Dust Bunnies

Is this thing on?

Pardon me while I clear this space of the cobwebs and dust bunnies that have accumulated over the past few months.

I could use the excuse that life has been busy AF and I just haven’t found the time to sit down and blog, but that’s not 100% true. While life has indeed been busy with work, kids, and everything in between, I just haven’t felt a pull towards this space. Neglected, it certainly was.

I won’t even go to say that 2021 will be a turning point for the blog. After the manure-filled dumpster fire that 2020 was, I’m not making any promises. But – I do want to do a least a little better and make a valiant effort to at least park my ass at the keyboard at least once per month.

And so, here I am!

Since my last few posts of 2020 mainly consisted of book reviews, I suppose I haven’t really given a life update so to speak. I’ll see if I can summarize things the best I can …

Norah started kindergarten in September and it has been WONDERFUL for her! She’s grown so much intellectually and I’m so thankful that school was able to resume for the students. I honestly don’t believe virtual learning would be the best option for her, and her teacher is absolutely the BEST.

Isla started grade 3 and she’s loving it as well! Being in a 3/4 split class has been great for her, however, I’m apprehensive of her befriending the “older” kids in the class. We’ll see how this pans out in the long run, I suppose.

Both girls started dance in September as well, Isla in her 3rd year of ballet and Norah in her 1st season ever. Norah is really enjoying it, more than I had anticipated, which is great! She seems to really enjoy tap dancing (no surprise there) so I’m curious to see if this is something she continues to do.

Isla was also offered the opportunity to do a solo routine, and she’s doing really well! It’s hard to say what the festival season and year end show will look like right now, but it’s teaching her discipline  regardless, which is a bonus.

Over the summer and into the fall, I managed to get in four running races! One of the local running organizations busted their asses to put together a handful of COVID-safe races, and each one was amazing. I managed to finish in 2nd place for the 5K distance for females, so that was definitely my humble brag moment of the summer.

I’ve missed a few book reviews, but I did manage to finish reading 27 books last year in total. It’s likely peanuts compared to most, but I’m happy with my reading routine and the pace works for me! I don’t have a set goal of how many books I’d like to finish this year, but if I made my way through 25 I’d be happy!

2020, of course, was not all sunshines and rainbows. If you follow me on Instagram, I had posted that we had to say goodbye to our wonderful rescue dog, Campbell. The vets found a cancerous tumour on his spine and after a few weeks of keeping him comfortable,  we felt it was his time to cross the rainbow bridge.

Christmas, as it was for mostly everyone, was oddly quiet this year. While it was a nice change, we certainly missed the chaos that surrounds the day and look forward to the potential of being with our friends and family this year. The girls were spoiled rotten (likely to compensate for the lack of family time, lol) and I couldn’t have asked for a better holiday for them.

So there you have it! The last few months of 2020 were pretty great overall. While it’s dumpster fire is still smoldering a lite, hopefully it gets put out fully sooner rather than later in 2021 and we can return to whatever “normal” was.

What I’m Reading

I know, I KNOW. It’s been FOREVER since I’ve popped in here. I promise I’m still alive, life has just been so dang busy! I promise to post an update eventually! For now, here’s what I’ve been reading as of late:

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan

Alright. I loved – and I mean LOVED – the Crazy Rich Asians series, so I had crazy *ahem* expectations for Sex and Vanity.

I can’t say that I felt the same way about S&V as I did with CRA. It felt more dry, less exciting, but I still enjoyed Kwan’s “style” of including random tidbits, translations, and the like in the footnotes. I also thoroughly enjoyed Astrid & Kitty’s “cameo” appearances, which really tied together his style of writing even further.

The main character, Lucie, was just OK. Her road to self-discovery was rather pained and everything about her made me wonder what the heck happened between her escapade in Capri and her engagement to whats-his-name.

I want to say that Kwan tried to address racial issues with S&V but it just wasn’t quite there. The WASPy characters were too much, as were the Asian ones. (Although Mrs. Zao was perfection and everything I expected out of a Kwan character.)

I really, REALLY wanted to love this one, but it just wasn’t quite there for me.

My rating: ★★★½/5 stars

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I know I’m late to the table on this one, so don’t “@” me, mmmkay?

I’ll just go out and say it: Daisy Jones & the Six is wrecklessly wonderful. Every up and down in the story was spiralling out of control and I loved it.

The way Billy & Daisy loathed one another yet came together when it came down to the business of making music really made you think about how artists really get along when they collaborate and work together.

This fictional with Daisy Jones & The Six was so dang believable, I had to keep reminding myself that they aren’t actually a real band. I mean, COME ON.

If this album existed, I’m sure I’d be loving it. That’s all.

My rating: ★★★★★/5 stars

Akin by Emma Donoghue

I was really expecting something deeper from Akin.

We have Noah, a 79-year-old widower who’s mission is to make a pilgrimage to his birth country. Then we have Michael, a young boy who apparently doesn’t give a flippin’ flap about anything other than his cellphone.

The synopsis held more promise than what I expected and I felt the storyline fell a little flat. I didn’t mind Akin, but it didn’t hold my attention the same way Room did.

My rating: ★★★/5 stars

Uncommon Types by Tom Hanks

I don’t generally reach for short story collections, but as a big fan of Mr. Hanks I couldn’t resist trying Uncommon Types.

There is pretty common theme amongst these stories (the almighty typewriter), and in a few cases there was some character repetition. (Perhaps Hanks couldn’t figure out how to blend all the characters into one, cohesive storyline?)

