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Reading Roundup: December 2013

Champion by Marie Lu

 Even after reading the first two books in this series I still didn't feel very invested in it. The characters just weren't that interesting to me; however, the world that had been built was interesting and so I decided to read the final book just to see how things turned out. The author made some interesting choices and I thought wrapped the series up well.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

I've been hearing about this book for a long time and finally got around to reading it. It was a lot more engaging and readable than I initially thought it was going to be. I really liked it and felt like I learned a lot about personality and how that interacts with culture and society. I'm still not sure if I'm an introvert or an extrovert, but at least I feel better about owning my personality traits and working with them rather than against them. 

Rocky Road by Josi Kilpack 

I thought this book was better tha…

Christmas Vacation: Week One

I took the entire week of Christmas off for the first time since going back to work a few years ago.I had the vacation time saved up, the kids were off school, and vital computer systems were going to be unavailable at work, so it seemed like a good idea. While the week hasn't been as relaxing or productive as I (foolishly) thought it would be, it's still been a lot of fund. I'm glad I had the time to spend with my kids and family even though the time went by much too fast. 

Last Sunday night S-Boogie went to spend the night with her cousin, and then spent most of Monday with her as well. I woke up on Monday morning feeling energized and spent a few hours cleaning the house. Little Dude and P. Bibby helped out for a while before I sent them downstairs to watch Dora so I could finish things up by myself. That afternoon Little Dude helped me shovel snow off the driveway and make some candy cane cookies and a batch of Rolo turtles. It was a relaxing, fun day and a good way to …

Snapshots

My last "real" post was called "Back on the Wagon" and was over six weeks ago. Oops. I was feeling optimistic at the beginning of November, but my feeling didn't last. It turned out to be a crazy month, with a lot of different things going on for me, topped off by a visit from a nasty stomach virus for all three of the kids. I did manage to get my final paper written for my class; it took longer than I expected it to and turned out to be somewhat difficult to write. Part of that is my fault for not choosing a better research question and part of it is the fault of my instructor for giving vague directions for the final paper. Oh well--the semester is over and turned out well. Now I have a nice long break until mid-January and I want to make the most of it.

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As much as I'd like to relax and enjoy my break, however, nothing is going to be calm until after Christmas. Even when I try to keep things simple, they still are hard. This year I decided to send o…

Reading Roundup: November 2013

Safe Passage by Carla Kelly

I have liked all of Carla Kelly's books that I've read so far, and this one was just as good. I don't think it was my favorite, partly because there wasn't as much personal growth in the main character as in some of her other books. I also thought it was interesting that the main focal character was actually the man in the relationship--and even though this book is advertised and presented as a romance, it really felt more like a historical adventure narrative rather than romance.

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wien

Wien's book Code Name Verity was one of my favorites last year so I was eager to read this one. I think some of that eagerness set me up for too high of expectations, though, because it took me a while to get into this book since I kept comparing it to the one I read last year. Also, this book starts somewhat slowly--there is a reason for that and the writer plays a great trick on the reader with this technique, but it turned me …

Reading Roundup: October 2013

The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

The premise of this book was interesting, and I'm a sucker for historical mysteries--especially those that involve rare books and romantic intrigue. This book, however, was just a bit too over-the-top for me; the coincidences stretched credibility too much, the writing was clunky, and most of the characters were just one-dimensional stereotypes.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Marier

This was our book club pick for the month; I first read it years ago in high school, and I remember at the time feeling completely sucked in to the book and shocked by every twist and turn in the story. Rereading it as an adult was an interesting experience. When the book started I didn't remember much about it, but as things progressed I remembered more of the details. There are aspects of this book that haven't aged well, but it's still a good read and an important contribution to contemporary genre literature.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I avoided reading this b…

Back on the Wagon

Two weeks ago I mentioned that I had started exercising again and had successfully met my goal of working out three times a week. Unfortunately during the next two weeks I didn't do such a great job. The next week I exercised on Tuesday night; then on Thursday night I had my book club and came home late. I thought I would at least exercise on Saturday morning, but I stayed out too late on Friday and was completely exhausted Saturday. This was past week wasn't much better. I worked out on Tuesday night, but Thursday was Halloween and we were trick-or-treating instead (at least I was walking around quite a bit, so I think that counts). Then yesterday morning I did not get up and exercise; however, we spent two hours outside raking leaves and getting the yard ready for winter. Meeting my new exercise goal and getting into better habits has been a bit uneven but I am still committed to making it happen and having some positive changes in my life. 

Those last two weeks have been bus…

What I Have Been Up To

It's a lot harder to think of creative titles when all my blog entries tend to just be an update about my life and not related to a coherent theme. Expecting myself not to repeat titles after eight years of blogging is probably too much. Oh well. This a post. About stuff. 

My last post, and Conference, were both two weeks ago. Things have been going well since then. I will admit that for a few days after Conference I spent a lot of time feeling troubled about a few things that were said and deeply pondering issues that were brought up by some of the speakers. I had quite a few discussions with friends about my feelings, which were decidedly mixed and definitely not peaceful. I didn't feel strongly on one 'side' or another--I just felt agitated and had a lot of big feelings that needed to fit together and make sense. Then, on the Thursday morning after Conference I got up and thought to myself "fear and anxiety don't come from God". I said a prayer, read th…

Conference Weekend

Another General Conference has come and gone. It seems like the older I get, the shorter the sessions seem to be. Conference weekend used to feel like the longest two days of the month and now it feels like the shortest. I watched all four sessions this time--something I haven't done in a while--though the amount of attention I paid to each varied. 

