22 January 2022

End of Year Book Survey

I originally saw this over at Living a Joyful Life and thought it looked fun :) 

How would your answers compare?

Currently reading?

Your book goal of 2021?
  • 100
How many books read in 2021?
  • 97
Fiction/Non-fiction ratio?
  • 89/8
Male/Female authors?
  • 22/74 and one non-binary author
Favorite book(s) read?
Least favorite(s)?
  • Writing a book is hard, and I just don't have it in my heart to call a book out as my least favorite.
Longest title? (apparently non-fiction books have very wordy titles - who knew?)

Shortest title?
How many re-reads?
  • None
How many audio books?
  • I think two?
How many of this year’s books were from the library?
  • A handful, but mostly ARCs
Favorite cover of a book you read?
  • I'm sad to say, I do probably more than half of my reading on my kindle, so I don't see book covers often enough to pick a favorite.
Most disappointing book?
  • See above - writing is hard and I don't want to call someone's book 'disappointing.'
Book that had the greatest impact on you?
  • Hard to say. I still think about The Violence by Delilah S. Dawson because of the pandemic stuff. I also think about the witch books I read from time to time.
2021 read you recommend the most?
  • I suppose it depends on what you like. My five-star books are all worth recommending, I think. I've also added a few favorite authors. I'd never say no to books from Alice Hoffman, John Bishop, Robert McCaw, and Lia Louis, for example.

21 January 2022

Five Things for Friday: 1/21/22

  1. I keep meaning to take pictures. I want a picture on this post, but ya'll are stuck with random googled Friday images til I remember to document something from my regular week. LOL
  2. Jack took his first D&D class via Outschool this week. If you have kids and don't know about Outschool yet, you should. All the classes are with teachers, via zoom. Maggie used to take her voice lessons through Outschool. Jack has taken FNAF social classes, drawing classes, and even an emotional management class (helping little kids deal with big feelings). Now he's started learning about D&D, and tomorrow he takes a class to create his character!
  3. The school year is apparently half over with now (for our district, anyway). The high school had finals for the first semester yesterday and today, and Monday Maggie starts her new classes for second semester. She's super excited to be taking Technical Theater. They learn more about costuming, sets, lighting, and other behind-the-scenes activities involved with productions.
  4. Apologies to my neighbors. Last night as Maggie and I got home with the pizza, she was on a phone call, so we quietly tiptoed inside to eat. Which means this morning I rattled the large, empty, frozen trash and recycling bins into the garage. At 6:25am.
  5. Last weekend gave me lots of reading time, now to share the reviews as they post :) Before I even dove into all my new reading, I shared my review of Just Get Home (4 out of 5 stars). I finished Just One Damned Thing After Another (3 out of 5 stars) for my book club on Monday.

18 January 2022

Just One Damned Thing After Another - Book Review

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary's #1) by Jodi Taylor
Publication date: June 7, 2016
Pages: 322 pages
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: I think a more true history buff would really enjoy this book and the rest of the series!

Miranda Maxwell - Max - is sort of lost and lonely, until a teacher ignites her interest in history. Fast forward from her early school years until after college, when the same teacher recommends she apply for a position she is promised is unique.

St. Mary's Institute of Historical Research claims it 'investigates major historical events in contemporary time,' but they don't want you to call it time travel. And it may work better if half of their historians didn't have reputations as disaster magnets. They travel in pods to go observe historical events, while not changing anything. Their knowledge is then bought for top dollar, usually by Max's alma mater. 

The series about The Chronicles of St. Mary's stands at 27 books so far. The first one was amusing, and the writing style is fun. I found the main character of Max to be quirky and independent. I'd give the first book 3 out of 5 stars. Like one of the other reader's in my book club said, the author seems to have tried to include something for every interest group, but it may have spread the overall plot and events too thin. I'd read another book in the series if it happened to present itself, but I don't think I'll be seeking out the next 26. I'm glad I read this one, and I may be more motivated to keep reading if I was more interested in history, to compare what academia teaches vs what Max and the other historians experience.

15 January 2022

Just Get Home - Book Review

Just Get Home by Bridget Foley
Publication date: April 13, 2021
Pages: 352 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: Read this one from the edge of my seat!

Dessa and Beegie might never have even acknowledged each other in their regular lives, but living through a big earthquake puts them unexpectedly together to fight for their lives, and maybe even fight for each other. 

While they come from totally different worlds, the rich (appearing) white woman and the poor black child end up needing each other more than either one would admit. Beegie has the street smarts and toughness, but Dessa has been learning about living life to defend more than just yourself, and what you may be surprisingly willing to do if there's someone else relying on you. 

Each of the characters were sometimes annoying, but then they'd turn around and be so relatable you wanted to reach out and help them. The two very different characters definitely made their situations even more striking. I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was a quick-paced read that gave a lot of unexpected angles and consequences to a natural disaster.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for my electronic copy of this book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my review. 

