April 2018 Reading Wrap-Up

Overall, it was a good reading month.  Four of the books pictured above got solid five star ratings. One of the books, though, was just dreadful. 

Let's get the book I least enjoyed out of the way first.

I was so looking forward to this book. On the back cover there's a blurb comparing it favorably to the The Left Behind series, which I quite enjoyed when it read it back in the late 90s/early 2000s. 

Even better, this one took the story into space, which completely appeals to the science fiction and fantasy lover in me. 

Yes, this should have suited me very well.

Unfortunately, it was just not for me.  I had a lot of issues with the one dimensional representations in this book.  I also found the Christians in this book to be, well, not very Christ-like. 

My unfavorable impression of this book is disappointing because I have it's sequel sitting in my TBR pile and, despite the promising premise, I fear I will be disappointed once again if I dare to pick it up.

Okay, enough about that disappointing read.  On to the next book!

This was the only non-fiction book I read this month.  It wasn't even on my radar until it was selected as the university's Women's Commission Book Club pick.

This memoir is surprisingly candid.  The author allows herself to be vulnerable in admitting her shortcomings, many of which are borne out of mental illness.  Using her writing as a way to navigate her psychosis, she invites the reader into the life of a Native American woman caught between two worlds. 

I found this book to be an avenue into several different perspectives alien to my own.  Having read it, I feel I have some small glimmer of awareness of life as a Native American woman, as someone suffering from PTSD and bipolor disorder, and as a child of abuse. 

Interestingly enough, this author indicates that she's actually a fiction writer.  Having enjoyed her writing style as much as I did, I will actually be on the lookout for her first fictional publication.

This book made me ugly cry.   Not just a few tears and a discreet sniffle.  Oh, no.  I was sobbing by the end of this book.

Death narrates this story, which takes place in a German town during World War II, I expected there to be misery and loss.  Death even tries to prepare you for what's coming, but it doesn't matter.  Liesel's story will rip your heart out. 

I think there are two things this book does well besides the obvious storytelling.  First, I think it reminds us that not all Germans were willing participants in the atrocities committed by Hilter and his regime.  Secondly, I think it also does a fair job of highlighting the dangers of populism, something all too relevant to today's social and political climate.

In the mood for a scifi/horror?  Let me recommend this. 

As the title promises, this book is written much in the same vein as H.P. Lovecraft's stories. Set during the Jim Crow era of 1954 America, this story follows the adventures of a young black man and his family.  Pitted against supernatural powers and alien influences, Atticus, his father, uncle, and a few family friends still have to navigate the racial and socioeconomic problems of the day. 

Last but certainly not least, I read the conclusion of the Illuminae Files trilogy.  This YA science fiction threesome does not use standard narrative form to tell its tale.  Comprised of emails, text messages, instant messages, written reports of video analysis and audio recordings, the Illuminae Files are presented to a Galactic Tribunal in a legal suit against BeiTech Industries.  The charges leveled against this powerful corporation are many but the most damning is the accusation of planet-wide genocide.

In this final installment in the trilogy, the evidence, which has been gathered and prepared by a handful of teenagers, shares the fate of those who survived the initial attack on the planet as well as those who had managed to find their way onto one of the fleeing spaceships. 

This was such a fun read.

Okay...one last thing.  Here are the updated figures on my 2018 Reading Challenge:

In April I read: 
  • 1 physical book purchased prior to 2018. 
  • 2 Kindle books purchased prior to 2017. 
  • total of five books toward my overall goal (that means two of these were purchased this year!)

As the Challenge Stands After April:
  • Read 1 classic.
  • Read 12 books from my physical TBR piles.
  • Reread 1 series.  
  • Read 15 Kindle books purchased prior to 2018. 
  • Read 1 non-fiction book.
  • Read 46 books total.

Prom 2018

I was so happy to see sunshine and decent temperatures on Saturday.  Michigan has been rather cold and rainy of late, so this was a pleasant and welcome surprise.  No need for the girls to wear their winter coats or for the boys to carry umbrellas to keep their beautiful dates dry.  Thank goodness!

I took too many photos. (pssst...there's no such thing!)

I also tried to grab little videos throughout the day to commemorate this milestone in my youngest boy's life.  This wasn't just another dance, after all, it was his first prom.  His first tux.  His first and very likely only...crowning!

