Writing Prompt: All Things Visible and Invisible

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Every time I hear the phrase “all things visible and invisible” in church I think about what a great book subject that would wake. In every given situation there’s so much we can see,and so much more we can’t see. On the bus there’s people riding the bus, and then there’s all the microscopic creepy crawlies left behind from the riders. Look at the ocean and you see the waves. Underneath there are all sorts of creatures ready to eat you. In a meeting there’s an agenda, and then there’s all the hidden agendas.

This is the non-fiction book I would love to read, but no one has written yet. If you write it please send me an ARC!

August Show Us Your Books

I spent hours reading The Stand on the beach last month. Life is good. (Still not finished though…)

I spent hours reading The Stand on the beach last month. Life is good. (Still not finished though…)

Summer reading is the best! I read sixteen books this month, and many of them were read on the beach, listened to in the car with my kids, or in my ears when I was taking a nice long twilight walk after dinner. Below are short descriptions of ten of the best.

Favorite

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton - This was probably my fifth time reading this, but my first time on audio. It was a really good book to listen to. I got so into it one night when I was walking that when a squirrel ran out in front of me I jumped a mile thinking is was a t-rex or something.

Lived Up To The Hype

The Lost Girls of Paris by Pam Jenoff - Even though the love story felt forced to me, I still liked this book a lot. The truth is it would be hard to make me hate a WWII spy novel.

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid - I had heard rave reviews of this one, so I was feeling the pressure to like this futuristic book about refugees traveling through mysterious doors. A totally weird story that resonates with stories you read in the news.

The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict -I was fascinated by this novelization of the early life of Hedy Lamarr, the early Hollywood star/torpedo designer/Nazi escapee.

Girl Power

the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace - I always think poetry will be hard to read, and then am surprised when it isn’t. This collection was sitting on my shelf for months, and I found the strong and emotional poems to be just the right thing for carrying in my purse and dipping into when I had a few minutes.

Wicked by Gregory Maguire - Another book I finally got to. I obviously knew the ending, but was very interested to see how Maguire would make it come out.

The Lady and the Panda by Vicki Constantine Croke - The story behind the first giant panda captured for a zoo. Fascinating. I’ll never think the same way when I go.

Audiobooks That Took My Mind Off Walking and Driving

Things A Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone - I found this audiobook to be interesting and relatable. Even kajillionaire Twitter inventors have bad days at work, and I appreciated Stone’s take on them.

The Runaway Jury by John Grisham - vintage Grisham at his best. I hope to get to more of these over the summer.

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid - The books from The Austen Project aren’t very good on their own, but I do enjoy reading them to see how contemporary authors will spin some of my favorite classics. I bought this when it first came out, and it sat in my audiobooks.com account for years. I’m glad I finally got to it.

Life According to Steph

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June 2017 Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

The weather has been very rainy, but I'm starting to get a few chances to do summery things like read outside by the fire. I haven't even bought our pool pass yet, but I'm looking forward to reading by the water soon.

The Winds of War by Herman Wouk -- I really liked losing myself in this long book about a family on the cusp on World War II. I'll admit to skimming some parts about military history though. Beware if you read this; it ends on a cliff hanger. Don't do it unless you want to commit to the doorstop of a sequel as well.

Margaret from Maine by Joseph Monninger -- I would describe this book as thought provoking. There's so much there about today's veterans and their families, marriage, motherhood, and life.

Lassoing the Sun by Mark Woods -- This was a good travelogue about the National Parks. It's not a I did this and then I did that kind of book. It's a this is what the parks mean to me kind of book.

Last Night at the Lobster by Stewart O'Nan -- This short book was good, but I wish I had read it around Christmas time.

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My favorite fiction from 2016

I read a lot of good books this year, books that had me ignoring my family, missing stops on trains, and hoping that my plane would be delayed just a little bit longer. Here are the stand outs.

End of Watch by Stephen King - This book, the last one in the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, pushed all my good book buttons. I loved the rsolution, and the call backs to King's earlier books.

