Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Sunday Post #299

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The Sunday Post is a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, tell you what I’m reading, and share news. It’s hosted by The Caffeinated Book ReviewerReaderbuzz, and Book Date.

The Sunday Post #299

On The Blog Last Week

On The Blog This Week

  • On Tuesday, there's a book haul.

In My Reading Life

Last week, I finished Let's Talk About Hard Things by Anna Sale. This book is exactly what it says on the cover. It's a self-help book for how to talk about awkward topics. It's divided into 5 sections: "Death," "Sex," "Money," "Family," and "Identity." I learned the most from the "Money" section because I've never had to share a bank account with another person. I've never thought about what would happen if my future husband's spending habits were vastly different from my own. I don't know if I'll ever get married and share a bank account, but now I know about the conversations that need to happen before money is merged.

The "Family" section is the most relatable for me. My family is a freakin' disaster. The book put words to problems I've only thought about abstractly. I'm not ready to storm through a family member's front door and have an unpleasant conversation, but the book made me feel less alone. Other people have the exact same problems as me! Yay!

(Amusing side note: There's a story in the "Family" chapter about a woman who's trying to reconnect with her stepfather. Whenever she goes to his house, he turns off Fox News because he knows it gets on her nerves. What is this wizardry? 

My parents are hardcore Fox News addicts. It's on their TV 24 hours a day. I couldn't even get a break from it on my birthday! The sound is kept at a volume that will make your brain hemorrhage. Asking them to lower the volume is pointless because I'm "a snowflake who can't handle the truth."

I'm deducting stars from my rating of the book because it failed to teach me magic. You can't casually mention turning off Fox News and get my hopes up like that!)

Anyway, back to the point: I think this book would be a great gift for a recent high school or college graduate. It would prepare them for problems they might encounter later in life. Since I'm old, I didn't learn a ton from it. I've already floundered my way through difficult conversations and learned from experience. I wish I had this book 10 or 15 years ago. It would have been very helpful.

Then I read The Animals At Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey. This was my most-anticipated release of 2020. I finally found a used copy I could afford and read it immediately. I was not disappointed. 
If you love gothic books or Victorian sensation novels, then you need to read this one! It's got the vibes of a classic, but it's written in modern times and set during WWII. It follows two women. One works for a museum and is in charge of repairing taxidermy animals. The other is the sheltered heiress of Lockwood Manor. Their paths cross when the museum collection is moved to Lockwood Manor to protect it from German bombs.

This novel has everything you'd expect from a Victorian sensation classic: unexpected deaths, madness, forbidden romance, plot twists, untrustworthy servants, arrogant men, ghosts, bad weather, a creepy atmosphere, frustratingly slow pacing. It's a mash-up of all the greatest hits.

Actually, this book is like a museum for other books. As you wander through it, you see bits of Jane EyreRebeccaThe Woman In White, etc. If you're familiar with those classics, then the plot twists in Lockwood Manor are predictable, but I had enough fun spotting the similarities that I didn't care.

did care that the author switches between two first-person perspectives. The voices of the two characters are so similar that I sometimes forgot whose point-of-view I was reading. This isn't a book you can put down in the middle of a chapter. You won't remember whose head you're in when you pick it up again.

That's my only complaint. I really like this one! It's atmospheric and creative.

Next, I read Beauty In The Broken Places: A Memoir Of Love, Faith, And Resilience by Allison Pataki. I discovered that I'm not the target audience for this book. I picked it up because I'm interested in medical nonfiction, and this one sounded fascinating.

While the author was pregnant, she decided to visit Hawaii with her husband. Shortly after their plane took off, her husband asked if his eye looked weird. Then he lost consciousness. The plane made an emergency landing, and doctors discovered that her husband had suffered a rare type of stroke. Her memoir is about the challenge of going through pregnancy and taking care of a newborn while also helping her husband recover.

