Sassymonkey Reads: August & September

August saw me reading a lot of library books on my Kobo because road trip + beach = all the reading. I tend to stock up on romance novels for these trips because they hold my attention well enough even at the beach, unlike last year when I tried to read Paris, 1919 at the beach. (Bad Choice.) The rest of August and September found me struggling to finish a book. Any book. I kept picking them up, reading a few chapters, and not getting pulled in. Especially in September.

What I Read in August & September

What I Read in August & September

Chesapeake Bay Saga Books 1-3 by Nora Roberts. Classic Roberts and good beach reads (which I legit read on the beach). But as with other series by her that I have read, I found the final book in this trilogy much weaker than the other ones. They often feel ... neat and forced. The characters just don't feel like they work for me in her final books. (This was originally a trilogy but she did eventually release a fourth book. I'll read it eventually.) 

A Duke of Her Own by Eloisa James. I remember exactly nothing about this book except that I enjoyed it enough at the time. That pretty much sums up every book in this series for me. Enjoyable at the moment but not especially memorable. 

The Duchess War and The Heiress Effect (Brothers Sinister) by Courtney Milan. Enjoyable, quick reads. And this is reminding me I need to grab the third book at some point. 

Armada by Ernest Cline (audiobook). I liked it more than I expected to, though to be honest I was worried I wasn't going to like it at all. I didn't find myself wanted to snap at the story to just get on with it already, like I did at times with Ready Player One (man, that dragged in spots). But I also didn't find it quite as strong as Ready Player One. I thought Armada relied a little too much on pop culture references. The references made sense in the context of Ready Player One, but in Armada the constant quoting by characters was just too much and the 80s connections were far more tenuous. (It's really, really hard not to compare the two books. Really hard.) And I continue to be disappointed by the female characters. They are Cline's version of Manic Pixie Dream Girl and they ring hollow and just ugh. Still love Will Wheaton's narration. 

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. I appreciated that this made me think about social media shaming, which I was before the book came out anyway, but I was less than thrilled about some of the aspects of this book. It's not one I can heartily recommend, unfortunately. 

The Lure of The MoonFlower by Lauren Willig. The final book in the Pink Carnation series. I was a bit sad while reading this one because I'm going to miss this series. But then I read the afterward material and found out who Willig was going to pair Lizzie off with and ALL THE NOPES so I'm really rather glad we won't be getting to see that book. This book also sadly did not seen an appearance by Turnip when the last few scenes obviously would have been far improved by his presence. (Turnip is and always shall be my favourite Pink Carnation character.) 

Separated @ Birth: A True Story of Twin Sisters Reunited by Anais Bordier and Sam Futerman. I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it soooooo bad. Their story is amazing and one of the ones I always want to mention when someone tells me social media sucks (it does NOT). And I'm sure their documentary will be great when I get to see it but ... I did not love this book. They seem like awesome people and have an amazing story, but unfortunately they are not great writers. 

Let Me Tell You A Story About A Squirrel

This is a story about a squirrel named Stubby.

He only has about two-thirds is his tail. Stubby has a nest in my neighbour's (dying) ash tree.  

Stubby gives exactly no fucks.  



On this particular morning Stubby did not care that I was standing there. He did not care that I knocked on the window. Stubby did not care about anything until he noticed the cat, at which point he jumped up and fell right off the second story window ledge. Don't feel bad, his head popped right back up 10 seconds later. (I'm not going to pretend I didn't laugh.) 

Do you notice anything about Stubby in that photo? Like the wood that is sticking out from his mouth? I didn't notice that day. No, I didn't notice until a few days later when I walked into the office to find him back in the same spot chowing down on my window sill. 

Yeah, that's right. That wood in his mouth is my window sill. 

Apparently my window sill was delicious

Apparently my window sill was delicious

It's hard to see from that angle but Stubby ate a good 8 inches of the window sill all the way to the window. 

Stubby is a jerk.

I knew we couldn't go into the winter like that so I later that morning I called the window company my friend recommended. They came out that afternoon to give me estimate. Because this window (which, by the way, is actually three windows, and the second largest window in the house) is stacked directly above the living room window (the largest one in the house) I got estimates to replace both. We wanted them to match since they make up so much of the front of our house. But I was also a little concerned that if I just replaced one of them, Stubby would just take himself to the lower level and chow down on the living room window sill in the middle of winter. So by the end of the day I had ended up signing the order because SQUIRREL.

So that is how we went from planning to replace exactly zero windows to replacing two of the largest windows in our house the day after we got back from our summer vacation. I haven't seen Stubby since, but here's hoping he doesn't find vinyl as tasty as wood. 

(Little did we know this was just the beginning of our summer wildlife vacations. Just wait until you hear about the raccoons...) 

