February Wrap-up

Well, this month was… I won’t say it was a failure, but I didn’t do nearly all I’d planned to do. I only posted ten times, I didn’t get much reading or writing done, and I hardly worked out. The same thing happened last February, but then, I was deeply depressed. This month, I don’t feel the same way. I think, though, my dad being sick threw me for a loop (something that’s continuing, unfortunately). But, that’s the past, and I’m all about the future.

Some Wins:

On February 9, I ran a 5K to benefit the local rape crisis center. It was a fun run, and I got my personal best time, which was super exciting.

crossing the finish line

I also did that each mile when my phone told me my time. I get very excited when I run.

Since the run was called “Together with Love”, I wrote a little story about meeting my cat, Cobbler, the first time. They read it during the awards after the run.

Ugh, reading was not great this month. I read:

3 books

562 pages

20 pages a day

Types:

1 Kindle

1 Physical

1 Audio

That’s just… well. To be fair, it’s one book better than last February.

Crashing Upwards by S.C. Wynne

A History of Madness by Rebecca Crunden

A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Goals for Next Month:

Post more consistently

Read more books!

Write every day

Workout 5-6 days a week

My one year anniversary on WordPress is coming up next month. Any ideas how I should celebrate?

Review: The Chosen by Chaim Potok

Title: The Chosen

Author: Chaim Potok

Publisher: Fawcett Crest Books

Genre: fiction

Source: Book Outlet (or Thriftbooks)

Publication Date: 1967

After a bad meeting over a baseball game, Reuven Malther and Danny Saunders become the best of friends. Both boys are Jewish, but Danny is from a Hasidic sect. His father is not just a rabbi, but a tzaddik, a righteous person to be revered. Danny knows that one day he’ll take his father’s place and doesn’t want to. Brilliant and inquisitive, he’s interested in psychology and the human mind. He and Reuven grow together spiritually and emotionally, learning to navigate the ever changing world around them.

A week ago, I honestly thought I was going to DNF this book. It just wasn’t working for me. But then, I saw down in the middle of the day, instead of right before bed, and gave it another chance. I’m really glad I did.

Danny and Reuven meet during a baseball game between their schools.Danny, one of the only good players on his team, hits a ball that Revuen stops with his face, sending him to the hospital. I’ll tell you, that game almost made me stop reading. I cannot stand poor sports, and everyone on Danny’s team was one. It really ticked me off and made me hate everything, but once I got past it, things took a turn. Danny turned out to be a sensitive, thoughtful boy with a lot of emotional maturity (which was surprising considering his upbringing). Revuen was very thoughtful and kind, too. He and Danny formed a deep connection and I liked watching it grow.

The one place I felt the book was a little week was the style. There was a lot of summarizing what was going on instead of showing. There were pages where the dialogue was described, but not directly spoken. A lot of stuff was repeated, as well. Or, Reuven would talk to his father, who’d stop every few lines to ask if Reuven was tired and if the father should stop. It made thing unnecessarily long. However, I think it’s a time period thing. I haven’t read a lot of books from the sixties (except Rosemary’s Baby) and it might just be how books were written then. Coming from a modern view, it was a little tedious.

But, man, did it pack and emotional punch. This book takes place at the tail end of World War II. The scenes of both fathers discovering what happened to the Jews in Europe during the Holocaust was gut-wrenching. Trying to imagine what they felt… It was hard.

I was very pleased with the ending. It took me by surprise, but in a good way. It made me feel warm to a character I was cold to the entirety of the book. I still don’t like him, but I like him better than I did.

This is a tough one. Yes, I recommend it, because it’s a very good book. However, unless you’re interested in Jewish history and religion and the different sects, you might not be interested in it. But, at its heart, it’s the story of friendship and how friendships survive in adversity. If that’s your interest, then, yes, you should read it.

Weekly Wrap-up | February 23, 2020

Hi all! I can’t believe it’s Sunday once again. This week felt strangely long. I think what made it long was we had a field trip on Thursday, and the anticipation leading up to it was insane. The kids were so excited. We walked to the high school to see their farm and meet the animals. It was a lot of fun, except we were hit with a heat wave I wasn’t prepared for and we didn’t take water with us and, well. It was a long walk back for all of us.

I missed my review on Thursday because, well? I didn’t finish the book. I was supposed to review The Chosen by Chaim Potok. I thought I’d be done with it because my book club meets today, but I just couldn’t get into it. I was about halfway through and had been enjoying it, but then I hit a wall and was so over it. The writing style, the characters, everything just stopped working. I think, though, that’s because I was trying to read it before bed and it took more concentration that I was able to give it. Yesterday, I sat down and started reading, determined to finish it, or at least get near the end. Luckily, I got swept up into the story and it was easy to finish. So, review on Monday.

