Tuesday, September 3, 2019

August Reading Wrap Up

Summer is over. It's crazy how fast time goes and I realize I have said that over and over again, but whatever, that doesn't make it less true.

I did manage to get one (1) review written this month. Like, an actual, for realsies review, (Kid Gloves, check it out) which is not something I have done in a long time. I'm hoping we're finally getting into a set routine that gives me a little bit of time to get more into blogging (and visiting more blogs. I miss all of you and I have been reading some if I haven't been able to comment as much). We shall see, but let's say being able to get that one review done has made me cautiously optimistic.
And I even managed to get some reading done this month, which I'm pretty happy with. Let's check out those stats, shall we?

Books read
5
Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leaves Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed and Sick by Maya Dusenbery
Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch
It's Not What It Looks Like by Molly Burke
Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos by Lucy Knisley (Yes, I did just link to a review of this. And I read it twice this year. What's up?)
Cribsheet: A Data-driven Guide to Better, More Relaxed Parenting, from Birth to Preschool by Emily Oster

Pages read
1,437

Fiction
0% - crazy right?

POC authors
0%

Female authors
100%
US authors
60%

Book format
audiobook - 60%
hardback - 20%
paperback - 20%

Where'd I get the book
chain bookstore - 20%
indie bookstore - 20%
Kindle/Audible - 60%

Rereads
20%

Decades published
2010s - 100%

Resolution books
40%
Because Internet and It's Not What It Looks Like are both by Canadian authors (Gretchen McCulloch and Molly Burke).
Also, and this isn't a resolution category but given the idea is to diversify my reading, I figure I'd point out that Molly Burke is blind, which is what her memoir is about.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley: Pregnancy isn't easy, but it's pretty cool at the same time

I have started writing this review of Lucy Knisley's Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos several times. Since March, really, when I finished the book. Some of the delays have been trying to find the time to actually sit down and write it, which I've repeated a few times is not that easy these days. Other delays have been mental. But let's jump into the review first.

I've been a fan of Knisley's since I picked up Something New on a whim when I was trying to find a graphic novel I could get into. I like the memoir subject matter and I like her format. Plus she's funny which is always a plus. I follow her on Instagram and she posted that she was working on a book about pregnancy. And WHAT A COINCIDENCE, I was pregnant. Unfortunately, the book would be coming out several months after I was due, so I wouldn't be able to read it while I was going through everything the book was going to detail (and see what was coming) but still. My son was born in July and the book came out in February. But I did make sure to pick it up right when it came out. (For those looking for it, it's in the parenting/pregnancy section, at least at the B&N in NYC.)

Much like her other work, this is primarily a memoir, with Knisley detailing her history from deciding to have a baby to actually having it, interspersed with information about the history of pregnancy. A lot of it is funny because a lot of being pregnant is ridiculous. But she also doesn't hold back, talking about her miscarriage and her traumatic birth. The book has its humor but it's a lot more serious than I would have expected based on her other stuff I had read, which I think worked in the book's favor. Or honestly, I just liked that stuff because I related to so much of it.

While I haven't really reviewed a book in a while, when I saw this top panel, I decided that this is a book I should review.
Because as soon as I saw this panel I turned to Tom and shouted "It me!" probably with more glee than the situation called for, especially given Tom's reaction. It wasn't that I was reliving fond memories of what happened, but just seeing a depiction of something similar to what I went through was comforting in a way.

Spoilers, I guess, for the book. If you can consider a memoir to have spoilers. But turns out Knisley had preeclampsia, something she told her doctor she was worried about which he totally brushed off. She ended up having to have an emergency c-section and then had a seizure and a lot of bleeding and was unconscious for a couple days, ended up being in the hospital a week the first time and then another four days after being discharged before she should have been. This is not the majority of the book at all, but the part I was drawn to.

