The Wrap-Up for July and August 2019

Personal life

travel

Photos from our trip to Seattle:

July was quiet travel-wise except for a trip to Illinois and Indiana to visit our daughters. Always fun to see them and my husband always likes to help them out in the yard if they’ve been too busy to mow or weed whip.

In August I felt like we spent more time traveling than at home though that wasn’t really the case. The first of the month started out with a trip to northern Wisconsin. However, that got cut short when I fell and hit my head on a concrete wall. We went to the emergency room and I discovered I had a concussion. I’m feeling much better now, but that cut our trip short. We drove home where I spent several days sleeping and resting and trying to stay away from electronic devices!

Later in the month we went to visit family in Washington State. Our son is living in Seattle right now plus my husband’s sister and brother-in-law live there, too. My brother and his family live in Oregon. We spent part of our time in Seattle and part of our time with my brother’s family along the Washington coast. It was a wonderful visit, but I felt like I needed a vacation from all that travel! 

 Yard

My daylilies bloomed all of July and I even still had some blooming in August. We planted a new tree (a river birch) and quite a few new perennials as well as dividing some of the existing perennials in the yard.

By the end of August lots of the plants are winding down, but we have a few still flowering including some of our roses, cone flowers and black-eyed susans. The Autumn Joy sedum is ready to start flowering. Next year I hope to plant more plants that will bloom in the fall.

Driveway

My husband spent lots of hours in July and August working on our driveway and made a lot of progress putting in drainage, moving dirt, building retaining walls, planting grass to hold the soil. Lots of work, but the area that used to be a concrete turnaround is looking lots better and we’re hoping this will keep the remaining driveway from developing cracks and creating tunnels under the driveway.

Blog life

Moved blog

I spent the last couple of weeks moving my blog to WordPress.com. I wrote a post about that yesterday. Also with all my travels I haven’t done very much other than setting up my blog again. I still need to add in some of the pages I had and will do that over the next week or so.

Books read

July

Changes by Jim Butcher (audiobook/library) — B+

Part-Time Gods by Rachel Aaron (ebook/purchased) — B+

*Squared Away by Alicia Dill (ebook/purchased) — B-

Walking Back to Happiness by Lucy Dillon (audiobook/purchased) — B+

August

The Hanging Tree by Ben Aaronovitch (ebook/purchased) — B+

*The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan (audiobook/library) — B

*Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (audiobook/library) — A-

*Ascending by Margaret Pechenick (ebook/purchased) — B+

A Necessary Evil by Abir Mukherjee (audiobook/purchased) — B+

Cloudy With a Chance of Dropbears by W.R. Gingell (ebook/purchased) — B

*Craks in a Marriage by Barbara Barrett (ebook/purchased) — B

The Bookshop on the the Corner by Jenny Colgan (ebook/library) — A-

Bright Shards by Margaret Pechenick (ebook/purchased) — B+

*The White Shepherd by Annie Dalton (ebook/purchased) — B

*New-to-me author

My Reading Challenges

My reading challenges are mostly going dismally this year, but I’ll continue on with them and see if I improve by the end of the year!

Goodreads Challenge

2019 Goal–95 books  to read

By the end of August I had read 57 books. I’m several books behind where I should be by now if I’m going to read 95 books this year.

Cloak & Dagger Reading Challenge

Goal–read and review 36-55 books mysteries (mysteries must be over 100 pages)

I’ve read 23 mysteries so far, but have only reviewed 2 of those mysteries.

52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge

I’ve read 14 books so far from the 52 subjects in this reading challenge.

The Backlist Reading Challenge

Goal — Read at least 24 books from my TBR list

So far I’ve read 14 books from my TBR list.

Library Love Challenge

Goal — Read at least 25 library books

I’ve read 18 library books so far.

Review Writing Challenge

Goal — Review at least 70 books this year

I’ve only reviewed 5 books I’ve read  this year so far.

………………..

How has your year been going so far? Both with your reading and your personal life?

The Wrap-Up for Spring 2019

Since I haven’t blogged since the first part of April I thought I’d post about what I was busy doing in April, May and June.

Personal life

Spring travels

San Juan Island, WA

My husband and I traveled different places during the spring–mostly in April and May. We took care of our daughter’s dogs in Indianapolis while she was gone on a trip. Then a week after we returned home we flew to Seattle to visit our son plus my husband’s sister and brother-in-law. I love Seattle. It’s such a vibrant city and we did lots of fun stuff while we were there–took a ferry to one of the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound; did a food tour in the International District of Seattle; ate lots of amazing food!

