I didn’t really establish a TBR for November. Over the past few months, I’ve realized that while I’m competitive and love the idea of a challenge, I read for pleasure and escape, and will balk… More
I started stepping up my reading game this month. I managed to finish 15 books!
- God, I Need to Talk to You About Sharing by Dan Carr
I gave this one 3/5 stars. It was okay. It’s meant to help teach morality to your child, and it gave decent examples of some of the repercussions to being selfish as well as how you can be forgiven for your bad behavior.
- Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane
I gave this book 5/5 stars. The illustrations were fantastic! This was a counting book and each type of family had one more kid than the last family. Each family had a unique scary sound that they made, so the kids would mimic the parent in howling, haunting, etc. I picked this one up because Gabby has been liking Halloween books lately. She liked it, but I think I enjoyed it more than she did. Counting books are getting just a little young for her. She did like looking at the pictures with me and making up stories about what the kids might be doing.
- God, I Need to Talk to You About Whining by Susan K. Leigh
I gave this 3/5 stars. This is another book in the “God, I Need to Talk to You About…” series. It is supposed to teach your child about not whining to get what they want. However, almost immediately after reading this story, Gabby started whining for something (a glass of milk?), so clearly the lesson didn’t sink in. 😉
- The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
I gave this one 5/5 stars. This was a really good read!
It comes across more in the genre of a Tom Clancy/Vince Flynn thriller, which is unexpected from a Stephenie Meyer novel, but I think she pulls it off remarkably well. I’d love to see more books of this genre from her.
- Too Late by Colleen Hoover
I gave this book 4/5 stars. This book was a little edgier, darker, and more explicit that Colleen Hoover’s other novels. I read it as an audiobook, and I have to admit that there were quite a few times where I had to decrease the volume of the radio as I was arriving at work, lest I scandalize coworkers and passers-by.
I enjoyed the characters in this book, particularly Sloan and Asa. Asa is a very complicated character, but that made him especially interesting. Carter was interesting in a way, but he wasn’t on the same level as the other two characters. I would have liked to have known more about his back story or how he got into the situation we find him in.
This book did have me on the edge of my seat several times and I was frequently wincing as characters did things that I knew were going to come back to cause them pain and suffering.
It is more sex and explicit situations than I typically prefer to read, but it was enjoyable. I felt that the situations were believable.
If I were to meet a character in real life, I’d probably pick Dalton. He was a good supporting character and I feel that he would be fun to hang out with and has good priorities in life. Asa would be interesting, but in real life, you don’t want to attract attention from someone like him – he’s just too dangerous.
- There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves by Lucille Colandro
I gave this story 3/5 stars. I was not as big of a fan of this story as Gabby is. She’s had me read it to her about 3 times in the past week or so. I think part of the draw is the “Halloween/Fall” theme to the story.
The illustrations were done with short strokes, almost like pointillism. It was probably technically very difficult to draw. The bugs were super cute and I loved watching the animals’ reactions to this woman.
- Franco by Kim Holden
I gave this one 4/5 stars. This book is the third in the Bright Side series. I really enjoyed the other two books, so I was excited to read this one.
I liked Franco and Gemma. They were enjoyable people to hang around and listen to their story. I loved that both of them were bad ass in their own arenas and that Franco never assumed that Gemma’s career would take a back seat to his own. His humility and regard for her were refreshing.
I found their struggles to be realistic and engaging.
I really appreciated that this book was just a good read, and not the sob-fest that prior books had been. It didn’t have the same emotional rollercoaster, but it felt more like the gentle ending of the trilogy. The other books gripped your emotions by the throat, while this one just made you hold your breath from time to time.
- Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress by Tina Ferraro
I rated this book 4/5 stars. This was a cute story and a book you can (and I did) read in one sitting.
While the back of the book makes it seem as if there were 10 things that the protagonist did to the prom dress which resolved all of her issues, the 10 uses were really just in her imagination, for the most part.
I liked the characters and felt they were pretty authentic. There were a couple scenarios that didn’t ring quite true, but I’ll let a lot slide for the sake of entertaining fiction.
