Category Archives: 50/50

Mid-year-ish Reading Recap

I meant to write this one up at the end of June or beginning of July, but it has been a whirlwind of activity around here: horse camp, the Betsy-Tacy convention. I’m almost never this much of a social butterfly. July has been one hot, busy month, but totally worth it. In fact, I almost don’t know what to do with myself this weekend.

On to the reading (and watching) challenges!

Fifty/Fifty Me challenge

The challenge here is to read fifty books and watch fifty movies during 2012. Where I’m at:

  • Books: 52
  • Movies: 12

Yes, try not to laugh at that. All I can say is if I’m awake enough in the evenings to enjoy entertainment of some sort, I’m almost always going to reach for a book rather than fire up a movie. That’s just how I roll.

If you want to see what I’ve been reading, check out my Pinterest board. It has a list (minus the seven I read for the Rita contest and can’t disclose) of what I’ve read so far this year.

If you want to see the (limited) number of movies I’ve watched, look here.

War Through the Generations WWI reading challenge

I’ve made my goal! And by mid-year! However, I do hope to read a few more WWI books (at the very least).

To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild (review here)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Fantastic middle grade novel that should appeal to adults as well. One of my favorite constructs–the story within a story. This one is on audio as well and would make a good summer road trip book.

The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West

I discovered this one thanks to a Facebook post. Yes! Facebook! Good for something.

A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

WWI mystery. If you like the Maisie Dobbs series, this is a good choice for historical/WWI mysteries.

That’s it! I hope everyone else is keeping on track with their reading/watching challenges so far this year. Hey, there’s still plenty of time to make your goals.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, War Through The Generations

Reading recap for March: Fifty/Fifty update

I have been reading, but haven’t been updating or writing reviews recently. Uh. Clearly. Here’s what I have for March in the Fifty/Fifty challenge:


  1. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (William C. Morris Debut Award and the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature)
  2. Sapphique (Incarceron) by Catherine Fisher (The sequel to Incarceron–read that first)
  3. The Return of the Soldier by Rebecca West (WWI Challenge book)
  4. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (a middle grade novel in verse–wonderful)
  5. Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King (Love A.S. King)
  6. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (Cute!)
  7. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan by Rick Riordan (About time I read this)


None. Surprise! But now that I’ve caught up on Downton Abbey, I plan on watching some. Honest.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, War Through The Generations, YA

Fifty/Fifty check in: week 8 and 9

I didn’t bother with last week’s Fifty/Fifty check in, since all I finished was Rita book #6. So again, I’m giving you a two for one.

Not movies, again–sadly. However, I really want to see The Artist and Kyra want to see The Secret World of Arrietty. The trick is making that happen. In the meantime, I’ve still manage to read and watch a few things.


How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play by Barbara Baig

I “bought” a copy of this for my Kindle during a promotion last year. I say “bought” because I think it was actually free at the time or 99 cents. Either way, an excellent deal. Have you always wanted to write but don’t know where to start–as in, literally, no idea. This is the perfect book.

I really like the emphasis on deliberate practice and using writing to learn how to write. This isn’t a book where you learn point of view or fantasy world-building, but it will get you writing. Even though I’ve been writing for a while, I never refuse helpful hints and techniques. I really love the idea of the zero draft (will be using that a lot more as I go forward) along with some excellent tips for doing “required writing” (again, spot on).

In fact, even if you’re not a writer, but need to do some “required” type writing for work or school, I really recommend those chapters.

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

A very interesting and detailed look at Germany between the wars, in particular 1933 – 1934, although the author takes us through 1938 and a bit beyond. I always enjoy this in-depth, personal view of historical events. I spent a lot of time in the car (this was one of my audio-reads) marveling at the things I didn’t know about this time period. Well worth the listen!

Rita Book #6

Rita Book #7

And there was much rejoicing! I finished this one on Friday evening and put the final score in on Saturday morning. Done and ahead of the deadline.


Not a movie, but I start in on the second season for Downton Abbey. I bought the DVD, not only so I could watch whenever I wanted to but for all the extras as well. This is my reward for making it through all the Rita reading.

That being said, during January and February this year I somehow managed to read 20 books! I think that should earn me a break for a few movies to round out my challenge.

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Fifty/Fifty check in: week 6 and 7

I missed week six’s Fifty/Fifty check in, so here’s two for one, both week six and week seven recap.

