Monday, December 31, 2018

Favorite Books of 2018

The last prompt of my December Writing Prompt:

Thanks to this prompt, 
December has been my most active blog-month in 2018. 
This is my 14th post this month, 
while previous months ranged from 3 to 9 posts a month.

And I really enjoyed the subject matters too!
Perhaps I need to find more blogging prompts?

Anyway, onto the last one:

Favorite Books of 2018 
Narrowed down to my Top 10 
(In Order)

#1 There's No Such Thing As Bad Weather 
By Linda Akeson McGurk 
Reviewed here

As I said in my review, 
this is one of those books that makes a huge impact on my life, 
or in this case, 
on my parenting philosophy. 
I always knew being outside was good 
but I never appreciated just how important it is. 

#2 The Last Mrs Parrish 
By Liv Constantine 
Reviewed here

I love this book with a freaky passion that most people don't share, ha. 
It may be because it was the first book of it's kind that I read. 
But whatever it is, I love it.  

#3 This Is How It Always Is 
By Laurie Frankel 
Reviewed here

So many wonderful feelings about this book. 
I loved that it tackled a new and controversial subject. 
As I said in my review, 
I often disagree with the choices made by book characters 
("Oh well I would have done [x] differently...")
But even when everything goes wrong, 
I totally support the parents in this book. 
It was so full of love, 
you could feel the love pouring out of the book. 

#4 The Boys in the Boat 
By Daniel James Brown 
Reviewed here

So different than most books I read, 
but the storyline is just beautiful. 
It's so inspiring. 

#5 I'm Still Here 
By Austin Channing Brown 
Reviewed here

I needed to read this book. 
It's so helpful to see our white world 
from a black woman's perspectivie, 
particularly one who grew up 
in the white suburbia where I live. 
#6 This Is Going to Hurt 
By Adam Kay 
Reviewed here

His dry, sarcastic humor was just the best. 
The stories were so good. 
But even through the humor, 
he tackles those really hard topics head on. 
It gives me such an appreciation for those in the medical field. 

#7 The Address 
By Fiona Davis 
Reviewed here

Just a really great book. 
History mixed with present day. 
Mystery, love, surprise. 
This book had a little bit of everything in it. 

#8 We Crossed a Bridge and It Trembled 
By Wendy Pearlman 
Reviewed here

Such a great way of telling a story about true events.  
It made me feel like I was there. 

#9 Class Mom 
By Laurie Gelman 
Reviewed here

I laughed so much at this book. 
AND because I'm homeroom mom this year for Aaron's kindergarten class, 
it was ESPECIALLY pertinent. 
I cannot tell you how many times I think of this book, 
like when I'm fielding questions about nut allergies for snacks. 

#10 My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry 
By Fredrik Backman 
Reviewed here

The characters! 
So many tears! 
So much feeling!

Runner Ups: 

A Dog's Purpose 
By W. Burce Cameron 
Reviewed here

I liked this book because it was so different. 
I don't read animal books, like ever. 
And the author did such a good job capturing the personality of the dog. 

The Marriage Pact 
By Michelle Richmond 
Reviewed here

This would have made top 10, 
but I really didn't like the ending. 
The first 80% of the book is great. 
The remaining 20%... meh. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

This Is How We Read and Blog

December Writing Prompt: 

Fri, Dec 28th: 
This Is How We Read and Blog
Number of books read so far, 
genre your read most, 
picture of favorite (or most often used) reading location, 
most read author, 

Total number of books read this year: 

I'm proud of that number! 
It's almost to 50. 
Should I make one of my 2019 Resolutions to read 50 books? 
I think yes. 

Genre Read Most
Adult Fiction, 
with some Young Adult mixed in, 
and a handful of Memoirs. 

Favorite Reading Location

Our front room is my favorite decorated room in the house. 
The big windows with tons of natural light, 
the overly comfy couch, 
and my very plush Pottery Barn blanket
the best [and most expensive] blanket I've ever owned. 

The one downside to this room is that 
it is not particularly closed off from the rest of the house 
and its inhabitants. 
Meaning: a lot of small children visitors. 