- I Don’t Want to Eat Bugs by Rachel Branton
This was a 4/5 star story. This was a cute little read about a girl who was hungry, but dinner wasn’t ready yet. I read this to Gabby from my Kindle account on my phone last night. She enjoyed it too.
- There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro
I gave this one 3/5 stars. I wasn’t a fan of the book, “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves,” but since Gabby had me read it 3 times in one week, I figured there was something about it that she really liked, so I looked on Amazon for some similar stories that we could read together.
I found out that there are a *lot* of these books! Since Gabby loves Halloween stories, I picked this one. Before we even started, she said, “I bet she eats a ghost!” She was also interested to see what the Old Lady would make, since in the Leaves story, she ends up sneezing out a scarecrow. In this one, what comes out is “Halloween,” which was a little too abstract for Gabby, but cute nonetheless.
I would recommend this one, if you are new to the “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed…” series.
- Like Living Among Scorpions by Jennifer Fulwiler
5/5 stars, as always! Apparently, this is my day for finishing books I’ve started a long time ago, and the day for reading Jen Fulwiler!
Thank you, Jen, for taking Texas completely off the list of possible states to live. No thank you to living with scorpions. I suppose I’ll have to appreciate my black-ice laden Michigan winters just a little longer.
It’s all fun and games and delightful internet stories until someone’s stung in the face in bed in the middle of the night. NOPE.
Hang in there, Jen!
- One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler
I gave this 5/5 stars, which is not at all surprising. Jen’s writing has drawn me in from back in the early blog days when she ran Et Tu? (Before it became Conversion Diary and then JenniferFulwiler.com.) She has a way of making the ordinary extraordinary and relating events with a lot of negative emotion in a way that shows great perspective and understanding. Her books always make me laugh out loud and shed some tears.
She has a way of sharing stories that would make you look forward to reading her grocery list, while at the same time she will slip in some profound insights and wisdom that will deeply change the way you live your life.
Needless to say, I recommend this book to everyone. Especially those who are in the middle of the storm of raising littles and worrying that they are not enough; you completely are. God has made us for community; never be afraid of leaning on your people.
- Everyone We’ve Been by Sarah Everett
I read the hardcover edition of this book, which I borrowed from the library. It is YA fiction, basically set in the present day, with the addition of some medical technology that we do not yet have in real life.
Central to the book is the question, “What does it mean to move on?” I guess part of my answer to that question is the reason why, while I liked her, I couldn’t identify as much with the main character.
This was an interesting story, but I wish the trauma that caused her to make her decision (sorry, I’m trying to be vague and non-spoilery) had been fleshed out and described in more detail. As it is written, it feels more superficial and poorly reasoned.
Addie as a character does have a lot of growth as she discovers more about herself and her past, and I have a feeling that she will do just fine going forward.
This book made me feel grateful for all of my past – both the good and the bad memories. They make me who I am today.
Overall, I liked the story. I’m a little bit of a hard grader, so it only gets 3/5 stars, but for me, this is not a bad rating. I’m glad I read it. I may or may not re-read it. I would probably read a sequel, if one were ever written. It might be interesting to read a story about Zach or from Zach’s POV.
- A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy
I gave this 4/5 stars. It was a good, quick read. I liked that the character had good personal growth throughout the course of the story and that there was a magical, super-happy ending, but a realistic one instead. I also liked the conflict that the main character had in her love life, as I feel too many girls find themselves in this situation as they first start navigating the relationship world.
- The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I gave this one 5/5 stars. This was truly a great read. From the beginning, the writing was fantastic and the characters vibrant and compelling.
I picked up this book as one of my Book of the Month choices, but it took me a while to actually bring myself to start reading it. Perhaps because it was an adult contemporary novel, and I tend to find these a little less exciting than the bubble-gum YA that I usually prefer. But even 9 pages in, I knew that this was going to be a gripping story. And it did not disappoint. I read it in two marathon reading sessions and enjoyed every sleep-deprived minute.
The story within the story basically takes over the plot of the book, and this is fine. It is an epic tale that teaches you in a subtle way some truths about human nature, both admirable and despicable.
I didn’t expect this to be a favorite book, but I have a feeling that this story will stay with me for quite some time to come.
