My Goodreads Quotes

Allison’s quotes


"Don't you think it's rather nice to think that we're in a book that God's writing? If I were writing a book, I might make mistakes. But God knows how to make the story end just right--in the way that's best for us."
Do you really believe that, Mother?" Peter asked quietly.
Yes," she said, "I do believe it--almost always--except when I'm so sad that I can't believe anything. But even when I don't believe it, I know it's true--and I try to believe it."— E. Nesbit

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Merry Christmas!

 
And so concludes my first year of blogging.  Thank you for embarking on the journey with me, readers.  May 2015 be a blessed year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Concluding the 2014 Blogger Awards: Best Book!

Early in October, I decided that I wanted some way to draw our blogging community together in a group project.  I toyed with various ideas before settling on an award ceremony concept.  But I couldn't do it alone; I didn't want to do it alone.  So I told Hannah about it, and she not only helped smooth the idea out, she also illustrated the gorgeous widgets that you've seen, going above and beyond her duty as a host.

Still, we needed others, and two bloggers rose spectacularly to the challenge: Ghost Ryter and Clara Diane Thompson, both of whom have busy lives of their own and took time out of their schedule to read and review the books for the awards.

Thank you so much, Hannah, Ghosty, and Clara.  You, along with these authors, are the true stars of the Blogger Awards.

But even with these great people, we couldn't do it without the books.  Twelve books in total, written by ten different authors.  Twelve wonderful books, which we highly recommend.  So thank you Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Andrew Peterson, Jill Stengl, Clara Diane Thompson, Brandon Sanderson, Jennifer Freitag, Emerald Barnes, Rachel Heffington, Melanie Dickerson, and Jaye L. Knight for your unique and extraordinary contributions to literature.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we are pleased to conclude the 2014 Blogger Awards with the final category, Best Book of 2014.


Anon, Sir, Anon, by Rachel Heffington, is often described as 'cozy'.  The word does not quite do it justice.  The debut adventure of niece-and-uncle detective team, Vivi and Farnham, is both sumptuously, deliciously mysterious and relatable and familiar-feeling.  It has all the snap and wit of Shakespearian comedies, and I can see how the authoress draws inspiration and style from the Bard.  Our judges adored level-headed Vivi and sharp-tongued Farnham, and we strongly hope there are more adventures to come.

Golden Daughter, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, spans the epic journey of Masayi Sairu, assassin for the emperor.  In a novel that spans over five hundred pages and countless plots, subplots, and intertwining secrets, characters live, die, love, and fight in a massive power struggle that spans both the Near World and the Far, humans and mortals, evil... and good.  The judges hold this book in the highest regard, rivaled only by the previous books in the series.

The Warden and the Wolf King, by Andrew Peterson, concludes the adventures of the Igiby family.  Plunged from their stately, beloved life as common villagers into a world of politics, intrigue, and rebellion, they have struggled to remain whole as a family.  The last battle between mankind and the Nameless One will tear those fragile ties apart.  The judges would like to issue a statement regarding the superb quality of this series, but we'll need to stop hysterically sobbing first.

All three of these are epic, glorious books to which we, the judges, give the highest recommendation and honors.  But only one could win.  And that one is...

 
"The Warden and the Wolf King," by Andrew Peterson, is an awe-inspiring, emotional conclusion to a series that literally reduced three of our four judges to teary wrecks.  It has spectacular poetry and profound truth, but most amazingly, it has characters that, by the end of the series, will feel like your brothers, your sister, your grandfather, your mother.  Your friends.  People you've never met but you've known your whole life.
 
 
Mr. Peterson was gracious enough to write an acceptance speech for the awards: "Thank you... I’m so honored."
 
And this, ladies and gentlemen, concludes the 2014 Blogger Awards.  We hope you thoroughly enjoyed them!  If you wish to host a category for the 2015 Blogger Awards, please e-mail me at aruvidich@gmail.com.  On behalf of myself and the judges, have a blessed, merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Blogger Awards 2014, Best Heroine!

