September 18, 2014

Bloggiesta To-Do List!

I have been completely remiss in getting my Bloggiesta to-do list done.  I needed to put writing a to-do list on my to-do list.  

This Bloggiesta I am doing K.I.S.S. (Keep it Simple, Stupid.)  I only have 3 things on my to-do list

1. Write 5 book reviews.  I am notorious for being behind on writing my reviews. Time to get crack-a-lackin' and whatnot.

2. Participate in at least one Bloggiesta Twitter chat.  I will miss Thursday's chat because I have a doctor's appointment, but should be able to make at least one other one.

3. This is kind of a cheat because i already did it in conjunction with the Instagram Mini-Challenge, but one thing I wanted to get done was adding an Instagram Widget to my blog. It is hanging out in my sidebar (about halfway down) if you want to take a look-see.  However, part of this goal is ALSO to answer any questions about the mini-challenge as people participate.

What are your goals for Bloggiesta this weekend?  

September 17, 2014


Hello, Bloggiesta-ers! Welcome to the Bloggiesta Instagram Mini-Challenge!  
I've never run a mini-challenge before, so I am a tad nervous.  I hope you find this helpful!  Let me know how you like it!  

Instagram is a great social media tool to share pictures of your loved ones, fun nights out, and adorable pets.  But it can also be a great tool for boosting up your blog!  

At the end of the challenge, I have a giveaway for $10 gift card to either Amazon or Barnes and Noble, your choice.  All you have to do is link up to your Instagram account and tell me one thing you did from the challenge!  

Challenge To-Do List.  Pick any bulleted item or try them all!  

  • If you don't have one yet, Set Up your Instagram account.  Download it onto your phone via your App Store for free.  You don't have to choose a username that is recognizable to your followers or that people will associate with your blog (I didn't), but it is a good way to use Instagram to develop your brand.  
  • Link up your Instagram account to your other social media accounts, like Facebook and Twitter.  Instagram will allow you to tweet out when you post to Instagram, which will draw in people that follow you on Twitter, and to share the image itself on Facebook.
  • Take your first picture and post it!  (The camera is the middle button on the bottom of your screen.) Maybe it is a picture of you or your favorite book or your kids doing something adorable or your morning coffee.  Just get started! 
  • Try a new filter.  I'm not saying you have to go all crazy and try to be artsy or pretend you took this amazing sunset shot when it is just a filter or anything. Just play around with it and have fun.  Choose a picture and then try giving it 2 new filters.  (You can easily post a picture multiple times using your phone's camera roll.) For an example, here is random picture of me from a few months back that I put on Instagram. I took it and used 2 different Instagram filters, making the photo look completely different each time.  The top photo is Normal (No Filter), the second uses the Willow Filter, and the third uses the Brennan Filter.  


  • Lead New Visitors to Your Blog.  How?  Make sure that your blog URL is in your Profile.  The button on the bottom of the screen on the far right is your profile.  It is where all your photos will be, as well as a large button that says "Edit Your Profile".  Put your URL in there and it will link up automatically back to your blog.  Easy-peasy and now your new Instagram followers can find your blog easily! 
  • Follow people that you know.  They will most likely follow you back and begin interacting with you on Instagram.
  • Follow people that you don't know.  Perhaps someone who follows you and likes and comments on your photos a lot.  Perhaps someone who is in the book publishing world or is an author.  Perhaps another blogger that you would like to get to know. They might post some interesting pictures that will get your own creative juices going!  If you decide they aren't for you, there is always the unfollow button. 
  • Piggy-backing on the bullet above, click on the star button that is on the bottom of your screen, next to your home button (which is your news feed).  This star is the Explore Feature.  Use it to search users or hashtags.  Use it to just browse what people have posted recently.  Click on an image you fancy and like or comment on it.  You never know, perhaps that user will come by and check out your photos as well.

