The Sunday Salon [5.1.16]: What I’ve Been Reading

My “book blog” has not discussed books in two months, so I figured I’d at least pop on by and let you all know what I’ve been reading. Frankly, I’ve not done much reading at all in the two months since I posted my February recap (which seemed so promising). In March, I decided to do a daily yoga challenge so my daily reading resolution went right out the window (apparently I cannot accomplish two daily commitments at a time) and then it stayed away in April when life suddenly felt even busier than usual.

I’ve been reading my current print book (Illuminae) for at least two months (I know I’ve renewed it twice from the library) and I am only on page 200. I got through a few audiobooks but then I gave up on those in favor of podcasts the last few weeks because (a) I haven’t bothered to move any from itunes to my phone and (b) my brain is too tired for a full book.

So, since you last saw me, I have finished three audiobooks and two comic books:

An Ember in the Ashes | Sabaa Tahir | audio | 4 stars

This was the Forever YA book club book in February. I wasn’t sure about it when I first read the description but I ended up really liking it. I was a bit disappointed to learn it is the first in a series but I will definitely be reading on.

After You | Jojo Moyes | audio | 4 stars

I read Me Before You in print but I knew I’d get to the follow-up sooner in audio so I switched to that medium. I didn’t really think that I needed a follow-up but Jojo Moyes sucked me back into Louisa’s world and made me see that I did.

Who’s ready for the movie?

Descender (Vol. 1) | Jeff Lemire | print | 4.5 stars

Many thanks to SuziQOregon for the recommendation on this oneIt was just what I needed to feel like I accomplished something while being thoroughly entertained. I am eagerly anticipating volume 2 in a few weeks.

The Girl Who Stopped Swimming | Joshilyn Jackson | audio | 4 stars

The latest in my quest to read everything Joshilyn Jackson has written did not leave me disappointed. I highly recommend reading Jackson’s books in audio as she reads them herself and makes for a wonderful southern storyteller.

Ms. Marvel: Generation Why (Vol. 2) | G. Willow Wilson & Jacob Wyatt/Adrian Alphona | print | 3.5 stars

I am still trying to figure out if I like comics but this one keeps me entertained enough to keep going. 


What have YOU all been reading? Let me live vicariously through you until my kids are in college and/or I win the lottery.

