Sep 29, 2016

Another Equally Unapologetic Rant Post

I've started and deleted a TON of posts because, in the end, there wasn't enough to say about each particular topic and I don't want to waste everyone's time on negativity.  But apparently I did this back in May and I kind of enjoyed reading it, so here's Unapologetic Rant Post #2!

1. If I Never Hear the Phrase "Libtard" Again, It'll Be Too Soon

Seriously, what's up with this?  As a pragmatist, I don't expect us to actually respect each other, but people throw this around like it's an objective statement and not some ridiculous insult meant to demean both Democrats and mentally challenged people.  And what would even be the Republican variant?  Conservadick?  Come on, people.  We're not 8th grade know-it-alls trying to make the substitute teacher cry.  (I mean, some of us are, but I'm fairly confident that's a small subset of the population.)

2. "He Just Called You Fat"

Sooo... one of my coworkers was trying to make conversation, and acknowledge the fact that yes, I am indeed with child, so he said, "You're starting to look pregnant, Jenn!"  A) This is true and B) I was wearing a maternity top, which is pretty much the best way to say, "Hey, I'm pregnant, not just chubby!"  So when another coworker pretended to be indignant on my behalf I felt... annoyed I guess?  It's just conversation and while it may be the best policy to never comment on someone being pregnant if you don't actually know for sure that they are, once it has been announced, I don't see the harm.

I diverted the conversation into maternity wear and how it automatically makes you look pregnant and so on, but looking back I really wish I had said, "I've always been fat, now I'm just fat AND pregnant."  Then at least the person feeling awkward at the end would have been the one trying to mess with the other person instead of the one who had no ill intentions.  Plus it would have supported my Fat Manifesto.

3. That Doesn't Apply to Me

I think sometimes it's easy to shrug off risks because they're scary and, when it's reasonably low or there's nothing we can do about it, there's really no point in letting that fear control our actions.  But there are a lot of risks we take that are completely avoidable.  No one thinks they'll be the ones to get lung cancer from smoking, until they do.  No one thinks they need a prenup or that they'll behave badly in the instance of a divorce, until they do.  No one thinks, "Wow, I'm being really irresponsible getting behind the wheel in this incapacitated mental state" until they've smashed their car, someone else's car, a human being.

I suppose there's really nothing new for me to say on the topic of alcohol.  You all know that I quit drinking even before I got pregnant, and I have no intention of going back after.  But it continues to be a presence in my life and it's so infuriating and terrifying and painful to watch people let alcohol make decisions for them.  And every time they escape unscathed, they think, "See, I wasn't that drunk.  I knew I was safe to drive."  Every.  Fucking.  Time.  And I suppose so it will continue until that luck runs out and I'll watch, helpless to do a damn thing about it.

4. Obese Pets

Sooo... perhaps this is hypocritical because I'm all about body acceptance for people, but to me, it seems so simple to keep animals at a healthy weight.  You don't have to experience their cravings and you have total control over their food.  Honestly, I'd never even heard of the concept of "open feeding" until fairly recently.  When we first got Luke we weren't using a particularly accurate measuring system, but we still used some kind of cup to dip food into his bowl and now, after a brief period of overweight-ness when we lived with a friend who kept food out and always available, he's healthy again and keeping him there is simple.  We still do treats periodically (ok, fine, all the time) and we don't worry about the impact on his intake.  If he seems to be getting bigger we reduce, if he seems thin, we increase.  Easy peasy.

So it just baffles me when people have animals that are so fat they have trouble moving around, or that develop health issues because of their obesity, because how can it not have occurred to their owners to take that one simple step of measuring their food?!  Yes, I get that it can be more difficult with multiple pets.  If Toast ever gets skittery for some reason and decides the stars have not aligned properly for the food bowl to be safe today, then Luke will happily handle that for her.  So when that happens, we pull Luke aside and wait for her to decide it's safe, or on a couple of occasions we just put the food back and made sure to give her extra treats and a larger portion at the next meal.  When we visit Sister2 and Brother-in-Law, their dog ravenously destroys his food and then goes after whatever other food bowls are in reach.  So typically we'll put him or Luke in another room and feed them each separately until our slowpoke is done.

