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?

OWLs Magical Readathon Wrap Up

At the beginning of April I had planned to take the courses I needed to become a Trader of Magical Tomes. I needed to fulfill four prompts and I just barely finished those four because I didn’t want to read the books I chose at the beginning of the month, but I did end up finishing eight classes including the four I needed for my chosen career. I only read 1 of the 4 books on my original TBR though.  The courses I finished, the prompts, and the book I read for that challenge are listed below.

Ancient Runes- A Book with a heart on the cover

Arithmancy- Something outside your favorite genre

Astronomy-Read the majority of this book while it’s dark outside

Charms- A book with a white cover

History of Magic- A book featuring wizards or witches

Muggle Studies- Read a contemporary

Potions- Read a book until 150 pages

Transfiguration- A book that includes shapeshifting

Overall, a successful readathon. I finished the challenges I started out to fulfill, but I didn’t read what I planned to.  I did however, have three 5 star reads and three 4 star reads. So overall it was a great reading month.

What career did you work towards this month?

Quarantineathon TBR

Quarantineathon is another readathon I will be participating in throughout most of May. April from Getting Hygge With It on Youtube has set up the challenges to take place one each full week of May so the readathon runs from May 3rd-30th.

WEEK 1 – Read a book that explores the hard times humanity has faced before. We WILL get through this too!

WEEK 2 – Read a book about a character who would be at risk from the coronavirus. Stay inside for them!

WEEK 3- Show essential workers some love by reading a book about an essential worker as a main character.

WEEK 4- Read a book about what you miss most from the normal world. Live vicariously through it!

I can’t wait to start with all of these. Are you going to participate in the Quarantineathon?

My Bookish Week 05/02/20

This week I finished six more books and brought my yearly total of books read up to 50. That’s half of my Goodreads goal. Hooray! 

This week I finished reading

45. Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren ✰5✰ I used this book for my OWLs magical readathon prompt to read a book with a heart on the cover. I also used this book for my Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book  based on a previous prompt and the prompt I chose is from 2019, read a book you think should be turned in to a movie. 

I adored this book. It was so good. I flew through it and I giggled and I cried. I wish I had an Elliot in my life and by the end I could only think of just how much I lost when my husband died last year. It made me miss him so much, but it also made me want to immediately flip the book over and read it again. This is my second Christina Lauren book and my second five star rating for them. I certainly plan to explore their other books. 

46. You & Me & Why We Are In Love by Aurelia Alcais ✰2✰ I used the book for the OWLs magical readathon prompt to read a book that was less than 150 pages. The drawings in this book of poetry were far superior to the poems. I really just didn’t enjoy reading it and will likely cut out some of the figures and turn them in to bookmarks. 

47. The Witch With a Glitch by Adam Maxwell ✰3✰ I read this book because I needed a book about a witch for the OWLS magical readathon. It was a short, free on Kindle, book and it was okay. I wouldn’t read it again and I wouldn’t read any more of the series, but I enjoyed spending an hour or so with the story. 

48. The Merman’s Kiss by Tamsin Ley ✰4✰ I had plans to read something else for the OWLs prompt to read a book about shifters, but I ran out of time to read something so long, so instead I searched shifter in free Kindle ebooks. It’s pretty much all smut so I ran with it. This novella took about an hour and half for me to read and it was very entertaining. I likely won’t read any more in the series unless there is another prompt I need to fulfill, but I’ll head back to the series, if I ever need another shifter book for a challenge. 

49. Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John ✰2✰ This was my Frebruary Booktube rereadathon book for the prompt to reread a book written or set before you were born. This book is one I remember reading over and over as a child. It was just okay for me as an adult. If I had read the back before diving in I would never have picked it up. It was so so religious. I don’t remember that from my childhood, but it was so overpoweringly religious that it was really the main point of the story and I would never read this book again. If you’re looking for a religious children’s book though, you might enjoy it. It could have been good, if it wasn’t so heavy handed. 

50. Heartstopper Vol 3 by Alice Oseman ✰5✰ This is a series I’ve been reading on Webtoons so I don’t have the actual bindups on hand, but I was looking and see that the chapter that is in this volume, I finished reading at some point a while ago, so I added it to my Goodreads list. The whole series is adorable and charming and I can’t wait for more volumes to be released. 

Next week I hope to pick up

I’m still in the middle of 13 books. This week I plan to read out of five of those as well as starting and finishing two others for readathons I’m participating in this month. The TBRs for those readathons should have been posted yesterday and tomorrow.  The books I plan to read from this week are: 

I have busy reading plans for the whole month as well as several Instagram challenges I’m planning to participate in. I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but my goal is to be very very busy this month to survive my first anniversary without my husband. We should be celebrating our 10th anniversary on Monday and it’s killing me. So I’m throwing myself in to books as much as possible. 

Readathin TBR

Happy Friday! Aside from February, I never post on Fridays, but I have a few extra posts at the beginning of this month because of some readathons I’m participating in.

The first one I’m talking about today is Readathin. It takes place throughout all of May and the information can be found on their instagram page.  There are five reading challenges.

Read a fantasy that takes place in a made up world

Read a book with a character who escapes

Read a contemporary that takes place in a country other than your own

Read a book that has been stranded on your TBR the longest

Read a book chosen by someone else

Of these I am most excited to read Nevermoor. Have you read and loved any of these books? Are you participating in Readathin?

First Sentences April

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.

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

There was a reason Gavin Scott rarely drank.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

Newark Airport is shiny from a recent renovation. 

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I get ready for work and the post has been up for eight hours.

Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

If you drew a straight line from my apartment in San Francisco to Berkeley, it would only be ten and a half miles, but even in the best commuting window it takes more than an hour without a car. 

Docile by KM Szpara

After today, I will have seven rights.

You & Me & Why We Are in Love by Aurelia Alcais

Christina loves pets, especially dogs.

The Witch With a Glitch by Adam Maxwell

The children had come to the Lost Bookshop looking for an adventure.

The Merman’s Kiss by Tamsin Ley

Brianna dropped the pregnancy test into the bathroom trash and joined Eric in bed.

Summer Sisters by Judy Blume

Victoria’s world shook for the first time on the day Caitlin Somers sashayed up to her desk, plunked herself down on the edge, and said, “Vix…”

Of these 9 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick them up?

Scavenger Hunt To My Next Read

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. 

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.

My favorite book is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. The first word and the first name in the acknowledgements is Jonas. I don’t own any books written by a Jonas so I fudged this step a bit and picked a book with a character named Jonas. The Giver by Lois Lowry. The start of one of my favorite series. 

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

I chose a man as the item on the cover and found the book The Whisper Man by Alex North.

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

Line five says “distance between the two of us and the front door. The noise of running”. I went with the word front and chose Storm Front by Jim Butcher.

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

I picked a cover that has the same sort of shadowy figure, gray sky, and the whole image done in grays and blacks with only the words in a different color. I chose. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. 

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

This is where Goodreads comes in awfully handy. A Monster Calls has 206 pages and I could sort my Goodreads shelf by page number to find the only other book I own with that same number of pages. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis. 

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

I ran in to trouble here. The first name I found was Edmund and I don’t have any books by someone with that name. I did this one again to get another name. Susan was the one I found this time and I chose A Member of the Family by Susan Merrell on my shelves. 

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

There are eighteen letters in the title. The first book I found that also has eighteen letters was Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris. 

8. Find a book with a similar cover.

The first book that came to mind for this was This is the Life by Alex Shearer. It is a very similar blue green color and has hand writing on it like a chalk board. 

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

It took four tires to get something that had a book on my TBR. I had mouth, armchair, neighbor, then sisters. I finally found a few books on my shelf. The first one I noticed on my shelf is Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. 

10. Read!

Now the plan is to start reading this book today. 

 

Have you tried a challenge like this before? I don’t know if it will get me to read a book I will enjoy, but I it was a fun process anyway. 

 

My Bookish Week 04/25/20

This week was a good one reading wise. I finally found myself able to focus for more than a few minutes at a time consistently, for the first time since quarantine took over the world. I finished four books this week and I think I only started one more, bringing my currently reading down to 11. That’s the lowest it’s been in quite a while. 

This week I finished reading

41. Princeless by Jeremy Whitley ✰4✰

42. The Grownup by Gillian Flynn ✰4✰

43. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames ✰4✰

44. Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine ✰3✰

Unfortunately this week I apparently went completely insane purchase wise and ended up with 23 new books. Most of those were picked up or arrived in the mail in one day. While out doing errands I purchased 12 from Dollar Tree, I picked up 4 from a free cart when I was returning long overdue books to the library, 2 were gifts from my mother, 4 came in the mail from a box I ordered to support my local bookstore, and 1 was an early mother’s day gift from Pepper. 

This week I acquired

68. The High Places by Fiona McFarlane

69. Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

70. Summer Days and Summer Nights by Stephanie Perkins

71. Madness by Zac Brewer

72. To Hold the Bridge by Garth Nix

73. A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler

74. Wildings by Eleanor Glewwe

75. The Great Hunt by Wendy Higgins

76. Pogue’s Basics: Life by David Pogue

77. The Emperor’s Ostrich by Julie Berry

78. You & Me & Why We Are in Love by Aurelia Alcais

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

80. The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket

81. The Reptile Room by Lemony Snicket

82. The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket

83. Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen

84. That Summer by Sarah Dessen

85. Shiver by Maggie Steifvater

86. FKA USA by Reed King

87. Mr. Spaceman by Robert Olen Butler

88. Enter the Aardvark by Jessica Anthony

89. Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

90. Docile by KM Szpara

Hopefully I can keep up with my reading this next week and my goal is to buy no books at all after this week’s fiasco in that department. 

Book Shelf Tour Part One

I haven’t finished unpacking yet, but the books I have found and scanned in to Goodreads so far total 865 unread books on my physical TBR. I have two tall book shelves, two smaller bookshelves, and a few floating shelves on the other side of the room that also have books. My shelves are still totally disorganized, they are double stacked, overflowing, and there are even some still in piles on the floor in front of the shelves.This is part of my two big bookshelves. 

IMG_20200418_060148.jpg

I don’t know where anything is and I likely won’t get these organized for a while longer because I’m still working on unpacking other rooms that are technically more important. 

Today I have taken a stack of 10 books from one of the piles on the floor. I’ll show the cover and description from Goodreads. I haven’t read any of these books yet, so I can’t really offer an opinion on them. But I guess we’ll see an example of how eclectic my physical book shelves are. 

Kate’s Story by Christopher Leach

Life for Katie, has become a growing heartache. Experiencing the loneliness and depression of her mother’s unhappy remarriage…learning she’s an adopted child…searching desperately for her real parents. All these things have hardened Katie’s feelings toward people. Why can’t everyone just leave her alone?

Planet of the Dragons by Richard Brightfield

When your spaceship accidentally lands on Tambor, you discover that the inhabitants of this distant planet are being terrorized by fire-breathing dragons. In order to restore peace, you must vanquish the dragons once and for all–if you choose your actions correctly!

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

Once upon a time, in the olden days, heavy-set middle-aged men would congregate in their elitist clubs, sit in over-stuffed leather chairs, smoke air-choking cigars, and pitch story ideas and plots to each other. Problem was, these stories, many of which found their way into the general social consciousness, reflected the way in which these men lived and saw their world: that is, the stories were sexist, discriminatory, unfair, culturally biased, and in general, demeaning to witches, animals, goblins, and fairies everywhere.

Finally, after centuries of these abusive tales, which have been handed down–unknowingly–from one male-biased generation to the next, James Finn Garner has taken it upon himself (that’s right, yet another man) to enlighten and liberate these classic bedtime stories and retell them in a way that is much more in keeping with the society in which we live today.

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories, then is the fruit of Garner’s labors. We’d like to think that future generations of fairy-tale fans will see this as a worthy attempt to develop meaningful literature that is totally free from bias and purged from the influences of a flawed cultural past.

Once Upon a More Enlightened Time by James Finn Garner

Following the international best-seller Politically Correct Bedtime Stories comes Once Upon a More Enlightened Time, a new collection of nurturing and correct stories for pre-adults. These tales by James Finn Garner attempt to purge the cultural biases, sexism, lookism, speciesism, and other insidious -isms from the “classic” bedtime stories that have been handed down from one social power structure to another. A better world starts with better bedtime stories – and these stories made the New York Times best-seller list.

From the Little Mer-Persun protecting her unique evolutionary niche, to Hansel and Gretel becoming eco-terrorists to defend their forest home, these recast tales should inspire a new generation of right-thinking people to make the world a better place for persuns, non-persuns, animals, pixies, and talking mirrors of all backgrounds.

Politically Correct Holiday Stories by James Finn Garner

Whether your favorite holiday story is A Christmas CarolThe Story of Hanukkah, or ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, you’ll find it transformed to reflect current sensibilities in Politically Correct Holiday Stories. Injecting our popular holiday fables with a modern perspective is no easy task, but someone had to do it — and who better than the proven master of cultural sensitivity? James Finn Garner joyfully frees these holiday tales from sexism, ageism, religious imperialism, and every other sorry vestige of our flawed, low-consciousness past. So gather the family (whether traditional, dysfunctional, co-dependent, or otherwise) around the hearth, and read aloud these tales as they should have been told the first time.

Undressed by Jason Illian

In a world where Christians don’t know whether they’re dating, courting, hanging out, living together, or just having sex, Jason Illian exposes the naked truth about relationships.

No Longer a Slumdog by KP Yohannan

“He would lock me in a small room with the animals. Days turned into weeks, and my stomach would growl. He never gave me enough to eat,” said Nadish. “Weeks turned into months, and my body would ache. The work was hard, and there was never enough time to rest. Months turned into years, and I began to think that this would never end.”

But through a miraculous event, Nadish found his way back into the loving embrace of his mother. Dr. K.P. Yohannan’s book, No Longer a Slumdog, unveils the true-life accounts of many of South Asia’s children, like Nadish. The message hits hard. He speaks of “winds of change” and a powerful move of God.

The children’s stories tell of going from a life of heartache and poverty to finding joy, laughter and a bright future. Despite the affliction these children face, Yohannan shows us there’s opportunity for change as many find new life in God’s redeeming love.

No Longer a Slumdog inspires faith that a better tomorrow is truly possible.

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

When James stumbles and drops the bag containing “tiny magical green things”, he watches helplessly as all his lovely magic wriggles away into the earth underneath an old peach tree. Sadly he resigns himself to continued misery with his two wicked aunts . . . but then amazing things begin to happen.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy by John Le Carre

The Barnes Noble Review: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, which first appeared in 1974, is arguably Le Carré’s masterpiece and is surely one of the great spy novels of the 20th century. Loosely inspired by the career of Kim Philby, a Russian double agent who worked his way into the upper reaches of the British Secret Service, Tinker, Tailor tells the story of donnish, unprepossessing master spy George Smiley and his quest to identify the “mole” — the deep-penetration agent — who has turned Britain’s Intelligence Service (commonly known as the Circus) inside out.

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by TS Eliot

T. S. Eliot’s playful cat poems have delighted readers and cat lovers around the world ever since they were first published in 1939. They were originally composed for his godchildren, with Eliot posing as Old Possum himself, and later inspired the legendary musical Cats.

I certainly have eclectic shelves. Most of these books I have owned for longer than I can remember. At least eight years I would guess. I’m not sure how all three from one series happen to still be together after the move and all the craziness of the last eight years, but these are some of the books that happen to have not made it on to the shelves so far. Have you read any of these? Any you think I should read soon? 

The TBR Tag

I found this tag on A Perfection Called Books. 

How do you keep track of your TBR pile?

As of my move at the beginning of this month, I am keeping track of my owned TBR on Goodreads. I scanned all of my unread books in to the app as I unpacked them. Before that, beginning in November 2017, (and still continuing now) I just used a notebook and wrote down each book I bought and then checked it off when I read it.  Before that I didn’t track at all.

Is your TBR mostly print or ebook?

I own far more ebooks than I do print books, but I don’t really consider my ebooks as part of my TBR. I don’t track them and I don’t read them as often.

How do you determine which book from your TBR to read next?

I usually choose whatever I’m most excited to read next unless I have a specific TBR, like a readathon, planned.

