Tally Tuesday- April 25, 2017

Checked Out



  1. Imperium by Robert Harris


  1. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

TBR Fuck if I know.

Yes, I am a day late.  Truth time!  I gave myself a few days off from life.  I didn’t work on my to do list.  I ate delicious foods.  I took a couple of little naps.  It was wonderful.  Actually, the whole weekend and into Monday was great.  I saw lots of people I enjoy spending time with and I had my favorite drinks and I just chilled.  Plus, I kind of wanted to put writing off until I finished War and Peace so that I would actually have something to show for the week, completely forgetting that I bought a book in the middle of the night.

Let’s talk about this purchase first.  I spend a lot of time up in the middle of the night.  I check the Amazon daily deals usually at some point when I am making bottles.  I sit on my couch with my Kindle and read while I do this daunting, but mostly just annoying, task and Monday morning I happened to recognize the name Robert Harris.  Why?  Because he’s Nick Hornby’s brother-in-law and I’ve been reading about how great he is for years.  So I bought it.  Whatever.  Maybe I’ll even read it someday.

Of course, the big news is that I finished War and Peace.  I loved it.  I really did.  That second epilogue is a bit much but the rest of it, even the war pars that I kept saying I didn’t like, was pretty damn good.  These characters will stick with me for a long time and I’m going to miss them.  I never ever expected to like it.  I just wanted to read it to be a snot to everyone who said I wouldn’t have time to read after I had a baby.  Ha!  Proved you guys wrong!  Ian probably has very deep thoughts about the free-will of mankind.

A review will follow but I cannot even wrap my head around that yet.

Okay, this week:  I’m about to finish a Little Black Classic, take on the latest One Story, and then we are off to the next big book.  Stephen King’s The Stand, the complete and uncut edition.  I’m excited!

Tally Monday- April 17, 2017

Checked Out



  1. Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer
  2. Authority by Jeff Vandermeer
  3. Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer



TBR Your guess is as good as mine.

Another week of basking in War and Peace.  I am beginning to hate Tolstoy who has ripped out my heart a couple of times now.  And it’s hard to predict, you guys.  Sometimes a character’s story will pick back up and I’ll catch myself clenching my teeth, awaiting the oncoming disaster.  Only, the disaster doesn’t come.  The story line swerves and the character lives to see another day.  Then something wonderfully hopeful happens and I get so excited for the wonderful, happy thing to come and it doesn’t happen.  Someone takes a lover instead or freaking dies.

Touche, Tolstoy.  Touche.

This morning I caught myself wondering how he did it.  How did he make me care about these characters?  They never seem technicolor to me, though they never seem flat either.  There is just enough there for me to think of the characters as real people.  They have just enough personality to be distinct but little enough for me to paint them with my own ideas and impressions.  It’s a fine line but he walks it well.

This week I will finish War and Peace and then I will launch headlong into The Stand.  One big book to another.  I’m looking forward to it, though.  I need more Stephen King in my life.

I bought the whole Southern Reach trilogy last week because I was feeling kind of down and they are pretty.  What can I say?  There are worse habits to have.

Tally Monday- April 10, 2017

Checked Out






TBR: Goodreads says 14

I am not one of those people who need to stay up and read “just one more chapter.”  In fact, I am not usually one of those people who needs to read one more chapter.  I dip in and out of books.  I read a chapter here and a chapter there while I work or clean or hang out with Hubby.  I have never been able to read for long periods of time because it makes me tired, gives me a headache, and leaves me feeling fuzzy.  I love to read and this is how it works for me.

So imagine my surprise when last night, tired from a long day of chores and taking care of a baby, I went to bed and laud there, staring at the ceiling and thinking about how much I wanted to read War and Peace.  When Ian woke up at 4ish, I fed him a bottle and settled down to pump, which is when I’ve been doing most of my reading.  When I got back in bed, I couldn’t sleep.  I wanted to read more Tolstoy.  I kind of had to laugh at myself.  I never ever dreamed that this would be the book I sunk right into or that any Russian literature at all would have me wanting to skip out on sleep to read, especially when sleep is as precious as it currently is.

I am not always hooked on the story. I am not a huge fan of the war and history.  But this is one of those books where I can’t tell you who my favorite character is.  I love so many of them.  When I am deep in Natasha’s story, I am sure that she is my favorite but as soon as we flip to Pierre I realize that HE is my favorite and so on and so on.

I am 55% done with the book and a large part of me wants to spend this week finishing it.  Why not?  I mean, it’s not every day that you get to be on maternity leave.  I am, at present, a housewife and most of the housewives I know, though I am definitely not speaking for all of them, are really good at binge watching Netflix and updating their Facebook constantly.  Surely I can get lots done and read the second half of War and Peace this week.

Ian seems to enjoy it sometimes too.  This kid will have the best vocabulary in the county if I keep this up!

Hopefully next week I can report that I am finished.  I cannot stress enough that it is a GREAT book and totally worth the effort.

Tally Monday- April 3, 2017

Checked Out



  1. Radical Self-Love by Gala Darling



TBR: Fuck all.

