Weekend Update – January 24, 2015

So, it’s been a week! Actually, it’s been two since I’ve posted an official update, but I mean this week has been especially week-ish. Sigh.

No news on the job front – for Kevin at least. He has about five applications out right now. Waiting, waiting….. My opportunity looks on track for April 1st, but I still can’t really say anything about it yet. I will say that it’s only 12 hours a week, so easy to work around my homeschooling/parenting duties – pretty much tailor-made for me.

Noah (16) and his girlfriend of almost two years broke up this week. Cue teenage drama and heartache. Lots of it. And questioning of parental decisions, and lots of discussions with Kevin. Parenting teens is hard, even when they’re generally good kids. There have been lots of tears in our house this week, as Noah is sad, and Kevin and I are sad for him.

This next week is going to be insanely busy, with multiple appointments, lots of Royal Family Kids Camp duties, a church board meeting, normal school stuff, and, oh, yeah – that little Super Bowl at the end of the week! Can I just say that “Deflate-gate” has made Facebook a particularly hilarious place this past week?

I also need to start working on the FAFSA for Natalie. Any advice from those of you who have gone through it? I keep hearing that it’s like having bamboo shoots shoved under your fingernails. Really looking forward to that.

I haven’t had as much time to read this past week as I would have liked, but I do have four books going, and I’m enjoying all of them:

~ Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson
~ Authority by Jeff Vandermeer
~ An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
~ City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

On audio, I am finishing up Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon (yes, still!), and I started Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater. Oh, and I’m reading The Book Thief aloud with Josiah. This is my third time through it, and I simply love it, although it breaks my heart.

We watched The Maze Runner for movie night last week – Noah’s pick. For the next several weeks, we’re changing things up a bit. Instead of drawing a name of a person who will pick the movie, I have put the titles of about a dozen movies in the hat. They are movies that people have mentioned over the past six months – either movies that are due for a re-viewing, or movies that the kids are now old enough to appreciate. A vast variety from Hello, Dolly to Gladiator to Dennis the Menace to That Thing You Do – and everything in between. Should be fun!

I think tomorrow afternoon, since there is no football, Mom and I are going to see Into the Woods. No one else in the family is interested.

Oh, and have you been watching Downton Abbey? What do you think so far? I think Lord Grantham is becoming even more of a pompous ass, and he’s setting himself up for heartbreak if he doesn’t start treating his wife with more respect! I’m really looking forward to Grey’s Anatomy and How To Get Away With Murder returning this week. Oh, and The Blacklist, in the much-coveted post-Super Bowl slot. And Justified is back! That series reminds me of a modern-day Shakespearean tragedy. Looking forward to this final season.

Have you been watching, reading, listening to, doing anything interesting this week? I’d love to hear about it.

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Let’s talk about books, baby

So, now that I don’t HAVE to write any reviews, I am excited to post about the books I’ve been reading. Funny how that works! It’s the 20th of January, and I’ve finished 10 books so far, though many were in progress before the New Year started. As I look at my list, I see that I’ve rated them all four stars, which means I’ve been enjoying all of my reading, but so far there are no real standouts.

I did finish one last review copy that came in the mail, and I only broke my rule because it was Beth Kephart’s new novel, One Thing Stolen. I have a full review coming out in April, closer to the release date, so I won’t say too much. I did really enjoy it, but it wasn’t as wonderful as her other books, which I’ve invariable adored. Of course, a “not her best” book by Beth is better than most people’s “best,” so I’m not complaining. Plus, it made me want to go to Italy and eat Italian food. :)

My lightest reading hours have been spent with Agatha Raisin: I finished The Perfect Paragon and Love, Lies, and Liquor in M.C. Beaton’s cozy mystery series. I think they are books 16 and 17 in the series, but I’ve lost track. I still love them – they make me laugh, and I love the recurring characters like Bill Wong, Agatha’s policeman friend; Mrs. Bloxby, the vicar’s wife, who loves Agatha in spite of the fact her husband loathers her; Charles, Agatha’s flighty friend; and Roy, her former employee. The only character I don’t love is James, her ex-husband, with whom Agatha is always trying to reunite. I hope they kill him off in the next book.

I finished two read-aloud titles. I read The Screwtape Letters aloud to all three boys as part of our Bible study time. C.S. Lewis is amazing. And Josiah and I finished Graduation Day, the final book in Joelle Charbonneau’s The Testing series. We liked the whole series. It is quite reminiscent of The Hunger Games, but original enough to make it worth reading – and no love triangle, thank God.

On audio, I finished The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, read by Elijah Wood. Noah read it in print for his English 10 class, while I listened to it to keep up with him. I think he would have enjoyed it more if he had listened to it; the dialect can be difficult to decipher. I also finally finished Stephen King’s Duma Key, narrated by John Slattery. It was really good; I loved how Florida-ish it was (yes, I know that’s not a word), and how creepy it was without being a gorefest. The friendship between Edgar, the main character, and his friend Wireman, was the best part of the book for me. There aren’t enough books that portray really loyal, fierce friendships between men.

