Third Time’s the Charm, eh? oh and Books

My husband and I completed our final IUI today.  We’ve been struggling with infertility for over a year and have previously tried two other IUIs, which were, unfortunately unsuccessful.  We met with our doctor last week and he advised us to move onto IVF if this final IUI doesn’t work.  Apparently, there isn’t much of an increase in odds after the third attempt, plus we have some other aspects that make it less likely to work for us. I’m really hoping it does, though.  As far as IUIs go, this one has the best odds of being successful so my fingers and toes are crossed, and most importantly, I am praying. The third time’s the charm, right?

Aside from that, my school, as well as every other school in Indianapolis, is going completely virtual starting November 30th.  All week, we’ve been prepping our in-person students for this shift and next Monday and Tuesday they will be working on packets from home while the staff preps for a full virtual shift.  I. Am. Elated. While this may not be the best thing for students academically, it is the best thing for them physically right now, and we have a really great plan set in place this time.  At this point, if students do not perform, that will be on them. We have done the leg work to make this successful.  Now, it’s on them. Which is hard, but I do feel okay about it. 

The choice to go fully virtual does positively impact me.  I am excited to work from home.  My husband and I set up a cheap work from home station for me this past week and I think this will be really good for my overall mental health. 

Thanksgiving is coming up and that is my favorite holiday.  I can’t wait to cook everything for my family.  We are still planning to meet together to celebrate the holiday, but there will only be 5 of us, so I’m not too concerned about the spread of covid for us.  With all of these positive things happening, it’s hard to feel down, which I had been for awhile.  I’m glad my mood has taken a step up.

This month so far, I’ve finished 6 books and am only 5 away from reaching my goal of 100 for the year.  I think I will be surpassing that goal, which is insane to me as I have never read this much in a year before! So, without further adieu, let’s talk books.

My first read of the month was The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and wow. 

Have you ever read a book that was just exactly what you needed and hit you right at the perfect time? Well, that was this book for me. I’m so glad I read this one.  This one is definitely a favorite of the year for me and possibly in my top 5.  The story centers around a woman who essentially wants to kill herself and somewhere in between, she ends up living multiple versions of her life based on the books of her life in the midnight library.  Through this, she not only sees her regrets and mistakes and gets to play out “if” scenarios, she also learns to love life again. (5/5)

The next book I read was a very forgettable thriller called The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell.  I had previously read two other books by this author: one that I loved, and one that was predictable and unimpressive. This one, unfortunately, was more like the latter.  The novel was fine and it was fast paced, but I just wasn’t invested in the characters or the plot.  Jewell is an author that has proven she can write a great novel, but I worry she has fallen prey to the publishing world that insists she push book after book out. 3/5. 

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue by V.E. Schwab was a book that took me far longer to read than I had originally expected.  The book itself was long, but the problem with my attention was due to the book not gripping it.  I was about to give up on the novel if it weren’t for everyone and their mom screaming about how much they loved this book.  Finally, about half way through, I started to love the novel, but the build was so slow that I became frustrated.  The main love interest doesn’t even come into the picture until the midway point, which meant that the first half was just a lot of set-up.  Too much in my opinion.  3.5/5.

After reading and loving The Midnight Library, I decided to check out some more of Matt Haig’s work.  The first of these was his novel How to Stop Time.  This one was not as big of a hit for me. The premise of the story focuses on time.  The main character has some sort of medical condition that makes him age at a much slower pace so he has seen centuries of life. I loved the concept, but the execution was a bit cheesy for me.  As soon as the main character kept meeting real celebrities and historical figures, it felt far-reaching for me.  The end was a bit too sappy and rushed as well.  I do hear this is being turned into a movie.  I actually think it may be better as film than book. 3/5.

My next Matt Haig book was a collection of essays and observations titled Reasons to Stay Alive.  This book is for anyone who has ever experienced depression personally or though someone near to them.  I found the raw writing to be an essential look into the trials of when that darkness invades your mind.  As someone who has struggled deeply with depression, I found solace in this book with the reminder that A) I’m not alone and B) it gets better.  This is a book I will definitely be recommending to people. Plus, it’s about time the world better understands this disease. 4/5    

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong was some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read.  I was absolutely taken away by the poetic writing.  Unfortunately, the story itself was lacking.  Vuong writes his novel in the format of a letter from a son to his mother.  This felt deeply personal and pulled me in initially, but about half way through it became jarring and felt pretentious to me.  The writing was so damn beautiful though.  I have to give this 4 stars, despite the lack of a fluid plot. 4/5.

I’ve just started This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens and so far I am enjoying it.  It’s reminding me a bit of The Unhoneymooners and One Day.  I’m excited to finish it.

I’ll catch you again at the end of the month for more book reviews.  Until then, happy reading y’all!   

Some positive news and book reviews

Well, I’ve definitely done more reading this month than last month, so at least I’m feeling accomplished in that respect.  Life does happen between the binding, as I like to say, and there are a lot of things going on in my little world.  I think they are all good for the most part, but only time will tell. 

