Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Nonfiction Book Reviews: Braiding Sweetgrass...

Braiding Sweetgrass

Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Published: October 15th, 2013 by Milkweed Editions
Genre: Nonfiction, Science
Format: Paperback, 391 Pages, Own
Rating: 5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings are we capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learning to give our own gifts in return. 

My Thoughts:

I loved everything about this book! She asks some tough questions about what it means to be apart of nature. How can we take what science has to offer and what her ancestors' wisdom has to offer us about how to take care Mother Earth? She weaves her own background, her ancestors' stories, science, and what plants can teach in how to do this.

Her first story is about Skywoman. She's fallen from the sky and immediately receives help from a goose, a turtle, until they realize she needs land to rest upon permanently. But no animal can make it all the way down to the bottom of the water to bring her some land...except for the muskrat, who sacrifices itself for her and brings up some mud only to lose its own life.

"Skywoman bent and spread the mud with her hands across the shell of the turtle. Moved by the extraordinary gifts of the animals, she sang in thanksgiving and then began to dance, her feet caressing the earth. The land grew and grew as she danced her thanks, form the dab of mud on Turtle's back until the whole earth was made. Not by Skywoman alone, but from the alchemy of all the animals' gifts coupled with her deep gratitude. Together they formed what we know today as Turtle Island, our home."

She compares this with another story from across the waters...a woman with a garden and a tree...

"But for tasting its fruit, she was banished from the garden and the gates clanged shut behind her. That mother of men was made to wander in the wilderness and earn her bread by the sweat of her brow, not by filling her mouth with the sweet juicy fruits that bend the branches low. In order to eat, she was instructed to subdue the wilderness into which she was cast."

"One story leads to the generous embrace of the living world, the other to banishment. One woman is our ancestral gardener, a cocreator of the good green world that would be the home of her descendants. The other was an exile, just passing through an alien world on a rough road to her real home in heaven...And then they met--the offspring of Skywoman and the children of Eve--and the land around us bears the scars of that meeting, the echoes of our stories."

Stories are powerful. This sets up the rest of the book. How do Westerners with creation stories like these respond to a land that our ancestors have taken? Do we listen to those who've cultivated for centuries and millennia or do we assume we know best because we take and never give back? How do we treat the earth like we are truly indigenous to it?

Each section and each essay within that section dissects exactly this. This is one I'll be going to again and again. I can't recommend it highly enough!

Source: Goodreads

Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes edited by David Roessel

Published: January 1st, 2006 by Sterling
Genre: Nonfiction, Poetry, Juvenile
Format: Hardcover, 48 Pages, Own
Rating: 5 stars

My Thoughts:

I read this one aloud with G for Poetry month in April. We really enjoyed learning more about Langston Hughes and his poetry. The Illustrations were also vivid and dynamic. They really brought the poems to life. I love this Poetry for Young People series. I've never been a big poetry reader except for high school and a bit in college so I really love diving in this way.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Spring Into Horror Readathon Wrapup


Thank you, Michelle! I had a great time focusing in on some horror and mystery this month. It's just what I needed.

I finished off 4 books:

Faithful Place and Broken Harbor by Tana French (3 and 4 in the Dublin Murder Squad.) The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling and Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi.

Spring into horror books

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Week-in-Review: Covid Jab!

I wanted to post this last weekend...but I got my second Covid jab and it really put me under all weekend. So I got nothing done except some movies and reading...My symptoms were mild fatigue a few hours after on Friday and then my muscles started to ache a bit before bed. I woke up around 2 AM with chills and a fever. Then it was hot sweats and chills and really weird dreams all night. Saturday was aches and pains and a headache all day. Sunday my aches and pains were done but I was just worn out from it all and so so tired. Finally felt human again on Monday! I feel terribly behind on all the things...

But oh what a feeling! Jack Black's video explains it all!



Untitled Nala gave me some comfort after my jab Friday.

Last week we got out on a little walk as a family before spring weather hit again here in Utah and we had three days of clouds, rain, and cold. And a little family game night. Takenoko is a winner! You can play up to 4 players. It's perfect for our little family.

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G made his first dinner of turkey burgers last week as well! Yum!


