Sunday Lowdown #185


Okay, dreams do come true! While out going from thrift store to thrift store on Saturday with Nick, I found myself getting tired and grumpy. Halfway through, my buddy Morgan texts me that you can get the first twelve Sweet Valley High books on Kindle for $1.99! Be still, my heart!

$1.99 on Kindle

Then, after about four hours of thrift-store-ing we end up at a Goodwill, and there, on the shelf . . . are sixteen Sweet Valley High books in paperback! What is happening with the planets and their alignment?! The nice young cashier, who looked like she was doing a part-time summer job before school begins, said she’d never heard of SVH. I told her they were unavoidable girls’ books of the 80’s and 90’s. She said she’d ask her mom. Someone order my headstone, cuz I’m dead.

Goodwill Store find. I remember Slam Book Fever being particularly fun.

Seriously though, reading Double Love was a true joy, and I have a review of Who’s Who? coming up. I also read a lengthy article by a person who ghostwrote many of the SVH books while doing her PhD in a stuffy field. That’s when I knew that I would likely be reading a lot of SVH books in this upcoming semester. I just feel like I know where I am; I know the places, the people, their allegiances, all the history. It’s a nice, soft landing place out of the real world. Also, as an adult I find it easy to navigate the perfection in the twins’ lives (their appearance, money, relationships, opportunities, friends, dates, etc.) without feeling self-conscious, so it’s not a big deal anymore.

I found out some interesting news about classes this fall (I start August 29th). For Interpreting 1 we are required to interpret another class on campus — every class meeting, all semester! I was a bit surprised, as I had not anticipated this in my schedule. We were asked to find a senior student to pair up with us so we can practice together, share information about ways to sign information specific to the class, etc.

Because I am an adult non-traditional student, I don’t have to do all those make-you-well-rounded (lol, you’ll never use those) classes like Algebra and Economic Development of the Pacific Rim. Thus, my schedule is light compared to the regular undergrads. I talked to my advisor and got permission to interpret two classes, Art & The Sacred and Communication Research. Happy dance! At the end of my program, I do not graduate or get a certificate. Instead, I get the skills I need to start interpreting and in a few years take the licensing exam. The way I see it, I want my money’s worth of interpreting practice if I’m not also worried about memorizing Chaucer and studying the hydrologic cycle.

My bold lil sunflower in the sunset.
Nick taking pictures of butterflies.
Another butterfly.


Reading nonfiction books about prison is always challenging, because what we’re often looking for is something gossipy (“What is it really like in prison?”) or a redemption arc (finding religion, books, volunteering, making amends). Ann Walmsley’s The Prison Book Club gave me (and other readers, judging from the comments) all sorts of bad vibes, which made me think back on other prison books I’ve read, including a couple of political prisoner memoirs (Assata Shakur and Susan Rosenberg) and two personal memoirs, one about a man incarcerated for murder (Shaka Senghor) and how much he loves his new girlfriend (Ebony Roberts) and her follow-up book about what a smooth-talking cheater he was.


I’ve read a few memoirs about adoption, but they’re mostly about how those adopted children felt confused about their parents being controlling or cruel, and if they wanted to be bad people, why choose a child to not love? Certainly, it’s more complicated than that, but sometimes the raw feelings boil down to black and white.

However, Finding Zoe by Brandi Rarus is about a Deaf woman, her Deaf husband, and their three hearing sons. Longing deeply for a girl, Rarus begins the search for a baby to adopt and finds one repeatedly rejected because the infant is deaf.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 202
Owned Books on TBR Last Week: 184
Owned Books on TBR Today: 199 (Blame the twins!)

Thanks to Stefanie @ A Stone in the River for her recommendation!


  1. Love your SVH coincidences, but this – “I told her they were unavoidable girls’ books of the 80’s and 90’s. She said she’d ask her mom. Someone order my headstone, cuz I’m dead” – reminded me of the organ concert we went to today. Mr Gums, who is not at all religious, happens to love the organ.It was great but the organist was 21, and he’s already an FRCO, as in Fellow of the Royal College of Church Organists. My, oh my. What have I don’t with my life.

