Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cat Thursday (39) Happy New Year 2015!

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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Hope you all have had and have a wonderful New Year's and an excellent 2015!


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 End of Year Review

Better late than never!

I only signed up for 2 challenges cuz I know how bad I am at completing these. But I didn't get either of them done again this year. My life took a different turn shortly after I signed up for my two.

Finish the series challenge...I did not finish one series this year even though I could have :( The next one was a non-fiction challenge...I said 20 and ended up with 19. So damn close but no cigar.

No official challenges for myself this year when it comes to reading. I may make up a few. There's Amazon's 100 books to read in a lifetime, Bitch Magazine's 100 books for young feminists, and 501 Book to Read in a Lifetime...So I still have a good list to work from. Plus all the series I can still finish this year!

I didn't even get my 75 books in for my Goodreads challenge...60 books. Not a bad show, though.

Favorite Fiction:

1. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black.
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This was surprising. I figured it would be another trivial trope-filled vampire novel. Boring. It was trope-filled but with a purpose! It was funny and even had a creepy yet adorable vampire romance. Lots of blood and smarts. It was great!

2. Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

OK, I did finish a series. This one! Yay! The first book was only so-so for me when I read it two years ago but a friend convinced me to finish the series off. So glad I did. It was gripping and well-written.

3. Under the Never Sky series by Veronic Rossi

OK, another series finished. Also a great dystipian series.

4. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson

This was a great psychological thriller. Better than Gone Girl for me.

5. Pines by Blake Crouch

Also a fabulous thriller. I read this in one night. It's crazy!

This wasn't my best year for literary fiction. I read a few smart fiction books but they didn't stand out for me!

Favorite Nonfiction:

1. Yes Please by Amy Poehloer

Funny and interesting. She's a great writer too. It bogged down toward the end but overall fabulous!

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2. Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz

Love has not been the main reason for marriage ever until after the industrial revolution. She takes us down history lane. Great work.

3. The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burke

This one was written for me. I loved it!

4. Secrets & Wives: The Hidden World of Mormon Polygamy by Sanjiv Bhattacharya

A fascinating and yet disturbing look at various polygamous sects. He humanizes and tells their stories. Not all polygamists are the same. Great work.

5. NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson

I loved the interesting articles. These ideas were only introduced in individual chapters. Some have more studies behind them than others but in any case they were all thought-provoking.

This year hasn't been my best in posting or interacting well with my fellow bloggers. It's unfortunate and I hope to be better this next year, though don't we all. I still have some challenging times ahead and some big changes so I can't guarantee anything but look forward to trying.

I was not great at reviewing my movies at all this year. I still saw plenty but didn't put my thoughts down anywhere, unfortunately. I really hope to rectify that.

I saw 55 new to me movies this year! Thank you Netflix and Amazon!

Favorites:

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1. The Lego Movie: This is one I keep quoting and watching over and over....

2. Agora: The tragic history of the destruction of the Library of Alexandria and the murder of Hypatia. We were setback over 1000 years because of this. Just think of where we could be. Powerful.

3. Her: What's love? What makes us human? So many deep ideas in this amazing movie.

4. Philomena: This was a difficult one. Beautiful and oh so sad.

5. Stuck in Love: Just a big fat surprise of funniness and adorableness.

6. The Sapphires: Another sleeper hit for me. Can Chris O'Dowd do wrong?

7. Guardians of the Galaxy: I wasn't expecting much with this one and was really blown away by its sheer awesomeness!

8. How to Train Your Dragon 2: I cried. It was better than the first one!

9. Mockingjay Part 1: This was my favorite. It was better than its source. Lots of amazing action and story and strong women. Just a kick-ass film.

10. Veronica Mars the Movie: It wasn't the best; it could have been better but hey it was a Kickstarter project and I love Veronica Mars and it was great.

I may do a post on my least faves but for now this is good! I'm even getting this out before the new year! Yay me.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas!

I've been traveling so I haven't posted much but I thought I'd share this fun Christmas video of Pentatonix's rendition of "Carol of the Bells." I hope everyone has a safe and happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cat Thursday (38)

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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What's cuter than pics of cats smooshed on glass tabletops! Adorable.

