Friday, December 29, 2017

The Crap Literature Awards

I have never been a "reader."  Let's just put it this way... I read a lot more cliff's notes in high school than actual books.  The books we were assigned to read were torturous to me.  I could not keep my eyes open to read them, nor keep my mind from wandering long enough to comprehend even a paragraph.  My high school senior English teacher can attest to the fact that I was NOT A READER, and I just assumed that he was right.  I did not like to read.  Through the years I had read a few series (Twilight, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent) that were so, so popular, I figured there was no way I could not like them.  And I was right; I loved them all.  But my insecurity toward reading kept me from taking a chance on a book I had no guarantee would be a page turner.  This kept me from voluntarily reading more than these uber-popular for almost 2 decades.

Now that I've got kids, I have a strong desire for them to be well rounded.  I want them to be thinkers, innovators, problem solvers, creative minds, and dreamers.  And the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed THEM to be readers, even if I wasn't.  But how could they be readers if they NEVER saw their mother reading?  This lead to me to set a goal last January to read one book in 2017.  Just one.  How hard could that be?

I tentatively set foot inside our local Barnes and Noble 11 months ago and asked them for their most popular young adult romance.  This seemed like the most likely choice for me.  The sweet girl recommended The Selection Series for me. Little did I know this was a book that would change my life.

Let's get one thing straight.  This is not a life changing kind of book.  This is not a classic.  This is not a great work of art.  This author is not going to be winning a Pulitzer Prize anytime soon. In fact, this series falls into a genre that I've loving dubbed "crap literature".  It was not a work of literary genius, but it was the perfect book for me. It was the book that opened my eyes to what could be.

What is crap literature, you ask?  Crap literature is books that you can read without using your brain.  They have no big words or long sentences.  They appeal to the teenage girl inside all of us.  These are stories of  love and romance and they often take place in a post-apocalyptic world or in 1800's England.  The more ridiculous the world they live in, the better.  They are the guilty pleasure of the -clean- literary world (keeping it PG-13) and in them, I've finally found my place within the literary world.  I discovered that I actually AM a reader.  I LOVE to read.  Like, a lot.

After I read The Selection Series, all three books, in 2 days, I couldn't wait to read more.  It was as if I had been starving and didn't even know it.  Once I had had a taste of these deliciously cheesy pages I couldn't help but gorge myself.  I read 15 books in January alone.  I was reading 2 or 3 or even 4 books a week.  I was staying up till all hours of the night and neglecting my duties at all hours of the day.  I was drowning myself in the pages of these absurd stories and loving every moment.

To date, I've read 72 books in 2017. I'm pretty sure that's more books than I've read in the rest of my entire life combined.  And there's still 2 days left in December ;)

The key to keeping my new found flame alive, has been choice.  I decided I was not going to MAKE myself read.  I had spent enough of my time doing that as a teenager, enough to force myself into thinking that I didn't like to read.  I wasn't doing that again.   So if I wasn't feeling a book, I would stop reading it.  If I loved the first book of a series, but didn't like where there second book was headed, I would stop reading the series.  There was even a series where I just skipped the second book all together and went straight to the third.  I loved feeling the freedom of being in control of what I read.  I had no obligation to read anything I didn't want to.  I was no longer a prisoner of literary consumption cultural norms.  It felt amazing.

I began asking my friends for recommendations of more crap literature, and found that I am not alone in my love of corny, outrageous love triangles and world ending scenarios.  This hobby has opened up not only the worlds in my books, but also the world around me.  Books have helped me to connect with other women who love reading as much as I do.  These ladies have even helped to expand my horizons -just a bit- and encouraged me to  try books I wouldn't think I would like.  Heck, I'm even in a book club!  I have become a full-fledged social reader.  And thankfully, they are incredibly patient with me when I recommend that we read yet another dystopian romance next month!

My call today, is to all you women out there who have been told or made to believe that you aren't something that you want to be.  Do it your way.  Do it on your terms.  But try.  You might surprise yourself.

Now that that is out of the way... I want to do Amanda's 1st annual crap literature awards.  These were my favorite books of the year.  If you're a crap literature reader like me... you might want to check them out!!

Favorite Series-
The Infernal Devices Series
The Clockwork Angel, The Clockwork Prince, The Clockwork Princess

Ok, so this was actually my second favorite series after The Selection Series- that series will forever hold a special place in my heart for igniting my love of reading- but this was a very close second.  If you like heart wrenching love triangles, mythical creatures, and London in the 1800s- this is your series!  Ever felt like a book was holding you hostage because you could not continue on with your real life until you finished it?  That was this series!