A Book That’s Been On Your TBR List The Longest 

I have hundreds of books from about seven years ago that I acquired, but haven’t read. I collected books even during the years I didn’t actually read them. One random book from that stack is The Highland Fling Murders by Jessica Fletcher, a Murder she Wrote novelization.

A Book You Recently Added To Your TBR

The last book I acquired and added to my Goodreads TBR shelf was The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snicket.

A Book In Your TBR Strictly Because Of Its Beautiful Cover

I wouldn’t have bought a book just because of a beautiful cover, but that is certainly what caught my attention first for Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende.

A Book On Your TBR That You Never Plan on Reading

Lovecraft Short Stories by HP Lovecraft. It’s a beautiful edition, but the print is so tiny, I don’t see how I could actually read this with my bad eyes. It was a gift though so it will likely stay on my shelves.

An Unpublished Book On Your TBR That You’re Excited For

I just preordered three books I’m so excited for.

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

The Princess in Black and the Giant Problem by Shannon Hale

A Book On Your TBR That Basically Everyone’s Read But You 

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke seems really popular, but I never read any of that series, even though I own the first two.

A Book On Your TBR That Everyone Recommends To You

Anything by Sarah J Maas. I don’t own any yet, but as a spoiler for an upcoming haul, Pepper chose two books for me as my mother’s day gifts and this author’s newest book was one of the two.

A Book On Your TBR That You’re Dying To Read

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amai El-Mohtar is one I’m really excited to read. I’m trying to finish up a few of my currently reading books before I begin it though.

How many books are on your Goodreads TBR shelf?

My Goodreads TBR shelf has all of my owned unread physical books. I’m sure there are still some that are in boxes from the move, but so far I have found and scanned 865 books. Holy moly.

How many unread books do you own?

My Bookish Week 04/18/20

It has still not been a good reading week for me, but I’m trying. 

This week I finished reading

40. Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano ✰5✰ I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book most of the way through, but the way Edward coped with his grief made me feel hopeful and I ending up loving  this book. 

This week I continued reading

Not a lot. I’m making some progress in Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames and I’ve read some of An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote. We should finally be done at our old apartment this weekend and can hopefully relax a bit after that. 

This week I acquired

I purchased one book for myself as an Easter gift so I would have something to be excited about when Pepper opened her basket last Sunday. I was also gifted four books from my mother. 

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

64. Poison by Galt Niederhoffer

65. The Present Heart by Polly Young-Eisendrath

66. Mind Games by Heather W Petty

67. Sanctuary by Caryn Lix

I am hopeful I will get some reading done this week. What are you currently reading? 

 

 

 

Stay Home Reading Rush Tag

The Stay Home Reading Rush is starting today and going through the 19th. There are a set of tag questions that go along with this readathon.

How is your reading going while staying home?

I had a few weeks where I didn’t really read anything. Then a week where I couldn’t stop reading and finished four things and now I am struggling with reading anything at all again. It’s up and down.

Where have you been reading at home?

I usually read at my desk. A few times I’ve read on the bed. I hope to have a chair in my new library soon so I can read in there.

Best book you’ve read during isolation?

One of the only books I’ve finished since this all started is Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano and it was fantastic.

What’s your favorite feel good book?

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston is pretty fun and light and cute.

Book you wish you could buy or borrow from the library?

I’m really ready for the new Fredrik Backman, but it’s not due to come out until September.

Author you want to shout out during this time?

Charles Heathcote is an author I follow on Youtube. I’m also currently reading An Heir to Murder written by him and have heard wonderful things about his Doris series and I own all of those on ebook as well.

What is your Reading Rush TBR?

I didn’t realize there was a tag to go with the TBR so my to be read list is in my post from Tuesday.

Are you participating? What will you be reading?

Stay Home Reading Rush TBR

There is a special edition of the Reading Rush going on starting on Thursday. It will run from the 16th through the 19th and has four challenges. I don’t think I will get to four books in four days right now, but I did choose a book for each challenge. To make it easier I chose books I’m already in the middle of. I have 12 books that I am currently reading and I’m trying to get that number lower. This feels like as good an excuse as any to do so.

  1. Read a book with a house on the cover For this one I cheated a little bit, maybe. I chose Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anna Fine. There isn’t the outside of a house on the front, but Mrs Doubtfire is sitting in an armchair and is obviously inside of a house so I’m counting it.
  2. Read a book in the same room the whole time Unless I’m reading an ebook while doing errands, I pretty much always read my books in the same room. My desk and our bed are the two places I read at home and they are both in the same room. So any book could work for this. One book I would like to finish up is Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John so I’ll choose that one for this prompt.
  3. Read a book set somewhere you wish you could go This was the hardest prompt for me. I don’t really want to go anywhere right now. I’m leaving the house as little as possible to keep myself and Pepper safe, but for the sake of the prompt I chose the finish An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote. The book takes place in England which seems as good, or as bad, a place to go as anywhere else right now. 
  4. Read a book that will make you smile For this book I picked the one I’ve been currently reading the longest. I’m enjoying it, but can’t seem to make it through more than a chapter or two at a time. It often has me laughing out loud and I really need to finish this book so I’ve chosen Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames.

Are you participating in the Stay Home Reading Rush? ? What is a place you wish you could go? If everything were safe, I would love to go to the library. I miss it so.

 

My Bookish Week 04/11/20

I moved house last Sunday so most of this week was spent unpacking and trying to find things in boxes. I did finish reading 2 books and purchase 8 more though.

I also scanned all of my owned unread books in to Goodreads to add them to my to be read shelf. There are some books scattered in other boxes still, but the books that make up the bulk of my collection equaled 816 unread books on my shelves. I knew it was a high number, but I would have guessed somewhere around 700, not well over 800 once I find the remaining books.

Now I’m trying to decide how to organize my unread book collection. I thought about organizing by purchase date so I could see which books I’ve owned the longest and always know where my newest purchases are. I thought about organizing by color in to a rainbow, which would look beautiful, but I don’t want my series separated. I thought about alphabetizing. Or sorting by page length so i can easily knock out some shorter books and lower my number of unread books more quickly. I haven’t settled on an answer yet, but in the mean time I have lots of other boxes I can unpack while the books sit for a few more days.

This week I finished reading

38. The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams ✰5✰

39. My Explosive Diary by Emily Gale ✰3✰

This week I acquired

55. Legendary by Stephanie Garber

56. Finale by Stephanie Garber

57. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

58. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

59. Paper Towns by John Green

60. Midnight Sun by Trish Cook

61. Confessions of a Highschool Disaster by Emma Chastain

62. 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac

Hopefully by next week I will have all of my books off the floor and on to shelves in some sort of organized way and will be back to reading every day. I miss it.

 

Ten Months as a Widow

I use these monthly check ins to see how my five year old and I are managing since my husband’s death ten months ago. It has been a busy month. Totally crazy in every way imaginable. On top of coronovirus and stay at home orders, we also moved house in the past month.

We started the move by taking a car full of boxes each time my mother was at my house, so just two loads of items a week. Then on the 5th of April I rented a Uhaul and we moved the rest of our things. We’re just a few days in at the new house and everything is still a disaster, but I’m slowly creating homes for our things. We still have to go back to our apartment for a few things we forgot and to do a lot of deep cleaning before I am done with that place forever. I can not wait.

We’re adjusting pretty well to the new house, though it’s out of the way even more and I feel a bit isolated. That’s good for quarantine I suppose, but I’m not looking forward to needing to walk down and then back up a steep hill just to check the mail.

Pepper is doing okay with the move. She loves our new house, but I think she’s having trouble more than she thinks. She is using a lot of baby talk again, like she did after Jason died, especially just before bed time. Otherwise she loves it here. She has a yard and room to ride her bike and play in her sand box. She has a big room for all of her toys and another room for our crafts and exercise equipment, and yet another room just for our books. I can’t wait until everything is all unpacked and things feel slightly more normal again.

The house has some strange quirks and repairs that are needed, but nothing I can’t adjust to or figure out how to fix once the world is open again.

We also have a cat. Through a series of events, the cat ended up needing to go with the house. Pepper is excited for her first pet, but I’m not really an animal lover and Pepper gets anxious when the cat runs from one of the house to the other at night. Pepper then refuses to go anywhere in the house unless I’m carrying her so the cat doesn’t run in to her. During the day though Pepper is giving the cat lessons on how to do ballet, yoga, be a doctor, etc. It’s cute and she loves the cat, they both just need some time to get used to each other.

My anxiety is going crazy with the coronoa virus stuff going on. Do we still see my mother as planned? My father in law who lives alone and has no one else on this side of the country to keep him company since my husband died? It’s a hard decision to make each time a situation is presented. All I can do is go with what feels like the right decision at the moment and then move on with my day and my life.

The only other news is that I finally got Pepper’s social security benefits from Jason’s death set up for us. The amount is enough to keep us going long term as long as nothing happens to my work and there are no emergencies, so money isn’t a huge stressor for the first time since April 2017 when my husband lost his job. I am struggling with knowing that I can breath a little easier now only because my husband is dead. I am trying to look at it as a way my Jason is still taking care of his girls, even in death. It doesn’t make it hurt less though.

This week we had an Easter Egg hunt in the yard for Pepper. I break up a small Lego set for her and put the pieces in plastic eggs. She has to find all the eggs and then build the kit. She loves it! She took it apart and rebuilt it five times in the same day.

Today we will dye eggs, and then on Sunday she will get her basket of goodies. She is so excited! Do you want to see a post with what she got for Easter?

Honestly I’ve been too busy and too anxious to have much time think about or miss my Jason this month. Moving is so much work. We always joked that we wouldn’t move from our apartment until we could afford to hire movers, but that didn’t work out for us. I think Pepper and I could be happy in our new home though.

 

My Current Digital Library Checkouts

 

I thought I would share the current line up of what I’m reading on Overdrive through my library’s digital collection. Five checkouts and five holds. Pictures and book descriptions are from Goodreads.

Current Checkouts

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.

Moon Called by Patricia Briggs

Mercedes Thompson, aka Mercy, is a talented Volkswagen mechanic living in the Tri-Cities area of Washington. She also happens to be a walker, a magical being with the power to shift into a coyote at will. Mercy’s next-door neighbor is a werewolf. Her former boss is a gremlin. And she’s fixing a bus for a vampire. This is the world of Mercy Thompson, one that looks a lot like ours but is populated by those things that go bump in the night. And Mercy’s connection to those things is about to get her into some serious hot water…

The City We Became by NK Jemisin

Five New Yorkers must come together in order to defend their city in the first book of a stunning new series by Hugo award-winning and NYT bestselling author N. K. Jemisin.

Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.

But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

When Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Cohan is asked this question at the most important interview of her career, she has a meticulously crafted answer at the ready. Later, after nailing her interview and accepting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal, Dannie goes to sleep knowing she is right on track to achieve her five-year plan.

But when she wakes up, she’s suddenly in a different apartment, with a different ring on her finger, and beside a very different man. The television news is on in the background, and she can just make out the scrolling date. It’s the same night—December 15—but 2025, five years in the future.

After a very intense, shocking hour, Dannie wakes again, at the brink of midnight, back in 2020. She can’t shake what has happened. It certainly felt much more than merely a dream, but she isn’t the kind of person who believes in visions. That nonsense is only charming coming from free-spirited types, like her lifelong best friend, Bella. Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four-and-a-half years later, when by chance Dannie meets the very same man from her long-ago vision.

Brimming with joy and heartbreak, In Five Years is an unforgettable love story that reminds us of the power of loyalty, friendship, and the unpredictable nature of destiny.

On Hold

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J Maas (10 weeks wait)

Bound by blood.
Tempted by desire.
Unleashed by destiny.

Bryce Quinlan had the perfect life—working hard all day and partying all night—until a demon murdered her closest friends, leaving her bereft, wounded, and alone. When the accused is behind bars but the crimes start up again, Bryce finds herself at the heart of the investigation. She’ll do whatever it takes to avenge their deaths.

Hunt Athalar is a notorious Fallen angel, now enslaved to the Archangels he once attempted to overthrow. His brutal skills and incredible strength have been set to one purpose—to assassinate his boss’s enemies, no questions asked. But with a demon wreaking havoc in the city, he’s offered an irresistible deal: help Bryce find the murderer, and his freedom will be within reach.

As Bryce and Hunt dig deep into Crescent City’s underbelly, they discover a dark power that threatens everything and everyone they hold dear, and they find, in each other, a blazing passion—one that could set them both free, if they’d only let it.

With unforgettable characters, sizzling romance, and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom—and the power of love.

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler (10 weeks wait)

In Oak Knoll, a verdant, tight-knit North Carolina neighborhood, professor of forestry and ecology Valerie Alston-Holt is raising her bright and talented biracial son. Xavier is headed to college in the fall, and after years of single parenting, Valerie is facing the prospect of an empty nest. All is well until the Whitmans move in next door – an apparently traditional family with new money, ambition, and a secretly troubled teenaged daughter.

Thanks to his thriving local business, Brad Whitman is something of a celebrity around town, and he’s made a small fortune on his customer service and charm, while his wife, Julia, escaped her trailer park upbringing for the security of marriage and homemaking. Their new house is more than she ever imagined for herself, and who wouldn’t want to live in Oak Knoll? With little in common except a property line, these two very different families quickly find themselves at odds: first, over an historic oak tree in Valerie’s yard, and soon after, the blossoming romance between their two teenagers.

Told from multiple points of view, A Good Neighborhood asks big questions about life in America today―What does it mean to be a good neighbor? How do we live alongside each other when we don’t see eye to eye?―as it explores the effects of class, race, and heartrending star-crossed love in a story that’s as provocative as it is powerful.

The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel (5 weeks wait)

From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, a captivating novel of money, beauty, white-collar crime, ghosts, and moral compromise in which a woman disappears from a container ship off the coast of Mauritania and a massive Ponzi scheme implodes in New York, dragging countless fortunes with it.

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on an island in British Columbia. Jonathan Alkaitis works in finance and owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship. Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of northern Vancouver Island, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (3 week wait)

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg (2 week wait)

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER!
The world’s leading expert on habit formation shows how you can have a happier, healthier life: by starting small. 

When it comes to change, TINY IS MIGHTY. Start with two pushups a day, not a two-hour workout; or five deep breaths each morning rather than an hour of meditation. In TINY HABITS, B.J. Fogg brings his experience coaching more than 40,000 people to help you lose weight, de-stress, sleep better, or achieve any goal of your choice.  You just need Fogg’s behavior formula: make it easy, make it fit your life, and make it rewarding. Whenever you get in your car, take one yoga breath. Smile.  Whenever you get in bed, turn off your phone. Give yourself a high five.

Change can be easy—once it starts, it grows.  Let B.J. Fogg show you exactly how.

 

 

 

My Bookish Week 04/04/20

I finally got some reading done this week. I was having so much trouble focusing on books with all of the moving and quarantine stuff going on, but this week I feel like I got some of my reading mojo back. Hooray! In two weeks I only finished one book, but in the past week I finished three more books in three days. The move will be finished tomorrow and then I can just focus on unpacking.

This week I finished reading

35. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu ✰4✰

36. Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah ✰4✰

37. The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon ✰5✰

This week I acquired

51. Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel

52. The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

53. The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

54. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I am still in the middle of 15 books at the moment and hope to finish several of them over the next week. The one I should be finishing next is The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams.

 

2020 Reading Goals Check In- March

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

  1. Read at least 100 books 37/100 Goodreads says I am 12 books ahead of schedule.
  2. Own fewer unread books at the end of the year than I have at the beginningCurrently I have purchased 31 more books than I’ve read from my physical TBR this year. 
  3. Only order books online when I’ve read 10 physical books that I owned in 2019 or earlier. This one just isn’t working for me so I’m dropping it for the rest of the year. 
  4. Finish reading all of the books I have records of for 2017Still just one done here, but I didn’t have my books for most of this month so I couldn’t access these titles. 
    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
  5. Read at least 14 tomes (books over 500 pages). Still 0 finished so far. Two in progress though. The same thing happened here. I didn’t have my books so I didn’t work on any of these books. 
    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
  6. Complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 202028/50
  7. Participate in Booktube Rereadathon 2020I finished January and am still working on February. I plan to catch up March and also complete April this month.

