Monthly roundup

Monthly roundup: July 2019

Welcome to August!

My goodness. July absolutely got away from me. I’m ferociously behind in regards to book reviews (to the tune of…*checks Goodreads* ELEVEN BOOKS), and I’m completely feeling like a hamster in a wheel. Not the hamster who’s trucking along nicely, making the wheel turn and turn, mind you. No, I’m the hamster in the back, flopping along and never quite able to get itself situated and upright while its furry little buddy trots happily in front without a care in the world. I’ve been desperately trying to take care of everything in real life (house, laundry, errands, cooking, etc) while driving my son places and keeping my daughter entertained by taking her to the park and other fun summer places, and I’ve started a few other projects around the house, along with exercising more regularly. All of this means I haven’t had much computer time lately!

I’ll get back up to speed, though, I promise! The kids go back to school in twenty days, and I’ll spend some of my alone time getting caught up here, so keep your eyes peeled for an eventual onslaught of reviews. 🙂

So let’s get started on this recap, shall we?

Books I Read in July 2019

  1. Flames of Glory- Patricia Matthews

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

3. Ramona’s World- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

4. Eyes On Me- Rachel Harris

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

6. Internment- Samira Ahmed (review written, will be posted tomorrow)

7. Better Than Homemade- Carolyn Wyman (review to come)

8. I Believe In a Thing Called Love- Maurene Goo (review to come)

9. Henry Huggins- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

10. The Emergency Teacher: The Inspirational Story of a New Teacher in an Inner City School- Christina Asquith (review to come)

11. The Drowning of Stephan Jones- Bette Greene (review to come)

12. Holy Envy: Finding God in the Faith of Others- Barbara Brown Taylor (review to come, LOVED THIS!!!)

13. All the Rage: Mothers, Fathers, and the Myth of Equal Partnership- Darcy Lockman (review to come)

14. Waiting for Tom Hanks- Kerry Winfrey (review to come)

15. Henry and Beezus- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

16. Their Pretend Amish Courtship- Patricia Davids (review to come)

17. Awkward- Svetlana Chmakova (review to come)

18. Icebreaker- Deirdre Martin (review to come)

19. Burma Chronicles- Guy Delisle (review to come)

Numbers-wise, that’s not a bad month! So much of my reading has been done outside the house this month, either at the park or at a library play area (on those super hot days); I finished two books on vacation (and DNF’d two others that just didn’t work for me); three were read-alouds to my daughter. I don’t see any patterns in here, necessarily; a bunch of these books, however, were from my TBR pile, so yay for me on that. 🙂

Reading Challenge Update

I’m not currently participating in any reading challenges, other than the constant challenge of taming my TBR. Speaking of which…

State of the Goodreads TBR

Remember last month when I said I couldn’t seem to get my Goodreads TBR below 80 books?

80 is the magic number, because 80 is where my Goodreads TBR sits at this very moment! The book I’m reading right now is from that list, though, so I AM trying!!!

Books I Acquired in July 2019

These were acquired from a used book sale last weekend (everything you can cram into a bag for $10; my husband and daughter also brought home some treasures). I was pretty happy to find the copy of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, as she was recently added to the list of authors coming to speak to my community this school year! I’ll definitely get that one read before her appearance (the date hasn’t been announced yet, so I have time).

My friend Sandy mailed me two ARCs; I’ve never read Alisha Rai before, but I’ve been wanting to, so I’m pretty excited about The Right Swipe! Tracey Garvis Graves’s The Girl He Used To Know was a bonus in the book envelope; what a nice surprise! Thanks, Sandy! As soon as I get to the store to buy an envelope, I’m shipping her my copy of Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle. Bookish friends are the best. 🙂

My mom gave me Such a Perfect Wife by Kate White, which she had just finished and said it was good, so I’m looking forward to that. And then…

A few weeks ago, I recalled an author I’d read when I first moved to Tennessee (as in, as soon as I got my library card, after rushing there from the DMV with my brand new Tennessee driver’s license, I picked her book up off the new books shelf!). Jerramy Fine’s Someday My Prince Will Come: True Adventures of a Wannabe Princess is an adorable tale of her infatuation with royalty, romance, England, and the intersection of all of those things. She had retweeted my review of that book (this was something like ten years ago!), and I was wondering what she was up to these days when I happened upon In Defense of the Princess: How Plastic Tiaras and Fairytale Dreams Can Inspire Smart, Strong Women (sadly, at the Dollar Tree). Since I have a daughter who somehow fell in love with all things princess and wears a crown or a tiara almost everywhere we go, I figured this was some sort of sign, and the book came home with me. I’m very much looking forward to reading this!

