Posts By: wordsfor

Jan 27

Nightmarish Mermaid Novellas

Audio Books, Fantasy, Science Fiction 2

Howdy Howdy Bookworms!

How’s about that title? Those are words I wouldn’t have expected to put together, but here we are. I spent a chunk of last week listening to some nightmarish mermaid novellas. It was wild and I’m going to tell you all about it. Prepare yourselves, Ariel stans: this is going to get ugly.
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The Deep by Rivers Solomon had been on my radar for a while. I thought their book An Unkindness of Ghosts was PHENOMENAL so I was looking forward to diving into their take on mermaid lore. These aren’t like, Lisa Frank style mermaids though. This is a dark, devastating, intense mermaid situation:

Yetu is the historian for a community of water-dwelling descendants of the pregnant African women tossed from slave ships (yes, this is a real thing that happened because the slave trade is endlessly horrifying.) Yetu doesn’t simply keep the records, though: they’re the only one who actively remembers the group’s history. And they remember constantly. Every single painful, traumatic incident in the community’s past is stored within Yetu’s overburdened mind to be doled out annually to community. In this way, the community is not overcome with sorrow, but Yetu, as the keeper of the memories, being destroyed by the knowledge.

Daveed Diggs (of Hamilton fame- he’s Lafayette/Jefferson from the original cast and generally awesome) narrates the book because the novella was inspired by a song his rap group (why do I sound like a Grandma?) produced. His group’s song was inspired by another musical work: it’s kind of a game of extremely intelligent and artistic Telephone, which is a metaphor I’m borrowing from the end notes of the audio book. It was really amazing, but also, I feel like I’m not really smart enough to appreciate all its nuance. Rivers Solomon is a genius. Daveed Diggs was the perfect narrator. My brain is going to be digesting this one for a long time.

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Since I was already on a mermaid kick, I thought, “What the heck? Let’s go listen to that Mira Grant novella about mermaids. I’ve seen it a few times, it makes me get Adele songs stuck in my head. Sounds like fun.” And with that in mind, I decided to put Rolling in the Deep into my earholes.

This was a straight up horror story about mermaids. A crew of scientists, TV producers, and mermaid impersonators set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to create a documentary about mermaids. The TV network commissioning the voyage is not above sensationalism (hence the troupe of human women who make their living as “professional mermaids” they hired in case their search came to naught.) The scientists are real, though, and have taken this rare opportunity to gather data on their varying fields of study. As you might guess, the crew finds more than they bargained for. (Dun dun dun!)

I love Mira Grant (AKA Seanan McGuire) and Rolling in the Deep had a tone similar to that of the Newsflesh novels (Feed, Deadline, Blackout). But, you know. Instead of zombies, it was mermaids. Bioluminescent mermaids who devour humans. Nobody on the crew was actually expecting to find anything, but some harbored hopes of discovering something along the lines of Ariel. Instead, they got Jaws. It’s definitely worth a read/listen, but if you want a meatier, more literary mermaid novella, stick with Rivers Solomon.

Now that I’m in a mer-mood (hi, I’m a walking Dad-Joke) do any of you bookworms have recommendations? I’m open to happier mermaid tales, too!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links go to Amazon, but clicking the images will take you to IndieBound which will allow you to purchase through a local, independent book store.*

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Jan 23

How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

Chick Lit, Contemporary Fiction, Romance 0

Hey there Bookworms!

I was totally going to stick with my weekly updates, but I thought I’d make things easier on myself and jot down some notes before writing up the wrap-up post… And then a whole book review came out? So yeah. Apparently this is a thing I’m doing again, I guess. Please enjoy my disjointed thoughts on How to Hack a Heartbreak

I recently finished listening to the audio version of Kristin Rockaway’s How to How to Hack a Heartbreak. I should note that when I mentioned the book last week, I initially typed “Kristin” in the post, then changed it to “Kirstin” because Scribd has a big old typo in their system. I’m fairly confident I’ve got it correct now, thanks to the book’s cover image.

