Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: October 2019

Welcome to November!

Another month in the books. (Heh. Book blogger pun.) October has been a doozy of a month, friends, and not the greatest month of reading for me. I tend to get a little reading slump-ish around this time of year, but this year, that was eclipsed by the nasty pain flare I had that started the second week and which was triggered by a massive temperature/weather change. It’s normal for my pain to flare during that time, but it’s never fun, and instead of spending my evenings reading, I went to sleep every night at around 8:30 in order to escape the pain. And that, friends, is the reason why this is the month that I’ve read the least in so far this year. It happens.

October wasn’t a completely terrible month, though. Good and fun things did happen, so let’s get this monthly roundup on the road!

What I Read in October 2019

  1. Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado-Pérez

2. A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn (no review, read as part of my personal Read Harder challege, but highly recommended)

3. The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

4. The Difficult Child by Stanley Turecki (no review, read to help tackle some of my daughter’s more intense behaviors)

5. All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

6. In Defense of the Princess: How Plastic Tiaras and Fairytale Dreams Can Inspire Smart, Strong Women by Jerramy Fine

7. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

8. When Islam Is Not a Religion: Inside America’s Fight For Religious Freedom by Asma T. Uddin (no review, solely because this book was so jam-packed full of information- much of it legal, obviously- that I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to properly sum it up. If this topic intrigues you, however, check it out. I did enjoy it!)

9. The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

10. When I Was White: A Memoir by Sarah Valentine (review to come)

11. More All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

So yeah, this was absolutely my slowest month of the year, but I feel no shame for that. For me, a pain flare as bad as this last one is like trying to watch the television, but someone is blasting the radio at top volume directly into your ear at the same time. It’s next to impossible to focus on anything when the pain is blaring away like that, so it’s amazing that I got any reading done at all!

Reading Challenge Updates

I’m not currently participating in any reading challenges, but only two more months before the 2020 Challenges begin! I really enjoyed Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, so I’ll do that, and probably the Modern Mrs. Darcy one again too. As much as I enjoy free-reading and tackling my TBR, I do enjoy a good challenge! Speaking of which…

State of the Goodreads TBR

I’m currently at 80 books (it was 79, but during the time it took me to write this post, a literary agency tweeted about a book it acquired based on a premise I’d always thought would make a fabulous book, so of course I had to stick it on my TBR immediately). Three of these books are currently on their way to me via interlibrary loan or the hold system, and I’m super excited about all of them. I did add seven- NOW EIGHT- books this month, however, and I only read one book off the TBR this month, so hopefully next month will be better!

Books I Acquired in October 2019

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld and Working by Studs Terkel came from a walk to a Little Free Library a few streets over, on one of the last really nice days, to drop off two books (so of course I had to come home with two more…). The Child Finder looked good, and I enjoyed the writing of Studs Terkel in an English class I took years ago, so I was pleased to find these books. The other books came from a half-off sale at the thrift store (where adult softcover books are only a quarter anyway!). Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen by Liliuokalani came home with me because I’m fascinated (and saddened, and angered) by Hawaii’s history, and who better to learn more from than Liliuokalani. I’ve never read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, but it keeps coming up in all the urban farming books that I read, so I figured it was time to bite the bullet. The Joy of Sects: A Spirited Guide to the World’s Religious Traditions by Peter Occhiograsso is actually a book that was on my TBR for ages and I ended up taking it off, but when I recognized it in the thrift store, I actually said aloud, “No way!” I was pretty excited to find it on the shelf.

I also won an e-copy of Can’t Escape Love (Reluctant Royals #2.6) by Alyssa Cole from @melon_reads on Twitter! I need to read #2 in the series first (A Duke By Default), but I loved A Princess in Theory, so I’m really looking forward to reading this. Thanks, Mel!!!