I didn't have the same experience but unfortunately there were similarities. I also had preeclampsia, which came on suddenly. My doctors were on top of things and I had been tested for it prior to giving birth (tests came back negative). I didn't have to have an emergency c-section but I was induced to get him out before there were complications. At this point it was unrelated to the preeclampsia since I didn't know I had it yet. I didn't lose consciousness but I did develop HELLP which is like eclampsia's bonus round. And THEN, unbeknownst to me or anyone at the time, my liver ruptured at some point during the delivery. I was going to say is like playing delivery on expert mode, except it's really more like there was a glitch and I have no idea what's going on with all of these video game metaphors. This is something that the doctors (my doctor I'd been seeing, other doctors in the hospital I was now introduced to. I met a lot of the hospital staff) had heard could happen but in their many combined years of practicing, had never actually dealt with first hand because it is super rare (they're writing a paper about me!) I ended up in the ICU for a few days and in the hospital for about 12 days, which is less time than they thought I'd be there so that's a win. I had a couple blood transfusions, multiple CT scans, was on some anti-seizure meds and a LOT of pain meds.

Luckily Matthew was fine and Tom was amazing, having to take care of both of us and learn how to do a lot of the stuff (changing diapers, feeding) and then later teach me.
Cute picture needed
My feelings on the book may be slightly affected by my own experiences but isn't that the case with any review? I still really like this and I think I'm going to read it again because this review makes me realize how much I enjoyed it.

Gif rating:

Knisley, Lucy. Kid Gloves: Nine Months of Careful Chaos. First Second, 2019.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

July Reading Wrap Up

I'll have you know, that I have started an actual, for realsies review, like 10 times or so. I mean, I don't have anything to show for it but I just want you to know that efforts are being made.

Anyway, hey, another month is done. That's crazy, huh? Time passing and whatnot. July was a pretty good month. A busy month, but a good one. The monster turned a year old. Tom and I celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary/15 year anniversary of being together by seeing How Did This Get Made (movie was High Strung and it includes a violin battle so pretty great). We learned what it's like to vacation with a one year old (spoiler: not particularly relaxing, for us anyway). How about some pictures to make up for my lack of posting?



(You should know, this post was interrupted to deal with the monster and wasn't able to come back to the post for a day. Fun)

Anyway, while I continue to eat leftover birthday cupcakes, let's look at some stats shall we?

Books read
3
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies by Agnes Nutter, Witch by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time by Jose Andres and Richard Wolff
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness by Michelle Alexander

Pages read
990
So close. Couldn't be 10 more pages and let me hit 1000, huh?

Fiction
33%

POC authors
66%

Female authors
33%

US authors
33%

Book format
audiobook: 67%
ebook: 33%

Where'd I get the book
Audible/Kindle: 67%
Library: 33%

Decades published
1990s: 33%
2010s: 67%

Resolution books
100%
Good Omens - British authors AND published before 2000
We Fed an Island - POC author AND author originally from Spain
The New Jim Crow - POC author

So I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked, but I did kick ass on the resolutions piece. I'm pretty sure I've never managed 100% resolution before. I mean, I could check and confirm, but let's just stick with this is a first. Good job, me.

Monday, July 22, 2019

October 2018 Mini-Reviews

It's been awhile, I know, but how about time for some MINI REVIEWS! They're like real reviews, only not as good but take less effort from me so right now, I am a FAN. I will try to get some for real, full reviews done at some point. I swear. But the goblin can walk now (/has been able to walk for a couple months now, which is why it's been so long since my last mini-review post) and has found a whole new world of trouble to get into. So that is fun/exhausting

Anyway, let's look at stuff I read almost a year ago.

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach
You guys know I love me some Mary Roach. Love her humor and enthusiasm for learning about odd things. She already tackled dead stuff in Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers which focused on the more physical aspects of death. This time around she's going for the more metaphysical. Now there's only so much science on the actual afterlife, which is a bit of a let down for her typical offering. The science that focused more on the historic science where people tried to weigh the soul. I don't feel like I learned as much as with some of her other stuff and the narrator (I listened to this as an audiobook) did some accents that I could have done without, but overall I was still entertained.

