As many of you know, I took a little break from blogging. Surprisingly, in that time away, I picked up a few new followers. Well, I’m back now, new friends and old, and I’ve changed my look, as you might have noticed. I love it!
Here’s some interesting (at least to me) background info on the look: I was directly inspired by the art print, “Someday, You’re Gonna” by Jordan Crane, which hangs in my kitchen. I wish I could commission Crane to do the artwork for my header, but what can I do? Use silly pictures of myself and the covers of a few of my favorite books, I guess.
Anyways, back to the topic at hand. Since I have some new followers, and I’m returning after a long absence with a new drive, I thought I’d share some of my favorite posts that best reflect who I am as a blogger, and what you can expect to see here at Adventures in Borkdom. Many thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for providing the inspiration with today’s perfectly timed Top Ten Tuesday prompt!
1. Book Reviews
While I have been slacking in this area, a good chunk of Adventures in Borkdom is devoted to book reviews. When I put in the work, you can expect regular reviews on books of varying genres (I am a mood reader and like to read it all!) and I attempt to make these reviews as unbiased and professional as possible (when I might be biased, I make note of it in the review). I even created a rubric (feel free to use in your own reviews!) to make my methods of judgment transparent. Here are some examples of the positive review: Bleak House and The Waste Lands, the “meh” review: A Discovery of Witches, and the negative review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.
When I don’t feel like putting in the work, you can expect posts full of mini-reviews: July Mini-Reviews
If you’re looking for more reviews, I post them up in the “Reviews” page at the top of the blog. *Coming Soon: Reviews organized by genre!*
2. Inspired Adventures
This is a new feature I started yesterday. It will appear twice a week (unless life gets in the way), and will center around a book I recently read, and an adventure or activity that I took part in that was directly inspired by the book. For example, after reading Hatchet, I took a hike in the mountains, and considered what aspects of the area would affect my survival if I were stranded there, à la Hatchet. Here is that post: Inspired Adventures: Hatchet and a Hike.
Upcoming Inspired Adventures include: Anne of Green Gables and Raspberry Cordial; The Return of the King and LARPing; and When You Are Engulfed in Flames and Quitting Smoking.
Check back on Thursday for this week’s second Inspired Adventure!
3. Bookish Featurettes
I enjoy writing posts on books that explore the various aspects of novels and reading in general. This is where I can really analyze certain literary/bookish areas without the limitations of a book review.
Some examples include:
- Spasmodic Benevolence: Charles Dickens and Philanthropy
- The Waste Lands: I Want My Picture Book!
- Banned Books Week: Rebel Without a Cause
- Catching Up with Old Friends
- “You Can Always Depend Upon Me for Two Things: Not to Cry and Not to Faint.”
4. Classic Authors: They’re Just Like Us!
These posts are biographical and discuss traits of a classic author that are surprisingly similar to either “us”, the everyday reader, or to the traits of modern-day popular authors. These ones are fun to read if you’re interested in a certain author, but don’t feel like getting bogged down by a long biography. I try to just give you the good stuff!
5. Fun Top Tens
Occasionally, I compile Top Ten lists that are connected to my reading preferences. I try to make these fun and somewhat informative. Typically, these directly derive from topics originating from the good folks at The Broke and the Bookish (like this post!).
A few of my favorites include:
The rest of my Top Tens can be found at the top of the blog in the page labeled “The Best”
6. Participation in Reading Challenges
This year, I signed up for a bunch of challenges. Not all of them have stuck (or, at least, I’m not attending to them right now), but I have seen a few of them through.