There are 17 weeks left in 2018. I had challenged myself to read 102 books this year, which translates to an average reading pace of 2 books/week.
However, I am woefully behind and have only read 38 books to date. This means that I will have to read about 4 books per week for the rest of the year to catch up!
If you do not see me, it’s because my nose is stuck in a book somewhere!
How are you doing on your reading challenges?
It’s that time of year again, when kids go back to school. I’m going to be hitting the books again, but not in the same way.
I have always loved reading, but lately, this hobby has been put on the back burner. In fact, most of my previously-loved hobbies have been shelved for a while: reading, photography, blogging (obvs)…. It’s hard to say why in particular. I’ve been working a lot, spending time with my goddaughter and her family, and when I come home, I tend to watch TV while I eat dinner and this turns into several hours of TV and then bedtime. I used to read at dinner.
One of my friends, Monica, mentioned a BookTuber whose channel is @Booksandlala (also Instagram, etc.), and I’ve been watching Kayla/Lala’s content for the past several days. This has made me want to get back into the reading habit again.
As always, this year I made a ridiculously high number of books as my goal in Goodreads: 102! So far, I’ve only read 33, so I will have to read one book every two days to get back on track and make my reading goal by the end of the year. In addition, I set my goal to 102, because I decided to participate in several challenges (PopSugar, Goodreads YA Group), so I have committed (maybe less than true commitment, perhaps more like vaguely intended) to reading books within particular parameters. I see this as less likely to be completed by the end of the year. I tend to read more when I can have free-reign over what I decide to pick up.
Since it is the end of August, I want to set up a TBR list for September and then track the number of books/pages that I read in September. I also went onto my Goodreads account and cleared out my Currently Reading section. Most of the books on that list were ones that I have started, that I still intend on finishing, but that I haven’t touched in years. I figure it’s better to put them as Want to Read – I’ll probably have to start from the beginning anyway when I go to pick them up again.
This also means that I should dedicate at least some time every day to reading. Today, I want to work on finishing Jennifer Fulwiler’s book, “One Beautiful Dream.” I had read about half of it in one sitting as soon as I got it, but then it was set down and I haven’t circled back to it. That’s no reflection on the book – the book is fantastic! – but more on the chaotic nature of my life.
It doesn’t happen too often that I have a dream that I remember upon waking, but this one was unusual in several respects. I had the POV of someone watching a movie, and there was some serious cinematography at work. In my waking life, there would have been no way I could have come up with all of the cuts and angles, different perspectives, and background scene details. Whoever crafted my dream was a film savant. Not only was the camera work excellent, but the plot was detailed and tricky; as the “viewer,” I had no idea what plot twist was coming next. I would have thought that this was a repeat of something I had watched before, but that doesn’t seem likely, as the film’s genre was one that I’m not really into: psychological thriller.
I’m losing details as I type, but I’ll try to relay what I remember. It was set in a home. The furniture and decorations were modern and elegant, but not overtly expensive. There were many people in attendance for some kind of benefit. There was a married couple, of which the husband will turn out to be the protagonist. We see both of them mingling with the crowd and speaking with their guests.
The scene cuts away to see a few other guests doing some suspicious things. They are all very efficient and specific in their behaviors, as if they are coordinating their efforts. They go about the house putting objects that you cannot quite see in hidden locations. One of them, a woman in her mid-twenties, places some long thin rods in the opening of her purse and starts to walk away, but then re-thinks this decision and lingers in the area to make sure that nothing happens to them.
Time passes, and the benefit is drawing to a close. The husband is saying farewell to some guests a few yards away from his wife. A couple members of the suspicious group confront the man, and we realize that the only people left in the house are members of this group, this couple, and one other guest. While the man looks on in fear, the young woman takes one of the thin rods and kills the remaining guest with it, letting the man know that he will be framed for the murder.
Before he can react too much to that event, one of the other group members warns him not to be too much of a hero, as they have his children under their control as well. They show him a tablet with video footage of three young children, all oddly frozen in a state of play, and held in captivity. Their surroundings look familiar, like the vestibule of the couple’s condo.
