June Reading Challenge

Five months of the Word Nerd Reading Challenge have flown by. The Nerds have been discovering some great options and invite you along for the ride in June. This is probably my favorite challenge for the year because it really helps on my TBR stack: A book you’ve been given or bought for yourself that you haven’t read yet. We are repeating this one from 2015 because we have so many that fit this category!

Pick your title and check back near the end of June to report back.

May Reading Challenge Report Card

May’s challenge was to read your significant other (or BFF’s) favorite book ever.

Here’s how we did.

imagesStacie:  For the May Reading Challenge, I read, It by Stephen King. This is an author / genre I’ve avoided for most all of my reading life and my significant other (Hi, Mike!) is a huge fan. As our reading tastes tend to run along the same favorites, we were equally outraged at the other’s view on this author. As he regularly reads suggestions I make, I decided to read It with an open mind and no preconceptions other than what the cover blub said.

Wow. Normally, I avoid horror stories because I cannot separate the book from my imagination and the horror of the story lives there too long. That wasn’t the case here for a few reasons:

  1. While horrifying at times, this isn’t a slash and burn horror story. I’d put it in this in the psychological thriller genre. The mind games played by It were the sort that I usually enjoy reading about when they are contained to sociopaths in novels.
  2. As I read, I could separate and analysis the novel’s events and dysfunctional relationships rather than experiencing them and reacting to them. This is a huge milestone for me as a person and is quite reflective of my personal journey and experiences in 2015 (which was quite life altering for me in many ways.
  3. My expectations about Stephen King’s writing really didn’t fit the actual story. I was doing that very thing I dislike in others and making assumptions and broad sweeping statements with little or no facts to back it up. Yep, I uncovered a bias.

This has been a true reading Challenge for me as I walked away with several new thoughts about this author and my whole concept of this genre. If I was grading the challenge results, this month would be an A+.

the-martian-book-cover-530x806Bethany: First off, I cheated. If I asked the hubby about his favorite, he’d probably say Dan Brown. I tried one Dan Brown book once, made it a whole 2 pages (maybe) and put it down. Also, for the past year, I’ve been his audiobook dealer, so I’ve gotten a pretty good sense of the ones he’s really enjoyed and the ones I’ve sort of forced him through. Enter, “The Martian.” He’s been badgering me to read it because it’s good and there’s a movie version. Ah-ha! I think, I have a new choice — “The Martian” it was.

I have mixed feelings about this book. I actually think it’s going to be a better movie (gasp!) There are some weird things that happen in the book, head-hopping and weird shifts in POV, just when I think a pattern has been established. Also, I think the level of peril will feel higher on the screen than the page. It’s been said that cheaters never win, but I think I did pretty well with this challenge.



So not only am I lacking in gross motor skills, I also can be unkeyboardinated.


Color Study


I finished my May Reading challenge book by listening to the audio version and coloring while listening. Since my soon-to-be-disclosed selection was about three times as long as most books, I’m short on my normal Book Banter fodder.

Instead, I offer a glimpse into where my creative side has been taking me: drawing.

I remember back to my pre-kid days and how much I loved drawing supplies, books, and doodling. It was as much of a passion as writing was back then. In the present day, the scales probably tip slightly more to coloring and drawing than writing, but it’s a close call.  I’ve been fortunate to add a person to my life that is an artist and understands things like blending, shading, and shadows. Bonus: he even gives pointers in a way that makes sense to the way I think and I’m improving my skills.

Understanding the creative side of my life has been a big win for me this year. I’ve unlocked words in my journal that have lead me to some personal essay writing along with a fictionalized accounting of life. I’ve discovered a passion for coloring that is leading me back to drawing and doodling.

This year has been pretty amazing for me. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

What amazing in your life right now?

No more hustle

bored fielder

Fifty percent of the Word Nerds are on a softball team this summer. We played our second double-header of the season yesterday, and for novice players, that’s a lot of ball.

This is how I feel about the whole thing today.

Whatever hustle I might have tried to exhibit on the field yesterday has hustled itself away for a Monday.

For those of you wondering, we’re 1-5 after yesterday. We only lost our second game yesterday by 6 and that’s an accomplishment for us.

Summer Bucket List


I associate the start of summer with the end of the school year, which is just over a month away for my kids.  But I think I need to change that opinion. Summer is here (this week) in Wisconsin. At least, the summer work of lawn mowing, gardening, and yard maintenance is.  Therefore, the fun stuff should be too.

I am pretty excited about various summer activities that I have planned but some of the very best ones are the small things that just make it FUN.

Here’s my list of things that needs to happen this summer:

A picnic at the local park
A backyard star watching night
Bon fires with s’mores
Bike rides on a local trail
Sitting on the swing in the back yard
Reading books outside
Eating supper on the patio
Grilling burgers and other goodies
In season peaches and blueberries
The Downtown Farmers Market

Right now summer is my favorite season. In a few months, fall will be.  The first summer fun activities are starting up this weekend and will spill into the rest of summer.

What’s on you summer bucket list?

Book Banter: Wayward

waywardTitle: Wayward (Wayward Pines #2)

Author: Blake Crouch

Genre: Thriller

Length: 298 pages

Where Bethany’s copy came from: IndyPL

Plot Basics: SPOILER ALERT…. sorry… 







Now that Ethan Burke is the sheriff of Wayward Pines, he’s got to keep the town’s secret — that the residents are trapped there, behind an electrified fence and what’s outside is worse that they can imagine. When he’s assigned by the PTB to infiltrate a group of dissenters, Ethan has to decide if keeping the charade is really what’s best for the town.

Banter Points: So, on the whole, amazingly, this book was better than the first one. The upswing here, for me, is that so much of the book wasn’t intended to be disorienting. Crouch also didn’t do as much of the super short sentence thing. The plot also took a massive step forward and massive step more complex.

Also, I really like how there are consequences for Ethan’s actions in this book that set up book three. It reminds me a lot of Marcus Sakey’s “Brilliance” trilogy in the way the plot steps up. Given the fact that Sakey is mentioned in Crouch’s acknowledgments (and vice-versa if I recall correctly), it’s nice to see two writers have positive (albeit similar) impact on each other’s work.

Bummer Points: I can’t give it away, but can I just say how much I dislike BOTH Theresa Burke and Kate Ballinger in this book?

Word Nerd Recommendation: If you get through the first one, the second one is worth it to keep going in the series.



Renewal Time


It’s (one of) my favorite times of the year!   The notice came in to renew my library card. I feel like I should have balloons and cake and singing….oh wait. That’s a birthday party.

Forget that. Library card renewals are worth celebrating with cake. Or brownies.


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