Books I’ve Preordered

In the past I’ve never really preordered books. I can only think of three in my life that I had preordered before this year. But right now I have five preorders for kindle books coming out at some point this year and I thought I would share them here.

Guns & Smoke by A Smith and Lauren Sevier

In a world where safety is a luxury and honor is found only among outlaws, two people attempt to outrun dangers lurking around each corner and the tragedies that define them.

Bonnie is an outlaw on the run. Beautiful but dangerous; her dark past stalks her like the crater beasts that roam the desert. As the notoriously cruel outlaw Jones sends his henchmen to track her down and retrieve the gun she stole from him, Bonnie hopes she can stay one step ahead. Because if he catches her, a fate worse than death awaits.

Jesse always dreamed of leaving the farm to explore the ruins of the big cities he’d heard about his whole life. He just never imagined he’d be forced to flee after strange men burned down his rural mountain town and murdered everyone he loved. Responsible for his kid brother and searching for an uncle he’s never met before, he isn’t sure he can navigate the perils of life among con artists and thieves long enough to find him.

Their two paths collide as they find themselves thrown together on the adventure of a lifetime.

Together, they may just discover that life is about more than just surviving.

The Single Dad’s Handbook by Lynsey James

Before she died she wrote him a book of letters to see him through the ups and downs of raising their daughter and her words soon help him see that there is life after loss – and maybe even a second shot at love – when you find the courage to start living again…

It’s time to start living again, Evan. Your new forever starts right here. Love always, Claire

An emotional, uplifting story of life, loss and love perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern and S.D. Robertson.

The Hill We Climb and Other Poems by Amanda Gorman

A collection of poetry by presidential inaugural poet Amanda Gorman

Including “The Hill We Climb,” the stirring poem read at the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden, this collection of the same name reveals an energizing and unforgettable new voice in poetry.

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

With one week to win back the best friend she might just be in love with, a travel writer plans the trip of a lifetime in this sparkling new novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Beach Read.

Poppy and Alex. Alex and Poppy. They have nothing in common. She’s a wild child; he wears khakis. She has insatiable wanderlust; he prefers to stay home with a book. And somehow, ever since a fateful car share home from college many years ago, they are the very best of friends. For most of the year they live far apart–she’s in New York City, and he’s in their small hometown–but every summer, for a decade, they have taken one glorious week of vacation together.

Until two years ago, when they ruined everything. They haven’t spoken since.

Poppy has everything she should want, but she’s stuck in a rut. When someone asks when she was last truly happy, she knows, without a doubt, it was on that ill-fated, final trip with Alex. And so, she decides to convince her best friend to take one more vacation together–lay everything on the table, make it all right. Miraculously, he agrees.

Now she has a week to fix everything. If only she can get around the one big truth that has always stood quietly in the middle of their seemingly perfect relationship. What could possibly go wrong?

The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren

Single mom Jess Davis is a data and statistics wizard, but no amount of number crunching can convince her to step back into the dating world. Raised by her grandparents–who now help raise her seven-year-old daughter, Juno–Jess has been left behind too often to feel comfortable letting anyone in. After all, her father’s never been around, her hard-partying mother disappeared when she was six, and her ex decided he wasn’t “father material” before Juno was even born. Jess holds her loved ones close, but working constantly to stay afloat is hard…and lonely.

But then Jess hears about GeneticAlly, a buzzy new DNA-based matchmaking company that’s predicted to change dating forever. Finding a soulmate through DNA? The reliability of numbers: This Jess understands. At least she thought she did, until her test shows an unheard-of 98% compatibility with another subject in the database: GeneticAlly’s founder, Dr. River Pena. This is one number she can’t wrap her head around, because she already knows Dr. Pena. The stuck-up, stubborn man is without a doubt not her soulmate. But GeneticAlly has a proposition: Get to know him and we’ll pay you. Jess–who is barely making ends meet–is in no position to turn it down, despite her skepticism about the project and her dislike for River. As the pair are dragged from one event to the next as the “Diamond” pairing that could make GeneticAlly a mint in stock prices, Jess begins to realize that there might be more to the scientist–and the science behind a soulmate–than she thought.

Funny, warm, and full of heart, The Soulmate Equation proves that the delicate balance between fate and choice can never be calculated.

Have you preordered any of these?

Middle Grade March TBR

There are so many fun readathons in March that I would like to participate in, but I had to choose just one. I chose Middle Grade March because I love the hosts and because I needed some quicker reads. Some eye issues have put me way behind on my reading obligations so I’m playing catch up this month. I have 8 middle grade books on my TBR this month. If they were chosen for a prompt I will list that below as well.

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (a silhouette on the cover)

After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting–things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.

Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunn (a strong family element)

Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond–Cat is one of the few people who can keep Chicken happy. When he has a “meltdown” she’s the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She’s the one who knows what Chicken needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat has been the glue holding her family together.

But even the strongest glue sometimes struggles to hold. When a summer trip doesn’t go according to plan, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they never knew. For the first time in years, Cat has the opportunity to be a kid again, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another’s shoes.

Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley (features travel or adventure or journey)

Twelve-year-old Esme’s life changes when she discovers dinosaur bones on her family’s peach farm in Texas.

Fans of Wendy Maas and Lynda Mullaly Hunt will love this perfectly pitched story about friendship, family, and loss from Suzanne Crowley, the acclaimed author of The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous.

After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor, Esme has avoided returning to the spot where he lost his life. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.

Esme sees the bones as a message from her grandfather; a connection beyond the grave. But when word gets out that Peach Hollow Farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme must find a way to understand who has her best interests at heart—especially as the memories of her grandfather begin to slip away.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate  (has a fairytale element)

In her first novel since winning the Newbery Medal, Katherine Applegate delivers an unforgettable and magical story about family, friendship, and resilience.

Jackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again.

Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything?

Matilda by Roald Dahl (published in the decade you were born)

Matilda is a little girl who is far too good to be true. At age five-and-a-half she’s knocking off double-digit multiplication problems and blitz-reading Dickens. Even more remarkably, her classmates love her even though she’s a super-nerd and the teacher’s pet. But everything is not perfect in Matilda’s world. For starters she has two of the most idiotic, self-centered parents who ever lived. Then there’s the large, busty nightmare of a school principal, Miss (“The”) Trunchbull, a former hammer-throwing champion who flings children at will and is approximately as sympathetic as a bulldozer. Fortunately for Matilda, she has the inner resources to deal with such annoyances: astonishing intelligence, saintly patience, and an innate predilection for revenge.

She warms up with some practical jokes aimed at her hapless parents, but the true test comes when she rallies in defense of her teacher, the sweet Miss Honey, against the diabolical Trunchbull. There is never any doubt that Matilda will carry the day. Even so, this wonderful story is far from predictable. Roald Dahl, while keeping the plot moving imaginatively, also has an unerring ear for emotional truth. The reader cares about Matilda because in addition to all her other gifts, she has real feelings.

Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson

Perfect for fans of Bridge to Terabithia and Walk Two Moons, this debut middle grade novel is the story of two girls and the unforgettable summer in which they learn about true friendship and loss.

Annie has been promised a summer of freedom in the country. Freedom from a difficult school year, freedom from her fake “friends” back in the city, and, most of all, freedom from her mom’s life-governing spreadsheets and rigid schedules.

When Annie meets California, who is visiting her grandfather’s farm, it seems she has found the perfect partner for the summer she’s always craved. Especially when California offers Annie a real-life adventure: if she and Annie can find the ponies her mom rode as a girl, surely it will remind her mom how wonderful the farm is—and fix what’s broken between her mom and her grandfather.

But Annie’s summer of freedom is sprinkled with secrets, and everything she has learned about bravery and love will be put to the test when the truth behind the ultimate secret changes her life forever.

Restart by Gordon Korman

Chase’s memory just went out the window. Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name. He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return. Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him. One girl in particular is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets. Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be. From the #1 bestselling author of Swindle and SlackerRestart is the spectacular story of a kid with a messy past who has to figure out what it means to get a clean start.

Double Down by Jeff Kinney

The pressure’s really piling up on Greg Heffley. His mom thinks video games are turning his brain to mush, so she wnats her son to put down the controller and explore his “creative side”.

As if that’s not scary enough, Halloween is just around the corner and the frights are coming at Greg from every angle.

When he discovers a bag of gummy worms, it sparks an idea. Can Greg get his mom off his back by making a movie…. and will he become rich and famous in the progress? Or will doubling down on this path just double Greg’s troubles?

Are you participating in any readathons this month?

My Reading Week 02/27/21

This week I finished one book.

  • Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer ✰3✰ I thought this book was just okay. I kept finding myself checking how many more pages were left before the end. It’s never a good sign  when I’m looking forward to the end. I wish there were more explanation of the fantastical parts, I wish the main character wasn’t quite so irritating. I wish she felt like she had changed or grown in some way by the end of the book. It wasn’t a bad book by any means, just nothing special or that will stick with me.

My eyes are doing much better after a few weeks of not being able to read very easily so I’m hoping to wrap up several books next week.

March 2020 Haul Revisit

In March of 2020 I acquired 17 books. I’ve read three of those. The 14 I have left to read are listed below.

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

They Left us Everything by Plum Johnson

So Close the Being the Sh*t Y’all Don’t Even Know by Retta

Always too Much and Never Enough by Jasmin Singer

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Of these 14 books I haven’t read yet I’m going to choose to read Less by Andrew Sean Greer in March because it feels the least intense.

PROBLEM:
You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years now engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would all be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of half-baked literary invitations you’ve received from around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

If you are Arthur Less.

Thus begins an around-the-world-in-eighty-days fantasia that will take Arthur Less to Mexico, Italy, Germany, Morocco, India and Japan and put thousands of miles between him and the problems he refuses to face. What could possibly go wrong?

Well: Arthur will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Sahara sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and arrive in Japan too late for the cherry blossoms. In between: science fiction fans, crazed academics, emergency rooms, starlets, doctors, exes and, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to see. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. The second phase of life, as he thinks of it, falling behind him like the second phase of a rocket. There will be his first love. And there will be his last.

A love story, a satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, by an author The New York Times has hailed as “inspired, lyrical,” “elegiac,” “ingenious,” as well as “too sappy by half,” Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

Have you read this book? I’ve heard it’s funny.

Shelf Spotlight- Books Written by Lori

For this month’s Shelf Spotlight I’m sharing some books on my shelves that are written by Authors that share my name, Lori. I found four written by Lori’s and one edited by a Lori.

If You Did What I asked you in the First Place by Lori B Duff

In this collection of unflinching, unapologetic, and funny oh-so-real life stories, Lori B. Duff bares the creaky, embarrassing parts of our high school cafeteria-scarred souls for us, leaving us no choice but to laugh at our failures, no matter how spectacular, and rejoice in our successes, no matter how itty-bitty. She shows women that each one of us is a wonder in our own way, with the ability — whether we know it or not — to make the best of life’s often absurd situations. Reading If You Did What I Asked In the First Place is like sitting down with a good friend who helps you make it through the day. Pour yourself a glass of whatever makes you feel better and take off any constricting undergarments: Let loose with the knowledge that you are not alone. You have Lori at your side.

The Mind Readers by Lori Brighton

Cameron Winters is a freak. Fortunately, no one but her family knows the truth… that Cameron can read minds. For years Cameron has hidden behind a facade of normalcy, warned that there are those who would do her harm. When gorgeous and mysterious Lewis Douglas arrives he destroys everything Cameron has ever believed and tempts her with possibilities of freedom. Determined to embrace her hidden talents, Cameron heads to a secret haven with Lewis; a place where she meets others like her, Mind Readers.

But as Cameron soon finds out some things are too good to be true. When the Mind Readers realize the extent of Cameron’s abilities, they want to use her powers for their own needs. Cameron suddenly finds herself involved in a war in which her idea of what is right and wrong is greatly tested. In the end she’ll be forced to make a choice that will not only threaten her relationship with Lewis, but her very life.

Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron

Raising My Rainbow is Lori Duron’s frank, heartfelt, and brutally funny account of her and her family’s adventures of distress and happiness raising a gender-creative son. Whereas her older son, Chase, is a Lego-loving, sports-playing boy’s boy, her younger son, C.J., would much rather twirl around in a pink sparkly tutu, with a Disney Princess in each hand while singing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi.”
C.J. is gender variant or gender nonconforming, whichever you prefer. Whatever the term, Lori has a boy who likes girl stuff—really likes girl stuff. He floats on the gender-variation spectrum from super-macho-masculine on the left all the way to super-girly-feminine on the right. He’s not all pink and not all blue. He’s a muddled mess or a rainbow creation. Lori and her family choose to see the rainbow.
Written in Lori’s uniquely witty and warm voice and launched by her incredibly popular blog of the same name, Raising My Rainbow is the unforgettable story of her wonderful family as they navigate the often challenging but never dull privilege of raising a slightly effeminate, possibly gay, totally fabulous son.

Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content

Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman

The Forgiveness Stones craze is sweeping the nation—instantly recognizable pouches of stones that come with a chain letter and two simple requests: to forgive, and then to seek forgiveness. But New Orleans’ favorite talk show host, Hannah Farr, isn’t biting. Intensely private and dating the city’s mayor, Hannah has kept her very own pouch of Forgiveness Stones hidden for two years—and her dark past concealed for nearly two decades. But when Fiona Knowles, creator of the Forgiveness Stones, appears on Hannah’s show, Hannah unwittingly reveals on air details of a decades-old falling out with her mother.

Spurned by her fans, doubted by her friends, and accused by her boyfriend of marring his political career, Hannah reluctantly embarks on a public journey of forgiveness. As events from her past become clearer, the truth she’s clung to since her teenage years has never felt murkier. Hannah must find the courage to right old wrongs, or risk losing her mother, and any glimmer of an authentic life, forever.

Maybe Baby Edited by Lori Leibovich

To breed or not to breed? That is the question twenty-eight accomplished writers ponder in this collection of provocative, honest, soul-searching essays. Based on a popular series at Salon.com, Maybe Baby offers both frank and nuanced opinions from a wide range of viewpoints on parenting choices, both alternative and traditional.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Made Me Laugh Out Loud

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s prompt is books that made me laugh out loud. This was a difficult prompt for me. I’m far more likely to pick up a book that makes me cry then one that will make me laugh. I came up with ten though.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

The Martian by Andy Weir

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames

The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison

Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor

Well Met by jen DeLuca

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Our Doris by Charles Heathcote

Is This Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld

What is the last book that made you laugh out loud?

Birthday Book Haul

My birthday was on the 13th of February and I received quite a few books. Most of these were from two book shopping sprees I was given. My father in law took me on a trip to Barnes and Noble and gave me a budget to spend only on books for myself. And my mother and her husband took me to a store called Ollies and I was also given a budget to spend on books there.

Only one of these was an ebook. The rest are physical books and with my myriad of eye issues my physical book reading is slowing way down, so while I hope to read many of these soon I just don’t know if it will be possible. Are there any here you loved and think I should prioritize?

My Reading Week 02/20/21

I think I’m switching back to a weekly instead of a monthly wrap up and I have finished four books that I still need to talk about here.

  • My first finish of the month was Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It took me 13 months to read this and I would have liked it more if it had been about a third of the size it is. It was so unnecessarily long. I loved the parts where we were with the characters, but all of the history and battle scenes were so long and boring for me that I regret not DNFing it a month in to the project. In the end I rated it ✰3✰
  • The next book read was Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers ✰5✰ This book is told entirely through notes left on the refrigerator door between a mother and her fifteen year old daughter. I always love a book told in a non-standard format. This book had so much more going for it as well though. Through only these post it notes we learn that the mother is dying of breast cancer and it’s not going well for her at all. It mirrored my experience with my late husband’s brain cancer in horribly painful ways and the book left me sobbing.
  • A Turtle’s Guide to Introversion by Ton Mak is a book I won in a Goodreads giveaway. It was a cute little gift book and a really fast read. The illustrations were charming and the words were relatable. I gave it ✰4✰
  • I also finshed Behind You by Jacqueline Woodson this week and gave it ✰3✰ For some reason this book didn’t effect me the same way the first book did. It was still a good read, but it didn’t make me cry like If You Come Softly did.

Have you read any of these?

Current Library Checkouts

Right now I have ten books checked out from the library. Five of those are for the Booktube Prize. You can read more about those here. The five other books I have checked out are below. 

Everyday Watercolor: Learn to Paint Watercolor in 30 Days by Jenna Rainey

This beautifully illustrated and inspiring guided watercolor-a-day book is perfect for beginning watercolor artists, artists who want to improve their watercolor skills, and visual creatives. From strokes to shapes, this book covers the basics and helps painters gain confidence in themselves along with inspiration to develop their own style over the course of 30 days. Featuring colorful contemporary art from Mon Voir design agency founder and Instagram trendsetter Jenna Rainey, this book’s fresh perspective paints watercolor in a whole new light.

Watercolor is for Everyone by Katen Ewing

In this beautiful book, artist Kateri Ewing, author of Look Closer, Draw Better, guides you through a series of simple creative projects using a soulful, meditative, and reflective process. Whether you’re picking up a paint brush for the first time or are an experienced artist, you’ll discover and deepen your creative potential through these exercises, because everyone can make art. Each project results in two art pieces: one to keep for yourself, and then another one, such as a postcard or mini painting, to share with someone else or send out into the world, to spread their color, creativity, and joy in new places. 

With Watercolor Is for Everyone, you can learn how to build a daily practice and how to set intentions and create, even if you have just 10 minutes a day. The projects draw inspiration from poetry, music, literature, and the natural world, and invite experimentation with a variety of sources, from tarot and oracle cards to rocks and feathers. You’ll pursue your personal passions through accessible projects as you build your artistic skills, confidence, and creativity.

Across the Green Grass Fields by Seanan McGuire

A young girl discovers a portal to a land filled with centaurs and unicorns in Seanan McGuire’s Across the Green Grass Fields, a standalone tale in the Hugo and Nebula Award-wining Wayward Children series.

“Welcome to the Hooflands. We’re happy to have you, even if you being here means something’s coming.”

Regan loves, and is loved, though her school-friend situation has become complicated, of late.

When she suddenly finds herself thrust through a doorway that asks her to “Be Sure” before swallowing her whole, Regan must learn to live in a world filled with centaurs, kelpies, and other magical equines―a world that expects its human visitors to step up and be heroes.

But after embracing her time with the herd, Regan discovers that not all forms of heroism are equal, and not all quests are as they seem…

The Canyon’s Edge by Dusti Bowling

Hatchet meets Long Way Down in this heartfelt and gripping novel in verse about a young girl’s struggle for survival after a climbing trip with her father goes terribly wrong.

One year after a random shooting changed their family forever, Nora and her father are exploring a slot canyon deep in the Arizona desert, hoping it will help them find peace. Nora longs for things to go back to normal, like they were when her mother was still alive, while her father keeps them isolated in fear of other people. But when they reach the bottom of the canyon, the unthinkable happens: A flash flood rips across their path, sweeping away Nora’s father and all of their supplies.

Suddenly, Nora finds herself lost and alone in the desert, facing dehydration, venomous scorpions, deadly snakes, and, worst of all, the Beast who has terrorized her dreams for the past year. If Nora is going to save herself and her father, she must conquer her fears, defeat the Beast, and find the courage to live her new life.

Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf — her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.
 

Have you read any of these? 

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Purple, Yellow, or Green Covers

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week’s topic is book covers that are purple, yellow, or green. I chose 10 books that are on my digital TBR. Have you read any fo these?

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily XR Pan

The Muse by Jessie Burton

Macchiatos and Murder by Kelly Hashway

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life by Samantha Irby

Hollow Kingdom by Kina Jane Buxton

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

The Illicit Happiness of Other People by Manu Joseph

I’m afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

A Taste of Sage by Vaffa S Santos

Always Greener by JRH Lawless

What My Six Year Old is Getting for Her Birthday

Miss Pepper turns six in just two days. She has had a lot of changes this year, most of them positive. She is going to be getting three main gifts this year. One from me, one from her Grandfather, and one from her Grandmother and Grandfather.

A few smaller things I’ll be giving her are a new sketch book and drawing pencils, a stack of learn to draw animals books, and two surprise toys, an LOL Doll and a Rainbowcorn Surprise.

The big gift she asked me for is an instant camera. She wants to take pictures and then use her watercolors to paint the things she photographs. I got her the Instax Mini 11 in lilac with all the accessories and enough extra film that she can take 110 pictures.

Her grandfather, my late husband’s dad, is getting her a Lego set she asked for and he also got her an extra kit to go with it. She is a big fan of Lego and video games so this set should be a lot of fun for her.

The gift my mother and her husband got for Pepper is something she’s been asking for for months, but isn’t expecting to get so soon. We’ve been talking about it as a possible some day item so this will be the biggest surprise of the day. Pepper started music lessons in November and her favorite instrument so far is drums. It’s the only thing she’s used at every single lesson and she keeps asking for her own set. Grandma decided to get her a shiny purple set of decent drums that she should hopefully be able to use for a few years before she outgrows them.

This should be the best birthday ever for my sweet amazing kiddo. I can’t wait to see her excitement when she sees those drums.

Kindle Book Haul

These are some of my most recently purchased Kindle books. I am excited to read all of these. Have you read any of them?

Necessary lies by Diane Chamberlain

After losing her parents, fifteen-year-old Ivy Hart is left to care for her grandmother, older sister and nephew as tenants on a small tobacco farm.  As she struggles with her grandmother’s aging, her sister’s mental illness and her own epilepsy, she realizes they might need more than she can give.

When Jane Forrester takes a position as Grace County’s newest social worker, she doesn’t realize just how much her help is needed.  She quickly becomes emotionally invested in her clients’ lives, causing tension with her boss and her new husband.  But as Jane is drawn in by the Hart women, she begins to discover the secrets of the small farm—secrets much darker than she would have guessed.  Soon, she must decide whether to take drastic action to help them, or risk losing the battle against everything she believes is wrong.

Set in rural Grace County, North Carolina in a time of state-mandated sterilizations and racial tension, Necessary Lies tells the story of these two young women, seemingly worlds apart, but both haunted by tragedy.  Jane and Ivy are thrown together and must ask themselves: how can you know what you believe is right, when everyone is telling you it’s wrong?

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook

Bea’s five-year-old daughter, Agnes, is slowly wasting away. The smog and pollution of the City—an over-populated, over-built metropolis where most of the population lives—is destroying her lungs. But what can Bea do? No one leaves the City anymore, because there is nowhere else to go. But across the country lies the Wilderness State, the last swath of open, protected land left. Here forests and desert plains are inhabited solely by wildlife. People are forbidden. Until now.

Bea, Agnes, and eighteen others volunteer to live in the Wilderness State as part of a study to see if humans can co-exist with nature. Can they be part of the wilderness and not destroy it? Living as nomadic hunter-gatherers, this new community wanders through the grand country, trying to adhere to the strict rules laid down by the Rangers, whose job it is to remind them they must Leave No Trace. As the group slowly learns to live and survive on the unpredictable and often dangerous land, its members battle for power and control and betray and save each other. The farther they roam, the closer they come to their animal soul.

To her dismay, Bea discovers that, in fleeing to the Wilderness State to save Agnes, she is losing her in a different way. Agnes is growing wilder and closer to the land, while Bea cannot shake her urban past. As she and Agnes grow further apart, the bonds between mother and daughter are tested in surprising and heartbreaking ways.

Yet just as these modern nomads come to think of the Wilderness State as home, its future is threatened when the Government discovers a new use for the land. Now the migrants must choose to stay and fight for their place in the wilderness, their home, or trust the Rangers and their promises of a better tomorrow elsewhere.

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

Some people are extraordinary. Some are just extra. TJ Klune’s YA debut, The Extraordinaries, is a queer coming-of-age story about a fanboy with ADHD and the heroes he loves.

Nick Bell? Not extraordinary. But being the most popular fanfiction writer in the Extraordinaries fandom is a superpower, right?

After a chance encounter with Shadow Star, Nova City’s mightiest hero (and Nick’s biggest crush), Nick sets out to make himself extraordinary. And he’ll do it with or without the reluctant help of Seth Gray, Nick’s best friend (and maybe the love of his life).

Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl meets Marissa Meyer’s Renegades in TJ Klune’s YA debut.

Bunny by Mona Awad

Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one.

But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.

The spellbinding new novel from one of our most fearless chroniclers of the female experience, Bunny is a down-the-rabbit-hole tale of loneliness and belonging, friendship and desire, and the fantastic and terrible power of the imagination.

A Touch of Death by Rebecca Crunden

A thousand years in the future, the last of humanity live inside the walls of the totalitarian Kingdom of Cutta. The rich live in Anais, the capital city of Cutta, sheltered from the famine and disease which ravage the rest of the Kingdom. Yet riches and power only go so far, and even Anaitians can be executed. It is only by the will of the King that Nate Anteros, son of the King’s favourite, is spared from the gallows after openly dissenting. But when he’s released from prison, Nate disappears.

A stark contrast, Catherine Taenia has spent her entire life comfortable and content. The daughter of the King’s Hangman and in love with Thom, Nate’s younger brother, her life has always been easy, ordered and comfortable. That is, where it doesn’t concern Nate. His actions sullied not only his future, but theirs. And unlike Thom, Catherine has never forgiven him.

Two years pass without a word, and then one night Nate returns. But things with Nate are never simple, and when one wrong move turns their lives upside down, the only thing left to do is run where the King’s guards cannot find them – the Outlands. Those wild, untamed lands which stretch around the great walls of the Kingdom, filled with mutants and rabids.

Shop My Shelves-February 2021

Because my reading is usually planned several months in advance I don’t often make time for mood reading. This series is the one time a month I make/let myself look at my shelves and choose what I want to read right now with no restrictions or requirements. I wander in to my library, browse the shelves overflowing with books I want to read some day and choose whatever most catches my attention at that moment and then start to read it right away no matter how full my reading schedule is.

This month I chose  Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by Laura Geringer and William Joyce. I bought this full series in May of 2020 and have been thinking about picking it up ever since. My late husband read and enjoyed some number of these years ago when I worked at a library. I’m excited to be picking up the first book today. Have you read any of them?

Forget naughty or nice—this is a battle of good vs. evil.

Discover the origins of St. Nick and follow along as the Guardians start their quest to rid the world of nightmares in the first Guardians chapter book from Academy Award winner William Joyce that inspired the beloved film, The Rise of the Guardians.

Before SANTA was SANTA, he was North, Nicholas St. North—a daredevil swordsman whose prowess with double scimitars was legendary. Like any swashbuckling young warrior, North seeks treasure and adventure, leading him to the fiercely guarded village of Santoff Claussen, said to be home to the greatest treasure in all the East, and to an even greater wizard, Ombric Shalazar. But when North arrives, legends of riches have given way to terrors of epic proportions! North must decide whether to seek his fortune…or save the village.

When our rebellious hero gets sucked into the chaos (literally), the fight becomes very personal. The Nightmare King and his evil Fearlings are ruling the night, owning the shadows, and sending waves of fear through all of Santoff Clausen. For North, this is a battle worth fighting…and, he’s not alone. There are five other Guardians out there. He only has to find them in time.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Romance Books on my TBR

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

This weeks topic is a Valentine’s Day/Love Freebie and I’ll be sharing ten Romance books that are on my physical TBR. 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

Confess by Colleen Hoover

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

The Wednesday Letters by Jason F Wright

Have you read any of these? Did you enjoy them?

 

 

February 2021 TBR

This month I will be choosing my TBR based on five categories again. An ebook, a reread, a book from my February 2020 haul revisit, the oldest book on my TBR, and a book my daughter chooses for me. These are all books I already own. Pictures and blurbs are from Goodreads.

