Thursday, September 3, 2020

Weekly Blotter: On My Plate

My goal was to post every week.  I'm at about every other week, but I still consider that progress.  Afterall, before this, I published a post over a year ago.

Since it has been so long since I have truly checked in, I thought I would share what I have been up to.  Here is just a peak into what I've had on my plate lately . . . 

I moved into a new house.  One that is all mine.  Now, I just need to finish painting, unpacking, and finally getting my new office/library together.

I took on a project of renovating an old house.  I did not go into this little project with experience, so I have been learning a LOT along the way.

I have continued to organize activities, events, and education opportunities to discuss suicide prevention and awareness.

I took on the job of presenting webinars with a focus on mental health and self care.

I started freelance writing again.

I discovered Podcasts.  Starting small and playing catch-up on all that I have missed.

I chose to take the biggest leap of my life, and have gone on temporary leave from my full-time job.  Because I believe it is never too late to pursue your dreams.  

After a really rough reading slump, I have finally started reading again.  It's slow, but it is progress. 

And, to help really dive back into the blogging and reading world again, I've decided to participate in RIP XV and FrightFall Readathon.

What about you?  What have you had going on?  What have you been reading?

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Anyone Still Out There?

It has been almost a year and a half since I was last here chatting books.  Life happened.  Not a lot of reading happened.  A lot has changed, and I finally feel like I am able to get lost into books once again.  I am not back to reading where I once was, but I am taking it one day at a time and trying to read again on a regular basis.

I have missed visiting with my book community.  Even though I have visited with some of you a bit over on Instagram, it is just not the same.  Even though I lead an online book club with friends, the conversations are different over there.  I have decided to try to sneak back into my little corner of the internet and revive this little chatter box right here.  I am going to try to start with one weekly post to discuss all things books.  I'm keeping it simple.  And to keep along with that theme of simplicity, I have changed up my design, turned my website a bit minimalist, and gave it a fresh new look.  

I remain on Instagram with my new focus.  I am reviving my Facebook page and have slowly returned to Twitter thanks to the recent Reverse Readathon.  I am also unofficially participating in Bout of Books this week to help ease into the transition.  In the weeks ahead, you will see that my threads are going to be interactive and will likely fall into three different categories:  random chatter, literary topics, and book discussions.  I will no longer review books as I previously did, but rather encourage a conversation about books instead.

Baby steps.  They serve a purpose.  Because I have goals.  And, I hope to share those with you all in the weeks or months ahead.  In the meantime, stay tuned.  Tell me you are still here.  Stop in and say hello.  Tell me what you are currently reading.  Tell me you are surviving gracefully (or not so gracefully) this crazy, chaotic pandemic world we now live in.  I want to hear from YOU.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

BOOK CHAT: Best of 2018

Every year, I share with you the best of the year.  Each year looks a little different, but you can always count on at least my favorite reads of the year.  This year will be no different.  It just happens to be coming at a much later date than usual.  Because . . . life.

I think my favorite book of the year was Dear Martin by Nic Stone.  I listened to it on audiobook towards the beginning of the year, but it has stuck with me all year long.  When I recently went to the bookstore, I saw it sitting on the shelf and I knew that I had to have it for my own personal collection.  It is one that I will likely revisit because it is a quick read that I will extract new things from each time I read it.  If you have not yet read this story, you will want to add it to your list sooner rather than later. 

Other favorites of the year was Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke, another story I digested in audio format.  I enjoyed it so much that I immediately recommended it to my son and he immediately checked it out from Overdrive to take a listen for himself.  I also enjoyed the Finishing School series by Gail Carriger (i.e., Etiquette & Espionage, Curtsies & Conspiracies, Waistcoats & Weaponry, and Manners & Mutiny).  This was such a fun series to listen to, and I couldn't get through them fast enough.  Lastly, Amy Poehler's Yes Please came into my life at just the right time, and listening to her read it made all the difference in the world.  I didn't always agree with what she had to say, but I did relate to so much of it way too often.  It made me laugh and cringe and even cry, and at the time, it was just what I needed.