All in all I am satisfied with what I’m manged to complete so far. Between moving house and anxiety over quarantines and everything else going on, I think I’m doing pretty well. We will be finished moving on Sunday, then I can unpack and set up our new home and most importantly my library. I can’t wait!

April 2018 and 2019 Haul Revisit

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.

April 2018 (0/3)

  1. The Mahe Circle by Georges Simenon
  2. Dear Mr. President: Letters from a Southern Planter’s Son by Steven Kroll
  3. The Demon in the Trees by Ben Sanders

April 2019 ( 1/7)

  1. The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones
  2. Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames ✰5✰
  3. Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames
  4. Help Me! I’m Slipping by Phyllis R. Brown
  5. Wildflowerby Drew Barrymore
  6. The Fortress by Danielle Trussoni
  7. A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

 

April is apparently not a big purchasing month for me. I’ve read just one of the books I’ve bought in April the past two years and am about half way through another. I wonder how my purchasing will be this year.

Are any of my remaining books from these months ones that you loved?

OWLs Magical Readathon April TBR

I really like readathons, they are so much fun! But I don’t like Harry Potter and this is a Harry Potter themed readathon, so the past two years I haven’t participated, but I need something to look forward too right now so I’m jumping in. This feels like a complicated readathon, another reason I haven’t participated in previous years, so I’ll just link the announcement video here. It’s created and hosted by Book Roast on Youtube.

As far as I understand the rules, you choose a job from the booklet she created and then read books to fit the prompts for the courses you need to pass to have that job. I chose to try for the career of Trader of Magical Tomes. To get that job I need to take four classes. Ancient Runes, Charms, History of Magic, and Transfiguration.

The last book I ordered from Amazon says it won’t be here until the end of June so I can’t purchase any new books to fit the prompts. I can’t use the library because it’s closed. And almost all of my owned books are at our new house already and we won’t be there until sometime in April. So I had some trouble trying to choose books I own that fit the prompts without being able to look at my books. So some of these may change once I get all of my books again. For the time being though, these are the books I’ve chosen to fill the four prompts I need for the challenge.

Ancient Runes- a book with a heart on the cover or in the title

The only book I could think of that I own with a heart on the cover is Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Charms- A book with a white cover

For this I searched Google images for books with white covers and fount one I know I own: Dear Martin by Nic Stone

History of Magic- a book featuring witches or wizards

I can’t think of a book I own physically with witches or wizards, but I do own The All Souls Trilogy on my Kindle. I will try to read A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness for this prompt. 

Transfiguration- a book that features shapeshifting

This was definitely the hardest prompt for me. All I found was strange looking shifter romance and I don’t think that’s what I want to read. I found a book titled Moon Called by Patricia Briggs on my library app when I searched for books about shifters on Overdrive, so I’ll try to read this on ebook if I can get the hold in from the library before the month is over. 

 

Are you participating in this readathon? Do you have a recommendation for a book with shapeshifting?

First Sentence – March

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.

Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Ways to keep Jill from getting pregnant

Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans by Russell Ginns

Samantha went searching for Uncle Paul.

The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzenberger

Robert was tired of dreaming.

Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine

All the way up the stairs, the children fought not to carry the envelope.

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

They stand in line for blood.

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The night it all ended, Vivian was alone.

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin

Begin with an aerial view.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

My English Teacher, Mr. Davies, rubs a hand over his military buzz cut.

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins

You, yes, you.

Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah

Here we are, in the wrong place: Wyddial Lane.

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Local teen accepts destiny, agrees to become doctor, stereotype

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

It took seven years to get the letter right. 

The Bear by Andrew Krivak

The last two were a girl and her father who lived along the old eastern range on the side of a mountain they called the mountain that stands alone. 

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn

I didn’t stop giving hand jobs because I wasn’t good at it. 

Princeless by Jeremy Whitley

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there lived a beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed princess. 

Of these 15 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick them up?

Anxiety & Reading

My mental health is not doing great and it is significantly affecting my reading. Between anxiety and nightmares every night, mixed with the grief from my husband’s death and being in the middle of a move from our only home and all of the Corona Virus stuff going on, I can’t focus on books for long. Each week on my bookish check in here I find myself in the middle of more and more books. Even though I’m finishing things, 34 books so far this year, I’m in the middle 12 more books.  9 physical books and 3 ebooks.

In January I read 12 books, in February I read 17 books, and so far this month I’ve only finished 5 books.

Anxiety doesn’t usually effect me in this way. I am more likely to throw myself in to books then I am to not be able to focus on them. It makes me sad and that feeds in to the anxiety and depression and it’s a vicious cycle for me.

I always read multiple books at once and I love it. It’s so much fun for me, usually. But currently I’ve been doing a lot of sticker by number pictures and a lot of drawing with Pepper and I think I may need to look at the books I’m currently reading to see what I can pause for now so that they aren’t hanging over my head any longer.

Do you like to read multiple books at once? Or do you stick to just one book at a time? It’s not uncommon for my currently reading list to make it up to the low 20s.

My Bookish Week 03/21/20

This was a pretty slow week book wise. I finished one book, Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin and gave it ✰4✰. i haven’t chosen a Pop Sugar challenge for it yet, but I’m sure I will. I also started two books, Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu and People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins.

I am still in the middle of 11 books at this point and will be starting one more tonight when I begin a new ebook on my phone. It will likely be Perfect Little Children by Sophie Hannah because that is what is due next at the library. I will also begin The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and Caraval by Stephanie Garber this week because I promised Pepper I would read them this month no matter what.

Life has been too busy for much reading though. We’re deeply in to our move and trying to get everything possible done before full quarantine goes in to effect. It’s also become a full time job keeping Pepper occupied and both of us calm.

Hopefully this next week I’ll be wrapping up several of the books I’m in the middle of and can dwindle my currently reading pile down to just a few.

Entertaining the Kiddo at Home

We’re not officially quarantined, but even if we wanted to go any where and risk getting sick, we couldn’t because everything is closed except grocery stores. So we’ve been staying at home.

I work from home and Pepper is homeschooled so we’re used to being at home a lot. Many other parents are not though. Something about it being an unknown length of time is making each day feel completely overwhelming. Sure we can survive today, but can we survive this every day for a month (or longer) with no break? I don’t know.

I made Pepper a list of things that we can choose from to do each day and we’ve been making our way through some as needed. We draw, we read, we watch youtube, but we also have several challenges we are working through. A 30 day lego building challenge, a gratitude challenge, a daily affirmation challenge, a non-screen activity challenge, an exercise challenge, a photo challenge, some reading challenges, and a drawing challenge. She’s doing school, playing with playdoh, and video calling grandma. And we’re playing lots of board games.

The biggest helper to filing our days though has been the countless live streams that are being offered by so many people and organizations. I’ll include a link to the google spreadsheet where everything is broken down by hour. There are story times, and drawing lessons, yoga and ballet classes, zoo tours, and so so much more.

The creator of this list keeps adding more and more things. There are more on here then we can do in a day so I’m sure you and your kiddos can find at least a few that you will love and look forward to each day. And almost all are saved so you can watch replays on the weekend of ones you’ve missed throughout the week.

Our personal favorites so far are circle time with Miss Cady at 10, Pete the Cat Storytime at 12, Lunchtime doodles with Mo Willems at 1, Draw with JJK at 2, Cincinnati Zoo home safari at 3, and the Josh Gad story time at 730. We’re in bed for the last one so have been watching the replay the next morning.

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1d9vA4JUnr1xFafSY5n7iF75eCb3fX2Azy_6rZOOzH_8/htmlview?usp=sharing&sle=true&fbclid=IwAR0xd6KK0FXcvzK_Jg9kFXh3uw7JXYxVElZDZvdGDYzbVMlSmC9AXAsG9F4

Our favorite activity we have done this week is an Easter Egg hunt. We had the plastic eggs out to get ready for Easter and I filled the eggs with slips of paper that gave her an action she needed to complete. She had to find one egg, bring it back to me, open the egg, and then do the action (ie. sing a song, do 10 jumping jacks, quack like a duck, etc). Then she could go find another egg. She loved it. It got her moving and laughing.

What are you doing with your kiddos to keep everyone calm and having fun?

Current Library Check Outs

My library closed unannounced yesterday. It was expected after all schools closed the day before, but I had been secretly hoping it would stay open long enough for me to go in and stock up on books before they closed their doors, but no dice.

Now everything here is closed except for gas stations and grocery stores. They have limited hours too and tight regulations on what you can purchase at any time. The trouble we’re running in to is that the limit isn’t enough to get through a week and I can’t drive because of my eyes so I can’t just go to the store every couple of days to replenish. Hopefully this is all over soon, but no one seems to be optimistic about that.

If I had been planning for the library to be closed I would have checked out about two dozen books for me and a lot for Pepper. Because there was no warning I have only what was already checked out. That’s 10 physical books for me. Normally that’s plenty, but most of our books are packed and moved to the new house already. We won’t be there for a couple of weeks though so we have to make due with what we have here book wise.

The ten physical books I have checked out currently are:

I almost always have five ebooks checked out as well. That’s the limit for my library. The five I have now are:

An assortment of books I’m excited to read, but I’m not sure if I should read them slowly in case we can’t get to more for a while or if I should just read them as normal and assume things will be back to normal soon. As long as we have power and internet we should be fine with ebooks as backups. Thank goodness for our library digital checkouts.

The possibility of not having books to read is really messing with my anxiety. More so than the possibility of getting sick or of running out of toilet paper. What part of quarantine is stressing you out the most? Did you get to stock up on books beforehand?

My Bookish Week 03/14/20

Everything is totally crazy here. All of our stores have no toilet paper, no cleaning supplies, no canned food or water. Everyone has lost there minds. I’m definitely ready to hide out at our apartment and read for as long as it takes for this all to blow over. My only real concern is keeping the kid entertained for as long as that takes. We’re mid move so most of our books are packed up and already moved to the new house, where we are not going to be for a few more weeks. Most of our crafts have been moved already too. As long as power and internet keep working we’ll be fine. If not, it’s a lost cause for the two of us. How are you all holding up in the chaos?

 

This week I finished reading

32. The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzenberger ✰3✰

33. The Sun Down Motel by Emily St. James ✰3✰ I am using this book for the pop sugar reading challenge to read a book published in 2020. 

This week I continued reading

Treasures in the Snow by Patricia St. John (page 25/255)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (page 26/435)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (page 11/325)

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (page 28/436)

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (page 249/510)

An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote (6% complete)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 152/1468)

Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine (page 53/199)

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (page 135/512)

This week I started reading

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin (3/100%)

This week I acquired

47. They Left us Everything by Plum Johnson

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

49. Always too Much and Never Enough by Jasmin Singer

50. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

At this point I’m mostly hoping the world still exists next week and I don’t have to start reading apocalyptic books for survival tips instead of entertainment. 

Owned Unread Series

For the most part I read standalones. I want to like series, but I always either run in to a problem where I  don’t have time read the whole series at once or the next book isn’t out yet and I have to wait a long time and I don’t remember what happened in the previous books by the time I get to the next book in the series. Then I am forever rereading book one to be able to read book two and then rereading book one and two to read book three and so on. Too much wasted time in my opinion when I could just read a new standalone and have another full story to love and enjoy.

The only series I can think of that I read and enjoyed were read in quick succession. Either back to back or within a month of each other at the longest. I keep wanting to like series though because you get so many more pages to spend with characters that you (hopefully) love. I asked in a book group on Facebook for suggestions for completed book series. A few I owned, a couple I purchased. These are series I own physically, have all of the books in the series (that goodreads shows as published or planned to be published), and I haven’t read any of them yet.

The Matched Series has 3 books

The Broken Earth Series by N K Jemisin has 3 books

The Fablehaven Series by Brandon Mull has 5 books

The Inheritance Cycle Series by Christopher Paolini has 4 books

His Dark Materials Series by Philip Pullman has 3 books

Story Thieves Series by James Riley has 5 books

Paths of Darkness Series by RA Salvatore has 4 books

The Icewind Dale Trilogy by RA Salvatore has 3 books

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien has 3 books

Kushiel’s Legacy by Jacqueline Carey has 6 books

Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness has 3 books

Do you recommend any of these series? Do you have a completed series that you love?

Nine Months as a Widow

My husband has been dead for nine months. Oh my goodness. It feels like no time at all and like I’ve been without him forever. In that nine months we could have had the second child we were talking about having either last year or this year. We could have finished building our savings and purchased a house like we had planned to do last year. We could have done and experienced so many things together that we’ll never get to do now. Nine months in and there are still so many things I’m missing and grieving and crying over. I don’t expect anything to be easy, but I do keep hoping things will be a little easier, but so far that hasn’t really happened.

This past month we had my birthday, Pepper’s birthday, and Valentine’s Day all in a row. We survived and Pepper, at least, had so much fun. Now we’re getting ready for a small Easter celebration.

This past month we also attended a family birthday party, something I haven’t done in many years. We went ice skating and rode bumper cars on the ice. Pepper had a blast and I had fun too. Ice skating was hard for me. The first and only time I have ever been ice skating was when my Jason took me one year for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t want to be there and share Pepper’s first time ice skating without him, but I went. I skated the ice rink one time and was finished. Pepper made it a short distance before she was done. We both loved the bumper cars though.

My biggest concern with the ice skates was that I could not fall and be injured. I don’t have any backup so if I’m injured we are both royally fucked. I have the same thought about anything potentially dangerous these days. If I die Pepper will be an orphan. If Pepper dies I won’t survive it. She’s the only reason I’m still here since my husband died. Did any of you other widows get less brave and more fearful after your husband died or did you get more daring because you didn’t care if you lived or died? I feel like if Pepper wasn’t here I would do every crazy thing I could find to try until something eventually killed me.

I’m still feeling lonely. Pepper is amazing, but it’s hard not to always have a grownup to talk to and laugh with and cry with and complain to. I miss my best friend so much. It’s getting a bit better though I guess. We went to that birthday party where we saw people, other adults, even if I didn’t know any of them very well. We’re trying to get to some more events too. We’re going to a Mommy and Me Cupcake decorating event at a local play place tonight.

Events are hard though. I can’t drive because of the cataracts, glaucoma, iritis, and whatever other issues the eye doctor finds at each appointment. Thursday I go for more eye tests. I think it involves a shot this time too. But because I can’t drive and there isn’t much in walking distance it takes a lot of effort from several people to get us to any events. It’s often not worth the effort of trying to coordinate a ride and I feel like I need to save my ride requests for grocery shopping and doctors appointments, at least until I eventually get my eyes fixed.

Pepper had her five year old well visit this past month as well. She is growing like a weed, very bright, and strong. The only things we need to work on this year are getting her to eat more fruits and vegetables and to get her established with a dentist. She’s doing great and I know it, but it’s always nice to hear from a professional too.

The only other real news is on the moving front. My mother is moving to be closer to her husband’s job and Pepper and I will be moving in to their old house.The plan to have both houses fully moved by May 1st.

I’m so very torn. I don’t want to leave this apartment. Jason and I moved in here 9.5 years ago together and this is the only home we’ve ever known together. It’s the only place Pepper has ever lived. I don’t want to leave behind the only place we’ve ever been a family and couple together. I don’t want to risk losing any of that love or those memories. I don’t want to leave my home.

But we have to. This is the best choice at the moment. Pepper just turned five and in New York we have to start reporting her as being homeschooled in July. I want us in a different school district before we do that. One that is less harmful and pushy about public schooling. Not by much though because they are still the same regulations.

It will also get out of this apartment where the land lady has started being very difficult to deal with. The biggest reason to move is that it will be $200 less a month across bills which will help our financial situation dramatically. Pepper will also have a yard to play in and we will be off of the busiest street in town. We will however be even more away from everything and there will be nothing we can walk to if we don’t have transport. It’s a 15 minute walk down a steep hill just to check our mail! I’m not looking forward to that.

Location-wise it is not my ideal, but because my freelance income can be difficult to prove my renting options are limited, so renting from my mother is the best I can do at this time.

Pepper is having reservations about the move which is making me more fearful too, but this is really our only option and I’m trying to remind myself that this doesn’t have to be forever. It doesn’t have to be for a decade like this apartment was. It’s just the best choice for now and there are so many positives about this move.

