Category: Brain Dump

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.

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Feb 25

Stuff! Things!

Bookish (And Not So Bookish) Thoughts, Brain Dump 5

Howdy Bookworms,
On the off chance my husband reads my blog, he’s probably going to be annoyed by the title. One day when Sam was very small, I was upstairs nursing. I heard clattering and muttering from downstairs and asked what was going on. My eloquent husband responded with an agitated “Stuff fell!” And I was all “Uh, what stuff?” And he let out an exasperated “THINGS!” In his defense, this was during the phase of tiny babyhood where the grown ups get very little sleep. Still, whenever I feel like poking fun at Jim, I shout “STUFF! THIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGS!” I’m a joy to be married to, I tell you what. Whew. Since I’ve been out of touch for a bit, I thought I’d fill you in on some stuff. THINGS, even.

FIRST: Some mornings when I drop Sammers off at daycare he can be a little cranky. One morning, one of the toddlers in his class walked up to him and handed him a stuffed dog. Apparently, the little doggy is Sammy’s favorite toy, and this sweet little boy thought it would cheer him up. Is your heart bursting yet? Because this story isn’t over. This “bring Sammy the doggy” thing has become a TREND. Even if Sam isn’t crying, frequently at either dropoff or pickup, someone will come up and bring Sam the doggy. At least four different toddlers under the age of 2 have tried to comfort my son by bringing him his favorite toy. I praise them lavishly for the behavior, obviously. Many, many “thank you”s and high fives have been given.

The doggy filter makes even the crankiest Sammers smile. Clearly, we’re VERY into doggies these days.

SECOND: I didn’t want to pollute the purity of that first point, so I’m making this a secondary note. My husband thinks the “bring Sammy the doggy” trend is evidence that Sam has become some sort of toddler daycare dictator. No faith in humanity, that one.

THIRD: I finished reading The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke and I thought it was great. It had a unique take on magic and time travel, which is very much in my wheelhouse. As you might expect, time travel wove into historical fiction, which got kind of painful at times. Not because the writing was bad, but because Nazis. Also, I don’t think I ever really understood how oppressive the government in East Berlin was under Soviet rule. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be my choice of time periods to accidentally stumble into. (The correct answer to “which fictional scenario in which you accidentally fall through time would you choose” is always “Jamie Fraser.”)

FOURTH: The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss came highly recommended to me by my bookish work friend and it was quite delightful. All those 19th Century mad scientist novels get a new lease on life through the eyes of their daughters (both literal and figurative.) Plus Sherlock Holmes? It’s a series, too, so sign me up for Book 2 of the Athena Club. I’m all in.

FIFTH: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal was awesome. It took some of the best elements from different genres and combined them into one delicious package. There was a lot of heart and humor, a bit of steam and romance, and mystery/thriller elements. I’m often smitten with stories of immigrant communities. Even though this book was set in London, the Punjabi community had a distinct small town feel. That’s not to say small towns aren’t problematic (this community definitely had ISSUES), but I simply adored this group of women.

SIXTH: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen was just meh. Not cringeworthy or anything, just not super compelling. Granted, this is a young adult book so I am certainly NOT the intended audience. I’m sure there are teenagers out there for whom this novel would be important and helpful, but to my old lady self was kind of bored. Also, it was weirdly dated. You forget how much our lives have been influenced by smart phones until you read a novel released in 2008 where people just keep calling each other on their cell phones. I think it’s clear how not into this book I was given that I was so distracted by the technology.

I think that’s enough STUFF and THIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGS for one post. What have y’all been reading? 

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

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Jan 24

A Reading Recap

Brain Dump 8

Hey Bookworms!