Greetings from the other side!  I am here to tell you that, thus far, motherhood is not the end of reading.  I know what you’re going to say.  “Rachael, you didn’t read anything this week!”

Au contraire, my friends.  I read a bunch this week.

At this point, my life lines are two devices.  The first is a breast pump, because little man is not a fan of the boob, and the second is my Kindle.  Now, I know all of this is more than any of you want to know and I would be annoyed if some random person started telling me about their trials and tribulations in breast milk BUT this is my blog and this is my life right now and you’re just going to have to deal with it.  Maybe skip the next paragraph and pick back up at the Kindle stuff.

I assume that if you actually breastfeed your baby, you probably spend that time bonding with them and staring at them adoringly and doing little else.  However, after three frustrating says of fighting with LM (Little Man) for sometimes two hours and knowing that he wasn’t getting enough food and that we were not enjoying each other because all we did was fight while I grew increasingly upset about my complete and utter failure at motherhood and he became increasingly frustrated with his hunger and his mean mom who kept shoving her boob in his face, I started pumping and bottle feeding.  It may seem like this doesn’t actually save time.  I mean, I have to get the pump ready, pump for 20 minutes, break the pump down (I put it away every time), bottle the milk, clean and sanitize the pump stuff and any empty bottles, and then adore my baby on my own time.  It still takes less time than fighting for two hours.

Basically, my Kindle has made this process a million times better.  If you pump both sides at the same time, which just makes sense to me, you are literally handless for 20 minutes at a time.  There are options here.  You could watch TV but, really, how much of a dent are you going to make in the X-Files at 20 minutes at a time.  It will add up over the course of the day but if you’re like me you don’t really enjoy having a TV blaring all day and it’s a hassle to start and stop an episode. Plus, with Hubby home the first week I pretty much let him have free reign over the remote.  (I have watched sooooooo many guitar videos, you guys.  And now I want a new guitar even though we have fucking 10 between us.)

What you can do pretty much hands free is read a Kindle.  Now, my set up here is not perfect.  I basically am sitting on the couch with a Kindle on my lap and my neck bent at an uncomfortable angle.  Still, so much good has come from this.

I have spent a lot of time this year thinking about how pointless reading is.  I hate to admit when I have these thoughts but it comes up once in a while.  I’ve read and I’ve read some stuff that I liked and I enjoyed some of it but the spark was pretty well gone and I was beginning to wonder if it was ever there to begin with.  Last week when I was laying in the hospital, hooked up to a morphine drip, feeling vulnerable and scared and in pain and kind of harassed, I would pick up my Kindle and read and it always made me feel better.  It helped me sleep in a strange bed.  It calmed me down when I had a meltdown.  I read to LM when we were having skin-to-skin time.

I started reading War and Peace on my Kindle at night at the beginning of February.  This week I read as much as I had up to the point that I went into the hospital.  I went from 15% to 31%.  I’m really, really enjoying it and LM seems to enjoy it too.  (Hubby commented that I was filling his head with drivel but he hasn’t broken out the Tolkien yet so his opinion doesn’t matter.)

Now that I am really into the reading of W&P, I am having an easier time keeping characters straight and I really care about them.  I love the scenes at home, not on the battlefield, but even the war stuff has the ability to draw me in.  This morning (3 AM feeding) a character died who I adored and then I realized that I adore most of the characters, even for their flaws.  Way to go, Tolstoy.  I think I get it now.

This week I imagine that I’ll read even MORE than 15%.  Hubby is back to work and the TV is off.  I’ll readily admit to watching with him once in a while.  Do you know why?  Because time with the people I love is important.  And right now I am lucky enough to live in a house with a husband and a baby and four cats who I love like ridiculously.

Tally Monday- March 27, 2017

Checked Out



  1. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
  2. Who Do You Think You Are? by Alice Munro
  3. The Blue Jay’s Dance by Louise Erdrich


  1. The Joy of Words
  2. The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard
  3. The Old Nurse’s Story by Elizabeth Gaskell

TBR 13 or whatever

Hello future people!  In my current timeline, it is Sunday night and I have spent all weekend taking care fo all of the last minute shit that needed to be done.  I managed o finish a book, which was nice, but I did that mostly last night in between periods of sleep on the couch.  The physical discomfort is real right now.  I’ve worked around the house for eleven hours today and I’m pretty well done.

In your timeline, I probably have a baby now.  Congrats to future Rachael.  See?  You’re not dead, are you?

Well, it’s here.  My library books have all been returned and I have a stock pile of things to read even though I probably won’t read them.  I have my Kindle loaded for the hospital.  All there is to do now is to step into the future.

Basically, my reading brain has been occupied with the argument of what to read on my Kindle.  I’ve mentioned before that I read my Kindle at night so that I don’t have to turn on the headboard light.  I’ve been reading War and Peace a chapter at a time and really enjoying it.  The problem started when I loaded up The Stand last night.  It feels weird to read two books on my Kindle at once and I kind of thought I should choose one and finish it but if I just finish the Tolstoy what will I read at night?  Also, I’m kind of afraid that the Tolstoy will lose some of it’s joy if I read it straight through instead of parsing it out bit by bit.