Bookish Things I Did in October 2019

At the beginning of the month, a local church had its autumn rummage sale. I mean serious business when I go to this sale, as it’s where the majority of my daughter’s clothing comes from (I can clothe this kid for an entire year for less than fifty bucks, which is pretty awesome). When I was there the first day, I noticed they had a solid wood bookshelf for sale, discarded from their preschool classrooms, and when it was still there the next day- AND half price, so only five bucks!- I threw my money at them and made my husband drive over to pick it up. 🙂 I’d been wanting to get a bookshelf for my daughter’s room anyway, and this was perfect. It’s on wheels, it folds shut, and the shelves are super deep. My daughter, being into all things traditionally girly, demanded that we paint it pink, and my husband was only too happy to oblige.

Not the clearest picture, but you get the idea. The shelf had been brought upstairs by my husband, but cleaning her room to this level of tidiness and then bringing the books upstairs from the living room shelves and then organizing them- all of this took two and a half hours. PHEW. (And that table? Only blue because it’s a hand-me-down from my son.)

I was also lucky enough to go hear author Julissa Arce speak at a local school. I haven’t had the chance to read her books yet, but I will. She’s a really engaging speaker and I loved hearing her tell the (abbreviated) story of her life. Her story, told in books, is being turned into a television series by America Ferrera, which is pretty exciting!

For real, I’m a terrible photographer, but she was a great speaker!

Current Podcast Love

Did you know that the show Dateline NBC is available as a podcast??? A friend in a parenting group clued me in to this and I’ve been listening to it all this past month as I fall asleep. To be fair, it’s kind of an odd thing to fall asleep to- the show is almost entirely centered on true crime, and I admit to being a little more paranoid now that my podcast time is full of murders and poisonings and missing people- absolutely not my normal jam! But there’s something about the calm narration of the hosts that puts me out, and most nights I have to start mid-episode somewhere so I can find if they caught the killers.

Stephanie’s Read Harder Challenge

I finished A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn. With index, my copy has 675 pages, and while it wasn’t an easy read, I’m glad I plowed through it. It went way more in depth than any other general history book I’ve read as an adult, and I found myself wanting more when I finished! It’s an intense book, full of pain and deception and all the hideous things that Americans have done to each other, but it’s an important read.

As of right now, I am 507 pages into Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, which is further than I got during my attempt to read it when I was 17. Hugo never met a backstory he didn’t like, and he has no problem droning on for 50+ pages about a topic about which is only relevant to the rest of the story for a paragraph or two. Most days, I read a 30-page section (30 pages or to the next chapter break); I do this in order to not burn out, especially in those long sections on, say, Waterloo, or French convents (I’m currently in the middle of this part!). I do find these long-winded asides extremely tedious to read, but the cats don’t seem to mind if I read aloud, so I’m expanding their literary world as well as mine. At 1463 pages, I’m hoping to finish this before the new year, but we’ll see.

I haven’t gotten much Norwegian study done this month, mostly due to the pain flare up and general busy-ness, but I’m still slowly plugging away when I can!

Real Life Stuff

Midwestern autumn be like:

Not even kidding, you guys. Two days before I took this, I killed a mosquito outside. Nature, you have seriously got to get yourself together, because trick-or-treating this year was cold, cold, cold, and involved all of us wearing multiple layers of clothing and snow boots. Eeeeesh.

This month was obviously dominated by my pain flare, but there was also the magical church yard sale, where I procured probably fifty or sixty items of clothing for my daughter for less than $15. I attended a local university performance of the musical Cabaret, which was stunning and left me feeling like I’d been punched in the gut- which is exactly what excellent theater does. That ending, man…

My son had his first school choir concert, which was lovely, and he performed with his Madrigals group at a different local university (and their performance of Look Out Above by Dessa and Jocelyn Hagen got the most applause out of any performance of the night! They were so, so good). My mother and daughter and I attended a semi-local Scandinavian event that we hit up every year and had a great time. We got our flu shots- not without some drama in trying to get them scheduled, but they’re done for the year, thank goodness (my son has asthma that only ever acts up when he’s sick, and I don’t mess around with taking chances with the flu when it comes to any potential complications). And Halloween was super fun, even though it was like 31 degrees when we were out trick-or-treating, and it snowed all day. (This morning, it’s so cold that the handle on my back screen door is frozen shut, a fact I only learned when I tried to come back in after taking the recycling out this morning. Fortunately, my daughter let me in!)

