The Stack - September Book Haul (and Book Of The Month Discount Code)

The stack this month is not just my library haul, but my Book of the Month haul as well!

After doing a one month trial (where I got the fantastic Dark Matter by Blake Crouch), I got some credit for add on books, so I HAD to do another month. One of the cool things about Book of the Month is that you can add on any previous months books that are in stock for $9.99. My September choice was an easy one: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - who also wrote the lovely Rules of Civility.  I immediately added Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West to my order, as I realized it was her story on This American Life that gave me an emotional gut-punch last year. It is a MUST LISTEN. She happens to be local to Seattle and is doing a joint appearance with Luvvie Ajayi next month at the Seattle Library! I think I must go - and add Luvvie's book, I'm Judging You: The Do-Better Manual, to next month's stack, obviously. 
I also added Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend to my order because I couldn't resist the cover! I think it is perfectly acceptable to judge a book by it's cover, but the content definitely sounded intriguing, too. Plus I'm pretty thankful for this book, because it pulled together the perfect Instagram shot to win me an additional three month subscription! 
Looks like I'll be adding BOTM orders to my monthly haul for awhile, even though I am usually averse to buying books. Plus, every month they pick a backlist title for 'Other Favorites' that you can choose to add to your order. This month it's Ready Player One and I may just buy this special edition because it's just that good, if you haven't read it - you should. I am super excited for the October titles to be revealed on Saturday - if it sounds exciting to you, too, go forth and use this link and code FRIEND50 for 50% off a three month subscription!

Now for the rather large library haul:
Jane Steele by Lyndsay Faye had been in my digital queue for awhile, after I had heard good things on the What Should I Read Next podcast, but I'm always happy when a hard copy arrives at the library - exact same sentiment for The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood. Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam was another pick from the BOTM judge that chose Dark Matter, so I thought I'd give it a go. (Spoiler: I did not like it...) The A to Z of You and Me by James Hannah was a Choice Reads find, described as a story that would resonate with those that loved The Storied Life of AJ Fikry. SOLD. It's Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny is a book club read that I'm a bit behind on. The New Rules of Lifting for Women is going well and part of my done being injured routine! Lastly, I got the latest Liane Moriarty - Truly Madly Guilty and I'm afraid to start it because I've heard it's not her best. Would love to hear any feedback!

New digital books in the queue/ARCs:
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover (I have never read this author and suddenly I'm seeing this book and many of her backlist titles EVERYWHERE.)

Still in the queue:
Small Great Thingsby Jodi Picoult (a NetGally ARC)
The Raven King by Maggie Steifvater 
Shelter: A Novel by Jung Yun
The Gilded Years by Karin Tanabe
Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben (reading now!)
Moonburner by Claire Luana 
You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott
Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

As always, I'm interested in any thoughts/if you've read the books on this list or others I should know about!


Everyday Life and Menu Plan (9.25.16)

Urghhh. It has been one of THOSE weeks around here. Super crabby kids getting back into the swing of the school year, lots of after school commitments and my husband having to work late recently all conspired against me. At least we had dinner at our favorite restaurant on Saturday for an early 14 year anniversary celebration.

I was rather looking forward to this drink, and one of the reasons we decided to go a little early was because was Daniel's was having a September whiskey celebration and this Original Sazerac didn't disappoint. Luckily I was able to enjoy it, along with our appetizer when...for the first time ever... We got a call from our babysitter (just as we put in our steak orders) to tell us that our youngest had vomited! Did I also mention that this was a new sitter? Yeah. I was more mortified for that girl than I was truly worried about my kid. Kids puke. It happens. But when they are totally fine when you take off and leave them with the sitter? Not usually. GAH. So we ate rather rapidly and it wasn't exactly the relaxing meal I had hoped for. Alas, we'll probably schedule another dinner out soon and one to Daniels in a few short months. And we're still working on rescheduling that day date hike from last week the OTHER kid decided to postpone with a fever. GEEZE. Kids, man. When it rains it pours. Good thing they're pretty cute.
Our little trooper at one of TWO soccer games we had this week, with all of her entertainments. Looking forward to a hopefully incident free week...

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie and Mommy Run Fast- be sure to check out all the great weekly menus! 


Running, and Not Running, Lately

It has been quite awhile since I've talked running! I had every intention of keeping up on race reports and such, even when I changed the focus of this space to reading. Although, I think I needed to do more ACTUAL RUNNING to write about it! Or did I...? After running, the next favorite subject for runners is injury talk, right? Well, maybe food, but I already talk enough about that. So, about my injury (which I lamented over in my RnR Recap), I feel like I've finally turned a corner and am able to talk about the horror of only running roughly 75 miles since that race. Yep. Looking at my monthly totals on Daily Mile is a shocker.

