August/September 2018 Reads

To say I've been MIA when it comes to blogging would be a huge understatement.  I'm not actively avoiding it, nor have I completely lost interest in working on it ... I've just been busy with a lot of other things.  I know that's kind of vague, but I promise you'd rather I be vague than list out every single thing that's been happening lately because it's a lot.

I've also been drained of most of my energy thanks to my pregnancy (34 weeks this week!).  So, basically, blogging has been the furthest thing from my mind for a while.  (And it shows.)

I missed last month's link-up with Steph and Jana, so I really wanted to make an effort to join in this month (especially since it's the four year anniversary!).  I will probably not be as responsive as I'd like on Tuesday, but I'll definitely make it around to some blogs and reply to comments throughout the rest of the week.  (Tuesdays are just bad for me right now, though this is thankfully the last week they will be crazy and long.)

So ... Now that I've given some (probably unnecessary) background, it's time to discuss the books I read in August and September!

Oh, and don't worry ... There aren't that many.  I read a whopping two books the entire month of September.  Like I said before: no time and no energy.  (And, to be honest, I didn't keep up with my reviews so I'm relying solely on memory for each of these.)

I'm also sorry to say that I have no lovely graphic for this post.  I may update it at some point in the future, but I'm dealing with a dead computer (R.I.P.) and a little Chromebook to use the internet.  Apparently this does not have all the capabilities of my laptop (which I guess I already knew), and I wasn't able to easily figure out how to do what I'd normally do when it comes to graphics ... So I didn't make one.  I did, however, snag the link-up graphic.  That's something, I guess.

Life According to Steph

Amazing Books I Highly Recommend

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Completed: 09/01/18
My Rating: *****
Challenge Category: A book with an emotion word in the title for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I'm always a little nervous when I finally get a highly anticipated book from the library.  And if everyone else seems to love it/give it rave reviews, I get even more nervous.  It probably sounds silly, but I hate building a book up in my head only to be let down.

In this case, though, the book was absolutely worthy of all the hype and praise it's received so far.  I loved everything about it!  I love books that make me take a step back and think about things in a different way, and I was very pleased to experience that while reading The Hate U Give.

I expected this book to be emotionally intense, and it definitely delivered.  (I cried quite a bit as I read the ending, and I can't even blame that on hormones.)  It's obviously very timely, considering the shit that's going on in the U.S. right now.  (I won't get into all of that because I don't feel like crying and writing a long ass rant about how fucked up this country is.)  But, with that being said, I'd love to see this become required reading in schools.  I'm sure it won't happen in certain areas (even though those students would probably really benefit from reading it), but it would still be nice.  I know I will be giving this book to my own child to read when he/she gets a little older and can appreciate it.

Very Good Books That Are Worth A Read

And Again by Jessica Chiarella
Completed: 08/08/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book in which each word in the title begins with the same letter (must have at least two words in the title) for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I really didn't know that much about this book beyond the basic premise when I started reading it, so I didn't have any real expectations.  Sometimes that can be nice, especially if I'm pleasantly surprised by the story.  (I definitely was in this case.)

I'll admit that this book is probably not for everyone.  If you don't like books told from multiple points of view, you won't like it.  And if you're not a fan of books with unlikable characters, you won't like it either.  None of the main characters were very good people, but I like flawed/unlikable characters so that wasn't really an issue for me.

This was another book that made me take a step back and look at things in a different way.  And Again was a much more emotional read than I expected, and it raised a lot of questions about how a second chance would affect not only the person given that chance, but also those around them.  

Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
Completed: 08/14/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: N/A

This was my second Lisa Jewell book, and I think I can safely say that I will continue to read her novels.  While I didn't love this one as much as The Girls in the Garden, it was still full of fucked up surprises.  (And those are, in my opinion, the best kind!)

I read a lot of thrillers, so I feel like I can often predict the twists.  I think I like Lisa Jewell's books so much because I can usually figure out some things, but then she'll throw something else in that makes me think, "I did not see that coming!"  It's refreshing to read books that offer something unexpected, especially in this genre.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Completed: 08/26/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book with an unlikable character for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

Tampa had been on my "To Read" list for years, and I had a feeling I would love it when I eventually got around to reading it.  It's dark and disturbing and completely fucked up ... So, obviously, it was perfect for me!

