Somehow I seem to have taken up reading almost purely books that are part of a series. Call it laziness? I dunno. I call it, hey that book was pretty good, there's another? Fantastic! Gimme, gimme. Heh...

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of Winter Night - Grade: A+. What I said before.

Rick Riordan's The Lightning Thief - Grade: A. I 100% felt like a 10-year-old prepubescent reading this book! L O V E. This book was...genius. The pacing was spot-on, the characters believable, lovable, AND validly humorous! Win, win, win. Let's just hope they don't screw up the movie.

Suzanne Collin's The Hunger Games - Grade: A. I'm not sure what it says about me that I like this book. I feel in a twisted way that makes me just like someone from the Capitol. Hmm. But wow! What a great read! There were slow parts and things that annoyed me, and an occasional unbelievable moment, but I let almost everything slide because the story was so grippingly wonderous.

James Dashner's The Maze Runner - Grade: B+. I feel like with this book Dashner has DEFINITELY come into his prime as an author. His growth and maturity from books like 13th Reality is starkly notable. That said, there were parts of the book that I didn't like flat out and plot elements that really made me reach further than I'm used to doing, but overall the story was dang good. I read through it very quickly and enjoyed myself very thoroughly. I think kids (who not as critical as yours truly) will LOVE this book. I will be picking up the second.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Dragons of Spring Dawning - Grade: A+. Same. I love that as we get further into the series, I forget more and more what actually happens. A chapter that looks boring ends up being spectacularly shocking and breath-taking. These writers are pretty much my idols.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Time of the Twins: Legends, Vol. 1 - Grade: A+. Same x2. :)

Suzanne Collin's Catching Fire (sequel to The Hunger Games) - Grade: B. The whole first half of this book was a drag, and I could have done without it. But I am attached to the characters, so I kept going. SPOILER: [Really, it only got exciting when Cat got put in a second Hunger Games. That's genius! Loved it!] And then of course, the end was a cliff-hanger as usual. Blah. Hurry up April so I can get the third one. Would vote this one definitely at least worth your perusal.

Rick Riordan's The Sea of Monsters (Book 2 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians) - Grade: A-. So this book wasn't quite as good as the first. That one was definitely more captivating, funny, and attention-retaining. But I don't have anything solid to complain about, so I won't.

Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's Test of the Twins - Legends, Vol. 2 - Grade: A+. Ditto. Do these seem useless to you? They are just phenomenal books. I could gush about them for hours. For your own protection, I am curbing my enthusiasm in the name of brevity.

William R. Forstchen's One Second After - Grade: B. Look! A non-series book! *Gasp* This was recommended by a co-worker and for those who don't know is about the threat of EMP in America (a nuclear bomb detonated in the atmosphere which sends out an electrical shockwave frying all technology within thousands of miles beyond repair). The characters weren't always believable and some of the most thought-provoking scenarios/scenes were completely passed over, but I will give the book credit for making me think. I found myself pondering things relevant to my own life (and survival) should such occur, which was definitely, refreshing? I don't know if that's the right word. Anyway, as far as apocalyptic-type fiction goes, I'd still vote for The Road before this. No question.

Marilynne Robinson's Housekeeping - Grade: A-. Ha! Another not-a-series! Although not the first book of hers I've read, nor the last (Home is sitting on my bookcase as I write). Actually, I read this for my Book Group, and I kinda plowed through it since the 20th was getting here rather quickly. I did ponder many of the passages, and her writing as always is ethereally stunning. But I think I'm going to give Gilead the prize on this one. Just liked it more. Connected emotionally with it more. Went back and read it multiple times (and about to read it again). Housekeeping I think was a one-time read. I'm moving on, simple as that.

Here's to 2009 (screw you!) and all the memories (and nightmares...) Let us recap the best of the best.

Best Trip of 2009:

Idaho/Washington Trip with NFJ (which pretty much is the whole post). Hands down, no contest. That trip RULED my summer.

Best Restaurant of 2009:

I'm actually going to go with most FREQUENTED restaurant of 2009, which makes the best. Obviously. That would have to be Toaster's, the coffee shop right down the block where I work (hence part of why I frequent it so freaking much *grin*)

Best Article of 2009:

Yeah, I don't read too many articles, just blogs? So I'm going to opt out on this one.

