Currently Reading

I was a little too ambitious with my July TBR it seems. I had planned to read 8 books this month. So far I have finished just one, Daisy Jones & the Six.

I’m on page 302 out of 415 in Beartown by Fredrik Backman. I hate to say I’m enjoying reading a book about a rape, but Backman’s writing always pulls me in. The words and phrases are so beautiful I can’t help but be enthralled in the story. I don’t have high hopes for how poor Maya is going to get through this ordeal, but I’m hoping to finish it up soon and find out.

I am also still reading Grief Day by Day by Jan Warner. For this book I am on page 146 out of 258. I want to finish this book and move on to some others, but I can only take so much wallowing in one sitting. For the most part I try not to think about my Jason at all. My grief counselor wants me to try and focus on him and let the tears come at least once a day for about 10 minutes and then I can go back to being distracted. To be honest, I haven’t made it to 10 full minutes of crying in one go. I am apparently an expert in distraction and never knew it. That title always went to my husband. He was forever not listening to what I was saying to him. We called him Distraco Boy as a joke. And when Pepper was born he called her his sidekick distracto baby. We found out later that he had ADHD and that gave him some comfort. Grief Day by Day is a good book. One I will probably buy a copy of for my local library. It is broken down in to weekly subjects and each day has a quote and little bit about the author’s story of losing her husband. This is the first thing that has made me feel understood since my husband died.

The third book I’m currently in the middle of is Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond. I am reading this on my phone and I am 43% in to it. I started it when my husband’s family was in from all over the country for a week long visit. I needed something to keep me distracted from the emotional trauma of seeing all of them for the first time without my husband by my side. If felt rude to pull a physical book from my bag, but if I’m reading a book on my phone it looks as if I’m checking an email or scrolling facebook like everyone else did from time to time. This is about people being evicted from their homes in the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee. It’s heartbreaking, but an engaging read that is working great in small doses for me when I need a bit more distraction than a phone game can provide me.

I’m hoping to wrap all of these up in the next few days so I can begin a new set of books. There is still a bit of time left in the month to make a dent in that TBR I set.


A Reading Rush TBR

The Reading Rush is a readathon taking place from July 22nd-July 28th. I’m not reading enough at this time to read 7 books in a month let alone in a week, but  I love to fit books I would like to read in to challenges so I couldn’t resist making a TBR for this readathon even though I know I likely won’t read more than one of these books during that week. However, the 22nd would have been my late husband’s 43rd birthday and I may have trouble sleeping and/or need to keep extra distracted during that time. So who knows I may end up reading all of these choices. Either way, these are the 7 challenges and the bonus challenge and the books I would choose to read to meet them.

1/ Read a book with purple on the cover- For this I would choose Us Against You by Fredrik Backman. I’m currently a little over halfway through Beartown and would love to read it’s sequel soon after finishing this one.

2/ Read a book in the same spot the entire time- The obvious answer to this feels like anything really short. Something I can read in a single sitting while my daughter is out of the house maybe. One of the shortest books I own is only 49 pages. I bought it because it was the price I needed to get free shipping on Amazon. It was 73 cents. I wouldn’t have ordered it if I didn’t think it would be at least ok, but I also wouldn’t have ordered this if it didn’t show up on the list of items that cost 73 cents. It is An Adventure That’s For Sure by Donna Wood. There is no picture of it on Goodreads.

3/ Read a book you meant to read last year- There are so many options for this one. I will choose Ninja Timmy by Henrik Tamm.

4/ Read an author’s first book- For this I chose a book I bought very recently at The Dollar Tree. Chloe in India by Kate Darnton. It’s the only book listed on Goodreads under her name so I am going to assume it is her first book.

5/ Read a book with a non-human main character– My first thought for this was some kind of picture book. but I ended up choosing Redwall by Brian Jacques. It’s a series my late husband enjoyed and talked about several times over the years. I have plans to read all of his favorite books when I’m ready to do so.

6/ Pick a book that has five or more words in the title-For this prompt I chose It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine


7/ Read and watch a book to movie adaptation- I really don’t watch movies. The only visual media I consume at all is on Youtube. I can’t imagine I would actually complete this challenge, but if I do, I will choose Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell. Maybe I’ll read the book and watch an episode of the tv series after the kid goes to bed. Probably not though.

Bonus/ Read 7 books!

That’s 7 books. 1783 pages. In a week Not going to happen. I’m currently averaging about 50 pages a day. I would love to see what you choose for the challenges though.

Good luck on the readathon.