    I enjoyed your prison book post, but I reckon Finding Zoe will be interesting. Love the shoes on the cover.


    • I know how you feel about the organist! You see these people younger than you doing amazing things, and, for me at least, it’s VERY hard not to be jealous. It’s like I’ve been wandering around to metaphorical thrift stories looking for bits of fabric to sew together one coat, and other folks are gifted it at a young age.


      • I can see why you taught creative writing Melanie. You have a wonderful way with words. I remember coming to terms with this when I turned 30. I clearly remember coming to the realisation, as Popeye said, that “I yam what I yam” and should accept that – which is not to say I didn’t have moments of self-questioning afterwards, because I did.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Your comment reminds me that I just learned the ASL sign for “windfall,” and it’s a rather amusing hooking motion. Anyway, yes, I used to own a lot of them too, but I think ended up getting rid of them because I was embarrassed of who I was; the girl who read trash her whole life, went to college, and was light years behind everyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. SVH was after my time, so you don’t get to feel old yet! I graduated high school in 1986 and am among those educated and traumatized by reading Flowers in the Attic while in junior high 😀 I hope as you semester gets really busy and stressful the SVH books provide a steady escape and calm. Also, are you reading When Women Were Dragons? Yay! Also, while your sunflower and the butterflies are pretty, this is two weeks now without a Toadman update and I am feeling deprived 🙂


    • SVH started in 1983, so you could have caught them in high school. However, like many teen girl products, it was mostly people about 5 years younger reading them. For example, no one who is seventeen is reading Seventeen Magazine. It’s all girls in middle school.

      I hear you about Flowers in the Attic, and because I’ve heard the warning so many times, I never read it! The last person before you to tell me about it was a woman in her 80’s or 90’s who patronized the library where I worked.

      I haven’t started the Dragons book yet, but my library has it. I may do an audiobook version during my school commute. Or, I might read it with Biscuit. She’s become very I-don’t-need-no-man lately (despite being married to and in love with my dad, lol).

      Okay, Toadman was AWOL for two weeks, but last night I got a photo to DIE for! I’ll share it next Sunday. I’m squirming around just thinking about how excited I am!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is crazy to think that technically, we’re old enough to have full grown children. Never mind that I don’t feel like a grown up at 35! So, order up a matching tombstone for ya girl. 😛
    I feel unprepared for this semester. None of the classes seem like they’re going to be hard, so I haven’t been worrying about it at all. However, with the new pup on top of work, I’m going to have to restructure my time. Plus, as of right now, the zoloft is making me feel very scatter brained. I’ve been told that is short-lived but for right now, I’m not getting much of anything done. I haven’t even been reading but that is also because Ridley is probably going to gum the first book that I pick up. Lol.
    That sunflower is beautiful! I have a sunflower painting in my living room that my grandparents bought 70-some years ago. 🙂


    • Just keep in mind that your guy will be there to take care of and love and train Ridley while you are busy with school. It will give him something good to focus on, too. Being scatterbrained is super hard; I definitely had a bout of that recently. I was doing that thing where my eyeballs were moving over the page but not reading, or I would be really antsy about looking at Reddit while watching a movie for the horror movie club. I’m not sure what changes it for me. Maybe do something simple like buy some pencils at the grocery store or something, as a sort of commencement thing. Everything is on sale right now.

      Isn’t that photo great? I was surprised with how it turned out!

      Liked by 1 person

      • This is true. Plus, if I were him out before I have class, he’ll probably just nap in his crate. You know, recharge his batteries so he can create chaos as soon as I let him out again. 😛
        I love when school supplies go on sale. I love office supplies too much. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Each generation of my family has one mother by 21 (we’re hoping Ms 18 avoids that particular burden). I made my mum a grandmother at 37.
    Great sunflower pic.
    Good luck discovering all the signs for religious art – you might be doing a lot of spelling.


    • The sunflower photo is particularly lovely, yes? Everyone seems to enjoy it!

      I wonder if your mom never forgave you for making her “old” before her time. The people in my family often got married at 18 and had children by 19 or 20, and I’m not sure if that’s a sign of the times or a Catholic thing.

