Saturday, February 20, 2021

Week-in-Review: Happy Birthday!

This year's been tough so far. I've been dealing with some health issues and helping my mom, and you know, pandemic stuff, and life. So blogging about it all hasn't been a top priority but here's a little update. 

We celebrated G's 12th birthday last week! Where does the time go? I do not know. It was just our little family, Minecraft decor, and cupcakes. G got some books and Minecraft and Roblox-related items and he was happy as a little tween clam. He's a good kid and such a trooper with this pandemic.

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We also celebrated the Chinese New Year, year of the ox. DH was born in the year of the Ox. We made some yummy gyozas by hand, curry, and chicken karage.

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We've been getting a ton of snow so we spent an afternoon making snow angels and snowmen! It was nice to get outside. We're quite the hermits right now.
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Things I'm Grateful For:


1. My son. He's such a good kid and I'm just lucky to be apart of his life!
2. The Japanese candy Hi-chews. They've been a life-saver this week. lol.
3. I don't have to drive a lot in the snow this winter. I've been very thankful for that this week with all the snow storms we've been having!
4. That I got my dad in for his first vaccine jab! He goes in for his second dose in two weeks. One more things of the plate.

Reading:


Books finished:

I'm currently reading The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Tales by Oliver Sacks, Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (with G), The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.

Classics that I'm reading: Still working on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I'm enjoying taking my time here. It's been a long time and it's the perfect classic to read as the weather gets chilly and the holidays approach. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas for my 1000 Books Project challenge and my Back to the Classics 2021 Challenge (19th century classic). I also started Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin for my Back to the Classics Challenge.


Philosophy:
 We are reading The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. 

Listening to:

Wow, No Thank You: Essays by Samantha Irby. Hilarious. I love her. Also reading for my 2021 Nonfiction Reading Challenge, essay prompt.


  Watching:

Movies:


So many movies...Sundance Film Festival...check out my reviews and lists. I've also been trying to watch the movies on the awards list too.


La Llorona (Guatemala)
Director: Jayro Bustamente
Written by Jayro Bustamente and Lisandro Sanchez
Starring: Maria Mercedes Coroy
Tagline: The past will haunt you

My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this horror on sins of the past and if you don't deal they literally come back to haunt you. I watched this on Shudder. Glad it's nominated for best foreign film.



Sound of Metal
Director: Darius Marder
Writers: Darius Marder, Abraham Marder
Starring: Riz Ahmed, Olivia Cooke
Tagline: Music was his world. Then silence revealed a new one.

My Thoughts: Riz Ahmed is amazing in this. Fantastic movie. Watched this on Amazon Prime. Definitely recommend this one.


The Trial of the Chicago 7
Director: Aaron Sorkin
Writer: Aaron Sorkin
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Sasha Baron Cohen, Alex Sharp
Tagline: In 1968, democracy refused to back down.

My Thoughts: Another great movie for awards season. Well-written and paced. I didn't know anything about this story and so glad I know now.


The Life Ahead (Italy)
Director: Edoardo Ponti
Writers: Ugo Chiti (screenplay), Romain Gary (book)
Starring: Sophia Loren, Ibrahima Gueye
Plotline: In seaside Italy, a Holocaust survivor takes in a Muslim immigrant boy who recently robbed her.

My Thoughts: Beautiful Italian film on unconditional love and finding one's true family.


Wolfwalkers
Directors: Tomm Moore, Ross Stewart
Writers: Will Collins (screenplay), Tomm Moore (story)
Starring: Honor Kneafsey, Sean Bean, Eva Whittaker
Tagline: Be fierce. Be wild. Be free.

My Thoughts: Such a great movie. They can't make a bad one yet! I hope this one wins best animated feature. Hands down one of the best I've seen in a long time. 


Judas and the Black Messiah
Director: Shaka King
Writers: Will Berson and Shaka King
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, LaKeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons


My Thoughts: I'd heard about Fred Hampton's murder but I didn't really know about it. Wow. This is a powerful film. Horrifying and tragic. The performances of Kaluuya and Stanfield are truly Oscar-worthy. They just get better and better.


Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Director: George C. Wolfe
Writers: Ruben Santiago-Hudson (screenplay), August Wilson (play)
Starring: Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman
Tagline: Everything comes out in the Blues.

My Thoughts: Fantastic performances! It was so sad watching Boseman's last performance. Just heart-breaking. But I found the film a bit hard to follow. I'd rather just see it on the stage, in person. But no denying the acting chops of these two amazing actors.


TV:                           



Finished off the fourth and final season and was not super impressed. It was a bit thrown together. Not its best season. 



Surprisingly really good! I watched it while I organized a bunch of stuff in my living room.


Best light-hearted and endearing series! Loved everything about this adorable feel-good show.




This just gets better and better! I keep reading all the fan theories...


Looking forward to a Skype get-together with friends on Sunday! It's the little things...

*all images for movies and TV were taken from IMDB


Joining in with Readerbuzz's Sunday Salon



Thursday, February 18, 2021

Mars Rover Perseverance Lands Today!

I have some work to do but once 12:15 MST hits today, I will be watching with baited breath! Check out all the resources for the rover from Nasa!



Here's a look at the tests they ran to help ensure a smooth landing today for Perseverance! 


Cat Thursday--Appreciate Your Thumbs Day!

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's National Thumb Appreciation Day! And in honor of thumbs and cats I present this lovely commercial:



This is the best commercial ever! Enjoy your thumbs!

Friday, February 12, 2021

Mini Nonfiction Book Reviews: On Immunity...


On Immunity: An Inoculation 
by Eula Biss
Published: September 30th, 2014 by Graywolf Press
Genre: Nonfiction, Science
Format: Audiobook, 6 hours, Scribd
Rating: 4 stars

Publisher's Summary:

Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear--fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child's air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world.

In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire's Candide, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Susan Sontag's AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond.

On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected-our bodies and our fates.

My Thoughts:

I loved how she approaches the subject of trust in government and vaccinations based on her own experiences and worries as a new mother. She talks about the real fears and their basis in history. I feel like she offers a very fair approach and one full of empathy. She follows the science and shares her stories and those of other mothers she talks with. I feel it could change minds with people who are on the fence. 


A Voice of Her Own: Candlewick Biographies: The Story of Phyllis Wheatley, Slave Poet 
by Kathryn Laskey
Published: September 11th, 2013 by Candlewick
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Juvenile
Format: Paperback, 48 Pages, Own
Rating: 4 stars

Publisher's Summary:

"We’ll call her Phillis."

In 1761, a young African girl was sold to the Wheatley family in Boston, who named her Phillis after the slave schooner that had carried her. Kidnapped from her home in Africa and shipped to America, she’d had everything taken from her - her family, her name, and her language.

But Phillis Wheatley was no ordinary young girl. She had a passion to learn, and the Wheatleys encouraged her, breaking with unwritten rule in New England to keep slaves illiterate. Amid the tumult of the Revolutionary War, Phillis Wheatley became a poet and ultimately had a book of verse published, establishing herself as the first African American woman poet this country had ever known. She also found what had been taken away from her and from slaves everywhere: a voice of her own.

My Thoughts:

 I really enjoyed the story of Phyllis Wheatley. I've heard of her but do not know a lot about. This was a great introduction on her life.


Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans 
by Kadir Nelson
Published: September 27th, 2011 by Balzer + Bray
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Juvenile
Format: Paperback, 108 Pages, Own
Rating: 5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul is the winner of numerous awards, including the 2012 Coretta Scott King Author Award and Illustrator Honor, and the recipient of five starred reviews.

The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it's about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it's about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It's a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination, and triumphs.

Told through the unique point of view and intimate voice of a one-hundred-year-old African-American female narrator, this inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart and soul of our nation.

My Thoughts:

This is an amazing introduction for kids to American history from the perspective of black Americans. The illustrations are also gorgeous. The history is presented in a story-telling format like a grandmother telling her grandchildren the way things were. It's personal and informative. I'll be reading this one with my son this month.