In horror, the man looks over to his wife, who is being held between two group members. One of the group members told him that he shouldn’t be too distracted, that something was also going to happen to his wife. Reveling in his pain, they allowed him to walk over to her. He cupped her face in his hands, both grieving over their lost guest and the fate of their children Then, his eyes went wide in disbelief, as one side of her face started drooping as if she were suffering a stroke. She was unaware of what was happening, and with tear-filled eyes, he explained to his wife what he was seeing. They both understood the implications of this and were devastated.
I’ve lost much of the nuance and plot-detail, but I was fascinated with how complex it seemed. Doesn’t my brain know that bedtime is for resting?! Also, that is some creepy messed-up story!
Amy tells us that doing the things that we love to do is far from a waste of time — it’s necessary for our happiness and well-being! She encourages us to spend time every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes, doing something for ourselves that we love to do and that feeds our soul. Our homework for today was to track our activities throughout the day, rate them on a scale of 1-10 based on how they made us feel, and add any comments to note how we felt about those activities.
This will help us see how much of the day is spent doing things which drain/invigorate us and where we might be able to adjust our day.
I am still catching up, so I didn’t keep track of a particular day, but I am going to write down my thoughts on some common activities that I typically do.
Making the Bed (3): I find this more tedious than necessary. No one sees my bed and it really doesn’t make me feel better or worse if it’s made or not. I have a pillow top mattress, so it always looks lumpy.
Commute to Work (6): This is kind of a neutral-to-good activity for me. In the morning, traffic is usually fairly light and if I leave the house early enough, I can enjoy a Starbucks on the way. I typically will listen to a Podcast or Audiobook on the commute.
Work (varies): The atmosphere at work has been stressful lately, but I am staying hopeful. I am happiest when I feel that the work that I am doing is really helping people and when I get to be more creative and analytical. Very routine work or answering the same question over and over is not my favorite thing to do.
Gym (2, then 8): I hate going to the gym; I love being at the gym and having been at the gym. It’s just getting over that hump of trying to talk myself into going. I always think of things I’d rather be doing, want to be home sooner, not want to get stuck in rush hour traffic, not have gym clothes clean and ready to go, etc. But once I’m there, I love it! I love working out on the Lateral machine and lifting weights. I like that I am doing something good for my health. I like the achy muscle feeling after a good workout. So, why don’t I go more?
Reading (7): I love reading, but it tends to happen in spurts. I will be on a real reading kick for a while, then I’ll fall off and not pick up a book. I cannot help but pick up a ton of books when at the library or in a bookstore. Right now, I’m in another bookish phase, which is great. Although, I’ve found that I’m in the middle of a book that is not engaging me the way the first two books in the series did, so I’m reading that one a lot more slowly. I find that I’m stopping reading sooner and turning to other activities because I don’t want to finish that book, but I feel obligated to finish it before I move on to another book. Hmmmm.
Email (3): It’s more about deleting spam and ads than actually reading anything in there that is useful. And this is with programs like Unroll.me to help filter out the junk. Ugh. But if I don’t stay on top of it, I’ll miss things or have an Inbox with thousands of messages that I need to go through. Just another chore.
Dishes (1): I hate dishes. The only thing I like is the smell of the dish soap. And when they are done.
Laundry (5): I don’t mind laundry too much.
Putting Away Clean Clothes (3): Tedious and tiring.
Blogging (7): I like doing this. I have lots of ideas of what I want to write. But I get in my own way a lot. Either physically, because my office is a disaster and it’s a bit of a pain to get to the computer (although I finally arranged the power cables so that my laptop stays charged), or mentally because I’m looking for just the right image to go with a certain post and am having difficulties uploading the image, etc.
Photography (?): I remember that I loved doing this, but I haven’t had time to really do it in so long that… I don’t know?
Traveling (9): I love this! I’m excited to go to Austin, Texas soon! I would do this all the time if I had unlimited funding and time away from work. Of course, it’s a million times better with a friend (or 1,300).
Commute Home from Work (2): Practically nothing redeeming about this. Slow, traffic, frustration. Why can’t we have teleportation devices already?
Cooking Dinner (3): Most of the time I really don’t enjoy this. A lot of that is due to the fact that I also hate doing dishes and that means that I have to clean dishes in order to have dishes to use to make dinner. My dishes are all clean right now, which makes it easier, but it’s still a chore.