I think the only reason I didn't give it a five star rating was because it sort of fell apart for me near the end.  I wouldn't say that the ending was bad, it just went in a direction that was a little "meh" for me.  Overall, though, the writing was good enough to get under my skin (which is likely what the author intended given the subject matter and explicit nature of the sex scenes), and I found myself thinking about the story even when I wasn't reading it.  

I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, but if you can stomach it, it's definitely worth checking out.

Decent Books That May Work For You

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino
Completed: 08/20/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: A book you didn't get to in 2017 (but really wanted to) for the 2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge

I mentioned Swear on This Life in this post because I hoped it would encourage me to finally pick it up.  (It also didn't hurt that I could also use it for a reading challenge category!)  And, before I say anything else about it, I feel like I should say that this is most definitely not my typical kind of book.  I think many of you who have connected with me via blogging over the years already knew that, but for those who don't really know much about me, romances are not my thing.

That being said, I was really intrigued by the premise of this book.  I also know that many fellow book loving bloggers have read and loved it, so I had pretty high expectations.  (And maybe that was my fault because I should have probably realized that I might not have the same feelings about it as, say, someone who typically enjoys this genre.)

I wouldn't say that I didn't like this book because that would be a lie.  I found it mostly entertaining, and I read it pretty quickly (especially compared with how slowly I've been reading most books lately!).  I liked the book within a book concept, but I was let down by the quality of the writing in the "J. Colby" book.  (Though maybe that was because it was supposedly this huge literary sensation.  If it had just been touted as a bestselling popular book I might have been slightly less disappointed.)

I also hated the main character's boyfriend.  Why was he even there?  I feel like a lot of stories with romantic elements like to utilize love triangles, which is fine.  But if the love triangle feels forced or like the third person really isn't even necessary, it's annoying.

I did like that the book touched on some more serious topics like child abuse/neglect and growing up in poverty, but it wasn't enough to inspire me to give it a higher rating.  It was a fine book that passed the time, but it's not something I'd go out of my way to recommend to other people.

Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott
Completed: 09/17/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: N/A

I really wanted to love this book.  And, even though a three star rating isn't bad, it actually pained me to give a Megan Abbott book such a low rating.  I've read two of her other novels (The End of Everything and You Will Know Me), and both were five star reads.  I love her writing style and the creeping sense of dread she creates throughout each book.

But when I got to Give Me Your Hand, I just didn't feel the same.  The writing wasn't bad in any way, and that same creeping sense of dread was there ... It just didn't pack the same punch as her other books.

I kept trying to figure out why I didn't like this one as much as the others, and I've come to two conclusions.  First, it just didn't hold my interest.  I don't know exactly why it didn't, but I'd sometimes go a day or two without even opening this book because I just wasn't that invested in it.  The second reason is because the main character's job was similar to mine.  Maybe it's strange that I would dislike that aspect, but one of the reasons I enjoy reading is because it offers escape from my day-to-day life.  And, while I enjoy reading about characters and situations I can relate to, one thing I really don't want to read about is working in a lab.  It's just not an interesting thing for me to read about since I literally spend at least 40 hours each week doing just that.

Like I said, I wish I'd loved this book the way I thought I would -- unfortunately, for me, it was just okay.

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor
Completed: 09/29/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: N/A

While I was reading this book, I alternated between not being able to put it down and feeling sort of bored with it.  It definitely wasn't a bad book, but I think it had the potential to be much better.

I really liked the premise of the story, and it was open-ended enough that it could have ended in several ways.  As things played out, I mostly figured out what had happened (though I didn't know the why until it was revealed).  I had a different theory throughout much of the book, though, and I was both relieved and annoyed that it didn't go in that direction.  I know that probably sounds a little weird, but, depending on how it was handled, it could have potentially either been a really interesting twist or really lame.  It would have been interesting to see how this author would have handled that idea.

As I was reading The Chalk Man, I kept comparing it to a Stephen King novel.  I think this was mainly due to the fact that the story centered around a young group of boys in the 1980s (though the book alternated between the events of the past and the present).  I kept expecting something supernatural to pop up (as in a lot of Stephen King stories), but even though a few weird things happened, nothing was really supernatural.  (And that's totally okay with me since I'm not a huge fan of supernatural stories!)

