Thursday, February 26, 2015

Because I Haven't Procrastinated Quite Enough Already, I Give You ... A Little This and That

I feel like I'm always behind on something when it comes to this blog.  I've got books I read back in November sitting on my desk still waiting to be reviewed, emails I haven't answered, scheduled reviews I'm not getting to ... heck, I haven't updated my All Reviews list since 2013!  Yikes.  I'm still plugging along, though, clinging to the dream that one day I will be all caught up.  Think it will ever actually happen?  Yeah, me neither.  Oh well, a girl can dream ...

For now, we're going to do a little this and that:

First of all, I should mention that a couple weeks ago, my husband and I took a fun road trip.  Our destination:  Salt Lake City, Utah.  In the LDS church, we all have "jobs" (I use the term loosely, since it's voluntary) we do to help our congregations (known as "wards") run smoothly.  In addition to being a Cub Scout den leader, I'm also a family history consultant, as is my husband.  Even if you're not LDS, you probably know what an emphasis the church places on families—not just strengthening the bonds we have in the present, but also creating links between us and our ancestors.  Thus, each ward has 2-3 people assigned to help others work on their genealogy.  Since the husband and I are still learning the ins and outs of this job, we decided to head to SLC for the annual RootsTech genealogy conference.  It's a big deal (like, 20,000+ attendees big).  We spent the days going to classes, listening to some great speakers (A.J. Jacobs, Laura and Jenna Bush, Donny Osmond, Nicole Pikus-Pace, Al Fox, etc.), and enjoying performances by local celebs like Alex Boyé, David Archuleta, and Studio C.  It was fun.  A great trip.

Even though we spent time relaxing at our very comfortable B&B, I didn't get tons of reading done.  However, I did have a very cool bookish experience.  Salt Lake City boasts the biggest family history library in the world.  As you can imagine, it has a huge collection of family history books, including one my cousin wrote about our Clark/Cochran ancestors.  I've been interested in learning more about these early adventurers for awhile now and couldn't wait to see what information the book contained.  Since SLC has the only physical copy of the volume, I insisted we drop by the family history center so I could copy some of its pages.  I worried there might be copyright issues, but the kind, helpful senior missionaries who serve at the center assured me that—if I had the time—I could copy the entire tome onto a thumb drive without risking jail time.  As I gleefully scanned the pages, my husband did some Googling and discovered that the author of the book had, in fact, died ten years ago—almost to the day.  We figured there was no better way to honor this cousin I never knew than by sharing his life work with the next generation of our family.

I know this will make me sound like a senior citizen, but genealoy is a fun, exciting work.  If you're at all interested in learning about your family's history, check out: www.familysearch.org.  You don't have to be LDS to use this free service.  It's an incredible resource, available to everyone, anywhere in the world.  

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Speaking of all things LDS, I've signed up once again to participate in the Whitney Awards Read 'Em All Challenge.  The Whitney Awards are given out annually for the best novels published in a given year by authors who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Hosted jointly by the lovely ladies at New LDS Fiction and LDS Women's Book Review, this challenge encourages people to read all of the books that have been nominated to receive a 2014 Whitney. This is no small task as there are—wait for it—40 novels in total.  As part of the Whitney Academy, I get the privilege of casting my vote to help determine the winners, so I'm going to read as many as I can.  Wish me luck!

While you have to be a member of the Academy in order to vote for the winners, you don't have to be part of the Academy or even LDS to participate in this challenge.  Anyone can sign up.  The finalists are, in general, not LDS novels at all, just general fiction that can be enjoyed by readers of any—or no—religion.  You can win weekly prizes and a nice grand prize.  If you're interested, hop on over to this post and sign up.

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Last but not least, you may recall the giveaway I had going for a copy of Fairest by Marissa Meyer.  It seems like ancient history, but I'm finally going to announce the winner!  Rafflecopter picked a random entrant, sooo ... Congratulations to:

Kimberly Goon   

Look for an email from me in your inbox, Kimberly!

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Okay, I think that's it for now.  I've got an appointment I'm super excited to get to (that's sarcasm, friends—my dentist is trading out my old gold onlay for a new porcelain crown, a procedure I'm not looking forward to) and I might get some strange looks if I arrive unbathed, still in my PJs!

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P.S.  Photo creds go to my husband, Eric.

13 comments:

  1. That sounds so fun! I love all the books available in the church institutions. You can find the most extraordinary stuff! My dad read a journal that contained an entry about how a giant creature had popped its head out of a lake and swum alongside the wagons as they were all headed home from church one Sunday. Fun stuff!

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    1. It's seriously amazing. I just wish I'd done my homework a little better -- I found out later that the SLC center has a microfilm with excerpts from my great-great grandfather's journal that can only be viewed there. Bummer :(

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  2. Nice to hear what's going on with you, Susan. Sounds like you guys had a great trip to the conference. Good luck with your tooth! Take care and I always look forward to hearing about your reading. :-)

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    1. Well, it was four hours of torture at the dentist, but I'm alive! Sore, but alive.

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  3. It was great to see you in Utah. I love the story about the book.

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  4. I love hearing all the news going on in your life! Headed to Utah in two weeks for my niece's return from her mission to Washington DC! :-)

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    1. Fun! We had amazingly warm weather. I was hoping for snow. Sounds like we missed it by a couple of weeks :(

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  5. Nice recap of all your things! But now I'm wondering... how do you get to be a part of that academy? :) I want to read some of those Whitney books, but 40? Hmmm....

    Kind of a bummer that RootsTech was the same weekend as LTUE... does that happen every year?

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    1. Since you're a book blogger, all you have to do is apply. There's a link on the Whitney Awards website. And you don't have to read all 40 -- you're eligible to vote for a winner in each of the categories (Adult General, Adult Speculative, YA Speculative, etc.) as long as you've read all 5 books in the category. I usually end up doing just a few categories.

      I don't know about RootsTech and LTUE -- this is the first time I've been to RT and I've never attended LTUE (although I thought about ditching out on the former to attend the latter)!

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    2. Susan, are going to be at Storymakers this year? I'm finally going!! (Thanks for the info on the Whitneys. I'll check it out!)

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    3. Agh! You're going this year? Bummer :( I already spent my "fun" money on RootsTeach, U2 tickets and puppy boarding school. Maybe next year. Have fun without me (if that's even possible). It's an excellent conference -- you'll LOVE it!

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  6. Sounds like a lovely trip! Family genealogy is really interesting - last year I began looking into mine while talking with my grandparents, and it was fascinating. It's amazing what you can learn :)

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