Yesterday was exciting because my library had its grand reopening. I was so pumped for it. The library used to be this little, one room building about the size of my apartment (or maybe two of my apartments). It was old and didn’t have many books. I always felt like I was in a fishbowl where everyone could see me. I didn’t like going there and started going to a slightly farther and more updated library. Then, they destroyed my library to build a new one.

O. M. Goodness, everyone, it’s gorgeous. It’s two stories and full of books and just so beautiful. There’s a fireplace to read by, a balcony, meeting room, group study rooms, a media center, a maker’s space with a 3D printer, and TONS of brand new books. They had almost EVERY book I’ve been dying to read. And chairs everywhere! And soothing colors! A new library cards that you can put on your keychain. I LOVE IT AND WANT TO LIVE THERE!

*ahem* Sorry. Got a little over the top there. But, yeah. I love it. And I can’t wait to go back.

Monday: A Heart so Fierce and Broken (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Bookish Habits

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Monday: The Chosen by Chaim Potok (review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Books that Cause a Major Hangover

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: The Toll by Neal Shusterman (review)

Friday: TBD

Saturday: February Wrap-up

Seriously. I’m so obsessed with this show. It’s AMAZING.

How was your week? Drop a comment below and let me know!

WWW Wednesday | February 19, 2020

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

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:

I’ve started all of these, but I’m admittedly only really reading The Toll and The Chosen right now. The other two are on the back burner.

Recently Finished:

Loved it so much, I want to go back and reread both books now.

Reading Next:

Ummm… I kind of don’t want to get up right now and see what’s on my TBR pile next. I think it might be Gone Girl, but I’m not sure.

What are you reading?

Top 5 Bookish Habits

Top 5 Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by Shanah at The Bionic Book Worm. Each week, participants are given a prompt and invited to answer. This week’s prompt is Top 5 Bookish Habits.

Person reading in bed
Photo by Emily Rudolph on Unsplash
  1. I read in bed every night before I go to sleep. Sometimes, I read for a hour, sometimes less, but unless I get home too late or have a migraine, it’s part of my nightly routine. Sometimes, I go to bed early just so I can read, even though I am perfectly capable of reading in my living room. There’s just something about being in bed with a good book that makes me very happy and cozy.
Woman walking carrying a purse containing a purse.
Photo by Tamas Munkacsi on Unsplash

2. I always carry a book with me everywhere I go. Even if I’m just running errands or going to get gas, I tend to slip my book or Kindle in my purse just in case. I don’t like leaving the house without a book.

stack of books near a coffee cup and a potted plant.

3. I am usually reading multiple books at one time. I’ve always been like this. I’ll have a bedroom book, a living room book, a Kindle book, etc. Now, I usually have an audio book that I’m reading, too. People always ask me how I keep the storylines straight, and I honestly don’t know how to answer that. It’s not like I’m reading them at the same moment. It’s like watching several different TV shows. You just… do. Right?

person reading a book
Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

4. It’s probably no surprise, but whenever I am at the doctor or dentist or any place with a waiting room, I am reading. I will read the book I’ve taken, magazines in the waiting room, flyers, etc. But, usually, it’s my book. It’s a wonderful time to catch up on reading and I’m in a waiting room quite a bit. One of my doctor’s is usually an hour to an hour and a half behind. I just take a good book and I’m golden.

Woman at Disney World in front of the Castle

5. Last, I always take a book when I got to Disney. When I was a kid, the Skyway broke down and the people on it were stuck for hours. Now, I was not at Disneyland that day, but I lived nearby and heard about it and it sounded… well, A) scary, because I’m afraid heights, but B) scary because what do you do when you’re stuck for that long? My solution? Bring a book! I take one when I’m with people, just in case, and when I’m alone because I can find a place to relax and read (I don’t do this as much anymore, since I don’t have a pass and don’t go as much, but it’s an option). I took one on my trip to Disney World and I will take one until I can no longer go. It’s just something I gotta do.

Those are my top 5 bookish habits. What are some of yours?

Review: A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

Title: A Heart so Fierce and Broken

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Genre: fantasy, fairy-tale retelling

Source: Barnes and Noble

Publication Date: January 7, 2020

The curse has been broken and Prince Rhen is finally free. But trouble looms for Emberfall. People have heard of the rumored true heir and Karis Luran is threatening the kingdom again. Worse, Grey, Rhen’s loyal guardsman, has gone missing.