How to Hack a Heartbreak is about a woman named Mel Strickland. She works for a tech startup incubator. She’s been stuck at the help desk forever and the work environment is beyond toxic (seriously SO INFURIATING.) So many of the protagonist’s interactions with men have been crappy (her dad, her co-workers, internet dating, randos on the Subway) that she creates her own little website in a fit of catharsis. It’s designed to expose the type of jerks who spam women with dick pics on dating apps. One day she and a co-worker (Alex) discover they have a bit of a spark, and he appears to be a decent dude- but Mel’s got some serious trust issues (for obvious reasons.) She has a super cool friend group, though, and thank goodness for that, because Mel’s little JerkAlert website goes viral. Between her new website, her horrendous job, and her budding romance, things get complicated in a hurry.

If love scenes make you uncomfortable, this is the book for you! It takes the fade-to-black route rather than going into detail. Personally, I rather enjoy a bit of steam in my novels (particularly those categorized as romance), so that was something of a disappointment for me. Also, the narrator of How to Hack a Heartbreak sounded aggressively Midwestern to me which I found distracting, since the book was set in NYC. I know Mel wasn’t originally from NYC, but since they didn’t mention a Midwestern hometown (or if they did, it was glossed over quickly), it threw me for a loop. The actual text did all the right NYC things, from what I understand. I mean, they said “standing on line” instead of “standing in line” which I’ve heard is what New Yorkers say. I myself am aggressively Midwestern so I can’t say I’ve ever actually heard anyone use that phrase, but Twitter tells me that it’s a thing. That’s not to say the narrator isn’t great- she is! She just sounds… Midwestern. At least to my admittedly in-expert ears.

All in all, I liked How to Hack a Heartbreak but I didn’t LOVE it. I think that’s partially because I read a similar novel by Alisha Rai a few months ago and it was SUPERB. It’s hard not to compare two novels that revolve around women in tech that deal extensively with dating apps, and it’s hard not to suffer by comparison to The Right Swipe.  So, How to Hack a Heartbreak is a decent book, but not my super fave. If you like the premise and don’t mind steamy scenes, definitely check out The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai. (I’m now feeling guilty about falling off the blogging wagon despite having read SO MANY EXCELLENT BOOKS. These books deserved better, but the backlog is too overwhelming. I’ll keep giving them shout-outs as I move forward though!)

Alright then. Surprise book review. Check and check.

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links in the body of this post direct to Amazon, but if you prefer to order through an independent book store, check out the links below.*

How to Hack a Heartbreak
The Right Swipe

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Jan 21

The Third Week of 2020

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Brain Dump, My Reading Life 3

Greetings Bookworms!

January is so freaking melancholy. Something about the early darkness and the cold makes everything feel like a slog. I tried to liven things up by rocking my new Sesame Street Book Club sweatshirt and taking selfies (check out my new pic on the sidebar!) But January gonna January. It’s a darn good thing that books know no season, isn’t it? Of course, one of the books I finished up last week was admittedly rather depressing, but it’s SO GOOD that it doesn’t matter. My book club chose Tell the Wolves I’m Home this month- unfortunately I had to miss the actual Book Club meeting, but the book itself was PERFECTION. Even though I read it back in 2013 and totally knew how it ended, I stayed up until the wee hours re-reading and crying. Now, me crying while reading a book isn’t exactly surprising, but this book doesn’t just hit the sad note. It hits all kinds of complex emotions regarding sibling relationships and anger and betrayal and love and loss and grief. Ooof. It packs a punch. A really, really good punch.
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I also listened to Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid and thought it was great. The premise was innovative- the protagonist is taken to one point in time but makes two different decisions. In one scenario, she decides to go home after a night out with friends. In another, she decides to stay out with her former flame to see where the night takes her. What follows are two diverging stories that hinge on that single decision. It was WONDERFUL. It’s also a testament to the power of friendship. There were plenty of romantic entanglements in this book, but none of them were as compelling as the friendship between Hannah and Gabby. They’ve earned a slot on my Top Ten List of Fictional Besties. Also, you know that thing where you read a book and they talk about a specific food and you suddenly just NEED that food? I definitely bought some cinnamon rolls after reading this.