I’ve been very open and vulnerable in my blog posts and I plan to keep it that way.  It would be a lie to act like everything is wonderful all the time and it’s the harder things in life that tend to shape us as individuals.  All of this to say: read on for a little vulnerability. 

My dad is currently in the hospital and will get to come home tonight.  He had his prostate removed yesterday to get rid of the cancer that is in his body.  The doctor felt good about the surgery and were able to spend more time on it due to not having any other surgeries to do aside from his.  He will have a follow up appointment next week and another appointment on December 9th to ensure the cancer is gone.  I would say this is all in all a positive report on my dad.  It feels great to know that his cancer is likely gone and will just need close monitoring now. 

Coincidentally, while my father was in surgery yesterday, I was busy having a procedure done as well.  Again, this is a positive thing and only time will tell if it stays positive or not. I am fervently praying that it remains positive!

Another positive thing is that my husband and I took a short trip to Door County, Wisconsin and it was absolutely beautiful.  We hiked, kayaked, rode bikes through the woods, and ate well.  We even got to see some family members from a safe distance on our way home. I’m so glad we were able to take that trip.  It’s a place we’ve wanted to go for about as long as we’ve known each other and a place we first heard about together. 

The only negative thing going on is money.  So much money has been spent this month.  I knew it would be an expensive month as we had some home projects and a trip.  I hadn’t planned, however, on the cost of another procedure.  On the plus side, we’ve gotten a new bathtub (which I love), light fixtures in rooms where there were none before, and we now have working lighting outside!  We’ve gone on our trip and soon our roof will be fixed, where there was some major water damage before.  This is all good, it’s just costly and has us watching our pennies a little more closely now. Such is life.  I’m just happy, we’ve been fortunate enough to cover these costs.  Any time I stress about money, I am reminded that it is mentioned more than 800 times in the Bible.  While it’s not good to be in debt, I don’t want money to rule my life or give me undue stress. Everything will be better soon. 

Now let’s talk books! I’ve read quite a few so far this month.  Seven to be exact, and I’m currently reading two and listening to one.  I’m hoping for double digits by the end of this month, but I also hoped to finish a book during Fall break (usually my biggest reading time of the year), and I didn’t finish a single one.  To be fair, we had a lot going on. 

The first book I read this month was The Mother-In-Law by Sally Hepworth.  I was really engrossed in this book.  The back and forth between daughter-in-law and mother-in-law was very interesting, and I kept being shocked by how the mother-in-law acted.  She was a fascinating, but very unlikeable character. Unfortunately, the mystery’s end was not as shocking and left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth.  Initially, I felt like this book would be a 4 or 5 star read, but it started to fall flat.  One thing that really bothered me about this book was the portrayal of a woman with fertility issues.  It hit a little too close to home, but my real problem is that they made this woman seem absolutely crazy all due to her infertility.  That felt harsh and unbelievable. 3/5. 

Next up was A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson, a book that was marketed as a legal thriller, which I was very excited about.  Unfortunately, this book was not really a legal thriller at all.  The courtroom scenes didn’t even start until 3/4 of the way through the book.  The ending, again, fell flat.  It just didn’t feel clever like so many good thriller endings are. While the author’s writing kept me reading, this book felt pretty forgettable.  3/5.  

Then I read The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyoun Kim, a book that at some points, captivated me with it’s use of language, however, the storyline was not captivating.  This may be due to recently reading a book about a mother figure’s relationship with a daughter, which this book was also about, but I just could not get into this book. The chapters change perspectives from Mina to her daughter Margot.  I definitely found Mina more compelling, but again, this book just fell flat and felt forgettable. 3/5. 

After some three star reads, I finally got to a book that caused a reaction within me: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb.  This nonfiction book takes a look at a therapist, the counseling she gives, and the counseling she receives.  I really loved that this book shows us all so deeply human.  We are so flawed, yet there is something redeeming in all of us. There were a lot of little life nuggets in here that really stayed with me.  There were also little pieces of psychology history/fact sprinkled throughout and as someone who really enjoys psychology, I loved that aspect of the book.  4/5. 

Book 5 was Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, which I listened to. I loved the audio actors by the way and really loved that there was a male and female to add to the characters.  The characters, by the way, were so perfectly thought out.  I did get frustrated with them at times, but then I just had to remind myself that they were teenagers. This book focuses on first love and how intoxicating it is, but it also shows the relationship between two outcasts. The chemistry was strong and everything felt so raw and real.  There were also just so many beautiful lines that didn’t feel cheesy to me, but accurate for two outcasts to share.  The ending felt rushed and I didn’t love it, so this one gets 4 stars for me, but they are 4 very shiny, bright stars! 4/5. 