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Grateful For:

1. G decided he wanted to start making meals on a semi-regular basis. America's Test Kitchen put out a great little book for young bakers/cooks that I picked up. He's been picking recipes from out of there and his first was super yummy! I helped cut the fixings up but other than that it was all him. This week is homemade pizza!

2. Covid vaccine! So exciting.

3. We enjoyed a nice birthday dinner at my mom and dad's house Monday. We brought in some takeout and enjoyed chatting and eating since everyone in the house is now vaccinated we felt comfortable going over and spending a couple hours there to celebrate.

Reading Life:

I finished up Broken Harbor (#4 in the Dublin Murder Squad series)(read for my spring into horror challenge) by Tana French, Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes edited by David Roessel, Floating Staircase by Ronald Malfi (read for my spring into horror challenge), and The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling (read for my horror challenge in the scary cover prompt.)

My ebook The Deep by Alma Katsu was returned to the library. I wasn't able to finish it in time, unfortunately. But it wasn't quite what I wanted right now anyway. I have plans to finish it maybe in the fall, though.

I'm 3/4 done with The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas for my French Lit challenge! Two more months and I'll be done!

G and I are still reading through The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. We're a little over halfway now. I bet we'll be done mid-May. G is also learning a lot about World War II in his history class so he's really enjoying it in a new way.

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I'm currently reading Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin (really interesting!), The Secret Place (#5 in the Dublin Murder Squad series) by Tana French, and The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco.

Watching Life:

I started Mare of Easttown on HBO Max. I'm really liking it. Kate Winslet is stellar! I love seeing her weekly.

Also caught the Oscars on Sunday last. I liked the quaint feel of it this year. I enjoyed all of the films I was able to catch before the big night. I have a few more to see still. Really happy Nomadland got best picture. Happy to see Chloe Zhao get best director!

Source Wall Street Journal

Also, I loved her simple dress, no make up, and her braids!

Source Reuters

Go Youn Yuh-Jung for best supporting actress who has no f's to give for Hollywood!


I watched The Mole Agent on Hulu and PBS. It's a documentary about an elderly gentleman in Chile who goes into a nursing home in Santiago undercover. A PI hires him for a client who feels her mother is being abused. But it doesn't go where you think it will. Insights and just some great footage. A lot of thought on how we take care of or don't our elderly community and who truly makes up a family? Good stuff in there. It was nominated for Best Documentary in Oscars.

Source IMDB

Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Always
was a great little Indie film on HBO Max. About a teen girl and her cousin who head to New York City to get an abortion. It's about all the things along the way. It's quiet and introspective. Highly recommended! I really feel this one should have gotten a nod at the Oscars.

Source IMDB

Run
is a fantasticly creepy horror film on Hulu starring Sarah Poulson. The main protagonist is actually a person who has disabilities. She was able to collaborate on the film and make sure things were done right and not in an ableist way. Loved everything about this!

Boys from County Hell is a fun Irish horror comedy about a Celtic vampire who run amok in their quaint little town. Lots of blood and humor. 

Looking forward to:

A new Japanese-style donut shop opened up close by so me and my brunch ladies are going to hit it this Saturday morning. We're all vaccinated and feeling frisky! Japan's donuts are the best! I'm hoping it lives up to its name or heads will roll. I haven't had a fantastic donut since I lived there so I have high hopes...

Mother's Day should be nice. My boys are planning on making me breakfast. I may even talk them into a hike! We'll also stop by my mom's and visit for a bit in the evening.

Hope you all have a lovely week! Any plans for Mother's Day? Anybody watch the Oscars?

Joining in with Deb from Readerbuzz's Sunday Salon

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Cat Thursday--Artsy Kitty

Welcome to the weekly meme (hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict) that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats!   


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Where's Nala?


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I did some photo editing with Shadow staring at the window wanting to catch all the birdies.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Another Week: Rain and Sunshine!

It's been a strange week for weather but that's spring for ya! Three days of clouds, slush, rain, and cold. It felt like I was living in Portland again! But Saturday the clouds moved on and the sun shined. It's still chilly but just having that sun again is a fantastic feeling.