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith - It's been a long time since I felt like I was actually in a book, but The Farm took me to Sweden in the snow. This book had a great ending too.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne - Yeah, I know there's a lot wrong with the timelines, depction of the characters, etc. I just loved being back at Hogwarts.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - An amazing audiobook loved by my whole family. Would be great for a family road trip.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein - My favorite read out loud all year. Had us up reading way past bed time. The first book that ever made my son say "Just one more chapter, please???"

Opening Belle by Maureen Sherry - The circumstances of this working mom's day to day were kind of far fetched, but I feel like this is one of the few books that got the details of my experience right.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik - I just finished this not too long ago, and loved it. The only thing that made me give it 4 1/2 stars instead of 5 was that it dragged on just a bit too long at the end. Other than that, this is the kind of book that will make you want to curl up and just keep reading.

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng - A powerful story about a part of World War II you don't often hear about.

And some re-reads...

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King - A must read after a crazy trip to Maine - still good, and a trip down memory lane to the years before the Red Sox finally won the World Series.

On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder - My favorite of the series. I'm so glad I got to read it again.

Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume - I read this for a reading challenge, and it still holds up after all these years.

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REVIEW: Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen

If I were the type to make New Year's Resolutions, which I'm not, one of them might be to get better at reacting to feedback. I have a tendency to ignore feedback that might be helpful (performance reviews at work), and to focus too heavily on unhelpful feedback (you are letting a daycare center raise your kids.)

I'm really glad I got around to reading Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen before my next performance review. This book goes in-depth on the types of feedback you may receive, how to use it, and when to set boundaries. There were actionable items on almost every page. I got my copy from the library, but will most likely buy my own to keep so I can highlight on a re-read. While this book focuses on receiving feedback, it also made me more aware of the ways in which I'm giving feedback.

If you're the New Year's Resolution type, may I also suggest:

If you're giving an evaluation at work, or writing your self-review I recommend the following:

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REVIEW: Mistakes I Made At Work

Mistakes can be so isolating. When you make one, it kind of feels like you're the only one to have ever screwed up so badly in all the history of the world. But, of course, you're not. We should all talk about our mistakes more. You go first.

Luckily Mistakes I Made At Work by Jessica Bacal has stepped in to fill the void. This book isn't 100% great. Some of the stories read as if the author is trying to say that her mistake was working with people that just aren't as awesome as her. But there are other stories, like the one by the ER doctor, that really help to reflect on when I'm up at 3 am going over again how I could have forgot to add a decimal point in the Excel sheet I was working on. Or whatever. That's just a totally made up example.

More books that get me through the day at work:

Note: Links to amazon.com are affiliate links. I was given a copy of Mistakes I Made At Work as part of the Library Thing Early Reviewers program, but all opinions are mine.

REVIEW: Why don't they ever get it right? My review of A Window Opens.

I read A Window Opens this week, and walked away frustrated. This book, while having some true moments, reads mostly like some sort of conservative treatise against women in the workplace. It was supposed to be true and honest, but to me it came off as a ridiculous warning.

Look, I know a woman's decision to work is a personal one that needs to take place on a family by family level. However, if you do go back to work, I don't think it will cause your husband to become an alcoholic, keep you so busy that you won't realize when your kids learn to read, or try to prohibit you from sitting by the death bed of a loved one. If any of those things does happen, it's probably a sign that you have the wrong job, not that you can't have one. (You should probably also try some marriage counseling. If you need to leave work because your kid is sick, and no one can find your husband because he's passed out drunk in the basement, that is not the fault of your job.)

I have this frustration a lot. It seems like authors can't write about working moms without having them be either complete screw ups at work, or frazzled messes who can never be depended upon to bring cookies to the bake sale. I'm not saying life is easy over here, or that I have it all together. I'll promise you this though - I know my kids' teachers names, my kids' teachers know my name, my kids knowing how to read would never come as a surprise to me, I made it to two parent teacher conferences this week, and no one has threatened to fire me.

My  suggestion: skip this book.

A Book I Did Like About Working and Caregiving:

It's a graphic novel! Try something new.

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I linked this post up with  On My Bookshelf .

I linked this post up with On My Bookshelf.