Friday, December 31, 2021

Books I Read (December)

 Total Books Read in December: 5
This closes out my yearly total at around 65 books*, 
which is pretty damn good for me! 
I don't know if I'll ever be someone who reads 
100 books a year, but I'm inching closer, bit by bit. 

*There is a discrepancy. 
My blog counts 64 books, 
while goodreads counts 66. 
I'm not counting one of the goodreads' books 
(it was a kid's book) 
but that should still get me at 65... 
so why the extra book in Goodreads?
Oh well. 
I'm not going to take the time to figure it out.

You Got Anything Stronger? 
By Gabrielle Union 

Gabrielle Union is a fantastic storyteller. 
She's engaging and wildly funny. 
I loved her first book (reviewed here
and this one was even better. 
It covers a wide range of hard topics, 
from infertility 
to parenting trans kids 
to everything in between. 
Solid read.

Clap When You Land
By Elizabeth Acevedo 

It took me about half the book to get into it, 
then I couldn't put it down. 

I've never read a book like this, all in prose, 
and it was just stunning. 
The storyline is really good 
(or at least, the second half of the storyline is outstanding, 
the first half drags a bit) 
and I really loved it. 

The People We Keep 
By Allison Larkin 

OMG this book. 
It consumed me. 
I couldn't put it down. 
It broke me heart repeatedly 
and I was desperate to find out how it ended. 
And let's just say, the ending did not disappoint. 
Wonderful book. 

Taste: My Life Through Food 
By Stanley Tucci 

I have loved Stanley Tucci for years. 
Hard to pick a favorite role, 
but him as Nigel in "The Devil Wears Prada" 
may be my top pick. 

Reading this book is deeply comforting, 
as you can hear his distinct voice in the narration. 
He's a bit pretentious but also self-deprecating and funny. 
It wasn't a gripping memoir 
(no deep life topics like Gabrielle Union above) 
but it was a light, enjoyable read, 
with a heavy dose of food obsession. 

The Guncle 
By Steven Rowley 

This book was over-hyped for me. 
Even when I checked it out from the library, 
the lady behind me in line 
(who looked about 75 years old) 
said she loved it. 

It's a solid storyline 
and I wouldn't say I hated it, 
but it definitely felt overrated. 

The One 
By John Marrs

I read this last month 
but waited until after book club to post about it. 


This tackles so many interesting topics, 
from soulmate theory (which I don't believe in) 
to sexual orientation 
(which spawned the most interesting book club discussion). 

I recommend it with caution 
only because it's so fucked up. 
One storyline is a serial murderer of young women 
and while that was my favorite storyline, 
it's quite disturbing.  

So highly highly highly recommend... 
if you can stomach it. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Books I Read (November)

 Total Books Read: 9

Boy Erased 
By Garrah Conley 

This is a fascinating, yet horrifying, story. 
It's watching a train wreck. 

The author details his time in gay conversion therapy, 
and it hit pretty close to home for me. 
I'm not sure if my childhood church (or my parents) 
would have ever condoned conversion therapy, 
but the attitude and theology behind it 
was exactly that which was preached in my childhood. 
A bit PTSD, to be honest. 

However, the author tells the story in a jagged timeline 
jumping here and there all over the place, 
and ends the book with little hope for the future. 
(Yes, I do like a tied-up story at the end, 
and yes, I realize few people's lives are like that.)

The movie, on the other hand, is quite good. 
Right after finishing the book, 
I watched the movie on a flight 
and the movie brought it together very nicely, 
even adding a much more hopeful ending 
(again, acknowledging that with the trauma this man suffered, 
he will never have a truly wonderful ending).  

The Four Winds 
By Kristin Hannah 

The last book I read by Kristin Hannah 
was "The Great Alone" (reviewed here), 
set in Alaska, and was stunningly good
Alaska is filled with wonder and beauty 
but Texas, where this book begins, is just... blah.

I slogged through the first half of the book 
and finally it picked up at the second half. 
Overall, the first half book was a 3-star rating, 
the second half was a 5-star rating, 
averaging a 4-star. 

By Tarana Burke 

I could not put this book down. 
I recommend it to EVERYONE. 

I starting this book after listening to an interview with Tarana Burke 
on Glennon Doyle's podcast "We Can Do Hard Things" 
(podcast episode here ). 
Tarana Burke is phenomenal in both speech and print. 
I cannot say enough good things about her and her book. 

The Canterbury Sisters 
By Kim Wright 

The best word for this book. 
It was truly a delight to read 
and I enjoyed it immensely. 