With all my family stuff, I've been trying to find different yet healthy ways to cope and manage the stress. I've been looking into art journaling and have been experimenting a bit this week and hope to keep it up. I am not an artist but just trying to be creative has been helpful this week.

Grateful For:

1. We made it outside before the weather hit terrible and went to our local gardens' Tulip Festival. It was a perfect end to G's Spring Break.

2. DH got his second Covid jab! He felt pretty terrible the next day with all the flu-like symptoms but the day after that he was fine!

3. Nala's seizure medicine was reduced this week and so far no seizures! I can only hope it keeps up. We can't even think about traveling again until we're sure her seizures have cleared up.


Tulip Festival

Reading Life:

UntitledI managed to finish off Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Gorgeous book with lots to chew on. I'll have to give it a proper review later this week. But it's a must-read! 

I also picked up a picture book from the library Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff. I read it aloud with G. It focuses on the issues Max has to face a transgender boy at school. Great illustrations and a great way to open up dialogue with G. We both really enjoyed it.

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I started reading Broken Harbor by Tana French, the 4th installment of the Dublin Murder Squad. It's the only one I haven't been able to buy for cheap on my Kindle so I had to get this one from the library. So far pretty good! I started Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston for my Back to the Classics challenge. And Bridge of Souls by Victoria Schwab. It deals with supernatural stuff so I can consider this towards my Spring into Horror April challenge as well.

Still reading The Deep by Alma Katsu for my I Read Horror Year-round Challenge, the body of water prompt and The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling for the scary book cover prompt!

For my French Literature challenge I'm still plugging away at The Count of Monte Cristo! He doesn't have a lot of nice things to say about women, but overall it's a fun soapy French classic of revenge and intrigue.

G and I are reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak; we're about half way through. It's a tough one but it's done in an entertaining way with Death being the narrator. We had some tears last night (on my end) and I know there will be more.

I'm also skimming a few bullet journaling, art journaling, and doodling books to spark my creativity. If I get through one that I really enjoy I'll post about it later.

Watching Life:

I started the new TV show on HBO Max Made for Love. It's weird and funny and also disturbing. So if that is your jam, I do recommend it! lol.


And last night I was tired and just wanted something light so I turned on The History of Swear Words on Netflix, a light docuseries hosted by Nicholas Cage featuring a slew of hilarious comedians talking about swearing and swearing. It's just what I needed. Highly recommended!

I watched some dumb horror movies over the last weekend, but I did watch the first two Insidious movies with G over the last two weeks, and he loved them! So I have raised a little horror movie fan. It's truly an exciting moment in my house. DH will not touch them with a ten-foot pole!

DH and I caught Thunder Force on Netflix with Melissa McCarthy. I know it hasn't gotten great reviews but we loved it! I need Melissa and her ad-libbing dialogue and her pratfalls. I enjoy her movies with her hubby Ben Falcone. They never get the great reviews but I love them. So there! I think we'll get around to SuperIntelligence this next weekend. Long live Melissa!

Looking Forward to:

Getting my second Covid jab this next week! I mean, I'm not looking forward to the actual flu-like symptoms the day after but after that, things will really start looking up!

Joining in with Deb from Readerbuzz's Sunday Salon

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Mini Book Reviews: Go Tell it on the Mountain

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Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin

Published: September 17th, 2013 by Vintage (originally published in 1953)
Genre: Classic
Format: Kindle, 242 Pages, Own
Rating: 3.5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

Mountain,” Baldwin said, “is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else.” Go Tell It On The Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin's first major work, a novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

My Thoughts:

Now I know why everything James Baldwin wrote has become a classic. His prose and how he layers his stories with deep meaning and metaphor is truly astounding. And that's not to mention how well he knows and loves his characters and he knows how deeply human they are.

But even with all of the acknowledgement I had a really hard time getting through this book. It was hard to follow through time and back each character. I had to look them up and try and remember how each was connected to who. 

And the subject matter of religion and religious hypocrisy was also hard to swallow. I know it's a semi-autobiographical tale of Baldwin growing up in the Pentecostal religion with an abusive stepfather...It looks like it was not easy. Abuse and rancor and self-righteousness abounds.

I'm glad I read it but it wasn't pleasant and I'll never read it again. I've enjoyed two of his other fiction books and so I know I'll enjoy his others. I think this one was closest to his pain and thus the most raw.

