Archive for April, 2023

March was a MARVELOUS reading month for me. I read six short stories for The Week of Weird Readathon and completed eight books. Of those eight books, I read five for Middle Grade March. Both readathons were new reading adventures for me. I read quite a few new authors and discovered new middle-grade favorites. In addition, I completed The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck by Mark Manson which I had been buddy reading with my sister Rachel since January. I completed Tranquility by Tuesday by Laura Vanderkam which I had been reading since January while also participating in Vanderkam’s Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge. Lastly, I finished Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier which was the January/February selection for the FOMO Book Club.

The Week of Weird Readathon

I have been wanting to read more short stories ever since devouring three collections by Joe Hill back in the spring of 2020. These collections are Strange Weather, Full Throttle, and 20th Century Ghosts. For those of you who do not know, Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son. He is a fantastic writer, and his books and short stories are wonderful! I sprinkle short stories into my reading life sparingly, so when The Week of Weird Readathon was announced by Crystal @ fiberartsy and Jason @ Jason’s Weird Reads, I was excited to add a few of them on my March TBR. There were five reading prompts for inspiration. I read a few of the stories and listened to a couple on the podcast, Levar Burton Reads.

  • Old Weird: Read a weird fiction story or book published between 1910s – 1970s.
  • New Weird: Read a weird fiction story or book published between 1980s to the present.
  • Out of This World: Read a weird fiction story or book featuring science fiction elements.
  • The Dark: Read a weird fiction story or book featuring supernatural or horror elements.
  • Flora and Fauna: Read a weird fiction story featuring nature.

For Old Weird, I listened to Levar Burton read “Childfinder” by Octavia Butler. This story was my introduction to Butler’s work. It is about a rogue telepath that defies the establishment to protect telepathic children who have not yet tapped into their abilities. It was a good story; however, I felt like it was the prologue to something bigger. 3.5 stars

For New Weird, I read “Afterlife” by Stephen King. Anyone who has followed me for some time knows that Stephen King is my absolute favorite author, so it should be no surprise that one of his short stories made this list. Bill, an investment banker, dies and ends up in a purgatorial waiting room of sorts. He meets Mr. Harris and is given the opportunity (again, because he has been there before) to choose between two doors. Bill can choose to relive his past life with no previous memories or choose finality of existence. It is an interesting dilemma, and I was surprised by Bill’s decision. 4 stars

For Out of This World, I listened to Levar Burton read “I Was a Teenage Space Jockey” by Stephen Graham Jones. This story was my introduction to Jones’s work. Two 6th grade Native American boys spend Halloween evening in a video arcade and have a surreal experience while playing Galaga. I loved this nostalgic story centered around these two characters. 5 stars

For The Dark, I listened to Levar Burton read “The Story We Used to Tell” by Shirley Jackson. This story was my introduction to Jackson’s work. Katherine visits her friend Y at her late husband’s family mansion. During the visit, they come upon a creepy painting in one of the bedrooms that disburbs both women. The next day Y goes missing and is later discovered inside the off-putting painting by Katherine. This story was incredibly dark and eerie, and I loved the goosebumps it gave me. 5 stars

For Flora and Fauna, I listened to Levar Burton read “Cricket” by Kenneth Yu. This story was my introduction to Yu’s work. (I thought I had listened to another story of his, but that story, “The Paper Menagerie” was actually written by Ken Lui. HA!) Richard and his family were tasked with caring for his mother until her death. He held a grudge against his siblings for this arrangement, perceiving it more as a burden then a blessing. After the elderly matriarch’s death, a talking cricket mysteriously appears, dispensing wisdom to Richard and his wife Lucy. This unexpected guest intrigues Lucy, entertains the couple’s young son, but angers Richard. Lots of great messages in this short story. 4 stars

I read an additional story that could pretty much fulfill all of the reading prompts except New Weird, and it was “Colour Out of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft. An alien entity comes to earth and lands near a farm where it destroys the family who owns the farm as well as anything living in direct proximity of the farm. This descriptive story is scary, ominous, and exudes dread. If you read this short story, dear reader, make sure to check out the movie with Nick Cage afterwards. It was a terrific film adaptation. 5 stars

Middle Grade March

The Middle Grade March Readathon on BookTube was hosted by four lovely ladies, Krista @ Books and Jams, Amanda @ The Curly Reader, Katie @ Life Between Words, Jenna @ Jenna Reads n Writes (Instagram). As you know, dear reader, I enjoy reading children’s literature, and I read some fabulous middle-grade books throughout the month of March. There were five reading prompts for inspiration plus a group read, A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga.

