Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Book Confession Holiday Edition

 As my daughter asked me to read one story out of this book before bed I immediately was like, I must share my distaste of this book and others like it with the world.  You're welcome.

The book snob in me cannot do Disney character books.  Or any show books.  A compilation of horrible stories with movie characters? Ugh.  I would never ever buy one of these.  My husband's aunt buys one of some sort at least once a year I swear.  

I suppose I also dislike any book for kids that have a bunch of stories in them.  Probably, because the stories are awful.  

Also I realized that the Frozen story in this book is SO FREAKING similar to another Frozen story in another compilation we have.  Anna wants her sister's attention and Elsa is too damn busy planning a surprise for her sister until her sister takes matters into her own hands.

For the love, let's hope I can make it through this holly jolly season without throwing this book out the window.

And please, do not gift these to us.  Or anyone, if you love them.

What say you? Yay or nay? Can I mail this sucker to you? (I kid, I kid, she'd never forgive me)

Monday, December 4, 2023

What I Read in November


I absolutely loved Tom Lake and I think it absolutely had to do with the setting and being able to picture the area. Tom Lake is essentially Interlochen, a place I adore. Then the family's orchard is on the shores of Lake Michigan near Traverse City, aka my favorite part of Michigan. But also I loved the story. And had no background on Our Town, which it's based on. I have heard two other people say eh on it, but I loved it. Ann Patchett is sometimes a slog fest for me but I loved this one!

The Bar Harbor Retirement ...

This book had such a quirky bunch of former writers and others who worked in the writing industry at the end of their life. They all live together in Bar Harbor in a house/grounds where a famous author planned for them to go when they were old. I really enjoyed it. I mean an elderly woman who is smoking weed for her back and lots of secrets of lovers and some of the writers decide to start writing a book together.

Hester surprised me. I thought for sure I would dislike it as it's a book that ties with The Scarlet Letter, which is a book I cannot engage with. Isobel Gowdie arrives in Salem with her good for nothing husband and is promptly left behind with the judgy Salem folk and meets a young Nathaniel Hawthorn. My 12 year old is also now reading it.

Tin Camp Road is written by an Upper Peninsula author and it's a book about a mother and daughter living day to day in poverty making the most of it and I will be reading so many other books by this author.  As someone who has seen people living in this type of poverty and knowing the Upper Peninsula and all of that it was just a book where you are rooting for something to go right and keep going right for them.

Reader, I murdered him, takes Adele from Jane Eyre and puts a queer romance female vigilante twist on the story. I liked it but those who adore Jane Eyre may feel differently based upon the goodreads reviews I looked at when I was done.

Reunion Beach is a sweet collection of stories and essays for Dorothea Benton Frank, a lowcountry author who I adored for her beachy hilarious stories. There are short stories by Elin Hilderbrand, Patti Callahan, Adriana Trigiani, and others..

All the SInners Bleed is another great crime fiction book by SA Cosby. His books are not for the faint of heart. There's language, usually graphic details, but you are instantly engaged with the story. This one is about a small town sheriff who is dealing with small town drama and a serial killer.

Have you read any of these? If you read Tom Lake what did you think?

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Book Confession

 Recently my preschooler came home from school and talked about one of her teachers reading, Where the Wild Things Are, and asked if I could get it from the library.  I of course obliged and we picked it up and have since read it a few times.

I know I had to have read it as a child, but I’m not a hundred percent certain.  I can remember it throughout my childhood, on a friend's bookcase, at school, seeing it at the school library, and here is where my confession comes from.  I never read it because the cover made me think the illustrations were horrible and I would not like it.  

I never read it when I was teaching.  I never read it to my oldest.  I only read it to my youngest because of her specific request.

Here’s the second part of the confession.

I was right.  I did not like it.   I was correct, I did not like the illustrations.  The story was ‘meh,’ and I’d rather read 234434 other books.  Is it the worst book I’ve had to read to a child? GOODNESS, NO. (IYKYK).