After killing the enchantress, Lilith, and discovering that he is the heir, Grey has gone into hiding. With no desire to challenge Rhen, all he wants is to live his life in peace. But when he’s discovered, he’s forced to make a choice that he doesn’t want to make. With new friends by his side, he must ally himself with Karis Luran’s daughter, Lia Mara, who is desperate to convince him to make his rightful claim to the throne not just for justice, but for the good of Emberfall itself.

I loved this book. When I read A Curse so Dark and Lonely, my two favorite characters were Harper and Grey, and I was thrilled to have a book all about Grey. I continued to love him through the whole of this book. Grey has been a royal guardsman for hundreds of years at this point. He’s loyal through and through, strong and steadfast. He has a hard time letting go of that identity once he’s free. He’s also been trapped by magic for time untold and is, understandably leery of magic. Through the book, he goes through a journey from being afraid of it to embracing his identity as a magic user. I loved every moment of his journey.

Lia Mara was also an instant love for me. She’s the eldest daughter of Kari Luran, but has been passed over to be queen in favor of her younger sister. She’s accepted it, but feels that she still has a lot of offer. Lia Mara is smart, practical, and a bit impulsive. She’s a little desperate to prove herself and make her ruthless mother proud. I really related to her and loved her POV chapters.

My only slight stumbling block was the romance. Now, I liked the romance and was glad when it advanced, but while I felt all the tension and excitement with Lia Mara, I was less sure of what Grey was going through. Now, part of it was the nature of the beast: Grey is more reserved and careful. But, honestly, I felt his battle with getting himself to drink was more explored than his feelings for Lia Mara. The little hints we got at the beginning, like him noticing her eyes or her figure, were amazing. But it felt like it went from 10 to 100 without a lot of struggle. One of the things guardsmen were denied were family and love, so I’d have like to see him struggling more.

Overall, I loved this book. I liked the journey they all took to get from the beginning to end. I liked the romance, even if I wish there was more or deeper exploration on Grey’s side, and I loved the characters. Kemmerer wasn’t afraid to go to some dark places to show the trauma that Grey, Lia Mara, and Rhen have suffered and have to deal with. It was great and I can’t wait for more.

I highly recommend this book. If you liked A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I think you should read this book ESPECIALLY if you liked Grey more than Rhen. This is not a kind book for Rhen, and while I hope he gets his redemption in the next book, if you like him best, you might not like this book. But read it anyway. 🙂

Weekly Wrap-up

Hi everyone! It’s been awhile. The last week and a half has been crazy and I haven’t been able to sit down and work on the blog. On February 6, I drove down to my parents house to see my dad, who was back in the hospital (he’s been in and our since New Year’s Eve). He got out and we celebrated my birthday together. Then, I drove home and got back to work at school. I just felt a little overextended, so I dropped everything but reading and spent the week recovering. But, I’m back and ready to blog!

Monday: A Heart so Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer (Review)

Tuesday: Top 5 Bookish Habits

Wednesday: WWW Wednesday

Thursday: The Chosen by Chaim Potok (review)

Friday: TBD

Saturday: TBD

I’m currently obsessed with the show The Untamed which is on Netflix right now. It’s about two cultivators, which are magic users, who work together to stop a clan from using evil magic to take control. It’s so good.

How was your week? Any current obsessions?

Review: A History of Madness by Rebecca Crunden

Title: A History of Madness

Author: Rebecca Crunden

Genre: dystopian, sci-fi

Source: author

Series: The Outlands Pentalogy (#2)

After coming back to the city for a cure to the sickness he and Catherine Taenia had contracted, Nate is now imprisoned, facing execution, and ignorant as to the fate of the rest of his friends. But, after a strange and unexpected meeting with the king, Nate’s sentence is commuted and he’s sent to a work camp for five years. After learning the fate of his beloved Kitty, Nate breaks out of prison and rescues her, deciding that five years is too long to late. Together, with Zoe and Tove, they escape to the Outlands, where their adventures only just begin.

I highly enjoyed the second book in this series. Questions that I had about the world started to be answered, although I suspect there are more answers in the rest of the series. I loved getting to know the people in the Outlands who call themselves the Radiants and see themselves as being chosen by God. And I loved to death reading about how they viewed the people who lived inside the kingdom. Engus is probably my new favorite character and I loved his interactions with everyone.

