Thursday, May 31, 2018

May in Review

My Reading

# of books read: 15
Best(s): So many! It was a great month for good books.  These are all my five star books, but there were several four stars as well.

  • Best amazing, super-British adult fiction about a damaged, isolated woman and her path towards finding her people : Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine 
  • Best MG novel in Verse that is also a prequel to one of the greatest novels in verse and that happens to be historical fiction from my youth: Rebound 
  • Best MG novel set in the early 70s with a birdwatching main character that goes far darker than most MG novels do and also doesn't have a pat ending, yet still is somehow beautiful and full of hope: Nest 
  • Best swoony YA Historical Fiction with tons of humor and an apparently shallow narrator who develops as a person over time : A Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
  • Best YA contemporary with snarky bi narrator and beloved familiar characters: Leah on the Offbeat

Challenges progress:

  • Library Love--added eleven
  • Beat the Backlist--added nine, which means I actually read four 2018 releases, wow!
  • Popsugar--only added one, so I'm at 22/52. I'll need to start reading books on purpose to meet the qualifications.

Bookish Events and Happenings

My daughter has suddenly gotten into thrillers. We listened to an audiobook of Girl, Stolen together, which was fun. She's also reading creepier stuff though, Wattpadd authors writing about girls getting kidnapped for nasty purposes. She has one on audiobook and has listened to it twice, and has two other books she talked me into buying for her. So we've been sitting together in the evening reading our own books. This is kind of an exciting development for me. She read for two and a half hours the other night!

On the Blog


I even posted for one Top Ten Tuesday, sharing ten books I read and was made miserable by. Granted, I haven't posted since, but yes, I'm still here.


I went to a writing retreat at the beach at the beginning of the month, and actually did quite a bit of writing. Again, I haven't done a thing since, but it was still a great experience. 

 I worked on a summer TBR. We'll see how much I check off, how much I don't get to, and how much I read that isn't on this list at all.

I helped my sister with her moving sale and with hauling a bunch of stuff around town. Her landlord is selling the house she's lived in for four years, so she's scrambling to get her stuff moved out and find a new place. In the meantime, she's going to live with us, and we're calling her our live-in gardener.

I am totally counting down the days until summer break. I have a lot of work to do in the summer as well, but the pace is totally different when the students aren't here. Hope things are sunny where you are, and the strawberries are sweet!

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction, along with many other terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole usually puts together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!

Monday, May 14, 2018

TTT: Books I Hated. Fight Me.

With the delightful bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish moving on to other things, TTT is now hosted by just one of their contingent, That Artsy Reader Girl .  If you want to quadruple the size of your TBR AND find a bunch of great book blogs to follow head on over and check it out!

The topic this week is: Books I Disliked/Hated but Am Really Glad I Read

I tried, but I just can't be glad I read a book I disliked. So I'm going to rebelliously ignore that part of the directions and just complain about some books. I'm thinking  this will be a sort of unpopular opinion post. We'll see--let me know if I insult any of your favorites!

The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.
I know it's a classic. And I know there's a lot of push-back about venerating Seuss these days. But my reason for disliking this is simple: the Cat freaked me the fuck out when I was a kid. I was Not Interested in that level of chaos. 

but on the opposite end we have:

The Berenstain Bears (series) by the Berenstain People. 
OH MY GOD SO PREACHY AND BORING. And what is with naming your bear family after yourselves? And the mom's flowered dress? And the extreme gender roles? And why are there so many of them? And why do they show up in dentist office waiting rooms? So many issues.

Moving on, we have a few books I hated in school. 

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Grim, grim, depressing,  ray of hope, DENIED, even worse off than before. What a great plotline, Edith. Thanks so much.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Dude, seriously? 

I was in a book club for a few years with some good friends. We read a lot of good books, but there was one we all 100% detested. 

The Blue Flower by Penelope Fitzgerald
Why did we hate it? I don't even remember, so thoroughly have I blocked it from my mind. But it's become a running joke in the decade(s) since then. 

We also read either Love in the Time of Cholera or One Hundred Years of Solitude, both by Gabriel Garcia Maraq√©z. I know it's blasphemous, but I find his style confusing and boring, so much so that I although I am pretty sure I've read both of these, I have no idea which is which. 

We'll wrap up this complaint-fest with a few books I just find super offensive. 

Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody takes an admittedly awful custody battle and uses it to misrepresent an entire religion and country. Way to pander to the bigots, Betty.

The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Hutchet Bishop is about as racist as you'd expect a picture book with that title, published in 1938, to be. Like, I'd be too embarrassed to even share the cover picture here. I'm sharing it, because I liked it in elementary school, which says a lot about how clueless I was. Also, I still have a soft spot for the author's Twenty and Ten about a group of kids in France hiding a group of Jewish children during WWII.

Twilight (series) by Stephanie Meyers
C'mon. This is not a healthy relationship. And the whole weirdness about sex and marriage is also unhealthy. 

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
Yes, I know it's a recognized work of genius and Nabakov is a prose mater. And I'm not a prude by any means. I even understand that writing about a topic doesn't mean you're endorsing it. But there's an ick factor here I've never been able to get over.  

Well, that was amazingly cathartic overall. Any on here that resonate with you, or did I just make you sad?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Falconer's Library's Semi-Annual Attempt at Poetry

What {white} women my age are called

Jennifer, more often than not.
Beth or Liz (but not Betty)
Kristi, Christie, or Kristy
Some Lauras, some Lesleys, some Michelles

We’re at the tail end of Sharon, Debbie, and Karen

And the cutting edge of Melissa, Melinda, and Melanie,

(Our moms are Shirleys and Carolyns, Marys and Jeans)

In high school we were sluts, prudes, or cock-teases. No other options.
Later we were called bitches if we expected to be treated like adults
Or ambitious by people who didn’t use words like bitch
(but meant it anyway)

Now we’re middle aged, and nobody calls us much of anything
Besides Ma’am.

