Saturday, February 10, 2024

January...and My Reading Challenges...

I am super late to the party. I meant to get my 2024 reading challenges post up a month ago...And January just got away from me.

We have had some really weird weather but I think everyone has been having their own weird weather. Biting cold in early January and then warmish torrential rains...Part of my job I am outside for an hour or so and I have had to invest in warmer boots, socks, and a huge umbrella!

Moving to our new house has included making friends with some of the local cats! A neighbor a street over has three cats that roam the neighborhood and come to say hi from time to time. Duke is  a big fluffy grey kitty. He is so friendly and chill. My cats aren't ecstatic about his presence but surprisingly they are very tolerant! When it's really stormy he whines at our door and we let him in to dry off, warm up, get a few cuddles, and some treats. He's just a big sweetheart. I feel like we are the grandparents who can love on the kitty and then send him off when he gets too whiny!

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Here are my two boys shoveling hard during our winter snowstorm!

We also hosted a housewarming party with some friends during the winter break. It helped so much to welcome in friends and finally break in our new house. We also purchased a brand new fridge; we've been wanting to since we realized what a crapshoot the previous owners left the fridge in!

I have made a renewed effort in bullet journaling. I found someone who had some really fun yet simple pages and I'm rolling with it and seeing how they work for me. I've put all of my reading challenges in there and hoping it'll help me keep track a bit better this year.

I also attended the Sundance Film Festival, online anyway. I watched 4 films. 

Black Box Diaries: This is a documentary focuses on Shiori, a journalist and a victim of rape. She fights for her right to get justice after the local police department shuts down the investigation once they hear that the perpetrator is a close friend of then prime minister Shinzo Abe. It's an amazing piece of journalism and she also documents her grief and trauma from this brutal attack. And how hard it is to get justice in Japan's legal system.

Never Look Away: This is a documentary by Lucy Lawless. She looks into New Zealand war journalist Margaret Moth. Fascinating story. I felt Lawless presented Moth in all her glory and many of her picadilloes. She interviewed old boyfriends and had them share their sides of the tale. They were very contradictory. I really enjoyed learning more about Moth and utterly reckless she was with not only herself but with those she truly cared about.

Handling of the Undead: This was a book to movie adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's book of the same name. He wrote Let the Right One in which took on a very different vampire theme. This one takes on the zombie genre and grief. Lights flicker and go out and things stop working but people soon realize their loved ones that recently died have been resurrected. We never find out why or how. But we follow a few families and how they deal with their loved ones coming back. It was probably a bit slow for my taste. But there are some good themes on grief and letting our loved ones go that I enjoyed.

Thelma: This movie was an absolute delight! Thelma is a 93 year-old woman is watched by her family like she's four. When she is scammed out of $10,000 it's up to her and an old friend to track the thieves down and get her money back. It's like a Mission: Impossible but if they were 93 instead. It's funny and touching all at once. I highly recommend seeing this one once it gets wider release.

I finished 3 books in January!

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  • Slow Horses by Mark Herron. I first heard of this series from Apple TV+ with the TV adaptation of the same name starring Gary Oldman. He is the best thing about the whole series. The adaptation is phenomenal. And after reading the first book, I am even more impressed by the series. It truly captures the book and adds to it. I highly recommend this one.
  • To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. I loved Ivey's The Snow Child, which I also read last winter. This one had been sitting on my shelves since a library boos sale a couple of years ago. This one did not disappoint. Fascinating history brought to life through her vivid settings and lively characters. And once again she adds a hint of the mystical throughout. Part of my read through history challenge.
  • The Canceling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott. Lukianoff and Schlott break down the various areas of cancel culture from both sides of the aisle and how this stifles diverse conversation and stymies real-world solutions.
I'm hoping to get longer reviews out soon.

I am currently reading...
  • Making It So by Patrick Stewart. I'm listening to this one on Everland/Scribd. I am loving this! He reads it himself and his stories are fantastic. I have followed him since his TNG days. It's been a fantastic way to get through the January winter blues.
  • Snow by Ronald Malfi. This is part of my I Read Horror Year-Round challenge...Malfi is one of my new favorite horror authors. Fantastic storylines that are creepy and well done. This book takes on the zombie genre but different and I've read and watched quite a few zombie stories. I am over halfway through and I have not been disappointed.
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have started twice but have never finished this classic. I've watched all of the BBC adaptations! I am determined this time to finish. I am about halfway through. I am also reading an annotated edition with very interesting tidbits, which is really helping me get through this one.
  • Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Another classic. This one is part of my 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die challenge. This is basically the first mystery book. It definitely has an Agatha Christie feel without the murder. It's also a lot longer than your typical mystery. I am enjoying it so far.
  • Lone Women by Victor LaValle. I just started this one and so far so good. I have enjoyed all his books! He's a fantastic horroresque author!
Reading Challenges 2024

I always try to do Michelle's I Read Horror Year-Round challenge! She switches up the horror themes each year. I love horror books so it is a great way to read them with friends. When I finish Snow and Lone Women I'll be two down with ten more to go!

