Tuesday, April 19, 2016


It's been a tough start to the year. I had such amazing plans to start blogging regularly but I still haven't been able to get going. My beautiful kitty Wolfy died in February and my oldest cat is now sick. My spouse has been traveling a lot for work and I'm trying to figure out how to proceed with the rest of my life, some existential stuff...

I have loved blogging about books. I've met so many amazing people through blogging. But for now I just haven't been able to sit down and actually write about my love of books and what I'm doing and reading and all that. I hope to get back to it soon. So yeah life. Hopefully I can take a pause and pursue this blogging-about-lovely-books thing soon.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable

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I didn't know much about Malcolm X before I decided to read his book. The book by Ta-Nahisi Coates Between the World and Me convinced me to finally pick up the Pulitzer-winning biography. I knew he was a controversial figure. I knew Spike Lee made a movie based on his autobiography starring Denzel Washington. That's it.

Let's just say I learned not only what an interesting and complex person he was but I learned so much more about history during that time.

Manning Marable does not sugar coat anything about Malcolm X. He let's us decide how to interpret it all together in the end. But he does not paint to be a hero not a villain. He calls him out on his prejudices and sexism when he sees it. It's a beautiful portrayal and one I want to have permanently in my collection.

Malcolm X did not want to write his own history; he was approached by Alex Haley and reluctantly agreed to do so after he got the OK from his leader Muhammad Elijah. But it was an opportunity to rewrite and advance some of his history and tell it like he wanted it. Thus the main theme and angle of this biography is how Malcolm X continued to reinvent himself from his challenging criminal days in Harlem as a teenager to his conversion and salvation in prison to Islam and specifically that of the Nation of Islam.

And even from there he could not help his changes. He visited Africa and the Middle East twice and both times left him a different person. He truly set out to embody his wisdom and seek that for his people.

This is a large book and I can't even begin to summarize everything but I'll end with the final paragraph of the book which sums up what Malcolm X did and what he should become in our collective consciousness .

"A deep respect for, and a belief in, black humanity was at the heart of this revolutionary visionary's faith. And as his social vision expanded to include people of divergent nationalities and racial identities, his gentle humanism and antiracism could have become a platform for a new kind of radical, global ethnic politics. Instead of the fiery symbol of ethnic violence and religious hatred...Malcolm X should become a representative for hope and human dignity. At least for the African-American people, he has already come to embody those loftier aspirations."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

From Goodreads:

She's a stunner.Edinburgh, 1844. Eighteen-year-old Lady Aileana Kameron, the only daughter of the Marquess of Douglas, has everything a girl could dream of: brains, charm, wealth, a title—and drop-dead beauty.
She's a liar.But Aileana only looks the part of an aristocratic young lady. she's leading a double life: She has a rare ability to sense thesìthíchean—the faery race obsessed with slaughtering humans—and, with the aid of a mysterious mentor, has spent the year since her mother died learning how to kill them.
She's a murderer.Now Aileana is dedicated to slaying the fae before they take innocent lives. With her knack for inventing ingenious tools and weapons—from flying machines to detonators to lightning pistols—ruthless Aileana has one goal: Destroy the faery who destroyed her mother.
She's a Falconer.The last in a line of female warriors born with a gift for hunting and killing the fae, Aileana is the sole hope of preventing a powerful faery population from massacring all of humanity. Suddenly, her quest is a lot more complicated. She still longs to avenge her mother's murder—but she'll have to save the world first.
I always enjoy a good fantasy story with elements of myths and legends and throw in a kick-ass female and I'm pretty happy. It doesn't always work out that way but this time it did.

I still had some hesitations like the fact that her world-building was a little shoddy. I almost felt a little bad for the fae folk. She paints them as horrible monsters with no redemption and yet her trainer is one and her tailor is also one, though tiny.

Our entrance into her life is one of murder and mayhem. She's a lady and has a hard time keeping up her lady-like duties---like not tearing dresses and corsets while killing fae and saving lords.

She wants revenge for her mother's murder a year ago and only her trainer knows what killed her mother. She's bloodthirsty for the hunt and it's almost all-consuming. The author tries to show her humane side by sharing her feelings of shame and guilt over wanting to hunt and kill the fae but it kind of comes off clunky.

The romance starts off a bit like a love triangle but you soon know where it's all going. Not a lot of chemistry between her and Kiaran. You could also substitute vampires for the fae and not be the wiser....

Overall, it's an interesting and fast-paced story. I like Aileanna. She tries to keep her humanity under horrid conditions. But the world fell flat for me. The steampunk was only there to serve as a way to bring her modern-type weapons in the mid-1850s of Scotland.

It would also be nice to have an ugly protagonist just once. Someone who can get the job done but is not physically pretty. Oh well.

