15 May 2024

The Age of Magical Overthinking - Book Review

The Age of Magical Overthinking by Amanda Montell
Publication: April 9, 2024
Pages: 272 pages
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: 93% of drivers think they are above-average! LOL

This book was fun and interesting, as long as we don't try to take ourselves too seriously. The author examined different types of cognitive biases. From the halo effect (thinking someone we like is likable even in ways we don't know about), to sunken cost fallacy (staying with someone or involved in something because we already have 'so much' invested), to confirmation bias (the more we hear or read something, the more likely we are to believe it's true), our thought patterns can begin to feel like they're shaping the world, instead of the other way around. 

The author had a great memoir-style of writing to make each example feel relatable. Do we really get to manifest a good result because we built up good karma by letting a car into traffic on our way to the office? I know I'm guilty of expecting more random good results when I feel like I'm being an exceptionally good person. Now I know I'm not alone in that idea.

Overall, the book was amusing, but it's hard to quantify what I really learned about cognitive bias and its effect on the world, or even my life. The book earned 3 out of 5 stars from me, and I'd be interested in checking out some of the author's previous works.

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

18 March 2024

We Are All So Good at Smiling - Book Review

We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride
Publication: January 10, 2023
Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: Whimsy and Faerry are two phenomenal characters who could never be as beautiful as they are, if they could see their own beauty.

I bought and read this book at the recommendation of a woman in my book club, and I'm so glad I did. :)

Whimsy first remembers seeing Faerry walking into the hospital - where she is staying again - all by himself. Not a usual arrival. Despite her attempts to keep everyone at a distance, Faerry turns up in her life again and again.

This powerful story written in verse was a great read, but readers should definitely be prepared for the highly emotional nature of the book. 

The Glossary of Fairy Tales, Stories & Folklore at the end of the book was great for summarizing some of the fairy tales Whimsy and Faerry fought their way through. Although I forgot to review earlier, I now notice again there's also a playlist I'd like to give a listen. Lastly, The beautiful and evocative writing definitely makes me want to read the other's previous book, Me (Moth).

25 February 2024

Sunday Salon/Sunday Post - Feb 25, 2024 Back to Elections edition

Yes, indeed. My 'back to elections' edition! I'm joining a lil late today with Readerbuzz and Caffeinated Reviewer, and optimistically hoping to get/keep my week under control while I work another election as an election inspector. 

I used to work a lot of elections, but got away from it once I was working full time. Election pay around me averages $15/hour or so, but that's for a 12+ hour day. Also, I'm not a chairperson this time, and the precincts closer to my house now do it way different. I don't get to leave the property where I'm working alllll day. Weird, but I don't make the rules. They also didn't train me to work the computers, so I'm thinking I may have A LOT of time to read. Fine by me :) I think the biggest challenge will be holding my tongue. I'm pretty sure the majority of my community comes in as red Republicans, and I am very much not.

What I'm reading this week:

Neither one is going very fast. 

My print book right now is We Are All So Good at Smiling by Amber McBride. I'm LOVING it, but it's quite emotional, and a book in verse (I feel) is intended to be processed a little slower. (Side Note - I feel the author's name is A SIGN!! Keep reading this post...)

My kindle book right now is The Resort by Sara Ochs which I'm reading for review (published 2/6/24). Also very good, but it's just starting to get more exciting now that I'm past the half way point.

I'm hoping to finish both of these books today or tomorrow. Tuesday is election day, and I'd like to be starting with fresh books and plenty to read (okay, at least a fresh print book...).

Three Good Things:

WOW! SO easy lately 😻

1. The kids and I had a GREAT time at the Detroit Institute of Arts today! The most entertaining part was imitating the art, obvs. We also took turns getting in trouble. I apparently stepped too close to a Picasso (setting off the motion sensors telling me to move away from the art), my son was told to get off a wall that looked like a great seat, according to the three other kids sitting there before him, and my daughter rested a finger on the words next to a display case. We've all learned our lessons and will be better patrons of the arts next time. Probably.