My ebook for this month will be All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson

In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.

Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.

My reread this month will be Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

New York Times bestselling and Alex, Nebula, and Hugo-Award-winning author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in this standalone fantasy.

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

My book from my haul revisit will be Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen.

It is 1938 when Eveline, a young bride, follows her husband into the wilderness of Minnesota. Though their cabin is rundown, they have a river full of fish, a garden out back, and a new baby boy named Hux. But when Emil leaves to take care of his sick father, the unthinkable happens: a stranger arrives, and Eveline becomes pregnant. She gives the child away, and while Hux grows up hunting and fishing in the woods with his parents, his sister, Naamah, is raised an orphan. Years later, haunted by the knowledge of this forsaken girl, Hux decides to find his sister and bring her home to the cabin. But Naamah, even wilder than the wilderness that surrounds them, may make it impossible for Hux to ever tame her, to ever make up for all that she, and they, have lost. Set before a backdrop of vanishing forest, this is a luminous novel of love, regret, and hope.

The oldest book on my TBR is Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie, purchased back in November of 2017. 

“You’ve reached the age at which people in this family cross the border into the magical world. It’s your turn for an adventure–yes, it’s finally here!” So says Haroun to his younger brother, twelve-year-old Luka. The adventure begins one beautiful starry night in the land of Alifbay, when Luka’s father, Rashid, falls suddenly into a sleep so deep that nothing and no one can rouse him. To save him from slipping away entirely, Luka embarks on a journey through the world of magic with his loyal companions, Bear, the dog, and Dog, the bear. Together they encounter a slew of fantastical creatures, strange allies, and challenging obstacles along the way–all in the hope of stealing the Fire of Life, a seemingly impossible and exceedingly treacherous task.

And the Pepper pick for this month is Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever?

These nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer—or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

I have a few other books I’m hoping to read this month as well, but these are my top priorities. Have you read any of these?

What I Read in January 2021

In January I read 9 books. A link to goodreads, my rating and brief thoughts, and any prompts I used them for in my yearly reading challenges are listed below.

  • The Midnight Library by Matt Haig ✰5✰ This book meant so much to me. It helped me look at my regrets over my husband’s death as something that I can live along side and not get lost in. This book left me feeling hopeful that I can find joy in the life I have, even if it’s not a life I want or would have chosen. Reading challenge prompts I used this book for are:
    • Popsugar-A book set in multiple countries
    • 52 books in 52 weeks-A book featuring the environment
    • Pretty Mess- Goodreads 2020 Winner
    • By the Years- published in 2020
    • A-Z- Starts with an M
    • Around the Year in 52 books-has a building in the title
    • Build Your Own Library- Set in a library
    • Diversify Your Reading- Quarter One Goal to read an Award Winner
  • What Lies Between Us by John Marrs ✰4✰ This was such a refreshingly fast read after feeling like I haven’t been making much progress in books lately. It was a compelling story that kept me second guessing the characters the whole way through. I could see myself making some of the same choices the mother made to protect her daughter and that scared me. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work. Reading Challenge prompts I used this book for are:
    • Popsugar-A book about forgetting
    • 52 books in 52 weeks-First chapter ends on an odd page
    • Pretty Mess-A book you own but haven’t read
    • A-Z- Starts with a W
    • Around the Year in 52 books- A book with a female villain or criminal
    • Build your Own Library- A book with a house on the cover
  • Is this Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld ✰3✰ This book was really funny for the most part, but as the book went on the jokes and jabs about how fat people are and how that disgusts him got to be way too much for me.
    • Popsugar-A book with a black and white cover
    • 52 Books in 52 Weeks- written by an author over 65
    • Pretty Mess Reading- A celebrity Memoir
    • A-Z- Starts with an I
    • Around the Year in 52 Books-A book with a monochromatic cover
    • Build Your Own Library-A book that makes you feel nostalgic
  • Old School by Jeff Kinney ✰5✰ This series is just so fun. I really enjoy every page of these books.
    • Read Harder-Read a middle grade mystery
    • 52 Books in 52 Weeks- A book you’d rate five stars
    • Around the Year in 52 books-A book written by an author of one of your best reads of 2020
    • Popsugar-A book set almost entirely outdoors
    • Pretty Mess-Next book in a series
    • Build Your Library-A sequel you have been meaning to pick up
    • A-Z-Starts with an O
    • By the Years-published in 2015
  • The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain ✰4✰ This book was so much harder, emotionally, to read than I thought it would be. The writing was lovely and the story was captivating.
    • Buzzwordathon- Dream in the title 
    • Read Harder- Read a book featuring a beloved pet that doesn’t die
    • 52 Books in 52 Weeks- a dual timeline
    • Around the Year in 52 Books-Book relating to the past
    • Popsugar-A book featuring three generations
    • Pretty Mess Reading-A genre you don’t usually read (historical fiction)
    • Reading Women-A book with a cover designed by a woman
    • Build Your Library- A genre you never pick up
    • A-Z – starts with D
    • By the Years- published in 2018
  • Be Happy by Monica Sheehan ✰5✰ This was a very small and short gift book. Few words, illustrations on every page. Cute and simple for what it is. 
  • 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff ✰3✰ This was not everything I expected it to be. Big chunks of time were missing from the story and I just didn’t get enough of a connection to the characters. I’m in the minority here though because it is a very well loved book.
    • Read Harder-read a book with a cover you don’t like
    • 52 Books in 52 Weeks-An epistolary book
    • Around the Year in 52 Books- A short book by a new to you author
    • Popsugar-A book about a subject you are passionate about
    • Pretty Mess-Based on a true story
    • Build Your Library-A book by an author you have never read from before 
  • Angels And Demons by Dan Brown ✰4✰ I ended up enjoying this book way more than I thought I would, even though I spent months making my way through it. 
  • Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi ✰4✰ I spent six or seven months slowly making my way through this book. It was very slow going for me, but an important book for someone like me who knew far less about the racist history of the US then I would have thought. 

What did you read in January?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Written Before I Was Born

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

This week’s topic is books written before I was born. I was born in February of 1987 and it turns out I have a lot of books published before that on my physical TBR so I’ve chosen 10 of them. 

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald published in 1925

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier published in 1938

Bed-Knob and Broomstick by Mary Norton published in 1943

The Mahe Circle by Georges Simenon published in 1946

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming published in 1964

Sula by Toni Morrison published in 1973

Tilt by James Creech and Rudy Durand published in 1978

The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald published in 1978

Teach Your Own by John C Holt published in 1981

Redwall by Brian Jacques published 1986

Some of these have been on my tbr for many  years and some are new additions, but I still hope to read them all at some point. Have you read any of these?

Shelf Spotlight: Flowers on the Cover

For my shelf spotlight this month I’ll be showing five books on my TBR shelves that have flowers on the cover. I don’t know how many books I have with floral covers, but it’s probably a lot because Pepper and I love flowers so they always attract my attention. These are five books that I own, but haven’t read yet. Photos and blurbs from Goodreads.

It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.

Lily hasn’t always had it easy, but that’s never stopped her from working hard for the life she wants. She’s come a long way from the small town in Maine where she grew up
— she graduated from college, moved to Boston, and started her own business. So when she feels a spark with a gorgeous neurosurgeon named Ryle Kincaid, everything in Lily’s life suddenly seems almost too good to be true.

Ryle is assertive, stubborn, maybe even a little arrogant. He’s also sensitive, brilliant, and has a total soft spot for Lily. And the way he looks in scrubs certainly doesn’t hurt. Lily can’t get him out of her head. But Ryle’s complete aversion to relationships is disturbing. Even as Lily finds herself becoming the exception to his “no dating” rule, she can’t help but wonder what made him that way in the first place.

As questions about her new relationship overwhelm her, so do thoughts of Atlas Corrigan — her first love and a link to the past she left behind. He was her kindred spirit, her protector. When Atlas suddenly reappears, everything Lily has built with Ryle is threatened.

If We Were Villains by ML Rio

Oliver Marks has just served ten years in jail – for a murder he may or may not have committed. On the day he’s released, he’s greeted by the man who put him in prison. Detective Colborne is retiring, but before he does, he wants to know what really happened a decade ago.

As one of seven young actors studying Shakespeare at an elite arts college, Oliver and his friends play the same roles onstage and off: hero, villain, tyrant, temptress, ingenue, extra. But when the casting changes, and the secondary characters usurp the stars, the plays spill dangerously over into life, and one of them is found dead. The rest face their greatest acting challenge yet: convincing the police, and themselves, that they are blameless.
 

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

My darling Cecilia, if you’re reading this, then I’ve died…

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .

Cecilia Fitzpatrick has achieved it all—she’s an incredibly successful businesswoman, a pillar of her small community, and a devoted wife and mother. Her life is as orderly and spotless as her home. But that letter is about to change everything, and not just for her: Rachel and Tess barely know Cecilia—or each other—but they too are about to feel the earth-shattering repercussions of her husband’s secret.

Acclaimed author Liane Moriarty has written a gripping, thought-provoking novel about how well it is really possible to know our spouses—and, ultimately, ourselves.

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
 

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsesssed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strongwilled young women falling for each other despite themselves.

Have you read these? Do you have any favorite covers that feature flowers?

First Sentences January 2021

It is wonderful when one sentence is enough to make you want to read a whole book. Here I share the first words of all of the books I finished this month to see if the first line alone is enough to make you want to read them. I will be using the first sentence from the first chapter and not from an introduction or prologue.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Nineteen years before she decided to die, Nora Seed sat in the warmth of the small library at Hazeldene School in the town of Bedford.

What Lies Between Us by John Marrs

You can’t see me from my place up here in the crow’s nest.

Is this Anything? by Jerry Seinfeld

I’m left-handed.

Old School by Jeff Kinney

Grown-ups are always talking about the “good old days” and how things were so much better when THEY were kids.

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

As we sat in the stark basement waiting room in one of the National Institutes of Health buildings, I thought Patti was more anxious than I was.

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Your ad in the Saturday Review of Literature says that you specialize in out-of-print books.

Of these 6 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick up the books?

Woody’s Roundup Readathon TBR

The Woody’s Roundup Readathon takes place throughout the month of February and is hosted by Literary Lily on Youtube. For this readathon you choose a character from Toy Story and then read books to fill the prompts those characters have. I have my actual February TBR coming out in about a week and I also have five books to read for the Booktube Prize judging, but I still wanted to participate here because it sounds like so much fun. I’ve chosen the team with the fewest books to read. Team Sid.

The characters we get to collect on Team Sid are Janie, Mutant Toys, and Combat Carl. The prompts that fit those characters and what I have chosen to read for them are below.

Janie-A Book you have stolen

For this prompt I stole a book from Misty’s Book Space tbr of Every Unread Book on her Bookshelf. I chose her book number 89 . The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

Mutant Toys- A book with an ugly cover

I hate calling any cover ugly because I know people work so hard on them, but I chose Fifteen Lanes by SJ Laidlaw because it just doesn’t attract my attention.

Combat Carl- a book with a character death

For this prompt I chose Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas. I’m assuming with ghosts being summoned there will be a death talked about in here somewhere.

Have you read any of these? Are you participating in this readathon? If so, what team are you on?

Five Star Predictions

This will be my third round of five star predictions. I did my first in January of 2019, the second in January of 2020, and now this one in January of 2021. Apparently it’s tradition. That tradition also seems to include not quite finishing the previous list before making a new one. I only read four of the five books from the first list and that’s where I am this time as well. I do still hope to read the fifth book from last year’s five star predictions though and wrap that up soon. Here are five books I think I will rate five stars, a picture and blurb from Goodreads, and a brief reasoning of why I think I will love them.

Qualityland by Marc-Uwe Kling- I have been wanting to read this book since 2017 when it came out in German. I love dystopian stories and the premise here sounds amazing. It is described as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets 1984 on the Goodreads page and that sounds like exactly my kind of story.

Welcome to QualityLand, the best country on Earth. Here, a universal ranking system determines the social advantages and career opportunities of every member of society. An automated matchmaking service knows the best partners for everyone and helps with the break up when your ideal match (frequently) changes. And the foolproof algorithms of the biggest, most successful company in the world, TheShop, know what you want before you do and conveniently deliver to your doorstep before you even order it.

In QualityCity, Peter Jobless is a machine scrapper who can’t quite bring himself to destroy the imperfect machines sent his way, and has become the unwitting leader of a band of robotic misfits hidden in his home and workplace. One day, Peter receives a product from TheShop he absolutely, positively knows he does not want, and which he decides, at great personal cost, to return. The only problem: doing so means proving the perfect algorithm of TheShop wrong, calling into question the very foundations of QualityLand itself.

Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl is a book I’ve been wanting to read for quite a while too. It is a story that plays with time and I love that sort of book.

Once upon a time, back at Darrow-Harker School, Beatrice Hartley and her five best friends were the cool kids, the beautiful ones. Then the shocking death of Jim – their creative genius and Beatrice’s boyfriend – changed everything.

One year after graduation, Beatrice is returning to Wincroft – the seaside estate where they spent so many nights sharing secrets, crushes, plans to change the world – hoping she’ll get to the bottom of the dark questions gnawing at her about Jim’s death.

But as the night plays out in a haze of stilted jokes and unfathomable silence, Beatrice senses she’s never going to know what really happened.

Then a mysterious man knocks on the door. Blithely, he announces the impossible: time for them has become stuck, snagged on a splinter that can only be removed if the former friends make the harshest of decisions.

Now Beatrice has one last shot at answers… and at life.

And so begins the Neverworld Wake.

I Was Told it Would Get Easier by Abbi Waxman is a book that I saw on Spenelli Speaks on Youtube and then immediately ordered it for myself for Christmas last year. It is about a complicated mother daughter relationship and my relationship with my own mother has been difficult for my entire life and I’m already starting to feel my five year old pull away from me a little. I think this will speak to me as both a daughter and a mother.

Jessica and Emily Burnstein have very different ideas of how this college tour should go.

For Emily, it’s a preview of freedom, exploring the possibility of her new and more exciting future. Not that she’s sure she even wants to go to college, but let’s ignore that for now. And maybe the other kids on the tour will like her more than the ones at school. . . . They have to, right?

For Jessica, it’s a chance to bond with the daughter she seems to have lost. They used to be so close, but then Goldfish crackers and Play-Doh were no longer enough of a draw. She isn’t even sure if Emily likes her anymore. To be honest, Jessica isn’t sure she likes herself.

Together with a dozen strangers–and two familiar enemies–Jessica and Emily travel the East Coast, meeting up with family and old friends along the way. Surprises and secrets threaten their relationship and, in the end, change it forever.

A Million Junes by Emily Henry is by an author I read from for the fist time last year. I loved Beach Read and though this is a very different book I have high hopes that I will love more things by this author.

For as long as Jack “June” O’Donnell has been alive, her parents have had only one rule: stay away from the Angert family. But when June collides—quite literally—with Saul Angert, sparks fly, and everything June has known is thrown into chaos.

Who exactly is this gruff, sarcastic, but seemingly harmless boy who has returned to their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, after three mysterious years away? And why has June—an O’Donnell to her core—never questioned her late father’s deep hatred of the Angert family? After all, the O’Donnells and the Angerts may have mythic legacies, but for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them.

As Saul and June’s connection grows deeper, they find that the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers seem to be conspiring to reveal the truth about the harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations. Now June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored, and she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. I was torn between whether to put this book or Recursion by the same author on this list. I have heard so many things about both of them and feel like I will love them. I chose this one from the two because the main character has the same name as my late husband haha

Jason Dessen is walking home through the chilly Chicago streets one night, looking forward to a quiet evening in front of the fireplace with his wife, Daniela, and their son, Charlie—when his reality shatters.

– – –

‘Are you happy in your life?’

Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious. Before he awakes to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits. Before the man he’s never met smiles down at him and says, ‘Welcome back.’

In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.

Is it this world or the other that’s the dream?

And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.

I am so excited to read all of these and I own them all physically so there really is no excuse for me to not read them soon. Have you read any of these? Did you give them five stars?

Booktube Prize Octafinals

The Booktube Prize is a book prize started by Barter Hordes a couple of years ago. Originally it was a way for content creators on Booktube to have their own prize to judge books published the previous year. The second year they allowed frequent booktube commenters to participate in judging too. And this year, their third year, the judging pool was opened up to other bookish content creators as well. I’ve loved watching the first two rounds so I offered myself up to the fun challenge.

I didn’t mention it before now because I assumed I would be eliminated due to the small size of my blog (607 followers) and instagram (465 followers), but today I was given my judging assignment. Hooray!

We start the first round with 48 books in the fiction portion and 48 in the nonfiction portion. Those books will be cut in half in each round. In every round, the octafinals, quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, judges are given a list of 6 books to read and two months to read them. At the end of the two months you return your ballot with your six reads ranked from best to worst.

I am participating in the fiction portion of the prize this year. There are eight groups of six books in each section and there are nine judges for each group of six fiction book groups. I will be reading the books from fiction group C throughout February and March, but am not permitted to talk about my thoughts on the books until the voting period is over. I still wanted to share the books assigned to me in case you would like to read them as well. Links, pictures, and blurbs from Goodreads. 

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez

A woman describes a series of encounters she has with various people in the ordinary course of her life: an ex she runs into by chance at a public forum, an Airbnb owner unsure how to interact with her guests, a stranger who seeks help comforting his elderly mother, a friend of her youth now hospitalized with terminal cancer. In each of these people the woman finds a common need: the urge to talk about themselves and to have an audience to their experiences. The narrator orchestrates this chorus of voices for the most part as a passive listener, until one of them makes an extraordinary request, drawing her into an intense and transformative experience of her own.

In What Are You Going Through, Nunez brings wisdom, humor, and insight to a novel about human connection and the changing nature of relationships in our times. A surprising story about empathy and the unusual ways one person can help another through hardship, her book offers a moving and provocative portrait of the way we live now.

A Girl is a Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

In her twelfth year, Kirabo, a young Ugandan girl, confronts a piercing question that has haunted her childhood: who is my mother? Kirabo has been raised by women in the small village of Nattetta—her grandmother, her best friend, and her many aunts, but the absence of her mother follows her like a shadow. Complicating these feelings of abandonment, as Kirabo comes of age she feels the emergence of a mysterious second self, a headstrong and confusing force inside her at odds with her sweet and obedient nature.

Seeking answers, Kirabo begins spending afternoons with Nsuuta, a local witch, trading stories and learning not only about this force inside her, but about the woman who birthed her, who she learns is alive but not ready to meet. Nsuuta also explains that Kirabo has a streak of the “first woman”—an independent, original state that has been all but lost to women.

Kirabo’s journey to reconcile her rebellious origins, alongside her desire to reconnect with her mother and to honor her family’s expectations, is rich in the folklore of Uganda and an arresting exploration of what it means to be a modern girl in a world that seems determined to silence women. Makumbi’s unforgettable novel is a sweeping testament to the true and lasting connections between history, tradition, family, friends, and the promise of a different future. 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Drawing on Maggie O’Farrell’s long-term fascination with the little-known story behind Shakespeare’s most enigmatic play, HAMNET is a luminous portrait of a marriage, at its heart the loss of a beloved child.

Warwickshire in the 1580s. Agnes is a woman as feared as she is sought after for her unusual gifts. She settles with her husband in Henley street, Stratford, and has three children: a daughter, Susanna, and then twins, Hamnet and Judith. The boy, Hamnet, dies in 1596, aged eleven. Four years or so later, the husband writes a play called Hamlet.

Run Me To Earth by Paul Yoon

Alisak, Prany, and Noi—three orphans united by devastating loss—must do what is necessary to survive the perilous landscape of 1960s Laos. When they take shelter in a bombed out field hospital, they meet Vang, a doctor dedicated to helping the wounded at all costs. Soon the teens are serving as motorcycle couriers, delicately navigating their bikes across the fields filled with unexploded bombs, beneath the indiscriminate barrage from the sky.

In a world where the landscape and the roads have turned into an ocean of bombs, we follow their grueling days of rescuing civilians and searching for medical supplies, until Vang secures their evacuation on the last helicopters leaving the country. It’s a move with irrevocable consequences—and sets them on disparate and treacherous paths across the world.

Spanning decades and magically weaving together storylines laced with beauty and cruelty, Paul Yoon crafts a gorgeous story that is a breathtaking historical feat and a fierce study of the powers of hope, perseverance, and grace.

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

What does it mean for a family to lose a child they never really knew?

One afternoon, in a town in southeastern Nigeria, a mother opens her front door to discover her son’s body, wrapped in colorful fabric, at her feet. What follows is the tumultuous, heart-wrenching story of one family’s struggle to understand a child whose spirit is both gentle and mysterious. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the warm, boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek’s closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens—and Osita struggles to understand Vivek’s escalating crisis—the mystery gives way to a heart-stopping act of violence in a moment of exhilarating freedom.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

 

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another? 

Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis. 

I’m excited to get reading and will share my rankings of these six books in April when this round of judging is over. 

February 2020 Book Haul Revisit

This year I decided to focus on the books I purchased in 2020 and each month I’ll see how many I’ve read so far and then choose one unread book to add to the current month’s tbr. In February 2020 I purchased or was given 22 books. Of those I’ve read 4. 

  1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
  3. Hello Cruel World by Kate Bornstein
  4. Crossed by Ally Condie
  5. Reached by Ally Condie
  6. The Girl With all the Gifts by MR Carey
  7. I Loved You More by Tom Spanbauer
  8. No Exit by Taylor Adams
  9. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
  10. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin ✰4✰
  11. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
  12. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin
  13. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson ✰5✰
  14. Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen
  15. Out to Pasture by Effie Leland Wilder ✰3✰
  16. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
  17. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel ✰3✰
  18.  The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  19. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
  20. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
  21. Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline
  22. The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

The good news is I’m still really excited to read all of these books. The one I’m going to choose to add to my February TBR is Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen because the Booksandlala Buzzwordathon prompt for February is a color in the title. 

2021 Book Haul #1

So far this year I’ve purchased 10 books. Three Kindle books and seven physical books.

  1. I Heart my Little A-Holes by Karen Alpert
  2. A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
  3. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
  4. Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  5. The Power by Naomi Alderman
  6. How to Walk Away by Katherine Center
  7. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  8. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  9. The Wild Boy by Paolo Cognetti
  10. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

I haven’t read any of them so far. Have you read any of these?

Quarter One Readathon TBRs

This year I’m participating in 12 year long readathons. Most of them don’t have specific time frames for when you complete the prompts, but a few do. The ones without time frames I don’t plan. I just read whatever I want and then slot them in to prompts afterwards. The challenges that have a specific prompt for specific months are what I’ll share here. There are three of these. 

The BooksandLaLa’s Buzzwordathon has 12 prompts, one for each month. The prompt word or concept should be somewhere in the title. 

The Diversify Your Reading Challenge has 16 prompts total, one for each month, and an extra for each quarter. They are genres.

Last year my rereading challenge was different, but this year it’s not running as far as I can tell so I’ve just chosen 12 books to reread and assigned them to months sort of arbitrarily. The first three books I’ll be rereading for this challenge are:

Are you reading any of these books in the first quarter of 2021?

January 2021 TBR

This month’s TBR will be five books that I own that fit five categories. An ebook, a reread, the book chosen in my January 2020 haul revisit, the oldest book on my TBR, and a book my five year old daughter, Pepper, chose for me to read. 

My ebook for this month is What Lies Between Us by John Marrs.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

My first reread of the year will be Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, currently my number two favorite book of all time. I plan to do a slow reread while I annotate my book. 

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix up their own marriage. There’s a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.
 

The book I chose in my haul revisit this month was A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard.

Steffi doesn’t talk, but she has so much to say.
Rhys can’t hear, but he can listen.

Steffi has been a selective mute for most of her life. The condition’s name has always felt ironic to her, because she certainly does not “select” not to speak. In fact, she would give anything to be able to speak as easily and often as everyone around her can. She suffers from crippling anxiety, and uncontrollably, in most situations simply can’t open her mouth to get out the words.

Steffi’s been silent for so long that she feels completely invisible. But Rhys, the new boy at school, sees her. He’s deaf, and her knowledge of basic sign language means that she’s assigned to help him acclimate. To Rhys, it doesn’t matter that Steffi doesn’t talk. As they find ways to communicate, Steffi discovers that she does have a voice, and that she’s falling in love with the one person who makes her feel brave enough to use it. But as she starts to overcome a lifelong challenge, she’ll soon confront questions about the nature of her own identity and the very essence of what it is to know another person.
 

The oldest book on my tracked TBR is from November 2017 and is unfortunately a sequel so I’m going to read the first book instead. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.

Set in an exotic Eastern landscape peopled by magicians and fantastic talking animals, Salman Rushdie’s classic children’s novel Haroun and the Sea of Stories inhabits the same imaginative space as The Lord of the RingsThe Alchemist, and The Wizard of Oz. In this captivating work of fantasy from the author of Midnight’s Children and The Enchantress of Florence, Haroun sets out on an adventure to restore the poisoned source of the sea of stories. On the way, he encounters many foes, all intent on draining the sea of all its storytelling powers.

For Pepper’s choice she gets free range of any book in my library. She chose Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi.

Gifty is a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her.

But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family’s loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief–a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi’s phenomenal debut.

Have you read any of these? 

January 2020 Book Haul Revisit

In the past my haul revisits have included all of the books purchased in a month from each of the years I have haul information for. This year that would be 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. But I still have lingering books for every month and year I have records for and it’s just a lot of books to look at each month. This year I decided to just focus on the books I purchased in 2020 and each month I’ll see how many I’ve read so far and then choose one unread book to add to the current month’s tbr.

My hauls are often epic, several months were around 80 books, but January of last year I hauled just 15. I’ve read two of those.

  1. Falling Ill: Last Poems by C K Williams ✰3✰
  2. Doctorow: Collected Stories by EL Doctorow
  3. Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
  4. The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore
  5. Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson
  6. How to Boil Water by Jennifer Darling
  7. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  8. The Magic Three of Solatia by Jane Yolen
  9. Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi
  10. The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman
  11. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon ✰5✰
  12. Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend
  13. A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard
  14. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
  15. Finding Out by Sheryn MacMunn

Of the 13 I have left to read I’m most drawn to A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard and I’ll add that to my January TBR.

2021 Reading Challenges

In 2020 I participated in the Booktube Rereadathon and the Popsugar Reading Challenge. I enjoy the year long reading challenges that give me prompts to fulfill throughout the year. This year I’ve somehow ended up with 12 year long challenges I’ve penciled in to my reading journal to try and complete this year. Some are repeats and some are new ones I’ve learned about this year and decided to try. I’ve included a link where I can, a brief description, and my favorite prompt if applicable.

