Autograph Ninja: Book Edition

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It’s no secret that I love a good autograph (see The Autograph Ninja and The Autograph Ninja Strikes Again). I’ve collected signatures from actors, musicians, and authors over the years and apparently my friends have noticed. Most of the recent autographs I’ve acquired have been gifts and that makes them all the more special to me.

Last Christmas, a co-worker was my Secret Santa. She got me hooked on Outlander by giving me the first book in the series a few months before. I loved it and couldn’t wait to read the next book. I almost died when I opened my Christmas gift – it was a signed copy of Dragonfly in Amber. The funny thing is, I was her Secret Santa, too. I got her an Outlander coloring book!

 

One of the most sentimental autographs I’ve ever received came from a dear friend that passed away a few years ago. We shared a love of the Maisie Dobbs series and often read the newest release together. The last Christmas gift he gave me was signed copy of a title I was missing in my collection of the series, Pardonable Lies, (I borrowed it from him originally). It remains one of my most precious memories of him.

The same friend also gave me a signed copy of Hide Tide in Tucson by Barbara Kingsolver. He was a huge fan of Kingsolver and was pretty determined to convince me to read everything she’s ever written (I’m working on it!). He gave it to me shortly before he passed away. I like to think he knew I’d take care of it for him. He was right. I will.

Sometimes, I’m lucky enough to come across autographs on my own. I love how Barnes & Noble started offering signed editions of books around the holidays. I treated myself to a signed copy of Heartless by Marissa Meyer. I love her series, The Lunar Chronicles, so it was so exciting to snag a signed copy of her most recent novel.

The last and most recent autographs were gained the old fashioned way – I went to Phoenix Comicon and waited in line! The book is Q-Squared by Peter David. I bought it 23 years ago (with my first ever paycheck!) and always hoped I’d get Peter David to sign it as he is one of my favorite sci-fi writers. It turns out he was scheduled to be at Phoenix Comicon, along with the actor who plays Q on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I decided to have my book signed by both.

I struck gold with John de Lancie (Q). He turned out to be a pretty cool guy with a serious love of history. Once he found out I was a history teacher, we had a nice chat about books to read and the general scope of historical events.

Unfortunately, Peter David had to leave Comicon early due to a family emergency, but he did leave behind index cards with his autograph for fans to pick up. It’s too bad the autograph isn’t directly on my book, but I’ll take it nonetheless – it’s still his autograph!

While it’s always more fun to get autographs by meeting an author, it’s incredibly special to receive them as gifts as well. In many ways, a gifted autograph takes on all the more meaning as it came from someone who cared enough to give it to me.

 

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c.b.w. 2017

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The Annual Trek To Book Heaven

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There’s nothing more a bibliophile loves more than a HUGE used book sale. Every year, I get to bask in the largest book sale in the state and it never gets old.

I arrived with empty bags and a lot of hope that I’d find something good. However, I had to somewhat behave this year given the fact that I just decluttered my bookshelves. I didn’t want to just fill them right back up again and undo all of my decluttering progress!

My first stop was the craft section. Over the last couple of years, I’ve come home with some amazing finds in knitting patterns – especially vintage. This year was no different. I found a great array of knitting magazines, but also a sweater pattern book and needlecraft how-to guide from 1945. The patterns in these books are pure gold as they are simple and timeless.

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The selection of knitting books was a little more sparse this year, but I still found a few good ones. My favorite is, Knit Your Own Dog. I’ve seen this book before and always wanted it.

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While I was combing through the rest of the craft section, my mom was in the collectibles section. She spotted this great visual reference guide for collectible Barbie and held onto it for me. It is beyond amazing!

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I hit the fiction section next. This is where I really had to control my inner urge to snap up any book that looks remotely interesting. That’s tough to do when most are only $3 or less! I decided to only pick up books that are on my to-read list or can pass the first page test (i.e. I can’t fight the urge to turn the page and keep reading). I ended up with small, yet intriguing group of books.

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Last, but not least, I hit the poetry section. My goal is always the same: haiku anthologies. They are tough to find! At the same time, I was looking to find anything inspiring or interesting in short verse poetry. Two of the books I found are pictured above with my fiction finds. Art and Wonder pairs poetry with famous works of art –  I can’t wait to read it!

In the haiku realm, I managed to find two anthologies and a couple of interesting takes on modern Japanese poetry. Flipping through them, I can see they are inspired by haiku, but other forms as well. I’m looking forward to exploring them.

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The grand total for my treasures? $24.25. All in all, it was a great day at the book sale!

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c.b.w. 2017

My Year in Books: 2016

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Another great year of reading has passed. With just a few days to spare, I achieved my Goodreads Reading Goal for 2016. I read 35 books (for a total of 10,854 pages). Not bad considering my crazy busy schedule and obsessive knitting habit!

It seems only fitting to hand out some Reading Awards for my year in books:

Favorite Read

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

It may not have been the novel we were hoping for, but the script for a stage play was more than enough for me. Revisiting Harry Potter’s world was not only welcomed, but a strong reminder of why we loved it in the first place.

Biggest Surprise

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer

I’m not a huge reader of thrillers, so it was surprising in an of itself to pick up Stephenie Meyer’s latest book. As a fan of her previous works, I decided to give it a shot and I’m glad I did. Meyer is fantastic at constructing relationships between characters and creating a world for the reader to escape to and experience with those characters. This is a thriller for girls and all it asks of you is to let go of reality and enjoy the ride.