  • An award winner, but not Newbery (The Voyage of the Frog by Gary Paulsen)
  • A Sci-fi/Dystopian book (A Rover’s Story by Jasmine Warga)
  • Sky or Sea on the cover (Odder by Katherine Applegate)
  • Book with a neurodiverse character (Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling)
  • Book published in the last year (Odder by Katherine Applegate)

Even though I enjoyed everything I read for Middle Grade March, my absolute favorite story was Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. It was heartfelt, humorous, and had wonderfully written characters. I fell in love with the spunky main character Aven Green. Dear reader, if you want to hear more about my thoughts on any of the books I read during Middle Grade March, please check out my Middle Grade March wrap up video. It also includes my thoughts on Vacancy by K.R. Alexander which was my March book club selection for the Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club. I also hosted my first book giveaway on my channel. Since I loved Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus so much, I gave away 6 copies to readers who expressed interest. I have 3 more copies to give away, so if you are interested, dear reader, please leave me a comment on this blog post, and I will enter you into a drawing. Giveaway ends on Sunday, May 7th at 11:59 PM.

FOMO Book Club

Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier was the January/February book club selection for the FOMO Book Club. This online book club is run by three brilliant British booktubers, Alice @ Alice and the Giant Bookshelf, Gemma @ Gem of Books, and Jack @ Spread Book Joy. I must confess that Jaimaca Inn is my first Daphne du Maurier story, and I was not disappointed by this classic tale. Jamaica Inn gives off gothic vibes with its suspenseful atmosphere, gloomy and dark setting, and mysterious characters, including Jamaica Inn.

Despite her naïveté and lack of good judgement on occasion, I really liked the protagonist, Mary Yellin. She is young and inexperienced; however, I admire her sagacity, determination, and courage. After the death of her mother, Mary leaves her home in Helford to live with her Aunt Patience, her mother’s sister, and Uncle Joss at Jamaica Inn. Soon after her arrival, she is disheartened to learn that Aunt Patience has married an unsavory man, and Jamaica Inn has unpleasant secrets. This novel is considered romantic suspense, but it is my kind of romance. While I was not too surprised by Mary’s decision at the end of the novel, I did enjoy all of the twists and turns, the mystery surrounding Jamaica Inn, and Daphne du Maurier’s storytelling. 4 stars for Jamaica Inn!

Buddy Read

Back in January, my sister Rachel and I started the personal development book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (Caring): A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson. Yes, I covered up the expletive so as not to offend anyone; and, yes my sister laughed at me and pointed out it is just a word. Personally, I do not think it was necessary for Manson to use this word to effectively get his information out to his readers. However, he probably would not give a f*ck what I think anyway.

Once I got passed the cuss word in the title and the first chapter, laden with foul language and crude examples, I actually learned some valuable information that I could apply to my own life. There were quite a few takeaways from this book, but a few that really resonated with me included: happiness comes about through problem-solving, there is value in suffering, distinguishing between good and bad values, failure is a way forward, and the “do something” principle. I personally like how instead of looking for motivation to inspire action, you can take action to inspire motivation. Manson states, “If you lack motivation to make an important change in your life, do something – anything, really – and then harness the reaction to that action as a way to begin motivating yourself.” This self-improvement book earned a solid 3.5 stars.