Her second challenge I try to do each year is the 1000 Book challenge from the book 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by David Mustich. I've read Les Miserables andThe Count of Monte Cristo through her challenge. This year is Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. So far Moonstone has been a very pleasant surprise!

The next challenge is from Emily Cook. She created her own secular homeschooling program called Build Your Library. She has had great ideas for books to read with my son for years. Every year she issues a reading challenge based on educational themes. This year is Read Through History. She has 40 categories and you just plug through as many as you can. I don't think I'll get through so many but it's always fun to try!

This weekend is my son's birthday! He's 15! I can't believe it. We've been running about having fun. He's got a friend coming over tonight. 

It's also the Super Bowl Sunday. I've got some snacks planned out. I absolutely do not care who wins. I just want it to be a close game and I hope the ads are funny and interesting and that the halftime show doesn't bomb!

All of my books have been hits so far this year and it's really helping my winter blues! 

I'm joining up with Deb from Readerbuzz for her Sunday Salon.


  1. Your list of books, streaming series, and films is really great, especially the Sundance ones. I keep meaning to reread some Wilkie Collins — I read a couple of his books decades ago. I’m put off by those 19th century page counts. Serial publication was like a Netflix series that’s released weekly, but the entire book is a binge!

    I hope your weather and everyone else’s improves as spring creeps up on us.

    Best, mae at

    1. It's so true! Moonstone is highly bingeable. The first narrator Mr. Betteredge just cracks me up with his little insights and love of Robinson Crusoe.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing the films you saw during the Sundance Film Festival. All of these sound like films well-worth viewing.

    I've been curious about Make It So. I adore Patrick Stewart. I should look for this book.

    And I am (sort-of) doing the 1000 Books Project. I'm doing it as a perpetual challenge.

    1. I've got only a few chapters left of Making It So and the whole thing has just been a treasure. I do hope you get to it soon. It'll be one of my favorites this year!

      1000 Books has so many great book ideas. I also love the author's newsletters from time to time.

  3. I remember that Mansfield Park had its slow moments, but in the end I was glad that I read it.

    I'm adding Making It So to my TBR -- I would get a kick out of Patrick Stewart telling stories.

    1. I'm enjoying Mansfield Park overall but it's not quite as unputdownable as some of her other novels. But I'd say this one has more depth and maturity.

      And do add Making It So to your list! It's going to be one of my favorites this year.

  4. Happy birthday to your son! I also don't care who wins the Super Bowl, but I'm looking forward to the snacks.

    1. Thank you! Yep, just here for the snacks and I hope it's a close game. The blowouts are boring.

  5. What a great list of books! The Moonstone was the first Wilkie Collins novel I read and is still my favorite. I've been meaning to read Eowyn Ivey for years, even have The Snow Child ready to go on my kindle. Thelma looks like a great movie. I'll keep an eye out for it. Happy Birthday to G... 15, wow!!

  6. Happy Birthday to your son! What a pretty kitty! My cats are not friendly toward any of the neighborhood cats, sadly. It sounds like you are settling nicely into your new home and neighborhood. Mansfield Park and Moonstone are two classics I have yet to read but really want to. I hope you have a great week and good luck with your reading challenges!

  7. January absolutely flew by, didn't it?!

    I really should read The Moonstone someday, since I'm a lover of classic mysteries!

  8. Happy birthday to your son! We're renting a little cottage this winter and storing our RV because we're in colder weather than we usually are. Wintering in an RV is possible with work, but that's not something we're interested in. Anyway, there are some neighborhood kitties who like to wander through and check us out. They're obviously well cared for so they aren't strays. One in particular would love nothing more than to come inside. Previous renters must have let him in but we aren't supposed to have pets. He reminds me of a cartoon I've seen of a group of cats having a meeting. One of them is saying something like, "So, we're looking for a neighborhood where every family thinks we're their cats." That sounds about right!

    Thelma sounds delightful! Enjoy your week!

  9. Happy Birthday to your son! I love that you got to know the cats in your neighborhood. I always make it a point to know all the kitties in the area. I want to listen to Make It So. I'm sure it's fun listening to Patrick Stewart. I hope you have a great week.

  10. Did you get a new job? I hope you're enjoying it. I read the To the Bright Edge of the World novel for a book club a few years back. It was pretty good but so different than the Snow Child, right? Still there are some mystical parts to it. Here are my thoughts on it: .... I still want to read Lone Women -- it was on my summer list last year and I never got to it. Enjoy your weekend.


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