nonfiction

Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women- Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu

There are some books I seriously look forward to reading the second they land on my TBR, and Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women by Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu (Soft Skull Press, 2012) was one of those books. I’ve always known that many Muslim marriages are made not through dating, but more of a process that involves both families. It’s not the case for all Muslims, though, and I was interested in learning more.

Love, InshAllah is a collection of essays written by American Muslim women about their search for love. Some of them go the traditional route: their parents find available young men they think are suitable for their daughters and the daughters are free to say yes or no at any point in the process. If, after a few meetings, the couple decides they’re compatible and that a marriage between them would be the best option, the family celebrates and begins planning a wedding. The book showcases instances both of where this worked out fabulously and where the marriage ended, sometimes quickly, in divorce (which, when you think about it, isn’t that different from the average American marriage. I’m guessing most of us know at least one couple who married and then divorced fairly soon after).

Other women date in a more typical American fashion; a few opt to become someone’s second wife, after putting a lot of thought into it and spending time with the first wife. For at least one of the wives, being a second wife offers her the independence and freedom that she felt being a sole wife wouldn’t, and her reasoning for this decision makes a lot of sense (still not something I would choose for myself, but I have to agree with her that the down/alone time would rock!). Some women never find what they’re looking for and the search continues, while others revel in their happily-ever-after.

Love, InshAllah is real-life romance and the search for it, viewed through a cultural lens that I think most Americans don’t spend much time thinking about. It’s a book that gives Muslims a chance to see themselves on the pages and that will help non-Muslims both understand and appreciate our differences. Something doesn’t have to match my path or my life choices in order for me to recognize its worth for someone else, and that alone made this book the perfect read for me.

There’s a section of author bios in the back, as is common with essay collections such as this, and I do wish that these books kept the bios at the end of each author’s piece, since it’s difficult for me to remember each author’s name once I get to the end, and I don’t necessarily want to be flipping back and forth through the whole book. Regardless, Love, InshAllah is a fascinating, insightful look at romance in a group of women who don’t often get the chance to tell their own romantic stories, and I’m so happy that this book exists and that the book was readily available to me through one of my local libraries.

The two authors/editors have also teamed up to produce Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex and Intimacy, and you better bet I hit the WANT TO READ button on that baby immediately!!!

Follow Love InshAllah on Twitter.

Nura Maznavi’s tweets are protected (and given the climate on Twitter some/most days, I can’t blame her).

Follow Ayesha Mattu.

fiction · YA

Eyes On Me- Rachel Harris

A YA romance that includes ballroom dancing? YES PLEASE.

While I’ve never participated in it, I have a special place in my heart for ballroom dancing, as it shows up in a pivotal scene in my current WIP (thank you to all the people who have filmed performances and instruction and uploaded these videos to YouTube!), so learning about Eyes On Me by Rachel Harris (Entangled Teen, 2019), a YA romance with ballroom dancing, had me rushing to add it to my TBR.

Lily Bailey is a lot of things- high school senior, serious student, klutzy nerd, secret tutor to jocks, a daughter grieving the death of her mother- but ‘person interested in ballroom dancing’ doesn’t make that list. After her dedication to her studies sends her stress levels high enough to hospitalize her, her father, from whom she’s been feeling alienated ever since her mother’s death, demands that she take up some sort of stress-relieving hobby and suggests her mother’s favorite, ballroom dancing. Lily, who can barely walk down a flight of stairs without ending up in a heap at the bottom, isn’t so sure about this, but reluctantly agrees, while making plans to wriggle out of it as soon as possible.

Enter Stone Torres, super hot quarterback and dancing son of the studio’s owner. When Lily’s dad offers Stone a ton of money in order to become Lily’s permanent dance partner, Stone can’t say no: the studio, his mother’s dream, is in serious trouble, and he’ll do what he has to in order to help out, even if it feels wrong. But Lily turns into more than just a responsibility to Stone; there’s something about her that tugs at his heart and sets it on fire. A showcase at the dance studio might be the key to drumming up new business and saving Stone’s mother’s dream, but how will he ever come clean to Lily about how their relationship began?

