Tally Monday- July 30, 2018

Checked Out

  1. How to Write a Mystery by Larry Beinhart
  2. Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
  3. Teen Witch by Silver Ravenwolf
  4. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
  5. Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White


  1. Fox’s Earth by Anne River Siddons
  2. Living on 24 Hours by Arnold Bennett


  1. Riverdale Digest, vol 4

*sad trombone*

Reading Soulful Simplicity by Courtney Carver, The Naked Witch by Fiona Horne, Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr, Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison, Chicken Soup for the SoulSimple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, Empowered Mama by Lisa Druxman

Sometimes when I type up this weekly list I surprise myself.  This week, for instance, is the exact opposite of what I was expecting.  I felt like I made a lot of progress on my reading and like I was not terrible about my check outs and that I hadn’t bought a single book.  I am wrong on all three things.  But, of course, I can rationalize.

I checked out the Rennison to be my new audiobook series.  I tried to read Angus when I was in high school.  Back then I was a goth girl who was super into Francesca Lia Block and Marilyn Manson so it’s really no surprise at all that I found the tone ANNOYING.  Now, though, this is like Bridget Jones for teens and also a total blast from the past.  I’m loving it on audio.  It has me laughing like a loon in my car.  It has me swinging a little out of my way to get a couple of extra minutes in.  It’s encouraged me, even, to drive a couple of back roads, which I have been missing.  This is not rationalizing, you guys.  I need to keep my audiobooks circulating and I gave up on my last series.

Mom had a great idea for a book last week but it’s a mystery and I’m not great at that so I needed a book, right?  And part of all of this remembering who I was to figure out who I am had me wanting to reread my first book on Wicca in an effort to redevelop a practice.  The Franzen has been calling my name lately.  I listened to both The Corrections and Freedom on audio and I loved them but the woman who reads Purity had the kind of voice that grated on me.  I couldn’t get into it.  So I broke down and grabbed the book last week because “I’m not checking anything out in August except what is already on order for me.”  Today I passed Decluttering and grabbed it for the same reason.  August needs to hurry.

My “bought” books were better, at least.  I scored both of them from free.  One came from the donation pile.  I’ve been really good about not borrowing any of these books but I couldn’t resist this one.  It looked so mass market and creepy and like I would find it at K-Mart 15 years ago.  The Bennett book was a free Kindle book.  I found it after a mention in Simple Abundance.

I am currently reading Soulful Simplicity and I honestly thought it would be done by now.  I started it on Wednesday when I was home with a stomach bug.  It reads easily and a lot of what it says is really hitting home.  This was supposed to be my year of less:  less weight, less stuff, less debt, less worry.  It has not been.  The added expense of daycare, previously unforeseen, has driven me into the ground.  While at the beginning of the year I was consistently slamming an extra $200 on my debts, I am now struggling not to dip into my emergency fund on the regular.  This has create a lot MORE worry and the constant nagging voice, urging me to “do something” when I have no idea what.  I just keep piecing it together.  It would also help if we could go a couple of months without a clinic visit.  $60 copay for urgent care!

But this book has me feeling like there is hope.  It’s reminding me to keep doing what I am doing, that I’ve made progress before a stall isn’t the same as a fail.  I can just keep getting rid of at least one thing a day and I can keep paying whatever extra I can on things and eventually everything shakes out.

Well, I plan on finishing this book today and then I’m on to Poisoned City about the Flint water crisis.  After that it’s a few short books that should speed me right along.  Progress.  August is a month of fasting: no new checkouts except what is already on order, no new purchases, and a lot of making time to read.  The dog days are upon us but summer is almost gone.  Don’t let it slip away without sipping some sun tea under your favorite tree with a good book.

And that’s an order.


Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

I read a post by Valente on Chuck Wendig’s blog and was charmed enough that I HAD to read this book as soon as I could get my hands on it.  What followed was a very involved system of trying to request it every single day until a library was willing to send me a copy.

Then I was kind of iffy about it.  It took me a little while to get into it because at first it felt very wordy.  By the time I slid into the story, though, and got used to the style, it had me hooked.  I even downloaded the audio so that I could get through it even faster.

Sentient life has been discovered on Earth by the rest of the of the sentient universe.  Still reeling from an intergalactic war, a war about answering the age old question of who is meat and who is not.  In resolution, the planets have banned together to create a musical competition, the Grand Prix, which all planets with sentient life must compete in every year.  In order for a newly discovered planet to be accepted in, they must not finish last.  Enter Decibel Jones, a washed up glam rocker whose band is the last on the list to compete for Earth’s place in the universe.  Unfortunately, the rest of the performers on the list are dead.