After we returned home from Seattle we had a few days of recuperation and then drove to Chicago for our niece’s graduation. She received her PhD in midwifery and we’re so proud of her. The time in Chicago was a whirlwind of celebration and good conversations as much of the family gathered to celebrate Bridget and her accomplishments.

Salisbury House in Des Moines–Where we saw an outdoor production of Macbeth

We also made a quick trip to Omaha to visit a former colleague of my husband. He lives in Washington D.C. and was in Omaha to work on a case. It was great to see him.

We also spent time visiting places in Des Moines we either hadn’t been before or revisiting some of our favorite places. I always feel much more energetic in the spring before the weather gets too hot.

Yard & garden

We had a very wet April and May with flooding of a number of our Iowa rivers. June was drier and much hotter, however!

My daylilies I planted last year started blooming the last part of June and they’re beautiful. Daylilies love the heat and humidity of the Midwest and since they’re one of my favorite plants they’re perfect to plant. One of my sisters-in-law came to visit for a weekend and she and my husband spent lots of time in the yard splitting hostas and transplanting them to other areas of the yard. It was great to see them get so much done. We also bought some new plants and got them planted as well. I used to do quite a bit of gardening, too, but with two knee replacements I have trouble getting up and down so I do the planning and my husband does the work!

Driveway

I’ve provided moral support for the major work on our driveway!

We have a long, steep cement driveway which also had a cement turnaround when we bought the house. When it rains water rushes down the driveway into the street which isn’t good for the storm drains. However, the water also got under the cement and began eroding the soil underneath the cement which caused cracking and caving in.

Of course, we didn’t notice this when we bought the house three years ago. (There was snow on the driveway.) Last fall we hired a company to begin dismantling the worst of the cement and pumping a substance underneath the cement slabs that were still in fairly good condition to try to save that cement. We had to stop before they’d finished the work because of snow so they came back in the spring to finish the job. They’ve finished and now my husband is building retaining walls to try to save the soil from washing away. He has spent many hours working on this project and still has many hours of work to finish it.

Blog life

Blog updates and no blogging

April was when I finally upgraded my blog to WordPress 5.0. Since I was doing that I did a few other things that needed to be done and some upgrades I wanted to do. It all took longer than planned and I stopped posting for a while.

Books read

April

The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman (audiobook/library) — B+

*The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley (ebook/library) — A-

Death Distilled by Melinda Mullett (ebook) — B+

*Bloodfire by Helen Harper (ebook) — B-

Bloodmagic by Helen Harper (ebook) — B-

Ambush by Barbara Nickless (ebook) — B+

Slouch Witch by Helen Harper (ebook) — B

May

City of Lies by Victoria Thompson (ebook) — B

*A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A Fletcher (hardcover/library) — A-

Wild Country by Anne Bishop (ebook/library) — A-

All the Different Shades of Blue by W.R. Gingell (ebook/novella) — B

Stars Unchartered by S.K. Dunstall (audiobook) — B

*Cornered Magic by Charissa Dufour (ebook) — B

Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs (audiobook/library) — A-

Misguided Allies by Charissa Dufour (ebook) — B

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer (audiobook) — B

Hunting Badger by Tony Hillerman (audiobook/library) — B+

June

Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie (audiook/library) — B

Between Floors by W.R. Gingell (ebook) — B+

*Wish by Barbara O’Connor (audiobook) — A-

*Becoming by Michelle Obama (audiobook/library) — A

*Cold Mourning by Brenda Chapman (ebook) — B

Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong (ebook/library) — B+

*The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair (ebook/library) — B+

*New-to-me author

My Reading Challenges

My reading challenges are mostly going dismally this year, but I’ll continue on with them and see if I improve by the end of the year!

Goodreads Challenge

2019 Goal–95 books read

By the end of June I read 43 books and was 3 books behind.

Cloak & Dagger Reading Challenge

Goal–read and review 36-55 books mysteries (mysteries must be over 100 pages)

I’ve read 18 mysteries so far, but have only reviewed 2 of those mysteries.

52 Books in 52 Weeks Reading Challenge

I’ve read 11 books so far from the 52 subjects in this reading challenge.