What a sweet, fun book! There wasn’t quite as much ballroom dancing as I would have liked, but Ms. Harris writes some incredible female friendships. At the start, Lily really only has her best friend Sydney, but Stone’s twin sister Angela quickly joins the group, and her health issues add emotion and depth. There’s some Mean Girl-esque action stemming from Stone’s ex-girlfriend (whom I could never totally buy into being a contender for valedictorian; with as hard as Lily worked to maintain her GPA and class ranking, I never got the same impression with the ex, whose name I can’t remember- Cameron, maybe???), but the Lily/Sydney/Angela friend group really helps keep the Nasty Perfect Ex trope from overpowering the rest of the story.

Lots of emotion going on in this book. Lily is still grieving the death of her mother. Her father, who obviously cares for her, has had a hard time being open about his grief, and the two haven’t been able to forge a connection since. Lily buries her grief by working so hard that she makes herself physically ill and suffers from panic attacks; Angela is a childhood cancer survivor; Stone struggles with reconciling his image as SuperCool Popular Football Player, which is what his football-obsessed town wants him to be, with his ability to dance and who he really wants to be; Stone’s close friend and teammate is ashamed he needs Lily to tutor him and enlists Lily to hide this secret; Stone’s parents are deeply worried about the future of the studio. There’s a lot going on here, but Ms. Harris pulls it all together seamlessly and turns it all into a charming story of two people falling in love and healing themselves while doing the Salsa.

(Shorter review than normal, but would you believe- you guessed it- I’M SICK AGAIN. My son felt crummy two days on vacation, and as we were driving home, my daughter developed the equivalent of the whitewater rapids of snotty noses. She was up all last night coughing, and she’s coughed so hard she threw up twice. I’ve got a sore throat, a cough, and a runny nose. We can’t catch a break around here. I feel like I’m playing Where’s Waldo? with our immune systems…)

What are your feelings on ballroom dancing? Have you ever participated, or do you have two left feet and run screaming at the very idea? Do you watch Dancing with the Stars? Do you dream of being able to cha-cha and samba while wearing ankle-breaking heels? I’ve never done any ballroom dancing, but I have to admit, I wish I could!

Visit Rachel Harris’s website here. (As I’m writing this post, the website isn’t coming up for me; hopefully it will in the future!)

Follow her on Twitter here.

nonfiction · religion

Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life- Amber Scorah

Sometimes I learn about a book that I know I’d enjoy reading, and I add it to my TBR list, and there it sits for…well, a long time (years, sometimes *hides in shame*). Not so with Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life by Amber Scorah (Viking, 2019). I learned about this book only weeks ago, and as soon as a copy turned up at one of my local libraries, I was there, practically hissing at other patrons in order to keep this book all to myself.

Amber Scorah was a lifelong member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that door-knocking, proselytizing religious group known for not celebrating birthdays or holidays in any fashion. While her family wasn’t hugely devout during her youth, Amber grew more zealous as a young adult. After her marriage had grown stagnant, she and her husband moved to China in order to take the Witness religion to the Chinese. As this sort of proselytizing is illegal in China (some groups are allowed and heavily monitored; the Witnesses are not one of them), Amber and her husband had to resort to code words with the handful of other Witnesses, secretive worship services, and only bringing up religion to potential converts after first taking the time to establish a friendship and ensuring that these people could be trusted (a process that could take months and even years).

Culture shock and the language barrier were obviously an issue, but Ms. Scorah seemed to adapt better than most, eventually working for ChinesePod, a podcast dedicated to Chinese language learners. But this new culture, with its different values and ways of viewing the world, its language and its history, forced Amber to question the discrepancies in what she’d been taught her entire life, until she could no longer deny to herself that what she’d grown up believing no longer held any truth. Exiting the Jehovah’s Witnesses means being shunned by all friends and family members still in the sect, and thus began the long, lonely road of building a life outside of the only group, the only way of being, that Amber had ever known.

Odds are good that even if you don’t recognize her name, you know of Amber Scorah, and this goes along with a content warning for the book. A few years back, Ms. Scorah and her partner lost a young child in a tragic way that made the news, and as I read this section with shock and sorrow, I realized I remembered reading the articles when it happened. If reading this is too heavy for you to bear right now, please keep this in mind and maybe put the book on hold for a bit.