Decibel needs to get his band back together except that Mira, his old drummer, is dead and Oort has been busy becoming normal since the band broke up.  Decibel and Oort have eleven days to write a song and when they get to the host planet of the Grand Prix, they discover that they also have to make it to the Grand Prix while other species attempt to kill them, move them through a wormhole, and even steal Decibel’s voice.

This is definitely one of those books that you are either going to love or hate.  I don’t think that there’s anyway that you could feel “so-so” about it.  I loved it but I wasn’t sure that I loved it until it made me cry after making me chuckle so much.  A fun romp with some feeling.

The Dead Zone by Stephen King

The Great Stephen King Read continues!  I went into The Dead Zone with no prior knowledge.  I had no idea about the TV show.  I hadn’t read the back of the book since I was 12 and just hung out in used book stores, reading the backs of Stephen King books.  I went in completely blind.

And, honestly, this is probably one of my favorites so far.

I don’t know how to describe this book.  It’s more on the paranormal phenomena spectrum than the horror spectrum.  I believe that I described it to my husband as “a kind of slow-burn, political thriller.”

John Smith is just an average boy who takes a spill on the ice and blacks out but that’s all it takes for his life to drastically change.  While he easily forgets about his fall, he has premonitions over the years.  A premonition is what gets him a lucky streak on the Wheel of Fortune when he takes his girlfriend to a county fair.  Only, that luck has to be paid for and Johnny is in an accident that puts him in a coma for almost five years.  Then the premonitions are even worse.

I love how King manages to start off with three or four different story lines that feel completely unrelated until they come together.  I love how he references his own work, kind of tongue-in-cheek.  (This book featured a reference to Carrie and a mention of Jerusalem’s Lot.)  I enjoyed this one enough that I enthused about it to numerous people while I was reading it.  It’s easily in my Top 10 Stephen Kings.

Also, it was fin to read King write about a politician in exactly the way that he would write about Trump today.

Tally Monday- July 23, 2018

Checked Out

  1. The Poisoned City by Anna Clark
  2. Eat This, Not That
  3. Eat This, Not That Supermarket Survival
  4. A Beautiful Mess by Elsie Larson and Emma Chapman
  5. The Magic of Believing by Claude M. Bristol
  6. The Miracle Morning by Hal Elron
  7. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  8. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Klause
  9. The Nature Fix by Florence Williams


  1. Deep in the Valley by Robyn Carr
  2. Just Over the Mountain by Robyn Carr
  3. Down by the River by Robyn Carr


  1. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  2. Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

My dream is to some day live the kind of life that allows me to chose what I want to read next without some crazy pile of books waiting for me.  There can still be lists and a plan, but not a pile.  That may surprise you.  I mean, look at the shit I did last week.  I went nuts.  I mean, out of the 9 books I checked out, 3 were just to flip through, 2 were books I was re-checking out because I couldn’t renew them anymore, and 4 were new to my stack.

“Listen,” I told myself.  “You’ve got to pipe-the-fuck-down already.”

But, as much as I want to be able to stroll to my bookshelves and randomly choose what to read next, I also know that books have a way of being perfectly timed anyway.

What would I read if I was just choosing what I am in the mood for?  Probably a classic, maybe Hemingway or Austen, though summers always seem like the right time for Faulkner.  A reread, like The Bell Jar or Little Women or even some Francesca Lia Block, which I have been feeling the need for lately.  More Stephen King because Stephen King.  And maybe round it all off with some Alice Munro short stories.

So, what my reading life is actually like is completely different from what I actually want right now.  This is not surprising.  My whole life is like that, really.

I’m not disappointed.  Except, maybe I am.  I am feeling restless.  I am in need of a hot day in the shade with a book.  I am clamoring to defeat myself.  And conquering isn’t very soothing now is it??

I finished two books last week and I enjoyed both of them.  Next I’ve got an Archie digest and then a book on simplifying.  It’s not like there could be a better book for now, I guess.  And when I look at my stack of books, I think about how doable it all is if I just trust myself and keep going.   Sometimes those are difficult things to do.

I owe you a couple of reviews and they are coming.  I put them on my to do list for today so I should get to them by Friday…

The Customer is Always Wrong- Mimi Pond

I had some complaints about the first volume, Over Easy, but, honestly, other than the color of the print I can’t remember them.  Because the sequel, which I requested as soon as I realized that it existed, blew me away.  Seriously.

I have read a few graphic novels this year that have torn my heart out and this was one of them.

Madge continues working as a waitress at the Imperial Cafe where she is surrounded by a colorful cast of characters.  It’s the 70’s in Oakland and the world is changing.  Madge’s coworkers get into all kinds of trouble, drugs and gangs and missing daughters who have run off with dangerous boyfriends.  Madge is trying to save up enough money to move to New York and become a career cartoonist and more and more she can see the gap between herself and her friends.  This is a book about letting go and moving on but it is also bittersweet with love and nostalgia.