If you have a pet that just doesn't eat, then ok.  You might have legitimate reasons.  But I feel like most of us who are worried about our pets being too thin are using human standards of size, expecting them to have extra fat that they really don't need (unless you're planning on dropping them off in the wild to fend for themselves for a couple months), and freaking out if they miss a meal.  I think, for the most part, if they miss a meal they'll just be hungrier for the next one.  Ryan's thin and misses meals all the time and somehow doesn't drop dead of starvation each time it happens.

5. Celebrity Drama

WHO CARES?!?!?!  It's bad enough that people are so fascinated with the lives of people they don't know anything about other than what movies they've been in or what the tabloids say about them, but when people have opinions or take sides?  You don't know them!  You don't know what happened!  You were not there.  It's not your fight to fight and I seriously doubt that your support or condemnation means a damn thing to someone who is exposed to the opinion of the masses on a daily basis.  Just have some decency and leave it alone.

That's it for now.  Hopefully I didn't bring you down too much!  (If so, please refer to the happy news from last week.  :P)

What makes you rant?

Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

Sep 27, 2016

They Say Owners Grow to Be Like Their Dogs...

When we adopted Toast, I was allowed more say in the decision because, as Ryan jokingly said, "She's going to be your dog and Luke is mine."  I was mildly offended.  Uh, Luke is my baby too!

But that's totally what happened.

Luke watching Ryan do yard work through the window

Toast 2 feet away from me.  Also, look at her ear!!!  It does that about half the time now and it's sooo cute!

Toast is completely attached to me, which is to say she dislikes me less than all other humans, and either through training or through neediness follows me through the house wherever I go and settles down somewhere in eyesight.  Luke will follow me around, too, but only when I'm doing something interesting, or there's food, or when he feels like it.  He's far more likely to settle under Ryan's desk, or stay on the couch in order to be close to Ryan when I leave the room, and he cuddles with Ryan given the slightest chance.  He cuddles with me, too, but only if I'm actively petting him.

So it worked out - we each have our own dog but we both take care of both.  But one thing I've become increasingly aware of, and increasingly amused by, is how much more we have in common with the "other person's dog."

How Toast is Like Ryan

  • Ryan's been facing some anxiety challenges the past couple years and Toast is a textbook case for anxiety
  • Both are thin, with amazing metabolisms
  • They like food, but if something else comes up (say work or the food bowl not being in the right place), it can be ignored
  • They're smarter and more prone to using logic to solve problems
  • They're the more athletic 2 of the household
  • An adjustment period is needed for new things
  • Persistence pays off!

    How Luke is Like Me

    • We're fairly chill but we do get upset when other people (or dogs) are upset
    • We're chubby chowhounds (technically Luke is a healthy weight now but he was overweight for quite a while when we lived with a friend who did open feeding)
    • We love people, but only while they're paying attention to us
    • If not provided alone time, we will eventually seek out solitude (Luke gets tired of being corralled all the time along with Toast and will eventually ignore my summons to lie by himself in his dog bed)
    • We're cuddlers
    • New things?  My favorite!!!
    • Meh - the goal isn't really THAT important...

    As I was writing this post, I heard Ryan yelling, "They're stuck on the tree again!"  We let the dogs out on a lead and on the rare occasion that they go all the way to the end and wander in the brambles, they inevitably end up on opposite sides, wrapped once or twice around a bush or tree.

    So I headed to the door to rescue my poor, dumb children and I saw the perfect last bullet points for these lists.  Toast was doggedly (tee hee) yanking at the leash, determined to get free of whatever mysterious obstacle was preventing her from returning to the house (like backing up and running - I don't know why but I'm always proud of her for using her little brain to try to solve problems), while Luke had given up and was more or less contentedly laying down and awaiting rescue.

    But anyway, I think it all kind of makes sense.  Luke and I have more of a calming influence in the household, so we attract the ones who aren't already calm and in return we get lots and lots of attention.  And sometimes treats.  Because, you know, we're food motivated.