Not pictured: yesterday, I grabbed a copy of Out of Africa and Shadows in the Grass by Isak Dinesen from the thrift store, where I stopped to grab my daughter some water bottles for school. This was on an old want-to-read list, and it’s piqued my interest again after reading Circling the Sun by Paula McLain.

Bookish Things I Did in July 2019

The only thing I can think of is the book sale I mentioned earlier. It’s the one held by an association that uses the profits made from the sale to fund college scholarships for women. I’m on their mailing list (which is dangerous!), so I was happy to show up, browse, and bring home a sack full of books. As I was perusing the general fiction table, a guy next to me reached for a copy of Alaska by James Michener, and of course I had to gush, “That’s an incredible book.” He kind of laughed and said that it was his favorite book, and he always looks to see if a copy he finds in the wild is better than the copy he has at home. I suggested he also read Hawaii (he said he owns it and that’ll be his next read); he mentioned (I think it was!) The Covenant, but it might have been Centennial! It had a C in the title! Either way, I think I own both of them and definitely need to read them. James Michener has long been a favorite of mine and I need to read more of him. It’s always nice to have a bookish conversation about a favorite author with a complete stranger. 🙂

Current Podcast Love

I finished up all the episodes my podcast player (I use Podbean) would load; sadly, it only went down to like Episode 212, out of 361 episodes. I’ll continue to listen to new episodes in the future, as I love this podcast!

I’ve also been catching up on episodes of What Should I Read Next? with Anne Bogel, another podcast I absolutely adore. This one is SO dangerous to the TBR, though (one of the books I have checked out from the library right now ended up on my TBR list because of these episodes I’ve been listening to lately!). If you’ve never listened to this, I highly recommend it. Fascinating guests with awesome life stories and excellent reading lives, great book suggestions, and Anne is a wonderful, charming host.

Real Life Stuff

The biggest highlight of the month was the kids and I going to Branson, Missouri with my mother. We usually travel somewhere with her every year, and she’s so much fun. She likes to GO, so we ended up doing a TON of stuff while we were there. We visited their downtown area and went through a bunch of the shops, visited the mall, sunburned ourselves half to death swimming at Moonshine Beach, visited Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum and the Titanic museum, rode the Runaway Mountain Coaster and the giant Ferris wheel, rode the rides at Silver Dollar City, splashed around at the White Water water park, swam in our resort’s indoor pool, we took a road trip and ate at Lambert’s Cafe, Home of the Throwed Rolls… I’m probably still forgetting a few things! There’s very little downtime when you’re on vacation with my mother! 😀 (And the only place my back really gave me trouble was the Titanic Museum, since standing without moving is difficult for me. As long as I’m walking, I’m okay, though my back might spasm- that’s normal. Painful, but expected, so it’s not a huge deal.)

Finally, a roll of toilet paper big enough! The world’s largest roll of toilet paper, at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum, Branson, MO

But even though there was little downtime, I still managed to work out three of the days we were there in the resort’s gym. I *really* let my exercise routine slack this year, being sick for so long, and as a result, I wasn’t happy with the way some of my clothes were fitting, so I made a commitment before we left that I was going to get back in better shape. And so far, I’ve been doing awesome. I do yoga on the days we’re home, and in the evenings I’ve been walking either three or four miles. When it gets too cold and dark to walk, I’ll go back to using my exercise bike in the bedroom, along with yoga. It feels good to be doing something good for my body again (especially since- guess what?- we got sick AGAIN. My daughter had a runny nose and a cough and some congestion on our last day, and of course, since she spent a few days coughing directly into my eyeballs, I got it, too. I never felt too run down with this one, though, so I’ve still been trucking along!).

