Weekly Wrap-up | January 19, 2020

Oy, what a week! Seriously, though, this week was absolutely insane! On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning at about 2, my smoke alarm/CO2 monitor started going off. It was just chirping every few seconds, so I didn’t think it was sending off an alarm. I tried to open it up to take the battery out, only to find that the unit was attached by wires to the ceiling, and I couldn’t figure out how to get them unhooked. I also couldn’t read any of the information on the back except the part that said to call the fire department if it went off.

I ended up calling the non-emergency number, but she treated it like an emergency. She had me go and wait outside, in the cold (okay, okay, California cold, but still) and wait for the fire truck and three firemen in full gear to arrive. They went into my apartment, scared the cats, and tested the air. They eventually determined that the smoke alarm itself was defective or past it’s expiration date and needed to be replaced. They unhooked it from the ceiling and left, leaving me to try and get a few hours more of sleep. It didn’t work all that well.

On Thursday, I was out of school for a training in math. It was also the same day my dad, who lives 300 miles away, went in for surgery. I spent the whole day checking my phone, waiting for updates. Around three, my mom texted to say that it would be a couple more hours. I left the training (with a full bladder) intending to drop by home, use the bathroom, grab my gym clothes, and go to the gym. I arrive to find out that my water had been turned off because of a problem in the building. Frustrated, I packed my shower gear and went to the gym. While working out, I decided that it made more sense to do an extra thirty minutes on the treadmill after strength training, because then my water would be turned on. Meanwhile, two hours came and went with no word from my mom. Finally, my brother texted and said it would be another two or so hours. I almost started crying in the gym. The good news came later that he was fine and out of the surgery.

The next morning, I woke up a little crabby, but ready to slay the day. I jumped in my car and my tire pressure light was on. Again. This put me in an even more sour mood, but I persisted and the day went fine.

Saturday was awesome because I ran two and a half miles to the gym, did a work out, did a stretching class, walked home and stopped for lunch. I was swimming with endorphins. Also, I found out I made it to the second round in the RoadTrip Nation trip I’m trying to get chosen for.

Then, today, I woke up to take my car to get tires replaced, only to find my front tire completely flat. I had to call a tow truck and was late to my appointment (I did call to tell them), but it’s basically going to take all day for the car to get fixed. Oh well. It’ll give me time to write and relax, I guess.

So, that’s a lot of words that have nothing to do with reading or books. For most of the week, I didn’t get much reading done because I was tired or stressed. But I did finished The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh on Friday and Crashing Upwards S.C. Wynne. I saw the later on a list of best M/M romance and, having never heard of it, had to read it. It was fine, but Red, White, and Royal Blue was vastly superior as a romance. Way more romantic.

I’m now getting ready to start A Touch of Madness by Rebecca Crunden. I feel so bad. She sent me the book months ago, and I haven’t read it yet. I should, however, have it done by next week (barring any more disasters). The first book in the series was super enjoyable, and I have no doubt this one will be great as well.

Monday: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Need to Read in 2020

Thursday: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown (review)

Saturday: Reading & Writing Goals for 2020

Monday: The Self-Care Solution by Jennifer Ashton (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

Friday: TBD

So, how was your week? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Reading & Writing Goals for 2020

Hi all! What a week! I’ll go into it more during my weekly wrap-up, but it’s been something of a roller coaster that I’ve just wanted to desperately get off. And this weekend is continuing it at bit. I just need a day to relax and breath, you know?

Today, I’m posting about my reading and writing goals for 2020. I’ve seen people do it on various blog, and thought I’d give it a go.

Last year, I read 120 books. My goal had been 100, but I admittedly low balled is because I think I had ended up reading 116 in 2018. So, I knew I’d probably read more than 100.

This year, I’ve set my goal at 120 which shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. If I just do what I did last year, I’ll meet it, right? Of course, last year, I read 20 books in one month, and I don’t know if I’ll do that again this year. So, maybe it will be harder for me to hit that goal. I am already 1 book behind.

In addition, I have a goal to read or listen to one non-fiction book a month. This will probably fall into the realm of self-improvement, since I get really excited by those kinds of books. One of the books will definitely be the RBG book I’ve been meaning to read since October. Since I’ve already listened to once non-fiction book this year, am almost done with a second, and am in the middle of a third, I think I’ll hit this goal.

I don’t really have any goals for genres. I think I read a pretty wide variety as it is. Plus, I’m happy with what I read. I guess I could try to read more classics, but I don’t know if that’ll actually happen. Scratch that; I do want to get back to reading Agatha Christie books. I’d read a few some years ago, really liked them, then just stopped. So, I’ll try to read at least… five this year.

