Sunday, March 31, 2024

March Books

Can you believe that reading wasn't my jam growing up?! Clif Notes were my best friends in high school - I'd "read enough" to get by, but other than that I did not enjoy the act of reading so never did it... like ever. Maybe I wasn't reading things that held my interest or maybe it was because it was "required" so I didn't find it enjoyable, but whatever the reason, I'm glad I challenged myself to add the goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (which turned into 88 books in 201777 books in 201867 books in 201966 books in 202067 books in 202141 books in 2022 and 98 books in 2023). The majority of my "reading" has been listening to audiobooks since I don't have as much time to sit and read physical books once I started working full time (not to mention I walk to work and walk on my lunch break so have two-ish hours a day I can listen to something). Even still, holding a physical book is the bomb dot com and I hope to get back to adding more reading vs listening. Just like in years past, writing a monthly recap of the books I get through is a great way for me to both record what I'm reading and to stay accountable. So, here are the books I finished in short month of March:

  • I Hope This Doesn't Find You by Ann Liang - This popped up in my Hoopla app under the recommended books, so I clicked on it. The little blurb mentioned something along the lines of "If you like the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series then you will love this." That is one of my fave series (I know, I know, I'm probably 'too old' to say that, but it's so cute!), so I was stoked to download this one. If you've read (or watched) that series, you know that the main character writes love letters to her crushes, but never sends them - just puts them in a box in her closet. Well, her younger sister ends up mailing them to the guys and the story is about how the rest unfolds. This story is like the exact opposite. The main character of this book writes snarky/ sassy replies to emails, but keeps them in her drafts. As I'm sure you could have guessed, the emails end up being sent and drama ensues. Obviously the main character has an arch nemesis who eventually she falls for. The plot was very predictable, but sometimes you just need a little young love to take your mind off 'real life' for a while. Anywho, I think had I not already read and loved "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" I would've given this a higher mark, but the whole time I just kept thinking about how it was not creative (even if it's the opposite). Sure, "imitation is the best form of flattery", but I was just bummed that this felt like a copycat. (If you haven't read/ watched the other series, you may think this is 100% cuteness.) I would give it a 7 out of 10. 

  • Tom Lake by Ann Patchett - I had seen this book on a few of my friends' recently read lists and when I saw it pop up on my Hoopla app AND it was performed by Meryl Streep, I knew it would be worth a listen. As per usual, I had no idea what this book was about before I downloaded it, but I think had I known it still wouldn't have done it justice. The book is set up as a mom telling her three daughters about a time in her life (when she was young, an actress and dating someone who ended up turning into a big movie star). Maybe it's because I grew up in the era of reality TV, but I always find it interesting to see a little sneak peak of people's lives. Sure, this may have been a novel, but the storyline drew me in - hook, line and sinker! Not only was the character development great and the plot interesting, but the girls were back home at their family's cherry farm in Northern Michigan helping out during harvest because of the pandemic. Y'all know I have a sweet spot for books set in (or that even mention) Michigan, so this one definitely had me grinning from the beginning. The story flipped between the mother telling about her past and then back to the present - but not in a way that you'd get whiplash or didn't know what was happening. Even if some of the details hit a little closer to home for me than it may for others, I still think others would enjoy this one just as much. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain - The hubby, pup and I went up to Mammoth for a long weekend and the hubby actually surprised me and said he had an audiobook downloaded for the drive (I am normally the one who goes through and sends suggestions of ones we may want to listen to and I totally didn't do it for this trip, so I was pleasantly surprised). Let me start off by saying that the hubby LOVES the show The Bear. If you haven't seen it, it's sort of a "behind the scenes" look at the back of the house in a restaurant. I have never worked in the restaurant world (I worked in the dining hall during college and selling Dippin' Dots at Universal Studios one summer, but that's as close to the food industry that I got). I have heard folks who have worked in that world (and reviews of the show) say that it is a pretty accurate depiction of what happens. Well, for me, the show gives me anxiety. Like, really. Every time we watch it I feel like I am amped up and nervous the whole time because things are going so quickly, there is lots of yelling and arguing, etc. So, anywho, back to this book. Anthony is giving a look into the "underbelly of the culinary world". I would say that although I found it interesting, it was a little like the show in that gave me a bit of anxiety. Similar to The Bear, the hubby really enjoyed it and I felt as though I needed a little detox afterwards. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • Saints of the Household by Ari Tison - This book had popped up in the new section of the Young Adult genre on my Hoopla app so I figured 'why not'. The story is told in alternating views between two twin brothers. They are trying to navigate broken relationships (whether it's friendships or within their family) while struggling to keep the traditions and values of their Indigenous culture in mind as well as trying to figure out who they are individually. It's interesting to see how the two brothers can react to the same situation in completely different ways - reminding the reader how differently we all are (and how quickly miscommunication can happen if we let it). Although the book isn't very long (the audiobook is less than four and a half hours total), it certainly packed a punch. The story's fiction, but definitely makes you think, feel and hope. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Waiting for the Flood by Alexis Hall - I'm not sure if you remember, but last month I had read Glitterland and I noticed that this is the second book in the Spires series. Although the first one had a little more (graphic) sex in it than books I normally read, I still figured I'd give this one a chance. And I'm glad I did because I liked this one more than the first. The plot of this story is a couple was together for 10 years, they break up and you follow along with the two individuals after the separation to see how the break-up impacts their lives and relationships four years later. I enjoyed that the story was told from the two different characters' perspectives and although I liked one of the characters more than the other, I still appreciated seeing why each of them felt the way they did. Don't worry, you aren't going to get any spoilers from me, but with that said, my heart does appreciate when there's more of a "happily ever after" ending (and a bit less sex ;)). I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Poor Things by Alasdair Gray - The hubby saw the movie version of this book on one of the streaming platforms and asked if I wanted to watch it. I told him that I thought I had seen it on my Hoopla app (which it turns out I did) and I wanted to listen/read it first (because, let's be real, the book is normally way better than the theatrical version ;)). This was my final download of the month and I had no idea what to expect. Turns out it was sort of like Frankenstein, but creating a woman. This sort of sci fi book isn't normally my preferred genre, but it kept me engaged (and even had me laughing out loud while I was listening to it during a couple of my runs). The premise was "fun" (a little mocking of the Victorian era, a little pondering about the medical profession, a little of a rollercoaster ride) and because I've never actually read/ seen the original Frankenstein (although I have seen Frankenweenie ;)) it wasn't too played out of a story. Wasn't anything to write home about, but I'm sure the movie will be entertaining when we get a chance to watch. I would give it a 7 out of 10.