Going from averaging close to 80-100 miles per month to less than that in THREE months is sort of a bummer (as are the 5 pounds I gained this summer when I normally LOSE weight). But, I stuck to my guns and took those initial two weeks at the beginning of the summer off. I still did a little elliptical, bootcamp classes where I walked the running parts and even a few at home step aerobics videos. I tried a super slow three mile run after the two weeks and it felt GREAT. But then I could feel my foot cramp up more than usual at the end of that day, so I made an appointment with a local sports podiatrist and began rolling with a frozen water bottle, using a topical lidocaine cream a few times a day, and the dreaded night splint while taking another two week break.
I asked my doc, why not the Strassburg sock and he said - well, I know this actually works. Harumph. Yep, I've been cozying up like this every night. I think it pairs nicely with the mouth guard I already wear nightly, like the old lady I am. Things started looking up pretty quickly, but my formerly trusty Ravenna kicks were still bothering me. And, of course, the podiatrist has a prescription for custom orthotics ready to go when I give him the word. But, I go back and forth on that: will it just alleviate the pain, and be a crutch to any overall problem? Not event factoring in the not-covered-by-insurance COST. I think this is a dilemma many runners with plantar fasciitis face. To go with the orthotics or not? To stretch and support, or to strengthen? In the end, I think I started with the former and am now moving on to the latter. I iced, compressed, wore supportive footwear, rolled and stretched like a maniac for about two months. Now, instead of orthotics, I tried a few shoes suggested by the podiatrist. And OF COURSE the ones that feel great are Transcends which retail at $170. Sigh. Thankfully I can get them at the Brooks outlet for just under $100.
am weaning myself off the night splint (yay!) and the lidocaine cream and working on foot strength by walking barefoot more, scrunching up towels with my toes and picking up small objects - please feel free to invite me over to pick up your child's Legos with my toes after I've cleaned ours! 

In addition to my feet, I figured now is as good a time as any to trying some sort of overall strength plan. I do the weight machines at the gym pretty regularly and get some good strength training in bootcamp. Plus, with my broad shoulders, I've always done pretty well with upper body work, so it was never a focus for me. But, I think getting to know the weight room and really see measurable results will be a good challenge. I'm hopeful that being able to lift more weight over time will be as rewarding as running faster over time. After doing a bit of research, the plan in The New Rules of Lifting for Women seemed to be the easiest to follow and a good place for a noob to start. The first stage workouts are pretty easy to follow so far, although it was a little intimidating waiting for the huge dude with a weight belt finish up on the squat bar. Yes, the workouts are supposed to take about 20 minutes, but they are not factoring in waiting around for people to let you get a set in! Ah well, a small complaint compared to a foot I couldn't run on.

Slowly, but surely, I'm inching my way back and am mostly pain free. I'm in that place where I'm wondering if it actually hurts or if I am being paranoid. I'm being careful, though, still only running three to four miles at a time, no more than three days a week (up from two last week). Hopefully I'll be doing some long and slow rainy runs this fall - my favorite. 
Ah, look how happy fall running makes me! This was from the first Snohomish River Run and I hope to be in good enough health to amble the 10K next month. (Remember, 15% off this year's race with code: READANDRUN16Regaining speed is not at ALL on my radar, I just want to be able to get outside and RUN. Have you dealt with the dreaded plantar fasciitis?? Like I said, it's on it's way out - but I want to keep it away and am always interested in any tips and tricks!


The Wonder by Emma Donoghue (A NetGalley Review)

The Wonder by Emma Donogue
Publisher: Little Brown, September 20, 2016
Description from the publisher:
In Emma Donoghue's latest masterpiece, an English nurse brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child's life.
Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O'Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale's Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.
Written with all the propulsive tension that made Room a huge bestseller, THE WONDER works beautifully on many levels--a tale of two strangers who transform each other's lives, a powerful psychological thriller, and a story of love pitted against evil.

