Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Can't Believe I Read

When I saw today's Top Ten Tuesday topic, Books I Can't Believe I Read, I immediately blushed and thought of the book I was reading at the time:

Cherise Sinclair's, Master of the Mountain, is, in a word - smut.  Pure and simply smut.  There, I admit it - I read smut from time to time and you know what?  I sooo enjoy it!  But, even having said that, I'm a little surprised that I ever read this book for various reasons.  More surprising, I've read it twice!

Why am I surprised that I read Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darkerand Fifty Shades Freed by E. L. James?  Well, I was a latecomer to the game and there's a part of me that can't believe I read them after all the hype was over.

And then there's Grey by E. L. James, which I sometimes can't believe I read as well.  As if reading the first three weren't enough...  Much to my surprise, however, I kind of liked hearing Christian's point of view.

I ruled out being a doctor early on in high school because 1) I hated chemistry and knew that I would never survive Organic Chemistry in pre-med and 2) because I didn't want to deal with major organs, bodily fluids, or death.  That's why I'm very surprised that I read Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach.

I have absolutely no idea whatever possessed me to read Are You There Vodka, It's Me Chelsea by Chelsea Handler, but I did two summers ago.  I'm not a fan of Handler's and I didn't really enjoy her style of humor.

No Angel by Lou Dobyns is a very detailed and sometimes disturbing look into the world of outlaw motorcycle gangs.  It was an absolutely fascinating read and I have no idea why I found it so gripping.  I'm not even sure how this book ever popped up on my reading radar.

It's not so much that I can't believe I read Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, but I'm very surprised that I finished the damned thing.  It was a laborious task that took forever and my hatred towards the book intensified with every turned page. But, at the time I was of the belief that you never abandon a book, so I persisted. That experience taught me a valuable lesson - life is way to short to spend time reading a book that you don't like.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is one of my favorite books and, surprisingly, it is of a genre that usually isn't my cup of tea. I'm not a sci-fi person, so I am surprised that I ever gave this book a chance. I glad that I did, though.

What are some books you can't believe you read?  Don't by shy...  I'd love to know.

Linking up with:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Miscellaneous Monday - Random Thoughts (Vol. 2)

In the wake of Apple's iPhone battery scandal, I scheduled an appointment to get my discounted battery. On the day of my appointment, I arrived at the Apple Store with half of Louisville it seemed and everyone was seeking a new battery.  After the technician ran diagnostics, which indicated that my battery was indeed bad, I surrendered my phone to him and was told that it would be ready in two hours.

Two hours.

Not wanting to drive the 13 miles to my house, only to have to drive the 13 miles back to the mall in rush hour traffic, and then drive back to my house again, I decided to kill some time while my battery was being replaced.

Kill some time.  Without a phone.

As much as I hate to admit, that was easier said than done.  Those two hours without my phone were two of the strangest hours I've had in a long time.  The strangeness began immediately after I left the Apple Store and reached for my phone to check the time (so I'd know what time to return), only to realize that I was sans phone and had no timepiece because I had given up wearing a watch a couple years ago.

Deciding to make the most of that mall visit, I then made a few returns.  Realizing that I needed to text my husband to let him know that I'd be late, I unzipped my purse to get my phone only to come up empty handed.  That's when it hit me that I had no phone and therefore no way to contact him.  

I thought, "No sweat...  I'll just find a pay phone and call him." 

Bahahahahahahaha!  A PAY PHONE!  What in the world is that?

After looking in all the places where pay phones used to be located in malls, I discovered not a single pay phone.  None.  Zip.  Zilch.  Zero.  Pay phones really have gone the way of the do-do bird.

For the next half hour or so, I loafed around that mall, something I don't do often because I don't like shopping.  Back in the day, I would've killed time in the bookstore, but Waldenbooks had disappeared from that mall several years ago.  Given that I had no way to listen to my audiobook, no way of checking email, no access to Words with Friends or Dice with Buddies, my entertainment options were limited.  I seriously felt like I had been thrown back into the technology dark ages of the early 2000s.

About halfway into my two hour wait, after I exhausted things to do there, I drove to another nearby shopping center.   Within a block of my destination, traffic came to a complete stop as a gaggle of Canada geese began crossing the street at an intersection.  Noticing that they were actually crossing in a crosswalk, I reached for my phone to take a picture.  I had no phone, therefore I had no camera.  What a great picture that would've made!

After exhausting all my window shopping options, or at least the ones I was willing to endure, and gave up and headed back to the Apple Store.  There I waited on one of the sofas in the concourse with several old men who were waiting on their wives.  Thankfully, as my pickup time drew near, one was ever so kind enough to tell me what time it was.

