No Buy Week Done

I started this week with a flub. On Monday, I returned multiple Amazon returns, a couple of Target items, and took an Athleta item to the store. They now carry my size in the store. I turned into this meme. I tried on a bunch of stuff and was able to eliminate several items I’d been thinking about because I got to try them on. I still left with a sports bra and a cropped hoodie.

I am on the fence about keeping or returning the hoodie. I need to try it on again when it’s not so damn warm. The sports bra is a tiny bit big in the band but it will do for now. Newer Athleta has high resale ability on Poshmark.

What killed my no buy is that it got pretty warm today. Our building won’t turn on the AC for a few more weeks. Our 11th floor unit gets hit with the afternoon sun. I ended up getting overheated today and do not have enough clothes to cope if this happens a few days in a row. I need bike shorts, a couple of sports bras, and summer lounge pants/capris. I’m putting the no buy on hold so I can stock up on the items I need and will try again this summer.

I’m disappointed but life is hard enough when I get sick from the weather. I don’t need to make it harder.

Casual Challenge Quarterly Update

Since life has been a bit demanding, I opted to make these updates quarterly. It gives me enough time to actually read things but not totally neglect my vague efforts to read things.

Personal Challenge

Author is a POC – The Wedding Date
Author is a woman – You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
Audiobook – A Very Punchable Face
Graphic Novel – Fantastic Tales of Nothing
Library Book – Mexican Gothic
Mythology or Fairytale – A Whole New World
YA – The Cousins

I was able to check off quite a few boxes for my personal list and I’m quite happy about it.

PopSugar Challenge

Published in 2021 – Unfinished
Heart, diamon, club or spade on cover – The Wedding Date
Book about forgetting – Empire of Wild
Same title as a song – A Whole New World
Features 3 generations – The Cousins
Different format – You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
Fewer than 1000 reviews – Fantastic Tales of Nothing
Shortest Book on my TBR – My Little Occult Book Club
Ugliest cover on my TBR – Alien: Out of the Shadows

I was genuinely surprised there wasn’t a longer waitlist for Priyanka Chopra Jonas’s audiobook at my library. The heart was easy since I decided to read a romance by a black woman in February. I can’t say more without spoilers but forgetting plays a crucial role in Wild. World is a dark reimagining about what would have happened if things had gone differently in Aladdin. It’s the first in a series and most, but not all, use song titles from their respective movies.

Cousins is centered around grandkids attempting to get their parents back into their estranged mother’s good graces. A perk of recommending books at one of my libraries is immediately getting put on the waitlist if they decide to order them. I was able to switch from audio to ebook for this which is great since the book referenced photos a few times. It’s the first time I’ve done that so I think it counts. Nothing was not well known but I hope it becomes well known. It’s by 2 female writers from Mexico and I’m very excited to see what happens.

Occult is a collection of Steven Rhodes black humor nostalgia designs. If you’re unfamiliar, I highly recommend checking them our and buying a shirt or 12. Ugliest cover was easy. How about the one with a xenomorph on it?

Book Riot Read Harder

Genre by indigenous author – Empire of Wild

It’s always harder to unintentionally read things on this list but I was quite impressed when I did manage to check off the first one. Unfortunately, it’s the only one. When they say read harder, they’re not kidding.

Reading Glasses

Indigenous author – Empire of Wild
Review a bookstore – my favorite local indie
Review a book by a POC – reviewed Unfinished on GoodReads

At least this list is shorter so only checking off one book isn’t too bad. My review about One More Page was honest and glowing. I was happy to spread the love. I didn’t have a ton to say about Unfinished but I left a short review. I’m still surprised Chopra isn’t a bigger deal in the U.S. I genuinely do want to read a bit of poetry but I worry it will lose something on an ereader. I’m still working on my wheelhouse but I’ve got some of it nailed down.

