So, We Did a Thing…

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything at all. I have still been reading. Some reviews will be posted soon. I have also been very busy, although that’s not likely to stop soon.

This beauty officially belongs to us. We are homeowners. I feel a bit like this is not real. After all the annoying last minute requests for random paperwork, we went in and signed a stack of papers today, and now it’s ours.

This backyard belongs to my boys. They will have a yard to play in when the weather is nice. They can color on the patio with sidewalk chalk. We can set up a kiddie pool next summer.

All this counter space belongs to Middle Brother and me for our cooking. That freezer will hold so much pumped milk. I have been dreaming about this backsplash, even if I do dislike the countertops.

There’s a lot to be done. It’s a forty-year-old house. Moving is my least favorite thing in the world. But at the end of it, we will be living in our own permanent space. I will never have to move four bookcases (some double-shelved), two suitcases, and some totes full of books again if I don’t want to. (Also, if you know us in real life, don’t mention the suitcases of books to Husband. He doesn’t know.) Tomorrow, I’m taking the three boys to see our new home.

Review: How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones

I’m not sure exactly what I thought this book would be. I knew it was a memoir dealing with LGBTQIA+ issues. I guess I assumed it would be violent, because the title. There was some violence. But overall, How We Fight for Our Lives is subtle.

I listened to this book as an audiobook narrated by the author, and I’m so glad I did. It felt like it gave it some personal depth.

I can’t say I enjoyed this book. A lot of it was unhappy experiences. But I do feel like it was a worthwhile read. As a white person in a heterosexual relationship, I feel like a good deal of my reading should focus on people that have had different life experiences than me. Reading helps me understand the world, but only if I don’t read all stories about people like me. This book is not about a person like me.

I spent some time after I finished this one reflecting on the title. What I decided is that when I hear “fight for our lives,” I picture the violent struggle, when sometimes it means the equally frightening internal struggle. The author spent a long time trying to figure out what his identity meant to him and to the world. In that time, he suffered a lot, both at the hands of other people and himself. Having finished the book, I realize that he fought a lot just to make it this far.

Review: Faker by Sarah Smith

I loved this debut rom-com. If you like fun, this book is for you.

In Faker, we follow heroine Emmie into her job in a male-dominated industry, where she has a particular problem with one coworker specifically- our hero, Tate. There are all the misunderstandings and mishaps you expect in a romantic comedy. My favorite part, though, is that some of the problems they have to work through aren’t really problems. They’re just personality quirks. This book has a surprising amount of psychological depth.

Any rom-com fan will love this, but particularly those that adored The Hating Game.

Review: Heiress Gone Wild by Laura Lee Guhrke

This was my Mommy Book Club read for this month. Apparently, we’ve got some historical romance lovers in that group, and it’s making me appreciate the subgenre more.

Having read a few historicals lately, I’ve gotten used to some quirks of the genre. For one, the heroine is almost always a forward-thinking woman trying to change the expectations of female society. It was a refreshing change of pace that in Heiress Gone Wild the heroine actually wants a traditional life. She’s probably not going to get one, but it’s nice that she wants it.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s hard for me to quantify why exactly. It’s just one of those books that’s a really fun read. The heroine is sassy, and the hero wants to be mad about it, but is actually charmed. No one gets what they think they want, and they’re sort of mad about it, but not really. If you’re looking for a great read, this one’s for you.

Texas Book Festival

When Big Brother was Only Brother, we started going to the Texas Book Festival in Austin. He was 11 when I discovered it, so we went for the weekend and hung out at YA panels all day. My non-reader would actually read if he heard the author talk about the book. We went a couple of years, and then some life stuff happened, and then I had Middle Brother, and without realizing it, I subconsciously wrote off Book Fest until the littles were older.

With the birth of this blog, I realized I wanted to submerge myself in books more than I already am (it’s kind of a problem, y’all!). The sneaky spying internet browser supplied an as for Texas Book Festival, and I thought, “Why not?” While Big Brother had been too old for the children’s events by the time we started going, I knew they had them.

Yesterday morning, we all loaded up in the minivan and drove the two and a half hours to Austin. Big Brother went hunting Pokemon at the three billion Pokestops around the Capitol. Middle Brother, Little Brother, and I headed down to the children’s area. We arrived right in between events, so we stopped by the sales tent and did our part in supporting the festival by buying a couple of new books.

We did a couple of storytimes, took part in a couple of crafts, and listened to the Austin Children’s Choir. We also spent a lot of time chasing squirrels on the Capitol lawn. It was not the festival I remember, but it was so much better.

At the end of the day, I had three happy boys. I provided my children with a full day of outdoor activity and the opportunity, at least, to be exposed to books. I wore my boys out with love and adventure.

So, no, I didn’t get to sit in on panels and learn about the fascinating things going on in adult literature from a different perspective. I didn’t get any books signed, even the ones I bought for my boys. It was very different than when we first started going. But we will get there again someday, and I loved it this way at least as much.

Review: When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan

I hate that this is the third review I’m going to write about a book (although only the first here!) wherein I call a book about cancer/tumors funny, but there it is. When Life Gives You Pears is hilarious.

I’m going to admit that I don’t know much about Jim Gaffigan besides someone I follow posting quotes from him occasionally. I know at least some of his comedy is about parenting, so if I were a big comedy special watcher, I’d probably be into him. I knew absolutely nothing about his family life. I certainly didn’t realize his wife was one of his writers, and therefore a very funny person.

