When I think of February, I'll remember my niece pushing the pedals while my brother pushed her tricycle on the sidewalk. I'll remember the warm weight of my nephew in my arms as I swayed back and forth. I'll remember how I kept trying, no matter how many false starts and almosts life threw at me. I'll remember the unseasonably warm weather surprising us for a few days before February acted like itself again.
Read and Reading
I loved Yoon's first book so I could not wait to see where'd she take us in The Sun Is Also A Star. I'm usually skeptical of insta-love stories, especially when they take place over the course of the day, but Yoon made a believer out of me. I loved everything about the flukish way Daniel and Natasha met and the way their relationship grew, with all the ups and downs. I especially liked how the study about the 36 questions that can make people fall in love was incorporated. There are high stakes from the beginning due to Natasha and her family being deported that night and the themes related to immigration were incredibly powerful, particularly because Daniel's parents were immigrants too. We get to see all these different perspectives, making it incredibly relevant these days. I also liked how we got brief insights into the lives of other people Natasha and Daniel encountered. There was one moment toward the end that enraged me- and that's not hyperbole. To see how our actions and inactions dramatically impact the lives of others was in full effect here. This book was clever, funny, angsty, and moving. All of my favorite things in one.
I'm not at all familiar with Russian fairytales so The Bear and the Nightingale (Arden) completely captivated me. While it's about Frost, the winter demon, it turned out to be a larger meditation on faith, superstition, and the line between good and evil. Arden masterfully built the story and the writing was stellar. Vasya was such a wonderful character- fully ordinary in spite of her magical gifts, yet spirited and unique. I loved her compassion for all the spirits/demons and the way she nurtured them and I loved the way she stood up to the priest whose hubris stood in the way of his understanding of God. I hope Arden will write more in this vein.
I wrote a very long gushy review of Kulti (Zapata) on Goodreads (read it here). A few quick takeaways: I wish I could give it 10 stars, Sal Casillas is my kind of heroine, I loved learning more about women's soccer, REINER KULTI IS THE BEST, it's laugh out loud funny, I'd highly recommend listening to it on audio for the way narrator Callie Dalton brought the story- and all of those accents- to life.
Wilder (Yarros) was such a delight to read! Yarros definitely knows how to reel her readers in- I was hooked from the first couple of pages. The plot unspooled quickly but at the same time, it was like following a trail of crumbs the way Yarros finally gave us the reveals and twists behind characters' pasts and motivations. I'd be reading and dying to know what happened to this person or what that person's secret was and we'd only find out at the exact perfect moment. It was truly impressive! There were a couple of twists I never saw coming- and I'm a very, very hard person to surprise. I loved watching Paxton and Leah's relationship develop. There's so much they have to learn from one another and while it might have been more appropriate for their tutor-tutee relationship to stay exactly that, their romance was so swoon-worthy. I loved how Paxton kept pushing Leah out of her comfort zone. He had a lot of great things to say about fear and what lies on the other side of it. I loved how Leah grounded Paxton and forced him to think about more than the next big rush. The Renegades were such a great group, more like a tight-knit family than thrill-seeking friends. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Landon, Penna, and whoever else's books.
Currently reading: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness (Alexander), The Art Of Happiness (Dalai Lama), Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice and London (Elkin), Mr. Rochester (Shoemaker), Elite (Van Dyken), Girls In The Moon (McNally), Fake Fiancée (Madden-Mills), Wanderlust (Prescott), How The Light Gets In (Penny)
(I read 26 books this month.)
Favorite performances at the Grammys: Bruno Mars (especially his Prince tribute), A Tribe Called Quest, Chance The Rapper, John Legend
There were some great moments at the Oscars- like when it turned out Moonlight won Best Picture after all!!!!- but Jimmy Kimmel was a terrible host. I didn't watch any of the nominated movies (for shame!) but I was thrilled Mahershala Ali and Viola Davis won. And Viola's speech was incredible! My favorite dresses were Chrissy Teigen, Viola Davis, and Nicole Kidman and I thought Janell Monae's dress was fierce and memorable.
Listen to the What I'm Into playlist.
If you watched the Gilmore Girls revival, you need to listen to Appointment Television's discussion.
Similarly, if you're a fan of LOST, you absolutely must listen to The Popcast's deep dive on one of my favorite shows. They knocked it out of the park!
I was so happy Sarah had Leah and Bea Koch back on Smart Podcast, Trashy Books to discuss the one year anniversary of their store The Ripped Bodice. If I lived in or near Culver City, CA, I'd stop by all the time. Also: they're fun to follow on Instagram!
