The Books That Got Me Through 2018

We’re coming up on the end of 2018 and I’ve been thinking a lot about all that’s happened this year…

My oldest daughter graduated from high school in May and went away to university in August.

My youngest daughter moved in with her father in August.

My husband and I had our first foster placement come into our home on December 1, 2017, and we said goodbye to them almost a year later, in November 2018. So I went from daily caring for 5 children in our home to 0, in what felt like overnight.

Throughout the year, my blood pressure continued to do what it does… go crazy high for no reason and make my husband (and sometimes the doctors) start preparing for my inevitable stroke.

And during all that, I thought the stress occurring both inside and outside our home was causing physical symptoms (my right arm would get weak, I couldn’t turn my head, a lot of pain). Last week, I found out that it’s not some sort of weird stress thing, it’s arthritis along with protrusions hitting my spinal nerves and cord. (We’ve already got a ton of medical bills so this was disturbing on multiple levels).

Basically, 2018 has been a crazy heavy year.

Friends, family and acquaintances are always asking how my husband and I are holding up. And while I really don’t mind them asking how we’re doing, my mom actually shared this with me on Facebook today, which I found hilarious…

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I’m actually not sure which is funnier though… the above FB post, or what happened the day the foster kids left…

I have red, puffy eyes and am wiping my nose (so it’s obvious I’ve been crying), when my husband asks “Are you okay?”

I looked at him like he had 4 heads. “Did you just ask me that?”

“Uh, yeah. Are you okay?”

To which I responded with something like “No, I’m not okay. I’m not going to be okay for a really long time and if you ask me if I’m okay again, you’re not going to be okay either.”

Now, any normal man with self-preservation skills would have seen the “You can’t win here, walk away or I’m gonna murder kill you” look in my eyes and given up. But not my husband. He’s a fixer. After 6 years together, he still hasn’t figured out that there are some things that can’t be fixed and he has to just let me be upset for a while… so he says… “Yeah, I know, but I can I get you anything?”

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A lot of violent responses went through my head at that moment… Thankfully, I went with the only one that wouldn’t require bail money.

“A box of wine.”

“I was gonna go to the store anyway. I’ll get you a bottle while I’m out.”

“No, a box. I’ve decided to give alcoholism a try and it’s going to require an entire box of wine to get a good start at it.”

Something you should know at this point… I’m not really a drinker and haven’t been since I was in my 20’s. The box of wine comment has been a joke between my husband and I for years now. I never actually want a box of wine, nor could I drink a box of wine on my own, but ya’ll…

He got me a BOX of wine to drink with dinner that evening!!

Anyway…

While I didn’t turn to a box of wine, I did turn to the one thing I’ve always counted on to deal with the real world – the fictional world!

So here are the books I read in 2018 that helped me escape, laugh, cry, and deal with all the feelings of this past year:

(You can click the titles of books I’ve reviewed to read my complete thoughts)
  1. The Bible.
    Yeah, I know, some of you just rolled your eyes and others are scrolling on down to the next book on the list, but it’s true. I’ve poured over more scripture in the last year than I have during any other year of my life, and it’s definitely been the most beneficial book to help me get through the year. It’s easy to blame God and get angry when we hurt, but I learned a lot about suffering, love, acceptance, and how to grieve without falling down my normal rabbit hole of despair. I also did a lot of reading plans through the YouVersion bible app, which was great. I recommend checking them out!
  2. Beneath the Same Heaven37795839-_sy180_You would think that as emotionally wrecked as this book left me I’d be upset that I chose 2018 to read it in, but no… I’m saying the opposite. Sometimes, escaping into a familiar world filled with pain, heartache, confusion, etc. of other people is just what the doctor ordered when you’re going through all that in your own life. Beneath the Same Heaven is one of the best books I’ve ever read and I wish everyone would read it!
  3. Auschwitz Lullaby 36576005
    This book was also incredibly emotional and had me crying so hard my husband tried to take it away from me! Seriously, I was an emotional mess the entire time I was reading it!
  4. Edge of the Known Bus Line
    Okay, you definitely have to have a certain kind of twisted humor to enjoy a book like this… Cannibalism, murder, cults – what’s not to find humorous, right?? Yeah, I probably laughed a little too much during this one, but it was needed. It’s a short and disturbing read that had me looking at the bus with fresh, slightly fearful eyes!
  5. the_irrationalist_coverThe Irrationalist.
    Just when you thought I only listed depressing, emotional, dark on this list, I give you… The Irrationalist! It’s comical in both it’s dry and not-so-dry humor. The main character, Adrien Baillet bumbles his way through much of the investigation into the murder of René Descartes and his suspects pretty much do the investigating for him. He learns a lot though and comes out a different person at the end, but it had me laughing through the whole book. (Plus, it taught me the word defenestrate… which I threaten to do all the time now!)
  6. Mammoth
    Another lighter, happier book got me through 2018 was Mammoth. It’s a young adult book about a girl with dreams of becoming a paleontologist who’s hero turns out to be someone completely different from who she thought he was. It’s a super fun read!