Biggest Disappointment

Conversion by Katherine Howe

I had a high hopes walking into this one as I love Howe’s previous novels (in particular, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane). However, her YA effort never really got off the ground. While the premise of a mysterious illness sweeping a private school is intriguing, especially with supernatural undertones, the story trudged along without any sense of resolution.

Best New Series

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

I haven’t read the last book of the series, yet, but the first three easily qualify as among the best reads this year. Meyer’s unique twist on fairytales, gives the genre a new place to operate and it is so much fun. Who would have thought Cinderella could be a cyborg?

Best Continuing Series

Journey to Munich (Maisie Dobbs #12) by Jacqueline Winspear

I fell in love with this series a few years ago and the latest installment did not disappoint. The continuing journey of Maisie is one worth following as she hones her natural skills as a detective and navigates the stormy waters of grief.

Best Recommended Book

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

A friend gave me a copy of Outlander and insisted I read it. Wow! It was beyond fantastic! I know I’m way behind the rest of the world on this one, but I’m catching up!

Favorite New (To Me) Author

Charlie Lovett

The Bookman’s Tale turned out to be one of my favorite books in 2016. The main character was not only relatable to me as introvert, but his emotional journey as a widower was beautifully drawn. Add in a Shakespearean mystery and you’ve got an incredible read!

Most Emotional Read

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

I didn’t just cry, I bawled. This is one of the most moving, humorous, and heartfelt novels I’ve read in a long time. The sequel, Me After You is just as good.

Best Non-Fiction

Creative Schools by Sir Ken Robinson

As an educator looking to revitalize the classroom, Robinson is must-read material. His latest provides enlightening and thought-provoking ideas on how to give public education a much-needed facelift.

My full reading list for 2016 can be viewed on My Bookshelf.

The Year Ahead:

I’m already constructing my To Read pile for 2017. So far, these are the titles I’m  most excited to read:

Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Tales from Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare and others

The Bane Chronicles by Cassandra Clare and Sarah Rees Brennan

In This Grave Hour (Maisie Dobbs #13) by Jacqueline Winspear

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon

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How was your reading year?

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c.b.w. 2016

 

 

 

Haiku On Display

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Earlier this year, I entered some haiku into a local competition associated with the Arizona Matsuri Festival. Having had some success last year, (see A Haiku Victory!), I decided to give it a go, again.

This time around, I decided to write contemporary haiku that doesn’t abide in the “traditional” 5-7-5 syllable format. Even though the competition defined haiku as having strict syllable rules, there was a tiny mention of how contemporary English language haiku does not follow the same rules. Seeing as most of my haiku fall between 9 and 12 syllables, I was thrilled to get the chance to compete with my chosen format of haiku.

The gamble paid off! I ended up getting published in the Haiku Expo 2016 eBook, with a haiku that earned the rank of Outstanding in the competition. Only 41 out of 830 entries received an Outstanding rank, so I’m pretty excited to see my name listed in that group!

The eBook is free and is well worth downloading. It’s a beautiful collection of haiku from all different age ranges.

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During the festival, my haiku was on display at the Haiku Expo booth along with other Outstanding and Honorable Mention winners.

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Publication in any form is a nice way to start the writing year! 🙂

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c.b.w. 2016

My Annual Book Paradise

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Every year I look forward to the second weekend in February. An exhibition building at the state fairgrounds transforms into a book lover’s paradise with row after row of books. We’re talking thousands upon thousands of used books at ridiculously cheap prices all up for grabs for those willing to get up early and pick through the stacks. For 60 years, the VNSA Book Sale has offered this annual event.

Better yet, on Sunday everything is half off the sticker price!! It’s like the bibliophile and bargain hunter in me combine forces for an ultimate day of fun. I’ve written of this magical day previously, (see Bookapalooza and Another Great Book Adventure), but it never gets old. This year’s book adventure yielded some fantastic finds!

For my reading pleasure, I stocked up on some fiction from authors I know as well as a few I don’t. As usual, I relied on my Book Vibe to select a few wild card books to shake up my reading year. Out of the known authors, I’m thrilled to get my hands on works by Banana Yoshimoto and Milan Kundera. Nothing in my fiction stack cost more than $2.

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Hmmm … What should I read first!?

The Art History book sitting at the bottom is a golden find. I’m lugging that thing to work as an added resource for the AP Art History course I teach. It includes sections on African, Oceanic, and Korean art that my other textbooks lack. The best part is it was only $4!

My favorite finds of the day came from the craft section. I loaded up on knitting magazines and books. My favorite knitting magazine, Interweave Knits, was plentiful in supply at only 50¢ a piece. I snagged several knitting books for around $2 each; all full of new patterns and techniques.

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This should keep me busy!

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So much to knit, so little time!

However, my favorite knitting book find is Knitting for Peace. I’m looking to start a knitting club at the school where I work that teaches students how to knit, while also benefiting charity. This book offers charity information, patterns, and advice for setting up a club of this nature.

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Knitting can make a difference!

Buried in the craft section was a gem of a book called Japanese Stencil Designs. For only 50¢ I got a stunning collection of prints that are reproducible. I’m thinking these prints are going to look awesome when paired with some of my haiku –  a chapbook is on the horizon!

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Japanese Stencil Print

Along with a few other odds and ends, the grand total came to $36. Between cheap books and time with family (we always go together), it was a perfect day!

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c.b.w. 2016