Professional Book Nerds

2020 debut you didn’t read in 2020 – A Very Punchable Face
Different format – You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
Author interviewed on PBN – The Wedding Date

Different format seems to be going around. Maybe that’s a new thing people are trying as a result of the pandemic? PBN generates so much content that old episodes regularly fall off various podcasting apps. Fortunately, their entire history is available online. I was able to enjoy their interview with Jasmine Guillory as the second book in the Wedding Date series. I should try and read that this spring. It starts at a baseball game so it’s the right season for it.

I need to relisten to the episode about this year’s challenge. Is it your current city or state or original city or state? This would give me 2 states to work with.

The 52 Book Club

Dual timeline – The Cousins
Published by Penguin – The Wedding Date
Author with 1 published book – The Fantastic Tales of Nothing
Book in the 900s of the Dewey decimal system – A Very Punchable Face
Title starting with a D – Devolution
Features an exotic animal – A Whole New World
Ending surprises you – Empire of Wild
Book they should read in schools – You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey
Author is a POC – Unfinished
Character has a pet cat – Alien: Out of the Shadows
Includes a garden – Mexican Gothic

In addition to being a family saga, Cousins goes back and forth between the past and the present. The Dewey decimal system sounds intimidating until you realize it’s where all memoirs live. Features an exotic animal has some strong Tiger King vibes so I was happy to be able to fill it with an actual tiger. If you’ve read Mexican Gothic, you’ll know how fun it is to mention gardens.

I did pretty well for only reading what I wanted. I even managed to enjoy an Audie award winner. I think I’m going to have a little less success going forward but I’m going to enjoy this win for now.

March Wrap-Up and April TBR

This wasn’t my most prolific month but I’m happy with what I got read. There were lots of days when I didn’t have the brain power to tackle anything. In addition to dealing with a little person and a kitchen renovation, work was quite busy.

My son has hit the phase where he wants to read the same book 4 times in a row. I hear this eventually stops but not for many years. He’s a grabby brute so I don’t trust him around paper. These two things add up to us reading the same board books over and over again. It’s unlikely I’ll have anything new to add for baby books for a while but he enjoys being read to so it’s a win.

March Wrap-Up

Devolution by Max Brooks

A more detailed review is here but I loved it. 5/5

Empire of Wild by Cherie Dimaline

Fascinating, well written with a hint of poetry, and very compelling. CW: animal cruelty. I wanted 10% more of a lore explanation but it all made sense. The latter half with slap you in the feels. 4/5

I Think I’m Pregnant by Mike Kanert

A collection of a web comic I follow. Fun, funny, and very relatable as a new mom. 5/5

Unfinished by Priyanka Chopra Jonas

I got this on audiobook from my library, especially enjoyable since it’s read by Chopra herself. I felt like she left out a bit more than necessary and wanted a few more misadventures. 4/5

A Whole New World by Liz Braswell

The first in the dark Disney sanctioned reimagining of various fairy tales. What if Jafar got to the genie instead of Aladdin? This is not for kids which made it a much more compelling story. I was definitely entertained. 4/5

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish How to Be an Anti-Racist before it was due back at the library. Since I tried the audiobook, it was bit jarring. The author pivots from spoken word style stories about his life to more academic tales from history. I wonder if it’s differentiated a bit better in print.

April TBR

To Have and To Hoax by Martha Waters

I started it and I’d like to finish it. A little regency levity is a nice change of pace.

Nomandland by Jessica Bruder

A nonfiction work on being broke and nomadic in modern America. Fascinating and sad. I’ve started it already on audio and the library will want it back. It’s a fascinating picture about how so many in our country are hanging by a thread. Not nearly enough has changed since Nickel and Dimed came out.

I’ll be adding quite a few books to my Kindle that I got electronically that weren’t sent to it automatically. Those plus my library holds mean I’ll have plenty of reading options. I’m trying to pair serious and/or depressing nonfiction with a lighter ebook. Two dark reads at once is more than I can handle after 2020. I’m a mood reader so we’ll see what moves me this coming month.