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A cat with a cat for its beard! Ha! Ingenious.

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Organize your cats for future use!



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Living and Reading in Japan (4)

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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 can never stay on top of this meme! Lots of things over the last month or two with Halloween and now Thanksgiving and seeing beautiful places in Japan.

Books I'm Reading:

  1. Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz (almost done!)
  2. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  3. The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  4. Ticker by Lisa Mantchev
  5. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Books Finished:
  1. Paper Towns by John Green
Looking Forward To:

Being back home for Christmas! Devoted hubby has to stay in Japan, unfortunately so Gabe and I are headed back home to spend Christmas with friends and family! There are many things I can't get here in Japan so I'll be stocking up on when I get there. Have my bags almost packed and plans to be enacted!

Making:

Thanksgiving dinner not on Thanksgiving but on Saturday the 29th. It won't be crazy since it's just us three and I don't actually make much for Thanksgiving since we always go to my sister's house. Then we have a friend Thanksgiving the day after for more games and ham and goodies! But here it'll be roast chicken from Costco, instant potatoes and gravy, sweet mashed yams, salad, mulled wine, and an attempt at making rolls! Wish me luck!

Watching:

Gilmore Girls on Netflix (this inspired me to add every single book mentioned in the series to my goodreads list under the tag gilmore girls list!), Phryne Fisher's Murder Mysteries, this is the best murder mystery series on TV from Australia. I can't enough of it. The Bletchley Circle, also a great crime mystery series from BBC, a team of all-women decoding geniuses setting up shop in the 50s after World War 2. Gracepoint, a mini series on a murder in a small town in California. Based off of another British series with the same actor but with an American accent now...(Harry Potter's Barty Crouch!)

If you haven't seen The Sapphires with Chris O'Dowd you are truly missing a great movie. It's on Netflix and it's funny and inspiring all at the same time. I love those pleasant surprises.

Things I Did This Week in Japan:


2014-11-15 14.16.34.editLast week we walked around the Hiroshima Castle and had a picnic and enjoyed the Fall leaves and collected leaves. Then we went hiking up to a waterfall and took more fabulous pictures.

Hubster has been working nights the last 3 weeks and it's been pretty rough on all of us. We haven't gotten out as much as we've wanted. But I'm happy to say he's done with that for a bit! Yay!

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Hiroshima has put up their winter lights by the Peace Memorial park. We are heading to it this weekend and will throw up some pics then. I hear it's beautiful!

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Grateful For:

For another day on Earth. It's a beautiful place to be and I'm truly lucky to be alive!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Cat Thursday--Thanksgiving 2014!

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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Happy Thanksgiving! I will be celebrating with devoted hubby and devoted son Saturday rather than Thursday. Roast chicken from Costco...but I will be attempting rolls. Wish me luck!

I'm grateful for this Thursday meme! It keeps me sane :)

I'm grateful for my family. My hubby makes enough money so I can keep the home going and the kid alive. My son keeps me smiling. My parents are just the most supportive parents a kid could ask for.

I'm grateful for my friends. I have the best of friends. We drink, laugh, and play and cry together. Amazing.

I'm truly grateful for being alive. Without that, I couldn't experience what I experience.

May you all enjoy Thanksgiving with a grateful heart and warm family and friends :)




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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Paper Towns by John Green

I recently discovered that John Green and his brother Hank vlog together. They even have created crash courses on anything from history to chemistry and psychology. They're a great duo and I love watching them. Good stuff.

I also own every book Green has written. I loved "Looking for Alaska." I enjoyed "Will Grayson, Will Grayson." And "The Fault In Our Stars" was also very good. But I hadn't picked up "Paper Towns" yet. It's been sitting on my shelf for a few years. So when I saw him onset for the filming of "Paper Towns," I knew that was a sign I needed to get it read. ;)

A story about a boy who loves a girl and goes on a journey to discover who she really is and in turn discover who he is.

I liked it. It wasn't as good as "Looking for Alaska" but it was still thoughtful and interesting. Green is a curious and scientifically- and philosophically-literate person. He thinks. And it shows in his his books. Which I find really incredible because so many young adult books nowadays do NOT do that.

