It’s Monday! What are you reading? on an actual Monday! + #AMonthofFaves

December 17, 2018

Wow, so much happened in the past week that I don’t know where to begin.

1. The big thing is that the semester ended! I gave final exams, I graded graded graded and then graded some more.

end of semester bingo

My friend sent me the end of semester bingo card from social media, and I asked her if every square could be “Grading until you cry” and “more grading.” Because that was my main mood.

Oh, and also this:[0]=68.ARAV_rOui8Bm_MYvqUSKN7O22fq518dHkqlr4A2orR0CDM8lyFODenAe3u8J97jXhf4VKq9t75nQiivsr1pT61Us5eMwfJTvmEuk106UcoHHozI-06DkD7jHZ7EsfFCvEZBvVKWfPEAzOsiytDx7tumY0C_zLzLKKbAsJnK_mmOj84JZ8TowE7otmR9aPQ7DMLor0SgRQr9_h5ye_OkQD82jV8JPxBUfZnUqkKnugogEwlNtOVVFLUOjkF26x4eA5uQRstFRWQHvHxBIr0mRmkg4t36480HXP_ZdPbNRMzoNeoOYEkGUQzJMCeUtAGIAa8NfYj8gIVtMtfP7q-CBpGzu&__tn__=-R

Some of my students did the extra credit I offered and their presentations were all very good to phenomenal. One student wrote a song (lyrics and music) based on To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and played it for the class and we all very *awed silence.* Another student created an Instagram story based on 13 Reasons Why and it had over 1,000 views by the end of the day. (This student also has 18k followers on Instagram, so should obviously teach a class on using social media effectively.)

I really enjoyed all my classes this semester, but man alive, was this semester stressful. I felt very Frodo about the end of it all.

2. Somewhere in the middle of that, I went back to the gastroenterologist. I still don’t feel good, and I still can’t eat normally (pre-gastritis normally, not pre-IBS normally, which is its own sad commentary), so he ordered blood work and an ultrasound. The ultrasound happens this week, and if he doesn’t get a clear sense of what’s going on from that and the blood work, I’m going to have to get an endoscopy. Fingers crossed 🤞🏾 and prayers going up 🙏🏾 that he gets everything he needs from the ultrasound/blood work.

3. On Thursday, as I was in the midst of grading, my best friend showed up at my job and surprised me! She travels a lot for work, had a layover at LAX, was on one of those flights where they asked people if they wouldn’t mind giving up their seats, and realized how close she was to me, so decided to change her flight so we could hang out!!! AHHHHHHH. So that was nice. She got to see where I live (finally) and spent a lot of quality time with my fireplace, which she is enamored of. We also had lunch with a couple of my colleagues and watched almost all of the Nailed It! holiday episodes.

4. I also started the IBS Audio program I mentioned previously, and I’m pretty sure it started working the very first time I used it. How do I know? Because the morning after my first session, I was in the kitchen after eating and said to myself, “Ugh, I still feel a little nauseous.” Then I said to myself, “That’s okay. It’s only temporary.”

That’s a huge shift from the day before when I was like, “I FEEL LIKE CRAP THIS SUCKS WHY DOES THIS KEEP HAPPENING TO ME.”

So, yeah, I’m going to stick with it.

5. Friday, I went to a holiday themed trivia night at the Writers Guild Foundation, which was a lot of fun. Since I went alone, I was randomly assigned to a team. I…do not know as much about movies and TV as I thought, haha. I mean, I know a lot but I don’t know a lot comparatively speaking.

Anyway, our team came back from a zero point start (we went double or nothing in the first round and missed one question–THIS IS WHY I DON’T GAMBLE), but by the end of the night we were in fourth place.

I mean, it’s not winning, but I’ll take that over being the actual losing team with the least points.

It was fun. I’ll go again.

6. Saturday, I went to a yoga workshop to ring out the old year and bring in the new. It was supposed to be journaling + yoga, which it was, but it was a LOT more yoga than journaling. My friend Kim asked me what I learned, and I told her that I learned I need to do more yoga. I mean, it was intense.

7. Yesterday (Sunday) was spent mostly futzing around. I did some prep for next semester and then gave myself a break by going to see Creed IIwhich was so stressful. Good, yes, but very stressful. I was having kind of a crappy day (see #2 re: still not feeling good), and the movie distracted me from that, but I really should have gone to see something a little more lighthearted like Spider-Man or Wreck It Ralph.

I was also planning to see Widows this week before it leaves the theater, but that may also be too dark for me. Like, I know I’ll enjoy it, but I really need to do a lot more laughing, so. We’ll see.

And now it’s today, and I’m doing my weekly post + participating in A Month of Faves before I make my t-shirt for going to Price Is Right tomorrow!

Since I’m participating in A Month of Faves, I posted a bunch since my last update:

I also read some books:

Don't Fail Me NowDon’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book in general, in that I liked what it presumed to be about, I liked the way Michelle’s anxiety and despair were handled, and I liked that (view spoiler). It’s also very engaging and compulsively readable.

But my biggest peeve with this book is that it purports to be about sisters and is really a romance. And why is it a romance? I have no idea. I would have liked this book so much more if it had been about Michelle and Cass and Leah and not Michelle and Tim with Cass and Leah there too.

I also have two quibbles, one small and one large, both about believability.

1. Michelle lives in Baltimore and at one point says she lives in a fourth floor walk-up. No one I know who lives in Baltimore would say this. That is very much a New York thing to say.

2. As far as I can tell, Una LaMarche is a white woman. Michelle is a biracial girl raised by a black mother in a black family (sooooo a black girl) in Baltimore. While it may be true that a black aunt may tell her black underage teenage niece that said niece has to pay rent for her and her siblings to stay in the aunt’s home, I have never in my life yet encountered a black woman who would do such a thing. Have I known black women who would begrudgingly and with resentment probably take care of their nieces and nephew? Yes. But would any of them DEMAND rent money or else? No. And I know A LOT of black women, many of them in and around Baltimore.

