Playlist: January 2014

My own image

Things have been so hectic lately. I feel like I’m always working! Both my full time and part time jobs are so busy! But the money does help a lot with paying off my credit cards. And that’s the important part. Anyway, I tend to listen to a lot of music to help keep my stress low. I thought I’d share what’s been on repeat on my playlist lately. I tend to be all over the place when it comes to my music listening. :D

Playlist: January 2014 by Valerie on Grooveshark

What are you guys listening to? And do you have any music recommendations? I’m always looking for new music.

Who Wants a Pen Pal?

Remember when you were in elementary school and you had that school project where you were given a pen pal to write to? It could have been a soldier overseas or a child from another school or even just someone in another class. I used to love those types of assignments. I was also an Army brat growing up and every time we moved I’d make sure to get addresses from my very best friends so I could keep in touch with them. In fact, I still have a box full of those letters that I just uncovered a couple of months ago. Going through them reminded of how I would stalk the mail box everyday to see if someone had written back. Now I hate checking the box because most of it is junk mail or bills. :(

However, I have discovered something amazing! In November I signed up to join the International Geek Girl Pen Pals Club, or IGGPPC for those in the know. ;) You sign up each round and let them know what your geeky interests are and then they pair you up with someone to write to! They only hand out email addresses, you can talk to your match and decide if you want to start sending snail mail to each other. :) Each round you can sign up again and get a new pen pal, but even if you don’t you can still hang out at the site and interact with everyone. You and your pal decide whether to keep corresponding depending on your interests or how you get along. You could end up with a ton of people to write to or none at all. It’s up to you.

When you sign up for the site you can post in forums to get to know other geeks and get sorted into your ‘House’, which is determined by age. Also, with the new site that opened January 11th, there are new features, such as Achievements you can earn randomly or by doing specific actions. I have to warn you, the Achievements are really addictive. Some of use are seriously stalking the site to get them all. *points at self and shrugs* And I will get them all.

We discuss all things geeky. And by geeky, they really just mean topics you are passionate about. But I will say that we are a site full of people who believe that Hogwarts just hasn’t sent us our letters yet, know that the cake is a lie, and worship the amazingness of Joss Whedon. Aside from getting matched to a pen pal, you can organize your own mail swap and participate in meet ups. You can share what you have received in the mail and what you are sending out. I think that this will let me look forward to checking my mail box again. So, do you want a geeky pen pal?

2014 Goals

Images from Shho, Darren Deans, and Kolobsek

Go back to school
I’d like to go back to school and finally get my Master’s degree. I’m not sure what to get it in yet, whether I’ll get my Master’s in English or in Library Science. It’s just been so long since I’ve been in school, it’s kind of a scary thought.

Save more money
Aside from building my savings, I also want to build my retirement fund. I want to start an IRA, probably a Roth, so I can start saving for retirement. Social Security will probably be nonexistant by the time I retire and I do not want to work for the rest of my life. At least, not more than I have to. So unless I win the lottery, this is a must. The sooner, the better.

Pay down debt faster
I have some credit cards that I still need to pay off, as well as my car. I have about 3 1/2 years left on the car. But I’m more worried about the credit cards. I don’t use them anymore, thank God, but I want them mostly paid off by the end of the year. The holidays always kill me.

Blog consistently
I’ve been doing this pretty well for the past couple of months and I want to keep that momentum going this year. Hopefully at least 2 quality posts per week. Wish me luck! ;)

Read more
I had a pitiful showing last year. I only managed to read 50 books. For me, that’s pretty ridiculous. The past couple of years the numbers of books I’ve been reading is decreasing, but I want that to change. So, I’m hoping to at least double last year’s goal in 2014 and make it 100 books, if not more. I’m hoping that participating in these reading challenges, as well as some books clubs on the message boards I’m a part of will help me with that. I feel unaccomplished if I don’t read more. Must be the English major in me.

I want to travel more! All I did last year was take a 5 day cruise. I used to travel a whole lot more years ago. I want to do more of that this year. I have a cruise planned for November, hopefully I’ll be able to go. But I also want to be able to do something else. I want to go on at least one other trip. I don’t want to regret not traveling when I’m too old to do it. I’m young, I should enjoy it!

What are your goals or resolutions for 2014?

Book Review: Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill

Publication Date: January 7th, 2014
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Source: ARC won in a contest by book publicist Lauren Donovan. Reviewed for my personal pleasure.
My Rating: 4/5

Summary from GoodReads:
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life.

Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over.

When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.

My Review

This was a really enjoyable book. I have always been a fan of figure skating, so I definitely had no problem with wanting to read the book. In fact, I loved the movie “Cutting Edge” when I was younger, so the whole hockey player trying to be a figure skater angle was right up my alley. The hockey and figure skating scenes in the book were really fun to read. I really loved seeing the girls out of their element, trying to figure out how to hide that they had no clue what they were doing.

The chapters in the book went back and forth between each girl’s point of view. I’m normally not a big fan of changing points of view in a book, but this one really worked. You got to see how each girl was doing at the different camps. While the girls were so different when it came to their personalities and the lives they came from, they were going through similar problems. They were trying to keep everyone from finding out that they were not who they said they were, but at the same time getting through the problems that made them switch in the first place.