I also purchased the best pair of socks in the world:

I am 1000% ready to sob my eyes out at A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood, the Tom Hanks movie about Mister Rogers, in November!!!

My husband and I have, of course, watched all of this summer’s season of Stranger Things, and now we’re going through this final season of Orange Is the New Black. And just before we left for vacation, I started on this (and continue to work on it while we watch at night):

Now, usually, I’m a knitter. I’m not the world’s greatest crocheter, and I haven’t crocheted more than a few hats for my son since before my daughter was born (crochet uses up way more yarn than knitting does, so I choose my crochet projects carefully). But I was struggling to figure out what to do with this HUGE skein of variegated blue yarn my mother-in-law gave to me (she’s a knitter). It’s this weird texture and difficult to knit with (which is exactly why she gave it to me! We had a good laugh about that this weekend), and finally, I realized that I have SO much blue yarn that I should just make a huge blue blanket, and thus, the Blue Blanket Project was born. I dug up a bag full of different kinds of blue yarn, some full skeins, some scraps, and I’ve been working on it while we watch TV and visit with family. Might as well get something else done while you’re sitting there, right? I’ll keep crocheting until it gets big enough or I run out of yarn, whatever comes first. 🙂

August will be an interesting month. My birthday is coming up on the 5th (last year of my 30’s!), we’ve got a playdate with a friend we haven’t seen for a while next week, and then on the 21st, the kids go back to school!!! My son will start his senior year in high school, and my daughter will traipse off the kindergarten for the first time. His last first day, her first first day. Bittersweet, but exciting for both of them, and exciting for me! My daughter goes a half day for the first three days, and then on Monday, she’ll go full day, all the time. I have SO many projects I’m looking forward to doing, including cleaning out my seriously-you-guys-it-looks-like-Hoarders garage, ripping out huge parts of awfulness in my yard (cactuses! Whose idea was it to plant cactuses in this yard? We’re in the Chicago suburbs, for cripes sake!!!), overhauling my daughter’s room, cleaning out all my cabinets, cleaning and organizing my closet… I have a huge list of projects that I’m planning on working on, and then I’ll focus more on the stuff I want to do, like reading, writing, learning new things/studying old things, spending more time with my sewing machine, etc. Who knows, I may even get to watch a movie here and there- I haven’t watched TV during the day that didn’t involve animation for five years, so all of this is pretty exciting for me. In the two years between my son going to public school for the first time after homeschooling and the birth of my daughter, I was home full-time and was never, ever bored, so I’m really looking forward to all of this. 🙂

And that’s about it for me this month! I wish you all a happy and productive August, full of great reads, low-priced books, and book reviews that flow easily from your brain onto the computer. How was your July???


2 thoughts on “Monthly roundup: July 2019

  1. Hey, today’s your birthday! Happy birthday! I hope it’s a great day full of all your favorite things 🙂

    I’m so glad you loved HOLY ENVY. I need to get my hands on a copy of it. It sounds really fascinating. I can’t wait to read your review of it.

    My older kids and I binge-watched Stranger Things. This season wasn’t as good as the ones before, IMHO, but still. It’s entertaining. That ending, though!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Susan!!! I had a fantastic birthday- I got a new kindle to replace my geriatric one that kept restarting on me for no reason, we went kayaking, and we had lunch at my favorite Indian restaurant. Super awesome day. 🙂

      Holy Envy was so, so, so good. She put into words what I feel about so many things, and taught me some new things as well. I’m looking forward to reading her other books, and I hope you love this one too!

      I definitely enjoyed this season of Stranger Things. My son finally started the series and has been enjoying it; I think he only has a few episodes left but hasn’t been home long enough to finish. I’ve heard next year is going to be the last season, which is sad. The show isn’t the normal genre for me to watch, but it’s so well written and the kids are all such great actors, I’ll be sad when the series is complete.

      Liked by 1 person

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