2. I FINALLY got an email back regarding the position I applied for at my current company. (*holding breath waiting for next step*)

3. A lot of friends are super excited that Andrew McBride (almost certainly no relation to the author mentioned above, but that's why I think it's A SIGN!) is re-launching Perfectly Posh!!While I am not ready to head back into direct sales, this was the best company I worked with, and I'm super excited to see a lot of people I got to know through the company enjoy their successes again 🥳

04 February 2024

The Mossheart's Promise - Book Review

The Mossheart's Promise by Rebecca Mix
Publication: October 1, 2023
Pages: 432 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: I even loved the cover, and how much it went along with the story.

I actually got my autographed copy of this book months ago, on the release date at a local bookstore event. The holidays left me feeling run over by a truck, but I finally had a chance to read this gem.

I loved it! Canary Mossheart feels like everyone who looks at her expects to see a hero, as her grandmother was for their world. Ary doesn't want to be a hero; she just wants to save her mom's life and the life they all know in Terra. 

When it looks like her mom could die any minute, Ary takes off on an epic quest to find the magic lake that her grandmother had found to save them all. But the lake she finds holds no magic or hope, so her journey to try and save it all continues. Along the way she has met Shrimp, a pill bug who is so grateful to not be alone anymore that he teaches her the meaning of acceptance and loyalty, and soon Ary's classmate Owl catches up as well. 

While this book is perfectly acceptable for the middle grade crowd, I was also caught up in following the adventure and hoping Ary, Owl and Shrimp could complete their mission. The second book of the duology comes out in October 2024 and I can't wait! This book earned 5 out of 5 stars and would be recommended for those who enjoy fantasy stories with endearing characters and great life lessons.

24 January 2024

Wednesday Hodgepodge - Jan 24, 2024

Do you have a word for the year (WOTY)? If so, and you'd like to share, please share. How do you decide on a word? If you don't have a word are you still on the hunt for one for 2024? 
    • I don't think I do. I keep tripping over references to connections and magic. I like both of those, but having a WOTY isn't really a goal for me.
January 23rd is National Pie Day...will you celebrate? Do you like pie? What's your favorite?
    • Oops - yesterday? I guess not. I usually like the crust best on a pumpkin pie with lots of whipped cream, or a chocolate dream pie.
Tipping. What are your thoughts, expectations, as to who, when where? Do you appreciate a store/restaurant giving a 'suggested amount'? Have you ever left an extravagant tip? 
    • I usually try to tip at least 20%. If there's a selector with a few options, I try to hit one higher than the middle, if I can afford it right then. I know I could not handle a service job, so they deserve every bit of what I can afford, I feel. And if I can't afford to tip, I can't afford to be out and about. ;)
Share with us one 'household tip' that works for you. 
    • Put the dang dishes in the dishwasher. I hate having to pick them up again later.
Influencers on social media are people who've built a reputation for their knowledge and expertise on a particular subject. Do you follow any influencers online? Have you made a purchase or tried something new because of that 'influence'? If there's one you particularly enjoy tell us who and why. 
    • I think I mostly like to be amused online. I can't think of anything I purchased because of an influencer, but I really enjoy ones who make their point with humor, or educate me on another point of view. 
Insert your own random thought here. 
    • Oh golly. We've been getting hit with a lot of yucky weather where I'm at, so foremost in my mind is planning to have a job where I can work at least part of the time from home by this time next year. Ya hear me, universe?

14 January 2024

Welcome to 2024

Well, it would appear that the tone from my 2022 Goals continued. I said I almost didn't do the list that year, and heck if I didn't just skip it for 2023. Working at least 40 hours/week and commuting to do it, then always rushing home to try and take care of the needs of my family has pretty much squeezed much thought of my own life right..on...out.