Black Heroes of the American Revolution 
by Burke Davis
Published: January 2nd, 1992 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Juvenile
Format: Paperback, 98 Pages, Own
Rating: 4 stars

Publisher's Summary:

Crispus Attucks is known as the escaped slave whose freedom ended when he died in the Boston Massacre, but there are many other lesser-known black men and women who made enormous contributions to U.S. independence. Readers will discover Edward Hector, the brave wagoner of Brandywine; artilleryman and slave Austin Dabney; William Lee, the aide and closest companion of George Washington throughout the war; and many others.

My Thoughts:


I really enjoyed reading about black heroes of the American Revolution. Crispus Attucks and James Lafayette really stand out. Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote almost a century after the Revolution that "We are to reflect upon the mas far more magnanimous...[inasmuch as they served] a nation which did not acknowledge them as citizens and equals, and in whose interests and prosperity they had less at stake. It was not for their own land they fought, not even for a land which had adopted them, but for a land which had enslaved them, and whose laws, even in freedom, oftener oppressed than protected. Bravery, under such circumstances, has a peculiar beauty and merit." Amen.


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Mini Book Reviews: Akata Witch...


Akata Witch
 by Nnedi Okorafor
Published: April 4th, 2011 by Viking Children's
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Paperback, 349 Pages, Own
Rating: 4 stars 

Publisher's Summary:

Akata Witch transports the reader to a magical place where nothing is quite as it seems. Born in New York, but living in Aba, Nigeria, twelve-year old Sunny is understandably a little lost. She is albino and thus, incredibly sensitive to the sun. All Sunny wants to do is be able to play football and get through another day of school without being bullied. But once she befriends Orlu and Chichi, Sunny is plunged in to the world of the Leopard People, where your worst defect becomes your greatest asset. Together, Sunny, Orlu, Chichi and Sasha form the youngest ever Oha Coven. Their mission is to track down Black Hat Otokoto, the man responsible for kidnapping and maiming children. Will Sunny be able to overcome the killer with powers stronger than her own, or will the future she saw in the flames become reality?

My Thoughts:

I read this one a loud with G. I had read this one a few years ago before the second one in the series had come out and so I decided this would be a fun one to read with G. He wasn't disappointed. I love how Sunny embodies both cultures of being a black American and also an Igbo-speaking Nigerian. We loved watching Sunny befriend Orlu and Chichi and Sasha and how they finally work together and use their magic to save the world. Okorafor is not afraid to treat kids like they know things. Kids can handle all sorts of stuff and she's excellent at bringing really hard things into her books without getting too graphic age inappropriate. Her world-building of magic is phenomenal and she definitely doesn't skim on her characters. We just started the second book Akata Warrior!



Hide and Seeker
 by Daka Hermon
Published: September 15th, 2020 by Scholastic Press
Genre: Horror, Juvenile Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages, Library
Rating: 4 stars

Publisher's Summary:

One of our most iconic childhood games receives a creepy twist as it becomes the gateway to a nightmare world.

I went up the hill, the hill was muddy, stomped my toe and made it bloody, should I wash it?

Justin knows that something is wrong with his best friend. Zee went missing for a year. And when he came back, he was . . . different. Nobody knows what happened to him. At Zee's welcome home party, Justin and the neighborhood crew play Hide and Seek. But it goes wrong. Very wrong.

One by one, everyone who plays the game disappears, pulled into a world of nightmares come to life. Justin and his friends realize this horrible place is where Zee had been trapped. All they can do now is hide from the Seeker.


*I also read this one as part of my I Read Horror Year-Round Reading Challenge hosted by Michelle at Castle Macabre as part of the Monster Prompt.

My Thoughts:

This is a truly creepy little book about the Hide and Seek monster that will still children away if they break any of the rules. I don't remember playing hide and seek quite like this as a kid but it's a universal game, which really adds to the creep factor. The book also uses the monster to help the kids deal with grief and trauma. One of the reasons I love horror. It's a perfect genre to do that with.


Before the Ever After
 by Jaqueline Woodson
Published: September 1st, 2020 by Nancy Paulson Books
Genre: Fiction, Juvenile Fiction
Format: Hardcover, 176 Pages, Library
Rating: 5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. ZJ's mom explains it's because of all the head injuries his dad sustained during his career. ZJ can understand that--but it doesn't make the sting any less real when his own father forgets his name. As ZJ contemplates his new reality, he has to figure out how to hold on tight to family traditions and recollections of the glory days, all the while wondering what their past amounts to if his father can't remember it. And most importantly, can those happy feelings ever be reclaimed when they are all so busy aching for the past?