I wish there had been more Kitty in this book, although she was the star of the last one, so I understand why there wasn’t. It liked getting into Nate’s head and seeing how he viewed things. I did feel like I never quite broke through the exterior of him, though. I know he things and feels very deeply, but the writing didn’t quite make me feel what he was. I wish there had been a more visceral connection between me and him, if that makes sense. But I still really like him and love the way he talks and interacts with the other characters.

My only disappointment was what happened to Kitty. What happened to her was realistic and totally believable, but I was just sad about it. My last memory of her from A Touch of Death was one of strength and defiance, and it was disappointing to see that she wasn’t able to keep up that defiance. However, despite all that happened to her, she’s still so incredibly strong and fierce. I love that she goes after what’s right for her, even when it’s a difficult decision. I can’t wait to read more of her.

I would recommend this, especially if you like dysoptian worlds. The characters are likable, the writing is engaging, and the ending of this is fantastic. It’s a great cliffhanger that will make you want to keep reading. So, I recommend that you give it a try!

WWW Wednesday – February 5, 2020

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

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

I started Mrs. Sherlock Holmes by Brad Ricca last night. It’s a little hard to describe, because a) I’m not that far in and b) it’s just hard to describe. The first few chapters are a little disjointed, presenting mysteries and then jumping to a seemingly unrelated story. I don’t think the main character, Mrs. Grace Humiston, until the third of fourth chapter. But the writing is smooth and easy to follow (until I was too tired to read). I’m looking forward to this. (BTW, it’s not about a woman who married Sherlock Holmes; it’s based on a true story of a lawyer and detective in America who was compared to Holmes.)

I’m still, slowly, reading This Chosen by Chaim Potok. I actually really like it, I just am having trouble finding time to read. I need to stay off the computer and YouTube. I need to finish it by the twenty-third, I believe, for my book club.

Last, I’m reading I Thought it was Just Me by Brene Brown. I love Brene Brown. She makes things seem so simple and clear.

I finished The Morning Mind by Dr. Rob Carter, III and Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter the other day. It went a little off for me when it started discussing Ayurvedic medicine in one chapter, which seems like an oversimplification of a complex system. And I wasn’t exactly following everything because I was supposed to download a PDF and take a quiz and I was in the car, so… But, it made me think differently about certain things and how to structure mornings and even how to improve my posture. It was a good read.

I also finished A History of Madness by Rebecca Crunden. I totally called the ending and was vindicated when I got it right. It was a great cliffhanger; I’ll have to read the next book.

So, my dad’s in the hospital again and my birthday is on Friday and unless I go down to see my family, I’ll be spending my birthday alone. So, I’m going to my parent’s house tomorrow and there’s a Barnes and Noble nearby and I’m treating myself to A Heart of Fierce and Broken. And then, I’ll also read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn since my mom lent it to me months ago and I’ve never got around to it.

What are you reading this week? Drop a comment below and let me know!

Review: Crashing Upwards by S.C. Wynne

Title: Crashing Upwards

Author: S.C. Wynne

Publisher: Wynne Wynne Publishing

Genre: m/m contemporary romance

Source: Amazon

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Harper Jones is a bike messenger, a profession he enjoys except for his jerk of a boss. His apartment is in shambles and inhabited by mice, he’s barely scraping by, but he’s proud that he doesn’t have to rely on anyone. He’s independent and likes it that way.

Sam Foster is the affluent son of a conservative senator. He’ll be allowed to come out… some day when it won’t affect his father’s campaign, but that day isn’t today. He has a little crush on Harper, who has delievered packages to Sam’s father’s office before, but he can’t get up the guts to talk to him.

And then, he accidentally hits Harper with his car. Now, Harper is banged up and not able to take care of himself. Sam takes it upon himself to make sure Harper gets the care he needs… and, in the process, falls in love.

Now, the two need to navigate the rocky road ahead of them and Sam needs to find the courage to stand up to his father and live life on his own terms.

So, this is a perfectly serviceable contemporary romance, which, granted, is not my go-to genre. But it was sweet and cute. But not much more. I liked Sam lot and really enjoyed the way he moved into Harper’s life and took care of him. Harper was okay, but he was kind of a stereotype of a touch, independent man. I never felt like I knew him very well. But, honestly, the book was largely forgettable to me. It was cotton candy: sweet while reading it, but dissolves immediately when finished.

It’s not by any stretch of the imagination a bad book. It just didn’t wow me or stick with me very long after I read it.

Yes, I would recommend it. If you like sweet, light, fluffy romances that pass the time in an enjoyable way, this is a good book for that.