Oops. Not A Book Review

 

I was supposed to be doing a book review today, but I have basically not read anything this month. (Which is to say, I am right on track with my reading goal for the year but I’m behind where I expected to be). Thus far in 2019 I have read:

  • One Pill Makes You Stronger by Jill Stegman (ARC, 2 stars)
  • One Week of You by Lisa Williams Kline (ARC, 5 stars)
  • Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy (4 stars)

Now, I theoretically could write a review about any one of these books. The problem is that none of them really stuck with me. I thought One Pill Makes You Stronger was mismarketed, and could have been good if it was actually a book written for somebody like me. I thought One Week of You was a great light love story, and I had a hard time putting it down, but once I was done I realized how thin it was. And Dumplin’ was great, but I watched the movie on Netflix before even putting the book on hold so all I could do the whole time was compare it to the movie. So you see, I’ve read all these books but none of them made me feel and thus, I am not writing a review this week and I am instead going to share with you my reading lists.

I made four “priority” reading lists for 2019.

  • >4 stars on Goodreads
  • Published in 2017
  • Published in 2018
  • Older than me (based on original publication date)

Of these, I am trying to work across the lists rather than down any single list. I am currently reading Little White Lies (Published in 2018), in large part because Bad on Paper Podcast is reviewing it this month and it was 100% my cup of tea! I also have Words on Bathroom Walls (Published in 2017) checked out from the library, so that’s next up on my list. Overall, I have a total of 8 of the books in my personal library, and although that wasn’t at all a motivator when making these lists, looking at them later makes me wonder what my subconscious may have been up to ;).

Although the actual book review won’t come until later (maybe next week, maybe further delays), I am curious as to how you make your reading lists. Do you strictly go based on book club reads, do you try to work through your to be read shelf, or something else entirely? Do you just walk through the library and pick out a cover that speaks to you? Whatever it is, I am dying to know! Drop me a note in the comments, and happy reading!

New Year: Same Me

Looking back, I have rung in the new year on the blog in several ways and this year is no exception. The title here gives everything away: it’s a new year, but I’m the same person. I haven’t made a single resolution this year (although I have set a few goals, more on that later). I have the same vision board as I had last year, because my target date is March/April 2019. I am strutting into 2019 with the same confident attitude as 2018. I don’t need January 1st to come along for me to do something, I just need to keep doing what I’ve been doing and do it damn well.

So often we tell ourselves that we will be different (better) in the new year, and so often those resolutions don’t work out. Think about it, if you try to change a million things at once, you’re going to get overwhelmed and you’re going to fall back into your old habits. Imagine the difference when the old habits are the habits that you want to keep. When you’re building upon an existing foundation you are able to do much better without thinking nearly as hard about it.

I actually called BS on the “new year, new you” saying way back in 2016 (See: “New Year, New Yo- no that’s BS”), but I didn’t really investigate it. I just called BS and said my piece and moved on. This time, I’m actually going to publicly proclaim what I plan to continue doing in 2019 that I did in 2018 because I either love them or need them.

1. Lose weight. I’ve been on a weight loss journey for a while now, and to be honest, I’m not doing that great. I am conscious about the choices I make, and I know when I’m making a bad choice. I keep bottoming out of workout plans, and recently decided to take it just one week at a time. I promise myself no more than 10 days, and usually only promise 3 days (either consecutive or out of 7). I basically realized that the long-term plan was overwhelming me and causing me to quit. I had to do something about it, and so I did. I know what full programs I want to do this year, but right now, I still need that “one day at a time” mentality.

2. Read 60 books this year. In 2018, I was scrambling in the last few days to finish a few more books and come closer to my 70 book goal, but it still didn’t happen. I got to 67 books, which honestly is still impressive (and one more than 2017!). Previously, I always looked at how many books I read and whether it was easy or difficult, and then adjust accordingly. However, one thing I never did was look at pages read, types of books, or where my life would be. Knowing this is my graduation year, and that 70 was a challenge last year, I thought maybe I would need to decrease my goal to reach it with pushing myself. I finally decided on 5 books/month. I also want to read no more than 15 audiobooks (because I kind of miss my real books), no more than 25 young adult books (because even though it’s my favorite genre, I don’t feel like I’m growing within it), and no more than 12 mystery/thriller (see above). Also, here’s a list of my previous years reading goals pulled from Goodreads, because I was interested.

