Category: Brain Dump

May 06

Weekly Wrap-Up 2020: The Eighteenth

Audio Books, Brain Dump, Romance, Weekly Wrap-Up 1

Holy Heck, Bookworms,

This Quarantine business is a roller coaster ride. We’ll have several nice and uneventful days in parenting and working-from-home land, and then BAM. No sleep for half the night, and the kid skips his nap, oof. This post is definitely not going to be going live “on schedule” (as though I’m rigorous about keeping a schedule, LOL.) Anyway. Yeah. This is really hard. And I miss daycare and my quiet office. I have no idea when anything even approaching “normal” will be occurring, and that’s probably the worst part. Or maybe not. I can think of many instances in which I’d simply rather not know that something awful was about to befall me. Wow. Tired Katie is getting philosophical.

Another blow from last week? My BFF’s wedding had to be postponed. I mean, we all knew it was coming, but it still really sucks. This virus is horrible on so many levels. There are the obvious super bad ones like, you know, the painful and tragic deaths of thousands upon thousands of people, then there’s whatever is left of the economy (which I don’t want to think about), then the endless cancellations of events and things that make life good. My youngest cousin is a senior in high school. She got no prom, no graduation, no closure. I was a bitter mess in high school and I’d even have been upset by everything being unceremoniously cancelled. This is all so awful. I AM FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH TOO MUCH AWFUL. Which is why I’m going to carry on reading romance novels. It’s the healthiest coping mechanism I have at my disposal. So now, let me tell you about what I read last week. *Please note that I wrote this intro when I was super sleep deprived. All of these things are still true, but I had an excellent night of sleep and things don’t seem QUITE as gloomy now. No need to worry about me. Onto the books!*

Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai: This book was an absolute delight! I wasn’t surprised, given that it was the followup to The Right Swipe, of course. I was, however, surprised that I managed to get through an audio book so quickly. Sam had several days of good naps last week (like I said, it goes in waves) and I was super into the story. Katrina King is a former model living an intensely private life out of the spotlight. She suffers from a panic disorder and has a history of trauma. She’s also very wealthy so she has the means AND good reasons to keep a security detail. Just as she’s gotten comfortable enough to occasionally venture out in public, some random bystander takes it upon themselves to detail what they perceive to be a “meet cute” between Katrina and a stranger who chats her up in a cafe. Once the eavesdropper’s tweets go viral, Katrina is flabbergasted that her uneventful turning down of a dude who asked her out has put her safe haven in jeopardy. Oh, and she’s secretly in love with her bodyguard, Jas Singh, who is OBVIOUSLY also secretly in love with her, and let me tell you- the real love story doesn’t play out on the internet. This book was wonderful, but it also made me feel low-key creepy about ever having found amusement in one of those bystander Twitter stories. People’s breakups or hookups or whatever shouldn’t be broadcast all over the internet. It’s a a weird invasion of privacy even if you don’t have a panic disorder/are a former celebrity/are extremely wealthy.

The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan: When it comes to historical romance, I cannot express enough just how much I love story lines that are completely bonkers. Faked deaths, secret titles, imaginary correspondence about puppy cannons? Yes, please! Edward Clark has been living in France for years and has absolutely no intention of returning to England to reclaim his title. In fact, he’s relieved that the time limit for him to be declared legally dead has nearly elapsed so that his brother can take over and he can wash his hands of the whole debacle. That is, of course, until he discovers that his awful brother is plotting nefarious deeds. Frederica “Free” Marshall is an outspoken Suffragette who operates a feminist newspaper, and just happens to be the intended target of Awful Aristocrat’s aforementioned nefarious deeds. Edward offers her his assistance under the guise of being a scoundrel, only to accidentally fall in love. As one does. Fans of brooding strangers and fiery protagonists take note!

So, what am I reading right now? Well, my MIL recommended The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali, so I’ve got that going as an audio book. I also decided to finish off the Brothers Sinister series once and for all, so I’m eyeball reading the final novella, Talk Sweetly to Me by Courtney Milan. What have you been reading, Bookworms? And how are you all holding up?

If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission. Links in the post above direct to Amazon, but if you’re interested and in a position to do so, please consider making a purchase from a local independent book store. IndieBound and Bookshop make it easy to do just that without having to leave your home! 

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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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Feb 11

2020 Weekly Wrap-Up: The Sixth

Brain Dump, Weekly Wrap-Up 3

Well Bookworms, it’s been a week!

Jim just got back from a business trip. He was gone for just over a week. I didn’t mention it at the time because it’s not a great idea to plaster the internet with notifications that you’re home alone with a toddler. Sammers and I had a lot of fun, but it’s nice to be a parenting team again! We’re still potty training (it’s a process, but we’re making strides) which just made the flying solo thing a little bit harder. My hat is off to all the single parents out there who keep things running single-handedly every day- you all deserve vacations and massages.

