New Years Day 2021

Everyone is saying that they can’t wait for 2020 to be over and I’ll admit, I feel the same. The bad certainly outweighed the good. If I dig deep there are some good that also came out of 2020. Really.

  1. Working from home- I know, I miss people from work too. That personal interaction is great but my quality of life has improved. I spend more time with my family, helping to cook in the evening instead of eating whatever has been cooked. I feel more involved in their lives.
  2. Not spending as much money- We didn’t go on expensive vacations. I didn’t have to update my wardrobe although I did buy more sweats, shorts, and nice t’s. Our food bill did go up because we were eating every meal at home so that may have balanced the lack of expensive vacations and clothes.
  3. Decorating early for every holiday. Our block has a lot of spirit! Who knew that we had that many Halloween enthusiasts or that everyone actually owned an American flag? All of the decorations certain uplifted our spirits.
  4. Spending time with our pets- It’s so nice to be able to walk the dog when it’s light out then just jump into the shower and check emails and answer messages while getting ready in the morning.
  5. Getting an extra half hour of sleep- again not having to dress up for work saves time in the morning for other things like drinking coffee, walking the dog, or having conversations with the hubby. It’s nice. It feels a little slower and less rushed.

There are many more positive things like having a bigger world view, paying more attention to local politics, making decisions that don’t just affect me but other people as well. All of these thing happened this year. Not all of them were good, but I want to be optimistic and hope that some of the things we’ve learned we’ll take with us when we can return to some kind of normalcy. Even if it’s not what life used to look like.

I wish for all of us that 2021 will bring with it good health, happiness, and good fortune for everyone.

Happy New Year everyone!

Deborah

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: A Mental Health Check In.

Here in Tennessee we are three months into our new lives. Most of us are working from home if we are working at all. If you’re not working you’ve filed for unemployment where you hope that you’ll receive that $200+ check weekly to help you put food on your table, but will certainly not pay your mortgage. You watch the local news and wonder what your city is thinking, going to bars and restaurants without masks with the numbers still climbing. The national news isn’t much better and you shake your head in disbelief over the inadequacies of the people in charge, and wish you could also go out and protest along with those brave enough to voice that black lives matter.

Will life ever get better? When it comes to the coronavirus, it seems that it won’t for a really long time. The country? Only if we get leadership who stops thinking of themselves and starts thinking of others. Will black lives matter protests make a difference? In some ways, yes, because technology has made it impossible to ignore injustices and horrible actions as well as made it impossible for white people to act as some always have, with bigotry and hate. Big brother is watching in the form of IPhone camera’s that will always be turned on and will show all injustices. We need that switch flipped in the minds of all of our citizens that all people should be treated equally and that includes black people. I have hope.

So, how do we navigate the next few months if you care about the people around you, still practice social distancing, and remain at home for the majority of the hours in our days? How do we take care of our mental health? I am lucky because I live with my family which totals six people. We see each other every day, eat dinner together, and generally drive each other crazy. However, we know how each one of us is feeling. We discuss a multitude of politics, food, work, our friends, who we’ve talked to, what books we’ve read lately, shows and movies we’ve watched, etc. But, I know that my situation is not normal. A LOT of people live on their own or are elderly and are scared and isolating. Here is how you can help:

  1. Put on a mask and knock on your neighbors door then take three big steps back. Have a conversation through the screen. Check on them, see if they need groceries, or some veggies from your garden.
  2. Pick through your library and take a stack of feel good books around to all of the Free Little Libraries in your neighborhood. Take one to your neighbors, lend it to a friend.
  3. Set up Zoom or Scype calls with your friends and engage, make a cocktail, and have fun for an hour. You can still talk to people even if it’s not in person.
  4. If you have any elderly people you know from church or a book club, etc. Set up a calling chain and make sure those older friends know they aren’t alone and make sure they are healthy and sound.
  5. Take walks, visit a local park, go on drives and see what’s changed in your neighborhood. Just because you need to social distance and wear a mask doesn’t mean you can’t take in the scenery.

There are so many things we can all do to make a mental health check on ourselves and on others. I believe we have a long road in front of us and many things are going to happen that we will find unbelievable, be disgusted with, and eventually some that may fill us with hope. Grab onto that feeling of hope, this time will pass. We, as a community, can get through this if we all work together.

