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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 14 January 2019
2019-01-14 06:00 UTC by Michelle

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button
Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 14 January 2019. To learn more about each book, click on the book cover!

This is what happens when I delete all of the games from my phone and make a conscious effort to stop wasting time on social media. I am still on Twitter and Instagram, but I only allow myself one quick scan through my feed during downtimes with no more mindless scrolling hoping for entertainment. When you do that, you start reading a lot of books, and you stop focusing on the negatives in the world. It is wonderful. It helps that the books I am reading lately are fantastic.


FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE:

The Similars The Only Woman in the Room An Anonymous Girl


DID NOT FINISH:

2019 is starting out to be a really good year for books.


CURRENT READ:

Annelies


CURRENT LISTEN:

The Book of Life


NEXT UP:

I’m going to continue to kick ass on my January review copy list.


What are you reading?

The post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 14 January 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Sunday Reflections – 13 January 2019
2019-01-13 16:00 UTC by Michelle

Sunday Reflections Button

Happy Sunday!

For those of you who follow me on social media, you might have seen my lament yesterday at the lack of snow in southern Wisconsin and the fact that yet another snowstorm seemed to be dumping snow on pretty much everyone in the nation but us. Hell, Chicago got snow yesterday. Well, we did get a light dusting of snow yesterday evening. It is not enough to cover the grass and will melt completely by the end of today. It did make me feel a little better, although I made the mistake of looking at the forecast and the utter lack of precipitation for the next fifteen days. I know some people do not believe that the climate is changing, but the fact that Virginia has now had two major snowstorms in the same season while southern Wisconsin has had none is just one more indicator of the wacky weather climate change is causing around the globe.

Connor is back at school. I think we all realized while he was here that Wisconsin is no longer his home. His heart belongs in Ames right now, and I am okay with that. It is what is supposed to happen. I will admit that Jim, Holly, and I have done such a good job adjusting to life without him on a daily basis that to have him home is a disruption to our schedule too. We still find ways to include him, but he doesn’t know our routines or that of the dogs. He is unfamiliar with the new day-to-day running of the household. It is a bittersweet realization, knowing that any time we see him, it will be for visits rather than returns home, but again, this is all part of becoming an adult – for him – and letting go – for us. He loves Ames, his roommates, his girlfriend, his classes, and most of all the band, so that knowledge makes us feel better about all of it.

Holly has finals this week. She is looking forward to the early dismissal aspect of finals week. So am I, as it means she finally has time to do some chores around the house. It also means she can get some much-needed sleep. We are heading into the busy season all too soon, so she knows to capitalize on any chance for her to get some extra rest. I have no doubts that she will breeze through the final exams themselves.

I don’t know why this crossed my mind, but do you ever read a historical novel and wonder where the lounging and relaxing are? I can never envision someone like Elizabeth Bennet wearing pajamas all day and sprawling across a couch with a good book. It is always a vision of someone sitting with correct posture while holding a book at the correct length away from one’s face, dressed in full going-out clothes. Why is that? You can’t tell me the women didn’t relish taking off their voluminous and multitudinous undergarments every day and would avoid wearing them while at home. It is human nature to want to seek comfort, even if it means forgoing a corset. What would these people think of our current habits of wearing exercise gear to go shopping? Or braless afternoons where you barely move let alone change out of your pajamas? Is this a modern social phenomenon, or do you think Victorian era people were equally sloppy when they chose to stay at home? Or am I the only one to ever bother to think about these things?

That’s enough weird thoughts by Michelle. I hope you are all staying cozy and warm this Sunday, and I wish you all a fantastic work week. I’ll see you back here next week!