Merry Christmas, readers!  I can't tell you how excited I am for the Blogger Awards... and how honored and astounded I am by the wonderful books I got to read for them! 


For over a month, our judges read and studied three books: "Entertaining Angels," by Emerald Barnes; "Plenilune," by Jennifer Freitag; and "Resistance," by Jaye L. Knight.  Specifically, we examined the three heroines of those novels: Madison, Margaret Coventry, and Kyrin Altair respectively.  We thoroughly enjoyed reading about all of them, but one particularly caught our eye.  Although it was difficult, we have made our decision.

But first, meet these lovely girls!

MADISON no longer feels comfortable in her own body.  She's an unhealthy weight, and she hates herself for it.  Despite the support of her family and friends, she develops an eating disorder.  With her psychological and physical health at risk, Madison must remember that she is a person worth loving, and that is worth fighting for.

MARGARET COVENTRY has a perfectly reasonable plan: in order to avoid family scandal, she will flee to Naples, then woo and wed a rich gentleman unfamiliar with her questionable relatives.  The plan goes awry, however, when the future Overlord of Plenilune kidnaps her to be his unwilling bride.  Little does he realize, though, that Margaret Coventry is more than a pretty face.  She is an Englishwoman, an she is prepared to fight for her own.

KYRIN ALTAIR can remember with perfect detail everything she experienced from the age of four.  This curse disguised as a blessing attracts the attention of the malevolent emperor, who forces her into his service.  Kyrin cannot hide her controversial faith forever, though, and soon she must face perilous choices in her quest for a free life.

The winner is...



Margaret stands apart from the crowd in a variety of ways.  Tough-as-nails and selfless, she also behaves with manners and inhibitions entirely believable in a Victorian lady.  She is witty, fierce, and though not fearless, brave enough to behave the same way.  She is a golden heroine, and I adored reading about her.

We are lucky enough to have an acceptance speech from her creator, Jennifer Freitag:

"I want to thank all my supporters for the opportunity to be nominated for the Blogger Awards of 2014. You did it behind my back, without my knowledge that the Blogger Awards was even in existence, which means you actually cared about Plenilune and my work enough to spread the word. I want to thank everyone who voted my character Margaret Coventry as Best Heroine: you all know that Plenilune is a long book, and having come to know and love Margaret over such a lengthy period of time as it took to write the novel, it is wonderful to see others enjoying her company as well. My hope is that this award will inspire others to meet her as well. Thank you."

Well said, Ms. Freitag!  I hope you enjoyed the awards, readers-- and be sure to check out these lovely books and tune back in for the rest of the awards!  Head over to Hannah's  blog tomorrow for Best Hero!  And if you're interested in hosting a category next year, contact me at aruvidich@gmail.com.

 

 
Best Cover,hosted by Hannah Williams on Friday, December 19
 
Best Title,hosted by Clara Diane Thompson on Saturday, December 20
 
Best Heroine, hosted by myself on Sunday, December 21
 
Best Hero, hosted by Hannah Williams on Monday, December 22
 
Best Author, hosted by Ghost Wryter on Tuesday, December 23
 
Best Book, hosted by myself on Wednesday, December 24

Monday, December 15, 2014

Three More Days!

It's almost time for the 2014 Blogger Awards!
 

In only three days, Ghost Ryter will host the first category, Best Book Design, on her blog Anything, Everything.  The hosts have been working hard to make sure this event is perfect.  Among the four of us, we've read more than twelve books in a month!  Be sure to come join us for the celebrations.

Best Book Design, hosted by Ghost Wryter on Thursday, December 18

Best Cover, hosted by Hannah Williams on Friday, December 19

Best Title, hosted by Clara Diane Thompson on Saturday, December 20

Best Heroine, hosted by myself on Sunday, December 21

Best Hero, hosted by Hannah Williams on Monday, December 22

Best Author, hosted by Ghost Wryter on Tuesday, December 23

Best Book, hosted by myself on Wednesday, December 24

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Where Did All Our Time Go?

It's halfway through December?  Really?  But... I have so much still to get done!

