Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Blogging & Reading Resolutions

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Yes, I am one of those people who get stupidly excited as it gets closer to New Year's and makes lots of grand plans and resolutions. Whether or not I actually achieve them is another story completely ...

Anyway, I thought I'd start with a quick look back at my 2011 Blogging and Reading Resolutions:

Read 100 books – Done! Whilst I didn’t beat my 133 total from 2010, I pulled a decent 115 this year. This was made up predominantly of YA fiction, but also included a number of biographies and personal fiction (Tori Spelling, Rob Lowe, Anthony Bourdain, Mindy Kaling and Tina Fey) and some adult fiction.

Post more consistently – eeeep, definitely not done! Despite good intentions, my posting schedule this year (especially over the last couple of months) was sporadic at best. The big difference in 2011 was that I was working full-time, which obviously gives me less blogging time.

Write higher-quality reviews – ehhh, whilst I think I improved slightly in quality from 2010, I still think my 2011 reviews could have been more polished.

Comment more – another area I did not do so well in. I think I was even worse in 2011 than in 2010 at commenting! I do feel like my Google Reader is a bit out of control and I don’t manage it as well as I should. I’d like to do a bit of a clean-up and really make the effort with leaving comments on posts I enjoy or that get me thinking – and also ensure that I leave well-thought comments instead of just ‘great review’.

Attend more literary events – yay, something I improved in! In 2011, I was fortunate enough to attend Reading Matters, the Emerging Writers Festival, Melbourne Writers Festival (school’s program) and a Booktalkers event at the State Library.

And now for 2012 (actually given my mixed success with the 2011 resolutions, they are somewhat similar)

Read 120 books - I want to step it up a bit and try and read more than I did in 2011. I'd also like to keep trying to move out of my reading comfort zone (contemporary YA) a little bit more - so feel free to recommend me books you think I'd like.

Making better use of my blogging time - I'm going to have less 'free' time in 2012, as not only am I working full-time, but I've also decided to take on further study (yay!). I'd still like to keep going with My Girl Friday and do to this, I want to work on making better use of my blogging time (as right now, about 80% of it involves faffing about on the internet and 20% involves actually writing ....). I think a blogging calendar and the scheduling assistant will become my new best friends.

Expand my blogging horizons - for those of you who are long-time readers (all five of you), you might remember I used to have baking and food posts. Well, I'm determined to bring this back in 2012 (hey, my tagline has always been fiction, film and food), as well as starting to write more about film (my other love), Melbourne and other things that interest me (and that I think you guys will like to).

Write better quality posts and invest time and effort into creating pieces I'm truly proud of - no explanation needed.

Lovely readers, I'd like to know what your 2012 resolutions are (blogging, reading, personal).
Feel free to share in the comments!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Festive Wishes

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Hi friends,


Just wanted to take a minute to wish you all the very best for the festive season. I hope you all have a lovely break, however you choose to spend or celebrate it. I'm about to sit down and watch my absolute favourite Christmas film, It's A Wonderful Life (which still makes me cry, even though I've watched it every Christmas Ever for the past ten years - seriously, once George Bailey runs through Bedford Falls, I am a mess).

I hope you've  all had a great 2011 and wish everyone the best for 2012! I'll be taking a little blogging break, but will be back in the New Year, with new reviews, new features and hopefully a fresh look.

Merry Christmas!

Steph

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Directions in 2012


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Hello! I won't bore you all with apologies, but I'm sure you've noticed how quiet it's been on here lately. Basically I feel since I went to the US in September, I've never managed to get back on top of things, both here and at work. I think I've lost a little bit of my blogging mojo - partly because of time constraints, partly just being a bit burnt out. Anyway, I've decided to make some changes for this blog come 2012 and I'd like to share some of these with you.

Firstly (and most importantly) in 2012, I will only be reviewing Australian young adult titles in detail. I've been struggling with writing reviews this year, and so I've decided to concentrate on quality over quantity - I will committ to reviewing three Australian YA novels a month (and a mix of new releases and backlist titles).  That's not to say I won't occasionally write about other titles - because obviously I'm really excited about The Fault in Our Stars and Isla and the Happily Ever After, and I'll probably use my Snack Size feature to share my thoughts on these titles.