  • Maid by Stephanie Land - I went to the library because I was meeting friends for brunch next door and was a few minutes early. I wanted to ask the staff if there was a better app than Hoopla to use for my audiobooks (I learned about that app years ago and wasn't sure if a newer option was available). The librarian told me about Libby, which also connects to the Oceanside Library. They said the app does offer newer/ more popular titles, but they only have a certain number of the titles (similar to physical books that would be available for loan). I figured it couldn't hurt, so I gave the app a download, linked my library card and got to searching. I first decided to click on the "suggested by library staff" section and started adding "for later" or "coming soon" tags to the books that caught my eye. Seeing as I was all out of downloads from my Hoopla app I figured I'd start using my monthly allowance on Libby. This was the first book I snagged and I really enjoyed it. I didn't realize that the book had been turned into a Netflix series (since we don't have Netflix and the little badge was so small on my phone that I didn't see it until I enlarged it on my blog ;)), but I can totally see why. This is a biography/ memoir from a mother who is working minimum wage jobs to try and care for her daughter. It was extremely eye opening to what government assistance actually offers, all of the hoops that are needed to jump through to acquire the help/ funding/ etc and the nuances to many of the programs. Let's just say (if you didn't know already) the stereotype of "welfare queens" couldn't be further from what is actually going on in this country (but isn't that what living in a land of white supremacy will constantly try to teach...). As always, I'm grateful for the vulnerability/ openness of folks who are willing to give complete strangers a glimpse into their real world - especially for people who may never have similar lived experiences. I would give this a 10 out of 10.

  • We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds - I had seen this book on a few "must read" lists so when I scrolled past it on the Libby app I decided I would try it out. I didn't remember what lists I saw it on, but when I read the first line on the Amazon page for the book I can get an idea of why it was on my radar... "Family secrets, a swoon-worthy romance, and a slow-burn mystery collide in We Deserve Monuments, a YA debut from Jas Hammonds that explores how racial violence can ripple down through generations. What's more important: Knowing the truth or keeping the peace?" This one hit me in all the feels. I loved the connection of the three teens (Avery, Jade and Simone), I loved the crusty, old Mama Letty, I loved that the book dove into very serious topics (racism, Jim Crow, queer love, generational trauma, sexuality, secrets, friendship, etc), I really just loved it all. It was a real reminder that some wounds cut extremely deep and we may not know the full impact of them for a long, long time. The story felt raw, it felt real, it felt like I was right there and rooting for all the characters. Some may not like that it wasn't a "fairy tale" ending, but it felt more realistic that way. I can't wait to see what is to come from this author - hopefully sooner rather than later. I would give it a 9 out of 10.