It's really hard to review this book because I really don't know what I thought of it.  I really enjoyed some parts of it, but by the end, I was just glad it was over.  I'd say it could be worth reading if it sounds interesting to you, but, if you're like me, it may be just an okay book to pass the time.

Mostly Awful Books I Wouldn't Recommend

I don't have anything for this category.

Books That Should Never Have Been Published

Thankfully I don't have anything for this category either.

My challenge tallies for the months of August and September:

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0:
3 books completed
75/200 total points
Total books completed (July-September): 7 books
Total points (July-September): 125/200 points

2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge:
1 book completed
Total books completed (January-September): 7 books

July 2018 Reads

Last week I thought I had somehow missed linking up with Steph and Jana (and a bunch of other awesome book lovers!), and I was kind of bummed.  When I finally had time to check, though, I realized that Show Us Your Books was actually scheduled for this week.  I'm glad I didn't miss it!  (Though I'll be the first to admit that I'm really sucking when it comes to actually responding to comments.  I do read and appreciate all of them, and I really hope that I'll eventually get my shit together and do a better job of responding.)

I'm going to blame my confusion on pregnancy brain, though it could also have been due to having an incredibly hectic and stressful couple of weeks at work and basically saying, "Fuck it, I'm done!" every evening when I came home.  Eric was definitely my rock during that time, keeping me sane and fed and making sure I had time to decompress each evening and relax.  I don't think I could have dealt with it without him.

But anyway ... Today isn't really about that.  Today is all about one of my favorite topics: books!  So let's get to the reviews, shall we?

Amazing Books I Highly Recommend

July was yet another month in which I didn't read any five star books.  I'm okay with that, though, since I also didn't read any books I hated.

Very Good Books That Are Worth A Read

Only Child by Jack Ketchum
Completed: 07/21/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book I've owned the longest but haven't read yet for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I feel like I need to begin this review by saying that this book is, without question, not for everyone.  There were many things that made my skin crawl, and many things that made me want to hate this book.  In fact, I was sure I was going to give it a terrible rating and review for quite a while ... And then the story shifted and I couldn't put it down.

Here's the thing: the first 200 pages or so are filled with violent, graphic sex.  I don't really mind reading this sort of thing, but I didn't like the way it was presented.  The writing wasn't good enough to make it feel more like art and less like ... Well ... Filth.  As the story went on, the author's decision to include so many of these scenes made more sense.  I'd still say, though, that I wasn't really a fan of the first half of the book.

When Only Child began to focus more on the domestic violence/child abuse court case, however, I was immediately drawn in.  The story became a sad (and probably realistic) portrayal of the problems within the American justice system, and it brought out some intense emotions.

This book made it into this category strictly due to my four star rating.  I don't actually know that I would recommend it to many people since it was such a difficult book to read.  That being said, if you're not one to shy away from books featuring graphic violence, graphic sex, domestic abuse, rape, and child abuse, it could be worth a read.  I'd say this is especially true if you're a fan of Law & Order: SVU since the court case is similar to some of the cases they've featured on that show.  If all of that sounds like too much (or just isn't the kind of thing you'd want to fill your mind with), I'd say that's totally understandable.  After all, I didn't love the first half of the book.  But, like I said, the second half really packed an emotional punch for me ... And that tends to make me really enjoy a book/give it a higher rating.

Stay with Me by Ayobami Adebayo
Completed: 07/30/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book that has a (mostly) orange cover for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I knew going into this book that it would probably be an emotional, intense read -- and that's exactly how I would describe it now.  At only 260 pages, it was a short novel ... Yet it took me over a week to get through it because I could only handle it in small doses.

To be fair, this may not have been the greatest choice to read while pregnant.  (I would also caution those who are trying to conceive to maybe hold off on reading this book.)  This didn't dampen my enjoyment of Stay with Me, but I think it made it that much more difficult to get through the story.

One of my favorite things about this book was that I felt like I learned a lot about Nigerian history and culture.  I don't think I've ever read a book or seen a film set in this country (and I've never been there myself), so I really appreciated the details that were woven throughout the story that really brought it to life.  If a book is both entertaining and I feel like I've learned something from it, it's definitely a winner!