I read this one for my Back to the Classics challenge in the classic by a BIPOC author prompt.


Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo

Published: January 19th, 2021 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult, LGBTQ+, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 416 Pages, Libary
Rating: 4.5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

Acclaimed author of Ash Malinda Lo returns with her most personal and ambitious novel yet, a gripping story of love and duty set in San Francisco's Chinatown during the Red Scare.

“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”

Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.

America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.

"Lo's writing, restrained yet luscious, shimmers with the thrills of youthful desire. A lovely, memorable novel about listening to the whispers of a wayward heart and claiming a place in the world."—Sarah Waters, bestselling and award winning author of Tipping the Velvet and The Night Watch


My Thoughts:

I fell in love with Lily. She's a young Chinese-American teen caught up in the Red Square of the 1950s and having to deal with the poopy politics of America and who "counts" as truly American? And dealing with her burgeoning love for another teenage girl Kath. Both of her cultures say it's wrong.

Her and Kath start to hang out at the Telegraph Club where they are able to meet and party with other lesbians and understand that there are people who are like them and how to form bonds that last a lifetime even when society isn't ready for them.

It's a perfect blend of real history, fully fledged characters trying to deal with what the world has thrown at them. And it's a wonderful love story. I can't recommend this one enough. All the feels are here.

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The Likeness (Dublin Murder Squad #2) by Tana French

Published: January 17th, 2008 by Penguin Group
Genre: Crime, Mystery
Format: Kindle, 470 Pages, Own
Rating: 3 stars

Publisher's Summary:

In the “compellingˮ (The Boston Globe) and “pitch perfectˮ (Entertainment Weekly) follow-up to Tana French’s runaway bestseller In the Woods, itʼs six months later and Cassie Maddox has transferred out of the Dublin Murder Squad with no plans to go back—until an urgent telephone call summons her to a grisly crime scene. The victim looks exactly like Cassie and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used as an undercover cop. Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl, but, more important, who was this girl?

My Thoughts:

I loved French's first book in the series! Absolute delight with a fantastic setting and engaging characters and good mystery to solve. But I was a little less taken with the second installment, unfortunately. Cass was a character I wanted to follow from the first book so I was happy this one focused on her instead of Rob. But the plot was too fantastical from the start to seem even somewhat believable. A woman who looks exactly like her is murdered! And what do they decide to do? They let her go undercover and infiltrate the home she's been living at with four other flatmates....Really? I've grown up with identical twin friends and even they don't look exactly alike! In what universe is this even plausible? I had flashbacks to reading a Dan Brown novel which touts itself as serious mystery thrillers and yet the laws of physics that normally held things together just don't...

The plot suffered for French's wanting to wax philosophical about who we are compared to who we want people to think we are. 

I hear the third instalment is better! It follows Frank, but he was not one I loved that much in The Likeness but maybe that's a good thing. The plot can't be any dumber...hopefully!

Don't get me wrong. I still love French. I truly love her writing style and her settings in and around Dublin. 

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None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio

Published: April 7th, 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Genre: LGBTQ+, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, 328 Pages, Library
Rating: 3.5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

A groundbreaking story about a teenage girl who discovers she was born intersex... and what happens when her secret is revealed to the entire school. Incredibly compelling and sensitively told, None of the Above is a thought-provoking novel that explores what it means to be a boy, a girl, or something in between.

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She's a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she's madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she's decided that she's ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin's first time isn't the perfect moment she's planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy "parts."

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin's entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?


My Thoughts:

I highly recommend this book about a teenage girl who discovers she's intersex. Gregorio is a surgeon and was inspired by one of her patients who came to her for a gonadectomy after discovering she was intersex. She never saw her again and wondered about her life. She decided to write this book to bring awareness and to dispel ignorance and intolerance.

As far as a book of characters and the world they live in, this one wasn't the best. And the ending felt rushed and a bit flat for me. But she's a surgeon! She has other priorities! lol. 

But I still think it's a good read and brings a lot of awareness about gender and biology and culture and how we're all just humans.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

April?