  • #Hashtag #Help.  Speaking of #hashtags, use these suckers!  But use them wisely.  I cannot stress this enough: DO NOT tag your photo using every possible term under the sun.  This is not only majorly annoying to your followers, but you're not going to attract the type of people who find your posts relevant and awesome.  Use one, two, even several is okay.  Just think about what you are posting.  I have seen teenage girls trying to show off linking up to #books and #catsofinstagram.  Yea, the people looking for pictures of cats and books don't care, girls.  Likewise, the people looking under the hashtag #tweetfordolphins or #ootd (outfit of the day) probably don't care about your latest Mailbox Monday stash.  Know your audience!  Use relevant #hashtags and the followers will come!
  • Don't be afraid to post about topics other than books and your blog, though.  If you want to discuss your #ootd, do it!  Show it off!  If you want to share a picture of the beautiful weather or the way your cat smushed itself into that tiny box or how you are enjoying that delicious beer on the back porch, do it!  Let your followers see other sides of you, which will make them feel closer to you as they get to know you better.  Building a rapport with your readers is a great way of developing your brand, plus you make new friends!
  • Post on Instagram when you have something cool coming up on your blog - say a readathon, an author interview, a giveaway, Bloggiesta....Use a screenshot of your blog post and upload it to Instagram.  Be sure to tell followers that the link to your blog is on your profile.  (Which it is now, right?)  There is an example of this on my Instagram account, as well, where I posted the Mini-Challenge button I made above. 
  • Consider installing an Instagram Widget on to your blog.  Here are the instructions: SnapWidget  You can take a look at mine to see what it is like.  Find it on my sidebar, about halfway down the page.
  • Use a fancy App like InstaQuote to add wording to your pictures.  This works better on some pictures than others.  I added 4 photos to my Instagram account showcasing different ways to use InstaQuote (all free versions).  You can also use apps like Retrica, Framatic, Instagrab, (all free apps) and others to help you make better use of your Instagram account.

And Now, the Giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

WWW - Architecture, Spanish Geography, Prophesies, and More

I've learned quite a few new words lately.  This week had me learning about architecture, Chinese dishes, and Spanish geography (2 different things!)

It is clear from all of the architectural vocab that I have forgotten pretty much everything I learned in my Interior Design classes in high school. Add that to the other subjects I have forgotten: sign language, Spanish language, French language, and, you know, basic math.

from The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

1. mansard roof - a roof which has four sloping sides, each of which becomes steeper halfway down.

2. sclera - the white outer layer of the eyeball.  At the front of the eye it is continuous with the cornea.

3. battlements - a parapet at the top of a wall, especially of a fort or castle, that has regularly spaced squared openings for shooting through.

4. didgeridoo - an Australian Aboriginal wind instrument in the form of a long wooden tube, traditionally made from a hollow branch, which is blown to produce a deep, resonant sound, varied by rhythmic accents of timbre and volume.

5. Ibeza - the westernmost of the Balearic Islands, off the coast of Valencia in eastern Spain.

from A Map of Betrayal

1. congee - (in Chinese cookery) broth or porridge made from rice

from A Sudden Light by Garth Stein

1. ineluctably - not to be changed, avoided, or resisted; inescapable 

The past is ineluctable.  

from A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

1. crepuscular - animals active primarily during twilight; most crepuscular animals are mistakenly thought to be nocturnal.

2. liminal - transitional stage of a process

3. oracular - prophetic; relating to an oracle (I had never heard/seen it used as an adjective)

4. explicate - analyze or develop an idea or principle in detail

5. cloying - overly, sickeningly sweet

Nicholas Sparks stories. 

6. elegiac - having a mournful quality 

William-Adolphe Bouguereau

from Heller's Revenge by JD Nixon

1. obstreperous - noisy and difficult to control

from Weaver by John Abramowitz

1. anhedonia - inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable activities

Granted, it is not as melodramatic a use as this in the book.

2. prescience - the fact of knowing something in advance; foreknowledge

3. adroitness - cleverness or skill 

from Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard

1. nabobs - a person of conspicuous wealth or high status; historically a Muslim official or governor under the Mogul empire (It is unclear from the context which definition fits.)

It is actually not very easy to find pictures of Muslim Nabobs.

2. Iberian - relating to or denoting Iberia, or the countries of Spain and Portugal; the extinct Celtic/Romance language spoken in the Iberian peninsula in ancient times.

3. stolid - calm, dependable, and showing little emotion or animation

4. cudgel - a short, thick stick used as a weapon. 

from The Vault of Dreamers by Calugh M. O'Brien

1. morass - an area of muddy or boggy ground; a complicated or confused situation  (Usage: We dropped into an isolated morass of time that had never begun and would never end...")

Were any of these words new to you?  Did you know them already?  Any other comments?  Share below!

September 16, 2014

Top 10 Authors I've Only Read One Book From But NEED to Read More

I loved the one book I've read by these authors.
Now, I NEED to read these others by them!

Ru Freeman

Read: A Disobedient Girl
Want to Read: On Sal Mal Lane

Chinua Achebe

Read: Things Fall Apart
Want to Read: No Longer at Ease, Arrow of God

Khaled Hosseini

Read: A Thousand Splendid Suns
Want to Read, The Kite Runner, And the Mountains Echoed

Read: Princess of the Silver Woods
Want to Read: Princess of the Midnight Ball, Princess of Glass

Jeffery Deaver
Read: The Bone Collector
Want to Read: The Coffin Dancer

Carol Goodman
Read: The Demon Lover
Want to Read: The Water Witch

Toby Neal

Read: Blood Orchids (Lei Crime #1)
Want to Read: Torch Ginger (Lei Crime #2)

Caitlin Moran

Read: How to Build a Girl
Want to Read: How to Be a Woman

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Read: Love in the Time of Cholera
Want to Read: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Gabrielle Zevin

Read: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
Want to Read: Elsewhere, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, All Things I've Done

Now I want to make a list of authors whom I've only read 2 books but NEED to read more of, because there seem to be plenty of those as well!