If you read to the bottom of this post, thank you. I hope you know I’m thinking of all of you, and if you need to chat please reach out.

Take Care,

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: Road Trips, Audiobooks, and Scenic Routes

My husband and I found ourselves with two weeks without jobs. He was laid off and I was put on a furlough for two weeks. For those of you that don’t know a furlough is where you are not paid for the time you’re out, can file for unemployment, and are guaranteed a re-entry into your old job. In my case two weeks. Instead of sitting on our butts at home and playing it safe, we decided to play it as safe as possible on the road. We are visiting a bunch of National Parks and site’s that we’ve always wanted to see, but never had the time. What does this have to do with books? Well, not a whole hell of a lot except we’ve listened to a couple audiobooks, visited a cool mural in Kansas City, and been inspired to write about the gorgeous scenery we are seeing in the great U.S. of A.

Honestly, we’ve seen so much in the past week that it’s hard to put it all down on paper, but I’ll give you some highlights, and of course show you some photo’s. Consider this our generations slideshow that when I was a kid we’d make visitors sit through when we returned from our vacation.

First night- Kansas City! Honestly this was just a stop on the road after driving for 8 hours from Nashville, but I knew I wanted to eat BBQ and take a picture in front of their library.

Our goal was to drive through South Dakota to get to Mt. Rushmore. A national monument I’d always wanted to see and a state I was supremely curious about. I fell in LOVE. What a beautiful state! Now, granted, we were seeing it in June and the weather was pleasant. This is an area that gets a TON of snow. I think we came at the right time of the year.

We passed Laura Ingalls Wilder’s home as we listened to an audiobook about the History of Bourbon. Yes, I know it’s not my normal reading, but I knew it would be something my husband would be interested in hearing. It was a little dry, but a really interesting topic!

While listening to this book I looked at this scenery. Truly glorious, isn’t it?

Maybe I was silly, but the grass was blowing and it was just enchanting.

Can you imagine viewing this prairie and thinking about pioneer’s, wagon trains, and whether you yourself would have the fortitude to make that trip? In a car it took us 11 hours to make the drive from Kansas City to Rapid City, SD. That would equate to what, a couple of weeks, months? So no. Definitely not.

We did make a stop in the Badlands where we saw our fist buffalo, some amazing scenery and a prairie dog.

We did finally get to Mt. Rushmore, and it was splendid. In fact, after visiting that park we went to Custer National Park and on the drive there, you could see Mt. Rushmore from many different vista’s. Here’s my favorite, and yes, we wore masks the WHOLE time! I wish I could say the same for everyone else.

Because we were making things up as we went along, we stopped at a geological site and saw some Mammoth skeleton’s, went to Vail Colorado for lunch, and again enjoyed all of the different scenic vista’s of the country we were driving through. As we entered Utah and the desert, I popped in a new book that I thought my husband might enjoy. It was Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. There was actually quite a bit of humor in these tales and even though I imagined Chris Hemsworth as Thor, every time his stories were told I grew less enthralled with that character. He was really not a very bright god! In the end my imagination took me from Chris Hemsworth to a more fit (and more hair) Homer Simpson. I much prefer the movie version, but it passed the time and my husband enjoyed the stories.

We went through Arches National Park in Utah and drove down through Monument Valley on our way to the Grand Canyon, where I am right now. I haven’t seen it yet, but will let you know my thoughts! Here are a few photo’s of the previous places mentioned. I would totally recommend Arches National Park, and even the drive through Monument Valley, although I’d wait until post COVID. It was hard to find a pit stop because the Navajo and Indian nation’s have been hit pretty hard and most store’s/restaurants were closed.

Arches National Park
Monument Valley
The Arizona Highway

One last thing! We got to Tusayan tonight and as we were heading out to dinner say this visitor walking towards us on the street. Freaked me out! It’s an elk, by the way, not a moose, and yes that is my commentary. Like I said. I was freaked!

This was our first six days on the road. I did leave some photo’s out, but gave you quite a few to ruminate over! I hope you enjoyed my slideshow, 2020 style!