What a crazy week or two or three? Life just keeps getting in the way sometimes. We had a fantastic Easter weekend. It was gorgeous weather. Beautiful sunshine all day long. Gabe was happy with what the Easter bunny brought him. Lots of Reese’s chocolate and Starburst jelly beans, and some money. And of course, crepes and a little mimosa on the side.

Easter 2021

Grateful For:

1. I got my first vaccine jab last week and DH got his second this week. So there is light at the end of the tunnel and I keep hearing that Pfizer's vaccine trials for kids 12-15 shows promising results so I hope that means G will be able to get his in the fall or at least by the end of the year!

2. My soda bread and crepes were super yummy and it was a gorgeous day for Easter!

3. For good friends. It's been a rough week with family stuff and they have been here and are helping me deal. 

Reading Life:

I have finished off 3 books over the last few weeks...Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda, The Likeness (The Dublin Murder Squad #2) by Tana French, and The Salt Path by Raynor Winn. Oh, I also forgot Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin.

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Reading Challenges:

I'm still reading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas for my 1000 Books Project: French Edition. I just made it over halfway at the end of March. That Count of Monte Cristo is quite the revenge maker! It's so fun to see how he's setting it all up.

For my Back to the Classics 2021 challenge I am slowly making my way through The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. And I am reading this one for my philosophy reading with my friend who lives far away. The first half is where she establishes her theory and history and it can be a bit of philosophical mumbo jumbo and disheartening details of men's ideas about women throughout history. We're almost done with the first part and hopefully the second part where she applies it to her life will pick up!


I finished off Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin for the Classic by a BIPOC author prompt in this challenge.

I also plan to start Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston for my Classics By a Woman prompt.

For my I Read Horror Year-round Challenge I have started The Deep by Alma Katsu for my Body of Water prompt and this month is also the Spring Into Horror Challenge. The Deep will go with this one and Faithful Place (The Dublin Murder Squad #3) by Tana French (which I also started).



For my Nonfiction Reading Challenge 2021 I just finished off The Salt Path by Raynor Winn for the Travel prompt. My next plan is to either pick up Cork Dork: A Wine-fueled Adventure Among the Obsessive Sommeliers, Big Bottle Hunters, and Rogue Scientists Who Taught Me to Live for Taste by Bianca Bosker or The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World by Patrik Svensson for the Food and Oceanography prompts respectively.

Listening Life:

I have a couple of chapters left in Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Very excited to be almost done. Beautiful book that has lasted me many months. It's one to be savored and pondered.

I also finished of The Salt Path on audiobook. I really think all memoirs should be listened to.

I'm also listening to The Great Courses: The Story of Human Language by John McWhorter.

Watching Life:

DH and I watched the newly edited version of The Justice League on HBO Max a couple of weeks ago. We never actually saw the original version when it came out...it was really long but when you're watching from home you can take breaks and eat and bathroom breaks, so it wasn't so bad. It had a very creative storyline and the Flash saved the movie for me. We also watched Tenet this last weekend together. I liked it. I liked Inception a bit better since I liked the actors better but this was still different and fun.

As a family we watched the new Shaun the Sheep movie Farmageddon which was awfully adorable and just what we all needed. Check it out on Netflix.

Over the last few weeks I've managed to watch the horror movie Possessor on Huly by Brandon Cronenberg. Really bloody and violent but cerebral and kind of thinky. I liked it.


Another Round
which has been nominated for the best international film for the Academy Awards. Also on Hulu. It was really good. It has a lot to say about friendships and loyalty, and the role of alcohol in a society. Lots of fantastic stuff to chew on in this one.


Documentaries...I watched Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution on Netflix. It's also nominated for Best Documentary Feature for the Academy Awards. Really well done. Fantastic look at how hard and long the American Disabilities Act was fought for. And a look at who the main players were and how their voices haven't been heard.

For something different...A friend recommended Derek DelGaudio's In & of Itself on Hulu. He's a performer and an illusionist/magician...he performed this "play/performance" in New York over 500 times with big celebrities coming to see him live...I can see how it would be an interesting performance to see in-person. But I didn't get it. Not my favorite. But each to their own.

For TV...I binged Behind Her Eyes on Netflix the day I got my first Covid jab once I started feeling really poopy. It was good! I didn't guess it till right before the end. Highly entertaining.

