Remember Me?!

Haha! Thought I’d pop in and drop a few lines. (Told you I wouldn’t be gone forever :))

Katelyn will be 9 months on Feb. 9th. What?! How did this happen so quickly? She’s crawling and so so so close to pulling up (she can pull up to her knees). She loves to eat. And she’s so happy. All the freaking time. It’s wonderful!

Garrett is just a little ball of fire. His never-ending energy just amazes me. I wish I had a quarter of his energy – I’d be a lot better off, ha! He loves preschool and I love watching him learn so much. He also said his first four-letter word last week. He dropped something and said “damn it.” And then he kept saying it. Over and over. Oops!

I signed up for a kickboxing cardio class twice a week. At 5:45AM. Crap is that early! After the first class I thought I was going to literally fall apart. I hurt in places I didn’t know could hurt. But after the second class I felt energized. I’d say it was $45 well spent for these 15 sessions … now I want to try spinning! Ha!

The mood really struck me to pop in to blog since it’s the end of the month and I read …. are you ready for this?! … SIX books in January!! SIX! I just read up a storm. And I read what I wanted when I wanted to. It was wonderful!  I’m not going to bother with reviews. They’re all backlist books that I’m sure everyone has already read. There was really only one dud (Mistress) in the whole month. So overall, I had a great reading month.

Definitely DeadNight ProbeRapture in Death

MistressE is for EvidenceFour to Score

I’m off to Vegas for the World of Concrete convention this week. We’re going without the kids. Since Katelyn was born we have only had two completely kid-free nights away, one in September and one in November. So this will be weird! But so nice too. I wish I could say that I was going to be able to do nothing but sleep the entire time, but it’s Vegas …. however, I am looking forward to being able to sleep in a little bit (meaning past 6:30am) and eating meals while they’re still hot! And while I’ll miss my children every waking second… it’ll be nice to get away for a few nights!



Pondering the Future

The last few months have been pretty tough personally. The loss of my grandfather really put things into a completely different perspective for me. My son also had a medical issue that we feared could be something serious, but luckily turned out to be something very simple.

But those two things have made me really step back and analyze my priorities.

When I first started this blog back in 2008, I had no idea where it would take me. I had no idea how much time I would end up putting into this blog. Of course that was before I had two children and I had all the time in the world to do what I wanted when I wanted to. Now I’m in a completely different life situation. My only “me” time usually comes after the kids have gone down for the evening. I find myself having to decide if I want to read or watch TV. The blog never even crosses my mind. And I’m ashamed to admit how often TV wins out over reading.

I knew things were not looking good for the state of my blog when I started getting serious about keeping a book journal on paper rather than turning on the computer to blog my thoughts. Every time I would sit down to write a book review I realized that my words were empty; they were generic from the previous review. I mean how many ways can I gush about a book? It feels so repetitive to me.

I thought maybe I would “rebrand” myself, incorporate more personal stuff to fill in the gaps that my lack of reading was leaving. But I couldn’t even make myself do that. I’m a pretty private person, and my husband really hates me putting so much out there for the world to see, so sharing personal stuff has always been a challenge.

This is not an easy post for me to write. I think this is harder to write than my first post was. Because I don’t know what I’m wanting to do. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what the future holds.

But I know that right now this blog is not a priority in my life. I feel a true disservice to my readers. I haven’t had any quality material in a very long time.

I suppose I’ll pop in from time to time when the mood strikes, but nothing regular anymore. And I’ll still be around on social media and I’ll still be reading other blogs. I’m not disappearing completely into outer space :)

Maybe someday my blogging mojo will return. Perhaps a few months “off” will jumpstart things back up for me … but for now I have to leave this with a “see ya later.”


3 Mini Reviews

Here’s something I’ve never done before … mini reviews.

I still have no blogging mojo. In fact, I’m typing this up quickly while my daughter screams fusses in her crib after only a 20 minute nap – momma needs more nap than that, darling!

So while I have little to no blogging mojo, I have been reading a bit. And I need to get these thoughts down before I forget everything.

So without further ado…..