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To round out my week, I finished eyeball reading a novella by Courtney Milan. I love a nice novella, especially after finishing a giant CHONK of a book like last week’s The Priory of the Orange Tree. I hadn’t read any Courtney Milan before so when I saw a deal on The Governess Affair I snapped it up. It’s a regency era romance, but goes a little bit outside of the privileged world that I generally read about in these type of novels. There were Dukes and stuff, but they’re not the main characters (they’re also THE WORST). But also it’s not about, like, scullery maids either. It’s sort of… privilege adjacent. I will never cease to be amazed at just how FAST weddings sometimes happened back in the day. I mean, I get it. A lot of social structures required hasty weddings because being “ruined” by choice, by force, or by suspicion was genuinely horrible for women. Thanks, patriarchy. Anyway. This was a great book, and I fully intend to explore more of Courtney Milan’s work.

Now, let’s talk about what I’m reading heading into the fourth week of the year! I just started How to Hack a Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway in audio format and I’m tackling The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (yes, another Taylor Jenkins Reid. What? I’m a fan!) in a traditional format (albeit a digital one- even my eyeball reading takes place on a Kindle.) What have y’all been reading during these January doldrums?

 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Jan 14

The Second Week of 2020

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, My Reading Life 9

Hello My Dearest Bookworms,

It’s been a wild week. I was not expecting to be potty training my child right now, but here we are. I figured I’d kick the can down the road a little bit and use up the last jumbo pack of diapers before we gave it a go, but Sammers had other ideas. His little daycare buddy was getting candy as a reward for using the potty and Sam wanted in. Listen, I’ve heard horror stories about how hard potty training can be, I wasn’t about to miss the window of opportunity. Am I ready? Not really. Is Sam? It would appear so. I’m terrified of jinxing myself here, so I’ll just say that I’m cautiously optimistic about the way things have been going. I have now read The Underwear Book by Todd Parr so many times that I can recite it in my sleep. Not that I’ve been getting much sleep because Sammy’s developmental milestones always seem to come with a side of “Sleep is for CHUMPS!” But. This is what he currently likes to have read to him whilst he sits on said potty.

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This really isn’t even a potty training book, and it offers some questionable advice regarding underwear and swimming, but it may get your toddler jazzed about wearing undies.

In “books I read of my own volition with my eyeballs” news, I finally finished The Priory of the Orange Tree Tree by Samantha Shannon. This book is pure high fantasy of the vague-Medieval-setting/Magic/Dragons variety, but unlike most of the high fantasy I’ve read, it stars heroic women and POC. Epic chunky fantasy novels aren’t generally my first choice of reading material, but I like to change it up from time to time. I liked the book a lot, but I did have to put a little more effort into it than what I usually pick up. Then again, that’s true for me regarding most high fantasy- it’s a lot of names and places and magical phenomena to mentally juggle. Look- any book that offers maps and appendices with lists of characters and world-specific terminology is a lot to take on. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth it. If you dig fantasy, I highly recommend you give The Priory of the Orange Tree a whirl.

In “books I put into my earholes” news, I finished Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. I might be a little obsessed. I loved so much about it, I hardly know where to start. First, our protagonist Chloe Brown is a freaking delight, even when she’s not. She has fibromyalgia and suffers from chronic pain but loves buttons so much that she has faux buttons sewn onto her sweaters. I liked that both the main characters had a lot of emotional baggage, both romantic and otherwise. Sure, the handsome man with the tortured past is a tried and true romance trope, but Red was a one-of-a-kind dude and dealt with his trauma with a fair amount of self awareness. Chloe had her own stuff to deal with, so she wasn’t just there to magically “fix” Red. NEITHER OF THEIR ISSUES WERE SOLVED SIMPLY BECAUSE THEY FOUND “THE ONE.” I mean, yeah, they were super compatible and very well suited to handle each other’s emotional needs, but they each also did a lot of heavy lifting to sort out their own internal messes. And sometimes they even got professional help! It was just superb and I loved it. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be scouring Talia Hibbert’s back list.

