Review: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan

Title: Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: One Introvert’s Year of Saying Yes

Author: Jessica Pan

Publisher: Doubleday

Genre: Non-fiction, memoir

Source: library (Hoopla Digital)

Publication Date: May 28, 2019

Jessica Pan is a shy introvert- a shistrovert, as she calls herself. But, after having a breakdown in a gym sauna, fully dressed and crying over an issue of Men’s Health, she decides it’s time for a change. She’s jobless and all her friends have moved away, so she makes a list of things to do that will break her out of her shell: solo travel, improv, a public speech, and talking to strangers on a train. Before long, she’s afraid that’s she’s taken on too much, but, determined to see it through, continues on with her plan. She really wants to find out, is life easier for an extrovert? And how will she survive this year?

This was an enjoyable read. I liked Jess’s journey from being incredibly shy and withdrawn to learning to expand her boundaries. Her various experiments were fun to listen to, although I do wish she’d slowed down her speech a couple times. She’s a very fast talker, a fact she acknowledges in her book, and a couple times it was hard to understand her. Still, that didn’t detract from the book overall, and even added some character.

I had hoped the book would give me some advice on how to meet more people and make deeper connections with them. I’m fairly withdrawn even when I’m with people, more of a listener than a talker, which is odd, because I love to talk. In the book, there’s advice on some questions to ask and how to make deeper connections, but I can’t really remember them and am a loss on how to do it in my life. Still, the sense I got was that this was less self-improvement and more memoir, so there really didn’t need to be actionable steps. I just wish there had been.

Overall, I enjoyed listening and looked forward to my drives so I could listen to the next part every day. Looking forward to it definitely means the book did something right.

If you, like me, enjoy reading about people as they tackle one year challenges, this is a good book to add to that collection. If you’re an introvert looking for reassurance that extroverting isn’t that bad, give it a try. And if you’re an extrovert looking to understand what’s going on in a introvert’s head, this is an excellent book to read.

How do you identify: introvert or extrovert? Let me know in the comments!

WWW Wednesday | January 29, 2020

Look at me, actually doing a WWW Wednesday! Things aren’t quite back on track, but they’re getting there. 🙂

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Each week, participants are asked to answer the following questions:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

My main book at the moment is A History of Madness by Rebecca Crunden. It’s a sequel to A Touch of Death, which I read a few months ago. I’m enjoying this book a lot, although I’m sad that while the last book left Kitty in feeling strong, this book has reversed that. It’s understandable, but it’s still sad.

I’m also reading The Chosen by Chaim Potok for my book club. It’s about two Jewish boys who are from different sects and different ways of showing their religion, who become friends. Oh, boy, did this take me a bit to get into. It starts with a baseball games between the two boys, and there was a lot of poor sportsmanship and general jerk-iness, which is kind of a trigger for me. But, once I got past that, it got better. I’m really enjoying it.

I’m listening to The morning Mind by Dr. Rob Carter III. I’m really fascinated by morning habits, morning routines, and how to start your day off right, and I thought this book would hit that itch. It is, but… well, the narrator is really salesman-y. He’s too polished and sounds very weird. It kind of reminds me of the narrators from the old Goofy or Donald Duck (I think it was Goofy) how-to shorts. Like this, only even grander and more pompous. But, I do like the content, so I keep listening.

Recently finished

I recently read Crashing UPwards by S.C. Wynne and then promptly forgot I’d read it. To the point when I saw it on my content calendar, due for a review, I had no idea what it was talking about. Then I remembered. It’s an M/M contemporary romance about a bike messenger, Harper, who gets hit by a car. The driver, Sam, is the son of a Republican senator, and he has a crush on Harper. He also has a good heart and he takes care of Harper while he’s recovering. It was a find read, but I only read it because it won the Lambda Award for best M/M romance of 2019 and I wanted to see how good it was. It was fine. It just wasn’t better than Red, White, and Royal Blue, which was the actual best M/M romance of last year.

I also finished listening to Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan, which is a memoir of an introvert’s year of acting like an extrovert. In it, Pan faces her fears of speaking to strangers, traveling alone, doing stand-up, and throwing a dinner party. It was a fun listen and it did make me think about how I really need to try and get out of my comfort zone, especially around strangers.

Reading Next

These are the two that I’m going to start next. Unless I break down and buy A Heart so Fierce and Broken. We’ll see.

What are you reading this week?

Top 5 Tuesday: Top 5 Anticipated Releases of 2020

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at the Bionic Book Worm. Each week, participants are given a topic they can respond to. This week’s topic is top 5 anticipated releases of 2020.

