Thursday, April 27, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman

Ove is a grumpy, cranky old man.  Nobody seems to be able to follow the rules.  Everybody seems to be making choices that Ove doesn't agree with.  He sees things in all black and white, and he just does not have the time and patience to add the color.

However, one day a family moves in next door and changes everything, beginning with running over his mailbox.  Ove becomes challenged in his ways.  His routines are destroyed, and people become attached, whether Ove wants the attachment or not.

I had so many people recommend this book to me, so I decided to give it a try.  In fact, I chose this book for the first read of Book Bloggers International 12 Months, 12 Readalongs project (#12mos12rals).  I posted weekly discussion questions and encouraged others to join in the conversation.  (Discussions linked here:  Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4.)

At first, I found the book difficult.  Ove was so negative, which resulted in the negative feelings being transferred to myself.  It just gave me a crabby feeling about the book and I found myself not wanting to pick it up.  In addition, I was not expecting so many triggers related to suicide.  It was this that I wish I had known more about before opening this book, to be better prepared before experiencing the topic so deeply multiple times.

Then, something changed.  I reached a point in the book where I found myself wanting to pick up the book and even having a difficult time putting the book down.  I found myself understanding, appreciating, and eventually, loving Ove.  I never expected that to happen, or the tears I shed at the end before the closing of the story.  I never expected to end up adoring the story that started out so frustrating and boring to me.  I think A Man Called Ove just proved that feelings can change, especially once we take the time to understand . . . understand where someone comes from  . . . understand what someone has experienced . . . understand why someone might believe in one thing or another.

I leave you with one of my many favorite quotes from the book:
"You only need one ray of light to chase all the shadows away."
A Man Called Ove is a ray of light.

Have you met Ove?  What did you think of his tale? 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: #SpringHorror Readathon Midway Check-In

A week has passed since I last posted about joining the Spring Into Horror Readathon, so I thought I would take a few moments to share about my reading in that time period.  Before going into my thoughts and additional comments, let's take a look at the daily details.

Monday, April 17
113 pages
12 minutes

Tuesday, April 18
5 pages
119 minutes

Wednesday, April 19
0 pages
23 minutes

Thursday, April 20
10 pages
58 minutes

Friday, April 21
10 pages 
29 minutes

Saturday, April 22
67 pages
121 minutes

Sunday, April 23
17 pages
162 minutes

222 pages
524 minutes (8 hours, 44 minutes)

In addition to these totals, I have completed two books:  1984 by George Orwell and Superheroes! by Laurence Maslon.

So far, not so bad.  Now, because the big 24 Hour Readathon is coming up this weekend, let's see if I can double these numbers by the time this readathon ends on Sunday night.

Are you prepared for the readathon this weekend?  How has your reading been this week?

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Spring Into Horror Readathon

My spring break is officially over.  Tomorrow I head back to work.  I didn't get near as much done as I had hoped over this short little break, but I did get in a bit of reading.  And, I want to keep that going, so why not join in a little readathon?!

Spring Into Horror Readathon runs from Monday, April 17 (yesterday) through the end of the month, April 30.  Two full weeks of reading and the only parameter is that I must read something scary.  I think I can handle that, especially considering that the BIG readathon is coming up right towards the end of this one!  I never really shared an April TBR pile that I had planned to pull from, until now.  This is the stack that I will be pulling from through the end of the month, for both readathons . . .

Those books laying down are those that I am currently in the middle of; the ones standing are the ones that I hope to read, especially during the upcoming 24 Hour Readathon (though I will be sharing an update on my stack once we get closer to that event).  My hope is that by the end of the month, I can get rid of my large stack of books that I am currently reading; get it back to my usual three (one in print, one on audio, one with my kids).  Hopefully, this little extra rest that I was able to get over my spring break will give me the boost that I need!

Are you participating in this readathon?  What about the upcoming 24 hour one?  What is your reading plan?

Monday, April 10, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Spring Break Is Coming!

I am two work days away from having a little spring break, and I cannot wait for them to be here.  The schedule has been packed.  Numerous unexpected things have popped up (including snow!).  I have barely been reading.  And, I have a huge stack of things to do sitting on my desk that I barely touch each night.  The one positive thing that I have going for me is that I finally filed my taxes.  Oh, and I only have two more work days until my little break begins.

I will have four work days off.  It's not a full week, but I am going to take advantage of each day as much as I can.  Many of the days are filled with meetings or medical appointments, and tackling that growing pile of things to do.  One day may be filled with traveling.  But, I am going to make it a point to do a little something for myself, including read, every single day of my break.  Because I need a little spring added to my step, and I think this is just what I need these days.

Two more days.  I can do this.

Do you get a little spring break?  What do you do to get in a little care for yourself during these busy spring months?

Friday, April 7, 2017


I could be checking in today on the craziness of my week, but lately that seems to be the story of my life.  Instead, let's talk about one ... well, actually two ... of my favorite things ... GRIMM.  If you are a long-time reader of this blog, you will know that I am a fan of fairy tales, particularly those by the infamous Brothers Grimm.  I used to host a weekly feature a number of years ago called Fairy Tale Fridays.  I discontinued it, but continue to return to fairy tales over the years, in my reading, blogging, and writing.