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Because one audio book a week simply is not enough, I ought to mention that I managed to put yet another Tessa Dare novel into my brain.  I finished up A Lady by Midnight this morning, and it was charming as usual. I have several thoughts about this book- one being that I’m fairly certain its major plot point is where Diana Gabaldon is heading with Fergus’s story line in the Outlander Series (at this point it only has a couple of throwaway hints, so it’s not canon). That’s apropos of nothing, really, I just enjoy finding commonalities between books. It’s fun to see where different authors go with similar ideas. From a romance-specific perspective, I kind of love that Tessa Dare is willing to tackle topics like PTSD. I mean, the world has been at war since forever, but people act like war-related trauma is some kind of new phenomenon. If you think the dashing officers in Jane Austen’s novels didn’t come home from campaign with emotional scars, think again. Anyway, I’ve seen Tessa Dare do this twice now, and I like it.

So where does that leave us heading into this week? And why do I feel that I can arbitrarily start reading weeks on Tuesdays or Wednesdays? Well. I’m re-reading (with my eyes) Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and I’m enjoying it every bit as much as I did the first time. Although, several years have given me even more rage regarding the way Finn had to compartmentalize his life because people were jerks. Ugh. As far as my ears go, I just started Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Daisy Jones & The Six was one of my absolute favorite reads last year (get thee to the full cast audio recording, stat!) so I wanted to dive into some of her other work. I’ve literally barely started it, though, so it’s too early even for preliminary opinions. I will say, however, that having listened to The Offspring’s Ixnay On The Hombre album on repeat throughout most of 1997, I cannot read the title of this book without hearing Dexter Holland angstily belting out the first line of “Gone Away.” Teenage Katie was something else.

Good chat, Bookworms. Let’s do this again next week.

 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission*

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Jan 07

The First Week of 2020

My Reading Life 11

Heyo Bookworms,

New year, new you? I’m crap at New Year’s Resolutions- any time I make a lasting life change it tends to happen on a nondescript Tuesday. That said, I’m not immune to the hype- I’m highly susceptible to suggestion, as a general rule. So I figured I’d try my hand at committing to weekly blog posts. We’re exactly one week into 2020 at this point, so let’s give it a go! (And let’s not be smug when I fall off the wagon after a couple of weeks, mkay?)

I spent the last couple months of 2019 binge reading Regency romance novels (think Jane Austen, with spice), so it’s hardly a shock to find that the first book I finished within the bounds of 2020 was A Week to Be Wicked by Tessa Dare. Romance novels guarantee a “Happily Ever After” but they come in all different flavors. Heck, even Regency romances (which are all set in the same time, place, and with the same strictures, etc) are available in endless variety. Tessa Dare’s books hit just the right note for me- there’s always a scene or some dialogue that results in me cackling. Embarrassing situations abound. And yes, there are plenty of swoony bits. They’re DELIGHTFUL. A great way to kick things off.

I probably should have mentioned that I technically listened to A Week to Be Wicked. I keep a bullet journal now because it makes me feel like I have a shred of control over my life. Anywho. In the back, I have a pretty little picture of a bookshelf that I fill in as I’m reading. In this journal, (which I actually started in late November because that’s when I ran out of pages in the last one) I decided to separate my “bookshelves” into those I read with my eyeballs and those I read with my ears. AUDIO BOOKS COUNT AS BOOKS READ. Doesn’t matter how you get the story into your brain, folks. Just get it in there. But because my brain doesn’t differentiate between eyeball reading and listening, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to track them. I promise I have a point here. The POINT is that my shelves look rather uneven at the moment and it’s bugging me. This is partially due to my second read of the year…

I’m short on artistic talent, but big on enthusiasm.

I started The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon around Christmas. It’s a phenomenal work of fantasy and I’m very invested, but it’s also a little more work to read than a Regency romance novel where I’m already familiar with the setting and customs and social mores. The Priory of the Orange Tree features a whole different world with elaborate political structures and factions and mythical beasts- it’s a lot for my bedtime brain to chew on. (I do the majority of my eyeball reading before I go to sleep at night). Aaaaaaaand it clocks in at 848 pages. I’m hoping to finish it up this week with enough time to spare so I can re-read Tell the Wolves I’m Home (review) before book club next Friday, but we’ll see how things shape up.

