Month: March 2020

Mar 25

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Twelfth (With Bonus Kid Lit)

Kidlit with my Kidlet, Personal, Weekly Wrap-Up 4

Hey Bookworms,

Life comes at you fast, huh? Two weeks ago coronavirus was scary, but not panic inducing. Today it’s changed just about everything. I used to LOVE reading fictional accounts of plagues and pandemics. Now? Not so much. Two weeks ago I started writing a listicle of some of the great plague books I’d read over the years, but I just don’t have it in me to finish that right now (I assume most of you aren’t interested in plague books right now either, but if I’m wrong on that, I’ll finish up that post because I wouldn’t want you to run out of reading material, even if your tastes are macabre in the current moment.) In case you were wondering, I finished ZERO books this week. I can only listen to audio books in fits and starts, and by the time I get to bed (which is where I normally do the bulk of my reading) I’m so mentally exhausted by the news and our new reality that I make it a chapter or so before I’m out. Sammy’s sleep has been crappy as well, which I assume is due in part to the fact that he can feel our anxiety, even if he doesn’t totally understand what’s going on. He’s been extra clingy and working from home with a toddler is really, really hard. I don’t want to be all gloom and doom, but I don’t necessarily want to put a shiny, happy face on all of this because it sucks. For so many reasons. On so many levels. And I’m really angry. For so many reasons. On so many levels. And yet, literally, the only thing I can do to help anyone is stay home. I can’t even sew so I can’t occupy myself by making masks or anything (but honestly, is anyone else getting SERIOUS wartime vibes? I can’t even count the number of WWII books I’ve read that discuss the women on the home front knitting socks for soldiers. Now we’re making masks for soldiers- because let’s face it- our healthcare workers have become war heroes.)

For my own mental health, I cannot wallow for long. I’ve got stuff to do. I still have a job! One that I can do from home! SAKES ALIVE do I ever miss my childcare, but I’m still going to be able to pay my bills… I just won’t look at my 401K for the foreseeable future. As far as stuff I’m grateful for, I’m glad I live in Illinois right now. I know, it’s a pain in the butt to have a stay-at-home order, but I know it’s saving lives, and I wish the rest of the country would get on board so this won’t drag on as long. I’m finding it extremely comforting to have a competent local government- who would have thought we had it in us? Also, since you can’t actually isolate yourself from a tiny human that you have to take care of (and I wouldn’t want to) I am reveling in all the extra hugs and snuggles. Those little hits of dopamine are doing my anxious brain a world of good. And, since I didn’t finish a grown-up book this week, I thought it might be a good time to look at some of the books on Sammy’s heavy rotation list right now.


Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri: We have such an extensive library that books we haven’t read in a while often feel like brand new. It had been a while since I pulled these off the shelves, but I’m glad I did. Sam demands that we read “the taco book” over and over and over. If you ever want to make friends with a dragon, remember that tacos are key. And ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT on your salsa, because spicy things are a no-go for dragons. Unless you want your house incinerated. (We’ve learned from some of our other books that spicy foods also give penguins hiccups, so if you’re feeding foods to animals and/or mythical creatures, go easy on the spices.)

Dragons Love Tacos 2: The Sequel by Adam Rubin, Illustrated by Daniel Salmieri: For those of us who have dabbled in time travel fiction, this book is even funnier than the first. Also, tacos grow on trees. I wish tacos did grow on trees, particularly because we are currently running low on tortillas so we’re going to have to wait until we really need groceries to procure more. And, IDK what the tortilla situation is- bread products are scarce, but are tortillas? I digress. I put these books on my baby shower registry because I was constantly craving tacos during my pregnancy, and a very wise friend of mine with her own children purchased them for me.


Diggersaurs by Michael Whaite: This book combines two of Sammy’s favorite things: dinosaurs and construction equipment. It’s got a nice rhyme scheme and charming illustrations. We have read this book ELEVENTY BILLION TIMES. It’s actually starting to show some serious wear- anybody have advice on repairing children’s paper backs whose pages are coming loose?