I meant to write this up last week, but my week was derailed by a sweet little boy with a stomach bug. I mean, they tell you that when you put your kids in daycare they’re going to get sick a lot, but I don’t think that really sinks in until your vacation time is dwindling and among your prayers of “please make my baby feel better” you sneak in some “please let me make it through an entire week of work.” I’m lucky enough to have stockpiled time off, but ding dang. One cold rolls into a stomach bug which rolls into another cold and you get to the point where you don’t know where one ailment ends and the other begins. The nurse line at our pediatrician’s office probably has Sam’s file flagged with a post-it note reading “Patient’s mother may be hypochondriac and WILL NOT STOP GOOGLING. Proceed with caution.” BUT I DIGRESS. Hugely. I’m always digressing. The point of this post was to update you on my reading and whatnot. Shall we?

First: I finished Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield and I’m THRILLED to report that it was an excellent book. I was worried, of course, because though The Thirteenth Tale (review) was awesome, her followup, Bellman & Black (review) was… Not. Once Upon a River was wonderful and mysterious and a little bit ghostly which makes it perfect winter reading. I think I mentioned I was given this book by my office Secret Santa. We have a few readers around our office, but the guy who pulled my name (Hey Kyle!) reads and enjoys audio books as much as I do. A stroke of luck on my end, for sure. Otherwise I’d probably have ended up with another wind-up pooping penguin. I very much enjoy novelty penguins and don’t mind grossness, BUT I already have two pooping penguins, so.

The one on the left poops jelly beans. The one on the right poops little sweet-tart type candies.

Second: I finished Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube by Blair Braverman. I didn’t learn quite as much about mushing as I expected to, but I’ve got Blair’s twitter feed for that. I did learn a ton about Blair’s personal journey and how a girl from California ended up a passionate dog sledder, though. If you like memoirs and hearing about weirdos who actually LIKE being cold and don’t mind sleeping in snow caves or living on a glacier, definitely check it out. It’s anchored by segments set in small-town Norway, which, oddly, reminded me rather a lot of Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman (review). Yes, I know Sweden and Norway are not the same country. Don’t @ me. I once mentally connected two books because they both talked about yogurt.

Third: Our book club pick this month was Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce. I read it on my phone, which is the first time I’ve used the Scribd service for eyeball reading. Given the choice I prefer to read on my Kindle, but I use a Kindle Paperwhite (several versions older than what is currently available but still awesome) which can’t handle apps (new versions can’t either, but the e-ink is so much easier on the eyeballs than a tablet screen.) Plus, the phone was super handy while I was snuggling on the couch with my sick baby. He’d sleep on me, I’d read. If he hadn’t been periodically violently ill, it would have been a perfectly lovely way to spend an afternoon. Anyway, the book was short and sweet. A little heavier than I expected, but that was silly on my part. I mean, who reads a book set in London during the Blitz and DOESN’T expect some tragedy, you know? My book club (which I’ve lovingly dubbed “My Neighbors Are Better Than Your Neighbors” because it’s true) also went to an escape room. We did NOT escape, though the guide told us we came extremely close. I’m a thousand times better at trivia than I am at escape room puzzles, y’all. It was fun, but I was way out of my element.

Fourth: I read Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton. It was alright, but I’m glad I got it from the library. Honestly, I felt like I’ve read the same book multiple times. Both the dual narrative and the SHOCKING FAMILY REVELATIONS felt very tropey to me. The part I found most interesting was the divide between people exiled during the Castro regime and those who stayed in Cuba. I might have appreciated the novel more had it focused entirely on that aspect, rather than getting all tangled up in love-at-first-sight scenarios. Insta-love almost always leaves me feeling snarky.

Fifth: My current audio book is Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren, which I’m loving, because I’m nothing if not predictable. I may write a whole post dedicated to Christina Lauren because I’ve only discovered their (Christina Lauren is actually two women writing as a team) work and have been binge reading their stand alone back list. My current eyeball read is The Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke which I’m also loving, though it’s early pages. I’ll keep you posted on the love-fest. For now, I’ll leave you with this photo of Sammers being completely adorable.

We received a membership to our local children’s museum as a Christmas gift. The water table was a BIG hit with Sammy!

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site I will receive a small commission. I know there’s some kind of full disclosure legalese I’m supposed to put here, but I don’t feel like looking up the verbiage.*

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Jan 11

Flotsam and Jetsam

Brain Dump 6

Howdy Bookworms!