I also listened to Leave the World Behind, a book that fully enchanted me.  Author, Rumaan Alam left me in a book hangover for sure.  I read a sample of this book and felt like I wouldn’t be into the language, so I opted to listen instead to see if I could look past the heavy vocabulary and I’m so glad I did.  The book focuses on two families forced to share a home for the end of the world and asks Can any person be trusted? How would you spend your last minutes? I know a lot of people haven’t loved this book. Some were disappointed by the end, but I loved it.  For me, there was no other way for this book to end.  Leave the World Behind was a cerebral atmospheric novel that wholly pulled me in.  It made me think of that quote “This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.”  Think of all of the things we’ve experienced, forest fires, intense hurricanes, advanced warfare, extreme weather, etc.  Those are the bangs. By the time the world actually ends, it likely will be a whimper.  I don’t really think the world is ending, but I enjoyed reading this novel and just how deep it really was.  Not only is this a 5 star read for me, but it is also a top contender of mine for best book I’ve read all year! 5/5. 

My last read was Modern Lovers by Emma Straub.  I tried and tried to get into this book, but I couldn’t.  The story focuses on the relationship between former band mates and the lack of one of them in modern day.  The novel is structured in a way that shows the past and present pretty clearly.  Unfortunately, I just did not like any of the characters.  They all felt like has-been hipsters who never got around to growing up, but might just might be begrudgingly doing it in present day. I just wasn’t into it.  I was more annoyed than anything, while reading this one. 2/5. 

I’m currently listening to My Dark Vanessa, reading Betty, and The Invisible Life of Addie Larue.  All of which are amazing so far.  I hope to have them finished by the end of the month! 

Happy reading y’all! 

32, D.C., and books, of course

I started the year in a reading frenzy, but after going back to work after Christmas break (I’m a teacher), and getting back into the groove of things, it’s much harder to find the time to read as often or as quickly.  Plus, I’ve just been busy.  Since my last post, I’ve been to Washington D.C. for an all expenses paid conference on global education and I turned 32.  I’ve finished two books and started another.  More on those later. 

I’ve always been an overachiever/perfectionist.  It’s both a blessing and a curse.  I often stress myself out with the amount of work I put on myself, but it feels good to be successful and maybe I just crave the positivity of an “I’m proud of you” or a “good job!”  I also love to travel, so when an email crept in my inbox about applying for a global education program through Fulbright, I applied.  I found out I was accepted in July and then started a graduate level course on global education in September.  The next step was D.C.

I had never been to D.C. before.  I could write on this experience for quite a bit, but there are books to talk about!  The highlight reel is this: I saw all of the famous monuments, ran a refreshing 3.5 mile run with my friend (who also happens to be my boss), learned more about global education, and most importantly learned more about myself.  All in all, not a bad getaway.  Perhaps the biggest moment of the trip was my friend’s encouragement for me to be honest with the higher ups of Fulbright about my life plans.  More on this later… maybe.  Anyways, it worked out well.  I was afraid to be vulnerable and honest and damnit if it’s not hard enough being a woman, but it all worked out better than I could ever imagine.  I was originally scheduled to do my field experience in Thailand (which was my first choice), but am now going to Morocco (which likely would have been my first choice had I known it was an option).  This change will work out much better for me personally and I’m so excited!

Life between the binding has been eventful to say the least, but I did somehow manage to get my reading in.  

My sixth book of the year was The Night Circus, which started with such promise.  I was completely enchanted and I think that’s a perfect word for what this book brings to the table: enchantment.  Unfortunately, the middle of the book lagged on and the plot seemed to fizzle out.  It did pick up and finish strong though.  There was definitely a magical quality about this book, aside from the obvious.  The love story was captivating, but I wish it would have started sooner.  I wasn’t invested in many of the side players either.  This book had so much potential for me, but ultimately fell short of the mark.  However, it has stayed with me.  Initially, I might have given this book a 3/5, but I’m feeling now that it is at the very least a 3.5. 

Little Fires Everywhere was the pick for my book club this month.  Which, by the way, if you don’t have a book club, you’re doing life wrong.  I love meeting with my ladies every month to catch up and talk about our lives over snacks.  Talking about a book we all read, just makes it all better, because there’s solidarity in what we’re doing, but we all come with differing perspectives.  I digress.  Little Fires Everywhere was the hit book of 2017 and has maintained it’s popularity by continuing to be on the best-seller list.  Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington are even starring in a Hulu series depiction of the novel. Basically, people love this book. Me, not so much.  I didn’t hate the book.  I actually enjoyed it just fine and found myself more invested about half way through. The first line of the book starts with action and immediacy, however, that shortly fizzled out for me.  I felt like this book was buried in exposition.  I craved dialogue and maybe more of a sensical formal.  While this wasn’t my favorite book, man is it complex.  It’s going to be a great book to discuss at my next book club meeting and I can’t wait! 3.5/5

I’m currently listening to Sing Unburied, Sing and wow.  Jesmyn Ward is a master of poetic nuance.  I’ve previously read Salvage the Bones and both novels are similar in that they really transport you to a very specific life; characters are fully realized, lovable, and redeeming; and they are a slow burn in the best possible way with rich language that takes your breath away.  I find myself stopping and just wrecking my brain over how effortless this style seems for the author, yet how complex it is really.  She is a genius wordsmith and character builder and I look forward to finishing this book up.  Right now, this book is looking like it will end up being at least 4 stars for me.

That’s all for now.  Find a book, let life happen, and remember that all good things happen between the binding.  Happy reading!