Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Book Love: What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

This year I've been doing a lot of rereading.  Or at least a lot more rereading.  Usually my focus when picking what to read next is to get my TBR list down so I was always reading whatever was next on the list/what I could get from the library.  Then I started planning my reading per month and slotting in at least one reread a month, often more.  It's really refreshing to pick up a book I know I've enjoyed in the past but have often forgotten the ending.  I have a connection to starting because I usually remember at least some of the plot and characters and then it makes the pages turn very easily.

Also, there is usually no wait list for backlist physical or digital books.  I have a whole post planned for how I manage my reading life (because few things light up my heart like organizing and reading, much less organizing my reading). 

One of the books I've been meaning to reread for a few years is What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.  I first read it 6 years ago and I knew I enjoyed it and have especially enjoyed most of what she's written since.  I've done a lot of reading in the last 6 years and I wanted to see if I'd still enjoy it and how the plot and themes would reflect differently on my life, now older and wiser.

What Alice forgot was 10 years of her life.  She's 29, happily married, pregnant with her first child, and pretty much broke.  Then she wakes up after a head injury and it's 10 years later.  She's about to turn 40, has 3 kids, financially secure, but also in the middle of a contentious divorce with her husband. 

She's fully lived her life in the past ten years, she just doesn't remember ANY of it. 

Not her kids, not birthing her kids, not her tense relationship with her sister, not her mother remarrying, not her new friends, not why her and her husband are in the middle of a divorce.

Alice doesn't know if she'll get her memory back and how she'll repair the damaged relationships in her life.  Her body has some muscle memory - all of a sudden she discovers an urge to run and finds she enjoys it!  She knows how to drive the kids to school (although not what time they have to be there or what their morning routine is).

This is the kind of book I generally enjoy most (really, there are a lot of kinds of books I really enjoy).  It's a page turner, easy to read, enjoyable, but not fluffy.  You don't feel like you lost brain cells while reading (like this, or this) but it was still really fun to read.  Alice's problems may have not felt entirely realistic (how likely that someone hits their head and forgets 10 years?) but how she dealt with this HUGE problem does. 

It really made me think about what I would think if my life seemingly jumped 10 years.  I think back to myself at 25, not yet trying for a baby, working mostly full-time, my husband going back to school...and think of what my 25 year old self would think about my life at 35.  My adopted sons would certainly be a surprise although I'm sure I'd be thrilled we had kids!  Life is a lot different because we are different, and yet so much the same, as the people we were then.  It gave me a lot to think about.

Highly recommend for anyone interested in contemporary books that are easy to read but also makes you think.  This is a fantastic read.

Amazon | Goodreads

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Quick Lit - September

It's once again time to talk about what I've been reading lately!  We're still figuring out our new schedules now that school is in the mix and, even with only one child for ~7 hours a day, and one who takes two naps in that time, I'm not finding as much time to read!  I don't know how that's possible.  On the plus side, I feel much more caught up on most other areas of my life, so that is something. 

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy and I'm very active on Goodreads.  If you are there too then friend me!  I LOVE seeing what others are reading. 

One other book post in the past month:

Book Love: The Read Aloud Family

Now everything else I've read!

Not the Girls You're Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
I did not really care for this book.  It's about a group of girlfriends in high school and all the drama they find in their lives.  I read a decent amount of YA but I just couldn't with these.  I didn't really like any of them and think they are the kinds of girls I would avoid if I went to high school with them.  If you are looking for a good book about an Indian teenage girl, read When Dimple Met Rishi, not this. 1.5 Stars

Girls' Night Out by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
This is the story of 3 somewhat estranged girlfriends who go on a girls trip to Mexico and then one of them goes missing after a night out.  It's told from the perspective of each of the three, in flashbacks and in the time they are trying to find their missing friend.  It was ok.  Obviously a missing friend is bad but as a literary character, I just didn't care much what happened.  2.5 Stars

Charlotte Walsh Likes to Win by Jo Piazza
This book was a fun read.  Charlotte Walsh is running for a politicial office (now I forget which one, a senator I think?).  This follows all the behind the scenes drama of running her campaign and trying to keep her personal life sane.  I don't know much behind the scenes of politics and so this was a fascinating (fictional) look at it.  I wouldn't vote for Charlotte (or her opponent) but I really did like reading about her.  3.5 Stars

