Monday, July 24, 2017

Quite Possibly the Most Personal Post I'll Ever Write

I've been mostly MIA this past year and a half.  I made a renewed commitment to blogging in 2015 and had a great time with it; that year was by far my best reading year.  I finally crossed the three digit read goal (108!).  I read Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Mariller, and discovered that I love Cormoran Strike just as much as Harry Potter.  I hit a great groove on audiobooks and re-read/listened to the first three books in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer in preparation for Winter's release.  Rebecca Soler is an amazing narrator who brought something new to the experience.

In September of 2015, my Dad underwent an outpatient surgery. Two days after the surgery he was hospitalized for severe pancreatitis. He died December 29, 2015 after 103 days in the hospital.  He was 62.  There were many ups and downs over those three months and while I remember highlights, most of the medical stuff has become pretty fuzzy.  

As I've mention before my job gets incredibly busy during the Christmas season. Work and Dad’s hospitalization didn’t leave much time for blogging.  I fully intended to pick up the blog again in January when things settled down.  I even wrote some 2015 wrap-up posts from the hospital in December; they were easy.  I’d read so many great books in 2015 that I had tons of material. 

I think there were two factors that killed my blogging motivation as I got into 2016.  First - MAJOR book slump.  I wasn’t loving anything.  To be fair I wasn’t HATING anything either – they were all just…fine.  It’s hard to get excited about fine.  Second, I was still processing my Dad’s death and I’m a very private person.  I’m never going to publish an in depth post on those months or how I dealt after the fact.  In 2015, I’d started doing more personal posts related to reading.  In 2016, I wasn’t ready to post anything personal.  I tried a few times, but got stuck after a sentence or two.  Even reviews can get personal.  How I feel about a book is intrinsically tied to my life experiences.  The first book I read in January of 2016 was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  There was no way to write a review of that without being personal.

The rest of 2016 didn’t get any better from a “free time/head space for blogging” perspective. 
March: My dog, Gizmo, died suddenly at six and a half. 
May: I decided to fix my house up to get it ready to sell in August. 
July: I broke my foot. 
August: I got a puppy (Boston McDoodle).

I finally got my house on the market in early October (and sold).  My Mom bought a new house in November and I moved in with her.  The original plan for me to stay there for a year to save money, but I like living there, she likes having me and it really makes no sense for us to maintain two separate households for one person each, when we get along well.

Hopefully getting this out there will free some headspace for me to write reviews again.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Top 10 Tuesday - Audiobooks

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.Top 10 Tuesday

When I saw that this week's Top Ten Tuesday was an audiobook freebie I had to drop everything and put together a post. Fair warning, there will be formatting errors. I'm just praying it's readable.

I started listening to a few audiobook memoirs a few years ago, but I didn't become an audiobook junky until early 2015.  I was traveling weekly for work and they were long road trips.  I can only listen to about an hour of  music before time drags.

My audio listening timeline

2010 - Listened to my first audiobook on a road trip with my family.  It was Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris and we laughed so hard I remember thinking that it was probably dangerous to be driving.

2013 - Rainbow Rowell raved about the narrators of Eleanor & Park.  It had been a year since my first read and I decided to give the audio a shot for re-read.  Loved it.  Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra were both phenomenal and really added to the experience.  After that I read all of Rainbow's books once and then listened to the audio for my re-read. 

January 2015 - When I started my road travel for work I was still a little  gun shy about listening to fiction before first reading the book.  I was afraid my mind would wander too often so instead I started the first season of the Serial Podcast by Sarah Koenig.  It was amazing and I don't think I realized it at the time, but it also eased my fears about staying focused.

I next attempted my first fiction new book listen of The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling).  It's narrated by Robert Glenister and I want that man to read to me all the time.

From here I just went to town.  My strongest recommendations listened to from Feb 2016 til now.

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer and read by Rebecca Soler

Rebecca Soler is truly a remarkable narrator. Each book introduces another main female character and she gives them each a distinct believable voice.  Every character in these books is easily distinguished from each other and there are a lot of characters. 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and read by Susan Ericksen

I know there are a lot of audio versions of this book, many read by famous actors, but I really enjoyed this version.  Its rare I make it through a classic and I loved this.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler, read by the author

I still read a lot of celebrity memoirs (because they are generally very entertaining audiobooks), but Amy's stands out as one I didn't want to end.  I can't imagine reading this book and not wanting to be her friend.


