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!

Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky – BOOK REVIEW

38769727Title: Mammoth
Author: Jill Baguchinsky
Publication Date & Publisher: November 6, 2018, Turner Publishing
Genre(s): Young Adult
Length: 340 pages
ISBN: 9781684421947
My Rating: 4.75/5.0

Description (from Goodreads):

The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.

My review: 

So I pretty much knew I was going to like this book before I even read it. Some other very trustworthy bloggers had given it high praise, and I was excited to get my hands on it! When it finally arrived, I made the mistake of letting my teen daughter read the blurb, and she offered to fight me over who got to read it first… (Don’t worry, I shut that down and no child abuse was exacted in my reading of this wonderful novel!)

I ended up loving Mammoth so much that I’m not even sure where to start… Guess I’ll just jump right in…

Natalie totally reinvented herself during the summer before she started high school. She doesn’t just dress differently, she’s got a whole different attitude that she wears as a shield to guard herself from her real feelings. “Be awesome” is the mantra she’s learned from her aunt and her awesomeness is obvious to everyone around her… including some of the kids that used to pick on her before she had the courage to “be awesome.”

While she’s putting on the front of awesomeness to the entire world, inside she’s all insecurity and self-loathing. And now that she’s going to be digging up bones for the summer, it’s a lot harder to put on that awesome clothing and makeup she’s been using to hide her true self away from the world.

While at the amazing internship she’s landed at the mammoth dig site, she gets to meet her hero, Dr. Thomas F. Carver. This should be a dream come true, but it turns out to be anything but… and not just because she’s become frenemies with Dr. Carver’s daughter, Quinn, who’s also interning at the site.

Dr. Carver, who Natalie has idolized both personally and publicly, steals credit for a huge find and Natalie and Quinn are expected to just roll over and take it. Another paleontologist, Dr. Gallaher, tries to cheer Natalie up and I just loved it…

“There are two lessons you can take from this,” he says. “First, understand that this kind of thing happens. It’s part of the game. Anyone who’s been in the field for a while knows how you feel. At least you got your first experience with it over with early. You’re way ahead of your peers – and with the way word travels among paleontologists, those of us who matter will know who really found that calf.”

At least it’s something. “What’s the second lesson?”

Dr. Gallagher gives his ample whiskers a casual stroke. “Never, ever trust a male paleontologist without a proper beard. They’ll screw you over every time.”

(Shortly before I started reading Mammoth, my husband had started having to shave his beard for work…I loved his beard and pouted fought him shaving it hard! I totally dropped the paleontologist part & used the above to win my argument that he shouldn’t shave if he’s not at work!)

I loved how real the characters seemed. Natalie reminded me so much of my younger self with her insecurities and body issues, but I also related to the other characters. I loved that she didn’t have a horrible relationship with her parents and that the adults weren’t portrayed as complete idiots. (A personal pet peeve of mine in YA lately.)

Being the mother of two daughters, I love that this book shows women in STEM!!!

I definitely recommend this book to… just about everyone that enjoys a good young adult read!

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Turner Publishing. This in no way influenced my review.

What do you think of Mammoth? Have you read it or are you planning on reading it in the future? Have a suggestion for my next read? Leave me a comment below!

Planning on purchasing Mammoth? Please consider using one of these affiliate links: Amazon, Book Depository

 

 

WWW Wednesday -August 22, 2018

img_1384-0Hello everyone! I’ve missed the last couple of weeks, but I’m finally posting my second WWW Wednesday in August!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.

Don’t know what WWW Wendesday is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog! (You can also leave your link in my comments to be sure I don’t miss your post!)

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy The Swan Keeper by Milana Marsenich at first, but by the end of the first chapter, I was hooked!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been reading Born to Wander by Michelle Van Loon with my husband. It’s really interesting and has led to some great discussions!

 

 

 

 

 

I recently finished:

I may have missed the last couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t carve out some reading time…

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I absolutely loved Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky and I’ll be sharing my review soon!