    Are you and your dogs alike?  Or, like us, is it more opposites attract?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Sep 22, 2016

    The Bright Spots

    I think we've all felt mired in negative, depressing news at some point.  And especially lately, with shootings, hate crimes, emotions running high over the election, and terrorism over in Europe, it's hard to remember that there's good in the world too.

    Every once in a while, a happy story makes it to the front page of Reddit and it's like a little bright spot in the heap of ugly.  I figured we could all use a break, so I collected my favorite stories from r/UpliftingNews so that the non-Redditors could enjoy it too.

    A lesbian couple's home was egged and their rainbow flag stolen.  Their neighbors showed solidarity by hanging their own rainbow flags.

    Dog mayor elected for 3rd term in Cormorant, Minnesota

    Traditional Indian parents throw their son a gay Hindu wedding

    Women Celebrates Her Birthday by Feeding the Hungry

    Community cleans up racist graffiti on family's home before they return from vacation

    Divers Rescue Trapped Whale Shark in Mexico

    McDonalds Worker with Down Syndrome Retires After 32 Years

    Girl Rescued from Rubble in Italy

    Mystery Duck Cheers Up Heartbroken Dog Grieving over "Best Friend"

    Arizona Coyotes Hire Dawn Braid, NHL's First Ever Female Coach

    And to top it all off, I'll end with this picture of happy hippos.

    What do you do to keep cheerful when the news feels really depressing?  What are your favorite news stories?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Sep 20, 2016

    Some Organization and Productivity Stuff

    Remember how excited I was about my planner wallet a mere year and a half ago?  It was awesome, and I spent maybe a year actually using the paper planner (off and on).  But this year it's barely been touched.  And it's not because I don't like it!  But I just don't use paper.  It always irked me just a tad to repeat stuff I'd already added to my Google calendar.  And as my calendar gets more complicated (mostly with reminders to do things like water the plants and give the dogs their heartworm meds), I become more and more reluctant to rewrite all that junk.

    So I gave it up altogether.  After months of searching for a replacement purse (I had this highly specific vision of a wallet with a pen loop, small pocket for chapstick, and cross body strap), I found it in the most unlikely of places: Target.  Seriously, I scoured the Internet and then, on a whim, my sisters and I pranced through the purse section of Target and found the teeniest, tiniest purse ever that somehow magically holds all my stuff.

    Pictures, because yeah.

    So cute!  And the strap is removable, which is handy both for clipping my keys onto the bag or for taking off altogether and throwing it into a bigger bag (which is probably what will happen most of the time once diaper bags are in the picture)

    Main pocket has a divider, secret inside pocket, and even my clunky, bigger new phone fits in here, with its Otterbox.

    Big Pocket: phone, checks, less-frequently used cards, business cards Small Pocket: cash, license, 4 most-used cards Tiny Pocket: chapstick!

    But anyway, while pleased with the removal of the planner and minimizing the size and amount of junk I carry around, I was still not quite satisfied with my digital planning.  The calendar is great for events, and Google Tasks keeps track of my general to dos, but I really didn't have a good place to set daily priorities.  Google docs could work, but I'd have to remember to open it every day and it's a pain on mobile.

    I started thinking about what I really wanted, and that was a way to view all that stuff at once.  Then the epiphany!  "There is a probably a planner app already created for this exact purpose."  Dun da da dun!!!  Only took me 6 months to figure out.

    Anyway, there are plenty, but the one I picked is Planner Pro and It. Is. Amazing!  Pulls in my Google calendar, lets me add to do list items or just general notes (which is where I write my priorities and my gratitude list), and has a daily overview that displays them all tidily next to each other.

    I was tempted, as I often am by shiny new toys, to buy the upgrade.  It's only $5, but it's an annual subscription, which I don't like and when I really analyzed, the free app already has everything I need.  Reoccurring tasks with reminders could be nice but I already have a Google calendar for that and it emails me as well.

