Category Archives: Activities

Summer vacation

While the kids technically have two days left of school, we’re done with scripted schooling. Instead, we’re starting our summer travel tomorrow with a family first – we’re taking the kids on their first multi-day bike trip. We’re planning on a three-day trip around the Niagara Peninsula, which is about 100 miles long. We’ve been training for a month so the kids can handle the 30+ mile days, and we’re hoping the forecast for lots of wind is wrong. But, since I’ll be out on my bike, I won’t be posting book reviews. I will be posting pictures on the family Instagram account – you can follow our travels @rutters_on_the_road.

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Reading Challenges for 2017

It’s a new year, so it’s time to decide what reading challenges I want to set for myself. It’s not that I wouldn’t read without the challenges, but they help to focus my reading for the year. I plan on a mix of old and new challenges this year, as every year. I won’t be doing a 100 book challenge this year. I finally made 100 in 2016 (after a few years of getting oh-so-close), so I don’t need to push myself to make that number again. I will keep track of all the books I read, just because, but it won’t be a specific reading challenge.

Instead, I’m going to focus on trying to finish some book series this year. I very often read a book in a series, enjoy it, and then don’t get around to the next one for a year or more. So, this year, I’m going to try to finish up some book series I have started. I’ll call this the Finish the Series Challenge.

I enjoyed my rereading of the Uplift series this past year. I thought I could continue in this vein with a different series. This year I’m going to try to reread the Outlander series. It’s been made into a TV show and I loved the first season that I recently watched. It’s been so long since I’ve read the books that I don’t even have book reviews written for them. I may not finish the whole series this year, since there are eight of them and I’ll probably get tired of them if I read too many. But, I’ll try to do at least four this year. This is my ongoing Reread Challenge.

And finally, as always, I’ll try to read my way through the alphabet, both authors and titles. It’s the only category challenge I manage to continue the whole year. I’ll keep X, Y, and Z and a single category as well. I’m going to be boring and call it the Reading the Alphabet Challenge again.

If you like your reading challenges with more categories, here’s a couple other choices for you:

The Modern Mrs. Darcy is doing a choose-your-own-adventure challenge, with two different groups of 12 categories. There’s the “put the oomph back in your reading life” list, and the “stretch yourself in 2017” list, or you can do both if you’re a big reader!

POPSUGAR has a 40-category list to help expand and diversity your reading list, with everything from a book with a cat on the cover, to a book by multiple authors, to a book that been on your TBR list too long. If that’s not enough for you, there’s a 12-book advanced list to cover one book a week.

BookRiot has a Read Harder challenge consisting of 24 categories designed to push you outside your reading comfort zone.

If you are a teacher, you might want to check out the WeAreTeachers reading challenge.

The Retellings Reading Challenge encourages you to read retellings of old stories (myths, fables, people’s lives, origin stories, and the like). If you live in the UK and sign up for the challenge, you could even win a book!

And, if that’s not enough for you, try the Anythink Wright Farms Reading Challenge that provides a category for each month.

So, what are you going to read this year?

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2016: Year in Review

Before I get too deep into this year’s reading and start some new reading challenges, I want to see how I did on last year’s challenges.

Rereading Challenge – I finished rereading the Uplift series and definitely enjoyed myself. I think I’ll revisit another series this year.

New Books Challenge – I only got 6 out of the ten books I wanted to read. What I didn’t foresee was how difficult it would be to find new books in the beginning of the year. It really wasn’t until June that I started seeing books published in 2016 show up in my library. To make it more reasonable, I should have said books published in the past two years. If I include the books published in 2015, that adds another 11 books to the challenge. Apparently, I had no problem reading recently published books this past year.

Reading the Alphabet Challenge: My last book of the year finished the challenge! It’s very satisfying to have read the alphabet in both title and author names.

Maybe 100 This Year Challenge – This was finally the year I made 100! It helps when I include books that I listen to as well as books that I read.

If I consider a revision to the New Books Challenge, I finished all of my reading challenges this year. That has got to be a first!

ETA: this is the first year I’ve used Goodreads, and I didn’t realize they do an end of the year summary. I want to remember these numbers (and I’m not sure I’ll be able to find the page later). If you include all the graphic novels I read (which I don’t usually count toward my book total), I read 39,930 pages last year, which I have to say impresses me. My shortest book was Welcome to the Tribe and my longest book was A Dance With Dragons.