This was one of those novels that started out a little slow for me, but then completely bowled me over by the end. I felt that the first half of the book was somewhat tedious and frustrating. It starts with Lib, the nurse sent to ascertain the validity of this miracle, trying to catch someone lying about Anna's ability to live without food. She doesn't, and we get little bits of her back story as well as the O'Donnell's as she goes to and fro her shift watching over the girl and taking aimless walks about the countryside to vent her irritation. The hamster wheel of rather repetitive scenes was frustrating, but I suppose that is EXACTLY how Lib felt. I then was 100% on this journey with her. Because by the time the house of cards finally starts to fall in this crazy situation, I was riveted, stunned, and feeling desperate. She is caught in a terrible position between the family, the church, the reporter and the doctors, while trying to do the best for this young girl. Without giving spoilers, all I can say is that it becomes a horrifyingly fascinating tangle of loyalty and morality with some jaw dropping secrets that come to light in the final, white-knuckle, moments. 

It's honestly very, very reminiscent of the novel she is best known for: Room. Whereas Room sets into a fever pitch pretty early in the novel, The Wonder has a slow build. But the indelible aspects are so similar: What would you do? How would you feel? What would you do for the love of a child? The depth of subject matter to pore over with a book club would be VAST. I also found the historical fiction angle, regarding the cases of 'Fasting Girls' beginning in the sixteenth century, fascinating. It is definitely worth checking out and it certainly made me curious to check out her other historical fiction novel Frog Music


Everyday Life and Menu Plan 9.18.16

It's been a slightly more relaxed week, and I was able to eke out a little more time on the hammock before we got a little rainy spell.

My husband and I had planned to get in a day-date hike to Bandera Mountain on Friday, but my older kiddo woke with a fever and a migraine. Kids man. They always know how to time their sickness perfectly. Alas, I sent my husband off on his own since he took the time off of work already and I'm not as comfortable hiking on my own. I jokingly lamented the photo I had planned to take for the Book of the Month Instagram contest, so he offered to do it for me and got a great shot that they reposted!
Thankfully it was a dreary and rainy day while my boy child was still sick yesterday, but he was feeling better as the clouds parted today and we got in a nice little walk about the zoo.
Here's hoping the rain stays away for an upcoming Friday so that me and the mister can reschedule a hike...

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie and Mommy Run Fast- be sure to check out all the great weekly menus! 


Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Seattle 2017 Coupon Code! (UPDATE for 2019)

**UPDATE FOR 2019: I'm not sure what it will be, but you can start using SEAANDREA19 for next year's free item!**

I'll have a post up with more details soon.

It's that time again!  Here's this season's Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Seattle code for a new extra swag item - and it's a GOOD ONE.

After two different years of hats, I'm pretty excited about a VISOR. So if you use code: SEATTLESWAG2 RAM Racing will add one to your already awesome goodie bag when you register for the Seattle 15K OR 5K.
Goodie Bag!
I'm also pretty excited about this much more neutral and sophisticated gray hoodie for the 2017 season. I've tried it on in person and it's super cozy, as well as much brighter looking than in the picture. Speaking of pictures, the race photos are FREE!

Also, the 15K medals are pretty darn cool, too! As always, they are city specific and now the circular part comes out and is a MAGNET. So if you are the type of person who has all their medals sitting in a box in the closet (guilty) this is a really easy and fun way to display your bling.

The race is Sunday, March 5th 2017 - perfect time of year for some hot chocolate. The folks at RAM Racing put a lot of thought, time and effort into choosing the hot cocoa and fondue - trust me.  And it is goooooood.  

Hopefully I've tempted you to join in the fun and get yer free visor!  If not, here are my recaps from Seattle, Seattle AND Chicago. If you are not in the Seattle area, check out a Hot Chocolate race near you!

San Diego
St. Louis
Las Vegas

And, hey, once you've tackled 9.3 miles - you should TOTALLY run the Oiselle Tenacious TEN MILER on April 22nd! Or the 10K! Either way, use code READANDRUN17 for 10% off registration.


Commonwealth (Digital ARC Review)

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Publisher: Harper Collins (September 13, 2016)
Description from the publisher:
The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives.
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.
Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.
When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.
Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

To preface, I must admit that I might be biased in favor of Patchett, since I LOVED State of Wonder and was so eager to get my hands on this galley - probably the book I looked forward to most all year. On the other hand, one could argue that the bar was set pretty high! Either way, Commonwealth more than met my expectations.

From the get go, the story of these two families is utterly absorbing. Patchett is a master of 'show, don't tell.' The story seamlessly opens in California in the 60s with an amazing scene of adults getting drunk on gin n' juice (made from the oranges in the backyard) during a christening party. Patchett just plucks you right into the scene and pulls you in with these nuanced and fascinating character portraits. After being introduced to the Cousins and Keatings, at the fateful moment their families are thrown together, the narrative takes big jumps around in time giving glimpses into the lives of the grown children. And as the ailing Keating patriarch dotes on the past, or we get an evocative glimpse into the summers the children spent together, something sinister seems to lurk just beneath the surface. 