Yoga Pant Nation 
By Laurie Gelman 

Typical Laurie Gelman, 
I laughed out loud several times. 
I definitely liked this better than her second book 
and probably equal to her first. 
I specifically liked that she didn't follow her typical pattern, 
where everything comes crashing down in the last few chapters. 
She eased into the wreckage of life throughout the book 
and I thought it was well done. 
There were a few storylines that could have tied up better 
and also some storylines that were wildly predicable. 
But overall, I enjoyed it. 

The Last Change Library
By Freya Sampson 

I typically love any books with "library" or "bookstore" in the title, 
but this one fell flat for me. 

I dislike timid, spineless protagonists 
("she wouldn't say boo to a goose" was a direct quote)
and that was the first half of this book. 
The second half, the main character finally grew a pair
and from there on out it was moderately enjoyable. 

When He Was Wicked 
By Julia Quinn 

Continuing the Bridgerton series. 

I liked Francesca's story more than Anthony and Benedict, 
but less than Penelope and Eloise. 
I'd probably rate it my fourth favorite, 
just a smidge behind Daphne's story. 

As a non-romantic, I don't appreciate "love at first sight" books 
and this had a very heavy dose of that. 
Penelope, Eloise, and Daphne were more of a gradual love, 
and I really liked that aspect of their story. 
Anthony's was also gradual, but it was nearly identical to Daphne's story. 
Benedict was just stupid. 

The Blue Castle 
By L.M. Montgomery 

This was the last of my Original Ten books to read this year. 
And I loved it. 

I did not like the first few chapters
 (perhaps first 1/4 of the book) 
because the main character had that 
timid, spineless personality 
that I so despise. 
But not too far into the book, 
she does a complete 180 
and truly she becomes a wonderful delight. 
It is a beautiful, fun book to read. 

I rated it 4 stars instead of 5, 
simply because it's a bit "wordy" 
and there were parts I skimmed 
because I'm an impatient reader 
and don't fully appreciate the beauty of older books like these. 
(I didn't love Anne of Green Gables - yes, you can throw tomatoes at me.) 
But even I can't read this book without smiling. 
It is a truly happy book. 

The One 
By John Marrs 

This was a Book Club book 
and I'm going to save my thoughts for after we meet next month. 
so I will circle back to this book in December. 

But... WOW. 

Friday, October 29, 2021

Books I Read (October)

 Total Books Read in October: 8

According to Goodreads, I read 9
which included a comic book called "Wait What?
an A++ outstanding book about sexual health. 
I was previewing it for Aaron 
and have already bought it for him.  

The Heart Principle 
By Helen Hoang 

I generally love Helen Hoang books 
and her autistic protagonists. 
Same for this book.  

The beginning and end were wonderful 
but the middle was so uncomfortable 
and sad and depressing 
that it was a really hard read. 
The author admitted it was her hardest book to write 
and you could feel that heaviness in the storyline. 
But overall, as always, the end redeemed it 
and I sob-cried the end. 

To Sir Phillip, With Love 
By Julia Quinn 

The fifth book in the series 
and oh how I LOVED this book. 
Eloise now rivals Penelope 
as my favorite love story. 
I like Penelope more than Eloise, 
but I like Phillip more than Colin. 
So they equal out. 

The Woman They Could Not Silence 
By Kate Moore 

This was a Sharon McMahon book rec 
that we used for our Blog Friends Book Club. 
From the sheer heft of this book 
(very intimidating!) 
I expected it to be a slog 
but I was pleasantly surprised by how the story flowed. 

That said, it's still a very long story, 
and I forced myself to read at least 22 pages a day 
in order to finish on time for book club. 
I finished well ahead of schedule, 
which speaks to how engaging the story was. 

The Lazy Genius Way 
By Kendra Adachi 

I loved this book!
I forced myself to read it slower 
so I could savor every precious word 
and every wonderful morsel of advice. 

I have listened to Kendra Adachi's podcast for months now 
and her book is just as hilarious
and brilliant 
and insightful
as her podcast. 

As a fellow Enneagram 1, 
I also find her immensely relatable 
and just soak up all of her words. 

How to Avoid Being a Victim 
of the American Healthcare System 
By David Wilcox

This was written and self-published by my uncle. 
I bought it to support him 
and I'm glad I did.

He does a great job of breaking down the mystery 
of our medical system in America, 
offering tips and encouragements 
that non-medical people like me would never know. 

On Goodreads, I gave it 4 stars. 
I planned to doc a half star (and still round up to 5 stars) 
for editing mistakes throughout 
(it was, after all, self-published). 

However, at the very end, he has a one page attack 
on the body positivity movement, 
grossly missing the entire purpose of the movement 
and instead reducing it to a sad misunderstanding. 
For this, I docked a full star. 
I plan to confront him on this when I see him next month. 