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Christmas presents

Christmas was a delightful, low-key affair at our house. The kids were up by 5:15, but let the adults stay in bed until 6:30 – notice I said stay in bed, not sleep since all I could hear was kids feet traipsing up and down the hall near my bed for an hour. The kids got a couple of books for Christmas. They both got graphic novels – Mr. Curiosity got the next Fullmetal Alchemist manga (it even reads backwards – so be forewarned if you pick it up). I think he’s up to volumes 10-12 and he’s still loving the series. Miss Adventure was a bit trickier to buy for, but we ultimately settled on the graphic novel version of Oz: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It won an Eisner Award when it was first published, and continues through six of the Oz books. This one is the story everyone knows from the movie.

Mr. Curiosity got another book for Christmas as well – The Art of Destiny. Destiny is his favorite video game (he bought it for the Xbox and again for the Playstation when we upgraded). This book is full of concept art from the video game – everything from designing the different characters and their supers to the weapons. Every page is full of art, with a bit of text to explain what you’re seeing. If you have a Destiny fan in your life, this is something they would likely enjoy.

I didn’t get any books for Christmas (my husband never knows what to get me, and I like library books anyways). I did get a few great presents, though. My favorite present I didn’t know I wanted was multitool hair clips. Now I can carry around a box cutter and nail file in my hair! My other big gift was a Silhouette Cameo 3. I love doing paper crafts, and this will let me take it to the next level. Plus, it does vinyl for T-shirts or stickers, and glass etching! I sense many projects in my future.

How about you? Did Santa leave you any good books or other presents under the tree?

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the items I mentioned, you can click on the cover image or title to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!

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Thanksgiving break

Just wanted to let all my readers know that I will be taking a bit of a break from the blog. We’re heading to Toronto for a mini-vacation today, and then Thanksgiving is when we come back. Between all the travel, I won’t have time to update the blog with any new book reviews. So, check out some of the archives if you’re looking for a book to read over the holidays, and I’ll be back in a week!

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Harold Washington Library Center, Chicago, IL

We’ve spent the week in Chicago while my husband attended the Joint Statistical Meeting. One of the things we like to do to relax while we’re in a big city is spend some time in the library. Big city libraries can be quite impressive. So, we searched out the main library in Chicago and checked it out.

As expected in Chicago, where there are numerous architectural tours and every other skyscraper has a name, the front of the Harold Washington Library Center was quite imposing.

A ground floor door

A ground floor door

The side view. It was hard to get a good view of the building because it was close to the metro line.

The side view. It was hard to get a good view of the building because it was close to the metro line.

While we usually head straight to the children’s section so the kids can read graphic novels (they’re quick, so you can finish the whole thing in one setting), I like to look around the building. Big libraries like this usually have some impressive artwork, and Chicago didn’t disappoint.

The lights on the ground floor.

The lights on the ground floor.

Make sure you go up all the escalators to see what each floor has to offer. Mr. Curiosity and I were impressed with this bit of art:

The ceiling above the second floor escalators

The ceiling above the second floor escalators

Turns out it’s made of dog tags – one for every soldier who died because of the Vietnam War.

And don’t forget to go all the way up to the ninth floor where there’s a winter garden. This would be an awesome place to visit in the winter to get a bit of sun without the cold and wind.

The winter gardens on the top floor.

The winter gardens on the top floor.

Overall, a hidden little gem and a great way to kill an hour or more in some air conditioning and sitting down.

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Camping hiatus

I hope everyone is having a lovely summer. The family took a couple of days to go camping in Black Moshannon State Park. We had a blast! The hiking isn’t the most exciting, but it’s always nice to hike in the woods. There were hardly any bugs at our campsite. Plus, we could walk to the beach, which we did every day. Thought I’d share a few photos, before I get back to the regularly scheduled book blogging! I’ll also be posting more about our hikes at my tumblr page if you want to see where we hiked.

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The Black Moshannon River where we went paddleboarding

A typical forest view

A typical forest view

Mr. Curiosity and Miss Adventure - who discovered ferns would discourage deer flies.

Mr. Curiosity and Miss Adventure – who discovered ferns would discourage deer flies.

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