I sort of did this a couple weeks ago, with my top 5 books I need to get to this year. So, this will have some repeats. But that’s fine, because both lists are totally true.

I cannot wait for A Stroke of Malice by Anna Lee Huber. I love the Lady Darby series. She’s smart and educated and thoughtful. Strong and courageous, but she’s not foolhardy and stubborn in a bad way. Best of all, her husband, Sebastian Gage, is loving and totally supportive of her investigations, often suggesting she take one on. I love their relationship and think it’s one of the most romantic in the mystery genre. April 7, 2020

Aru Shah and the Tree of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi is another book I’m highly anticipating. I’ve loved both of the Aru Shah books. She’s such an amazing characters. I almost wished I taught older kids so I could recommend the books to them, but… not enough enough to change grades. 🙂 April 7, 2020

No cover for this one, but even though I’ve yet to read The Tyrant’s Tomb (a travesty, I know), I am super pumped for The Tower of Nero by Rick Riordan. I love the trials and tribulations of Apollo and I cannot wait to finish the series (even though I’ll be sad).

I only just, right now this minutes, found out about this book. Do you know how hard I cried over that little dog when I read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate? Sobs. Ugly, deep, soulful sobs. It was awful. So, yeah, I’m totally ready to have my heart torn apart and broken and smashed to pieces again to make sure that Bob is okay. And, you know, Ivan and whatever the elephant’s name was. 🙂 May 5, 2020

Once again, there is no cover for this, nor a description, but Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian is up there on my books I want to read this year. Cat Sebastian is one of my favorite M/M historical romance authors, and I will read every MM book by her. This is definitely on my anticipated reads list. June 23, 2020

Those are my top 5 anticipated releases of the year. What are some of yours? Drop a link or a comment below and let me know!

Review: The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh

Title: The Beautiful

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Genre: YA, horror, paranormal fantasy

Source: Purchase (Barnes and Noble)

Publication Date: October 8, 2919

Celine Rousseau has fled from her life as a dressmaker in Paris to a convent in New Orleans after a traumatic event. Hoping to start a new life, she struggles to find her place in the convent, as her skills as a dressmaker aren’t in high demand. Then, a woman named Odette, commissions her to sew a costume for a masquerade ball. Celine agrees and finds herself swept into a world she’s never dreamed of. Odette is a member of a mysterious underworld called La Cour des Lion, and Celine quickly becomes entangled with them, especially after catching the eye of the leader Sebastian Saint Germane. The two clash and attract each other, an attraction that quickly becomes suspicion when the body of a convent girl turns up on the doorway of Sebastian’s club.

Now, Celine finds herself both a suspect of the murder and the object of the murderer’s obsession. People connected to her start dying, and she’s determined to uncover the truth. The truth, however, comes with a devastating price.

I really liked this book a lot because I loved Celine so much. She’s strong and dark and a little twisted. She’s a misfit that’s not quite trying to fit in as much as find the place where she belongs. When she discovers La Cour des Lion and Bastien, she’s intrigued and enamored and feels very comfortable. She feels her own desire for power is met in Bastien’s, and she fits easily into the world.

I also really liked her friendship with Pippa, another girl from the convent. Celine is hiding a dreadful secret and it’s a heavy burden for her. She’s afraid to open up, but also desperately wants to. I like her tentative overtures of friendship towards Pippa, and how they are met with welcome and understanding.

The setting was amazing, too. The supernatural and New Orleans has been done, but that doesn’t meant it can’t be done again. And Ahdieh does it so well. New Orleans on the cusp of Lent, with the parties and parades and decadence that surrounds the upcoming week. It made me desperately want to be there and experience it in a way I didn’t even get in my reread of Interview with the Vampire. It was just so vivid and rich; I felt like I was there.

My only slight knock to the book is that I was completely confused at the ending. Now, this may not be the book’s fault. I was completely convinced the bad guy was one character, and then it wasn’t… but maybe it was? I didn’t quite get who the antagonist was and what their motives were. I don’t know if I didn’t read closely enough, I wasn’t willing to give up what I thought, or it just really didn’t make sense. I don’t know. But, I ended the book baffled, but pleased I’d read it and looking forward to the next in the series.