Best Book of 2009:

Yikes. Hold on to your hats for this one. I mean how many books did I read in 2009? Oh wait 45 (including 11 I haven't reviewed yet - that's coming soon, don't worry!) In reviewing the thousands of pages I've devoured, I'll add myself a caveat here and make this best NEW book of 2009, because let's be honest I did my fair share of re-visiting my favorites this past year.

My impulse is to nominate Cormac McCarthy's The Road as the winner, but even though I posted about it in 09... I think I actually read it in 08. So technically that's cheating. Blah.

The winner will have to be Nina Wright's Homefree.

If I had to pick a second (I don't) I'd probably vote for Jeanette Walls' The Glass Castle

Wow, that one was hard. 45 books people. 45. That's pretty much one a week. ONE A WEEK. I think I rule the reading world. Just sayin'.

Best Movie of 2009:

K, I made this one up. It's not on the approved entries list. But I think it has its place, no? I'm going to have to hand the award over, without hesitation, to the a movie that did what few have done: gained a place on MY movie shelf. You think I'm a book snob? Oh no, I'm a MOVIE snob. I only own like 5. Period. And this is now one. I haven't reviewed it yet (I mean I have... it's just not published because I haven't seen 17 movies so the review post is still a draft... k end long, unimportant tangent) but let's be real for a second. I BOUGHT IT. Therefore, based on the fact that I have bought only 5 movie E V E R... it must be pretty FREAKING AMAZING (it is!) Oh. I didn't tell you what it's called yet. Heh. Son of Rambow.

If I voted in a runner-up, I'd 100% go with Earthsea (Gedo Senki)

Best Night Out of 2009:

Yesh. This one might be harder than the books I read... I keep records of those! I think I'm going to have to vote any of the many nights that we played Werewolves with our friends. Because that game is so freaking fun, I just can't get enough!!!

Best Blog of 2009:

Do you even have to ask? C'mon.

Best Conference of 2009:

I actually went to more than one! But I'm going to have to vote for Guy Francis and our adventure to meet Lois Lowry.

Best Challenge of 2009:

2009. I won't say anything more.

Best Moment of Peace 2009:

Here's a touchy one. I don't know if I can really attest to having one. If I'm going to be honest (this should be it's own confession post) I don't really feel peace all that often. I guess one that counts would be laying out on the trampoline looking at the stars with a very good friend. I love the stars. The temperature was just right. We'd been to dinner, and had good, deep conversation all while star-gazing.

Best Album of 2009:

I'm sure you'll hear much more about them in 2010. And if you ever spend time with me, I'll probably get you to listen to them. I'm only sad I didn't discover them until well into December of 2009. But no contest, the best album of 2009 was:

I abso-frickin-lutely LOVE THEM.

Here's my favorite song for your enjoyment:

(Note: It's not QUITE the same as the version on the CD I bought (I like mine better :P), but close).

Best Rush of 2009:

Definitely almost drowning. That was super fun. (see August 29)

Best Change I Made to the Place I Live in 2009:

Actually having a place (other than boxes) for all of my books again.

Mmm yes. Such a worthy investment. Don't mind the hole up there on the top shelf, left side. That's where my Top 7 Books of ALL Time go. They are out on loan to my BFF/co-worker so she can know the glory of good books. Their place is saved.

And yes. Yes, that is a sword on the bottom shelf <.< I live in a not-so-super-duper-safe-neighborhood, all right?

Best New Food of 2009:

Ever since I left Provo... let's be honest. I miss some things. Like Pita Pit. And Gyros. So we found this place:

I won't lie. It's not ritzy or hella nice. In fact it's pretty divey. I mean, I wouldn't think of going into the bathroom without a full Hazmat suit. But it's just the right combination of ghetto dirty and so freaking delicious that I find myself still eating there. People totally eat at McDonald's. I remind myself of that sometimes when I feel shady for buying two gyros >.>

Best Place of 2009:

I'm going to couple this with another one I just made up - Best Hour of each Day of 2009. That vote is going to have to go to Lunch Hour which means the Best Place of 2009 is definitely Equality Utah. Because let's be honest. It's the break I NEED in the middle of my stressful work day. And my peeps there are fun, loving, wonderful, and just let me kick it (occasionally I even do real volunteer work :P)

Best Tea of 2009:

Yeah, I didn't drink ANY tea in 2009. So I lose. But I'll still totally vote for Dr. Pepper. Any day.

Word or Phrase of 2009:

%*$# YOU!?!

And, well.. that's all Meggers did. So that's all I hold myself accountable for :D

HAPPY 2010!