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Here are past posts from the last few weeks in case you missed them the first time:

The post Sunday Reflections – 13 January 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Weekly Top Posts: 2019-01-13
2019-01-13 05:00 UTC

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  5. It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 7 January 2019

Feminist revenge fantasy, my ass
2019-01-11 16:00 UTC by Michelle

The Water Cure

Forget everything the publishing world has put out about The Water Cure. Chances are it is nowhere close to being an accurate picture of the novel. For one thing, it is not similar to The Handmaid’s Tale in any way. For another thing, there is nothing feminist nor vengeful about the story or the characters. If I have to compare it to another book, it is most similar to Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed, but even that is doing Sophie Mackintosh’s debut novel a disservice because it sets up expectations that the story does not meet.

In talking to a friend about The Water Cure, I said it was beautiful and haunting but confusing and weird, and that is how I still feel about the story. There are no explanations about the outside world that satisfies readers. We learn nothing about the family’s backstory that would help make sense of the refuge offered to women, the cures used, and why. What little we do learn is disturbing, especially when you remember that the publisher is marketing it as a feminist revenge fantasy.

The only reason I opted to finish the book is due to the writing. It is beautiful and evocative. Capable of hiding the most brutal behavior behind poetic descriptions, Ms. Mackintosh’s prose holds your attention. Unfortunately, it also camouflages the flaws in the story until the end, when you are left to wonder what exactly you read and why you finished it.

I am sure there are going to be those readers who will think The Water Cure is one of the best new releases of 2019, and that’s great for them. For me, the cult-like aspect of the family with its cruel lessons about love is not something that impresses me. There are better books out there that also explore family and love and gender relations and do so in a way that does not frustrate you with gaps in the story or nebulous clues requiring you to fill in those gaps. The writing may be excellent, but it is not enough to overcome the story’s paltry plot and weak characters.

The post Feminist revenge fantasy, my ass appeared first on That's What She Read.

Fabulous Friday – 11 January 2019
2019-01-11 06:00 UTC by Michelle

Fabulous Friday Button

We should always find ways to celebrate the little things in life. What better day to celebrate these little things other than the best day of the week? So, here are the things that make this a Fabulous Friday for me this week ending 14 December 2018.

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  • MY DAUGHTER AMAZES ME – Of course, she is intelligent and talented and beautiful and generous and kind. What most people don’t know is that she has a wicked sense of humor and is very creative. I envy her ability to pull together a pithy one-liner on Instagram. Her latest venture is a new IG account for Cletus and Tallulah called @pittie_and_princess, something she has been wanting to create for several months but couldn’t because the damage to her old phone prevented her from taking good pictures. It is a new account, but I love when she posts something. Not only do I get to see pictures of my (fur) babies, but also her captions almost always make me chuckle, and we all need more reasons to smile these days.

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What makes this a Fabulous Friday for you?

The post Fabulous Friday – 11 January 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Gods bless Kiersten White
2019-01-10 06:00 UTC by Michelle

Slayer

If ever there is an author with whom I should be best friends given our interests and tastes, that author is Kiersten White. I started reading Ms. White through her Mind Games duology – a twisty mindfuck of a novel – but knew I had found a kindred spirit as she started on her Lada Dracul series. There are not many people who would feel sympathy for Vlad the Impaler, but Ms. White handles the nuances of Lada’s story so deftly that it shows just how much she understands that man made the monster. Her Elizabeth Frankenstein all but sealed the deal for me with her careful blending of Mary Shelley’s original masterpiece into a feminist story that turns the story of Dr. Frankenstein on its head. To find out that she is a Buffy fan is the quintessential icing on the cake.

Because I love every novel of Ms. White’s I have read, I approached the first installment of the new Slayer series much like a little kid on Christmas Eve. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it was going to be amazing. Of course, Ms. White did not disappoint. I adore how Ms. White brought in key bits of canon and referenced important sections of history without missing a beat. She keeps the essence of BtVS alive in the dialogue, in the action, and in the connections to the beloved television series. The most important thing is that Ms. White makes the story her own without harming the original.

By making the story about a Watcher turned Slayer, we get inside the mindset of both sides of the relationship. We get a deeper insight into the life of a Watcher while also seeing Nina’s internal struggles to accept her new place in the world of good and evil. We get reminders of the loneliness Buffy felt as well as why the show resonated so much with fans. We remember that the battle between good and evil is very rarely black and white and that sometimes the thing we are battling the hardest is ourselves.

