Be My Bookish Valentine: A Valentine Swap for Book Lovers


Since I have so much fun with Christmas book swaps, I decided to do my own Valentine swap. I was inspired by how well-run 2014’s Christmas Secret Santa was run at The Broke and the Bookish. I am unabashedly and completely in debt to their clear guidelines and directions as it has helped me in organizing this swap.

Who Can Participate?

Please sign-up only if you are able to send a package. I will not be able to send replacement packages to those who do not receive their swaps. Also, since this is my first time organizing a swap I am limiting it to the United States only. If things go well then I may open it up internationally next year. This swap is not just for “book bloggers,” rather it is for anyone who loves books and has a blog. Have a mommy blog, life blog, yarn blog, coffee worship, or any sort of blog in the United States and you can commit to sending a package? You’re eligible to participate.

What Do I Send?

You must send: 1) A book from their “wish list” (more on that later) or a book you think they’d really enjoy. I think used books in good condition are totally reasonable. 2) A valentine. It can be homemade, handwritten, crafted, or come from a box of preschool valentines. Try to give it a personal or bookish slant, but just have fun with it.

Other fun things to add: candy, coffee, tea, cocoa, bookmarks, postcards, stickers, pins, etc… Other little treats your valentine will enjoy.

Cost: On average expect to spend $20 to $25 on your person’s box. Think about it: that’s the cost of a trade paperback book and a few treats. I’m not saying you necessarily have to spend that much, but it needs to have that much value. No out of date candy and smelly books, we want to send love and not the equivalent of a bookish venereal disease.

When: The goal is for everyone to have their bookish valentine by Saturday, February 14th. Expect to be shipping the first week of February.

How do I sign up? Follow the steps below!

1. Email figandthistlebooks (at) gmail (dot) com by Monday, January 19th at 11:59pm with the answers to the following questions:

  1. Full Name and Address (I will be storing all information in my gmail account and emails will be deleted by March 1st. I promise to not share your information and to respect your privacy. However, I – obviously — will share all information sent with your valentine).
  2. Blog URL
  3. What are five books on your wish list or send me a link to your wish list. Please keep in mind that hardback books and new releases are expensive and may be hard to come by. Try to mix up your list a bit. DO NOT ASK FOR ARCS AND I WOULD RATHER FOLKS NOT SEND ARCS. 
  4. List a few things about you that would help your person shop. For example if you like coffee or prefer tea, or you don’t like chocolate, or you’re obsessed with Dr. Who and/or cats.
  5. Lastly, include any questions, comments, or important information.

If you do not include the first four items you will not be in the book swap. I’m not chasing people down for info. I am a lazy cupid.

2. You will receive your assigned Valentine by Saturday, January 24th if not sooner. Get to shopping and packing and aim to have your packaged shipped no later than Saturday, February 7th. After you mail your present, email me at figandthistlebooks (at) gmail (dot) com with delivery confirmation.

Social Media: When you receive your valentine let me (and everyone else) know! Rather than emailing me that you’ve received your valentine I want you to use your favorite social media (Instagram, Twitter, etc…) with #bookishvday2015. Also feel free to blog or vlog about your valentine. Don’t forget that I’d love to see what you’re sending your valentine as well. Maybe snap a pic or tweet with #bookishvday2015 to show any boxing, wrapping, shopping, and fun you are having with the project.

Okay, I think that is everything. Feel free to put the image up top on your blogs or various social media outlets. Let’s make this an awesomely bookish Valentine’s Day!

5 Things I Loved About This Week: 10 January 2015


1. Back to Work: Yup. You read that correctly; I am glad to be back at work. Well, at least for the moment. Christmas break was wonderful, but I was starting to miss the order and routine of the work week and the kids were getting cagey. The transition back to early mornings getting ready to leave and getting in the grove having a functioning brain when I get to work at 7:30am went relatively well with minimal tantrums. In fact, I think I only pitched a fit once or twice.

2. This Girl:


A few weeks ago Hope was upset about some typical high school issues. It was a situation where all I could do is be there for her and tell her how much she means to me. I asked what would help and Hope asked if we could set aside some time once a week for us to hangout and chat (sans Dad and siblings). Absolutely. Tuesday night we went shopping to pick up warm running clothes for track and then spent an hour over coffee laughing and talking. It was so much fun and this is certainly a weekly tradition.

3. Coffee: To be specific my coffee percolator. This is fast becoming my favorite Christmas gift. Mama had a percolator when I was a child and I love the whoosh-thud sound it makes as it brews coffee. The resulting coffee is rich, extremely hot, and delicious. Combine that with the vessel travel mug Sam gifted me and I’m enjoying hot coffee pretty much all the time.