* We went with Big City Windows. A friend of mine had spent two months calling and getting estimates from various companies and that's who she used and recommended. We got great services and we're really happy with our windows. I hope the squirrels hate them.

Sassymonkey's Favourites: August 2015

A few of my favourite things

A few of my favourite things

August was one of those weird months that seemed really long and yet flew by. I have not completely reconciled my brain to the fact it's now September. I'm not ready for the -er months. I want more sunshine and warmth! 

Let's not think about autumn. Let's talk about these things that made me happy in August. 


1. SQUISH Bubbly Bears. When we road trip, we pack a cooler. It's mostly filled with decently healthy-ish stuff. We love our grape tomatoes and carrot sticks to be sure, and this year I was all about the orange slices. But no road trip is complete without some candy. When we were in Montreal in July we splurged on some SQUISH candy. Lee got some banana-orange gummies (because he truly is bananas for bananas). I went for the bubbly bears, which are made with prosecco. On our next trip I think I might pick up some of their hard candies (or maybe I'll just order some online). 

It has lobsters. I had to have it. 

It has lobsters. I had to have it. 

2. Lobster knitting project bag. Because LOBSTERS. Also because while I do have one small knitting project bag, it pretty much always has a sock in progress in it. I store my yarn in Ziplock freezer bags (because moths are evil and while they can invade these plastic bags, it does make it harder for them and yes I do reuse them for new yarn when I can). Sometimes you just want to not have to tote around a plastic bag and so I went hunting. After a few times of going  "Oh! I like that! *looks at shipping costs* hahahahaha! NOPE!" I limited Etsy to Canadian-only shops and found My Needle Crafts. This wasn't the style of project bag I wanted (I wanted a boxy one and I will buy one eventually) but I couldn't say no to lobsters.

(Note to my American readers and Etsy sellers—if you have Etsy automatically determine your shipping costs, I urge you to review it. For one knitting bag, which weights less than a pound is usually shipped in a bubble envelope, I was quoted $33 for shipping on a $47 bag. I order from many American sites and have generous friends who sent me presents. I know what shipping costs. It's not $33. Sale lost, which doesn't hurt me because LOBSTER BAG, but it may be hurting you.) 

My FoxyDORI Fauxdori

My FoxyDORI Fauxdori

3. FoxyDori Pocket-Sized Wanderlust Leather Butterscotch Notebook Cover, aka a Fauxdori. I recently bought some small ClaireFontaine notebooks, because I am a sucker for good paper quality and ClaireFontaine makes me happy. They are quite small, and while they are the perfect size for my purse, I was worried they'd get chewed up. I have friends who are planner addicts and many of them love Fauxdoris. Fauxdoris may, or may not, be cheaper than a true Midori notebook. You don't necessarily save much by buying a Fauxdori but they are extremely customizable. I wasn't sure this was the right choice for me as my one and only notebook, and it's not my regular planner at this point (I'm still rocking and loving my Get To Work Book) but I decided to give this a shot. It's been super-duper useful as we've been shopping for items for our bathroom renovation. (Coming to us in October! Coming to you ... whenever I recover from having our only full bathroom renovated.)  

I considered getting a Midori but my notebooks didn't quite fit so I went with a FoxyDori. They have some really beautiful covers and you can get them in a variety of sizes. The pocket size I got is pretty small—it's just a bit larger than my iPhone 6— and it fits my notebooks perfectly. While my Fauxdori will hold four notebooks, I prefer it with three. I haven't added any folder or dashboards yet. That might be a fall project. (And may possibly involve purchasing fun paper cutting tools and a laminator. BECAUSE TOYS!) 

You'll also notice I added an Octopus charm (because octopus!). I love it but it does scratch up the leather a wee bit, so I try to keep it so it's on the open edge of the notebook. 

Beach tent! It's a little bit off kilter here because it was really windy that day but it held up well to the wind.

Beach tent! It's a little bit off kilter here because it was really windy that day but it held up well to the wind.

4. Coleman Roadtrip Beach Shade. I love the beach. Love, love LOVE it. I want to stay on the beach as long as possible but it can be difficult if I'm in full sun for hours. As much as I rock the sunscreen, a day on the beach in full sun almost always leaves me with a bit of a pink tinge and more new freckles than I can count. (I really don't mind my freckles—I have them year round—but extra sun damage is something I try to avoid.) I started noticing beach tents a few years ago and grabbed one this summer. We love it. It's roomy. I don't get a sunburn. We can, in theory, zip it up and use it as a private cabana (we didn't, but it nice to know we can). I also like how when we are both in the water at the same time I don't feel like our stuff is quite so exposed. There's even a line to hang up damp clothes if you need to. It's not really difficult to put up but it is way easier with two people than one person. At least, it's easier assuming you don't try to put up with two people for the first time after a 9km hike in full sun while suffering from a bad case of #HANGRY because it's well past lunch time. Not that I know anything about that. *ahem*