Illumine by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff read by a full cast

This is my new standard by audiobooks are measured.  This was a performance and I cannot wait for the sequel. 

Final recommendation - the What Should I Read Next podcast from Anne Bogel aka Modern Mrs. Darcy.  It comes out every Tuesday (new episode today!) and I usually drop my current audio book to listen on my way home from work.  Only con - my TBR list grows every episode.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Drowning in Books

In 2015 I read more books then I ever have before.  I set a goal to read 100 books and also made it a goal to buy fewer books and use the library more.  Final tally for 2015 was 106 books – I was thrilled.  Totally rocked that goal.  And for eight months I successfully reduced my book purchases to ten books from January through August.

Then I discovered BookOutlet and the flood gates opened.  From Sept through the end of the year I bought 91 books.  I obviously didn’t notice that at the time, but it’s so easy to go overboard at BookOutlet.

This year I’m struggling with quite the slump.  I read four books in January.  Not horrible, but a tiny number for me.  I’ve started seven other books and just not picked them up again once I’ve put them down.  I’ve started to wonder if I’m dealing with “Decision Fatigue”.

Is everyone familiar with the phrase “Decision Fatigue”?  I started reading about it a couple years ago.  Basically as you make more and more decisions your brain gets tired and doesn’t think everything through.  Numerous studies have shown the affect of decision fatigue on everything from what to wear to the decision of judges to how it disproportionately affects the poor.

I’m starting to wonder if having too many book options is making it harder for me to choose what to read next AND making it more difficult to commit and focus on a book once I’m reading it.  I seriously bought an entire years worth of reading material last year when I probably already had that on my selves.  Not to mention ebooks from the library I can borrow with the push of a button.  There’s just always another option for reading material and I’m starting to think my brain is refusing to choose.

I think another issue for me is that my go-to genre is Women’s Fiction followed closely  by Contemporary YA.  These fly off my shelves almost immediately and what’s left are genres I enjoy but don’t gravitate too.  There’s also a fair amount of books outside my comfort zone to stretch my reading experience.  Once I’ve read my Women’s Fiction and Contemp YA, I spend a lot of time staring at my book asking, “What am I in the mood for?”.  All of the books on my shelves sound amazing, but whether I love them or not depends on if I’m in the right mood when I pick them up.

I did break my slump a little this weekend (by reading a ton of Women’s fiction books on Kindle).  I’m just trying to come up with a strategy to tackle the analysis paralysis when it comes to choosing my next ‘out of the box’ read.

Anyone else dealing with this?  I definitely welcome any ideas to move on.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Top 9 New Years Resolutions

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.

Top 10 Tuesday

This week is a freebie and since I missed Resolutions a few weeks ago I figured I’d go ahead and do it now.

Reading Goals

1. Complete the BookRiot 2016 Read Harder Challenge

2. Complete My Big Fat Book Challenge

3. At least 1 classic (probably Jane Eyre)

4. Read more books I already own than books I purchase.

Blogging Goals

5. Write at least one post a month that is not a meme or review

6. Comment more on other blogs/be more active on Twitter

Other Goals

7. Make more of an effort in social situations – I’m an introvert and sometimes I just don’t feel like being social, but last year I felt like I didn’t make ANY effort to be social and I was missing out.  I’d like to find a balance.

8. Learn Audacity

9. Keep my house picked up

Monday, January 18, 2016

Top Ten (12) Books I've Recently Added To My TBR

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.
Top 10 Tuesday THis week is Top 10 Books I’ve Recently Added to My TBR.  I did a first draft of this topic about two weeks ago thinking a book or two might change for the final version.  Then this post showed up on Bookriot.  So rather than just my last ten books added to my TBR this is my Top Twelve I’ve added in the last two months. 