23 for 2023 List

Tranquility by Tuesday: 9 Ways to Calm the Chaos and Make Time for What Matters by Laura Vanderkam is #20 on my 23 for 2023 List. I was not planning to read Vanderkam’s book until the summer; however, she hosted a Tranquility by

Tuesday Challenge in January, and it became the perfect time to dive in and get reaquainted with a few of the rules to see if they could help calm the chaos in my own life. My plan is to write a separate post specifically about my overall thoughts about this book and my experience with participating in the challenge. As I have mentioned in a previous post, I was excited to read Tranquility by Tuesday because I was one of the 150 participants in her time study to gather the data for this book. A couple of the rules had become habits or modified habits during the original time study, but most of them had fallen by the wayside and were forgotten. However, after reading the book (which I thought was fantastic) and completing the challenge (which I thought was eye-opening and fun), I am excited about how most of these rules can become effective habits in my life over time if I intentionally put them into practice. 5 stars for this personal development gem.

As you can see, I had a productive month of reading, dear reader. If you want to hear more about my thoughts on this book or the other books I read in March, please check out my March wrap up video.

My sister and I are taking a break in between now and June. Rachel is an actuary and started her busy season at work at the end of March, and I have commitments in April with Old School April and in May with Zombiethon. I have been reading a bunch in April. I finally got around to reading The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. The Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club chose a rockin’ selection by Grady Hendrix. And, I finally finished reading Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman by Lucy Worsley. Hopefully (always hopeful), I will be writing a post soon about what I read in April. Lots of terrific reads to share with you!

Lastly, do not forget about my book giveaway. Leave me a comment on this blog post if you are interested in a chance to win a copy of Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling. Giveaway ends on Sunday, May 7th at 11:59 PM. To see my current book reviews or books I have read in the past, follow me on Goodreads at Katherine Loyacano. Happiness!

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” ~ Vera Nazarian

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The rule focused on for Week 9 of the Tranquility by Tuesday challenge was effortful before effortless. The purpose of this rule is to mindfully think about how you spend your leisure time. Laura Vanderkam created this rule to encourage having effortful fun before having effortless fun. In addition, Laura stated in an email to participants of the challenge, “When you do effortful fun before effortless, you’ll get to do both.”

So, what exactly is effortful fun? According to Laura, effortful fun is “fun that requires some planning, coordination, or mindfulness.” Examples of effortful fun are reading, putting together a puzzle, playing board games with friends or family, or scrapbooking.

So, what exactly is effortless fun? Social media and screen time fall into the category of effortless fun.

Anyone who falls down the rabbit hole of spending too much time scrolling on social media, may want to implement Laura’s rule and check out Catherine Price’s book, How To Break Up with Your Phone. I learned about Catherine Price and this book on the Happiness Lab podcast where she was interviewed by Dr. Laurie Santos. Listening to her story and the reason for writing this book inspired me to read it. The book includes Price’s 30-day challenge that can help people develop a new relationship with their phone. It works!

Before the week started, I pondered the planning questions for Rule #9 that Laura sent us on Friday, 17 March and made a plan for the week.

  • What are your favorite sorts of effortful fun – that is, fun that requires some planning, coordination, or mindfulness? Reading, scrapbooking, putting puzzles together, content creation (blog and YouTube channel), hanging out with friends and family (and fur babies), and discussing books are my favorite sorts of effortful fun.
  • What leisure activities do you typically do at night in the hours before bed or during downtime on weekends? Read, watch television, watch YouTube videos (booktubers), edit my own YouTube videos
  • How much time, in minutes, do you estimate you spend on social media on a typical weekday? What about on weekends? When do these minutes happen? Weekdays (about 150 minutes M-F); Weekend (about 60 minutes); mainly happen in the morning or early evening
  • How much time, in minutes, do you estimate you spend on TV or other video entertainment on a typical weekday? How about on weekends? (about 30-60 minutes – YouTube per day); (about 120-240 minutes of television on the weekends); I mainly watch television with my hubby on Friday and Saturday evenings; I also tend to watch YouTube videos while eating breakfast or lunch; and sometimes, I listen to a video while unloading/loading dishes or folding laundry.
  • Today, choose one form of “effortful” fun to do before screen time. What will this be? Reading
  • What challenges might you encounter in doing effortful fun before effortless fun? No challenges; reading is my favorite choice for effortful fun
  • What needs to happen to ensure you spend time on this effortful fun activity first? Always have a book handy and schedule it


Throughout this week, I chose effortful fun before effortless fun. I pretty much have done this rule off and on since I participated in the original time study back in the spring of 2021. I am really proud with how well I did this week with all of the Tranquility by Tuesday rules.