Coming Soon: 1) Music review circa 2009 - My Top 25 per itunes. 2) Book Reviews Edition 6 - 11 new titles for your perusal. SHAWEET! BE EXCITED!

And cue Winter. Though I don't really know when because there's pretty much been no snow this whole winter in the valley. Not that I'm complaining.

Ushering in December brought its own slew of Holiday get-togethers and reasons for me to make amazing appetizers including my now-famous Bacon-wrapped Water Chestnuts. Yummmers. I think that's really all I want to say about that. I took cute pictures though of my new suit and Turtle got a smokin' new dress.

Toward the end of the month, I of course went home for Christmas. Thankfully it went pretty fast. My synopsis of the experience is: "It could have been worse."

Christmas heralded the attempt to get me a new phone - again. This would mark #7 in one year. Can you believe that? 7 phones. Wow, not the best of years for me and phones. The pre-festivities went rather quickly, and Christmas arrived. Yayness.

Christmas day after opening presents I wanted to get away so BigBro, LilBro and I all went Christmas caching. After all I'd brought bugs from Idaho and needed to get them traded. First stop was right by my house at the end of a street near the lake. Lake Jesup. Alligator-infested Lake Jesup. Awesome. We are led to a pier that is deserted, old, covered in spiderwebs and is kinda creepy. The whole place is giving off tangible creep-o vibes. And pretty much as soon as we get there it decides to start raining. Wonderful. So they kind of want to give up, but I'm determined. There's a bug here and I want it to go to Utah with me. I make the find. It's hidden in a board.

However, when I pulled off the board I discovered it was... inhabited! By more than just the non-living Travel Bug!

Eek! Lizard!

K, so the Lizard was gross, but not enough to make me drop it. But if you look closely there's a spider at the bottom! OMG SPIDER!!! I screamed and dropped the board.

No sooner did it hit the ground than THREE different kinds of spider crawled out and started scurrying around, along with a scorpion-esque earwig thingy...

EW TO THE MAX!!! Needless to say I was freaking out a little bit now. OMH there are creeper bugs EVERYWHERE!! And I'm supposed to open that bag and get something out!?!?! AIEEEEEE. But I got a stick and did it anyway because I'm hardcore dedicated like that. It took forever though and the rain got uber worse until we were soaked through. What a harrowing experience! That was the end of caching for the day.

The next day I didn't want to be at my house either. So the three cachers went out again for more excitement. There was one cache that happened to be across an icky red river and the only way across was this tiny tree that had fallen. Wonderful. BigBro opted to stay back with LilBro because he had a gigantic boot cast on his foot (but came caching anyway with a trash bag taped over it so it wouldn't get dirty lol), and I had to make the find by myself. After caching a number of hours, I left those brothers and went to find my bro J who was playing Frisbee. Can I say how awesome Ultimate Frisbee is? I could play all day. And I'm thankful I can. After that I still wasn't ready to be home so I went for a 2 mile run and cached some more along the way. BigBro and I released our own Travel Bugs for a race across America! FUN!!! The run back to my house my leg was killing me and I was feeling again because this should not be... sigh. I still have issues to work out clearly. Night arrived and we tried to go bowling but they wouldn't take our coupon so we said screw you and went home and watched a movie.

I was there almost a week. It wasn't as bad as it could have been. It's been worse in the past. There are still problems, and there's still drama and pain, but we get through it and I was more than glad to be back in Utah.

New Year's Eve arrived quickly, for which I was glad. Because it meant the END. The end of the worst year of my life. I was all too happy to say "[EXPLETIVE] YOU 2009!" We spent the day cooking (I made my water chestnuts again for like the 4th time in 3 weeks lol Once I learned I just couldn't make them enough!) We spent the evening with my dear friend Violeta and her friends. It was a relaxing evening, we played some games, ate some food, hung out, and kissed 2009 GOOD RIDDANCE. W O O T.

2010 arrived and I couldn't have been happier. The year began with a wonderful new addiction. I think for like two days I didn't even get out of bed or get dressed. Heh. Genius. The addiction completely eradicated the first 11 days of 2010 (don't worry, I still went to work... I just may not have thought much about working at work... only about 5:30 arriving. Good times). And then I won. And my life resumed.

So that's the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010 (now that it's March >.>). The next few posts will be 2009 in review courtesy of good ol' Meggers who started it. Early/on time I will add.


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