What else? Oh, my BFF is going to be getting married in June! After my last bridesmaiding stint, I said that the only way I’d stand up in another wedding was if HJM decided to make things official with her long-time beau (I say that like my services are in demand, but in reality, I’m almost 37 and am out of friends who’d want me to stand up for them.) Welp, after 11-ish years, he put a ring on it. GAME ON. I get to give a speech too, which is cool because I’ve only been drafting it in my head FOR THE PAST 25 YEARS. Ahem. This will be my 7th (and most likely final) walk down the aisle in a matchy-matchy dress. I’m also pretty sure this is the first time that one of my bridesmaid dresses will be worn after the fact. It’s got polka dots! Eeep!

In at-least-tangentially-book-related news, I got to hang out with my book club this weekend! This is the neighborhood book club I joined years ago, and even though some of the members have moved out of our little corner of town, the book club has held strong. (You may recall Emily and Angie, the two in the center of the pic, from that time they threw me that super awesome Alice in Wonderland themed baby shower.) Every year we do something to celebrate the holidays- usually a dinner in lieu of reading a book since December is so busy for everyone, but in recent years we’ve scheduled our holiday party way after the holidays because LIFE. This year we decided to go to a dinner theater… In rural Central Illinois. I was super stoked about the idea because I thought it would be cheesy and delightful. It WAS! Well, mostly anyway. The play they put on was from the late 70s and the humor did not age well, but the food was good and the company was stellar. Look how cute we are!

This pic doesn’t have ALL of us- several of us couldn’t make it, but we had fun enough for all our missing members.

 

But you’re not here to hear about my life tidbits! You’re here for the books! This week I finished listening to Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgI’d seen a lot of rave reviews for it, so I was really excited to take it on. I was taking notes through the first half of the book and found myself writing things like “where is the BANTER?” and “this guy is SUPER BORING” and “I get that he’s supposed to be the buttoned up serious dude with a marshmallow center, but Reid is no Theo from The Wedding Party.” (That last thought inspired an upcoming post, so stay tuned for that.) But the longer I read, the more Reid grew on me. And yes, he gets a lot of points for noble behavior and general tenderness… But he’s still no Theo. I really liked that a major plot point involved Meg going through a rather traumatic friend situation. I have BEEN THERE and it suuuuuuuuuucks. I’ve been on both the Meg side and the Sibby side of these situations and they’re both horrible. Nobody ever really talks about how awful friend breakups and hiccups are, but I think they’re every bit as bad as romantic heartbreaks- sometimes worse. You don’t hear about them a whole lot, particularly not in romance novels, so I appreciated that. I’d also like to note that while this book clearly points out that Meg is from Ohio, the narrator doesn’t sound as Midwestern as the narrator for How to How to Hack a Heartbreak (review). Apparently I’m still not over that.

I also finished my first Beverly Jenkins novel! If you’re not aware, Beverly Jenkins is a household name in romance and has a prolific back list. Support Independent Bookstores - Visit IndieBound.orgBut, as I’ve said before, there are a zillion different styles of romance novel. I tend toward the cheeky, rom-com style, and usually gravitate toward either contemporary or Regency England settings. Destiny’s Embrace is a much more earnest book than I’m used to (though it does have some flashes of humor) and it’s set in 1880s California. Our heroine, Mariah Cooper, leaves behind her abusive childhood home in Philadelphia to answer an advertisement and become a housekeeper to rancher Logan Yates clear on the other side of the country.  Mariah and Logan have chemistry from the start, but it’s a fiery passion that often manifests in shouting matches and, once, memorably, projectiles. Mariah eventually wants marriage and a family, and Logan has sworn that sort of thing off, so they are at an impasse. The whole love story unfolds within like a week, but thanks to my Regency romances, it hardly fazes me when characters fall in love at lightening speed anymore. All in all, Destiny’s Embrace was enjoyable, but it’s unlikely that fairly serious historical Western romances are going to become my go-to. That said, I did purchase the entire series and I’m definitely going to read the next two books. Let’s just say that book two,Destiny’s Surrender, starts off with a bang (pun absolutely intended) and things are looking promising. I may already be a little swoony over Andrew Antonio.

In addition to feasting my eyes upon the glories of Destiny’s Surrender, I’m listening to Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Virtue and Vengeance, which is a followup to Children of Blood and Bone (the eleventy billionth excellent book I read and didn’t tell you about.) It’s a young adult fantasy series inspired by West African mythology and it is EPIC.

What have you been up to this week, Bookworms? And what are you reading?

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

Love Lettering
Destiny’s Embrace
Destiny’s Surrender
The Wedding Party
How to Hack a Heartbreak
Children of Virtue and Vengeance
Children of Blood and Bone

 

 

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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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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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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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