With that, March is done-zo. If you have suggestions, let me know! I'm always looking to add to my "must read" list! 

What's the best book you've read lately? 

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Workout Recap - Week 12

Sunday, March 17th  12.62 mile run

Monday, March 18th –  60 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, March 19th – Rest Day

Wednesday, March 20th – 60 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, March 21st – 6 lunchtime miles

Friday, March 22nd  60 minutes on the stationary bike

Saturday, March 23rd – 6 mile run

The "strange" distance for Sunday's run was because one of my besties was running the Oakland Marathon that morning and I figured I'd end my run with 2.62 in solidarity ;) I was without a phone from Tuesday thru Friday evening, which is why there aren't photos from my workouts (although you can see my funny "route" when I ran in the abandoned parking lot of the mall across the street from work on my lunch). Everything went fine this week (I didn't get in my HIIT workout since I didn't have a phone with a timer, so just did an extra bike ride). Here's to hoping everything continues trending upwards.

How were your workouts this past week?

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Workout Recap - Week 11

Sunday, March 10th  8 mile run

Monday, March 11th –  60 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, March 12th – 4 sunset miles

Wednesday, March 13th – HIIT workout

Thursday, March 14th – 60 minutes on the stationary bike

Friday, March 15th  Rest Day

Saturday, March 16th – 3 mile run with the hubby

Sunday's "run" was rough. I hadn't gotten great sleep the night before (had driven home from Mammoth most of the day), was grieving a friendship lost and was in a funk, but I told myself I'd at least finish the eight miles. I'd say it was probably half walking and half running, but some days you just have to take what your body will give ya. Tuesday's run didn't feel a ton better, but I could understand the heavy legs seeing I had been at work on my feet since 10am. [Don't worry, I had my reflective vest on for the run so all the drivers at dusk could see me.] Thankfully my run with the hubby felt great (could also be the fact that his pace is a bit slower than mine so it felt more casual than my runs earlier in the week). I'm stoked to be back on track (even if workouts seem tougher than I'd hope) and working to get this routine back as the norm.

How were your workouts this past week?

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Workout Recap - Week 10

Sunday, March 3rd  60 minutes on the stationary bike

Monday, March 4th –  HIIT workout

Tuesday, March 5th – Rest Day

Wednesday, March 6th – 60 minutes on the stationary bike

Thursday, March 7th – 60 minutes on the stationary bike

Friday, March 8th  Rest Day

Saturday, March 9th – Rest Day 

We had our giant parking lot sale on Sunday, so I was working all day and figured I'd just jump on the bike when I got home from being at the store all day. The hubby and I (plus the pup) went up to Mammoth for the weekend after I got off work on Thursday, which is why Friday and Saturday turned into "rest days". The hubby was snowboarding all day, while the pup and I chillaxed in the trailer reading and napping. Sometimes you just need days like that. And although the week may not have panned out how I would've liked, I got in what I could, when I could and tried to not focus on the "should". 

How were your workouts this past week?

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Workout Recap - Week 9

Sunday, February 25th  4 trail miles with the hubby

Monday, February 26th –  60 minutes on the stationary bike

Tuesday, February 27th – HIIT workout

Wednesday, February 28th – Rest Day

Thursday, February 29th – 5.75 mile run

Friday, March 1st  60 minutes on the stationary bike

Saturday, March 2nd – 10 mile run 

Minus the fact that I swapped a couple days around (took my rest day on Wednesday instead of Friday so pushed back my Wednesday and Thursday workouts), I'm stoked I got it all in. This week I was chatting with a friend about potentially putting a race on the calendar that ended up eventually not working out, but it still reminded me how I love being "marathon ready" so I could technically jump into a race at any time and be confident I could finish it. I might not be following a set-in-stone training plan right now, but I am hoping that I can start inching up my long runs (while still fitting in some fun runs with the hubby and strength training I normally skip during other plans). Onwards and upwards! Let's go!

How were your workouts this past week?