  • The money saved.
  • The yard.
  • Being away from this landlady.
  • Being away from the busy traffic and violence of this neighborhood.
  • Having a whole room that will just need to house our bookshelves. I’m excited about our library. So so excited about that.

This is the right move to make even if I really don’t want to leave my Jason and my home behind. We’ve started moving some smaller furniture and boxes of things already. It’s too late to turn back now. It’s time for a new adventure for Pepper and I.

My Bookish Week 03/07/20

This week was a blur. I had a major anxiety attack that had me out of commission for most of a day. I still did some reading on the other days though.

This week I finished reading

29. Smoke by Ellen Hopkins ✰5✰

30. Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans by Russell Ginns ✰3✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book with more than 20 letters in the title. 

31. Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks ✰5✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book with “twenty” in the title.

This week I continued reading

Treasures in the Snow by Patricia St. John (page 25/255)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (page 26/435)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (page 11/325)

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (page 28/436)

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (page 236/510)

An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote (6% complete)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 152/1468)

This week I started reading

The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzenberger (page 26/262)

Alias Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine (page 53/199)

The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys (page 73/512)

This week I acquired

38. The Wives by Tarryn Fisher

39. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

40. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

41. The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

42. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

43. All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

44. Less by Andrew Sean Greer

45. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

46. Confessions of a Mediocre Widow by Catherine Tidd

Next week I hope to pick up

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

 

*SPOILERS* Recent Reads – Burned Duology

*****This review will have major spoilers *****

 

This is the first time I’ve reviewed two books at the same time. It’s also the first time I’ve included spoilers, but I didn’t know how to talk about these books without them. These are the two books in the Burned duology.

Burned and Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

My rating ✰4✰/✰5✰

Pictures and quotes from Goodreads

I do know things really began to spin out of control after my first sex dream.

It all started with a dream. Nothing exceptional, just a typical fantasy about a boy, the kind of dream that most teen girls experience. But Pattyn Von Stratten is not like most teen girls. Raised in a religious—yet abusive—family, a simple dream may not be exactly a sin, but it could be the first step toward hell and eternal damnation.

This dream is a first step for Pattyn. But is it to hell or to a better life? For the first time Pattyn starts asking questions. Questions seemingly without answers—about God, a woman’s role, sex, love—mostly love. What is it? Where is it? Will she ever experience it? Is she deserving of it?

It’s with a real boy that Pattyn gets into real trouble. After Pattyn’s father catches her in a compromising position, events spiral out of control until Pattyn ends up suspended from school and sent to live with an aunt she doesn’t know.

Pattyn is supposed to find salvation and redemption during her exile to the wilds of rural Nevada. Yet what she finds instead is love and acceptance. And for the first time she feels worthy of both—until she realizes her old demons will not let her go. Pattyn begins down a path that will lead her to a hell—a hell that may not be the one she learned about in sacrament meetings, but it is hell all the same.

In this riveting and masterful novel told in verse, Ellen Hopkins takes readers on an emotional roller-coaster ride. From the highs of true love to the lows of abuse, Pattyn’s story will have readers engrossed until the very last word.

Pattyn’s father is dead. Now she’s on the run in this riveting companion to New York Times bestseller Burned, which Kirkus Reviews calls “a strong, painful, and tender piece about wresting hope from the depths of despair.”

Pattyn Von Stratten’s father is dead, and Pattyn is on the run. After far too many years of abuse at the hands of her father, and after the tragic loss of her beloved Ethan and their unborn child, Pattyn is desperate for peace. Only her sister Jackie knows what happened that fatal night, but she is stuck at home with their mother, who clings to normalcy by allowing the truth to be covered up by their domineering community leaders. Her father might be finally gone, but without Pattyn, Jackie is desperately isolated.

Alone and in disguise, Pattyn starts a new life as a migrant worker on a California ranch. But is it even possible to rebuild a life when everything you’ve known has burned to ash and lies seem far safer than the truth?

Bestselling author Ellen Hopkins continues the riveting story of Pattyn Von Stratten she began in Burned to explore what it takes to rise from the ashes, put ghosts to rest, and step into a future.

My experience reading this duology was nothing like I expected. I knew I had read Burned years ago. I finished the book and sobbed so uncontrollably that my husband found me in the bedroom and thought that someone we knew must have died because I could not be soothed and I could not stop crying. That memory was big in my mind when I made the decision to reread this book after a discussion about it took place in a book group on Facebook. 

I read these books back to back and I felt all of the things while reading the first book. Anger, sadness, joy, everything, but I didn’t cry at the ending like I did the first time. When Pattyn loses Ethan and their unborn baby because of her father I was sad and angry, yes, but the gut wrenching agony of her loss didn’t hit me nearly as hard this time around. I have been through so much loss of my own this past year that I just didn’t have enough left in me to cry that hard for a fictional girl that lost her boyfriend of a few months and a baby she didn’t know if she wanted yet. I cry all the time so I feel particularly heartless for not crying at the end of this book. It was still a great book, just not as heart-wrenchingly sad as I remember it being. 

I was sure I had never read the sequel because my husband thought I shouldn’t read Ellen Hopkins’ books after the sob fest that followed my first reading of Burned. They all made me cry. Something about her style of writing in verse and the always hard subject matter she writes about gets to me every time. So I remember the discussion between my late husband and I about how I should choose books that wouldn’t make me cry so much. 

However, when I started reading Smoke I realized I had definitely read this a long time ago too. I didn’t remember any details until they were presented, but this book hit me so much harder then Burned did. I cried throughout the book and especially at the end.

Pattyn is doing a lot in this book, but the part that hit me so hard was how she was rebuilding her life after losing everything she had loved. Everything that had ever made her happy was gone and could never come back and she still somehow found little moments to feel joy.

I had some moments of disbelief because she ended up moving on from her losses so much faster than I can imagine, but I had to remind myself that she is a lot younger than me and her relationship was a lot shorter than mine. I found so much hope in her story, when she talked to Ethan at his grave, when she brought her new boyfriend to her home, when she got to go back to what and where she felt loved and at home. I don’t think I’ll ever be in a position to be happy like she was at the end of the duology, but the hope she showed in her story made my heart feel happy by the end. 

 

2020 Goals Checkin -February

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

  1. Read at least 100 books 29/100
  2. Own fewer unread books at the end of the year than I have at the beginningNot good so far. Between library books, ebooks, and birthday gifts I currently have 19 more physical books on my TBR than I did at the beginning of the year. 
  3. Only order books online when I’ve read 10 physical books that I owned in 2019 or earlier. Shopping has been kind of a free for all. Whenever I can find a few dollars to buy a book I do. Still working on it. 
  4. Finish reading all of the books I have records of for 20171/14 I’m in the middle of one other at the moment.
    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
  5. Read at least 14 tomes (books over 500 pages). 1/14 I’m in the middle of two others.
    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
  6. Complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 2020.  23/50
  7. Participate in Booktube Rereadathon 2020.I always like the idea of rereading my favorite books but in practice I pretty much never do so. This readathon is hosted by Alex Black Reads and has one challenge for each month of the year.
    • January- reread a translated book or a book in which a character speaks more than one language I finished A Man Called Ove and confirmed it as my favorite book.
    • February- rediscover a book- one you haven’t read in over ten years and/or don’t remember very well I am still working on Treasures of the Snow by Patricia M St John for this prompt.

Not too bad overall, but some areas certainly need my focus if I’m going to finish these goals this year.

My Bookish Week 02/29/20

And just like that Birthday Month is over. 30 posts in 29 days and about 15 new followers. Thanks to everyone who joined me for one, two or all thirty blog posts this month. It’s a great way to start off a new year of life.

This week I finished two more books and started several others. My currently reading is up to 10 books at the moment. Hopefully I’ll finish up a few this week.

This week I finished reading

27. The Martian by Andy Weir ✰4✰ I’m using this for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book with a great first line. This is probably my all time favorite first line “I’m pretty much fucked.”

28. Burned by Ellen Hopkins ✰4✰ I will be using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to  read a book with the same title as a movie, but that is not related to it. 

This week I continued reading

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 152/1468)

How to Boil Water by Jennifer Darling (page 116/243)

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (page 228/510)

An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote (6% complete)

This week I started reading

Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks (34% complete)

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins (page 326/543)

Treasures in the Snow by Patricia St. John (page 14/255)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (page 14/435)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (page 6/325)

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher (page 8/436)

This week I acquired

35. City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

36. Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

37. The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

Next week I hope to pick up

Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans by Russell Ginns

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

 

My aim is to finish a few books next week and not start many more if any.

 

 

March 2018 and 2019 Haul Revisit

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.

March 2018 ( 4/30 read)

  1. Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley
  2. Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen
  3. Shadowland by Alyson Noel
  4. Will & I by Clay Byars
  5. A List of Things That Didn’t Kill Me by Jason Schmidt
  6. Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray
  7. ACID by Emma Pass
  8. Trust Me, I’m Lying by Mary Elizabeth Summer
  9. Blue Birds by Caroline Starr Rose ✰4✰
  10. I Can Hear You Whisper by Lydia Denworth
  11. It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh
  12. The Game Believes in You by Greg Toppo
  13. Who is AC? by Hope Larson ✰2✰
  14. Below by Jason Chabot ✰4✰
  15. Above by Jason Chabot
  16. Beyond by Jason Chabot
  17. Writing is my Drink by Theo Pauline Nestor
  18. Fatherless by James C. Dobson and Kurt Bruner
  19. Childless by James C. Dobson and Kurt Bruner
  20. The Autumn Balloon by Kenny Porpora
  21. 101 Things to do Before Your Kids Leave Home by David Bordon and Tom Winters
  22. Born Reading by Jason Boog
  23. The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn
  24. The Wobbit by The Harvard Lampoon
  25. This is the Life by Alex Shearer
  26. The Many Lives of John Stone by Linda Buckley Archer
  27. Kin by by Lili St. Crow
  28. Like No Other by Una LaMarche
  29. Laughing at My Nightmare by Shane Burcaw
  30. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery ✰4✰

March 2019 (4/14 read)

  1. Beartown by Fredrik Backman ✰5✰
  2. Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
  3. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filler
  4. Paradiseby Toni Morrison
  5. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
  6. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  7. The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
  8. Bulwarkby Brit Lunden
  9. The Knowing by Brit Lunden
  10. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman Read twice ✰4✰ and ✰5✰
  11. Us Against You by Fredrik Backman ✰5✰
  12. Battle Royale by Koushun Takami
  13. Elliot Pie’s Guide to Human Nature by Chantelle Atkins
  14. A Storm of Strawberries by Jo Cotterill✰5✰

 

This is by far the worst set of months so far, but there are way worse ones coming up later in the year when we reach the point where my husband was dying more quickly last year.

Are any of my remaining books from these months ones that you loved?

First Sentence – February

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.

Strange Planet by Nathan W Pyle

Our new being weighs 9 hand-rocks.

You Don’t Know Everything Jilly P! by Alex Gino

The house smells of homemade tomato sauce when I get home from school, a sure sign that Dad is cooking dinner. 

Good Talk by Mira Jacob

The trouble began when my 6-year-old son, Z, became obsessed with Michael Jackson.

The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill

Once upon a time, blacksmiths were as important as magicians.

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren

The end of our final winter break seems almost like the beginning of a victory lap.

An Adventure That’s For Sure by Donna Wood

I was born on March 1, 1950.

How To Boil Water edited by Jennifer Darling

You don’t need a lot of stuff to properly outfit a kitchen. 

Falling Ill by CK Williams

From your workshop the usual commotion

Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Dear Ijeawele, What joy.

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

Tam’s mother used to say she had a Wyld Heart.

Pink Mist by Owen Sheers

Three boys went to Catterick

Coming Back From Broken by Stacie Baker

Five months after marrying the man of my dreams, I had so many things I was looking forward to: Our first Christmas as a married couple, starting a family one day, growing old together. 

The New kid at School by KH McMullan

Knock! 

Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire

It was obvious to anyone with a discerning eye that the school had started out as the country home of a family with more money than sense. 

The Martian by Andy Weir

I’m pretty much fucked.

The Last Execution by Jesper Wung-Sung

It is the night before the boy is to be executed on Gallows Hill.

Britt-Marie was Here by Fredtik Backman

Forks.

Treasures in the Snow by Patricia St. John

It was Christmas Eve, and three people were climbing the steep white mountainside. 

An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote

Alice wished she’d never laid eyes on Mrs Sylvia Cameron.

Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe

Do you have everything?

Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Did you ever when you were little, endure your parents’ warnings, then wait for them to leave the room, pry loose protective covers and consider inserting some metal object into an electrical outlet?

Smoke by Ellen Hopkins

Some things you can’t take back, no matter how much you wish you could.

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

You are she.

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

You’re not crazy.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

There was a boy in her room.

Grave Peril by Jim Butcher

There are reasons I hate to drive fast.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

I spent much of my childhood listening to the sound of striving. 

 

I have to say the first sentence of The Martian is an all time favorite of mine.

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

5 Star Predictions (Jan 2019) Wrap Up

I recently made a new round of five star predictions and decided I should look and see how the last round went. The last time I made this list was in January of 2019. I have since read four of them and am not sure I will get back to the fifth one any time soon. I thought I would give all of these books five stars and I gave only one of them five stars.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ✰4✰ I liked this book, but definitely not blown away by it.

Tangerine by Christine Mangan ✰3✰ This book was not nearly as good as I had thought it would be.

The Girls by Emma Cline ✰3✰ This book was another average read.

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames ✰5✰ I loved this book! I’m reading the sequel currently. 

Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody Since my husband died last summer I don’t think of myself as a writer any more and as such don’t read craft books. I may get back in to this some day, but for now I won’t be finishing this book in the near future. 

Only one five star read out of five books I had high expectations for feels like poor odds. I hope my next round of predictions goes far better.

My Current Digital Library Checkouts

My library uses the Overdrive app for ebook checkouts. We can check out five titles at a time (for three weeks) and also have five books on hold at a time. Those are books I’m waiting in line to read. I currently have my account maxed on both regards, but I never get to everything that gets checked out. Today I’ll share what I have checked out and what I’m waiting for digitally. Pictures and book descriptions are from Goodreads.

Current Checkouts

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?

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

The Great Pretender by Susannah Cahalan

For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness-how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people — sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society — went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s watershed study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.

But, as Cahalan’s explosive new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?

The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James

The secrets lurking in a rundown roadside motel ensnare a young woman, just as they did her aunt thirty-five years before, in this new atmospheric suspense novel from the national bestselling and award-winning author of The Broken Girls.

Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden…

Twenty-One Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks

Daniel Mayrock’s life is at a crossroads. He knows the following to be true:

1. He loves his wife Jill… more than anything.
2. He only regrets quitting his job and opening a bookshop a little (maybe more than a little)
3. Jill is ready to have a baby.
4. The bookshop isn’t doing well. Financial crisis is imminent. Dan doesn’t know how to fix it.
5. Dan hasn’t told Jill about their financial trouble.
6. Then Jill gets pregnant.

This heartfelt story is about the lengths one man will go to and the risks he will take to save his family. But Dan doesn’t just want to save his failing bookstore and his family’s finances:

1. Dan wants to do something special.
2. He’s a man who is tired of feeling ordinary.
3. He’s sick of feeling like a failure.
4. He doesn’t want to live in the shadow of his wife’s deceased first husband.

Dan is also an obsessive list maker; his story unfolds entirely in his lists, which are brimming with Dan’s hilarious sense of humor, unique world-view, and deeply personal thoughts. When read in full, his lists paint a picture of a man struggling to be a man, a man who has reached a point where he’s willing to do anything for the love (and soon-to-be new love) of his life.

On Hold

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano (7 week wait time left)

Inspired by a true story of one child’s incredible survival–riveting, uplifting, unforgettable.

After losing everything, a young boy discovers there are still reasons for hope in this luminous, life-affirming novel, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett.

In the face of tragedy, what does it take to find joy?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (10 week wait time left)

A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.