Slayer is everything I wanted it to be and everything I didn’t know I wanted. It reminds me of all the reasons I still love BtVS and why heroes like Buffy and Nina are so important to women of all ages. Plus, it is entertaining, high-action fun, and who doesn’t like that?

The post Gods bless Kiersten White appeared first on That's What She Read.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 7 January 2019
2019-01-07 06:00 UTC by Michelle

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Button
Hosted by Kathryn from Book Date, “It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?” is a weekly event to share what we’ve read in the past week and what we hope to read, plus whatever else comes to mind. Here is what I read the week ending 7 January 2019. To learn more about each book, click on the book cover!

The last half of December at work completely took me by surprise and threw all plans I had to read and relax out the window. On the days I did have off, the thought of opening my laptop made me sick. So, here is a list of what I did finish since my last Monday post!


FINISHED SINCE THE LAST UPDATE:

A Ladder to the Sky Evermore Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners Slayer Bird Box The Water Cure


DID NOT FINISH:

I guess that is a good thing.


CURRENT READ:

The Similars


CURRENT LISTEN:

The Book of Life


NEXT UP:

2019 books!


So, what are you reading?

The post It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? – 7 January 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

Sunday Reflections – 6 January 2019
2019-01-06 16:00 UTC by Michelle

Sunday Reflections ButtonHappy Sunday!

Both of my children are under the same roof for the first time since November, so it is a good day. Connor was finally able to come home late last week and spend a small portion of his winter break with us. It has not been the easiest semester for him as he sought help for severe anxiety and depression, so I am thankful he is home. (It has not been easy on me knowing he is suffering on his own.) Unfortunately, neither Jim nor I can take any time off of work to spend with him, so I will savor every moment I can before he leaves again next week.

My company finally has new owners. The paperwork transaction went down this past Thursday and was relatively seamless. The executive team of our new company visited with a select group of managers and staff, and they left leaving very favorable impressions. There will be changes, but it sounds like they will be minimal for everyone but the financial staff, of course. What those changes remain unknown for now, but I know it is going to be a crazy few months while the financial staff gets up to speed on the new reporting requirements. I am thankful it is over, so we can finally focus on the future. This past summer had too many rumors and stress related to the sale to make it any fun.

This past week saw everyone back to work and school again. Holly had one more week off of dance, to which no one was complaining. She has one more week of school before she has her first official finals week. She is already talking about studying and what she needs to do for each of her classes; she will be fine.

The rest of us are settling down into a winter routine, even though it has not exactly been what I would call winter weather. We had a minor snowfall on New Year’s Eve, but we are back into the upper 40s this week. It was so abnormally warm that Jim was outside washing the cars. Even the evenings are getting noticeably lighter earlier, so this whole season strikes me as odd. I shouldn’t complain because it was below zero last year, but I miss winter so far. Screw the rain and warm temperatures.

I hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday and wish everyone a speedy and stress-free work week. I’ll see you back here next week!

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Here are past posts from the last few weeks in case you missed them the first time:

The post Sunday Reflections – 6 January 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.

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2019-01-06 05:00 UTC

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Bird Box is not quite for the birds but almost
2019-01-05 16:00 UTC by Michelle

Bird Box

With all of the hype of the Netflix movie, and knowing that my fellow readers consider it to be one of the scarier books they have read, I wanted to experience Bird Box before I did anything else. Unfortunately, I was unable to avoid all of the spoilers out there while I was reading it, so I know my feelings about the story are not what they could be had I been able to finish it without knowing anything.

First, the dislikes. I am not a fan of the ending. I feel like it is anti-climatic. We spend all this time following Malorie in the past as she adapts to this new world of darkness and enclosure that we are genuinely vested in her present trip to safety. We want her to succeed and find that freedom she wants for her children. However, I don’t feel she finds it. Sure, there are signs she feels comfortable in her new surroundings to relax the rules, but I feel like the ending is a bit of a copout. I don’t expect closure, but I do think Mr. Malerman could give us a bit more than he did.

