One of my favorite books of 2013 has to be Almost Somewhere: Twenty-Eight Days on the John Muir Trail by Suzanne Roberts. I loved so many things about this book, I really connected with Roberts’ thoughts and views as a woman backpacking in the wilderness. From seeing how men and women relate to the wilderness differently to figuring out your voice within nature.
After 28 days on the John Muir Trail, we felt ready to claim our places in nature, our own unique language for the landscape: one based on intimacy rather than independence, community rather than competition. I realize I had been relying on a male translation of nature rather than listening to my own voice. That night, of all the words I could have used to describe how I felt, the most accurate would have been connected.
Though I have not done a through hike, I hope to someday. Usually my trips consist of 1 to 3 nights out on the trail at a time with a group of friends. Over time I’ve learned to appreciate that connected feeling to nature and the elements while on the trail. When you begin to let go, you are able to take more in. When it rains and everything gets wet, it’s going to stay wet and you just have to get over it and deal. If you can’t get over the things you cannot control you won’t have time to enjoy your surroundings.
Over time I’ve gotten better at keeping up with some of the stronger hikers, but as Roberts notes and I agree with, what is the point of always staring at someone’s boots in front of you when your hiking? I loose that sense of intimacy and time to myself. If there is a stretch of trail that is easy to navigate I find myself splitting from the group and going at my own pace. It’s not being alone that I seek, but being one with the trail and the wilderness.
“…people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home;
that wilderness is necessity”
- John Muir
This past weekend I went with 10 other backpackers to the Grand Canyon. We hiked down South Kaibab Trail to spend Saturday night at Bright Angel Campground. On Sunday we hiked out on Bright Angel Trail back to the top. It’s a trip I will never forget. The muscles in my legs are still tender, but when I look at the photos I can’t help feeling proud.
“Healthy mountaineers always discover in themselves a reserve of power after great exhaustion”
- John Muir
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so small and strong in the same moment as I did when looking out at the Grand Canyon while on the Bright Angel Trail. I couldn’t stop putting one foot in front of the other because I knew that I could do it. It was going to be tough, but it wasn’t impossible.
Posted by Amy Vitale on November 20, 2013
The issue I have with banning books is that just because a book may be out of some people’s comfort zones doesn’t meant that it is dangerous to all readers. I think you loose an ability to make educated guesses in life because you base them on personal experience or theoretical knowledge. People have learned experiences and they grow from it, whether fictional or not.
I remember in High School I read some books in the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series by Louise Rennison. One day my mom shows me an article that a school was trying to ban the books from their library, she asked me if I thought there was anything worth banning the books over. I told her that the material would be out of some people’s comfort zones, but I saw and heard a lot worse things in public high school. I think in a way the books showed me a different view on the way people my age dealt with situations and how they made their choices and the consequences that came with it. The main characters in Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging were very different from me, but I really enjoyed reading about their lives (which at the time was so much more exciting than my own). I appreciate my mom for bringing up the topic of censorship with me when I was a teen, because it made me question why people can’t just read what they like to read, I figured you could always put a book down if it wasn’t to your taste.
Here are some links to great articles and their different points of view on book banning and self-censorship.
Posted by Amy Vitale on September 25, 2013
I got lucky… I won a signed advance copy of Alienated by Melissa Landers on goodreads. It was an epic day when I found out and an even better day when it arrived in my mailbox! Alienated will be coming out February 2014 and I suggest you get your hands on it.
The gist of the book: The planet L’eihr has discovered Earth two years ago. With L’eihrs technological advancements Earth has a lot to gain from an alliance. To test the waters an exchange program is set up between them and their finest students. Three students from L’eihr will stay with host families from America, France and China. Cara Sweeney and her family have been selected and accepted to be hosts to Aelyx. Both Cara and Aelyx have their doubts about this working out well. There are many people against an alliance, they are forming a group called The Patriots to rid earth of all connections to planet L’eihr and its people. They harass, threaten and ostracize the Sweeneys until they need military protection. As threats continue Cara & Aelyx find themselves supporting each other for more reasons than they would like to admit.
At first I didn’t like Cara or Aelyx’s attitudes. After the introductory gala in New York though they seemed to take a turn for the best and I got to see a better look at their real personalities. And then as the book went on I adored both of them so much. They had their flaws, but it was great to watch them grow.
The relationship building between Cara and Aelyx was perfect. It wasn’t ‘love at first sight’ (ie: insta-love), but something more concrete. They both had their reservations about the other and some stereotypes to get over, but they came to find a lot of common ground and learned that everything isn’t as it seems at first. Cara did a great job of expressing her realization that she actually cared for Aelyx, “Yeah, that was just like Aelyx. She’d fallen for him so slowly she hadn’t realized the depth of her feelings until he pulled away.”
Their cultural differences were interesting, both planets has its benefits and weaknesses. There were opportunities and solutions for both planets by having an alliance. L’eihr had pushed their generation’s attributes so far that they needed to back pedal by having clones and Earth is far enough behind L’eihrs advancements they could learn from their history.
I cannot wait for the next book! I have quite a few questions.
I enjoyed having both points of view from Cara & Aelyx. It helps solidify a story when the reader can see from both perspectives, and I think it will help with the second books storyline.
Posted by Amy Vitale on July 9, 2013
I had been anticipating the release of Reboot by Amy Tintera for awhile. I had placed a hold on it at the library as soon as they allowed.
The main character Wren is very complex, it was interesting to see her character change as she worked with Callum.
Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas.
Tintera does a great job of writing her point of view in a way that shows you how her character feels disconnected from the rest of the world, but also shows some sympathetic emotions.
“It was true that all Reboots were attractive, in a way. After death, when the virus took hold and the body Rebooted, the skin cleared, the body sharpened, the eyes glowed. It was like pretty with a hint of deranged. Although my hint was more like a generous serving.” — Wren Connoly
The story went by so quickly, I was eagerly awaiting what was going to happen next and was not disappointed! Wren is badass, I just loved her character. I cannot wait until the second book comes out.
Posted by Amy Vitale on July 3, 2013
Happy book birthday to Phoenix, the second book in Elizabeth Richards’ series Black City!
I read Black City last year, it was a quick enjoyable read and I’m really looking forward to Phoenix. I need to know what happens to Ash and Natalie…
I almost put this book down halfway through. I had been really excited to read it, and then I end up 100 pages in thinking the author just went overboard with everything. As my list of qualms was adding up, she addressed most of my issues and it calmed me down and I could enjoy the story again. In the end I liked it and plan on reading the rest of the series.
- The world-building got really confusing. There was so much information in the first couple chapters of the book that I kept getting confused and irritated. I didn’t know if this book was steampunk-esque, what time period it was set in, where did all these creatures come from, why was ash falling all the time, did it make people sick, what is this wrath, any solution for it, etc. My mind wouldn’t stop. My WSOD meter couldn’t figure out what to do. If there were context clues, I completely missed them. At some point I gave up and just went with it. *NOTE: I’m still unsure about time period and creatures, none of it was fully explained
- Ash and Natalie are quickly falling in love. In what would seem to be insta-love, but it isn’t because they’re blood-mates
and that makes it okay. Seriously it took three pages for them to go from frenemies to ‘I love you!’.
- What was up with Evangeline, all the sudden *poof* she’s gone? So confused… She was just threatening Natalie.
- Natalie kept flip flopping between strong and weak, she didn’t feel like she was a well developed character compared to Ash.
- Having the characters acknowledge that they had known each other only two weeks and they didn’t even know anything about one another.
- Having Ash yell at Natalie for not telling him pertinent information sooner. I get it, she had some sort of post-traumatic stress and spaced, but it was way too important to not have shared sooner.
- I like the overall story arc, trying to figure out why the wrath is spreading, who’s behind it, and so on.
- I think I just really liked Ash…
Posted by Amy Vitale on June 4, 2013
I can’t say enough great things about Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me.
I agree with a lot of reviews on Shatter Me being more of a love story than a distopian book. Either way, I really liked it! The way it was written was beautiful, Mafi wrote in pretty prose in the beginning to bring out the fact that Juliette has been in solitary confinement for so long, but as she adapts to her new surroundings around people again, her writing begins to straighten back out. The adorable story between her and Adam was just fun to read. And Warner, what a character! I am looking forward to the rest of the series.
“All I ever wanted was to reach out and touch another human being not just with my hands but with my heart.” – Juliette
Posted by Amy Vitale on May 16, 2013
Couldn’t put it down! …And picked up the second book right after I finished the first.
Finished the Archers of Avalon Series by Chelsea Fine. It took me awhile to decide whether or not I liked Scarlet, in the end I took to her character because of how much she was dealing with and sticking up for herself. Gabriel and Tristan, oh man, what awesome love interests. Also, what a cruel and twisted curse!
The Series begins with Scarlet and Heather, they’ve been best friends since Scarlet woke up in a forest with no memory of her past. Enter Gabriel and Tristan, they are from her past and then drama ensues. I loved the series so much. The characters were so well described, and Avow sort of tore my heart apart, but ended well.
Here are my sets for Scarlet and Heather:
Posted by Amy Vitale on April 24, 2013
Time for some new backgrounds for Spring…
This round are made for iPad’s and have a subtle colors and soft textures to give them some dimension.
2048 px by 2048 px
Download this set: Spring Floral & Chevron iPad Backgrounds (314)
Posted by Amy Vitale on April 18, 2013
Valkyries of Norse Mythology are pretty bad-ass. I read Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie #1) by Ingrid Paulson back in January and knew I was going do make a Polyvore set inspired by it. Finding the right boots was the hard part…
I was so impressed with this book! I’ve been waiting awhile to read a book where the main character, Ellie, not only becomes who they’re meant to be, but because their power is in their blood and history that they own up to their instincts. Ellie was a very likeable character, she was fun to follow and I liked how the story played out. Looking forward to the rest of the series.
Posted by Amy Vitale on March 26, 2013
Since I moved to Arizona I have been hiking and recently started backpacking.
It’s been an amazing time getting out into the wilderness and enjoying National Parks, Forests, and trails. I’m glad I’ve picked it up and met some great people through trips.
This weekend a group of us went through the Galiuro Wilderness to Powers Garden.
The best parts about these trips are the quiet time you have to really appreciate your surroundings. Every once in a while I have to remind myself to look up from the trail and it’s just breathtaking…
Over time I have figured out what my backpacking ‘essentials’ would be, below is most of my backpacking/hiking gear that I have collected. This is what I generally pack for most backpacking trips, some items get divided up if I’m going with a group. Also, it what items I take depends on the weather and how long of a trip. After awhile you start to learn about what’s essential and what you can leave behind.
Get out and explore is what I’m trying to say…
Posted by Amy Vitale on February 25, 2013