Sometimes you glance out the window while you're waiting on the tea kettle to boil and you notice two deer in your backyard.
Really, there's no difference between December and January. A new calendar year starts but nothing ostensibly changes. And yet something about this January feels imbued with possibility. Let's hope this means something.
Read and Reading
The Shadowy Horses was my third Susanna Kearsley novel, and like the previous two, I didn’t want it to end. I was so fully immersed in the story, dying to know what the archeology team might unearth, whether the Roman army had ever come through there, and just what might set the Sentinel’s soul at ease. Not to mention how fun it was to see a young wee Robbie whom I met as an adult in The Firebird. Plus, the lovely development of Verity and David’s relationship. I was so happy after reading but also sad because the novel was over and it was so perfect for me.
I positively inhaled The Wrath & The Dawn (Adieh)! I was swept away by the story and the stories within the story and I never can resist a good retelling. I'm not sure if I've ever actually read One Thousand And One Nights but I'm familiar with the story and it was fascinating to see how the author depicted it here. Shahrzad and Khalid were such dynamic, compelling characters. The way Shahrzad's need for revenge conflicted with her growing feelings for the caliph, how he turned out not to be who she expected, as well as the way Khalid went off script and let Shahrzad live that first dawn and what that means for the secret and heavy burden he carries...I mean, I could not turn the pages fast enough. Watching them fall for one another was so gratifying. What's more, their story does not happen in a vacuum. There are forces of evil! Threats of coup! Good guys doing the wrong thing for ostensibly the right reason! ARGH, my heart was in my throat and I was so worried for what this might mean for Shazi and Khalid. And then! And then, that ending. Holy buckets. If I'd had the second book last night when I finished, I'm pretty sure I would have dove right in because I am dying to know what happens next and whether it's possible for Shazi and Khalid to have a happy ending.
Favorite romance novel of January: Wrong To Need You, the second book in Alisha Rai's Forbidden Hearts series. I finished it a few days and haven't been able to put into words just how much I loved this one. The emotional depth! The romance! Jackson! Sadia! I'm still in the incoherent heart eyes stage.
I'm not sure how Macdonald first thought to write a memoir about goshawks and grief but the result H Is For Hawk is fascinating, lovely, and insightful. Her connections took my breath away at times. I also enjoyed how she incorporated the work and life of TH White, particularly his book on goshawks, into her account. I'm so glad I finally read this.
Kelly Corrigan's writing never ceases to amaze me. Tell Me More is structured differently from her memoirs but we still get her excellent storytelling. There were a few chapters where I wasn't quite sure where her stories were going or how they connected to the chapter's phrase. But she always, always brought it home. True to form, I laughed out loud and I teared up. Her writing can be so moving and especially when paired with the lessons she's learned. (Read my full review.)
I read an advance copy of Austin Channing Brown's I'm Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness (thank you, Convergent!) and it positively blew me away. Even better than I hoped it would be. Y'all need to preorder it now. Full review to come.
My reading goal for 2018 is to read a good chunk of my unread books so every month I'm designating several books to read. These were my picks for January and it was a close call but I finished The Wrath & The Dawn last night. Plus, H Is For Hawk was an unread book, as was Samantha Young's Fall From India Place, and I finished a writing book, which I started reading a few months ago. Only 83ish to go. ;)
You can see all the books I've read at Goodreads.
I basically never watch TV anymore but thanks to a FB group I'm in, I learned it's possible to watch a few of my beloved Bravo shows on their website. It used to be you needed to have a cable provider—and for most of the shows, this is still true—but there's a small window (perhaps 24-48 hours) to watch at least The Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills and Vanderpump Rules after they've aired. I'm not sure how Bravo decides which shows to do this with but I'm so happy to have at least limited access!
I'm a sporadic Call Your Girlfriend listener but someone recommended episode 109: Pelvic Power, which is a must-listen for anyone with lady parts, and I downloaded a bunch from the archives. I really liked the interview with Hillary Rodham Clinton and their Winter Books discussion, especially because they interviewed Jasmine Guillory who wrote one of my most anticipated books of 2018 The Wedding Date.