Looking forward to the Tulip Festival at our local gardens tomorrow. We're right in the middle of spring break for G. One day was spent helping my dad take down his waterbed...which took hours! DH got his 2nd jab and he's been out for two days so tomorrow is really our only day to get out of our house!!!!! It's sooooooo needed! Looking forward to beautiful gardens and a nice outdoor walk. Maybe a little takeout on our way home too.

Also my Nala kitty's seizure meds will be reduced next week! We lessened it a bit back in February and so far there have been no seizures on this new dose. So crossing our fingers that the new lessened dose will not result in any seizures. I'm hoping that we'll be able to not have her on any meds soon and if that's the case we will be able to actually plan a vacation this summer or early fall! Hallelujah!

Joining in with Deb from Readerbuzz Sunday Salon



Thursday, April 1, 2021

Spring Into Horror 2021

It's that time again! April! Six months til October and all the scary things. Michelle hosts this one over at her blog Seasons of Reading. Check it out to sign up and find out all the deets!


I'm also reading along with her year-long horror challenge so this will go right along with this. Basically, anything that is horror-like is a go! Any genre that's a bit spooky or mysterious or covers real-life horrific things.

My book goals:

These are my top three but I am under no illusions that I will actually choose these books are get through more than one! But it'll be fun trying!


The Deep by Alma Katsu

Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

This is the only way to explain the series of misfortunes that have plagued the passengers of the ship from the moment they set sail: mysterious disappearances, sudden deaths. Now suspended in an eerie, unsettling twilight zone during the four days of the liner's illustrious maiden voyage, a number of the passengers - including millionaires Madeleine Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, the maid Annie Hebbley and Mark Fletcher - are convinced that something sinister is going on . . . And then, as the world knows, disaster strikes.

Years later and the world is at war. And a survivor of that fateful night, Annie, is working as a nurse on the sixth voyage of the Titanic's sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. Plagued by the demons of her doomed first and near fatal journey across the Atlantic, Annie comes across an unconscious soldier she recognises while doing her rounds. It is the young man Mark. And she is convinced that he did not - could not - have survived the sinking of the Titanic . . .


Her Here by Amanda Dennis

"Dennis is in possession of hypnotic narrative gifts and a ferocious intellect. With Her Here, she has claimed her place in the literary world." --Rebecca Makkai, author of Music for Wartime and The Great Believers

"In Her Here, Dennis has written a metaphysical investigation that is also a wonderfully personal account of a daughter coming to terms with the loss of her mother, and a mother coming to terms with the loss of her daughter. As Elena conjures Ella's last days, the richly imagined narrative moves back and forth between Paris and Thailand, carrying both characters and readers to a vivid and suspenseful conclusion." --Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy and The Boy in the Field

Elena, struggling with memory loss due to a trauma that has unmoored her sense of self, deserts graduate school and a long-term relationship to accept a bizarre proposition from an estranged family friend in Paris: she will search for a young woman, Ella, who went missing six years earlier in Thailand, by rewriting her journals. As she delves deeper into Ella's story, Elena begins to lose sight of her own identity and drift dangerously toward self-annihilation.

Her Here is an existential detective story with a shocking denouement that plumbs the creative and destructive powers of narrative itself.

An Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate and Cambridge Gates Scholar, Amanda Dennis teaches at the American University of Paris. Her Here is her first novel.



The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling

A thrilling, atmospheric debut with the intensive drive of The Martian and Gravity and the creeping dread of Annihilation, in which a caver on a foreign planet finds herself on a terrifying psychological and emotional journey for survival.

When Gyre Price lied her way into this expedition, she thought she’d be mapping mineral deposits, and that her biggest problems would be cave collapses and gear malfunctions. She also thought that the fat paycheck—enough to get her off-planet and on the trail of her mother—meant she’d get a skilled surface team, monitoring her suit and environment, keeping her safe. Keeping her sane.

Instead, she got Em.

Em sees nothing wrong with controlling Gyre’s body with drugs or withholding critical information to “ensure the smooth operation” of her expedition. Em knows all about Gyre’s falsified credentials, and has no qualms using them as a leash—and a lash. And Em has secrets, too . . .

