76: Delicious!

Delicious! By Ruth Reichl

I don’t know what made me look up Ruth’s books on Libby the other day, but I did and noticed that she had a work of fiction I’d never read (or even heard of). I downloaded it and immediately texted my sister-in-law asking if she wanted to buddy read it with me. She said yes, then started it before I managed to.

It’s delightfully delicious. I know you shouldn’t use a word to define itself, but the adjective defines this book by the same title. Billie (also Willie in the book) goes to NYC to find herself. And find herself she does. I laughed, I teared up, I gasped out loud, I helped solve a mystery, I got hungry, I longed to travel, and much more.

If I made a top ten list of books I’ve read in a year, this would make the 2020 list. Go get it, you won’t be disappointed (unless of course you hate good food, then this book isn’t for you)!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

72: Home Work

Home Work by Julie Andrews

I listened to this over the course of about 6 months. Why’d it take me so long? Mostly because for the previous 2 months I haven’t been in the car very much, so I had less time to listen.

I love Julie Andrews as an actress so I was eager to hear her history. This memoir begins around age 18, with a quick review of her previous memoir that discusses her childhood. I only knew of a few of the movies she’s been in like Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music.

It was okay, not amazing, but that could also be because of how I listened to it (and read part because one disc was damaged). So if you’re curious about her life, I recommend! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

69: The Antidote for Everything

The Antidote for Everything by Kimmery Martin

Kimmery is a local Charlotte author, which is such a delight to read. I also watched part of her Stay At Home Book Tour with Anne Bogel earlier this quarantine which prompted me to put this eBook on hold from the library.

I’ve got a lot of thoughts on this book, most of which I can’t write here because it would be so controversial. The main plot is that Jonah, a gay man, treats many patients in his primary care practice who are transgender and the clinic he works for doesn’t like people with either of these lifestyles.

So they set out to destroy him by firing his patients and then firing him. In the midst of all of this someone is stealing drugs from the clinic, the person doing it lets everyone believe it’s Jonah.

Then we have Georgia, his best friend, and the narrator of this story. She’s offended that they’re firing some of her patients too and that this is trying for her friend. I wanted to like her through the whole book, but she makes some terrible decisions. She’s not really the saint or the hero of this book. This made it a compelling read, but hard to root for the guy who’s being discriminated against because he and his best friend do some terrible things to “make everyone see it their way.”

Nonetheless, it’s still ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.

There’s also a romance in this book, but closed door.

65: Our Lady of the Roses

Our Lady of the Roses by Janice Palko

This was recommended to me by an author who’s work I love and a IRL friend. They both loved it. It was free on Apple Books a few weeks ago (a platform for reading I don’t particularly like, btw) so I downloaded it. I have so many mixed feelings about this book. Beware there might be some spoilers below…

I loved that it was a Catholic story that included Rome (a city I adore) and the Churches and food of Rome. I was just there, so it was like going back. That was delightful. Although they got lost getting from St. Peter’s to the Castle, which is literally at the end of the road. They ended up on Pio Borgo, which is the street I stayed on … but lost on the way to the Castle? There’s literally a wall that guides you there … you might even be able to see it while on the street.

I loved the chapter where the main character goes to confession. No one writes that well, and this author wrote it out from start to finish, which was beautifully done and quite moving. The chapter that follows on the Scala Santa was also great.

The dialogue was at times just not good. The references to Italian culture felt demeaning at times and hard to read. Even the main character wasn’t my favorite person. More concerned with bella figura than actual character and substance.

On the other hand the parts with St. Joseph were quite delightful. I really love the sleeping St. Joseph and wish I had purchased one (or more) when I was in Rome earlier this year. Him speaking to Janetta was really great and guiding her.

The book is very Catholic until the author messes up the commandments, which isn’t a big deal, but it bugs me because it’s a difference between Catholics and Protestants. I forced our Confirmation kids to know these for years so I’ve got them drilled down, in order. Stealing is 7, Adultery is 6.

So mixed thoughts and I can’t even give it a rating. I’m not even sure I recommend it. I’m just on the fence. So if you read it and love it, let me know. If you’ve got mixed thoughts, I’d love to know I’m not alone!

My COVID-19 Boundaries

just a great pic from my trip last month

I’ve been consuming news and social media at a higher rate than normal, much like others and more than I typically do. I’m happy to be part of many online communities that were just additions to my daily life before now … but now are my community and interactions. Not every state is in the same place regarding social distancing and self-quarantining at this moment, but we are in the beginning of a global pandemic. It’s not an exaggeration or an over blown thing the government is ‘spouting off this week.’

So after scrolling Facebook and seeing someone (who is officially employed by the Church) saying things like the “government can’t force us to not have Mass, it’s a violation of our rights” and then continuing to spout off a lot of stuff that’s not helpful, nor scientific. Everyone believes they’re an expert, but the only thing I’m actually an expert in is me and the boundaries I need right now. So these are my boundaries right now to keep myself sane.