So here we are. I started on a book from a few years ago - The 52 Lists Project - which had me make a list of dreams and goals for the year in the first week. Blogging at least twice a month was on the list, since it would appear the only posts that made it up last year were books I reviewed that weren't specifically for Books I Think You Should Read

I was going to try and model this list after my previous goal lists (I used to list my goals, then in December take inventory and see what I had done or not done), but blech. After two years off, I'll just start fresh. 

  1. Blog twice/month. I kinda already said that one. I've specified previously that I'd like to do a few old-fashioned posts with something about life that isn't just books. Maybe ;)
  2. Since I sit in my office while I write this list, cleaning/reorganizing/redecorating my office always makes the list. Luckily a good chunk of the...stuff... in here is the old and current files of the Lake Orion Theater Boosters, as I am their current treasurer. This is my last year, so my term ends with the school year. After the spring musical, I'll wrap it up and get it ready to move out!
  3. Keep Yelping! I've been Yelp Elite for 16 years now (just got my notification for 2024 last week). While I don't take advantage of as many of the free events and perks as I used to, I still enjoy what I can do. With that said, I want to post at least two reviews/month on Yelp, and hopefully attend a few Elite events.
  4. Read! In 2023, my Goodreads goal was to read 65 books, and I finished 76! This year I am going for 75 books! Join me on Goodreads and follow along :)
  5. I'd like to get my hair cut and highlighted this year.
  6. Oh! I'd like to follow through with The 52 Lists Project I mentioned above. The second week sort of stumped me (characters I admire), but I'd like to get back to that one this evening and start the third week.
  7. I will open and use my For the Love of Dragons Oracle Deck. I purchased on a whim at the local crystal store a couple months ago, and it is still sitting next to my computer. 
  8. I did a great thing years ago, when I was still working a direct sales business, called five minutes before bed. It's an exact journaling format, essentially, where you list and reiterate your goal so your brain works on it overnight. I feel it really helped, and I should start it again. The woman who coached on it is Dana Wilde, who also wrote Train Your Brain. 
  9. 2023 was the first year in a while that I've made and sent holiday cards. With all the awesome pictures we got on our Disney vacation in November 2023, I definitely want to send cards again for the holidays in 2024.
  10. It's been on previous lists, but I still want to keep my nails painted. I did take a month or two off last year, for the first time since I stopped working in the school kitchens, but I'd like to keep it up again.
  11. One of my very favorite books last year was When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. I want to get a dragon tattoo. 
  12. Drink more water. I had mostly quit caffeine before our Disney trip in November, but then I needed to keep up with my family so I was all in quickly! LOL Now I'm mostly done with it again. I do usually go to bed at a reasonable hour, so I should be able to make it through on my regular energy, I think. So I guess I mean that I'll drink more water in instead of caffeine.
  13. Appreciate that my life is pretty wonderful with or without accomplishing these goals (okay, I did steal that one from the previous goals lists ;)  )

12 December 2023

Dirty Laundry - Book Review

Dirty Laundry
by Disha Bose
Publication: April 4, 2023
Pages: 304 pages
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ☆☆☆☆
Sweet Spark: Who could hate the queen bee most of all? Ciara has plenty of haters - those she's excluded, those whose husbands she's slept with, or maybe even someone closer to her.

Ciara is a social media influencer with plenty of followers, who are always at the ready to tell her how great she is. Her children always appear well-dressed, polite, and happy to do whatever their mother tells them to do.

Mishti is the mother of Ciara's daughter's best friend. For reasons unknow, Ciara has taken Mishti under her wing. While Mishti expected to be a loner after her arranged marriage and move from India to Ireland, Ciara has made Mishti her closest confidante. Playing along makes Mishti's life seem great, but is it worth it?

Lauren is living with her partner and raising her three children in the home where she spent the happiest moments of her youth with her grandmother. She thought adulthood would temper some of the bullying she experienced as a child, but somehow she still isn't the one people want for a friend.

The story of the mothers in this neighborhood was interesting and hit the stereotypes of women and mothers around the world. The book was amusing, and the ending brought a unique culmination to the story and the relationships. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to those who like dramas and gossipy stories about women and mothers.

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