Sunday Post: The tree is gone

Weekly meme to talk about books & a little about our personal lives

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

It’s been very hot here in the Midwest and especially in Iowa where we’re also having a drought. It’s going to be cooler next week and maybe we’ll get lucky and get some rain.

Tree is gone

My husband cut limbs as many limbs from our tree as he could during the last few weeks. This is the tree that split apart during our derecho storm a few weeks ago. I showed photos of it in last week’s Sunday Post. My husband was able to get a tree company to come in and cut the rest of the tree down.

Downsizing

We’ve been busy this week. We’re finally trying to use our extra time at home by sorting through some of our stuff–throwing things away and getting ready to get rid of things. I’m even going to get rid of many of my books since most everything I read these days is either an ebook or an audiobook. I will save a few of my favorites, but I can’t keep books that I’m not reading. The problem is that our library isn’t accepting book donations and places like Goodwill are closed. So I hope I can find some places where I can donate things or maybe even sell some things. We’ve meant to downsize more for a long time so I hope we’re successful!

Blog Life

I’m still trying to figure out some of the new parts of WordPress so that slowed down some of my blog post preparation.

Reading

This month I only read six books. Most of the other months this year I’ve read about ten. Even with a smaller number of books read I’m still way ahead in my Goodreads challenge.

Last week
Next week
  • September 2020 books on my list
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading
  • The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison
What I read
  • The Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Books I got

What have you been doing? What are your plans for next week? Please stay safe.

Sunday Post: The derecho and a return to blogging

Weekly meme to talk about books plus a little about our personal lives

Sunday-Post

Kimberly hosts the Sunday Post each week. I like to take part because it gives me an opportunity to look back at last week and forward to next week in both my personal life and my blog and book life! I also love to see what other people are doing and what books everyone is reading.

Personal life

I started blogging again this month and am still trying to get into the rhythm.

The derecho

I live in Iowa and a derecho (an intense widespread wind storm) blew through the state a couple weeks ago. Iowans are still trying to recover. Many trees were blown down since the winds topped 100 mph. One city in the state had winds of 140 mph. People have described it as a hurricane on land! And lots of farmland was damaged throughout the state. Plus western Iowa is in a drought right now.

Compared to so many other people throughout the state we are very lucky. We lost power for about 3 days, but some Iowans lost power for more than 10 days…ugh. We lost a huge linden tree in our back yard. We were lucky it didn’t hit our house. The tree split in half and my husband has been cutting up the branches so the City will take them from our curb. However, each morning most of the wood is gone since people are cruising the streets looking for firewood!

Blog Life

I’m trying to get back up to speed with my blog after a five month absence. It’s taking some time since WordPress made some updates to the Block Editor (Gutenberg). I was using Gutenberg before I stopped blogging, but have had a difficult time finding some of the menu items since I returned. I’ve had to do some searches to figure out how to do stuff!

Reading

I’ve done a lot of reading so far this year and am about 25 books ahead of my Goodreads goal. That’s a good feeling! However, I’ve started over 10 books this year only to decide I didn’t want to read them. A couple of books I read over 50% of the book and then decided to quit.

Last few weeks
Next week
  • Can’t Wait Wednesday
  • Sunday Post

My books

What I’m reading

I just finished a couple of books and have a DNF book so haven’t decided what to read next.

What I read recently
Books I got recently

What have you been doing? What are your plans for next week?

My pandemic life so far

In the United States months into the pandemic people still get ill, some die and some have long-lasting effects of the illness. Unemployment and homelessness isn’t going away soon. Black Lives Matter still matters. The United States still has a huge number of positive Covid 19 cases and people continue to die at an alarming rate. Schools are beginning to start, but large numbers of children have tested positive for Covid 19 in the last few weeks. I know many people have gone through so much in the last few months and continue to struggle.

The pandemic and quarantine have been mostly okay for my family and me. My husband and I are retired and don’t see a lot of people in normal times! My husband is cooking more and has always helped with cleaning. We are in the higher risk group due to our age and pre-existing medical conditions so we are cautious about our interactions with other people. We do sometimes order curbside take-out from our favorite restaurants. We’re lucky we have a beautiful and serene backyard to spend time in plus a big enough house to spend separate time if we need it!