The story gets a bit convoluted towards the end with ancient seals and portals and wandering fae lands. So I'm hoping she delves a bit more into the world and creates some nuance. So many fantasy worlds in YA fiction just need a little more nuance.

Strong and capable female character with some fun fantasy elements. Overall a win. I just hope the next book is better.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Cat Thursday

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat 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! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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Yesterday was International Take Your Cat to the Vet Day! Mine are all up-to-date with their vet visits! Whew. But Boredpanda had some fun and sad pics of cats' visits to the vet! Poor babies.

They also have some good tips and getting your kitty accustomed to going to the vet. So let's keep our kitties safe and healthy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Reading With My Son--Spidermania

Gabe has gotten really good at reading and it's been very enjoyable to read to him and him back to me. We've been able to have some great discussions this way. Even just to see him get excited about certain things in a book or a topic or what doesn't, is fun to see.

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At the library a few weeks ago he picked out a really cool book on spiders to bring home. Spidermania: Friends on the Web by Alexandra Siy. It has all sorts of electron micrography photos, zoomed in pictures of the spiders' parts. It explains various types of spiders, where they live, how they eat, and why they're important to our planet.

So don't squish a spider!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2015 Book Stats

Overall, it was a pretty good reading year for me. There were a few standouts, of course. But most of the books read were really solid for me. I read some fun ones with my son and learned some very interesting things, too, along the way.

Total books read all the way through: 56.

2 rereads: Persuasion by Jane Austen and Graceling by Kristen Cashore. Two much needed books at the time.

17 non-fiction

9 audiobooks: I got an Audible subscription this year while I was living in Japan. I did a lot of walking there and this helped pass that time.

17 were children's fiction or young adult fiction.

5 classics: I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for the first time. Pleasantly surprised how good it was, especially considering she wrote it so young. So many themes.

6 award winning books

Longest book was 662 pages The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

Top non-fiction:
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  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: This is heart-breaking and a must-read for every human. Opened my eyes as a white person and all the privilege...
  • Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande: Another must-read. If you plan on dying and getting old or have loved ones who plan to do that.
  • So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: Another eye-opener on social media and what monsters it can turn us into.
  • Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach: This was visceral for me. An unflinching look at what happens to our bodies.

Top fiction:

  • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie: I
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    listened to this one and it was thought-provoking. Also a must-read.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir: Another audiobook. This was the only way to read it. The narrator was funny and it was really a hopeful and humorous book.
  • The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: The world and character building is just phenomenal.
  • The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert: Gilbert brings women scientists into the light. She makes a story about a woman who separately comes to the idea of the theory of evolution during Darwin's time. Fascinating look.

Didn't live up to the hype:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr: I was expecting more and it just didn't capture my full attention.

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter: I heard what a great thriller it was and after reading The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, it just didn't come through for me. I kept asking why this story needed to be told? No clue.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Cat Thursday (52)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat 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! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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I'm still getting my brain back into my since I moved back to the States....I have a ton of new fun pics of my kitties but still need to get them on the computer and such. So til then enjoy this fun cat video!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Cat Thursday (51)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat 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! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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Oh Lordie! So adorable. Enjoy your kitten cuteness :)

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Cat Thursday (50)

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat 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! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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The Alamo has a new official cat! Bella. And she's pretty cute.

And now on to Tara the cat who body-slammed a dog attacking her 6-year-old human. Pretty impressive.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Two Weeks Left

Two weeks. Less, actually. That's all my family and I have left before we head back home to the States. I've said goodbye to three other friends that I met out here. One is home for the summer and I'll be gone before she gets back and the other two are back home for good, just a few weeks before me.

I've kind of been a mess. You meet some great people and you have some amazing experiences and then they're gone and you're gone and it's all over. It'll never be the same again. How precious each day is and the memories we accumulate with the ones we love.

So it's bittersweet. As it should be. The first six months were pretty rough but I got out of my box and met some great friends and did and saw and experienced some amazing things. Gabe had a great experience at school. He learned so much. It was all-day kindergarten so he really jumped in. He can read and write so much better...well, read period. He met some great friends. And he got an international experience. One we'd only hope to be able to let him experience again. Nowhere else at home will he be able to meet such a diverse group of kids.

Great food. Beautiful and exquisite nature. Japan will be missed. So without further adieu, I'll just share some photos of our travels and experiences this last week or so.

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The ladies I'm going to miss :(

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Gabe's last day of school :(

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Blue tailed skink
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Gorgeous sunset I encountered

I may have a few more posts up before I leave. But who knows. Lots of cleaning and getting rid of stuff this week. Then next week they pack us up and we run around in a hotel and getting deregistered at residents, turn in car, hand over apartment keys, etc. Then we fly back to the States. So if I have time, I'll try and get in one or two. But it's been sparse for a bit and it will probably be sparse until I can get back into my groove...like end of August when Gabe heads back to school.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cat Thursday 49

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat 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! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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Cats are always so unimpressed by us mere mortals!