  1. Popsugar Reading Challenge– 40 standard plus 10 advanced prompts
    • I’m most excited to read an Afrofuturist book
  2. 52 Books in 52 Weeks-52 prompts
    • I am most excited to read a book with a nameless narrator
  3. Around the Year in 52 Books-52 prompts
    • I am most excited to read a book that might cause someone to react “You read what?!?”
  4. Booktube Rereadathon– I did this last year and enjoyed it. I haven’t seen a 2021 version yet so I’ve simply chosen 12 books I want to reread this year and slotted them in to months. If prompts show up at some point I might move the books around a bit to fit them.
    • I am most excited to reread The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. My new favorite book of all time. I can’t wait to reread and annotate it.
  5. BooksandLaLa’s Buzzwordathon-12 prompts, one for each month
    • I am most excited for space/galaxy terms
  6. Diversify You Reading Challenge– 16 prompts total, one for each month, and an extra for each quarter
    • I am most excited to read a science fiction book in October
  7. Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge– 24 challenges
    • I am most excited to read a romance starring a single parent
  8. Pretty Mess Reading Challenge-26 prompts
    • I’m most excited for a book you saw someone reading
  9. Reading Women Challenge-24 prompts and 4 bonus authors to read from
    • I am most excited to read a book with a protagonist older than 50
  10. Build Your Own Library-41 challenges
    • I am most excited to read a play.
  11. A to Z Title Challenge-This is a challenge to read a book that starts with the letter A, B, C, etc. So 26 prompts. I don’t have a link for this one.
  12. By the Years- This is a challenge I heard about someone doing, but don’t have a link to because I couldn’t find one. You read a book published in every year from the year you were born all the way through to 2021. I was born in 1987 so from then until 2021 will give me 35 prompts to fill in.

Twelve reading challenges and 374 reading prompts between them. I am certain I can double, triple, etc up on all books read though. For challenges I do, I don’t count one book for more than one prompt on any individual challenge, but I will defiantly count it for one prompt on each of the 12 challenges if I can make it fit something. That means potentially, if I could find specific books, a single book could cross of 12 prompts from the 374. Obviously every book won’t work that way, but figuring out where books I read can fit is a big part of the fun for me. I typically read whatever I want to and then fit the books in to prompts when I am finished. The ones with prompts for specific months I do the other way around though. Around November, if I have any prompts remaining I seek out books to fit the rest of the prompts. This is totally just for fun so I won’t be stressing myself out to complete these lists, but I think they are really fun to try. Are you doing any year long reading challenges this year?

2021 Reading Intentions

In 2020 my reading was a little crazy. I read a lot and I enjoyed most of it, but for a few months at the end of the year it felt like an obligation instead of a hobby. That was entirely because I was in the middle of about 40 books at the same time. My biggest intention for my reading this year is to be in the middle of only two books at any one time. Even if that means I read far fewer books this year then I did last year. 

I have trouble focusing when I’m only reading one book at a time so I’ll read a chapter, put it down and then maybe come back to it again later that day or maybe not. When I have a lot of books on the go at the same time I read a chapter from one and then another and another and it keeps me excited and reading and interested. But I never finish anything that way and it’s stressful. 

So this year I’m going to try really hard to stick to just two books at a time. One physical book I read from throughout the day and one kindle book that I read in bed at night or when I am out of the house. 

While following those guidelines I believe my reading speed will fall. I’m just not sure by how much. So I’m setting my Goodreads goal this year to 60 books. Last year I read 200 so 60 doesn’t seem like a challenging goal for me personally. But, I’m hoping the low target will help me slow down the constant starting of books and let me be excited for each new start and each new finish.  I’m also hoping the slower pace will help with my fear of reading long books.

I averaged about 17 books a month in 2020, but am planning to make TBRs of just five books each month this year. I plan to choose books to fit in to five categories that are important to my intentions right now. These should all be books I already own at the time the TBR is made. I will choose a book to reread, an ebook, a book from my haul revisit for 2020, the oldest book on my TBR, and a book Pepper gets to choose for me each month. 

That shortened TBR will help me focus on projects I have and it will also leave lots of room for any readathon TBRs too. 

I also plan to participate in several reading challenges like the Popsugar reading Challenge and 52 books in 52 weeks. I’ll be sharing more about the challenges I’ve chosen to work on in tomorrow’s post. 

And that’s all. Read 60 books, read only 2 books at a time, with a few extra fun things thrown in when I want to work on them. I’m hoping for a great and fun year of reading.

Do you have any reading intentions or goals this year?  

2021 Blog Intentions

What are my plans for this blog in 2021? When can you expect new posts from me? My blog became way too much like work half way through 2020. It went from being fun to being an obligation and as long as I’m making no money doing this that’s just not acceptable. So now, instead of posting three times a week like I had from the beginning of my blog to my unplanned break last summer, I’ll be posting once a week. My current plan is to post on Saturdays. 

I went through all of the posts I’ve made previously and put everything in to one of three columns. Posts I definitely want to keep doing because they are fun for me to make. Things I can take or leave. And things I just don’t want to do any more. I settled on five things I want to post every month that are either book blog staples or just ones that I really enjoy doing for myself. 

I will be posting:

  • a monthly TBR
  • a book haul for the previous month
  • a haul revisit for the month coming up
  • first sentences of the books finished in the current month
  • a monthly wrap up with titles and my ratings for everything I read. 

Those five posts are all I’m committing myself to. I will likely have other posts thrown in as well. Tags, readathon TBRs, book reviews, random life updates, homeschool focused posts, and anything else I want to share. But all of those things will be posted sporadically. 

I’ll see you here every Saturday and likely more often than that. Here is a to a 2021 filled with joy and great books!

2020 Booktube Rereadathon Wrap Up

In an effort to reread books more often I participated in the Booktube Rereadathon last year. There is a prompt for each month to help you choose a book to reread. I didn’t get to all of them in the assigned month, but I did complete all 12 prompts over the course of the year. The prompt is listed first and the book I read is underneath. I’ve included my star rating as well.

January-reread a translated book

  • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ✰5✰

February-rediscover a book you haven’t read in over 10 years

  • Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St John ✰2✰

March-rearead a book written before you were born

  • A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata ✰1✰

April-reread a book from a genre you don’t usually read any more

  • Harry Potter and the Socerer’s Stone by JK Rowling ✰3✰

May-reread a second chance book

  • The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket ✰3✰

June-reread a book that made you laugh or inspires a positive emotion

  • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell ✰4✰

July-reread a book that taught you something

  • On Writing by Stephen King ✰5✰

August-reread a book that surprised you

  • Illuminae by jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman ✰5✰

September-reread a book that was recommended to you

  • And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman ✰5✰

October-reread a book set in a different country, culture, or world

  • Paper Girls series by Brian K Vaghan ✰5✰

November-reread an underrated book

  • The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry ✰5✰

December-reread a book that comforted you

  • The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher ✰5✰

I plan to do this challenge again if it happens, otherwise I’ve already chosen 12 books to reread in 2021. How often do you reread books?

2020 Popsugar Reading Challenge Wrap Up

2020 was the first year that I attempted to complete the Popsugar Reading Challenge. It is a list of 50 prompts to help you read a wider variety of books. With about 200 books read this year, there could be several books for each prompt listed below, but I’ve just listed the first book I read that met the prompt while only using a book for one prompt on this list even if it fit others as well. The prompt is listed first and the book I read is underneath. I’ve included my star rating as well.

  1. A Book that’s published in 2020 
    • The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James ✰3✰
  2. A book by a trans or nonbinary author
    • Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe ✰5✰
  3. A book with a great first line
    • The Martian by Andy Weir ✰4✰
  4. A book about a book club
    • The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams ✰5✰
  5. A book set in a city that has hosted the Olympics
    • Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab ✰5✰
  6. A bildungsroman
    • Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore ✰4✰
  7. The first book you touch on a shelf with your eyes closed
    • Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth Chikamatsu ✰3✰
  8. A book with an upside down image on the cover
    • Heidi Heckelbeck Gets Glasses by Wanda Coven ✰3✰
  9. A book with a map
    • Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames ✰5✰
  10. A Book recommended by your favorite blog, vlog, etc
    • Wilder Girls by Rory Power ✰3✰
  11. An anthology
    • Am I Blue? edited by Marion Dane Bauer ✰4✰
  12. A book that passes the Bechdel test
    • Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar ✰3✰
  13. A book with the same title as a movie or tv show but unrelated to it
    • The Bear by Andrew Krivak ✰3✰
  14. A book by an author with flora or fauna in their name
    • Summer Sisters by Judy Blume ✰4✰
  15. A book published the month of your birthday
    • That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek by Cheri Huber ✰3✰
  16. a book about or by a woman in stem
    • An Adventure…That’s For Sure by Donna Wood ✰1✰
  17. a book that won an award in 2019
    • Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell ✰5✰
  18. a book on a subject you know nothing about
    • Pink Mist by Owen Sheers ✰5✰
  19. a book with only words on the cover
    • Often I Am Happy by Jens Christian Grondahl ✰3✰
  20. a book with a pun in the title
    • Princeless by Jeremy Whitley ✰4✰
  21. a book featuring one of the seven deadly sins
    • Smoke by Ellen Hopkins ✰5✰
  22. a book with a robot, cyborg, or AI character
    • All Systems Red by Martha Wells ✰3✰
  23. a book with a bird on the cover
    • This is How You Lose the Time War by Alam El Mohtar ✰4✰
  24. a fiction or nonfiction book about a world leader
    • Becoming by Michelle Obama ✰4✰
  25. a book with gold silver or bronze in the title
    • First Gold by Jerry Gerold ✰2✰
  26. a book by a WOC
    • Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ✰5✰
  27. a book with at least a four star rating on Goodreads
    • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness ✰5✰
  28. a book you meant to read in 2019
    • Tea Dragon Society by Katie O Neill ✰4✰
  29. a book about or involving social media
    • You Don’t Know Everything Jilly P by Alex Gino ✰5✰
  30. A book that has a book on the cover
    • Augoboyography by Christina Lauren ✰5✰
  31. A medical thriller
    • The Wives by Tarryn Fisher ✰5✰
  32. A book with a made up language
    • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling ✰2✰
  33. A book set in a country beginning with C
    • WTF (Geek Actually) by Cathy Yardley ✰2✰
  34. A book you picked because the title caught your attention
    • The Last Execution by Jesper Wung Sung ✰4✰
  35. A book with a three word title
    • Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire ✰5✰
  36. A book with a pink cover
    • Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu ✰4✰
  37. A Western
    • Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey ✰4✰
  38. A book by or about a journalist
    • Grieving: A Love Story by Ruth Coughlin ✰5✰
  39. Banned book
    • The Giver by Lois Lowry ✰5✰
  40. Favorite prompt from a past challenge: book that should be a movie
    • Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren ✰5✰
  41. A book with more than 20 letters in it’s title
    • Samantha Spinner and the Super Secret Plans by Russell Ginns ✰3✰
  42. A book published in the 20th century
    • A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ✰5✰
  43. A book from a series with more than 20 books
    • Heidi Hecklebeck in the Disguise by Wanda Coven ✰4✰
  44. A book with a main character in their 20s
    • Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin ✰4✰
  45. A book written by an author in her 20s
    • I Love My Love by Reyna Biddy ✰2✰
  46. A book with 20 in the title
    • Twenty One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks ✰5✰
  47. A book with a character with a vision impairment
    • Middlegame by Seanan McGuire ✰5✰
  48. A book set in Japan
    • The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa ✰4✰
  49. A book by an author who has written more than 20 books
    • Fool Moon by Jim Butcher ✰4✰
  50. A book set in the 1920’s
    • Sapphic in the Shadows by Leanna Headley ✰3✰

Did you do a year long reading challenge last year?

2020 Reading Goals Wrap Up

In 2020 I started the year with seven goals and a lot of hope that 2020 couldn’t possibly be any worse then 2019 where I learned that my husband had brain cancer and would then watch him die in front of me and our four year old over a four month period. And while 2020 didn’t even almost reach the level of awful that 2019 reached for me personally, it was still an overall crap year with the pandemic and unexpectedly moving and all of the other myraid of things 2020 threw at us to try to and give 2019 a run for it’s money.

I finished three of my seven goals.

  1. Read at least 100 books. I read double that.
  2. Complete the Popsugar Reading Challenge. A post with what I read for each challenge will be up tomorrow.
  3. Participate in the Booktube Rereadathon 2020. A post with what I read for each challenge will be up in two days.

The four I didn’t finish involved purchase restrictions which just did not happen and specific lists of books I wanted to read. I’m trying a new purchase limitation strategy for next year and I’m not marking any specific books to be read.

Instead of lowering my owned book collection numbers I added about 400 to my shelves.

Of the 28 specific books I wanted to read last year I only read 8 and about half of Les Miserables.

Instead of goals for next year I’m making intentions knowing that I likely won’t finish them all. My 2021 intentions will be up in a few days.

How did your 2020 plans pan out?

My Top 10 Favorite Books of 2020

I read about 200 books in 2020 so choosing my top 10 wasn’t easy. The top 3 were pretty quickly set in stone, but the rest moved around quite a bit before settling on the order that is here. I’ll start from number 10 and work my way to my number one read of the year. Pictures from Goodreads. 

10. If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

This book was such a heartbreaking read. It was so short and beautiful and absolutely devastating. I plan to read the sequel in 2021.

9. Well Played by Jen DeLuca

This book was so fun. I loved both book one and two in this series last year and am eagerly awaiting book three due to come out sometime this year. 

8. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman

I read all three of the volumes currently out in this series this year and they are so delightful and adorable. I gave all three books five stars and can’t wait to see what awaits Nick and Charlie in volume 4. 

7. Beach Read by Emily Henry

This was so good. Better than I expected for sure. While it is a romance book it also tackles other subjects that I love to read about. Grief and writing specifically. I plan to read more from this author in the new year. 

6. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

I read my first book by this author duo this year and then I read three more of their books. It was a real mix of ratings though. A 2 star read, a 4 star read, and two 5 star reads. This book was five stars for me. A blend of grief, books, and romance. I plan to continue reading more books by Christina Lauren in the new year. 

5. Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

I read the first nine books in this series this year and have books 10-15 on hand to read throughout the new year. I have rated all of them so far either 4 or 5 stars. It’s funny and cute and simple and just a really fun and easy series to read and enjoy.

4. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

This book was the first I started in 2020 and it was so complicated and dark and amazing. This is one of the books I plan to reread in 2021 and expect to love it even more now that I know the basics of the story and will be able to pick out even more of the cleverness in the plot. 

3. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This book about grief is so horrendously devastating. It spoke to my broken heart in a way no other book that deals with grief has ever done before. I am planning a reread of this book this year. 

2. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

This book was briefly my number one favorite book of all time. Fredrik Backman is my favorite author and I expected this to be my favorite read this year and then it ended up being my favorite book of all time with plans to reread it as my first book of 2021. This book feels like the author has lost his way and is just rambling around on various story paths that lead to nowhere important, but by the end all of those lovely threads come together in the most breathtaking way. I can not wait to reread this this month.

1. The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

This book is everything I didn’t know I needed in a book. It is delightful, charming, sweet, heartbreaking, magical, amazing. Every character is wonderful and so well fleshed out. The setting is so exquisitely beautiful I wish I was there, Antichrist and all. The love story is so kind and sweet and pure and unexpected. I love every aspect of this book and am so grateful that I read it this year and have a new all time favorite book to enjoy over and over again. 

Have you read any of these? What was your favorite book of 2020? 

2020 Reading Stats

Another great year of reading is on the books. This was probably my most successful year of reading since becoming an adult. I read so many books and loved many of them too. My best of the year list is going to be really hard to make, but it should be up tomorrow.

This year I read 200 books.

Approximately 26 of those were rereads.

I had 65 five star books.

I had 68 four star books.

I had 44 three star books.

I had 20 two star books.

I had 3 one star books.

I acquired about 500 new physical books.

I completed 3 out of 7 yearly reading goals.

I found 2 new all time favorite books.

While most of 2020 was an epic fail of a year overall, my reading was a wonderful journey and a bright spot in a world of chaos. How did you’re 2020 reading year go?

First Sentences December 2020

It is wonderful when one sentence is enough to make you want to read a whole book. Here I share the first words of all of the books I finished last month to see if the first line alone is enough to make you want to read them. I will be using the first sentence from the first chapter and not from an introduction or prologue.

When I Woke up Dead by N Prima

When I woke up I knew I was dead.

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

Call me harlot.

Tree of Treasures by Bonnie Mackay

The carrot is my oldest and dearest ornament.

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Do you know how magic works?

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

It rained toads the day the White Council came to town.

Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig

You might think you know about Father Christmas.

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

The morning one of the lost twins returned to Mallard, Lou LeBon ran to the diner to break the news, and even now, many years later, everyone remembers the shock of sweaty Lou pushing through the glass doors, chest heaving, neckline darkened with his own effort.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

The Internet was ablaze this week when pop star Trish Kelly took to Twitter to complain that multiple designers refused to dress her for the Grammys–because she is size 8!

The Night of the Coronavirus Christmas by Luke Carter

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, Not a creature was here, not even a mouse;

Claire’s Christmas Catastrophe by Kerrie L Flanagan

Something was different when I woke up.

Bear Season by Kaleidoscope MM

It was times like these when I truly wondered why I’d taken a teaching job cross country and away from everyone I loved.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

The kitchen cat was dead, and Morrigan was to blame.

Happy Narwhalidays by Ben Clanton

Jingle shells, jingle shells, jingle all the way!

The Princess in Black and the Giant Problem by Shannon Hale

Snow lay all over Princess Magnolia’s kingdom.

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

This is William Trundle.

The Naughty List by Ellie Mae MacGregor

Kate was curled up on the couch, glass of wine in hand, staring absently at the glittering Christmas tree.

The Christmasaurus and the Winter Witch by Tom Letcher

“Merry first day of the Christmas holidays, William!”

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Rain fell that night, a fine, whispering rain.

Of these 19 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick up the books?

21 Authors I Hope to Read in 2021

I have a large TBR pile both physically and digitally. I like it that way. I like to have lots of choices for my next reading adventure. This is a list of authors where I own at least three of their books but have not read any of their work before.

  1. Colleen Hoover-8 books owned
  2. Isabel Allende-3 books owned
  3. Patricia Briggs-5 books owned
  4. Jacqueline Carey-6 books owned
  5. Khaled Hosseini- 3 books owned
  6. Erin Hunter-6 books owned
  7. Brian Jacques-5 books owned
  8. William Joyce-5 books owned
  9. Tamora Pierce-10 books owned
  10. David Sedaris-3 books owned
  11. Neal Shusterman-3 book owned
  12. Nicholas Sparks-3 books owned
  13. Jeanette Walls-3 books owned
  14. Kerri Maniscalco-4 books owned
  15. Rachel Caine-4 books owned
  16. Scott Baron-3 books owned
  17. Orson Scott Card-4 books owned
  18. Ally Condie-3 books owned
  19. Jenny Han-3 books owned
  20. James Riley-5 books owned
  21. Brandon Mull-5 books owned

Twenty One Authors, almost one hundred books. I would like to try and read at least one book from each of them in 2021 so I can either discover new authors I love or find out their work is not for me and remove quite a few unnecessary books from my TBR. Either way it’s a win. What new authors are you hoping to read in 2021?

Christmas Gift Book Haul

I received so many books for Christmas this year and I’m excited for all of them.

I’m the only adult in the house so this first set of books I bought and wrapped for myself. These were all physical books.

This next set of books were sent to me from my Amazon Wishlist by various internet friends. These all happened to be ebooks.

The last set of books are ones given to me by friends and family. These are all physical books too.

So many books and so much excitement to read them. Did you get a book under the tree this year?

Short Christmas Books on Kindle

I’m struggling to focus on two long books I’m trying to get finished before the end of the year. I just want to read quick fun Christmas themed books on my Kindle. So I might do that and if Les Miserables gets carried over in to 2021, so be it. Here are five short Christmas books I found in my Kindle library and am thinking of reading this week. Pictures and blurbs from Goodreads. 

Another Backwards Christmas by Brooke Williams (93 pages)

Rob Joleigh has been burned by Christmas too many times. He takes his freelance writing career seriously and his claim to fame happens to be de-bunking Christmas festivities in towns across America. When he lands in South Pole, Alaska, he has one plan in mind…to get to the bottom of the whole ‘Backwards Christmas’ idea and spoil the holiday for as many people as possible.

Holly Howard knows there’s more to life than leading Backwards Christmas tours in South Pole, but she’s happy with her job, town, and friends. The only thing missing is someone to share it all with, but in a small town, it’s hard to meet new people. When a handsome writer comes into town, she’s intrigued, and hopeful that he could be that person. But she has no idea he’s the famous “Jolly Robber.”

It’s not just any Backwards Christmas in South Pole, Alaska as the backwards celebrations rage and the town comes together to show their spirit in full force!

The Night of the Coronavirus Christmas by Luke Carter (14 pages) No description given on Goodreads

The Christmas Thief by Julie Carobini (101 pages)

There’s a thief in Cottage Grove, and Tasha’s a suspect. Not exactly the dream she’d had in mind when she moved into her rustic fixer-upper cottage. Marc Shepherd wasn’t part of her plans either. The Stetson-wearing contractor moved in next door, kicking up dust and threatening to cut down a beloved pine that shaded Tasha’s cabin. With Christmas around the bend, and a criminal threatening the community’s peace, will Tasha solve the puzzle … before it’s too late?

The Naughty List by Ellie Mae Macgregor (56 pages)

While delivering presents on Christmas Eve, Santa gets a gift of his own.

Kate isn’t sure if Nikolai is the real deal, but this silver fox with big hands and thick thighs might just make her believe in Christmas miracles.

See if Kate has been naughty or nice in this light, fun, and steamy 15,000 word holiday romance with a guaranteed HEA.

Claire’s Christmas Catastrophe by Kerrie L Flanagan (58 pages)

10-year-old Claire loves Christmas. But this year a horrible Christmas Eve blizzard leaves her stuck in the house with her annoying twin brothers, no electricity and she can’t be with her friends. To make it worse, she realizes her Grandma can’t make it over to their house to spend the holiday with them. Will this end up being Claire’s worst Christmas ever?
 

All very short, all Christmas themed, and all very different from each other. Have you read any of these? Are there any other Christmas themed books you’ve loved this year that are quick reads?

 

Buddy the Elf Book Tag

While searching for a book tag to do based on my and Pepper’s favorite Christmas movie, Elf, I found the Buddy the Elf book tag on StarlightKosmos blog.

1. ‘Treat everyday like Christmas!’ What’s one book you love to read no matter the time of year?

I don’t reread very often so I can’t think of a book I would just pick up and read any time. Probably anything by Fredrik Backman. My current favorite book is Anxious People.

2. Buddy’s spaghetti. Who are two book characters who are complete opposites but you think they go so well together?

This isn’t a romantic pairing, but Lister and Rimmer from the Red Dwarf series by Grant Naylor are so opposite from each other they keep each other going when stranded away from everyone else in the universe for a very long time.

3. The clausometer. What’s one book you have 100% fangirl spirit about?

I have been really loving the Diary of  Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney this year. I’ve read through 9 books so far since July and have given every book either 4 or 5 stars. I have books 10 through 14 on hand to hopefully read before the end of the year too and I can easily see myself rereading these with Pepper at some point soon.

4. ‘The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.  What recent read do you love so much you just want to sing it’s praises from the rooftops?

Well Played by Jen DeLuca. I liked this book even more than I liked the first book in the series and I loved that one too. I can not wait for the third in this series to come out next year.

5. ’Son of a Nutcracker!’ What book had an ending you didn’t like?

You know when you start reading, that Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma can not end well because it’s about a brother and sister that fall in love with each other, but the ending absolutely crushed me.

6. ‘He must be a south pole elf!’ What book character did you make a bad first impression with by mispronouncing their name?

Every character in Battle Royale by Koushun Takami

7. ‘Santa Claus is coming to TOWN!’ What’s the number one book on your Christmas wish list?

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

What book is number one on your Christmas wish list this year?

Books I Want for Christmas

I love books and have several hundred on my Amazon wishlist at any given time. At the time of writing this, there are 600 kindle or print books on the list. Here are a few that I would most like to see under the tree (or delivered to my Kindle) on Christmas morning. Pictures and blurbs from Goodreads. 

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?

In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

Over the Woodward Wall by A Deborah Baker

Avery is an exceptional child. Everything he does is precise, from the way he washes his face in the morning, to the way he completes his homework – without complaint, without fuss, without prompt.

Zib is also an exceptional child, because all children are, in their own way. But where everything Avery does and is can be measured, nothing Zib does can possibly be predicted, except for the fact that she can always be relied upon to be unpredictable.

They live on the same street.
They live in different worlds.

On an unplanned detour from home to school one morning, Avery and Zib find themselves climbing over a stone wall into the Up and Under – an impossible land filled with mystery, adventure and the strangest creatures.

And they must find themselves and each other if they are to also find their way out and back to their own lives.

Memento by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

AIDAN is the AI you’ll love to hate.

The advanced AI system was supposed to protect a fleet of survivors who’d escaped the deadly attack on Kerenza IV. AIDAN was supposed to be infallible. But in the chaotic weeks and months that followed, it became clear that something was terribly, terribly wrong with AIDAN…

Mr Loverman by Bernadine Evaristo

Barrington Jedidiah Walker.
Barry to his friends.
Trouble to his wife.

Seventy-four years old, Antiguan born and bred, flamboyant Hackney personality Barry is known for his dapper taste and fondness for retro suits.

He is a husband, father and grandfather.

And for the past sixty years, he has been in a relationship with his childhood friend and soulmate, Morris.

Wife Carmel knows Barry has been cheating on her, but little does she know what is really going on. When their marriage goes into meltdown, Barrington has big choices to make.

Mr Loverman is a groundbreaking exploration of Britain’s older Caribbean community, which explodes cultural myths and fallacies, and shows how deep and far-reaching the consequences of prejudice and fear can be. It is also a warm-hearted, funny and life-affirming story about a character as mischievous, cheeky and downright lovable as any you’ll ever meet.

QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling

Welcome to QualityLand, the best country on Earth. Here, a universal ranking system determines the social advantages and career opportunities of every member of society. An automated matchmaking service knows the best partners for everyone and helps with the break up when your ideal match (frequently) changes. And the foolproof algorithms of the biggest, most successful company in the world, TheShop, know what you want before you do and conveniently deliver to your doorstep before you even order it.

In QualityCity, Peter Jobless is a machine scrapper who can’t quite bring himself to destroy the imperfect machines sent his way, and has become the unwitting leader of a band of robotic misfits hidden in his home and workplace. One day, Peter receives a product from TheShop he absolutely, positively knows he does not want, and which he decides, at great personal cost, to return. The only problem: doing so means proving the perfect algorithm of TheShop wrong, calling into question the very foundations of QualityLand itself.

Skint Estate by Cash Carraway

Cash Carraway is a single mum living in temporary accommodation. She’s been moved around the system since she left home at sixteen. She’s also been called a stain on society. And she’s caught in a poverty trap.

Skint Estate is the hard-hitting debut memoir about impoverishment, loneliness and violence – set against a grim landscape of sink estates, police cells, refuges and peepshows.

The Deep End by Jeff Kinney

In The Deep End, book 15 of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Greg Heffley and his family hit the road for a cross-country camping trip, ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

But things take an unexpected turn, and they find themselves stranded at an RV park that’s not exactly a summertime paradise. When the skies open up and the water starts to rise, the Heffleys wonder if they can save their vacation—or if they’re already in too deep.

Dan and Sam by Mark Watson

Dan and Sam are a golden couple: happily married, owners of a popular London restaurant and looking forward to spending the rest of their lives together – until a tragedy changes everything. When Sam dies in his arms after an accident, Dan cannot imagine life without her. But love, it seems, is stronger than death and Dan is granted a reprieve – Sam can return to him for one night of the year, every year, until he falls in love again. And though Dan knows that no one could ever take Sam’s place in his heart, he soon faces an impossible choice…

What books are on your Christmas wishlist this year?