Still no movies. And now that we’ve added selling Girl Scout cookies to the schedule, I’m not sure when I actually will watch another movie. However, I’m not giving up on that part of the challenge. It’s just … delayed.


State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

This book has been described as a female version of Heart of Darkness–and I can see that. I don’t think I liked this one as much as I liked Bel Canto. However, I do love Ann Patchett’s writing, so this was well worth my while.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Unlike many readers, I already knew a great deal about the deportations and the forced labor camps of the Stalin years. (One of the side effects of majoring in Russian.) That didn’t make it any less powerful. I would highly recommend this one to young adult readers, especially those interested in this part of history.

The prose is spare by lyrical and the story and the history is presented in a way that’s very accessible. Last year, Andrew tackled One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich and while he found it very interesting, there were events I had to explain to him. I don’t think younger readers will have that problem with this book.

Rita Book #4

Rita Book #5

And that’s it. Once I’m through with the Rita books, I’ll be able to talk about everything I’m reading.

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Fifty/Fifty check in: week 5

Week 5 Fifty/Fifty check in! Welcome to February!

I’m still experiencing the books vs. movies conundrum. I don’t think this is going to change until I finish the Rita reading. Then maybe I’ll double up on movies in March and April to catch up.

So all I have this week is books. No surprise there. I always have books.


250 Things You Should Know About Writing by Chuck Wendig

This is not writing advice for the faint of heart. Trust me on this. When something is described as:

… a booze-soaked, profanity-brined, Zen-lacquered look at the craft and art of writing, one list of “25 Things” at a time.

One should not complain when it actually is (looking at you, one-star reviews). I read this book a bit at a time over the past two weeks or so, every morning, while I drank my Gatorade after exercising. Some people read devotionals in the morning. I chose this. Not sure what that says about me. Probably nothing flattering.

Rita Book #3

Finished this one yesterday afternoon while Kyra played with all the cleaning supplies (the mop got married to the broom–I think). Started Book #4 last night.


Wait! I do have something else this week, although it’s not a book or a movie. My mom and I went to see Ragtime at the Park Square Theatre today! It was incredible. The Park Square has really been on fire this season.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, RWA

Fifty/Fifty check in: week 4

Week 4 Fifty/Fifty check in! Can you believe that January is almost over?

This week, I’m again experiencing the books vs. movies conundrum. I read three books. I watched … zero movies. I’d planned to watch a movie last night, had it all picked out and everything. But then I weighed my options and realized the wiser decision was to finish Rita book #2.

And it was the wiser decision; it really was. If I keep pace at one book a week, then I’ll finish up before the deadline with a few days to spare. After I’m done, I’ll have to have a movie madness month to catch up on the challenge. Or maybe I could get the flu and watch an endless stream of them (she says optimistically).

So, here’s my check in for the week:

To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918 by Adam Hochschild (War Through the Generations challenge book)

First book for the WWI War Through the Generations challenge and it was a good one. I won’t say much about it here, because I’ll be writing a longer review for the challenge, but I really enjoyed this.

iDrakula by Bekka Black

I picked this up at the library on a whim and read it while I was sitting poolside at Kyra’s swim lessons. It was cute, quick, and fun–a modern retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula with text messages, emails, web pages, and so on. It was the perfect thing to read in between Rita book #2 and Rita book #3.

Rita Book #2

Finished this one last night. Onward with book #3.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, RWA, War Through The Generations

YALSA 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults: Get Your Geek On!

So excited to announce that The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading is a YALSA 2012 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults pick in the Get Your Geek On category!

In fact, I’m so excited, I keep checking the list–and then zooming past our listing. Then I’m all:

Oh, no! I just announced this to the world and look, we’re not there!

Then I check again. Yes, yes. We’re (still) there.

In the words of Darcy: I ❤ librarians.

We do. It’s true. Also true? There’s some good reading in those lists. Just from 2012, you can choose from:

  • Adventure Seekers
  • Forbidden Romance
  • Get Your Geek On
  • Sticks and Stones

But take a look at all the lists compiled through the years. If you’re doing the Fifty/Fifty challenge, you could build a major or a minor based on those categories.

So, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

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Fifty/Fifty check in: week 3

Ah, week three and I’m well on my way in reading and writing (the watching, not so much this week). How can you tell I’m working on a new project? The posts on my blog go way down. It’s like I have only one writing mode, and right now, that mode is fiction.

But I’m committed to updating at least once a week and to the Fifty/Fifty challenge.


Understanding Anemia by Ed Uthman

I should probably state for the record that I read this for writing research purposes only (although I have actually been anemic, but never mind that). See the part above where I’m working on a project. This ties into that.

But even if it didn’t? It’s a really interesting and well written book. You don’t need more than high school level biology to understand it. Even if you don’t remember your high school biology, the author has included handy appendices on cell biology, the metric system, and so on.

Plus, he’s pretty funny to boot. When was the last time you read a text book that proclaimed:

The spleen, however, is not amused.

This is just one of many examples. So, if you need to understand anemia, this is a great place to start.

May B. by Caroline Starr Rose

May B. is a middle grade novel in verse about a girl trapped by herself in a tiny sod house during the winter. Kyra and I read this together, each of us taking turns reading a verse at a time.

We loved it. Of course, Kyra is already a fan of history and “old fashion girls” as she says. The writing is evocative and we could “see” the story play out before our eyes.

If you’re a fan of the Little House books (and old fashion girls in general), I highly recommend this one.

Rita Book #1

This is the main reason I didn’t watch a movie this week for the challenge (although I’m seriously thinking of changing that next week). I got my box of books for the Rita contest. I will pretty much be a reading fool for the next several weeks. And that’s all I can say about that.


Filed under 50/50, Books, Reading, Reading & Writing, RWA, Writing

Fifty/Fifty check in: week 2

A little late with the Fifty/Fifty check in this week, although I got my reading and watching done (and some writing, that’s why I’m late with the check in).

In books, I was all about self-help. In movie(s), it was all about the crying.


The Productive Writer: Tips & Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less & Create Success by Sage Cohen.

This book is pretty much what it says it is. Tips and tools for writing more and finding what you want to write as well. One huge plus is the author presents the material as options, not as “must do’s.” If you don’t know where to start in organizing your writing life, this would be a good first stop.

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

It must be the New Year! We’re all about productivity and success. This was my audio book for the weekly commute and I also enjoyed. I’m all revved up now to tackle the world–or at least my little corner of it.


War Horse (film)

War Horse: A recent movie! In a theater! I know. And one that involves crying in public. Even better. Especially when it involves crying with one’s daughter in public.

Yeah, I took Kyra (and Andrew–I wasn’t too worried about him). Initially, I wasn’t sure this would be a good idea. Especially when Kyra sat through the Titanic preview (now in 3D!) with both hands clamped over her mouth.

Two and a half hours later, we emerged, tear-stained and emotionally drained. But it was worth it. She did like the movie; she loved Joey the horse (she’s a horse girl). Plus, both kids like history, so this spurred all sorts of conversations afterward. Kyra wants to learn more about World War I. (And how many nine-year-olds say that?)

Visually, the film is stunning (sometimes hard to watch, but stunning all the same). It’s been a while since I’ve sen a movie in a theater and I don’t regret choosing this one.

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Fifty/Fifty check-in: week 1

Well, week one of 2012, and I’m off to a pretty good start. If you stop in at the Fifty/Fifty site, you’ll see others are as well.


I started the New Year with a couple of special books.

The Giver

The Giver by Lois Lowry

This was the Kindle deal of the day on December 30th and I immediately downloaded it. I gobbled it up as the first book of the New Year, only slightly embarrassed that I haven’t read it before now. The book was the 1994 Newbery Medal winner and I look forward to sharing it with Kyra in a year or two.

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

I downloaded this novel in verse as soon as it was available on Kindle. A few years back, I was lucky enough to judge this book in manuscript form in a couple of writing contests. It was one of those entries that left me with that WOW feeling. It was so much fun to read it in its published form. Check out Sarah’s site for more information on novels in verse.


Gosford Park

I watched one movie this week, although it wasn’t easy. See yesterday’s post to find out why.

Despite the distractions, I enjoyed Gosford Park. I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to watch it. Actually, I can (again, see yesterday’s post).

My movie list this year will be a long parade of Really? You haven’t seen that? Embarrassing as this is, there’s an upside: think of all the good movies I can put on my list.

Looking forward to week two!

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