The Masterpiece by Fiona Davis
I really enjoyed this one, set in two time periods in Grand Central Station in New York City.  The first was when the station was at it's prime in the 1920s or 1930s.  The second when it had fallen into disrepair in the 1970s (right before Jackie O helped save it, and she makes an appearance).  We've visited Grand Central on most of our New York trips (most recently in May) and it was so interesting to read about it's past.  I have a thing for books set in New York but you don't have to have that and still enjoy this book if you enjoy historical fiction.  3.75 Stars

The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand
This was a reread and I enjoyed again.  Almost all of her books are perfect summer reads and this one I had read long enough ago that I forgot how it ended!  That's almost perfect reading - knowing you like a book but not knowing how it ends!  It's on Nantucket, about a group of 8 friends (4 married couples) and one couple drowns on their anniversary boat ride.  Everyone in the group has secrets and slowing putting them together, figuring out what happened, made for a great read.  3.5 Stars

What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan
This cover is one of my favorites lately.  It's so pretty!  This book is about a maid who works for a wealthy family in Shanghai.  The family is Chinese but just spent many years living in America.  The story flips viewpoints between members of the family and the maid, exploring their back stories and what led them to their lives now.  I was reading this around the time Crazy Rich Asians was coming to theaters and was often mixing the two in my head.  I haven't read many books about "rich Asians" (these two being about it) and so it was an interesting look.  3.25 Stars

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
This is a YA murder mystery of sorts.  A group of 5 students are in detention together.  One of them runs a gossip site and has juicy info to post on the other 4 the next day.  Then he drops dead in detention.  The 4 with him are the obvious suspects.  What actually happened???  I don't read many mysteries and so maybe it was obvious way sooner than I caught on to what happened to the dead student.  These kids all had secrets, they all seem like they could be guilty.  I wanted to know what happened but also really made me glad I'm not in high school.  3 Stars

Get it Together!: An Interior Designer's Guide to Creating Your Best Life by Orlando Soria
I think this book went to the lake with me 4 times before I actually finished it, at least twice without even opening the cover.  I like design books, they are pretty and usually can pick up a few tips.  I had never heard of him before but Young House Love was talking about the book and I'm always up for book recommendations so I got it from the library.  But I just couldn't with his writing style.  I did read the whole book but there was A LOT of sarcasm and joking and I just wanted to see pretty pictures and get some inspiration.  It was fine but not for me.  2.5 Stars

Save the Date by Morgan Matson
This was a really fun, YA read.   Charlie (Charlotte) is the youngest of 5 siblings and her oldest sister is about to get married in the backyard of their childhood home, the one their parents are about to sell.  Their Mom has spent their entire childhood writing a syndicated comic strip chronically their lives and the strip is also ending the day after the wedding.  The whole book (besides the epilogue) takes place over the wedding weekend.  There is the brother who is slightly estranged from the family, the one who brought home a girlfriend none of them knew about, and the favorite older brother.  I loved their family dynamic and how much love they (mostly) had for each other.  I wouldn't mind reading either another book about the family OR more of the comic strip (there were a few sprinkled throughout the book).  I've been hit or miss with her past books but really enjoyed this one.  3.75 Stars

What have YOU been reading?  I really am curious.  When someone mentions they've been reading I immediately want to ask what.  So tell me!          

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Book Love: The Read-Aloud Family

It's been a hot second since I've done a post solely dedicated to one book!  The last was shortly after Sam was born, for a book I finished right before we got him.  It's a minor miracle that that post even got written even though I still think about that book and am 90% sure it'll end up on my "Best Reads of 2018" list.

It's not that I haven't been reading since becoming a parent to two boys, it's just that I haven't had much time to write about what I've been reading.  Or maybe I just haven't been WOWED by anything in a long time.  I do hope to write more about my reading now that I have a little more time to devote to writing.  Talking about books is one of my favorite topics so writing about them should happen more.