I listened to this book as an audiobook, so a note on the narrator: The author narrates a lot of this book. How she doesn’t break down in some of the reading is beyond me. The beginning, however, is narrated by her sister because she had just undergone surgery on her vocal cords. The explanation for this sort of sets the tone for the book.

As a working mother, there were some major takeaways from this book. First, Jeannie had written off all the symptoms of a pretty significant brain tumor as just the result of being a busy mom. Again, ladies: Motherhood affects us like a brain tumor might. Tiredness, headaches, some dizzy spells; just par for the course, right?

Second, and this lines up well with where I’m at in my personal journey, she feels like she is the only one who can do the household things “right”, so she does them all. In the period where she was recovering from brain surgery, she had to allow someone else to handle it, and the world did not implode. She also realized that not allowing her family to take care of things themselves was doing them a disservice.

Third, and most importantly, while I treasure my children and have certainly done a better job as a more experienced mother with my two littles of pausing to enjoy their random weird quirkiness when it hits, Jeannie talks a lot about how after she thought she might die, she realized we really don’t have forever with our kids and she values her time with them in a whole new way. Middle Brother was cranky tonight, and you bet your ass I stopped cooking dinner to sit and meet him where he was and make sure he felt seen. If heaven forbid something should happen to me and I’m gone from my children’s lives, I want them to know how much they were loved and have beautiful memories to look back on.

This book may make you cry a little, but it will definitely make you laugh a lot. It will also do you the service of helping you evaluate how you’re prioritizing your time at home.

Review: Find Me Their Bones by Sara Wolf

If you haven’t read Bring Me Their Hearts, you’re going to want to do that first, or Find Me Their Bones isn’t going to make any sense to you. If it’s just been a while since you read the first book, that’s okay. Sara Wolf does a great job of reminding you what happened without a terrible infodump at the beginning.

This series is pulse-pounding fantastic. It is make-you-give-up-sleep greatness. I cannot say enough how much you need these books in your life.

We follow Zera, a Heartless, as she tries to take the prince’s heart to stop a war in the first book. Having failed at that, the second book involves an entirely new plot to stop the same war. There are a lot of big surprises, and I don’t want to spoil them for anyone, so I’m going to be really vague about the storyline.

What the author does splendidly is look at the situation from all angles. You see the good and bad of every decision, every character, every fight. No one is the “good guy”. They’re all human, even the ones that technically aren’t. It’s rapidly paced fantasy with heart, and I adore it.

Anyone who likes anything should read these books, because they’ve got a little bit of something for everyone: romance, adventure, gore, wyrms, magic, suspense, fantastic character-building, and moral questions.

I Did the Bad Mom Thing

This morning, as Husband and Little Brother were preparing to leave, Middle Brother was using me as a horse. So naturally, when it was time to say goodbye, he said, “Goodbye, Horses!” Except, in the way toddlers do, it didn’t come out quite right. Instead, it sounded like, “Goodbye, Whores!” And while I have enough parenting experience to know that the appropriate response to this is none at all, that is not what I did. What I did was dissolve into hysterical laughter. Middle Brother spent the rest of the morning happily saying, “Goodbye, Whores!” over and over, while I giggled nonstop, knowing it was the wrong thing with every repetition. I cannot wait to hear the report from daycare this afternoon.

Review: The Christmas Dare by Lori Wilde

I want to start with the fact that I have not read a lot of Christmas-themed romances, so there may be quirks to this subgenre that I’m not familiar with. I have a few on my TBR this year, so if my opinion of this one changes once I’ve read more, I’ll let you guys know.

I listened to The Christmas Dare as an audiobook. The narrator is good. There’s a slight Texas twang for the dialogue, but it’s not that overexaggerated drawl you’re always afraid of if you’re from Texas.

Overall, I liked this book, so I’m going to start with the positives so as not to give the wrong impression. The romance is great. It’s a reconnected lovers story, which I’m a fan of, if done right. This one is. The hero and heroine both have flaws they have to overcome, but are essentially good people. The heroine’s mother, however, has some serious issues, and causes her own problems. The author actually takes the opportunity to delve into a mental health issue, and I appreciate that, though I would have liked the explanation a little earlier. I spent most of the book wondering what the heck was wrong with that woman and hating her.

There’s also a background romance with the heroine’s best friend, and I hope there’s at least a novella that goes into it, because I’m interested about what was happening off page.

What I didn’t like: There were two overriding themes that just got beat to death, and they’re both in the title. Obviously, there was going to be Christmas and at least one dare. But by the end, every time I heard “Christmas” or “dare”, I wanted to puncture my eardrums. This may just be a thing in cutesy Christmas romances, but it’s a thing I don’t love.

If repetition of phrases won’t make you bonkers, though, I do recommend this book for your holiday reading.

Review: How to Suffer… in 10 Easy Steps by William Arntz

So, I thought this was going to be a humor book. I wasn’t entirely wrong. It is pretty funny. But it actually is an in-depth look at what suffering is, why it happens, and what we can do about it.

I am a spiritual seeker, which you may know if you’re not new to my blog. Part of that for me has always been about looking at myself and getting into alignment with the universe. So, obviously, this book is perfect for me. I love that the beginning is written from the perspective of how best to stay in suffering, because I find I’m often doing those things even when I think I don’t want to suffer anymore. It is incredibly effective.

I definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in finding more serenity in their life, but that needs to be eased into it with a little humor.