I finished Countdown, a prequel novella in Mira Grant’s Newsflesh series. I’ve had all her novellas from that series on my Kindle app forever, and I’m finally getting around to reading them. It makes me want to read the series again. The last two titles were forays into science fiction: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer and The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker. Annihilation is the first book in a trilogy, and it was really unsettling, in a good way. I simply could not stop reading, but came away from the book feeling so lost and disquieted. I just picked up book two from the library, and I have my fingers crossed that it answers a few of my (many) questions. The Walker book is a coming-of-age novel set in California right after the earth’s rotation has slowed down. Gravity is changed; tides are affected; the weather is messed up; people are getting sick – and in the middle of it, a young girl is going through adolescence. I enjoyed it very much, although again, I was left with a lot of questions. Since this was a stand-alone, I don’t think they’ll be answered any time soon.’

Well, that’s it so far. It has been so incredibly freeing to read whatever I want, talk about it if I want, keep my mouth shut for a change if that’s what I feel like. I had forgotten this feeling! I sound horribly ungrateful, don’t I? I absolutely enjoyed my years as a book blogger, but now that I witness this feeling of being done, I realize I probably held on long past the point when I should have let it go. Lesson learned, right?

What have you been reading this New Year of 2015? Anything amazing?

Off-topic PS – Did you see that mind-blowing game between my ‘Hawks and the Packers on Sunday? I screamed myself hoarse, and almost put my back out jumping up and down. :)

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Weekend Update – January 10, 2014

As you can see, I decided to quit calling this post a Sunday Salon. I always write the darn thing on Saturday, and then time it to publish early Sunday morning, but why? And since I’m not self-identifying as a “book blogger” anymore (blog layout and title changes coming soon – Kevin is working on it!), it doesn’t feel right to call it a Salon post. So, for lack of a better title, “update” it is.

Our first week back to homeschooling went well, even though we ended up delaying our start by a day due to a boatload of snow dumped on us Sunday night. The boys spent three hours shoveling – at home and for a couple from church – so I called an audible and told them we’d wait to start until Tuesday. They didn’t argue, and did a little extra the rest of the week to get caught up. Noah and I both finished The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: he read it in print; I listened to the audio narrated by Elijah Wood. We both liked it, but agreed that the story went downhill toward the end with the addition of Tom Sawyer’s character. Elijah Wood was the perfect choice to narrate, in case you’re thinking of listening to it.

Natalie started in to her college classes for Running Start, too, and this looks like it will be her easiest quarter thus far. No math class. Office Procedures, Intro to Communication, and Human Relations in Business. Lots of writing, but she’s good at that.

Kevin had a phone interview Friday morning for a job that we would be THRILLED for him to get. Now is the waiting game – hopefully, we will hear something this coming week. I’ve also got something simmering when it comes to employment (first time back in the outside-the-home work force in 18 years!), but can’t really talk about it yet. Sending up prayers and keeping your fingers crossed would be appreciated.

Tonight, I will be firmly planted in front of the TV, watching my Seahawks kick Carolina’s collective butts. :)

As far as reading goes, I am thoroughly enjoying the freedom that comes with not having a single book in a “must be reviewed” stack. Here’s a breakdown of everything I’ve got going in print and on audio:

~ Love, Lies, and Liquor by M.C. Beaton – An Agatha Raisin mystery, because they’re fun!
~ Countdown: Newsflesh Trilogy 0.5 by Mira Grant – I’m reading this on my Kindle app on my iPod, at night when I can’t sleep and Kevin is snoring away.
~ The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker – I saw this reviewed somewhere, put it on hold, and started reading it as soon as it came into the library – freedom!
~ Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer – This series keeps showing up on blogs and in magazines, so again, I put it on hold, and voila!
~ Duma Key by Stephen King – Listening to this on audio, and it is so creepy-good.
~ What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver – This is my bathroom book. Come on, you know you have one, too – don’t judge! It’s perfect, cause the stories are all very short.
~ Graduation Day (The Testing, Book 3) by Joelle Charbonneau – Reading this aloud to Josiah; we both love the series.
~ Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon – On audio, and it’s looooooooooooooooooooooong.
~ City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments, Book 1) by Cassandra Clare – Starting this series over, because I stopped after book three and let too much time go by. Natalie owns them all, so I’m borrowing her copies.

So, that’s how my New Year’s reading has stacked up so far. Other than the Twain audio, I have finished three other books: One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart (This is a last minute review copy that came in the mail; review goes up in April, closer to the release date. It was excellent, of course.); The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (I read this aloud to the boys.); and The Perfect Paragon by M.C. Beaton (another Agatha Raisin mystery).

How has your New Year’s been – bookishly and otherwise?

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