Boom Chicka Rock by John Archambault Illustrated by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood: After having several conversations with my MIL about Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, and both of us being confused, she realized that the book she thought I’d been talking about wasn’t at all the same book she’d been discussing. Apparently Boom Chicka Rock was a favorite of my husband as a kiddo, so she bought a copy for Sammers. It’s very cute and revolves around a team of sneaky mice trying to abscond with a birthday cake under the nose of the house’s cat. Sam thinks this book is hilarious and fun because it’s chock full of word play. There are a couple of instances within the book that I find a little awkward to try to get the rhythm right, but all in all, it’s a really fun read.


101 Trucks: And Other Mighty Things That Go by April Jones Prince, Illustrated by Bob Kolor: Have you figured out that my kid is a fan of trucks? And construction equipment? This book is a delight for him. Right now, he’s particularly fixated on the page that showcases all the different types of “movers,” buses in particular. Everything is a bus. The Duck Boat is a Duck Boat Bus. The Trolley is a Trolley Bus. The Articulating Bus, impressively, is an Articulating Bus. Big words are also Sam’s jam.

As for what I’m reading, I try to listen to Miracle Creek during Sam’s nap time (when he deigns to nap, oof), and I’m really starting to get into the groove of Magic for Liars– I anticipate to have finished at least one of them by next week’s update.

I’d like to give a shout out to all the folks driving trucks, delivering things, providing takeout orders, stocking grocery shelves, and keeping things running enough so the rest of us can hunker down. And, obviously, healthcare workers. I’ve seen meme after meme about nurses and doctors not wanting to be hailed as heroes and that they just want everyone to stay the heck home, but I don’t see why I can’t do both. Hang in there, friends.

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links in the post above direct to Amazon, but if you’re able, please consider purchasing books for delivery from your local independent book store by clicking the links below:

Dragons Love Tacos
Dragons Love Tacos 2
Diggersaurs
Boom Chicka Rock
101 Trucks
Miracle Creek
Magic for Liars

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Mar 18

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Eleventh

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Brain Dump, Weekly Wrap-Up 3

Hi Bookworms,

Holy. Crap. This week has seemed ONE THOUSAND YEARS LONG. In the span of seven days, the Coronavirus has thrown life in the US (and around much of the world) into absolute chaos. My company did the responsible thing and mandated that we work from home at least for the next 2 weeks, which is convenient because the state of Illinois has since shut down all schools. Technically daycares haven’t been officially shut down, but ours made the right call and closed up shop along with the schools. My husband works in healthcare IT, so we don’t entirely know what his working situation is going to look like. I mean, if there were ever a time for healthcare’s tech to be top notch, it’s RIGHT NOW. I’m sure we’ll know more as the week progresses.

I know we’re outrageously lucky. Jim and I both have jobs that we’re still able to do (well, mostly. TODDLER.) We have paid leave if we were to get sick. We have health insurance. We might go a little stir crazy, but we’re going to be OK. When the enormity of the situation gets to be too much, I focus on that, and the little things that make this less frightening. Like, our community has several resources in place offering lunches to kids who rely on school to provide food. Some of our utilities have announced that they’re ceasing shutting off customers for non-payment. Our small community grocery store is having special morning hours (after the store has been disinfected over night) specifically for those 65+ customers to shop. They’re carding at the door to give the most vulnerable the opportunity to shop in the safest possible environment. Bet you never thought there’d be a bouncer at the grocery store keeping the whipper-snappers out, but hey, life is weird. I mean, I now have a constant companion whose favorite phrase is “Oh my gosh, look at her butt!” (thanks, SING) so I can’t be down for too terribly long.

Now because I lack a commute and have no quiet office space or solo lunch breaks (because toddler) my audio book listening will be extremely limited. Hence, I probably won’t have as many books to talk about. That’s good for the books I DO finish, though- they’ll get extra special attention. So why don’t we get started?

