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!

BOOK REVIEW: The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes by Andrew Pessin

the_irrationalist_coverTitle & Author: The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes, Andrew Pessin
Publication Date & Publisher: May 15, 2017, Open Books
Genre(s): Historical Fiction, General (Adult) Fiction, Murder Mystery
Length: 504 pages
ISBN: 13: 978-0998427447
My Rating: 5.0/5.0!!!!

My review: 

(Yeah, I’m changing it up and putting the review first. I’m crazy like that!)

giphyIt’s no secret that I love books! Let’s face it… I blog about books to support my book addiction.  So I’m rarely surprised to read a blurb, love the idea, read a story and love the book.

What is rare??? Finding a book that I love so much that I can find NOTHING negative to say about it! But that actually happened with The Irrationalist…

Andrew Pessin’s The Irrationalist: The Tragic Murder of René Descartes is a wonderful blending of historical fiction, murder mystery, and humor to create a story that is almost impossible to put down!

The story begins with a sad voyage by Adrien Baillet to Sweden.  Baillet is a reluctant priest being sent away from the only home he can remember to represent his institution to the “most powerful government in Europe.” This might not sound remarkable, but immediately I was like, “huh?”

Baillet isn’t who you’d pick to represent you or your organization in anything! Especially not in important matters… Baillet’s own description is this:

He was in his early thirties – he didn’t know exactly how old – and had lived nearly his whole life first under the care of, and now taking care of, Rector Charlet. The good man had tried to make something of him, without much success. Baillet failed to do much academically, unable to distinguish himself in any subject at the college except swordsmanship, and even there his distinction was merely being the only boy to serve as live target dummy for the fencing classes.

Jesuit’s were expected to be smart, imposing, able to defend themselves and defeat their enemies when necessary (by brain or brawn didn’t matter). This is what everyone Baillet came in contact with expected of him, and they were all sorely disappointed! His mantra seemed to be “Perhaps if I had applied myself…”

When he arrives in Sweden, he is tasked with investigating the mysterious death of René Descartes. The official report needed to be that he had died of natural causes in order to stop the rumors spreading that Descartes had been murdered.

But Baillet’s job isn’t easy… EVERYONE is a suspect. EVERYONE has a motive. It’s like the list of possible suspects never ends!!

Was it the paranoid librarian, Freinsheimus? Or Descartes’ valet, Schluter? What about Doctor Wullens, Père Viogué or Former Predekant Voetius? His own brother, Pierre? The Chancellor himself, Zolindius? Someone else??? Bramer, perhaps?

I was still trying to piece it all together and figure out who did it and why at the very end… which has a twist that had me ready to re-read the entire book right that moment! Then I felt like a fool for not figuring it out myself!

As Baillet is constantly reminded by those he’s investigating… “Trust no one.” I should’ve listened. The answers were all there!

You might expect a book about a murder in the 1600’s to be all seriousness, but The Irrationalist is comical in both it’s dry and not-so-dry humor. Baillet bumbles his way through much of the investigation and his suspects pretty much do the investigating for him. He learns a lot though and comes out a different person at the end.

While the book is titled The Tragic Murder of René Descartes, it’s also about the tragic life and transformation of Adrien Baillet.

I definitely recommend picking this up if you enjoy historical fiction and/or murder mysteries!

 

Description (from Goodreads):

An historical murder mystery based on real events.

Who would want to murder the world’s most famous philosopher?

Turns out: nearly everyone.

In 1649, Descartes was invited by the Queen of Sweden to become her Court Philosopher. Though he was the world’s leading philosopher, his life had by this point fallen apart. He was 53, penniless, living in exile in Amsterdam, alone. With much trepidation but not much choice, he arrived in Stockholm in mid-October.

Shortly thereafter he was dead.

Pneumonia, they said. But who could believe that? There were just too many persons of interest who wanted to see Descartes dead, and for too many reasons. That so many of these persons were in Stockholm—thanks to the Gala the Queen was throwing to celebrate the end of the terrible Thirty Years’ War—made the official story all the less plausible. Death by poisoning was the unofficial word on the cobblestone.

Enter Adrien Baillet. A likeable misfit with a mysterious backstory, he arrives just as the French Ambassador desperately needs an impartial Frenchman to prove that Descartes died of natural causes—lest the “murder” in Lutheran Sweden of France’s great Catholic philosopher trigger colicky French boy-King Louis XIV to reignite that awful War. Baillet hesitatingly agrees to investigate Descartes’s death, knowing that if—or when—he screws up, he could be personally responsible for the War’s Thirty-First Year.

But solving the mystery of Descartes’s death (Baillet soon learns) requires first solving the mystery of Descartes’s life, with all its dangerous secrets … None of it is easy, as nearly everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted. Nor does it help that he must do it all under the menacing gaze of Carolus Zolindius, the terrifying Swedish Chancellor with the strangely intimidating limp.

But Baillet somehow perseveres, surprising everyone as he figures it all out—all the way to the explosive end.

 

What do you think of The Irrationalist? 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!

Thank you to Open Books for providing me with a free digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Click Here to Purchase The Irrationalist from Book Depository.

Click Here to Purchase The Irrationalist from Amazon.

 

 

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:

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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.