Saturday, December 31, 2016

ABC Reads December 2016

Hi, friends! Here we are, at the end of our ABC Reads journey. Andrea and I really hope that you've enjoyed the link up and the reading challenge. It was fun for me to get out of my comfort zone a little bit and pick up a few books that I probably wouldn't have otherwise, and get to check those letters off. 

So, we are doing our final link up to share the books we've read in the month of December and the letters we can check off our lists. 

Are you new around these parts and have no idea what I'm talking about? No worries, here's what the ABC Reads challenge was all about:  

What does the challenge entail? Well, I'm glad you asked. There are 26 letters of the alphabet and we challenge you, during the course of 2016, to read a book that starts with each letter. For example, Atonement (A), The Bell Jar (B), Catching Fire (C), and so on. Makes sense, right? You don't need to go in order - if you want to start with S, go for it. We're easy to please around these parts. On the last day of each month, we'll host a link-up for you to share your ABC Reads.  We will award one point for each letter you review AND a bonus point for linking up with us!  At the end of the year (or when the first participant reviews a book beginning with each of the 26 letters), the winner will be awarded a $30 Amazon gift card.  Congratulations to Jessica at Frikken Duckie for completing the challenge and winning the gift card! Go visit her and say congrats! :) 

Alrighty then, let's get to it. What did you read this month? How many letters did you check off? Here's my progress (December books in blue): 

A: (The) Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Completed March 2016. 
B: Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. Completed February 2016. 
C: (The) City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin. Completed May 2016. 
D:  Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts. Completed April 2016. 
E:  Europe on 5 Wrong Turns A Day, by Doug Mack. Completed April 2016. 
F:  Finders Keepers, by Stephen King. Completed January 2016. 
G: (The) Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. Completed January 2016. 
H: (The) Hereafter, by Jessica Bucher. Completed April 2016. 
I:  I Will Find You, by Joanna Connors. Completed June 2016. 
J:  Julia, by Peter Straub. Completed July 2016. 
K: Keeping Faith. Completed July 2016. 
L:  (The) Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks. Completed January 2016. 
M: (The) Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom. Completed February 2016.
N:  Night Film, by Marisha Pessl. Completed June 2016. 
O: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Completed January 2016. 
P:  (The) People of Sparks, by Jeanne DuPrau. Completed August 2016. 
Q: Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen. Completed October 2016. 
R: (The) Revenant, by Michael Punke. Completed March 2016. 
S:  Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce. Completed June 2016. 
T:  Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed. Completed April 2016. 
U: (The) Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist. Completed September 2016. 
V:  Violin, by Anne Rice. Completed November 2016. 
W: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion. Completed February 2016. 
X: The X in Sex: How the X Chromosome Controls Our Lives, by David Bainbridge. Completed Dec 2016. 
Y: Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes. Completed October 2016. 
Z:  Zone One, by Colson Whitehead. Completed May 2016. 

It was so hard for me to find a book that started with the letter X that sounded interesting to me. Most of them were these strange sci-fi/fantasy books called Xanadu or something. So I finally settled on this one because, 1) I needed a book that started with X and 2) I'm heavily into a nonfiction phase so I thought this book would just flow nicely with my reading groove lately. 

Before I get to my mini-review, let's check out the synopsis: 

A tiny scrap of genetic information determines our sex; it also consigns many of us to a life of disease, directs or disrupts the everyday working of our bodies, and forces women to live as genetic chimeras. The culprit--so necessary and yet the source of such upheaval--is the X chromosome, and this is its story. An enlightening and entertaining tour of the cultural and natural history of this intriguing member of the genome, The X in Sex traces the journey toward our current understanding of the nature of X. From its chance discovery in the nineteenth century to the promise and implications of ongoing research, David Bainbridge shows how the X evolved and where it and its counterpart Y are going, how it helps assign developing human babies their sex--and maybe even their sexuality--and how it affects our lives in infinitely complex and subtle ways. X offers cures for disease, challenges our cultural, ethical, and scientific assumptions about maleness and femaleness, and has even reshaped our views of human evolution and human nature.

And well, the book is exactly how it sounds. I give props to the author for writing the book in easy-to-understand layman's terms. But... it was still a little boring, I'm not going to lie. Though, the book does answer some great questions about color blindness, identical twins, hemophilia, and more. The Y chromosome gets no love in this book, as they essentially refer to it as a fossil chromosome whose only purpose is to determine gender, whereas the X chromosome has many different, interesting attributes.

So if chromosomes are your jam (never thought I'd be typing that sentence!), then you'd probably enjoy this book a lot. If you're a casual reader who just needed to check off a letter on their list, then this one is as good as any, but it's not going to be the best thing you've ever read, in my opinion.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. 

So, there you have it, friends. The complete ABC Reads journey, from A to Z. Don't forget to link up with us below. And I'd love to hear about the books you read in 2016. I read other books outside of this challenge, so you can check those out at my reading list page

ABC Reads won't be returning for 2017, but you can always hit me up for all things books. I'm planning to read my way through the complete Oprah's Book Club selection list in 2017, so stay tuned for that journey. :)

Hope you all have a wonderful and safe New Year's Eve! See you next year.. ha, that never gets old! ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Serious Thoughts... on a Tuesday

"Mommy? Are you going to die one day?" 

Dom asked me this at dinner the other day, his face about to crumble. We were in the middle of eating fried chicken and his question caught me off guard. I replied, "Yes, baby, I will. It happens to everyone at some point. And it will be OK." 

He was quiet for a moment and then he said, "I know." And he went back to arguing with his brother about which game they'd play after dinner. 

It's hard to explain big, scary concepts to your children. Kids are curious creatures. I am not sure what prompted his question, but it made me a little sad that he was already thinking about mortality at the ripe old age of 8. He asks me often about his "grandpa who is in Heaven" (my father-in-law) and if his grandpa is really an angel who watches over him. I tell him yes and he seems comforted by the thought.

My other son, Will, always knocks me back with very grown-up sentiments from his tiny little 6 year old body. He tells me all the time, "Mommy, I love you so much. I will love you forever and ever and always and never stop no matter how big I get. You're my only mommy in the whole world." What do you even say to that? I squish him with all my might and smell his sweet boy smell and try not to melt into a puddle of tears. 

Sometimes I forget that as a kid, I had those same big, scary thoughts mixed in with my thoughts about toys and cartoons. I used to picture what my future would be like. I used to wonder if dying would hurt and what happens to me after and how will I know what happens to the world if I'm no longer here to see it and experience it? And why does my milk turn different colors after I eat my Fruity Pebbles? You know, normal Saturday morning stuff. 

And now that I'm older, I just tell myself, no matter what happens, I'll be OK. I've gotten through all the big milestones in my life so far and I'm OK. It's all a matter of controlling what you can, and trying to be at peace with what you can't and spreading as much love and joy as you can in between.

What serious thoughts are YOU having today?