I cannot tell you how glad I was to get my phone back.  But, on the other hand, I cannot express how weird those two hours were and how cut off and impaired I felt.  I was a smart phone holdout for several years.  I was perfectly content to wear a watch, have a separate camera, to have all my music on an iPod, to use an actual alarm clock, and to have a basic cell phone that allowed me to call and text.  Little did I know when I bought my first smartphone, that I would become so dependent on it.  I'm not sure how I feel about this either.

Have you ever been in a similar situation where you were without your smartphone for period of time?  How did it affect you, if at all?

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Blog All About It - Five Ways to Beat the Winter Funk

I guess this happens to all bloggers at some point, you kind of run out of things to say or go through spells where you simply lack inspiration.   Although I've not been blogging that long, I've felt this way as of late.  

Earlier this month, I accidentally stumbled upon this blogging prompt challenge hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup and decided to give it a go.  Hopefully it will inspire me to write more, something I've discovered is very cathartic for me, and hopefully it will also inject some new energy into my blog.  The premise is simple - a monthly prompt is given, the prompt may be interpreted however the writer chooses, and the blogger blogs about it.  Voila!

The first prompt in the Blog All About It Challenge is WINTER.  So, here we go...

Winter.  My least favorite of all the seasons.  It rolls in a few days before Christmas when everything is decorated and bright, when peace and good cheer are abundant and it's drab, dreary, bleakness is temporarily disguised.  But, once all the presents are opened, the tree is taken down, and Auld Lang Syne has been sung, winter shows its true nature.  For me, the winter funk sets up camp in the first few weeks of January and stays with me like a houseguest who has overstayed his/her welcome until early March.

I've been dealing with this funk, which is officially known as Seasonal Affective Disorder, for about four years now; it started right around the time I turned the big 4-0.  That first winter was tough, for I didn't realize what was going on until I mentioned my symptoms to my mom and she said  that it sounded like I had SAD.  As it turned out, she was right.

Fortunately, there are many things that can help lessen the severity of Seasonal Affective Disorder and here are the five that has worked the best for me.

1) Get More Natural Light  
Unfortunately, I work in a windowless room where I am starved from natural light most of the day.  It's been this way my entire career (18 years).  With the shortened winter days and me spending most of the day inside, I have to maximize my exposure to natural light as much as possible.  So, when I'm home I open up my blinds to let in the natural light.  When I'm in my car, I open my sunroof shade.  And, despite the cold, I try to walk outside as much as possible.

2) Get More Vitamin D
I'm not a milk drinker so I don't get a lot of Vitamin D from my foods.  I starting taking 5000mg of Vitamin D daily after my mom suggested it.  I'll be perfectly honest, I was skeptical and had some major doubts, but I truly do believe that it's helped.  I could tell a difference the first winter and that was before I had incorporated increasing my exposure to nature light and exercising regularly.  It's amazing what a little supplement can do.

3) Schedule a weekend trip
One of the worst things about winter, in my opinion, is that there is rarely anything to look forward to except spring, which, let's face it, seems like a long ways off on days when the temperature struggles to get above freezing.  I find winter particularly boring because I'm cooped up more inside and there seems like there is less to do.  A weekend getaway, even if it's just for one night, gives me something to anticipate and it breaks up the monotony of everyday, winter life.

4) Exercise
Trust me, I know how hard it is to maintain an exercise regime in the winter, but the widely documented benefits,  both physical and mental, are worth it.  Even though it seemed particularly crazy, this past weekend I bundled up and went for a 3 mile, snow and ice covered walk in 21 degree weather.  Not only did I feel better once I finished, but I also felt like I accomplished something which is great for the mind.

5) Declutter Your House
In winter, most people spend more time indoors and I am no except.  Clutter has a sneaky way of weighing you down and if you're spending more time inside surrounded by clutter, it can make the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder worse.  I started saying, "To hell with spring cleaning - I'm winter cleaning!" three or four years ago and I believe there's something very therapeutic and uplifting that comes from the act of decluttering, even if it just in smaller spurts.

Now, I am no expert in Seasonal Affective Disorder, but as a sufferer, these are these things that have worked for me.  If you suffer from SAD, what are some things that help you beat the winter blues?  

This post will also serve as the main "hub" for all the prompts that I blog about.  Once I have published a post, I will link it back to the corresponding monthly prompt here.

May - Organize
June - Growl 
July - Spirit
August - Beginning
September - Escape
October - Trees
November - Truth
December - Shine Sparkle

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Recently Read - Vol. 24 (Dec. '17) & Top Ten Tuesday (Books I Meant to Read in 2017... But Didn't)

My blog is pulling double duty today as I link up with Steph and Jana for their monthly Show Us Your Books link up and with The Broke and the Bookish for their last Top Ten Tuesday feature post (before transferring the duty to The Artsy Reader Girl).