Tiny Habits by BJ Fogg (10 week wait time left)

When it comes to change, TINY IS MIGHTY. Start with two pushups a day, not a two-hour workout; or five deep breaths each morning rather than an hour of meditation. In TINY HABITS, B.J. Fogg brings his experience coaching more than 40,000 people to help you lose weight, de-stress, sleep better, or achieve any goal of your choice.  You just need Fogg’s behavior formula: make it easy, make it fit your life, and make it rewarding. Whenever you get in your car, take one yoga breath. Smile.  Whenever you get in bed, turn off your phone. Give yourself a high five.

Change can be easy—once it starts, it grows.  Let B.J. Fogg show you exactly how.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins (6 month wait time left)

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy—two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia—trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

Saint X by Alexis Schaitkin (2 week wait time left)

Claire is only seven years old when her college-age sister, Alison, disappears on the last night of their family vacation at a resort on the Caribbean island of Saint X. Several days later, Alison’s body is found in a remote spot on a nearby cay, and two local men – employees at the resort – are arrested. But the evidence is slim, the timeline against it, and the men are soon released. The story turns into national tabloid news, a lurid mystery that will go unsolved. For Claire and her parents, there is only the return home to broken lives.

Years later, Claire is living and working in New York City when a brief but fateful encounter brings her together with Clive Richardson, one of the men originally suspected of murdering her sister. It is a moment that sets Claire on an obsessive pursuit of the truth – not only to find out what happened the night of Alison’s death but also to answer the elusive question: Who exactly was her sister? At seven, Claire had been barely old enough to know her: a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.

As Claire doggedly shadows Clive, hoping to gain his trust, waiting for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them, two people whose lives were forever marked by the same tragedy.

 

Have you read any of these? Do you have plans to read them? What’s the longest you’ve had to wait for a library hold? American Dirt is close to my longest projected wait because it’s still at 6 months.

Recent Read – A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

My rating ✰5✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

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.

I read this book for the first time in April 2018 and I loved it. I gave it 4 stars and proceeded to begin reading the rest of Fredrik Backman’s books. I have one left to read at this point.

I revisited this book for the January 2020 Booktube rereadathon. I wanted to reread this book to see how I related to Ove now, as a widow myself. And I loved it even more. I read it slowly this time annotating the book heavily with highlighter and sticky tabs and it was a joy to focus on the story and the characters so intensely.

I laughed at least as much as I cried and there was so much of both spread throughout these pages.

I can relate to Ove’s desire to be dead and to join his wife in more ways then I would ever like to admit. There are so many quotes in this book about his great love for his wife and his despair of trying to keep going without her and just not wanting too. He thought so many things I’ve thought in these last 8 months without my beloved Jason. Somehow he kept going and enjoyed the living he still had in him. I’m sure Sonja would have wanted that for him.

And I’m sure Jason would want that for me too. This book was inspiring and relatable for me in more ways than I ever expected this time around and I can certainly see this as a book I read over and over again as the years pass. I feel confident in saying that this is one of my all time favorite books.

Pepper Picks My TBR

I don’t usually do TBRs because I almost never stick to them, but, Pepper, my five year old daughter, desperately wanted to choose the books I would read next. I gave her free range to choose five books for my March TBR and she was thrilled. She looked at all of the covers of the books on my desk and chose any that she thought were pretty (about 20 of them out of 50 or so). Then I either read her the back of the book or told her in a few sentences what the book was about as far as I knew it. And with the descriptions she narrowed it down to five. And I have promised to read them all in March no matter what comes up life or reading wise. The five books she chose are below with cover photos and descriptions from Goodreads.

Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans by Russell Ginns

This was an impulse purchase at the grocery store after a long hard day. I’ve owned it since September 2019

Get ready for round-the-world adventure with Sam Spinner and her brother Nipper in the first book in a new hilarious, puzzle-packed series filled with super-secret messages! Perfect for fans of Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Libraryand classics like Holes.

Samantha Spinner’s uncle Paul disappeared, and here’s what he left:
* Samantha’s sister got a check for $2,400,000,000.
* Samantha’s brother got the New York Yankees.
* And Samantha got a rusty red umbrella with a tag hanging off its worn handle. The tag says “Watch out for the RAIN.”

Thanks a lot, Uncle Paul.

After all the strawberry waffles, stories, and puzzles they’ve shared, how could he just leave without saying goodbye? And what is the meaning of that mysterious message?

The answer is simple. Sam knows in her heart that Uncle Paul is in danger. And if he taught her anything, it’s that not everything is exactly what it seems. Which is why we should pay close attention to that rusty red umbrella, and never trust a monkey at a hula-hoop contest.

The RAIN is coming and Samantha Spinner is about to find herself mixed up in some super-important, super-dangerous, super-secret plans.

The Number Devil by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

This is a book we’ve owned for many years. It was a favorite of my late husband. It’s a math adventure story and he was a math lover. Pepper wants me to read this soon to see if she can read it now or if she has to be bigger. She’s a math lover too. 

The international best-seller that makes mathematics a thrilling exploration.

In twelve dreams, Robert, a boy who hates math, meets a Number Devil, who leads him to discover the amazing world of numbers: infinite numbers, prime numbers, Fibonacci numbers, numbers that magically appear in triangles, and numbers that expand without. As we dream with him, we are taken further and further into mathematical theory, where ideas eventually take flight, until everyone – from those who fumble over fractions to those who solve complex equations in their heads – winds up marveling at what numbers can do.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger is a true polymath, the kind of superb intellectual who loves thinking and marshals all of his charm and wit to share his passions with the world. In The Number Devil, he brings together the surreal logic of Alice in Wonderland and the existential geometry of Flatland with the kind of math everyone would love, if only they had a number devil to teach it to them.

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu (I could not find the cover I have on Goodreads)

This book I bought in December 2019 and just haven’t gotten to yet. 

An unlikely teenager starts a feminist revolution at a small-town Texas high school.

MOXIE GIRLS FIGHT BACK!

Vivian Carter is fed up. Fed up with an administration at her high school that thinks the football team can do no wrong. Fed up with sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and gross comments from guys during class. But most of all, Viv Carter is fed up with always following the rules.

Viv’s mom was a tough-as-nails, punk rock Riot Grrrl in the ’90s, and now Viv takes a page from her mother’s past and creates a feminist zine that she distributes anonymously to her classmates. She’s just blowing off steam, but other girls respond. As Viv forges friendships with other young women across the divides of cliques and popularity rankings, she realizes that what she has started is nothing short of a girl revolution.

Moxie is a book about high school life that will make you wanna riot!

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I also bought this one in December of 2019.

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

This book I bought in September of 2019 and haven’t gotten to yet. I don’t know if I want to start a series if I can’t finish it all in one go. 

Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.

 

Have you read any of these?

My Bookish Week 02/22/20

Another good reading week. Three more books finished and all were five stars. I love it when that happens.

This week I finished reading

24. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe ✰5✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book by a nonbinary author. 

25. You Don’t Know Everything Jilly P! by Alex Gino ✰5✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book involving social media. The main character spends a lot of time in a chat room.

26. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ✰5✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book published in the 20th century and for the Booktube Rereadathon January challenge to reread a translated book. 

This week I continued reading

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 144/1468)

How to Boil Water by Jennifer Darling (page 90/243)

The Martian by Andy Weir (page 132/369)

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (page 102/510)

An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote (6% complete)

This week I started reading

Burned by Ellen Hopkins (page 321/531)

This week I acquired

32. The Test by Sylvain Neuvel

33. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

34. Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Next week I hope to pick up

Britt-Marie was Here by Fredtik Backman

Treasures in the Snow by Patricia St. John

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

What was your favorite read this week?

The Book Blogger Memory Challenge Tag

Today I’m doing a little tag I found on The Book Nut

 

You must answer these questions without looking anything up on the internet and without looking at your bookshelves!!

1. Name a book written by an author called Michael

Monsterland by Michael Okon

\

2. Name a book with a dragon on the cover.

Eragon by Christpher Paolini


3. Name a book about a character called George.

George by Alex Gino

4. Name a book written by an author with the surname Smith.

I couldn’t think of a book for this one. 
5. Name a book set in Australia.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

6. Name a book with the name of a month in the title.

Captain January by Laura Elizabeth Richards

7. Name a book with a knife on the cover.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

8. Name a book with the word ‘one’ in the title.

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

9. Name a book with a eponymous title.

I had to look up what eponymous meant ((of a thing) named after a particular person.)

Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber

10. Name a book turned into a movie.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

 

Can you think of an author with the surname Smith? I’m sure there are a ton.

What I Read in a Day

I am a pretty busy person these days. At least by my own standards. I am a work at home, homeschooling, widowed single mother to a very active five year old daughter. Pepper needs a lot of my time since her father died last summer. She gets anxious and frustrated if she has to play by herself for too long. She regressed in that regard in her grief. She is the biggest reason I don’t get reading done as often as I would like.

I get questions about how I fit so much reading time in to my schedule between work, homeschool, grief counseling, taking care of the house, taking care of the kid,  various other appointments and activities and my other hobbies.

I tried to answer the question, but I really don’t know. I read when I can and see how it goes. Some days I don’t get to read at all, other days I have to decide whether I will go to bed or lose a couple of hours of sleep to fit in reading.  I decided to choose a day and just note down every time I read, what I’m reading, how many pages I read, and what Pepper is doing at that time. On this day, my reading sessions looked like this:

  • About 530am- I woke up before Pepper and read a chapter of The Martian by Andy Weir on my phone before getting out of bed. I read for 18 minutes and finished 18 pages before I got up to go to the bathroom, find coffee, and get my workspace set up for the day.
  • About 645am- After getting everything set up Pepper was still asleep and work was slow for the moment so I took out a physical book I’m reading, Burned by Ellen Hopkins, and read until Pepper woke up. This was a total of 17 minutes. I finished 56 pages in that time. This is a young adult novel written in verse so the pages are quite short.
  • About 4pm- Pepper asked for a cuddle so she brought her Kindle and I brought Burned. I read for 19 minutes and finished another 54 pages. At that point I had more work to get done.
  • About 6pm- Pepper is settled in with a show and a snack so I take a short break and spend 10 minutes reading a chapter from A Man Called ove. I read and annotate 8 pages.
  • About 740pm- Pepper is in bed for a few more minutes of Kindle time before she falls asleep. I open up Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames and read 10 pages in 10 minutes before calling it a night and going to bed myself.

I will sometimes read more of an ebook when I get in to bed, but this night I didn’t. I was exhausted and fell asleep quickly.

This day I read for 74 minutes over the course of the day, made progress in four separate books, and read 146 pages between them all.  I don’t track like this with any kind of regularity, but it felt like a fairly normal reading day.

So across five reading sessions between 10 and 19 minutes each I managed to get quite a bit of reading done. I would have liked to read more, but that’s not how life was balanced this day.

How do you fit reading in to your day?

Bookish Wish List

I keep a wish list on Amazon because there are some groups I’m in that share wish lists for Christmas and Birthday gifts. My wish list is a huge mess filled with about 400 items for both Pepper and myself. It isn’t organized at all and it has a very large number of books, but also craft kits and toys for Pepper and some other odds and ends.

These are five books out of several hundred that I would like to own and/or read at some point. I used a random number generator to choose which ones to share here today.  (pictures and quotes from Goodreads)

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig

JOURNEY TO THE EDGE OF MAGIC

If magic has a beginning, can it also have an end?

When Amelia wants a wish to come true she knows just the man to ask – Father Christmas.

But the magic she wants to believe in is starting to fade, and Father Christmas has more than impossible wishes to worry about. Upset elves, reindeers dropping out of the sky, angry trolls and the chance that Christmas might be cancelled.

But Amelia isn’t just any ordinary girl. And – as Father Christmas is going to find out – if Christmas is going to be saved, he might not be able to do it alone . . .

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

I Wasn’t Read to Say Goodbye by Brook Noel

Now there is a hand to hold…
Each year about eight million Americans suffer the death of a close family member. The list of high visibility disasters, human suffering and sudden loss in long and will continue to grow. From TWA Flight 800 to Egypt Air 990, from Oklahoma City to Columbine, daily we face incomprehensible loss. Outside the publicized tragedies there are many families and individuals that are suffering behind closed doors in our neighborhoods, in our own homes, in hospital waiting rooms. Now for those who face the challenges of sudden death, there is a hand to hold written by two women who have experience sudden loss.
In a book that will touch, comfort, uplift and console, authors Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D. explore sudden death and its role in the cycle of life. Tapping the personal histories of both authors and numerous interviews, I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye shows grieving readers how to endure, survive and grow from the pain and turmoil surrounding human loss.
For survivors this valuable book provides a rock-steady anchor from which to weather the storm of pain and begin to rebuild their lives.

The Book Ninja by Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus

**Could you find your perfect man by looking at his book shelf?** 
Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person. It’s not that she hasn’t tried – Frankie is the queen of online dating. But she has had enough.
Deciding to embark on the ultimate dating experiment, inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Bookshop, Frankie places her hope in her favourite books to find her the perfect man… Secretly planting copies on trains, trams and buses, Frankie hopes to find the man of her dreams through a mutual love of good books.
But one spontaneous kiss later and Frankie begins to fall for a guy called Sunny. There’s just one tiny problem – Frankie is strictly a Jane Austen kind of woman and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Seriously, obsessively into it…
Can Frankie overcome her book snobbery for the man of her dreams? Or will she be left searching the trains for her modern-day Mr Darcy forever?

Some of these I will undoubtedly purchase when the funds are available and others I may eventually find at the library. I like having a list of books that are on my radar for future reference. How many books are on your wish list?

NYT Bestsellers When I Was Born (1987)

I wanted to look the books that were popular when I was born. I looked at the New York Times bestselling fiction list for February 8, 1987. I was born on the 13th. There were 16 books listed.

1 Windmills of the Gods by Sidney Sheldon

2 The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King

3 Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy

4 It by Stephen King

5 Night of the Fox by Jack Higgins

6 Whirlwind by James Clavell

7 Bandits by Elmore Leonard

8 The Panic of ’89 by Paul Erdman

9 Flight of the Intruder by Stephen Coonts

10 The Prince of the Tides by Pat Conroy

11 Patience of a Saint by Andrew M. Greeley

12 The Counterlife by Philip Roth.

13 Death Quest by L. Ron Hubbard

14 A Taste for Death by P. D. James

15 Hollywood Husbands by Jackie Collins

16 Shan by Eric Van Lustbader

I wanted to see how many of these books I have read and out of all 16 of these I’ve only heard of two of them. The two by Stephen King. I’ve read both of those. I haven’t heard of any of the other 14, but I may see if I can find and read at least a few of them before next year on my birthday. Have you read any of these? What books were popular when you were born?

Book Addiction Tag

I saw this tag on the youtube channel of Beautifully Bookish Bethany.

1. What is the longest amount of time you can comfortably go without picking up a book?

I would say I can go about a day before I start to feel upset about not being able to read. When I have a day where Pepper is difficult or needy and I don’t find any time to read at all I always feel sad and sort of hopeless when I wake up the next morning and realize I read zero pages the day before.

2. How many books do you carry on your person (physical or device) at any one time?

I nearly always have one physical book on me and I always have my phone with me. I have thousands of ebooks on my Kindle app and I could download them at any time to read them so there are always a lot of books with me. Usually just two that I’m actively reading though, one physical and one digital.

3. Do you keep every book you buy/receive or are you happy to pass them on to make space for more?

I keep only books that I’ve read and will read again or books that I haven’t read yet. When I finish a book it either goes on my loved books shelf if I will read it again some day or I get rid of it as soon as possible.

4. How long would you spend in a bookshop on a standard visit?

Jason and I used to spend hours in bookstores. We made a day of it. We would go for sure on our Anniversary every year and whenever else we could manage it too. The nearest real bookstore is a 90 minute drive away. We would go and drink coffee and spend hours browsing and shopping and talking. Now we have a small bookstore in town. When I can get there I can easily spend an hour browsing if I’m by myself.

5. How much time per day do you actually spend reading?

I try to spend at least a couple of hours a day reading. As long as there is nothing more pressing I try to read after Pepper gets in to bed, but some times I’m just too tired. I would guess my average is at least an hour a day, sometimes less and sometimes much longer.

6. Where does the task “picking up a book” appear on your daily to-do list?

It doesn’t appear on a to do list, I read whenever I can find the minutes to do so. I do have a separate planner where I sometimes try to plan out my reading. If I have a lot of things that I need or want to get read that month I’ll break it down by day to see what I need to accomplish to stay on track.