And here are a couple of pics of some kitties we've met this past week. The black kitty was a mountain kitty. Super sweet and let us come right up and pet it. The next two cats were pottery shop kitties. I think every shop owner should have a couple of cats ;) We bought stuff there and Gabe couldn't get enough of them.

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Monday, June 8, 2015

Living and Reading in Japan (10)


This weekly meme has been inspired by Michelle at The True Book Addict and Lisa at Lit and Life--Life: It Goes On...but I wanted to tweak it a bit for myself since I am living in Japan for the next year (2014-2015).

I didn't get too many of these out my year here but with crummy internet and my time pulled elsewhere I just haven't gotten around to it. I only have a few weeks left in Japan. It's bittersweet. I'm excited to get back home but there are so many things I'll miss about Japan.

  • Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange
  • The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Where the Flame Trees Bloom by Alma Flor Ada
  • Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Wild: Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
Looking Forward To:

My last few weeks in Japan. We're traveling up to Kyoto this weekend. Then it's an onsen and microbrewery the week after that. We're trying to take it all in while we can with our few weeks left!


Not much. I made my old standbys here in Japan last week for Gabe's Sports' Day...Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. So yummy. I'm trying to get my food supplies down with only a few weeks left...It's usually quesadillas, sandwiches, stir fry, or yakisoba during the week. Weekends we head out for the local cuisine of okinomiyaki, ramen, sushi, and curries ;)

Listening To:

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History--Armageddon. It's all about the first world war.
Mistakes made and how it changed modern warfare. Fascinating and tragic.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. I think this is the only way to read such a long book. The narration really brings me into this fascinating fantasy. Because I really don't know if I'd be able to actually read through this one on my own.


Aquarius. The storytelling gets a bit sloggy when it comes to Charles Manson. I enjoy David Duchovny's character the most along with his interaction with the female street cop who has to deal with all the misogyny.

The Honourable Woman. Watch this now on Netflix if you haven't already. It's just such a smart and well-acted TV series. Go. Go watch it!

Things I Did This Week:

Fukuyama was the week before and this week was a little town called Hagi. Both incredible. Fukuyama has a little town where a few scenes of Wolverine were filmed a few years ago. We met one of the extras at a museum and he told us about his 3 seconds of fame in the movie. So of course we had to watch the movie that night and find him!

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In Hagi we picked up some beautiful pottery and had some amazing views of both mountains and the ocean.

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The Japanese yukata festival was this last weekend too. I went out with friends in my yukata. It's the summer version of the kimono. It's simpler and cooler with the hot weather. They're beautiful!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cat Thursday 48

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us by posting a favorite LOL cat 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! Enjoy! Hosted by Michelle of The True Book Addict.

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I've just been introduced to Didga, the cat who can skateboard and do all sorts of other fun tricks!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Doerr creates a very interesting piece. There are time shifts and two little kids growing up harshly in landslide of war.

Werner lives in Germany and is an orphan along with his sister near a mining town. He loves taking apart radios and transistors and basically learning all he can on his own about science and electronics. He must leave his sister, though, as war breaks out, and he's accepted into the Hitler's Youth program.

Marie-Laure lives in France. We see her go blind at a very young age and how her father creates a miniature town for Marie-Laure. Her world is one she can't see but can feel.

We see their time before the war and when war breaks out and eventually the events that bring these two people together.

I really enjoyed the story from the views of these characters. We see how Werner struggles to keep his humanity and yet how he can be apart of all Germany stood for during the war.

But Doerr threw in a third character...an ancient mysterious jewel and a German geologist going to the ends of the earth to find it. It felt a little hokey to me. I think the story would have been a lot stronger without this little magical and superstitious sidetrack.

I also had a hard time following the way the timelines flowed. We didn't stick with any one character too long and thus I felt it disjointed my reading flow.

It's beautifully written and offers a unique look of World War II through Werner's and Marie-Laure's eyes but it just didn't quite flow together for me. It took me a very long time to read this. It's worth a read, of course, but it wasn't my favorite.

“I have been feeling very clearheaded lately and what I want to write about today is the sea. It contains so many colors. Silver at dawn, green at noon, dark blue in the evening. Sometimes it looks almost red. Or it will turn the color of old coins. Right now the shadows of clouds are dragging across it, and patches of sunlight are touching down everywhere. White strings of gulls drag over it like beads.

It is my favorite thing, I think, that I have ever seen. Sometimes I catch myself staring at it and forget my duties. It seems big enough to contain everything anyone could ever feel.”


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