Most-Used Reading Location

95% of my reading time is spent here. 
Most of it in the evenings when we go to bed, 
but also some daytime readings when I need to escape the children. 

Most Read Author
I don't think I doubled up on any authors this year. 
Any prequels/sequels had been read in a previous year. 
In general, the most books I've read by a non-series author is 
Taylor Jenkins Reid
I didn't read anything by her this year, 
but I have collectively read 5 of her books. 

How I Blog

Our office/guest room
Which, although still sparsely decorated, 
got an update when my uncle and his husband 
gifted us these beautiful paintings from France. 
I had them framed and hung in here. 

Hand-painted pictures, bought by my uncle and his husband in France

I think the photos add so much to this bare space

In full disclosure, I admit to having a specific blogging "outfit." 
We keep our house pretty chilly, 
but since I am always moving (#momlife) 
I never get cold until I sit for a long period of time. 
And I only sit when reading (hence the plush blanket) 
or blogging at the computer. 

My solution, I give to you...

Ow, my eyes!  They hurt just looking at this photo! 

I purposely covered my face 
because I never want evidence of me in this outfit. 

The LL Bean slippers keep my feet toasty warm 
and the hideous poncho from Target is my solution for a blanket while typing. 
Excuse the hideous leggings;
 I took this picture the day after Christmas so elastic waistbands were required. 

Anyone remember the snuggie? 
I regret donating mine. 
A good snuggie would also work great in this situation. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Books I Read (Nov-Dec)

Departing from my December Writing Prompt 
to publish my last "Books I Read" of this year. 

Total Books Read: 

by Tara Westover

This is the "it" book. 
The one everyone is reading. 
I went into it a little reluctantly, 
because "it" books often fall flat to me. 

Even though it's 3 parts, I divide it into 2:  

Part 1 reminded me of Hillbilly Elegy (reviewed here). 
Comparing the two books is unfair, 
because the scenario is sooooo different, 
but this book reminded me of that. 

Part 2 & 3 were a transformation, 
a beautiful transformation that I felt privy to watch. 

I am also someone who has changed with more education, 
certainly not as much as the author has, 
but a change nonetheless. 
I grew up in a very religious household, 
with a very specific view, 
both political and Biblical. 
And education has changed both of those dramantically. 
That's the beauty of education. 

This Is How It Always Is 
By Laurie Frankel 

Should I say it again? 

Let me preface that I had low expectations for this book. 
From reading the plot description, 
I thought it was going to be these close-minded parents, 
obsessed with societal norms
 and trying to hide their weird child. 
Nothing could be further from the truth. 

The parents in this book are overflowing with love 
and the tormenting angst of figuring out how best to help their child

Many times I observe character decisions  
and think "Well, obviously I would have done differently" 
(example: the parenting in All We Ever Wanted - reviewed here
but in this book, 
I wouldn't have done anything different. 
Even when things go wrong, 
I can't think of anything to do differently. 

These parents, truly, are #parentgoals. 
And their family is my #familygoals. 

All that said, this book is a long book. 
It's filled with paragraphs and paragraphs of thought processes 
(which I usually hate) 
and a side fairy tale story that parallels the real one 
(also which I usually hate) 
but those two things I didn't hate in this book. 

The Book of Essie 
by Meghan MacLean Weir

I absolutely, totally loved the plot 
and really, really hated how the book was written. 

The good
The book sucked me in (I read it in a day).
The plot is excellent. 
The message is important, like really important.

The bad
I hated how this book was written. 
I'm not enough of a literary expert to declare it "poorly written" 
but that was my first thought. 
Also, I thought a lot of the book was grossly predicable, 
yet the author took foreverrrr to reveal what you already knew. 

So in the end, 2.5/5 stars. 

The Martian 
By Andy Weir

I saw the movie with Matt Damon and LOVED it. 
I love love love Apollo 13 so this was just my kind of thing. 

At Adam's suggestion, I read the book. 
The book is hilarious
That kind of dry, sarcastic, swearing humor that I love. 

I was wary of this book because I'm not a science person, 
and generally dislike overly technical language in books, 
but overall the writing is light and didn't bog me down. 
The second half half of the book dragged a bit, 
but of course the ending was worth it. 