As I look back on my favorite reads for the year, I realize that every favorite was actually an audiobook.  Most of my reading in 2018 was actually via audio; 23 of the 44 total books to be exact.  I also discovered that it was my worst year of reading yet (at least of the years that I have been tracking).  I hope that 2019 will see an increase in my reading, no matter what the format may be.  I can definitely use the escape at this point.

I leave you with my top nine pictures from the year as well.  There are not as many books featured this year, but I will admit that most of them were some of my personal favorite pics that captured my year fairly well.  Here's to hoping for more book pics and more travel pics, as I adventure both in and out of the pages!

YOUR TURN:  What were some of your favorite reads of 2018? 

Monday, January 28, 2019

BOOK CHAT: Books Read in 2018

In 2018, I read a total of 44 books.  I did not finish one book in December.  Life was turned upside down for me, and my reading took a hit.  It is one of my worst reading years on record.  It's okay though.  My life turning upside down was surprisingly just what I needed.  Now, I am just working to get back into reading like I once used to.  For those interested, here's the full list of books read for the year.  I will be back to share my favorites from the year hopefully later this week. 



1.  Black Panther #1:  A Nation Under Our Feet by Ta-Nehisi Coates
2.  Dear Martin by Nic Stone
3.  The Dragon of the Month Club by Iain Reading
4.  Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew'd (Flavia de Luce #8) by Alan Bradley
5.  Etiquette and Espionage (Finishing School #1) by Gail Carriger
6.  Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris


7.  The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson #4) by Rick Riordan
8.  Whatever You Are, Be a Good One by Lisa Congdon
9.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


10.  China Dolls by Lisa See
11.  The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare


12.  Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
13.  Dragons at Crumbling Castle by Terry Pratchett
14.  A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle


15.  When Luck Dies (The Murder Lawyer Series #1) by Piper Punches
16.  The Witches:  Salem, 1692 by Stacy Schiff
17.  Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke
18.  Strange Weather by Joe Hill


19.  Curtsies and Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger
20.  If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman
21.  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
22.  Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman


23.  Lord of the Flies by William Golding
24.  It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
25.  The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
26.  The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games #1) by Suzanne Collins
27.  Princesses Behaving Badly by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie
28.  Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli
29.  Bold School by Weston Kieschnick
30.  Waistcoats and Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger
31.  Wizarding World:  Movie Magic Volume 2 by Ramin Zahed


32.  The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris
33.  Catching Fire (The Hunger Games #2) by Suzanne Collins
34.  Manners and Mutiny (Finishing School #4) by Gail Carriger
35.  Sam the Chandelier Man (The Murder Lawyer Series #2) by Piper Punches


36.  Night Film by Marisha Pessl
37.  The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1 by Arthur Conan Doyle
38.  Snared:  Escape to the Above by Adam Jay Epstein


39.  Frog Music by Emma Donaghue
40.  Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
41.  Mockingjay (The Hunger Games #3) by Suzanne Collins
42.  Yes, Please! by Amy Poehler


43.  The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
44.  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See


Tuesday, January 15, 2019


As I stated in my last post, these past few months have been difficult for me, and because of that, reading has taken a drastic hit around here.  I'm still reading, but just not often and mostly via audiobooks.  However, words in all forms remain a key piece of my life ... and in this stage of my life, the words take the form of music.  I have been listening to a wide array of music, but I have particularly been focusing on music to empower and inspire me.  Like this one . . .

I have listened to different forms of this song during other difficult times.  Not all the lyrics are what I can relate to each time, but the phrase "I'm A Survivor" is definitely one that sticks with me and can usually bring me out of my funk .... not always, but usually.

As I listen to all these empowering songs, I run.  I have taken to running one to three miles everyday.  I don't always run the entire way, but I am getting stronger and more capable with each mile that my feet hit the street.  And, as I run and listen to my playlists, I listen to the messages within the songs.  Each of these songs are truly short stories in and of themselves.  So, despite the fact that my reading has decreased, my love for a good story has not, especially for ones that bring me strength and hope.

I love stories in all forms, and right now, they happen to be told through music and I listen to them over and over and over again.

YOUR TURN:  What are the songs that you have found to be the most inspiring and empowering during the difficult times?