  • Think back over the past week. What sorts of “effortful” fun did you make time for? Reading, content creation, dinner at my mother-in-law’s house, book discussions
  • When did you choose to make time for this effortful fun? I make time to read whenever I can, especially in the morning while drinking my coffee or right before bed; content creation is done throughout the day, sometimes in the evening; dinner at my mother-in-law’s house is on Friday evenings, book discussions in the evenings (evenings vary).
  • What effects did you see in your life from making time for effortful fun? Positive effects; experience more reading; experience more joy
  • What challenges did you face while trying to do effortful fun before effortless fun? After posting a book review on Instagram or something on FB, I sometimes linger and scroll for a few minutes.
  • How did you address these challenges? I did not really address it; limited amount of time scrolling, and I no longer do it right before bed.
  • If you modified this rule, how did you do so? n/a
  • How likely are you to continue to do effortful fun before effortless fun? Very likely; since I have done this rule off and on since I participated in the original time study back in the spring of 2021. I like this rule. Good reminder that time is a limited resource, so choose how you spend it wisely.
  • Did you observe a bedtime this past week? Yes, finally! I got an A++! I was in bed every night by 10:30, except Monday. I stayed up until 10:50, reading The Voyage of the Frog. On five of the seven nights, I read before going to sleep. On Friday night, I wrote a book review, and on Saturday night, Barry and I watched multiple episodes of Wednesday before going to sleep.
  • Plan on Friday? Yes, after dinner on Friday evening
  • Move by 3 p.m.? Yes, walked all four days in my backyard
  • Do your chosen activity three times per week? I read Choose Joy (3-minute devotions) all 7 mornings. I got outside for at least 23 minutes, 2 times this week, for the #Outside23in23 Challenge. On Tuesday, I walked for 10 minutes, then played with dogs in the backyard for 15 minutes. On Wednesday, I walked for 15 minutes earlier in the day, then read for 20 minutes outside later that afternoon.
  • Create a back-up slot? Yes, I had two back-up slots on Saturday morning and Monday evening. I used Saturday morning for chores since I planned on Friday evening; and, Monday evening for helping Claire with a school assignment (we were supposed to meet on Sunday afternoon, but she had to reschedule).
  • Have one big adventure and one little adventure? YES, two of each. My two big adventures were attending Romeo and Juliet and dinner afterwards with my hubby, Andrew, his girlfriend Meagan (precious), and our friend Helen AND attending Andrew’s ceremony and dinner for being inducted into an International Honor Society for Foreign Languages and Literature (accepted for French). For my little adventures, on Saturday morning, my friend Shanna and I took a quick trip to the Friends of the Library store AND on Wednesday night, I attended the Middle Grade March livestream (one hour).
  • Take one night for you? Yes, actually two nights. On Sunday night, Rachel and I discussed chapter 8 of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck. On Thursday night, I attended my weekly improv class (Level 4).
  • Batch the little things? Yes! I was much more effective this week. From 10:15am – 12:10pm, I completed financial tasks, placed a coffee order on Big Cat Coffee, did some digital decluttering, and created an email for my mother-in-law to access her MYChart medical information.

Well, that is a wrap on the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, dear reader. I will eventually share my overall thoughts about the book and the challenge as well as which rules I plan to keep incorporating in my life. It was wonderful to see how Laura Vandrekam turned all of the time study data into Tranquility by Tuesday. I am happy that I was a part of the time study as well as the book. Happiness!

“Leisure time is too precious to be totally leisurely about leisure.” ~ Laura Vanderkam

Note: Photo at the top by Pixabay on Pexels.com.

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