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Top Ten Tuesday: My Halloween Dream TBR

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I love a good creepy Halloween read. Some of my favorite books are about things that go bump in the night. I’m not a fan of gore, but I do love a great psychological thriller with supernatural elements and ripping Victorian sensation novels. I’m changing up this week’s Top Ten Tuesday to reflect those atmospheric creepy books I have yet to read. Let me know if you can recommend any of the titles below and I will bump them up on my TBR list.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

The Unburied by Charles Palliser

Hit me up with recommendations and any thoughts on this list. What should I read first? I’m leaning towards The Quick in November and The Paying Guests in December.

Happy Birthday, Atticus Clay

Atticus is four

Dear Atticus,

Now you are four and four seems like such a large number to me. You’re now a big boy, a preschooler, a kiddo. I’ve spent the past four years watching you grow. You’ve gotten taller and your feet are certainly bigger, but I’ve also watched your heart and imagination grow. I love seeing the world through your eyes; it is filled with dragons, giants, and superheroes. A sense of adventure and wonder fills you and you so very bravely take on the world. A world not only fraught with mythical beings, but sisters, too! In such a perilous world my birthday wish for you is courage.

  • Courage to be your true self and love the marvelous, different you.
  • Courage to speak up for the people you love and your friends.
  • Courage to try new things and new experiences.
  • Courage for those times when imagination gets the best of you (nighttime shadows and dragons are no match for you!
  • Courage to ask for help and hugs.

I get a birthday wish, too! For me, on your fourth birthday, I wish for courage. Four ushers in a new age of letting you grow. I need courage to let you figure out some things on your own, courage to not hover beside you on the play ground, courage to let you make more choices and have a voice.

You are my sunshine, my wild thing and I love you more each day. Happy birthday, Atticus man!

All my love,

Mommy

Thursday Thoughts: The Perpetual Optimist and the Ocean of Hobby-like Pursuits

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I enjoy being busy. Really busy. I work a full-time job, my husband is a full-time student and part-time employee, and I have three kids. I like to cook and I have a fairly neat home. To-do lists and planners are my bae. Then there is my Ocean of Hobby-like Pursuits: reading, blogging, letter-writing, baking, cooking, embroidery, crochet, knitting, crafts, thrifting, volunteer work, and journaling. I like to busy. Really, really busy. There is so much more I want to do: gardening, hiking, quilting, jam-making, animal-saving, collecting, traveling….. There is just so much to do. My husband doesn’t understand my incessant need to always do and he hates when I get in a funk because I am sick or tired or lazy and I don’t do anything put stare at the wall and sit. It feels like a waste of time to just sit, but I know it isn’t. I just enjoy the thrill of making, doing, completing…. it makes me feel like my life has a purpose and direction outside of being a wife, mother, and employee. I am doing something that springs from myself, from things I want to do for me. I just feel the brevity of life pressing in on me from all sides. At the end of my life, I will be happy reflecting on books read, my hands kneading bread, the feel of yarn draped across my fingers. Yes,being a mother and wife is so important to my identity, but I have that stubborn, solitary streak that wants to exist independently of others. Oh yes, the introvert’s need for a “rich inner life.”

I credit my need for busyness with effectively managing chronic depression (for the most part). I get wildly depressed every spring and summer, but autumn and winter are periods of happiness. Note, that I say manage my depression. It is still there — although right now is my happy time of year I am aware that in the spring I’ll be back to moody — but I always have something motivating me. There I times when I feel like the worst wife and mother, but I’ve learned not to base my self-worth off of how I may or may not fail people. I know that it is the dreadful internal perfectionist talking. Instead I try to positively motivate myself. For the longest time, I knew I wouldn’t die until I had read all of the Harry Potter books. It didn’t matter how awful I thought I failed at life, there was another book in the series and I had to keep chugging along for that. Now, when things seem bad I can focus on how I really want to make a pie crust that is tender and flaky without falling apart, or how one day I will learn to properly read a knitting pattern, or how I want to read every Virago Modern Classic, or how I am going to write a novel some day.

