The Sunday Salon – October 19, 2014

sundaysalon2Time and place: 3:09 p.m., Saturday afternoon. I’m in our room, drinking coffee, and typing this post while Kevin takes a break from working on the City of Chewelah web site. I am going to make this short and sweet, as he keeps the room very cold – and I’m freezing!

Grateful for: Hot, sweet coffee; a beautiful Indian summer; fall colors; hand-knitted slippers from my Mom (Seahawks colors!)

Struggling with: Some health issues. I was recently diagnosed with hypothyroidism. In some ways, this is a blessing, as I have an explanation for the variety of weird, unpleasant symptoms I’ve been dealing with for the past couple years. But, for some reason, hypo patients often feel worse after beginning treatment or changing a dose, so I’m not feeling all that great. Plus, my doctor said that it can take several months to find the right dosage and/or medication that works for me, so there’s no quick fix. I’m trying to be patient, but I’m really tired of not feeling well.

Doing: Singing – we formed a small choir at church to perform at the Christmas Eve service; homeschooling; chauffeuring kids around to ortho and doctor appointments; the usual laundry and housework; etc. Reading, obviously. And I’ve taken up cross-stitch again in the past year or so. I like doing it while watching TV; makes it feel like less of a waste of time. I am almost finished with this pattern of a Paris Market. I’m excited to start my next one, which my mom bought for me because it’s simply perfect and beautiful and fits me: Treasure Hunt Bookshelf. I’ve also been watching football, obviously, but we will NOT talk about last Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, mmmmkay?!

Watching: Last Sunday, we watched Edge of Tomorrow. It was a re-watch for me, and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around – and the boys all loved it. This week’s movie night pick is Mom’s: The Count of Monte Cristo. Oh, and I took the boys to see The Maze Runner last Friday, and am so very happy that it was fan-freaking-tastic! For once, they got a book-to-film adaptation right. Of course, there were a few minor changes, but all completely understandable from a film genre standpoint. I highly recommend it – and can’t wait for the second one.

Reading: I just started reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel and Just One Day by Gayle Forman. I’m hoping to start Us by David Nicholls soon. Plus, I’m reading Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson aloud to Josiah.

Recently finished reading:
~ Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty – The woman is a genius!
~ Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – I enjoyed it, but Victor’s whining and naval-gazing got to be a bit much.
~ The Mighty Queens of Freevilee: A Mother, a Daughter, and the Town That Raised Them by Amy Dickinson – A fun, heartwarming memoir.
~ Sister Eve, Private Eye by Lynne Hinton – A lot of fun; review to come in November.
~ Airman by Eoin Colfer – I read this aloud to Josiah; easily one of our favorite read-alouds of all time.
~ Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex and Brett Harris – I read this with all three boys; quite challenging and a great message.
~ The Secret Place by Tana French – How does she keep doing this? One of my favorites in the series.

Listening to:
~ We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas – This is beautifully written, but a bit slow-going.
~ Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon – I love being immersed in this fictional world.
~ Shadow of Night – Yes, still. This one isn’t keeping me as engrossed as the first book in the series did.

Today will be taken up with church, choir practice, a football game, carving pumpkins, and movie night. I hope you have a wonderful Sunday!

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Summer of Long Knives by Jim Snowden

summeroflongknivesTitle: The Summer of Long Knives
Author: Jim Snowden
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Publisher: Booktrope
Number of pages: 319
First line: As his car crunched the gravel on the side of the road next to the Epp Farm, Kommissar Rolf Wundt once again had to lean forward, pinch the bridge of his nose, and force his eyes open.

Goodreads blurb: In the summer of 1936, the racial and political climate in Munich are growing tense, and Kommisar Rolf Wundt and his wife Klara are increasingly desperate to leave Nazi Germany while they still can. But when a member of the League of German Girls is found brutally murdered and posed in the yard of a dilapidated farmhouse, Rolf’s supervisor declares that they can’t leave until he’s solved the case. Rolf’s investigation leads him from the depths of the underground Communist movement to the heights of Germany’s elite Nazi society, exposing the cracks in Germany’s so-called unified society as well as the unspoken tensions in Rolf’s complicated marriage. Ultimately, long-buried secrets and overwhelming evidence are laid bare, but how can Rolf bring the killer to justice in a country devoid of justice? And how can he protect himself, his wife, and his former lover from the barbarism of a corrupt and power-hungry government?

