2-Year Blogoversary Giveaway!

In celebration of the 2nd anniversary of my blog, I'm hosting a double giveaway! I chose two of my favorite reads from 2014 as prizes:Fiction Giveaway: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami [my review]Nonfiction Giveaway: Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes [my review]Two winners will receive one book each. This giveaway is open to readers in any country the Book Depository delivers to [see list]. Winners have 48 hours to respond to the notification email in order to claim their prize.a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Bookish Resolutions For 2015

I've been thinking about what I'd like to change about the way I blog and the way I read (and how those two intersect) for a few months now. This month, I've given most of the items on the list below a test run. My theme for 2015 is to cut out unnecessary tasks, and read freely. Here are my top five resolutions for this new year:1. Thanks to this post by Valeria at A Touch of Book Madness, I've started using Asana to organize the blog. I've already found that it saves me time, and it also meshes perfectly with the way my brain wants to organize and keep track of tasks.2. Although I like the images I've been using this year…

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

  I enjoy a good apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic novel, and I love literary fiction. Station Eleven gave me both. A flu pandemic wipes out 99% of the world's population. Civilization collapses, the survivors do what they can to survive and rebuild. But merely survival is not enough for The Traveling Symphony, a troupe of musicians and actors who go from outpost to outpost performing Shakespeare. The storyline twists and veers in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth in time: before, during, and up to twenty years after the pandemic. What I found most satisfying was the descriptive world-building, including how people reacted to this new world; how they interacted, how they felt: "[They were] furious because fury was the last defense…

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Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki

  Memories of time spent in Japan visiting her grandfather, a professional violinist, inspire Hana to play her violin in her school talent show, even though she's only had a few lessons. Hana spends every spare moment practicing, despite unsupportive comments from her brothers, and finds a way to face her own performance anxiety the day of the show. The illustrations are stunning, and I especially appreciated Leng's attention to accurate details: the violin and the bow are shown in the correct hands, music notes are properly drawn. Uegaki's use of language is beautifully descriptive: "From his study, the clear, bright notes would drift upstairs, through the shoji screen doors to where Hana slept on sweet-smelling tatami mats, and coax…

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The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

  Let me start out by commenting on the physical book itself. The Strange Library has thick pages and opens in an interesting way. The top flap made a nice built-in bookmark. The inside is pretty unique, too. It's set in Typewriter. The font size gradually changes up until the end, and there are also some variations in color throughout. The book is generously full of full-page color illustrations. The Strange Library is "a fantastical illustrated short novel about a lonely boy, a mysterious girl, and a tormented sheep man who plot their escape from the nightmarish library." "So you'll stay and read?" Holy moly, I've read pretty much everything by Murakami and as I was I reading, I was thinking, "this…

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#AMonthofFaves: Picking Favorites

There were a lot of great posts this second week of A Month of Favorites, but my favorite by far was:5 Most Useful Blogging Toolsby Valeria at A Touch of Book MadnessThis is such a helpful list! I learned about two sites I knew nothing about: Piktochart for creating infographics, and Asana for getting organized. Lately I've been feeling like my notes and reminders for the blog are scattered around in too many places, so I'm going to be spending a chunk of time learning more about Asana in the coming weeks.

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The 5 Most Useful Books in My Music Studio

Today's prompt for A Month of Favorites is 5 Most Useful Digital Lifehacks or 5 Fave [insert something non-bookish here]. I decided to do a mash-up of the two and keep it bookish.1. The Simple Flute [review] by Michel DebostWhen I have a teaching issue (or even a playing issue) related to the flute, this is where I turn first. Everything about the book's organization makes it an easy and quick reference. Debost explains through text and musical examples.2. Lyric Preludes in Romantic Style by William GillockThese 24 short pieces for the piano cover all major and minor key signatures. They're imaginative, fun, and impressive, and perfect for intermediate to late-intermediate piano students. My students love playing these, and to be honest,…

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November 2014 Reading Wrap Up

Last week, I completely forgot to post a wrap up of my November reading. So here it is, a little late.With the exceptions of Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and The Giver, you can click a cover to visit my review.This month felt so very, very sluggish to me, so the number of books here was a huge surprise. Hooray, November!

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What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami

  What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is a brief memoir by Haruki Murakami, written in pieces between 2005-2006. Whenever something came to his mind, something he felt he needed to talk about, Murakami would write it down. He has this balance and zen about life and the lessons he's learned so far, and that's what he shares in this book, in his charming, humble way. I've watched interviews and talks on YouTube enough that I can hear Murakami's own voice in my mind. So when Ray Porter started narrating, it was a little jarring...kind of like watching a foreign film with the subtitles on (which I never do, I'm a snoot, ha!). But really, Porter's narration was…

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#AMonthofFaves: Picking Favorites

This first week of #AMonthofFaves was a lot of fun. So many great posts (and beautiful book covers!). My two favorite lists from the week were:Elisabeth at The Dirigible Plum5 Favorite Nonfiction Picture Books of 2014I'm all about quality picture books, especially books that get kids excited about nonfiction. All five titles on Elisabeth's list are new to me, and I want to read all of them to C. This list covers a nice variety of topics, too: science and nature, language arts, dance, and art.Dolce BellezzaFavorite Translated LiteratureIf you enjoy translated works as much as I do, you'll love Bellezza's post. She listed at least five titles for each country: France, Russia, Italy, Spain, and Japan. I found plenty…

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