7. How many books do you reckon you own in total (include ebooks)?

I would guess I have about 1000 physical books. I have 3076 Kindle books.

8. Approximately how often do you bring up books in conversation?

I don’t bring them up, but if someone else does I’ll talk about them as long as I can.

9. What is the biggest book (page count) you have finished reading?

Either The Stand or It by Stephen King. Currently I’m reading Les Miserables and that will be the new high page count when/if I finish it.

10. Is there a book you had to get your hands on against all odds (searched bookstore, online digging, stalked author, etc.)?

Not really. There are arcs I would love to read, but nothing that I couldn’t acquire after it came out.

11. Is there a book you struggled to finish because you refused to DNF?

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

12. What are 3 of your main book goals for 2020 ?

Read 100 books, read 14 specific tomes, complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge.

13. Have you ever had the privilege of converting someone into a reader (by inspiration or your incessant nagging)?

Not really. I read to Pepper every day from the time I became pregnant onwards and she is a reader. I don’t think I converted her, but I did raise her as a reader and she loves to read. She even asked to start her own book blog.

14. Describe what books mean to you in FIVE words.

Life. Love. Adventure. Hope. Escape.

 

How would you describe books in five words?

Birthday Gifts for a Five Year Old

Today is Miss Pepper’s fifth birthday. My sweet baby girl is getting way too big, way too fast. This year she is having her first real birthday party with extended family and some of her friends from storytime at the library. In years past it’s just been Pepper, Jason, myself, and Pepper’s three grandparents. I think the newness of a big birthday party will help edge out some of the sadness of not having Jason here to celebrate with us any more.

Pepper has asked for a mermaid themed birthday party and the most important part was a pin the tail on the mermaid game. I ordered the decor and plates on Amazon.

She has asked for pink cupcakes, shaped like a mermaid tail, and juiceboxes.

The goodie bags we put together for her friends are filled with bathbombs, nail polish, and lip gloss.

The gifts that I bought for her to open at her birthday party are a set of mermaid themed chapter books, a cooperative mermaid boardgame, a card game called Sleeping Queens, and a few surprise boxes that have llamas in them and one that has a dressup costume.

 

She also has four gifts she will get to open when she wakes up that day. These gifts are Zoob building sets. She seems to end up with a new building set each year on her birthday. Last year it was big girl Legos and this year it is Zoob. The special part about this gift is that Jason and I bought them while I was still pregnant with Pepper. We chose three sets that fit in our budget at the time, but there was another set Jason really wanted her to have too so he used his personal spending money to buy it for her, knowing it would be years before she was actually big enough to play with it. So eight months after her daddy died, Pepper still has a gift to open that he chose and bought especially for her, before she was even born. That’s a pretty special kind of birthday magic.

I can’t find the exact kits she has here because we bought them over five years ago at this point, but here is a picture of an example.

Pepper chose a special bow she wanted on her gift from Jason and she asks every day if she can open her present from daddy first.

There are other gifts too of course. Gifts shipped in from relatives around the country and ones that the party guests will bring, but I think it will be hard for them to top a gift hand chosen for her by her dead father.

I just hope her day is special and happy and filled with love. I’ll do my best to make it so.

Happy Birthday to my amazing little girl!

My Bookish Week 02/15/20

This was a far slower reading week than the past one, but I did finish four more books and made progress in several others. I also acquired several new books for birthday and valentine’s day.

This week I finished reading

20. Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire ✰5✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book with a three word title.

21. Autoboyography by Christina Lauren ✰5✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book with a book on the cover.

22. The Last Execution by Jesper Wung-Sung ✰4✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book I picked because the title caught my attention. 

23. Good Talk by Mira Jacob ✰4✰

This week I continued reading

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 144/1468)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (page 206/337)

How to Boil Water by Jennifer Darling (page 90/243)

You Don’t Know Everything Jilly P! by Alex Gino (page 158/256)

The Martian by Andy Weir (page 114/369)

This week I started reading

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames (page 68/510)

An Heir to Murder by Charles Heathcote (6% complete)

This week I acquired

25. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

26. The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

27. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

28. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

29. Evergreen by Rebecca Rasmussen

30. Out to Pasture by Effie Leland Wilder

31. Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Next week I hope to pick up

Britt-Marie was Here by Fredtik Backman

Treasures in the Snow by Patricia St. John

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Valentine’s Day Gifts

Valentine’s day is the day after my birthday, so it’s never been a big holiday, but it’s always been my favorite. Growing up our parents always gave a gift to my little brother and I and I’ve continued that with Pepper.

This year, our first year without my husband/Pepper’s father, I wasn’t sure how the day would go. It was traditionally a daddy spoils his girls a little kind of a day and without him it seems mostly meaningless.

Pepper and I are on opposite ends of every holiday though. I want to skip them all since Jason died and she wants to celebrate them all to her fullest extent.  So we’re going somewhere in the middle.

We each have one gift apiece and one gift to share. I chose things that would make us laugh. My goal for the year is to laugh. And my Jason would have wanted us to laugh and enjoy each other as much as possible.

Pepper is receiving a joke book with a dinosaur on the cover. Her and her daddy both loved dinosaurs and Pepper loves to make up and tell jokes. Her newest joke she made up is:

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Pepper

Pepper who?

Pepperoni on your pizza.

I think we will all get a lot of laughs from a new joke book. The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids by Carole P Roman

For a gift for myself, I asked on Instagram for recommendations of books that would make me laugh. One of the suggestions was Furiously happy by Jenny Lawson. It’s subtitle is a funny book about horrible things and my late husband and I had a knack for laughing at horrible things that shouldn’t be laughed at. Our dark and twisted senses of humor are one of the things that made us work so perfectly together. I’m expecting to love this.

Our shared gift is one that will make us think of our Jason while we use it. Jason was an avid rubik’s cube fan. He had mastered the 2×2 and 3×3 versions in the year before his death. He was just working on speed at that point. He was given a 4×4 last Valentine’s Day, but he was pretty far in to his dying by that point and never really got to start that one. Pepper loves games so when I saw this card game I thought it would be a perfect option to help us think of Jason on Valentine’s Day and every time after that when we play it.

Pepper also a few chocolate hearts and a card I made for her.

It won’t be a romantic holiday this year and it’s likely to be the saddest Valentine’s Day I’ve ever lived through, but there will hopefully be a little laughter in our home in Jason’s honor.

How do you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

 

Birthday Interview

Today is my birthday. I never thought I would have to celebrate another birthday without my husband, but here we are.

I have my daughter fill one of these sorts of sheets out every year to see how her answers change as she gets bigger. Last year I filled one out too and decided we should do it again this year. My answers are first and Peppers are underneath.

Name: Lori

Age: 33

Favorite food: potatoes

Favorite color: Blue

Favorite show: I don’t watch shows. I used to really love Gilmore Girls though.

When I grow up I want to be: Someone that gets paid to read books and drink coffee. This will always be my answer.

I like to play: Slot machine games on my phone.

My favorite book: I need to do a reread to be sure, but I’ll say it’s still The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee.

My favorite restaurant: Red Lobster

My best friend: My late husband.

My favorite cartoon: Dinosaur Train

My favorite place to go: The book store.

My five year old’s answers:

Name: Pepper

Age: 5 (on Saturday)

Favorite food: Happy face fries

Favorite color: Pink

Favorite show: Anndroids

When I grow up I want to be: A ballet dancer and doctor

I like to play: toys

My favorite book: The Princess in Black

My favorite restaurant: Chinese Buffet

My best friend: Shannon, Jayla, and Stella

My favorite cartoon: My Little Pony

My favorite place to go: The library

It is interesting which things changed and which things stayed the same from one year to the next.

Sticker by Number

Sticker by Number

Reading is my favorite and most time intensive hobby, but a current obsession of mine is Paint by Sticker books. Depending on the brand of the book you’re using they are sometimes called Sticker Mosaics or Sticker by Number or Sticker Puzzles or some variation on those four. I love to do them while I watch booktube.

I discovered these just after my husband died in June of 2019. They have been such a wonderful way for me to relax and destress. Pepper helps sometimes and we have completed around 200 pictures at this point. I share them on a second Instagram account. I actually have three Instagrams. One for books, one for sticker by numbers, and one for the postcards I receive from postcrossing. I pick up my sticker books anywhere from The Dollar Tree, to Michaels, to Walmart, to the grocery store. But most have been ordered off of Amazon.

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The premise is so simple. You have a picture with small spaces that are numbered

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You have a page of stickers that are also numbered.

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You match the numbers to the spaces until all of the stickers are finished

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and at the end you have finished picture.

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I have books of mermaids, unicorns, cats, sea creatures, robots, music icons, travel posters, famous paintings, and more. I have started or finished 32 separate books.

The ones with the simplest pictures are by Publications International. They publish as Brain Games Sticker by Number. The pictures usually have around 50 stickers. They occasionally have issues though. I had one book that had the numbers labeled wrong. There was a sticker numbered 52 and the puzzle only went to 50. The stickers were all there and it turned out okay, but the labeling was incorrect and frustrating. However, the stickers are big and easy to place. These are even simpler than the children’s versions other brands produce.

The  best put together and most impressive books are through Workman Publishing and are called Paint by Sticker. They have an adult series that is wonderful. The finished projects are beautiful and detailed, but you are looking at several hundred stickers per creation. I think the most I have seen is 450 stickers to create one picture. But they look amazing afterwards. Very worth it in my opinion. The children’s line from this publisher has a flaw that they are working on. The kids books sometimes include glitter stickers and they are beautiful and fun, but they don’t stay stuck. They curl and unstick from your completed project and in some cases from the sticker sheet they come on. I messaged the company and they are working on a solution, but in the meantime we either laminate them when we’re done or just put them in the trash.

That ends up being the fate of all of our projects. Some we laminate and display, some we cut up in to bookmarks to keep or to share with friends and family, and most end up in the garbage can. The process of building them is where my enjoyment and value come from, not from the display. There is no way we could display 200 of these anyway.

There are other books that are really more of a sticker puzzle then a paint by number. Those ones don’t come with numbers or labels of any kind. You get a page with shapes and a page of stickers and have to figure out where they fit together. Those are way less fun for me. I want the process to be fairly mindless so those are just too much work for me, but I have a couple of those as well.

There are all sorts of varieties, complication levels, and subjects so if you want to give them a try I’m sure you can find some that will interest you.

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Have you ever tried these before?

My 2020 Planner

Over the years I’ve used everything from a cheap weekly planner from dollar tree, to a time intensive bullet journal in a Leuchtturm 1917 notebook, to a recollections planner from Michaels. This year I wanted, and needed, something different.

Since becoming a widow last year I’m pretty scatterbrained. I forget simple things like my age or what day of the week it is. I also needed an outlet for writing out some of my thoughts having to do with my grief work and I didn’t want to have to carry two notebooks with me to do that. So for my planner this year I chose the Moleskine Classic 12 Month daily planner in Snappy Pink.

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I added a sticker to the front from Redbubble. My word for the year is laugh. This notebook is quite like the Leuchtturm I used for my bullet journals. It has a very similar cover, a ribbon bookmark, a pocket in the back, and an elastic band to hold it closed. It is the same height, but is half an inch thinner than the A5 Leuchtturm. It has one full lined page for every single day of the year.

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Coming from a vertical Recollections planner, this is a whole lot of space for each day and I love it. One of my hobbies over the years has been decorating my planners. I have washi tape and stickers filling one large file drawer and one full shelf on my desk.

This planner gives me lots of space to decorate as well as a space each day for my to do list, a small section for gratitude, and a journaling space where I usually write to my dead husband.

I was finding I have times throughout each day where I turn to tell him something important, or funny, or just something that he would have found interesting. It was so hard to not be able to tell him any of these things. My grief counselor suggested I write to him, even though as an atheist I don’t believe he gets these messages, my counselor still said I should try it and it helps.

In this planner I reserve a space each day for those things that come up that I wish I could tell him. Some days that is about the nightmares I have about his seizures, some days it’s something funny or touching Pepper said about him. Some days it’s a dirty joke we both would have laughed at. And some days it’s just I hate you for leaving me here to try and deal with everything by myself. Whatever I need to tell him that day I have a space to write it.

I’ve blurred out my actual tasks and any writing to my husband, but here are a few pages from this year so far.

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The date in the top corner, my tasks for the day on the top left, a space to write to my husband on the bottom somewhere, a small space for gratitude wherever it fits, and decor on the rest of the page. Some I add before that day and some I add after the day is over and I see where I have blank spaces to fill.

So far it’s working out great for me and I am getting everything I need from my planner. It’s also small enough I can slip it in my bag to bring with me to grief counseling or anywhere else I might need it. I save all of my planners because there are so many memories inside, even just within the daily task list. This has been a wonderful addition to my planner journey and my life.

Do you use a physical planner?

Eight Months as a Widow

Eight months ago today my beloved husband of nine years died from brain cancer. He was my best friend, my cheerleader, my parenting partner, my everything. Now it’s just my four year old daughter, Pepper, and I.

On Thursday it will be my 33rd birthday, my first without my husband. Friday is Valentine’s Day. And on Sunday it will be our daughter’s fifth birthday. Her first birthday where she will have a party with friends in addition to family. Our baby is growing up and I hate that my Jason isn’t here to be a part of it and to see how amazing she is. He always wanted a daughter and he loved being Pepper’s daddy. He loved every minute of it, even the minutes I didn’t. Somehow Jason loved being a daddy even when everything was hard. In those moments I often regret having a child, but he loved and appreciated it so much, all the time. And he was so good at it. He was patient and loving and kind no matter what. Some of that could have been his age, he was 10 years older than me. Some of it could have been the foster training he did when he was in his early 20s because his father was adopting a four year old. Or it could just have been his innate ability to see the best and the wonderful in every situation. Jason often said “Go in to every situation expecting good” and he didn’t just say it, he lived it. That’s not something I do. I am very much a pessimist in every situation. His optimism balanced me out and I miss that so much.

I miss everything about him though.  This month has been really hard in that regard. Every minute that isn’t filled with something to keep me busy has my thoughts and memories attacking me and overwhelming me and forcing me to relive where we were last year. In 2019, on January 30th, I woke Jason up with a hot cup of coffee like always. He sat up, took a sip, and then had a seizure. He had never had one before. I was panicking and on the phone with 911, while trying to keep Pepper calm and get my mother and my father in law here to help with Pepper and Jason. The seizure led to all kinds of tests and a few days in various hospitals. Jason had brain cancer and an estimated life span of 18-24 months. He lasted 4. In those three days I had my husband’s seizure, the hospitals, the tests, the diagnosis, my first nights without Pepper, my world starting to end. And over this same time period this year I’ve been reliving all of those moments over and over and over again. Tears fall freely and often. I have been keeping myself as busy as possible to try and keep the worst of the memories at bay, but they still get in my brain and they still leak out of my eyes and in to my nightmares. I turned off Facebook memories completely because I refuse to watch my husband die all over again, but it doesn’t actually help because I have all of those moments forever seared in to my mind.

I am realizing more and more just how lonely I am. For nine years it was just Jason and I and then Jason, Pepper, and I. We didn’t need anybody else, specifically friends. We were each other’s best friend and we were together every possible minute from the time we met until he died. He left such a huge void in my life that I can’t seem to begin to fill. I never expect to fill the romantic void he left, but I didn’t think I would have such a huge friend void. I don’t have anyone to just talk to about life or stress or Pepper. No one I can talk to openly and honestly and without judgement. There is no one I can send funny pictures or dirty jokes and I have found that to be one of the most awful and surprising parts of losing my husband. I just feel so alone all the time, like I was before I met Jason and he showed me what happiness was like. I’m afraid without him I’ll never find such a thing again.

I don’t have an update for my eyes yet. I go this afternoon to see if the glaucoma drops and steroid drops are doing any good yet.

We’ve started looking in to a new place to live and I have started slowly getting things packed up. Currently it’s looking like we will be moving in April, but nothing is for sure yet.

I am now using all of our dishes, even the mugs, and I’m cooking something other than pizza for most of my meals. I’m slowly expanding the list of meals I make and I’m reading a beginners cook book to get some new recipes and skills under my belt. So far so good.