However, I do know at least one white woman who would fix her mouth to say such a thing to a child.

Maybe black women like that do exist. But maybe there are also significant cultural differences in how black women and white women respond in these situations.

So I’m just putting that out there.

View all my reviews

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome LifeYou Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I mean, it’s a self-help book. They all essentially same the thing; it’s just what resonates with you at the moment. I did get clarity on one issue while reading this book, so for me, that makes it worth the read.

View all my reviews

Fake BloodFake Blood by Whitney Gardner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is so insanely cute. The artwork is stellar, and I love that there is so much reading. I covet AJ’s room and his bookshelves (NERD). Also, can we just take a moment to appreciate Nia? She is the ACTUAL BEST. I love everything about her, including her dope beads.

Super fun read, and I enjoyed all the twists.

View all my reviews

Crush (Awkward, #3)Crush by Svetlana Chmakova

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is cute. Jorge is cute. Jazmine is cute. Olivia is cute.

Okay, scratch that Jorge is the actual best. I love him. I loved this little book. Such a good look at what kids try to do to fit in, the “dating” is very age appropriate (video games and texting), and the bullying incidents were well handled.

Did I mention Jorge is the best? THE BEST.

My only complaint is that Akilah is only present in one panel with no words and no one addresses her by her very awesome name. It was a blink and you miss it cameo! I DISAPPROVE.

View all my reviews

Dramacon, Vol. 3Dramacon, Vol. 3 by Svetlana Chmakova

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was fine, but not great. The beginning was super confusing because I couldn’t remember all of the characters, and I didn’t remember Raj being there at all before.

I also found myself rooting against Christie and Matt, largely because their relationship was just so…ugh. I couldn’t even tell why they liked each other.

I enjoyed most of the stuff with Beth and her family, though. So there’s that.

View all my reviews


And today’s A Month of Faves prompt is all about what winter reading.

#AMonthofFaves Winter Reading – Your fave reads from last Winter, and /or seasonal reads you love, and 5 books on this year’s winter reading list.

I’ll start with five books on my winter reading list since I had a bunch of holds come in this past week.

The holds list for Michelle Obama’s Becoming is long at every single library yet somehow I had three of them come in at the same time, two via audio. I think I’m going to read it on my Kindle, though.

I really want to read The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty first because I know it’ll have the levity I’m looking for.

However, I didn’t realize Archenemies by Marissa Meyer was automatically checked out to me several days go and since that goes back first, I’ll probably read it first. Or not. We’ll see how I feel.

Giant Days, Vol. 4 should be popping up at the library for me any minute now, and I’m looking forward to that one also for the levity.

And at some point, I’m going to get around to reading the next Mocha Girls Read book club pick, A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton. (Full disclosure: I started it a week or so ago when I was in full grading mode, but it had too many words, so I had to read some graphic novels instead.)

I am nowhere near completing the 2018 Read Harder Challenge, but you will notice I didn’t put any books that would fulfill any of the prompts I’m missing on my list. So we’ll see what happens with that.

As for my favorite book to read during winter, it is hands down the Sweet Valley Twins: The Magic Christmas.

Nostalgia: Sweet Valley Twins and Friends: The Magic Christmas

It is an absolute delight and reads well whether you’re familiar with the series or not.

I’m going to skip my top reads from last winter because (a) this post is long enough and (b) I really do need to get on making that t-shirt.


Have a great week, everyone!

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  1. cweichel

    I agree completely with you about Crush! My middle grade self has a serious crush on Jorge! I think this one is the best in the series so far.
    I still haven’t read Renegades, so I’ve put a hold on it and hope to get to Archenemies in the new year.

  2. Shaye Miller

    I’m so happy to hear Crush was good. I’ve had Awkward from that series on my list for a while and I hope to get to the first three books in the series in the next couple months. And I hear you on end-of-semester stuff. I normally teach for the English dept, but this semester I was invited over to teach for the music department (I have enough graduate hours to be able to straddle across 5 departments – lol). And BOY was this a hard semester — creating much of the course from scratch and grading SOOOOO many projects, presentations, unit studies, and final exams. Oh, then our entire campus server went down for 2 hours on Sunday (day before grades were due) and we couldn’t get to anything. After over a decade of teaching here, it seems I’ve never been so happy to be done with a semester. Let the winter break festivities begin! LOL Have a great week, Akilah!

    • Akilah

      Of course the campus server went down the day before grades were due. OF COURSE.

      That sounds like quite the semester! I hope next semester is easier.

  3. natashajk

    I am also waiting for Becoming this winter. I’m down to 63 (of 122) on the wait list so it’s getting closer.

    And I will have to check out the new Marissa Meyer. Thank you for alerting me to it! Ooooo — a whole new Marissa Meyer series. Even better!!!

  4. Sharlene

    Ooh you got Becoming! I’m still waiting! And hooray for semester end!!

  5. Andi

    You do SO MUCH COOL STUFF! Spoiler, I already read the Price is Right post but haven’t gotten over there to comment yet. Congrats on the potential mindset shift re IBS audio program. That’s hard for me. So very hard to not get all up in my feelings when I don’t feel good and things are going wonky. Kudos!

    I enjoyed You Are a Badass, but just as you said, it’s what resonated and what I needed at that moment. I’m tempted to read her other books to see if they do anything for me. And they’re more fun than most self-help I’ve read.

    I really need to get back into and get caught up with Giant Days!


  6. travelingwitht

    Ok JEALOUS that you got to go to Price is Right (fave game show!) I also read You Are A Badass (which I loved!) 🙂


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