Weekly Reads – January 8, 2023

Well, we made it through our first week of 2023! I spent most of this week trying to get back on some sort of schedule. It’s amazing how quickly those things can go out the window!

For those of you in Northern California/Bay Area, I hope that you are safe! I keep hearing about all the flooding and issues coming from these storms. We are getting the edge of the storms, so it is just a lot of rain for us (and , if there is one thing Oregonians can deal with, it’s rain!). Right now, it’s pretty dreary out there, but I just remind myself how this will help us in the spring and summer.

So, my goal right now is to get things back in order for 2023. Can you believe we still have our Christmas tree up? My plan was actually to take it down yesterday. Then today. Well, maybe tomorrow. We’ll see. I’ll check in with next week’s post on my progress, but I can’t guarantee that the tree won’t still be up.

I’ve also been looking for new, healthy recipes to use. Pat is doing low carb and I just aim for healthy for the kids and I, but I am burned out with our current rotation of dishes. I’m trying something new tonight and hope to try at least one other new recipe this week. Of course, this just causes me to gripe about recipe websites. There are so many good sources for recipes out on the web, but food bloggers make it so hard to actually get the recipes. I get the need to monetize, but some go way overboard on their ads, to the point that their posts are essentially unreadable. Then, you have to scroll through pages and narration just to get to the recipe (although I am seeing the “Jump to Recipe” button more often). Sigh…I think I’ll spend my time with book blogs instead!

And now, onto the books!

As usual, I’m linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday…What Are Your Reading? blog hop.

Last week, I finished:

The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver
Date finished: January 5, 2023
Grade: C ⭐⭐

I’m having trouble articulating my feelings about this book in a concise elevator pitch. There were things I liked and appreciated, but they were not enough to save this novel.

This is a story about grief. Lydia Bird’s fiance was killed, and the meat of this story is Lydia dealing with her grief. Silver is at her strongest when she is conveying Lydia’s grief. Grieving is a unique and personal process, and Silver really makes that clear to the audience. I can see how someone dealing with their grief may find comfort in this book. Silver’s prose is very readable and, at appropriate times, humorous. This is a book whose language is easily digested.

Sadly, those were the only things that worked for me. The gimmick of Lydia taking sleeping pills and going into some other dimension with her non-dead fiance never really did much to move the main story forward. In fact, a point quickly came where it just no longer made sense. Lydia is moving through her grief in her real world, so why is she even popping the magic dream pills anymore?

This book is essentially a rom-com, and it ends how one would think a rom-com would end. The problem is the previous 99% of the book is about something else completely, and the ending comes off as completely unearned. I also felt that the story ended long before the book ended, and I wondered why there were still words on the pages.

Josie Silver can write and, as a rom-com author, I think she has promise. However, I think she needs to work on some plot mechanics so that she doesn’t repeat the mishmashness of this novel.

Ghost 19 by Simone St. James
Date finished: January 6, 2023
Grade: C ⭐⭐

I have really enjoyed Simone St. James’s novels and was excited to see that she was coming out with a standalone short story single. Unfortunately, I don’t think this shorter format works for St. James’s writing.

This is a Rear Window-style story, except instead of having a wheelchair-bound man at the center, we have an actress who had recently spent time in a mental hospital and was released under strange terms. Oh, and there is a supernatural element.

Honestly, there isn’t anything wrong with the story itself. If anyone can make this work, Simone St. James can. The issue is that St. James needs a much longer runway to build up the suspense and horror for this story. This book just seemed so rushed that I never had the chance to develop the chills I was hoping for. I also felt some details needed to be further explained or taken out. As they were, they made no sense.

I think this story would have worked better if St. James had expanded this into a novella, if not a full novel. As a short story, it just felt like a seed that hasn’t yet germinated.

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
Date finished: January 6, 2023
Grade: A+ ⭐⭐⭐⭐🌓

What a heartbreaking and beautiful yet difficult book!

Through the eyes of 4 different characters, we dive into the depths of mental illness. Lucia suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, something in between, or something different. Because doctors can’t find an exact diagnosis, she struggles with treatment. The three other people in her life all want the best for her. We have her older sister Miranda, who fights to find a diagnosis and treatment plan and tries everything in her power to get Lucia to do what she needs to do to say healthy. Lucia’s husband, Yonah, loves her dearly but feels that medication is not only not helping but is making her situation worse. Finally, we have her young lover Manny who doesn’t understand her illness but desperately wants to do what is right.

None of these characters is a true hero, yet all of them try to act with Lucia’s best interests in mind. All four characters are flawed. Sometimes you will hate them, and sometimes you will cheer for them. Ultimately, you will feel deeply for them. There are no heroes or villains here, just humans.

This book is, at times, a tough read. We dive deep with Lucia and the others in her life into the depths of her mental illness. If this material is troubling for you, you should take care with this book. Lee does not back away from some of the harder material and reading it can be excruciating.

This book was not always enjoyable, but it deeply impacted me. I would recommend this to anyone.

Right now, I’m reading…

And here is this week’s update video (which includes a mini review of Everything Here is Beautiful. Lillie and I tried a new camera position this week, and…I don’t think it works. Oh well, we’re still learning! Next week, I shouldn’t be too in your face.

Also, I have a video coming out on Tuesday that is about the authors I refuse to read. I think I may offend some people with that because I have some spicy opinions, but I also share a story about that time I waltzed into book club 3 sheets to the wind, so there is that.

12 thoughts on “Weekly Reads – January 8, 2023

  1. We’ve been getting so much rain here! Luckily, where I am, we haven’t seen much flooding.

    Ah, those food blogs, too much to get through before the actual recipe comes in. It’s the same problem that I have with crochet blogs, except there’s no “jump to pattern” button!


  2. I always enjoy your videos. I do think you are right about being a little too “in your face” with this setup. I’m curious about Marple. I usually don’t enjoy short stories but do like to discover new to me authors. Come see my week here. Happy reading!


  3. Everything Here is Beautiful, one of those kind of books that help us understand others in a compassionate way. I like how you say none. of them are true heroes, isn’t that so human, I can identify.


  4. Happy New Year! We just took our tree down yesterday. I love having it up but it’s nice to have the space back too when it’s down. Plus the cats can stop trying to destroy it. Good luck with recipes! And new food. I’m trying to go more Mediterranean diet this year, we’ll see how THAT goes.


  5. I think The Two Lives of Lydia Bird was a DNF for me. (And that doesn’t happen very often!) Grief and rom com don’t seem like they would go together.
    I was bemoaning how hard it was to use recipes on blogs over the holidays, even with the Jump to Recipe button. You really can’t beat flipping open an actual print cookbook. If only my cookbook collection was indexed like the Internet!


  6. Our Christmas tree is still up, but the plan is for it to go today. It’s a real tree so I suspect there will be needles everywhere. I woke up this morning and turned on the lights just so I could appreciate it fully one last time.
    Everything Here is Beautiful looks like an important book. I don’t think I’m ready to read it though. One of my sister’s sounds a lot like Lucia. Her mental health issues were complicated by addiction. She died a couple of years ago from fentanyl.


  7. Everything Here is Beautiful sounds wonderful! That’s really too bad about Ghost 19. I will still read it most likely, but I will keep my expectations low.


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