Bookoutlet Book Haul

Bookoutlet was having a 25% off everything sale for Black Friday, or maybe Cyber Monday.  I wasn’t going to order anything, but then i received some unexpected Christmas money and decided to fill my cart. I spent $107 after tax and ended up with 45 items.  Two mini craft kits for my stocking, twelve sticker or activity books for Pepper, nine learn to draw books for Pepper’s birthday in February, and twenty-two books for me. These are the books I chose: 

  1. 10 Mindful Minutes by Goldie Hawn
  2. A World Below by Wesley King
  3. Awaken the Power Within: In Defense of Self-Help by Albert Amao
  4. Big Guns by Steve Israel
  5. Black Lotus Kiss by Jason Ridler
  6. Blooming at the Texas Sunrise by Kimberly Willis Holt
  7. Clara Voyant by Rachelle Delaney
  8. Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
  9. Fifteen Lanes by SJ Laidlaw
  10. Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley
  11. Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman
  12. If Only by Jennifer Gilmore
  13. Love and Hate in the Heartland by Mark Phillips
  14. Maybe Baby by Lori Leibovich
  15. Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell
  16. Questions I Want to Ask You by Michelle Falkoff
  17. Tales from the Crib by DeeDee Filiantreault
  18. The Apartment by Greg Baxter
  19. The Awakening of HK Derryberry by Jim Bradford and Andy Hardin
  20. The Bread and the Knife by Dawn Drzal
  21. The Tusk that did the Damage by Tania James
  22. This Is Your Life Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

I always get the most random books when I shop Bookoutlet because I never go there looking for anything specific. I just pick up whatever seems interesting and is cheap. I paid $1.71 for each of my books except the first one. Did you order any books on Cyber Monday? 

#JournalShowdown

I saw Shannon Ridler post a Journal Showdown on her Youtube Channel today. She went through all of the journals that she is currently using and shared what she uses each of them for. It was so fun to watch that I decided to share too. I have a variety of notebooks, journals, and planners that I use each day or most days or sporadically. Some are blank and some are premade or prompted. Some are creative writing, some are for journal writing, some are just ongoing lists, and one is for drawing. I have 14 books that I would consider  journals of sorts.

I have my standard planner which I mostly use for appointments or bills to pay. But some years I also heavily decorate it with washi tape, drawings, stickers, small journaling sections, etc. This year not so much, but that could always change again in the new year. I use a vertical coil bound recollections planner from Michaels.

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The next book I use most often a Question a Day five year journal.  There is a question you answer on the same day each year so you can see how your answer and life has changed from one January 18th to the next.

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I have a notebook where I keep a list of every book I’ve read along with my rating. I started that in 2017. I also track if it was a physically owned book.

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Another notebook holds every physical book I’ve purchased or received since November 2017 and I use that to track how long books are staying on my TBR before being read. At some point last year I also started tracking how much I spend on each physical book I own.

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I have a notebook where I keep various book lists and projects. The Popsugar reading challenge checklist or a list of every book by an author I enjoy for instance.

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I have a notebook where I track and plan all of my blog posts and have since the beginning of my blog.

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A journal I’m starting in the new year is to help me keep better track of my TBRs and monthly reading goals. I’ve been working on getting it set up bullet journal style this month.

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I have a journal that is more for long hand journal writing. That journal gets used in spurts. Sometimes I write every day and other times I don’t write for six months.

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Another small journal is used only for gift tracking. I keep a running list of every gift I’ve purchased for each person for each holiday throughout the year. I shop all year long to find good deals so it’s good to know in advance if I already have three presents for one person and seven for another so I can balance things out a bit.

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I have another journal that is for more long term wishlist type to dos. Someday I want to run a 5K or refill my emergency fund, or finally get that bag of books to the donation site.

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Another journal I use sporadically is The Widow’s Journal, I use it when I feel a need to.

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I also have a One Poem a Day journal and like to use that when the writing mood strikes. It has a poem prompt for me to follow and they are varied so I can usually find something I want to write about if I’m in the mood to write something, but don’t know what.

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The last two journals I have are a 642 things to draw and 642 things to write about prompted journals. They are exactly what they sound like. A simple prompt and a space big or small to write or draw about it.

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I enjoy all of these even if I don’t use them as often as I would like to. What sorts of notebooks, journals, or planners do you use? What do you do with them once they are full?

First Sentences November 2020

It is wonderful when one sentence is enough to make you want to read a whole book. Here I share the first words of all of the books I finished last month to see if the first line alone is enough to make you want to read them. I will be using the first sentence from the first chapter and not from an introduction or prologue.

The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

I know the answer!

While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark

He drove cautiously up the Thruway toward Morrison State Park.

The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C Cherry

Each morning I read love letters written for another woman.

All I want for Christmas by Wendy Loggia

I should realize it’s a bad sign when I trip hard over the entry to Winslow’s Bookshop.

I Can’t Stop Crying by John D Martin

Sarah Duncan called me a little over a year ago.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo

Amma is walking along the promenade of the waterway that bisects her city, a few early morning barges cruise slowly by

Rocket City by Cathryn Alpert

Three melons and a dwarf sat in the front seat of Marilee’s ’72 Dodge, but the cop was not amused.

Sapphic in the Shadows by Leanna Headley and Alex B Porter

Her secretarial training had been long and grueling, not least because it wasn’t particularly interesting- but Ella Quick was finally making her way to her first full-time job, and that was not to be sniffed at.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

“Oh dear,” Linus Baker said, wiping the sweat from his brow.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam

Well, the sun was shining.

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

The train rattles as it moves beneath the city.

The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World by Harry Harrison

“You are a crook, James Bolivar diGriz,” Inskipp said, making animal noises deep in his throat while shaking a sheaf of papers viciously in my direction.

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

The memory goes like this: Ollie’s got the ball and he’s running across my yard and my Dad comes out of nowhere, soft tackles him to the ground.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

In a town between the Black Forest and the Swabian Alps, Friedrich Schmidt stood on the threshold of his half-timbered house, pretending to be brave.

Of these 14 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick up the books?

What I read in November 2020

In November I finished 13 books. 

While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark ✰3✰ I read this book because it was part of my 2020 goals to read all of the books I bought in 2017. It was okay. I enjoyed the story enough, but never found myself wanting to pick it up. 

The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C Cherry ✰3✰ I read this because it is about a widow with a young daughter and a widower who lost his wife and young son in a car crash. They end up living next door to each other and the story is a romance between them. You can see my full review of this book here

All I want for Christmas by Wendy Loggia ✰3✰  I chose to read this book because my local bookstore advertised it on their facebook page and I wanted to support the bookstore and also read a Christmas themed book. This book was just okay. It was fun and cute, but also really cheesy. A little too cheesy for my taste. 

I Can’t Stop Crying by John D Martin ✰4✰ I read this book because it’s about grief. There was a lot in here that I highlighted to reflect on again later. 

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo ✰3✰ I read this because it was the winner of the Booktube Prize this year. I enjoyed the story and was engaged while reading it, but it was another book I just didn’t find myself wanting to pick up. It was a little long and a little confusing because there were so many different perspectives. 

Rocket City by Cathryn Alpert ✰2✰ This book I read because it was a book I purchased in 2017 and I was trying to read all of those books this year. This book was really weird. I don’t know how all of the characters connected, I don’t think they all did.  Throughout the whole book I just keep saying “what in the heck am I reading.” 

Sapphic in the Shadows by Leanna Headley and Alex B Porter ✰3✰ I read this book because I needed something that takes place in the 1920s for the Popsugar reading challenge and I wasn’t sure I was going to get to my original pick for that prompt. It was very short and not intriguing enough for me to continue the series. 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune ✰5✰ My new all time favorite book. I read this book because it’s been everywhere and because the ebook went on sale for just $2.99. I loved it so much. I never wanted to stop reading this book and found as many excuses as I could to read just one more chapter. So charming. My full review is here if you want more of my thoughts. 

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam ✰2✰ I read this because it was my Book of the Month pick one month recently. The writing was so beautiful, decadent even. And I loved the characters. But the plot was meandering and it feels like the author lost his point part way through. The ending was such a disappointment. 

Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab ✰4✰ I read this because I really enjoyed book one, City of Ghosts, recently and wanted to continue the series. This series is fun and a little creepy. I will definitely read book three when it comes out next year. 

The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World by Harry Harrison ✰4✰ I read this book because it is part of a series that my late husband enjoyed. This is either book three or book six in the series depending on the order you follow. It’s just a fun science fiction series that makes me think of my husband. I like finding myself laughing at scenes or words that I know he would have laughed at as well.  The books are all a little overdramatic and convenient and things just magically fix. At one point in this one our hero is literally unconscious for a large part of the solution. Totally ridiculous and lazy, but I really just love this series even with all of it’s flaws. 

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson ✰5✰ I read this book because it was short, by Jacqueline Woodson, and dealt with brain damage. It was such a powerful read. My full review for this one can be found here

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan ✰5✰ I read this book because I mistakenly thought it was written in verse. Even though it wasn’t, I ended up enjoying the story. I liked how the music saved all of the children in each storyline and was very pleased to see how their lives connected in the end. 

What was your favorite read in November?

 

My Bookish Advent Calendar

We do many things to stretch the Christmas joy in to as many days as possible. This year we put our tree up in the middle of August. My Christmas shopping and wrapping was done before October started. We always do many crafts and listen to Christmas songs for months beforehand. And my favorite tradition is our advent calendars.

We keep one digital one on my phone that we check in on throughout the year and when December begins it gives us a song to listen to, an activity to do, or a new phone background to use each day of the month leading to Christmas.

Pepper also usually has an advent calendar that includes toys. Some years I craft one and some years I buy a premade one. This year she chose Lego Friends so she gets to make a small Christmas themed Lego object each day.

We also have a joint one this year and it is an advent coloring book, with one page to color each day from December 1st until Christmas Eve.

This year I really wanted a book advent calendar, but I didn’t need 24 more new books on my shelves and didn’t have that in my budget either. Instead I decided to put in all of the Christmas themed books I own, a few read, most unread, and then bought 3 books to fill my basket with 12 Christmas themed books. That gives me two days to read each book which seems more reasonable. On the in between days I printed bookmarks to color with the kiddo and then laminate so we will have more bookmarks to add to our extensive collections.

These are the twelve books that I hope to read in December, from my Christmas countdown this year.

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

Father Christmas and Me by Matt Haig

The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

Homespun Christmas by Colleen L Reece and Janelle Burnham Schneider

Tree of Treasures by Bonnie Mackay

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

A Christmas to Remember by Thomas Kinkade and Katherine Spencer

1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber

Yule Be Sorry by Kim M Watt

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

Of these I am most excited to read In a Holidaze, Tree of Treasures, and the Boy Who Saved Christmas series. I read the first one last year and have the other two to read for the first time this year. Do you have any holiday reads planned?

Recent Read – The House In the Cerulean Sea

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

First Line:

“Oh dear,” Linus Baker said, wiping the sweat from his brow.

Goodreads Blurb:

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

My Rating:

✰5✰

My Thoughts:

This book is filled with so much wonder and whimsy and delightful fun and love. I couldn’t get enough of it. The characters are all unique and good and funny. I loved all of them. There were so many amazing lessons within these pages about prejudice and belonging and taking risks for what you want or need most in life. As  well as lessons about the right thing to do in hard or scary situations, especially when protecting ones you love or ones who most need or deserve your protection. This was such an amazing and heartwarming read. Absolutely amazing.

I’m planning to buy a hard copy of this soon so I can reread and annotate in the new year. I’m pretty sure this is my new favorite book of all time. 

The Reading Tastes Tag

I saw this tag when Shannon Ridler did it on Youtube earlier this month. The original tag was created by Sophia’s Thoughts, also on Youtube.

1. What is your favorite genre?

I read pretty much everything, but I would say my favorite genre is Science Fiction. More specifically dystopian. 

2. What is the most difficult genre for you to read?

Probably fantasy. There are always so many long names of people and places and it all gets very confusing for me.

3. What is your preferred age range?

I think the majority of my reading is adult, but I also read middlegrade and YA.

4. Are you a character driven or plot driven reader?

Character driven I believe. If I don’t care about the character I don’t care about the book.

5. Do you have a preferred perspective?

Unless it’s in second person, this is just not something I notice while I’m reading.

6. Do you have a preferred tense?

I don’t think so. I don’t think I would notice one tense over another while reading unless it suddenly changed.

7. Do you like series or stand-alone books best?

I like stand alone books better. I like to be able to open a book and have a full and complete story when I close the book at the end. I’m also impatient. I don’t usually read series because I don’t want to have to wait for more books to come out. And I have trouble remembering things from one book to the next for a series, so I often need to reread the previous books in a series to have everything fresh in my mind to read the new installment. I have been reading more series books this year though and it’s something I want to read more of in the future.

8. Which would you rather, long or short books?

Short books. Long books, anything over about 500 pages, intimidate me. I like a quick new story fix. My ideal length of book is about 250 pages.

9. Which format do you like best?

My favorite format is floppy paperbacks, but I read all styles of books except for audio.

10. What are you currently reading?

So so so many things. I’ll direct you to last week’s blog post where I share a list of the 30+ books I’m in the middle of.

Books I Want to Read Before the End of 2020

My reading went off the rails in the second half of 2020 and I currently find myself in the middle of 30 books at the same time. One I’ve been reading since January. One I’ve been reading since July. And the rest were started at some point from August on (probably). There are also 12 Christmas themed books in my advent calendar this year that I will be trying to read in December (more about those in a future post).

Altogether I have 42 books I am hoping to finish in November and December. My spreadsheet says I’ll need to read 300 pages a day to finish on time. That is extremely unlikely, but I’ll see what I can do.  Because there are so many I won’t include covers or blurbs from Goodreads, but the title of books I mention is always a link to the Goodreads listing for it if you want more information.

These are the books I’ve already started.

It’s not super important to have all of these finished by the end of the year, but I do love when I can start a new year with an empty slate in terms of reading. I’ll be working on these and hopefully at least a few Christmas themed books until 2020 is over. What are you hoping to read the rest of this year? How do you feel about being in the middle of a book when a new year begins?

Recent Read – The Air He Breathes

There are some spoilers included when you reach my thoughts at the bottom. 

The Air He Breathes by Brittainy C Cherry

First Line:

Each morning I read love letters written for another woman.

Goodreads Blurb:

I was warned about Tristan Cole.

“Stay away from him,” people said.
“He’s cruel.”
“He’s cold.”
“He’s damaged.”

It’s easy to judge a man because of his past. To look at Tristan and see a monster.

But I couldn’t do that. I had to accept the wreckage that lived inside of him because it also lived inside of me.

We were both empty.
We were both looking for something else. Something more.
We both wanted to put together the shattered pieces of our yesterdays.

Then perhaps we could finally remember how to breathe.

My Rating:

✰3✰

My Thoughts:

This was a five star read for me until about 75% of the way through the book. Then it suddenly turns in to an entirely different book and I just didn’t enjoy it from that point forward.

Though I am not thinking about a new relationship since the death of my husband, I gain inspiration seeing other widows and widowers finding joy and happiness after their own loss. So a book about a widower and a widow with a young daughter finding each other sounded like just the thing I would enjoy reading about. And it was. It was a story of broken people finding a way to gain some comfort from each other and eventually that turned in to a love for each other. That was great to see and I cried so many times in both sorrow and joy watching Liz and Triston find a way to feel happy.

Then about 75% of the way through the book it turned from a romance to an action movie very suddenly. Someone was trying to kill her child, her husband had been murdered, and she ended up shooting and killing someone. What a jarring change in the story line.

I could forgive the ridiculous coincidence of how her husband and his wife and child’s deaths were all entwined as a religious coincidence they both believed in, but the action movie and the over the top happily ever after brought this down significantly for me in terms of enjoyment and rating.

The expressions of grief shown in this book matched my own and I would definitely read more of this author’s work, especially if it involves widows, this one just ended up middle of the road for me.

If you’ve read this book how did you feel about the change in tone?

First Sentences October 2020

It is wonderful when one sentence is enough to make you want to read a whole book. Here I share the first words of all of the books I finished last month to see if the first line alone is enough to make you want to read them. I will be using the first sentence from the first chapter and not from an introduction or prologue.

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab

People think that ghosts only come out at night, or on Halloween, when the world is dark and the walls are thin.

Yesternight by Cat Winters

I disembarked a train at the little log depot at Gordon Bay, Oregon, and a sudden force-a charging bull-immediately slammed me to the ground.

Night of the Living Dummy by RL Stine

Mmmmm!

Friends is Friends by Greg Cook

Hey, watch where you’re going with that thing!

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

You are she.

First Gold by Jerry Gerold

Garrett Unger couldn’t see the horse beneath him, but he could feel its heat, its heartbeat, its hooves as it trotted down the gravelly shoulder of the country road.

Scooby-Doo and the Toy Store Terror by James Gelsey

“Let’s go, fellas,” Velma called into the back of the van.

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

So here’s the file that almost killed me, Director.

Suggested Reading by Dave Connis

Four years.

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Dr Strauss says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on.

Hard Luck by Jeff Kinney

Mom’s always saying that friends will come and go but family is forever.

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

Jeremiah was black.

The Boy Who Knew Too Much by Cathy Byrd

Anything can happen in baseball.

The Long Haul by Jeff Kinney

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years of being a kid, it’s that you have ZERO control over your own life.

How to be Safe by Tom McAllister

After, the sun turned gray and descended into the lake like a spider dropping from the ceiling.

How to Be Fine by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer

Friends, I feel it would be totally disingenuous if I didn’t come right out and admit it: I love being nice.

Of these 16 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick up the books?

November Book of the Month Haul

These are the three Book of the Month books I ordered this month. (pictures and blurbs are from Goodreads)

Memorial by Bryan Washington

Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson’s a Black day care teacher, and they’ve been together for a few years — good years — but now they’re not sure why they’re still a couple. There’s the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.

But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike’s immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.

Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they’ve ever known. And just maybe they’ll all be okay in the end. Memorial is a funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms, joyful and hard-won vulnerability, becoming who you’re supposed to be, and the limits of love.
 

Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Newlyweds Sam Statler and Annie Potter are head over heels, and excited to say good-bye to New York and start a life together in Sam’s sleepy hometown in upstate New York. Or, it turns out, a life where Annie spends most of her time alone while Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his downstairs office, tending to the egos of his (mostly female) clientele.

Little does Sam know that through a vent in his ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist listening? Everything is fine until the French girl in the green mini Cooper shows up, and Sam decides to go to work and not come home, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.
 

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Blindsided by her mother’s sudden death, and wrecked by a recent love affair, Casey Peabody has arrived in Massachusetts in the summer of 1997 without a plan. Her mail consists of wedding invitations and final notices from debt collectors. A former child golf prodigy, she now waits tables in Harvard Square and rents a tiny, mouldy room at the side of a garage where she works on the novel she’s been writing for six years. At thirty-one, Casey is still clutching onto something nearly all her old friends have let go of: the determination to live a creative life. When she falls for two very different men at the same time, her world fractures even more. Casey’s fight to fulfil her creative ambitions and balance the conflicting demands of art and life is challenged in ways that push her to the brink.

Writers & Lovers follows Casey–a smart and achingly vulnerable protagonist–in the last days of a long youth, a time when every element of her life comes to a crisis. Written with King’s trademark humour, heart, and intelligence, Writers & Lovers is a transfixing novel that explores the terrifying and exhilarating leap between the end of one phase of life and the beginning of another.
 

Have you read any of these? Are you planning to?

Recent Read- Before the Ever After

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

First Line:

The memory goes like this: Ollie’s got the ball and he’s running across my yard and my Dad comes out of nowhere, soft tackles him to the ground.

Goodreads Blurb:

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone’s hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he’s as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ’s house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ’s mom explains it’s because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that–but it doesn’t make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can’t remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

My Rating:

✰5✰

My Thoughts:

I absolutely loved this book. It’s only 161 pages and it’s a novel in verse so it went really quickly. I read it all in just a couple of hours with interruptions.

I lost count of how many times I cried while reading this book. The main character’s father is having memory and functioning issues much like those my late husband experienced while he was dying from brain cancer. And watching the same things my Jason experienced, and the things we would have experienced if he had lived longer, just tore my heart out over and over.  This was especially the case when things occurred that have literally haunted my nightmares. 

I don’t like sports, but even all of the football talk wasn’t enough to take away from how beautiful and heart wrenching this story and all of the words were.

Jacqueline Woodson is quickly becoming a favorite author for me.

Nonfiction November TBR

Nonfiction November is an event hosted by abookolive on Youtube. This is the sixth year and the goal is to read more nonfiction then you usually do. If you read one nonfiction book, then you are participating. There are four one word prompt challenges each round. This year the prompts are Time, Movement, Buzz, and Discovery.

I’m not choosing books to fit those prompts. I’m the middle of a whole lot of books at the moment and won’t be starting anything new for this readathon, but because I haven’t been here for a while you don’t know what I’m currently reading. I thought this would be a good way to share the six nonfiction books I’m reading right now. Hopefully most of them will be finished up in November using this readathon as a good way to finish them. Blurbs and pictures are from Goodreads.

Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi

In this deeply researched and fast-moving narrative, Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti–Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Stamped from the Beginning uses the lives of five major American intellectuals to offer a window into the contentious debates between assimilationists and segregationists and between racists and anti-racists. From Puritan minister Cotton Mather to Thomas Jefferson, from fiery abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to brilliant scholar W. E. B. Du Bois to legendary anti–prison activist Angela Davis, Kendi shows how and why some of our leading pro-slavery and pro–civil rights thinkers have challenged or helped cement racist ideas in America.

As Kendi illustrates, racist thinking did not arise from ignorance or hatred. Racist ideas were created and popularized in an effort to defend deeply entrenched discriminatory policies and to rationalize the nation’s racial inequities in everything from wealth to health. While racist ideas are easily produced and easily consumed, they can also be discredited. In shedding much–needed light on the murky history of racist ideas, Stamped from the Beginning offers tools to expose them—and in the process, reason to hope.

I Can’t Stop Crying by John D Martin

“I Can’t Stop Crying is a down-to-earth book for all those who think they are alone.”Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, MD The death of someone close — a spouse or partner — can result in overwhelming grief. At the same time, society unrealistically expects people to recover from grief as quickly as possible.

I Can’t Stop Crying looks at grieving as a painful but necessary process. The authors emphasize the importance of giving yourself permission to grieve and suggest steps for rebuilding your life without your loved one. They also look at how such a loss affects your relationship with family and friends, as well as your lifestyle, work habits, and hopes for the future. A useful appendix lists bereavement groups and other self-help organizations you can contact for assistance.

There is no way to lessen or quicken the grieving process. Recovery is possible only by taking the time to work through your pain. This compassionate and sensible book will help you take the first steps down that road. It can, and should, be read by anyone who has experienced a significant loss.

How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King

What do you do with a little kid who…won’t brush her teeth…screams in his car seat…pinches the baby…refuses to eat vegetables…throws books in the library…runs rampant in the supermarket? Organized according to common challenges and conflicts, this book is an essential emergency first-aid manual of communication strategies, including a chapter that addresses the special needs of children with sensory processing and autism spectrum disorders.

This user-friendly guide will empower parents and caregivers of young children to forge rewarding, joyful relationships with terrible two-year-olds, truculent three-year-olds, ferocious four-year-olds, foolhardy five-year-olds, self-centered six-year-olds, and the occasional semi-civilized seven-year-old. And, it will help little kids grow into self-reliant big kids who are cooperative and connected to their parents, teachers, siblings, and peers.

Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Karyl McBride

The first book for the millions of daughters suffering from the emotional abuse of selfish, self-involved mothers, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? provides the expert advice readers need to overcome debilitating histories and reclaim their lives.
Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster W Cline and Jim Fay

This parenting book shows you how to raise self-confident, motivated children who are ready for the real world. Learn how to parent effectively while teaching your children responsibility and growing their character. Establish healthy control through easy-to-implement steps without anger, threats, nagging, or power struggles. Indexed for easy reference.
How to Be Fine by Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer

A humorous and insightful look into what advice works, what doesn’t, and what it means to transform yourself, by the co-hosts of the popular By the Book podcast.

In each episode of their podcast By the Book, Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer take a deep dive into a different self-help book, following its specific instructions, rules, and advice to the letter. From diet and productivity to decorating to social interactions, they try it all, record themselves along the way, then share what they’ve learned with their devoted and growing audience of fans who tune in.

In How to Be Fine, Jolenta and Kristen synthesize the lessons and insights they’ve learned and share their experiences with everyone. How to Be Fine is a thoughtful look at the books and practices that have worked, real talk on those that didn’t, and a list of philosophies they want to see explored in-depth. The topics they cover include:

Getting off your device
Engaging in positive self-talk
Downsizing
Admitting you’re a liar
Meditation
Going outside
Getting in touch with your emotions
Seeing a therapist

Before they began their podcast, Jolenta wanted to believe the promises of self-help books, while Kristen was very much the skeptic. They embraced their differences of opinion, hoping they’d be good for laughs and downloads. But in the years since launching the By the Book, they’ve come to realize their show is about much more than humor. In fact, reading and following each book’s advice has actually changed and improved their lives. Thanks to the show, Kristen penned the Amish romance novel she’d always joked about writing, traveled back to her past lives, and she broached some difficult conversations with her husband about their marriage. Jolenta finally memorized her husband’s phone number, began tracking her finances, and fell in love with cutting clutter.

Part memoir, part prescriptive handbook, this honest, funny, and heartfelt guide is like a warm soul-baring conversation with your closest and smartest friends.

Of these seven choices the one I am enjoying the most is the last one. It’s fun, fast and short, but still filled with valuable insights. I’ve added several of the titles they talk about to my wishlist for future purchase and reading. Are you reading anything for Nonfiction November this year?

Recent Read: The Boy Who Knew Too Much

The Boy Who Knew Too Much by Cathy Byrd

First Line:

Anything can happen in baseball.

Goodreads Blurb:

“Mommy, I used to be a tall baseball player.”
“Yes, you will be a tall baseball player someday.”
With a look of exasperation, he stomped his foot and hollered.
“No! I was a tall baseball player—tall like Daddy!”

What was my son trying to say to me? Did he mean . . . he couldn’t mean . . . was he trying to tell me that he was a grown-up in a previous lifetime?

At the tender age of two, baseball prodigy Christian Haupt began sharing vivid memories of being a baseball player in the 1920s and ’30s. From riding cross-country on trains, to his fierce rivalry with Babe Ruth, Christian described historical facts about the life of American hero and baseball legend Lou Gehrig that he could not have possibly known at the time.

Distraught by her son’s uncanny revelations, Christian’s mother, Cathy, embarked on a sacred journey of discovery that would shake her beliefs to the core and forever change her views on life and death.

In this compelling and heartwarming memoir, Cathy Byrd shares her remarkable experiences, the lessons she learned as she searched to find answers to this great mystery, and a story of healing in the lives of these intertwined souls.

The Boy Who Knew Too Much will inspire even the greatest skeptics to consider the possibility that love never dies.

My Rating:

✰1✰

My Thoughts:

Why did I read a book about baseball when I don’t like sports? Why did I read a book about reincarnation when I don’t believe in anything spiritual? I don’t know. I don’t remember where I heard about this book or what made me add it to my library holds list. But I read it and it was a compelling read, though I’m not converted to being either a baseball lover or a reincarnation believer after finishing it. 

