Friday, January 12, 2018

Nonfiction Friday-- Obama: An Intimate Portrait: The Historic Presidency in Photographs by Pete Souza

I got this one for Christmas and I finally made the time to just sit and look through and read the whole thing. It's beautiful. It took me back to so many great moments during Obama's presidency. All the class, all the triumphs, and the struggles. The beautiful moments are all laid out so I can go through them time and again.

I love the picture of little 5-year-old Jacob asking the president if his hair felt just like his did and the president leans over and says "Why don't you see for yourself?"

Pete Souza captured the moment Homeland Security Advisor John Brennan told him the awful news of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. It's a grief-stricken and haunted look. It guts you.

This book is full of them. Pick it up today. It's an amazing collection that records an historic presidency.

*part of my nonfiction 2018 reading challenge.

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Alderman explores the question 'What if the power to hurt was in women's hands?' How would the world change? She explores this topic through four characters. Allie, an abused teenager who kills her foster-dad and becomes the world religious leader Mother Eve. Tunde, a Nigerian journalist who sets out to chronicle the sudden and drastic changes around the world with this evolutionary change in women. Margot, an ambitious small-town mayor of Indiana with a daughter who has a disability in her new-found powers. And finally Roxy, a British crime daughter who has a ton of power and knows how to use it.

I found the four stories a bit distracting but also fascinating. They come together toward the end and it's a bit unbelievable but overall the characters feel fleshed out and the story is terrifying.

Alderman flips the script. Men start to feel scared like they can't walk the streets without a woman with them. Governments topple. Can women run the world any better?

It's a fascinating thought experiment and a must-read. You can see how ridiculous it is and yet how true these stories are for many women around the world.

All the characters are single and I wish she would have had one who was married or in a long-term relationship with a man to explore how those dynamics may have changed with this new shift of power.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Cat Thursday-- January 11, 2018

Share all things cats! Link up with Michelle at the True Book Addict.

BBC One has a new series out called "Big Cats". You get to watch if you live in the UK but here's a little clip of one of the cats they got on film. The rusty-spotted cat, only the size of a guinea pig. It's adorable!

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Horror Movie Wednesday-- Black Christmas

Black Christmas (1974):

I'm going to fan-girl all over this movie. This is as classic as a horror movie can get. This came out a couple of years before the iconic Halloween movie and you can see how this movie influenced that movie.

It's a simple premise. A sorority house full of college girls are getting ready to head home for the holidays. But one girl goes missing and the rest are continually harassed through obscene phone calls and mysterious noises. We get out-of-control Margot Kidder--she is the best in this movie. Funny and beautiful. We get the drunk and hilarious sorority mom. There are some aspects of Psycho in here and a stalker boyfriend who can't take a hint. Bumbling cops...I can't believe this isn't more widely known. Classic. Go watch it!

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

I am biased when it comes to anything John Green writes. I follow him and his brother Hank on social media. I watch their crash course history series. I listen to their podcast and their YouTube channels. John seems like a great guy. He cares about the world and he cares about young people. I think he writes young adult fiction because he wants to share all the thoughts about the world in them with kids who need it.

Green is a philosophy nerd and waxes poetic in each of his stories. Turtles All the Way Down is no different. The story focuses on Aza who suffers from severe obsessive compulsive disorder and crippling anxiety. Her best friend is Daisy who writes Star Wars fan fiction. There's a bit of a mystery as Aza searches for the billionaire father of her old friend Davis. But basically it's about the stories we tell about the world and the stories we tell about ourselves and each other.

"...I started thinking about turtles all the way down. I was thinking that maybe the old lady and the scientist were both right. Like, the world is billions of years old, and life is a product of nucleotide mutation and everything. But the world is also the stories we tell about it."

We have science and knowledge but we also have stories that connect us to the earth and to each other and to the universe. Yup, it's turtles all the way down.

So here's where my bias comes in. I love the philosophy in Green's books. He builds a story with meaningful characters around these ideas. Not everyone is going to love that. There wasn't a lot of story, not a lot happens in this novel. But there is a lot of character development and self-discovery.

If you like feel-good stories that make you think about the world then Green's books are for you and this one is a great one.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- 10 Books I Meant to Read in 2017 But Didn't....

hosted by the Broke and The Bookish

1. Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker. My focus this year is getting help for my insomnia and wanted to get started last year but didn't quite get to it! This is at the top of my pile for this year.

2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I've been meaning to re-read this amazing classic for a few years now. I'm determined to read it this year.

3. The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Picked this one up right after I read his latest book Eight Years in Power.

4. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini. Started it in December but got sidetracked by other things. Looking to finish it up soon.

5. Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow. It'll totally happen! It may take all year, though....