What’s next in November? My son’s school is putting on a performance of Eurydice (he’s not in it), so I’m looking forward to that. I have a dentist appointment (uuuuuuuuugggghhhh), and later on that week, I’ll go hear Erika L. Sánchez, author of I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, speak. And then, that weekend, a local high school is putting on a special children’s performance of The Little Mermaid, so my mother and I are going to take my five year-old daughter to her first stage play! (My husband isn’t really into theater.) I’m already talking to her about what her behavior needs to look like, about being quiet and not talking when the actors are on stage. I think she can do it. Wish us luck!

And then we have Thanksgiving, and then it’ll be a whirlwind of holiday events. I’ll be busy, that’s for sure, but hopefully I’ll be able to squeeze in a little reading here and there. 😉

And that’s it! How was your October? (Hopefully less painful than mine!) Wishing you all the best for a beautiful November. 🙂

Monthly roundup

Monthly Roundup: May 2019

Another glorious month of reading is in the books! (Heh. Pun intended.) These monthly roundup posts are probably my favorite kinds of posts to pull together. Seeing everything I read throughout the past month, reflecting on the things I’ve learned…it feels kind of cool, you know?

This hasn’t been the easiest month. My daughter was sick, AGAIN. Two doctor appointments later, she was finally diagnosed with a sinus infection…and then I got sick (which is what happens when you spend an entire week mopping up your kid’s snot and catching her coughed-so-hard-she-puked vomit in your bare hands). It was a pretty awful three-day weekend over Memorial Day (yes, we have urgent care, but it’s still $100 bucks just to walk in the door, but suffering and misery for three days until you can see the regular doctor means only a $25 copay! Yay, American healthcare…). I was able to get into the doctor Tuesday morning; she peered into my ears and up my nose and threw a crapload of antibiotics at me, because my ears and sinuses are a hot mess. I’m still experiencing some discomfort, but it’s not as fierce as it was in the beginning, thank goodness.

Fortunately, this was a pretty great month for reading, so let’s get down to the business of what I read this month, shall we?

Books I Read in May 2019

1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie- Alan Bradley

2. Ramona the Brave- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

3. Sold on a Monday- Kristina McMorris

4. The Trauma Cleaner: One Woman’s Extraordinary Life in the Business of Death, Decay, and Disaster- Sarah Krasnostein

5. Ramona and Her Father- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

6. Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Love, Identity & So Much More- Janet Mock

7. Welcome to Temptation- Jennifer Crusie

8. Love and Other Words- Christina Lauren

9. Ramona and Her Mother- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

10. Everything On It- Shel Silverstein (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

11. Yes Please- Amy Poehler

12. Going Doolally: An honest tale of anxiety and motherhood- Katie Pickworth

13. Just the Way You Are- Ann Roth

14. In Other Words- Jhumpa Lahiri, translated by Ann Goldstein

15. Landline- Rainbow Rowell

16. All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir- Nicole Chung

17. Ramona Quimby, Age 8- Beverly Cleary (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

18. Voices from Chernobyl: An Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster- Svetlana Alexievich

19. History of Wolves- Emily Fridlund

20. Behind the Scenes (Daylight Falls #1)- Dahlia Adler

21. Breaking Free: How I Escaped My Father– Warren Jeffs– Polygamy, and the FLDS Cult- Rachel Jeffs

22. Everything I Know About Love I Learned From Romance Novels- Sarah Wendell

23. This Will Be My Undoing: Living at the Intersection of Black, Female, and Feminist in (White) America- Morgan Jerkins (no review due to illness)

