July...

Travel, music, and good reads

July typically flies by around here, and this past month has been no exception. As is our tradition, my husband and I spent a week at Sooner Youth Camp while the kids get some grandparent time, then the kids and I traveled to Missouri to visit my side of the family. It’s a lot of fun, a lot of driving, and not a whole lot of sleep. Now we’re back home and I’ve got a pretty lengthy to-do list and am trying to avoid melting and the grumpies because it’s hot as blazes and we still have three weeks to go until school starts (many more weeks of it being hot as blazes, unfortunately). Do any of you with school-age kids struggle this time of year with feeling back-to-school pressure while also trying to stay in summer mode as long as possible? And then also feeling like you’re just too tired to keep up any healthy summer habits? August (or almost August) is just kind of weird. It would be easier if school started in September, but also it’s so hot why not go back to school? Anyway…

What I’m reading…

Little Beach Street Bakery, by Jenny Colgan. You might remember that I read my first novel by Jenny Colgan back in June, and because I’m apparently on a romance kick this summer (I have my theories on that), I decided to read her first novel, Little Beach Street Bakery on the recommendation of my friend Avery. It was a delightful read, a wonderful balance of poignancy and humor, set in a Cornish fishing village that made me long for a trip to the British seaside. One thing I’ve enjoyed so far about Colgan’s books is that she fleshes out the life and relationships of the main character in a way that feels very realistic and relatable. (Little Beach Street Bakery also has the high distinction of LOTS OF BREAD BAKING CONTENT and I am here for that. (because this is a romance, I’ll let you know that there is a little closed door sex and one open door scene that is easily skippable if that’s your preference). 

Project Azalea, by J.E. Conery is a legal thriller along the lines of John Grisham or Michael Connelly, and features a fresh-faced--but far from naive--protagonist, an interesting plot, and a beautifully vivid setting in New Orleans. I will admit that the pacing of the novel was a bit off for me--there was a lot less action than I expected. That said, the story and characters were compelling enough to keep me turning pages, and I hope to read more adventures of Prudence Jean-Baptiste one day.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders is essentially a distillation of a MFA class on Russian short stories that Saunders has been teaching for 20-plus years. It’s funny, thought-provoking, creatively inspiring,  for writers looking to hone their craft, fans of classic literature, and anyone wanting to get in touch with their inner English major. I underlined SO MUCH in this book, and am really glad I bought a paper copy. I absolutely loved it.

What I’m listening to…

Canyons, Ellie Holcomb

When I found out Ellie Holcomb had a new album coming out this summer, I was giddy. Canyon is a fantastic album. Current favorite songs are “Constellations” and “Brand New Day.”

All I Have, Sarah Sparks

Several months ago, I mentioned Sarah Sparks’ album Into the Lantern Waste, which prompted me to listen to some of her other albums. All I Have is full of thought-provoking lyrics wrapped in beautiful melodies and harmonies. The opening track “Religion” is like a sermon, and “Your Burden is Mine” brings tears to my eyes, I love it so much.

January Flower, Mat Kearney

Mat Kearney also came out with a new album, and it’s got a lovely summer vibe. I’ve been playing it in the mornings to bring a little energy to the day. 

What I’m watching…

Loki

If you aren’t a fan of the Marvel movies and now TV shows, I’m not sure how much you would enjoy Loki, but holy cow, I loved it so much! The acting, the pacing, the twists, the big questions wrapped in a super hero cape...I only wish there had been one or two more episodes. (but there will be a second season!).

Something I’m grateful for…

Since we live several hundred miles away from my family, I am always, always grateful for the ability to go see them, especially when I get to stay a whole week. There have been seasons where I’ve gone much longer between visits, so I don’t take them for granted. (I’m also grateful that I actually like my family. They’re all pretty great, and I know that’s not everyone’s experience). I’m also very, very grateful this summer that I got to go to camp. Part of the gratitude is due to the fact that Christina has progressed far enough that she could spend the week at her grandparents’ house with no concerns. Then part of the gratitude is just getting to spend the week with some of the best people on the planet. 

Now it’s your turn! What’s on your radar this month? What are you reading or watching or listening to?

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