Pepper’s behavior has been fluctuating. Sometimes we go a few days with no big tantrums or meltdowns. Other times I spend all day trying to diffuse a situation she can’t or won’t name, but is screaming and throwing things as her way of dealing with her overwhelming emotions. My grief counselor helped me set up a box of resources she can use when she is sad or angry or overwhelmed. It includes scented lotion that she pairs with some calming breaths, paper to rip in to the tiniest pieces she can, post its and pens that she can use to try and scribble on until the whole yellow page is covered, coloring books and crayons, etc. We also have a list of other things she can try. She has really been enjoying guided meditation for kids as a way to sooth herself. She is also working harder at letting me hold her without hitting me when she is upset. It’s a long difficult process and sometimes our solutions work and sometimes she just needs to stay upset until she wears herself out. It’s hard. It’s all hard.

For now I’m putting on a brave face so Pepper and I can try to have a good birthday week even though the sadness and grief are trying to steal all of my small moments of joy. This week at least I’ll just have to fake it for Pepper’s sake and get through the days as well as I can.

Over 30 Book Tag

I’m turning 33 this month and decided to do the Over 30 Book Tag created by INKNOTBLOOD on Youtube. There are just six questions.

1. Name one of your favorite books that features a protagonist who is thirty years old or older.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a book I’m rereading and annotating currently. Ove is 59 years old. This is one of my favorite books. One of only a handful I’ve reread as an adult.

2. Name a book that represents who you were when you were younger.

I’m going to go with The Giver by Lois Lowry for this one. It is one I reread many many times as a child and a teen. I’m sure that’s where my love of dystopian fiction comes from. I was so surprised and delighted to discover as an adult that this is the first book in a quartet. I read and enjoyed the full series in 2017.

3. Name a book that represents where you are in your life now.

Currently my most prominent identity is widow. For five years it was just Jason and I and all I wanted or needed was to be Jason’s wife. Then I was Jason’s wife and Pepper’s mother for 4 years. Now I’m still Pepper’s mother, but I’ve been graduated to Jason’s widow. So a book that represents where I am in my life now would have to be one of my widow books. I’m going to choose The Hot Young Widows Club by Nora McInerny. I would never in a million years refer to myself as ‘hot’ by I do consider myself a young widow.

4. Name a book that represents something that has never changed about you.

On Writing by Stephen King is a book that I’ve read numerous times since it was published. I started writing poetry and stories as soon as I could spell a few words. As a child and a teen I dreamed of becoming a novelist like Stephen King. Every time I reread this book he inspires me to try and follow that dream again.

5. Name one of your favorite classics.

I had trouble thinking of one for this question. I have read some classics, but they are never favorites. I had to look through a list of ‘the best classics’ to find something I would say was a favorite and I chose To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

6. Name a book you like or would like to read that was published in the year you were born.

I was born on Friday, February 13, 1987. Looking through a few lists for books published in 1987 I found several that I have read over the years and not many that I hadn’t read and was still interested in. But, at the bottom of one list was one book I was very excited to see. I had no idea a book existed though I loved the movie as a child. I ordered the book from the library to try and read soon.

Madame Doubtfire by Anne Fine

What book do you love that was published the year you were born? Or one that was published in 1987?

My Bookish Week 02/08/20

It was fantastic reading week, at least quantity wise. I was trying to read a book a day for my birthday countdown and was still working on other books that I was reading too. I fell a little behind, but still finished several books and made progress in quite a few others too.

This week I finished reading

12. Strange Planet by Nathan W Pyle ✰4✰

13. The Tea Dragon Society by Katie O’Neill ✰4✰ I am using this book to full fill the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book you meant to read in 2019. 

14. An Adventure That’s For Sure by Donna Wood ✰1✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading challenge to read a book by or about a woman in stem. This is a memoir about a woman who works as a medical technician of some sort. I would not recommend it though. It is very poorly written and meandering. 

15. Falling Ill by CK Williams ✰3✰

16. Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie ✰5✰ This was a wonderful little book. I am using it for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book by a woman of color. 

17. Pink Mist by Owen Sheers ✰5✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge prompt to read a book about a subject you know nothing about (war and PTSD). 

18. Coming Back From Broken by Stacie Baker ✰3✰ This book is made of blog posts she posted her first year as a widow and it reads like blog posts put together with no editing to make it less repetitive or more coherent. While it was interesting to hear her story of her first year as a widow the religious aspects were just way too much for me. If it weren’t so short I would have quit after a few entries. I’m atheist though, if you’re a religious person you will likely get more inspiration from this book. 

19. The New kid at School by KH McMullan ✰4✰

This week I continued reading

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 138/1468)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (page 156/337)

How to Boil Water by Jennifer Darling (page 77/243)

This week I started reading

You Don’t Know Everything Jilly P! by Alex Gino (page 89/256)

Good Talk by Mira Jacob (page 151/349)

Autoboyography by Christina Lauren (page 155/407)

The Martian by Andy Weir (page 49/369)

This week I acquired

16. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

17. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

18. Hello Cruel World by Kate Bornstein

19. Crossed by Ally Condie

20. Reached by Ally Condie

21. The Girl With all the Gifts by MR Carey

22. I Loved You More by Tom Spanbauer

23. No Exit by Taylor Adams

24. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Next week I hope to pick up

Bloody Rose by Nicholas Eames

Britt-Marie was Here by Fredtik Backman

Treasures in the Snow by Patricia St. John

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

There are still six other books in my birthday countdown that I hope to read on the day I open them so I’m hoping for another big reading week next week. I also have four books I’ll be opening on my birthday and Valentine’s Day so there will be more books in my haul next week too. I hope you have a great reading week.

Homeschool Update

I have quite a few new followers since the last time I talked about our homeschool journey. My daughter is just turning five this month so we don’t legally report to the state until this coming July, but we’ve been homeschooling semi-officially since my daughter asked to do workbooks at two and a half. When my husband was diagnosed with brain cancer a year ago, and then died over the course of four months, homeschool was put on the back burner. That was not a big deal because we weren’t legally required to be homeschooling yet. We still did homeschool things and made our way slowly through her various workbooks as time and interest permitted, but we didn’t keep any records or a schedule.

Currently we’re still just doing school when Pepper asks to. Which is just about every day. To start getting her prepared for the more consistent work we’ll have to do once the new school year begins I have given her one rule. My only rule is that she has to do her math and phonics work first and then she can choose whichever other subjects she wants to work on. Otherwise, even though she is fantastic with her math and her phonics/reading she would only end up choosing to do art and geography 24 hours a day.

I didn’t look to see when I last wrote about homeschool on here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the things we are using are the same books we had a year ago. Some subjects have been very slow going.

The books we are using currently are kept on one section of my desk and she has a spot where she can sit next to me to do her work whenever she would like to. This is what we are using at this moment in time. I’ve included a link to Amazon for each one so you can see more information if you want to, but they are not affiliate links.

We don’t use all of these every day. And we use some other resources too of course. Flashcards, songs, and videos on Youtube for her Spanish, math based games and apps, ABC Mouse at the library, and lots and lots of reading, either her reading to me, her reading to herself, or me reading out loud to her. Right now we’re reading the first Harry Potter book and a book about JoJo Siwa .

This is just a check in to show where we are right now. But, I’ll be posting a few more updates leading up to our first official year of homeschooling as we get closer to the start of the 2020-2021 school year.

Recent Read – Oona Out of Order

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

My rating ✰4✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order

Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met?

Oona Out of Order is a remarkably inventive novel that explores what it means to live a life fully in the moment, even if those moments are out of sequence. Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.

This book is due to come out on the 25th of this month. I won the arc in an Instagram giveaway. I am so glad I got to read it.

This book has such a fun concept, Oona turns a different age each year on her birthday, New Year’s Day, at midnight when the year changes. She goes from 18 to 51 to 27 and so on. Each year is filled with losses and love and adventures and fun. Nothing is ever all good or all bad. Somehow it just kept surprising me with each leap. New adventures and new lessons, and a new way to live in the moment. Some losses she has to survive before she even gets to live through the beginnings. Each year she learns something more about the world and herself and what it means to live in the moment. She learns that to live a full life she needs to fully experience the highs and the lows. She can’t have one without the other.

Oona Out of Order was fun and light and made me laugh out loud numerous times, but  it still had so much that made me think about what you can live through and what you can change and whether you should hope to be able to change your past. Oona did a great job of trying to accept who she was and where she was in life and enjoying it to the fullest.

 

Long Term Reading Projects

I like to make goals. Yearly ones are are fun and have a set deadline. Other reading goals I might have don’t have a set deadline. They are just things I would like to accomplish at some point and I call them reading projects. I have several ongoing ones and haven’t done a check in on them since my last post about them in September of 2018. I thought I would see how I am doing on them and remind myself that they exist to renew my interest in them.

Long term reading projects I have range from reading all of the books by a favorite author to reading all of the winners of the Newbery Award to reading a specific set of recommended books in a genre I enjoy. I have 7 lists I’m working off of currently.

  • Reading all of the Newbery Award winning books was a project I started in 2018 and I am only counting books I read from that point forward. There are 99 of them on the list and I have read 14.
  • Another goal is to read all of Anne Lamott’s Books. I have read 3 out of 18 since starting this project though I had read a few others years before I started tracking them.
  • I was also working on reading everything written by Lois Lowry, because I loved The Giver Quartet so much. I have read 14 out of 44 of her books.
  • Fredrik Backman was the most recent author to these lists. He is my favorite author at this time and there is just one more of his books left to read before his newest book comes out in September. I have read 7 out of 8 books currently published in English.
  • For Seanan McGuire I’m having trouble finding an accurate list of her published books between her name and her pen name, but I have 54 written down and I have read only 5 of them.
  • I have a list of 38 dystopian books that I want to read and have so far only read 2 of them.
  • The last list I have is a list of books that my late husband loved or talked about often during our marriage. My Jason Books. I don’t have a full or accurate list of these books and I may never have one. So far I have read 4 of his favorite books.

I hope to make more progress on all of these goals this year. Do you have any reading projects that will take you longer than one year to complete?

 

Bookish Birthday Countdowns

Traditionally Birthdays are a big deal for our family. That is even more the case since Pepper was born. With my husband’s death last June I wasn’t sure this year would be nearly as celebratory, but I did my best to keep the most important traditions in place for Pepper.

One thing we’ve done since the lead up to her 2nd birthday was a countdown. After Christmas I buy a discount advent calendar and she gets to open it for the 24 days leading up to her birthday. This year she has a Disney book countdown so she will get to open a new small book each day for the days leading up to her birthday.

She is very concerned about fairness so she wanted to know what my countdown would be and where it was. Unfortunately there wasn’t room in the budget for anything for me at this point and I really don’t need 24 of anything, so I got creative.

I went through my shelves of unread books and chose the 13 shortest books I could I find. These books are between 49 and 186 pages. I wrapped them in pretty gift wrap and I will open them each day of February from the 1st until my birthday on the 13th. I will also try to read the book I unwrap on the day I open it. It will get a little harder as the books get longer, but I’ll do my best. (So far I’m 3 for 3 on unwrapping and reading them the same day.)

This serves two purposes. My daughter will be thrilled that I have a countdown just like her. And I will hopefully get a few books ahead for getting my physical TBR down, because I anticipate receiving several books for my birthday. And it didn’t cost me anything. Win Win Win.

I’ve included the list of the books I wrapped for myself below.

An Adventure That’s For Sure by Donna Wood

Falling Ill by CK Williams

Dear Ijeawele by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Pink Mist by Owen Sheers

Coming Back From Broken by Stacie Baker

The New kid at School by KH McMullan

The History Major by Michael Phillip Cash

Baba Yaga and the Enchanted Ring by Nancy K Ford

Bulwark by Brit Lunden

The Last Execution by Jesper Wung-Sung

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

Inscriptions for Headstones by Matthew Vollmer

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

2020 Goals Check In-January

One month of 2020 is over so let’s look at how I’m doing on my goals. You can see more details about the goals in my original post.

  1. Read at least 100 books 11/100
  2. Own fewer unread books at the end of the year than I have at the beginningFail so far. I’ve acquired 5 more books than I’ve read from my physical shelves.
  3. Only order books online when I’ve read 10 physical books that I owned in 2019 or earlier. Another fail so far. I placed an order during a bad mental health day and have not finished 10 of my owned books. 
  4. Finish reading all of the books I have records of for 20171/14
    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 ✰4✰
    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
  5. Read at least 14 tomes (books over 500 pages) 1/14
    1. A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
    2. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire ✰5✰
    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
  6. Complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 2020 10/50 complete
  7. Participate in Booktube Rereadathon 2020.
    • January- reread a translated book or a book in which a character speaks more than one language  I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m working on a reread of A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. It’s taking longer to read because I’m annotating it. 

I’m glad to see I’m at least making progress on most of my goals. There are ones I need to focus on more, but I’m pleased with my progress so far. How are your 2020 goals holding up so far?

It’s My Birthday Tag

When is your birthday?

February 13th. This year it’s on a Thursday, but it was a Friday the year I was born. My little brother always told me I was bad luck.

How old will you be? 

I will be 33 years old

How old do you feel like you are?

I feel about 80 most days. Something about becoming a widow last year makes me feel far older than I actually am.

How old do you wish you were?

I wish I was 23. I met my husband when I was 23 and we had nine amazing years together. I want to live that joy and love all over again. I don’t know if could survive losing him again though.

How do you celebrate your birthday?

At this point, I don’t really celebrate. I will have a gift or two and Pepper and I might have cake. She will likely sing to me.

What gift do you hope to get for your birthday?

I buy my own gifts now so I know I will be getting The Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jeminsin and Pepper chose a new bookmark for me.

What is the favorite gift you received in birthday’s past?

My favorite gift I ever received is a ring I wear every day. It was my gift from my husband on my first birthday after we met. We had been together for nine months and living together for two. I told him I wanted a ring for my birthday gift. I drew pictures of rings and left them around the apartment and on his desk at work. I reminded him of my ring size at least daily. And he chose an amazingly beautiful ring for me that has three emeralds. Green was my favorite color at the time. I get compliments on it often. I adore it still.

How do you like to spend your birthday?

I like to spend it being appreciated. I used to spend it not working. I would always take the day off work and spend it home relaxing. This year, I would like to just skip it, but we can’t. Pepper is too smart for that now and she insists I have a gift. We will likely spend it much like every other day.

What was your favorite birthday party?

I haven’t had a birthday party since I was 16. I would guess my 16th would be my most memorable. We went bowling and that’s all I really remember about it. It was the only birthday party that wasn’t at home with just family.

This year, though it will Pepper’s party and not mine, will certainly top it. Pepper will be turning 5 and we have a mermaid theme as requested. I think she will have so much fun and I can’t wait to see her be excited.

 

My Bookish Week 02/01/20

It was not a bad reading week. I had to admit I wasn’t going to get to all of the books I wanted to in January and just work on finishing some books I was in the middle of before I start my ambitious February TBR.

 

This week I finished reading

10. Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore ✰4✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a bildungsroman.

11. Wilder Girls by Rory Power ✰3✰ I am using this for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge to read a book recommended by a favorite blog, vlog, etc. It is a favorite of Books and LaLa

This week I continued reading

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 113/1468)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (page 117/337)

This week I started reading

How to Boil Water by Jennifer Darling (page 35/243)

This week I acquired

14. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

15. Finding Out by Sheryn MacMunn

Next week I hope to pick up

You Don’t Know Everything Jilly P! by Alex Gino

Good Talk by Mira Jacob

Authoboyography by Christina Lauren

 

What book are you planning to start first in February?

 

 

It’s Birthday Month!

I started this last year, I think. In our family we have birthday week. My birthday is the 13th, Valentine’s Day is the 14th, and Pepper’s birthday is the 16th. We celebrate all week and end on Pepper’s big birthday celebration. This year that will include a real birthday party with other children involved.

For birthday month I celebrate here by having one post each day in February. Last year I managed to keep up on one post a day even though we started the month in the hospital a few hours away learning that my husband was dying from brain cancer. This month has strongly negative emotions attached to it now for obvious reasons.

