Massive Update (Thank you for getting me to do it, Chris!)

And, yes, that photo is totally filtered. I was exhausted when I took it. I admit to vanity.  :)

Yes, I have been away from the blog for so long! It has been quite a year. I think my last post was in April, but I haven't actually written an update since last January. Wow. I have been a terrible blogger! But Chris, a reader of this blog, sent a kind message to me, and it inspired me to post again!

So many things have happened since I last wrote. My grandmother passed away in February. She fell and broke her hip in November 2015, and she just never recovered. We did get to celebrate her 94th birthday in January, and luckily she had a really good day where she was aware of everything and knew us.

After that, my cousin found out that she had an early stage of melanoma (thank goodness she caught it in time), and that combined with the two times my dad was in the hospital during all of this really sent me into a bad place. It was just a lot of emotional stuff to deal with, and I didn't cope well at all. My anxiety levels went through the roof! But things are getting much better now, and I feel like I'm making my way back to normal.

During all of this, I also had a lot more responsibility coming at me at work, so I am really staying busy there. We have a really big issue coming up, so there is a lot of extra work. Plus, I am going to be teaching an OLLI class with my editor starting in early September.

As far as writing goes: Well, I haven't done much. (I am still meeting my goal of going to one literary event/meeting per month. I am traveling to DC in a couple of months to visit my friend, Kelly, and I know we are going to go to a few plays and bookish things!) I did complete the edits for my chapter on Augusta Evans Wilson, so that is good. It shouldn't be long before that book of essays is published.

I have been reading so much, though! Ahhh, the books! I posted a few on March 29, 2016, and I also have been listening to some great audiobooks.  As shown, I finished Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart and The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606. I have also listened to The River of Doubt (by Candace Millard...a nonfiction book about Theodore Roosevelt's trip through the Amazon and along the River of Doubt), The Wicked Boy (by Kate Summerscale...about a late-nineteenth-century child murderer), The Accidental Feminist (by M. G. Lord...about Elizabeth Taylor's feminist movie roles), A Religion of One's Own (by Thomas Moore...about exactly what the title says), The Joy of Less (by Francine Jay), The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher (by Kate Summerscale...about a mid-nineteenth-century murder of a child...I promise I am not a dark person! LOL!), The Swerve (by Stephen Greenblatt...about many things but basically bringing all of western thought together as the result of a poem being saved from extinction), and The Fellowship (by Carolll and Philip Zaleski...about the friendship between the Inklings...this could have been in 2015, but I can't remember). All have been interesting, but my favorites are the Charlotte Bronte book and The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher.

As far as physical books go...In 2016 I  have read the following:

Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey
Cain  by Jose Saramago
The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean
The Earl's Mistress by Liz Carlyle
The Dinner by Herman Koch
The Last Days of Henry VIII: Conspiracy, Treason and Heresy at the Court of the Dying Tyrant by Robert Hutchinson
Hex by Mackenzie McGuire
Kernel of Truth by Kristi Abbott
Homicide in Hardcover by Kate Carlisle
Connecting Rooms by Jane Ann Krentz
Longing for Darkness by China Galland
If Books Could Kill by Kate Carlisle
The Four Agreements  by Miguel Ruiz
Magnate by Joanna Shupe
Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Full Heat by Carla Swafford
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J. K. Rowling (OF COURSE!!!)
The Quick  by Lauren Owen
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Napoleon's Privates  by Tony Perrottet
Anna and the French Kiss  by Stephanie Perkins (YA)

Most of these were funny or light reads, because that is just what I needed at the time! My favorites have been: Longing for Darkness, After Alice, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and The Quick.

As you can imagine, I was super excited about the new Harry Potter release!! Just for your viewing pleasure, here I am with my copy after I finished reading it:

LOL! I was so happy! 

I am currently reading two books: Armadale by Wilkie Collins and The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell. I also just bought City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, and I am really looking forward to starting that one.

The only other major thing that I have been doing lately is that I have spent the last couple of weeks celebrating my 40th birthday early! I had a party with my family a couple of weeks ago, and that was amazing! I was so happy! I had a special martini glass, ribbons, beads, a cake--the whole nine yards! Here I am celebrating at my aunt's house:

Then, last weekend, my sweet five-year-old niece (well, she calls me Aunt Susie because her mom and I are best friends!) wanted to throw an early birthday party for me, which I thought was the sweetest gesture ever made! So, she jumped out to surprise me when I got there and put a tiara on me, we had pizza and cake, we watched the new Annie movie, and then we had a dance party! It was a great way to bring in my new year of life! Here is a photo of the three of us:

Anyway, I officially turn 40 next Monday. So many of my friends have bemoaned reaching this age, but my point of view is that at least we are still alive. So many people don't have that luxury! So here is to a great year!

...and I promise to blog more! :)


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