Two of these are
7. Writings on Current Blogging Issues and/or My Views on Blogging
I don’t often dabble in blogging politics, but on occasion, I’ll come across an issue that I think needs addressing. Here’s a sample of what it looks like when I do:
I have also created a blogging manifesto, which pretty much spells out my views on blogging, and still holds true today: My Blogging Manifesto
8. “Best of” Lists
This shall be an annual event, and since I am only just approaching my one-year anniversary, I only have examples for 2011. Yet, you can expect to see daily posts, during the last week of 2012, that list my favorite books of 2012, broken down into genres. Here are two examples from last year:
The rest of my “Best of” lists can be found at the top of my blog in the page labeled “The Best”
I am a nut for readathons, particularly the big ones. This year, I took part in both of Dewey’s annual 24-hour readathons (held in October and April). I also held personal, impromptu readathons, which I chronicled on the blog.
Here are two posts reflecting my readathon participation:
10. The Person away from the Book
Finally, you will get to know the person that is separate from the books I read. Sometimes I write about what’s going on in my life:
and sometimes I feature the other interests and hobbies in my life:
All of this, and writings I can’t foresee, will be featured here at Adventures in Borkdom. Obviously, if you want to know a bit more about me, the writer, check out my “About” page .
Thanks again for reading my blog and taking an interest in what I care about. I hope you enjoy what I put out there.
Please note: I am inspired by and have taken liberally from the blogging manifesto at The Perpetual Page-Turner. Some of what I am writing here is taken word for word from this post, and I want to say thanks to The Perpetual Page-Turner for the inspiration and content. It was written so well, I couldn’t come up with better words than those written there. Please check out The Perpetual Page-Turner‘s My Blogging Manifesto.
This post is for me and anyone interested in my purpose here at Adventures in Borkdom. I might take snippets from this post and add them to my “About Me” page as this pretty much covers what this blog is all about.
As a few of my readers may know, I have been in sort of a slump for the last couple of days. I haven’t been very happy with myself and have been trying to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it. I have been working on solving problems that have been nagging me (completing tasks that I have been dreading and putting off all year) and I think that I am out of the woods now in terms of my self-loathing mood.
Part of my downer mood stemmed from blogging. Not a lot, but I was considering what my purpose was here. So, I took nearly a week off to really consider what I want to do here at Adventures in Borkdom and why I want to do it. It’s kind of ironic that this was an issue, as my last post was all about advising other bloggers how and why to keep writing what they want. What can I say? I’m a moody person.
On Tuesday, I really enjoyed reading a lot of posts which offered advice to new book bloggers. One post really stood out, written by Jamie at The Broke and the Bookish. In my reflective, “What am I doing? and Why?” state, I was drawn to Jamie’s advice to create a blogging manifesto. I clicked on her link to her own blogging manifesto and decided that this was what I needed to do. I needed to lay down for myself what it is that I want to do and why, and a manifesto was perfect. So here I am.
Why I Started Blogging:
I started blogging because I wanted to write. In the summer of 2011, I set my goal to start writing. So, I pushed myself to write a few pages in a journal daily. After a few weeks of this, I looked into blogging and found that a lot of people were out there simply writing about what they loved. And commiserating with other people about what they loved. This sounded like my kind of bag–I love reading, watching movies, playing video games, listening to music, and many other odd hobbies, and I love discussing them with other people. With blogging, I could do all of this and write regularly.
I want to write fiction. However, I continue to find that my writing strength lies in essay composition. I have a very small background in journalism (I was the editor of a college newspaper at one time) and a large background in essays on literature. I get to use this skill when teaching my students how to write essays, but I miss using this skill for myself. I found that blogging could put this skill to use and I wouldn’t have to regret not finishing grad school (at least, not so much). Now, if only I could find a way to put my gymnastics background to use, I’d feel pretty complete!
My Blogging Manifesto:
• My blog will not define me. It is merely an extension of who I am.
I am not simply a blogger. I am not simply a teacher. I am not just “wife” or “daughter” or “sister” or “friend” or “the girl who reads a lot of books”. I am just Mandy. And I will not be defined in simple terms.
• I will not define my blog.
Adventures in Borkdom is representative of all things that I am interested in–bookish and not. Therefore,
• I will not limit myself in what I write.