While I deeply enjoy delving into what makes a person leave a religion or a religious group, what really drew me in about the premise of this book was Ms. Scorah’s move to China. The linguistic challenge alone seems daunting to me, but she tackled it head-on, with admirable passion and fire. When immersion in Chinese culture and tradition, with its thousands of years of history and different perspectives, forced Amber to confront disparities between reality and what she’d been taught, instead of refusing to consider this new evidence, Amber realized that she had to change her mind and the way she thought about certain things. That’s not an easy thing to do and requires not only emotional intelligence, but strength and humility, and, in Ms. Scorah’s case, a well of courage to rebuild one’s life. I deeply admire her for that.

She doesn’t hold back when it comes to dissecting her ill-fated marriage to the husband who accompanied her to China. While always respectful of him (to the point of honoring his privacy and never sharing his name), she admits that their marriage was more due to Witness ideals and less because of love, even going so far as to confess that she realized she shouldn’t be marrying him the night before the wedding (community pressure can be a terrible thing). Plenty of groups and cultures view marriage as more of an arrangement where love will grow after the wedding, and obviously that works for many people, but in Ms. Scorah’s case, it led only to pain and heartbreak for both parties. While obviously not the most sorrowful part of the book, the descriptions of her marriage are forlorn and lonely and make me wonder how many other couples are stuck in similar relationships, neither one feeling free to leave and pursue something more emotionally fulfilling .

Leaving the Witness is a new take on exiting a religious group, and Ms. Scorah’s writing is strong and intense, placing you in her shoes as she takes on the Chinese language, her long-standing beliefs, and the wild, wide-open world. Her storytelling abilities are so tightly honed that I think we’ll be seeing her name on the shelves for years to come, and I look forward to reading whatever comes next from her.

Have you ever learned something from or spent time in another culture that made you view something in your own life differently? I found this one of the most fascinating aspects of this book, and I wish this were something more people were open to (not necessarily for religious reasons, but more in a way that we should always be open to considering that maybe we don’t have a monopoly on truth or perfection; maybe there’s a better way to go about even the simplest things in life. I try to keep this in mind and incorporate better ideas into how I live, and it can be frustrating when people around me insist on doing things in a less efficient or more difficult way simply due to tradition or stubbornness!).

Follow Amber Scorah on Twitter here.

Uncategorized

I’m back! (Or, when life gets in the way)

Hello! Remember me?

It’s been a minute, huh? Not intentionally, I swear. If you had any idea how many times I’ve tried to write a post and instead got called away, you’d weep alongside me. The combination of trying to get my life and house back together after multiple months of being sick/taking care of a sick kiddo and then going on vacation for a little over a week, plus it’s summer and my little one wanted to be outside and at the park, among various other places, well… There just hasn’t been ANY computer time lately!

Fortunately, there has been some book time. I’m currently about ten books behind when it comes to book reviews (and I STILL owe two people posts!!! ARGH), but I WILL get caught up. My house is in semi-decent shape (I made sure of that before we left; nothing worse than coming home to a messy house), and we need some down time after our week+ of GO GO GO in Branson, Missouri (it was fantastic. The kids and I travel somewhere with my mother every summer and we basically exhaust ourselves, but we have a great time), so I’ll be doing my best to get caught up here. Not to forget that school starts for the kids in 29 days, and with my daughter headed off to full-time kindergarten, I’ll have a lot more interruption-free time during the day! I do have an enormous list of projects that I want/need to get done around the house, but I’m planning on incorporating plenty of time for reading, writing, and blogging, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

So it’s nice to be home, and I’ll be doing my best to keep things better updated around here! I hope you’re all having a lovely summer (or winter, if you’re in a place where the seasons are opposite where I am!), and that you’re getting substantial amounts of reading time with stacks of amazing books. ๐Ÿ™‚

historical romance

Flames of Glory- Patricia Matthews

Okay, so a while back, I posted about reading an article asking romance readers, “What was the book that got you into reading romance in the first place?” And of course, my answer to that was a big fat, “Uh…I can’t remember the title. Or the author. Or much of what happened in it.” Which is all super helpful information when you try to find a book, right? The universe smiled upon me, however; about two weeks or so after I read that article, I just so happened to find The Book, which turned out to be Flames of Glory by Patricia Matthews (Thomdike Press, 1982). I’m still not over the fact that I actually found that book- I didn’t even really look at it at the used book sale, just kind of shrugged after I thought it might be it (because I had to leave; other errands to run!), then stuffed it in my bag. And it was so, so it!