Yes, I am going to write a novel. Since I was eight years-old I’ve wanted to write a novel. I have no time for writing a novel right now. It is ridiculous to even think that I could begin to write a novel. It will be written. It may take me 30 years, it may never be read by anyone but myself, but it will be done. That is my big push and that is what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m going to start. I’ve signed up for Nanowrimo for November and my goal is to achieve shitty-first draft status (Thanks, Anne Lamott).

My husband groaned when I told him my goal. He knows I’ll complain that I can’t finish everything. I’ll wail that my knitting is stalled because I’m writing or my writing is stalled because I’m reading. That’s okay with me. I love the energy that surges with starting something new and exciting and I thrill at the prospect of one day finishing and moving on to the Next Big Thing.

I’ve talked about how on bad days or when depression hits it is small, perfect project that keeps me going. Oh but the good days are so much better with productivity. I am the perpetual optimist. At one point in time — many years ago — I thought the power would be cut off because of some unemployment issues. No worries! We’ll break out candles and knit blankets and cuddle in a big heap! That was actually when I took up knitting. In hindsight I know that I’m a slow, pitiful knitter and if the power was cut it would have been miserable. But still, the reckless optimism was exhilarating and I had a new hobby! The power wasn’t cut off and my days were much cozier for having plenty of bright bits of yarn around and a project to do while Hope did homework at night. I leveled up, so to speak.

Looking back at this post it doesn’t seem to make sense. I lack a strong thesis and effective transitions between thoughts and all of that other important writerly goobly-goop. I suppose the function of this post is to declare that I have plenty to do, but I crave more, because doing things makes my life immeasurably rich.

The second function was to announce that I’m attempting Nanowrimo but without seeming like it was some sort of Grand Announcement with Expectations. Are you attempting Nanowrimo? Let me know and we can scribble busily together all November!

nano

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Series to Read

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Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is to list the series I most want to read. The intention is to list new series, but when have I ever followed rules? I’ve placed them in alphabetical order because that’s how I’ve listed them on my TBR spreadsheet.Yes, there is a spreadsheet. Quit judging.

I read The Coffee Trader by David Liss years ago (2008 or 2009 I think). I really enjoyed it even though it was less coffee and more Dutch economics. In fact it was downright fascinating. This trilogy is a comprised of three thrillers set in 18th Century England.

Last year I read The Solitary House by Lynn Shepard and had a Victorian literature nerd squeal fest. Then I realized that this is the second book in a series. I’m going to go back and read Murder at Mansfield Park and go from there.

I’ve read Cold Comfort Farm and it is a gem! I really want to revisit this book and read Conference at Cold Comfort and Christmas at Cold Comfort.

Another cozy, historical mystery series with Dido Kent. I am hopeful that this will be a non-cheesy Regency mystery series.

I’ve heard mixed reviews on the Fairyland series, but I’m willing to give it a try just based on the lilting brilliance of the first books title.

Flavia de Luce!!! I’ve heard nothing but good things about this mystery series concerning a precious chemist. It is very imporant to me that I own the entire series and that they match.

There is a read-along of this series starting up next year and I plan on joining. I read the first book, A Man of Property, many years ago, but I really need to re-read it.

Confession time. I only read the first book in the series many, many moons ago and I thought it was meh. Okay, I liked it, but I wanted it to be an adult novel (longer with more detail). I’m ready to give it another go as I am sure it was a case of “right book, wrong time”.

I’ve heard that this serious is addictive, gorgeous, and all-consuming. What more could you want?

One day, Kristin Lavransdatter. One day.