Every once in a while, I become less interested in one hobby and more interested in another. Hence, my post on gaming, or posts on music or movies or television. In the summer, for at least a week, if not two, I will be attending and writing about Comic-Con, which might not be very bookish at all! But, this blog is about ME and the adventures that I have as a self-proclaimed book dork.
• I will not limit myself in what I read.
If you read my blog regularly, you’ll have noticed that I read a lot of classics. Yet, I also read a lot of fantasy. If you were reading my blog back in the fall, you would’ve thought that I only read contemporary fiction and horror. I read what I want, when I want, as my mood suits me.
• I will try new things!
The blog title begins with the word “Adventures”, so I really need to have more adventures. I am proclaiming now that I will start taking more risks in what I read, watch, listen to, do, and write. Perhaps that can be a regular feature…an adventure each month?
• I will always try to write something that matters.
Each post will be composed with careful thought and purpose, and I will not post something just for the purpose of posting. Even if it looks and feels light, there will be some reasoning for each and every post I publish.
• When I take part in memes, host giveaways, give blogging awards, or respond to a tag, I will make the post content-heavy, so it isn’t just another fluff piece.
• I will be respectful to other bloggers and my readers.
• On the other hand, I will be respectful to myself and will write what I will and how I will.
If I include expletives in a post or content in a video that is offensive, sorry sensitive reader. This is my happy place, and I’ll do what I want with it.
• I will do my damnedest to keep Adventures in Borkdom my happy place.
I will never allow blogging to become a burden.
• I will step away for a break the moment it becomes a burden.
• I will not obsess over my blog’s growth, followers, stats, and will not compare myself to others in a negative fashion.
• I will continue to find joy and excitement in the gain of followers and stats and will look to other blogs for ideas and inspiration.
• Above all, I will blog because I love to read, watch, listen, and do, and I want to share my love with others.
So, this is what I am doing here at Adventures in Borkdom, and why I’m doing it.
I feel better now, having written this. If you feel like you’re losing your sense of purpose or focus in blogging, I recommend that you follow Jamie’s advice and compose your own blogging manifesto.
At this time of year, I am always reminded of my childhood in Oklahoma. I grew up as an Air Force brat, and my family lived in Moore, Oklahoma (just outside Oklahoma City) from the time I was six until I was eleven. Those were good times to live out there–I played archaeologist in the red clay, discovering cow skulls in the fields behind our house; took part in staged “land runs” in commemmoration of the Sooners; and just really enjoyed being a kid in the country. Some of the greatest impressions of Oklahoma left with me are the tornado watches and warnings. We always knew when one was coming our way…the skies would turn a greenish hue, the air was still and strange, and the clouds would gather in the distance. April and May are tornado season in the central states, and, like always, I will be thinking about my experiences hiding out in the closet with my family around me as the sirens went off.
So, what does this have to do with books and reading? Nothing really…it’s just where my brain is today, the first day of April.
Being the first day of April, I’d like to share a recap of what happened in March. So little, and yet so much!
Books Read: 3.75
– The History of English Literature (audiobook) by Perry Keenlyside
– The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
– The Waste Lands by Stephen King (review coming tomorrow!)
– Almost Finished: A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (will be completed today!)
Pages Read: 1722 + 5.3 hours listened
On the Blog:
– Won two awards from Snobbery (2nd one will be discussed this week)!
– Vented about this year’s lay-off notice
And, what’s coming up this month…
This week: I will be posting a couple of posts relating to my reading of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, as well as two book reviews (The Waste Lands and A Moveable Feast).