I do think seeing the movie helped me
 to visualize a little more of what was going on. 

Overall, a solid book. 

There's No Such Things as Bad Weather
By Linda Akeson McGurk

Best book of 2018

Not because it was a shocking plot (there is no plot, lol) 
or because it sucked me in with great writing, 
but because it sticks with me every. single. day. 

Sometimes books have a huge impact on my life. 
I call them my "educational" books: 
minority rights, the justice system, aging healthcare, etc. 

But sometimes it's a good parenting book
 (e.g.: the Spoiled book
and this is one of them. 
I wish I could explain how awesome it is, 
but I won't do it justice at all. 

Natasha, if you haven't read it already, 
I think you will love it. 
I thought of you often while reading it. 

What If It's Us 
By Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera 

It was... decent. 
This is the type of book I usually love, 
with conversational catchy writing 
and a fun plot. 
This... I dunno, I wasn't as into it. 
Not bad, just not my favorite. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Favorite Book Covers from Our Reads This Year

December Writing Prompt: 

Wed, Dec 26th: 
Favorite Book Covers from Our Reads This Year 

Won't lie, I was super excited about this prompt. 

I give you...
my top 5 
favorite book covers 
from 2018:

The Last Mrs Parrish 
(reviewed here)

I love this cover because it looks like a horror movie. 
And the book kind of is, 
with it's super creepy story line 
that gets even weirder as it goes on. 

Amateur Hour 
(reviewed here)

I really did not care for this book, 
but loved the cover. 
A pink pineapple hand grenade exploding hearts? 

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 
(reviewed here)

I wasn't a huge fan of this book itself, 
but I liked the cover for being just a little bit... off
The one part I did love about the book 
was how it combined with plot with real life odd photos. 
And this was one of them. 

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows
(reviewed here)

This book cover screams "fun." 
Like you just know it's going to make you laugh when you read it. 
And while it wasn't a funny book per se, 
I did enjoy reading it. 

The Book of Essie
(review coming at the end of this month)

I looked at this book cover 
and instantly wanted to read it. 
I'm not sure why. 
The girl is so pretty, 
but also so plain, 
and so sad. 
And I just had to find out why. 

Monday, December 24, 2018

Reading Challenges and Goals

December Writing Prompt: 

Mon, Dec 24th: 
Challenge and Goals 
Reading challenges, personal goals, resolutions...

I'll keep my personal New Year Resolutions separate 
(to be published in 2019)
and focus solely on the reading aspect of this prompt. 

Reading Challenges: 

Let's talk about reading time and ruts. 

As a stay-at-home-mom, I definitely have time to read. 
The problem is if I want to read. 

Obviously, when I'm sucked into a book, 
it's much easier to make time. 

But sometimes, I don't prioritize reading. 
I want to accomplish stuff
Whatever that stuff may be, I want it done. 
As a constant Do-er,
 it is hard for me to STOP DOING THINGS. 
And reading requires STOPPING. 

One of my personal resolutions this year was to read 30 minutes a day. 
I found out quickly that doesn't work for me. 
Instead, I read in spurts. 
I'll read a bunch at a time
 (e.g.: July-Aug I was on a roll!), 
then go weeks at a time without picking up a book. 

This is very characteristic of me in general, 
where I tend to obsess over things in spurts. 
I'll be REALLY into something until... I'm not. 
This applies to food, music, whatever. 

While I'd always like to read more 
(wouldn't we all?) 
I am accepting that this is just how I am. 
I read in spurts: 
lots of books, 
no books, 
lots of books, 
no books. 
It's ok, I think. 
As long as I never stop reading, it's all good. 
Or that's what I'm telling myself. 

Reading Goals: 

My biggest reading goal for 2019 is to address my lengthy To-Be-Read List (TBR). 
I store my TBR list on my library's website, 
making it easy for me to request the books to my account. 

As I type this, I have 66 books on my TBR list. 
Given that I read less than 50 books a year 
(probably closer to 30), 
and I'm always adding books whenever Natasha or Alena publishes recent reads, 
the list is only going to grow. 