We’ve had plenty to keep us busy the last five months. My husband has done lots of yard work. He has been able to continue to play bridge over the internet with his regular bridge partner. I have made lots of cards to send to family and friends plus I’ve read lots of books and completed a few jigsaw puzzles.

Our three children are safe–two work from home and one is mission essential so she works some at home and some at her workplace. She wears a mask when she’s working with anyone else, but a lot of her time she’s alone in her lab.

During these months I’ve continued to read and am way ahead in my 2020 Goodreads Reading Challenge. That makes me happy, but I have more books than usual I’ve started and gotten quite a ways into the book only to decide I don’t want to read any more of it. One book I was at the 50% point! Sometimes the books were depressing or too disturbing; other times I was bored.

However, even though my life has been safe and fairly uneventful the last few months, I feel overwhelmed, exhausted and emotionally drained from all the dissonance in the world. I’m hoping writing blog posts and interacting with other bloggers will help me get some perspective.

My long absence

I’m going to try to blog again. I’ll see how it goes. I didn’t blog during March because I had technical problems–I couldn’t save any posts. Because of all the pandemic changes and quarantine starting in March I didn’t spend much time trying to figure out what was wrong. Toward the end of March I finally researched the problem and saw that a few people had had a similar problem when they used Chrome (which I was using). So I downloaded Mozilla Firefox and my blog worked again!

I have a blog draft called “I finally solved my WordPress problem,” dated 3 April, but I never finished it. Because of the pandemic I just haven’t felt I could blog and that continued for months.

However, I miss interacting with my book blog friends. I did continue to add the books I read on Goodreads and I’ve added pictures and a bit of text on Instagram sometimes, but that’s all I’ve done since March. Since I wasn’t blogging myself I should have read other blogs and checked to see how everyone is doing. But I didn’t even feel like I could do that. I’m going to start going to blogs now to see how all of you are getting along.

How has the pandemic affected you? How did the quarantine affect you? Have you had to start working away from home again? Have you lost your job?

My 2019 reading year

I like to look back at other years (I’ve added a few stats from 2018) and see how my reading has changed through the years so it really helps me to take the time to count everything. My take-away from these statistics:

  • I missed my Goodreads reading challenge last year, but I read some great books which is more important to me.
  • I’m not sure why I read so many fewer books in 2019 than 2018. It’s partly because of some shorter books in 2018, but that’s not the complete reason.
  • I read books in a few genres I don’t usually read.
  • I wrote very few reviews last year.
  • Most books I read were published in the last 10 years.
  • I didn’t keep track of my reading challenges very well.

2019 Reading Goal

I read 90 books (of my 95 book goal) last year. In 2018 I read 104 books.

Ebooks–60 (41 that I own; 9 from Kindle Unlimited; 10 from library)

Audiobooks–27 (12 audiobooks I own; 15 audiobooks from library)

Hardcover books–2 (from library)

Paperbacks–1 (from library)

Genres & Types of Books Read

My favorite genres continue to be mysteries (especially police procedurals), science fiction and fantasy (especially urban fantasy).

Note: These numbers don’t add up to 90 since several books fit in more than one category.

Mystery

  • Police Procedural–23
  • Cozys–5
  • Other–11

Science Fiction

  • Military–1
  • Young Adult–4
  • Space Opera–2
  • Time Travel–3
  • Post Apocalyptic–1
  • Other–4

Fantasy

  • Urban–14
  • Young Adult–1
  • Other–6

Romance

  • Contemporary–1
  • Historical Romance–2

Fiction

I didn’t read these categories in 2018.

  • Women’s Fiction–6
  • Young Adult–1
  • Middle Grade–2
  • Historical Fiction–2
  • Christmas–1

Nonfiction

Another category I didn’t read in 2018.

  • Memoir–1
  • Other–2

Dogs

  • I read 10 books with dogs as major characters. (Nine books in 2018)

Other Stats

New-to-me authors–34 (My two favorite new authors.) (35 new authors in 2018.)

The author I read the most–Katherine Pathak , DCI Dani Bevan Mystery series (four books)

Reviews posted in 2019

  • of 2019 books read–7
  • of 2018 books read–11

Books Read (by original date of publication)

Most books I read were published in the last decade (2010-2019) though I read a handful of “vintage” books.