If you like atmospheric books with strong female characters, sexual tension, and vampire-like creatures, you’ll enjoy this book. And if you get the ending, let me know, because… I think I need to read it again. Not that it’d be a chore. 🙂

Weekly Wrap-up | January 26

Hey all! We made it to Sunday. Ready for another week? I am not so much. Progress reports are due on Monday (in the afternoon… I think) and I have not gotten my comments done on them yet thanks to my two plus day migraine. Which sucked. So, that’s what I’m doing today.

Overall, though, the week was pretty good. I didn’t as much reading done as I wanted, but I did get some. I’m starting to get back into a good sleeping routine and, with any luck, I’ll soon be able to get up early again to write. I did decide to DNF The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People because it just wasn’t doing it to me. I like the habits Stephen Covey describes, but the book is just not written in an accessible way for me. It’s too dry and verbose and I can’t get into it. So, I’m dropping that for I Thought It Was Just Me [But It Isn’t] by Brene Brown.

Monday: The Self-Care Solution by Jennifer Ashton, M.D., M.S. (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

Thursday: Ugh, I’m dying

Monday: The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Anticipated Books for 2020

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: Sorry I’m Late, but I Didn’t Want to Come by Jessica Pan (review)

How was your week? Anything exciting planned for next week? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Top 5 Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars

It’s Tuesday, but it feels like Monday. And last weekend felt like a month. It was something of a week, which you know if you read my weekly wrap-up. But, now it’s back to real life.

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at the Bionic Book Worm. Each week, participants are given a topic to answer. This week’s topic is Top 5 Reasons I Rate a Book 5 Stars.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

This is an interesting topic. I’ve really never thought why I give 5 stars, I just know when I need to. But, here I go.

Reason 1: When I’m finished with the book, I feel like bursting into song.

I know it’s a five star book when I finish and I’m super happy. And I show happiness by singing and dancing. So, when I finish a book and I’m ready to start singing, I know it’s a five star read.

Reason 2: I can’t put it down.

When I can’t go five minutes without reading the next bit of that book, it’s a five star read. If I have to put it down, and I’m eagerly anticipating reading it again, can’t think of anything else, I know that it’s got me hooked and is something special

Reason 3: I can’t wait to tell everyone about it.

I don’t know many readers in real life, but when I finish a book that I love, I just don’t care. I want to tell everyone about it and try to convince them to read it. If I’m ready to call up my aunt I only see at Thanksgiving and gush about the book, I know it’s five stars.

Reason 4: I want to reread it ASAP.

I reread books all the time (or, at least I used to before my TBR grew out of control). But I only very rarely pick up a book I just finished and read it again. If I want to do that, it’s a five star read.

Reason 5: I want to live in the world.

Some worlds, you just want to live in. Harry Potter, Infernal Devices, Parasol Protectorate, Narnia. They are just immersive and overwhelming and you want to wrap yourself in. If I want to do that, I know it’s been a five star read.

Those are my reasons for giving 5 stars. What are some of yours?

Review: The Self-Care Solution

Title: The Self-Care Solution

Author: Jennifer Ashton, M.D., M.S.

Publisher: William Morrow

Genre: self-improvement

Source: library

Publication Date: December 30, 2019

Dr. Jennifer Ashton is an ob-gyn and top medical correspondent for Good Morning America. In January one year, she announced on air that she was having a dry month – thirty days of no drinking. By the end of the month, she felt so good and inspired, she decided to set up monthly challenges for herself including push-ups and planks, drink more water, eat more plants, and walk more. By the end of the year, she felt fitter, healthier, and happier than she could remember being in the past.

Part memoir, part self-improvement, The Self-Care Solution is a light, informative, and entertaining read.

I loved this book. Between the topic and Ashton’s narration on the audio book, I loved listening to it and implementing her advice. At first I wasn’t sure if it’d be for me; I don’t drink, and therefore couldn’t really relate to her “dry month” challenge. However, once we got past January and her challenges branched out, I was hooked. Even though she does things month by month, I’ve rushed ahead and have been trying to incorporate some of her challenges in my daily routine. I’m up to 16 push-ups and 1 minutes of planks. I’m drinking 96 oz of water a day and I’ve started walking during my lunch time.

This book is similar in content to The Wellness Project by Phoebe Lapine, but I enjoyed this much better. It was written in a more engaging manner and a lot easier to follow for me.

I also liked the mixture of memoir and advice. Each chapter starts with Ashton’s story, then delves into the science before turning to how the reader can accomplish the same challenge.

If you like books on self-improvement or books about people tackling challenges during their year, this is one for you. I highly enjoyed this book and hope others give it a chance.

If you were to try and improve one habit for thirty days, what would it be? Let me know below!

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!