4. Friends: Thursday night I had a marvelous time with my knitting knerds group. Friday I was off work adn spent the day with my good friend Melissa. We had divine Thai noodle soup, coffee, and watched The Woman in Black 2. I am so happy I have so many kindred spirits to count as friends.

5. Yarn: I crochet at meetings, I crochet in the evenings, I wrap warm scarves around my neck and drape blankets across my lap. January is cold. Yarn is warm. Cold Days + Yarn = cozy.

Tell me, folks, what are you loving about this week?

Works in Progress: 7 January 2015

works in progress

Completed Projects:

I accomplished so much over the Christmas holiday although it was at the expense of Fig and Thistle. I thought I’d share what I accomplished.

Persy’s blanket is finally finished. She opened up first things Christmas morning and very politely dropped it beside her into a pile. ERGH. Her blanket (that she doesn’t give two craps for) is now at school and she cuddles up with it at nap. I know it is only a blankie, but it took me forever to stitch partly because she wanted it every time I got it out.

wpid-wp-1420658183848.jpegwpid-wp-1420658040290.jpegI also crocheted five cowls for teachers. After working on the same knitting project for two years it was nice to crochet up some quick projects.

rainbowblankieCurrently I’m hard at work on Atticus’s rainbow granny square blanket. My goal is to have it done by the 15th of this month.

In addition to my yarn endeavors, I spent the holidays baking and sending out a massive amount of Christmas cards. I love Christmas cards, but I really need to get a better planning system in place for sending them off in time.

What’s Up Next:

I’ve thought of a good way to plan my projects out for the year. Instead of making a giant list (which I soon forget about) or a monthly list (which leaves me no time), I’ve decided to come up with project ideas in four month blocks: January – April, May – August, and then September – December. September – December will be all holiday gifts; I’ve learned that I need to allow at least that much time to get everything completed for the holidays.

Project Goals for January – April:


Complete Atticus’s rainbow blanket

Scarf for Sam

A granny stripe hat for Peapie

A grey cowl for Hope

Gobs of dishcloths

Embroidery and Sewing:

Baby bibs for at least two spring babies

Name wall-hangings for the kids’ rooms

PJ pants

Other projects:

Focus on sending birthday cards to dear friends and happy snail mail

Make non-shitty valentine cards for my kids’ classes

FINALLY hang up some photos of my adorable kids.

FINALLY make family and wedding photobooks.

Plan Persy’s second birthday party

Brew water kefir

Host book blogger swap (details coming up soon)

This is only a list of ideas. I know that things may change as the months go by, but at least it is a happy and inspiring start to the year.

2014 End of the Year Book Survey


Thanks to the Perpetual Page-Turner for creating and sharing this survey!


Number Of Books You Read: 39
Number of Re-Reads: 3
Genre You Read The Most From: Literary Fiction


1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (review forthcoming)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

The War of the Worlds by H G Wells (I didn’t think it would be so beautifully written and bad ass at the same time)

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi (but I’m the only one who liked it)

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

Best series started — The Game of Thrones by George R R Martin.

Sequel and series ender would be Year of the Flood and Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Anthony Trollope!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

War of the Worlds by H G Wells (I swear I’m not typically into scifi)

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

none. I usually reread every five year. I make myself wait.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane OR White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Miranda Silver from White is for Witching

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

The Luminaries  by Eleanor Catton

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“It is harder for women, perhaps to be ‘one-pointed,’ much harder for them to clear space around whatever it is they want to do beyond household chores and family life. Their lives are fragmented… the cry not so much for a ‘a room of one’s own’ as time of one’s own. Conflict become acute, whatever it may be about, when there is no margin left on any day in which to try at least to resolve it.”
― May Sarton, Journal of a Solitude

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest would be The Night Bookmobile  and longest goes to The Luminaries.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

White is for Witching

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

The Luminaries

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

The four co-worker/sort-of friends from Quartet in Autumn

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously


21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

The Night Guest 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Doctor Thorne from the Chronicles of Barsetshire series

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Didn’t read one

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Luminaries is tied with The Game of Thrones

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The War of the Worlds

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

The Night Guest

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

White is for Witching

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Daily Rituals:How Artists Work  by Mason Currey (It was a sausage fest)

WINNERS OF 2014 — These are the best books I read in 2014 and I’m not including rereads.