Reading Plans for April:
– The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (Back to the Classics Challenge, A Classics Challenge, and The End of the World Challenge)
– Wizard and Glass by Stephen King (The Dark Tower Challenge, The Stephen King Project)
– The Dark Tower graphic novels (The Dark Tower Challenge)
– The Wind through the Keyhole by Stephen King (The Dark Tower Challenge, The Stephen King Project, and The End of the World Challenge)
– Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allan (The Sarah Addison Allan Challenge)
– The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allan (The Sarah Addison Allan Challenge)
– The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon (The Award-Winning Challenge and The End of the World Challenge)
In April, I’ve also decided to add to my reading list by choosing one favorite novel from five of my blogging buddies who are on Goodreads. All of these books received 5-star ratings from the recommending blogger(except LHITBW, but Kyle loves the Little House books, so I’m sure she’d want me to start at the beginning) and I have never read them (or, in the case of THGG, I never really read it, just played the video game). These five books are as follows:
– Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (Suzy of Insatiable Booksluts)
Have you read any of these books? What are your reading plans for April?
At this time of year, working at a year-round school is so freaking awesome (not so much in June and July, when other schools start vacation and I’m still working in the heat). I get my vacation separated into months throughout the year, with two weeks added on to Christmas vacation, and a whole month for Spring Break, and then one month in August. Now, a reminder for those who don’t know…teachers are technically not paid for vacation…we get ten months of pay every year, and that pay is split up amongst the twelve months for some teachers. This is why many teachers take a second job during vacation–summer school, independent contract work, etc. But, not me!
Every time I get a month off, I set personal goals to accomplish. Most are simply things I wish I had more time for, and I always set one for something that I’ve always been too chicken to do–a big goal. Last year, in April, I set the goal of reading as many books as possible, and ended up reading 28 and gained 10 pounds in the process! In August of last year, my big goal was starting a blog, and here I am! January of this year was the beginning of boxing and Muay Thai classes, which I am still taking four times a week! So, what are my goals for this Spring Break?
- Read at least two books per week! I think I can easily manage this one (except for The Canterbury Tales…I think that will be read concurrently throughout the month!) I’ll just be reading during the day while the husband is at work. Depending upon the difficulty of the books, I should be able to manage more than two per week!
- Write at least five posts per week! Again, I think I should be able to easily manage this, if not more. With all of the reading I’ll be doing, I’ll have a lot of reviews to write and post. Plus, there’s some really good television happening in April (Mad Men and Game of Thrones), so I’ll never run out of things to talk about!
- Drop five pounds–cut calories, run, bike, etc. Ugh. Despite my major sweat sessions doing boxing and Muay Thai for four hours per week, I have actually gained about six or seven pounds since January! I’m told that this is muscle, but this is ridiculous. I have never weighed so much in my life! So, it’s time to get all Dr. Phil and get real…time to cut calories and take more walks or ride my bike. Maybe I’ll also “Just Dance” it off. I just want to see if I can!
- Deep-clean the house! When I say “deep-clean”, I mean normal stuff that I’ve been putting off–dusting and sweeping, clean the bathrooms, pick up the clothes in the bedroom, shred the huge pile of stupid, unsolicited credit card applications, etc. I’ve become a terrible housekeeper!
Cook at least one Game of Thrones- A Clash of Kings-themed meal! Ah yes! This is a fun one! Last year, when Game of Thrones premiered on HBO, I got together with friends to watch, and I cooked Honeyed Chicken with potatoes and onions (like they serve in King’s Landing) and Sansa’s favorite–Lemon Cakes. Then, for a later episode, I made a true Dornish meal with pita, hummus, olives, rice, and chicken (I think?). I get all of my recipes from The Inn at the Crossroads, and this year, I want to make another GOT-themed meal. Maybe something they’d serve in the kitchens of Harrenhal…
- Go for at least one hike! I better do this one–I need some nature in my life!
- Do something special for my one-year anniversary with my husband. We got married during my Spring Break last year–April 12 in Reno. We need to do something for this occasion, since we both accidentally missed our other anniversary–the anniversary of our first date, which we have celebrated every year for the last five years. What to do though? Maybe a camping trip or a night in a hotel or something. I have no idea.