I’d like to read tonight but I don’t know if I will.  I’m tired and I need to leave at 7:30 tomorrow morning.  I said I’d play a game and I’d like to color.  Plus,  I should eat something else before I hit my cut off point.

Wish me luck.  I’ll be back next week with a Tally Monday to tell you how much I didn’t read mostly because I’m reading two huge books.

The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard

This book was originally chosen for my now defunct sci-fi/fantasy book club.  It took me a while to get to it because I just kind of got buried by other books and then my reading slumped a bit with the pregnancy and so on and so forth.  This was the last library book I had left to read before my maternity leave and I figured it would be fast because it is so very short.  I also thought that it might prove to be atmospheric enough to pull me in and distract me because I liked the idea of reading about hot, humid lagoons and jungles.

It didn’t work.

My reading of this book went in three phases, splitting the book roughly into thirds.  First, I was in for it.  I was interested in the setting and the people and the ideas.  I told Hubby that he would probably love the book.  I let the language carry me.  Second, I was a little bored.  I don’t know why, really.  It was like a struggle to read.  The language weighed me down.  I would get through a page or two and then put it away or fall asleep.  Finally, I hit the “I just do not care” point.  I didn’t.  I almost gave up on it a number of times, even when I was only 20 pages from the end.  I had to fight to finish and it took a very long time.

The Drowned World takes place in a time when solar flares have caused the world to warm up, melting the ice caps and causing the water levels to rise.  With the rising water, silt deposits have completely changed the map of the world and now most of the globe is covered in dense jungles and lagoons.  The only truly inhabitable places are the far north and the far south.  A group of military men and scientists are in submerged London but things are beginning to go bad.  People are haunted by dreams that seem to drive them slowly insane.  When word comes for everyone to move out and back to their base, Dr. Kerans decides to stay behind with Beatrice, the only woman in the area.  They have forged comfortable lives there in penthouses with air conditioning and food stores.  Kerans’ associate, Dr. Bodkin, stays behind as well, chasing down vague memories of his childhood in the city.  Before long, a kind of pirate arrives to loot the city and as he attempts to draw the three from their self imposed isolation, it becomes apparent that he is not to be trusted.

I will agree with many that the setting and the ideas are good and that the language can at times be poetic.  That is not enough to carry a book, though, not even a short one.  I found the characters to be flat and the plot felt a little too cliche and convenient.

Tally Monday- March 20, 2017

Checked Out



None!  (I’m still waiting on them to ship.  Shhhh.)


  1. When We Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
  2. Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas

TBR 13

First, some house keeping.  Next week I am going to try to get my post together on Sunday night and either go right ahead and post it or set it to post on Monday for me.  Monday I am having this baby.  Well, at least, if he doesn’t decide to come before that.  I am basically spending this week going, “Stay in there!  Not until Monday!”  Now that the c-section is set, I am quite keen on not accidentally going into labor.  My posting should go back to normalish after the birthing is complete, though I make no promises about my eloquence for the rest of my life.

I am currently reading The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard which was one of the books that we were reading for my now defunct online SciFi/Fantasy book club and is also my last library book out.  I hope to finish it by tonight but the language does not necessarily make for a very smooth read and I can’t promise that these last 100 pages will go down smoothly.  It’s not the kind of thing that I can read with the television.  Last night I tried to read while Hubby watched YouTube and eventually gave up and went to bed to work on War and Peace.  He came to bed and turned on a podcast.

Maybe it’s just that I can’t read with a distraction in general right now.  I try and I make some progress but it is an uphill battle.  It helps that The Drowned World is broken into manageable little chunks because there is always a nice stopping place within a couple of pages.  Which brings me to my next little bit of reading info for you all…

I have been thinking a lot about how I want my new reading life to look.  I know that my reading time is about to decrease.  I am not delusional.  However, I really do wish that people would stop fucking telling me that I’ll never read again.  I will.  I will even if I do it out of spite.  The thing is that I would like a little more freedom and serendipity in my reading life which is why I have worked out a new system.  Because, you guys, I like my systems.  One of the primary decisions I have made about my future reading life is that I need to read more Stephen King if I am going to read all of the Stephen King.  And so, when I finished The Drowned World, I will be reading the uncut version of The Stand.  I am really, really looking forward to it.  I have it on audio, in paperback, and in ebook.  I am ready to go.

I am currently playing with this sequence:

  1. Author (currently King, though I have a list of other authors I’d like to work through)
  2. Big List (my gigantic reading list, either next or random)
  3. Little List (one of the small lists I am working on, currently books mentioned in Perks of Being a Wallflower, I think)
  4. Nonfiction (most likely from Giant List)
  5. Book I Own (randomly selected from my book jar)
  6. YA (because work)
  7. Graphic (from the Giant List)

As soon as I finish The Stand, I’ll start working from my TBR pile to get it down and also to fulfill these categories.  Totally serendipitous, you guys.

It’s just, how do you do it when there are so many good books in the world and more being published all of the time?  At least I can read this stuff to Ian too until he starts to understand it.  Then maybe not Stephen King read alouds…