It doesn’t feel okay to criticize characters in a non-fiction book because those characters are real people. But I can’t accurately explain why I hated this book without talking about the author, who is also the mother in this story. A big struggle I had with this book was the way the wife behaved towards her husband and daughter. She kept secrets from her husband and went places to do spiritual things that were against their family beliefs without telling him because she knew it would make him uncomfortable. She repeatedly left him out of decisions or went against his wishes without further conversation when making choices for their children. She constantly dragged her daughter along on ‘vacations’ that were only of interest to her and her son. The first thing I did after finishing this book was to try and find out if they were divorced at this point because honestly I could never be married to someone that deceitful. 

Other issues I had with the book were that the author seemed very wishy washy. She was often saying she believed her son and wanted him to talk more about his past life and then in the next paragraph she would say she was relived that he seemed to be growing out of it. I’m sure this is accurate to her feelings at the time, but made her seem unreliable.

She was wishy washy in her faith too. She repeatedly said I can’t do that or believe that because I’m a Christian, but then ran out and did whatever she claimed she wasn’t allowed to a paragraph before. Such a frustrating character to follow.

She lied to everybody she encountered on her quest. She repeatedly said I hated to lie to him but I couldn’t say the truth and risk scaring him away. 

And one of the biggest frustrations for me was when she spoke for several chapters about a picture she was trying to find and then she says she finally found it and was so relieved to have done so, but that picture we spent so much time in the book hunting for and talking about we didn’t get to see in the pages of photos that were included even though we were shown another picture from that same photo finding trip. 

This wasn’t even really a story about her son. It started that way, but quickly became about her and the past life she dreamed up for herself and as many famous baseball names she could squeeze on to a page. 

Some of this could be explained by her lack of experience as a writer. And your opinion might be different because this book does have a four star rating on Goodreads overall, but many people in the reviews also agree with my complaints about the book.

I started this book enjoying the story even though I didn’t believe it as fact. I was looking at a four star rating around a quarter of the way through but as the pages kept flipping my rating got lower and lower. I was going to give it two stars by the end because it was at least an interesting story, but the final two chapters were so heavy handed with the religious lesson explaining I took it all the way down to one star. If those lessons she was spewing at the reader weren’t so entirely hypocritical of everything she had chosen to do in the previous 200 pages it wouldn’t have made me nearly as angry. I wish I was a reader that DNFed books because I should have given up on this one long before I reached the end.

And the most important question for a reader of this book: Do I believe Christian and his mother are reincarnated from Lou Gerigh and his mother? No.

Do you? 

My Bookish Week 10/24/20

Hi there! So I guess I might be back after spontaneously quitting in the middle of August. Life and grief and depression and anxiety and single widowed parenting and the pandemic and financial struggles all got in the way big time. Also I hate the new block editor here and that made trying to come back when things settled down a little an even harder choice to make. 

There is no catching up 2 months of reading updates fully, but since my last post I’ve read another 49 books bringing my yearly total up to 163 so far. I’ve acquired another 145 books. And I’m in the middle of 40 other books. 

Highlights of my reading in the last two months include:

  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman, my new favorite book of all time. I’m planning a reread of it as my first read of 2021.
  • Well Played by Jen DeLuca. I loved this just as much as the first book from the series and can’t wait for book three to come out. 
  • Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers by Grant Naylor was just as much fun as the Red Dwarf TV show my late husband loved so much.

 Of the books I’m currently reading, some favorites at the moment are:

Hopefully I’ll find myself posting something else soon. I’ve missed you all. 

The Five Newest Books on my Wishlist

I add books to my Amazon Wishlist nearly every day. Between blog posts, Instagram, Youtube, and bookish groups on Facebook I find new books I want to read all the time. I use my Goodreads TBR for books I already own and my Amazon wishlist for books I want to read at some point, but don’t own yet. Here are five recent additions. Pictures and blurbs are from Goodreads.

 The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

In this charming and poignant debut, one woman’s unconventional journey to finding love means learning to embrace the unexpected.

For Susan Green, messy emotions don’t fit into the equation of her perfectly ordered life. She has a flat that is ideal for one, a job that suits her passion for logic, and an “interpersonal arrangement” that provides cultural and other, more intimate, benefits. But suddenly confronted with the loss of her mother and the news that she is about to become a mother herself, Susan’s greatest fear is realized. She is losing control.

Enter Rob, the dubious but well-meaning friend of her indolent brother. As Susan’s due date draws near and her dismantled world falls further into a tailspin, Susan finds an unlikely ally in Rob. She might have a chance at finding real love and learning to love herself, if only she can figure out how to let go.

Maid by Stephanie Land

Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land’s memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”

While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work–primarily done by women–fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.

While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.

Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it’s like to be in service to them. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the “servant” worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.

Wonderscape by Jennifer Bell

When Arthur, Ren and Cecily investigate a mysterious explosion on their way to school, they find themselves trapped aboard The Principia – a scientific research ship sailing through hazardous waters, captained by one Isaac Newton.

Lost in the year 2473 in the Wonderscape, an epic in-reality adventure game, they must call on the help of some unlikely historical heroes, to play their way home before time runs out.

Jumanji meets Ready Player One in this fast-paced adventure featuring incredible real-life heroes, from the internationally bestselling author of The Uncommoners series.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

Nestled in the Hudson Valley is a sumptuous retreat boasting every amenity: organic meals, private fitness trainers, daily massages—and all of it for free. In fact, you get paid big money—more than you’ve ever dreamed of—to spend a few seasons in this luxurious locale. The catch? For nine months, you belong to the Farm. You cannot leave the grounds; your every move is monitored. Your former life will seem a world away as you dedicate yourself to the all-consuming task of producing the perfect baby for your überwealthy clients.

Jane, an immigrant from the Philippines and a struggling single mother, is thrilled to make it through the highly competitive Host selection process at the Farm. But now pregnant, fragile, consumed with worry for her own young daughter’s well-being, Jane grows desperate to reconnect with her life outside. Yet she cannot leave the Farm or she will lose the life-changing fee she’ll receive on delivery—or worse.

Heartbreaking, suspenseful, provocative, The Farm pushes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit to the extremes, and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.

Motherhood by Sheila Heti

In Motherhood, Sheila Heti asks what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother, treating the most consequential decision of early adulthood with the candor, originality, and humor that have won Heti international acclaim and made How Should A Person Be? required reading for a generation.

In her late thirties, when her friends are asking when they will become mothers, the narrator of Heti’s intimate and urgent novel considers whether she will do so at all. In a narrative spanning several years, casting among the influence of her peers, partner, and her duties to her forbearers, she struggles to make a wise and moral choice. After seeking guidance from philosophy, her body, mysticism, and chance, she discovers her answer much closer to home.

Motherhood is a courageous, keenly felt, and starkly original novel that will surely spark lively conversations about womanhood, parenthood, and about how—and for whom—to live.

Have you read any of these? What book did you recently add to your wishlist?

July 2020 Book Haul

In July I bought or was given 37 books. I’ve actually already read 6 of them which is pretty good for me.

Some of these I bought for vacation. Some of these I bought on vacation. The last 8 are still in the mail somewhere. The last four of those I am so excited for. My late husband loved the tv show Red Dwarf. It was actually the last thing that made him laugh before he died. I recently found out that there are some books based on the show and I paid more than I should have to buy all four of the novels. I am so excited to get them and have them and read them. There are so few ways to feel connected to my late husband and this seems like a small silly way to feel close to him for a little while.

My Bookish Week 08/08/20

It was an okay week. We are nearly done with quarantine after our trip to California last month and we are so excited to be able to leave the house again. Thankfully no fevers or any other symptoms for either Pepper or myself. We were very careful with masks and hand washing the whole trip across the country and back and we seem to have done okay since we’re both still healthy.

Even though we’ve been home every minute for almost two weeks it feels like I didn’t get much reading done. I’m trying to catch up on work that was neglected for almost three weeks while we were gone and Pepper came home sad after leaving everyone and with some regression in her behavioral issues, including tantrums and hitting me. We’re working on it and she’s doing a lot better already, but saying goodbye to everyone and then coming home and having it just be the two of us for so long really messed with her mojo. I’m glad to get some semblance of normal again next week.

I did manage to finish three books this week, but two were short and one I read most of in July. I really enjoyed them all though so I’m definitely counting it as a win.

Our Doris by Charles Heathcote ✰4✰

This was really good. But the way the characters had of speaking really irritated me for the first few chapters. “I said to her, I said” was repeated every time someone spoke and it irritated me to me no end for the first few chapters. By the end though I just found it charming. I really loved Doris and Harold and their antics and their relationship. It was wonderful. I look forward to reading more of these characters.

The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney ✰4✰

This is the third book in the series. I’m working my way through this series on the recommendation of my sister in law and I really like them. They are for middle schoolers so they are really fast reads, but I’ve been collecting the whole series because they are just so cute and funny. I’m waiting for Pepper to be willing to read about characters that are boys so she will give Greg a try. He loves video games and drawing and jokes just like my Pepper. I think she will really love this series at some point soon, but for now she insists she will only read books about girls.

The Giver by Lois Lowry ✰5✰

This is one of my favorite books of all time. I read it dozens of times as kid. I read the full quartet once as an adult. One night this week I decided that I wanted to pick it up again so I read this book in an evening. I’m reading the next book now.

I am currently in the middle of eight books and I plan to read at least some out of all of them this week.

What are you reading this week?

2020 Goals Check in – August

I’m looking at my goals to see how I’m doing so far.

  1. Read at least 100 books 111/100 Done!
  2. Own fewer unread books at the end of the year than I have at the beginning. Totally hopeless at this point.
  3. Finish reading all of the books I have records of for 2017. 2/14
    1. Luka and the Fire of Life by Salaman Rushdie
    2. The Rules of the Tunnel by Ned Zeman
    3. While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark
    4. The Silver Star By Jeannette Walls
    5. The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
    6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    7. Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
    8. Rocket City by Cathryn Alpert
    9. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
    10. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
    11. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
    12. Death Masks by Jim Butcher
    13. Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
    14. Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
  4. Read at least 14 tomes (books over 500 pages). 2/14
    1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
    3. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
    4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
    5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
    6. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
    7. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
    8. The Red pyramid by Rick Riordan
    9. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
    10. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
    11. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    12. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    13. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
    14. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  5. Complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 2020. 42/50
  6. Participate in Booktube Rereadathon 2020. 5/12

I am trying to decide which of these goals are still important to me and I’m just not sure how I will proceed at this point. I will likely finish the Popsugar and Booktube rereading challenges and I will continue to work on my two book lists here, but I don’t know that I will end up finishing them. I will plan to reevaluate these goals in next months check in.

July 2020 Reading Wrap Up

I usually do my wrap ups weekly, but I was gone for most of July on a road trip and didn’t have access to a computer so I put off all wrap ups for the month. These are all of the books I read between June 26th and the end of July. Some of them don’t have reviews, because it was over a month between reading some of these and adding them to this post and some I just didn’t have anything to say about them.

78. The Secret of Me by Meg Kearney ✰4✰ I enjoyed this story, but I don’t know that it gained anything by being told in verse. I learned a lot about adoption and I appreciated hearing this story.

79. Am I Blue? edited by Marion Dane Bauer ✰4✰ This was a collection of LGBT short stories written by many different author that I first read in a college Young Adult Literature class. It was a varied collection in terms of genre, and I enjoyed all but one of the stories.

80. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa ✰4✰ This book took me a really long time to read. Especially when you consider how short it is. The math largely went over my head, but by the end I was in tears with the love and sorrow this book showcased.

81. Well Met by Jen DeLuca ✰4✰ This book was so cute and so fun and so funny. I had a really great time reading it and I am looking forward to the sequel due out in September.

82. Heidi Heckelbeck and the Cookie Contest by Wanda Coven ✰4✰

83. Heidi Heckelbeck Casts a Spell by Wanda Coven ✰4✰

84. All Systems Red by Martha Wells ✰3✰ This Book was okay. I didn’t dislike it, but I also found myself not really caring about anything that was happening. I will likely not continue in the series.

85. Travelling Light by Vickie Johnstone ✰2✰ This was just underwhelming.

86. The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate ✰4✰ I didn’t like this one quite as much as the first one, but it was a really compelling story and I am glad I read it.

87. It Rained Warm Bread by Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet ✰5✰ This was such a heartbreaking book. It will stick with me for a long time.

88. Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren ✰2✰ I’ve read two Christina Lauren books before and loved them. I gave them both five stars. This book was such a disappointment. I can’t tell you why I hated the love interest so much without spoilers, but I can not believe how stupid or pathetic the main character was to give him a second chance.

89. Quest for the Enchanted Book by Colleen S Myers ✰2✰

90. Sold by Patricia McCormick ✰4✰ Such a heartbreaking book.

91. New Kid by Jerry Craft ✰5✰ This book was so good. It was a Newbery Honor winner and I am working on reading all of the winners. This book was compelling and showcased some of the racist things I’ve been reading about in other books in a very presentable way. I don’t know that I would have been paying close enough attention to the black children being called by each other’s names repeatedly if I were not also reading anti-racist literature at the same time. This was a compelling graphic novel and I fell like I learned more about myself and about the world reading it.

92. Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo ✰5✰ This was so good. I read it on my Kindle so even though I believe it’s told in verse, that wasn’t immediately obvious on the screen. The story was so compelling and I just didn’t want to stop reading it. I loved every character present here and can’t wait to read more of this author’s work.

93. Heidi Heckelbeck in Disguise by Wanda Coven ✰4✰

94. Confessions of a Mediocre Widow by Tidd Catherine ✰5✰

95. Coffee and Crime by Kelly Hashway ✰3✰ This was a cute coffee shop themed cozy mystery that I got for free on my Kindle and I enjoyed it for what it was, a prequel. I bought and plan to read book one soon. 

96.Grave Peril by Jim Butcher ✰5✰ I just love Dresden and I don’t know why I take so long to get to the next books in this series. 

97.Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson ✰5✰ I asked for a recommendation of a book to read that would make me laugh out loud and this book definitely delivered. So funny!

98.Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey ✰4✰ I liked this book, but I just wanted more from it, more pages, more story, more everything. 

99.Heidi Heckelbeck Gets Glasses by Wanda Coven ✰3✰

100.The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta ✰5✰ Amazing!

101.The Wives by Tarryn Fisher ✰2✰ Such a disappointment. I hate the trope that was used in here, but can’t tell you what it is without major spoilers. 

102.Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney ✰3✰ So cute! And funny. I have plans to read the rest of the series. 

103.No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg ✰2✰ These may have been great speeches, but as a book it just didn’t work for me. So much repetition and just boring with not enough new information. I’m just glad it was short. 

104.Becoming by Michelle Obama ✰4✰

105.My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell ✰3✰ Kind of disappointing. 

106.My Best Friends’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix ✰2✰ Very disappointing. I’m not sure why I didn’t expect all of the religious aspects, but they were too much for me. Also, the gore was not for me. So many trigger warnings I could give here. But if you don’t mind religion and bloody violence you may love this book. 

107. Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney ✰4✰ I liked this even better than the first one. I can’t wait for more books in the series to get here in the mail. 

108. Heidi Heckelbeck and the Secret Admirer by Wanda Coven ✰4✰

109. Big Nate In a Class by Himself by Lincoln Peirce ✰4✰

110. Dog Man by Dav Pilkey ✰3✰

111. The Book of Jones by Ralph Steadman ✰2✰ Odd. Underwhelming. 

July was a good month with vacation and completing  25 books and finishing my yearly Goodreads goal. I’m glad to be back to normal life for August.

Vacation was a mix. The drive from New York State to California was long and tiring. The week spent with family was amazing and fun and full of love and excitement. The long drive back home was terrible. We would never drive across the country again. It was way too much for Pepper and myself. I’m glad we did it this time though.

Scavenger Hunt to My Next Read, Again

This challenge is a scavenger hunt to find the book you read next. I saw BooksandLala do this challenge on youtube and I thought it would be fun to try it too. You start at prompt one and find the book it asks for, then you use that book to find the next book, and so on until you find the book you will read next.

I did the challenge once before and I ended up giving the chosen book 4 stars.

This is the last post that I scheduled in June so that July was free to focus on our cross country road trip. This is the day I will be arriving home and either be crashing from exhaustion from the final day in the car or I will be so excited to be home I’ll be unpacking everything and trying to read in between loads of laundry and making a grocery order to pick up tomorrow, because our shelves are empty.

I have a full TBR for August, but I thought choosing the book I’ll start when we get home will give me something to look forward to instead of dreading getting back to normal life. So I’m doing this fun challenge again to see what my first read back from vacation will be.

1. Grab your favorite book. Go to the acknowledgements, and the first name you see, find a book by an author with the same name. I totally messed this first question up and then spent an hour trying to find a book that could fit in this first slot so I didn’t have to change everything else. I failed to find a book with acknowledgments that included an Emily or a Henry so we’re just going with it. 

I didn’t want to start with the same book so I chose to begin the hunt today with my most recent five star read, Beach Read by Emily Henry

2. Pick something on that cover and find another book with the thing in the title.

I chose the book on the cover of Beach Read to lead me to The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison

3. Go to page 50, line 5. Pick a word from that line and find a title with that word.

The line I’m looking at in The Dirty Book Club is “Uncle Ollie was dragging me toward the exit, pulling my shirt so hard I could barely breathe.” I chose the word exit which led me to No Exit by Taylor Adams.

4. Find a 5-star read with the same colors on the cover.

I chose US Against You by Fredik Backman. A deep blue cover with white text 

5. Find a book with the same number of pages.

I expected this to give me trouble, but 448 pages is apparently a popular number of pages on my shelves. Goodreads tells me I own 17 books with that number of pages. I chose The Woman in the Window by AJ Finn. 

6. Flip open to any page. The first name you see, find a book by an author who shares that name.

The name I found was Anna and the book I chose by an author with that name is Blessings by Anna Quindlen.

7. Find another title with the same number of letters.

The book I found with a title 9 letters long is Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. 

8. Find a book with a similar cover.

I chose Gemina, the second book in this series. The covers are different colors, but otherwise very similar. 

9. Flip to a random page. Point at a word, and find that word in a book title on your TBR shelf.

The word I found is over. I had two choices that strictly said over and one that said overdue, but I decided to go with Out to Pasture: But Not Over the Hill by Effie Leland Wilder. 

10. Read!

This should be short, sweet, and fun and it will be my first read back from vacation. Have you read this book before? I found it in the book sale room at my local library. 

First Sentences July

I really like to look at the first sentences of books. It is wonderful when one sentence is enough to make you want to read the whole book. Here I share the first words of all of the books I started this month to see if the first line alone is enough to make you want to read them. I will be using the first sentence from the first chapter and not from an introduction or prologue.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca

I didn’t choose the wench life. 

Heidi Heckelbeck Has a Secret by Wanda Coven

Heidi Heckelbeck woke up in the Kingdom of Gloom.

Heidi Heckelbeck and the Cookie Contest by Wanda Coven

Yum! 

Heidi Heckelbeck Casts a Spell by Wanda Coven

Abracadabra!

Travelling Light by Vickie Johnstone

She sits and dreams of making rain

The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate

Look, nobody’s ever accused me of being a good dog.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

First of all, let me get something straight: This is a JOURNAL, not a diary.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden loved math.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

The taxi’s radio was tuned to a classical FM broadcast.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

As Esther breathed in the sweet, musty smell of the horse blankets in the back of the Librarians’ wagon, she chewed on the I-told-you-so feeling that had overwhelmed her ever since her father had told her the news about Beatriz.

My Best Friends’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

The exorcist is dead.

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

Last summer, climate scientist Johan Rockstrom and some other people wrote that we have at most three years to reverse growth in greenhouse-gas emissions if we’re going to reach the goals set in the Paris Agreement.

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

What an ugly, crappy day.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

The eleventh apartment had only one closet, but it did have a sliding glass door that opened onto a small balcony, from which he could see a man sitting across the way, outdoors in only a t-shirt and shorts even though it was October, smoking.

I Know this Much is True by Wally Lamb

On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother Thomas entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut Public Library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable.

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

He comes over on Thursday every week.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

In the calm before the storm-in this case, the blessed quiet before the bridal suite is overrun by the wedding party-my twin sister stares critically down at a freshly painted shell-pink fingernail and says, “I bet you’re relieved I’m not a bridezilla.”

My Wife Said You May Want To Marry Me by Jason Rosenthal

I’m a Chicago guy, born and raised.

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Nana turned to inspect the hotel room.

New Kid by Jerry Craft

This is how I feel every single day of my life, like I’m falling without a parachute.

Quest for the Enchanted Book by Colleen S Myers

I don’t know why dad made me do chores.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

I know too much of mud.

Heidi Heckelbeck in Disguise by Wanda Coven

Witches!

Heidi Heckelbeck Gets Glasses by Wanda Coven

Heidi sat at her desk and fiddled with her kitty cat-shaped eraser.

Coffee and Crime by Kelly Hashway

I’m pretty sure I’ve had coffee running through my veins since the day I was born, despite my mother asserting she didn’t drink coffee whie she was pregnant with me.

The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Today is my sixth birthday and I’m hiding in my room.

Our Doris by Charles Heathcote

Our Doris has developed an unhealthy obsession with slugs.

Of these 27 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick them up?

August 2020 TBR- A-Z

My goal for August is to read some short books to help lower my physical TBR a little bit. I chose 26 books with 200 or fewer pages (aside from one cheat) that begin with each letter of the alphabet. The one cheat on this list is the book for the letter X. I didn’t have a book that started with that letter so I chose a book that has two Xs in the title, it is also over my page count restriction by 4 pages.

I may not finish all of the books on this TBR before the end of August, so it may be an August and September TBR. There are so many books here, I’m not going to share the descriptions from Goodreads like I usually do, but I’ll share the covers and links to Goodreads if you want to read more about them.

Andrew’s Brain by E L Doctorow

The Book of Jones by Ralph Steadman

Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

Don’t Die Waiting to be Brave by Andrea T Geoglein

The Elements of Style by Strunk and White

The First Part Last by Angela Johnson

The Guardians by Sarah Manguso

The History Major by Michael Phillip Cash

Inscriptions for Headstones by Matthew Vollmer

Joe Devlin and the New Star Fighter by James R Thomas

The Knowing by Brit Lunden

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Montana 1948 by Larry Watson

No More Words by Reeve Lindbergh

Old Possums Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

Queen Red Riding Hood’s Guide to Royalty by Chris Colfer

A Room of Ones Own by Virginia Woolf

The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox

The Test by Sylvain neuvel

Unfuck Your Brain by Faith G Harper

A Virtuous Woman by Kayne Gibbons

Walking On Sunshine by Rachel Kelly

The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax by Dorothy Gilman

You Can Be Happy No Matter What by Richard Carlson

Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

 

I think it’s a pretty good mix of genres. It is also a good mix in terms of how long they’ve been on my TBR. Some from just a few months ago and some from several years ago. I’m hoping to get through all of these this month, but I’m trying not to pressure myself in to that too much.

Have you read and loved any of these?

Do I have that Other Book Challenge

The original of this challenge was fun and stressful and now there is another one. Hooray. Part two was created by Keeping Tabs and Current Chapter on youtube. It is a scavenger hunt type challenge with 20 prompts. You’re supposed to time yourself and see how fast you can find all of the books, but I’ll just be picking at the prompts over a couple of days when I have time to do so.

1. Do you have a book with a fox on the cover or part of the plot?

The first book I thought of for this is an ebook I have. The Carnelian Fox by Kay MacLeod.

2. Do you have a book that was published the year you were born, or within a 3 year radius?

I was born in 1987 and I found The Tommyknockers by Stephen King.

3. Do you have a book with music as a weapon or magic?

I couldn’t think of anything for this one. Ideas?

4. Do you have a series with mismatched covers?

I have the Inkworld trilogy by Cornelia Funke. The first two are paperback and the third is hardcover.

5. Do you have a book with a shapeshifter?

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

6. Do you have a book signed by the author?

I have Be Be Your Own #Goals by Kristen Martin

7. Do you have a book with a mostly red cover?

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

8. Do you have a book between 287 – 306 pages?

Confess by Colleen Hoover is 306 pages.

9. Do you have a book with a main character who wears glasses?

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

10. Do you have a book with a title that has the same number of letters as your first name?

My first name is Lori. I have a really old paperback with Lori as the title. I’ve never read it, but wanted to have it because it has my name on it. Lori by Robert Bloch.

11. Do you have a book with cybercrime/technology as a plot point?

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

12. Do you have book written in another language or translated to English?

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa Translated by Stephen Snyder

13. Do you have a book written by an Asian author?

Goodreads tells me Celeste Ng is an Asian author and I have her book Little Fires Everywhere on my shelf.

14. Do you have a book with a moon on the cover?

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

15. Do you have an illustrated children’s book?

We have around 1000 picture books on Pepper’s shelves so I don’t know how I would choose just one.

16. Do you have a collection of fairy tales or myths ?

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

17. Do you have a sci-fi/fantasy with an alliance between races?

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

18. Do you have a book with a narrow front cover? (paperback with a front cover that is slightly trimmed shorter/narrower than the rest of the book)

I have so many of these and I hate that. What is the purpose? One that I have is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

19. Do you have a book that includes the first chapter of the sequel?

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

20. Do you have a book with a broken spine?

Many of my books have broken spines because I get many of them used. One with significant cracks in the spine is A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay.

 

Phew. It took a couple days of picking at the questions, but I found answers for all but one. Do you have books to meet all of these prompts?

August 2018 and 2019 Haul Revisits

These monthly posts are to remind myself of books I was so excited to read, but still haven’t gotten to a year or two after I purchased them. I’ve crossed out the ones I’ve read.

August 2018 (2/7)

  1. Teach Your Own by John Hold
  2. Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto ✰5✰
  3. Blogging: How to Sell Your Soul for a Million Dollar Blog by Efron Hirsch
  4. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett ✰2✰
  5. Prozac Nation by Elizabeth Wurtzel
  6. How to be a Productivity Ninja by Graham Allcott
  7. Astounding by Alec Nevala-Lee

August 2019 (2/22)

  1. Three Moments of an Explosion China Mieville
  2. The Square Route of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood
  3. The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani
  4. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate ✰5✰
  5. Hurricane Season by Lauren K Denton
  6. Waking up in the Land of Glitter by Kathy Cano-Murillo
  7. In Pieces by Sally Field
  8. The Signature of all Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
  9. Forever, Interrupted by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  10. Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson
  11. The After Party by Anton DiSclafani
  12. The Grand Tour by Adam o’Fallon Price
  13. Often I am Happy by Jens Christian Grondoahl ✰3✰
  14. You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
  15. Dead Letters by Conrad Williams
  16. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
  17. Hissy Fit by Mary Kay Andrews
  18. Where I Lost Her by T Greenwood
  19. The Woman in the Window by A J Finn
  20. Year One by Nora Roberts
  21. Hope Never Dies by Andrew Shaffer
  22. Inside a Silver Box by Walter Mosley

I am still interested in most of these books, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to them. Is there one here that you loved and think I should prioritize?

Favorites Shelf Part 4 -Favorite Author Edition

Over four posts I will be sharing all of the books on my favorites shelf. I only keep books I’ve read if I think I will read them again at some point. Otherwise, as soon as I finish reading a book, I give it away.  This is why, even though I own about 1000 unread physical books, I only own about 50 read books. Over this four part series I will share all of the books that I own and that I’ve read and loved enough to keep. Links, photos, and quotes are from Goodreads.

Today is the last post and there are eight books, all written by my favorite author, Fredrik Backman. I thought it would be fun to put these eight books in order from least favorite to most favorite. This was hard because I have one three star, one four star, and all the rest are five stars and amazing.