Life Lessons

Life is hard and many important lessons must be learned the hard way. Here are some I’ve learned. Hopefully, you can pass them along and someone can avoid learning them as hard as I did.

Fifth Date Questions

You’ve dated them long enough to think, “This could go somewhere.” Now it’s time to ask the difficult questions. Do you want kids (ever)? How do you feel about guns or recreational marijuana? Colorful sexual past? Don’t avoid them because you’re smitten and think you won’t like the answer. Save everyone heartache and time and ask your deal breaker questions.

If You’re Confused, (S)He’s Not That into You

If someone likes you, you’ll know. If they don’t, you’ll be confused. It really is that simple.

Fight Fair

Disagreements will happen. You will need to learn how to argue. If you fight to win, you’ve already lost. That logic wins the battle but loses the war.

You Can’t Get What You Don’t Ask For

You cannot expect your partner to know what you’re thinking or feeling. They’re not mind readers. Hints are passive-aggressive. No, they should not ‘just know.’ Be direct.

Functional Isn’t Dramatic

Good communication isn’t dramatic. Respect isn’t passionate. Good, functional relationships aren’t the stuff of movies or TV shows because those are boring to watch. The stuff of movies is not sustainable for a long time. How many shows or ‘romantic’ movies hinge on a simple miscommunication?

Bye Buy

The last few weeks have been quite good to me financially. Reddit messing with the stock market and driving up the price of silver enabled me to do some selling. I was able to pay off my credit card debt and have quite a bit leftover. I was able to get a new laptop and a few indulgences. More than a few.

I’m doing a no buy in the month of April. I got into the habit of indulging my wants and whims and that needs to die. It’s how I got into this mess and I need to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

No Books

This one should be easy. Between work, the tiny human, unpacking from the kitchen renovation, and being a functional adult, I haven’t been reading as much. Most of it has been eaudiobooks or ebooks, mostly free from the library. When I got my influx of money, I set aside $100 to be spent at my local indie bookstore. I focused on visual books or parenting books (I like to tab and share relevant sections with Hubs). Between my latest haul and the library books I can barely make time to read, I’m more than set.

No Bath or Beauty

I recently shopped around for cruelty free shampoos to add to my routine so I’m using up one bottle before moving to the next one. I’m experimenting with different lotions and body washes so those need to get used up. The pandemic means I’m not socializing so why bother with makeup?

No Music

Between audiobooks and podcasts, I don’t listen to music as often as I used to. During the day, I usually opt for (free) Spotify since I can run that through the TV. None of the preorders I have (2), none are coming out this month.

No Jewelry or Accessories

I’m great with the bags I’ve got. My work bag is slowly wearing out but I got a replacement a few months ago on sale knowing this day was coming. I’ve mostly stopped wearing jewelry and scarves until the spawn is less grabby. My mask set up is working well and I’ve got disposables just in case.

No Kickstarters

This is a weakness of mine. I like supporting art and creation and have had a quite a few good finds (ride or die for this). I need to take a break and no project is going to live or die by my small contribution.

No Clothes*

This is going to be my problem area. Nothing like making a person and stress eating through a pandemic to change your relationship with your closet. I’m a big fan of pinning what I’d like to try which has been a mix of wants and needs. Entirely too many of the active wear pieces I used to use all the time don’t fit by just enough to make it a problem. Another problem is that even with the stores open, plus size is a niche market. Active wear is a niche market. I’m looking for a niche within a niche. To the internet!

I’ve ordered and returned an absurd amount of clothing in addition to trying on all of my old pieces. I still need a 2 or so active tanks or tees but that’s the only exception*. Since I’ve had such bad luck, I’m sticking with new items so they can be returned.

I don’t need more lounge wear or PJs or graphic shirts. No thrifting or buying used. If what I want sells out between April 1-31, it wasn’t meant to be.

Another reason I want to do the no buy is because most online returns take a few weeks to process the return then the refund. After all that, it has to go through the bank. All of that takes time. I want to wait for it all to come back and see where I’m at.