2019 books read–26

2010 – 2018–52

2000 – 2009–4

1990s–3

1970 and before–5

(1970, 1947, 1934, 1923 and 1894)

Reading Challenges

I signed up for lots of challenges last year, but partly because of problems with my blog last year and then moving it to WordPress.com I didn’t work much on my challenges. Plus as past years have shown I don’t participate in challenges very well. I sometimes complete a challenge if I just have to read certain types of books, but if I have to write a review or go to a blog to show that I read a certain type of book I don’t do it or I forget about doing that.

The only challenge I kept track of was my Goodreads Reading Challenge. I haven’t signed up for challenges other than the Goodreads challenge in 2020. I might try to participate in my local library reading challenge. That challenge has 12 different categories to read one book from each category during the year. I’ll talk more about reading challenges in my 2020 Goals post.

My favorite books of the last decade

50 Favorite books from 2010 – 2019

Tammy @ Books, Bones & Buffy did her best books of the decade post which I thought was great so I’ve created my own. It was lots of fun to look back at the last 10 years and remember books I’ve loved. I’ve kept a spreadsheet of the books I’ve read every year since 2004 so I went back through my spreadsheets and picked out these books. I didn’t give all of them an A, but these are the ones that have stuck with me.

I’ve listed anywhere from three to six favorite books a year. These books span a number of genres and some are books published that year and some are books published years and years ago. I don’t review all the books I read so if I have a review for the book on my blog I will show a link after the book covers. (I started my blog during 2013 so there are no reviews before that.)

2019

Doggirl by Robin Brande

2018

What the Dog Ate by Jackie Bouchard

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

2017

The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson

2016

Killing Trail by Margaret Mizushima

Cold in the Earth by Aline Templeton

In the Shadow of the Glacier by Vicki Delany

2015

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear

The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal

Lock In by John Scalzi

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Martian by Andy Weir

2014

The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Nice Dragons Finish Last by Rachel Aaron

Iron Night by M.L. Brennan

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

2013

The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Death Masks by Jim Butcher

The Touchstone Trilogy by Andrea K. Höst

2012

2011

2010

Have you read any of these books? How did you like them? Are any of them favorites of yours?

Why I moved from a self-hosted blog

You may have noticed my blog was gone for a while and then it was back and then it might have been gone again, but I’ve finally managed to move from my self-hosted site back to (mostly free) WordPress.com. It took me a while to move since I’ve been traveling quite a bit (I’m in Indiana right now)!

I thought I had paid for an extra year at my blog host, but it turns out I hadn’t. 😦  They switched off my blog for a while in August and since I was traveling and didn’t always have time or internet to check my blog I didn’t realize right away.

Why I had a self-hosted blog

When I moved to a self-hosted blog I wanted to challenge myself to learn something new. I wanted to see if I could figure out how to set things up and how to design various elements for the blog. I was able to do most things myself though I sometimes had to ask my kids for assistance…lol.

I did find that some things were frustrating to figure out. Even moving from WordPress.org (my self-hosted site) to WordPress.com took some time (because I didn’t always have a large block of time to do it all and because I didn’t want to make a mistake), but it’s finally done. Yay!

Why I moved back to WordPress.com

I loved the control I had with the self-hosted site since I had a theme with lots of options for colors and fonts which are two things I like to control (and change sometimes)! I could also choose from hundreds of plugins to make the blog even more personal.

More expensive

However, having a self-hosted blog kept getting more expensive and I decided early in my self-hosting adventure I didn’t want to monetize my blog. (This was a personal choice and I don’t mind other people making a different decision). Now that my husband and I are retired I decided my self-hosted blog was an unnecessary expense especially since it seemed to get more expensive every year.

Frustrations

If I had problems on my self-hosted blog I felt like I had to figure it out myself and even though I googled my problem and read tutorials I was often frustrated because sometimes I couldn’t find answers to my problem or sometimes the tutorials were older and the information they gave didn’t work anymore and/or didn’t use the same menus anymore. My kids were great at helping me, but I got tired of asking for help and I think they got tired of me asking…lol.

Kept blog name

By paying $5 per month I am able to keep the name of my blog the same–NotesfromaReaderholic.com–so most people won’t notice a lot of difference in the blog.