Fates and Furies Title: Fates and Furies
Author: Lauren Groff
Read: Oct. 10-30, 2015
Pages: 392
Source: Book of the Month Club
Rating: 2/5

Thoughts:  This was my very first selection from the Book of the Month Club. To say that it was a disappointment would be the understatement of the year. To be completely honest, none of the October books really caught my eye, this one was just the one that seemed like it would be the most enjoyable for me. Oh how wrong I was on that! I struggled through this one. For 3 freaking weeks. I still don’t know why I bothered to finish it. I did not like it in the least. I can’t in good faith recommend this book, but hey, I’m sure someone out there would enjoy it … just not me.

Private BerlinTitle: Private Berlin
Author: James Patterson & Mark Sullivan
Read: Nov. 7-10, 2015
Pages: 448
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: I knew I had to have something fast paced after coming off of Fates and Furies, so of course I picked up a James Patterson book. Overall, I enjoyed this one relatively well. I think I prefer the Private books where Jack Morgan plays more of a role, but this one was still interesting. I can almost always rely on Mr. Patterson for a quick and enjoyable read, this one does not fail on that part. Recommended for sure.




The Alpine Advocate Title: The Alpine Advocate
Author: Mary Daheim
Read: Nov. 11-18, 2015
Pages: 240
Source: Paperbackswap
Rating: 4/5

Thoughts: What a cute little first in a series. Cozy mysteries are not usually my cup of tea, but for some reason this one really caught my eye and was an impulse order on Paperbackswap. I think a lot of the draw for me was the journalist/newspaper aspect of the storyline – I originally declared print journalism as my major in college. Anyway, like I said this was a cute little book. It kept my interest throughout. And I had no idea who the killer was until it was revealed at the end – I had missed all of the clues laid throughout the book. I am definitely looking forward to continuing this series in the future and would definitely recommend it!




Life Lately…

Well. When I last posted, I was fresh off of the funeral of my grandfather. I was really amazed at how hard his death hit me. I wasn’t particularly close to him, but he was my only living grandfather (I lost my other grandfather at 11) and watching him slowly deteriorate the last few months was especially hard. I’m still grieving, but his peace eases that grief.

I hadn’t broached the subject with our son yet. Yesterday was my grandmother’s birthday, and when I told him we were going to her birthday party he started asking questions about who would be there. Of course Grandpa T. was mentioned. It was time to discuss it with him as best as I could.

Let me just say that you should never ever ever ever discuss death with another person’s child. EVER. There are absolutely no excuses for this. But apparently my ever so helpful father-in-law thought it would be a good idea to teach Garrett about Heaven and Hell while they were watching him. So when I sat him down yesterday morning to tell him that Grandpa was in Heaven, he looked at me with the most fear I’ve ever seen and said to me “don’t talk about it, it’s a bad place,” and that Grandpa had gone “bye bye.” I still have not convinced him that Heaven is indeed a wonderful place. Why in the hell would someone try to explain Hell to a 3-year-old? I never would have brought that aspect into it. He can’t differentiate it at 3-years-old! All he needed to know was that Grandpa T. had gone to Heaven, that Heaven is a wonderful place, and that he was ok but wouldn’t be back. Very simple. He didn’t need a lot of details. He didn’t need a big long explanation. Just simple. But noooooo. My father-in-law had to complicate it. We are furious! My husband said that he was going to be talking to his dad to let him know that he crossed a line. It was my grandfather. He is my child. It was my responsibility to have that conversation with him. I am beyond pissed that I was not able to have that conversation first with him and that he is now completely confused about the whole situation. Goodness knows what else he told him. But whatever it was it completely terrified my child. Not okay. Not okay.

Anyway, now that I’ve got that rant out of my system ….