I managed to get through a second audio book this week as well, which is technically the first book I both started and finished in 2020. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite was a departure for me. I don’t read much in the way of crime novels, but this was less a crime novel than a twisty-complex-familial-relationship novel. I mean, there was crime. Hooo buddy was there crime! It just wasn’t a procedural style crime novel is what I’m at getting here. Distinct lack of Law & Order vibe. IT WAS VERY GOOD. Also disturbing, but when you decide to read a book called My Sister, the Serial Killer, you’ve got a pretty good idea of what you’re getting into. I should probably just write a whole post on the virtues of audio books, but one of my favorite things about them is that it gives me the opportunity to LEARN THE CORRECT PRONUNCIATION of unfamiliar names and places. Names are a big deal. Sure, we’re talking about fictional characters here, but if I ever meet a Korede or Ayoola IRL, I’ll be prepared.

Finally, I just started a new audio book, Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. I’m loving it so far, but I’ll reserve any shouty capitalization or effusive punctuation for after I finish it. Let’s chat next week, intrepid Bookworms!

 

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links within the content of the post direct to Amazon. If you prefer to make a purchase through an Independent Bookstore, please see the links below:

The Priory of the Orange Tree, Get a Life, Chloe Brown, Tell the Wolves I’m Home, A Week to be Wicked, My Sister, the Serial Killer

 

 

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Dec 05

Holly Jolly Toddler Books

Kidlit with my Kidlet 2

Greetings, Bookworms!

One of my favorite humans just asked me for book recommendations for her Toddler Godson and I could NOT have been more excited. I sent her about 20 disjointed Twitter DMs, but I thought pooling some of that knowledge into an actual blog post might help someone else out. Sam’s library is so extensive, thanks in large part to family members with elementary education backgrounds, that I sometimes take for granted that I rarely have to hunt these treasures down myself. I thought I’d share a few Christmas-specific books that Sammers has been enjoying lately. If I can help one bookish Auntie with her holiday shopping, I’m happy to do it!

  1. Penguin’s Christmas Wish by Salina Yoon: I love this book. Truly, I love all Salina Yoon’s books, but the Penguin series has a special place in my heart. This book has adorable illustrations and a very sweet message. It encourages imagination and overcoming adversity, as well as the importance of spending time with the people you love. I’d recommend getting Penguin and Pinecone to go along with this book, in case you’re wondering why a penguin and a pine tree are long lost buddies. I’d recommend the entire Penguin series, actually, and the Bear series too. They’re all wonderful stories with heartfelt sentiments.
  2. 10 Trim-the-Tree’ers by Janet Schulman, Illustrated by Linda Davick: I made a list of Halloween books Sammers really liked last year, and the Halloween version of this book was included. What can I say? Countdown books with fun illustrations and clever rhymes are a joy in all seasons. I’d highly recommend this one.
  3. Snowmen at Christmas by Caralyn Buehner, Illustrated by Mark Buehner: I’m a sucker for good rhyming book, but I think what takes this one over the top for me is the illustrations. I love the misty quality of the snowmen celebrating Christmas. It hits that perfectly magical Christmas note for me, and Sammy seems to dig it too.
  4. Elmo’s Christmas Snowman by Naomi Kleinberg, Illustrated by Tom Brannon: I cannot express just how thrilled I am that Sam took an interest in Sesame Street early on. Reliving something from your own childhood with your kid is such a great feeling. In this book, Elmo is desperate to build a giant snowman, but there isn’t enough snow on the ground, so he recruits his pals to help. Elmo, dude, I’ve never felt so seen. I remember rolling larger and larger snowballs for a snowman as a kid only to decide that it wasn’t big enough and that the enormous roll I’d made simply had to be the head. I rarely finished constructing a snowman, so I feel an intense kinship with this story. Sam is more of a Cookie Monster guy these days than an Elmo guy, but he still enjoys this book.
  5. How to Catch an Elf by Adam Wallace, Illustrated by Andy Elkerton: I’m not going to lie, I’ve got mixed feelings about this book. The rhymes are clever and the illustrations are funny, but I think it’s kind of creepy that these kids are setting elaborate traps to catch an elf. Creepiness doesn’t seem to translate when you’re 2, though, and Sam thinks this book is the bee’s knees. He laughs and laughs and demands that I read it multiple times in rapid succession. It’s hard to argue with that kind of adoration. Sam hasn’t yet shown any interest in setting traps, so I think it’ll all be okay.