I've also started to create a 2012 Australian YA Calendar, to mark when new titles are publishing this year. At the moment, I'm only listing Aussie Contemporary YA, and will continue to add and update this thoughtout the year. If I've missed anything you think I should know about, please let me know.

I'm really looking forward to this new direction and some of my other plans, which I hope to reveal very soon.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Queen of the Night

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine to "spotlight upcoming releases".

I have been so excited for this book, since hearing whispers about it on Twitter earlier in the year. I adored This is Shyness (which I reviewed here).

Queen of the Night - Leanne Hall
Publisher: Text Publishing
Publication Date: February 27th, 2012

From Text: The dark is dangerous. So is the past. So are your dreams. For six months Nia—Wildgirl—has tried to forget Wolfboy, the mysterious boy she spent one night with in Shyness—the boy who said he’d call but didn’t.
Then Wolfboy calls. The things he tells her pull her back to the suburb of Shyness, where the sun doesn’t rise and dreams and reality are difficult to separate. There, Doctor Gregory has seemingly disappeared, the Darkness is changing and Wolfboy’s friend is in trouble. And Nia decides to become Wildgirl once more.

I can't wait to revist Shyness and the characters I fell in love with in  This is Shyness. Also, isn't this cover just divine?  For more information about Queen of the Night, be sure to check out Text's website.

What upcoming releases are you most looking forward to?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Favourite Christmas Specials


It's no secret that I'm kind of a Christmas freak, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that I love a good Christmas special. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favourites with you:

Community: Regional Holiday Music
My most recently viewed Christmas special, and I loved pretty much every minute of this Glee-spoof. By now, you all probably know that my love of Christmas is only surpassed by my love of musicals so it was win/win all round for me. Even Annie’s song Teach Me How to Understand Christmas, spoofing Santa Baby (one of my all-time most-intensely-disliked Christmas songs) made me laugh. Whilst season two’s Christmas special was great, I definitely enjoyed this one more.

Sorry - I can't get the video to embed, but please watch this example of awesomeness that is Troy and Abed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1X6hG2u89xk

Misfits: Christmas Special
What a way to cap off an amazing second season! I love this episode (with the exception of the final five minutes - which I'm pretty sure everyone else who has seen this would agree with me). There's so many brilliant (and awkward moments) - and I adored the introduction of preggers teen Marnie (I totally ship her and Nathan). There's also creepy Jesus, some lovely Simon/Alisha bits,

Scrubs: My Own Personal Jesus
I used to be a really big Scrubs fan (though I stopped watching around season six I think), and this episode is back from the early days of season one. I love that is does touch upon the spiritual aspect of Christmas, without being preachy or schmaltzy - just the right amount of warm and fuzzies. The whole 're-finding your Christmas spirit' as a plot is an oldie, but a goodie (when done well).

I also really like:
That 70s Show: An Eric Foreman Christmas
Veronica Mars: An Echolls Family Christmas
Big Bang Theory: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis

What are your favourite Christmas specials?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Hello December!

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Can you believe it's December already? Am I the hundreth person to bring this up to you in the last two days? (if so, I'm sorry). This year has flown by (which is scary) but I have to admit, I'm pretty excited now we've hit December as it's my hands-down my favourite time of year. I think I shared this tidbit last December, but for those of you who don't know, I am a heart-thumping, carol-whistling, gift-wrapping fanatical Christmas lover. So for me, the next month will be full of baking, present wrapping, and watching Christmas movies. I'll be sharing some of these with you on the blog this month (a warning to anyone with grinch-ish tendencies), and then some of my planned blog changes will be in effect in the new year.

I hope everyone else is enjoying the start of the holiday season! Here's one of my favourite videos, A Charlie Brown Christmas - performed by the cast of Scrubs.