Recent Read- The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

My rating ✰5✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

A lot of professors give talks titled ‘The Last Lecture’. Professors are asked to consider their demise and to ruminate on what matters most to them: What wisdom would we impart to the world if we knew it was our last chance? If we had to vanish tomorrow, what would we want as our legacy?

When Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give such a lecture, he didn’t have to imagine it as his last, since he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave, ‘Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams’, wasn’t about dying. It was about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because time is all you have and you may find one day that you have less than you think). It was a summation of everything Randy had come to believe. It was about living.

In this book, Randy Pausch has combined the humour, inspiration, and intelligence that made his lecture such a phenomenon and given it an indelible form. It is a book that will be shared for generations to come.

I read this book in April while my husband was dying. This was part of a color coded TBR project I was working on, but have since given up on. I still plan to read all of the books though.

I first read this book when it was published in 2008. I remember enjoying it and I added it to the color coded black TBR in September of 2018 when I crafted several of these lists at once that would be tackled over the coming year. When we found out my husband has terminal brain cancer and would be dying soon he talked to a friend of his that also has terminal brain cancer, though a less aggressive form. The friend suggested he read this book and when my husband asked me to try and get it from the library for him I was able to pull it off the shelf and hand it to him. My black TBR had posted the day before. It was kismet. The timing was too perfect all around. I had forgotten what the book was really about. As of the reading of this book (April 2019) my husband hasn’t picked it up yet, but I began it the day after my husband brought it to my attention again. This book is based on a speech that the author gave to help leave a legacy for his three small children. He was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and given only a few months to live. The book is about how he wants his children to remember him, his dreams for his children and wife, how he is handling knowing his death is imminent. It all hits way too close to home for me. I cried through most of it and hope my husband will pick it up to read soon. (He never did.) It was a very powerful book that left me a lot to think about.

2019 Book Haul: Books 76-100

Oh my! It’s only been three weeks and I’ve already purchased or received 25 more books. To be fair it is yardsale season and book sale season at my local libraries. One of the libraries was selling paperbacks 5 for a $1. I couldn’t help myself and ended up with 24 new books that day.

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  2. Widow to Widow by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg
  3. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
  4. Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
  5. The Whisper Man by Alex North
  6. From Scratch by Tembi Locke
  7. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  8. Stainless Steel Rat Returns by Harry Harrison
  9. A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay
  10. The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson
  11. About a Boy by Nick Hornby
  12. Backyard Witch by Christine Heppermann
  13. Save me Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer
  14. Kate the Great by Suzy Becker
  15. Brooding YA Hero by Carria Ann DiRisio
  16. The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
  17. The Martian by Anthony Weir
  18. Redwall by Brian Jacques
  19. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
  20. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  21. Messenger by Lowis Lowry
  22. The Long Patrol by Brian Jacques
  23. The Outcast of Redwall by Brian Jacques
  24. Mossflower by Brian Jacques
  25. Mariel of Redwall by Brian Jacques

Of these 25 books, 5 were previously read, 1 was read after purchase, and 10 were bought because my Jason loved them.

This year I have purchased 100 books so far and have read 14 of them. That’s not great odds, but I’ve done worse. Do you see any favorites in this list? Would you like to see a list of the books my Jason loved?


One Month as a Widow

Today marks 31 days since my beloved husband died. This is an update on how I and my four year old are managing.

To be honest, I haven’t dealt with the list of things they say you have to deal with. I haven’t taken his name off of anything except the mailbox.

My daughter and I are just trying to survive each next minute. I do my best to not think about my Jason at all, ever. It doesn’t always work, but when I can be so busy I don’t have a single second to let my thoughts wander I can be gloriously numb for large portions of time and it is wonderful. It is so wonderful when I can forget that he won’t be home soon or that I won’t be sleeping beside him tonight. It is wonderful when I am so caught up in a book or a youtube video or work that I don’t have to think about anything else at all, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

When distraction fails I’m pulled deeply in to despair. I cry and am unable to stop. I beg for my Jason to come back to me. I wail and scream that it isn’t fair, that horrible people live to an old age and my amazing, kind, brilliant, loving husband died so horribly at just 42. I hurt more than I would ever have thought I could bear. It hurts to think. It hurts to breathe. I hurts to just keep living and I don’t want to.

If I had my wish I would be dead. I don’t know how to live without my Jason and I don’t want to.

The only reason I am still here is because of Pepper. She needs me to be here. With her. Even if I don’t want to be. I finally told myself that I have to be alive because she needs me to be, but I don’t have to like it. I never have to want to be alive. I don’t have to appreciate that I’m alive. I just have to do it, because Pepper deserves for me to do so. So I’m coping, minute to minute, for her.