Maybe I should be more worried about mischief…

Happy Holidays to all the tiny readers on your shopping list! The links within this post will take you to Amazon, but if you’d prefer to shop through your local independent bookstore, check out the links below:
Penguin’s Christmas Wish
10 Trim the Tree’ers
Snowmen at Christmas
Elmo’s Christmas Snowman
How to Catch an Elf

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Nov 21

Self Indulgent 10th Anniversary Post

Personal 4

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if one does not loudly proclaim one’s anniversary on the internet, the anniversary is not valid. Hey, Jim! We’ve been married a WHOLE DECADE. High five! (Remember that time I wrote you anniversary limericks? This post is almost as cool.)

It is, apparently, a THING, in some corners of the web, for people to attempt to re-wear their wedding ensembles in celebration of significant anniversaries. I’m sorry to disappoint you, Internet, but you shan’t be seeing Jim and I in our finery today. Why?

  1. Jim’s tux was a rental. He’s also lost a bunch of weight over the years and is basically aging in reverse, the handsome devil.
  2. My dress is timeless and lovely and now ENTIRELY too small for me. I’d blame it on the baby, but tacos have a lot to do with it.
  3. While I am extremely vain, Jim still hates having his photo taken.

    Awwwww

    Fortunately, thanks to my BFF, all is not lost in this quest! Back in 2009, my “nephew” Jack served as our ring bearer. He was 20 months old and totally GQ in his baby tuxedo.

    This little nugget will be 12 in March, if you can believe it. ::SOB::

    I’ve mentioned what a marvel my BFF is on many occasions (like here) but y’all. SHE PRESERVED THE TINY BABY TUX (including the little silk boutonniere my florist made and attached with a safety pin. Pro florists know a thing or twelve.) She returned it to me after Sam was born. And, well. I did a thing.

    I know most of these are kind of blurry, but I was chasing a moving target with a cell phone.

    Sam is about 7 months older than Jack was when he wore this ensemble, so the fit isn’t quite the same. Also, since I did this on a random weeknight after daycare, I wasn’t about to attempt to tighten the tie. (Please note that my son is sporting a bruise on his cheekbone from face planting into a toy kitchen set.) Sammers looks a bit more like a drunken, brawling groomsman leaving the reception than a precious ring bearer about to walk down the aisle, but I digress. On the occasion of our tenth wedding anniversary, the, uh, product of our union (why is there no non-creepy way to say that?) donned formal wear from that momentous occasion.

    Happy Anniversary, Jim! I love you and I like you. And our kid is cooler than both of us put together.

 

 

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Aug 22

TWO!

Personal 8

Dearest Sammers,

Today marks your second trip ’round the sun. It’s super cliche to talk about how quickly children grow, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if wormholes were involved or something. This year went at friggin warp speed.

And what a year it’s been! You have learned and grown SO MUCH. I’ll just list some milestones off the top of my head because coherent prose isn’t coming easily today. Look at what you’ve done, Buddy:

  1. You had your FIRST HAIRCUT! (And subsequently several more, which is good because food ends up in your hair a lot.)
  2. You had ear tubes put in, which are nothing short of miraculous. Ear infections, BE GONE!
  3. You learned how to walk! It was on your own terms and a bit later than is typical, but you’ve always been kind of a rebel.
  4. You learned your letters! (Which, frankly, was a complete shock to me. We definitely didn’t drill you on that, so high five to daycare and the more-than-recommended-amount of screen time you get, I guess?)
  5. You can count! Sure, occasionally “chicken” pops up when you get past ten, but chickens are awesome.
  6. You have developed an affinity for “gourmet” food combinations. Would I have dipped dill pickle slices into blueberry yogurt or teddy grahams into meat sauce or blueberries into honey mustard? No. But I admire your culinary creativity.

