Sunday, March 17, 2024

February Update...

 I had goals and I didn't meet them...So here I am again with a week already gone for March! Better late than never. February was a good month. I finished off a few books. My son had his 15th birthday!

It's still cold but we are getting more sunny days and the time change is this weekend which means more sunny hours in the evening which will be a big boost to my productivity least in theory.

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I finally made it up to the mountains with friends for an early morning snowshoe hike! It was beautiful that day.

G turned 15! I can't believe it. He wanted to go bowling with his best friend and have a sleepover and we also went to the local conveyor belt sushi place. We went last year as well for his birthday, but this year they updated their menu and the sushi was fresher with more variety. We loved it! 

This was our first family puzzle finish of the year! So much fun. The fur was the hardest to figure out. But we put our heads together and finally got it done. Whew!

Grateful For:

A great month in February. I did get a bit of the winter blues but overall the weather cooperated and I had a lot of fun at work celebrating Valentine's Day with the kids there. Celebrating G's 15th was really exciting. And we had a last minute Super Bowl party when we invited our friends over and they helped us eat all the food I had cooked!


I finished 6 books in February!

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Dead Lions by Mick Herron. It's the second book in the Slow Horses series. Excellent and I'm looking forward to reading through the rest soon.

Making It So by Patrick Stewart. I listened to this one on audio and it was just what I needed! I love me some Patrick. I grew up on Star Trek: TNG and it was fantastic to hear about his childhood and how he grew up very poor, how he got into acting, and all the bumps and succusses along the way. He gives a lot of tidbits about each show or movie he worked on or plays, etc.

Snow by Ronald Malfi. I read this one for my 2024 I Read Horror Year-Round Challenge hosted by Michelle at Castle Macabre for the Winter Them or Cover category. It's a new twist on the zombie genre and it was a perfect wintry read in January and February. He is one of my go-to horror authors.

Evolution: A Visual Record by Robert Clark. This is one I've had for awhile and have been meaning to read. I had some free time over President's Day weekend and sat down and read through and looked at the whole book. I highly recommend it! Gorgeous pictures and simple explanations. It's a great introduction.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman. This is a biography for middle schoolers on the life of Marie Merian, who helped figure out how butterflies and moths formed into adults. She painstakingly kept butterflies and moths and drew each stage of life and how they emerged from their cocoons. She also figured out what leaves and plants they needed in order to do so. She also discovered and recorded many insects and other plant life in South America. It's a beautiful book with many of her original drawings and painting as well as some of her translated diary pages. She contributed so much to science and yet most have never heard of her!

Troubled: A Memoir of Foster Care, Family, and Social Class by Rob Henderson. Henderson gives an account of his childhood and how that affected him but he also does research and goes into what truly helps kids succeed and how to put that into policy or try to. It was a really eye-opening read.


Last week was the Academy Awards and I didn't do too well on getting through a lot of the movies before the broadcast. I saw Oppenheimer, Barbie, The Society of the Snow, Maestro, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. I've caught up on others this past week. Poor Things was a wild ride! I really enjoyed Past Lives and The Holdovers. There were a lot of solid picks this year! And it was one of the better Oscars over the past few years.

For DH's birthday last week we went to Dune: Part Two, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. I also finally caught up on seeing Marcel the Shell with Shoes On! Very cute and touching. It was unexpected. It has definitely been a good month for movies.

February my favorites were Bottoms, which I thought was hilarious! Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part One was highly entertaining, and You Hurt My Feelings, which was a really quiet take on a couple's marriage and the ups and downs that are inherent.


Constellation on Apple TV+ has been weird but interesting.

Looking Forward To:

Today is St. Patrick's Day and I'm making beef stew and soda bread and breaking out some Guinness beer. We'll be playing some games after dinner.

Easter and Spring break are coming up in a couple of weeks. We have a mini stay-cation planned and we're going to see Clue on the stage as well. And we're hoping to get a few things started for our backyard renovation!

It's also March Madness and I'm looking forward to watch both men's and women's NCAA basketball the rest of the month. 

Joining up this week with Deb from Reader's Buzz.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

January...and My Reading Challenges...

I am super late to the party. I meant to get my 2024 reading challenges post up a month ago...And January just got away from me.

We have had some really weird weather but I think everyone has been having their own weird weather. Biting cold in early January and then warmish torrential rains...Part of my job I am outside for an hour or so and I have had to invest in warmer boots, socks, and a huge umbrella!