- Read The Canterbury Tales! This one is long and difficult! I will be reading TCT in it’s original format (using the footnotes a lot!), so I’m anticipating a very slow rate of reading. Since it’s broken up into each traveler’s tale, I’ll probably set my goal for two tales per day. That way, I should be able to complete the text by the end of April. It’s a moral imperative that I do so! I have been wanting to read this for the last 12 years!
Write a short story that I don’t want to throw in the trash! This is the big goal! I haven’t written a short story since college–ten years ago, to be exact. I want to see if I can write one complete short story that doesn’t make me want to puke! To do this, I have to do the next task as well.
Start writing in my office. Last summer, I turned our spare bedroom into my own personal writing office. All of my writing books are in there, I have a huge desk covered in quotes from my favorite writing texts, pictures of my heroes staring down at me from the wall (two pictures of Stephen King, hard at work on his own writing, as well as my signed picture of Felicia Day, who is one of the hardest-working creators I know of –she’s my lady-hero!) It’s all set up and ready for me, but because I don’t have a working laptop, I haven’t been working in there. But, for Christmas, I got a keyboard to go with my IPad, so I could turn that into a laptop. I need to start making that office work for me! This will have to happen!
So those are my ten goals for Spring Break! If you had a month off from your responsibilities, how would you spend it?
I’ve been reading a lot (yay!), meeting fellow bloggers (Suzy of the Insatiable Booksluts, double-yay!), and not writing much (boo!). But, I will be writing a whole lot more, starting at noon today, as that is the beginning of my Spring Break (hooray! hooray! hooray!). So, here are a couple of things that I need to put out there until my break starts…
First, I want to proclaim that I will be participating in Bloggiesta this weekend. Bloggiesta is a blogging event in which participants vow to set aside time to work on all things blog-related. I’m not sure how big of a participant I will be, but I do need to get some work done on my blog, and I do want to check out some of the advice that will be offered on various blog-related issues during the weekend. My goals for the weekend are:
1. Organize reviews; update links
2. Add copyright information and an affiliation disclaimer to the site
3. Clean up my labels and categories
4. Update/change my sidebar
5. Plan an April reading/writing schedule
6. Comment on starred posts in my GoogleReader
7. Learn something new about blogging
8. Write upcoming posts
9. Practice writing interesting titles
10. Learn how to write my posts on the Pages app on my IPad so that I can migrate to my office (which has no computer)
11. Brainstorm creative new ideas for posts
12. Read lots of blogs and take note on what I like so that I might improve my writing and/or blog
I would also like to announce that I will take part in the Once Upon a Time Challenge, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. I really enjoyed the RIP challenge in the Fall, which SSD also hosted, and I love fantasy, so I’m excited about this challenge. I am going to commit to The Journey, which is simply one book, but I’m actually going to strive for Quest the Second, which requires me to read at least one book from each of the four categories–fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, and myth. I needed some more books to read in April, so this will definitely provide me with an incentive! This challenge goes through Tuesday, June 19.
I think I’ll probably be posting again later on today, so think of this as just a quick hello!
I was always a goody-goody. Never skipped school until college. I didn’t even participate in Senior Skip Day in high school, which was all but posted on the school calendar.
However, if I were to play hooky, I’d want it to be a once-in-a-lifetime, memorable occasion. The following ten characters could surely make it a time I would never forget, or regret!
1. Bastian from The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Now, this guy knows how to skip school! Steal an awesome book from a bookstore, hide out in an attic (or storage room) full of blankets and candles, and literally get sucked into a good book. Plus, he brought supplies- an apple and PbJ, which he’s really good at rationing. I would love to skip a day of school so I could read with Bastian.
2. Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
I’ve always wanted to see New York! I could skip school and explore with Holden at my side…maybe I could even get him to lighten up!