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

A father and a son are seeing each other for the first time in years. The father has a story to share before it’s too late. He tells his son about a courageous little girl lying in a hospital bed a few miles away. She’s a smart kid—smart enough to know that she won’t beat cancer by drawing with crayons all day, but it seems to make the adults happy, so she keeps doing it.

As he talks about this plucky little girl, the father also reveals more about himself: his triumphs in business, his failures as a parent, his past regrets, his hopes for the future.

Now, on a cold winter’s night, the father has been given an unexpected chance to do something remarkable that could change the destiny of a little girl he hardly knows. But before he can make the deal of a lifetime, he must find out what his own life has actually been worth, and only his son can reveal that answer.

With humor and compassion, Fredrik Backman’s The Deal of a Lifetime reminds us that life is a fleeting gift, and our legacy rests in how we share that gift with others.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World collects the personal dispatches from the front lines of one of the most daunting experiences any man can experience: fatherhood.

As he conveys his profound awe at experiencing all the “firsts” that fill him with wonder and catch him completely unprepared, Fredrik Backman doesn’t shy away from revealing his own false steps and fatherly flaws, tackling issues both great and small, from masculinity and mid-life crises to practical jokes and poop.

In between the sleep-deprived lows and wonderful highs, Backman takes a step back to share the true story of falling in love with a woman who is his complete opposite, and learning to live a life that revolves around the people you care about unconditionally. Alternating between humorous side notes and longer essays offering his son advice as he grows up and ventures out into the world, Backman relays the big and small lessons in life, including:

-How to find the team you belong to
-Why airports explain everything about religion and war
-The reason starting a band is crucial to cultivating and keeping friendships
-How to beat Monkey Island 3
-Why, sometimes, a dad might hold onto his son’s hand just a little too tight.

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Britt-Marie can’t stand mess. A disorganized cutlery drawer ranks high on her list of unforgivable sins. She is not one to judge others—no matter how ill-mannered, unkempt, or morally suspect they might be. It’s just that sometimes people interpret her helpful suggestions as criticisms, which is certainly not her intention.

But hidden inside the socially awkward, fussy busybody is a woman who has more imagination, bigger dreams, and a warmer heart that anyone around her realizes.

When Britt-Marie walks out on her cheating husband and has to fend for herself in the miserable backwater town of Borg—of which the kindest thing one can say is that it has a road going through it—she finds work as the caretaker of a soon-to-be demolished recreation center. The fastidious Britt-Marie soon finds herself being drawn into the daily doings of her fellow citizens, an odd assortment of miscreants, drunkards, layabouts. Most alarming of all, she’s given the impossible task of leading the supremely untalented children’s soccer team to victory. In this small town of misfits, can Britt-Marie find a place where she truly belongs?

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

After everything that the citizens of Beartown have gone through, they are struck yet another blow when they hear that their beloved local hockey team will soon be disbanded. What makes it worse is the obvious satisfaction that all the former Beartown players, who now play for a rival team in Hed, take in that fact. Amidst the mounting tension between the two rivals, a surprising newcomer is handpicked to be Beartown’s new hockey coach.

Soon a new team starts to take shape around Amat, the fastest player you’ll ever see; Benji, the intense lone wolf; and Vidar, a born-to-be-bad troublemaker. But bringing this team together proves to be a challenge as old bonds are broken, new ones are formed, and the enmity with Hed grows more and more acute.

As the big match approaches, the not-so-innocent pranks and incidents between the communities pile up and their mutual contempt grows deeper. By the time the last game is finally played, a resident of Beartown will be dead, and the people of both towns will be forced to wonder if, after all they’ve been through, the game they love can ever return to something simple and innocent.

Beartown by Fredrik Backman

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

With all the same charm of his bestselling full-length novels, here Fredrik Backman once again reveals his unrivaled understanding of human nature and deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances. This is a tiny gem with a message you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Are any of these your favorites too? Who is your favorite author?

Favorites Shelf Part 3 – Nonfiction Edition

Over four posts I will be sharing all of the books on my favorites shelf. I only keep books I’ve read if I think I will read them again at some point. Otherwise, as soon as I finish reading a book, I give it away.  This is why, even though I own about 1000 unread physical books, I only own about 50 read books. Over this four part series I will share all of the books that I own and that I’ve read and loved enough to keep. Aside from the last part, none of these are in any particular order.This does not include any of my books on grief.  Links, photos, and quotes are from Goodreads.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes

In this poignant, hilarious and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder and Catch, reveals how saying YES changed her life – and how it can change yours too. With three hit shows on television and three children at home, Shonda Rhimes had lots of good reasons to say no when invitations arrived. Hollywood party? No. Speaking engagement? No. Media appearances? No. And to an introvert like Shonda, who describes herself as ‘hugging the walls’ at social events and experiencing panic attacks before press interviews, there was a particular benefit to saying no: nothing new to fear. Then came Thanksgiving 2013, when Shonda’s sister Delorse muttered six little words at her: You never say yes to anything. Profound, impassioned and laugh-out-loud funny, in Year of Yes Shonda Rhimes reveals how saying YES changed – and saved – her life. And inspires readers everywhere to change their own lives with one little word: Yes.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Gilbert offers insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work, embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Spilling Ink by Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter

Practical advice in a perfect package for young aspiring writers.

After receiving letters from fans asking for writing advice,accomplished authors Anne Mazer and Ellen Potter joined together to create this guidebook for young writers. The authors mix inspirational anecdotes with practical guidance on how to find a voice, develop characters and plot,
make revisions, and overcome writer’s block. Fun writing prompts will help young writers jump-start their own projects, and encouragement throughout will keep them at work.

Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie’s letter of response.

Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions–compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive–for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can “allow” women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.

Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

If you will live like no one else, later you can “live” like no one else.

Build up your money muscles with America’s favorite finance coach.

Okay, folks, do you want to turn those fat and flabby expenses into a well-toned budget? Do you want to transform your sad and skinny little bank account into a bulked-up cash machine? Then get with the program, people. There’s one sure way to whip your finances into shape, and that’s with “The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition“.

By now, you’ve heard all the nutty get-rich-quick schemes, the fiscal diet fads that leave you with a lot of kooky ideas but not a penny in your pocket. Hey, if you’re tired of the lies and sick of the false promises, take a look at this–it’s the simplest, most straightforward game plan for completely making over your money habits. And it’s based on results, not pie-in-the-sky fantasies.

With “The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition,” you’ll be able to:
Design a sure-fire plan for paying off all debt–meaning cars, houses, everything
Recognize the 10 most dangerous money myths (these will kill you)
Secure a big, fat nest egg for emergencies and retirement!

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. [It] was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said. ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.'”

With this basic instruction always in mind, Anne Lamott returns to offer us a new gift: a step-by-step guide on how to write and on how to manage the writer’s life. From “Getting Started,’ with “Short Assignments,” through “Shitty First Drafts,” “Character,” “Plot,” “Dialogue.” all the way from “False Starts” to “How Do You Know When You’re Done?” Lamott encourages, instructs, and inspires. She discusses “Writers Block,” “Writing Groups,” and “Publication.” Bracingly honest, she is also one of the funniest people alive.

If you have ever wondered what it takes to be a writer, what it means to be a writer, what the contents of your school lunches said about what your parents were really like, this book is for you. From faith, love, and grace to pain, jealousy, and fear, Lamott insists that you keep your eyes open, and then shows you how to survive. And always, from the life of the artist she turns to the art of life.

Dumbing Us Down by John Taylor Gatto

A highly praised best-seller for over a decade, this is a radical treatise on public education that concludes that compulsory government schooling does little but teach young people to follow orders like cogs in a machine. This Special Collector’s Edition celebrates 100,000 copies or the book in print, and the book’s on-going importance and popularity.

On Writing by Stephen King

“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Are any of these your favorites too?

Favorites Shelf Part 2

Over four posts I will be sharing all of the books on my favorites shelf. I only keep books I’ve read if I think I will read them again at some point. Otherwise, as soon as I finish reading a book, I give it away.  This is why, even though I own about 1000 unread physical books, I only own about 50 read books. Over this four part series I will share all of the books that I own and that I’ve read and loved enough to keep.  Links, photos, and quotes are from Goodreads.

 

Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (series) by Mackenzi Lee

Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.

Kings of the Wyld (series) by Nicholas Eames

Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best — the meanest, dirtiest, most feared crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld.

Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk – or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help. His daughter Rose is trapped in a city besieged by an enemy one hundred thousand strong and hungry for blood. Rescuing Rose is the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for.

It’s time to get the band back together for one last tour across the Wyld.

Illuminae (series) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the worst thing she’d ever been through. That was before her planet was invaded. Now, with enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra are forced to fight their way onto one of the evacuating craft, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But the warship could be the least of their problems. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their biggest threat; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady plunges into a web of data hacking to get to the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: Ezra.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents–including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more–Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

The Giver (series) by Lois Lowry

Twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind this fragile community.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

The Stand by Stephen King

This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.

And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the Dark Man.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Love, loss, friendship, and the betrayals of the past all collide in this first women’s fiction novel from New York Times and #1 international bestselling author Christina Lauren (Autoboyography, Dating You / Hating You).

The story of the heart can never be unwritten.

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading. Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic. Something romantic. Something that could change the past and the future.

Except the discovery of their bond would mean death for each of them. There’s still a war going on, after all. And someone has to win that war.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

What happens when America’s First Son falls in love with the Prince of Wales?

When his mother became President of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz was promptly cast as the American equivalent of a young royal. Handsome, charismatic, genius—his image is pure millennial-marketing gold for the White House. There’s only one problem: Alex has a beef with an actual prince, Henry, across the pond. And when the tabloids get hold of a photo involving an Alex/Henry altercation, U.S./British relations take a turn for the worse.

Heads of the family and state and other handlers devise a plan for damage control: Stage a truce between the two rivals. What at first begins as a fake, Instagrammable friendship grows deeper, and more dangerous, than either Alex or Henry could have imagined. Soon Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret romance with a surprisingly unstuffy Henry that could derail the presidential campaign and upend two nations. It raises the question: Can love save the world after all? Where do we find the courage, and the power, to be the people we are meant to ben? And how can we learn to let our true colors shine through? , how will history remember you?

Beach Read by Emily Henry

A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they’re living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer’s block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

Docile by KM Szpara

There is no consent under capitalism

Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.

To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents’ debts and buy your children’s future.

Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Are any of these your favorites too?

Favorites Shelf Part 1

Over  four posts I will be sharing all of the books on my favorites shelf. I only keep books I’ve read if I think I will read them again at some point. Otherwise, as soon as I finish reading a book, I give it away.  This is why, even though I own about 1000 unread physical books, I only own about 50 read books. Over this four part series I will share all of the books that I own and that I’ve read and loved enough to keep.  Links, photos, and quotes are from Goodreads.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be…well…a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad’s recitation, and only the “good parts” reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He’s reconstructed the “Good Parts Version” to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What’s it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it’s about everything.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind.

As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love.

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun

The illustrated story of a lonely alien sent to observe Earth, where he meets all sorts of creatures with all sorts of perspectives on life, love, and happiness, while learning to feel a little better about himself—based on the enormously popular Twitter account.

Here is the unforgettable story of Jomny, an alien sent to study Earth. Always feeling apart, even among his species, Jomny feels at home for the first time among the earthlings he meets. There is a bear tired of other creatures running in fear, an egg struggling to decide what to hatch into, a turtle hiding itself by learning camouflage, a puppy struggling to express its true feelings, and many more.

The characters are unique and inventive—bees think long and hard about what love means, birds try to eat the sun, nothingness questions its own existence, a ghost comes to terms with dying, and an introverted hedgehog slowly lets Jomny see its artistic insecurities. At the same time, Jomny’s curious presence allows these characters to open up to him in ways they were never able to before, revealing the power of somebody who is just there to listen.

Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too is also the story behind the widely-shared and typo-filled @jonnysun twitter account. Since the beginning, Sun intentionally tweeted from an outsider’s perspective, creating a truly distinct voice. Now, that outsider has taken shape in the character of Jomny, who observes Earth with the same intelligent, empathetic, and charmingly naïve voice that won over his fans on social media. New fans will find it organic, and old fans will delight at seeing the clever words that made them fans in the first place.

Through this story of a lost, lonely and confused Alien finding friendship, acceptance, and love among the animals and plants of Earth, we will all learn how to be a little more human. And for all the earth-bound creatures here on this planet, we will all learn how sometimes, it takes an outsider to help us see ourselves for who we truly are.

Middlegame by by Seanan McGuire

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story.

Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math.

Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, and renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years.

Meet Dolores Price. She’s 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Stranded in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally orbits into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she’s determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before she really goes under.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. She may leave the home of the Commander and his wife once a day to walk to food markets whose signs are now pictures instead of words because women are no longer allowed to read. She must lie on her back once a month and pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, because in an age of declining births, Offred and the other Handmaids are valued only if their ovaries are viable. Offred can remember the years before, when she lived and made love with her husband, Luke; when she played with and protected her daughter; when she had a job, money of her own, and access to knowledge. But all of that is gone now . . .

Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid’s Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family’s summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

T.J. Callahan has no desire to leave town, not that anyone asked him. He’s almost seventeen and if having cancer wasn’t bad enough, now he has to spend his first summer in remission with his family—and a stack of overdue assignments—instead of his friends.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.’s family in the Maldives when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.’s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig

You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.
It is a story that proves that nothing is impossible.
If you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you.
Because this book is FULL of impossible things.

Are you still reading?

Good.

Then let us begin . . .

A Boy Called Christmas is a tale of adventure, snow, kidnapping, elves, more snow, and an eleven-year-old boy called Nikolas, who isn’t afraid to believe in magic.

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

The Christmasaurus is a story about a boy named William Trundle, and a dinosaur, the Christmasaurus. It’s about how they meet one Christmas Eve and have a magical adventure. It’s about friendship and families, sleigh bells and Santa, singing elves and flying reindeer, music and magic. It’s about discovering your heart’s true desire, and learning that the impossible might just be possible.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.

But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.

It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.

Are any of these your favorites too?

 

Road Trip with a Five Year Old

Pepper and I are going on our first vacation, our first road trip, in July. The longest she has ever been in a car is two and half hours at a time and we’re looking at potentially 12 hour days for this trip. The estimate from my father in law is five days each direction. I’m not so much worried about the time we will spend in California with my sister in law and family as I am about all of those hours in the car and it is fairly obvious where those worries lie based on how much time and money I’ve spent investing in supplies for our car days and how little of either I’ve invested in our week in California.

For the trip I got us each some new walking shoes, a couple of new dresses for Pepper and shorts for me and I ordered myself a few new books to take on vacation as well as a book of Summer themed word puzzles and a couple of sticker by number books. Every thing else I’ve bought for the trip is for Pepper in the car.

The first thing I chose was a tray that straps behind her carseat so she has a solid work station for her tablets, switch, coloring, and snacks.

Next to go with her snacks which I will pack a lot of, she is a snacker, I got her a new metal waterbottle to keep her drinks cold for a long time. It’s also cute and has a straw. She will only drink with a straw.

 

We have a backpack filled with coloring books, puzzle books, sticker books, ect that I have been collecting and saving for the trip, but she will also get one new activity each day we are only in the car. Some are craft things, some are games, some are toys. I tried to have a mix of things to keep her entertained. Here are a few of the surprises:

 

I think we have way more than we need entertainment wise and I’m okay with that. This trip is a huge stressor for me and it holds a lot of grief and anxiety for me so I’d rather be way overprepared so that Pepper can have as much fun as possible. And any toys or activities we don’t need or get to will go in the box of Christmas gifts I’ve already started wrapping for her. So nothing will go to waste. What is your number one tip for traveling with kiddos?

June 2020 Book Haul

This month I joined Book of the Month and bookstores and second hand shops opened again and in total I bought or was given 37 books. So far I have started one and finished none.

  1. One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
  2. Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo
  3. The Vacationers by Emma Straub
  4. Refuge by Dina Nayeri
  5. Motherest by Kristen Iskandrian
  6. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  7. Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie
  8. Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke
  9. The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
  10. I can’t Stop Crying by John D Martin
  11. Bearing the Unbearable by Joanne Cacciatore
  12. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
  13. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
  14. The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison
  15. How Hard Can it Be? by Allison Pearson
  16. Stamped fro the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi
  17. Time of my Life by Allison Winn Scotch
  18. Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado
  19. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  20. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  21. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
  22. Pachinko by Min Jin Less
  23. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
  24. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  25. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  26. The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob
  27. Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti
  28. Atonement by Ian McEawn
  29. My Life as a Russian Novel by Emmanuel Carrere
  30. Choose Your Own Disaster by Dana Schwartz
  31. Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary
  32. 3 NBs of Julian Drew by James M Deem
  33. My Foreign Cities by Elizabeth Scarboro
  34. I Hate Everyone But You by Gaby Dunn
  35. The Invisible Hand by Ayad Akhtar
  36. Zero K by Don DeLillo
  37. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

What are you most excited to have bought this month?

2020 Goals Check in – July

I’m looking at my goals to see how I’m doing so far.

  1. Read at least 100 books 86/100 Doing great here
  2. Own fewer unread books at the end of the year than I have at the beginningHahaha I should really just give up on this one. I haven’t lowered my count a single month this year.
  3. Finish reading all of the books I have records of for 2017Still just one here so far
    1. Luka and the Fire of Life by Salaman Rushdie
    2. The Rules of the Tunnel by Ned Zeman
    3. While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark
    4. The Silver Star By Jeannette Walls
    5. The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
    6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    7. Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
    8. Rocket City by Cathryn Alpert
    9. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
    10. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
    11. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
    12. Death Masks by Jim Butcher
    13. Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
    14. Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
  4. Read at least 14 tomes (books over 500 pages)And just two done here still.
    1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
    3. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
    4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
    5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
    6. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
    7. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
    8. The Red pyramid by Rick Riordan
    9. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
    10. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
    11. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    12. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    13. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
    14. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  5. Complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 202035/50
  6. Participate in Booktube Rereadathon 2020. 5/12

I really need to work on those two book lists, but am otherwise pretty happy with my overall reading progress.

Mid Year Book Freakout Tag

I love doing this tag every year as a checkin on how my yearly reading goals are going. This tag was created by Earl Grey Books on Youtube. My goal on Goodreads for this year is 100 books. I’m well ahead of schedule having read 86 books so far this year.

1. Best book you’ve read so far in 2020 

This was so hard. I’ve already given twenty three books 5 stars this year. I narrowed it down to four pretty easily and then the only way I could choose just one was to ask if I could only reread one of them right now, which would I choose. So my answer is Middlegame by Seanan McGuire, but that could just as likely change to Beach Read by Emily Henry or Autoboyoraphy or Love and Other Words both by Christina Lauren if you ask me at a different minute.

2. Best sequel you’ve read so far in 2020

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

3. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to.

I thought I would have trouble thinking of one here, but there are so many. I’m going with Tweet Cute by Emma Lord. I can not believe I haven’t read this yet. 

4. Most anticipated release for the second half of the year.

This is by far the easiest question on the list. My favorite author, Fredrik Backman, has a new book coming out in September and I preordered it as soon as it was available for me to do so. Anxious People

5. Biggest disappointment

I only have one 1 star read this year so far. An Adventure: That’s for Sure by Donna Wood

6. Biggest surprise.

I wanted to go with a happy surprised and not a disappointed surprised. I chose The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams. Sports are not my thing and I didn’t have high hopes for a romance about a baseball player, but this was so good. 

7. Favorite new author. (Debut or new to you)

Christina Lauren is my choice. I read them for the first time this year. I have read two of their books so far, both five stars, and have another one on my July TBR.

8. Newest fictional crush.

Elliot from Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren.

9. Newest favorite character.

Cath From Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

10. Book that made you cry.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

11. Book that made you happy.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

12. Most beautiful book you’ve bought so far this year (or received)

I really love the cover of The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone.

13. What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

So so so many. I still have 25 out of 28 books on my 2020 TBR that I need to get to. 

What is the most beautiful book you have purchased this year?

July 2020 TBR

My TBRs are always might be reads, but that is even more so the case this month. I will gone for three weeks of this month on a road trip across the country. Ten of those days will be spent in the car and I can’t help with the driving due to eye issues, but I will be on keep the five year old calm, quiet, and hopefully happy duty. I will either have more time to read then ever before or the kid will need me constantly and I will read a dozen pages over the course of the whole vacation. I can see this going either way. So I’m bringing a dozen physical books with me on this trip that I hope to read, but I may not end up finishing any of them.

The first book is one my sister in law said is a favorite and I want to read it while I’m at her house so we can talk about it. The second one is one she wants to read. The next four are ones I ordered just for this trip. And the last six are ones I already owned and really want to read and two of those are from my 2020 reading list. Pictures and quotes are from Goodreads.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

It’s a new school year, and Greg Heffley finds himself thrust into middle school, where undersized weaklings share the hallways with kids who are taller, meaner, and already shaving. The hazards of growing up before you’re ready are uniquely revealed through words and drawings as Greg records them in his diary.

In book one of this debut series, Greg is happy to have Rowley, his sidekick, along for the ride. But when Rowley’s star starts to rise, Greg tries to use his best friend’s newfound popularity to his own advantage, kicking off a chain of events that will test their friendship in hilarious fashion.

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

This edition of Margot Lee Shetterly’s acclaimed book is perfect for young readers. It is the powerful story of four African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped achieve some of the greatest moments in our space program. Now a major motion picture starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kirsten Dunst, and Kevin Costner.

Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

This book brings to life the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who lived through the Civil Rights era, the Space Race, the Cold War, and the movement for gender equality, and whose work forever changed the face of NASA and the country.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.

A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled.

As Aomame’s and Tengo’s narratives converge over the course of this single year, we learn of the profound and tangled connections that bind them ever closer: a beautiful, dyslexic teenage girl with a unique vision; a mysterious religious cult that instigated a shoot-out with the metropolitan police; a reclusive, wealthy dowager who runs a shelter for abused women; a hideously ugly private investigator; a mild-mannered yet ruthlessly efficient bodyguard; and a peculiarly insistent television-fee collector.

Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her–a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

My Best Friends’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act…different. She’s moody. She’s irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she’s nearby. Abby’s investigation leads her to some startling discoveries–and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil?

No One is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg

‘Everything needs to change. And it has to start today’

In August 2018 a fifteen-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, decided not to go to school one day. Her actions ended up sparking a global movement for action against the climate crisis, inspiring millions of pupils to go on strike for our planet, forcing governments to listen, and earning her a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

This book brings you Greta in her own words, for the first time. Collecting her speeches that have made history across Europe, from the UN to mass street protests, No One Is Too Small to Make A Difference is a rallying cry for why we must all wake up and fight to protect the living planet, no matter how powerless we feel. Our future depends upon it.

You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.

Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

I Know this Much is True by Wally Lamb

On the afternoon of October 12, 1990, my twin brother, Thomas, entered the Three Rivers, Connecticut, public library, retreated to one of the rear study carrels, and prayed to God the sacrifice he was about to commit would be deemed acceptable. . . .

The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

Thursday’s husband, Seth, has two other wives. She’s never met them, and she doesn’t know anything about them. She agreed to this unusual arrangement because she’s so crazy about him.

But one day, she finds something. Something that tells a very different—and horrifying—story about the man she married.

What follows is one of the most twisted, shocking thrillers you’ll ever read.

You’ll have to grab a copy to find out why.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

My Wife Said You May Want To Marry Me by Jason Rosenthal

On March 3, 2017, Amy Krouse Rosenthal penned an op-ed piece for the New York Times’ “Modern Love” column —”You May Want to Marry My Husband.” It appeared ten days before her death from ovarian cancer. A heartbreaking, wry, brutally honest, and creative play on a personal ad—in which a dying wife encouraged her husband to go on and find happiness after her demise—the column quickly went viral, reaching more than five million people worldwide.

In My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me, Jason describes what came next: his commitment to respecting Amy’s wish, even as he struggled with her loss. Surveying his life before, with, and after Amy, Jason ruminates on love, the pain of watching a loved one suffer, and what it means to heal—how he and their three children, despite their profound sorrow, went on. Jason’s emotional journey offers insights on dying and death and the excruciating pain of losing a soulmate, and illuminates the lessons he learned.

As he reflects on Amy’s gift to him—a fresh start to fill his empty space with a new story—Jason describes how he continues to honor Amy’s life and her last wish, and how he seeks to appreciate every day and live in the moment while trying to help others coping with loss. My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me is the poignant, unreserved, and inspiring story of a great love, the aftermath of a marriage ended too soon, and how a surviving partner eventually found a new perspective on life’s joys in the wake of tremendous loss.

I tried to chose a wide variety of books in both length and content. Do I have a favorite of yours on this list?

July 2018 and 2019 Haul Revisits

These monthly posts are to remind myself of books I was so excited to read, but still haven’t gotten to a year or two after I purchased them. I’ve crossed out the ones I’ve read.

July 2018 (3/10)

  1. Leap Frog by Nathalie Molina Nino and Sara Grace
  2. The Self-Love Experiment by Shannon Kaiser
  3. Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection by Sharon Salzberg
  4. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert ✰4✰
  5. The Poisoned City by Anna Clark
  6. Dangerous Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Sto
  7. Ninja Timmy by Henrik Tamm
  8. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
  9. Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes ✰4✰
  10. Love & Magic by John Hanlon ✰5✰

July 2019 (10/48)

  1. Confess by Colleen Hoover
  2. Dry by Neal Shusterman
  3. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  4. Learning to Drive by Katha Pollitt
  5. Way Station by Clifford D Simak
  6. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  7. The End of Men by Karen Rinaldi
  8. Books that Made the Difference by Gordon Sabine
  9. Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston ✰5✰
  10. Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi
  11. Billions and Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan
  12. The Grieving Child by Helen Fitzgerald ✰5✰
  13. The Grieving Teen by Helen Fitzgerald
  14. Dear Martin by Nic Stone
  15. How to Survive the the Loss of  Love by Melba Colgrove ✰5✰
  16. Living When a Loved One Has Died by Earl A Grollman ✰4✰
  17. I Find You in the Darkness by Alfa ✰4✰
  18. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
  19. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
  20. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren ✰5✰
  21. A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay
  22. The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson
  23. About a Boy by Nick Hornby
  24. Backyard Witch by Christine Heppermann ✰3✰
  25. Save me Kurt Cobain by Jenny Manzer
  26. Kate the Great by Suzy Becker
  27. Brooding YA Hero by Carria Ann DiRisio
  28. The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison
  29. The Martian by Anthony Weir ✰4✰
  30. Redwall by Brian Jacques
  31. The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
  32. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry ✰4✰
  33. Messenger by Lowis Lowry ✰4✰
  34. The Long Patrol by Brian Jacques
  35. The Outcast of Redwall by Brian Jacques
  36. Mossflower by Brian Jacques
  37. Mariel of Redwall by Brian Jacques
  38. Astrid & Veronika by Linda Olsson
  39. Bad Boy by Walter Dean Myers
  40. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
  41. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
  42. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard
  43. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke
  44. Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah
  45. Chloe in India by Kate Darnton
  46. Slated by Teri Terry
  47. Th Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
  48. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

I am still interested in most of these books, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to them. Is there one here that you loved and think I should prioritize?

My Bookish Week 06/27/20

This is my last bookish week until August. I will be out of state for three of the four Saturdays in August with no access to a computer. To make my vacation as stress free as possible I’ve scheduled other posts for the Saturdays in July and will be back with, hopefully, a big wrap up of everything I finished in the last few days of June and all of July on August 4th.