Although this book was yet another emotionally difficult read, it was well worth it.  It broke my heart so many times, but I loved the story.  There were so many small details that were revealed throughout the novel, and I really appreciated how each of these details gave more insight into what these characters were really experiencing.  Stay with Me was a powerful novel, and I'm beyond impressed that it was the author's debut!

Decent Books That May Work For You

Neighborly by Ellie Monago
Completed: 07/10/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: A book that starts with the letter "N" for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

The best way to describe this book is to compare it to a kinkier episode of Desperate Housewives.  That show was a guilty pleasure of mine, and the whole "things aren't always as they appear to be in this idyllic suburb" theme was a big part of both that show and this book.

While I enjoyed Neighborly, I kept finding myself thinking, "This is so weird" and wondering how everything would tie together in the end.  Unfortunately, the ending was sort of anti-climactic for me (even though there was a decent amount going on).  I just really hate when things are spelled out for me, and that's what the author chose to do here.  It makes me feel as though the author doesn't think the readers are smart enough to come to their own conclusions.  It also leaves no room for interpretation, which, to me, is kind of a bummer.

Despite its flaws, this was an overall fun summer read.  It's not light-hearted at all (and in fact deals with a pretty heavy topic), but it's worth checking out if you're looking for an easy beach read with some sex and mystery.

Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris
Completed: 07/15/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: Freebie for Book Challenge by Erin 9.0

I've now read all three books by B.A. Paris, and I'd say they're pretty solidly "pass the time just fine" books.  None of them have completely blown me away, but I've enjoyed each of them and tend to get through them pretty quickly.  (Though "quickly" for me these days is much different than what I would have considered "quickly" a year or two ago!)

Bring Me Back was kind of a weird read because I alternated between not wanting to put it down and not really knowing if I cared that much about what happened in the end.  I was a little WTF about the ending, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The premise reminded me of this movie I saw many years ago called The Vanishing (or Spoorloos).  It's an older movie from the 80s, but it's so so good.  I still think about it all the time.  I think I was sort of hoping this book would be for me what that movie was, but sadly it was not.  It was, however, a mostly enjoyable, quick read so I think it's worth checking out (especially if you've read and liked the author's other books).

Mostly Awful Books I Wouldn't Recommend

Since Only Child redeemed itself in a major way, I don't have anything for this category.

Books That Should Never Have Been Published

Thankfully I don't have anything for this category either.

My challenge tallies for the month of July:

Book Challenge by Erin 9.0:
4 books completed
50/200 total points

2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge:
0 books completed
Total books completed (January-July): 6 books

May/June 2018 Reads

It's been pretty obvious that I haven't been spending a lot of time on my blog lately (or, to be completely honest, reading/commenting on other blogs).  The main reason is definitely a good one (in my opinion anyway!), but I'm slowly trying to ease my way back into blogging and all of the things that go along with it.

I seriously considered not linking up with Steph and Jana again this month because I was completely unprepared to write this post.  (Not to mention the fact that I never got around to responding to comments from my link-up post in May.  Ugh.)  Last month I didn't join the link-up because I knew I didn't really have the time/energy for it, but I should have still been keeping up with taking notes on the books I was reading since I knew I'd want to share my thoughts in one big post.

Well ... I didn't do that.  I'm relying solely on my memory for these reviews and I plan to keep them pretty short, so hopefully they'll capture the main reasons I liked/disliked each book.  

Amazing Books I Highly Recommend

2018 has just really not been my year for reading books that I fall in love with.  I've read some pretty enjoyable books in the last couple of months, but none were what I'd consider five star worthy.

Very Good Books That Are Worth A Read

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira
Completed: 05/01/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book about death or grief for the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge

I actually should have included this book with my April Reads, but I forgot.  At least I remembered to talk about it now!

This is a YA book, and it's obvious that that's the intended audience.  It's not as "young" as some YA books I've read, and it definitely touches on some pretty heavy topics -- but I do think I would have enjoyed it more if the writing had felt a little more mature.  (And maybe also if the main character wasn't constantly obsessing about the oh-so-beautiful-and-mysterious boy she likes.  I felt like that kind of took away from the more important parts of the story.)

Despite its flaws, Love Letters to the Dead was an overall quick and enjoyable read.  I initially thought it would be a three star book, but it actually moved me to tears at one point near the end.  If a book can stir up that much emotion, I think it's worthy of at least four stars.