I’ve tried a no buy before and failed miserably. The big difference is that there’s less temptation or need with a very distracting little person and a pandemic. Hopefully, this time it will actually stick.

Big Footprint

Devolution is Max Brooks’s novel about Big Foot. I haven’t read World War Z but I plan to after reading this.

Brooks did a lot of research. I could tell that going in but I didn’t realize just how much until I listened to his interview on the Professional Book Nerds podcast.

He researched how Mt. Rainer would erupt. He read multiple books on primate behavior so he could get the Sasquatch tribe right. The green technology, the conflict in Mostar’s home, the weapons. Brooks literally made some of the weapons he described.

I got this on audiobook and it was described as having a ‘full cast.’ Since it’s an epistolary novel, it’s just different actors voicing the interviews instead of an audioplay. Nathan Fillion is the brother, Jeff Daniels makes a brief cameo, and Judy Greer is the main voice reading the diary entries.

It was incredibly well done and having Greer be the only voice of the main action kept the full cast from being distracting. It was subtle and lent itself well to the story.

The story unsettles you in multiple ways. How unprepared we are for disasters. How dependent we are on technology and how little we can do if something takes it away. How tenuous survival is. The peril of no longer being at the top of the food chain.

I loved it. Now, if you’ll excuse me. I need to go buy some dried beans and duct tape. 5/5 stars

7 Sitcoms

I saw a social media post asking “If you were the star of WandaVision, what 7 sitcoms would influence your show?”

My sitcom viewing wasn’t spread out over all the eras of TV like Wanda’s was. It was pretty centered on the time I was in. However, I also grew up in the era of Nick at Nite airing actual old TV shows instead of 90s reruns.

I Love Lucy would be up there because I took a sitcom class in college and this show was a huge influence on the future of the format. I also enjoyed Happy Days but didn’t watch that as much.

Most of the shows I watched and liked from the 60s and 70s had some element of the fantastical. The Munsters, The Addams Family, Bewitched. Magic and monsters enticed me more than functional families. I did enjoy That 70’s Shoe but that was a modern show with a retro twist.

For the 80s, I like Golden Girls as an adult quite a bit. I saw some of Cheers but what really drew me in was the 90s Cheers spinoff Frasier.

The 90s were much more my era of sitcoms. Frasier, The Nanny, Boy Meets World, Step by Step, Home Improvement, Family Matters, Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I watched all of these but Sabrina was definitely my favorite. She was young and had magic. I tried Friends and Seinfeld multiple times but I never got into them or especially liked the characters.

The only big sitcoms from the 2000s were How I Met Your Mother, 30 Rock, and The Big Bang Theory. All entertaining and hugely popular at the time but haven’t aged as well as I would have hoped. I never saw much of Malcolm in the Middle.

The 2010s brought about my favorite sitcom The Good Place. Another fantastical sitcom about the afterlife. I tried The Office and Modern Family but didn’t love them as much as the rest of the world. I still need to try Parks and Rec and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. I’m about halfway through Schitt’s Creek and I can see why everyone loves it.

I Love Lucy, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and The Good Place would all be in my 7 which would render the translation moot. Wanda’s life was magical, dangerous, and extraordinary so her escape was normalcy. My life is very ordinary so my escape was fantastical. Using my sitcoms would require a rewriting of reality that might stretch even her chaos magic.

English Is Three Languages in a Trench Coat

English is nothing if not inconsistent. It’s a language that ambushes other languages in dark alleys and picks their pockets for loose grammar and spare vocabulary.

Whilst poking around the internet, I found this excellent example of one of the many ways this language can be such a nightmare to learn.

1) The bandage was wound around the wound.
2) The farm was used to produce produce.
3) The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4) We must polish the Polish furniture.
5) He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6) The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7) Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8) A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9) When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10) I did not object to the object.
11) The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12) There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13) They were too close to the door to close it.
14) The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15) A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line.
16) To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17) The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18) After a number of injections my jaw got number.
19) Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20) I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21) How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?

