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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Very Belated December 2013 Recap

*crickets*

Umm, hi. So that little hiatus I took from the blog somehow got extended by a few weeks. By an unfortunate coincidence, several family members passed away over the holidays, which put a bit of a damper on the festivities and meant me needing a few more weeks off from the blog than I had planned. But I'm tentatively ready to get back into the swing of things and I'm certainly ready to get back to reading. I think I've finally overcome my reading slump (thanks to the Throne of Glass prequel novellas)!

Though December wasn't the cheery, relaxing month I had hoped it would be, it was at least very nice to make it home for Christmas to see family and friends again. I was also fortunate enough to come home to several very thoughtful bookish gifts given to me by some blog friends!
Presents from Alex, Ambur, Sara
From Ambur
From Cassie
How well do these girls know me?! These gifts are all amazingly perfect and I couldn't be more grateful to have friends who put so much thought into getting things they know I will like. It was a hard time for me this past month, but these gifts still managed to put a big smile on my face!


And something else that pleased me this month:
I read 100 books in a year for the first time ever! HUZZAH! In 2011, I completed my challenge to read 50 books and in 2012, I completed my challenge to read 75 books, and now I'm up to 100 books read in 2013! Dare I challenge myself to read 125 books in 2014?! ...Heh, no. I suspect 2014 will be a very busy year for me so I'm conservatively setting my goal at 50 for now and then I'll upgrade it later on in the year if I'm doing well.


There were two movies of note for me in December 2013:
First, The Desolation of Smaug. Smaug was EVERYTHING. The special effects were spectacular in this movie. In fact, I loved it all... except for the cheesy romance. That, I could have done without. Don't get me wrong, I was thrilled to see a new female character in Middle Earth as they are few and far between. But just because you introduce a female character doesn't mean you have to have her fall in love after one conversation and give up everything to save him. Isn't it enough for her just to be awesome in her own right?

Second, 12 Years A Slave. I don't have a whole lot to say about this movie except that it is poignant, beautifully acted, and necessary. Just excellent.


Best Book Read in December:
Woo, I FINALLY read The Book Thief this month and now I know what all the fuss is about. It definitely left a great impact on me and I expect many images and quotes from the story will remain with me for many, many years to come. Review to come!

Previously, My Life in November: OBB Meetup, Reading Slump, and the Announcement of a Hiatus.

**Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who left a kind comment on my last monthly recap post. Your condolences meant so much to me.

35 comments :

  1. I'm sorry about the deaths in your family. I hope 2014 turns out better for you. Those are lovely thoughtful gifts. I'm jealous you read 100 books in a year. Way to go! I loved the dragon in the Hobbit as well. So awesome Did you get to see the Book Thief movie too? It was really good.

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    1. Thanks, Jessica. I haven't seen The Book Thief movie yet. It was out of theatres before I could get to it! I'll have to wait until it's out on DVD.

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  2. I'm so sorry for your losses Aylee! I'm glad you at least were able to spend Christmas with your friends and family:)

    I ADORED The Desolation of Smaug as well, that dragon was epic. And the voice? I'm a little in love with Benedict Cumberbatch. Mostly because of his name, but his voice too O.o Glad to have you back, you were missed!

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    1. Thanks, Jenny. Heh, Benedict Cumberbatch of the great voice and name! And cheekbones, heh.

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  3. Awww, Eilidh! I'm so sorry to hear about your losses, but I am glad that you were able to be with family to help console each other at that time. It definitely helps at least a little having family around when you're grieving, and it does make you appreciate each other even more. I'm glad that my gifts could make you smile, even for a little bit, and I really hope that the rest of 2014 is much happier for you. :)

    And I loved The Desolation of Smaug, too! Smaug was FANTASTIC, and Benedict Cumberbatch...always awesome! I actually didn't mind the romance aspect, but I didn't really see her as giving everything up for him. I interpreted it more as Kili being more accepting of her than the Elvish king was. I mean, yes, she definitely was attracted to him, but I thought it was more than that, too...especially since she decided to leave right after the Elvish king dismissed her. Plus, she also did it because she thought it was wrong to just let the orcs escape because they were going to kill others, and she didn't agree with the king that it was okay to let them kill as long as it wasn't elves being killed...that king was a total prick. :P But, anyway, hopefully I've kind of made sense. haha I thought her reasons were much deeper than romance though, but the other reasons were more subtle. :) And I STILL need to read The Book Thief, and maybe you liking it will finally motivate me! I tried to read it once, but it was during a busy part of the semester and I had it out from the library, so I just returned it because I didn't really have enough time to delve into it...I do have my own copy now though. :P haha

    I hope the rest of January is great for you, Eilidh! :)

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    1. Thanks, Ambur! It was definitely nice to be with family in such times. And it's true that your gifts made me happy and I needed that... whether you were aware of it or not!