Title:                  Outrun the Moon
Author:             Stacey Lee
On April 18, an historic earthquake rocks San Francisco, destroying Mercy’s home and school. With martial law in effect, she is forced to wait with her classmates for their families in a temporary park encampment. Mercy can't sit by while they wait for the Army to bring help. Fires might rage, and the city may be in shambles, yet Mercy still has the 'bossy' cheeks that mark her as someone who gets things done. But what can one teenaged girl do to heal so many suffering in her broken city?
I happened to catch part of a documentary about the earthquake of 1906 and immediately searched for any fiction set there.  Discovering that Stacey Lee has one coming out this year felt like kismet.

 Exit bear

Title:                  Exit, Pursued by a Bear
Author:             E.K. Johnston
In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The assault wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
I’ll admit I’m in on this one for the cover.  Obviously, I think the summary sounds intriguing and I’m also curious about the title.

 Bitch Planet

Title:             After You Bitch Planet
Author:        Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro 
In a future just a few years down the road in the wrong direction, a woman's failure to comply with her patriarchal overlords will result in exile to the meanest penal planet in the galaxy. When the newest crop of fresh femmes arrive, can they work together to stay alive or will hidden agendas, crooked guards, and the deadliest sport on (or off!) Earth take them to their maker?
This is for the comic book category in this years Read Harder Challenge, but I’m super excited about it.

 The Way I used to Be

Title:                  The Way I Used to Be
Author:             Amber Smith
Eden was always good at being good. Starting high school didn’t change who she was. But the night her brother’s best friend rapes her, Eden’s world capsizes.
Told in four parts—freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior year—this provocative debut reveals the deep cuts of trauma. But it also demonstrates one young woman’s strength as she navigates the disappointment and unbearable pains of adolescence, of first love and first heartbreak, of friendships broken and rebuilt, and while learning to embrace a power of survival she never knew she had hidden within her heart.
This is well reviewed and sounds like something that will move me (I probably won’t LIKE it).


Title:                  Firsts
Author:             Laurie Elizabeth Flynn
Seventeen-year-old Mercedes Ayres has an open-door policy when it comes to her bedroom, but only if the guy fulfills a specific criteria: he has to be a virgin. Mercedes lets the boys get their awkward, fumbling first times over with, and all she asks in return is that they give their girlfriends the perfect first time- the kind Mercedes never had herself.
When Mercedes’ perfect system falls apart, she has to find a way to salvage her reputation and figure out where her heart really belongs in the process. Funny, smart, and true-to-life, FIRSTS is a one-of-a-kind young adult novel about growing up.
This totally depends on execution, but it seems like it has potention to tell the sex-shaming story from a different angle.

 The nest

Title:                  The Nest 
Author:             Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
Every family has its problems. But even among the most troubled, the Plumb family stands out as spectacularly dysfunctional. Years of simmering tensions finally reach a breaking point on an unseasonably cold afternoon in New York City as Melody, Beatrice, and Jack Plumb gather to confront their charismatic and reckless older brother, Leo, freshly released from rehab. Months earlier, an inebriated Leo got behind the wheel of a car with a nineteen-year-old waitress as his passenger. The ensuing accident has endangered the Plumbs joint trust fund, “The Nest” which they are months away from finally receiving. Meant by their deceased father to be a modest mid-life supplement, the Plumb siblings have watched The Nest’s value soar along with the stock market and have been counting on the money to solve a number of self-inflicted problems.
Hearing that Amy Poehler recommends this one made it an auto-add for me.  Sounds like what I read more of pre-blog and I’m pretty excited about that.

 Your heart is a muscle

Title:                  Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist
Author:             Sunil Yapa
The Flamethrowers meets Let the Great World Spin in this debut novel set amid the heated conflict of Seattle's 1999 WTO protests.
I was drawn to this by the title and simplicity of the cover.  I added it to my list because it sounds interesting and it will probably fit the political category for the Read Harder Challenge.

 station eleven

Title:                  Station Eleven
Author:             Emily St. John Mandel
Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
Somehow I hadn’t heard of this until my secret santee requested it for Christmas.  Once I read the synopisis I had to add it to my list, just waiting for the library.

 Fates and Furies

Title:                  Fates and Furies
Author:             Lauren Groff
Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.
At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed. 
After seeing this on lists for awhile I finally decided I should give it a shot.