A few things that are helping to keep us going are:

  • Not being home all alone for more than one day
  • Giant check lists of things that need to be done, from laundry, to showers, to reading, everything goes on the list
  • To make sure I eat even though it makes me nauseous to even think about it, I have a deal. Every time Pepper asks for food I have to eat something too. Even if it’s a slice of bread. I have to eat something.
  • We keep a gratitude journal together, even when I can’t think of something I have to come up with an answer because Pepper wants to know what I write.
  • Keeping the easiest food possible on hand always, pre-cut fruit and veg, bread, protein shakes when I literally can’t make myself eat a bite.
  • Plastic/paper dishes. I can’t use any of our dishes. The mugs especially have far too many memories of holidays and love and I wasn’t eating or drinking at all when those were my only options. I keep the house stocked with disposable things and it makes it easier for me.
  • Mindless apps on my phone that I can stare at or play until I finally pass out.
  • Talking to an aunt that was also a young widow. I’m 32 and a widow and a single mother with no money. She understands me the best of anyone I’ve ever met. We talk nightly and I can complain about stupid things people said to me or about how worried about money I am, or about how much I miss my Jason and wish I were dead. And she just gets it and loves me no matter what.
  • I’ve also started grief counseling. I had the set up visit last week and have my first actual appointment tomorrow.

It’s so hard. I spend more time wishing I were dead than not wishing. I can’t imagine ever feeling happy or wanting to be alive again. I can’t imagine ever caring about anything ever again either. My entire life goal at this point is to be numb and to be here as long as Pepper needs me.

Pepper is largely as joyful as ever. We had some behavioral issues for the first couple of weeks after Jason’s death, but she is doing wonderfully now. We stay very busy with crafts and school and work. And we’re managing to keep going by holding on to each other as tightly as we can. She asks questions that I answer to the best of my ability and though I never bring up Jason if I can help it, I never stop her from talking about him or asking about him. She misses him, but she is doing well and that is the one thing I am grateful for in this whole horrendous mess.


Recent Read- Daisy Jones & The Six

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

My rating ✰4✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

This book is written as an interview of the members of the band, and those around the band, during the rise and disintegration of the group. It has each member speaking and giving their side of the story for all of the highlights and all of the drama that comes with the sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle in the 70s.

The format was wonderful. The interview style of story telling made it such a quick and fun read. I read this physicality, but I’ve heard the audio book is amazing.

The characters were gritty and realistic and not very likable much of the time. Seeing the squabbles they had over big and small things was very entertaining. This was a wonderful escapist book for me. Nothing too traumatic, very engaging story, really fast paced. It was perfect for me at this time.

This was my second four star read from this author and I hope to read more of her work at some point in the future.

Recent Read- A Storm of Strawberries

A Storm of Stawberries by Jo Cotterill

My rating ✰5✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

Twelve-year-old Darby loves living on her family’s strawberry farm. But a big storm is coming, and it threatens to destroy everything she and her family hold dear.

Darby is twelve years old and has Down syndrome. Her favorite things are music, chocolate, and her big sister Kaydee. It’s a big weekend for Darby. It’s time for their annual chocolate hunt, and it’s all she can think about. Well, that and spending time with her big sister. But this year Kaydee’s friend Lissa is staying over for the weekend, and she seems to be stealing all of Kaydee’s attention. And to make things worse, the strawberry farm is hit by a tornado. Suddenly, it’s as though both the chocolate hunt and her sister are slipping away from her.

Although the family is prepared for the tornado, they aren’t prepared for the storm of emotions that surface when a truth is brought to light. With tension rising within the family, can Darby mend what’s been broken when it seems like no one is listening to her?

A Storm of Strawberries is a warm, thoughtful, and empathetic novel from acclaimed author Jo Cotterill.

The characters in this story were great. I don’t know anyone with down syndrome so I don’t know if the representation was accurate, but Darby was wonderful. Her family was wonderful. And there was LGBT rep in this story that I really loved. The front flap says this book is for ages 10-14.

As the reader we got more from some of the conversations than Darby did because she couldn’t keep up with speed with which people were talking or she just didn’t understand what she was hearing or seeing so we knew some things that were happening before she did. Darby is such a warm and honest and loving girl and she showed it to everyone even if they didn’t deserve it at that moment.

The author’s writing helped me feel Darby’s emotions, happy and scared and sad and confused. This was truly a joy of a book. I read it in a day and I enjoyed every minute of spending time with Darby and her strong and loving family.