The Sunday

A Day in the Life: Weekend Edition

I love when Trish hosts these Days in the Life blogger events. Check out everyone’s posts here.  I’ve done this three times before, but all during the week. So here is what a random Saturday looks like. It’s still pretty exhausting.
12:36 – Feed Kai. Tried to skip the dream feed before I went to bed. Nope. I think I’d been asleep for less than an hour.
5:00 – Send Ben in to calm Kai. Temporarily works.
5:30 – Feed Kai.
6:40 – Realize that Ben must have gotten up with Evan a few minutes ago. Bask in the opportunity to sleep in.
6:42 – get in an argument with Gatsby about whose pillow it really is anyway. Ruin the pillow case in the process. Think about how we could really use some new sheets.
6:43 – Hear Kai crying. Sigh. Get up. Hand the baby to Ben. Go brush my teeth. Check Facebook/Instgram. Linger upstairs.
6:52 – Ben tells me I can go back to sleep but I’m awake now. Realize we have no tea. Tell Ben we need diaper cream (teething, ugh). Throw Ben a diaper so he can change Kai. Lay down on couch. Watch Disney Jr. I’m starving but too lazy to go into the kitchen.
7:15 – Grab a banana and some orange juice.
7:20 – Play blocks with Kai. I build. He destroys.
7:38 – Clip Kai’s nails after he scratches me for the 17th time this morning.
7:50 – Diffuse some essential oils to try to wake up.
7:53 – Ben leaves to go do some work. The kids eat Cheerios. I try to figure out what to do with our morning.
8:03 – Evan suddenly realizes he has an unfinished art project from school and requires a green crayon immediately to finish it.
8:07 – Get the kids fruit. Put on music. (The hand clapping and foot stomping Songza station).
8:20 – Get Kai dressed. This might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
8:25 – Play Candyland with Evan while Kai wanders the house making a mess
8:37 – Help E into a Superman cape. Put my own superman cape on. Race through house. Get yelled at for dancing instead of running.
8:45 – Sit down to make to do list of weekend chores. Evan asks to make his own. He says his chores are going to bed, eating dinner, and listening to mommy and daddy. It’s adorable.
8:55 – Move E to kitchen table because dry erase markers and the couch don’t mix well.
8:58 – Nurse Kai. Think of that Army saying about doing more things before 9am than most people do in a day.
9:10 – play with Kai on the floor while E whines that I won’t play with him
9:20 – Change Kai’s diaper.
9:25 – Color with Evan who is still using the dry erase board/markers
9:32 – I’m starving. Try to find some actual breakfast. Eat Cheerios with chia seeds and almond milk. I’m still hungry.
9:40 – Ben comes home.
9:50 – Ben and Evan leave to run errands. I try to put Kai down for a nap in the swing (I don’t have the energy for a crib nap attempt). This kid is TIRED.
9:55 – Remember that I need to get a move on my audio book for book club next week. Open computer to load discs but get interrupted because Kai is NOT HAPPY with the current plan.
9:57 – Nurse Kai to calm him down and get him to sleep. You’d think the kid had never eaten before the way he is acting. He nursed an hour ago.
10:08 – Snuggle with a sleeping Kai for a minute.
10:10 – Transfer sleeping child to the crib. Lol. Just kidding. Baby is now awake and standing in the crib. Leave him there anyway.
10:15 – Kai is wide awake in his crib. But not crying. So I eat burnt toast with Nutella and watch an episode of Fuller House. I was going to clean my car out during this nap but it’s been an unproductive day. I may as well keep the theme going.
10:27 – Kai is lying down. Maybe he’ll sleep.
10:28 – Nope. Standing back up.
10:37 – He’s lying down again.
10:38 – Just kidding. It’s now getting to the point that I might not actually want him to nap.
10:47 – Go get Kai. Why are weekend naps so hard???
10:50 – Watch Gilmore Girls and play. No screentime before 2. Ha. #secondbaby
11:10 – Change Kai’s diaper. Get dressed for yoga.
11:20 – Leave the house
11:30 – Baby and Me Yoga!
12:30 – Nurse Kai at the end of class, chat with my friends for a few minutes, head home.
12:55 – Kai falls asleep in the car. Stick his car seat in the swing.
1:00 – Shower. Get dressed.
1:20 – E is in his room for some quiet time and Kai is asleep so I grab an apple and some peanut butter and crackers for a quick lunch. I am in desperate need of some caffeine.
1:25 – Kai wakes up. This kid does not want to sleep today. Change him and get the kids ready to leave the house.
1:35 – Head to a birthday party.
2-4 – Birthday party

4:10 – Head to the supervisor of elections to vote.
4:25 – Vote! #imwithher

4:30 – Head home. Discuss dinner plans. We are excellent meal planners during the workweek. Not so much on the weekend.
5:00 – arrive home and sit in the car for ten minutes while the boys nap.

5:20 – Nurse Kai.
5:30 – Decide to go out to dinner. We pick Sweet Tomatoes. No waiting and Evan can eat whatever he wants. Kai is so cute we had to talk to a lot of people. That bald guy in the background there came up to our table and rapped for us. Seriously.

6:40 – Head home.
6:56 – Home. Play for a few minutes.
7:05 – Bath for both boys, gather laundry, I get Kai ready while Ben gets E to bed, nurse Kai, read him a story, put him down
7:30 – Pick up, laundry, and sweep while Ben does dishes
7:50 – Mess around on my phone for 20 minutes.
8:15 – Switch laundry, Watch House of Cards with some tea. Research potential new shampoos for the entire second episode.
10:04 – Realize we need to change the clocks forward and go to bed because it’s essentially 11pm. I haven’t accomplished anything on my to do list.

February 2016: Month In Review

Did February fly by or what? That extra day didn’t slow it down at all!

I read four books in February:

Need | Joelle Charbonneau | print | 3.5 stars

Need was an exciting read. Need is a new social network which grants member “requests” after asking them to perform tasks, which quickly turn deadly. I rarely encounter a book I can call a “page-turner” these days but this was it. I kept sneaking a few pages every chance I could and I read it very quickly. Perhaps that is why I thought the ending was rushed and unsatisfying. It was disappointing to race through this book and be left without all of the answers I was looking for.

The Royal We | Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan | print | 5 stars

I loved this one to the point that I became slightly obsessed with this book while I was reading it. It was the Forever YA Book Club pick in February so I kept texting my friend who was also reading it. The Royal We follows Bex – an American studying abroad – as she navigates a complicated relationship with Nick  – the future King of England. It was a big book for me and it was not a quick read, but I found myself carving out time for it. The boys were sick one weekend and I read for hours and hours while they were couch-bound and napping. It also inspired me to do quite a bit of Kate and William research (which my book club appreciated). I’d recommend this one for sure.

