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Happily Ever Krafter Recommends

Thursday, June 11, 2020

One of my favorite things is when I find a source I trust to recommend books. Of course, we all enjoy different things, but when you find a good source whose taste seems to match your own -- or who will provide a thorough enough review that you can decide whether or not a book is for you -- you latch on. There are so many great books out there, and sometimes deciding what to read next can be overwhelming!

With that in mind, I have opened up a "shop" on Bookshop.org. Have you heard of this? Bookshop.org is an online bookstore that financially supports independent bookstores. Their website states:

As more and more people buy their books online, we wanted to create an easy, convenient way for you to get your books and support bookstores at the same time.

If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support, find them on our map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop).

Doesn't this sound great? 

When you visit my page on Bookshop.org, you will see several lists of books I recommend in different categories; I like to think of it as my own virtual lending library! So far my categories include:

Book Club Picks -- Looking for a new selection for your book club? Here are my suggestions for compelling books that would make for interesting discussion!

Middle Grade Readers -- As a middle school teacher, I love finding out what my students are reading. Here are some great ideas, both classic and contemporary.

Books About Reading -- If you love reading about reading, these books are for you!

Bert's Books -- Here is a list of books my baby loves!

Summer Reads -- Perfect books for lying on the beach or lounging by the pool!

Classics to Rediscover -- Maybe you forgot how much you loved them; maybe you never read them at all!

Suspense and Thrillers -- Do you like to be kept on the edge of your seat with a little mystery? These are the books for you!

Fiction -- Some of these novels are serious, others funny, but the one thing they have in common is that they're compelling!

I'll be adding books to each category as I find new things to recommend, and I will probably add more categories too. If there's a category you'd like to see, let me know!

Please visit me for book recommendations at Bookshop.org at my shop, Happily Ever Krafter. As always, you can also find me on Litsy and Goodreads. Happy reading! 


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A little disclaimer: if you purchase a book on Bookshop.org through my shop, or via an Amazon Affiliate link, I will receive a commission of 10%. You know I will never suggest any book I don't love (NO MORE BORING BOOKS, remember?), so you can trust that all opinions are my own. I appreciate you supporting this blog and the stay-at-home mom who runs it! 


Summer Reading 2020

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

GUYS. IT IS TIME. The best reading season of the year: SUMMER!

In August of 2016 (theme: The Summer 
We Read Austen) and August of 2017 (theme: More Alive and Less Lonely) I wrote posts detailing all of the books I had read those summers and included my favorite quotations and pieces of books that really spoke to me. At the end of summer 2018 I didn't do this as I had just gotten married, moved, and started a new job. I also failed to do this in summer 2019 because we had bought a house and I had a baby. But I am determined to complete another summer round up this August because I have missed looking back on my summer reading.

Things will look a little different reading-wise for me this summer than in summers past. This is the first summer I've had a child to take care of and not the endless amounts of hours I used to have to read. Admittedly, this is a little hard for me. I love my husband and son, but I sort of just wish that they'd leave me alone so I could read! I mean, Bert will be 10 months old tomorrow; he can watch himself now, right? I frequently take a nostalgic look back to the summer of 2016, heretofore named "The Perfect Summer." This was the first summer I had since I started teaching where I was a. not working and b. not taking a full-time load of graduate courses. I did take on some part-time work at church two days a week, but five days a week I had nothing whatsoever to do. On Tuesdays I would take a morning yoga class, stop by the library to pick up my stack of books, and then head to the pool. I'd stay at the pool until I finished a book, then I'd head home and continue to read. No one needed me, I didn't have to go anywhere, I could just read books in peace. Sigh. Those were good days. I mean, I like my life now, too, don't get me wrong, but sigh -- those were the good old days! 

Truthfully, though, I have been attempting to train myself to do some reading while Bert is asleep in the afternoons and after he goes to bed and we eat dinner at night. I try to complete all my house chores and responsibilities in the early and mid-mornings and leave some time later in the day for reading. I enjoy it, yes, but I have also found that I am a much nicer person when I've had time alone to read. It just makes me who I am. I am excited that our library is back open for pick ups, and I have been weekly for the past three weeks and will go again Thursday. I might not make it through my stacks as quickly as I used to, but I am still making it through the stacks! Also, both Bert and I are registered for our library's summer reading program. I am so excited for Bert's first summer reading program ever. (The first of many, I hope!)