I finished The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty on audio last week when I still had a commute, a quiet office, and a lunch break that didn’t involve bribing a child to eat something other than gold fish crackers. I usually really enjoy Liane Moriarty’s work, but my head wasn’t in it this time. I probably would have found myself enjoying this book more were I not having to pause all the time to get more COVID-19 news. Still, the moral dilemmas and mysteries that have made Moriarty a household name are well represented in The Husband’s SecretOne of the things that made this book unique from some of her others was that it did a little light exploration of what would have become of certain characters were it not for the sequence of events that actually unfolded. In that way, it reminded me a little of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s Maybe in Another Life (though this phenomenon was the entire POINT of Reid’s book (review), whilst it was just a little aside in Moriarty’s.) Bottom line? If you generally like Liane Moriarty’s books, you’ll probably like this one too.

I also finished The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan which is the third novel in The Brothers Sinister series. Again, my concentration has been absolute garbage this week, but I still managed to appreciate Violet and Sebastian’s science-tastic romance. We’ve met Violet and Sebastian in previous Brothers Sinister installments, but this book starts off with the revelation that all Sebastian’s scientific accolades are actually the result of Violet’s work. As usual, Milan hits the historical elements hard- there are a number of women that we know about throughout history (and many who remain un-credited) who made impressive scientific breakthroughs in a time and society where it was considered improper for women to engage in such pursuits. Violet partners with Sebastian because even though she’s attempted to submit her impressive and controversial work to professional publications, she’s summarily dismissed simply on the basis of her sex. The Countess Conspiracy is an excellent addition to The Brothers Sinister series, but I think I’m going to take a break before carrying on. Right now, I DESPERATELY want fluffy, cheeky period romances to get my mind off of things, and Milan’s tend a bit heavier. I’ll circle back around, but I’m pausing the binge read for now.

Instead, I’m going in a completely different direction and tackling Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey. Remember when I read those bonkers hippo cowboy books last year? How could I NOT pick up more Sarah Gailey after that? AND they started Magic for Liars off with a Harry Potter reference on the very first page, so this may just be the escape I need right now. Or not. There was also an extremely gruesome murder in the very little bit I read so far. IDK. I also started an audio book, though I have absolutely no idea when I’m going to finish it with my extremely limited audio time. For what it’s worth, Miracle Creek by Angie Kim is fascinating so far, but it’ll probably be a while before I’m able to tell you all about it.

So, Bookworms. How are you holding up?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links in the above text direct to Amazon Kindle books, because that’s how I’m personally getting most of my books right now. Please also check out your Public Library’s Digital offerings- they’re a fantastic resource for keeping yourself entertained with zero germ spread. And, it goes without saying that Independent Book Stores are really going to be hurting during this time, so if you’d like to purchase through a local, independent book store, please consider using the links below:

The Husband’s Secret
The Countess Conspiracy
Magic for Liars
Miracle Creek

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Mar 10

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Tenth

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up 3

Hey There, Hi There, Ho There, Bookworms,

Last week Jim and I went on a trip. Sammers stayed with his grandparents, and even though it was the first time we’d been away from him overnight (yes reader, I did sob when we left) he did amazing. So we took a road trip to Florida to spend some time with the Mouse. Of course, our trip coincided with the explosion of scariness with Covid-19, and as I was standing in line for It’s a Small World, surrounded by people from all over the globe, my Twitter feed was like “CANCEL ALL THE EVENTS! AVOID CROWDS!” Sooooo that put a bit of a damper on my mood, because it was clearly way too late. But, since we were already there, we made the best of things and washed our hands carefully and ate at nice restaurants and drank some wine and did all the things that we wouldn’t have been able to do with Sam in tow. Also, as far as contagions go, two adults can be fairly meticulous about cleanliness, but a toddler? Yeah he’d definitely have licked something a million people had touched, so it was probably for the best that he only licked everything in Grandma and PopPop’s house. (He had a fantastic week and was spoiled rotten. He came home with a bag of new books, a new Spiderman baseball cap, and a smiley face balloon. And clean laundry! God bless my in-laws forever and ever.)