Will I read it again? Yes, because the preschooler has already requested that I get it AGAIN from the library and I’m not a monster who keeps books from my kid just because I don’t like it.

But, will I try to get my husband to do most of the reading? Most likely.

Do you have a book you never read based on the cover? Did you ever read it? Did you change your mind?

Saturday, November 4, 2023

What I Read in October

 Must Reads -

Grady Lake by J.L. Hyde - I found this author after a friend added her first book, Underground, on her TBR list on goodreads and bought it for her birthday.  I then started following her on instagram and I am now buying every one of her books on the day they come out.  Grady Lake is set in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and is a murder mystery that moves back and forth from the disappearance of the main character's sister 20 years prior and the current situation in Grady Lake with another girl that has gone missing.  The ending has me so excited for book two in this series out in 2024!

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum - This debut novel by a Palestinian-American voice takes us inside the lives of a conservative Arab family living in America. In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of  Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.”

I really liked this book. It was so moving.  I wanted to have a discussion right after I finished it!

The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah - The book starts with a principal of a Muslim girls school going about her day when a shooter breaks into the school.  This is not really a school shooting book as much as it is about her life leading up to that point and all of the different bigotry, trauma, and heart ache that leads to this horrific act of hate.

Honorable Mentions

A Fever in the Heartland by Timothy Egan - This is a nonfiction book about how the Klan took off in the state of Indiana in the 1920s and the undoing of the man in charge.  It was fascinating, disgusting, and a look into a part of history that I didn’t know about.

The Celebrants by Steve Rowley - I read this earlier in the month and honestly would have been higher up on my list but I just read so many good books! This book follows college friends through their adulthood.  They decide after one of them dies right before graduation that they want to have their funerals before they die.  They want to leave nothing left unsaid and agree to meet up whenever one of them demands their funeral.  

Hello, Transcriber by Hannah Morrisey - This one started off a little slow, but I really liked it.  It is set in Wisconsin and is about a woman who is in a crappy relationship in a dark town and is starting a job as a police transcriber in hopes of using this to spark ideas in her own personal writing.  She and her neighbors get involved in drug deaths and vicious murders while she desperately tries to figure out who did it and pull herself away from her crappy husband.

Eh - Christine Falls and The Surgeon

What did you read in October? What would you recommend to me?

Friday, November 3, 2023


This week was busy! For people who do the bare minimum because we enjoy rest, we got a lot in! Library trick or treat, actual trick or treating, and a choir concert.  We saw night time a few times outdoors which is kind of funny because in the fall/winter we pretty much hibernate after dinner.  I light a candle and take a shower and then I'm under blankets!

My favorite pictures from the week:

The high of my week was watching the kids have so much fun trick or treating and watching my oldest girl do her thing at her choir concert.

The low of my week was  holding the people of Gaza and Israel in my heart.  Thinking of all my Jewish friends and hoping we can move forward with love, peace, respect, and no more terror.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday -  brisket nachos, green beans, raspberries
Tuesday -  spaghetti and meatballs, bread/butter, corn
Wednesday -  jambalaya, celery/dip, green beans, blackberries
Thursday -  chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes
Friday - crunchy taco helper, queso, chips, cucumber/dip

The best money I spent was pumpkin pie from costco

What I’m listening to  currently The Piketon Massacre

What I’m watching Vanderpump Rules

What I’m reading:  Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

My plans for the weekend include watching football, the oldest has a friend coming over and probably putting a cover on the camper for the winter

What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Friday, October 20, 2023


Phew.  I feel like this was our first week since school started that I finally got myself into a groove.  Note, one child started school at the end of August and the other started mid-September ha.  I have been so dang productive on the house cleaning/organizing front and crossing my stuff off my list every day.  One thing I do need to improve is actually making my workout happen.  Slowly but surely I am checking that box more each week, but I need to get into a strength training plan that's doable with my current schedule.

My favorite pictures from the week:

The high of my week was taking multiple walks in nature at various places to enjoy the fall color and manage the chaos of my mind/world.