    The only things that aren't perfect with this app are that it doesn't integrate with Google tasks and that, although it says it does, it doesn't seem to be syncing my 2nd "reminder" calendar and it's only pulling the events from the main one.  Neither is a big deal to me, since my Task list is everything I need to do in the foreseeable future and for the planner app I really just want today or this week, and my reminders calendar is pretty self-sufficient.

    To sum up: my planner still fits in my purse.  They're just both a lot smaller now.

    Are you a paper or digital person?  How do you keep your purse[s] organized?

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Sep 15, 2016

    20 Weeks Down, 20 to Go!

    I haven't been doing bumpdates, and I probably won't because not much changes from week to week, but I figured halfway was a pretty decent milestone.  So here's the bump...

    Hahahaha!  Just kidding!!!

    I am a tad bit rounder down there, and my belly is edging it's way past my boobs (which is very sad, because as a heavier person, that's always been a point of pride for me), but unless you know me you really can't tell.  I just look like a slightly chubbier chubby person.  AND I noticed after taking these pictures that the difference between the fake belly and the real one isn't as drastic as it seemed in person, but just humor me and pretend it's obvious.

    However, I am starting to get to the point where my pants are tighter and, thanks to Reptar, that is now uncomfortable, so I've been mostly wearing the one pair of plus size jeans I have a lot or casually unbuttoning my other pants whenever I sit down.  I also can't sleep on my stomach (woe is me! For I have always been a stomach sleeper) and I've become very aware of the frequency with which I lean against counters (specifically in the bathroom because I have to get my face 2 inches away from the mirror to do my makeup because I am blind without my glasses).

    Baby size!

    I adore this app with it's cute little animal of the week but... it tends to choose very strange creatures I haven't heard of that don't make good size comparisons.  Last week was a hedgehog and I got all excited, "Now that it's big enough it'll be animals I've heard of!"  Newp.  Not necessarily.  In any case, Reptar is over 10 ounces and has all the requisite body parts, according to our last ultrasound.

    Let's see... gender!  We know it and we're not telling.  I was going to make exceptions for blogger friends because you guys can't possibly leak it to my family since you don't know them BUT Ryan pointed out that if I tell some people, I will probably crack and tell all the people, so no one can know.  We're continuing to refer to the baby as "Reptar" and "it" because if we use gendered pronouns amongst ourselves, we will probably slip among other people.  As you may have figured out, I have no skills in the keeping of secrets, so this should be interesting.

    However, I have already run across quite a few people wanting to know so they can buy "appropriate" clothing or gifts or whatever, and this more firmly cements the resolution in my mind because I don't want them to treat my baby differently so they don't get to find out until it's blatantly obvious.  I've already caught myself thinking, "Because it's a __..." and then I have to stop myself and say, "Nope, the only difference is diaper changing technique."  And, I suppose, some of the challenges and stereotypes he or she will have to face as an older child and adult.

    Anyway, other baby and pregnancy related things:
    • Baby Stuff Acquired: very little.  We're not making quick progress on this at all.  We were given a crib before we even got pregnant and have since been gifted a baby food maker (basically a food processor for tiny portions), some onesies, baby books, and belly buds!
    • 2nd Ultrasound: creeeepy!  We were zoomed all the way in on tiny, little heart and lungs and brain and bones, and depending which way the doctor moved the wand (wand?), things would drop off into blackness/out of focus.  Think horror movie where they're running around in the dark trying to find the killer and/or bodies.
    • Reptar's First Book: Something by Dr. Seuss.  My friend Melisandre called me and left 2 full-length voicemails in which she read a book to Reptar, with instructions to put the phone by my belly and play them.  So I did.
    • Belly Buds: they're like earbuds for your belly.  I always used to joke with my friends about playing tummy music to make their babies in little geniuses.  Sister3 got me these and while I'll definitely play the music she gave me, I've since learned that after 18 weeks, babies can hear noises from outside your stomach, so there's probably no need to broadcast it directly in there.
    • Cravings: all the same terrible-for-you-but-terribly-tasty stuff I usually like.  Oh, and for a while milk and soup (specifically chicken and dumpling) but that's mostly faded away.
    • Aversions: broccoli!  This was so, so sad, because broccoli was my go-to vegetable and it was such minimal effort to boil or steam it.  However, I did try it again recently and it wasn't quite as gag-inducing so I'm hoping this is on its way out as well.
    • Symptoms: not much!  Just a little bit of what I guess is ligament pain?  When I move quickly or twist sometimes my abdominal area will twinge.  It's weird mostly because it's not an area I've ever been very aware of.