On that note, I really loved both Sloanes. Sloane D. came from a hard situation and needed hockey to go to college. Only her life at home was making it difficult for her to focus and she’s become angry, which is why she is sent to camp in the first place. Sloane E. seems to live a charmed life with her wealthy parents, one of whom is senator. But a family secret is weighing on her and it’s affecting her skating, which she isn’t even sure she wants to do anymore. Both girls want out of the life they currently have and when they meet, it’s like fate! I liked to see their interactions with each other from both of their points of view. It’s really interesting how they each see the other in the beginning and then at the end of the book.

Now, I will say that some of it is hard to believe. Despite the fact that it’s been a while since Sloane E. has competed, I can’t believe that no one at the skate camp knows that she looks like. So that part was kind of a stretch for me. I mean, her dad is a senator and they are in the paper or on tv a lot. Not to mention the fact that no way is one cram session enough to learn about either hockey or figure skating. So how they really thought they could pull it off is kind of crazy, especially considering the fact that they actually did it. I also felt like the romance wasn’t really that developed. I really like Sloane’s D.’s boy. He was really sweet and mature, and he seemed like a real person. I really wanted to see more of them and learn more of their back story. Sloane E.’s boy, on the other hand, I was kind of ambivalent about. The fact that he was a player in the past and is now just ‘reformed’ is just so odd to me! And there was no talking about it, no explanation about it at all. It was just, ‘That’s not me anymore’. I’m sorry, but when it comes to teenage boys, I just don’t buy it. I can’t believe that Sloane E. bought it either.

Overall, it was a good read. I really loved the story and the girls. It was a light read and had some really great moments in it, especially as the girls learned about who they really were as people. The Sloanes became friends through the whole thing and I think that’s what I loved most of all. Despite it’s faults, I enjoyed it immensely. I think I’ve become a fan of Lauren Morrill. I will be checking out her books in the future.

What do you guys think? It’s my first real review. I hope you enjoyed it! :D

12/31/13: Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

Image from The Broke and the Bookish

This is a meme from The Broke and the Bookish. Each Tuesday they offer a new topic for you to create your list from. This week’s theme is Top Ten Books I Read in 2013. While I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, there were a few books that definitely topped the list.

Images from Goodreads

1. Dark Witch by Nora Roberts – I love Nora Roberts in general, but I especially love her series. This is a new one that takes place in Ireland and is full of magic. Pure gold! I can’t wait for the other two books to come out. She never disappoints.

2. Alice In Zombieland by Gena Showalter – I love, love, loooooved this book! It was so different from what I was expecting, but in such a good way. I also loved the second book in the series. Impatiently awaiting the third book!

3. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein – Ok, so it took me forever to try to read this book. And I have no idea why, because it was great! It was a very easy read and I loved the story. It makes me want to try to start on Lord of the Rings again. :)

4. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – This was such an amazing book! I’ve never seen a book with these types of dragons and I loved it. While the story was kind of slow in some areas, the story itself completely overshadowed that. I cannot wait for the next book, which is taking way too long to be released!

Images from Goodreads

5. Catherine by April Lindner – This is a sort of remake of ‘Wuthering Heights’. While I don’t think it matches up to that book necessarily, on it’s own it’s a pretty great book! I loved the characters and the storyline. As long as I’m not comparing it to the classics, it’s a great read! :D Just take the book on it’s own.

6. How’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones – I love this book! I think it’s a great read for all ages. This is one of those books where I watched the movie and then found out there was a book and I had to read it. I really loved the movie, but the book blew me away as well. Great for kids and adults!

7. Perfect Scoundrels by Ally Carter – I love this series and this new book did not disappoint me! I love Kat and Hale and everyone! Plus, I love a good heist movie so these books are perfect for me.

8. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness – I really can’t even describe how much I loved this book. I raced through this book and the sequel. I read them both in about 3 days, I think. And that was probably just because of a little pesky thing called a job that I had to go to. :( They were amazing and I don’t know why it took me so long to read them. I am waiting on the edge of my seat the the last book to come out.

Images from Goodreads

9. Legacies by Mercedes Lackey – I love Mercedes Lackey! I really need to read even more of her books. This is the first book in a four part series. I’ve read the first three and I’m waiting for the last to come out. I feel this is a trend for me. :( The plot is pretty amazing and I love the characters! Much better than I thought it was going to be. Great for those fantasy, YA lovers.

10. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare – Ok, yes. I gave in to the hype. I started the books after the movie came out. I couldn’t help it! Peer pressure, ok? I decided to start the Infernal Devices series before the Mortal Instruments series, despite the recommendations to read in publication order. I’m a little OCD that way. I prefer to read in the order of the timeline. I loved this first series! Tess may be one of my favorite characters I think. Although, Bane was pretty nice!

What do you guys think? What were your favorite books of the year? And why do I start series that are still unfinished? It’s like I’m punishing myself or something. The waiting is killing me!

Also, I hope you guys have a Happy New Year. 2013 was pretty great, see you next year! :D

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