99 Red Balloons by Elisabeth Carpenter
Completed: 05/23/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: A book with song lyrics in the title for the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge

I wasn't really expecting much from this book.  It was one of those books I chose because it sounded like it could be potentially interesting and it satisfied a category in one of the reading challenges I'm participating in.  Luckily, I found myself really captivated by the story and wound up really enjoying the book.

While some parts lagged a bit and certain aspects of the story seemed a little too far-fetched, I liked that 99 Red Balloons brought some fresh ideas and twists to the "child gone missing" plot.  I can usually guess a lot of twists, but I wasn't as sure about this one ... It definitely kept me wanting to know more!

I should also note that this was yet another book that made me cry ... And not for any of the "expected" reasons with a book like this.  I won't share what it was (I don't like spoilers), but I will say that I was surprised that a subplot in a thriller could move me so deeply.

The Other Mother by Carol Goodman
Completed: 06/09/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: N/A

By the end of this book, I kind of wanted to give it a lower rating.  It wasn't that the ending was awful or anything ... It was just that the book kept getting more and more batshit crazy.  Don't get me wrong -- batshit crazy can be entertaining.  (And, for the most part, this was.)  I think I just got a little frustrated because it eventually felt so over-the-top and unrealistic.

That being said, I mostly enjoyed this crazy ride.  I was able to figure some things out, but there were a few twists that really surprised me.  (Which is always a good thing!)  And even though I thought about giving it a lower rating, I think The Other Mother probably deserved the four star rating it received -- it kept me entertained, and I thought about it quite a bit even when I wasn't reading it.

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser
Completed: 06/18/18
My Rating: ****
Challenge Category: N/A

As with The Other Mother, I was also really on the fence about my rating for Not That I Could Tell.  I liked the book quite a bit, but it was difficult for me to really pinpoint what it was that made it so enjoyable.  It could have been a case of "right book right time," though I remember really liking the characters and wanting to know how everything played out for each of them.

This book reminded me of something Liane Moriarty might write (and that's not a bad thing), so I think it could appeal to fans of her books.

Decent Books That May Work For You

Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
Completed: 05/06/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: N/A

I specifically chose to read this book because I wanted something quick and easy that I didn't really have to think about.  Pretty Little Liars definitely fit the bill.

The TV show is one of my guilty pleasures, but I didn't enjoy the original book as much.  I'll probably read some of the other books in the series just to see how they differ from the show, but reading the first book was essentially like rewatching the first episode -- several parts were even word for word identical.  I've actually rewatched the series a few times (yes, I like it that much), but I was hoping for something different from the book.  That's the reason I sometimes like to read a book even after seeing the movie/TV show -- it can often give some additional insight into certain events in the story to make things more clear.  That really wasn't the case here.

And, even though this is kind of dumb, I was a little annoyed that some of the characters looked and/or acted so differently from the way they were portrayed on the show.  I know that things change a lot when books are adapted to movies/TV shows, but I couldn't get over the fact that book Emily had a bunch of siblings (and red hair!), book Hanna was really smart while book Mona was kind of ditzy (and blonde!), or even that the girls were so much younger when Alison disappeared.  Like I said, these are all dumb things ... But they distracted me from the story and made it less enjoyable.  (Also distracting: when the author mentioned Hanna's Adam's apple.  What the fuck?)

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
Completed: 05/16/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: A book written by two authors for the 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge

The Wife Between Us was really an average thriller.  It's not a book I would warn people against reading, but it's also not a book I would tell people they need to read.

I guessed most of the twists, but that wasn't necessarily what turned this into a "good, not great" book.  I think I just never really got into the story the way I thought I would.  Add to that the fact that I can't even come up with much to say about the book (good or bad), and that pretty much sums up why I'd call this an "average thriller."

Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block
Completed: 06/03/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: N/A

I wanted to like this book much more than I actually did.  While the writing was in no way what I would consider "bad," there was a lot of repetition -- I often felt like I was reading the same thing over and over without receiving any additional information.  I can appreciate a slower novel that unravels the truth of the story a little at a time, but this was brutally slow.  I found myself wondering if the author would ever get to the "big reveal."