Favorite Author-
Kasie West
By Your Side, The Distance Between Us, PS I Like You, The Fill in Boyfriend, On The Fence, Pivot Point, Split Second

I initially read Pivot Point and it's sequel Split Second by Kasie West, because it was recommended on Good Reads as a dystopian series that I might like.  I loved them!  I especially loved the way that Kasie West writes.  I enjoyed her writing style so much, that I looked up the rest of her books and read every single one of them!  I ended up reading 7 of her books this year and have her two newest books Love, Life and the List and Lucky in Love on hold at the library.  You better believe I'll be devouring them in 2 days or less once I get my hands on them!  These books are definitely geared more toward teenagers, all the characters are still in high school and they all have sweet little puppy love stories.  If you're looking for a sweet little quick read with plenty of "awwww" moments, look up anything by Kasie West.

Favorite Love Story-
Tucker and Clara

I will admit that this series was not my favorite. This was actually the series that I skipped the second book and went straight to the third. But- the love story between Tucker and Clara in the first book was SOOO incredibly sweet and normal and natural that it's worth it just to read the chapters about how they fall in love. If you're looking for a read that is a believable love story that builds and grows and makes you believe in young love, read Unearthly!

Longest series- 
The Dwellers/The Country Series
The Moon Dwellers, The Star Dwellers, The Sun Dwellers, Fire Country, Ice Country, Water and Storm Country, The Earth Dwellers  (and read them in this <------- order)

I should have named this category "the longest series that I could bare to read" because I started reading a few series with many, many books in them, but they just couldn't keep my attention.  I didn't begin reading this series knowing that it was actually an eight book commitment, but after I finished The Sun Dwellers I realized there was MORE!!  The story was not over!  Upon further investigation, I realized the Dwellers Series has a sister series titled the Country Series, and then a stand alone book that joins the two series together!  The way David Estes (the author) joined these two worlds and stories was amazing.  The Dwellers Series focuses on one love story and one world, but each book in the Country Series has its own world and own love story. Then he manages to bring all these worlds and all those characters together, weaving and intertwining their stories together beautifully.  I spent a lot of hours with these characters, but it was a very fulfilling read.

Weirdest world- 
The Lunar Chronicles
Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Winter

When I was reading this series, and trying to explain the synopsis to my husband, I honestly think he thought I was joking!  When you say the words, "Cyborg Cinderella" "Alien Dictator Queen" and "Genetically Modified Creatures" it sounds pretty ridiculous.  But somehow it WORKS!!  I loved each of the love stories in these books and love how their stories each come together.  And at the heart is that semi-familiar world of fairy tales that will make you feel like you know what is going to happen, when you really don't, which makes it an even more fun read in a crazy, twisted, mess up world!

Most Feelings-
 These is my Words

This book was recommended by an old high school friend, and then brought up again at book club. It was a slow read, I sort of felt like I was reading a book version of Oregon Trail at first.  But eventually I really grew to love this book.  It made me FEEL things.  There were a few times I could not control the tears, they just came!!  It's a fiction book, but written like a diary so you really feel like you get to know the main character.  If you're looking for something to tug at the heartstrings, this is it!

Favorite Book-

Thank you, thank you, thank you book club for forcing me to read this book!  I never would have tried it without you, and now it is my favorite book.  Just thinking of this book makes my heart go pitter patter!  If you like love in any form- you will LOVE Edenbrooke.

This concludes the first annual crap literature awards!  I have been having the time of my life this year, finding my love of reading.  Maybe you should give crap literature a try, too!  ;)

Monday, December 18, 2017


2017 has been the best year of my life!!  We are loving life here in Pickerington.  We've made so many new friends this year.  Daniel is loving his job.  I'm loving being home with the kids and doing VIPKiD.  The kids are all doing great.  We've gotten to travel and see family and make new memories.  The Dews are truly blessed!

I thought since i haven't blogged really at all this year (eek, sorry) I'd give you a quick run down on our year.  It's been a great one!


We started the year off with Mamma-Dis and Grandpa Carl visiting from California.  We always love 
when they come to visit!  It was fun for them to get to see our new house!  Daniel took Logan to a Cavs game.  He's such a huge fan of LeBron!  I took Reagan to Disney on Ice.  She's such a huge fan of princesses!


In February we had our good friends, the Faiths over for the kid's first sleep over.  They loved it, but didn't get a lot of sleep!  We completed our basement remodel- the kids love having their own space!  We are blessed to have friends that will not only dress up to go see Lego Batman, but also try and brave free zoo day, too!


In March, Reagan started soccer!  Her favorite part was the outfit! We took the kids to Ohio State Men's Volleyball's only loss in the past 2 years.  We decided we are bad luck and probably shouldn't go again!  We celebrated Ansley's first Saint Patrick's Day with friends.  We didn't get a lot of snow this winter, but we were determined to go sledding with Grandma Hinton and Aunt Laura.  We also made a trip up north to visit Grandma and Papa Dew.