This book, The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids by Sarah MacKenzie was fantastic.  It's all about how beneficial it is to read to your kids.

My first thought, when hearing about the book initially, was "I already love reading to Luke and we do it pretty often.  I don't need a book to tell me to read to him."  We hit 1,000 different books shortly after he turned 5 (1,000 Books Before Kindergarten) and had read many books many times.  We read together a lot.

I was wrong.  Not about reading to Luke but wrong in thinking this book wouldn't be useful to me (I'm so humble in my own head...).  It fully reiterated how important it is to read to our kids.  ESPECIALLY when they can read themselves but at all times.  Sarah gives stats and research to back up all her thoughts and I was even more fully convinced that reading to Luke is important.  Has been important.  Will continue to be important for many years.

She has hints and tips for fitting into already busy days.  Ideas of things activities for kids to do while they listen to books and grace that you don't need to read to your kids every single day for it to matter.

There are also book lists.  Book lists sorted by age, all the way up to high schoolers.  I put a lot of the picture books on our "to get next" list on the library app.  Added some of her recommended middle-grade novels to my own TBR.  I was nodding along half the time and wanted to be highlighting the book the other half.

There are a lot of benefits to reading aloud and building a bond with them isn't the only one but may be one of the most important.  Sure, helping them with language and learning how a story flows and reading comprehension are certainly benefits.  Of course they are.  But having this shared interest and knowledge of books you've read together is so important too.

My family used to listen to audio books together on long car trips (we all remember my Dad banning How to Eat Fried Worms before we were done listening to it).  My Mom read us books in the car on some car trips.  She'd read aloud to us right after lunch/recess during our home school days.  And I'm sure she read us plenty of picture books but most of those happened before I remember them.  But there are still plenty of books at my parents' house that I have happy memories of reading and I'm sure Mom read them to me before I could read them myself.

This book is about family bonding through reading and all the other benefits that come along with it.  Even if you are already an avid read-alouder to your kids, I'd still recommend this.  It makes me want to keep reading to Luke until he moves out of the house and inspired me to read aloud to just Sam while Luke is at school.  I hope I've already created a book culture in our house but this makes me want to keep it up even more.

Goodreads | Amazon

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Friday, September 7, 2018

Looking Back at August

Somehow it's September.  It's hard to believe that because, as I type this but maybe not when it posts, it's 90° with a heat index of 98°.  And I'm walking 1.5 miles round-trip pretty soon to pick Luke up from school.  Thoughts and prayers, please.

August was a MONTH.  I look back at the beginning of it and it feels FOREVER ago.  So much happened.  We were even home most of it!  At least sleeping in our own beds.  The first two weeks was mostly about packing in all the last things we wanted to do over the summer, trying to get Luke to bed earlier so we could wake him up earlier to prep for school, buying school supplies, taking (3 rounds) of back to school pictures, and family things.  We had Sam's adoption finalization (YAY!!!!!!!!!) and a lake trip in there too.  It was busy!!!

Then school started and our routine completely changed.  I am getting caught back up on life, things that have been pushed off for weeks, months (maybe I'll finally start our NYC photobook!).  Sam's been back to taking semi-regular naps and we still struggle to get Luke to sleep before 10pm every night (to be clear, he is always in bed by 8:30 on school nights.  He just doesn't want to fall asleep.  Maybe this is where we need thoughts and prayers). 

A lot changed and happened in August.  Here's a brief recap:

1) Luke picked me a whole bunch of flowers, put them all in water, and was so proud of himself.  It was adorable.
2) Thirsty Thursday baseball game!  Always an education into what those millennials are into (a lot of side eye to what they choose to wear in public).
3) Flag in the morning!
4) At the zoo shortly before the sea lions were fed and they were so active!  It was super cool!
5) Sunset at the lake!
6) Morning run with fog over the park!
7) Running in the park again around sunrise.
8) Hydrangeas are so pretty and SO easy (which is why mine are still alive).
9) Morning glories!!  It makes me so happy to open the kitchen blinds in the morning and see them!
10) Another morning run at the park!  Matt's schedule is all over the place but when he doesn't have to leave home until 8 I try to run!
11) A lot of morning glories.  I might be a little obsessed with them.
12) Warm enough for shorts and sandals but drinking hot cider to try to help this cold that won't go away.
13) Reading on the front steps while Sam was napping and Luke was riding his bike back and forth on the sidewalk.  Good times for everyone.
14) On a rare night where he goes to sleep at a decent time he can get around for school so quickly in the mornings and have time to look at books while I run around like a crazy person trying to get Sam and I ready.
15) Ready to run again.  I did not anticipate this list being so running heavy...
16) Hibiscus, another flower I am irrationally proud of when all I do is occasionally water them.