OK so I'm back. I realize you had no idea I was gone but I was. Because said goblin interrupted this post and then things were busy. But he's napping now. I don't know how long I have but I'll try to get through this.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
What a great name if you're going to be a mystery/thriller author, right? I tried to look up if it was a pen name or not but then stopped when I went to her website where she lists herself as "one of the world's most popular and acclaimed storytellers" and settle down, Karin. I am all for being happy and confident in our accomplishments (and she has them) but one of the world's most popular storytellers? I think we're talking a long list then. Anyway, I'm getting distracted from reviewing this book.
It was fine. It's a thriller and those are fun. The main character Claire is rich and pretty and bully for her. One day her husband Paul is murdered and Claire is picking up the pieces of this sudden loss. She doesn't have many people to turn to since she and her mother don't have the most open relationship, I don't remember much about her grandmother other than her being hilariously awful, she doesn't speak to her one sister anymore and her other sister went missing years before. Not only is she dealing with this, but there's news of a new missing girl that sounds eerily like the disappearance of her sister so long ago. Saying too much more starts getting spoilery, but let's say there are secrets and answers to questions maybe you wish you hadn't asked. There's a lot going on and it's a bit tropey, there were some surprises and some stuff that you could see coming, and a lot of violence.
Also, if you're curious, Karin rated her own book on Goodreads and gave it 5 stars. Which again, be proud of your work, but that seems odd and I've also never seen another author rate their own book on Goodreads, though perhaps I'm just missing it.

Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson
I love me some Bryson and this was part of an audiobook collection that included Neither Here Nor There and I'm a Stranger Here Myself/Notes from a Big Country and getting all three for one audible credit was pretty exciting. Anyway. this was a re-read for me, though first time listening and Bryson reads his own stuff, so that's fun. It talks about his travels around Britain, his second home. He had been living in England for almost twenty years when his family decided to head to the US for some time, and so, as a goodbye to this island he loved so much, he travels around writing about it, in his charmingly curmudgeonly way. He talks about ridiculous British place names and round abouts and things being demolished that shouldn't and things being preserved that should and how a boy from middle-America came to live in England in the first place. Even though this audiobook version was an abridgment (sigh) it was still excellent and really, I'd recommend both reading it and listening to it because it's great and you'll probably want to read it multiple times, so give yourself some options.

Good thing I got through those mini-reviews for October because the beast awakens and desperately wants to hit all of the keys on the keyboard. I blame and any all typos on him.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

June Reading Wrap Up

I really thought I was going to do better with posting in June. Really, truly thought that. And then the month has come and gone and I only posted twice and no reviews. Sigh. Maybe July will be my month? You never know, it could happen.

Leeeet's see, what else, what else, what else. My reading has become basically all audiobooks which sort of makes me sad but given that most of my time is now spent playing with the goblin (yay!) or picking up after him (...less yay) it's not a huge surprise. I am just happy that audiobooks are an option or my reading would basically be zero and man, that is a sad thought. Do not like.
Him I do like
Hey, let's look at those stats

Books read
5
Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
Things That Make White People Uncomfortable by Michael Bennet
You Do You: Proud to be Fabulous by Tan France & Nikki Levy (sort of a book but it was from Audible so counting it)
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

I just noticed that every month since March I have read 5 books. I dunno what that means. It certainly hasn't been on purpose.