3. Jake from The Waste Lands by Stephen King
I’m still reading The Waste Lands, and Jake just finished the weirdest day of skipping school–opening random doors in hopes of finding a desert, trespassing in vacant lots where he sees and hears trippy things, until he finally passes out in said vacant lot. I know it sounds like Jake might not be the best for a fun day, but he did hang out in a very cool bookstore. Plus, eventually his truancy is going to pay off when he finally finds the door he’s looking for! It would be awesome if I could skip school that day too!
4. Huckleberry Finn from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Just look at this guy! Skipping school so we can do some hunting and fishing, floating down the Mississippi, avoiding danger. I think Huck would be a blast to skip school with!
5. Alice from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Falling down the rabbit hole and exploring Wonderland or another typical day at school? I vote hanging with Alice!
6. Bod from The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
This kid desperately needs a pal! Particularly a pal who can keep him away from the goblins who’d love to steal him away and the psycho who murdered his whole family. He is pretty fun though, with a good imagination and he plays with ghosts in a graveyard. I could skip a day of school to hang out with him.
7. Anne Shirley from the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Now, I know that Anne would never skip school! She’s almost as big of a goody-two-shoes as I am when it comes to school. But, if she did, we would have some fun! We could hang out at the Lake of Shining Waters, imagine ghosts and goblins in the woods, and gossip a bit about Josie Pye!
8. Harry, Hermione, and Ron from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Skipping school with this crew could mean butter beers, hiding under Harry’s invisibility cloak, and standing up to rotten Slytherins. Or getting some sleuthing work done. Either way, it would certainly be a worthy excuse for skipping school!
9. Ponyboy and Johnny from The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
Awww, these cutie pies could use a reassuring voice when they hide out in the abandoned church. I could’ve helped them cut and color their hair so that it didn’t turn out so bad, help them read Gone with the Wind, and fixed them some real food other than bologna sandwiches. Or I could just spend the day giving them hugs and kisses, which is what they so desperately needed!
10. Pippi Longstocking from Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren
Man, this girl is crazy! Check out the spotted horse on her doorstep! If you skip school, head over to Pippi’s house…she can make anything fun and wild!
Tonight’s the night! Season 5 of Mad Men premieres on AMC at 9:00! Two hours!
While I haven’t had to wait as long as other fans (I only just started watching seasons 1-4 in November), I am still very excited to see what’s happening to my favorite characters!
So, today I will be gearing up for the premiere by watching some of my favorite episodes from the past seasons (all previous seasons are streaming on Netflix). These favorite episodes include:
-Warning: Don’t Click on These if You Haven’t Watched the Show–Synopses Contain Spoilers!-
“A Night to Remember” Season 2: Episode 8
“Six-Month Leave” Season 2: Episode 9
“Meditations in an Emergency” Season 2: Episode 13
“Out of Town”: Season 3: Episode 1
“My Old Kentucky Home”: Season 3: Episode 3
“The Grown-Ups”: Season 3: Episode 12
“Shut the Door. Have a Seat.” Season 3: Episode 13
Other Mad Men Links That Have Me All Worked Up!
While watching the last two episodes of The Walking Dead (also on AMC), I loved these Mad Men trailers that link up my two favorite shows! Check ’em out!
and my personal favorite
“and drinks like Hershel used to…” my favorite line!
There’s a lot of reading being done on Mad Men. Flavorwire has compiled “The Definitive ‘Mad Men’ Reading List” for any fans who want to read along. Also, they’ve pulled together a 1966 playlist to act as soundtrack for this season. Check it out!
Then, for those of us planning to really celebrate the return of Mad Men, there’s tips and recipes for throwing a Mad Men premiere party. I think I might try out Joanie’s famous Ginger Snap and Roger Sterling’s Party Nuts!
Can you tell how excited I am? So excited! Just wait until you see how excited I am for the premiere of Game of Thrones—I’m gonna be nuts!