This has been an insanely fast-paced semester.  Last week I had three concerts in four days.  This week I had three concerts in two days.  And remember Five Enchanted Roses?  Yeah.  Some of that still needs to get done.  And I should probably think about Christmas shopping one of these weeks, too.

But that's not really why I'm writing this post.  Blissfully, the semester is almost over, and I've found the perfect way to celebrate: the county-wide library book sale.

For those of you unfamiliar with library book sales, I am very sorry.  You're missing out on one of life's simple joys.  Sometimes libraries overstock books.  With an ever-present need for more shelf space, they sell the excess for absurdly cheap prices.

This year my county is selling more than 350,000 books.  According to my rough estimate, I have bought approximately 272,000 of them.  As cheap as former library books are, this still means that the aforementioned Christmas presents will likely feature large amounts of popsicle sticks, glue, and glitter.  And it isn't even Sunday yet, when you can buy a whole crate of books for $5!  $5!  That is, to my estimate, upwards of fifteen books!  For $5!!

I always find it very interesting to see which books the library overstocks.  Usually, there is a surplus of books featuring some sort of vampire hierarchy, books with titles like The Last Rose of Chatham County or The Highland Secret, and, regrettably, John Flanagan.  (Maybe not regrettably, since it means I get to flesh out my collection of Ranger's Apprentice.  Happy sigh!)

But this year, I was saddened by how many beautiful old books the library sold.  I collect old books.  My collection ranges in publication date from the late Victorian Era to the seventies, whereupon I decide a book ceases being old.

But books from World War II are my very favorite.  The government put restrictions on paper, which forced publishers to be extremely selective in printing books.  I always find it interesting, then, to see which books they deem worthy of paper.

This year I found and purchased two WWII books.  One is surprisingly Green Dolphin Street, by Elizabeth Goudge (best known, I believe, for her book The Little White Horse).  I admit I did not recognize her name when I picked up the book, nor did I buy it only because of its publication date.  Writing on the first page caught my eye: elegant, curving handwriting that says E. Marynat 8-27-45.  The only thing I love more than books published during WWII is books with old signatures and dates in them.

I did some research on it, and I realize that it's a first American edition published in 1944.  I haven't started it yet, but I look forward to finding out why those publishers considered it worthy of paper.

That leaves one more book, and I confess I found this one more emotionally moving than Green Dolphin Street.  It is a 1941 copy of Richard Burton's The Arabian Nights.  (I realize that in 1941 America hadn't yet joined the conflict, but we were rapidly expanding the size of our Navy, so I assume paper must've been more precious.)

Even during World War II, publishers thought it was worthy to read fairytales.  And if they did, why don't we?  I feel like I'm running out of time in 2014, but I have much, much more of it than they did in 1941.  If they in their times of danger and conflict reprinted and reread The Arabian Nights... then why don't we?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Merry Christmas To Me!

My Christmas presents to myself came.

Yes, I do buy Christmas presents to myself.  I have found that if I rely on others to determine what I'd like for Christmas, I end up with plenty of socks but little in the way of reading.  So I chose to take matters into my own hands.

Behold:


They include the following:

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman.  I cannot express how powerfully this book struck me.  I listened to it on audiobook while practicing ballet.  For those who have read it, you know the strange, dreadful power of the conclusion.  I remember dancing and listening to it, then stretching and listening to it, then finally just listening, tears rolling down my face as the book ended.  I confess I had a great shock when I received the print copy.  As cunningly narrated as the audio version is, it neglects one detail: The Graveyard Book is illustrated!  I look forward to many a happy rereads, gleefully examining the pictures.  This is easily my favorite book by Neil Gaiman, and I recommend it highly to all ages but especially older teenagers-- not because of any content, but because the message is particularly true to us.

Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis.  Like The Graveyard Book, I read this one only a few weeks ago.  It takes place at Oxford College in the year 2056, where historians now have access to time-travel technology in order to study events first-hand.  (Absolutely!)  This book is stunning.  Willis greatly explores the social effects of science fiction.  For example, if one could visit the future but not change or take back anything, what would the good be?  Who would monopolize it?  I highly recommend this one to mature readers because it can be incredibly gruesome in its portrayal of disease.