The weekend actually started on Friday evening with a mission reunion. We attended the temple together with my mission president and his wife, then went back to their home for a dinner and a little gathering. Not many people attended this year; I think it wasn't well advertised and people are just getting older and moving on with their lives. I also didn't know most of the people who were there very well. It was still a good, uplifting experience for many reasons. I haven't been to the temple for a while and haven't seen the updated film--that was fun and interesting. It was also good to just get out and socialize, and t…

Reading Roundup: September 2013

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

This book had some good things about it--the mystery certainly drew me in and I really liked the main character. However, I guessed both of the two major twists in the plot quite early and wasn't surprised by the ending. Some of the dialogue was also fairly clunky and the setting of the story with rich mean-girls in a New York private school was certainly not original.

Pumpkin Roll by Josi Kilpack

I've ended up reading Kilpack's Sadie Hoffmiller mysteries in backwards order; after picking up the series earlier this year for the Whitney Awards, I've become interested in going back to read the first few that I missed. This one seems to have been a turning point in the series, at least based on so many later references to 'what happened in Boston'. I did enjoy this one quite a lot and thought it was quite tightly plotted and had a good level of tension and real menace. The most recent book I read by Kilpack didn't quit…

Sturm und Drang

The weather has been weird for the last few weeks--we've been having a lot of muggy mornings followed by massive thunderstorms in the afternoon. About 10 days ago we had a crazy microburst that caused a lot of flooding around the neighborhood (thankfully my basement stayed dry). Things have been rather unsettled, but we are slowly creepy towards fall. I love watching the trees slowly turning colors and feeling the air cool off a little each day. On Sunday I distracted the kids from the fact that we didn't have a lot of good food options in the house by packing a random picnic and driving us up into the canyon for dinner. They love getting outside and I need to take advantage of our proximity to the mountains more often. 

The last few months have been somewhat unsettling for me too. I've been in my new job for almost five months now and am finally starting to feel more comfortable in my role. I think I underestimated how big a transition in workplace atmosphere and job type …

Reading Roundup: August 2013

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

I don't know much about the world of highly gifted, competitive musicians, and I felt like the author did a good job making that world come alive and be understandable to readers. I also really liked the main character and her love interest; there were a few elements of the story that led to the conclusion that felt a bit over-the-top, but not so much that I couldn't suspend my disbelief and enjoy the story.

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian

Bohjalian is an author that I always end up a little disappointed by, but keep reading anyway. I felt like this book was one of his weaker efforts. He uses many of the conventions of popular fiction these days--gruesome details of murder mixed together with romance, jumping back and forth between characters and time periods, and using complicated historical time periods for somewhat simplistic statements about politics and ethics. He also always has some kind of shocking twist at the end of his books; t…

First Days

It's been nearly two weeks since the kids had their first day of school, but I'm finally getting around to writing about it now. So far things are going well for everyone. Little Dude is in second grade and has the same teacher S-Boogie had for third grade (she usually teaches second but S-Boogie was in a second/third split they did that year). S-Boogie is in fifth grade and has a teacher that I have heard good things about. They still both like school and are excited about going every day. P. Bibby is going to a neighbor's house during the morning and she loves playing with her friend there.

A new school year means a new routine for all of us. During the summer it was easy for me to just get up, get ready for work, and leave when the babysitter got here. The kids were usually just barely awake when I left. The school year is more challenging because we all have to be ready to leave at the same time--the kids walk to school and I drop P. Bibby off at the babysitter before …

Reading Roundup: July 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

I put this book on hold because it had an intriguing title.  The plot is fairly conventional in many of its devices (young teenager with somewhat absent parents learns about family secrets, messes things up, and becomes more mature in the end), but it was still a sweet story and I particularly liked the characters. 

The Orchard by Krista Lynne Jensen

I thought I'd go ahead and read a few books that are likely to be Whitney contenders early, and Jensen was one author that I liked enough last year to try another of her books this year. Like her last book (Of Grace and Chocolate) I thought this one had potential but ended up falling short. There were some really good parts to the story; I particularly liked the beginning scenes and the way the misunderstanding and reconciliation of the main characters were handled. The end felt rushed and odd though--I later read that the author loves the novel Persuasion and was trying to re-write it i…

A Wild Weekend

Last Friday morning S-Boogie got her tonsils and adenoids taken out. Her pediatrician had noted for a number of years that her tonsils were quite enlarged, and she was a very noisy sleeper, but since she didn't get sick that often I wasn't sure if it was worth it to get surgery. A few weeks ago I finally called and made an appointment with an ENT for a consultation, and sure enough he recommended that we get both her tonsils and adenoids removed. Thankfully we were able to fit the surgery in before the start of school (next Tuesday!). I had spent the last few weeks worrying about it and was glad that things went smoothly. We got to the hospital for same-day surgery at 9:30 in the morning, there was about an hour total of prep time while they did various things and we had to wait for our turn. Then they wheeled her back to the operating room and I sat out in the waiting room reading for an hour before they called to tell me she was waking up (the surgery was only half an hour b…

Stuff for Saturday

1. I picked up Tiger from the vet early Monday morning. She was definitely a lot happier and friskier than she had been the previous week. Because she was still recovering and had to eat special soft food for a few days, I shut her in the guest bedroom (with food, water and an extra litterbox) until Thursday. She wasn't very happy about that and complained a lot every time I checked on her, but she is now doing much better. I didn't realize how much her behavior changed last week until now that she is eating well again because the contrast is so great.

2. I am excited for it to finally be August. The kids go back to school in about two weeks; I think we have had a fun summer but are all ready to go back to our usual routines. That being said, August is going to be kind of stressful. S-Boogie is getting her tonsils and adenoids removed next Friday. She has had sleep apnea for a number of years and often complains of having a sore throat in the morning. We've considered havi…