This is the kind of writing that sucks you right into the page.  I was there.  I was at the wild party and I was on the dangerous trip to the bad side of town.  I was invested in everyone, enough to cry a couple of times.  This one got 5 stars, because when it was done I shut the book and cried a little more.

Tally Monday- July 16, 2018

Checked Out

  1. Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly




  1. Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James
  2. The Customer is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond

Reading: Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente, Naked Witch by Fiona Horne, The Dead Zone by Stephen King, 1001 NightsBest Loved Poems of the American People, Chicken Soup for the SoulSimple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and Empowered Mama by Lisa Druxman

I had an idea a while ago about how to make my TBR stack go away.  It’s a plan that I’ve used A LOT in the past.  I start with the biggest book and get it out of the way and then the books get progressively shorter and the reading goes faster.  That’s the idea, anyway.  It doesn’t always work like that.  In fact, let’s be honest, it never works like that.  I read the biggest book and then I have something that I HAVE to read because it’s new and then I get distracted by a fat graphic novel and then I magically have a gigantic stack again.

So, this morning I was thinking about doing the opposite.  Read the shortest books first and get them the hell off the stack.  This sounds like a fine idea to me.  My stack is a lot taller than I think but I also have a really short kid’s book and The Old Man and the Sea, both books that can be read in a day with just a little but of effort.  Yes, this is the way to do it, I have decided, except that I have some things that HAVE to be read first because they will be due and they have holds on them: Space OperaSoulful Simplicity, and Poisoned City, which hasn’t even come in yet but will be here shortly.

Last week I requested a new book and I was number 10 in the queue.  This was Thursday night and I figured that it would come in early July.  “Great!  I’ll be ready for it!” I told myself.  Well, the gods of the library had different plans and it was waiting for me when I got in today.  How is this even possible??  NO CLUE!

Now a break down of reading thoughts:  The Customer is Always Wrong was fucking fantastic!  I am enjoying the shit out of Dead Zone and should finish it up tomorrow if I don’t crack and read the physical book when I get home tonight.  I think that it will take me a while to get through Space Opera but I like it so far.  Today I read Women’s World magazine and I am pleased to report that it scratch my nostalgia itch.  I never thought that I wanted to be a stereotypical 90’s housewife, but these days I feel like I am being cheated out of my morning shows and soap operas…

Outside of books and reading, I am coming off of a really hard week.  Depression hit me full force at some point last week, though I can’t really pin-point when.  I spent an embarrassing amount of the weekend feeling incapable of doing anything but sitting and crying, the kind of depression that physically hurts.  I am feeling pretty good today, though, so I am hoping that was a quick bout.  I have big ideas for this week that include a lot of self-care and calm.

Also, last night we tore through something like 7 episodes of the new Mist and I am digging it.  Damn, you, Stephen King!

Once Upon a Tower by Eloisa James

I read widely and that means that once in a while I read a romance.  I’m not hating on romance AT ALL.  I believe that you should read what you want to read and what I want to read is a little of this and a little of that.  Plus, sometimes you don’t want to read something so serious.  Sometimes you’re going through a rough patch and you hear a book suggested on about a million podcasts and decide to just give it a go.

Next thing you know, you’re sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, low key crying because you have the feels.  True story.

This book.  I loved this book from the start.  I was having a hard time reading and I regret that this book we stretched out over 2.5 weeks.  It was good and I wanted to read it and I was frustrated at my inability to do so.  But a bout with bronchitis was enough to put me on my butt with a book for the day and that was enough to push me through the last 100 pages.

When Gowan meets Edie, he is expecting only to take an English wife for political reasons but Edie is perfect.  She is ethereal.  She is demure.  She is apparently very ill and just trying not to pass out as they dance.  However, Gowan doesn’t know that and when he goes to visit her the next day he finds that he is not the only man who was attracted to her.  Gowan rushes in and makes an offer to Edie’s father that cannot be refused.  He is a Duke with a castle and many estates.  When Edie is well enough, she sends a letter to her intended.  She has been the peace keeper between her father and stepmother for years and she wants to ensure that her husband understands what she expects out of a marriage: she must practice her cello for hours every day, uninterrupted, and she would prefer not to have children immediately and she would like it if the duke kept his marital indiscretions, well, discreet.

This letter gets Gowan interested and they begin to write back and forth.  When they meet each other out in society, they cannot keep to themselves.  They hurry their wedding and then, well, then things get interesting.

I found this book to be hilarious and delightful and even heartbreaking.  It was a nice twist on the Rapunzel story and I would probably pick up another James book when I get the romance craving again.