But what about the BOOKS, Katie?! Right! Well, since we were road tripping, I spent a fair amount of time playing navigator, and trying to re-route us away from traffic in major cities. We got lucky with Nashville traffic both coming and going (though coming back we were a little concerned because a tornado had ripped through a few days earlier, but the highways were clear and safe a few days later, so good job cleanup crews, and best of luck rebuilding, Nashville!) Unfortunately, an unexpected jam in Florida and completely predictable traffic in Atlanta caught us on the way back. Anyway. I did do some reading, though, obviously not as much as usual, because of the merry making, the worrying, the navigating, etc. Before we left I purchased The Brothers Sinister series by Courtney Milan on my kindle, and I made my way through two full length novels and one novella. Romance novels are pretty much all I can handle mentally right now. The many, many, plague and apocalypse books I’ve read over the years are haunting me enough as it is. Although, every time characters get close to kissing I think to myself, “Well, y’all might as well go ahead and swap spit because you’ve already shared all kinds of droplets with your breathy exhales…” It’s not like I have an underlying anxiety disorder or anything… Oh wait…

I started Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War before we left and finished it up on the trip south. Because I’d read The Governess Affair (review), I was already familiar with the protagonist Robert, Duke of Clermont. He grew up being used as a pawn in his parents’ loveless marriage; his father was the actual worst, and his mother fled without custody of their child. A loveless yet privileged childhood was the plight of our hero. He’s considering matrimony when he meets an enigmatic young woman hiding behind a couch. Turns out, Minnie was trying to avoid her suitor by hiding, but will likely marry the awful man anyway because she has so few options. Her options are limited because of SECRETS and REASONS. So, naturally, the two fall desperately in love and have to deal with the consequences of the secrets, reasons, and childhood emotional baggage. I am enjoying Courtney Milan’s work quite a bit- her historical setting is a bit later than a lot of the Jane Austen era novels I’ve read, and I always learn some new historical tidbits by reading her books.

The next installment in The Brothers Sinister series was the sweet novella, A Kiss for MidwinterIt follows the BFF of The Duchess War‘s heroine. Lydia has a secret that could ruin her, a secret known only to a precious few, including Leicester’s sarcastic young Dr. Jonas Grantham. Dr. Grantham has taken a shine to Lydia, though she avoids him as much as possible, believing his knowledge of her secret to be a weapon. In an attempt to get close to her, Dr. Grantham proposes a wager, which, if he wins, will earn him a kiss. BECAUSE OF COURSE. Oh romance novels, never change. I really enjoyed this novella! So far most of this series has been slow-burn, so the novella rather nicely compresses that tension for the impatient among us. As far as historical tidbits, I can now proudly say that I know quite a bit more about 19th Century prophylactics than I did before. Because Dr. Grantham was a doctor, I also picked up some info on 19th Century medical care, and OOF. Apparently going directly from the autopsy table to tend to child bed WITHOUT WASHING ONE’S HANDS was standard medical practice which led to (shocker) a LOT of infection. Thankfully, our hero was extremely pro-hygiene, the radical, and therefore ranks rather highly in my esteem. There’s something that’s exceptionally sexy about hand washing these days. Whew. Wash those hands, handsome. Wash them good!

I finished up reading The Heiress Effect on our first night home from the trip, during which I stayed up too late and gave out quite a few nighttime snuggles. Normally, late night wake up calls are not my favorite (though, yes, they still happen rather frequently), but I could hardly begrudge my sweet little Sir some extra attention after being away. I daresay the half-sleep we shared in the recliner was therapeutic for us both. Look at me, digressing again. So, The Heiress Effect follows Jane Fairfield. She’s an heiress with a massive dowry, but she’s determined not to marry, at least until her little sister is of an age that she can leave the care of their misguided guardian. She behaves in a ghastly manner in society, managing to keep even the greediest of suitors at bay. Oliver Marshall, however, sees through her ruse, and despite his best efforts, is enchanted. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book were the descriptions of Jane’s fashion abominations. She’s well aware that she’s choosing garish ensembles, but she also secretly loves the bright colors and outlandish patterns. It reminded me a bit of a certain pink haired friend of mine whose fashion sense it more about her own personal delight than any popular trend.