It was so fun listening to Megan Tietz's episode on What Should I Read Next? I never tire of Megan's enthusiasm for The Great Gatsby and it was a treat to be a fly on the wall while two friends discuss books.
Jess Lively continues to give me so much to think about. See: The Lively Show episode #194: Quantum Living: Creating your own reality- Rationally and Trans-Rationally and episode #197: What I'm doing to manifest and prepare for my future partner.
I was not familiar with Sam Richardson before listening to his episode on Off Camera with Sam Jones but I loved learning about his Detroit roots and the way his parents met.
Must-listen: Sorta Awesome episode 87: Real Talk About Refugees. Super impressed with how they tried to address concerns about Trump's executive order from every angle.
- Kelly and I had a belated mutual birthday breakfast at Good Earth. Not only was the food fantastic but I learned they make the Good Earth Sweet and Spicy tea I used to be addicted to...and they make a whole bunch of other kinds of tea too! I had Sweet Chai Of Mine and it was amazing.
- I went to Virginia to meet my baby nephew. Micah is the light of my life. I had 4 1/2 days to snuggle him and play with his sister and it was heaven.
- (It was nice seeing my brother and sister-in-law, too.)
- I stayed with my friend Kibibi while I visited and it was so much fun to catch up with her. We went to Founding Farmers for brunch and they had this cranberry French toast that changed my life. The mimosa didn't hurt either.
- Karin had me and her friend Katie over for dinner and then we watched reality tv and I'm not sure there's anything better.
- Chris Ann and I went to Blackbird for lunch. We got Hopeless Romantics (because ginger syrup) and I had the chicken sausage rice bowl, which sounds so simple on the surface but it was kicked up a notch with nori and kim chee remoulade.
- I petsit for people with cable so I got to watch a Hallmark movie and it was so cheesy and wonderful.
- Annie's dog Foxy is so excited whenever I stop by the house. It completely warms my heart! We are pals.
- I may have found a new stylist! Amy at Rue 48 Salon did a great job cutting my hair.
- Annie P. and I went to Glam Doll Donuts, which meant I needed to get a donut with bacon on it and that was the correct choice.
- Because it was Valentine's Day and we're single and sassy, we also got Thai takeout and drank red wine and it was glorious.
- I found the best Little Free Library! I don't know if I could ever narrow down which authors to include but I love their creativity.
- I got together with the friend of a friend Haley. We drank tea while her kids played around us and we talked about the Enneagram, which is always the way to my heart. Plus, she had pho recommendations. I'm keeping her around.
- I moved around a couple of times this month but mid-month saw me moving in with a friend of a friend Annie W. I've got my own room and bathroom downstairs and I even have a bookshelf again, which is probably the best part. Annie is great, even if we're mostly ships in the night.
- All the moving around since October meant it's taken me longer to get set up with the Hennepin County Library. I got my card a couple of months ago but haven't had a chance to take advantage of it until now. I am loving it! The local branch has a really open and airy setup and I'm enjoying being able to request books and have them waiting for me again.
- Friend of a friend Sarah and I met for coffee at Peace Coffee. Or rather, she had coffee and I had this amazing pot of masala chai. It was so great getting to know her! I'm looking forward to hanging out again soon.
- Gretchen is an old friend from high school who also lives in the area. She's getting more involved in politics and invited me to come to the town hall meeting. It's not my district but it was fascinating and galvanizing and just plain encouraging to be in that room. A definite highlight of this month. Afterward we had lunch at General Store and then wandered around the shop. I could get into a lot of trouble there.
- Kelly and I had breakfast at French Meadow Cafe. I love that place. And her.
- These socks from Blue Q.
In the Blogosphere:
You can find the best of what I've been reading at Storify.
Loving every minute of your life can seem like a tall order at times but most days I am in awe of how far I've come (literally and metaphorically.) Today has been a great day. Tomorrow will be too. #eternalyearofleigh #TheYearOfLeigh
Pouch from @lovefeastshop | Tulips from Trader Joe's
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
On The Blog:
I found the start of a draft for what became Smells Like Teen Spirit and thought I'd finish it, a little nothing story about an old high school crush. I was blown away by the feedback and got a kick out of how many friends tried to guess who my crush was. It inspired a lovely meander down memory lane for my classmates and I.
On the Leigh Kramer FB page, we rejoiced over Rereading now being an option on Goodreads, I implored you to get a library card, and I told you this story about the guy who emailed me this one time. Plus: pick up lines that might actually work on introverts.
(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 Friday March 31.
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What have you been into this month?
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