  • 2018: 67/70
  • 2017: 66/90
  • 2016: 80/40
  • 2015: 34/25
  • 2014: 30/20
  • 2013: 21/20
  • 2012: 21/16

3. Call my friends and family more often. I am that terrible friend that is basically “out of sight out of mind.” I never know what to say to people, and I always feel weird texting just to say hi. I tell myself I’m always afraid of interrupting something if I call just to say hi. But this past year, particularly in the fall months, I tried much harder to check in with people. What I learned was that I really miss my friends who are scattered around the country. If someone is busy, they won’t answer. If I text just to say hi, I might make somebody’s day. Excuses suck, so don’t make them.

4. Knit, knit, knit! I have been working hard to knit more and better. I don’t know what came over me last year, but there was a point when I was very aware that I wasn’t knitting or reading in my free time. I was basically just existing in the evenings, and doing nothing productive. Yet, I find it damn near impossible to ever sit still. Ever. So, I will do something productive with my time again. 

I totally got this, how about you?

Darker: My Mood While Reading

I’ve been working my way through Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian Grey and I have to say, this book sucks. I always feel like I need to justify my reading of the Fifty Shades series so here it is: I read the first book, I hated the first book. I immediately understood why E.L. James had gotten so many rejections. Then, it was summer and my roommate was reading the trilogy and she needed some solidarity so I said “what the hell.” She was going to tell me all about it if I didn’t read it, so what was the point in resisting? Well, I finished that cliffhanger and immediately got the third book. Then, when Grey came out I figured I’d give it a shot. Series don’t deserve to be unfinished. And I liked it. Yes, you read that right, I thought Grey was a good book. I felt like it redeemed this crazy man who crossed boundaries and trapped the innocent Anastasia. So when I heard Darker was out, I honestly expected it to be redeeming, and boy was I wrong.

This book is a big pile of poop, and I’m coming from the perspective of wanting to like it. There is absolutely nothing redeeming for either Christian or Anastasia and I’m sorely disappointed. The other issue I have, and I could be wrong about this, is that it feels like so much more of this book is repeated directly from Fifty Shades Darker. In Grey, I felt like I was gaining information and insight. I felt like I could see his perspective better, and so I liked him more. Now, I just hate both the main characters and I really wish that (spoiler) helicopter accident had gone differently.

I also don’t remember these books being this ungodly long. Did I truly torture myself through 500 pages? What kind of a sadist was 21 year old me? Or was I just drunk all the time (this, I know is not true but now I cannot help but wonder). If there’s one thing I can say about this series, if E.L. James can find someone to publish her book then I will have some sort of a career as an author if I stick with it.

Want to see more of what I’m reading: Goodreads

Want to see more of what I’m doing: Instagram (Personal) or Twitter

Wish this post had been about knitting instead of books?: Instagram (Knitting)

 

Tip Tuesday: Gratitude and Fulfillment

I recently finished reading “How to be a Bawse” by Lilly Singh (which was ah-making, seriously check it out if you haven’t already!). I listened to the Audiobook on Audible, which was read by ||Superwoman|| herself! I don’t care if you are absolutely in love with her YouTube channel or if you have never heard of her before, this book inspired the sh*t out of me, and without it this post wouldn’t be here.

First off, I listened to this book while struggling to decide upon a topic for NaNoWriMo. I do not definitively know what in the book helped me pick my topic, but I do know that it inspired me to try harder and write more. Hearing her talk about her dedication and love for her work inspired me to find something I was passionate about. It still took some effort, and some ideas that were thrown out, but I never gave up. Now, I have ideas for not one but two books.

I also found somewhat of a second wind at work. I was absolutely dead a couple of weeks ago. Last week I worked extra hours every single day so that I could take Friday off and travel home and spend the weekend with my family without worrying about a thing. Although I did still worry some, I was able to really relax and be present with those that I don’t get to see every day. On top of that, I felt really great about everything I had gotten done, and that was in part because of how hard I tried.

In addition to all of this, the one thing from the book that has stuck with me the most is how often we take things for granted. I’m sitting here typing this with a Bluetooth keyboard onto my 2018 iPad while watching the Green Bay Packers game on TV and the Milwaukee Brewers game on my phone. My house has a roof and heat, light and internet. I had a great dinner and bought foods that we eat just because we want to at the grocery store today. I have a husband that loves me and made sure the house was spotless before I got home. Even in my darkest times, they really aren’t that dark in comparison. It’s really hard to remember this, but taking the time to think about all the good and practice gratitude goes a long way.