Have a great Sunday! I know I will. I’ll be in California Visiting my Dad for Father’s Day. 🙂

Deb

An ode to Mom- Mother’s Day 2019

I have this memory from when I was young where I was lost and reached out for the hand of a woman I thought was my mother. I think we were at the grocery store and I had wandered away from her, drawn by the mystic mint cookies or some other sweet I had loved. I raced back to the woman who I thought was my mother, held her hand and then looked up. That moment of shock and horror has stuck with me all these years. In my panic I quickly drew my hand out of the stranger’s and it wasn’t until my own mother called to me and I had my hand in her’s that I felt like I stood where I belonged, in safety. Sometimes I still look back on that moment of panic and wish that happiness came as easy as finding your mother in a crowded grocery store.

Now, older, my mother and I are living under the same roof again. After a tough day at work it’s comforting to know I’ll be walking through the door to hear her voice asking “how was your day?”. When I say “hi Mom” that same feeling of calm comes over me, if only for a brief moment before all of life’s burdens weigh me down again. There is something about being with your mom that takes you outside your own sphere of life and its fears, worries, and regrets. I hope to be able to walk in the door and say “hi Mom” for many years to come. It would be nice to capture that essence and carry it in a bottle for those days when she’s no longer there. Like capturing the sand from your beach vacation. Mom in a bottle. LOL.

I would like to wish my own mother a very Happy Mother’s Day. I don’t think I bring her the same kind of peace she gives me, but I hope that she feels the tremendous amount of love I have for her and isn’t scared by the big bottle I’m going to ask her to breath into.

Happy Mother’s Day everyone!

Deb

My Mom.

This Chicks Sunday Commentary (Yes, I know it’s Wednesday!): April ’19 Wrap Up!

I feel like I just did my March wrap up, the days are just flying by too fast. April was a solid month for reading. I finished 17 books, including a few audiobooks and feel like I’m making progress on my stack of ARC’s. Do you ever feel like you’ve overcommitted yourself? Me too! I hate it when my favorite authors all have books coming out on the same day. Yet, I love it at the same time. It’s a love hate thing. LOL. Anyhow, here is what you missed if you haven’t been keeping track of The Reading Chick!

GREAT APRIL READS!

Pretty Face (London Celebrities #2) by Lucy Parker

I blew through the rest of this series in the month of April, but this book was my favorite!

“I think I wrote on Goodreads that I am now obsessed with Lucy Parker novels. I really am. Her stories could so easily be fluffy romances, but they aren’t! They are well written, her characters are rock solid and the build up in the romance is riveting to read. Her dialog isn’t too shabby either, it’s actually really fun!”

Full Tilt by Emma Scott

I actually read this book a couple months ago but had to clear my thoughts before writing the review. It was soo good, yet emotionally wrenching.

“I have never read a novel by Emma Scott, but after reading Full Tilt I know I will definitely be looking through her backlog for my next fix. Full Tilt was heavy, dark, desperate, uplifting, sad, and joyous. By the third chapter I was all in and I think I must’ve gone through a box of Kleenex while rooting for this couple to overcome the odds.”

Love Hacked (Knitting in the City series #3) by Penny Reid

Every time I read a book in this series I say, THIS is my favorite! I definitely chanted that mantra after reading Love Hacked.

“Needless to say, I loved this novel. I had picked it up so many times and put it down. I’m not sure why and am kicking myself for not enjoying their story before now. However, sometimes those novels that surprise you with their strength and your emotional impact to them are read when you need to read them. This was the perfect time for me.”

BLOGGER TO BLOGGER SERIES

We all met a few interesting bloggers this month on my series Blogger to Blogger. If you haven’t had a chance to read their interviews, please check them out!

Tina @ Reading Between the Pages

Kyle and Hannah @ But, First, Fiction

I am mulling over putting my Blogger to Blogger series on hiatus. If you would like to be featured, please contact me and let me know, and I’ll fit your blog in before I take a break.

THIS CHICKS SUNDAY COMMENTARY

Part of the reason I want to take a break from Blogger to Blogger is to spend more time coming up with topics for my Sunday discussion posts. I’ll admit, with a full time job it’s hard to find the energy, but I want to do better. Here are my posts from last month. If you missed any please click the links below to check them out.

March’19 Wrap Up!

My May’19’s Most Anticipated Releases

Happy Easter from the Reading Chick!