Gage and Addi were voted as the Junior class's Prince and Princess!
This was so very unexpected.  By me.  By Gage.  We had even talked about who would get the crowns for their class.  We had a couple of likely candidates, neither of which were Gage and Addi.  So imagine my surprise when he walks into the house and tells me to stay on the couch where I had been sitting up reading a book while waiting for him and his cousin to get home from the Splash Village after party.

I want you to understand that I immediately assumed the worst.  I thought he had injured his still fragile nose again.

He fumbled around in the kitchen for a few minutes and then walked into the living room wearing his crown and sash over his after party attire. 

Gage surprising mom.
He told me that Addi wanted so badly to Snapchat me and let me know they had won and he wouldn't let her.  He relished the idea of surprising his dad and me.  The little stinker!  Throughout the night we had wondered why they weren't posting pictures to their stories.  This explained it! 

I am so happy for them.  I know this made Addi's first prom magical.  And Gage loved that she was so happy.

A Broken Nose...Right Before Prom

So, the youngest boy has prom on Saturday.  We've picked out his tux and his girlfriend has a beautiful baby blue gown that she's going to wear.  They are going to look amazing even if he has a black eye or two from getting his broken nose fixed. 

On the bright side, he gets to take the nose splint off for prom!  The docs gave him an extra one that can be put on after the dance and Splash Village pool party.

He sent me this picture after surgery.  LOL

I am going to be a nervous wreck about him being in that pool with a bunch of rambunctious teens.  He needs time to heal and will have to be very careful for the next couple of weeks. Doctors even put him on weight lifting restrictions for the rest of this week (he's trying to bulk up for football, the skinny little thing). 

Here's a few pre-surgery photos for your entertainment. 

Add caption

Daydreaming About A Reading Nook

The hubby is working on his man cave right now.  Over the weekend he put up a few more tongue-n-groove panels on the basement walls and framed in a doorway. He's almost done with that part of the project.  He's a got few more panels to put up before the drop ceiling is installed by a professional, which we hope will be done before summer arrives.

Once the ceiling is done, we'll get the floor painted, buy some furniture, and install a flatscreen TV.  With any luck, everything will be ready for use by the end of August.  Just in time for football season!

Woot!  Woot!  I will be able to watch my shows upstairs in the living room while Ken entertains in the basement.  Something I've been looking forward to for several years now.

Someday, though, I want to have my very own reading nook to retreat to whenever the mood strikes me, which I suspect would be often.  The plan here is to remodel my youngest boy's room when it becomes available.  Even though I suspect it will be several years distant, I can't help but to daydream about what I'd do during the remodel.  Here's just a few ideas!

The bedroom I intend to convert to my own private library/craft room/reading nook is on the second floor of our Cape Cod home.  This means there's a dormer, which is the perfect spot to build or create my little reading nook area. 

The bench option.  Linked to through a URL from another website. Not my photo.
The bed-like option.  Not my photo.  Linked to by URL.
Right now I'm leaning toward the bench but the more I look at that bed...the more I like it.  If I wanted to sit up, I could prop myself up against a wall with the throw pillows.  If I wanted to sprawl out, I could.  As this probably won't happen until the kids have grown up and moved out, I can even imagine grandkids crawling up there to listen to me read to them. 

On the walls on either side of the dormer I want floor to ceiling bookshelves.  White I think. 

Bookshelves along the length of the room.  Not my photo
In the closet, I intend to build shelves for scrapbook supply storage.  I don't have an exact plan, I just know that my son's dresser and clothes will be moved out, the doors removed, and something like this done.
Not my photo.  Borrowed from here.
Along the back wall, opposite the dormer, I'd like to put in shelves and a crafting workbench. Something like this:

Not my photo.
In the middle of the room, I'd have a stand alone desk and chair where my laptop and printer would sit.  This would be my writing space.  I would sit with my back to the crafting wall and face the reading nook. 

Not my photo.  Linked to from here.
Not my photo.  Linked to from here
I really like this desk because of the hidden printer drawer.  Love that idea!

Of course, this is all just a dream right now.  But dreams can be fun, especially with apps like Pinterest!

March 2018 Reading Wrap-Up

It was a good reading month!  I read a total of nine books.  I managed to cross three off my List Challenges "Krista's Books to Read in 2018" list:

  • The Waterless Sea by Kate Constable
  • The Tenth Power by Kate Constable
  • Replay by Ken Grimwood
I put that list together on a whim one day, selecting books from my already existing TBR.  The motivation for creating the list was to help me power my way through my overgrown and out-of-control TBR piles.  I selected titles from both my physical TBR piles and my Kindle shelves.  So far this year (remember, it's only March!), I've already read 7 of the 35.  Not bad, if I say so myself, which I do.