Despite the florid description on Goodreads (complete with OCR scan typo), the book’s style wasn’t actually as overwritten as I expected and turned out to be a mostly pleasant read, generally speaking. Let’s start by picking apart the back cover copy (I’ll tidy up that scan error):

SHE WAS TORN FROM THE ARMS OF LOVE AND IMPRISONED IN THE HOT EMBRACE OF PASSION…

Sultry Tampa, crossroad for gallant soldiers of the Spanish-American War, was the beloved home of young Jessica Manning. Her elegance and delicate beauty entranced the most valiant men, but fate gave her the most ruthless–hot-blooded Brill Kroger. Ignited by selfish passion, Brill abducted Jessica, then swept his anguished prize on a blazing seaward quest for Aztec gold. Through it all, Jessica clung to one aching wish–a return to her glowing moments of surrender in the strong arms of dashing Rough Rider Lieutenant Neil Dancer. Neil’s heart burned wildly for his lost Jessica, and his fury now drove him to pledge his very life to rekindle the flames of their glorious love.

EGADS. Is that not the fussiest back cover copy you’ve ever read? Were all 80’s romance novels described like this??? The actual writing of the book is nothing like this and reads pretty close to what I would expect out of any decently-written book on the shelf today, so I’m not sure what the goal was with that mess.

There’s a brief scene at the beginning when Jessica is just fourteen years old, out with her parents and in awe over the grand opening of the Tampa Bay Hotel. Flash forward another seven years, and Jessica, whose greatest and sole personality trait is being beautiful (unless having sunshiny blond hair is also a personality trait, then that too, I suppose), is so utterly bored with life (ONLY BORING PEOPLE ARE BORED, JESSICA) that she’s practically cheering the start of the Spanish-American war, because it means that Tampa is filling up with soldiers, particularly Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. Despite a prickly start, she and Lieutenant Neil Dancer (who has lightning-quick outdoor sex with Jessica’s skeezy friend Dulcy that lasts all of a brief paragraph forty-four pages into the book) spend a maximum of four or five hours together before sailing off on a day trip, getting marooned on a deserted island, declaring instalove, and engaging in what I imagine as being gritty, uncomfortable, sand-filled beach sex.

But back up a little bit from that image. The new man in town is Brill Kroger, which is quite possibly the worst romance villain name I’ve ever heard (you can practically hear the mustache twirling, can’t you?). Ostensibly, he’s there to help plan a ball to raise money for the soldiers, but thanks to a multiple narrative that allows us into his head, we know he’s really a con man who’s planning to run off with the money, but not before using (and abusing, because this was published in the early 80’s) a few Tampa women. While he hooks up with Dulcy several times, his vicious sites are mostly set on Maria Mendes, a Cuban-American woman who works at the hotel (and whose POV we also get to enjoy), and then, after she scorns and embarrasses him, Jessica. He’s a creep of the highest order, and oddly enough, he’s probably the most well-developed character.

As soon as Neil leaves with the Rough Riders, a head injury sends Jessica into the throes of- you guessed it- AMNESIA (because of course! This book checks so many romance novel boxes), wiping all her memories of Neil: their instalove, the sex on the beach, their secret engagement. When she doesn’t show up to visit Neil on the docks (that good old military hurry-up-and-wait in action!), he gets alternately pissy and worried, while back at home, amnesiac Jessica begins to swoon over Ramon, Maria’s brother (a plot point that served mainly to help the time pass, as far as I could tell). Neil is injured not long after the actual fighting starts in Cuba, and despite his love and worry about Jessica, he still gets naked with Margarita, a woman from the rebel camp who tended to his wounds. Bet he’ll never tell Jessica about that!