So those are the books that helped me get through some tough times in 2018. What was 2018 like for you? Do you have a “go-to” book (or 10) for when you’re having a hard time? Let me know in the comments section below!

Blogger Recognition Award

Blogger Rec Award

Thank you so much Eram for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award!

Eram has an awesome blog, Musings of a Confuzzled Reader. If you haven’t visited there you need to do so immediately! I love reading her posts!!

Rules

  • Thank the blogger that nominated you
  • Write a post to show your award
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you’ve nominated them, and provide the link to the post you’ve created.

 

How this Blog Started…

I actually started blogging in 2015, but it didn’t last very long. At the time, my posting varied and there was no real focus. I wrote about my love of writing, reading, knitting, running, my kids, and pretty much whatever popped into my head.

But I burned out really fast! I was posting almost every day for months straight. I’m sure there are lots of people that can do that, but I hadn’t figured out that I could schedule posts in advance yet. So posting everyday meant I had to actually sit down and write a post every. single. day. The biggest problem was that, since I had started out posting daily, I put all kinds of pressure on myself to continue to do so. When I started not being able to keep up with it, I got really down on myself and just couldn’t seem to get back into the blogging groove.

This past summer (2018), I started my blog back up again. I came across some book blogs when I was looking for something fantastic to read and discovered what felt like a whole new world!!!

AN ENTIRE COMMUNITY FULL OF PEOPLE WHO LOVE BOOKS AS MUCH AS I DO???? Umm…. yeah, sign me up!!!!

I now have a very definite focus (BOOKS!!!!), although I still post occasionally about all the other stuff I love (and the stuff I don’t). I’ve ditched all the self-imposed guilt about not posting and actually embraced my procrastination a little bit thanks to the awesome book blogging community. (Turns out, almost every book blogger out there is a procrastinator. I think it’s because we’re easily distracted by books… and pictures of books… and Twitter… and, well, pretty much anything, really.)

Two Pieces of Advice to New Bloggers:

  1. Don’t over do it! Blogging is something that you learn to do over time and if you try to jump in too far too fast, you won’t just be overwhelmed, but you’ll end up hating something you really should love. When I was working on my blog everyday, I eventually felt like it was a chore instead of something fun.
  2. USE THE SCHEDULER!!!! This is something I only recently learned to do! I’m still not great at it, but when you schedule posts ahead of time, it makes life SO much simpler! You can spend one day and schedule posts for the next week or two! Trust me, that Schedule button is your friend!!!

I nominate….

YOU!!! I’m honestly not sure who all’s been tagged before (or whose been tagged too often) so if you haven’t been nominated then consider yourself CHOSEN!!! I’d love to hear how you’re blog started and what advice you give to the rest of us!!

 

CLOSED to Review Requests Until 2019…

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Hello everyone! I just wanted to write a short post to draw attention to the fact that I’ll be closed to any further review requests until January, 2019. As many of you know, we’re going through a huge transition here in our home and I’m working on making changes on here as well, so my “actual” blogging is taking a backseat until the end of the year. (If you don’t know about the changes, then just stay tuned… I’ve got plenty to say about it all in the near future!)

I believe I’ve responded to all requests that I’ve received up until last Friday (November 9). If you sent a request prior to then and have not received a response from me, please let me know. Even if I decline, I try my best to respond to everyone, so if you didn’t hear from me it’s because it got lost somewhere in the craziness that is my e-mail for this site! (I’m hoping to have the e-mail better managed in the future. I’m super excited for the changes there!)

Just to clarify… I’ll still be posting reviews and randomness between now and when I open back up to requests next year, I’m just not accepting any new requests at this time.

 

 

 

Upcoming & Immediate Changes (including Review Disclosure Policy)

If you’ve followed my blog since the start 3 years ago, then you know that I took almost 2 years off before starting back up again this past June/July. I’ve been very fortunate that many of you have subscribed and followed me since then! But the focus of my blog has shifted significantly since it began.

When I began blogging, I posted mostly about myself and about my writing pursuits. Since starting back up this past summer, I’ve been focusing on book reviews and related bookish topics. I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to the change in focus, and I’m very happy about that, but it does mean I’m going to need to make a few changes.

So I’m giving everyone fair warning… Over the next month or so, I’ll be making a lot of changes to my site. Some are necessary changes, and some are just fun things I want to do.

But one immediate change needs to be made… Due to the high volume of e-mails I receive daily for review requests, my Review Disclosure Policy must be updated, effective immediately! I’ve listed the immediate changes below:

Current:

  • I accept both e- and print books. Please note that I do prefer to receive actual print books, as I’m kinda old-fashioned in my note taking and it’s easier for me to reference my notes while writing my reviews. (Also, they smell better than my Kindle.) If you’re sending an e-version, please send in .mobi.