  • The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  • Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope
  • White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi
  • Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym
  • Maddadam by Margaret Atwood


1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

I’m really looking forward to reading more Viragos, although I don’t think that is what this question had in mind

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

OMG Hilary Mantel, please tell me the third book in the Wolf Hall series will be out! Please?!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

see above!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

Read 52 books

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Ummmm… Hilary Mantel…. yes, pleaseandthankyou

List Love: 2015 Book Goals

list love

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is to list our 2015 book goals. I’ve actually been musing my goals for 2015 since November! I’ve divided my goals into sections.

Read, Baby, Read

I get really annoyed by folks who tell me that they wish they had “time” to read. I have a full-time job, three kids, volunteer responsibilities, and a host of other hobbies and yet I still find “time” to read. I’d like more time to read and I find that I’m beginning to struggle with reading classics. I love the classics, but I need at least twenty minutes or more to get immersed in a classic novel. It is easy for me to pick up graphic novels, short stories, and modern fiction and dip in for ten minutes or less, but I don’t like to feel rushed when reading Trollope, Dickens, or Austen. I want to focus on consciously making time to read in 2015. A continual reading goal is to make sure I savor and enjoy my reading and strive to read as much as possible, because a reading Amanda is a happy Amanda.

  • Change my schedule. I find that I’m so exhausted at night that I can only read for 15 minutes before falling asleep. My coworkers cannot seem to leave me alone on my lunch break. The afternoons and early evenings are filled with cooking, kids, and chores. I’ve decided to move my schedule back and wake up at 4 a.m. to read on the weekdays and 5 a.m. on the weekend. I’ve been trying this out for the past few days. I wake, brew a pot of coffee, and read in complete quiet for two hours. To maintain this schedule I will be moving my bed time back to 9:30/10pm. This means no caffeine after 5pm, showering before the kids go to bed, and turning my smart phone off by 9pm to let my brain get in sleep mode. This will also cut down on my habit of snacking at night.
  • Read 52 books. I only hit 40 this year, but I like to be foolishly optimistic.
  • Journal my thoughts. I always say I’m going to blog about each book I read, but that is silly. Talk about zapping the desire out of reading. I worry I won’t write my review well-enough and then I get writer’s block. I do like to write down my impressions and thoughts on what I read in a less formal way. I’ve established that once a week — or more — I’ll journal about what I’m reading and I’ll try to copy down some well-loved passages as well.
  • Reading log. Each year I spend some time reading through all of my old blog posts and my journals. I really love to see what I was reading during each “chapter” of my life. I’m squirreling away some pocket-money for a journal like this and I plan on writing down what I read each day. Just a quick note containing titles, authors, and page ranges. It will be really neat to see reading trends.
  • Complete my TBR reading challenge
  • Complete my Back to the Classics Challenge

Engaging in the Reading Community

Sometimes I forget, or lose sight, of the awesomeness of sharing my love of reading with readers and nonreaders alike. It is very easy for me to bury my nose in a books and become an antisocial hermit. I’m planning on remembering that engaging with other readers is richly rewarding and fuels my passion for books. Likewise, introducing the joy of books to other people gives me purpose and direction.

  • Participate in Readathons. Specifically Dewey’s 24-hour readathon in April and October. I really enjoyed helping in a larger capacity back in October and I look forward to what April will bring.
  • Host a bookish event. I already have some ideas on this and it will be happening in February. Keep your eyes peeled for an announcement in the next few weeks.
  • Participate in three read-alongs. This could be blog read-alongs, a group read in GoodReads, or something, gasp, in real life.
  • Give books as gifts. Because books are awesome.

There we are! My top ten bookish goals. Let me know your goals for 2015 and let’s support our book buds!

Readerly Rambles: Bookish Hauls, a Bookstagramathon, and a Challenge

readerly rambles

First, I’d like to share my bookish spoils. Many thanks to Sam for knowing exactly what I wanted.


Penguin Threads collection is complete!


Now I only lack the last two books in the Penguin Horror series. Huzzah!


If you follow me on Instagram (nerdybookgirl) you may know that I am participating in the Bookstagramathon. My goals are to finish The LuminariesIntroverts in Church, and my audiobook of Rebecca. This will get me to my 40 book goal. I also plan on posting my January TBR and digging into my first read of 2015. Expect updates on Instagram and I’ll do a brief update next week on the blog.


Now, I’ve decided to join another challenge even though I swore I wouldn’t. BUT, a good chunk of my reading is composed of classic novels. I just couldn’t help myself. I am going to play really loosey goosey with this challenge. I’m not posting a list. Instead I am going to fill-in where I can. Check out Back to the Classics and let me know if you will be participating