24. What the Witch Left- Ruth Chew (no review, read out loud to my daughter)

25. The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman’s Journey to Love and Islam- G. Willow Wilson (no review due to illness)

26. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic- Alison Bechdel (no review due to illness)

27. The Best We Could Do- Thi Bui (no review due to illness)

Doing nothing but hanging out at home and being sick gives you a lot of time to read…

Book Challenges Update

This is the month I finished both the reading challenges I took up at the beginning of the year! Having never finished a challenge in the past, this feels like a big deal for me. 🙂

First off, I finished up the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2019 Reading Challenge. Here’s my completed task list!

For a book in the backlist of a favorite author, I read Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie; for my third book of the year by the same author, I read Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren; and for a book I chose for the cover, I read Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris. Voilà! First completed challenge. 🙂

And then, because I have to get everything done as fast as possible in order to prevent my anxiety from flaring because there are THINGS LEFT UNDONE, I also completed Book Riot’s 2019 Read Harder Challenge! Here’s what that list looks like:

Yay me!!! I’m pretty proud of myself for being able to stick with these tasks until completion. I’ve discovered a ton of new authors, learned some fascinating and disturbing things, opened my mind to new ways of thinking, visited far away places in distance and time, read new-to-me formats… I started the Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge because I wanted to see if I could even complete a challenge at all, and I picked up the Read Harder Challenge because I felt like it would help me grow as a reader. It definitely did, and I’m planning on taking up this challenge in the future as well.

And now I’m completely challengeless! What’s a girl to do? Well, I’ve got 97 books on my Goodreads TBR (it WAS down to 50, thank you SO much, fellow book bloggers, for constantly posting about interesting books that I just HAVE to read… :D), so I’m going to focus on plowing through that for a bit. I’ve got so many books on there I’m looking forward to!

Books I Acquired in May 2019

There was this book haul:

from that used book sale, which was unbelievably magic because it was the place where I found the book I’d been looking for since I was TWELVE YEARS OLD. I still can’t get over that, and I’m soooooooooo looking forward to reading that book (which I’m entirely sure is going to be all kinds of early 1980’s romance problematic) as soon as I finish with my current stack. This is going to be FUN.

And then I was lucky enough to win The View from Alameda Island by Robyn Carr from Always With a Book! Kristin always posts such interesting content and hosts fantastic giveaways; Robyn Carr has gotten a lot of mentions on the podcast I’m listening to lately, so I’m really looking forward to reading this. Thanks, Kristin!

Bookish Things I Did in May 2019

The aforementioned book sale was the absolute highlight of my month! I don’t know if I’ll ever stop being happy I found that book and can stop wondering what the heck it is! Once I read down what my library has of my TBR stash, I’ll start reading the books I got from that sale while I wait for interlibrary loans to come in. 🙂

I wasn’t able to make this month’s library book discussion group (my son had a choir concert that night), but I did go in on the first day and sign up for the adult summer reading program! There’s not a ton I want in regards to prizes (I’m putting all my tickets in for the Kindle Fire, but I assume most everyone else will be as well, so I’m not holding my breath), but I’m thrilled just to participate and help bump the library’s numbers up. Each sheet has ten spaces to fill in; after that, you can pick up a new sheet, up to five sheets. I figure I’ll get pretty close, if not finish it; I’ve already turned in two sheets…

My blog got a fantastic shout-out on Twitter and Facebook from Eileen Truax, author of How Does It Feel to Be Unwanted?: Stories of Resistance and Resilience from Mexicans Living in the United States. This was such a powerful book, and I always appreciate having my blog and reviews noticed. Thanks, Ms. Truax! 🙂

Current Podcast Love

Smart Podcast, Trashy Books is fabulous!!! I’ve added a buttload of books to my TBR and learned a whole lot from the amazing variety of guests they have on- authors, bloggers (the episode with Kristy, aka Caffeinated Fae, talking about the #copypastecris scandal is so interesting!), podcasters, publishing industry people, there’s really something here for everyone. If you’re a writer (especially of but not limited to romance), there’s also a ton of great advice to be found in this podcast (which I’m mentally squirreling away for when my daughter goes to kindergarten and I have quiet time once again!). I’m SO enjoying every second of listening to this podcast.