TV (6): It’s entertaining, but I find that once I sit down, I will binge-watch until I fall asleep on the couch and I never end up getting as much stuff accomplished as I wanted to.
Spending Time with Friends and Family (10): I love this! I need to schedule much more of this time into my day-to-day.
Final Takeaways: So much of the barriers to doing what I want is environmental. I need to get rid of the physical and mental clutter that is holding me back, so that I can have more time, freedom, and mental space to do and enjoy the things that are meaningful and make me happy. I need to prep better and stay on top of the things that I don’t enjoy doing so that they don’t take over and become large burdens.
Cindy recommended Amy Tangerine’s “Craft a Life You Love” to everyone in her Llamas Love Lettering Facebook group and started a book club where we read a section (mini-chapter?) per day and post our homework in the group (well, only if you want to share). The premise of it all is to set aside time each day to do something that you love every day and prioritizing your happiness at least once each day.
There are six sections and 29 mini-chapters, so this will run 29 days (or a tad longer if I slack off and have to catch up, not that that happens).
If you’d like to follow along, I’ll add #LLBC to the title of those posts.
Our intro to the program was on Wednesday (I’m writing this on Saturday because I’m behind, but I’ll be posting it with Wednesday’s date – a little blog time traveling if you will), and the first step was to sign a permission slip to yourself, to give yourself permission to care for yourself.
I am going to be posting my work here, because blogging and photography are two of the things that I love to do, but that I never make space for in my day-to-day. So, Thank You, for helping keep me accountable to myself! And if you are also participating outside of the Facebook group, link me to your work and I’ll support you in return!
Happy Reading and Crafting!
Sadly, lately I have been neglecting my reading life in favor of binge-watching TV series on Hulu/Netflix. I always intend to be better and every year, I set ridiculous goals for my reading life in Goodreads. (This year, I set my goal at 102 books and 3 different challenges. I’m 17 books behind schedule. *sigh*)
This morning, I listened to one of Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy)’s podcasts: WSIRN Ep 125: Gateway Books to Hook a Netflix Addict, which seemed incredibly appropriate. Not only did some of the books discussed spark my interest, but also invigorated my desire to read more.
I love challenges. But my follow-through of late has been more than lacking. Take the Quarterly Challenges put on by one of the YA groups I belong to in Goodreads. By my count, I haven’t completed a Quarterly Challenge since #10. They are currently on #29.
But that doesn’t stop me from continuing to sign up for them, quarter after quarter. And, of course, that’s exactly what I did (– again –) this morning. So here we go!
Quarterly Challenge #29
- New Release – One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler
- SPRING –
- Dr. Seuss –
- Tolkein –
- Couple Appreciation – Graceling by Kristin Cashore
- Earth Day – Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
- Read in Public –
- Paranormal – Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
- Smart & Sexy – Smart Girls Get What They Want by Sarah Strohmeyer
- Victoria Day – Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
I’ve put in a request to my local library to have some of these pulled and held for me (always dangerous), and I’ll get my copy of One Beautiful Dream once it’s released (on pre-order from Barnes & Noble). Graceling, I’ve owned for a while, but have never managed to finish reading it.
In addition to these, I’m planning on participating in a Book Club with Cindy Guentert-Baldo for Amy Tangerine’s book: Craft a Life You Love. This will be run out of her Facebook group.
Let’s see how far I get this time! 🙂
Sometimes I wonder if I’m too stingy with my star ratings. 3 is a hard category, because I feel some people will look at it and think that I did not like it. I’m trying to go with the Goodreads guidelines for some consistency in my grading. 3 means that I liked it. I may or may not read it again. I may or may not buy a physical copy if I got this via Kindle/Audiobooks/borrowed from a library.
4 means that I really liked the story and would recommend it to most people.
5 means that I want to live in this world, read everything there is about the characters, and buy the book in every version possible.
Going in the opposite direction, 2 means that I didn’t really like it. It was “meh” or boring or there was something wrong with it. I probably slogged through it and finished, but it’s not a book that I’d typically recommend. I’d probably give this book away rather than keep it (which is saying a lot, since I tend to hoard books).