MAY’S TBR PILE

OH, Boy! I know I mentioned above that I’m backed up a little bit on my ARC’s. As you can see from this NetGalley snapshot, there are several releases that are all on the same day! Usually I try to space them out, but either I wasn’t paying attention or was overcome with greed at the thought of reading all of these great novels. I have read Romanov already (review to come this week!), but need to start on Finale to stay on track.

THEN you have the books on my Kindle that I’ve purchased, like Kristen Ashley’s FREE and Slow Burn, and my library books that are about to expire like Daisy Jones and the Six, and well, you get the problem!

On top of that my sister and I are going to the Booklovers Con in New Orleans 5/15-5/19! Woo-Hoo! Expect to see a daily post from me regarding all of the authors I will see and the fun activities to be had! I’m excited about that trip, but conventions don’t leave a lot of time for reading. LOL. Oh well, c’est la vie!

May looks to be a much more exciting month than April, and I can’t wait to read ALL of these books! LOL. (yeah right!)

Are you sitting on a big pile of ARC’s too? Give me a shout in the comments section and let me know I’m not the only one in this boat!

Until next Sunday, (or Wednesday, Tuesday or Saturday…)

Deb

This Chicks Sunday Commentary: I’ve read THE book, now what?

What do you do when you read a book that everyone else has done flips over, but you just can’t see what all the fuss is about? Do you cave to pressure and rate the book high, be truthful, or take a pass and not follow through on the review? I’ve read quite a few discussion posts lately on this topic and I thought I’d take a moment to weigh in.

I was that reader that didn’t know what a big deal it was to an author to have a review left on a bookseller site. It wasn’t until I entered this book blogging world that I learned how those rankings helped the algorithm (that I still don’t even understand) show their book to more buyers, think “if you loved this romance author, then you should read this one who is very similar”. Who knew? I loved the thought that my review helped show off their book! But, what happens if I don’t like it? What do I do? Especially if it is THE book that everyone else likes?

Reading THE book for Pleasure– If I haven’t been asked by the author, or committed myself in some way to have read and reviewed a book by a certain date and am just reading the book for pleasure, then the answer is easy. I just move on! Unless I feel like I really have something to say because something in the book struck a chord that I needed to talk about I don’t review the book on my blog. I do definitely rank it on Goodreads, more because it’s kind of a journal for myself on what I’ve read and liked/didn’t like. I won’t put a ranking on Amazon or B&N. I just don’t spend the time on it. I read the book for fun, and if it wasn’t fun, oh well!

THE book is an ARC- I made a commitment. Ugh. Not that I’m commitment shy but sometimes if I have to read a book it might affect how I feel about it. Picking out a book is like picking what you’re going to eat for dinner. If you aren’t in the mood for Mexican then you shouldn’t make that burrito because you just aren’t going to enjoy it! If I’m in the mood for a light and fluffy romance and I have to pick up a mystery because the book comes out on Tuesday and it’s Sunday night and I’ve been procrastinating? Well…. it might behoove your book for me to set this one aside and wait until I’m in the mood for that burrito. BUT, sometimes I surprise myself! I might’ve thought I didn’t want a burrito but when I got down to eating it, it was surprisingly satisfying! You just never know. I will confess, there have been a few times where I just couldn’t get into a book and I sent a note to the author/publisher that I wasn’t going to read and review it. Sorry not sorry! I probably will give an opinion on how I felt about the book on one of my fellow bloggers posts though. I like to throw an opinion out there and see what kind of response I’ll get.

I am reading THE book with a group, club, or friend- This is probably my favorite way to read a book that has gotten so much hype. Let’s say you pick three friends and none of you have read THE book yet. You decide you’re all going to read it at the same time and then discuss. I know my opinion and have written my review but not hit post or scheduled it yet before we talk. After our discussion you all might have changed my mind, maybe, I’m not sure. Aargh! Do I place my review? Sit on it? Some bloggers sit on their reviews to let their thoughts settle. I have one of those minds that checks off that read book and moves on. I MUST post! Have I ever written a retraction or changed my review? No, but maybe I should.. There are probably quite a few where my opinion has changed as time has gone on.

What do you do if you don’t agree with what everyone else has been saying about THE book?

Does it matter if it’s an ARC or if you’re reading it on your own time for pleasure or in a book club?

Thanks for reading! Until next Sunday,

Deb