It sounds like it would be the opposite, but I actually read LESS during quarantine. One reason is because Joe was working from home, so we had more time for yard and house projects that kept us really busy. The bigger reason, though, is, I GOT STUCK WITH THE MOST BORING BOOK WHEN THE LIBRARY CLOSED! Remember at the beginning of the year when I vowed NO MORE BORING BOOKS?! Well, apparently someone up there was laughing because after an on-fire January and February, I got stuck with a super boring book in March when the library closed. So, although I had made that promise to myself, I tried so hard for weeks -- months! -- to read that boring book until one day I was like THIS IS STUPID. Guys, just stop reading boring books. 

I'm still keeping up with my Modern Mrs. Darcy 2020 Reading Challenge, but not exclusively so. Here's what I've been reading lately:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
- I highly recommend this book. I had read two of his books previously, and this one did not disappoint. A note to people who have read his books before: I found this one to be much heavier than the other two I've read (My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here). I am now reading the follow up to Beartown called Us Against You.



- I can't remember the last time I read a modern heroine that so totally reminded me of myself. The main character is anxious, a planner, organized, loves books and trivia, drinks wine, and loves being alone. It's like Abbi Waxman looked into my life. I recommend this if you are looking for a light, fun read with a plot that talks about a love of books!

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
- I'd love to talk about this one with someone who has read it. It's an intense family drama, and I usually enjoy these types of stories, but this one felt to me like it was, I don't know, unfinished maybe? Let me know if you read it so we can talk about it!

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena
- I have read two of Shari Lapena's prior books (The Couple Next Door and A Stranger in the House), and I liked this one as well. She had me hooked from the first few pages because there were so many parallels between it and my favorite novel of all time, Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. Reading the beginning vignettes about each character's arrival to the inn where the story takes place is so like Agatha Christie's novel that I almost expected to see the characters from that book show up in this one too! Shari Lapena is known for a good twist ending, and this one did not disappoint! 


Tweet Cute by Emma Lord
- This is a young adult novel, and I like to keep up with these as much as I can since I enjoy talking about books with students and former students. I really enjoyed this debut novel about two teens who get involved in an all-out Twitter war between their families' restaurants. 


If you want to keep up with everything I'm reading, and more importantly, my ever-growing list of things I want to read, please follow me on Litsy or add me as a friend on Goodreads

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This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a book through this page, I may receive a small commission. All the thoughts shared here are my own.

June 1

Monday, June 1, 2020

Today is June 1. 

We've all been looking forward to this, haven't we? Or just me?

There's something beautiful about the beginning of a new month, and it seems even more magical when the first is on a Monday. It seems like a double fresh start. And, for me, June 1 means summer (even though I know it technically isn't, not yet) which is the best time of the year. And after the dumpster fire that was March, April, and May, I think we were all hoping that June would bring some sort of peace to our lives. 

But it didn't happen, did it? 

I was hopeful this morning when I woke up, hopeful in the far-fetched, no real reason to be kind of way that I sometimes am. Then Joe read aloud some of the news he was looking at this morning. When he got to the part where there are reports that people in Austin, Texas were laughing as a homeless man's possessions were set on fire, I couldn't hear any more. 

I've recently learned that I'm a highly sensitive person. I mean, I've always known that I am really sensitive, but I've recently learned that being a highly sensitive person is actually a thing. Honestly, it helps me to put a name on it because I feel that the more you can learn about yourself, the better you  become at making choices that help you and your mental health. For me, when I hear about a homeless person's belongings being set on fire and people laughing, or a person being literally murdered in the street because of the color of his skin by a law enforcement officer sworn to serve and protect while other people just watched, or any of the other many, many sad and awful things that seem to happen on a daily basis, I am broken up about it for a while, and it affects my daily ability to live life. When Joe told me what he told me this morning, I literally sat there in bed rolling it over again and again in my mind. A HOMELESS man's belongings were set on fire and people were laughing. A HOMELESS man's belongings were SET ON FIRE and people were laughing. A HOMELESS MAN'S BELONGINGS WERE SET ON FIRE AND PEOPLE WERE LAUGHING. That sentence joined the other ones that are still taking up space in my head: A BLACK MAN WAS LITERALLY MURDERED BY A POLICE OFFICER IN THE STREET WHILE PEOPLE WATCHED. PEOPLE ARE DAMAGING AND STEALING FROM SMALL BUSINESSES THAT ARE OWNED BY LOCAL PEOPLE WHO HAVE DONE NOTHING WRONG AND HAVE FAMILIES TO SUPPORT. What happens is, it makes me unable to engage with my baby who is smiling and playing right beside me. So I made I decision I have been thinking about for the past couple of days. 