Limiting Who I’m Informed By: I’ve got to limit my news sources. I’ve chosen a few for coverage like the New York Times, Washington Post, and NPR. The 1st and 3rd are my regular news sources, but I don’t need all-day coverage. I also don’t need sensationalized coverage.

With this I need to stay off Facebook because my news feed is just a cease-pool of humanity (also composed of my friends and family … but they are not at their best on that platform). I’m staying on Instagram, but muting and un-following people who are negatively contributing to my mental health and emotional stability.

Social Media Usage: And following people who are providing hope and light right now. My favorite new follow is: Good Good Good. Kristen Bell and Rachel Hollis area also great follows for joy and goodness. There are lots of amazing spiritual life posts that I can’t help but share in my stories, so if you want to get them too, just follow me! I’m also participating in Blessed is She’s VBS (Virtual Bible Study) on Luke that started today. Which leads to my next area.

Being Intentional About Spiritual Life: It would be easy to stay home from Mass and do nothing. We’ve been excused of our obligation and some might take that to mean they can begin sleeping in on Sunday. I found a Mass that I could watch at a specific time for Sunday Mass and prayed the Rosary beforehand like I typically do at the parish. Looking for a new Mass though that’s live streamed and not previously recorded or even “produced” in any way. I just want to attend Mass with a community, with a moment of prayer during Communion. I think this is the one I’m going to attend from home next Sunday: Mass from America’s Catholic Church. I’ve also really appreciated this live stream of Eucharistic Adoration.

Staying Active: I made a commitment months ago that I was going to work out for 30 minutes every day, and I still am. Morning yoga has been my jam for the past few weeks while recovering from a cold I got while traveling (I’m better now), but later this week I’m going to add my cardio/strength routine back in. I’m not letting this be a time of staying up late and then sleeping in late … my alarm’s still set for 6:20 am. Walking outside when possible, while also social distancing.

Cleaning All the Things: I’ve been needing to clean my shower and bathroom and bedroom and whole house really for a while. So I started with a deep clean of my bedroom and bathroom on Saturday. Curtains, sheets, vacuuming behind things, etc. I even cleaned my shower, which does not regularly get cleaned while I’m getting cleaned. Then my office, guest bath, and hallway the next day. Next step is downstairs!

Reading All the Things: I’m also reading more (I know, more?! How?!). I gave up TV for Lent, so I’m trying not to watch movies and shows and instead pick up a book. I wish I’d grabbed a whole shelf when I was at the library last week, but alas I’ve got many books that are unread on my bookshelves. Probably enough books to last 26 weeks of quarantining instead of the 2-6 that we’re going to have to do. So if you need a book, let me know! Also the library does eBook lending via Libby and Hoopla, so there’s an unending supply should I run out of reads. I do have a favorite books I might re-read like Kara Isaac’s Christian Rom-Com’s. I also could dive deep into Anne of Green Gables, the antidote to a global pandemic since she’s just so delightful!

It’s really only day 3, the 3rd day of being 35 and I’m so grateful I was able to celebrate my birthday last week. Never before has a birthday brought in “such a new day” right afterward. Here’s to a few weeks of quarantining and social distancing to hopefully be back to normal by Mid-April? May? The summer? Soon!

190: The Boston Girl

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

I just noticed that this author also wrote The Red Tent, a book I’ve been wanting to read for years and have even checked it out of the library a few times and still haven’t read.

But back to this book … which I listened to on audio in the car and LOVED. Addy is speaking to her granddaughter but the entire book is in her voice at age 85 and not really dialogue. It was fabulous. The narrator sounds like an older grandmother and it was just perfect.

The book felt like a memoir, but it’s a novel. It was so interesting to learn about life in the 1910s, 20s, and 30s. I loved hearing about how she lived through a time when women weren’t able to do much, but she lived her life against the grain. Overall such a great listen to!

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

183: The Lola Quartet

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

One of favorite books from this year was Station Eleven. So I was excited to check out another one of her novels. I feel like Gavin is also a character in Station Eleven but I can’t quite remember.

Neither here nor there though. The story follows Gavin, Anna, and Chloe. They don’t really know each other – well Gavin doesn’t know Anna and Chloe, but he gets mixed up with a shady situation. Daniel, Sasha, and Jack (all from their high school group called “The Lola Quartet”) are involved as well.

The story walks through what happens when one bad decision at 16 (well a series of them actually) comes back to haunt you 10 years later. It’s not simple or easy to reconcile, but it’s necessary. Not everyone comes to grips with it well.

I really liked this book, but the timelines were a little hazy. You had to really be paying attention … maybe why it took me a week to read it. Overall excellent and ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.