    Other than that, I really don't think anything's noteworthy.  I've settled in to the point where, while I still think it's amazing and fascinating how this little fetus is developing, I no longer spend large chunks of each day thinking about it.  Mostly just feeling like a normal human focused on normal human goals.  However, I am very excited for the day when I can feel movement.  I've been told that could happen at any time now and I might already be feeling it and just not realize.  (Fairly sure all my gurgling is just intestinal stuff.)

    And that's about it!  I might pop back in in 10 weeks if there are any interesting developments or maybe I'll just wait until we're right about 40.  We'll see.

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Sep 13, 2016

    Mo' Books Mo' Bettah

    While I did make an effort to make progress on my book challenge, I didn't bother to stray too far outside my favorite genre.  Plenty o' fantasy and YA here!  (BUT, as I pointed out to Ryan when he "challenged" me to read at least one nonfiction book a month, I already do that.  I just read far more silly fluff books.  :P)

    ♥♥♥♥♥ - Loved!

    Beyond the Shadows (Night Angel Series)

    No surprise here.  I was about halfway through in my last post and the ending did nothing to dissuade me from my 5 star rating.  To sum up: dark, grim world, awesome complex variety of characters, well-built plot.

    The Happiness Project

    So, so good!  I knew I would like this, but I was unprepared for how much I thoroughly loved it.  Will probably need to purchase a paper copy so I can dog ear and take notes and because this belongs on my bookshelf.  In case you didn't already see my happiness project post/summary: I loved how organized Rubin's approach is to building her project and how most of her prompts are based on research (although she also asks other people and her blog readers for ideas).  It made me think about a few different concepts and it gave me specific ideas to try and, better yet, she has a website full of resources to build my own project.  Occasionally there would be a topic I was less interested in or that I disagreed with her answers for how to improve happiness in that area (for example her solution to not nagging her husband is to just do everything herself) but, as Rubin reminds us, everyone is different and it makes perfect sense that each person's project will look different.  Also, random side note: after listening to a couple episodes of her podcast, I had developed a very clear mental image of Gretchen Rubin.  She was brunette, with a long face, and a tiny bit chubby.  When I saw her picture on her website bio, I had to laugh at how wrong I got it.

    ♥♥♥♥ - Liked

    The Princess Series

    New favorite Kindle Unlimited author!  I was bad and renewed my subscription to get caught up with KM Shea (although I got lucky and hit a promotional month so it ended up being free), and then was looking for other authors to make use of it.  Aya Ling's books are super, super cute.  Like KM Shea, it's not the most polished writing in the world and this series was very short romance-y type books, but I enjoyed them shamelessly and thus: 4 stars.  Note: at least 2 of the heroines start out kind of sucky, but the story is all about their personal growth, so by the end of the story you should like them much more.

    Also, I saw criticisms of Princesses Don't Get Fat because people were offended that the fat character was painted as someone who just enjoyed food a lot.  I didn't have a problem with that - I mean, the food sounded delicious and the whole point was learning to be healthier while still indulging and that your body shape isn't what's important.  So... get over it, whiny Goodreads reviewers!

    Red Queen

    This started a tad bit slow for me, but once I was in, I was fully engaged.  I've always found writing in the present tense to be very urgent and compelling.  There was a little bit of YA trope-y-ness going on.  Awkward teen romance, with love triangles galore, and they even had her be a skilled pickpocket and fighter, but too clumsy to dance, which is just silly.  BUT, if you can get past those tiny foibles, the book is really good.  The world is interesting, the plot unfolds really well, and it surprised me more than once.  I particularly loved the powers that everyone had and that the "nymphs" and "greenies" were the oppressors instead of being oppressed like they are in a lot of folklore based stories.