Some of us answer to Mom, Mommy, Mama, Mom.
Very few of us to Hey Mama, Smile For Me Mama, or Suck My Dick, Mama
And yeah, some of us are Grandma now.

You used to call me pretty girl, and I liked it.
Now you mostly use my name, and I think I like it even better,
At least the way you say it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

And now for something completely different

Maggie and I, circa 1978

I'm at a writing retreat at the coast. Yay! It's been a long, hard winter into spring, and I am so grateful to be in a beautiful place with kind people and delicious food and space to think and breathe.One of our activities was that we each drew a card that had a universal theme written on it, then were given a short period of time to write a personal story that related to the theme. A couple of mine got pretty grim, because that's where my head is these days, but this one made me happy, so I thought I'd share it here.


Maggie was devoted to me.

When I slept outside on warm summer nights, she would perch at the end of my sleeping bag and watch over me all night. My parents would remark fondly on how many naps she needed the next day, proof of her devotion. (The question remains what a 20 pound Scottish terrier could have done to protect me from the dangers of the night, but I guess she could have at least barked up a storm.)

Occasionally when I would go to a piano lesson or grocery shopping, my parents would get a call from my best friend’s mom. “Can you come get Maggie? She showed up at our door looking for Wendy.”

We walked together to the library, nearly 2 miles away. After the first time, when she howled her boredom and loneliness outside, they suggested I bring her in, and for the next ten or so years she would follow me cheerfully around the stacks. On the rare occasions I got a ride to the library instead, the librarians would chastise me--”Where’s Maggie? How could you leave her at home?”

We sat together in the back seat on family beach trips, her thick claws scraping against my legs, sunburnt in shorts. I’d complain of the way she smelled, because she ALWAYS had to run into the ocean right before we left, which only added to her naturally pungent odor. If I layed down on the floor to read a book, she’d perch herself on my butt.

When I was a sophomore in college, my mom called to let me know she’d died. I cried my heartbreak, and my worried roommate asked me what was wrong. I told her my dog died, and she said, “Oh.” She was a nice girl, but she’d never had pets, so she didn’t get it.

She didn’t know that I was devoted to Maggie.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Book Review: Leah on the Offbeat

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Published 2018 by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray

368 pages, YA contemporary.

I enjoyed Simon Vs. so much, and I related to Upside in ways I've never related to a book before, so you'd better bet I had this one on hold at the library well before its release date. It came in yesterday. Today I stopped by the library on my way home from work, picked it up at the holds desk, plunked myself down in a chair, and read it from start to finish.

I laughed LOUDLY several times. Once I gave a rather magnificent snort. I'd like to take this moment to apologize to the other library patrons today, and to gently suggest you read this somewhere where you can make a scene without being annoying. 

Simon is adorable. Molly is the girl I wanted to see reflected back in a book when I was her age. Leah--oh dear me, where to start? As I mentioned, she's screamingly funny. She's also prickly and tense in a way Simon and Molly aren't. But she's lovable even when she's not very likable. I really admire how Albertalli writes Leah so she's pretty self-aware, and yet we, the reader, understand some things about her that she, the teenager, doesn't quite realize yet. 

Also, SO MUCH FOOD in this book. After I looked up, squinty-eyed, at the end of the book, I gathered up my kid and took him to a diner so I could get waffles for dinner. With lots and lots of syrup. 

4.5/5 stars

Friday, May 4, 2018

April in Review

My Reading

# of books read: 21

Best(s):  With categories selected solely to highlight my favorites of the month
Best re-read: The Hunger Games
Best Graphic Novel: The Silence of Our Friends
Best hyped book: Turtles All the Way Down
Best debut: Saints and Misfits (and favorite of the month)
Funniest: Evil Librarian

Mt. TBR progress:
Well, all 21 were backlist books, so I'm KILLING IT on that one. Which is kind of why I chose that challenge--much like setting my Goodreads challenge to 52, which I passed sometime last month. SETTING MYSELF UP TO SUCCEED.

15 of them were also Library Love eligible. Because I do, I do! I love my library!

And I've read 21 of the 52 Popsugar categories. Mostly by accident. Pretty soon I'm going to have to start picking books intentionally to fit the categories.

Bookish Events and Happenings

Not much. Sorry folks. I spent a nice afternoon at a library clear across town. I didn't participate in Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon for the first time since I discovered it, and I missed out on going to see Kwame Alexander speak when he was in town. Do either of those count?

On the Blog

Also not much. I posted five times, which is two more than April, so yay! I wrote about the ridiculously specific list of things one needs to check off to be considered "normal" instead of "exotic" or "diverse," and then I wrote a sort of non-explanation of why I'm not posting very much these days.


My daughter's birthday was fun. I made her annually requested cheesecake, and this year I remembered the night before to start it BEFORE 10 pm. She had a slumber party, and they played outside until dark, then we made food-based facials and they did their nails. Twelve. Sigh.

All right, people. We're in the final count down for school, and if you haven't seen Jen Hatmaker's column on what that's like, go read that.

May the fourth be with you. (And also with you.)

My monthly summaries are always linked to the Monthly Wrap-Up Round-Up on Feed Your Fiction Addiction, along with many other terrific blogs' monthly reflections.  Nicole usually puts together a fun scavenger hunt giveaway too, so go check it out!