Readerly Rambles: The Read-a-thon mini-review edition

readerly rambles

Dark Shadows, volume 1 by Stuart Manning

Meh. I don’t know if this is the case, but it felt like cashing in on the movie. A whole lot happens in fewer than 100 pages with little character development, no plot tension and middle of the road illustrations.  (2 Stars)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

This is a fun little book of poems about cats. I adored it. The poems were clever and fresh and would be a treat for any cheeky cat lover. Illustrated by Edward Gorey. (4 Stars)

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

I hated this little book. It is 40 pages of stupidity. PLOT SPOILERS. Woman finds a bookmobile at night that contains everything she has ever read. She wants to work on this bookmobile that disappears magically for years at a time. She becomes a librarian and is upset that she is still unqualified to be a night bookmobile librarian. So she commits suicide and becomes the night bookmobile librarian for someone else. This “graphic novel” had no character development. I didn’t give two hoots she offs herself and I thought she was whiny and dumb the entire time. The idea is brilliant and this might have worked as a longer, more fleshed out work. (1 Star)

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Honestly, I did not think I would like this book. I chose to read it for read-a-thon because it was under 300 pages and was illustrated by Edward Gorey. It was amazing. I don’t know why I didn’t read it sooner. This tale of Martians annihilating the Victorians was fast-paced, beautifully written, and meaningful all while functioning as a badass Victorian Walking Dead with aliens instead of zombies. Read it. (4 Stars)

Amphigorey by Edward Gorey

This is a collection of 15 of Edward Gorey’s illustrated books. Because I read the book cover to cover in one sitting, the titles tend to run together, but it doesn’t matter. It is fun and macabre and beautifully illustrated. (4 Stars)

Fables: Snow White (v. 19) by Bill Willingham

Oh my gosh I love Fables and this collection is pretty exciting. I didn’t care much for the first quarter of the book that ties up loose ends with Buffkin the flying monkey and his pixie girlfriends. But the last 3/4 of the book is exciting and turns the plot and I cannot say more without spoiling everything. (4 Stars)

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Read-a-thon was terrific. I am getting closer to getting to where I want to be with reading. The rest of October will be finishing several books I have going right now (Quartet in Autumn, Framley Parsonage, M R James short stories, and Rebecca on audio).

Happy Reading!

#Readathon Complete!

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Panel from Fables, volume 19

End of Event Meme:

Which hour was most daunting for you?  9pm until 10pm was the worst. Persy was throwing a tantrum, my husband was grumpy and stressed, and reading was hampered by kid’s not wanting to go to bed as they should. 

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? I really enjoyed The War of the Worlds by H G Wells. It was such an exciting tale!

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? I think a firmer hand with people who bitch and moan. Readathon is free, volunteers spend hours of time creating challenges, blogging, gathering prizes, and cheerleading. If you get your panties in a wad because you thought readathon would be “lucrative” for your blog’s comments, stats, and exposure then I say GTFO. I volunteer to be the bouncer next year. Okay, I’m mostly kidding. I just don’t think I ever realized how folks can take a fun, community-building event and whine. I do have many ideas about next year, but I want to mull it over and email our brave and fearless leaders later. 

What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon?  SOCIAL MEDIA. Seriously: Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, and Facebook is where it is at. 

How many books did you read? Three books and three graphic novels. So six total. 
What were the names of the books you read? The War of the Worlds by H G Wells, Amphigorey by Edward Gorey, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, Fables: Snow White by Bill Willingham, Dark Shadows: Volume One by Stuart Manning, and The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger 

Which book did you enjoy most? The War of the Worlds!

Which did you enjoy least? The Night Bookmobile 

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Lots of ideas, but first the mulling.

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? Tons of ideas! Once again I am going to keep them quiet for now. Next year I will be reading, cohosting, hosting a mini-challenge, and cheerleading. 

Some final stats:

Pages Read: 840

Best Snack: Home-made crock-pot spinach artichoke dip!

Monday Raised for the Ferst Foundation: $30.95 (short of my $36 goal)

Mini-challenges/Memes completed?  Four!

I think this readathon was my most successful!