6. Don Quixote by Cervantes. Another that'll take all year but looking forward to it.

7. The Changeling by Victor LaValle. I wanted to read this one for Halloween but other books held my attention. I started the first few chapters over the holidays but had to take it back to the library and I loved it. So it's the top one to read for Halloween this year.

8. Octavia Butler's Earthseed series: Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. An actual religion has spawned from this series and I really wanted to get to it last year so this is the year!

9. Difficult Women by Roxane Gay. Short stories are harder for me. I read one and then feel like I don't need to move on to the next story. But I am going to finish this one soon. Love her stories so much.

10. Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. When the movie came out I put it on my list but never got to it. The movie was on best movies of 2017 list and thus I really want to get to it this year!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Week-in-review: January 8, 2018

After DH returned home from Taiwan, G got sick, then he got sick; I took care of them both, and then I got sick. So, it's been a tough few weeks but am so grateful for the downtime the holidays provided. We tried to do the best we could do considering all the sickness! We celebrated the Winter Solstice, Christmas, and New Year's without too much damage.

This last week was tough since that's when my illness really got me down and yet it was back to the grind. We managed to get the tree and holiday decor down this last weekend and we shifted everything around in our living room! It looks a lot nicer and more open and we now have use of our big window. It looks great and I hope it'll help me get back on track this month despite my sinus infection.

Books Finished:

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. Fast and interesting. He always provides good philosophical discussions in each of his books. This one was no exception.

Currently Reading:

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I only have 30 pages left! I'm going to finish and not wait til next Christmas to get back to it!

The Power by Naomi Alderman. It's been on all the lists for best of in 2017 and former president Obama had it on his top ten list for reading. So I decided to get it read!

Listening To:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I love listening to this one.

Finally catching up on podcasts like RadioLab and BackStory.


I'm almost done with Six Feet Under, which has been absolutely amazing. DH and I only have two episodes left of Stranger Things. And over the holidays I binge-watched La Mante a French Netflix original about a female serial killer who helps her son catch her copy-cat. Sooooo good! But the best new find for me has to be The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel! Wow! Blew me away at how good it is. Go watch it now. She deserved her Golden Globe!


Chicken creamy tortellini soup tonight. I need a good heavy and filling soup. Yum.

Looking forward to:

I've got philosophy book club coming up. My friend and I are reading Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder and are taking it about 3-4 chapters a month. We wanted to get our critical thinking skills up and thought this cute novel on the history of Western philosophy would do the trick!

Pics from the week:

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Winter Solstice wishes

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Our Solstice cookies

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Got our new PJs! 

Jan 2 Full moon
The full moon was still out in the morning!

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Shadow loved that tree.

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She also loves the new living room situation

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This was too cute. Nala being adorable

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Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday-- New-to-Me Authors in 2017

Check out other new-to-me authors at The Broke and the Bookish!

I don't read a lot of series so I don't usually stick to one author. But if I find a book I love, I enjoy seeking any other stories or articles that they've written.

1. Octavia Butler-- I listened to Kindred earlier this year and I loved it. She was an amazing author and her sci-fi/fantasy was well-done. I ended up buying the rest of her sci-fi series' on my Kindle and hope to finish at least one of her series this year.

2. Kelly Barnhill-- She writes children's fantasy and I read The Girl Who Drank the Moon. It was smart, funny, and beautifully written. I look forward to reading her other stories.

3. Yrsa Sigurdardottir-- She's a crime and mystery novelist from Iceland. Her book I Remember You: A Ghost Story scared bejeebies out of me last October and want to read more from her!

4. Joan Didion-- The Year of Magical Thinking had me crying all the time in the car. Her writing is poetic and she makes you feel all the feels. I bought two more of her essay collections and hope to read them this year.

5. Marcus Sedgwick-- White Crow. He writes a lot of fantasy horror for young adults. White Crow was creepy and poetic. I loved it. I look forward to more creepy stories.

6. Anne Ursu-- Breadcrumbs. She writes a beautiful fairy-tale retelling in Breadcrumbs. Her characters are flawed and human. Her audience is children and she speaks their language. My son and I had some great conversations while reading this one together.

7. Alice Walker-- She should not be new to me. I picked up one of her essay collection "Anything We Love Can Be Saved." Her stories and writing blew me away and I need to read her books.

8. Rebecca Skloot-- She's a science writer and her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was science and human story-telling at its best. I hope she writes more books!

9. Lidia Yuknavitch-- The Book of Joan. She wrote an intense dystopia on where we're headed if we keep destroying Earth. Boom. I need to read her other stories.

10. Adam Gidwitz-- The Inquisitor's Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog. A beautiful historical fantasy tale for teens (adults too). I loved reading it with G and look forward to more from him.


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