 

 

 

 

 

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Edge of the Known Bus Line by James R. Gapinski was a super quick read that gave me chills!

 

 

 

 

 

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For some crazy reason, I decided to start reading classics that I either never got around to or just discovered…Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson was not a good one to start with! I was pretty disappointed and upset that it was recommended to me.

 

 

 

 

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Their Houses by Meredith Sue Willis is another book I recently finished that I fell in love with. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since I got to the end and can’t wait to share the review with you all!

 

 

What I’ll be reading next:

the_sun_king_by_allison_lee_palmer_200 

 

What’s your WWW? Any thoughts on the books above?  Leave a comment or send me a message through the Contact Me page.

Want to support my laziness??? Feel free to leave a link to your own WWW Wednesday post in case I miss it over on Taking on a World of Words. (The link list is long over there guys, and I’ve got a lot of books to read…)

WWW Wednesday -August 1, 2018

img_1384-0Welcome to August 2018 everyone!!!

I was going to add a list of my current reads to my July Wrap-Up yesterday, but since today (then tomorrow) is Wednesday, I skipped it.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.  I’ve been doing it for a couple of months now (I think) and it’s a lot of fun sharing what I’m currently reading, but I’m also really enjoying visiting the other participant blogs to find more great books to add to my TBR pile!!! (Which is probably not a great thing…my TBR could kill if it fell on someone.)

Don’t know what WWW Wendesday is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog!

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

 

 

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

38769727

I’ll be finishing this book today and I cannot wait to write the review and share how awesome Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky is!!! The main character is smart, cute, a fellow blogger, and she’s into paleontology… how could it not be great, right???

 

the_irrationalist_cover

I just started Andrew Pessin’s The Irrationalist. The summary of this book hooked me before I even started reading, so I’m reserving any real judgment until I’m farther in. So far though… I’m enjoying it!!

 

I recently finished:

Yeah, so this is awkward…

Nothing!!!

A book blogger who’s not reading enough to finish ONE. SINGLE. BOOK. this past week???

Yeah, that totally happened. Moving on…

 

What I’ll be reading next:

the_sun_king_by_allison_lee_palmer_200 

 

What’s your WWW? Any thoughts on the books above? (Or just wanna laugh at me for my slow reading???) Leave a comment or send me a message through the Contact Me page.

Want to support my laziness??? Feel free to leave a link to your own WWW Wednesday post in case I miss it over on Taking on a World of Words. (The link list is long over there guys, and I’ve got a lot of books to read…)

WWW Wednesday -July 25, 2018

img_1384-0WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words.  I’ve been doing it for a few weeks now and it’s a lot of fun sharing what all I’m currently reading and visiting the other participant blogs to find more to add to my TBR pile!!!

Don’t know what it is or how to participate??? All you need to do is answer the following three questions and link back to Taking on a World of Words, or you can put your answers in the comments on her blog!

The three WWW questions are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

 

Today’s WWW Wednesday is going to be much shorter than usual (I skipped my normal little comments). We’ve got a stomach bug wreaking havoc in our home and well, I love WWW Wednesday but I’ve got 2 dogs, 5 kids and a husband… and I’m still semi-standing. Basically…

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via Giphy

(Hehehe… I’ll be honest… I probably could’ve added in a few sentences, but I’ve been dying to use that meme!)

So here’s my shortened WWW Wednesday

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

38769727the_irrationalist_cover

 

 

I recently finished:

37795839-_sy180_Beneath the Same Heaven, by Anne Marie Ruff

So… I became so attached and involved with the characters in this book that when their world fell apart, I actually had to take a break for a while and come back to it when I could handle it.  I’m not sure what that says about my emotional stability, but I do know it says great things about Anne Marie Ruff’s ability to connect her readers with her characters!

 

What I’ll be reading next:

the_sun_king_by_allison_lee_palmer_200 

 

What’s your WWW? Any thoughts on the books above? Leave a comment or send me a message through the Contact Me page.