This week I finished

76. Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo ✰3✰ I was not tremendously impressed with this book. I read it because it is on my list of Newbery winners. I liked it more than the other two books I’ve read by this author, but unless she wins another Newbery I’m probably done with her for good now. Other people love her books, but they are just not for me. 

77. Heidi Heckelbeck Has a Secret by Wanda Coven ✰4✰ This was a readaloud I did with Pepper. We read it all in one sitting because Pepper didn’t want me to stop. It is an early chapter book that Pepper absolutely loved. She has declared it her new favorite book. It was a cute story about a little girl transitioning from homeschooling to public school for the first time and she encounters a bully and a new friend on her first day. I think the rest of the series will be really fun because of something we found out in the last sentence of this first book. We have book 2 and 3 on hand so I’m sure we’ll be reading them soon. 

Next week I hope to finish

Next week I hope to finish all of the books I’m in the middle of so that I can start my July and vacation TBR fresh with no holdovers (aside from Les Miserables which I’ll be working on via Kindle on the trip). My currently reading pile looks like this:

What are you reading this week?

First Sentence June

I really like to look at the first sentences of books. It is wonderful when one sentence is enough to make you want to read the whole book. Here I share the first words of all of the books I started this month to see if the first line alone is enough to make you want to read them. I will be using the first sentence from the first chapter and not from an introduction or prologue.

This month I read a lot of novels in verse so some of them are formatted differently then they would be in the book. Also one is a collection of short stories so it is the first line from the first story.

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

The Wheels on the suitcase break before we’ve even left Gdansk Glowny.

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, but then I realized I could access the combined feed of entertainment channels carried on the company satellites.

Beach Read by Emily Henry

I have a fatal flaw.

May B by Caroline Starr Rose

I won’t go.

Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Not enough room for me to give Mom space, I crouch in my corner fold clothes for three seasons into my suitcase slide pencil case, supplies box, assignments, notebooks, and textbooks into my schoolbag and slip my NASA pen into my pocket.

On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves

I was thirty years old when the seaplane TJ Callahan and I were travelling on crash-landed in the Indian Ocean.

Am I Blue edited by Marion Dane Bauer

It started the day Butch Carrigan decided I was interested in jumping his bones.

The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen

With a click and a breath I capture branches squirrels pigeons two girls skipping in time everything alive, pulsing-the park the heartbeat of Manhattan, of who we used to be.

It Rained Warm Bread by Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet

It matters which side of the street I walk on to get home.

Sold by Patricia McCormick

One more rainy season and our roof will be gone, says Ama.

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

As summer wheat came ripe, so did I, born at home, on the kitchen floor.

Inside the Whale by Joseph G. Peterson

he was jim an irishman a rogue first generation american though once or twice he faked it with a brogue

Darlington’s Fall by Brad Leithauser

The hand hungers: the jewel of the world, and his for the taking.

The Secrets of Me by Meg Kearney

I was five months old by the time I arrived.

The Wherewithal by Philip Schultz

Upstairs, it’s San Francisco 1968 April 17 and every day the world spins faster on its axis, a little more off-kilter, a little less in its right mind, bursting at its seams with desire for variation, while everyone everywhere around me appears to be fornicating in doorways and on rooftops…(this keeps going for almost two pages before I find the first period).

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Today is Tet, the first day of the lunar calendar.

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

Flora Belle Buckman was in her room at her desk.

Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi

They weathered brutal winters, suffered diseases, and learned to cope with the resisting Native Americans.

Of these 17 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick them up?

I Don’t Think Audio Books are for Me

I keep trying to get in to audio books. Everyone seems to read so many more books than I do and it often feels like that is because they can listen to audio books, often on double speed, while doing chores or driving to work. And I just can’t do it.

Whenever I try to listen to an audio book I do well for about two minutes and then the next thing I know it’s a half an hour later and I haven’t heard any more of the story.  I’ve been washing the dishes or folding the laundry and the story continued on without me. I just can not focus on a story in this format and have to listen over and over to the same section to get anything out of the story at all.

My next strategy was to listen to an audio book while following along in a physical book at the same time and I stay focused and retain the story just fine that way, but it feels like an waste of resources to do both at once. And I don’t think I enjoy the experience any more than I would just reading it physically on my own. I really want to like books in all formats though. The thing that most bothers me with following along while listening is that words don’t match up perfectly. The narrator will change a word or skip or add a sentence, at least in the few I have tried, and it throws me off and makes me irrationally angry that things are changed. So I don’t think listening and following along is for me.

My audio book lovers,

How do you stay focused on an audio book and retain the story?

Is it a skill you can learn or am I just a visual learner who will never really benefit from this type of media?

What speed do you use when listening to audio books?

What is your favorite audio book?

 

My Bookish Week 6/20/20

I finished two more novels in verse this week. Both of them were really good.

This week I finished

74. The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen ✰5✰ This book was so good. It is about sisters nearly the same age, one adopted, one not, one black, one white, and the comparisons their parents made, which girl succeeded in the ways they valued and which clearly did not measure up. As the child that did fine academically, but didn’t exceed expectations like my brother I could relate to just never being quite good enough for my parents and how badly that makes you want to just run away or to stop trying. I really appreciated seeing that the family in the story actually talked and worked to change what they were doing oh so wrong.

75. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai ✰4✰ This was a really powerful story about having to leave your home and trying to find a way to fit in somewhere else. I especially appreciated the story line of our main character’s mother holding out hope that her husband would show back up to save them some day. It was crushing watching her keep hoping he would magically find them a world away from where they ‘should’ have been and equally crushing when she finally gave up on his returning.

Next week I hope to continue or start

I’ll also be starting Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi today. I’m a day behind on the readalong going on for this book over on Instagram, but I’m sure I can catch up. There is a schedule on Pagesgaloree and the readalong is going from June 19-July 25 with two discussions throughout. Are you planning to join?

.What are you reading this week?

 

Bookshelf Tour Part 3 “Summer”

Part three of my bookshelf tour is books with Summer in the title. There are six books on my TBR that have that word in the title. Photos and blurbs for each book below are from Goodreads.

 

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

HARRY DRESDEN — WIZARD

Lost items found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates.
No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment

Ever since his girlfriend left town to deal with her newly acquired taste for blood, Harry Dresden has been down and out in Chicago. He can’t pay his rent. He’s alienating his friends. He can’t even recall the last time he took a shower.

The only professional wizard in the phone book has become a desperate man.

And just when it seems things can’t get any worse, in saunters the Winter Queen of Faerie. She has an offer Harry can’t refuse if he wants to free himself of the supernatural hold his faerie godmother has over him–and hopefully end his run of bad luck. All he has to do is find out who murdered the Summer Queen’s right-hand man, the Summer Knight, and clear the Winter Queen’s name.

It seems simple enough, but Harry knows better than to get caught in the middle of faerie politics. Until he finds out that the fate of the entire world rests on his solving this case. No pressure or anything…

Summer Days and Summer Nights edited by Stephanie Perkins

Maybe it’s the long, lazy days, or maybe it’s the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom. Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories, written by twelve bestselling young adult writers and edited by the international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, will have you dreaming of sunset strolls by the lake. So set out your beach chair and grab your sunglasses. You have twelve reasons this summer to soak up the sun and fall in love.

Suddenly One Summer by Barbara Freethy

In the California coastal town of Angel’s Bay, an old legend says that sometimes, when they’re needed, angles from an old shipwreck appear and good triumphs over evil.

Jenna Davies flees to the close-knit community of Angel’s Bay with a seven-year-old child, a dangerous secret, and a heart full of pain. She wants nothing more than to live a quiet life, but when she sees a teenager plunge off the pier, she doesn’t hesitate to dive in after her. But saving the desperate girl’s life thrusts Jenna into a spotlight she can ill afford. Suddenly everyone in town wants to know her story — a story that could cost her life.

Reid Tanner was a tough reporter until a shattering incident changed everything. Now all of his instincts are on alert. Who is Jenna, and what is she hiding? He wants answers, but his quest for the truth could put them all in danger. They say love is a miracle — but can it keep Jenna safe in his arms

The Square Root of Summer by Harriet Reuter Hapgood

Gottie’s heart has been broken three times. One, when her best friend moved away without saying goodbye. Two, when her beloved grandfather died. Three, when her first love wouldn’t even hold her hand at the funeral.

As Gottie spirals deeper into grief, her past literally comes back to haunt her when she is inexplicably sent back in time to good memories and bad, revisiting afternoons of kisses and days she wanted to forget forever. This summer, Gottie’s past, present, and future are about to collide—and she’s the only one who can figure out why.

The Square Root of Summer is an exponentially enthralling story about love and loss, from debut YA voice, Harriet Reuter Hapgood.

Sins of Summer by Linda Heavner Gerald

Audrey Brock thought of herself as a golden girl. Her dream life shrouded her as the cocoon of a metamorphosing butterfly. Suddenly, everything changed. Her gorgeous, wealthy husband fell for another. Her best friend tired of her. Wine and food became a crutch. Her beautiful appearance changed into an overweight woman who no longer cared about such trivial matters as appearance. When she thought things could not get worse, her best friend arrived late one evening with a new threat. The monster who robbed her of childhood in her fifteenth year was coming for her again. She sadly thought of all the years of mental torture she suffered because of him. This time, he would demand the only thing left in her life, which she loved. Audrey and Diana devised a plan to make him pay. After working all day creating a torture chamber, they were ready for him. It was easy enticing the madman into the designated room. Yet as she sat watching this monster sleep, she realized that he was now old and sick. The man on the floor naked and cold before her seemed to have already paid. Perhaps in many ways, she could not be sure. One thing was clear, she could not be the savage, which he had once been to her.

Forever Summer by Alyson Noel

Forever Summer: Two Books In One from bestselling author Alyson Noël: Laguna Cove & Cruel Summer

Summer. A break from the burdens of school. Deep tans, deeper thoughts. Far away from the everyday. Closer to making dreams come true . . . What does summer mean to you? For the two teenage girls in these two unforgettable novels, summer means being torn away from the familiar and finding new friends. A new place in the world. A new sense of self. And maybe even new love along the way . . .

When you’re having the time of your life, you never want it to end.

Have you read any of these? How many books do you own with ‘summer’ in the title?

Apps I’ve been Loving

Sleep has always been a challenge for my daughter and it’s been a challenge for me too since she was born and that is even more so the case since my husband died a year ago. Ideally when I’m up all night I would read or listen to a guided mediation or something to help calm my mind, but what I usually end up doing is wasting time with various things on my phone for hours. These are my 10 most common used apps

Scrabble Go

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I have only been using this app for just over a month, but I play for hours every day. It my current biggest time waster and I have so much fun using it. I play with a lot strangers, but I can also play games with my sister in law, father in law, mother, step father, old childhood friends, etc. It’s like the board game, but more colorful, easy, and fun. If you have an account let me know and we can play a game against each other.

Happy Color 

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This is a coloring by number game where you choose a color  and click the spaces in the picture with the same number as that color. I haven’t played this one very much in the past year, but while my husband was dying I played it constantly in various waiting rooms. It’s relaxing and very easy to put down at any time and pick it back up later. I still play it sometimes when I need something mindless to do when I can’t sleep.

Amazon Kindle

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I own over 3000 Kindle books. I should use this app way more often than I do. I end up going back and forth between this app and the next one for ebooks and because the books I own don’t have a deadline they get neglected longer.

Overdrive

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This app lets me borrow ebooks and audiobooks from the library for 21 days at a time. Often when I read an ebook it’s from here. I always have one ebook on the go at all times.

Goodreads

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I use Goodreads for most of my book tracking. My to be read shelf on Goodreads has every physical book I own but haven’t read. It has every book I’ve read since 2017. And I end up adding something to it at least several times a week. It is also easy to scan a book in to the app to see if I already own a copy when at a used book store. I do not use the social media aspects of this app though. I’ve never scrolled through to look at people’s updates and it always surprises me when I get a notification that someone liked an update I made. I forget other people can even see those.

Instagram

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I use Instagram for bookish things. I have a bookstagram attached to my blog here, but I stopped linking up posts over there with posts here a long time ago. i just post pictures of new books I buy or new books I’m reading. It is fun to scroll through and see my feed filled with pictures of books.

Facebook

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I use Facebook way more often and for way more things. It’s my personal facebook where I post about my and Pepper’s lives. It’s the only place I post pictures of the kiddo and my friends are all only people I know in real life. I am in several groups though. Book groups, homeschooling groups, budgeting groups, etc.

WordPress

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I do all of my writing for my blog on my computer, but I like to have the app on my phone to respond to comments and to read posts from people I follow.

Period Tracker

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This one isn’t nearly as fun as any of the other ones here, but if you are a person that gets a period this is a very simple tracker I’ve been using since before I had Pepper, 5.5 years ago. I like that you just have two clicks to say you started your period and two clicks to say when it’s ended. The widget on my home screen with a countdown to when my period next starts is very convenient. And even though it has lots of other things you can track, weight, symptoms, exercise, etc, you don’t have to and it doesn’t bother you to do those things if you won’t want to. When my husband was alive I also appreciated the ability to link the app to a partner so he had the countdown on his phone too. I also like that the widget isn’t too obvious about what it is if you are someone that likes to be private about your cycles. It’s a green box with a butterfly and a black number. My cycle has always been really irregular so the countdown feature is usually a little off for me, but it’s usually close even with my regularity issues.

Christmas Countdown

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Pepper and I love Christmas. We use this countdown all year long and have for years. You can change the background, you can change the countdown box, you can change how you are being told the amount of time left. I like to see how many seconds until Christmas, (16,713,525 at the time of writing this), Pepper likes to just see how many sleeps (194) and you can switch back and forth with a tap. It’s simple, it works, and it’s fun.

Do you use any of these apps? What app do you use most often?

My Bookish Week 06/13/20

This week was okay reading wise. I only finished two books, but one of them I loved enough to add to my favorites shelf.

This week I finished

72. Somewhere Among by Annie DonwerthChikamatsu ✰3✰ This was another novel in verse book and it just didn’t grab me like I always expect them too. Maybe I’ve outgrown the format. This book was just okay and didn’t move me in the way I expected it to. 

73. Beach Read by Emily Henry ✰5✰ On the other hand, this book was amazing. I loved every second I spent reading it. I could not put it down once I picked it up. I love books about writers and this book has two writers that fall in love and it was just fun and fantastic. It also dealt a lot with grief which was something else I like to read about. It was just all around a perfect book for me and I plan to reread it in the future. 

Next week I hope to continue or start

What are you reading this week?

May 2020 Book Haul

This month I acquired 31 books. It’s still a lot, but it’s way better than then the 88 I bought last month. I have read 3 of them so far and have 7 others on my June TBR.

  1. Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
  2. The Guardians by Sarah Manguso
  3. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly
  4. My Father Before Me by Chris Forhan
  5. Empress by Shan Sa
  6. House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas
  7. Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King by William Joyce
  8. E. Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Earths Core by William Joyce
  9. Toothiana, Queen of the Tooth Fairy Armies by William Joyce
  10. The Sandman and the War of Dreams by William Joyce
  11. Jack Frost: The End Becomes the Beginning by William Joyce
  12. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  13. Beach Read by Emily Henry
  14. The Grace Year by Kim Liggett
  15. The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan
  16. Each Little Bird that Sings by Deborah Wiles
  17. Sold by Patricia McCormick
  18. Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  19. Inside the Whale by Joseph G. Peterson
  20. Darlington’s Fall by Brad Leithauser
  21. The Secret of Me by Meg Kearney
  22. The Wherewithal by Philip Schultz
  23. May B by Caroline Starr Rose
  24. Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
  25. The Typewriter’s Tale by Michiel Heyns
  26. Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
  27. Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
  28. Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
  29. Her Pretty Face by Robyn Harding
  30. A Warning by Anonymous
  31. You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Have you read and loved any of these?

One Year as a Widow

Tomorrow my husband will have been dead for one year. One whole year that I’ve survived without my wonderful husband. I honestly can’t say how I’ve made it so far alone. I wouldn’t have without my daughter here to need me though. I would have happily given up on living as soon as he took his last breath and didn’t need me any more. I still would, if not for Pepper.

This past month I had so much going on and none of it is related to my dead husband except in that he isn’t here to help with the difficulties or with calming my anxiety about everything going on in the world. There have been so many little irritations in my circle that I’m overwhelmed dealing with them all.

The oven broke and I can’t get anyone here to fix it for a while. We have a toaster oven I’m trying to use instead, but don’t really have it figured out yet.

Pepper isn’t sleeping well. She’s been up until somewhere between 12 am and 2am every night, she used to go to sleep at 9, but she just can’t settle. I can’t either. For me it’s anxiety over COVID-19 and the riots causing nightmares that mean I don’t sleep until even later than she does.

It’s also really hot in our new house. Even when it’s just 75 outside it’s well over 90 indoors. We’re adjusting, but we were extra miserable those first few really hot days before we got some fans and a freestanding air conditioner set up.

The mailman at the new house is delivering my packages so poorly I finally submitted an anonymous complaint about him.

The landlady from our old apartment sent another bill for painting and changing light bulbs and cleaning the carpet. I paid it because it was easier to pay then to fight, but if she tries to get more money out of me I will find a lawyer and have them deal with her because I am so done with that woman.

I’ve been trying to figure out all of the legal paperwork I need to be sending in for Pepper to officially begin homeschooling this year and I was stressed about the July 1st deadline coming up, but I contacted the HSLDA for help and Pepper doesn’t have to report for official schooling for another year because of her February birthday. Hooray for one big thing off my plate for a while longer. We’re still learning of course. Pepper loves to do her schoolwork, but I don’t have to worry about the record keeping aspect quite yet.

We’re planning a road trip from New York to California for July. We’ll be gone 3 weeks. We are going with my father in law to visit my husband’s siblings in Colorado and California. Neither Pepper nor I have ever been that far from home. I’ve never been away from my own bed for longer than three nights and Pepper has never been away from her bed at night. I’m anxious about keeping the kid happy and quiet for multiple days in the car and getting her to sleep in strange hotel rooms. But I’m grateful for the stress of figuring out how to keep her entertained and calm for 3 weeks away from home because it distracts me from thinking about how this was supposed to be a trip my husband and I took together. He was born in California and he was going to take me to see where he grew up. He died before that could happen and it’s killing me that I’m going on the trip we always dreamed of taking and he won’t be with me. I wish we weren’t going at all. I don’t want to go without him, but Pepper is desperate to see her cousins. The weekly Zoom calls just aren’t cutting it for her.

But not everything has been negative.

We are loving having a yard at our new house. Pepper has a sandbox, small kiddie pool, a slide, and a sprinkler. And a new bike she got for Easter that she’s learning to ride with training wheels. We are outside to play or to read at least once a day rain or shine.

Pepper has been extra excited about her school supplies for the new school year and has been trying to sneak in a few pages or projects whenever she can convince me to let her. Her new snap circuits are currently her favorite.

I’ve been reading quite a bit and enjoying most things I pick up and I am looking forward to planning a tbr for the trip that will include a favorite book of my sister in law so I can read it while I’m with her in person to talk to her about it.

Our beloved library opened again, for curbside pickup, so we got to borrow a few new stories that we have really been enjoying reading together. And I didn’t quite realize how much I missed our librarians until one of them brought out bag of books to the car.

I still bought a lot of books last month (the haul will be up soon), but it wasn’t the 88 books I bought the month before so I’m okay with seeing some progress.

We’re doing okay overall. I’m just tired and sad and honestly trying to hold off on tears as much as possible. That may not be the right choice, but it’s what I’m doing to get through the days for now.

I made it through the first year alone. Some widows I’ve talked to say it gets easier from here and others say the second year is even harder. I’m just going to keep doing what I need to do to survive and to keep Pepper as healthy and as safe as I can, one day at a time.

 

My Bookish Week 06/06/20

I finished four more books this week. And I am in the middle of eight others.

This week I finished

68. The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan ✰3✰ This book was okay. I liked the format better than the story. 

69. May B by Caroline Starr Rose  ✰3✰ I had no idea what this book was about, only that it was a novel in verse, which I love. It was a survival story, which I also love. But somehow it still just didn’t grab me. 

70. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman ✰5✰ This was the last Fredrik Backman book I had left to read and that makes me so sad. There is a new one coming out in September though. Hooray! I didn’t think I was going to like this book at the beginning because Britt-Marie feels like such a nothing character. A blank slate is hard to care about, but as the book progressed we could really see her shine and I was hoping for a happy ending for her. It’s not my favorite book by this author, but it’s certainly not my least favorite either. 

71. The Bear by Andrew Krivak ✰3✰ This was another book I didn’t know what it was about. I just started reading it. It was a story about surviving in the forest alone and about grief. I should have really loved it and I did love parts of it. But there was a lot of talk about killing and taking apart animals and it was just too much for me. 

Next week I hope to continue or start

What are you reading this week?

2020 Reading Goals Check-In May

I’m looking at my goals to see how I’m doing so far.

  1. Read at least 100 books 68/100 Ahead of schedule here
  2. Own fewer unread books at the end of the year than I have at the beginningThere was not as big of a jump in May as there was in April, but the number still went up instead of down. 
  3. Finish reading all of the books I have records of for 2017Still just one here so far
    1. Luka and the Fire of Life by Salaman Rushdie
    2. The Rules of the Tunnel by Ned Zeman
    3. While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark
    4. The Silver Star By Jeannette Walls
    5. The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
    6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    7. Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
    8. Rocket City by Cathryn Alpert
    9. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
    10. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
    11. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
    12. Death Masks by Jim Butcher
    13. Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
    14. Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
  4. Read at least 14 tomes (books over 500 pages)And just two done here still.
    1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
    3. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
    4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
    5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
    6. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
    7. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
    8. The Red pyramid by Rick Riordan
    9. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
    10. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
    11. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    12. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    13. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
    14. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  5. Complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 2020I haven’t fitted all of my reads in to prompts yet, but have completed 35 of the 50 for sure so far.
  6. Participate in Booktube Rereadathon 20205/12 I got totally caught up on this challenge in May and have books for the next few prompts chosen. I will be rereading On the Island by Tracey Garvis Graves for the June prompt to reread a book that made you laugh or inspired a positive emotion. 

I really need to work on those two book lists, but am otherwise pretty happy with my overall reading progress.

June 2020 TBR-Novels in Verse

I had several plans for my June TBR and was planning to push this one off a few months, but I’m too excited about it to wait. In June I have plans to read mostly novels in verse. It is my favorite format. They are quick reads and usually very emotionally draining, because somehow the format lets you tackle heavier subjects. There are 13 books on this TBR and I am excited about all of them. I wanted to read only books I own and I did, but it’s still kind of cheating because all of them were new purchases in the past couple of months. Eight of them haven’t even arrived in the mail yet. These are the books I plan to read this month.

The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

The Way the Light Bends by Cordelia Jensen

It Rained Warm Bread by Gloria Moskowitz-Sweet

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse

Inside the Whale by Joseph G. Peterson

Darlington’s Fall by Brad Leithauser

The Secrets of Me by Meg Kearney

The Wherewithal by Philip Schultz

May B by Caroline Starr Rose

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan

I will also be finishing up some other books that have been lingering on my currently reading shelf for far too long. I am so excited for my reading this month. Have you read any of these? Are there novels in verse that you gave five stars?

My Bookish Week 5/30/20

This week I finished reading

64. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell ✰5✰ I really loved this book. I could relate to the anxiety so much. I loved that there was a such a focus on stories and writing. And I could also relate heavily to being abandoned by a parent and them not really deserving your forgiveness. I enjoyed this whole story and would love to read more about Cather.

65. The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan ✰5✰ I couldn’t resist starting my June TBR early. This book was so lovely. It is written in verse, my favorite book format, and is about an eleven year old with anxiety and her first crush, on her friend Chloe. Her supportive mum is so wonderful to read about. She is the kind of single mother I aspire to be. I don’t know who I related to more, the mother, or Stevie, but I loved them both. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

66. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling ✰3✰ I read this for the Booktube Rereadathon prompt for April to reread a book from a genre you don’t usually read any more. I would guess fantasy is my least read genre. I have never made it through the Harry Potter series before, but I keep trying to love it. This book was okay, it was fun, but I’m still just not a huge Harry Potter fan. I listened to this one via audiobook and followed along in the physical book which made it more enjoyable and I might be able to make it through the rest of the series that way, but I’m not necessarily itching to continue right away.

67. The Guilds of Thanatikos by Ben Sanders ✰4✰ If you love D&D you will love this book. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the prompts for checks and experience points popping up throughout the story, but in the end the fun of experiencing a D&D session was greater than that mild oddness for me. I can’t wait for more adventures with these characters.

Next week I hope to read 

What are you reading this week?

First Sentences May

I really like to look at the first sentences of books. It is wonderful when one sentence is enough to make you want to read the whole book. Here I share the first words of all of the books I started this month to see if the first line alone is enough to make you want to read them. I will be using the first sentence from the first chapter and not from an introduction or prologue.

A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata

If I hear a person say, ‘Man! That’s a blue sky–for sure,’ I know exactly how the sky looks.

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

It’s funny how one summer can change everything. 

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book. 

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

It’s a weirdly subtle conversation. 

Confessions of a Mediocre Widow by Tidd Catherine

I spent my eleventh wedding anniversary planning my husband’s funeral.

Midnight Sun by Trish Cook

I have this recurring dream: I’m a little girl, sitting with my mom, and she’s singing to me. 

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

In the land of Ingary, where such things as seven-league boots and cloaks of invisibility really exist, it is quite a misfortune to be born the eldest of three. 

The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa

We called him the Professor. 

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar

When Red wins, she stands alone. 

The Guilds of Thanatikos by Ben Sanders

Sitting in the back of a wagon sucks, more so when there’s a nailhead sticking into your back. 

Cassidy the Costume Fairy by Daisy Meadows

Kirsty and Rachel walked along the stone hallway with a group of kids.

The Narwhal Problem by Debbie Dadey

“What’s splashing?” Kiki Coral asked her merfriends.

Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend

The kitchen cat was dead, and Morrigan was to blame.

The Deepest Breath by Meg Grehan

I know a lot of things

About a lot of things

But the thing I know the most about

Is me

Stevie

Of these 14 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick them up?

June 2018 and 2019 Haul Revisits

These monthly posts are to remind myself of books I was so excited to read, but still haven’t gotten to a year or two after I purchased them. I’ve crossed out the ones I’ve read.

June 2018 (0/8)

  1. How to Read Novels Like a Professor by Thomas C Foster
  2. It’s OK Not to Share by Heather Shumaker
  3. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski
  4. How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen by Joanna Faber and Julie King
  5. The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva
  6. Private L.A. by James Patterson
  7. Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik
  8. The Laird by Grace Burrowes

June 2019 (7/27)

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood ✰5✰
  2. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
  3. The Singer’s Gun by Emily St John Mandel
  4. The Princess Saves Herself in This One by Amanda Lovelace ✰5✰
  5. You Can Stay Home With Your Kids by Erin Odom
  6. The Hunted by Charlie Higson
  7. Original Fake by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
  8. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  9. No Happy Endings by Nora McInerny
  10. It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine ✰5✰
  11. Grief Day by Day Jan Warner ✰5✰
  12. Last Night in Montreal by Emily St John Mandel
  13. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
  14. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
  15. The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
  16. About Grace by Anthony Doerr
  17. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
  18. The Tourist by Robert Dickinson
  19. The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
  20. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams ✰5✰
  21. Widow to Widow by Genevieve Davis Ginsburg
  22. Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
  23. Here on Earth by Alice Hoffman
  24. The Whisper Man by Alex North
  25. From Scratch by Tembi Locke ✰5✰
  26. Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid ✰4✰
  27. Stainless Steel Rat Returns by Harry Harrison

I am still interested in most of these books, but I’m not sure when I’ll get to them. Is there one here that you loved and think I should prioritize?