Six years ago, a new TV show debuted called GRIMM, and I knew that I had to check it out.  Each episode took on some familiar tales, and some not-so-familiar tales, and brought it's own unique spin.  The show was weird, and tended to be violent, but I was determined to not miss a single episode because I became so invested in the characters.  Nick Burkhardt was a detective with a family secret that quickly turned his life into a tailspin.  But, this little secret sent him on a journey that would bring some unexpected friends to his side, my favorite being Monroe.

Last week, the final episode of the entire series aired.  I did not expect to feel so sad to see this show end.  It's one of the few shows that I have watched beginning to end in real time, and I will miss this group of friends.  This group of friends, different in so many ways and historically bred to be enemies, joined together to make one unbeatable team.  They won me over, but now it is time to say good-bye.

Good-bye GRIMM.  You are gone, but not forgotten.  You will go down as one of my faves, not only because the show was creative and brilliant, but also because it taught all of us that despite our differences, we can band together to fight for the good of humanity.

Are you a fan of GRIMM?  What did you think about the series finale?

Monday, April 3, 2017

BOOK CHAT: March 2017 in Review

March has officially ended, and April has arrived.  Today, we have had snow flurries.  Later this week, it's supposed to be in the 70's.  This weather is crazy, and I am just itching for some beautiful spring weather.  My hope is that the spring weather will increase my reading because March didn't see a lot of it or blogging.  Let's take a look at the details . . . 

The TOP POST for the month was my announcement of the Book Bloggers International READALONG:  The Underground Railroad via #12mos12rals, at least by the number of hits.  The post with the most comments was BOOK REVIEW:  Lumberjanes #1-5 by Noelle Stevenson.  The comments were fun to read and respond to on that one!

I didn't get a lot of pictures posted in March either, but it was this black and white that made the TOP PIC for the month.  It was my #fridayreads (The Underground Railroad) late one cold evening as I lay in bed to warm up.  Our heat was not working properly and I was doing what I could to stay warm.

I only was able to complete three books for BOOKS READ in March.  Here's the short list:
  1. Hotels, Hospitals, and Jails by Anthony Swofford
  2. Jacky Ha-Ha by James Patterson
  3. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

It was easy to determine my FAVORITE READ of the month . . . The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  It was not always the easiest book to read because of the content, but it was 100% worth it.  I will be recommending this one frequently.

I do have a few HIGHLIGHTS from the month of March.  My daughter has officially delivered all of her Girl Scout cookies.  We had to have our heating system completely replaced this month, and though the bank account didn't appreciate that, it does make me feel more comfortable than the antique we had is gone.  My library is slowly making progress and it is slowly coming together.  However, I did end up spending more time than planned at the doctor.  Not all of these highlights are good, but they are what stands out.

APRIL has already brought some challenges.  My son participated in his first science fair and did really good.  I had to have a family member taken by ambulance over the weekend and she currently sits in the hospital as we wait to see what comes next.  My daughter is prepping for her piano recital.  I have lots of medical appointments coming up myself, but I also have a handful of days off for a short spring break.  April also brings about lots of birthdays, long days filled with parent/teacher conferences, and typically beautiful spring days.  Oh, and I really should get my taxes filed since that deadline is quickly approaching and I have yet to complete them.  Needless to say, I am going into this month with mixed emotions!  I will be frequently reminding myself to take some deep breaths and appreciate the beauty and goodness that surrounds me.

How was your March?  What do you have to look forward to in April?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WEEKLY WANDERINGS: Reading & Reading About Writing

Time to do a quick check-in on my reading!  Last time I did this little check-in, I realized that I had my nose between the pages of too many books.  Has this changed much since then?  Nope!  I am still in the midst of way too many books, but that list has decreased a little bit.  Let's take a look . . .

  1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling:  Still reading this one with my kids.
  2. The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce D. Perry:  Still reading this one as a book study for work.
  3. The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume 1 by Arthur Conan Doyle:  Still dabbling here and there.
  4. The Brothers Grimm 101 Fairy Tales:  Still dabbling here and there.
  5. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood:  Set this one aside for a bit until I can get a couple of these other ones off this currently reading list.
  6. Fostering Resilient Learners by Kristen Souers:  Another book study for work, but I am almost through this one.
  7. 1984 by George Orwell:  Moved this one back to my nightly reading.
  8. The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian:  The current audio selection.
  9. Soulless by Gail Carriger:  Had to find an ebook of this after sitting in too many doctors' offices without a book, got hooked, and had to request it again.

Okay, so my list has only decreased by one book since the last time I checked in, but that is still less and I have moved a couple of books out since.

Now, onto another topic ... reading about writing!  Because I am always looking for my next read to add to my ever-growing list of books, I want to hear your recommendations on your favorite books about writing.  I have a handful on my shelf and another handful that I have already read, but I want to add more to my shelf and list of resources.  And, I could use a bit of inspiration and motivation these days.  Writing is getting better again, but there is always room for improvement!  Share your favorites with me.