Back home (and there’s a content warning here), in the land of the 1890’s written in the 1980’s, Brill rapes and murders Dulcy out of a combination of fury from rejection by Maria and annoyance at Dulcy as a person. Tampa is mostly yawning over the war and so Brill’s idea of a benefit ball won’t work, but being the skilled con man he is, he changes it to a ball benefiting the local victims of a fire (Jessica’s amnesia-inducing head injury came from helping out here with the Red Cross). On the night of the ball, things go south fast, and in order to escape with the money, Brill abducts Jessica, flees to Mexico with her, and then loses his mind and thinks she’s his beloved mother, a tactic that really only makes sense because it was the only way for Jessica to remain alive and solely touched by Neil’s still-in-use-during-this-break-and-somehow-magically-not-full-of-syphillis johnson.

Long story short, Jessica doesn’t develop much personality while in captivity. Upon his return to Tampa, Neil learns of Jessica’s abduction and teams up with Maria and her soon-to-be fiancรฉ-then-husband Tom to travel to Mexico to bring Jessica back. Which they do, and of course Brill meets an untimely end, while Neil and Jessica and Maria and Tom live happily ever after, until, I assume, someone dies in childbirth and someone else dies due to lack of antibiotics, because this is the 1890’s and those things happen (this is where my brain goes when I read historical fiction).

So.

This actually wasn’t terrible! Despite Neil and Jessica lacking in the personality department and Brill being a little overwritten, the setting- 1890’s Tampa at the start of the Spanish-American war- really made this novel come alive. I can’t say I’ve ever read anything else set during this time period, at least not in Tampa (which is probably why that stuck in my memory as one of the very few things I recalled about the book before finding it again), and I very much enjoyed reading all the historical facts and bits of trivia that Ms. Matthews wove into the story. I kept running back to Google while reading this, checking to see if certain bits were real, and from what I can tell, Flames of Glory is well-researched. In my opinion, it’s worth the read for the setting and period interest alone.

The characters…ehhhhhh. Jessica had about as much personality as a limp dishrag, and Neil wasn’t much better. There’s no description of what they love or even like about each other, most likely because neither of them actually have personalities or actual character traits, and they spend about ten seconds together with minimal conversation before getting down in the sand on that deserted island. Maybe that’s why Dulcy was so annoyed by Jessica and pissed off by Neil choosing her. Dulcy was every stereotype of the bad girl possible- she’s nasty and two-faced to Jessica, she sleeps around, she gets raped and murdered as punishment for her behavior- but at least she was interesting to read. Jessica, not so much. *yawn* Neil at least manages to come to the conclusion that maybe war isn’t all that great, after getting shot and watching his buddies get killed and maimed, so good for him on that, I guess (but facepalm for it taking his friends dying in front of his eyes for him to figure that out. Seriously, dude?). Dulcy doesn’t last long enough to grow as a character, Brill just gets worse in every way, and Jessica is as bland at the end as she is at the beginning…but Maria! Maria is strong and intelligent; she’s thoughtful and caring, cunning in all the right ways- a good thing, since it helps her evade Brill several times- and she goes from a young woman expecting to live a safe life in Tampa, to a grown woman who falls in love and is willing to put her life on the line to save a friend. She’s by far the most enjoyable character in the entire story.

Along with content warnings for a rape and murder scene, there’s one cringeworthy scene where Jessica is noticing the local Mayan people in Mexico; her descriptions of them are less than flattering and seemed unnecessary and unfair. The rest of the book seemed to me to be okay, but that one paragraph had my eyebrows way, way up there.

It’s funny; I first read this book when I was about twelve years old, but as I read it this time, I found myself remembering lines from upcoming paragraphs, and when I turned the page, sure enough, there would be the line I remembered. The human brain is a crazy thing. I can’t remember why I went into the kitchen half the time, but lines from a romance novel I read in 1992? WHY NOT!!!