I’m feeling a little bit of blogging mojo these days, so I’m just going to roll with it. Let’s recap the week, shall we? Also, if you didn’t immediately picture Ursula’s minions from The Little Mermaid when you read the title of this post, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore. Kidding. We can still be friends. But brush up on your Disney, folks!

FIRST- Did y’all see that I wrote an honest to goodness review earlier this week about the Man-Eating Hippo books? If you missed it, you should definitely check it out.

SECOND- I finished The Cruel Prince by Holly Black. As I mentioned in my last Brain Dump, it was a bit much for me in terms of the raw cruelty (which, duh Katie, it’s in the title). I actually ended up liking it toward the end more than I expected to due in no small part to some of my fave characters from The Darkest Part of the Forest showing up. I’m not sure I liked it quite enough to continue with the series as it’s released, but it’s also not out of the question. I’m ambivalent. I’m not, however, ambivalent about Holly Black’s work in general, so I might dive a little deeper into her back list instead. The world is wide and books are many. We’ll see where the wind takes me.

THIRD: I started an finished Artemis, Andy Weir’s first novel since the wildly successful The Martian (which I reviewed ages ago when I was still doing a virtual book club.) Artemis is set in a city on the moon and features a female protagonist up to dubious good… Plus a lot of welding and chemistry shenanigans. It was alright. I enjoyed it well enough, but where The Martian had that whole survivalist thing going, this was a little more “unlikely heroes pulling off capers, but in space!” I’ve certainly read worse sophomore novels (I’m still not over Bellman and Black…) so I’m hopeful that Weir can recapture some of The Martian‘s magic in future work.

FOURTH: Speaking of Bellman & Black, I started Diane Setterfield’s latest release, Once Upon a River (my work Secret Santa got me a beautiful hardcover copy- I’m shifting back and forth between that and an audio version.) So far I’m enjoying it a lot. The vibe is a lot more The Thirteenth Tale (another ancient book club pick) than Bellman & Black which is a VERY good thing.

FIFTH: I started reading Blair Braverman’s book, Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North. If you’re on Twitter and you’re not following Blair, you’re missing out on the best feed since SUE the T-Rex. So much delightful dog sledding. I know you THINK you’re not interested in dog sledding, but that’s only because you haven’t met Blair yet. Her unique voice and excellent stories about her pups have this decidedly indoorsy gal reading a memoir about extremely cold, extremely outdoorsy things. With no penguins, even! (Penguins are strictly Southern Hemisphere. Despite what adorable Christmas decorations would have you believe, they do NOT hang out with Polar Bears, ever. And not just because Polar Bears would totally eat them. Because geography.)

Whew. That’s all for this week, I think. We’ve got snow coming this weekend. I’m hoping to have some extraordinarily adorable photos of a snowy Sammers to show you soon. As always, if you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Keep learning, Elmo loves you. (I’ve been watching A LOT of Sesame Street. Just. Let me have this.)

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Jan 03

New Year, New Brain Dump

Brain Dump 13

Heyyyyyyyy Bookworms!

I’ve started and not finished oodles of blog posts. Seriously, you should see my drafts folder. Part of it is that I’ve gone so long without blogging regularly that I’m overwhelmed with the amount of books I’ve read and not discussed. Part of it is that 80% of my brain is consumed by thoughts like “why isn’t my kid walking yet?” or “OMGGGGG he just said Elmo! It sounds like ‘Neno’ but clearly that’s what he meant” or “Do you think his ear tubes fell out and this is actually an ear infection and not just a cold? I should call the nurse line.” Newsflash: I’m obsessed with Sammers. As if that’s a surprise to anyone. But these nebulous floating motherhood concerns seem to be occupying a lot of the same brain space that my quippy book thoughts used to take up, which has made blogging a challenge. I’ve never before given updates of what I’m reading while in progress, but in the interest of getting back into the swing of things, I’m just going to give you a big old brain dump and see where we land.