As Gyre descends, little inconsistencies—missing supplies, unexpected changes in the route, and, worst of all, shifts in Em’s motivations—drive her out of her depths. Lost and disoriented, Gyre finds her sense of control giving way to paranoia and anger. On her own in this mysterious, deadly place, surrounded by darkness and the unknown, Gyre must overcome more than just the dangerous terrain and the Tunneler which calls underground its home if she wants to make it out alive—she must confront the ghosts in her own head.

But how come she can't shake the feeling she’s being followed?

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Cosmic Queries by Neil deGrasse Tyson and James Trefil

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Cosmic Queries: StarTalk's Guide to Who We Are, How We Got Here, and Where We're Going by James Trefil and Neil deGrasse Tyson

Published: March 2nd, 2021 by National Geographic
Genre: Nonfiction, Science, Astronomy
Format: Hardcover, 312 Pages, Own
Rating: 5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

In this thought-provoking follow-up to his acclaimed StarTalk book, uber astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tackles the world''s most important philosophical questions about the universe with wit, wisdom, and cutting-edge science.


For science geeks, space and physics nerds, and all who want to understand their place in the universe, this enlightening new book from Neil deGrasse Tyson offers a unique take on the mysteries and curiosities of the cosmos, building on rich material from his beloved StarTalk podcast.


In these illuminating pages, illustrated with dazzling photos and revealing graphics, Tyson and co-author James Trefil, a renowned physicist and science popularizer, take on the big questions that humanity has been posing for millennia--How did life begin? What is our place in the universe? Are we alone?--and provide answers based on the most current data, observations, and theories.


Populated with paradigm-shifting discoveries that help explain the building blocks of astrophysics, this relatable and entertaining book will engage and inspire readers of all ages, bring sophisticated concepts within reach, and offer a window into the complexities of the cosmos.


For all who loved National Geographic''s StarTalk with Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cosmos: Possible Worlds, and Space Atlas, this new book will take them on more journeys into the wonders of the universe and beyond.

My Thoughts:

This is another great science book on our Universe! Tyson and his co-author are humorous and informative. There are a lot of beautiful pics throughout each chapter along with gorgeous paintings and art recreations of things in our Universe.

The chapters are broken down into easily digestible chunks. We get a sense of our place in the Universe, some history on how we know that. They talk about the fundamental building blocks of everything as well. I think I can safely say what Dark Matter acts like in relation to Dark Energy. DM is like gravity; it pulls. DE is the opposite and things are flung out instead of being drawn in. Boom. I feel smart.

It's also part history lesson on really cool people doing the hard things and helping us understand our world better through science!

And every book on space needs a little space for the end of the Universes stuff.

I had a lot of fun reading it. And I'm putting it on my coffee table for future reference and to look at those pics again. I highly recommend it if you at all interested in how the Universe works and space and science.


I read this for my 2021 Nonfiction Reading Challenge in the published in 2021 prompt.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Cat Thursday--Maru

Welcome to the weekly meme (hosted by Michelle at True Book Addict) that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite lolcat pic you may have come across, famous cat art or even share with us pics of your own beloved cat(s). It's all for the love of cats!  


I haven't seen a video of Maru for awhile so here's a newish one. There are two new cats as well since the last time I checked. So much cuteness!


Saturday, March 20, 2021

Week-in-Review: March Madness...

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OK, not really madness but I couldn't think of anything else to title it! The weather has been madness, though. Just when we think spring is around the corner, we get snow! Or nice temps in the 60s and then the next few days back to the 40s. I did get a quick gardening session in yesterday before the wind and the storms set in. All the weeds are pulled and ready for flowers in a few weeks! My crocuses, hyacinths, and tulips are coming up! I need to take a pic this week for next time.

We celebrated DH's birthday last week! It was just us. Quaint and homey. It's usually a big affair with lots of friends but of course, it is the year of pandemic birthdays. We got a good one in last year. It was literally the weekend before everything closed down and the schools closed and we all locked down. It was a surreal year and this one was the anniversary of that. So weird again. I'm hoping next year will be a little more normal! 

I made cupcakes, we ordered in Mexican food, and I made frozen daquiris. DH then spent the evening with his Dungeons and Dragons group online and overall, he couldn't complain.