My Thoughts:

Heart-breaking! Woodson's way with words is beautiful and sad, poignant, for sure. What is the cost of loving American football so much? This is a look at the tragedies so many families have endured with regards to playing this very dangerous sport from the eyes of a child. It's a must-read.



Cat Thursday--Happy Valentine's Day!

 

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 Valentine's Day!!!









Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Sundance Film Festival Favorites

 


I spent the last half of the week of January and the first half of the week in February watching all the movies and all the things at the Sundance Virtual Film Festival! And oh what a treat! I will watch all the things virtually, thank you very much. What a success. They should feel so proud to pull off such a wonderful festival that so many people could participate who couldn't otherwise. There is no possible way even without a pandemic that I could ever watch as many wonderful films as I did without doing it virtually! It's taken me a week to get back to the real world and recover. I stayed up too late and still had work to do the next day along with watching all the things. I truly hope they do some form virtually next year so I can still participate next year and in ensuing years!

Also a big thank you to my family for helping me participate this year. DH enjoyed a couple of movies with me and this was like a mini vacation for me so lots of stuff went neglected...


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Here are a few pics I took from home. Corner left is Robin Wright talking about her film Land that she wrote and directed and starred in. Top right is the crew from Passing, and bottom is the crew from Mayday.

For everyone who signed up for at least one movie they offered a free screening of a movie from a previous Sundance premier...Columbus. It was a beautiful film and glad I got to enjoy it for free.


Jan 28th I watched one movie Censor at the 10 pm premiere. It was a trip! I enjoyed it immensely but it's made for the fans of slasher movies from the 80s, especially from the UK and their "Nasties." There was quite a wave of hysteria around those movies apparently at that time.

They also premiered their Shorts series and Shorts documentaries, and Animation Spotlight. I watched two sets of their Shorts, but due to some miscommunication I wasn't able to see the last two short films of the first section, which makes me so mad since the one I wanted to see the most was the last on that section! It figures.

Short series #4: My favorite that I saw was Doublespeak about a woman who reports sexual harassment from her boss but since she can't 'prove' it they say they can't do anything it about it. It's a very powerful little film.

Documentary shorts #1: So many good ones in this set. This Is the Way We Rise stands out for showcasing how words and poetry can instill power and activism. They focus on Indigenous people from Hawaii standing up for their land rights and the young woman who helps bring them together.

Jan 29th I watched the documentary Bring Your Own Brigade. It's a big piece. Full of characters, fires, death, and policy. I think the director put too much in; it's a bit bloated and long. But it's still an important work and I highly recommend it when it gets distributed! It focuses on the fires of 2018 and everything in between, from the causes, how to manage the land, who gets hit the hardest, and what to do for the future. Highly recommended!

The next movie I really enjoyed was Knocking, a Swedish horror that focuses on gaslighting women and how hard it is for women to be believed even when they're right. But it's even harder when they are faced with mental illness. 

Documentary Shorts #2: G was able to watch one of these with me The Field Trip. They film a field trip to a JA Biz Town in Oregon where kids spend the day having "jobs" to do like adults. G did this same thing but where we live a couple of years ago with his grade. They let the documentary speak for itself and it was a bit troubling to see how the kids "lived" up to their expectations whether great or small. "CEOs" talking down to others. Kids getting really stressed out over paperwork. Yikes! 

When We Were Bullies was also a haunting short. A man remembers bullying a kid with his class after school when he was in the fifth grade in New York. He ends up tracking down everyone involved and trying to figure why.


Jan. 30th
I watched three movies but the only one I'll mention is Passing adapted and directed by Rebecca Hall and based off a book by Nella Larsen from the 1920s. It stars Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. Just gorgeous and haunting. I loved it. Definitely a must-see when it comes out!