Crying in H Mart 
By Michelle Zauner

This was soooooo depressing. 
A daughter's tribute to her dead mother. 
It's beautifully written 
and the descriptions of food are mesmerizing
but oh my it is SO DEPRESSING. 
I limped through it and was relieved when I finished. 

Once There Were Wolves 
By Charlotte McConaghy

Loved this book so much. 
Tied for favorite book of 2021 
(tie shared with The House on the Cerulean Sea). 

It is a beautiful, mesmerizing book. 
I've always loved wolves 
(I saw a pack in Yellowstone at age 16!) 
but this book brings my love to a whole new level. 
I suddenly want to uproot my family 
and relocate to Scotland or Alaska. 

On top of the wolves and beautiful scenery, 
the characters start so rough and sharp 
but become so deeply endearing by the end. 
I SOBBED the last few pages. 

Early Morning Riser 
By Katherine Heiney

I couldn't decide how to rate this book, 
3 stars or 4 stars. 
It's a solid 3.5 stars. 

This first part of this book felt dumb. 
I didn't get the plot 
(felt like there was none) 
nor the characters, 
and found the main love interest to be unappealing. 
Then the book slowly morphed 
and slowly you could see the purpose of the book unfolding, 
the characters became more likable, 
and by the end I could see how the book had transformed

Also, something that irks me constantly about books: 
the title of the book had nothing to do with the storyline. 
No one gets up early in this book ever. 
I don't get it. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

My Attempted Blood Donation

 One of my 2021 Resolutions was to donate blood. 
I finally got around to it in September 
when the kids were back in school 
and my in-laws were taking Carson one day a week. 

And... it did not go according to plan. 
I had previously donated without problems, 
so was very surprised this time. 

I scheduled my donation through the Red Cross, 
booking myself an appointment at a local college 
during one of their blood drives. 

I arrived at the center, 
completed the questionnaire, 
checked in, 
used the bathroom 
[twice! because I'd drunk so much water that morning] 
and got ready to donate. 

The staff pricked my finger to determine I was iron sufficient (13.5). 
The acceptable range for Red Cross is 12-20. 
I was not surprised to be on the low side; 
I've always been on the low side for iron 
(I eat very little meat, even less red meat, 
and I don't compensate as much as I should 
with things like beans and spinach.) 

IMO, the finger prick hurt more than the blood needle. 
My sympathy goes out to diabetics 
while also my mind flashed to Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos

I'm all hooked up
and am planning to drift off into semi-conscious daydreaming 
when my table starts beeping obnoxiously. 
"Squeeze your fist" they tell me, 
"You are going to slow.
I do and that stops the beeping. 

I keep squeezing my fist and flexing my arm, 
but my table starts beeping again. 
An employee shuts it off. 
We'll call her Employee #1. 

This happens 2-3 more times. 

Finally, another person (we'll call her Employee #2)
 decides to take charge. 
She comes over and starts moving around the needle, 
adjusting the pressure cuff, 
everything she can. 
She says: "Some veins just need a little attention.

Ok, so I keep going. 

More time passes and Employee #1 comes over. 
"I have to shut you off," she says, 
"We have to cut people off at 23 minutes 
and you're only at 2.75 units out of 5

I ask if she has any idea why I was so slow. 
"You clotted," she said. 
and I could see the purple spots up my veins. 
"Blood is supposed to clot and your blood did what it should. 
Sometimes when people mess with the needle, 
the blood reacts to it and starts clotting." 

Essentially, Employee #2 in her attempt to make me faster, 
instead made me clot. 

I could tell there was some tension 
between Employee #1 and #2. 
Employee #1 knew I was going slow 
but thought I'd get there on my own, 
rather than messing with it. 
Employee #2, on the other hand, 
wanted to intervene, 
and ended up making it worse. 
Team dynamic is a real thing, people. 

Full acknowledgment that this is internet babble, 
not a medical website. 
I liked the advice to warn the staff in advance next time, 
and request the "best sticker" they have on staff. 

Additionally, when I told my dad this story, he responded: 
"Your mother's blood pressure was so low, 
she sometimes had to have a cup of coffee ahead of time 
or they wouldn't even take her for donation.
Next time I'll chug some mountain dew, 
see if that ups my blood pressure and helps!

My nurse friend reminded me: 
"Women make terrible blood donors. 
Men on the other hand, great donors. 
Big bodies, high iron count, high blood pressure. 
We women with our tiny bodies 
and low iron and low blood pressure are just not that great.