I am getting off Facebook. 

At first it might not sound like Joe telling me something relates to me staying off Facebook, but the truth is I've spent the past couple of days being disturbed all day long by things I see on Facebook. I don't spend much time on it, truthfully, but as a stay at home mom who is isolated at home with a baby who can't talk all day, sometimes I need to see what the world is up to. And lately it's been dragging me down. Probably not just lately. Forever. Joe is not on Facebook -- or on any social media (except Pinterest, long story, and I know it sounds hilarious!) -- and he is always saying how awesome it is to just live his life. And he's right. On Facebook lately all I've seen are people saying awful things, numerous headlines about violence of all kinds, and people posting statuses like they are experts on literally everything and their opinions are the only ones that matter. I can't even get on my neighborhood's Facebook group any more because there are people on that page who say rude and aggressive things to other neighbors. We're supposed to use that page to talk about the hours of the pool and to check in with each other about safety issues and things like that! 

Please don't take what I'm saying as meaning that I plan to bury my head in the sand and just pretend things aren't happening in the world. That's not true. All it means is that I can control the time and place I choose to read news and take in headlines, which will allow me to be more mentally and emotionally available to my husband, son, other family members, and friends. It also gives me the time and clearer head I need to decide how to take action and find out how I can best help. 

I plan to jump on Facebook to update my Happily Ever Krafter Facebook page with any blog updates, but other than that, I won't be there. The app is already gone from my phone. So if you'd like to engage with me via social media, find me on Instagram (which just seems generally to be a nicer place; maybe I'm wrong) where I might be from time to time, or, better yet, on Litsy, my most favorite app because it's all about books, and Goodreads because I will most likely just be online to read about reading all summer.

***

When I came downstairs this morning, I was overcome with the need for a little pleasant company. Joe was getting ready to leave for work (they were cleared to start working outside the house again on Friday), and I just needed a little light company. We don't usually have the TV on during Bert's awake hours (except on Friday mornings when we let him watch a little Batman), but today I decided to turn on Sesame Street. We have access to the HBO Go app courtesy of my parents' cable package, and you can watch classic Sesame Street on that app. I want Bert to watch a little Sesame Street because first, it's a great show that I've always loved, and two, well, his name is Bert! I watched a lot of Sesame Street growing up, and I remember loving Maria, Gordon, Bob, Linda, Luis, Mr. Hooper and all the characters. 

I turned it on and put Bert in his high chair to eat a few Cheerios while I emptied the dishwasher, made coffee, started laundry, and made Bert's breakfast. At one point I looked up, and this is what I saw:


Do you see what I see in this photo? We have Gordon, Olivia, David, and Susan who are African American; Bob, Linda, and Mr. Hooper who are white; Luis who is Mexican; Maria who is Puerto Rican; Mr. Hooper who is Jewish; and Linda who is deaf. This show that started in the 1970s has always had a beautiful and diverse cast, and it is a beloved show. People are all treated the same on Sesame Street and differences are celebrated and used as opportunities to learn about others' races, religions, and cultures. Sesame Street has been getting it right for decades, but in actual America we are still ... well, you see where we are and what's going on. 

EDIT:

Sesame Street is still on, and Bert and Ernie just finished singing a song that goes, "I don't like everything you like, but I like you." 

***

Yesterday we got to go to mass for the first time since March, and it was wonderful. We love our pastor, Father Jack, and he always knows just what to say. He frequently talks about current issues and sensitive topics, but it is always done in a way that is hopeful and centered on Christ. Yesterday, Pentecost, he made the comment that, "They [the apostles] spoke different languages but understood each other. In our country, we speak the same language, but we don't understand each other." That really struck me as so true and so sad. He also reminded us that God has something to say in every situation, and we have to look and see what He is trying to say to us. Father Jack also said that it is our responsibility to stand up for -- and lay our lives down for -- people that are more vulnerable than we are. He said that Christ did not wait for justice, he was willingly crucified and brought justice because He brought mercy. There can be no justice without mercy. 

*** 

My friend Sarah got me a wonderful daily calendar that features scripture or uplifting sayings on each page. Here's today's:




As always, I appreciate the time you take to read what I write and the kindness you show in allowing me to say it. I hope you have a beautiful week. 

EDIT:

I just saw that I posted this post on June 14, 2016, almost exactly four years ago. It begins with a sentence I could have begun with today. In that post, I also cited another post that I wrote in November 2014. It breaks my heart to read it all over again. 
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