Jan. 31st I watched 4 movies and all of them were really fantastic. But my favorite was Mayday. It's a retelling of some Greek mythology, specifically the Sirens. There are lots of layers and lots of powerful women. It's different because it crosses so many genres. But it's a powerful film and can't wait to see it again. So definitely look for that one! 

The others I'll mention and that you definitely should see when they come are: Marvelous and the Black Hole, an adorable coming-of-age story that deals with grief. Land, also about grief. And First Date, which I found to be a really fun film.

Shorts #3 section was really great. My favorite, though, was Wiggle Room. A woman in a wheelchair needs to visit the insurance agency in order to get reimbursed for the ramp she built. Red tape ensues and then another disgruntled client causes mayhem. She ends up saving the day. Such a great little film.


Feb. 1st
I watched two films. Ma Belle, My Beauty was excellent. It takes place in a quaint Southern French village. The director says to pair the movie with a good red French wine! I definitely will do that next time I see it! There's lots of romance, polyamory, specifically, which was great to see on film. 

Shorts #1 section my favorite was Don't Go Telling Your Momma. The director did an ABCs theme on experiences of being Black in America. Very powerful and touching. BJ's Mobile Gift Shop was also really interesting. A man literally has a suit case full of useful items that he sells to people when in need. 

Shorts #2 section there were a lot of very interesting ones. One man made a short on the urban legend of how Phil Collins made his song In the Air Tonight. LATA we experienced a day-in-the-life of a domestic worker in India. It was really moving.

Feb. 2nd I watched 4 films. Violation was my amazing, but it is not for the feint of heart. A woman seeks revenge and we go on this journey with her. Truly terrifying but so well done! We're All Going to the World's Fair is a homage to the creepy pasta genre. Excellent performances but I wasn't quite the target audience. 

Life in a Day 2020 was offered to Utah locals so I took advantage. Truly touching film. The editing was phenomenal. It's on YouTube now for free. So please check it out. The day was in July of last year and it's truly an amazing film.

Feb. 3rd I watched 6 films! I caught up on the films I couldn't get to before and ones that won the awards at Sundance. I watched stuff back to back and I still could not get them all in!


Summer of Soul (...or, When the Revolution Couldn't Be Televised)
was amazing! If you see only one documentary this year, make sure it is this one! Harlem had their own music festival the summer of Woodstock. It was professionally filmed but nobody wanted to buy the rights and air it. So it sat in a basement for 50 years until now. Questlove brought this all together and interviewed people who were in the audience and people who had participated. So many people were there! He takes us through so many of the performances and brings context to the times. Powerful. This was my favorite of the Festival.

CODA (child of deaf adults) was a great one too. Apple just bought it for tons of money to distribute it and it will definitely be a crowd-pleaser.

On the Count of Three was a funny and dark movie that explores what makes life worth living.

Flee is a documentary on a man who had to flee Afghanistan as a child and relocated to Sweden. It's a harrowing journey that is done through animation in order to keep him anonymous. The director explores the trauma that people carry especially as children. Powerful and a must-see.

Writing With Fire focuses on an all-women newspaper in Northern India. It explores the caste system, and the violence and poverty and injustice that these women try to expose and change. They're constantly under threat as well. It's a must-see documentary and look forward to its eventual release.

I am just so grateful I got this opportunity. I don't know if I'll ever get it again. So I ate it up and let it soak in. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe

 


You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington by Alexis Coe
Published: February 4th, 2020 by Viking
Genre: Biography, Nonfiction
Format: Hardcover, 261 Pages, Library
Rating: 4 stars

Publisher's Summary:

In a genre overdue for a shakeup, Alexis Coe takes a closer look at our first—and finds he's not quite the man we remember

Young George Washington was raised by a struggling single mother, demanded military promotions, chased rich young women, caused an international incident, and never backed down—even when his dysentery got so bad he had to ride with a cushion on his saddle.

But after he married Martha, everything changed. Washington became the kind of man who named his dog Sweetlips and hated to leave home. He took up arms against the British only when there was no other way, though he lost more battles than he won. Coe focuses on his activities off the battlefield—like espionage and propaganda.