I've learned that my reading as of late is very my ebb and flow.  December was like the chugging of roller coaster car, slowing inching it's way to the top of the hill.  The month before, my reading was like the car roaring down the slope.  I have no idea as to what January will be like, but anyhoo...  I digress.  Here are the books I read in December.

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison
Read December 4-15
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: 3.5/5

Think - Remember the old TV show, This is Your Life? Okay, okay...  I admit - I don't even remember that show because I wasn't even born yet, but I know the pop culture significance.  It was show that surprised guests and took them on a retrospective of their lives.  Well, this was sort of like that but in book form.

This is the life story of Harriet and it bounces around between the present and the past, and the past is not always revealed in chronological order.  It takes a look at relationships, mistakes, and how we are the sum of our experiences, good and bad, choices, and our decisions along the way.

Was this book earth shattering?  No.  Was it life changing for me?  No.  Did it challenge me and make me think beyond the time I listened to it?  Not really.  But, did I enjoy it?  Absolutely.  I thought the ending was rather weak and I wish some things had been resolved, but, as Steph often says, the book passed the time just fine.

FINAL VERDICT - I wouldn't say, "No, don't bother," but I wouldn't go out of my way and say, "You must read this!" either.  It's really the flip of a coin.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio
Read December 15-20
Format: Audiobook
My rating: 5/5

Think:  A story of boy who is different and his impact on those around him.

Oh, my heavens!  All hoopla surrounding this book was authentic and well deserved!  I had read other bloggers accolades about his book and often thought, "Could it really be that good?"  Well, here's my assessment - Yes, it is!

Wonder is a very easy read with realistic characters and situations.  It's one of those books that lightened my spirit and renewed my faith in humanity.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Anderson
Read December 21
Format: Audiobook
My rating: 2.5/5

Think: A strange tale of two friends, one who goes astray and one who tries to rescue him. It's a story of remaining true to oneself.

I've come to learn this about myself, that classics just aren't my thing.  I've tried several over the course of my lifetime, but rarely do I like them.  I received this audiobook free from Audible several years and thought that I'd finally give it a go.  

FINAL VERDICT: If fantasy and/or classics are your thing, then go for it.  Otherwise, I would not recommend it.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
Read December 24
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: 4/5

Think:  Story of two empty-nesters who decide to skip Christmas and all the shenanigans that ensue.

If you've seen the move Christmas with the Kranks, then you know the premise of  Skipping Christmas because the movie was based on this book.  The book is a quick read and it's funny and lighthearted.  This was my third or fourth time reading/listening to this book.  

FINAL VERDICT: I'd recommend.

This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is:

Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2017... 

But Didn't

  1. Finding Fraser by K. C. Dyer
  2. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon (I'm not sure if I will ever tackle this behemoth...)
  3. The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce
  4. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  5. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  6. Cop Town by Karin Slaughter
  7. Captured by a Laird by Margaret Mallory
  8. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen
  9. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
  10. The Year We Turned Forty by Lisa Steinke and Liz Fenton

What are some books you meant to read last year but never got around to?  As always, thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Currently... (Vol. 24)

Freezing...  as is much of the country right now.

Wishing...  we'd get a good snow.  I mean, if it's going to be this cold, let's get a blanket of  the white stuff to go with it.  Just one good snow would be fine.

Starting...  the second half of the school year. It's still hard for me to believe that we're at the midway point.  The first semester went by in the blink of an eye.

Reading...  (well, listening to) the audiobook The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.

Rejoicing...  that I finished the majority of my report cards before Christmas break.    

Celebrating...  that I was able to reach Platinum level on my health/wellness incentive program (Go365) before the year ended.  By doing so, I earned the equivalent of $50 worth of gift cards!

Shopping...  for absolutely nothing.  Given that I've replaced nearly 75% of my wardrobe due to weight loss and with Christmas, I am shopped out and am currently on a spending freeze.

Loving...  the commemorative plate that several of my friends at my old school had made for me.  I am truly touched and blessed to have such great friends.

Dreading...  the perpetual grayness we here in the Ohio Valley experience every January and February which always gives me a case of the winter funk.

Taking...  mega doses of vitamin D to combat my winter funk and mega doses of vitamin C to (hopefully) ward off any illnesses.

Planning...  a trip to the national parks of Utah.

Researching...  hiking shoes and hiking poles for this trip out west.

Linking up...  with Kristen and Gretchen for their monthly installment of What's New With You.

Wondering...  what's new with you?  Feel free to share, don't be shy.
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