For Daybreak blog tour!  I’ll be posting my author’s wrap-up with thoughts on the tour as a whole a bit later today, but I didn’t want the last week of blogs to miss their weekly wrap-up spotlight.  So let’s get to it!

Just a Lil’ Lost posted a review where she states, “McNeil brings a fresh voice with this zombie apocalypse-type story. She has written a character that is refreshing and different from others I have read.”

Obsessions of  a Library Gurl (who, full disclosure, is my friend but who was able to use her librarian talents to offer a fair, even-handed review), also posted a review stating, “It was an easy read and one I was able to quickly get into.”

Obsessions of  a LibraryGurl also interviewed me. Check that out to hear what I think about zombies as an analogy for rape.

Reflections of a Book Addict posted a review where he states, “In all, it is an awesome read that really gets you in tune with Frieda’s struggle with the undead.”

Reflections of a Book Addict also interviewed me.  Check that out to find out more about my own pets.  Also, comment on the interview post to be entered in the final giveaway of the tour!

And that’s it!  Hard to believe the final week of the tour is over.  Many thank you’s to everyone who helped make the last week varied and exciting!

Also, happy weekends to my blog followers. 🙂