Sutro Baths, San Francisco
What a mixed bag January has been. I'm trying to focus on the positive: time with good friends, banding together for the Women's March, and getting to go back to San Francisco for a few days. It rained most of my trip but there were a few key moments when the rain held off and I'm taking that metaphor and running with it.
Read and Reading
What an experience Heartless (Meyer) was! I kept wanting to yell, "DON'T DO THAT!" with Catherine's every decision and action. We know this is the Queen Of Heart's origin story but she starts out so hopeful, it was hard to see where the evolution of bad choices took her. I absolutely loved Jest's character and what he brought out in Cath. I also loved the Poe references with Raven's character. I've never read Lewis Carroll's Alice books but this made me want to because I know I was missing out on so many insider references. I was working off of faded memories of the Disney movie but this was still a satisfying, if heartbreaking, read.
Add me to the chorus of people gushing over this The Hating Game (Thorne)! SO. FREAKING. GOOD. The writing is snappy and fresh. The plot is inventive and oh so clever. (The Or Something Game? Be still my heart.) I loved loved loved Lucy and Josh's interactions, seeing how they moved from being work enemies to possibly something more. The way Josh looked out for her, especially when she got sick, was wonderful, even if it took Lucy longer to catch on. And oh my word, I'll never look at a certain shade of blue the same way again. I cannot believe this is the author's debut! Fantastic. Even if you're not much for romance novels, this one is well worth reading.
The Gamble was my first Kristen Ashley but it definitely won't be the last. Within a few pages, I knew it was going to be a 5 star book and the feeling only grew stronger as the plot progressed. It just kept getting better and better! Even now, a week after I finished, I cannot handle how much I loved this one. It made me laugh and cry. I loved watching Max and Nina get to know each other and then take a chance on love. Max's persistence and determination was downright endearing and I adored watching Nina win over the whole town, calamities aside. The couple had more than a few obstacles to overcome and my heart was in my throat for a couple of them. I fervently hope men like Max really exist because I am still swooning over him. If a real life version appeared at my door, I would be set for life. I didn't even care that Ashley gave him hardly any flaws- seeing how good he was for Nina was enough for me. The resolution was more than satisfying. I can't wait to read more of this series!
If you've already read A Court Of Mist And Fury (book 2 in the Court Of Thorns And Roses series), then please go read my spoilery review on Goodreads and let me know your thoughts. Maas blew me away. Seriously.
I'll have a full review up sometime this month but go ahead and get a copy of They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America's Racial Justice Movement by journalist Wesley Lowery now. 5 stars.
Meghan March keeps outdoing herself! The Real Duet (Real Good Man and Real Good Love) was fantastic. Banner is such a fun and funny heroine. She had so many memorable, laugh out loud lines. Logan was my kind of hero. I loved how he knew what he wanted and went after it. Their chemistry was unreal! The romance between those two would have been enough but I really appreciated the mystery March built up in the background. I don't know many romance authors who explore the way meth is ruining towns but this was quite an effective plot device and it worked well. Nearly impossible to put down! I can't wait to see what Meghan comes up with next.
Currently reading: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Alexander), The Art Of Happiness (Dalai Lama), A Mind Of Winter (poetry), Kulti (Zapata), The Sun Is Also A Star (Yoon)
(I read 32 books this month.)
I haven't had access to TV and I've had either no or very limited internet for most of this month so I'm behind on all my shows. It's like the dark ages, man. But when I'm back in the wired world, I plan on watching the new season of Sherlock and catching up on Jane The Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and maybe giving This Is Us one last shot.
Listen to the What I'm Into playlist.
The discussion of teen soaps vs. teen dramas on Riverdale and Other Teen Soaps is a perfect example of why I love listening to Pop Culture Happy Hour.
Listen to The Popcast’s #177: The Depiction Of Family In Culture so you can hear Jamie say, “VC Andrews this mess.” I’m still cracking up! (There isn't a way to link to the specific episode right now but you can find it on their website or in your podcast app.)
I have truly appreciated, from the bottom of my heart, the way Overdue has not shied away from political talk the past few months. Yes, it’s a podcast about books but of course books are impacted by politics. Episode 220 on the US Constitution made for fascinating listening.
So much single lady solidarity for Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Episode #229: Romance, Dating, and Very Real Expectations: An Interview with Alisha Rai. Rai has been on my To Read list for a while and this made me want to move her books up to the top.
I haven’t stopped thinking about The Law of Attraction on The Lively Show. The origin and application is so different from what I thought (hint: it’s not The Secret.) In fact, I plan on listening to it again and taking notes and then pestering friends into discussing it.
It was so fun listening to Rachel Bloom on Off Camera with Sam Jones! I love her show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.
#607: Didn’t We Solve This One? from This American Life is required listening. For real. My grammar school classmate Kirk Johnson is featured in the second half of the show. I’ve written about his book To Be A Friend Is Fatal before and if you haven’t read it, you really should. He just joined Twitter and is a great source of information regarding refugees, specifically those who worked as interpreters or in other roles for the US government.
- My friend’s husband made me scrambled eggs in the shape of Minnesota. Or as we liked to call it: Minneggsota. It was quite impressive.
- I cat-sat for Gus again. If it’s going to be negative degrees outside, it’s good to stay inside with a giant cat warming your lap.
- My friend Micah hosted a gathering and I finally got to meet him and Ben face to face. That’s the wondrous nature of internet friendships.