February Wrap-Up and March TBR

The shortest month that contains Black History month and Valentine’s Day. Despite a demanding small human, I managed to do a bit of reading for the occasion.

February Wrap-Up

The 2020 Commission Report on the North Korean Nuclear Attacks Against the United States: A Speculative Novel by Jeffrey Lewis, PhD

As someone who used to drive past the Pentagon regularly, this was not my best audiobook choice for January. I finished it early this month because I had to walk away. It’s so plausible and shows how dangerously close we were from disaster. Very unsettling and realistic 4/5

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Romance is making a big comeback and Guillory has been one of it’s big stars. This was her debut and it’s fun and will get you in the feels. It kicks off a whole universe so I’m excited to dive into the next book with these characters. 4/5

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus

A YA mystery about the grandchildren of a wealthy white New England family with more secrets than members. This book had a lot of twists and turns. Quite fun. 4/5

You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar

I’ve loved Amber Ruffin on Late Night with Seth Meyers for years so I was excited to dive into her book with her sister. This needs to be required reading for white. I was shocked, horrified, and heartbroken many times over. Moving, important, and still managed to be funny. 5/5

My Little Occult Book Club by Steven Rhodes

I love his dark humor so I was stoked when he had his first collection. The art I enjoyed and fun extras like spooky puzzles. 5/5

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Set in 1950s Mexico, Moreno-Garcia still managed to make a foggy, English manor house make sense. Erie, unsettling, and very compelling. 4.5/5

New books read with my kid

Jane Goodall Is a Friend to All by Kate Coombs
Ansel Adams and His Camera by Kate Coombs
Happy Hippo, Angry Duck by Sandra Boynton
Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book by Sandra Boynton

More books in the Little Naturalist series that we ordered from a local shop but were backordered. We’re also fans of Sandra Boynton. She’s pretty ubiquitous in the world of board books. Little man is getting more into looking at the books himself now which is pretty neat.

March TBR

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

I won this in a GoodReads giveaway and it seems like light fun.

Devolution by Max Brooks

I’m 2 hours away from done the audiobook

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

My audiobook hold for this came through and I’ll start it as soon as I finish Devolution.

I’ve got several library holds waiting and plenty of my own stuff to dabble in while I wait.

January Wrap-Up and February TBR

And so begins the year’s reading. The quantity I read was good and the quality wasn’t bad either.

A Very Punchable Face by Colin Jost

A very entertaining memoir from a very unassuming man. His life has had a lot of embarrassing mishaps and good fortune. I listened to the audiobook so there were a lot of pictures I missed out on but hearing him do a Staten Island accent was pretty hilarious. 4/5

Fantastic Tales of Nothing: Book 1 by Alejandra Green & Fanny Rodriguez

This showed up on my library’s recently added and looked fun. It’s a YA graphic fantasy novel with an interesting world and compelling characters. I love the punny names and the map. I’m just disappointed I’ll have to wait quite a while for the next book. 5/5

Alien: Sea of Sorrows by James A. Moore

I listened to the Audible dramatized version. It existed as a book first but it still feels odd counting it as a book. It was also a bit far fetched. Either way, it’s more content from a franchise I quite enjoy and it had Stockard Channing. 3.5/5

The Arrivals by Melissa Marr

A bunch of people throughout time are stranded on a strange desert world. This book had a lot of potential. It read like it occurred in the middle of a series. There were so many details missing that kept this book from being good. Skip it. 2.5/5

Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

I wasn’t sure how much story was left to tell after Ready Player One and I wasn’t optimistic for it after Armada. Cline managed to tell a great adventure story with high stakes. I enjoyed this. It didn’t have quite the same magic as the first one but was still good. 4/5

February TBR

Alone Together edited by Jennifer Haupt

A collection of essays I just started about life during the pandemic

Get a Clue by Tiffany Schmidt

The next installment in the Bookish Boyfriend series. Another light and easy read.

I’m hoping to read some thing by black authors but I have no idea when various library holds will become available. Fingers crossed.