One thing I didn’t remember about the book: when Brill drags Jessica to Mexico, he’s on the hunt for gold, and thanks to his interpreter, he learns that a great place to find gold is in a well in Chichen-Itza, used for sacrifices by the Aztecs to their rain god. The well is connected to a cenote, a deep, water-filled sinkhole connected to underground rivers. My husband and I honeymooned in Cancรบn and had the privilege of swimming in a few cenotes, and I’ve been fascinated with them ever since. I had a huge smile on my face when the word appeared in the book!

A few cenote pics:

Most likely not the same cenote in which Brill Kroger met his untimely (or, let’s face it, timely, because he was a serious creep) end- I’m assuming he was hunting in the Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza because it fits the description in the book- but still pretty amazing. And yes, we both jumped from the ledge (at the top of those stairs) into the water, which was about a ten-foot drop, maybe more. I knew I wouldn’t forgive myself if I left without doing that, no matter how scary the first jump was! If you ever get a chance to swim in a cenote, DO IT. Seriously one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

All in all, while this wasn’t the greatest read of my life, I’m glad I got the chance to read it again, and that I was in the right place at the right time to find this book. I’m not sure what about it appealed to me as a kid, other than it was the first book I ever came across that included sex scenes- I mean, I was twelve, that may very well have been it! But because of this book, I’ve picked up plenty of other romances that I adored, so for that, I’ll always be grateful to Patricia Matthews and Flames of Glory.

Patricia Matthews passed away in 2006 at the age of 79. You can learn more about her at her Wikipedia page here.

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: June 2019

Once again, a month is ending, and I’m sitting here going, “Holy crap, where did it go???”

No big surprise. I was sick for so long that quite a few months blew right past me. Thankfully, I’m feeling MUCH better lately, and because of that, my reading time has definitely gone down, as I’ve been busy playing catch-up with all the many things I wasn’t able to do when I was sick or taking care of my sick kiddo. And there’s a LOT of it, but that’s okay. Everything in good time. ๐Ÿ™‚

We had a nasty start to the summer, weather-wise. Rain, rain, more rain, and weirdly chilly temperatures- up until about 9 days ago, I still wore a cardigan when I went out to do the grocery shopping. And just like that, the weather turned this week and we now need the air conditioner on, because the temps have gotten into the low 90’s. Make up your mind, Midwestern weather!!!

But let’s get down to the more important business at hand: BOOKS.

Books I Read in June 2019

  1. American Prison: An Undercover Reporter’s Journey Into the Business of Punishment- Shane Bauer

2. Big Rock- Lauren Blakely

3. Second Chances- Lauren Dane

4. The Idea of You- Robinne Lee

5. The Solace of Water- Elizabeth Byler Younts

6. Living More With Less- Doris Janzen Longacre

7. Mandy- Julie Andrews Edwards

8. Muslim Girl: A Coming-of-Age Story- Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

9. Tikka Chance on Me- Suleikha Snyder

10. Stalking the Divine: Contemplating Faith With the Poor Clares- Kristin Ohlson

11. Raising the Griffin- Melissa Wyatt

12. On the Outside Looking Indian: How My Second Childhood Changed My Life- Rupinder Gill

13. Ramona Forever- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

14. How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids- Jancee Dunn (no review)

15. The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Just Trying to Fit In- Ayser Salman

16. Flames of Glory- Patricia Matthews (review to come)

17. Leaving the Witness: Exiting a Religion and Finding a Life- Amber Scorah (review to come)

I figured my reading would slow down once summer picked up, and sure enough, this is my slowest month of the year so far. Still not bad, but that’s what happens when you’re finally able to crawl off the couch and start hosing down the house and working on projects you’ve been putting off for months due to being sick. Not necessarily a bad thing, though. ๐Ÿ™‚ Eight fiction, nine non-fiction; that’s more non-fiction than I expected, especially given that I end up reading more fluffy stuff when I’m feeling crummy.

Reading Challenge Update

I’m not currently participating in any reading challenges. It’s a reading free-for-all!

State of the Goodreads TBR

I’m adding this as a new category here this month in order to be better accountable for my reading!