      I’m hoping the art class will push me to work on describing things and fingerspelling names. ASL to English isn’t always 1-to-1. Maybe you say “princess in a castle” but in ASL you’d likely describe her and the setting.


  5. Oh man, the cashier saying she’s going to ask her Mom! I think I would have just crumbled into dust right there. It’s so fun that you found them though and I could see how they will be great reads while you’re doing school stuff. I’m glad you are able to maximize your learning experience too and get what you need out of it.


    • I have a whole post about being ashamed of me growing up — what I read, how I “failed” myself by wasting my time, etc. — and so finding these books that I sold to shed that identity feels like giving myself a hug.

      To be fair to the cashier, I’m probably the same age as her mom, lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think I remember that! One of the things I really enjoy about following your blog is that you read what you want to read and what you enjoy. I’m glad you can reclaim that identities.


        • Thank you, Karissa! Your comment warms my heart. I’m thinking about doing a post on my ASL blog about hiding our identities. I might even have my spouse, Nick, do it with me because he also had a time when he got rid of all his books from youth and slowly purchased them back.


  6. Sweet Valley High book find – so awesome. I would have also died if the cashier mentioned asking her Mom LOL

    Your lake vacation looks fun! Also, interpreting another class sounds sort of scary, but also sort of fun???? Good luck!


    • The things that make most people nervous, like speeches or being in front of an audience, don’t make me nervous. So, the interpreting stuff is exciting! Actually, I told my senior partner, “I’m so freaking excited, you’d swear I was riding a horse on the beach. 🐎” and she wrote back, “I’m not sure I’ve heard that turn of phrase but I’m tempted to steal it now.. 🤔🤔” I replied, “I get that a lot” (thinking of you, Anne, lol).

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Wow, what a gorgeous pic of that sunflower/sunset! ❤ So pretty!
    I haven't been thrifting in forever. Your great book haul is making me wanna go back to my favorite spots to find some new/old treasures! 🙂


    • It’s strange how gross some thrift stories are. I went to one with a sign that demanded people not use the changing room as a toilet. Hooboy. But, if you find a nice, clean thrift store, it’s great. Almost nothing in my house was newly purchased. I just don’t want to add to capitalism and climate problems.


  8. Both of our candidates to be the new leader of the Conservative Party, therefore prime minister, are significantly younger than us. At least the Labour Party leader is nine years older!! And hooray for those SVH books – reminds me of the time I found about 25 Three Investigators Mysteries in a local charity shop! The college arrangement sounds great and flexible, who needs those rounding courses, indeed. We don’t get those at universities here, thank goodness. I was supposed to do a humanity, a language and a science at A level at school but I snuck Geography in as the science.


    • I think part of the well-rounded scheme is to help students to decide what they want to major in. I always thought you were supposed to know right when you got to school, but a lot of colleges have a deadline to declare a major by the end of sophomore year. Actually, by going in knowing I wanted to study music, I spent a whole year struggling and ended up dropping that major.

      I’ll bet geography was a fantastic class. I love the earth sciences, geography, those maps of elevation, etc.


      • I guess the ages are different here, so you do a wide range of exams at 16 then 16-18 you do three or four A-levels where you specialise, then your degree at 18-21 is in one or two subjects. I did enjoy geography, physical geography as you describe was fine, a lot of human geography too but there was a LOT of maths and statistics in there at A-level which I struggled with!


        • Ohhh, that’s interesting that people get to try out subjects before they go off to school and have to pay for it. As I’m sure everyone knows, the American school system is a hot mess right now.


          • Well, you don’t try them out as such – degree courses usually require you to have certain A-levels, it’s easier in the arts, I wanted to do English so I could do three A-levels including English and preferably a language, they’d have probably preferred another humanity like history for my third one. But my husband did Chemistry and he had to have Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Maths at A-level to do that. And you do your university applications starting in your first year of A-levels so you sort of have to know what you want to do, unless you have a gap year. University fees are bad now so a lot of people aren’t going unless middle-class and above. Very inequitable. When I went it was free but they’d just started freezing grants so I had to get a student loan to live on. Postgrad you had to pay for, but your undergrad was free. But that was 1991 it started to change.

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