The Backlist Reading Challenge

Goal — Read at least 24 books from my TBR list

So far I’ve read 12 books from my TBR list.

Library Love Challenge

Goal — Read at least 25 library books

I’ve read 14 library books so far.

Review Writing Challenge

Goal — Review at least 70 books this year

I’ve only reviewed 5 books from this year so far.

………………..

How has your year been going so far? Do you do reading challenges? How are yours progressing?

Top Ten Tuesday–Making my blogging & reading life easier

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish blog. There is a new topic each week which asks each person to talk about some sort of top ten topic related to books. Go by and check it out. It’s a lot of fun to see what each blogger writes each week. I don’t participate every week, but when I can, I try to!

This week I’m talking about those things which make my life as a reader and blogger easier. Other than my first choice(!) they aren’t in any particular order. I’ve also added a couple of honorable mentions.

1. Kindle e-readers–I love my e-reader. I’ve had e-readers for about three years now and I haven’t read any physical books except for nonfiction in about two years. There’s just something about the Kindle I love. I’m using a Kindle Paperwhite and a Kindle Fire and love them both.

One other way this makes it easier for me is when I travel. I used to take a box of books when we drove and even when we flew I would travel with 9 or 10 books!

The awesome thing about my e-reader, too, is when I ride my exercise bike: the Kindle fits on the narrow ledge of the bike so I can read. I can also make the print larger on the Kindle if I need to. Physical books and magazines always fall down.

2. Ebooks–As I stated above I’m reading only ebooks these days. I don’t know why I like them so much, but I do. This year I’ve also read more new authors because of ebooks. I like to buy ebooks for $3.99 and below and for this price I’m willing to buy unknown authors. I also like ebooks because authors I like can publish their older books which are often out-of-print.

3. WordPress–I really like this blogging platform. It’s great for blogging. One of the reasons I’m blogging is that I love technology and it’s fun to learn new things. I’m also aware this sometimes can cause problems for my blog and changing things just to change them can be disconcerting for my readers. But it’s one of the reasons I’m blogging–I want to learn more.

I’m starting a class this week about the self-hosted version of WordPress. I’m considering moving my blog to a self-hosted site or perhaps creating a site for my crafting and cardmaking or maybe both!

4. Google & internet–I love that I can find out about new books and authors to read by using Google to search the internet. I can find favorite authors and see what they’re doing next as well as find book covers for my reviews.

5. Amazon–I buy most of my books from Amazon. I know many people don’t like Amazon, but I’m a fan. I also use it to find similar books to ones I like.

6. Other book review blogs–This is the main reason I started my blog…I wanted to connect with other book review blogs and bloggers. Not many of my friends read the kind of books I like and some don’t even read (which is really sad). I’ve met so many great people blogging about books.

7. Highlighting as I read on my Kindle–I like to highlight passages and then when I’m writing my review I can read through them for pertinent facts or quotes. It really helps me…especially if too much time passes between reading the book and writing the review…lol

8. Reading light on my Kindle–I have a Kindle Paperwhite which has lights up whenever I open up the cover. That makes it great to read at night when my husband is sleeping! When I was reading regular books I used booklights, but they never worked that well. This works great!

9. Netvibes–This is the newsreader I’m using right now. I had Google Reader on my computer, but never used it that much. I’m using Netvibes some. It does help me find posts I want to read so I guess it saves a little time. I haven’t completely decided about it yet. I like the views it offers. but I’m not that familiar with other readers so they may be better.

10. My laptop computer–Using a laptop lets me sit in the family room and use the computer to write my blog posts. I like that. I do a lot of my blog posts in the evening after my husband gets home from work. He watches TV…news, The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, programs like that…and I like to spend time with him. I find I can usually half listen to the TV while I write posts, visit other blogs and proofread my posts. So it’s a win-win for me!

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Honorable Mentions

Goodreads–I’ve only used Goodreads a little bit. I signed up for it just a few months ago and haven’t used it very much yet. The problem is I can see I would use it too much and spend too much time if I’m not careful!

Library–I’m a lifelong library user, but since I’ve begun reading ebooks I don’t use it as often, because so many ebooks aren’t available at libraries. Which is the publishers’ fault–not the fault of libraries.

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So there’s my list. What about you? What are your favorite things which make your blogging and/or reading life easier?