The author says (several times) that she writes to help herself make sense of her life. I think that's my problem with the book. This story is for the author and not for random strangers. The chapters remind me of Facebook updates that are written to let family members know what's going on. The writing style is bland. Most of the "characters" are just names with no personality attached. The memoir is a straightforward retelling of events without much insight or analysis. The events are terrifying, but I wasn't sure what I was supposed to learn from reading about them.

For example, at the time of the stroke, the author's husband was a medical student. He comes from a family of doctors. The author's father is a former governor of New York. When her husband had the stroke, her father was campaigning to become president of the United States. She talks about her celebrity friends and the properties her family owns. She's obviously not hurting for money or support. She was able to get her husband the best medical care and spend months sitting by his bedside and helping with his rehab.

I'm glad he recovered, but her story is not reality for the majority of Americans. Since she doesn't examine the world outside of herself, I'm not sure how other people's experience with the medical system would differ from hers. What if you have a 9-5 office job and are now the sole provider for your family? What if your insurance sucks and won't pay for months of living at a rehab center?

By the end of this book, I felt like I'd crashed a family reunion for a family I'd never met. I was listening to their stories and wondering what I was doing there. I'm not the target audience for this book, which is fine. Not every book is for every reader.

Right now, I'm reading Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. This book has been sitting on my shelf for years because it's scary. It's fantasy, and it's thick. I don't always have the best luck with massive fantasy books. So far, it's about a teenage girl who has been blessed by Death. She's living at a convent and working as an assassin. Kind of weird, but I'm enjoying it.

In The Rest Of My Life

Five things that made me happy last week:

  1. Hunting for 4-leaf clovers with Baby Brooklyn. My town "hid" cardboard clovers for kids to find. If you find a clover, you take a selfie with it and are entered to win prizes. We only found 1 because 3-year-olds don't have the patience to wander all over creation in search of cardboard clovers.
  2. It was my birthday on Friday. Cake and burritos happened.
  3. I got a sports watch for my birthday last year. It informed me that I've walked and run a total of 966.6 miles in the past year. It also informed me that I'm still chubby.
  4. I've been applying for jobs. One of them finally contacted me and said that my application made it through their first round of screenings. I've submitted the paperwork for round 2. I have no idea how many rounds it takes to get this job.
  5. For some reason, YouTube thought I needed to see this Old English translation of the song "Pumped Up Kicks." I like the Old English version better than the Modern English version. I guess morbid songs about school shootings just sounded cooler in 1066 A.D.

I Want Friends For My Birthday

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Take care of yourselves and be kind to each other. See you around the blogosphere!


  1. I read Beauty in the Broken Places a couple of years ago and don't remember anything stellar about it, so I get your point of view. The book Lockwood Manor sounds like a fun one. I've read all the stories that you say you can spot in it but that just makes it interesting. Sorry your family wouldn't turn off Fox News for your birthday... family members should accommodate each other's feelings.

  2. Good luck with the job prospect! And good luck with the volume on Fox News, lol.

  3. Happy birthday! I am curious about the book "Let's Talk About Hard Things." Family and money strike a chord with me, too. From my experience, sharing a bank account with another person is the worst thing! In my first marriage, we did, and I hated it. In the second one we had separate bank accounts. That worked. LOL

    Enjoy your week, and here are my WEEKLY UPDATES

  4. Happy (belated) birthday! Hooray for cake and burritos!

  5. Happy belated Birthday AJ! And that's amazing that you walked/ran so much in a year!

  6. It would certainly be nice to read a book to help make our way through hard things. It sounds like this one is pretty good. Maybe there are just some hard things that we have no good way of dealing with (like having the parents turn off Fox News?)

    Happy birthday! Sending good thoughts and prayers that the job opens up for you.

  7. I have Grave Mercy as an ebook. Ignorance is bliss when I can't see how thick it is. Cake and burritos sound like a winning birthday to me, and the clover hunt is adorable. How fun! Congratulations on making it through to round two. I hope all rounds go well for you.