Can you love someone and still be you and let them go free? Do you love a person or just the idea you have of that person?

I always enjoy the characters Green writes. The women are usually smart and fiercely independent. The men are straight arrows that learn to live a bit through these smart and independent women.

But the story of "Paper Towns" left me a bit cold. He puts big ideas into this story and sometimes that works but it didn't quite work for me here.

Overall, it's a good read and would still recommend it even though it's not his best, in my opinion. And I will definitely give the movie a go when it comes out next summer.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Cat Thursday (36)

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 made it to a cat cafe earlier this week! If you don't know what I'm talking about here's a fun video introduction. I miss all of my kitties so this really hit the spot. It was relaxing to just sit and watch them and to pet them and play with them. My favorites were Reo (a big sleeping ginger cat) and Akua(? I can't quite remember...something like that, though). Akua was super cuddly and purred and even gave me a sweet kiss.

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Akua
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Reo
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Here is my own sweet kitty Wolfy. My sister took this and sent it to me. He's so precious.




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

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I read the book the first time right after I had watched the first movie way back when. I remember really enjoying it. But I also remember being slightly disappointed that the book didn't quite match up with the movie.

So silly of me. The second time is a charm. The initial love and lust of the movies have warn off. They are beloved movies and classics and I can now peel away the layers and look for those beautiful treasure troves. Now I can take the book on its own without the movie. It does influence how I picture the characters now. I'm seeing things I didn't see the first time around.

When I read "The Hobbit" last month I realized how Bilbo really becomes the leader in the book. He takes charge and gets stuff done. The movies don't quite portray that, I think.

Same goes for "The Fellowship of the Ring." Aragorn is more sure of his destiny than he is in the movie. Frodo is a lot older in the books and commands a bit more respect, I think, than in the movies as well.

I think the movies help add to the books but the books is where the meat lies, the heart of it all.

Tolkien truly created the pinnacle fantasy series. I only wish he had added more depth to the story by adding more women. I think there are only 3 major female characters in the series and they never talk to each other.

Overall it's the stuff of epic myth and story. Stories stay with us and make us want to be better, do better, and avoid the dark paths. Heroic imagination at its best. (This relates to the whole series not just the first book).

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Cat Thursday (35)

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.





Happy almost Halloween! It doesn't quite feel like Halloween while in Japan but that's OK. I have the Internet and I only burned half of my pumpkin bread in a Japanese mini oven!

OMFH! This is so adorable!

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Cats and Eeyore, two of my faves!

Cat Thursday (34)

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 phrase cat burglar takes on a whole new meaning....

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Living and Reading in Japan (3)

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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 2 years (2014-2016).


I spent the last couple of weeks getting over a nasty sinus infection. I spent my days watching "Burn Notice" reruns! Doesn't get better than that...

Books I'm Reading:

  1. Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage by Stephanie Coontz
  2. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs
  3. The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Books Finished:

  1. The Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman
Looking Forward To:

I always look forward to the weekends. It's the only time we have to spend more time together and see Japan. This weekend entails hiking and who knows what else! The Fall colors come a little later here in Hiroshima. The weather is getting cooler but we have yet to see the full color spectrum. Everyone says the last week in October-the first week in November! Can't wait!

Making:

I plan on making pumpkin bread...we'll see how it turns out. And chicken noodle soup. I've been sick on and off since September. Just barely getting over a really crappy chest cold. Now Gabe is sick...sigh. Looking forward to trying some homemade goodness.

Watching:

Started "The Flash." Looks decent. We shall see as time goes on.

Also finished up "Burn Notice." I literally cried after it was done. I was thinking somebody should write the Mike and Fi memoirs. I want to know what they and Sam Axe are up to.

Since I've been sick a lot I've been watching YouTube channels a ton as well. John Oliver's Last Week Tonight is spot on and funny. Also John and Hank Greene's YouTube channels are fun and very informative.