My Bookish Week 05/23/20

I finished six more books this week and overall I had a good time reading them. I’m realizing I’m falling behind with my reading plans for the month and will have to make some cuts from my TBR to a more realistic list, but I’m not sure what those cuts will be yet. As long as I keep reading something I’m pretty happy though. 

This week I finished reading

58. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar ✰4✰ This is a book I was really excited to read A time travel lesbian romance between people on opposite sides of a war. I started it wanting it to be my new favorite book of all time. It wasn’t. But it was really good though. It was also confusing and I need a reread to formulate my thoughts more fully.  

59. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli ✰4✰ I really enjoyed this book and posted a spoiler filled book diary earlier this week. 

60. The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys ✰2✰ This book took me forever to read. I liked only one character. There was nothing wrapped up. And I didn’t like the ending. I just did not enjoy the reading experience

61. Cassidy the Costume Fairy by Daisy Meadows ✰4✰ This was a small little chapter book I read to Pepper as a readaloud. It was better than I was expecting and I really liked that the goblin (the bad guys in this series) was a boy, but was really excited to wear the princess dress and tiara and nobody thought it was weird. I wish we had that unnoticed kind of representation included in chapter books when I was a child. 

62. Caraval by Stephanie Garber ✰4✰ This was a fun story. The mystery and challenge of the game were compelling and I enjoyed reading it, even though I hated every character involved at some point during the story. The last page made me want to pick up the next book in the series right away. 

63. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume ✰4✰ I wasn’t sure how I felt about this the whole way through. I’m not sure what I expected, but I got something else. I thought this was an adult book by this author, but it felt very much like her young adult titles from when I was growing up so I may have been mistaken. All of the characters were so flawed and I hated them each for different reasons throughout the story. I couldn’t put it down though and enjoyed the reading experience. 

Currently Reading

Next week I hope to pick up

What have you been reading? What do you hope to pick up next week?

 

Book Diary – Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

I wanted to try a book diary format for a book review. I read the book and gave my real time reactions to the book after each 50 pages or so and compiled them all here. It ended up mostly being fragments until the end and I’m not sure I like this format after all, but I at least tried it once.  There will be spoilers below the goodreads quote.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

My rating ✰4✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Page 0: I have heard mostly good things about this book and am excited to get started with reading it. It comes highly recommended by Mistysbookspace. I expect to really enjoy it.

Page 57, chapter 6: So far I’m enjoying the book. The pages are going by quickly and I really love the characters. Simon and his family and friends are all so charming and realistic. The blackmail is kind of eye rolly and irritating and I’m not excited to see how it plays out. I can’t wait to see more emails between Simon and Blue though.

Page 102, chapter 12: The conflicts with friends, the football game, etc are really reminding me of Autoboyography, but that may be strictly a public highschool coincidence and not odd at all. I was homeschooled for middle and high school so the similarities feel odd to me. I keep reading a scene and comparing it to the other book. Not bad, just distracting.

Overall though the book is making me smile a lot while I’m reading it. My favorite parts are the emails. I can not wait to find out who Blue is.

Page 150, chapter 19: Wait!? What?! How do you think you’ll be friends with the person blackmailing you with your sexual identity? Martin is a bad person. How can Simon laugh and have fun with him?

Oh my goodness. The scene where Simon comes out to Abby is so sweet. I wish every one could have a kind and loving experience.

So much confusion. So much anger. Martin is an awful person.

Love when the title comes in to play. Title spotting is always fun even it wasn’t exact.

The emails always make me laugh.

Page 202, chapter 25: Being outed is so shitty. I am angry on Simon’s behalf. The half-hearted coming out to his parents was so sad.

The emails are so cute. An adorable palate cleanser between more difficult scenes.

I don’t even know what to say about Martin. What a continuously shitty individual.

Page 257, chapter 31: I’m not sure if the bullying is worse than I expected or not, but it’s hard to read.

It’s starting to bother me that every chapter seems to begin mid sentence.

The gay bar scene had me cracking up. It was just so fun and unexpected. And the laughs kept coming for a long while in this section of book.

But I ended this section sad and kind of confused why everyone is so incredibly upset with Simon.

Page 300, chapter 35: Nick and Abby are so cute together!

I am so bummed that Simon never tried on the shirt before. He and Blue could have known each other for real for longer. And then he meets Blue and they’re so cute and I can not stop giggling.

Access to his Facebook for 5 minutes. I’ll have to remember that when Pepper is old enough to have her own social media.

I’m glad things are okay with Leah again, but why is she out with Nora? I need answers.

Martin actually apologizing. I still don’t trust him.

The band. I’m so relieved it wasn’t something terrible that had Leah and Nora together.

And everyone is there at the talent show. That family with their secrets. Oh my. And so sweet.

The last scene was cute and giggly with the boys first real alone time. And then it was just the end. I’m not sure what I would have had happen instead, but it just felt like it ended abruptly.

The ebook said it was over. 312 out of 312 and it just kept going. I read for 15 more minutes after the end and it still said I was only at 87%. It’s emails. I’m enjoying the first emails between Simon and Blue though I’m not sure it’s adding anything really.

End: Overall I really liked this book and I’m so glad for a push to finally read it. It’s not a new all time favorite, but it was definitely a worthwhile and enjoyable read. I really appreciated how Simon talked about his biases. He automatically assumed Blue was white for instance. A great character, a great story. I even enjoyed it enough to try and find the movie to watch and I’m really not a movie person. I can count on one hand the number of movies I’ve watched in the last decade. But I kind of want more of Simon. I’m so glad I read this book.

Book Shelf Tour Part 2 “bee” Books

While unpacking books I noticed there were words that I found again and again in the various titles. One of the words I noticed several times is the word bee. There are five books on my TBR that have that word in the title. Photos and blurbs for each book below are from Goodreads.

The Bumblebee Flies Anyway by Robert Cormier

Sixteen-year-old Barney can’t remember life before the Complex, an experimental clinic. He knows he’s different–he’s the control subject. Then he uncovers a terrible secret about himself, a secret that drives him to fulfill his and his fellow subjects’ ultimate dream. The Bumblebee must fly!

Bee Season by Myla Goldberg

Eliza Naumann, a seemingly unremarkable nine-year-old, expects never to fit into her gifted family: her autodidact father, Saul, absorbed in his study of Jewish mysticism; her brother, Aaron, the vessel of his father’s spiritual ambitions; and her brilliant but distant lawyer-mom, Miriam. But when Eliza sweeps her school and district spelling bees in quick succession, Saul takes it as a sign that she is destined for greatness. In this altered reality, Saul inducts her into his hallowed study and lavishes upon her the attention previously reserved for Aaron, who in his displacement embarks upon a lone quest for spiritual fulfillment. When Miriam’s secret life triggers a familial explosion, it is Eliza who must order the chaos.

Myla Goldberg’s keen eye for detail brings Eliza’s journey to three-dimensional life. As she rises from classroom obscurity to the blinding lights and outsized expectations of the National Bee, Eliza’s small pains and large joys are finely wrought and deeply felt.

Not merely a coming-of-age story, Goldberg’s first novel delicately examines the unraveling fabric of one family. The outcome of this tale is as startling and unconventional as her prose, which wields its metaphors sharply and rings with maturity. The work of a lyrical and gifted storyteller, Bee Season marks the arrival of an extraordinarily talented new writer.

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the deepest racists in town, Lily decides to spring them both free. They escape to Tiburon, South Carolina–a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. Taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters, Lily is introduced to their mesmerizing world of bees and honey, and the Black Madonna. This is a remarkable novel about divine female power, a story women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

Of Bees and Mist by Erick Setiawan

Of Bees and Mist is an engrossing fable that chronicles three generations of women under one family tree and places them in a mythical town where spirits and spells, witchcraft and demons, and prophets and clairvoyance are an everyday reality.

Meridia grows up in a lonely home until she falls in love with Daniel at age sixteen. Soon, they marry, and Meridia can finally escape to live with her charming husband’s family—unaware that they harbor dark mysteries of their own. As Meridia struggles to embrace her life as a young bride, she discovers long-kept secrets about her own past as well as shocking truths about her new family that push her love, courage, and sanity to the brink.

Erick Setiawan’s astonishing debut is a richly atmospheric and tumultuous ride of hope and heartbreak that is altogether touching, truthful, and memorable.

Beeline to Trouble by Hannah Reed

Folks in Moraine, Wisconsin, are buzzing about the latest swarm of trouble humming around Story Fischer…

It’s a real buzz-kill when beekeeper Story Fischer gets a visit from her frantic sister. Now she has to help host a combative trio of professional food flavorists. Good thing the well-stocked shelves of Story’s grocery store, the Wild Clover, can provide the morning meal.

During a pre-lunch tour of Story’s hives, however, one of the guests is found dead. Just what Story needs only days after hunky boyfriend, Hunter Wallace, finally decided to move in. As if a dead body isn’t enough to put a damper on romance, Story becomes a prime suspect when the carrot juice she brought with the breakfast fixings is found to contain poison. Now it’s up to Story to comb through the evidence and find the real perpetrator before she ends up getting stung herself…

I have owned all five of these books for at least eight years. They were all acquisitions from my time working at a library. I don’t think I’ve read any of these books before. Of these I am most interested in reading The Bumblebee Flies Anyway. I read I Am the Cheese by that author years ago and remember really loving it.

Have you read any of these books? Any that you recommend?

My Bookish Week 05/16/20

So far this month I have finished reading 5 of the 12 books on my readathon TBRs. This week I got a lot of reading done, but didn’t particularly enjoy any of the books I finished. I am quite enjoying several of the books I’m in the middle of though.

This week I finished reading

55. That Summer by Sarah Dessen ✰2✰ I read this book for the Readathin prompt to read a book chosen by someone else. Pepper chose it for me from my bookshelves. This wasn’t a bad book. I was just really bored the whole time I was reading it. There were a few small things that were irritating, but it was mostly just boring. I have one other book on my physical TBR by this author so I’ll give the author at least one more chance, but I wasn’t impressed with this book. 

56. Midnight Sun by Trish Cook ✰3✰ I read this book for the Quarantineathon week two prompt to read a book about a character that is at risk for covid-19. This book was pretty good, but there were a lot of little things that drove me slightly crazy. I just can’t stand lying and there is a lot of that in this book. 

57. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones ✰3✰ I read this book for the Readathin prompt to read a fantasy that takes place in a made up world. This book was fun and interesting and also confusing. I don’t think I would continue with the series. 

Currently Reading

Next week I hope to pick up

 

How is your reading going so far this month?

Kindle EBook Haul

I don’t track my ebook purchases. I don’t count them as being on my TBR. I buy them, often for free, and then mostly forget about them. That’s how I ended up with 3149 books in my Kindle collection. I read a few, but not many. I have been buying ebooks that are not free for the past few months fairly regularly and thought I would share the last 10 that caught my attention enough to purchase them. Photos and quotes are from Goodreads.

Aria’s Travelling Book Shop by Rebecca Raisin

This summer will change everything!

Aria Summers knows what she wants.

A life on the road with best friend Rosie and her beloved camper-van-cum-book-shop, and definitely, definitely, no romance.

But when Aria finds herself falling – after one too many glasses of wine, from a karaoke stage – into the arms of Jonathan, a part of her comes back to life for the first time in years.

Since her beloved husband died Aria has sworn off love, unless it’s the kind you can find in the pages of a book. One love of her life is quite enough.

And so Aria tries to forget Jonathan and sets off for a summer to remember in France. But could this trip change Aria’s life forever…?

A Journey Without a Map by John R Sardella

After twenty-seven years of marriage, John Sardella lost the love of his life when his wife, Margaret, passed away following a seven-year battle with cancer. John looked for a book that would give him space for his pain and inspire him to move forward, but all he found were clinical books written by psychologists. That was John’s motivation to write this book and share how he worked through the grieving process in the hopes of reminding others not only that they are not alone, but also that they will be okay.

A Journey Without a Map gives you permission to not only feel those real and true feelings you have, but also permission to move forward. Sharing stories that span from Margaret’s battle with cancer to her funeral and John’s life since, John demonstrates the power of connection and shows that with the proper perspective, you can still live life to its fullest extent. You can get back to being the person you’re capable of being–John wants to help you get there.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.

With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

Straight On Till Morning by Liz Braswell

Sixteen-year-old Wendy Darling’s life is not what she imagined it would be. The doldrums of an empty house after her brothers have gone to school, the dull parties where everyone thinks she talks too much, and the fact that her parents have decided to send her away to Ireland as a governess-it all makes her wish things could be different.

Wendy’s only real escape is in writing down tales of Never Land. After nearly meeting her hero, Peter Pan, four years earlier, she still holds on to the childhood hope that his magical home truly exists. She also holds on to his shadow.

So when an opportunity to travel to Never Land via pirate ship presents itself, Wendy makes a deal with the devil. But Never Land isn’t quite the place she imagined it would be. Unexpected dangers and strange foes pop up at every turn, and a little pixie named Tinker Bell seems less than willing to help.

But when Captain Hook reveals some rather permanent and evil plans for Never Land, it’s up to the two of them to save Peter Pan-and his world.

Aru Shah and the Song of Death by Roshani Chokshi

Aru is only just getting the hang of this whole Pandava thing when the Otherworld goes into full panic mode. The god of love’s bow and arrow have gone missing, and the thief isn’t playing Cupid. Instead, they’re turning people into heartless fighting-machine zombies. If that weren’t bad enough, somehow Aru gets framed as the thief. If she doesn’t find the arrow by the next full moon, she’ll be kicked out of the Otherworld. For good.

But, for better or worse, she won’t be going it alone.

Along with her soul-sister, Mini, Aru will team up with Brynne, an ultra-strong girl who knows more than she lets on, and Aiden, the boy who lives across the street and is also hiding plenty of secrets. Together they’ll battle demons, travel through a glittering and dangerous serpent realm, and discover that their enemy isn’t at all who they expected.

Aletheia by Megan Tennant

Nearly two decades after the fall, the transcendent city of Iris is the only place rumoured to have a cure to the disease that decimated the world. Beyond Iris, are the remnants of the old world, crawling with the Depraved. Infected with Lethe, they no longer remember the people or dreams they were once willing to fight for and are left instead with familiar voices that whisper dark and unfamiliar words within their minds. Instinct is all that keeps the diseased struggling to exist another day.

Deep underground, below Iris, exists a compound, prison to the Nameless who traded their freedom for the cure to Lethe. It is here that 736 fights to protect those she loves. Not against the Depraved that she’s taught to fear, but against the society that saved her from that fate. She was willing to trade away her rights to regain the ability to form memories, but she won’t let the cult that cured her treat the lives of the Nameless like a resource to be used and discarded. At least, not without a fight.

How much is 736 willing to sacrifice for revenge against her captors? For those she cares about? For freedom? Everything has a cost, what would you be willing to pay?

Regretting You by Colleen Hoover

Morgan Grant and her sixteen-year-old daughter, Clara, would like nothing more than to be nothing alike.

Morgan is determined to prevent her daughter from making the same mistakes she did. By getting pregnant and married way too young, Morgan put her own dreams on hold. Clara doesn’t want to follow in her mother’s footsteps. Her predictable mother doesn’t have a spontaneous bone in her body.

With warring personalities and conflicting goals, Morgan and Clara find it increasingly difficult to coexist. The only person who can bring peace to the household is Chris—Morgan’s husband, Clara’s father, and the family anchor. But that peace is shattered when Chris is involved in a tragic and questionable accident. The heartbreaking and long-lasting consequences will reach far beyond just Morgan and Clara.

While struggling to rebuild everything that crashed around them, Morgan finds comfort in the last person she expects to, and Clara turns to the one boy she’s been forbidden to see. With each passing day, new secrets, resentment, and misunderstandings make mother and daughter fall further apart. So far apart, it might be impossible for them to ever fall back together.

The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus

In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a work of heartbreak and horror, a novel about how far we will go, and the sorrows we will endure, in order to protect our families.

A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radius of affliction.

With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents’ sickness, unaware that in just a few years she, too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn’t so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition.
 
The Flame Alphabet invites the question: What is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love? Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, a gripping page-turner as strange as it is moving, this intellectual horror story ensures Ben Marcus’s position in the first rank of American novelists.

The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman

Give grief a chance . . .

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years–ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.

At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks–like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently, being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.

After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles botanical garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover–with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners–is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…

Oranges are Not the Only Fruit by Jeanette Winterson

This is the story of Jeanette, adopted and brought up by her mother as one of God’s elect. Zealous and passionate, she seems seems destined for life as a missionary, but then she falls for one of her converts.

At sixteen, Jeanette decides to leave the church, her home and her family, for the young woman she loves. Innovative, punchy and tender,

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit is a few days ride into the bizarre outposts of religious excess and human obsession.

 

Have you read any of these? How do you track your ebook purchases? I thought about adding them to Goodreads, but 3000 books is a hugely daunting task.

An Alarming April Book Haul

This should be my eleven months as a widow post, but not much has changed. I survived my 10th anniversary without my husband. We made it through Mother’s Day alone. And I’m struggling. With everything.

The ways you can tell how my anxiety is doing these days is based on how many times a week I’m eating frozen pizza and how many books I buy.

I ate frozen pizza at least once a day the last five weeks, since our move, and often more than once a day. So it’s not looking good on the pizza front.

It’s looking even worse on the book buying front. I bought or was given 88 physical books in the month of April. My previous highest purchase month was July 2019, my late husband’s first birthday after he died, and even then I only bought 48 books.

Aside from a 50 book order I placed with BookOutlet, none of the purchases felt overboard at the time. A couple of books ordered to fulfill the free shipping requirement for supplies for Pepper, A stack picked up from the free shelf at the library, A book box ordered from my local book store to help them stay open. A stack from Dollar Tree when I ran in to pick up necessities and couldn’t help but browse the books too. And then Easter gifts. But all of those “small” purchases as well as my actual book allowance of $50 and then the giant order I placed on the anniversary of the first time I met my husband (I blame grief and a good sale) means I brought a lot of books in to the house last month.

I’m sure some of these have been mentioned in My Bookish Week posts and most of them haven’t (I’m still waiting on 51 of them in the mail), so I plan to list them all here with links to Goodreads as always.

  1. Legendary by Stephanie Garber
  2. Finale by Stephanie Garber
  3. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
  4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  5. Paper Towns by John Green
  6. Midnight Sun by Trish Cook
  7. Confessions of a Highschool Disaster by Emma Chastain
  8. 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac
  9. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar
  10. Poison by Galt Niederhoffer
  11. The Present Heart by Polly Young-Eisendrath
  12. Mind Games by Heather W Petty
  13. Sanctuary by Caryn Lix
  14. The High Places by Fiona McFarlane
  15. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
  16. Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins
  17. Madness by Zac Brewer
  18.  To Hold the Bridge by Garth Ni
  19. A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler
  20. Wildings by Eleanor Glewwe
  21. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins
  22. Pogue’s Basics: Life by David Pogue
  23. The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry
  24. You & Me & Why We Are In Love by Aurelia Alcais
  25. Queen Red Riding Hood’s Guide to Royalty by Chris Colfer
  26. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket
  27. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket
  28. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket
  29. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen
  30. That Summer by Sarah Dessen
  31. Shiver by Maggie Steifvater
  32. FKA USA by Reed King
  33. Mr. Spaceman by Robert Olen Butler
  34. Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony
  35. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
  36. Docile by KM Szpara
  37. My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me by Jason Rosenthal
  38. Inferno by Dan Brown
  39. A Whisper of Horses by Zillah Bethell
  40. Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin
  41. Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
  42. Denton Little’s Still Not Dead by Lance Rubin
  43. Down With the Shine by Kate Karyus Quinn
  44. Free Verse by Sarah Dooley
  45. Here We Are Now by Jasmine Warga
  46. Hidden Bodies by Caroline Kepnes
  47. I Will Always Write Back byCaitlin Alifirenka
  48. I’ll Have What She’s Having byErin Carlson
  49. It Rained Warm Bread by Gloria Moskowitz Sweet
  50. Leave Me by Gayle Forman
  51. Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder
  52. Life is a Fishbowl byLen Vlahos
  53. Literally by Lucy Keating
  54. Me & Me by Alice Kuipers
  55. Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  56. Monterey Bay by Lindsay Hatton
  57. My Life With Bob by Pamela Paul
  58. Nearly Normal by Cea Sunrise Person
  59. Nine by Zach Hines
  60. Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
  61. One of the Boys by Daniel Magariel
  62. Poetry Will Save Your Life by Jill Bialosky
  63. Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos
  64. Sawkill Girls byClaire Legrand
  65. Searching for John Hughes byJason Diamond
  66. Sky Lantern by Matt Mikalatos
  67. Somewhere Among by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu
  68. The Art of Living Other People’s Lives byGreg Dybec
  69. The First Part Last by Angela Johnson
  70. The Good Son by You-jeong Jeong
  71. The Loose Ends List by Carrie Firestone
  72. The Way the Light Bends byCordelia Jensen
  73. The Weight of Water bySarah Crossan
  74. The Widower’s Notebook by Jonathan Santlofer
  75. Things I’m seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni
  76. The Darkness Mine by Mindy McGinnis
  77. This Was Not the Plan by Cristina Alger
  78. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
  79. PS I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  80. Always and Forever Lara Jean by Jenny Han
  81. Unhinged by Barbra Leslie
  82. Walking on Sunshine by Rachel Kelly
  83. What They Found by Walter Dean Myers
  84. What was Mine by Helen Klein Ross
  85. Wild Bird by Wendelin Van Draanen
  86. Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
  87. You’ll Never Know Dear by Hallie Ephron
  88. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Are you exhausted from just reading the list? I am. These additions brought the total number of books brought in to my collection in 2020 so far up to 142. I am aware that is a ridiculously large number. I am working on it.

I keep telling myself my addiction and coping could be way worse than buying books, but that still doesn’t mean it’s healthy or normal.  I haven’t spoken to my grief counselor since February because quarantine went in to effect in March, but I’ll be contacting him for some help with this as I clearly can’t manage it on my own.  I’m not neglecting bills and I’m not going in to debt to buy these books. But the money could obviously be put to better use then adding to my already gigantic physical TBR.

What’s the biggest book haul you’ve ever had?

Have you read any of these? Did you love them? Where should I start with this giant list being added to my TBR?

My Bookish Week 05/09/20

I finished four books this week. I bought so many books even I know it’s ridiculous. I’m not going to list them all here though. I’ll post a book haul next week with a lot of the books I bought recently. 

This week I finished reading

51. A Patch of Blue by Elizabeth Kata ✰1✰ I read this book for the Booktube rereadathon challenge for March, to reread a book written or set before I was born. I hated this book. I remember reading it many times as a preteen/young teenager, but I found no redeeming qualities whatsoever in it now. All of the characters except one were horrible. I kept waiting for the ending to bring it around for me and make it worth the read, but that just did not happen. I have unhauled this book. 

52. An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote ✰4✰ This book I started a while ago and because it was an ebook it took me a while to finish. Ebooks I own often get pushed aside for library books that will be due soon or for games on my phone when I’m too tired to read that night. So it took me a while to finish this book, but it was no fault of the book. It was funny and entertaining and I had a really good time reading it. There were also a couple of conversations about grief that really spoke to me. I can’t wait to read more books by this author. 

53. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket ✰3✰ I read this book for Booktube Rereadathon May prompt, a second chance book. I read the first few chapters of this book years ago and then gave up on it, but I picked up the first three books in the series for free recently and decided to give it another try. It was easy to read as it’s a middle grade book, but the content was awful. I think after everything I’ve gone through the past year and a half it didn’t hit me as hard as it would have before, but it is nothing I would want my child to read, ever really. Their parents die, they are taken to a relative they don’t know and they are neglected and abused and then the adult tries to marry the 14 year old to steal there money. There are no redeeming qualities to this book, but I couldn’t stop reading it. To be fair I was warned on the very first page that there would be no happy endings for the children and there certainly is not. I would  discourage my daughter from reading these books, but I will likely read at the least the two others I have on hand. 

54. Docile by KM Szpara ✰4✰ This book was an early Mother’s Day gift from Pepper. She asked to choose something from my Amazon Wishlist. I had heard a lot of good things about it and then I started hearing some less good things. But I really liked it. I love dystopian and this one did not disappoint me. I would love to see a follow up book so we could see more of these characters. 

Next week I hope to pick up

A lot of these I’m already in the middle of and some I’ll be starting new for readathons. I gave myself a busy reading month and I’m keeping up okay so far. These are all of the books I hope to finish, start, or make progress in this week. 

What are your reading plans this week?

2020 Reading Goals Check-In April

I’m looking at my goals to see how I’m doing so far.

  1. Read at least 100 books 50/100 I have some big books coming up on my TBR so I’m glad to be 17 books ahead on my goal at the moment. 
  2. Own fewer unread books at the end of the year than I have at the beginningI was afraid to check my stats for this one, but I did. At the end of April I own  65 more unread books then I did at the beginning of the year. 
  3. Finish reading all of the books I have records of for 2017I still have just one of these books finished so far this year. I have plans to finish one other in May and will then focus on reading books from these yearly goals in June. 
    1. Luka and the Fire of Life by Salaman Rushdie
    2. The Rules of the Tunnel by Ned Zeman
    3. While My Pretty One Sleeps by Mary Higgins Clark
    4. The Silver Star By Jeannette Walls
    5. The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
    6. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
    7. Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett
    8. Rocket City by Cathryn Alpert
    9. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher
    10. Grave Peril by Jim Butcher
    11. Summer Knight by Jim Butcher
    12. Death Masks by Jim Butcher
    13. Blood Rites by Jim Butcher
    14. Dead Beat by Jim Butcher
  4. Read at least 14 tomes (books over 500 pages).So far I have finished 2 of these books. I plan to make some more progress in Les Miserables this month and then focus on more of these books in June. 
    1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire
    3. Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
    4. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
    5. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
    6. I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
    7. Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann
    8. The Red pyramid by Rick Riordan
    9. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
    10. Angels & Demons by Dan Brown
    11. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
    12. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
    13. House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski
    14. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  5. Complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 202032/50 Doing good so far. I’m almost at the point where I will have to choose a book based on a prompt instead of just reading books and seeing where I can fit them. 
  6. Participate in Booktube Rereadathon 2020So far I have finished the January and February prompts. I fell behind with the move, but hope to catch up March, April, and May prompts this month.

Reading is going well overall. Not buying books isn’t. I’m happy with my progress overall though.

May 2018 and 2019 Haul Revisits

These monthly posts are to remind myself of books I was so excited to read, but still haven’t gotten to a year or two after I purchased them. I’ve crossed out the ones I’ve read.

May 2018 (2/7)

  1. Captain January by Laura Elizabeth Richards✰5✰
  2. How to Buy a Love of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson
  3. Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
  4. That Kind of Mother by Rumaan Alam
  5. Stir by Jessica Fechtor
  6. The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips
  7. Love that Baby by Mildred E Cawlfield DNF and Unhauled

May 2019 (3/8)

  1. Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman
  2. Ginny Gall by Charlie Smith
  3. The Daughter’s Tale by Armando Lucas Correa
  4. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
  5. The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves
  6. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman✰5✰
  7. The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman✰3✰
  8. Things my Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman✰4✰

Are any of my remaining books from these months ones that you loved?