I did appreciate the timeliness of many of the topics that formed the backbone of the story, though.  Unfortunately, school shootings, racial tension, and immigration issues are at the forefront of our news forecasts, and Oliver Loving incorporated them into the story in a very natural, believable way.

I think it's possible I may have just chosen to read this book at the wrong time.  Maybe I would have appreciated it more if I'd read it at another time ... Maybe not.  Regardless, this book had a lot of promise but just didn't quite deliver.

The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy
Completed: 06/30/18
My Rating: ***
Challenge Category: N/A

The Perfect Mother is yet another book that I wanted to like much more than I did.  It's strange ... So many of the books I've read during the last couple of months were just sort of "meh."  They're not really that great, but they have enough redeeming qualities that I feel okay about giving them a three star rating.

While I can honestly say that I didn't know which direction the story would take, I was a little disappointed that some of it fell under the batshit crazy realm.  And, unlike in The Other Mother, this batshit crazy was just kind of annoying -- it was almost as if the author didn't really know how she should end the book so she just threw out an idea and ran with it.

Although it had its issues, I enjoyed the book enough ... Some parts even (surprisingly) made me laugh!  I also liked that I didn't know exactly what was going on throughout the book since that prevented me from guessing the ending.  I do wish the characters had been a little more developed, though.  I think I would have connected with the story more if I had been more invested in what happened with the characters.

Mostly Awful Books I Wouldn't Recommend

I may have been a little generous with a few of my three star rated books, but I don't think I disliked any of them enough to force them under this category.

Books That Should Never Have Been Published

I'm happy to report that I also have nothing to share here.

My challenge tallies for the months of May and June:

2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge:
3 books completed
Total books completed (January-June): 6 books

So, You're Pregnant ...

I've gotten a lot of questions since I started telling people about the pregnancy.  I would say that most people are probably just curious, though I would also say that sometimes the questions are at least a little rude.  (Even though I'm 100% sure they aren't meant that way.)

Since this is my space to share things on my own terms, I've decided to cover everything you'd want to know in this post.  I've been asked all of these questions at one point or another, so I assume they're the things people most want to know about.  And, if you're feeling nosy, you're welcome to ask me anything else in the comments.  I'll most likely answer the question.

Were you trying to get pregnant?

Yes.  This was 100% planned, though it did happen significantly earlier than we thought it would.

When did you start trying?

I went off birth control and all medication that could potentially harm a fetus (I'd already spoken with my doctor about this) in late November.  We used backup birth control until we decided to start actively trying in January.

How far along are you?

I'm 20 weeks this week, so I'm right at the halfway point.

When is your due date?

November 19th.

Did you do anything special to prepare for pregnancy?

I started taking prenatal vitamins when I stopped birth control.  I stopped drinking alcohol on January 2nd.  I cut way back on caffeine and stopped eating anything I knew I couldn't eat while pregnant (like sushi and soft cheeses) in early January as well.  I was trying to lose a little weight beforehand, but I didn't really have much success there.  (I felt like I gained a lot between my mom's visit in October, vacation in November, and the holidays.  In reality it wasn't that much, but I definitely wasn't at my ideal weight prior to getting pregnant.)  Eric and I also tried to eat plenty of fertility boosting foods (like kale and spinach), and I used a fertility app to track my cycle.

Do you know the sex of the baby?

No, and I'm not going to find out.  I could find out at my appointment next week during the big anatomy scan, but I want it to be a surprise.

Do you have names picked out?

Eric and I have had names picked out for years (even while I was still on the fence about having kids).  I'm not super secretive with them, but I'd prefer to share the name once the baby is born and we know if it's a boy or girl.

How much weight have you gained?

Honestly ... Not much.  I've gained a total of 8 lbs.  I really haven't been as active as I'd like (I blame the exhaustion I mentioned yesterday), but I've been eating pretty much the same portion sizes as I always have.  I eat more if I'm really hungry and less if I'm not, though I do tend to snack a little more than I normally would.  I've also still been wearing my regular clothes, though I have to use a band for my pants since I can no longer button them.

Have you had any cravings?

I started off craving french fries and meatball subs, and have since moved on to spicy food in general, broccoli cheddar soup, Indian food (I literally ate this four times in one week about a month ago!), brownies, pickles, and, most recently, apples.  I don't go overboard with the cravings, but we'll usually make a point to eat at least a couple of the things I really want each week.