  8. Ha ha! I love that meme. My husband would modify it a bit for me. He'd take away "about books" as I'm a chatter box, lol. But, I do love talking about books, obviously. GRAVE MERCY is on my TBR. I hope you enjoy it. :D Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier.

  9. Late Happy Birthday! Hope it was good :)

  10. All of these are new to me. I hope you enjoy Grave Mercy and that it's not too scary or feels too long. Have a great week!

  11. I loved that whole series about nun assassins by Robin LeFever but I listened to all 5 of them on audio. I hope the job hunt goes well.

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

  12. Uggh...I'm not a huge fan of Fox News or any news for that matter. I can see your frustrations with that.

    Here’s my Sunday Post!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

  13. Happy birthday! Hope it was a nice one.

    The FOX News thing I can relate to. My mom doesn't watch Fox (because she doesn't have cable) but she gets clips sent to her by my helpful aunt and she watches Youtube prophets too (yes that's a thing). So... yeah. :)

  14. Happy Birthday!! I love when you said, "because 3-year-olds don't have the patience to wander all over creation in search of cardboard clovers." It's just so true!!

  15. Happy Birthday! Good luck with the job. I have a sports watch, too, and it never has anything nice to say. LOL

    Have a great week!

  16. Happy birthday! And good luck with the job.

  17. Happy Birthday!
    Friending you on goodreads :)

    I really like that Grave Mercy cover.

  18. Oh yes, merging money is hard - especially if one of you is a saver/no to little debt and the other is a spender! Happy Birthday! I have chosen to describe myself as "voluptuous", instead! :) Good luck with your job!

  19. Interesting assortment of books. I read Grave Mercy but didn't go on to the sequels. I hope you like it. Happy birthday! Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  20. Happy Birthday, hope you had a great time. I do love a good fantasy book so will check out Grave Mercy. I've not read many of the classics so would probably be surprised by the twists in The Animals of Lockwood Manor. I hope ALL your books are winners this week.

  21. Ooo The Animals at Lockwood Manor sounds fantastic!!!

    Happy Birthday!

  22. Happy belated birthday, Aj - I hope you had a lovely day! 🎂 Also looks like you have been doing some great, eclectic reading - I really like the sound of The Animals At Lockwood Manor. Take care, happy reading and good luck with the job! 🙂

  23. I really liked GRAVE MERCY when I read it several years ago. I didn't read on in the series, however. My Monday reading list

  24. I genuinely fear that if I were in your situation, I'd have long ago put my fist through the aforementioned loud television. And be perilously close to putting it through the actual parent. I am so sorry that you have to deal with that. But onto brighter topics- happy belated birthday!! Cake and burritos sounds perfect! I am also cackling at the Ye Olde Pumped Up Kicks heh. My fingers are crossed for you with the job stuff, too- they should truly be more specific about the number of "rounds" we're talking about here, too!

  25. Happy belated birthday! I am very interested in reading The Animals of Lockwood Manner, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  26. Happy belated birthday :-). and good luck with the job hunt.

  27. Blocking Fox News on their less tech savvy parents/grandparents television during a visit seems to be a popular move on Twitter. Apparently it works particularly well if they are skinflints because they won’t pay anyone to come out and see what’s wrong, so become Fox free.

    Wishing you a great reading week

  28. Hello, I am visiting via Sunday Salon. I really enjoyed your post and I hope your birthday is fabulaous! Great books you listed. Funny story about the Fox news station!

  29. A belated Happy Birthday to you! And sorry that your folks didn't see fit to bother to even cancel the sound on Fox News:(. I have a family member who tends to obsessively follow the News when her anxiety levels are high - even though she's aware it isn't good manners...

    I hope you have a good week, AJ.

  30. Good luck with the job application. That's an exhausting but exciting process.

  31. Ack! I feel for having Fox News on all the time at your house! You definitely need some magic or some really good earplugs! Yay for cake burritos! Have a great week!