Things I Did This Week in Japan:


Photo Oct 02, 11 28 51 AM.edit
Tofu Cuisine

I haven't felt well pretty much all September and half of October....but I did manage to eat at a traditional tofu place with my tutor Yasuko san. It was so interesting. The food was beautiful and our view was peaceful and calming. There is a large backyard garden with a waterfall. Koi swam peacefully in the pond. Our servers wore traditional kimonos. I had to remove my shoes while entering and put on slippers.

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Yasuko san
Tofu is not my favorite but it was fascinating to see how it can be cooked so differently. My favorite dishes were the almond tofu dessert and the ginger tofu. It was a fascinating experience.

Photo Oct 04, 3 01 07 PM (1).editLast weekend we hit the beach again. I just stayed covered up in a chair while watching the waves roll in and hubby and son build a pit fort in the sand.

Basically, I've left the house this week only to get Gabe to and from the bus stop and to and from swimming.


Photo Oct 09, 6 03 55 PM
He loves swimming!


Grateful For:

Cough drops and cough medicine and wonderful people who cook chicken noodle soup for me early in the morning. You are gratefully appreciated. Thank you!

Cat Thursday (33)

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 ran across this video...even uncat people can be turned ooey gooey over adorable kittens!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Cat Thursday (32)

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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Cat confessions!







I have a few I could write for my kitties! These are hilarious. Happy Cat Thursday, everyone. May all your days be filled with cats!


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking and Other Mini Book Reviews

I've been pretty sporadic on my blogging since I found out and moved to Japan. But now that I'm starting to get a routine and rhythm to my day, I'm able to cut out some time to blog again and get a bit more organized. So here are some books I've managed to read over the last couple of months.

The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman

I loved this book! It's a happiness book for pessimists, like me :) Burkeman takes us on a journey through ancient ideas and philosophies that are more conducive to finding a fulfilling and meaningful life and thus happier life.

1. Don't try too hard to be happy.

2. Practice the stoic art of imagining worse-case scenarios.

If they do happen you'll find they're never as awful as you imagined.

3. The Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment.

Whether good or bad just let it be, in the moment.

4. Don't get too goal-crazy. You can become consumed with goals.

5. Get rid of our sense of self, our ego. Focusing on others as well as meditation and learn how to watch our thoughts and let them float by.

6. Let go of certainty. Be happy in insecurity.

"Above all, living in a situation of such inherent insecurity, while very far from preferable, was clarifying. Nobody would envy it. But living with fewer illusions meant facing reality head on." Realize change is constant and to embrace it.

7. Failure is always an option.

8. Death

"...imagine you are eighty years old...and then complete the sentences 'I wish I'd spent more time one...' and 'I wish I'd spent less time on...'This turns out to be a surprisingly effective way to achieve mortality awareness in short order."

Siege and Storm, Ruin and Rising (2 & 3 Grisha Trilogy) by Leigh Bardugo

I read the first one last Fall and read the last two in a matter of a week. Fantastic young adult fantasy series. Layers, characters and world, have them in abundance. Strong female protagonist and actual love triangles with meat to them. She had me rooting for all the guys. I was kind of hoping she'd have her way with them all! Ha! Highly recommended :)

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I read this one back junior high. I thought it was time for a re-read with the movies almost all out. It was great to come back to it. I had forgotten what a strong character Bilbo truly is. He really takes charge in the end with the dwarves. It's still one of the best fantasy series ever.

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

It's a cute and fun juvenile fantasy series. A bit simplistic but still a solid series. I will read the next one.

Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer

He's a great writer. He takes us on his journey studying up and training for the memory competition. He tells us what he's learned about memory and how we can improve to. Memory palaces are real. But it takes time and effort to creat them. Not for me. But good to know. Fascinating read.

The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg

Fascinating fantasy series! The art of paper folding turned into magic. I loved the idea. It was a fast read. It was fun. Strong female character. The details were a but under-developed but overall a great start to a series.

Pines by Blake Crouch

This was one of the best thrillers I've read since "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. What the hell is going on? I was anxious and curious and disturbed and on the edge of my seat the whole book. I neglected my son....child? What child? Fascinating mystery-thriller.

*All images were taken from Goodreads.com

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