Carry On | Rainbow Rowell | audio | 2.5 stars

It turns out that Rainbow Rowell is really hit or miss for me. I adored Eleanor & Park, FanGirl, and Attachments, but had to drag myself through Landline and Carry On. It was a little surreal to be reading fictional fan fiction and I never really felt like I belonged in the world of mages. It really did feel like we were plopped into this already existing story (which I suppose was the point). By the time the adventure really got going in the last third of the book, I was finally interested, but it was too late to totally save the book in my view. If I had been reading this in print, I wouldn’t have made it that far.

Isla and the Happily Ever After | Stephanie Perkins | print | 5 stars

When I read Stephanie Perkins story in My True Love Gave to Me at Christmas, I was reminded how great she is at writing a story of young love and of the fact that I still had to read this one…so I did. It was a fun, easy read of teenage love in Paris. There wasn’t much not to like. Anna will always have my heart, but Isla comes in a pretty close second.

January 2016: Month in Review

In January, I read three books:

Armada was a very enjoyable audio experience. Wil Wheaton is always a fun listen. While this was not as good as Ready Player One (can anything ever be as good as Ready Player One), I thought Armada was very well done.

I finally finished My True Love Gave to Me. I do not recommend reading a book of Christmas stories unless you are sure you can finish it BEFORE Christmas. I did not enjoy this once it was January 10 and I was still trudging through it. That said, I did enjoy some of the stories in here a lot (most importantly, I was reminded that Stephanie Perkins is amazing and I needed to request Isla and the Happily Ever After from the library).


Finally, I finished Winter. Stars, I love this series. 😉 I almost always find the final book in a series to be a disappointment, but not here. Marissa Meyer is so unbelievably talented at creating fantastic characters, writing intricate but workable plots, and building a complicated world in which to place them both.  Rebecca Soler has done an excellent job narrating this series to top it off. I was so pleased to find that I still have a little bit left to look forward to in this world with Stars Above – a collection of old and new stories. I HIGHLY recommend this series to everyone (and I am actively campaigning for Ben to read it). Don’t let the lunar cyborgs scare you off.

I also read the first volume of Ms. Marvel (I am not sure whether to count this as a book read or not). I liked it. I’m still experimenting with comics but it’s quick to read and smart and funny at the same time.

In other news, I spent the month starting Parenthood’s final season, watching the entirety of Making a Murder, starting the first season of House of Cards, and reluctantly doing a Star Wars re-watch. And I remained obsessed with the Hamilton soundtrack. I started bullet journaling. I went to my first ballet class since LAST January. Kai learned to crawl, got his first two teeth, and ate a whole piece of pizza. The four of us stayed as busy as always.

What was your favorite read in January?

TSS: First Books of 2016

My first reads for 2016 show that I’ve definitely got a geeky side.

I read Volume 1 (issues #1-5) of Ms. Marvel this weekend in another attempt to see if I like comics. I’m still not entirely sure they’re for me but this was an interesting read and I’ve already requested the next volume. I know Ms. Marvel is important since the Marvel universe isn’t exactly populated by female, non-white, Muslim superheroes. Kamala Kahn is a teenage girl in Jersey City trying to balance American high school and strict immigrant parents when she suddenly finds herself thrust into the superhero role. I felt for Kamala as she is figures out who she is and how she fits into the world although I am hoping for a bit more on the origin story – what actually gave her her powers?

I also finished Armada on audio today. Armada follows a teenage gamer drafted into real war as aliens invade the planet.  Just like Ready Player One, Armada was a treat for my ears from start to finish. Wil Wheaton reading Ernest Cline is definitely one of my favorite narrator/author combinations. While Armada is not nearly as good as RPO, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve heard others were disappointed but I never wanted to stop listening.

What was your first book of 2016?

The Sunday Salon: 2016 Goals

This used to be my favorite time of the year to blog about books. I loved preparing my top ten reads of the previous year, my labor-intensive reading stats for the previous year (see 2012|2011|2010|2009), and thinking about my goals for the upcoming year. While I did share some of my favorite books from the past year, that is the extent of my 2015 recap.

I’ve talked a lot about my lack of reading motivation and the trouble I have prioritizing reading into my schedule. So, instead of setting a numerical reading goal this year (as Goodreads so badly wishes me to do), I am setting a very achievable goal of simply reading a little each day, even if it is just for ten minutes. This past year, I could go weeks without picking up a book and just writing that out makes me sad.