What I’ve done since the move

I’ve tried several different themes since I moved, but haven’t found one that allows me to make my work space background the cream color I was using for the last few months. I really liked that color, but the content is more important and that will stay mostly the same. The theme I’m using right now has quite a few options so I’m quite happy with it.

I updated my twitter and facebook headers so they now look very similar to the header on my blog. I finally did a Gravatar profile. I’m working on new posts plus a few drafts that I had started before my blog went “kablooee” and wouldn’t start since my hosting site was expired!

What about you?

Do you have a self-hosting site? Are you still happy with it? Are you happy where you are?

I know that I often cause my own problems by deciding I have to try something new! Well, I accomplished my goal of challenging myself and now I can challenge myself to do what I can design-wise and content-wise with WordPress.com!

Review: Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon

Series: None

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Setting: England

Source: Ebook, purchased

Publishing Date: 2009

449 pages

Synopsis: Thirty-nine year old Rachel is having a really bad year. After losing her job and breaking up with her boyfriend, Rachel has inherited her late aunt’s house, her beloved border collie, and a crowded rescue kennel, despite the fact that she knows almost nothing about dogs. Still, considering her limited options, she gamely takes up the challenge of running the kennel. And as Rachel starts finding new homes for the abandoned strays, it turns out that it might not just be the dogs that need rescuing.

Opening sentences:

When February started, Rachel Fielding had a middling-to-glamorous career doing PR for Internet companies, a boyfriend who regularly bought her flowers and dressed better than she did, a cleaner, and a skin-age three years younger than her actual age, which was thirty-nine.

By the second week, however, she had, in one simple maneuver, managed to lose the love of her life, her Chiswick flat and her job.

My thoughts

This is an author whom Barb @ Booker T’s Farm recommended. I grabbed this book when it was on sale and I’m so glad I did. I love it–the rescue dogs, the setting in England and interesting, fun characters (including dogs). I wanted to meet these people and dogs and have them for friends!  The book has Rachel’s POV, but also several other people’s POVs. I enjoyed learning more about these characters and how they interact with Rachel’s world and the dogs’ worlds.

They Call It Puppy Love Challenge

I’m participating in “They Call It Puppy Love” Challenge during February. The challenge is hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm. I was so happy to sign up for this challenge since I’m enjoying reading books about dogs. I’ve saved some books for this challenge so you’ll see me reading lots of dog books this month!

Rachel

Rachel lost her boyfriend, apartment and job all at the same time and is distraught–especially about her ex-boyfriend of ten years. At about the same time she learns she’s the executor of her Aunt Dot’s estate and that she has inherited her aunt’s house, land, border collie and rescue kennel. That’s overwhelming for Rachel along with everything else. She’s never had a dog and knows nothing about dogs let alone a rescue kennel. Rachel’s from London and she’s not a “dog person!” However, Rachel tries to fulfill her obligations. She loved her aunt, but discovers she really didn’t know a lot about her after she moves into the house.

Rachel also finds out the kennel needs to take in some money and can’t survive with just rescue dogs. The vet–George–who is quite gruff and plainspoken tells her the kennels are also meant to have paying customers who board their dogs. Rachel slowly learns more about dogs and about rescue dogs. And about walking dogs and cleaning kennels and feeding dogs. Slowly some of the rescue dogs are given permanent homes. Rachel begins making friends including Natalie who is a marketing pro. Together Natalie and Rachel begin working on plans for the rescue dogs and to make the kennels profitable. I really like that we get  stories of other people in this book, too.

Gem

Gem is a wonderful dog. When I was younger I always wanted a collie especially after I read the Albert Payson Terhune books about his collies. (I read lots of dog books when I was a teenager!) I found a copy of Lad: A Dog–the first book in the series at a used bookstore a few months ago and plan to read it again one of these days. Anyway, Gem was Aunt Dot’s dog and is missing Dot, but he’s a typical intelligent herding dog who helps during dog walks by herding the rescue dogs who don’t know about walking on a leash. He also provides solace to Rachel when Rachel takes him for solitary walks and indulges in her once a day crying. He is just what Rachel needs even if she doesn’t know it.

Romance

There are relationships at various stages of romance in this book. I like that the romances don’t take over the story. I like romances that are part of the daily life people live. I love that Rachel starts out a mess and grows and changes during this book.