Despite only donating 2.75 out of the 5 units, 
I was so light-headed after. 
I ate my snacks and drank my water and rested 
but even hours later, I still felt light-headed. 
This was surprising and I did not expect it at all. 
The cure, like a hangover, came in 
Gatorade and carbs. 
Eventually enough of those two things and I felt better. 

In the end, I was disappointed that 
I only got 2.75 units out of 5 units. 
They can't use it for blood transfusion, 
but they may be able to use it for other purposes, 
like research. 

On top of all that, a day later I developed a rash on my arm 
and it's been there every since (5 days later). 
I took Benadryl hoping that would calm it, 
but so far it's still there. 
It's itchy and uncomfortable and I'm annoyed. 

But, it could have been much worse. 
I could have been the girl one table over, 
who puked all over mid-donation! 

Since there's no pictures from this experience, 
here is a Carson pushing a dump truck in our driveway. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Books I Read (September)

 Books Read in September: 8

This is the most books I've read in one month 
since I started tracking my reads monthly in January 2019. 
(Prior to that, I posted every 2-3 months.) 

A few duds, but overall a really enjoyable month!

Fire Keeper's Daughter 
By Angeline Boulley


It does start a little slow, 
as the beginning builds the stage 
and introduces the characters,  
but about 1/3 way in, it gets really good 
and then I couldn't put it down. 

I've never read a book about modern Native American reservations 
and this was wonderfully educational for me. 
In the beginning, the customs seem a bit weird 
but slowly you see the beauty and wonder in them. 

Overall, excellent! 

Laundry Love 
By Patric Richardson 

This is more of a reference book 
than a read-to-enjoy book. 
It's the kind of book you'd give a new homeowners 
or include in a bridal shower basket. 

I didn't love how it was written 
but it definitely made me rethink some of my laundry habits. 
And I want to take an in-person Laundry Bootcamp class!

The Paris Architect 
By Charles Belfoure 

I really hated the first half of this book 
but by the end I really liked it. 

I don't  like books with unlikable characters 
and EVERY character was unlikable here. 
Not a single good soul in sight!
Midway through, the characters either changed 
or other good character popped up, 
and I became more invested in the book.  

Also the stress of reading the book 
reminded me once again 
why I do not read WWII fiction anymore. 
I just can't endure little children being hurt in the Holocaust. 

Malibu Rising 
By Taylor Jenkins Reid 

I was so excited for this book because I love TJR. 
I love the setting, the plot
and really enjoyed the four siblings. 

However, there were so many extra characters added, 
a background story here or there, 
just enough that you were supposed to care, 
but I simply could not keep track. 
Therefore, when the book wrapped up, 
I cared much less about the other "outcomes," 
aside from the four siblings. 

Romancing Mister Bridgerton 
By Julia Quinn 

The fourth book in the series. 
I liked this the most! 
Penelope is my favorite character by far 
and I was soooo excited for her story. 
I especially appreciate that her love story 
was not the cliché "love at first sight"
 like Benedict's before her. 

I also really like how it leads so perfectly 
into the next book (Eloise's story). 

Do Less 
By Kate Northrup


1. Over half of the book is this weird hippie 
lunar moon/menstrual cycle/feminine energy thing. 
If you like that kind of shit, that's cool, you do you. 
But I don't have any interest in it. 

2. The rest of the book is written for a tiny niche of women, 
specifically business-owning entrepreneurs
or high-income executives. 
If you have a mid-level or below job, forget it. 
Absolutely no application for stay-at-home moms. 

Girl at War 
By Sara Novic 

I was surprised by how much I liked this book! 

This was one of my Original 10 books 
and I picked it up somewhat begrudgingly. 
I was afraid it would be a slog through 
the raw cruelty of war. 
Instead, I was pleasantly surprised at how it flowed. 

Yes, there's still war cruelty, murders and rape, 
but no small children are put in harm's way 
(or at least not in the book, I'm sure the actual war was horrific). 
There is one instance where a parenting decision 
made me tear up and cry, 
but overall it wasn't as gut-wrenching as I'd feared. 

Overall, I liked the narrator, I liked the plot, 
and I liked how the book flowed. 
Would recommend!

The Lost Apothecary 
By Sarah Penner 

I liked this book!
My friends gave it a lot of mixed reviews, 
some loved, some thought it was lame. 

I enjoyed the story unraveling from both the past
and the present day hunt for clues. 
Despite the dark subject matter, 
it was an easy read
To me, it's the perfect book to curl up under a warm blanket 
in a chilly fall or winter weather, 
sipping on a spiced tea. 
It's got that dark, cozy feeling to it. 

Also, can we talk about the gorgeous cover??? 
Easily the most beautiful book cover I've seen this year.