I don’t know if I ever mentioned that I joined Book of the Month based on Beth Fish Reads‘ recommendation. Well, I did. And October was my first month. I chose Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. To be honest, none of the selections really caught my eye, this one was the one that I felt was closest to something I would enjoy. I finished it. It took all freaking month to do so, but I finished it. And when I was done I wanted to kick myself in the rear because I should have walked away from it, not wasted 3 weeks reading it. I was not impressed, to say the least. I am not yet sure if I will even write a review for it, because the review would not be nice at all (I can’t really think of even one nice thing to say … except that it finally ended … yes, I feel that bad about it).  I probably will write something up just for tracking purposes, but I doubt it’s a full review. On a better note, I just selected November’s book and it’s one I’m excited about … The Witches by Stacy Schiff!! Plus because I filled out a survey I am getting an extra book free and I’ve chosen Lacy Eye by Jessica Treadway.

We’re getting a new accounting system implemented at work this week. I’m nervous and excited about it. Nervous because who knows how smoothly (or not) this will go; excited because it will ease my workload considerably.

The kids are doing great, but they’ve both been battling snotty noses. Better than the stomach bug that’s going around though :) Garrett was Batman and Katelyn a bunny rabbit for Halloween. Garrett was obsessed with his costume, and I have a feeling we will be wearing it quite often at home until he outgrows it. Katelyn was not impressed by her costume. Well, she would have been okay with it had I not put that part over her head to give her the bunny ears, that’s when she revolted, ha!

Hopefully I get my reading (and blogging) mojo back soon so I can update this blog more often than 2-3 times a month. But October was a tough month for my family, hopefully November will be better. Plus we’ve got Christmas coming up and I’m looking forward to our first Holidays as a family of four!

Well – I’m off, Katelyn is fussing. I’m surprised she gave me long enough to get this all written up. Take care and happy reading!!

Saying Goodbye is Tough

On Tuesday we laid my grandfather to rest.

He would have turned 84 on Wednesday. Until 7 months ago he was a healthy, vibrant 83-year-old man who had not a care in the world. He had a loving family. He enjoyed seeing his great-grandchildren every chance he got. He loved talking politics (even if he was the only Republican in the family…). He watched the stock market like a hawk. He liked the St. Louis Cardinals and the University of Illinois football and basketball teams.

He was my Grandpa T.

But liver and lung cancer took him from us.

In March he fell. He had fainted. When he fell he caught his arm on the dog crate and had a terrible gash open up. That wound would be the first of many issues he faced in the next 7 months. They finally determined that his fainting episodes (he would have numerous) were due to a racing heart issue. He had a procedure to fix that. It worked. Then he had some issues with his prostate and not being able to urinate. He had to have a catheter. He finally had to have some sort of procedure where they “microwaved” his prostate. That seemed to help things. All through this, he was steadily losing weight. We knew there was something else going on. But he was a stubborn old man who played his personal health very close to his chest. In March he weighed a healthy 175 pounds. When he died he was 120 pounds. When he was finally diagnosed with the cancer it was a crushing blow. Honestly, he had taken pretty good care of himself his whole life. He stayed active until he was unable to. But by the time he was finally diagnosed treatment was not an option. We discussed hospice instead.

Never in a million years did I think I would watch my grandfather slowly die. But I did. Over the months, weeks and days, we slowly watched him essentially waste away. He had to have been in a great deal of pain, but he was stubborn and nearly refused to ask for help. His pain tolerance level was ridiculously high. So near the end when he finally admitted that his pain level was a 9 on a 1-10 scale, we knew it had to be out of this world pain. We were lucky that we were able to keep him at his house for as long as possible. When he was a few days away from his death they took him to the hospital. He spent a couple of days there and then was moved to hospice. He was in hospice for less than 24 hours before he passed peacefully just before 1am on Oct. 17, 2015.

I was never close to my mother’s side of the family. There was no real reason for this, it’s just how things happened to end up. But the last few months I spent more time with my grandparents than I probably had in the last 5 years combined. I’m thankful for that now. His last words to my dad were “I feel like shit.” That was my grandfather. Classic Grandpa T. right there.

I was lucky enough to have one final conversation with him the night before he was moved into hospice. It was the night he admitted he was at a pain level of 9. And while most of his conversation made absolutely no sense, he left me with the most precious words ever. As I was leaving he told me he loved me. Those were his last words to me. It’s a memory I will cherish forever. The next time I saw him it was just a few hours before he passed and he was completely unaware of his surroundings. I was very glad that I had made the decision to visit with him the night before. I was able to say my final goodbye.