The list is conveniently ordered by add-date, 
so I want to address the 10 oldest books on the list. 
Maybe I decide not to read them
but by the end of 2019, 
I either read OR delete them. 

1. Act Like a Lady, Think Like A Man 
Recommended by a coworker years and years and years ago. 
 I don't expect to get much out of it, 
but I also can't bring myself to delete it. 

2. Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood 
This may not be my style, 
but want to give it a shot. 

3. What I Know For Sure, by Oprah Winfrey 
Dunno where this came from, 
but I like Oprah so I'll try it. 

4. Siblings Without Rivalry:
 How to help your children live together so you can live too
Sibling rivalry isn't a top concern of mine, 
so I'm not sure if I'll actually get to this one. 

5. The New Jim Crow 
This book!!!!
I'm about halfway through it, 
after checking it out, 
reading some, 
 and returning it... twice
It is powerful
 and amazing 
and sooooooo hard all at the same time. 
One of my NY Resolutions will be to FINISH this book in 2019. 

6. When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit
Several recommendations for this, 
so I expect it to be good. 

7. Hell Week: Seven Days To Your Best Self 
Questionable if I'll get to this one. 

8. One Second After 
I've started this book twice
I'm not big on apocalypse-style books 
but my best friend recommended it so I'm trying. 

9. Lilac Girls. 
Already started this book once and couldn't get through it. 
Want to try one more time before giving up. 

10. A Mother's Reckoning. 
Terrified to read this one. 
But I think it's important. 

And totally related, a photo of my children:

Friday, December 21, 2018

On The Screen

December Writing Prompt: 

Fri, Dec 21st: 
On the Screen 
Movies (or live shows) you absolutely loved this year 
and did you see any movies inspired by books you've read? 

Sadly, no live shows for us 
(I do LOVE a good Broadway show). 

We go to the movie theater maybe once a year, 
but the Netflix DVD subscription means we still catch the popular movies. 

Favorite 2018 Movie:

The Greatest Showman 

I love the music from this sooooooooooo much. 
Love love love love. 
Also, I still have a small crush on Zac Efron, so yeah. 

Now, I do recognize the conundrum of praising a man 
who was historically so cruel to animals
 (and, most likely, people). 
This man in history was not a good man. 
The importance of the movie, in my option, is not the historical man, 
but the lessons the movie teaches. 
This movie speaks of inclusion and love, 
and I think that's very important in today's world. 

Movie Inspired by Book: 

Crazy Rich Asians 

It is wonderful and hilarious. 

I rarely watch chick flicks with Adam, 
but he opted to join me
 and I didn't shoo him away. 
Adam didn't like the ending but I loved it. 

I read the book over 3 years ago (review here
and I felt it was a decent read. 
Alena recently read it 
and we've been talking about the rest of the series, 
which I may pick up now. 

Honorable Mentions: 

Ocean's 8 

I liked this. 
I like all the Ocean movies 
and this Girl Power cast made this my favorite. 
Sandra Bullock, Helena Bonham Carter (!), Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway... 

 Solo: A Star Wars Story 

My dad raised me to LOVE Star Wars. 
I can quote the original 3 by heart. 
And, like any good Star Wars Nerd, 
I have a deep angry loathing for the prequel 3. 

My favorite new one was Rogue One, 
which I thought they did an OUTSTANDING job on, 
plus filling in a major plot points between 3 and 4. 

Solo came with a lot of criticism, 
and I didn't love some of the plot twists, 
but I thought the actor did a wonderful job portraying Harrison Ford 
(er, Han Solo, who is forever synonymous with Harrison Ford)

Black Panther 


BUT I gave this one a chance because I wanted to see 
how they would do an all-black cast. 
I thought they did a decent job. 

What I love most about this movie, 
is that it challenges the base assumptions of white supremacy. 
A black nation that is superior in all possible forms to the rest of the white world? 

Movies From This Year I Still Want To See: 
(i.e.: on my Netflix DVD queue) 

Book Club. 
Incredible 2. 
The Hate U Give. 
Love, Simon. 
Bohemian Rhapsody. 
Fantastic Beasts : The Crimes of Grindelwald
Won't You Be My Neighbor?