Moving to our new house has included making friends with some of the local cats! A neighbor a street over has three cats that roam the neighborhood and come to say hi from time to time. Duke is  a big fluffy grey kitty. He is so friendly and chill. My cats aren't ecstatic about his presence but surprisingly they are very tolerant! When it's really stormy he whines at our door and we let him in to dry off, warm up, get a few cuddles, and some treats. He's just a big sweetheart. I feel like we are the grandparents who can love on the kitty and then send him off when he gets too whiny!

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Here are my two boys shoveling hard during our winter snowstorm!

We also hosted a housewarming party with some friends during the winter break. It helped so much to welcome in friends and finally break in our new house. We also purchased a brand new fridge; we've been wanting to since we realized what a crapshoot the previous owners left the fridge in!

I have made a renewed effort in bullet journaling. I found someone who had some really fun yet simple pages and I'm rolling with it and seeing how they work for me. I've put all of my reading challenges in there and hoping it'll help me keep track a bit better this year.

I also attended the Sundance Film Festival, online anyway. I watched 4 films. 

Black Box Diaries: This is a documentary focuses on Shiori, a journalist and a victim of rape. She fights for her right to get justice after the local police department shuts down the investigation once they hear that the perpetrator is a close friend of then prime minister Shinzo Abe. It's an amazing piece of journalism and she also documents her grief and trauma from this brutal attack. And how hard it is to get justice in Japan's legal system.

Never Look Away: This is a documentary by Lucy Lawless. She looks into New Zealand war journalist Margaret Moth. Fascinating story. I felt Lawless presented Moth in all her glory and many of her picadilloes. She interviewed old boyfriends and had them share their sides of the tale. They were very contradictory. I really enjoyed learning more about Moth and utterly reckless she was with not only herself but with those she truly cared about.

Handling of the Undead: This was a book to movie adaptation of John Ajvide Lindqvist's book of the same name. He wrote Let the Right One in which took on a very different vampire theme. This one takes on the zombie genre and grief. Lights flicker and go out and things stop working but people soon realize their loved ones that recently died have been resurrected. We never find out why or how. But we follow a few families and how they deal with their loved ones coming back. It was probably a bit slow for my taste. But there are some good themes on grief and letting our loved ones go that I enjoyed.

Thelma: This movie was an absolute delight! Thelma is a 93 year-old woman is watched by her family like she's four. When she is scammed out of $10,000 it's up to her and an old friend to track the thieves down and get her money back. It's like a Mission: Impossible but if they were 93 instead. It's funny and touching all at once. I highly recommend seeing this one once it gets wider release.

I finished 3 books in January!

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  • Slow Horses by Mark Herron. I first heard of this series from Apple TV+ with the TV adaptation of the same name starring Gary Oldman. He is the best thing about the whole series. The adaptation is phenomenal. And after reading the first book, I am even more impressed by the series. It truly captures the book and adds to it. I highly recommend this one.
  • To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. I loved Ivey's The Snow Child, which I also read last winter. This one had been sitting on my shelves since a library boos sale a couple of years ago. This one did not disappoint. Fascinating history brought to life through her vivid settings and lively characters. And once again she adds a hint of the mystical throughout. Part of my read through history challenge.
  • The Canceling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott. Lukianoff and Schlott break down the various areas of cancel culture from both sides of the aisle and how this stifles diverse conversation and stymies real-world solutions.
I'm hoping to get longer reviews out soon.

I am currently reading...
  • Making It So by Patrick Stewart. I'm listening to this one on Everland/Scribd. I am loving this! He reads it himself and his stories are fantastic. I have followed him since his TNG days. It's been a fantastic way to get through the January winter blues.
  • Snow by Ronald Malfi. This is part of my I Read Horror Year-Round challenge...Malfi is one of my new favorite horror authors. Fantastic storylines that are creepy and well done. This book takes on the zombie genre but different and I've read and watched quite a few zombie stories. I am over halfway through and I have not been disappointed.
  • Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have started twice but have never finished this classic. I've watched all of the BBC adaptations! I am determined this time to finish. I am about halfway through. I am also reading an annotated edition with very interesting tidbits, which is really helping me get through this one.
  • Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Another classic. This one is part of my 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die challenge. This is basically the first mystery book. It definitely has an Agatha Christie feel without the murder. It's also a lot longer than your typical mystery. I am enjoying it so far.
  • Lone Women by Victor LaValle. I just started this one and so far so good. I have enjoyed all his books! He's a fantastic horroresque author!
Reading Challenges 2024

I always try to do Michelle's I Read Horror Year-Round challenge! She switches up the horror themes each year. I love horror books so it is a great way to read them with friends. When I finish Snow and Lone Women I'll be two down with ten more to go!