      And yeah, I can see what you're saying. I just wish they had downplayed the romance a bit! I don't know, it just seemed so odd. It didn't work for me. I wonder if we might see it grow a bit more in the third movie though. I will keep an open mind for that! And yes, The Book Thief is a MUST. I still need to watch the movie version though... I'm definitely worried about it because I think it would be a hard book to translate to movie.

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  4. Oh honey. I am SO SO SO SO SO sorry to hear that. *hug*

    We've missed you.

    LOVE the E mug btw.

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    1. Thanks for the virtual hug, Juju!

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  5. Love the scarf!

    Too bad it wasn't a very fun holiday for you. I'm sorry about that.

    I've been wanting to see 12 Years a Slave. It seems like one of those movies you appreciate more than enjoy - but in a good way.

    Do you think you'll be back in Edmonton this summer? We've talked about driving up to Edmonton (it's about a 10 hr drive I think) for a few days because we want to see the mall.

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    1. Thanks, Alison. It's true that 12 Years a Slave isn't a feel good flick. But I absolutely appreciated it.

      I may be back in Edmonton at some point this summer, but I couldn't say when. It's funny that out-of-towners are always interested in seeing the mall because for me and most Edmontonians, it's more of an overcrowded inconvenience. Still probably fun for tourists though.

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  6. I'm sorry about the losses in your family. That's great you had a relatively nice holiday though, and you got some wonderful gifts!! Good friends are always important. :)

    I have YET to see The Hobbit. I know, it's awful. I really want too. I'm glad you liked it...though it sucks they have to use the new girl character as a love interest. 12 Years a Slave was wonderful though. Very upsetting, but oh so important, like you said.

    I've never read The Book Thief, but I really want too. It's one of those books that's been on my list to read for such a long time...I just haven't had the time.

    -Lauren

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    1. Thanks, Lauren! You speak the truth! I'm shocked that you of all people haven't seen The Hobbit yet!! I think you'll like it, romance notwithstanding. It was the same deal with me about The Book Thief. It had been on my tbr for AGES. But it's one of those books that you need to be in a particular mood for, I think.

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  7. Welcome back but I'm sorry for your losses over the holidays.

    Book-ish friends send the best gifts don't they??

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  8. I'm so sorry to hear about your losses. That's never easy, and having all of that stress around the holidays is even more difficult. But I'm so happy that you're back! :-)

    And very glad you're over your reading slump too. I agree with you, I adore Smaug! Cumberbatch did an AMAZING job, and I was geeking out big time when John and Sherlock, er, Bilbo and Smaug were onscreen together. :-)

    So happy to hear you enjoyed The Book Thief, that is one of my all time favorites. Welcome back, and happy reading!

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    1. Thanks, Lauren! It's good to be back and it's good to be over the reading slump! And I was totally fangirling over over the Bilbo/Smaug scenes, as well. Aaah still need to watch Sherlock Season 3!

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  9. I am very sorry to hear about your losses. One at a time is hard enough, never mind multiple losses. I am glad that you were able to spend time with family though.

    Yay for 100 books! That's impressive. Even with the reading slump you seemed to experience in the latter part of the year. I also just finished The Book Thief- I cried so hard at the end, and got SO grumpy with my housemates when I finished, cause how could life be going on so normally when I was all cut up inside.

    I remember us talking about Altered when we got together last year. The cover does leave something to be desired and to be honest, I wonder if you would like it. But you should still give it a try ;)

    I giggle at the amount of contemporary fiction you received at gifts. It seems there are a lot of people trying to get you to read their favourites eh? One of the best things about having friends who are readers!

    I hope you have a happy 2014 Aylee!

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    1. Thanks, Sara. It was good at least that I was at home with family and friends.

      Aww, I hope your housemates understood that you had just finished an extremely impacting book and didn't blame you too badly!!

      Altered: I do have my slight doubts that I would like it because it's not my usual read. BUT I'm always up (or almost always up) for trying out something a bit different. And I almost always enjoy the result when I step outside my comfort zone a bit. Which is why I have a really good feeling about all the contemporary I got, hee!

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  10. Welcome back, Aylee. I'm sorry about all your losses but at least your whole family was able to grieve together.

    I still need to read The Book Thief. That's one book I wasn't able to get off my TBR list in 2013 so I'm trying to hold off on watching the movie until I read it. Have you watched the movie?