After an unlikely victory in the Revolutionary War, Washington once again shocked the world by giving up power, only to learn his compatriots wouldn't allow it. The founders pressured him into the presidency—twice. He established enduring norms but left office heartbroken over the partisan nightmare his backstabbing cabinet had created.

Back on his plantation, the man who fought for liberty finally confronted his greatest hypocrisy—what to do with the hundreds of men, women, and children he owned—before succumbing to a brutal death.

Alexis Coe combines rigorous research and unsentimental storytelling, finally separating the man from the legend.

My Thoughts:

This is definitely the biography I needed of George Washington! I've had Ron Chernow's ginormous bio on my shelf for years and have never even cracked it open. Coe brings up some issues on all these men writing the bios for Washington...his mom never gets a fair shake and apparently they are all hung up on how manly and athletic he is...she ends up calling the 'Thigh Men.' I laughed out loud! Coe has a whole chart on of some of the descriptions Chernow uses to describe Washington's mother Mary: shrewish, thwarting, stubborn, whining, crude, coarse, feisty, crusty, difficult, plain, homespun...just to name a few. In the early 19th-century Mary Washington was the epitome of motherhood itself, but historians turned on her by the late 19th-century...the narrative of Washington as a self-made man and one who thwarted his overbearing mother was the perfect story for America. Men get braver and the women around them get shrewder...

Washington also helped kickstart the French and Indian War! "If the American Revolution had not taken place, Washington would probably be remembered today as the instigator of humanity's first world war, one that last seven years." But it was the war that allowed colonists to realize their goals and values did not align anymore with the British crown.

Washington's greatness in the Revolutionary War was not his great military ability but his ability to be both a diplomat and a skilled political strategist for a fledgling government. "His ability to manage large-scale combat while also running spy rings and shadow and propaganda campaigns in enemy-occupied areas is a significant--and often overlooked--part of the Revolutionary War."

Random tidbits: He survived a ton of diseases throughout his life! He was of sturdy stock. He probably became sterile from one of his childhood diseases or was born that way. He never had any biological children and raised Martha's children from her first marriage as his own. 

He kept hoping other people and other things would hasten the end of slavery, but nothing did. He never let any of his slaves go until his death. (I now want to read more about Ona Judge and her husband and how they got away.)

Washington loved hoecakes and Coe provides a recipe for them. It was his favorite breakfast drowned in honey and butter.

Martha Washington inherited most of Washington's slaves after his death but they were to be freed upon her death if she didn't do it earlier...she lived in fear of her slaves after that and eventually out of self-preservation she freed them on December 15, 1800.

And no wooden teeth...lots of teeth shaved down from exotic animals, cows, and he even paid some of his slaves for their teeth...yikes.

And his death was pretty gruesome. He basically suffocated to death for a day from virulent bacteria that caused epiglottitis, an inflammation of the upper windpipe. Sounds like a terrible way to go.

I had a lot of fun reading this. I got to know a little more about Washington, good, bad, and the in-between. I highly recommend this one! And if I ever read Chernow's book, I'll have a bit more of a critical eye while being entertained by his manly Washington stories.

This book also completes the biography prompt from the 2021 Nonfiction Reading Challenge hosted by Book'd Out.





Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me-Authors of 2020

hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.
  1. Cecelia Ekbach--Wolf Winter
  2. Tracy Deonn--Legendborn
  3. Pico Iyer--Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells
  4. Aiden Thomas--Cemetery Boys
  5. Brit Bennett--The Mothers
  6. Stephen Graham Jones--The Only Good Indians
  7. Matt Ruff--Lovecraft Country
  8. Eddie S. Glaude Jr.--Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own
  9. Stacey Abrams--Our Time Is Now: Power, Purpose, and the Fight for a Fair America
  10. George M. Johnson--All Boys Aren't Blue: A Memoir-Manifesto

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Saturday, January 23, 2021

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher


The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
Published: October 1st, 2019 by Gallery/Saga Press
Genre: Horror
Format: Paperback, 381 Pages, Library
Rating: 4 stars 

Publisher's Summary:

When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods.

When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother's house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?

Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.

Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.

From Hugo Award–winning author Ursula Vernon, writing as T. Kingfisher.