Her second challenge I try to do each year is the 1000 Book challenge from the book 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by David Mustich. I've read Les Miserables andThe Count of Monte Cristo through her challenge. This year is Moonstone by Wilkie Collins and Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. So far Moonstone has been a very pleasant surprise!

The next challenge is from Emily Cook. She created her own secular homeschooling program called Build Your Library. She has had great ideas for books to read with my son for years. Every year she issues a reading challenge based on educational themes. This year is Read Through History. She has 40 categories and you just plug through as many as you can. I don't think I'll get through so many but it's always fun to try!

This weekend is my son's birthday! He's 15! I can't believe it. We've been running about having fun. He's got a friend coming over tonight. 

It's also the Super Bowl Sunday. I've got some snacks planned out. I absolutely do not care who wins. I just want it to be a close game and I hope the ads are funny and interesting and that the halftime show doesn't bomb!

All of my books have been hits so far this year and it's really helping my winter blues! 

I'm joining up with Deb from Readerbuzz for her Sunday Salon.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Cat Thursday-- Failed Resolutions

 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.

One of my resolutions failed after the first week...How are yours holding up?!

Sunday, January 7, 2024

2024-The Year of Acceptance

 2023 was a really tough year with selling and buying a homes, the death of my mother, a new job, and the death of my nephew last month. Needless to say, 2023 was a stressful year. I am welcoming in this new year of 2024 with acceptance. Life is what it is I want to choose to meet it as it comes. I'm really hoping to get back into a writing schedule this year. I want to read more! But I also want to be pragmatic when it comes to any reading challenges. I'm hoping to post this week about my reading challenges...

Celebrated 20 years with DH! Still going strong. We were hoping for a cruise...hopefully soon. But we still had a fantastic day together. 

 We also enjoyed a night out with friends to a local distillery! So much fun. We made some fantastic drinks for everyone at our housewarming party a couple of weeks later.

My winter break has been blissfully unaware of everything but family, friends, and cats. We watched all of the LOTR movies with G. This is the first time he sat through all of them and loved them! The one and only awful thing was having to attend my nephew's funeral.

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Favorites of the year:

I absolutely loved the Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells. They had been on my radar for a while now and I decided to give them a go after my mother passed away since they were mostly short stories. The whole series was perfect for what I needed. I can't wait for more!

American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer
by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin was my favorite nonfiction of the year. It took me a few months since I had to put it aside for a few months, but it was an excellent piece of history and character. The movie was also fantastic and so happy I could read and watch both in the same year!

Slow Horses is probably my favorite series right now. I just started the first book but the TV series with Gary Oldman is so good. I don't know if it's the fave but it's up there and I honestly can't think of another one that stands out as much but it could be the most recent one I watched so there's that recently seen bias coming in...But it's good!

Here's to more good things in 2024!

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Cat Thursday--Kitty Comics


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!

This is my cat Shadow to a T!

Good to know they train to be lovable jerks rather than barbarians!

This one makes me chuckle!

I sure hope my kitties keep getting their lives reset! ha!

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Cat Thursday--Happy Late Halloween


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!

Happy belated Halloween! Shadow and Nala in their costumes for two seconds while I took the pic...

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Don't mind the hair...I had just exercised!

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Fall, Death, and New Beginnings

Wow, this has been a tough year. My energy to blog and review books and participate in book blogosphere at this time of year as slagged. I'm having a hard time figuring life out right now...lots on the plate this year with moving, new job, and my mother's death; it's been hard to navigate. I'm just grateful for family and friends that are helping...but yeah death is hard.

I've managed to get a few things in this fall. G and I painted a black Halloween cat. We made it out on a fall color hike. We even managed a short trip for fall break this last weekend. 

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Nice fall hike up to Stewart Falls

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We went down south and visited Silver old silver mining ghost town. Ghost towns are really cool. I love hearing about their history and see what they left behind and why the town went under. Silver Reef is particularly interesting because it's only one of two sites in the world where silver has been found in sandstone. The museum curator said Siberia was the other one. 

Silver Reef even had two separate cemeteries: one for Catholics and the other for Protestants. There was a huge Chinese population as well but after the town went under they sent all of the buried back to China so they could be with their ancestors. Fascinating tidbits.

Later that evening we headed to the play Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The Musical at the outdoor theater Tuacahn. It was a fantastic play! The special effects and the stage sets and all the actors were fantastic.

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The next day we headed to Snow Canyon State Park where we did one hike by the lava tubes. I loved seeing the old lava river rock everywhere. The white and red sandstone along with the black lava rock were breathtaking!