I wish you the best for the rest of the week!  Happy reading!

What are you currently reading these days?  Do you have any reading about writing recommendations for me?

Friday, March 24, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Lumberjanes #1-5 by Noelle Stevenson

Do you ever feel like sometimes the online world is all talking about one book, and you haven't read it and now feel like you are missing out on something?  Honestly, I feel like this happens to me frequently and this time I had to get in the know, and as an added bonus, I got to discover a new comic book series along the way.

Lumberjanes features a pack of girls from all walks of life at a summer outdoor camp.  They share a cabin, but most importantly, they share a friendship that camp and all the adventures within only helps to grow stronger.

Beware the Kitten Holy kicks off the series and the summer.  We are introduced to the girls, getting to know their personalities as well as discovering what summer camp is all about.  We learn that both the girls and the camp are unique, and there is much more to this story than originally the reader suspects.

Friendship to the Max expands on this foundation.  The girls' friendships grow stronger and so does the story itself.  We learn answers to some of the mysteries presented in the first volume, yet know that there is more to come.  And, I wanted there to be more!

A Terrible Plan is truly self explanatory.  We get to focus in on two specific characters a tad bit closer, and their budding relationship -- well, until this terrible plan interferes.  Yet, we don't abandon the other characters; we are entertained by them as a bit of an intermission.

Out of Time introduces us to a whole new plot twist, but one that goes back into the history of the camp.  We get to learn more about where the camp came from and those that attended the camp back then, allowing the readers to have a greater understanding of the past as well as the present.  Then, we discover that the past comes back to haunt the camp and our precious set of friends.

In the most recent volume, Band Together, Stevenson moves from a more serious story line in the previous volume to one that is just plain fun.  The reader is introduced to the mermaids residing in the local lake, and all the angsty conflict that comes with it.

Lumberjanes is a fun new series that I look forward to following.  It is entertaining, but also provides themes that prove to be more complex.  As I was reading, I found myself frequently having to search out my books.  Where would I find them?  In my kids' rooms!  They wanted to read them too!  I loved seeing this love of reading, but what I appreciated more was the conversations that resulted from what a friendship looks like to even what love looks like in its many forms, even despite our differences.

I cannot close this post without commenting on the artwork.  I can't tell you what makes it stand out, but it does.  It's eye-catching.  It's colorful.  It's detailed, and I found myself wanting to just admire the art for extended periods of time while reading the story.

Now I must wait to experience the next installment.  In the meantime, I'm thankful my dear husband gifted me the books to enjoy when the desire arises.

Have you had the pleasure of reading Lumberjanes?  What have you thought of the series so far?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

COVER REVEAL: Bite Somebody Else by Sara Dobie Bauer #BiteSomebodyElse #Imogene4Life

I am so very excited to be a part of the cover reveal team for an author friend, Sara Dobie Bauer.  However, before we get to the very exciting cover reveal, let's first take a peek into Bauer's earlier work.

Last July, Sara debuted her vampire novel, Bite Somebody.  Here's a quick quote from my review that I shared with you all last summer . . .
She takes a risk, all while referencing some classic and modern vampire literature along the way, and creates a story that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
I truly loved the cover of Bite Somebody.  It's fun and whimsical, and very suiting to the story that is within its pages.   When I heard that there was the possibility of being one of the first to see AND share the cover for Sara's sequel, I knew that I had to be in!  And, with that, it is time to share the new cover.  Drum roll please . . .

Do NOT read that cover description if you have not read Bite Somebody!  Spoilers abound!!

I cannot wait to get my hands on a copy of this book!  I am ready for another fun ride!

What do you think about the newest cover?  Are you excited to read this book?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Is it Friday yet?!?

I know, I know.  It is only Tuesday, thankfully almost Wednesday.  This week has already been a long one, and I am surprised that I did not fall asleep at my desk this afternoon when I finally had the moment to sit down for five minutes!  I have a feeling the rest of the week is going to be just as crazy.

The good news is that I am feeling better!!  I probably did not get as much rest over the weekend as I had hoped, and I definitely didn't get in as much reading as I had wanted.  But, I am not in as much pain, and I am feeling much better than I was one week ago.  

The other good news is that I have some exciting news for an author friend of mine that I will be sharing tomorrow morning!  I'm finishing up the final touches on that post as soon as I publish this one, just to make sure it is already to go first thing.

I have not been posting as much here lately, but it is not because I have nothing to share.  I have been writing here and there behind the scenes, hosting a readalong over at Book Bloggers International of The Underground Railroad, and slowly attempting to launch another year of Armchair Book Expo (formerly Armchair BEA).  I'm hoping with all the positives this week, I am finally getting back on track to share more literary goodness with you here!

Until then, I will be working away behind the scenes, getting some posts ready, reading, and trying to thrive amongst the chaos of this week . . . because it is simply not Friday yet!

Are you wishing for the weekend already?  What does your week look like?