Rescue dogs

We meet so many wonderful rescue dogs in this book. We learn about the heartbreak these dogs suffer if they’re abandoned by their owners. It’s especially bad when the dog is just abandoned on a street or out in the country. They sometimes doesn’t survive that. We get to know the quirks and characters of the rescue dogs and meet some of the people who adopt them.

Bottom line

A really good book especially if you like dogs!

My Rating: A-

Have you read any books by this author?

Awards

Romantic Novel of the Year (RoNa’s) Award (2010)

Reading Challenges

  • The Backlist Reader Challenge hosted by Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard
  • Review Writing Challenge hosted by Shari @ Delighted Reader blog
  • They Call It Puppy Love Challenge hosted by Barb @ Booker T’s Farm (February challenge)

They Call It Puppy Love Challenge

Barb @ Booker T’s Farm hosts this challenge during the month of February. Visit her blog to find out more about They Call It Puppy Love Challenge.
I didn’t know about this challenge until Barb mentioned it to me in December and I’ve watched her blog ever since then to find out more about the challenge and to sign up for it. I’ve been waiting to read some of the books I’ve found just for this challenge!
I’m planning to read some of these books during February:
  • Rescue Me, Maybe by Jackie Bouchard
  • Lost Dogs and Lonely Hearts by Lucy Dillon
  • Hello Love by Karen McQuestion
  • Fractured Truth by Susan Furlong
  • Burning Ridge by Margaret Mizushima
  • Death in Bloodhound Red by Virginia Lanier
  • Rapid Fire by Donna Ball
  • What It’s Like to be a Dog by Gregory Berns
  • Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan
  • Soldier Dogs: The Untold Story by Maria Goodavage
And I may find other “puppy love” books not on the above list to read during the month. I’m hoping to read at least five books (and review them during February) which match this reading challenge.
Have you joined any reading challenges for this year? Are you going to join this challenge?

My return to blogging with slightly new directions

My return

I realize I’ve been absent from this blog for a while. I lost my desire to blog plus I’ve been busy. November and December are always the busiest months in our family. And I love all the family time and activities. I’ve spent January thinking about what I want to do with my blog and now I’m ready to begin again. I’m reinventing my blog just a little.

February is a good time to restart. It’s a cold day today (9 degrees at the moment), but a beautiful blue sky day just like the one below showing our backyard on New Year’s.

January 2018 backyard

I’m eager to return to my blog and blog friends. I’ve read some blogs during my hiatus, but not done much commenting. I’ve read books during my time off and that’s always a good thing. I managed to meet my 2017 Goodreads goal of 100 books which makes me happy. My 2018 goal is to read 90 books and I’m on-track for that.

New Directions

I plan to take my blog in a slightly new direction. I will keep my name, because let’s face it–I am a Readerholic! I don’t feel quite right unless I have a book I’m reading and thinking about.

However, I plan to talk more about some of my other interests–making greeting cards–usually using paper, rubber stamps and die cuts while listening to audiobooks while I create; my genealogy and family history research; perhaps some cooking and baking; and whatever else catches my interest.

A watercolor in progress on a pre-stamped card

I still plan to talk about books, but I probably won’t review the books I read though I may write a few lines about why I liked or didn’t like the book. That will be my goal anyway. I plan to participate in a few memes to talk about books and I want to write more opinion pieces–sometimes about books and sometimes not.

I’m going to see how it all goes. I’m giving myself permission not to review books and go in whatever direction I feel like going. I want to get the joy and fun back in my blogging. I hope some of my blogging friends come along with me, but I realize I’ve been gone–and never said I was stopping or whether I was returning. I just stopped communicating and I’m sorry about that. I understand if you’re not interested in returning or in following my new directions.

Plan to Reevaluate

I plan to reevaluate after about six months and see what I’m enjoying and what isn’t working for me, because at the end of the day this blog isn’t a business. I’m not making any money from it (no affiliates or advertising). I’m no longer accepting free e-Arcs from NetGalley. (I stopped that nearly a year ago in 2017.) I love having followers and people comment just as I love to read and comment about what other bloggers are doing, but I need to do what makes me happy–otherwise I won’t continue blogging. If people stop following and commenting I will either have to find a new audience or continue for my own enjoyment!

What do you think? Are you still enjoying your blog? (I hope so!) Can you tell if a blogger is enjoying what they’re writing about?