We’ve had our share of struggles and tantrums and stomach viruses, but you are SO SO SO loved. You’ve brought me more smiles and laughter in your two years than anyone ever in the universe. If it were possible, I’d have exploded into a shower of glitter by now out of the sheer force of my love for you. Lucky for all of us, that isn’t a thing that happens, because, among other things, it would be IMPOSSIBLE to clean up.

Predictably, I teared up last night while reading I Love You Just Like This, just like last year. It’s not even meant to be one of those smooshy parent feelings books, but it always gets to me. I think it’s because it speaks to the way I express love. It’s silly and sweet and full of quirky metaphors. I will ALWAYS love you bluer than Cookie Monster’s toes.

Happy Birthday, Samuel James.

XOXO,

Mommy

PS- Dada certainly shares these sentiments, but I imagine he’d argue that he wouldn’t have exploded into a glitter shower of pure love. He’d probably have turned into a Transformer or something.

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May 21

Bits and Bobs. Or Jims.

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Brain Dump 2

Greetings Bookworms!

It feels like a good day to spout nonsense on the internet, doesn’t it? Here are some disjointed thoughts and anecdotes.

FIRST: My precious perfect boy is a TOTAL chatterbox. He was a late walker but an early talker and his vocab has grown exponentially over the last few months. He’s going to be 2 in August. HOW EVEN??? We now have to pay careful attention to what we listen to on the car radio because a certain top 40 hit resulted in our toddler clearly enunciating the word “psycho.” So that’s fun. Actually, it really IS fun, but I’d rather he not pick up on this kind of lingo until he can understand context and nuance and why words might be hurtful.

He is already so much cooler than I am.

SECOND: Since Mr. ChattyPants has so much to say, we like to engage him in conversation. One of our favorite games is to have him name family members. My excellent brother-in-law, through no fault of his own, shares a first name with, like, half the family he married into. My entire Matron of Honor speech at their wedding hinged on this fact (it was an excessively charming speech if I do say so myself.) However. Since he’s the fifth Jim in the family, we’ve been calling him “Jim the New Guy” or “New Guy” or “TNG” since he started dating my sister-in-law over a decade ago. Hence, we call him “Uncle New Guy” for Sam to avoid confusion (“Uncle Jim/Jimmy” is already taken as it’s what THEIR daughter calls my husband. Are you confused yet?) Apparently my Sammers is kind of a troll, though, because whenever we ask him to repeat “New Guy” or “Uncle New Guy” he responds with “Old Guy.” My excellent BIL has taken it in stride. He’s a good egg. Re-reading this paragraph, I feel like I need a chart to explain the whole “Jim” situation properly, but also, nobody who isn’t me would care. So whatever. Sam calls his uncle “Old Guy” and it’s amazing.

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THIRD: It’s my turn to host book club coming up and I’m having everyone read When Dimple Met Rishi (review) because I loved it so very much and we’ve had a string of downer books lately. They haven’t necessarily been bad books (although I have some very uncharitable feelings toward the Eckhart Tolle book we read), but I thought we could all use something bright to welcome summer. I went ahead and re visited the audio book to refresh my memory which was perfect timing because There’s Something about Sweetie released just as I finished my re-read so I got to dive in with my brain already firmly set in their fictional world. Sweetie was also an absolute joy to read, oozing with charm and bashing down stereotypes. Kartik Patel is officially my favorite literary Dad ever. (Sorry, Lara Jean’s dad, you’ve been bumped. Tough competition in the dad category, I’m afraid. No worries, bro, you’re still Top 5.)