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Currently Reading:

I started Holly, the new book by Stephen King. I loved her character from the TV series Outsider. I haven't read any of the Mr. Mercedes series but I did read the short story from If It Bleeds collection, which was fantastic. I'm also reading through Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig. It's weird so not sure if I'll stick with it... I'm about halfway through Curse of the Reaper by Brian McAuley. It's an ode to slashers and horror and Hollywood. It's better than I thought it would be. And With October I slowed down a bit on my non-fiction books. I'm still working on American Prometheus and the John Adams biography by David McCullough.

Recently Read:

I made it through If It Bleeds by Stephen King, which is a short-story collection. My favorite was the short story with Holly's character from The Outsider. Most weren't scary, necessarily...but they were interesting. I actually like King's short stories better. Some of his novels need a tighter editor.

The Haunting of Maddy Clare
by Simone St. James...I've really enjoyed her recent horror/mystery novels the last few years so I was excited to read one of her first books into the genre. Clare has also written a lot of romance novels so she combined the two in this one to perfection. It was romantic and scary. I was pleasantly surprised!

I've been reading through some of Edgar Allan Poe's short stories due to Halloween and the new Netflix TV series by Mike Flanagan, The Fall of the House of Usher. I really liked The Fall of the House of Usher. It's pretty spooky but makes you think. I also read The was not my favorite. I thought something terrifying was always around the corner and it really just ended suddenly, in my opinion. But maybe I just didn't read with enough focus? I did read it right before bed...

November Reads:

I hope to keep working through American Prometheus, John Adams, and finish Curse of the Reaper. I'll read a bit more in Book of Accidents and make the choice to keep going or try again later...I also want to reread Joan Didion's Year of Magical Thinking. I read it years ago after my brother and friend passed away within a week of each other and found it moving and thought-provoking. I want to revisit it with my mother's passing. Martha Wells' new book in the Murderbot series System Collapse comes out in a couple of weeks so I will definitely read that as soon as it's in my hands! 

I need to plan a bit more...It's just been so chaotic that I haven't had time to think about what my actual reading plans are now.


Lots of horror was watched this last month. The Fall of the House of Usher on Netflix was really well done. Spooky and terrifying in all the right ways. Plus I loved seeing so many of Poe's short stories and poems used as inspiration for each episode. Thus my inspiration to work through some short stories this Halloween season!

 I saw the Five Nights at Freddy's movie with the family on Sunday. I don't follow any of the lore or play any of the video games and I still found it enjoyable. DH said it was too scary but G loved it.

I'm looking forward to All the Light We Cannot See based off the book by Anthony Doerr's award-winning book. It drops on Netflix this week sometime, I think.

Looking forward to:

Feeling better soon. I've had one the worst sinus infections in years. I finally made it to the doctor for some antibiotics and hope I'll feel human again soon.

We plan on getting our Halloween decor down this weekend and I'm looking forward to some Thanksgiving decor for a couple of weeks. I know a lot of people go straight to Christmas decor after Halloween but I need a few weeks to transition! I'm not quite ready right after Halloween.

I'm hoping to get to some crochet projects this month as well...It's been a neglected hobby the last few months.

I'm joining up with Deb from Readerbuzz and her Sunday Salon.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Cat Thursday- Halloween Kitties

 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 thought I'd scour the interwebs for some cute cat Halloween costume pics...

Saturday, October 7, 2023

The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

 I read through this series in less than a month and have pre-ordered the next installment. Murderbot forever! This series was a breath of fresh air. Wells introduces us to a world where corporations run the galaxy and robots are their mere servants. It's a world we can fathom but a world so unlike our own.

We begin with Murderbot on assignment with a group of humans on a remote planet. She's the Secbot for the group where she runs security and attempts to keep her humans safe...but they find another group that's been murdered and they barely survive and only with Murderbot's help. The thing that no one realizes is that Murderbot has overridden its governor module, so no one can order it to do anything. And yet it finds itself caring about these humans but does not know how to really socialize or interact with them...I can relate...

The next books take us on various missions of Murderbot as it tries to hide from the company that will take it back and scrap it for junk, as well as figure out why it became Murderbot in the first place...

Excellent series and I can't wait for more. Murderbot is anxious, moody, and depressed, yet it cares and keeps going and doing what needs to be done. Should we all be so lucky to have bots like it in our lives.

Thursday, September 21, 2023

Cat Thursday-- Back to School


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!

It has been a really really tough month. I started a new job and three days in my mother passed away unexpectedly, and I got Covid from my son that same day. Needless to say, it has been a very tough few weeks and my posting has been non existent. It was light before with other life stuff (moving) and now it jumped off the cliff. I'm tender and sad but I love the book blogosphere and Cat Thursday makes me laugh and gets me out of my funk.

With the start of a new school year, I figured some cat school memes would be appropriate.