In April Logan started t-ball.  He loves to play first base, which is perfect since he is left handed!  He had a great season!  The girls celebrated Easter in their new dresses from Momma-Dis.  Daniel decided to celebrate Easter in the hospital getting his appendix removed.  We were so grateful for all the help we received while he was in the hospital.


In May, I performed in my first piano recital in over 10 years.  The kids and Daniel surprised me with flowers!  We also celebrated Mother's Day.  I am so blessed to be a mom to these three awesome kiddos!  In May, we finally wrapped up our kitchen remodel!  Goodbye brown, hello white!  Reagan had her last soccer game and we were blessed to have Grandma and Papa Dew, and Aunt Rachel come down to watch.  We were also lucky enough to go to Kingwood Center with them!  Finally, Logan graduated from Kindergarten, and I took a girls trip out to Amish Country! 


In June, we spent lots of time at the pool!  We celebrated several milestones in June.  First, Ikea opened in Columbus!  I had been counting down the days, and am now a frequent visitor!  Second, Logan learned how to ride his bike without training wheels.  And third, we celebrated Grandma Barbara and Grandpa Roy's 50th wedding anniversary!  We were also able to celebrate Daniel for Father's Day.  We ended the month heading to California to visit Momma-Dis and Grandpa Carl!


We spent a lot of July with family.  We celebrated the Fourth of July the only way I know how- in a golf cart on Maple Ave!  We took trips to the Redwoods, the tide pools, and the beach!  We always love to visit California!  When we got home, we were able to spend sometime with Aunt Bekah, Uncle Michael, and cousins Carmen, Violet, and baby Ross.  We celebrated our sweet Ansley turning one! (howwww?????) and I finally got the run the Color Run!  I've been wanting to do it for years and finally have friends crazy enough to do it with me!  We had Logan's birthday party before heading off to Minnesota for fishing with my family.


In August we spent a week up in the beautiful North Woods of Minnesota fishing with my family.  This is a cherished family tradition that we always look forward to.  On our way home, we were able to stop at the Mall of America to celebrate Logan turing 6 (hoowwww?????).  We ended our fun summer with an outdoor movie night with friends!  Logan started 1st grade this year!  He is doing great and loves his teacher.  Daniel and I were able to visit the BEAUTIFUL island of Puerto Rico to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary.  We were blessed to go right before Hurricane Maria hit.  It is such a gorgeous island, and the people won our hearts.  As they are still trying to rebuild, please keep them in your prayers.  While we were gone, Ansley learned how to walk.  And then Reagan started preschool.  My babies are all growing up!


In September, I finally succumbed to my doom, and we bought a minivan! We had a girls day out at the zoo with Aunt Laura and Grandma Hinton and Reagan and Laura road a camel!  Logan also started flag football, and did great on defense!  He was a flag pulling machine!  He also started taking piano lessons.  He loves piano less than he loves sports... but I'm hoping he'll come around!  Reagan was also able to start dance class, which she is loving.  She is always happy to show you her "moves" and "poses." 


October was a really fun month for our family!!  We took a family vacation to Florida!  We lounged by the pool, went to Legoland, went to Disneyworld, and went to Universal Studios to see Harry Potter World.  We were grateful that Momma-Dis could join us.  It was such a fun time!  When we got home it was time to celebrate Halloween.  Daniel and I dressed up as Wayne and Garth from Wayne's World, which was a big hit at the Ward Party!  The kids also had fun dressing up!  Ansley was a ladybug, Logan was a vampire, and Reagan was a unicorn princess- a character from her own imagination, brought to life with such a cute dress made by Momma-Dis. 


In November, I took a huge leap and started a new job as a VIPKiD Teacher. I teach ESL online to students in China every morning.  This has been sooooooo much fun, and a huge blessing to our family.  I also celebrated turning 31.  My sweet friends and family took such great care of me that day!  We also started getting ready for the holiday festivities, and Logan started basketball.  He is "the best on the team."  Just ask him.  He'll tell you all about it! 


December has been all about getting ready for Christmas!  For the second year, we were able to go to the Chinese Lantern Festival, which has become a fun tradition for us!  My kids also enjoyed dressing up for our Ward Party's nativity scene.  And of course, we all loved seeing Santa.  Well... everyone except Ansley!  We celebrated our sweet Reagan turing 4 (howwww???) in style with the biggest, loudest, craziest party ever!  (That's from Trolls if you didn't know).  We also had a fun sledding party at Aunt Laura's house!  We are SUPER DUPER DUPER excited for Christmas and Santa to come.  And we are looking forward to another fun year in 2018.