I decided to continue the tradition mostly to keep myself extra busy during this additional emotionally trying time. Let’s be honest though, all times are emotionally trying now. I will be celebrating my 33rd and Pepper’s 5th birthday as a widow of 8 months and while we’re still getting through our year of firsts I’m trying to keep things as normal as possible and that includes a post every day in February. And I’m excited about it!

This is when I end up catching up on all the bookish tags I find and can’t fit in my usual schedule throughout the year. I include all of my usual other content as well. My Bookish Weeks, goals check in, widow update, and haul revisit. There is birthday specific content too. And I’m hoping to start writing some simple book reviews again as well. I didn’t have the mental energy to put in to those throughout the holidays and I miss them.

Because it’s Saturday there will be my usual weekly wrap up at the usual time 8am EST and then there will be one post from me every day for another 28 days in a row. I hope you don’t get sick of me before March.

Happy Birthday Month!

February 2018 and 2019 Haul Revisit

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.

February 2018 (6/10 read)

  1. The Improbability of Love by Hannah Mary Rothschild DNF
  2. Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle
  3. The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah
  4. Four Tales by Philip Pullman
  5. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo currently reading
  6. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee ✰5✰
  7. The Organized Homeschool Life by Melanie Wilson ✰4✰
  8. Illuminaeby Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff ✰5✰
  9. Geminaby Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff ✰5✰
  10. Obsidioby Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff ✰5✰

February 2019 (5/12 read)

  1. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman ✰5✰
  2. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson ✰3✰
  3. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
  4. Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner
  5. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ✰5✰
  6. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid ✰4✰
  7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman ✰3✰
  8. Bossy Pants by Tina Fey
  9. The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen
  10. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
  11. We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
  12. The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

Are any of my remaining books from these months ones that you loved?

First Sentence- January

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. I thought I would 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.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire

There is so much blood.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

In 1815 Monsieur Charles-Francois-Bienvenu Myriel was Bishop of Digne.

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher

I never used to keep close track of the phases of the moon. 

Grieving: A Love Story by Ruth Coughlin

I am new to this thing called widowhood. 

That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek by Cheri Huber

Overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The monster showed up just after midnight. 

Often I am Happy by Jens Christian Grondahl

Now your husband is also dead, Anna.

Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar

On Thursday, December 16, 1999, Gwendy Peterson wakes up before the sun, dresses in layers for the cold, and heads out for a run. 

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

The party flowed with cinematic choreography: plastic cups and beer bottles tilted back in a syncopated rhythm; clusters of guests bobbed heads and danced to a new wave soundtrack as if the floor was a giant trampoline, a ribbon of tipsy laughter running through the room. 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ove is fifty-nine.

I Love My Love by Reyna Biddy

for my mother’s pain,

this is proof that sunshine comes after rain.

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Something.

Of these 12 opening lines, how many intrigue you enough to want to pick them up?

 

My Bookish Week 01/25/20

This week I did pretty well reading wise. I finished 4 more books bringing my yearly total up to 9 books read so far. I am now only in the middle of 3 books because I focused on finishing books instead of starting new ones.

Unfortunately it was also a bad mental health week and I did a little shopping and am now officially losing the lower my TBR battle, but I’m sure I can catch back up, just maybe not this month.

This week I finished reading

6. It’s Ok That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine ✰5✰ This is one of the books about grief I was hoping to finish this year. This book took me months to read. Not at the fault of the book. I don’t like to be inside my grief, actively working on it, for too long each day. It’s overwhelming. This book offered so much to so many people. Encouragement and love for those who are grieving and practical advice for both the grieving and those that love them and want to be helpful. This is an invaluable resource for all. 

7. I Love My Love by Reyna Biddy ✰2✰ I’m using this book for the Pop Sugar reading challenge to read a book written by an author in their 20s. 

8. Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar ✰3✰ I’m using this book for the Pop Sugar reading Challenge to read a book that passes the Bechdel test. 

9. Fool Moon by Jim Butcher ✰4✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar Challenge to read a book by an author with more than 20 books published. It is also a book from my 2017 purchases reading goal. 

This week I continued reading

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 96/1468)

This week I started reading

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore (page109/338)

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (page 16/337)

This week I acquired

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

12. Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend

13. A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

Next week I hope to pick up (at least one of these)

The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World by Harry Harrison

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Next week it will be February. I’m hoping to finish at least two or three more books before January is finished.

Recent Read – A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

My rating ✰5✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting– he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd– whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself– Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.

This was such a hard and emotional read. Knowing what was coming for Conor and his mother while he seemed to not know, or at least to not acknowledge it was painful. Watching his mother die before our eyes mirrored watching my beloved husband Jason die in so many ways that it hurt my heart intensely to see it all over again in Conor’s eyes. I was sobbing uncontrollably by the end. It was such a hard and touching and powerful story that I am so glad I read. The pictures added to the story and were frightening all on their own.

Seeing Conor’s fear and anger come out throughout the book were something I could relate to from my own loss. The denial wasn’t something I related too, but could see why he was experiencing it. The representation of grief is painfully accurate. I highly recommend this book to anyone that can handle the tears it will likely cause.

Five Star Book Predictions

I hope to give every book I read five stars, but that’s not realistic. I looked through my recent acquisitions to see which ones jumped out at me as the most likely to be new favorites. Here are 5 of them in no particular order. I’ll link to goodreads and share the blurb they have there as well.

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.

Wilder Girls by Rory Powers

It’s been eighteen months since the Raxter School for Girls was put under quarantine. Since the Tox hit and pulled Hetty’s life out from under her.

It started slow. First the teachers died one by one. Then it began to infect the students, turning their bodies strange and foreign. Now, cut off from the rest of the world and left to fend for themselves on their island home, the girls don’t dare wander outside the school’s fence, where the Tox has made the woods wild and dangerous. They wait for the cure they were promised as the Tox seeps into everything.

But when Byatt goes missing, Hetty will do anything to find her, even if it means breaking quarantine and braving the horrors that lie beyond the fence. And when she does, Hetty learns that there’s more to their story, to their life at Raxter, than she could have ever thought true.

The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend

A cursed girl escapes death and finds herself in a magical world – but is then tested beyond her wildest imagination

Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.

But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and shadowy hunters on horseback, he whisks her away into the safety of a secret, magical city called Nevermoor.

It’s then that Morrigan discovers Jupiter has chosen her to contend for a place in the city’s most prestigious organization: the Wundrous Society. In order to join, she must compete in four difficult and dangerous trials against hundreds of other children, each boasting an extraordinary talent that sets them apart – an extraordinary talent that Morrigan insists she does not have. To stay in the safety of Nevermoor for good, Morrigan will need to find a way to pass the tests – or she’ll have to leave the city to confront her deadly fate.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

‘I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

My name is Kvothe.
You may have heard of me’

Becoming by Michelle Obama

In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

From these selections it feels like I read pretty widely and enjoy a wide variety of books. The one of these I plan to read next is Wilder Girls. I hope to start it in just a few days time. Have any of these books been five star reads for you?

My Bookish Week 01/18/20

It was a pretty good reading week. I finished three more books and made progress in four others. I didn’t read as much as I had hoped to though. Pepper’s behavior is normalizing again thankfully so hopefully I’ll have more reading time this coming week.

This week I finished reading

3. Often I am Happy by Jens Christian Grondahl ✰3✰  I am using this book for the Pop Sugar reading challenge to read a book with only words on the cover. 

4. Grieving: A Love Story by Ruth Coughlin ✰5✰ I am using this book for the Pop Sugar reading challenge to read a book by or about a journalist. 

5. Middlegame by Seanan McGuire ✰5✰ This is one of the tomes I wanted to read this year. I am going to also use this book for the Pop Sugar reading prompt to read a book with a character with a vision impairment. 

This week I continued reading

It’s Ok That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine (page 197/241)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 53/1468)

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (page 150/342)

Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar (page 131/323)

This week I acquired

4. The Supremes Sing the Happy Heartache Blues by Edward Kelsey Moore ($1.00)

5. Perfect Little World by Kevin Wilson. ($1.00)

Next week I hope to pick up

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I Love My Love by Reyna Biddy

I hope that you all have a good reading week and I hope that I do too.

Books On Grief

After my husband died from brain cancer in June of 2019 I began reading books about grief and widowhood and death, mostly non-fiction, but some fiction as well. I have collected 20 books, aimed at adults, on these subjects in the past seven months. My daughter, age 4, has a couple dozen books on grief and death as well. Of the 20 I purchased for myself I read 7 in 2019 and have read 3 others since the new year began.

Of those books, my top recommendation would be Grief: Day by Day and How to Survive the Loss of a Love would be a close second. They were all good for me in some way though and I don’t think you an go wrong with any of them.

The other books I’ve purchased and plan to read throughout this year are:

Do you have any other books on grief, death, widowhood, etc that you can recommend to me? We are an atheist family so something not too heavy handed with the religious aspects you often find in books of this type are appreciated.

 

2020 Reading Goals

I used to love making goals and reading goals are my favorite kind. I’ve made several for this year.

  1. Read at least 100 books
  2. Own fewer unread books at the end of the year than I have at the beginning. I’m not going to count all of the books I own at this time because it’s at least 700 and I don’t want to spend time counting them when I could spend that time reading instead. For my charts I’ll just start with a 0 which is whatever I have now and subtract books I own and have read and add books I have purchased. I don’t have a number goal in mind, I just want it to be smaller.
  3. Only order books online when I’ve read 10 physical books that I owned in 2019 or earlier. This is one way I hope to help with goal number two. In 2019 I purchased or was given 285 books. I buy most of my books online so I hope to lessen that a bit by only placing an order after reading 10 other books. This won’t limit what I read from my shelves or the library or digitally and it won’t limit in person purchases, but online is where my control problems lie. I also won’t necessarily restrict how many I can buy in that online order, but it’s usually about the free shipping threshold of $35. This will mean every time I read 10 books, I will order about 5 books. I’m hoping to keep the in person shopping low too, but I don’t spend nearly as much that way so I’m not worrying about that part right now. And I don’t think Christmas and Birthday gifts, even ones I buy for myself, count towards this.
  4. Finish reading all of the books I have records of for 2017. I only have records of my book purchases from November 2017 on. Of the books purchased in November and December 2017 I still have 14 unread books. I hope to finish those all in 2020. They are:
    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
  5. Read at least 14 tomes (books over 500 pages). I do not read long books. Almost never. They intimidate me, but I own so many that I am excited to read. Here are fourteen I plan to read in 2020:
    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
  6. Complete the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for 2020. I’ve never done this before but I would like to. I have the prompts in my reading journal and I was going to try and fit books in to each category, but I think I will just read what I read and slot them in to challenges as I can.
  7. Participate in Booktube Rereadathon 2020.I always like the idea of rereading my favorite books but in practice I pretty much never do so. This readathon is hosted by Alex Black Reads and has one challenge for each month of the year. For each prompt you reread a book based on the prompt.

 

These should all be completely doable. I’m excited to get started.

My Bookish Week 01/11/20

I spent this week with a sick kiddo so not too much reading was done. I finished one more book though and started two others.

This week I finished reading

2. That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek by Cheri Huber ✰3✰ I will be using this book for the Pop Sugar Reading Challenge for reading a book that was published in your birthday month. Goodreads says it was published on Feb 1, 1990. This is also a Jason book*

This week I continued reading

It’s Ok That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine (page 165/241)

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire (page 209/523)

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (page 39/1468)

Fool Moon by Jim Butcher (page 88/342)

Grieving: A Love Story by Ruth Coughlin (page 72/173)

This week I started reading

Often I am Happy by Jens Christian Grondahl (page 79/167)

Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Richard Chizmar (page 37/323)

This week I acquired

3. Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter This was a gift

Next week I hope to pick up

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

I Love My Love by Reyna Biddy

I have plans to finish between 3 and 6 of the books I’m reading this week, depending on how the kiddo is feeling and how much time I end up with for reading.

*A Jason book is a book owned by my late husband before I met him or a book he talked about often through our 9 year marriage

Seven Months as a Widow

Seven months ago my best friend, greatest supporter, and husband died from brain cancer. It was a four month battle that he lost quicker and more horrifically than we ever could have expected. These monthly check ins just give an overview of how widowhood is treating me and our four year old daughter.

This month we survived Christmas. It was a good day filled with laughter and love and more presents than any little girl needs. And I’m okay with that. We survived and the tree is down and I don’t have to think about Christmas again until I start shopping next June. I am so glad it’s over.

The next thing we’re gearing up for is Birthday Week. In February we celebrate birthday week. My 33rd birthday will be on the 13th, Valentine’s Day is on the 14th, and Miss Pepper turns 5 on the 16th. In years past we’ve done a small gift each day for the whole week or something else to stretch the joy and celebration for all three of us over the whole week, but this year I don’t think we’ll be doing that. Money is very tight and Pepper is hoping for her first real birthday party this year. She’s always had a cake and gifts with me and my husband and her three grandparents. Last year she desperately wanted to have her first real birthday party with friends invited, but Jason was in the middle of chemo and radiation and I just couldn’t handle a party on top of everything else so I promised her we would do a party when she turned 5. And now she’s turning 5 in a few weeks.  Her wishes for her mermaid themed birthday party are a pin the tail on the mermaid game, party poppers that shoot confetti, and a pink cake shaped like a mermaid tail. I’ve ordered everything at this point and am just waiting for it to get here. Unfortunately, even a small party is turning out to be expensive and we’re DIYing as much as possible. That means I likely won’t be getting a birthday gift this year because we used the budget we had for birthday week for her party and a few gifts. Totally worth it though to see her being so excited. I will likely end up with some sort of birthday gift when I share my Amazon wishlist with family so I assume I will end up with a book or two.

No update on my eyes yet. I’m just using the various eye drops 6 times a day and I go back for a check up in February.

We’ve had some drama this month with the landlady that still isn’t resolved. She’s left a note under our door with a complaint and then never bothered to respond to questions about what the issue actually is. At this point I’m just working on finding a new place for us to live. I don’t want to attempt to deal with her any more. It’s hard though, my husband and I moved here together when we had been dating for 7 months and this is where he did the bulk of his dying. I don’t know how to leave our space, our home. I also don’t feel safe or welcome here any more so it has to be done. I don’t know how I’ll possibly afford it though.

I’ve been working with my grief counselor on using our dishes. I now use all of our dishes except for our mugs. Hooray for progress! I’m also working on eating more than frozen pizza. Cooking was never something I was good at or cared about. Jason did all of our cooking because he loved it and was good at it. I’ve eaten frozen pizza at least once and sometimes twice a day every day for the seven months my husband has been dead. I’m finally sick enough of it to try cooking something easy myself and I’ve been doing okay with that this week. I’m pickier with my food than I ever thought so it’s been even more difficult. I’m making progress though.

Pepper’s behavior is somehow doing even worse. I’ve talked to relatives and my grief counselor about her and it seems to just be that she is a very bright and stubborn almost five year old and the behavior has nothing to do with grieving or other issues. It has gotten so overwhelming though. Three times in one week we left somewhere because she was screaming so loud and flailing so much that I had to just take her under one arm and flee the store or library or children’s museum. Absolutely humiliating. Nothing seems to be working so far, but we’re still trying things. Timeouts, taking things away, just holding her and letting her flail. The new technique I plan to try I read about in a grief book I’m currently reading and it really helps me when I’m awake at night and can’t fall asleep because I’m thinking too much about Jason and his dying process. You look around and make a list of things that are the orange or start with a T or something else. Some innocuous list that doesn’t trigger any emotions or memories. I plan to try that with Pepper during her next tantrum and see if that helps her too.

I started a new planner this month and I’m so excited. It’s a page a day planner so I have a full A5 sheet for each day. That gives me enough space for my to do list and appointments, but leaves enough room for decoration with stickers and washi tape, a spot for gratitude so I remember to try and focus on something good each day, and it leaves a large space for journalling or writing to my Jason. We are atheist so I in no way believe the message is making it to him, but I spent 9 years telling him everything all the time and I have so many things I want to say to him each day and I can’t. So having a space to write to him lets me get it out of my brain and then I can focus better on other things. And if it makes me feel at all better, I’m going to do it.

We’re making it. One day, and sometimes one minute, at a time, but we’re making it.