The Waterless Sea and The Tenth Power completed the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy.  The books continued the adventures of Calwyn and her companions.  In the first book, The Singer of All Songs, Calwyn, an ice chanter capable of controlling and manifesting ice, discovers a strange man has penetrated the ice wall surrounding her homeland.  The injured Darrow is pursued by Samis, a chanter who aims to become the Singer of All Songs, a legendary magic wielder capable of controlling all forms of magic.  Soon Calwyn and Darrow are fighting for their lives and on a mission to protect the world from the power-hungry and dangerous Samis.  Befriending new allies as they travel to various lands across Tremaris, Calwyn and Darrow set out to rescue the oppressed. 

I really enjoyed the Chanters of Tremaris trilogy.  It was young adult but didn't wallow in teenage angst.  Instead, the story focused on the Calwyn's journey from a secluded and protected ice chanter to a more worldly and wise young woman.  I also enjoyed that the magic system was based on the chanters ability to sing.  Without music, there is no magic.  I liked that. 

Replay by Ken Grimwood was a standalone novel that I guess I'd categorize as science fiction.  I thought the premise was interesting and the execution thought-provoking.  In this book, Jeff Winston is married, childless, and working at a radio station when he dies of a sudden heart attack.  Only Jeff doesn't stay dead.  Instead, every time he dies - always on the same day and at the same time - he awakens in his past.  Using the knowledge he has of the future, Jeff reshapes his life.  Again and again and again.  Each replay, as he calls them, takes him on a different path, some better than others. 

In addition to the books I was able to check off my List Challenge, I also reread Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  Here's the funny thing about this reread...I didn't know it was a reread until I was well into the first chapter where things felt just a little too familiar.  Somehow I had forgotten that Tristan Thorne was only part human and, therefore, capable of chasing after a fallen star in the land of fairy.  When the fallen star he has sworn to fetch for his lady love turns out to be a woman and not a chunk of rock, Tristan does not abandon his quest.  Instead, seeing no other alternative because he is a love sick idiot, he captures her and forces her to march toward the boundary separating the Land of Fairy from the humans.  However, Tristan is not alone in his desire to capture a fallen star.  As the King of Fairy dies, leaving behind three living sons, he tells them the throne will pass only to the one who possesses the falling star.  Shenanigans ensue.

Wanting to change up the pace a bit from fantasy, I next selected Daughter of the Bamboo Forest by Sheng-Shih Lin. This was a Kindle freebie buried deep in my Kindle cloud.  The book description on Goodreads says "enjoyable read" and nothing more.  So, I looked it up on Amazon. This description was much more helpful in convincing me to give the book a fair chance.  The story follows Little Jade from the time she is seven years old until she is twelve.  Raised on her father's family estate by her grandmother, Little Jade lives a life of privilege and ease.  Fortunes change, though, as World War II sweeps across the globe.  As disease and death sweep through China, Little Jade learns what it means to be hungry, alone, and unwanted.  Knowing that The Daughter of the Bamboo Forest was inspired by the author's mother's childhood helped me look past some of the grammatical errors that might have otherwise caused me to DNF the book. 

This month's classic pick by my Friends and Family Book Club was The Catcher in the Rye.  Oh, boy.  Not one I will ever read again.  I can see why it might appeal to angsty teenagers, especially those who believe everyone else is worthless and they themselves are eternally misunderstood, but I found Holden Caulfield to be annoying.  I also kept waiting for a plot to develop; I waited in vain. 

I followed this up with The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christy.  A short, fun little mystery about a missing woman who holds the future of the United Kingdom in her hands.  Hired by a government agent to find the woman, Tommy and Tuppance have landed their first paying gig as co-founders of the Young Adventurers Ltd.  Their sleuthing gets them into some tight spots and makes them question who is friend and who is foe.  

Finally, I closed out the month with a historical romance.  The latest in the Malory Family series by Johanna Lindsey, Beautiful Tempest tells the love story of  Jack (Jacqueline) and Damon.  This was a bubble gum read for me.  No brain power needed!  This was something I counted on when I picked it up and it did not disappoint.  I was amused and entertained without being tasked with any emotional or mental work.