I also made beef stew and brown soda bread for St. Patrick's Day. I picked up some Guinness as well and we drank those with the stew and bread and it was lovely! I wish I'd taken a picture of the bread because it is delicious and so easy to make. I think this will be my go-to bread from now on. Me and yeast don't do so well together and soda bread does not require it! And just to be silly I bought butter from Ireland and some cheddar. 

And DH got his first vaccine jab! He'll be getting his second jab in three weeks. My state is opening it up for everyone next week. I tried to get an appointment but no luck. But soon, very soon! Our mask mandate will end April 10th so I'm hoping to get an appointment before then, if not I'll be picking up my groceries from my online orders...I do not trust the people in my state to do the right thing without a lot of compulsion, unfortunately.

We also learned some troubling news about my husband's company...big changes ahead but we don't know much yet. More stress. But we should be OK no matter where we end up. It's just stressful.

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Reading Life:

I started listening to Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough after all the hubbub behind that ENDING!!!! I thought I should listen/read first and then watch and compare and contrast but I have found listening to it is making me anxious...like I keep thinking of the most awful and horrible twists to this story after each new nugget of information and I started giving myself nightmares...So I think I'm just going to watch it and not worry about the book. Lol. 

I've been listening to Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer slowly and deliberately for the last few months now. Gorgeous essays that really make you think about all living things and planet Earth and our place as humans amongst it all. A love story to the Earth. I should finish in early April.  

I'm still reading The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas for my 1000 Books Project: French Edition. By the end of them month I will be halfway through. It's highly entertaining. Quite the little French soap opera of revenge! And I am still reading Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. But I have plans on finishing it by the first week of April. It's really good and I just need to sit down and finish.

I'm about 30% done with The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. I'm reading it with my friend for virtual philosophy book club and also for my Back to the Classics 2021 challenge for the 20th century classic prompt. I'm also almost done with Go Tell it on the Mountain by James Baldwin. One chapter left! This is also for my Back to the Classics challenge for the classic by a BIPOC author prompt. It's a short book but it's a tough one. Lots of layers and lots of unlikeable characters so it's been a lot harder for me to pick up and have "fun" reading it.


And I just started Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. I'm enjoying it so far!


I finished off Samantha Irby's essay collection Wow, No Thank You. Astronauts: Women on the Final Frontier by Jim Ottaviani, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales by Oliver Sacks, and The Desolations of Devil's Acre by Ransom Riggs (The sixth and final book the Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series).

I've also been listening to quite a few Great Courses lecture series: Myths, Lies, and Half-truths of Language Usage and Language A to Z both by John McWhorter, and The Life and Works of Jane Austen by Devoney Looser. I can't recommend her series enough! I have renewed interest in rereading her works and reading her other lesser known works as well. I'm on fire for Austen again!

Watching Life:

I'm a huge Utah Jazz fan so I've been watching a lot of their games. March NCAA basketball is also happening. I'll be catching a few games here and there as well.


I just watched A Promising Young Woman which has been nominated for a bunch of Academy Awards and it is worth it! It blew my mind and it was so well done. Plus if you are a Veronica Mars fan there are at least three actors from that series in this movie. I bet there's a connection there somewhere...

And I've been on a Star Trek kick lately so I watched a few of the original series movies with the DH. And then started watching the TNG first season. DH bought me the remastered Blu Ray whole series a couple of Christmases ago and I hadn't started them yet! What was a I thinking? It looks gorgeous in HD. They even have a little documentary on how hard it was to do this. Thank you, TNG team, for tackling this immensely difficult task!

Looking forward to:

Well, today is the official first day of Spring. We are getting the cold and rain. I usually try to do some little thing for the Spring Equinox. I'll probably make a little egg based treat, make a fun spring item and read a spring story. The story of Persephone/Kore is always a good one for this time of year.

Planning:

Spring cleaning is in the air! I've been trying to clean all the things in the kitchen. I reorganized the pantry, and am now cleaning out the kitchen drawers and cabinets. We have so much junk in there! Random cups from Denny's when Gabe was 3...So more of that this week.

Joining in with Readerbuzz's Sunday Salon