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    1. Thanks, Zahida. I haven't watched the movie yet because it left theatres before I could manage it. But hopefully soon it will be out on video.

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  11. *hugs* I'm sorry for your losses, dear. *just more hugs*

    I'm glad you liked the scarf!I hope it keeps you warm, I really look forward to reading more from you soon!!

    You know, I actually got Throne of Glass over the holidays, a friend sent me a big box of books she had loved but had no room for and Throne of Glass came with it :P I'll try to read it sinc eI know you like it so much.

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    1. Aw, thanks for the hugs!! And THANK YOU again for the scarf! So perfect.

      Ooh, now I'd be really curious to hear your thoughts on Throne of Glass!

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  12. I loved Racing Savannah - hope you enjoy it!

    So sorry for your losses....sending some good thoughts your way.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

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  13. So sorry to hear of your losses, Aylee! *big hugs*

    What wonderful gifts you received! I especially love that scarf ... it's gorgeous! And I really need to get my hands on one of those letter mugs. I love them!

    I read The Book Thief this year, too, and thought it was really great! Not my favourite book of the year, but definitely a gooder. Glad to have finally seen what the fuss was about!

    Here's to a great 2014!

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    1. Thanks, Kristilyn! I am one lucky lady to have received so many amazing gifts this year!

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  14. Aw, Aylee! Hugs from me too! I'm glad you're back and think your gifts all look lovely. I also read The Book Thief for the first time last year and I thought it was amazing. I look forward to reading your review :)

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  15. I'm sorry to hear about that *big hug* I'm happy that you still had a good time with your family and friends - you got some great gifts!

    I'm in love with the movies from The Hobbit and I totally swooned for the romance, haha. I agree that it wasn't necessarily and she is kick-ass enough, but I thought it was adorable and it made the movie a little lighter. FINALLY The book thief :)

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    1. Thanks, Mel! I do definitely see your point about the romance making the movie a little lighter. It was just too much cheese for me!

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  16. Aw, I'm so very sorry to hear how rough December was for you *hugs* An extended break is certainly understandable! I kept checking every week to see if you were back or not though so I'm happy to see updates from you ♥ Anyways I wish you a very happy 2014 with lots of luck and bookish goodness!!

    Ok, so moving on...firstly, YAY for Throne of Glass novellas! I know we've discussed it before but I think it bears repeating :D Also: WOW! Awesome bookish gifts you got there! LOVE the Gryffindor scarf and the monogrammed mug! I was lucky enough to be gifted with Raven Boys this Xmas (since I'd gotten a hold of Dream Thieves at BEA) and Poison Study is one that I'm planning to crack open very soon in'14!

    BIG congrats on reading 100 books in '13! For the first time ever, I failed my GR reading challenge - womp womp! Anyways YES, I adored Smaug so much too, gah, it was SO amazing (cheesy romance aside) AND I still need to read Book Thief and see Twelve Years a Slave! Awesome recap post Aylee ^^

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    1. Awwe, thanks Micheline!! It's good to be back and I am doing a lot better since I had my break.

      Oh, it definitely bears repeating! Those novellas were so much fun!! And I am thankful to have bookish friends who get me bookish things. I'm very lucky. I cannot WAIT to dig into Poison Study (hopefully very soon, as well!)!

      Hey, I bet you came close and still got a ton of reading done so that's still a success, right? I think so!

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  17. I'm sorry to hear about more difficulties and sadness for you over the past month, Aylee. That's really rough. It does sound like a break from blogging was exactly what you needed, though.
    I want to see 12 Years a Slave, despite the fact that I know it's not going to be an easy movie to watch. I just saw The Hobbit 2 myself. I liked it, though I agree the romance was kind of dumb. My boyfriend did not, alas. But I am excited to see how it concludes at the end of this year!
    Those are some awesome bookish presents. You should read Poison Study soon - I think you'll enjoy it.
    Anyway, welcome back! I look forward to reading your posts again. :)

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    1. Thanks, Amanda. It's been rough, but I'm doing a lot better!

      I'm also curious to see how they will conclude The Hobbit trilogy, if they'll keep it close to the book or reverse the order of certain events, like they did for LotR. And yeah, I have a really good feeling about Poison Study!!

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  18. I'm sorry for your losses, Aylee. I'm very happy to see that you're doing much better now and come to think of it, there were lots of positives that came around as I can see in this post. Those gifts are amazing and The Book Thief sounds amazing too AND you read so many books, so that's all wonderful. Take care and welcome back!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

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