Updated:

  • I accept both e- and print books. Please note that I do prefer to receive actual print books, as I’m kinda old-fashioned in my note taking and it’s easier for me to reference my notes while writing my reviews. Therefore, when on the fence about reviewing a book, preference may be given to those willing to offer a print book. (Also, they smell better than my Kindle.) If you’re sending an e-version, please send in .mobi.

Current: 

  • I will respond to all requests (except in the scenario later in this list). While I try to respond within 24 hours, this is not always possible. Please be patient.

Updated:

  • While I do try, I cannot guarantee a response to all requests. If you have not heard back from me in two weeks, please feel free to resubmit your request. When resubmitting, please let me know that you are doing so.

Current:

Updated:

  • I am on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and LibraryThing. I will post reviews to Amazon as well, although I cannot guarantee those reviews will not be removed. I have had problems with Amazon approving and then later removing my reviews in the past. I cannot be responsible for removal by Amazon. I apologize in advance should this happen. (I do try to stay up to date and in compliance with all of Amazon’s review policies.)

Current:

  • I do accept books for review consideration from publicists, agents, authors, etc. Yes, this includes self-published authors. It does not mean that I will agree to receive every one that is suggested. Please, do not take it personally and do not get nasty. While I may not be open or able to review your current book, I may be dying to read and review the next (or even a previous one). However, negative responses to my declining to review will result in me not responding to future requests or emails from that author.

Updated:

  • I do accept books for review consideration from publicists, agents, authors, etc. Yes, this includes self-published authors. It does not mean that I will agree to receive every one that is suggested. I receive a large volume of review requests and therefore can only accept every request. Please, do not take it personally and do not get nasty. While I may not be open or able to review your current book, I may be dying to read and review the next (or even a previous one). However, negative responses to my declining to review will result in me not responding to future requests or emails from that author.

Addition to Current Policy:

  • Acceptance of a book for review does not guarantee that that book will be reviewed. While I do try to review every book I accept, not every book is a great fit for me and I will not review a book I did not finish reading. If a book is accepted and is later DNF’d, I will contact the person who requested the book be reviewed via e-mail to let them know.
  • When deciding whether to accept a book for possible review, preference will be given to books written by authors I have previously reviewed, books in the below categories, and books featuring positive representation of bi-racial characters. Please be sure to mention these in your review request. (It also helps if you actually follow/read my posts.)

 

Thank you all for understanding the necessity of these changes. I hate even having a review policy, but I found it to be a necessary evil very quickly! Also, I’m totally open to suggestions!!! I’m so thankful to the book blogger community for helping with so much over the last few months and would love some feedback!

As always, comment below or use the Contact Me form! I look forward to hearing from you!

Blogoween (I told you I’d post my participation announcement before the 1st! 😜)

As I semi-announced in this past Wednesday’s WWW Wednesday post, I’ll be taking part in Blogoween (Bookblogger Style) this year!!

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Graphic made by the Amazing Anthony @KeepReadingForward

What is Blogoween???  I’m glad you asked…

You can find out more by visiting Clo @BookDragons, but it’s basically a time for us book bloggers to take October and spread some wonderful bookish Halloweeniness across the internet. (Yeah, I said Halloweeniness… Of course it’s a word – I just used it in a sentence, did I?!?)

While there are 3 different participation levels to chose from, I’ll be participating in Level 1. I REALLY want to do Level 3, but realistically that’s just a little much for me at the moment.

Level 1: 13 Days of Blogoween

  • Pick any 13 days to post
  • Don’t have to be consecutive
  • Don’t have to post on Halloween (but you can!)

Level 2: Pumpkins & Spice

  • Must post on the 24th Oct through to the 31st Oct (that’s 7 posts)
  • Must be consecutive posts
  • Must post on Halloween
  • Can’t change level

Level 3: Ghosted

  • Posting EVERY DAY (that’s 31 posts)
  • Can mix Autumn themes into your posts
  • If you find within the first few days it’s too much, can switch to Level 1

One of the best parts about participating in Blogoween is that you’re not alone! There are some wonderful hosts who’ll be giving prompts all along the way. So you don’t even have to worry about blogger’s block! Here are the hosts for each week:

1st Week ~

Anthony @ Keep Reading Forward: Mon 1st – Wed 3rd
Kaleena @ Reader Voracious:Thu 4th – Sun 7th

2nd Week ~

Camilla @ Reader In The Attic: Mon 8th – Wed 10th
Lauren @ Northern Plunder: Thu 11th – Sun 14th

3rd Week ~

Jamsu @ jamsudreams: Mon 15th – Wed 17th
Anna @ The Bursting Bookshelf: Thu 18th – Sun 21st

4th Week ~

Sam @ Fictionally Sam: Mon 22nd – Wed 24th
Soph @ Bookwyrming Thoughts: Thu 25th – Sun 28th

5th Week ~

Clo @ Book Dragons: Mon 29th – Wed 31st

Visit the hosts and/or sign-up to participate! It’s going to be a great time!

Are you participating in Blogween? Thinking about participating (or just have something to say)??? Comment below!

Happy Blogoween Everyone!!!