Saturday, January 12, 2019

MY RETURN: Life is Like a Game of Baseball

I have had this piece in my head for months, bouncing around, brewing, and evolving. It finally came time to write it. It's personal and raw, in an analogous sort of way. It stirred up a lot of emotions, and as I sat here deciding whether to publish it and send it out into the world, a weight was upon my chest while I debated if it was the right thing to do. Well, I made my choice, and now that weight has lifted.

After all, in real life I wear my heart on my sleeve. Today, I give you all a piece of my heart online.


Sometimes life is like a game of baseball.

I was just hanging out in the dugout, cheering on my team. I was the one that cheered the loudest. I was the one encouraging as times got tough and the game was close. I was even the one cleaning up as spit, seeds, and trash hit the floor. Then, a shift occurred.

It occurred to me that I was taking the roles of the coach, the janitor, and the fans, but what I really was was just one of the team. I didn't have to do it all, and I deserved to be treated as an equal. I needed encouragement when I was playing out on the field. I needed support as I went up to bat. And, I was up next on the roster.

As I slowly walked up to home plate, I gripped the bat tightly with sweaty palms. I was scared and nervous as I stood there staring down the pitcher. I stood there realizing that all I heard was silence. I did not have the rest of my team cheering me on, and I never really had.

My eyes met the pitcher's. We stood there, I trying to read what was to come, him trying to decide which strategy to move forward with. I knew with all my heart that a curve ball was coming. I adjusted my stance. I turned slightly to ensure that when the bat met the ball, I would not hit it foul. I took a deep breath, slowly inhaling through my nose. When I didn't think I could inhale any longer, I paused and breathed in slightly deeper. He began to curl in upon himself, readying to throw, and I slowly released my breath, closing my eyes for my own silent moment of encouragement. When I opened them, the ball was flying my way. I could see it begin to curve, even more than I had predicted. I could imagine the bat connecting with the ball. I felt the air as the ball flew past me. It didn't matter if it was called strike or ball.  I had chosen not to swing.

I looked at the pitcher. Our eyes connected. I knew my time on this field and on this team was done. Because we were not on the same team. He had been playing against me all along.

I took one last deep breath, slowly taking in the smells of the field. It would be the last time I would smell these smells. It would be the last time I would see this field. I had made my decision.

I came to the conclusion that I simply don't like the game of baseball. I called myself out. It was time to move on.

It has not been easy. Honestly, it has been damn hard. I left behind my team. I hit the road on my own, alone with my two most prized treasures and my inspiration. Along the way, I have discovered that I have more fans in the background than I realized. I have had unexpected surprises. I have had to rethink my priorities, my desires, and my future. I realized that I may have been playing the wrong game, but there are other games out there that will be a better fit for me. I breathe deep every morning I wake and every night before falling asleep. I savor the new sights and sounds around me. I am on a new adventure, and I will continue to stand tall, even if I stand alone.

Bring it on.

Friday, September 7, 2018

BOOK CHAT: June 2018 in Review

On Wednesday, I reviewed the month of May.  Today, it's June.  If I keep this up, I can be all caught up in just a few short days!

JUNE went by way too quickly.  I did get in a little trip to Tulsa for an Usborne Books & More Convention.  Then, I had to attend some trainings for work that proved to be quite fun and I learned a lot.  I also made a long list of all the projects I wanted to get done during the summer.  (Spoiler alert:  I did not get all of those projects finished!)  I also really dove into planning the annual Out of the Darkness Walk in my area, which proved to be quite time-consuming even despite having an amazing team to help me out this year.

The TOP PIC for the month was this pic from my travels to Tulsa.  My plane was a bit delayed, which only meant a bit more reading time for me.

I had high hopes for reading in June, but I was only able to complete a handful.  Here's the full list of BOOKS READ for the month:
  1. Curtsies & Conspiracies (Finishing School #2) by Gail Carriger
  2. If I Stay (If I Stay #1) by Gayle Forman
  3. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  4. Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

My FAVE BOOK for the month was Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger.  This series is such fun!

JULY arrived before I knew it, and it flew by.  Stay turned for more information on that coming soon!

YOUR TURN:  Have you ever read The Finishing School series?  If so, tell me what you think!