- My birthday plans got snowed out and I was pretty bummed. But it was nice to get texts and phone calls all day and I ate chocolate chip cookie dough to celebrate. (If you're dairy-free, track down some Just Cookie Dough and thank me later. You can find it at Target.)
- A few days later, Annie and I celebrated my birthday at 112 Eatery. I drank an Old Fashioned and ate all kinds of amazing things, like tartalle with foie gras meatballs. The staff wished me a happy birthday the whole night and it felt like a good way to usher in 37.
- Kim Van Brunt and I figured out a Barnes & Noble that was about halfway between us and met up for coffee. It was so good to catch up! I’m so happy we live in the same state now.
- One of my goals for this year is to catch up on all my doctor visits because I have been very delinquent. I found a PA and checked my annual off the list. Plus, I really liked her and how often can you say that about a doctor’s visit?
- My work flew me out to San Francisco to train my replacement. I’m still looking for full-time work in the Twin Cities so it’s a little stressful to lose a source of income. But I was THRILLED to be back! I stayed with Chris and Micha and it was just like old times. When I got to the house, Ezra the Cat looked at me like, “where have you been all this time?! I forgive you, never leave me again.”
- Kayla came over and we ordered takeout from my favorite Chinese place and caught up on life and talked about being Fours. It was perfect.
- I met Rachel for breakfast sandwiches at Devil’s Teeth (be still my heart) and then we walked down to the ocean. It was chilly and the waves were crazy from all the rain but the sun came out as we walked back. Also perfect.
- My friends Christy and Johnny had a baby couple of months ago and I finally got to meet her! She let me hold her for the whole visit, falling asleep off and on in my arms. I wanted to keep her but my friends didn’t agree. Oh well!
- Laura P. and I headed to the Women’s March together. We were supposed to meet one group of friends but got distracted by the baby. So we found a different group of friends instead. It rained a lot and it was cold but that didn’t diminish the joy or sense of hope in the crowd. I loved looking at all the signs and just the sheer number of people who showed up to say we are not OK with Trump. Beyond encouraging.
- After the march, Laura, Julie, Daniel, and I had dinner at Yummy Yummy. I had pho and it was the most perfect thing to eat while I drip-dried. Delectable.
- I loved getting to catch up with my coworkers! It was so nice to see everyone and, of course, to have people excited to see me. Matt didn’t know I was going to be at the staff meeting and afterward he said when he saw me, he thought “this must be how the disciples felt when Jesus was resurrected.” I could not stop laughing. Who can ever top that compliment?! I worked with the best people and it was great to be back at the Russian Center Sunday morning and then in the office for a couple of days. A little bittersweet, too, because I’m going to miss working with everyone but I know they’re in good hands.
- My cousins Clara and Emily and their families had me over for lunch. It’s been ages since I’ve seen them so it was just plain good to be together and reminisce and rant about politics. Clara’s kids are the cutest and I can’t handle how big they’re getting.
- My cousin Nick (other side of the family) and I hit up my personal trifecta: Holy Gelato, Green Apple Books, and Sutro Baths. I was bummed his girlfriend was out of town (in Nashville of all places!) but it was also nice to have the 1:1 time. Nick is such a great guy and one of the reasons I was sad about moving away.
- Speaking of staying with Chris and Micha, I got all kinds of snuggles with Ace. He is moving around and chattering like a champ. I cannot even believe it! It was also great fun to see the other boys and hear what’s new with them. We had a family dinner my last night in town and all was right with the world again. Love them all so much!
- I went to my favorite pho place both Monday and Tuesday- first with Lydia and then with my team at work. I probably could have eaten there for every meal while I was in SF. SO GOOD.
- Laura Turner and I had grand plans of roaming the Mission but when push came to shove, we decided on a cozy night in. We had soup and hot toddies and watched a few episodes of The Good Place and it was just what we needed. She’s my favorite. As is her dog.
- My last morning in town, Micha and I headed down to Devil’s Teeth. Not only did I get one last breakfast sandwich, I got a ginger cookie, raspberry pop tart, and soft pretzel. I’m a long-time ginger cookie fan but was a newcomer to their pop tarts and pretzels and they were insanely amazing. Much better than anything I could have found in the airport.
- Ben, Dianna, and I met up at Workhorse Coffee. It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Dianna so it was fun to see her again. It was good to commiserate and talk about life and worry about our country’s future and then talk about how to stay sane while we worry.
- I met up with an old friend from high school for dinner at Good Earth. Karin and I realized we haven’t seen each other since we graduated almost 20 years ago (how???) but it was like that time hadn’t passed at all. We might as well have been sitting in art class again. Except I like the grown up versions of us even better.
In the Blogosphere:
You can find the best of what I've been reading at Storify.
It'll take more than a little rain to back San Francisco down. I'll never forget marching with this throng of women and men today. It's darkest before dawn but after seeing so many people represent, surely light is on the horizon. The people united will never be defeated.
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
On The Blog:
I waved my freak flag high and proud and told you how I read 313 books last year. I'm still pretty astonished.
On the Leigh Kramer FB page, we expressed different opinions about Jess (to which I plug my ears and say lalalalala!) and you all loved this quote on libraries as much as I did. Plus, World Introvert Day.
(The best way to see updates in your newsfeed is by liking and commenting on my posts regularly.)
What I'm Into Link Up Guidelines:
1. Today’s link-up will stay open for one week. The next What I'm Into link up will be Wednesday March 1.
2. Link the unique URL of your post, not your blog's home page. Readers peruse link ups months after the fact and you want to make it easy for them to find your What I'm Into post.
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What have you been into this month?
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