Monday, August 22, 2016

Wolfy and Frodo

Little Furball4IMG_4576In February I lost my sweet Wolfgang to kidney failure and two months later my oldest cat Frodo also died to kidney failure. It was a very traumatic time for me and one that still makes me weep. I felt both their lives drain away from me and it's been devastating.

I've had Frodo since before I met my husband. He was the first cat to be my cat, not the family cat, not my mom's cat. Even though he was grumpy to everyone else, he loved me. I could pick him up and put him over my shoulder and he would just sit there and rub my head and purr and purr. Every night he'd hop up on my lap in bed and get his nightly pets. He'd knead my arm and lick and purr.

It's been hard to form into words or even get the energy to form words. But we've come into two more cats, both from friends who needed someone to take care of their babies since they couldn't anymore. Nala and Frankie.

We have big hearts and we open up our home. But we forever feel the gap that Wolfy and Frodo leave behind. It's never easy but it does get better.

I found a funny poem that puts it better than I can:

Friday, August 19, 2016

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

I had never heard of Gloria Steinem until very the last 5 years. I grew up very religious and feminism was not something I was supposed to connect with. Her name was never mentioned in my home or in school, even college. It wasn't until I decided to leave my religion and open up my eyes to different ways of thinking that I became familiar with her name.

I've read things about her since then. I've seen her face online and in magazines. I've watched a documentary about her. But I had never actually read one of her books. So when her new memoir came out last year, I picked it up on a whim while on vacation.

It only took me a few more months to actually sit down and read it. I loved it. Ms. Steinem describes how her literal life on the road has changed her. She shares with us her lessons learned from the people she's met and the places she's stayed.

My favorite stories are how she connects with people one-on-one. Her stories center on talking and communicating and coming together as equals rather than in hierarchies. Traveling and getting out and meeting people and hearing their stories is what can bring us together.

Each chapter focuses on people she met and the stories they shared with her. The good and the bad and in between all come out. A very enlightening memoir and one I'll read again.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cat Thursday- Happy International Black Cat Appreciation Day

Welcome to the weekly meme (hosted by True Book Addict) 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)

Here's my own black kitty Shadow. She's crazy but we love her! Black cat appreciation day was yesterday the 17th but I still think the whole week counts!


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

What can I say? The Dark Days Club was supposed to provide a nice historical fiction feel from the vein of Jane Austen along with a fun supernatural fantasy and of course, a kick-ass female....

I did not get that. Goodman was very very proud of the fact that she did so much research into the Regency era that she had to let us know throughout the book about all the details! All the words like hoyden and by jove! She took me out of her world fast with her blatant snippets of historical minutiae. The story refused to flow for me. And because she focused so much on the Regency details her supernatural world-building completely fell apart. Her mythology is confusing. Demon-like energy beings from who knows where sucking out the lifeforces of all humans via nasty energy tentacles and whips only seen by our heroine and her fellow reclaimers and only via some weird crystal apparatus.

She tries really hard to combine supernatural Christian and Eastern philosophies along with natural philosophies. It just ends up a mess. Lady Helen says how well-read she is but the author doesn't show how well-read she is. Her thoughts and views and inner musings are really not well-read. She's your typical selfish rich upper class Regency Lady. All about duty and the balls and social graces. After she gains her powers she only plays with them once dancing alone in her room. That's it. No tests on how far she can go to read her uncle or aunt or anyone else unless she's told to. No tests of strength unless she's told to.

Also the love triangle? Was so weak. Both are boring and of course both hate each other and are in love with her because author said so....

I also didn't like the literal demonization of all of humanity. Yes we have sex and we lust and we're greedy but lets not say it's only the lower classes that take it too far and basically all the demons have control of the lower classes...just not my cup of tea. Lady Helen has to go down to the horrible parts of town, aka where all the poor people are. The stench and filth are terrible and she has the gall to ask how people can live like this? Really? The fate of the world rests on such caring and humane people as Lady Helen....oh boy. And let's not forget how she discovers Lord Carlston's humanity when he deigns to bow low to a lower class mother whose son's soul has just been redeemed....Really? What a super guy to bow to a lowly woman.

I know my modern sensibilities are getting in the way. And I'm not denying that that would be a sign of humanity back in those days. But it's not a story I'm really interested in. The characters are just blah. The secondary characters are worse. Poor things. Her lady's maid Darby only exists for serving Helen. She has no mind of her own at all. She couldn't be happier than to be a lowly servant in a rich upper class home. I'm sure she's grateful but that's all she wants to be or achieve in life? Don't think so. Servants are human beings with lives and wants and needs. She was so bland I didn't even realize she was only twenty until the author said so 3/4 through the book.

I can also appreciate that Helen may have a hard time with gaining all these new powers and finding out about demons and the Dark Days Club. I can accept all those things. But the author did not make me care one whit about Helen or any of that Regency World. I'm kind of rooting for the demons. At least they know how to have fun....

Maybe the second book gets better? I hope so.

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 end of August when Gabe heads back to school.


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