The low of my week was  the war in Gaza/Israel.  I am so heartbroken for my Jewish friends and I am disgusted by the acts of terrorism committed on the innocent people of Israel.  I am also heartbroken for every single Palestinian that is being killed by the Israeli government.  Terror acts and killing innocent people is not okay.  Holding people hostage is not okay.  Targeting people because of their religious beliefs is not okay.  My heart is so heavy for every person who is suffering.  It is not okay.

Meal plan for the week was  
Monday -  Chili, cheese quesadillas, and salad
Tuesday -  grilled chicken, Caesar salad, grapes, cottage cheese and oranges
Wednesday -  beef and bean burritos, salad, chips and queso, grapes
Thursday -  Cashew Chicken w/ rice, grapes, strawberries and cottage cheese
Friday - Steak, baked potatoes, salad and roasted broccoli

The best money I spent was new rainsuit for the four year old

What I’m listening to  currently hell and gone podcast 

What I’m watching Only Murders in the Building, vanderpump rules

What I’m reading:  Hello Transcriber by Hannah Morrisey

My plans for the weekend include watching msu vs u of m football, might go to a story time at our new local bookstore

What are you watching/reading/listening to?

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

A Woman is No Man

 I very rarely have that feeling when I finish a book and I am like THAT is going to be one of the best books I’ve read this year.  I mean I read quite a bit and have gotten better at not finishing books that I don’t really like or just aren’t the right fit for the moment. (Side note, I think I am going to have like 9 or more books that I started and didn't finish by year's end).  However, I finished A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum last night and wow.  I immediately wanted to discuss it with someone and so I did the next best thing and read all the questions people had about it on goodreads and thought more about it.

I remember seeing the cover of this book before but I hadn’t really read the blurb until a friend read it this summer so I added it to my library holds and just got around to it.  I am glad that even though I am a few years late to loving this book, I already was able to reserve her newest book, Evil Eye, from the library.

A Woman is No Man is narrated back and forth by women of different generations in the same family.  Isra, Fareeda, and Deya share how their culture is ingrained in everything they learn about themselves and what their role in the world is.  They are all Palestinian and the book starts with Isra marrying Adam in an arranged marriage and facing a move to America with people she doesn’t know.  She tries talking to her mother about the unfairness of it and her mother tells her that is her life.

Isra hopes for a better life in America but learns that not much has changed.  Her belly is full, her housing and finances are better but are her choices any better here than at home?

Fareeda is her overbearing strict mother-in-law that has much the same outlook as Isra’s mother did.  A woman is no man.  Life is not fair.  You are to raise children and keep the home.  

Deya is Isra’s daughter and her part of the book happens when she is 18 and her grandmother is trying to marry her off in an arranged marriage in 2008.   Deya who grew up in Brooklyn, does not want to get married at 18.  She wants to go to college.  She wants to fall in love on her own.  

All of this is sooo not doing this book justice and it is so much more.  But Etaf Rum writes so beautifully and in my deep dive last night I learned that it is semi-autobiographical to her upbringing in Brooklyn.

I read something she said in an interview and it stuck with me.  I am very much paraphrasing but she said she was raised by traumatized people and that their trauma seeped into her from how they parented and she had to go to therapy and work through that trauma to help her change and make the life she wanted to make.  


Have you read A Woman is No Man? What were your thoughts?

Description: This debut novel by a Palestinian-American voice takes us inside the lives of a conservative Arab family living in America. In Brooklyn, eighteen-year-old Deya is starting to meet with suitors. Though she doesn’t want to get married, her grandparents give her no choice. History is repeating itself: Deya’s mother, Isra, also had no choice when she left Palestine as a teenager to marry Adam. Though Deya was raised to believe her parents died in a car accident, a secret note from a mysterious, yet familiar-looking woman makes Deya question everything she was told about her past. As the narrative alternates between the lives of Deya and Isra, she begins to understand the dark, complex secrets behind her community.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023