My Thoughts:

It was funny and creepy. I enjoyed the slow burn of something not quite right in the house, and with her dead grandmother, and the forest out back...Her dog Bongo was a hoot too. Kingfisher helps us make sense of why Mouse doesn't leave immediately and makes it believable...granted a few of the things that happened towards the end were a little out there for believability, especially when it comes to her neighbors helping out! But hey you can't fight Evil without neighbors and a dog!

The mystery of her step-grandfather and the white people was really interesting. Kingfisher explains she took it from a really old story and went from there. I thought the world-building was well-done and those poppets were creepy as...well, they were pretty damn creepy!

I like folk horror, especially in movies cuz you just never know which route it's going to take, but I haven't read any folk horror in books so I'm not sure what to compare it to, but I really enjoyed this one and look forward to more horror from T. Kingfisher!


Read as part of my I Read Horror Year-Round Reading Challenge (folk horror prompt)



Week-in-Review: Happy Inauguration!

While the worries will continue to creep back in, it was nice to watch the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris. It was a beautiful morning and loved watching it. And very glad there was no violence.

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We made chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. I loved seeing Kamala Harris sworn in! And Amanda Gorman! Wow. Can't wait to see more from her! Gorgeous gorgeous morning. And who can forget Bernie and his mittens! And for some reason I could only find red balloons...so we blew those up and threw them around the living room, and scared Shadow, and celebrated with some champagne!





Things I'm Grateful For:

1. The Inauguration went off without a hitch and so many great memories!
2. My mom is doing a lot better and hopefully she'll be home early next week.
3. It's been sunny and unusually warm for January this week. It's been nice to soak up a little sun when I'm outside!

Reading:


I have finished 3 books since my last update! 

  • The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy--I read this as an e-book but I'd really like to get a copy. It is a short but simple and yet truly profound little book.
  • Speaking American: How Ya'll, Youse, and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide by Josh Katz--This is a fun one! It was so interesting to see the little differences of American English around the country. I wouldn't mind picking this one up as well for my coffee table. Great and fun info.
  • The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher--This one goes towards my folk horror in my horror reading challenge

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I'm still reading The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey (one of my winter reads) and am about halfway through. Really enjoying its slow pace and atmosphere!, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson, and You Never Forget Your First: A Biography George Washington by Alexis Coe(for my Nonfiction Reading Challenge biography category).

Classics that I'm reading: Still working on Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I'm enjoying taking my time here. It's been a long time and it's the perfect classic to read as the weather gets chilly and the holidays approach. I also started The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas for my 1000 Books Project challenge and my Back to the Classics 2021 Challenge (19th century classic).


Philosophy:
 We are reading The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. It's not as technical as I was expecting. Lots of philosophy terms and people but I'm somewhat familiar with those and some of the denser parts on biology and psychoanalysis are parts I skim...lol

Listening to:

Slowly listening to On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss. It's good so far but I'm having a hard time listening to much right now...but I did listen to it on my way to and from the library which is about 45 minutes round-trip so I got a good chunk in! I heard about it through John Green's book club and it sounded interesting!


  Watching:

Movies:


I really haven't seen anything new but G just finished up the Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and so we watched the four movies last weekend and the weekend before! Still good! Since my son enjoyed the books so much, I have been wanting to reread them this year. Hopefully I can get to them soon.


TV:                           


Currently watching the new 4th season!


I just finished this one up and it was dark and funny and mysterious with a happy ending! (HBO MAX)


G and I finished the first season last weekend and are currently on the second. Fantastic series!


This is funny and weird and adorable and creepy...I love it!


Making: 

I made some inauguration day cupcakes. And I'm trying to make up some lunches ahead of time. I just made spaghetti squash bean bowls and they were delicious. I have enough for one more day!

Looking forward to actually finishing the ramp with paint this weekend and the Sundance Film Festival! It's virtual this year and I am taking advantage. I live close but I'm not big on crowds and parking is a nightmare and who do I go with? It's hard to get a group and DH is not a big fan of the movies I'd like to see...so a virtual festival is my dream! I'm so excited for next weekend. I've already bought my virtual tickets and know which movies and short films I'm going to see! 


Joining in with Readerbuzz's Sunday Salon