Looking back:
1 year ago: Prepping for an Adoption Home Visit

2 years ago: Turning a Door into a Head Board
3 years ago: A-mazing Chocolate Frosting
4 years ago: The Bathroom is Done!!!! (basically)

5 years ago: It Hurts to Grow Up...
8 years ago: California!!

Books finished: 15, 122 for the year.

Miles ran: 40.78
Currently watching: American Ninja Warrior, of course.  And Making It.
Most read post this month:
Mucho Gusto, my most popular drink recipe by far (for good reason, it's delicious!).

What happened in your August??

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

What I'll Remember Most About Summer 2018

I think I finally have to accept that summer is over.  Not completely because we still have a jet ski in the water but, for the most part, it's over.

For a long time "summer" was defined as "the season we aren't in school".  Then for the last 13 years, it's been Memorial Day - Labor Day.  And even though we are back on a school schedule this year, I still think of Labor Day weekend as the official end of summer.  (Even though, again, we still have at least one jet ski ride left of the year.)

So what will I remember about this summer?

Sam being a baby for one.  It feels like his whole first 3 months were mostly a blur but about the beginning of the summer is when he started napping more consistently and being a much easier baby.  So the summer brought some relief but also a super adorable, smiley baby.

I'll remember getting Luke ready for school and dreading the earlier mornings.  Going school supply shopping (doing that SO MUCH EARLIER next year) and meeting his teacher and taking 3 rounds of back to school pictures.

I'll remember lake trips, always lake trips.  But this year's meant mostly jet ski rides with just a parent and Luke and his sheer delight at every ride he got.  We took so many more in prior years that he was pretty blase about it pretty quick (although still loving it).

I'll remember countless hours spent watching my husband and his brother work on our joint pontoon while seemingly getting nowhere.  While my sister-in-law and I watched kids play and talked and had drinks (really, not a bad deal).

I'll remember the summer of the 'Stones.  Had to have the classiest beer for our super classy pontoon.  But also, it's super cheap and is actually good when the beer is cold and the temp outside is HOT.  I mostly drink my mixed drinks but I had a few Stones and talked about them a whole lot more.

I'll remember trying to fit in runs with a baby who couldn't go in the jogger.  Running either early in the morning before Matt went to work or in the heat of the late afternoon.  And being grouchy about not getting to run more even though last summer, when I was running a lot, I frequently complained to Matt about how much time running took.

I'll remember late afternoons spent around the inflatable pool when Sam finally seemed to take a good, long nap and Luke could play while I sat in the shade and read.  We love having Sam in our lives but I also loved those little moments that felt like life was like it was a year ago.  When I felt like I had things more under control.

I'll probably remember frequently being overwhelmed, especially at bedtime which usually wasn't going well and how I was out of patience by 9pm and DONE parenting after putting the boys to bed, the first time.  This will get better, right?!?!?!  (It's gotten slightly better with school.)

I'll remember making a lot of ice cream and a lot of drinks.  Reading a lot of books (50 by my count!).  Not blogging much except about those things!

I'll remember finally finalizing Sam's adoption, wondering if it was ever going to happen and then getting it scheduled and done within 10 days!  It was as exciting as Luke's!

It's actually hard to know what will stick in my mind as the most memorable parts of this summer, what will distinguish it from all the others since Luke was born.  But right now, thinking back on the last 3ish months, those are the things that stand out the most.  That might make me think "Oh yes, that was Summer 2018".

It was busy and sometimes hard but still, a lot of great days in my favorite season!  What will YOU remember most about this summer?  Tell me!