I’ve also set two other goals for 2016. Just like I want to get back to reading, I would like to get moving again. Again, finding the time/prioritizing the time is my difficulty so I am setting the bar low. I just want to workout a little each week, even if it’s just a weekend run or yoga class. My hope is with both reading and exercising, that some will lead to more.

My last goal is more definite. I will pay off the last of our consumer debt. We have one card left that still has a balance. I had really hoped we’d pay this off in 2015 but life had different plans for us. I know we can do it this year. Even though we will still have a mountain of student loans to tackle, this will be a huge win for us. I have other intentions for 2016. I’d like to continue focusing on things like minimalism and mindfulness. I want to use my phone less and pick up the real camera more. I’d like to be more present, both when I am at work and when I am at home. I want to be more patient with Evan. And,now that Kai demands less of my attention, I want to be more helpful to Ben.

What goals do you have for 2016?

The Sunday

A Few of My 2015 Favorites

Happy New Year!

I didn’t read nearly enough books in 2015 to do an official recap or top ten or anything like that. But since I didn’t actually do much blogging about what I read either, I did want to to share a few of the books I read and loved in 2015.

I read 29 books this year. I gave 5 stars to eight of them but two were rereads. Here are my 6 favorite new-to-me reads in 2015, in the order in which I read them:

Betsy and the Great World | Maud Hart Lovelace | print | 5 stars

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? | Maria Semple | audio | 5 stars

Why Can’t I Be You | Allie Larkin | print | 5 stars

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty | audio | 5 stars

I’ll Give You the Sun | Jandy Nelson | print | 5 stars

Who Do You Love | Jennifer Weiner | 5 stars

Why Can’t I Be You is probably my top pick of the bunch. It was predominately a women’s fiction/young adult year for me as I tend to gravitate toward those genres when my reading motivation wanes, as it very much did in 2015.

What was your favorite read of 2015?

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Recently Finished – Who Do You Love

I have been a Jennifer Wiener fan as long as I have been an adult. I’ve ready every novel she’s written, so naturally, I picked up Who Do You Love. And I loved it. I loved the way it was written, chronologically but not always. I loved skipping between Andy and Rachael. I loved watching them succeed and fail over and over. This was a beautiful novel.

Next up, some holiday reading.

Just Finished: A Window Opens


My first real-time-not-a-book-review book review:

I finished listening to A Window Opens this afternoon on my drive back to the office from Tampa. It was 1:30. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet* and I desperately needed to pump. Which makes my reading selection somewhat ironic. Or, perhaps, fitting.

I’d originally picked up A Window Opens when I saw it on a list of fall releases which claimed it was an excellent debut about a woman balancing work and motherhood.

I could relate a little to some of it, but mostly I found the book to just be okay. Maybe I need the millennial version of this story, where everyone finds harmony in their work-life balance and then they instagram about it. Actually, I could probably write that version.

I didn’t dislike the book as I was reading it, but I was not pleased with the way the book wrapped up.  For those of you who have read it and want to engage in a spoiler-filled discussion, I am happy to explain why it disappointed me.

If you’re a working mom, you may enjoy it. If you’re not, I think you’d probably find it a pretty boring.


*And I’d just used my lunch money to pay the $20 parking tab because Tampa apparently thinks it’s New York City now.

TSS: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. I usually spend it with my dad, either visiting him in Boston or having him visit here, but this year we were on our own. So we skipped the whole thing and went to Busch Gardens and had a family fun day.

And now we are ready for Christmas.

My love of this season seems to have infected Evan, who has been asking about Christmas since Halloween (despite attending a Jewish preschool where neither of these holidays are celebrated). He knows we are going to Michigan and he is anxious to see his grandparents and play in the snow. (Please let there be snow). Since we will be traveling at Christmas, Santa will be visiting our house a few days early.

So we put our tree up yesterday to maximize our time with it.

In the past, we’ve always decorated the tree while Evan was napping and then spent the following weeks trying to convince him not to steal/eat the ornaments. This year he was able to help us decorate and – so far – is doing a great job of not destroying the tree. He asked me to turn the lights on the second we came downstairs today and says it’s “beautiful.” I love this kid.

He is also tolerant of the Christmas music I’ve been playing even though it is not the Frozen soundtrack, which is usually the only thing he tolerates.

We have some fun activities planned for this Christmas season. We bought tickets for the North Pole Express at the Florida Railroad Museum. We’ll be hitting up the local parades and fake snow festivals, doing some baking, and we’ll go for our evening walks to view the Christmas lights.

I’ve also ordered the holiday cards and done most of our shopping already (this whole budget thing we’ve been doing makes Christmas shopping a breeze).

What are your favorite holiday activities/traditions?