Have you had any aversions?

So far I've only had to stop eating one thing, but it's a pretty big thing to remove from a diet: chicken.  Even the thought of it disgusts me, and I haven't eaten it in at least two months or more.

Have you had morning sickness?

Not really.  I got really nauseated several times during the first trimester, but I never actually threw up.  I tried to curb the sickness by eating salty foods earlier in the day (popcorn, chips, or crackers), and that worked for me.

Have you felt the baby move?

Yes.  I wasn't sure about it at first, but there have been a few times that it was unmistakable.

Are you going to keep working?

Yes.  I know it will probably be hard to go back to work after my maternity leave, but I'm not really interested in being a stay-at-home mom.  While part of me thinks it would be great to stay home and spend time with my kid, I also know myself well enough to know I would lose my mind if I wasn't regularly interacting with other adults and focusing on things other than the baby and housework.  (And, let's be honest ... I would make a shitty housewife.  I despise cleaning and laundry and chores in general, and that's part of the package if you stay home while your spouse works.  I mean, the same expectations would be there if I were working and Eric stayed home.)

Have you found a daycare?

Yes.  We're enrolled at one place and on the waiting list at another that we liked slightly more.  I felt like we started the daycare search pretty early, but we actually didn't -- a lot of families start looking as soon as they find out they're pregnant.  Waiting lists are common (and sometimes very long), so we were very thankful that one of our favorites happened to have an opening around the time we would need it next year.

Do you feel prepared?

Not at all.  We've bought a few things, but we have a long way to go.  We're also in the process of figuring out when to buy new cars and a house ... So that's kind of stressful.  We were planning for both of those things anyway, but we're definitely feeling more of a push now that I'm pregnant.

I think that probably covers most things people would want to know (and probably some things they didn't).  I swear my next post will not be all about this stuff -- it just feels good to finally be able to write about it!

The Best Things Happen in November

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably already seen my big announcement.  But, if you've missed it, here it is:


It's no secret that I've been very inactive when it comes to blogging lately.  This is why.

Not only was I keeping it a secret until I was sure I was ready to share such big news on such a public space (which is really hard when you're trying to think of interesting things to blog about and all you can really think is, "Holy shit, I'm going to be a mom!"), I was also too exhausted to even consider spending time and effort on blog-related stuff.  

And, to be perfectly honest, I'm still exhausted all the damn time.  I thought that might fade after the first trimester, but no -- I'm pretty much spent after I come home from work most days and want nothing more than to curl up with Eric on the couch and binge watch cooking competition shows.  

This has clearly affected my reading as well ... I've only finished 27 books so far this year, which is really not a lot for me.  It's rare if I don't fall asleep after reading for just a short time, regardless of what time of day it is.

So ... That's the reason for my absence around here.

I'm not going to pretend like I'm never going to share stuff about the pregnancy or baby on this blog.  I will.  It's inevitable.  I mean, this is a huge change, and it's about to become one of the biggest parts of my life.  I don't, however, want this to become a mommy blog.  Not only do I feel like I'm completely unqualified to give any kind of tips, recommendations, or advice regarding motherhood, I'm also just not interested in writing primarily about my kid.  (And, just to give you an idea of how completely unqualified I really am, I'll let you know that I've never even changed a diaper!)  

Eric and I are both incredibly attached to the baby already (which is both exciting and terrifying), but I want this space to continue to be for me -- a place for me to share my love of books and music and travel and food.  So, while the baby (and pregnancy) will undoubtedly make an appearance on the blog from time to time, it is not my intention to shift all of the focus to that area of my life.

That being said, tomorrow's post will also feature pregnancy-related stuff.  Sorry not sorry.

The image at the beginning of this post represents why I chose the title I did -- nearly every important event in my relationship with Eric has occurred in November.  We got engaged in November 2012.  We got married in November 2013.  We always take our bigger trips in November to celebrate our anniversary (NYC/Amsterdam/Brussels/Bruges/Paris in 2014, New Mexico in 2015, Rhode Island in 2016, and Barcelona in 2017).  And now this: our first child arriving in November 2018.

I'm excited and terrified to start this new chapter of my life, but I'm glad I finally felt ready to share it here.