September 15, 2014

What I've Been Reading This Week - 9/15/14

This week I made it to 75 books, my goal for the year!  Yippee!  Last year I only read 72 so I feel pretty proud of myself for getting to 75 in September.  The books that took me there are Beyond Good and Evil and To This Day.  

This week I also did some heavy-duty reading for the Travel the World in Books Readathon.  I enjoyed it a lot.  I think it went well for it's first ever time!  

You will notice that this week I have added links to Goodreads below the title of each book so you can check out the book summaries if you want!


To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful by Shane Koyczan
***5 STARS**
*For Review from Publisher*
Pages Read: 72
Thoughts: I highly recommend this wonderfully illustrated poem on the effects of being bullied as a child.  READ IT!

Beyond Good and Evil by Friedrich Nietzsche
*For Project Gutenburg Project and The Classics Club*
Last Week: 48-74%
This Week: 74-100%
Pages Read: 40
Thoughts: A lot to process.  I've got to gather my thoughts on everything and then I will post a review on the Project Gutenberg Project blog.

Not My Girl by Christy Jordan-Fenton and Margaret Pokiak-Fenton
*For Review from Publisher*
Pages Read:36
Thoughts: I loved this story about a girl who goes away to an "outsiders school" for 2 years, to return home and find she is so changed her mother does not recognize her.  She's forgotten the language, how to fix the net, how to even eat her favorite foods.  She slowly remembers and re-learns, but I wish the ending told what happened after she did.  Did she have to go back to the school?  Did she forget again? Did she remember?  Still a good story, though, about how culture can die if not properly maintained.

The Office of Mercy by Ariel Djanikian
*For fun*
Last Week: 18-34%
This Week: 34-100%
Pages Read This Week: 212
Thoughts: Gets off to a rocky start but then it is unputdownable.


Weaver by John Abramowitz
*For Review from Author*
This Week: 0-29%
Pages Read: 49
Thoughts: There are lines that make me cringe, but overall I like it. I especially like that is a combination of paranormal, religious cult, and police procedural. It's different.

Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard
*For Review from Publisher via Edelweiss*
This Week: 0-10%
Pages Read This Week: 35
Thoughts: Interesting and fast-paced, culturally rich and shows the dichotomy of Islam and Muslim extremists.

Heller's Revenge (Heller Series #2) by J.D. Nixon
*For Fun*
This Week: 0-10%
Pages Read: 30
Thoughts: I enjoy this funny series.

The Hidden Ones (Legacy of the Watchers #1) by Nancy Madore
*For Review from Author*
This Week: 0-5%
Pages Read: 22
Thoughts:  Interesting premise so far.


The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
*For Review from Publisher via Edelweiss*
Last Week: 0-2%
This Week: 2-14%
Pages Read This Week: 44
Thoughts:  Now that I've finished reading and reviewed A Sudden Light, I can read this haunting story. 

Sweet Tooth: A Memoir by Tim Anderson
*For Fun*
Pg. 136 of 319
Last Week: 28 pages
This Week: 108 pages
Thoughts: This memoir is great.

Out by Natsuo Kirino
*For Travel the World in Books Readathon*
Pg. 190 of 400
Last Week: 79 pages
This Week: 111 pages
Thoughts: Deliciously dark and tense, while insightful into the various ways women's lives in Japan may play out.  It's pretty gritty.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
*For the Travel the World in Books Readathon*
Pg. 111 of 422
Last Week: 83 pages
This Week: 28 pages
Thoughts: I am enjoying it.  It's a calm, slow tale compared to the 
craziness of the Japan in Out.

The Vault of Dreamers by Caragh M. O'Brien
*For Review from Publisher*
Last Week: 0-21%
This Week: 21-49%
Pages Read: 120
Thoughts: Wow, this is some creepy shit!


Total Pages Read Last Week: 824
Total Pages Read THIS Week: 907 - Wow, new record!

Books Reading for Review: 5
Books Reading for Readalongs/Challenges: 2
Books Reading for the Fun of It: 2

Total Books Currently Reading: 9
Total Books Read So Far This Year: 77



~What are you reading right now?  
~What did you just finish?  
~What book are you looking forward to reading next?  
Share in the comments!