Pages read
1,230

Fiction
40%

POC authors
60%
Female authors
60%

US author
60%

Readalong/Book club
20%

Book format
audiobook: 100%

Where'd I get the book
Kindle/Audible: 40%
Library: 60%

Decades published
2010s: 100%

Resolution books
80%
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware - UK author
Things That Make White People Uncomfortable by Michael Bennet - POC author
You Do You: Proud to be Fabulous Tan France is from the UK and Pakistani and I realize he just hosted this collection but they have him listed as they would an author so
The Bride Test by Helen Hoang - POC author

Thursday, June 6, 2019

DNF-fing for mental health

While I fully support people who don't finish books, I've never been big on DNF-ing a book. The logic to DNF makes sense. Life is short. This is a hobby and why should I spend my free time doing something I don't enjoy? That's silly. And yet, I tend to have trouble stopping a book mid-read unless I'm really pissed off at it. If it's just mostly bad, I'll usually finish it. Hell, if it's really bad, I'll finish it just so I can write about how bad it was. But in general, if I start a book, I'm going to finish it.
But I think this was the first time I've put down a book that was pretty good and well written because I just couldn't with the story.

I was reading The Hangman's Daughter by Oliver Potzsch. I got a copy for free for World Book Day and free is always exciting. I didn't know anything about the book but the description was interesting so I thought I'd give it a try. Here is that description:
Magdalena, the clever and headstrong daughter of Bavarian hangman Jakob Kuisl, lives with her father outside the village walls and is destined to be married off to another hangman’s son—except that the town physician’s son is hopelessly in love with her. And her father’s wisdom and empathy are as unusual as his despised profession. It is 1659, the Thirty Years’ War has finally ended, and there hasn’t been a witchcraft mania in decades. But now, a drowning and gruesomely injured boy, tattooed with the mark of a witch, is pulled from a river and the villagers suspect the local midwife, Martha Stechlin. 
Jakob Kuisl is charged with extracting a confession from her and torturing her until he gets one. Convinced she is innocent, he, Magdalena, and her would-be suitor race against the clock to find the true killer. Approaching Walpurgisnacht, when witches are believed to dance in the forest and mate with the devil, another tattooed orphan is found dead and the town becomes frenzied. More than one person has spotted what looks like the devil—a man with a hand made only of bones. The hangman, his daughter, and the doctor’s son face a terrifying and very real enemy.
See, that sounds pretty interesting, right? And there's going to be violence. I mean it's about a town executioner and involves a murdered child found. But I like true crime and horror stuff, I can do violence.
I started reading the book one day on the train, so I had an hour of (mostly) uninterrupted time. The writing was good. The story opens with violence, but the violence isn't glorified. It doesn't shy away, from the violence. I liked the characters of Jakob and Magdalena.

But as I read, I found I wasn't enjoying myself. Because, and I don't think this involves spoilers, but there's a lot of child death. Obviously there is that one mentioned in the description, but the deaths go on, mostly as a way of life of that time. Again, it doesn't seem to be gratuitous; it seems like that is what it was like. Children died in a lots of horrible ways and childbirth was extremely dangerous.

So I kept reading on that train ride. But when I got home, I put down the book. There were a few times I had the opportunity to actually sit down and read, which are few and far between now that the little monster is here. But the thought of picking up the book...I just couldn't do it.

I still didn't give up the book yet. I just decided "Now isn't the time, but I'll pick it up later." And then "later" came in the form of another train ride, and I didn't have much of an excuse to not read. So I picked it up again and thought "It's not so bad." But then. But then.

There was a new character introduced. I think a minor character. A little orphan girl who was remembering her family. In particular her mother, who died giving birth to her younger brother. Her younger brother died a few days later because with the mother dead, there was no breast milk for the baby. And that was when I quit. I couldn't do it anymore. So I put the book down and listened to music the rest of the way.
Turns out, since having the monster, I can't do child death. It's upsetting, and its stressful, and this is my free time. Why should I stress myself out? Why should I be crying on the train on the way to work over the back story of a minor character?
Obligatory baby pic to break up sad stuff
It wasn't till I was getting ready to go home, facing reading more of the book, when I realized I don't need to read this anymore. No one is making me. It's 100% up to me what I do with my free time and that free time is limited, especially with the monster. And it was this moment where I felt this weight was lifted. I didn't have to read this and I wasn't going to read this.

So maybe someday I'll revisit this book. But for now, I'm happy with my choice. And HIGHLY recommend DNF-ing if it's going to make you happier.