Monday, January 2, 2012

Best Books I Read in 2011

When I'm not scrapping, I'm reading. And my DARLING hubby got me a Kindle Fire for Christmas!! Oh, there are 1,000,001 reasons why I love that man, and he just added one more to the list! LOOOOVVVVEEE the Kindle. So, to add to my obsession, I'm now haunting Amazon's Kindle library too. Between reading and scrapping ... I want to retire and focus on those things full time, and I spend so much money on those hobbies, there is no way I can stop earning a paycheck! LOL Life's little ironies, indeed.

I love stories, and reading was my first mode of travel. I would lay on a tree branch, back home on the farm, hiding up in the leaves from chores and Mama, and get transported to magical, far-away places by one book after another. I still do that ... the hiding from the chores to read part, at least! So I thought I'd share some of my favorites from 2011, not necessarily in order:

1) The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead: I've been on a "Young Adult" reading glut, and this was the series that kicked it off. I read all six books this year, plus the first one in the new spin-off series. Yep, vampires, but they don't sparkle - they are BADA**. Dimitri Belikov ... OH. MY. STARS. I spent months obsessing about a fictional guy half my age. Just call me cougar. :-)

2) The Mortal Instruments series and its prequel series, The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare: Demon hunters, vampires, werewolves, nephilim, yeah baby! TMI is set in modern day New York, TID is set in Victorian London. Clare is an awesome writer, and these two series are definitely among the best in YA lit today.

3) The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa: Okay, yes, I read about faeries too. :-) And this concept was so fresh, and the characters so beautifully drawn. I was totally Team Puck by the way. Read and discuss.

4) Nightshade and Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer: And the final book in the trilogy, "Bloodrose" is out TOMORROW!!!!! Guess what I'll be doing then? :-) More wolves, but this was some of the most INTENSE writing of the year. I can't wait to see how this finishes up. Hot alpha-wolf love triangle in this one - WOOF!

5) Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini: This book was so unique to me ... basically a modern-day retelling of Helen of Troy, set on Nantucket. How can you NOT want to read that? Loved the setting, the story was fantastic, and the writing was excellent. Highly recommend this one.

6) Angel Burn by L. A. Weatherly: Angels among us! Not nice ones, either. The real "capture" in this book was the hero ... well, yes, I *do* have a soft-spot for bad boys! Alex was all kinds of awesome, and the sequel to this is out January 24th. You've got time to read the first one before then ... go on, you know you want to.

7) Die for Me by Amy Plum: Zombies in Paris! LOL Who knew they could be this romantic? Seriously - this was a great read, and showed off Paris at its best. Vincent, the hero in this story, is a date that every guy ought to be measured against ... COURTED the girl. WOOED her. WOWED her. Yep, he was the most romantic out of this lot of stories, and every girl deserves that at least once in her life!

8) Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon: And now we are in Ireland. I don't know how to classify this one ... Fae? Druids? Elementals? Anyhow ... loved it, loved the setting, and I got it on Audible, so I got to listen to the lilting Irish brogue for hours of great story-telling.

9) Unearthly by Cynthia Hand: This one might be my favorite read of the year. I listened to it on Audible, and then got it on the Kindle, so I could read the words for myself. Angels again, and another great setting: Jackson Hole, WY. But the best part of this whole thing was Tucker. Tucker rocks. Tucker skies. Tucker rodeos. Tucker fishes. Tucker is the best fictional guy I met all year. So if Clara chooses Christian (in the sequel, "Hallowed", out on January 17) I will never speak to her again.

10) A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies: More good and bad angels, and a cliff-hanger ending. I am officially Team Asher.

11) Half-Blood and Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout: These are the first books in two different series by this author. Half-Blood is set in a "supernatural" academy, a lot like #1 above, and was a great read. Obsidian ... has aliens! :-) Yep, aliens. I didn't see that one coming. Both really good reads, and I'm looking forward to the sequels.

12) Eternal Starling by Angela Corbett: Soul-mates, reincarnation, destiny, hot guys in great cars in love with this ONE girl. The action is mostly in Colorado, and the author makes full use of the great setting. I can't choose between the guys in this one ... best love triangle of the year!

13) Soul Screamers series by Rachel Vincent: Bean sidhes (or as we would say, banshees). My first banshees series, too! The family dynamics in this series are excellent, and I do love the Hudson brothers! Team Tod, all the way.

14) (ADULT) Lover Unleashed by J.R. Ward: So, I didn't *just* read Young Adult stuff in 2011, (but mostly did.) I'm going to read every book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, at least until I get my Qhuinn/Blaylock story. And daggone, I wish she would hurry up with that one. This was an okay offering in a great series, but I'm just riding along til I get Qhuay!

15) (ADULT) 2nd Grave on the Left by Darynda Jones: I loved the first book in this series ... "First Grave on the Right." About the girl who is the Grim Reaper - great concept, huh? So I was "dying" for the second one to come out ... the author didn't even need to tie up the loose ends, just keep stringing me along ... and I was a disappointed. 2nd Grave was good, and yes, I got strung out a bit more, but it was SHORT. If you are going to wait months between books, well, darn it, give me enough to tide me over til the next one. This one didn't. The 3rd one is out at the end of January, and I'll give it one more shot. I really do want to know what happens next.

So there are a few of the really good reads from 2011 ... and since I'm going through 2-3 books a week, please understand how hard it is to cull my list! :-) If you are reading something awesome (especially in the paranormal romance genre), well, tell me all about it!

Happy 2012!

Happy New Year! I'm about to kick back into scrapbooking mode. I have *FIVE* scrapbooking trips lined up for 2012!! I'm so excited!! They are:

1) Charlottesville, VA in January, with the local Creative Memories consultants. Hey, I sell for CTMH, and I LOVE CTMH, but my first "adult" foray into scrapbooking was with CM, and I still credit them with reigniting my passion for the craft. And they still make the best adhesives in the business, IMHO. The CM ladies in the Charlottesville area put on a great retreat, and we always have a blast with them.

2) Pensacola, FL in February, for a regional CTMH celebration. I can't wait for this one! JD is going with me to get in a little golfing. We are going to drive down and give the Garmin (named "Baby G" by my hubby) an outing. Should be awesome, and a lot of the "Scattered Hearts" team will be there.

3) Luray, VA in mid-March, for Tonya's "Shamrock Crop." My guurrlllsss!! And the other John H (Janice's, not mine), and probably Tonya's dad, and maybe Jay. Our guys who love and enable our habit! LOL

4) Knoxville, TN in late March for a "Scrapbook Dream Vacation" with the sisters! Ah, back to Tennessee. SDV didn't have this one last year, and I missed it. New location, so I'm dying to check it out. 4 days of no sleep and non-stop fun!

5) Dallas, TX in July 2012 for the CTMH 2012 Convention. Big D!!!!! I've really loved the last two conventions, and so I expect this one to be great as well. And we get grabby hands on the new product for the 2nd half of 2012 ... so much to look forward to!

So, that's the scrapbooking plan so far in 2012. First up is Ryan's 2011 album, which is in various states of completion. And Joel's rock-n-roll Hall of Fame album. And our Hawaii album from 2009. And our Australia album from 2007. Um, I have a lot to do. :-) And it looks like I'll need a plan for the 2nd half of the year. What are your plans? Make it with Scrappin' Joy!!