Writing Goals

My writing goals are as follows:

  1. Finish my NaNoWriMo novel. I got sort of intimidated by what I needed to do to get to the ending and just stopped writing as much. Plus, the holidays and getting back to school interfered. I did managed to get through the major fight scene and am now in the down stretch, so it should only be another few thousand words or so. This is a doable goal.
  2. Start revising my other novel, which is, sadly, under the working title “Sorcerer’s and Vampires” because I have no idea what to call it. I’ve been taking it to my critique group and getting lots of feedback on it, but because I wanted to finish the other novel, I haven’t been revising it yet.
  3. Write a synopsis for the novel I’m revising.
  4. Come up with a fantastic query letter for that novel.
  5. Start querying by the end of the year.

I think that’s doable. I just need to get some things in order and start writing again. I love writing, but I’ve been so overwhelmed recently, it’s been hard to find the motivation to write.

Photo by Josh Gordon on Unsplash

Personal

Even though this is a reading/writing goal list, I’ll throw a few personal goals in as well.

  1. Ideally, I want to run one 5K a month. However, I don’t think that’s feasible from a number of standpoints, so my goal is to do at least 5.
  2. I want to get tone and lean and stick to my workout regiment.
  3. I want to track my spending and finances more closely and really understand what I’m doing with my money.
  4. And, even though I have no control over this at this point, I want to be chosen as one of the teachers to go on a three week trip around the country to interview inspiring educators through RoadTrip Nation. I’ve applied, and now it’s out of my hands, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Those are my goals for this year. What are some of yours? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Review: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown

Title: Modern Girls

Author: Jennifer S. Brown

Publisher: Berkeley Books

Genre: historical fiction

Source: borrowed from Mom

Publication Date: May 1, 2016

Dottie Krasinsky is a modern girl. She’s a bookkeeper in Midtown Manhattan who’s just gotten a promotion, has a steady boyfriend, Abe, with whom she’s madly in love, reads all the latest fashion and home magazines, and has a group of girlfriends with whom she regularly socializes. At the same time, she’s a good Jewish daughter to her immigrant parents on the Lower East Side. However, her life is turned upside down when she finds herself pregnant after a drunken night with a charming and totally unsuitable man.

Rose Krasinsky, Dottie’s mother, has had five children and assumes that she’s done. She’s anxious to get back to her own life of social activism. As a young woman, she’d been on the front lines protesting and rabble rousing and, now, with tensions rising in Europe, she’s ready to get back to it. And then, disaster strikes: at forty-two years old, she finds herself pregnant once again.

Both mother and daughter are in impossible situations and have to navigate a changing world, making choices they never thought themselves capable of.

I am so glad I finally read this book. I kept putting it off as my TBR list grew, but I finally made time for it, and it’s really a gem. As a Jewish person removed from my heritage, I like reading about Jewish families and how they navigate the world. This book was rich with descriptions of Sabbath, food, Yiddish terms, and the Jewish immigrant experience. It also explores the differences between the families on the Lower East side and the more wealthy families in Manhattan and how they navigate being Jewish in the modern world.

Beyond the Jewish aspects, it’s just a great story. I really felt for both Dottie and Rose and loved reading their unique perspectives on life in their voices. To Dottie, at the beginning, her mother is quaint and old fashion, very traditional, and living in the past. When you read from Rose’s perspective, though, you see a woman with strong beliefs and passions who is determined to put her stamp on the world and make it a better place. Like Dottie, she views herself as a “modern woman” who is settled in the new world and navigates through with confidence.

Truth be told, I liked reading Rose more than Dottie, although I did enjoy both POVs. Dottie is so headstrong and determined to fix all her mistakes herself. While admirable, she’s also very young and doesn’t always think things through. Rose was more steady and thoughtful in her decision, although she runs into trouble as well. Maybe it’s just my age showing, but I related more to Rose even though I haven’t had five children while living in a two bedroom apartment.

This book has a vivid setting, wonderful characters, and a gripping story. It was hard to put down and kept me engaged the whole way through.

I recommend this one two levels. One, if you’re Jewish or interested in Jewish life, this is a great book to read and a picture of that life. And, two, if you like reading realistic historical books about the 1930s and see a slice of life, as fraught as it is, then you’d like this book a lot.

Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 Books I Need to Read in 2020

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm. This week’s topic is Top 5 Books I need to read in 2020. I’m insanely pressed for time this morning, so I’m doing the short version.

It was hard getting this list down to just five! There are so many books from last year that I still need to read, and so many more coming out this year that I’m dying to read. But these are my top five.