 I feel like I’m closing down the fun and preparing for hibernation.  I have spent the few days hauling out all of our stuff from the camper, washing all the things, wiping the camper down, washing allllll the things, and I’ve  started to pull out warmer clothes.  My least favorite part of the year.  The pretty fall has now passed and the chilly/rainy/windy/winter is coming fall is barreling in.  While I do love sweatshirts and tea, I REALLY love warm days spent on the beach!  Besides these household tasks this is what I am up to currently…

Reading:   A Fever in the Heartland: The Ku Klux Klan’s Plot To Take Over America, And The Woman Who Stopped Them by Timothy Egan

Loving: That my youngest is in preschool three days a week and I am getting some “alone time.”  I am super productive and also super lazy.  I have been able to have breakfast with a few friends/family, grab groceries, do some big cleaning/purging projects and work on some projects.  I am also loving that my oldest is embracing her love of writing and joined a writing club that meets at this really cool location in town.

Feeling: so sad for humanity.  I am gutted by the events in Israel and Gaza.

Anticipating: the chaos of the holiday season.  I need to figure out our plans.  We have a couple of friends' 40th birthdays to celebrate and I am already excited about spending my 40th in Florida on the beach with my family in March!

Struggling: getting my butt back into working out.  I was on a 3 month streak and a illness knocked me out and I never jumped back on the train.  After I get the downstairs put together for the winter with all our camping stuff cleaned and stored it must become a priority again.

Grateful: my warm house, my safe and healthy babies, my awesome husband, my healthy parents, and the ability to stay at home.

Working: on organizing and cleaning, woohoo. :)

Listening: all kinds of podcasts.  Right now as I type, Appodlachia, a podcast hosted about Appalachia by Applachians!

Watching: Only Murders in the Building and Vanderpump Rules

Wishing: for peace and safety FOR ALL.

What are you reading/listening/watching?

Monday, October 9, 2023

Grady Lake

 This past weekend we went on our last camping trip of the year.  It was our 8th.  We have totally jumped into the camping life since we got our camper.  I was ready to write the whole activity out of my life after camping with a just under one year old Adeline who woke up for the day at 5 am both times in our pop up because she could see all of us and wanted to party.  My husband sold that pop up and got us a camper.  Now we have gone on 8 trips each of the past three years.  I do not camp to rough it.  I camp to beach it up.  There are so many great campgrounds in this state that are on the Great Lakes or near other amazing bodies of water.  And you may be wondering, then what were you doing camping this past weekend? And this was totally for the children.  We did a Halloween weekend at a state park.  We are usually good for one ‘Fall’ camping trip of the year, before I begin hibernating through the winter.

While we were camping, I grabbed my new copy of Grady Lake by J.L. Hyde.  I figured a mystery set in the picturesque Upper Peninsula was a perfect camping read as I was viewing the beauty of the leaves changing color.

Katie Benard returns home to her family’s resort and restaurant after she finds out her live-in fiance has been cheating on her.  She’s spent the past decade as a PR professional but she packs her bags and returns to waiting tables and working the dock in her small hometown on the shores of Grady Lake.  She didn’t expect to return to the spot where her older sister disappeared twenty years earlier, but she needed a change and missed the slow easy way of life in Grady.

Shortly after she returns an eighteen year old girl on vacation disappears in the night, just like her sister Mal did twenty years before.  Just like before there are no leads.  Then a member of the wealthiest family in town is found floating dead in the lake. 

I really liked this book.  It’s the first in the series and the ending ends on a VERY OMG I NEED TO READ THE NEXT ONE NOW vibe.  So coming in early 2024 we shall find out what happens next!

I really love reading J.L. Hyde books and if you too enjoy small town murder mysteries you should check her out! 


Here's how I rank her books in order of which ones I like best:

Summer of ‘99

Delta County (currently on a kindle monthly deal for 3.49)

Grady Lake

Magnolia Court


Midnight in Delta County

What is a murder / mystery book you’d recommend?