Books That Bridge Two Worlds, What Should I Read Next?'s interview with John August, was one of the most interesting episodes I've listened to in a while. I loved hearing about his experiences as a screenwriter and as an author of a middle grade book that's about to come out. I really want to listen to his podcast too!
Code Switch's The 'R-Word' In The Age Of Trump made some really great points about how and when journalism can and should use the words "racist" and "racism," as well as why they're not deployed as often we might think they should be.
Linda Holmes (of Pop Culture Happy Hour) appeared on The Hilarious World Of Depression. I really appreciated hearing more of her story.
Robin Bradford was on the Women With Books podcast and I want her to appear on more podcasts! She's a librarian and I always enjoy hearing her thoughts on collection development, as well as her books recs. She's also wonderful to follow on Twitter.
- Buttermilk is a darling restaurant in Geneva, IL. I had a great breakfast with Heather. Get the basket of biscuits!
- Cafe K'tizo is a new-to-me tea place in Wheaton and I am wholeheartedly in love with the place. If I still lived there, I'd be stopping by as often as possible. The tea selection (you can order online!), the ambiance, the amount of tables...top notch.
- Erin and I went to Burger Social and I got the Italian Beef Burger, which is as amazing as it sounds. It was a total mess but worth it. My old friend Mike was bartending and he made me a killer Old Fashioned. The best part of the night, of course, was spending time with Erin and catching up on all the things.
- Anderson's Bookshop- I hadn't been there in a shameful amount of years and it was as wonderful as ever. I wanted to buy everything.
- After visiting Anderson's, my friend Laura and I grabbed dinner at Potter's Place, which is an unconventional name for a Mexican restaurant but the food was great. Laura and I spent most of the day hanging at her house and spending time with her darling daughter (who is my favorite and was very pleased when I helped her put together a large Hello Kitty puzzle) and I'm glad we got to get away for a little just the two of us. Our conversations are wide-ranging and I'm so grateful for a friend to whom I can say anything and everything and she never bats an eye.
- Traditional dinner at Portillo's. It's not fancy but it's such a Chicagoland institution and something I've greatly missed since I moved out of state 7 1/2 years ago.
- My parent's cat Buzz and I had lots of good snuggle time. He's getting even sweeter in his old age.
- Megan and I met for coffee on my way out of town. It would not have been right to be home and not see her so I'm glad we could steal this time together.
- Annie was back in town for work so we met for coffee and then I got to be reunited with Foxy and she totally remembered me! She is truly the smartest and best dog in the world.
- In honor of my 38th birthday, I visited three bookstores. I've been meaning to check out Magers & Quinn (pictured above) and Once Upon A Crime for ages. I had a great time exploring them! Then I popped into Half Price Books so I could buy a book for the Bottles & Books party that weekend.
- The Rachel Sandwich at French Meadow Cafe. It's like a Reuben but there's coleslaw instead of sauerkraut. So good!
- Birthday texts and phone calls and Voxes from family and friends.
- Super thoughtful presents. I feel so loved!
- My friend Thomas threw his annual Books & Bottles Party and it was basically the best party I've ever been to. Everyone brought a book to swap and a bottle of alcohol. A book lover's dream! I want everyone to do this so I wrote a blog post about it: How To Host A Books And Bottles Party.
- After my rhapsodizing about Portillo's above, you can imagine how excited I was when I received golden tickets (really!) to go to the soft opening of their new location in Maple Grove, MN. My roommate and I went for lunch and I got an Italian beef and cheese fries and basically I was in heaven. Then they gave us a piece of chocolate cake to go!
- One of my favorite authors approved me to be on her Always ARC list! I freaked out when I got the email.
Confession: I’m in love with the Frost Demon and the Goblin King and it’s all @arden_katherine and @sjaejones’s respective faults. In my defense, Morozco the Frost Demon and the Goblin King look like handsome men, not demons or goblins, and the way they look out for the women they care about is something to be praised. Even if they are immortal magical beings.
I’m a huge fan of Arden’s Winternight trilogy. I thought the second book was even better than the first- and I really loved The Bear And The Nightingale so that’s saying something. And don’t get me started on JJ’s Wintersong...I am positively dying to read book two Shadowsong, which thankfully will be out soon. Do you have any odd literary crushes?
(If you want to follow me on Instagram, my user name is leighkramer.)
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What have you been into this month?
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