Goodreads is where I keep my TBR list; it’s so convenient to be able to hit that want-to-read button. Currently, my Goodreads TBR list stands at 81 books. It seems impossible to get it below 80; the second it gets close, all the other book bloggers conspire against me and start posting amazing reviews and I’m all, “Oooooooh…”

Books I Acquired in June 2019

Slow month for buying books, but I’m okay with that, as I also need to focus on reading things from my own shelves. I did, however, win a copy of If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann, from a blog tour (and dang it, I seem to have deleted the email that reminded me which blog it was! If it was yours, let me know in the comments and I’ll give you credit and link back to you. Thank you!), so that was awesome! I love the cover.

Bookish Things I Did In June 2019

Would you believe not much? I had a scheduling conflict with the library book club, so that was out. There was a used book sale, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured I didn’t really need to go. I already have a zillion books on my own shelves that I desperately need to read, so I saved money, saved gas, saved wear and tear on the car and the environment, and I stayed home. I did grab my son and his best friend and make them walk to the library with me one night, though. It’s about a 3 mile walk, round trip, so that was good exercise for all of us, plus both the boys checked out books (my son’s friend recently got a library card for the first time- he apparently really got into reading The Martian by Andy Weir, to the point where he was excitedly texting my son with updates on what he’d read, which is awesome, and he decided he wanted a library card! It always makes me happy to hear about someone finding a book that makes them enjoy reading. Rock on, Seth!).

I did participate in TheWriteReads’ Ben Galley blog tour, a first for me! If you missed my first chapter review of Bloodrush, check that out. ๐Ÿ™‚

I’ll miss the library book group discussion in July as well, since we’ll be out of town. I’m halfway through my fourth sheet of ten books for the summer reading program (you can only fill out five!), so hopefully I’ll finish this next month. Must find more time to read!!!

Current Podcast Love

I’m still digging Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. This past month, I’ve enjoyed interviews with Thien-Kim Lam from Bawdy Bookworms, Alisha Rai, Bea & Leah Koch of The Ripped Bodice, Beverly Jenkins, Jennifer Lohmann of NoveList (check your library website for access!), and two absolutely hysterical live shows recorded at the Romantic Times convention. There’s always something fascinating in this podcast; three of the authors I read this month came from suggestions mentioned in one or several episodes. (It’s a TBR killer, for sure!)

Real Life Stuff

Busy, busy month. In the beginning of the month, I was still in recovery from the sinus infection that wouldn’t die (I ended up needing two rounds of antibiotics to finally send it packing; I’ve still got the accompanying cough), and then I had an easily-fixable-but-still-painful issue with my left ear the next week! I’m just going to pack up and move into my doctor’s office; it would make life a lot simpler… Fortunately, we’re all on the mend right now. I’ve gotten a little bit of energy back and have done a few projects around the house that I’ve been putting off due to feeling like garbage, so that’s a start. I’ve got two blog posts to write up yet that I missed out on when I was sick, so to the people to whom I owe posts, they’re coming!!!

My daughter had her pre-kindergarten eye exam and we found out that she’ll need glasses to correct the astigmatism in her left eye. We had to visit a different optometrist to get her fitted with properly-fitting frames, since her head, face, and nose are so narrow, but they’re in and we’ll be picking them up this morning!

My son was away from home for over a week, attending both his Madrigal retreat and then getting dropped off at a week-long summer music program at a university downstate. He celebrated his birthday (17!!!) while at the Madrigal retreat, and the concert his group put on when my mother and I picked him up from the music program was beyond phenomenal. One of the kids who had a solo in one song is apparently going to be on America’s Got Talent, from what my son said. My son seems to have learned a lot from the session, and I’m so thrilled that he had the opportunity to go (I’m also happy he’s home, I missed him!).

July’s going to be another busy month. We usually attend the 4th of July parade in my sister’s town, and at the end of the second week, the kids and I are traveling with my mom to Branson, Missouri for a week. We usually go somewhere with her every summer, and Branson is a new destination for us. My mom loves to get out and explore new places, so this will be a fun trip. That will also mark the cut-off point for my daughter: no more naps! She still naps in the afternoon most days, mainly because she’s often up before 6 am and we all need a nap after that! But with full-day kindergarten coming up, she’s got to learn how to function without a nap, so we’ll have a month to adjust before she’s off to school.

And that’s it for June! How did you do this past month???