So what am I reading this week? I’ve picked back up with my audio book of Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret (it’s starting to get especially juicy.) I’ve just begun a traditional read of the next installment of The Brothers Sinister, The Countess Conspiracy which is already proving a strong contender to be my favorite in the series. Sebastian + Violet = 4 Ever. What have you been reading, Bookworms? How are your anxiety levels? What are your go-to escapist reads?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. The links in the text above direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop your local indie bookstore, click here!

 

 

 

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Mar 04

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Ninth

Audio Books, Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Hiya Bookworms,

Alas, it remains cold and flu season and I have succumbed to illness. Bleh. I spent a whole day sleeping and am currently trying to do all the things that will shorten the duration of an illness. Drinking all the tea! Eating vitamin C drops! Ibuprofen! WASHING AND WASHING AND WASHING MY HANDS! It’s been a slower reading week as a result of my having been felled, but I still have some books to chat about. Let’s chat.

In case you missed it, I wrote a whole solo post dedicated to The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa. I had entirely too much to say about it for it to be smooshed into a weekly post. Check it out here.

I am fond of a number of romance tropes, but sham weddings rank pretty high on the list. XENI: A Marriage of Inconvenience by Rebekah Weatherspoon combines the sham wedding concept with “completely bonkers last will and testament demands” and I am so here for it. Xeni Everly-Wilkins is in charge of settling her dearly-departed aunt’s estate, and leaves her life in LA to handle the affairs in upstate New York. She gets more than she bargained for when the will is read, and soon finds herself married, at her late aunt’s insistence. In order for her and her spouse Mason to collect their inheritances, they need to get married and remain so for at least 30 days. But, as we all know, sham marriages in romance novels have a tendency to become more real than the characters expect… Now that I’ve read two Rebekah Weatherspoon novels I think it’s safe to say that her love scenes can sometimes be a bit more… IDK how to put it… Graphic? Creative? Spicy? Than what I’m used to. I noticed it a little bit in Rafe but Xeni was another level entirely. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy both books, because I absolutely did, but it may be worth noting for those who are more conservative in their love scene tastes. Not much fazes me personally, but there were a few points where I found myself thinking “Oh wow. They really went there. OK.” Consider yourself warned if that is the type of warning you’d appreciate. If you’re the type of person who wants a more specific content warning than that, send me an email or a DM on social media and we can discuss it further.

This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone probably wasn’t the wisest choice for my illness-addled brain. I think it would have been more enjoyable to read about a science fiction spy operative clandestine love story if I’d been feeling a bit sharper. As it was, the letters between Red and Blue were gorgeous, and often poetic, but keeping tabs on the story wasn’t the easiest. Granted, it does take place between two warring time travelers so expecting something clear and linear in their correspondence was my own mistake. But when one has taken cold medication and tried to figure out how one goes about coding letters into berries and explosions and other obscure means, things get confusing in a hurry. I might try to read this again when I’m fully healthy as it’s gotten rave reviews from others. Check it out if a time traveling Mrs. and Mrs. Smith is something you might be into.

That’s the best I can do for you this week, I’m afraid. I’ve just started The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty via audio, which is always the correct choice for Liane Moriarty books because Australian accents are better listened to than imagined. I’m eyeball reading Courtney Milan’s The Duchess War. I read her prequel novella The Governess Affair a few weeks back and decided to tackle the rest of the Brothers Sinister Series. What have you been reading, Bookworms?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the text above direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to shop through a local, independent book store, please see the links below:

Indiebound Links:
The Worst Best Man
Xeni: A Marriage of Inconvenience
Rafe: A Buff Male Nanny
This is How You Lose the Time War
The Husband’s Secret
The Duchess War

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