You can have it all, just not all at once -Oprah

Another thing that has really stuck with me, was her discussion of discipline. I still feel like I don’t have enough time for everything that I want to do, but I also feel like I am fulfilled in the things that I have to do. I know that I could rearrange my day; I could try to figure out how to get by on less sleep. I also know that it’s not that big of a deal to me. If it really and truly mattered that I fit everything in every single day, then I would find a way. The important thing now is that I learn not to complain about not being able to fit everything in, when it would be nothing more than a different sacrifice if I decided to try. I need to be grateful.

Sensing a theme here? Gratitude and Fulfillment. I’ve written about gratitude in the past, but I haven’t really written about fulfillment much. At the end of the day, all of the little suggestions about finding gratitude in every day, ties into feeling fulfilled in your life. You cannot control every situation, but you can control your reaction. You can take the baby steps to work towards your goals. You can create a vision board with the things that will truly fulfill you. And, you can find happiness at each step. Understand that your journey is (1) yours and (2) a journey. Take pride in the fact that you are on a journey and keep going.

Have you read anything truly inspiring lately? Do you have a way to practice gratitude? Do you feel fulfilled most or every day?

Book Reviews (Part 2)

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris (Pre-Ordered on Amazon)

Rating: 4.5 stars

Mood: Love, Perseverance

Would Recommend?: Definitely yes

Wine Pairing: Skip the wine and go straight for the bourbon

Summary: Lale voluntarily travels to Birkenau with the promise that it will save the rest of his family. He arrives and quickly contracts typhus, but thanks to the watchful eye of Pepan, the Tatowierer (German for tattooist) Lale becomes his apprentice.

Although Lale loves all women, he tattoos a woman whom capitvates him immediately. This woman is named Gita, or prisoner 34902. It is with their love that Lale and Gita fight through the terrible conditions of Auschwitz-Birkenau. In addition to the love they have for one another, Lale also has the unique ability of being (1) very valuable as the Tatowierer and (2) very valuable as multilingual. He uses his smarts to help him survive day after day.

What I Loved This was based on a true story, and yet it was such a light read considering. Lale is such a brilliant man, and he knows how to use people in ways that ensure he survives. He also looks out for the best interests of Gita and tries to keep her safe as well. Although Gita is far more guarded than Lale, I feel like they are a perfect compliment of a couple. Also, for once I didn’t look into the spoilers to see how this book ended, so I was legitimately surprised as events were unfolding.

What I Disliked As weird as it may sound, I didn’t like how light of a read this was. I totally powered through the book and the most difficult parts were those that mentioned Mengele. It was absolutely shocking to me that a story that takes place entirely in Auschwitz-Birkenau would be so light hearted. Don’t get me wrong, there were some very real things speckled in, but it was very minimal in comparison to other books.

Who Should Read It I think this is a great story for anybody. I would recommend it more heavily towards those who have read a few WWII era novels in their day. I found that the knowledge I had floating around in the back of my head popped up when I needed it, and I think that was good. As I mentioned, it was a very light hearted version of events, and as such having an understanding of the references was helpful.

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Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth (Audible Audio)

Rating: 4 stars

Mood: Motivational

Would Recommend?: Yes

Wine Pairing: Water, definitely drink water

Summary: Most people prefer the ability of somebody to work hard despite fighting the odds over innate intelligence or talent. It is great if you have both, but it is not necessary.

What I Loved As a PhD student who had to fight to get to graduate school, this book speaks to me on a deep level. I have always thought that being able to work hard is a skill, but let me tell you, the amount of times people tell you that is very minimal. So, hearing the perspective based on someone’s career and actual research was wonderful. Additionally, this book is read by the author, which means that all of the tones and feelings are still true in the audiobook as the author intended. Always a plus.

What I Disliked It’s non-fiction, and it’s about as boring as your average non-fiction. I enjoy listening to non-fiction books, particularly those that make me a better person. I started this book on a morning that I had a long to-do list head of me and I really needed it. It was legitimately wonderful to have, but every time I stopped listening (except when I was in the car) was because I realized that I zoned out.

Who Should Read It Okay, I’m going to be perfectly honest here. My husband loved Outliers and I hated it. I loved Grit and my husband will hate it. What I’m trying to say is, as much as I wish this was a book for everybody, it definitely is not.