    One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd

    This was really, really interesting.  A bit slow to get into, and then I was enthralled for most of the book up until the end.  There were definitely moments where I had trouble suspending disbelief.  (May was very open-minded for that time period and I kept wondering, "Would a white women really be that liberal?" and there were also parts where I couldn't decide if the divide between her way of thinking and mine were due to the time period or the fact that it was a man who wrote the book.)  But the take on Native American society was very interesting - much more complex and fleshed out than many other stories I've read, which seek to portray the native society as good and pure and the European as entirely evil.  Which is not to say the Europeans didn't do horrible things, but it felt like a more complete picture of the Cheyenne tribe to also show the negatives as well as the positives.

    Note: when I was reading, I was mystified by the idea that this was based on true events.  I have since tried to see how much, if any, actually happened and I don't think it really did.  Some people said the request to trade the women was made, but never completed, and other sources said none of it is true.  Sooo... still an interesting premise, but "based on historical events" is a stretch.

    Eleanor & Park

    It kept me reading, but I'm never going to enjoy realistic YA as much as dystopian "save the world" YA.  And all the over-the-top "I love you" "I live for you" stuff when they were still too embarrassed to be open about their relationship made me gag a bit.  Teenagers!  I went ahead and gave it 4 stars anyway, because it did keep me enthralled despite my personal preferences and the details about their family lives gave it a lot more depth than just a teenage romance.  I won't spoil anything but the ending drove me crazy.  If you've read it you probably know why.

    ♥♥♥ - Ambivalent-ed

    The Queen's Poisoner

    Meh.  It wasn't bad, and there were parts I enjoyed, but I just never felt fully invested in the story.

    Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

    I thought for a play the writing was rather quirky and fun BUT it was still a play, which meant you're really just getting a brief overview of their emotions and mostly reading into their actions.  I missed the depth and complexity of reading a full novel.  The plot was also a bit cheesy and the whole conflict felt like a shallow excuse to resolve family issues in a touching way and to undo some of the stereotypes Rowling built with the first 7 books (Gryffindor good, Slytherin bad, etc).  I think a diehard HP fan would get more out of this than I did.  But I did really enjoy the time travel aspect and seeing what tiny changes in the past did to their present.

    ♥♥ - Mildly Disliked

    The Diary of a Chambermaid

    The beginning seemed promising, but I lost interest about halfway through.  Just more and more and more stories of scandal, sex, and debauchery.  It also felt like the plot tapered off while she was busy telling stories of the past, and then when it wrapped it up at the end, I was entirely displeased with her decision.  It made no sense to me.

     - Did Not Finish or Wanted to Burn in a Fire

    None here!  Always a good thing when this category is empty.  <3


    I got the rest of my challenge books from the library, so I'll be powering through!  Last week I got distracted and reread the Lunar Chronicles (I was writing my own "Book Olympics" post and my choice for "loved from the first page" was Cinder, so I opened it to see if it still grabbed me.  Spoiler alert: it did.) so now it's time to focus again.  I've got The Secret of Happy Families, Magic Kingdom for Sale/Sold, and Mara Daughter of the Nile and 9 days before I need to return them to the library.  Time to DO THIS!!!

    Challenge Updates

    Erin 5.0

    Much better this month!  Challenge books this month: The Happiness Project, Red Queen, One Thousand White Women, The Diary of a Chambermaid, and Eleanor & Park.  With my 55 points from last month, that adds up to 160 (out of 200 possible).

    What have you been reading?  Have you read anything from my list and what did you think?

    Linking up with Steph and Jana
    Life According to Steph

    Jenn signature graphic | Business, Life & Design

    Sep 8, 2016

    Book Olympics!

    I don't really care about the Olympics.  If anything, I have Olympics apathy (which is better than Ryan who has Olympics antipathy).  But... it's books!  Everything is better with books!  As soon as I saw Kristen's post I knew I was doing this and I traced it all the way back to Shannon who started it and awesomely invited everyone to participate and use her graphics.

    So here we go...