Real Life Stuff

Again, not the greatest of months. We *just* had the pukes mid-April, and then my daughter started coughing the day of her birthday party, April 28. The cough lingered for a few weeks…and then came the snot. Rivers and rivers of it, and then a nasty fever that wouldn’t die. We had a few more episodes of puking (snot and coughing, they’re not great together), and finally, on her second doctor trip, they diagnosed a sinus infection. I was already coughing with a sore throat then, but eight days later, I was back in the office, feeling as though someone had kicked me in the face. Antibiotics for everyone! Great googly-moogly, we need a healthier month around here.

My daughter finished preschool!!! I don’t often post photos of her online, but this is too cute not to. First day of preschool:

And the last day (she still had a mega-runny nose here, but had been on meds long enough that I felt okay with her attending the hour-long goodbye party):

She’s changed SO MUCH these past two years! She won the Sweetheart Award, for being sweet and kind and polite to everyone at school (which thrills me and makes me mildly irritated that they’re getting such a different version of my child than the one I get! :D). Onward to kindergarten in August! 🙂

My son finished up his junior year; he’ll be attending some choir-related camps in June, which will include being gone for his birthday, which is a bummer for me, but I understand. He made Madrigals for his choir next year, which is a HUGE deal, and I’m so proud of him (and can’t wait to see him dressed up in Madrigal clothing).

Coming up in June, my son will turn 17 (NOT ACTUALLY POSSIBLE), and he’ll do one and possibly two choir camps. I’ll have another book sale put on by the same people who did the last magical book sale, so who knows what I’ll find there???

My daughter and I are going to be working on her reading this summer. She can read Level 1 books at a slow pace (although she does a lot of guessing. She knows how to sound things out, but she’d rather take what she thinks is the faster route), so my goal is to just keep swimming with her and increase her fluency and fluidity. She’s not a huge fan of the process, but she’s super excited having DONE the reading, and she does enjoy a good story, so hopefully we’ll start her off on the right foot in kindergarten. 🙂

And that’s it! How was your May? Hopefully much healthier than mine!!!

Happy reading in June! 🙂

reading life

Catching my breath…

It’s been a rough few weeks around these parts. My daughter has basically been sick in some form or another since the end of March, and my body finally gave up the fight last week and succumbed to the current form of crud that she’s suffering, leaving me with a combo ear/sinus infection, which made me feel like I’ve been kicked in the face. After a few days on antibiotics, it’s improving, but I still have some face/head pain and a cough, and I’m still worn the heck out.

That’s not to say that I’m not reading- being sick has actually been pretty good for reading. But I’m like four reviews behind, and I have a review book I need to get a post up for, plus another post for someone else, and that’s not counting the 238423794832 things I do and have to do in my daily life (I’ll be mowing the lawn again this weekend, for example, and cleaning the entire house because we have family coming over for lunch one of the days).

So I’m going to skip writing reviews for those four books (library books that I’ve read on my own, not review books. I would never skip out on those!) and hopefully work on those other two posts this weekend instead. Next week is a little more calm, the kids are done with school for the summer, and there should be less running around for me, so things will be a little more relaxed (in theory!), and I’ll start up writing reviews for what I read then.

We all need to throw in the towel sometimes. I just need to pause, catch my breath a little (in between the coughing fits, of course), and then get back on track.

What do you do when you get overwhelmed with life? How do you keep your blogging on track? Do you review every single book you read, or do you skip some here and there?