I feel really bad about giving books a 1 rating. Most likely, I will also mark it as DNF (did not finish). I either hated it with a passion or just could not bring myself to make it through it.
However I feel about a certain book(s), I really try to keep an open mind about the author (for as long as I can, certain styles are just not my cup of tea and that’s okay as well). I always appreciate the effort that it takes to write a book and feel bad about a less-than-stellar review.
Now that we are just over a week into the new year, this is the time for all those bright, shiny New Year’s Resolutions to start falling by the wayside. It’s the time where you cheat for the first (or millionth) time, where you let yourself not do something *just this once*, where you promise to double up tomorrow. It’s a slippery slope and the slide starts early.
This evening, I started reading Emily Ley’s book, “A Simplified Life.” I bought two copies of this book: one for myself and one for my best friend. We both have aspects of our life which are hectic and frustrating and often feel that each day has far too much in the To Do column than will ever get checked off as Done.
Emily starts by talking about our environment and how clutter can make you feel overwhelmed and defeated before you even begin. So true, Emily. So true. I was read in a little bit, and then when I turned the page, there were some questions for us to answer about our home and what kind of environment we imagine for ourselves. So, of course, I decided that I would answer these for myself, instead of just plowing forward in reading the book. But then, I didn’t want to write in the book, because maybe I’d want to read it again later? So, sticky notes to the rescue! I had to then get up and find some sticky notes. And a pen. And while I’m up, I might as well put the phone on the charger since it’s almost out of battery. And let’s move the phone stand from the office to the bedroom (I’ve REALLY got to go to the Container Store and get another one! I am SO SICK of moving it from room to room every day!). Then, I consider blogging my responses instead, since I want to get back into blogging more anyway. So now, I need to go back into the office to grab the laptop (Is it charged?!). Finally, I cozy myself into the chaise with my sherpa throw and go to my website. And I can’t remember my password. Ugh! Seriously? I try a few times, because I know basically what it is, just not if the current iteration has a number or a different capital letter or what special character I added (did I add one?). *sigh* FINE. I’ll get up. And go BACK into the office, because I know that I have the password on a sticky note by the desk (I think so anyway). FINALLY, I’m logged in. Back to the chaise and my sherpa throw. Well, maybe not the throw, after all. I’m kind of warm. But not too far away, in case I get cold. how about right beside me? Oh yes, the blog post. What did I want to blog about? Forget environmental clutter, all of this mental clutter exhausts me before I can even consider my surroundings. Not that the surroundings help. So.
What’s the title of this post? You can’t force the things you love? Right. Back to the topic. Somewhere between charging the phone and grabbing the laptop — when I was thinking that I’d like to blog more — I segued into thinking about the various things I wanted to get back into doing. Things that I make “resolutions” around. Things that I used to do a lot and enjoyed doing. Like blogging and photography. And how I rarely do these things any more. I thought about how they have been on my New Year’s Resolutions list for years now. How every year, I am determined to get back into my old habits and how every year I don’t succeed. Why not?
Why not indeed. I think it’s precisely because I make them into a resolution. I make them into an item to complete and check off. Instead of being something that I enjoy and that I’m passionate about, I’ve suddenly made it into a chore or an errand. Something ELSE that I have to do. But that’s not the way I want to feel about these things. I want to do them because I love doing them. Not because a prompt in #cy365 says that today is the day to take a photograph of something From a Different Perspective (not actually today’s prompt – I haven’t looked at today’s prompt yet).
So, maybe I’ll focus more on Enjoying instead of Task Completion. Goals are fine and can be motivating, but at the end of the year, will I be better off from having a bunch of checkboxes, but feeling as though I need a vacation from my free time? Or should I not worry about accomplishing anything at all and allow myself to relax. Can I allow myself to be happy with wasting a day without getting frustrated with myself? I don’t know.
But I do know that I cannot “list” myself into passion for any particular thing, no matter how pretty the paper or how many colored pens I use. (Blasphemy!) I would rather Experience and Live and Enjoy and Savor, than check off yet another box.
And then, perhaps, I can use my lists to dream….