Sunday, December 31, 2023

Best Books 2023

 I read a lot of great books this year even though I didn't make my GoodReads goal; maybe it was quality over quantity.  I love going back through the year and revisiting and thinking of each story. I started the year off big with Demon Copperhead which turned out to be my absolute favorite of the year. I remember I started it right after Christmas because someone sent it to me as a gift. Barbara Kingsolver is one of my top 5 authors. What are the others you ask? Louise Erdrich, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Gabrielle Zevin, and Matt Haig. And this is just the shortlist.

1. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver (2022) : This is a moving coming-of-age story told in the first person from childhood through young adulthood.  Damon struggles with a teenage single mom, a terrible stepdad, and neighbors that are family once removed in the Southern Appalachia region. 

2. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab (2020) : Beautifully written fantasy novel that begins in France, 1714 and ends in New York City, As a teenager Addie sits on the banks of the river near her home and wishes for a vastly different life to what women are expected to do. She doesn't want to get married and live in the same village as her parents have done. She wants more and as she asks for it her life changes forever. 

3. Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2021) : TJR does her homework for the time period and creates characters that are so memorable that I feel like they are out there somewhere living beyond the pages of the book. This book tells the story of the young Riva family; Mick and June parents to Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit. Told through two different time periods so we understand both parents and the kids on the night of a memorable beach party thrown at Nina's Malibu home. I loved that this book also brought in Carrie Soto. 

4. Fellowship Point by Alice Elliot Dark (2022) : Our book club read this and I didn't know what to expect except that the book was big! I enjoyed every page though and thought the writing was brilliant. I could see myself in the two main characters, Agnes and Polly, best friends and neighbors in their Maine summer homes. They've led very different lives but strive for the same things. I loved their friendship and conversations. 

5. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2014) : This one was on my radar when it first came out but I never picked it up. Then the show came out and my brother handed me the book and told me to read it. I did, was captivated by the story, and proceeded to hand it to my husband, and daughter. I thought the show was done well but of course, the book is always better. 

6. The Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros (2023) : I'd heard some of the buzz about this but wasn't pulled in by the whole romance-fantasy genre but then a librarian friend said she liked it and that opened up a portal for me. I picked it up from the library and read it straight through in just a few days. I am set to read the sequel here as soon as I finish Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez. 

I've used Libby quite a bit to find books I can read in the middle of the night  on my phone if I happen to be awake for a couple of hours. And Yours Truly was one that popped up. I hope you'll pick up any of these books at your local library or bookstore. Let me know what you think. More favorites in a day or two. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

So many things

I've had a lovely holiday season with my family. We've had good conversation, eaten good food, played games, and opened gifts together.  Christmas Eve we had a delicious tofu curry with jasmine rice, a vegan scramble for breakfast Christmas Day and homemade pizzas for dinner that night. The Friday before Christmas we hosted a Christmas party for theatre friends and I Italian Sausage lasagna and Japhy made pesto pasta for her and I (no tomatoes, no meat). I  made Whoville 's Spiced Up Margaritas for the party and French 75s on Christmas night.  We tried our best to play Chameleon all together and then the next day a few of us tackled CodeNames together which was a blast! Most importantly it was just great to see our grown up kids having fun, laughing together. 

I got everything done that I needed to do before the holiday. The presents were wrapped, menus planned, house clean and I did it all on very little sleep. It's been a rough month or so starting around Thanksgiving I've had the worst trouble sleeping.  I've been sick with a cold for about the same amount of time that has compromised my immune system.

Sleep is so important and lack of it causes me to forget things and not be my best self. I've tried many of the recommended suggestions for better sleep including melatonin, staying off screens, drinking relaxing tea, going to bed early and while I might do any number of combinations of those ideas I still might lie awake at night getting only a brief amount of sleep either right away or toward morning. I'm frustrated. I started menopause years ago making this a ten-year-old problem. Our beautiful Tarah dog above fell asleep one night so deeply right on top of the gifts and all I could think was "I am so jealous!" 

I am still doing yoga both at home with Adriene and also with Sam at Cota Studios but many things like blogging just don't get done because of this sleep deprivation. My goal for this coming 2024 is to get back on a better schedule.  For the last couple of months Japhy has been home because she is about to go on a grand adventure but that's a whole other post for later. 

Take care, get some rest, and happy holidays to you...