14 January 2022

Five Things for Friday

  1. Ugh. Rough morning. Yesterday we originally had dentist appointments scheduled, but when half the family didn't feel good for the whole beginning of the week, I didn't want the poor hygienist digging around in COVID mouths, so I canceled. But I didn't cancel my two hours off work. And then somehow I convinced myself as I left yesterday, that I was going into a three-day weekend. And I am. After today.
  2. So when oldest made it to school for a half-day, she told everyone she'd decided the next day she'd be staying home. Her reasoning? "Meh. My mom and I are all out of f*%#s." Yeah. She is not even kidding. Her frustration is all the kids who don't wear masks, or wear them incorrectly. Our district does have a mask mandate, but there isn't much sense when no one enforces it. That said, our county has also stopped contact tracing, and our high school of more than 2,000 kids announced just 16 cases of COVID yesterday. Yeah. I'm pretty sure my daughter could name more than 16 kids she personally knows at the school who currently say they have COVID. Methinks a few have gone unreported.
  3. I know I save my #5 for books, but my Yelp book club is finally starting - yay!! I was doing that social anxiety thing when I hadn't heard yet...I was sure they started but purposely excluded me. Because my brain hates me.
  4. We got to see the screening for Hotel Transylvania: Transformia on Wednesday before it's available to everyone else today. It was a fun evening. My son and I went and got popcorn from the theater to enjoy with the show in our family room. The movie was about as expected. I'd say 3/5 stars. The beginning was better than the ending, and the actual ending felt like they ran out of time and had to finish it on an all-night bender for production the next day. As sequels so, it wasn't bad. Check out your chance for other movie premieres and other freebies at Yes/No Detroit Deals + More on Facebook.
  5. Books! This week saw publication of my reviews for Treachery Times Two by Robert McCaw (4 out of 5 stars, with a giveaway still running til 1/16/22), Daughters of the Lake (4 out of 5 stars), and Inhuman Trafficking (5 out of 5 stars, with a giveaway running til 1/17/22). Treachery Times Two and Daughters of the Lake were read in 2021 for me, and Inhuman Trafficking was one of my first reads for 2022. 

07 January 2022

Five Things for Friday


Yeah! C'mon 2022 - it wouldn't take much for you to exceed the past couple years...

Anyway, while my 2022 goals post isn't done yet, part of it is making these Friday posts. I've decided this is where I'll share not only my week, but my book reviews published, and new books received. No point in lying, books are kind of a big deal for me. My ten-year-old still doesn't believe me. He asks regularly, "What's your favorite thing to do when you're bored?" I always tell him it's reading, but he still keeps asking. Anyway, without further ado, here's my first week of 2022!

  1. I honestly barely made it til midnight last Friday before escaping to my bed. I'd gotten my COVID booster shot mid-day on Thursday, which was not doing my desire to stay awake any favors. That said, I'm grateful I didn't have noticeable side effects, and I've now done my part to protect myself, my family, and my community. So, starting the year off right :)
  2. Totally appreciated that hubs and I still had Monday off work for the holiday weekend. The kids were back to school, so hubs and I washed the new car (we took delivery on our new Ford Mach-E on Friday!) and headed to Fogo de Chao for lunch. I was able to go twice around their grand opening, with Yelp, and then a group of bloggers, but this was his first trip. Totally delicious - yay, meat sweats!
  3. Gosh. Then I went back to work. Which also isn't terrible. Our numbers are finally manageable (for seriously like the first time since I started in February - crazy!!) and I get a lot of satisfaction from my work. So, yay again.
  4. The kids are taking today off of school. Because, COVID Omicron is crazy, school shootings are horribly stressful for months afterwards, and I just can't argue anymore. Stay home. I'm over it. I always say five days in a row of requirements is excessive. Truth.
  5. Books! Since my final Show Us Your Books post, my blog published my last three reviews of the 2021, for A Beautiful Blue Death, To Love and To Loathe, and The Social GracesBooks I Think You Should Read also posted my review for All I Want. There are still two more reviews to come for books I read in 2021, but at least one of them still isn't published, so patience and all that, right? I'm also super excited that I was approved to read Keanu Reeves: Most Triumphant, which doesn't publish til April. There's a few 'stars' that there isn't gossip and slander about, who make you feel better about the whole world, amiright? So excited to read this book as soon as I can fit it in. 
So how's your 2022 going? I would say it can't get much worse, but enough of tempting fate, yeah?

03 January 2022

The Social Graces - Book Review

The Social Graces by Renée Rosen
Published: April 20, 2021
Pages: 400 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: I LOVE learning from historical fiction

My first book done for 2022! 

I do enjoy a well-written historical fiction, and because I'm not an expert on much of anything I read about, I love truthful author comments so I know what was historical, and what was fiction. Rosen gave us just that at the end of this great side by side story of Caroline Astor and Alva Vanderbilt. 

I loved all sides of the stories - the society pages, Caroline's take, and Alva's responses and motivations. The author truly made them equally likable, with no one society matron being the good one or the bad one.

Overall, I felt immersed in the time period, and feeling the real motivations of the woman who wanted to lead proper society, along with their hows and whys. I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was great to learn about life in another time, place, and income bracket, and was just an enjoyable read besides.

Thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for my electronic copy of this book. Receiving the book for free did not influence my review.