    Cinder by Marissa Meyer

    I already love fairytale adaptations, but from the first page, this amazing combination of a Cinderella story, with a spunky mechanic, who is part cyborg! was just an instant win.  (As I mentioned last week, I ended up picking this up to see if the first page was really that good and I ended up rereading the whole series, so yeah.  Definitely a winner!)

    Potatoes Come Forth by H. Jonas Rhynedahll

    I couldn't decide if it should be something I read on a road trip or where the characters were traveling.  This was both.  I read it on the drive down South to visit Ryan's family and it ended up being quite entertaining.  The characters spend most of the book traveling (the main character is a traveling salesman of sorts), some on foot and some on various steam-powered mechanical things, AND it was a book I had low expectations of that blew me away, so it definitely belongs here.

    City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (and The Mortal Instruments series)

    No love triangle is a good love triangle.  But this one bothered me less than some others.  There were a couple, actually, throughout the series and in both it ends gently, with a lack of hard feelings, and they all get over their teenage angst.  And we don't spend that much time agonizing over it or vacillating back and forth.  It's more like, "I want this, but I can't have it so I'll take this instead."

    The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

    This story was magical and fantastical and intriguing, but I really felt like there was more to it and I was just skimming the surface.  Certain parts rang faintly of satire, and allusion, and deeper meaning, but it was all over my head.

    Uhhh... Nothing

    I couldn't find anything in my recent Goodreads history and when I searched my books for "summer" I got nothing.  So... apparently I've never read anything set in summer specifically that didn't continue on for at least a year or two.

    The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks (and the Night Angel trilogy)

    Sooo much bloodshed.  The first book took me a little while to adjust to just how grim this world is, but I ended up loving it despite the gore.

    Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

    Sooo... if you're into crime or mystery thrillers you're probably scoffing right now, but I'm really not and a lot of my YA reads don't exactly shock with their endings.  I'm sure there were others I could have chosen but this was the first that came to mind.

    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

    I cry easily anyway, but this one stands out.  Jean Valjean is just so mistreated in this book and there's plenty of other misery to go around.  I cried for Fantine but I wept buckets at the ending.  It's so much worse than the musical.

    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

    1,276 pages, and it was written in the 1800s, so yeah... lots of elaborate descriptions, old-fashioned language, and a plot that unfolded ever so slowly.  I don't think I was ever in danger of quitting, but it was sloooow.

    Wise Child by Monica Furlong

    There were so, so many I could have chosen for this category.  When I was a kid, I'd reread the same books over and over again, and then lovingly reinforce the spines with scotch tape after they started cracking.  In any case, this was one of my many rereads and, looking back, I like that it had a fun, magical story but also made me think about things like, "Everyone wants to be special.  That's why we take turns."  And stuff like going against society and being kind even in the face of mistrust and hatred.  You know, the usual.

    Puss in Boots by K.M. Shea

    I had a lot of trouble thinking of something for this category and then I saw that Jess had picked The Golden Compass and I had a derp moment.  But I'll stick with my original answer.

    Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff

    This was mostly my fault.  It was a good book, but I got tired of self help and "productive reading" and I set it down for months.  Finally came back and finished it and I'm glad I did!  But even though I thought there were enough good concepts to rate it 4 stars, I couldn't tell you why.  I have retained nothing, evidently.

    My Life at the MBRC by K.M. Shea

    It was really bothering me that I had trouble coming up with something for this category.  Most of the books I've read focus on a love story and while they have friends, the friendships seem more peripheral.  This one stands out in my memory because at one point the 2 friends have a discussion about a guy and they check with each other before making any romantic decisions and I thought it was nice that for once a friendship had priority, even if only for a few pages.


    I got nothing for this.  Apparently I have never read a sports book.  Lol!

    After playing this game, it's become clear to me that I need to read more books about friendships.  Our society, and the YA genre, is heavily saturated with the idea that no story is complete without a love interest.  I enjoy it, obviously, or I'd have noticed before now that this was lacking in my reading, but it'd be a nice change of pace to see friendships weighed more heavily in the balance of things.  Or to see men and women interact without immediately falling into love or messy love tianlges!!!

    Who are your book olympics finalists?

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