Since the chapters don't necessarily go in chronological order, it can get a little jarring - especially since there are so many characters within this blended family. But having those big gaps gives us a front row seat into the absolutely essential parts of this family's life, which is so compelling, forcing the reader to want MORE. A small scene, such as my favorite when the children spend their first summer at a lake and the eldest daughter shows off her ability to pick a car lock, gives us a perfect window into how each child feels about one another, their parents, the world at large. It's full of such indelible moments among family, and the ties that bound these characters were so fascinating and real. Patchett is deft with the little details and they are suffused with such meaning, even down to the fateful oranges that grace the cover. 

Some authors with similar styles tend toward plots that are languid, or lacking plot altogether. Patchett manages to create a sophisticated, atmospheric novel filled with symbolism and still maintains a page-turning urgency that builds at a perfect pace. The ensemble cast of Commonwealth will stay with me for a long time. If you love a good family drama, or just a great novel, this is up there with the absolute best of them.


Everyday Life and Menu Plan (9.11.16)

School! School! School! Wahoo!

It's great being getting into some routine again and the kids are happy to be back. They really like their teachers and are excited for the year ahead. Although, things still seem hectic with all the beginning of the year stuff. Especially since I joined the PTA board this year, as well as our annual jog-a-thon committee. Lots of little events and helping with so. much. paperwork. But it's all good and I'm so glad that I am able to contribute to my kids' school.
Adding to the busy schedule is soccer practice and we had our first game this weekend in the most beautiful weather! I'm pretty psyched that I'll be able to wear my Birks for a little longer. Maybe we should eat hot dogs again this week... 
Nah, we'll do our best to ration them out!

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie and Mommy Run Fast- be sure to check out all the great weekly menus! 


Books I Read in August

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood 
This was a NetGalley ARC and you can read my full review here!

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave
This was straight up predictable chick lit. A girl finds out her fiance has a pretty big secret he's been keeping from her. So she dramatically goes home to her family's beloved vineyard days before the wedding to sort out her life, only to find that her father plans to sell the land. She's a little whiny, a little self absorbed, and a little clueless. There were some entertaining moments, but it didn't strike me as anything great. Although I blew through it quickly, and it was a perfect bleary eyed airplane read. 

Morning Star by Pierce Brown
As a whole, I thought The Red Rising series was fantastic - full of great characters, vivid world building and so much heart. Alas, I felt the final book could have been reduced by AT LEAST 100 pages. There was too much focus on plots within plots, battle after battle and so many extraneous characters that I could care less about. But, the most compelling part of the book (the story of Darrow and his closest friends) rose to the top in the end and I was glad I persevered. All's well that ends well.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
I had seen this title on NetGalley and was curious, but I ended up requesting All the Ugly and Wonderful Things instead. Wouldn't ya know, both novels ended up being on the selections for my one month trial Book of the Month! I hemmed and hawed over all the interesting sounding selections, but went with Dark Matter (the one they chose for me) and was SO GLAD. Within the first five pages there is mention of a tesseract (my favorite childhood book is steeped in tesseract lore) and the story is perfectly set in Chicago! It is sci-fi, yes, but I would hope it does not deter anyone who isn't a fan of that genre. It is also a love story and fascinating food for thought about how our lives are impacted by the choices we make, about the road not taken. As I mentioned last week, it reminded me A LOT of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. I wish that Dark Matter was similarly a little longer and the characters fleshed out a bit more. But on the whole, I blew through it in two days and still think about the story.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
I now understand the hype surrounding this million dollar (literally and figuratively) debut novel. (Here's an article about how she landed the seven figure deal.) It is awe inspiring how Gyasi creates an epic story in just over 300 pages. It is essentially a collection of interconnected short stories that tell a much bigger story. The book spans seven generations of the descendants of two Ghanaian half sisters, one who is married to a white slave trader and one who is sold into slavery. The narration switches back and forth between one member of Effia and Esi's families as we hear from each new generation, and as I got further and further along their family tree, I kept flipping back to the chart at the beginning. At first I felt a little frustrated at trying to remember who belonged to whom. I have to wonder if it was somewhat difficult to keep the families straight on purpose. Like so very many descendants of slaves, most of the characters had absolutely no way to trace their own family roots, no chart to look upon. So I did not look at it again and just immersed myself in each story. I was overwhelmed with emotion as it came together in the end - poignant and beautifully. Truly a must read.