To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis.  The sequel-companion to the tragic, dramatic Doomsday Book, this book instead follows an intensely humorous route.  I love this book even better than its predecessor, and I am particularly impressed that Willis mastered drama and comedy so effectively.  Although this book is, to the best of my remembrance, entirely clean and suitable for readers of all ages, I don't suggest reading it before either Doomsday Book or Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome K. Jerome, which inspired it.

Royal Assassin, by Robin Hobb.  I recently finished her wonderful Assassin's Apprentice and was ready to sink my teeth into the rest of her work when-- the horror!-- I realized that my library only has the first and the third book of this trilogy.  Quitting was absolutely not an option, so I bought the pretty paperback.  I confess I haven't actually read it yet.  The books for the Blogger Awards are amazing, but I've had to read eight of them in a month, so I probably won't get to this until after I finish those.

Edit: I forgot to mention anything by Robin Hobb is definitely for older teenagers.  Also, let it be known that mere minutes after writing this, I broke and started reading Royal Assassin.  Oops!

And last but not least, Pictures of Hollis Woods, by Patricia Reilly Giff.  This is the story of Hollis Woods, abandoned when she was only an hour old.  Through a collection of sketches, she tries to understand where her life went wrong and where she can go from here.  This is not my usual cup of tea; so much so that I actually didn't buy this book.  Instead, a dear friend lent it to me, promising I would love it, and she was not wrong!  Although less than two hundred pages, this book stamped over my heart in the most delightful way.

These are only five of the books from my wish-list.  If I'm feeling particularly nice this year, and Amazon is feeling particularly cost-friendly, I might buy myself a few more for the actual day.  How about you?  Any books for Christmas?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's the Holiday Season!

"No, it's not," says a Certain Member of My Family, who considers the holiday season to be December 24, 25, and the first half of the 26.

I believe that the holiday season starts October 31 and keeps going until February 24 (the birthday of yours truly), and once you get that far, Easter and spring break are right around the corner, and then the year is practically over!

Maybe that's because I've been busy lately.  You decide.

Anyway, while decorating my family's Christmas tree and listening to John Denver and the Muppets, I came up with some questions to help remind myself that the holiday season is not about the commercialized celebration but something much more profound.  They are:

Is it possible for an ornament to actually hang straight, or do they manufacture them to spin around sideways?

Will anyone notice that I haven't decorated the top foot of the Christmas tree because I'm too short?

Why do I always volunteer to cook Christmas dinner?

Why do we eat Christmas dinner on Christmas Day, not Christmas Eve?

(I actually know the answer to this question.  It's because on Christmas Eve my family, for reasons unclear, has Sloppy Joes for dinner.  I don't like Sloppy Joes.  I usually eat a bun soaked in sauce.)

How many times can you watch Larry the Cucumber's rendition of Oh, Santa before it gets old?  (I actually can't answer this one yet.  Ask me in January.)

And finally, why, oh why, is every project in my life due on December 16?

Feel free to use these questions yourself to discover the true meaning of Christmas.  Alternatively, you could watch Veggie Tales, which works just as well.

My family has a wealth of eccentric Christmas traditions, some of which have already begun, such as the Advent calendar, and some which will not be done until December 23, such as Christmas shopping.  On the afternoon of Christmas Eve we fight viciously for seats in Church so we can remember how blessed we are.  For dinner we (most of us) eat Sloppy Joes.

Then we tear into our family Christmas gifts.  The general rule is that the sillier the gift, the better.  This apparently originated in my mom's family, where one time Great Grandma Dorrit gave a gift so funny that it circulated through the family for countless Christmases and my mom, when attempting to tell it, giggles so hard that I'm actually not sure what it is.  Perhaps it is better off that way.

On Christmas morning, the only morning of the year when Certain Family Members rise early, we shred wrapping paper violently then lay about, stunned and shell-shocked, for the rest of the day.

What about you?  Any crazy traditions?

Note: This was supposed to publish this morning, but I was silly.  : /