FIRST: I’m currently listening to River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey. Scribd got back into the unlimited audiobook game (they were in it, then out of it, and are now back) and I am HERE for it. It kept getting recommended to me, so I read the abstract and I was sucked in by the concept. There was a FOR REAL NOT IMAGINARY attempt by the US government in the 1800s to import friggin HIPPOPOTAMUSES into the Louisiana Bayou. As a meat supply. I might remind you that hippos are notorious bastards that kill more humans annually than any other animal (I just googled to confirm that little factoid, and it seems to be based on lore rather than hard fact because its difficult to quantify murderous wildlife. Still, Africans agree that messing with a hippo is a terrible idea, so.) They are cantankerous, no matter how cute Fiona is. Obviously I needed to read this fictionalized account of such a bananapants concept. So far though, the book’s tone hasn’t quite worked for me. I think I was hoping for a little more absurdism, but it’s gone full wild west. Hippo Cowboys are still compelling, but my mental soundtrack was more tubas than harmonicas ’round the fire. I’ll keep you posted as things progress.

SECOND: I have The Cruel Prince by Holly Black checked out from the library. I only ever take out e-books from the library because returning titles on time has been a problem for me in the past. Plus, I just find that reading on my Kindle is more convenient for bed time, when I do the vast majority of my eyeball reading. The rule of all one’s library holds coming in at the same time is just as true for digital books as physical ones, though, and I’m only about 60% done with this title, despite it expiring tomorrow. Luckily, though, it seems that Scribd has an audio version available so I should be able to pick up where I left off without having to wait in the library hold line again. Thus far I’m not enjoying this one quite as much as The Darkest Part of the Forest (which I liked so much I made my book club read it.) I know Faerie is cruel, but some of this stuff has been next level. Social media bullying is one thing, but forced drugging on faerie fruit and attempts to enchant mortals to kill themselves is… A LOT. Yes, my sensibilities are delicate these days. I have entirely too many feelings at all times. Motherhood has sanded down any veneer I may have had. I’m basically a pile of emotional nerve endings. Lots of them are joyous nerve endings, but I sometimes cry at TV commercials now.

THIRD: My love, my joy, my Samuel. He is now 16 months old. He is not yet walking. Yes, this is late for a tiny human to not be walking. I have been quite concerned. His pediatrician has checked him out, though, and doesn’t think there’s any problem developmentally. Basically, Sam is content with his current mode of transportation (crawling at lightening speed.) Now that he is transitioning to a new room at daycare (which has been a process- my boy likes change less than I do) the doctor thinks he will likely be peer pressured into walking. So. That’s fun. Honestly though, in the few days he’s been in the room (with breaks for holidays and whatnot) he does seem to have made quite a bit of progress and is more interested in being on his feet in general. What he lacks in gross motor skills, he makes up for in language. The vocabulary on this kid boggles my mind. He’ll repeat all kinds of stuff. Some of my favorite of his vocab words/phrases include: taco, ho-ho-ho, peak-a-boo, doctor, car, Elmo, and, YES, BOOK!!! I post zillions of pics on my Instagram if you’re interested in seeing endless Sam Spam. I can only assume everyone is as enchanted with him as I am.

FOURTH: I started a bullet journal. As I lack artistic talent, it is ugly as sin and I will therefore not post any photos of the hot mess. It is, however, proving somewhat helpful thus far. I made a big old chart to help me send the appropriate thank you notes to the appropriate people after Christmas which was pretty great. We’ll see how it goes. I’m going to try to incorporate some extremely simple meal planning. Cooking is such a chore for me, I’m never going to be one of those people who loves to experiment in the kitchen. Still though, one cannot live on frozen pizza alone. And with Sam, I’m suddenly more conscious of the fact that I probably don’t eat enough vegetables (I make sure he has a vegetable with every meal, but I take better care of him than I do myself in literally all ways.) If I’m not more careful, I’ll get scurvy. New Year’s Resolution #1: DO NOT GET SCURVY. EAT SOME DANG BROCCOLI.

That seems like a good place to end things. Don’t get scurvy, y’all. Talk to you soon. Hopefully.

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

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