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FOURTH: Since I refuse to stop sharing toddler stories with you, how about some actual toddler stories? Some of Sam’s favorite books right now are Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups (he absolutely GUFFAWS at this one, it’s magic), When Your Elephant Has the Sniffles (he found a “hidden Mickey” in one of the illustrations which was astounding, accurate, and I’m fairly certain it was unintentional on the part of the illustrator), and I Know a Rhino (he asks for this one over and over in rapid succession.) And before you ask, yes, I obviously make realistic hiccuping noises and provide other voices as appropriate. READING IS FUN!

FIFTH: My current audio book is Helen Hoang’s latest, The Bride Test. So far so good, though it’s going to be really tough to top The Kiss Quotient (review). My current eyeball read is The Book of Flora by Meg Elison. The whole Road to Nowhere series has been outstanding (The Book of the Unnamed Midwife and The Book of Etta precede Flora). I’m hoping to pull together some coherent thoughts once I finish this book and write a post on the series in its entirety, but in case that doesn’t happen, it’s some seriously good stuff. In a violent, traumatic, post-apocalyptic, trigger-warnings-for-basically-everything sort of way. Be gentle with your bruised psyches, y’all, it’s a lot to take. Worth it, but a lot to take.

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links go to Amazon, but please also consider shopping your local indie bookstore by clicking any of the book cover images or visiting in person.

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May 14

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Contemporary Fiction, Romance 3

Greetings, Bookworms!

As you know, I’ve been blogging sporadically (at best) lately, so I haven’t been accepting review requests or seeking review copies of new books from publishers. If there was any author(s) who could get me to dust off my old NetGalley account and beg for a book, it’s Christina Lauren. I’ve burned through nearly all of their standalone novel back list at this point, and patience is not a virtue I possess in abundance. If it wasn’t obvious, I received a complimentary digital review copy of The Unhoneymooners from the publisher for review consideration. I usually preface my reviews of books I receive for free with an assurance that I will provide a fair and honest review and have not been corrupted, but it seems a bit silly in this case. It was practically a foregone conclusion that I was going to LOVE this book. I wouldn’t have requested it otherwise.Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.org

Olive Torres is chronically unlucky. Her love life, career, and relationship with arcade claw machines have all been tainted by her endlessly bad luck. Her twin sister, on the other hand, wins EVERYTHING. In fact, Ami has funded her entire wedding with the fruits of her winning streak. Dresses, hotel, honeymoon, reception buffet- free, free, free! Unfortunately for Ami, her perfect luck turns on her when food poisoning from tainted seafood fells the ENTIRE wedding party and guest list. Well, the entire wedding party EXCEPT for Olive, whose “unlucky” shellfish allergy required her to steer clear of the seafood buffet. Because Ami and her new husband are down for the count, she pleads with Olive to go on her Honeymoon in her place. The only thing worse than paying for something is getting something for free and then wasting it, I guess. But Olive’s luck wouldn’t just allow her a magical free Maui vacation- she’s got to take the only OTHER guest who didn’t get sick with her- her arch nemesis Ethan.

Ethan, brother of the ill-fated groom, and Olive have never seen eye to eye and have been hostile toward each other throughout the entirety of their siblings’ courtship. Now they have to pretend to be newlyweds in order to take advantage of the free vacation and not drive each other bananas in the process. Things get off to a rocky start when the pair keep running into people they know on Maui while they’re assuming the identities of their siblings. Who knew so many Minnesotans booked the same resort? However, Maui will be Maui. As the trip progresses, Ethan and Olive thaw from outright dislike to grudging tolerance to something approaching fondness…

It’s a rom-com, so I think it’s pretty obvious where this is heading. It’s a heck of a fun ride! I now desperately want to take a Hawaiian vacation (that I don’t have to pay for.) Ethan and Olive’s banter is witty and delightful, and peppered with Harry Potter references. The way to my heart is casually accusing your love interest of hiding his horcruxes in paradise, apparently. I enthusiastically recommend The Unhoneymooners to anyone who enjoys romance, comedy, and joy, as well as those who hate buffets and would like a fictional character to back them up on their anti-buffet stance.

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Text links go to Amazon digital versions, but if you prefer paper books and it’s within your budget, please consider shopping your local indie bookstore through this link, by clicking on the book cover, or in visiting in person.

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