 All the birds in the sky

Title:                  All the Birds in the Sky
Author:             Charlie Jane Anders
Childhood friends Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead didn't expect to see each other again, after parting ways under mysterious circumstances during high school. After all, the development of magical powers and the invention of a two-second time machine could hardly fail to alarm one's peers and families.
But now they're both adults, living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. Laurence is an engineering genius who's working with a group that aims to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing global climate. Patricia is a graduate of Eltisley Maze, the hidden academy for the world's magically gifted, and works with a small band of other magicians to secretly repair the world's ever-growing ailments. Little do they realize that something bigger than either of them, something begun years ago in their youth, is determined to bring them together--to either save the world, or plunge it into a new dark ages.
Magic and apocalypse.  Nuff said.  Added bonus it fills a hard to fill category in the challenge.

 Me earl dying girl

Title:                  Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl
Author:             Jesse Andrews
Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.
Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel. Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.
After Elizabeth’s stellar year of recommending books to me this one definitely makes my list.

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Title:                  After You
Author:             Jojo Moyes
Louisa Clark is no longer just an ordinary girl living an ordinary life. After the transformative six months spent with Will Traynor, she is struggling without him. When an extraordinary accident forces Lou to return home to her family, she can’t help but feel she’s right back where she started.
Her body heals, but Lou herself knows that she needs to be kick-started back to life. Which is how she ends up in a church basement with the members of the Moving On support group, who share insights, laughter, frustrations, and terrible cookies. They will also lead her to the strong, capable Sam Fielding—the paramedic, whose business is life and death, and the one man who might be able to understand her. Then a figure from Will’s past appears and hijacks all her plans, propelling her into a very different future. . . .
I finally read Me Before You a couple weeks ago and it’s been all I can do to wait for a library copy of the sequel and not purchase.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Top Ten 2015 Releases I Meant To Get To But Didn't

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.
Top 10 Tuesday

2015 was an amazing reading year for me.  I hit triple digits in books read for the first time every and so many of them were just stellar.  I got in a good mix of debuts and established authors.  Plus I felt like I stayed fairly up to date on what was new.  Unfortunately, I want to read ALL. THE. BOOKS. and there just isn’t enough time.  Here are the Top Ten 2015 Releases I just couldn’t squeeze in (this list could have been much longer).

The Hunted

10) The Hunted by Matt de la Pena – I loved The Living and can’t wait to find out what happens next…but evidently I can wait.  I was just never quite in the mood for it when I had it checked out from the library.



Precious Ones

9) The Precious One by Marisa de los Santos – I adore her writing.  It’s gorgeous, but this is another library book I just didn’t get to while it was checked out.  Soon.



Under painted sky

8) Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee – Love the cover and all the bloggers I follow who’ve read it highly recommend it.  I had it checked out from the library last year, but I have a tendency to end up with 20-30 books check out at once.  Too many choices can actually make it really hard to pick up a book.


A madness so discreet

7) A Madness so Discreet by Mindy McGinnis – The book cover is amazing and the premised sounds fascinating.




P.S. I Still Love You6) P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han – If this had been out when I finished To All the Boys I Loved Before in December 2014 I’d have read it immediately.  Still bought it on release day, but just haven’t gotten to it yet.



Saturn Run5) Saturn Run by John Sandford – I read ALL Sandford novels on release day.  Seriously, HOW have I not read this yet?




Accidental Saints4) Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber – I think this was another victim of “too many choices”.  It came out in October – so many books I wanted to read came out that month and I struggled to choose.


Mr Kiss and Tell3) Mr. Kiss and Tell by Rob Thomas – I think I’ve waited on this because I was disappointed Kristen Bell didn’t narrate the audio book like she did for the first one.  But I got it from my Secret Santa this year so I should read it soonSmile


Tonight the streets are outs2) Tonight the Streets are Ours by Leila Sales – October curse strikes again.  I’ve reread This Song Will Save Your Life at least three times and am totally excited to read this book…just haven’t yet.



Queen of Shadows1) Queen of Shadows by Sarah J Maas – Yep that’s right, I haven’t read it yet.  My only excuse is that it’s a long one and I work for UPS.  November-December are crazy for me.