If you would like to win a copy of The Summer of Long Knives, please leave a comment below. US mailing addresses only. One entry per person. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m., Friday, October 24th.

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The Sunday Salon – October 5, 2014 (Wrapping up September)

sundaysalon2So, it’s been a few weeks since I posted about my disillusionment with blogging, and I’ve come to a few conclusions.

First, I want to be able to read what I want, and I do still want to talk about what I read online. But, I want a sentence or two of reaction to be enough – I don’t want to feel guilty that I haven’t given a book three or four paragraphs of a well-thought-out review. And I do – especially with review copies. So this has confirmed my decision to stop accepting review copies. I want to be able to do a quick post about a book I just finished, maybe one or two sentences, and then get off the computer. I’m tired of repeating myself in reviews. Some of you write the most beautiful reviews, always thinking of original, insightful things to say. I start to repeat myself, and can no longer think of new ways to say “I loved this” or “Meh.” So I’m not going to. I will try to do justice to the few review copies I have left, but from this point on, most of my bookish posts will simply be reactions, not reviews.

Second, I need a new focus on the blog. I do want to stay connected to all of you, and be able to write more personal blog posts, but the title of my blog doesn’t really allow for that. So look for a new focus, and probably a new design in the new year. Expect posts about my kids, homeschooling, finding ways to deal with difficult financial circumstances, my faith, cross-stitch, TV, movies, books, and anything else that pops into my head.

Third, I may post often, I may go weeks without posting – and that’s okay. If I lose readers, that’s okay, too.

Fourth, no more reading challenges – hosted or joined.

So, as I read through this list, I think I’ve finally figured it out! I still want to be a blogger, but I no longer want to be a book blogger. I never thought that would happen, but I firmly believe that some things and some people come into our lives for a season or two, and then move on. And again, that’s okay.

Other than my blogger navel-gazing, mostly normal stuff is going on. Natalie is back in class now, so she’s busy and we hardly see her. She’s either at work or up in her room studying, or spending time with Ben when he comes home from college on the weekends. I do see her a few times a week when she needs help with her Accounting 201 class, though.

Speaking of which, this is the year of math. On top of Nan needing help with her college class, I am teaching Noah Algebra 2, Jonathan Algebra 1, and Josiah Pre-Algebra. If that isn’t enough to drive someone to drink, I don’t know what is!

Kevin has still not been able to find a different job with more hours, or a part-time job to fill in the missing hours, but he did get a web site design contract. The mayor of our little town contacted him about designing a new site for the city – she loved the one he did for the local Chamber of Commerce. So that will bring in a little bit of extra money and keep him busy on his long four-day weekends. (He works about 30 hours a week on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday – and then is home. A lot. More than is healthy for any marriage. Just kidding – I love him. But he really does need something to do on those weekends.)

I’ve been busy with school, reading, visiting with friends, IM-ing with my sister who just started nursing school and is stressed to the hilt, housework, orthodontist appointments, and RFKC stuff. Just normal life. I’m finding it hard to believe that it is October already – soon we will be talking about the holidays. Time is flying, and with a daughter about to turn 18, it is more bittersweet than ever.

Well, on to the books I completed in September. Some of them have links to a review, but most don’t, so I’ll just tell you a bit of what I thought.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga – 4 stars – This trilogy gave me some of my most memorable reading hours in September.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – 5 stars – A must-read for lovers of books about book-lovers.

Game by Barry Lyga – 4 stars – See above.

The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker – 4 starsmy review

Blood of My Blood by Barry Zyga – 4 stars – Again.

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – 5 stars – Love, love, love, love, love.

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman (audiobook) – 4 stars – Beautiful writing; sad story. The audio narrator was just okay.

Watership Down by Richard Adams – 5 stars – I don’t know how I missed this as a kid; it’s brilliant.

An Unwilling Accomplice by Charles Todd – 3 stars – Not the best entry in a series that I normally love.

The Vessel by Taylor Stevens – 4 stars – Liked this novella better than the latest novel in the series.

Sister Mother Husband Dog etc. by Delia Ephron – 4 starsmy review

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – 4 stars – Not as good as Fangirl or Eleanor & Park, but still wonderful.

I hope this first Sunday in October finds you happy and healthy. I’m bummed because this is the second Sunday in a row without my beloved Seahawks playing. Tomorrow night, though, will find me planted in front of the TV, wearing my Seahawks slippers, and screaming my head off.

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