Of course that didn’t make his actual passing any easier. I was still heartbroken when my mom called me Saturday morning with the news. But his pain was over and that eases my pain a great deal.

It’s tough to tell someone goodbye. It’s tough to walk out of a hospital room knowing it’s the last time you will see someone alive. It’s tough to sit through a funeral knowing that once the casket is closed you will never see that person again. It’s tough to know that my children never had a chance to fully know him. It’s tough to figure out how to tell your 3-year-old Grandpa T. has passed away (something we still haven’t dealt with…).

But it’s a part of life. It’s the sucky part of life. But it’s life. I was lucky to have him in my life for 30 years. And I have a lot of wonderful memories of him. And like all people dealing with grief, we will heal. Slowly. But it will happen.

But those last words … “I love you, I truly do.”

That’s the beautiful part of life.

Mailbox Monday, Oct. 12, 2015

Mailbox Mondays

I have been in a terrible reading slump. So it makes perfect sense that I picked up at 700+ page book at Target last week … right?

The GoldfinchTheo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a wealthy Park Avenue family. He is bewildered by his strange new home and, tormented by his longing for his mother, clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that has come into his possession.

As an adult, Theo moves easily between the antiques store where he works, the drawing rooms of the rich, and the underworld of art. He is alienated, unmoored, and in love – and drawn inexorably by the power of that painting into a narrowing, dangerous circle.


And then I just joined Book of the Month (based on Beth Fish Reads’ recent recommendation) and received my first selection:

Fates and FuriesThey meet in the final months of college, and by graduation, they have married. It’s 1991. At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. There are lean, romantic years that follow: potluck parties in a Manhattan basement apartment; a wilting acting career that doesn’t pay the bills; a household that seems to run on good luck and good sex. A decade or so later, though, Lotto and Mathilde are on their way. He is a world-famous playwright, she is integral to his success. Their life and marriage are the envy of friends, the very definition of successful partnership.

It is with an electric thrill, then, that the reader realizes things are even more remarkable than they have seemed. In an emotionally complicated twist, the perspective shifts, and what began as a story about one extraordinary union becomes so much more. With stunning revelations and multiple threads, in prose vibrant and original, Fates and Furies is a profoundly moving, surprising, and provocative novel about the yoke joining love, art, and power, and about the influence of perception. Exquisitely imagined, it is a book that defies expectation, stirring both the mind and the heart.

“Hit Me With Your Best Shot…”

… fire away!

I am looking for your best book recommendations. The best 30 actually. Here’s why…

I have been a longtime member of Paperbackswap since 2007. When they started charging for membership back in February, they were hit with a backlash of people’s outrage. Membership costs had always been something that was a potential, but I don’t think anyone ever really thought it would become a reality. I personally chose to stay on as a standard member (meaning I paid more money to have unlimited swaps) because at the time I had 46 credits and about $25 in PBS money logged into the site that I was going to lose if I chose to leave. So I decided that I would stay on for at least a year and see how things went.

Eight months later, I’m facing the reality that I’m going to be ready to step away from Paperbackswap when my membership is up for renewal in February. I have noticed a considerable drop in requests coming my way (of course, I also don’t have many books listed in the system either – when we moved last November, we paid per pound and the books that I had already read went to the donation pile…) But the real truth hit me last week when I had a request come in that I actually ended up cancelling because I didn’t want to take the time to dig out the book, log onto the site on my computer, print the postage, wrap the book and mail it. It was at that point that I decided that my interest in the site was obviously gone and it’s time to wrap things up.

But there’s still my 30 credits that I have hanging out there. These are credits that I have earned over the years for books that I have sent to other members. I don’t want to just lose them all.

So I’m asking you guys, my readers, to hit me with some of your best recommendations. Keep in mind, that I’m really looking for books that will be readily available in the PBS system. This means more backlist books … books that aren’t the “it” book of the moment, books that are by well-known authors and are easily found (still in print).

So leave me with one, ten or thirty selections in the comment sections … you never know, I might find a new favorite this way :)