I also struggle with what message Mr. Malerman is trying to share. Because he makes Malorie so capable, is he trying to show that being blind is not a handicap? Or is the fact that people fear not being able to see almost as much as they fear the creatures a dig at those who are blind? Then there is Gary and his crazy person theory. Doesn’t it stigmatize those with mental health issues? I cannot discuss this in greater detail without giving away a key plot point, but I am not certain Gary’s theory is a good thing. I almost feel as if Gary’s argument damns those with mental health issues more than the creatures ever could.

Now, the likes. I do think Mr. Malerman did an awful lot with his sparse prose. We may not know what the creatures look like but damn if they are not some of the most terrifying beings to grace the written page. There may not be much in character development, but we still know each person’s inherent faults and strengths. We may not know exactly what hell Malorie is going through trying to navigate her way down a river while blindfolded, but we can certainly close our eyes and try to do something as simple as walking around our house without hurting ourselves to understand the gargantuan amounts of inner strength it takes to undertake such a journey. There is not much in exposition, but we know each and every change in the area because of the creatures. We understand the breakdown of society and just how miraculous the idea of a small group of people living together in relative harmony truly is. Mr. Malerman establishes this knowledge with few words and fewer descriptions, spending most of his time on actions and thoughts. It is an impressive bit of storytelling.

Is it scary? I have heard the movie is not scary. I do think the book is terrifying in that way that only the unknown can be. To the sighted, living in a world without sight is one of the scariest things that can happen, and Mr. Malerman plays on that fear of the unknown something that lies in the dark. That being said, the story did not keep me up at night, nor did it cause nightmares. I stayed up past my bedtime solely because I wanted to know what happens and not because I was terrified to close my eyes. I can also say that I doubt I have the mental strength to remain hidden behind boarded-up windows and doors. My curiosity to know who or what is out there would get the better of me, and I most definitely do not have it in me to train my children as Malorie did. Recognizing this in myself makes me appreciate Malorie’s journey that much more.

The post Bird Box is not quite for the birds but almost appeared first on That's What She Read.

Family dramas aren’t my thing
2019-01-04 16:00 UTC by Michelle

Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners

Gretchen Anthony’s debut novel, Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, is cute; I can see many reasons why people would love it. For me, however, it is a good reminder of why I tend to steer clear of contemporary fiction and family dramas. Violet’s heavy-handed mothering makes helicopter moms look like absentee parents, but it is her attitude and smugness that is truly infuriating. Her self-righteousness is beyond annoying, and I enjoyed any moment in the novel which saw someone undermine her authority or introduce chaos into her orderly life. I appreciate the attempt made at adding diversity but feel that there could have been even more. To add insult to injury, the story itself is predictable. There are some quirky scenes that befit the upper Midwest setting, but nothing that happens is a significant surprise. I managed to enjoy most of my time with the Baumgartners, but I am going to continue to limit the number of family dramas I read. I have enough drama in my own life to not need or want to read about others’ drama.

The post Family dramas aren’t my thing appeared first on That's What She Read.

Fabulous Friday – 4 January 2019
2019-01-04 06:00 UTC by Michelle

Fabulous Friday Button

We should always find ways to celebrate the little things in life. What better day to celebrate these little things other than the best day of the week? So, here are the things that make this a Fabulous Friday for me this week ending 14 December 2018.

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  • NOTICE ANYTHING DIFFERENT – Ten years is a big deal, so I knew I wanted to celebrate it in some fashion. Even though I loved my old design, I wanted something fresh and clean. Soothing. Something a bit more modern. So, I went to my trusty website designer, Kayleen, and asked for a mini-redesign. After some time picking out a color scheme, Kayleen knocked it out of the park on the first try. So happy anniversary to me and to you!

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What makes this a Fabulous Friday for you?

The post Fabulous Friday – 4 January 2019 appeared first on That's What She Read.


 

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