What are some of your must read books this year? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Review: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice

Title: The Vampire Lestat

Author: Anne Rice

Publisher: Balltaine Books

Genre: paranormal, vampires

Source: library

Publication Date: 1985

The vampire Lestat, the villain from Interview with the Vampire, is back and ready to tell his side of the story. Rising from his grave after being drawn by the irresistible music of the age, he decides to flaunt all the rules that he’s learned about being a vampire and expose the supernatural to the human world. He joins a band and writes an autobiography, detailing his long life of looking for love and answers in the world.

So, going into this book, I remembered three things:

  1. Lestat’s mom tells him that sometimes she thought about letting the men in town bang her.
  2. After they were both vampires, they kissed and shared blood.
  3. Louis was wearing a sweater when he and Lestat met again.

So, I didn’t remember much (and have no idea why the detail of the sweater stood out so much to me). Two of those things happened fairly quickly, and I reread the rest of the book almost totally unspoiled. I really liked it and like Lestat better than I ever did before. I still prefer Louis, and I loved him in this book. I really wish the rest of the book were nothing but the love affair of Louis and Lestat, which is funny because I never shipped them as a teenager.

I really like vampire history, and this book had it in spades. I enjoyed the creation of the Theater of the Vampires, but more than that, I liked the history that Marius told of the first vampires. I remember enough of Queen of the Damned to know what was true and wasn’t, but it was cool reading his version again.

The only part when I started to get lost was when Lestat was writing the story that Marius had been told by Mael. I seriously don’t like stories of stories of stories. I want less narrators in the way. But when Marius took over again, it was okay again and I read the last part of the book with a lot of interest.

I really enjoyed this reread, and wish I didn’t have so many books to read before I could get to the next (and, for me, final) book of the series.

I do recommend this if you like vampires and want to read a classic in vampire mythology.

Weekly Wrap-up | January 12, 2020

Wow! This was a super busy week! I barely even had time to sit down in the evenings, much less read. My poor cat was desperate for affection and whenever I was sitting down, plopped on me for cuddles. Sadly, I was only able to give him a few minutes of them before I was up and rushing to whatever I had to do next. I did managed to get some reading and cuddling in yesterday, though, so we’re all good. With any luck, this week won’t be quite as busy and I can get back to my regular schedule of cat-cuddles and reading.

Monday: Atomic Habits by James Clear (review)

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Beyond the Grave by C.J. Archer (review)

Monday: The Vampire Lestat by Anne Rice (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Books I Need to Read in 2020

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown (review)

Friday: TBD

Saturday: TBD

How was your week? Also, is anyone actually interested in my Saturday Snippets, or should I stop posting? Have a great week!

Review: Beyond the Grave by C.J. Archer

Title: Beyond the Grave

Author: C.J. Archer

Publisher: ?

Genre: paranormal romance, mystery

Source: library (audio book)

Publication Date: November 24, 2015

When her stepson goes missing, Lady Hartcourt asks Lincoln to investigate. Even though she’s supposed to be recovering from her ordeal at the hands of a madman, Charlie throws herself into the investigation. Inadvertently, she raises the spirit of a woman who has the ability to override Charlie’s control over her. Now, a spirit is loose in London, Lincoln is furious, and the Ministry is becoming increasingly disapproving of Charlie’s presence in Lychfield. To top it off, Lincoln continues to run hot and cold with his feelings for Charlie, much to her ever increasing exasperation. But when the investigation begins to reveal the darker side of London, one that even Charlie had never known, she and Lincoln find themselves united.

At first, I was very frustrated with this book. The last one ended in an entirely satisfying way for my romantic heart, only to immediately have it dashed by this one. Charlie and I were both bewildered and frustrated by Lincoln’s pig-pigheadedness and stupidity. I had a hard time enjoying it at the beginning.

However, once Charlie began investigating and exploring the dark underbelly of the medical scene in London, it got much more interesting. I loved that she met the spirit of a woman who was competent and smart and who knew a little more about her powers than Charlie did.

The mystery was well done as well. Lady Hartcourt’s stepson goes missing and it seems like it has something to do with the Ministry of Curiosities, since he’d been reading his father’s journals on it. The investigation is complex and requires Lincoln and Charlie to use all their wits to figure it out. I was completely lost for much of it, which made it lots of fun.

The ending was also very satisfying. It calls on one of my favorite tropes, which I can’t tell because it would be a spoiler, but was amazing. I can’t wait to read the next book.

I highly recommend this whole series. Charlie is a wonderful protagonist, her romance with Lincoln is tense and romantic, and the characters are colorful and fun. Please pick it up if you get a chance.