It’s Monday, and I’ve read a lot of books since my last post

February 26, 2018

I’m writing this post because if I don’t I’m going to be mad at myself tomorrow. I am two weeks behind!

1. So I was diagnosed with IBS a few years ago. I lost some weight, started exercising, and things were going better. But I have been having terrible flare-ups lately, and even though I have been eating less than normal (in part because of the flare-ups) and I am back to exercising regularly (I never really stopped since I was walking over 10,000 steps most days), I have gained weight and not lost it. And did I mention the terrible flare-ups? Anyway, so I talked to a doctor (not my regular doctor), and she told me to do the low-FODMAP diet, which I knew about and had read up on, but since I don’t do drastic diet shifts unless directed to by a doctor because of my history, I stored the information away. And now I have to use it.

I have found the following two books the most helpful, mostly because they give pretty plain talk about FODMAPs and the importance of eliminating and then retesting specific foods/food groups.

The recipes are whatever for me, though. I’ve just found it easier to figure out what I want to eat and then figure out which ingredients I can use. Super special shout out to gluten-free Bisquick because the bread struggle is real.

It’s also possible I may be able to eat chocolate again. Or at least dark chocolate.

I have also started using this app and, of course, following the Facebook group. The most interesting thing I’ve learned is that sometimes it’s not the food, but the amount of the food that can be the trigger. For example, more than three cherries and you’re FODMAP happy.

Both books and the website suggest working with a dietitian, so I am currently in the process of trying to figure that out. (My insurance only covers a dietitian for people with diabetes, eating disorders, or chronic kidney issues.)

2. School started last week, hence the lack of a post. It’s going well so far–much better than last semester. For one, I am much better prepared and have both of my classes fully mapped (though not fully prepped). Next week is a low prep week in one of my classes, so I’m hoping to get more ahead of the prep curve than I am now (which is exactly one night ahead, basically).

My students have to start blogging weekly this week, so I figured I better at least get that back on board.

3. I saw Black Panther, of course, and it was amazing. So many badass women! It made my heart happy.

4. I am winding down on this, so I should talk about the books I read in the past two weeks:

Queen Sugar: A Novel (TV Tie-In)Queen Sugar: A Novel by Natalie Baszile

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was disappointing. It started off strong with lots of interesting family dynamics but then it turned into the sugar cane farming chronicles, and I just didn’t care about any of that stuff. I mean, it would have been fine if it was sugar cane farming + family drama, but it just wasn’t. I was shocked that the daughter had actually gone to school because there was absolutely nothing about how she transitioned from school in California to Louisiana and part of the whole setup in the beginning was how hard it would be for here. Also, I found the resolution with the brother deeply dissatisfying and I wasn’t affected by it all, and I think I was supposed to feel it deeply. But when even Miss Honey treats Ralph Angel and Charley’s story’s resolution as nothing, why should anybody else care?

Lots of good fodder here for a TV show, though, so I’m interested in seeing how it translates to screen. (Hint: I’m pretty sure it’s a much better TV show than book since there will be time and space for the relationships to be fully explored.)

Book Riot 2018 Read Harder Challenge, Task 20: A book with a cover you hate (I don’t like ANY of the covers for this book. Like, at all.)

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Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf (Sammy Keyes, #4)Sammy Keyes and the Runaway Elf by Wendelin Van Draanen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whew, this one was a lot darker than the other books so far. Sammy gets into real danger here (a gun is pulled on her twice–it was all very Nancy Drew) and is being blackmailed by a woman who talks trash about another woman who has had several miscarriages. Van Draanen also references Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” though the good news is that there’s no murder here.

Sammy also deals with the abandonment she feels because her mother dumped her at her grandmother’s (her words), and there’s some talk of death of grown-ups. Also, I didn’t expect a lesson about resentment, spite, and heartbreak in the middle of this book, but it was well-placed and well-handled. And sad, of course.

You can tell this book was written in the late ’90s/early aughts because a group of middle schoolers sneak off to smoke, and Sammy checks the bathroom for smokers waiting to sneak a cigarette. Also, all the roaming around town! The runaway elf is a seven-year-old latchkey kid, and I don’t even think those exist anymore (I could be wrong).

I listened to the audiobook, and it was A+ as usual.

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Princeless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 2: Free WomenPrinceless: Raven the Pirate Princess Book 2: Free Women by Jeremy Whitley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So I like this series (badass teen girl pirates? With an emphasis on different kinds of strength? I mean), but I found this particular volume hard to follow–mostly because there’s a huge section where the drawings are dark so it’s hard to make out the images. Also, there are a LOT of girls to keep up with, and Whitley isn’t good at having them addressed by name most of the time. So while I can see the differences between them, I can’t remember who is who.

As for a slight spoiler: I did love that the two teams with less brute strength/fighting skills were more successful in warding off/defeating the bad guys because they used science and strategy. It was a nice counterpoint to the insistence that they all learn swordfighting.

A solid entry in the series, but needs a little more clarity.

Read Harder 2018, Task 18: A comic that isn’t published by Marvel, DC, or Image

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Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free ThrowsLife, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws by Janette Rallison

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was cute. I liked the focus on friendships here: best and unexpected. The conflict is believable (they fight over a boy), and the parents’ reactions were really good. I also liked the look at the different ways the girls approached sports and what that said about their personalities. All in all, a fun read.

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Real FriendsReal Friends by Shannon Hale

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a book about the complexities of female friendship in middle school, but is ALSO about sibling abuse, which I did not know going into it. Hale doesn’t call it abuse (I believe she refers to it as bullying), but she is legit scared of her older sister, and her sister goes beyond being mean to her.

I really liked this, and I would have loved it, but the ending was pretty abrupt. The author’s note at the end explain/fills in the gaps, though, which works really well. I’m just not sure most kids would read it.

LeUyen Pham’s illustrations are PHENOMENAL as usual. I really love her style.

Read Harder 2018, Task 15: A one-sitting book

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Giant Days, Vol. 3 (Giant Days #3)Giant Days, Vol. 3 by John Allison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This series just continues to be such a delight. It’s episodic vignettes and real life teenagers doing real life things and the stakes are all emotional and not world ending (though, of course, they feel that way to the characters), and it just makes my heart happy.

(I still wish Susan didn’t smoke, though. Because I think of her as my friend, see?)

Also, there was a teen mom in this one! *heart eyes emoji*

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5. I haven’t decided what I’m reading yet, so no updates on that front. All I know is that I’m tired of talking about my stomach and food and eating and all of it. So I very obviously just need to go to bed. Long day tomorrow.

Have a great week, everyone!

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  1. Katy K.

    Good luck figuring out the right diet for you- so tough!
    I also loved Real Friends. My 8yo read it about 10 times in the three weeks we had it out from the library, and I wasn’t able to renew it because someone else had a hold on it, so I feel like it is working for kids despite the issues you point out.

    • Akilah

      Did she read the author’s note at the back? Just curious if she read beyond the graphic novel text itself.

        • Akilah

          I knew it! But it’s still good for the grown ups who care for the children, so it works on that end, I guess.

          • Katy K.

            I think if she were a little older she might have read it. And that I need to buy it for her, at which point we can read the note together.

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