Anyway, a few of the stories I really wanted more out of – they were on such a great roll and then they’d stop, almost as if they were unfinished.

Regardless, Uncommon Type was fun, especially if you’re a Hanks fan, and it was great to see/read this side of him.

My rating: ★★★★/5 stars

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

This is the second Katherine Center book I’ve picked up, and it was a nice surprise to see a subtle tie-in with How to Walk Away.

I couldn’t help but picture Vic from Station 19 as Cassie in this read; In fact, that’s all I could really think of was the similarities between this book and the ABC television series.

Regardless, I thought it was a pretty great read overall. The love story was expected but not over the top ridiculous and the rest of the storyline was decent. (Woman empowerment, equality in the workforce, etc., etc.) It rather made me smile since my youngest daughter recently declared that she wants to be a firefighter, so we shall see how the world shapes up when she’s old enough.

This was a lovely little “fluff” novel that left me with a smile on my face.

My rating: ★★★★/5 stars

The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book. In one hand, I loved the racial diversity of the book and the storyline itself wasn’t too over the top. (Despite it kicking off with the most stereotypical and ridiculous way to propose to someone.)

In the other hand, I really had a hard time with the author’s writing style. I felt that she was trying to make it a first-person narrative, even though it wasn’t, which threw me off quite a bit. And is there such a thing as being too descriptive? There was something off about Guillory’s style that just didn’t jive with me.

Sidenote, I also expected more out of the whole crazy ex-boyfriend situation, so that was a bit of a letdown. It almost seemed like Guillory was ready to wrap things up and then she forgot about that part of the book.

Overall, it wasn’t a terrible read, it just could’ve been a lot cleaner.

My rating: ★★★/5 stars

What I’m Reading

It appears that I’ve fallen a bit behind on my book reviews! I did plenty of reading but June was a pretty crazy month and I never found the time to sit down and write a review for any of them. So, here’s what I read over the past month, along with a quick review!

How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about How to Walk Away. On one hand, I really liked Margaret, the main character. You can feel her pain throughout her experience and how let down by everyone she felt. Ian was enjoyable up to the end and then things just got ridiculously hopeless Rom-Commish. I digress …

There were definitely parts of this book that I felt were irrelevant, (Maggie’s sister and her mom’s feud, for example), and unrealistic (travelling across the ocean to not-crash but crash a wedding), but overall it was a decent read.

Random, unfortunate coincidence: I started reading this a day after the RCAF Snowbirds crash happened here in my city. So that weighed pretty heavily in my mind while I read this and may or may not have reflected my thoughts on the book.

My rating: ★★★★/5 stars

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

If you never read The Handmaid’s Tale don’t even bother picking this one up! You’ll end up way more lost and confused that you already may be.

Anyway, similar to Handmaid’s, The Testaments takes a bit of time for the storyline to pick up and make sense, but once it did, it was such a great read! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one over its predecessor. Atwood kept me wondering where everything was going and in the end I was quite pleased, with the exception of the whole rowboat and water tower situation. (Surely there was an alternative to that?)

Anyway, I thought it was a fantastic way to “end” Gilead and I couldn’t help just chuckle every time Canada was mentioned as something evil. Yup. That’s us. We lure your women into allowing them to live freely.

My rating: ★★★★/5 stars

The Lies that Bind by Emily Giffin

The Lies that Bind was probably one of my Top 3 Most Anticipated Novels for me this summer. Once again, I feel that Emily Giffin delivered.

It’s true that if you loved Something Borrow and/or Something Blue, you’ll likely enjoy this one as well. (Spoiler alert: Rachel, Darcy and Ethan make a special guest appearances.)

Anyway, back to the book itself. The Lies that Bind is full of passion, compassion, and well, lies (duh), but it’s all brought together so wonderfully that it all just works. Told around the events of 9/11, the love stories, are relatable, and in my opinion, believable. It shows how tragedy can create the most unexpected relationships. I’ll admit that Cecily was perhaps a little too naive when it came to Grant, and that her friendship with Amy was a little farfetched. Overall I really enjoyed reading it and remain a huge fan of Giffin.

My rating: ★★★★★/5 stars

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I have a lot of feelings about American Dirt, so first, I’ll start with the good:

The story as a whole, while tragic and painful, was an amazing one to read. I felt Lydia, Luca, Soledad, and Rebeca’s grief. I feared for their lives with them. I wanted them to get to “el norte” so, SO badly. I seriously had the hardest time putting this book down, it was so good.

Now, onto the not-so-good: My gripe with American Dirt is that is was written by woman who self-identifies as white and only has a slight sliver of ethnicity. I feel that she over-emphasized the slang and language a little too much, especially for a non-Spanish author.

Considering both my positive and negative opinions of American Dirt, I still think it’s a valuable read that presents many valuable conversation starters.

My rating: ★★★★½/5 stars

Follow Me by Kathleen Barber

Very rarely do I pick up thrillers, and after reading Follow Me it’s unlikely that I’ll pick up another one anytime soon. (Unless Gillian Flynn pens a new one, then I’m game.)

If Follow Me was a lesson in anything, it was that today’s generation cares too much about their online presence are are oblivious to the dangers of posting too much information. Audrey, the main character, had so many moments where I wanted to slap her, I nearly abandoned the book at least a half-dozen times. Yet here I am …

Aside from that, the characters were grossly underdeveloped and the ending was anti-climatic. The only reason why I finished it was because I wanted to know who did it, and even that was ridiculous and as I mentioned, underwhelming.

My rating: ★/5 stars