Book Reviews (Part I)

Ghosted, Rosie Walsh (July Book of the Month)

Rating: 4 stars

Mood: Light, Intrigue

Would Recommend?: Yes

Wine Pairing: Rose (Barefoot Pink Moscato)

Summary Sarah and Eddie meet while they are both out for a walk and start a beautiful relationship for one week, just one week, but they’ve fallen for each other hard. But then, suddenly, Eddie stops responding to Sarah’s messages. He unfriends her on Facebook. Someone makes a mysterious call to Sarah’s phone warning her to stay away from him. What went wrong? What did Sarah do to deserve this? In addition, we learn very early on that there was a terrible car accident in which Sarah lost her sister. We don’t know the details of the accident, and throughout the book little hints are dropped. {Potential spoiler sentence} The book is divided into three parts, the first two are narrated by Sarah and the last is narrated by Eddie.

What I didn’t like I am starting with what I didn’t like because I finished this book and I just needed to find somebody to discuss it with. Fortunately I had the ladies of the Bad on Paper Podcast to listen to and give me some closure. (Warning: That episode contains spoilers). So here’s the thing: I thought because I was power reading, I was missing little hints that you normally find in a mystery novel. However, it would appear that I am not the only one. So now I’m here wondering what the author did or didn’t tell us. I am also wondering if there was misleading information that sent me towards a path that I didn’t particularly enjoy.

What I did like I cannot put this book into any specific genre, and I love that. The fact that Walsh wrote a novel that cannot be easily characterized proves that she has a creative mind. I also enjoyed how the story unfolded. There was always more information on the horizon, and that kept me intrigued in the book. I liked that it was a romance novel that didn’t center around the couple falling in love or making love. It was more about how their lives moved alongside one another, and a lot about Sarah’s life specifically.

Other Notes When I sit down to rate a book that I really liked, I think about how realistic the book was and how consistent the book was before anything else. I try to decide if I think that it could have happened in real life, and the answer is an honest yes. I have seen several reviews that claim the book is very unrealistic, and I can understand those viewpoints but I also think that this book is feasible. Among the top complaint is (1a) you cannot fall in love with somebody in just 7 days (1b) you cannot feel hurt if you are ghosted after one week. I’ll be honest, I saw 1b mainly from people who never dated in the social media dating age, so I kind of disregarded it. As for 1a, I have definitely fallen for a friendship in that short amount of time, so why then because their relationship is romantic (read sexual) can this not also be true? If you spend every hour for 7 full days with somebody and still like them at the end of it, don’t you deserve to feel hurt if they decide you aren’t worth it anymore?

Recommended For This was a light read, with multiple layers. I thought it was a great book for summer and I am really glad that I picked it for my July Book of the Month box. I think you need to have some understanding of modern dating in order to understand this book fully. I also think you need some concept of “real life” in that Sarah’s life is far from perfect and the more you can relate to her, the easier it will be to enjoy your read.

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Love and Ruin, Paula McLain (Audible Audio)

Rating: 2.5 stars

Mood: Love?

Would Recommend?: Maybe

Wine Pairing: Sweet White (Riesling or Chardonnay)

Summary Martha Gellhorn, the third wife of Ernest Hemingway recounts their love as it buds, grows, and ultimately falls apart. Gellhorn is a headstrong woman, and an incredible journalist. Her love to Hemingway is secondary to her individual success, but don’t read this book if that’s what you want. This book delves heavily into the romance of Gellhorn and Hemingway. From her resistance to be with a married man, to her insistence that they belong together, and even on to her understanding that it wasn’t meant to last. Throughout it all, Gellhorn holds strong to her career, including using her maiden name rather than use her husband to reach success. It’s almost a story about how a behind every strong woman… there’s willpower keeping her going.

What I didn’t like I have read The Paris Wife, and I just felt like this novel was a few beats short of that one. There is still the classic woman falling for a man and getting hurt. Something about this strong woman protagonist just bothered me. It isn’t that I have a problem with a strong woman protagonist, not at all. But it felt unnatural. Maybe it’s the time period (1937) that makes it feel weird. Or maybe it’s just the way it’s written. I am completely unsure right now.

What I did like January LaVoy is a wonderful narrator, so much so, that I searched to see what books my library has narrated by her.

Other Notes It’s a lighter read. I wouldn’t call it light, and I definitely enjoyed the audiobook version.

Recommended For I honestly have no idea. But, by all means, read it if it sounds interesting.