Monday, November 26, 2018

Nonfiction November-- New to My TBR

Nonfiction November is here (though I'm a week late...) and runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 30. Is being hosted by Doing Dewey, Julz ReadsSarah's BookshelvesSophisticated Dorkiness, and What's Nonfiction?

This is the last and final week. I've been a little under the weather this month so I haven't participated as much as I would have liked but I look forward to catching up on all the prompts and all the blog posts from everyone soon! This week's prompt is books that have made it onto my TBR pile from reading and participating in Nonfiction November (hosted by Kate @ Doing Dewey).

My first three all come from Michael at Inexhaustible Invitations with his suggestions on universal income. Give People Money by Annie Lowry, The War on Normal People by Andrew Yang, Basic Income by Phillipe Van Parus. I've heard so much about this that I'm grateful to get a few suggestions to start on.

And from Eva at The Paperback Princess she suggested a biography on Charlotte Bronte called Charlotte Bronte: A Fiery Heart by Claire Harman. I hadn't heard of this one and now need to read it!

The last one I'll is from Tina at TBR, etc. Her post included all things wine-related! I've been wanting to dive into a few wine books and this will get me started! The one that looks the most interesting was Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker, which she describes as the Kitchen Confidential memoir of the wine world! Sweet!

I'm sad I didn't participate like I had planned to but look forward to reading more nonfiction and staying in touch!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Mini Book Reviews-- Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Hank Green

Here's my second round of mini book reviews. I'm all caught up!

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green

My Thoughts:

I really liked Hank Green's debut novel. He has a lot to say about social media and fame and how that can frame what we think about ourselves and our relationships in real life. It's also a very interesting story about alien robots coming to earth and we earthlings get first contact with aliens! What do we do when confronted that we're not alone in the universe? Do we come together as a species or become even more divided and xenophobic?

The only things I didn't love were the character development. Sometimes they felt a little cookie cutter and it was hard to flesh out who the characters were overall. But I think that wasn't necessarily his goal this time around. And the ending was not what I expected. I was hoping for a bit more and it felt like it just ended. I was a tad disappointed.

Overall, it's a great read and I look forward to more. Maybe a sequel or other novels? 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. Vs. Inequality by Jonah Winter

My Thoughts:

This is a children's book I read to G. I wanted him to get a sense of who she is and what she's done and what the Supreme Court is in our country. We had some great conversations about women's rights and anti-Semitism.

More Bones: Scary Stories From Around the World by Arielle North Olson

My Thoughts:

Another book I read with G. for Halloween time. Olson adapted many scary tales from around the world for children. Some stories were better than others but we enjoyed most of them. It was also a great way to talk about the similarities the stories had as well as the differences depending on where the stories came from.

The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself  by Sean Carroll

My Thoughts:

This book took me almost a year and a half to finish. Not because it wasn't good overall but because it was big and thinky. Sometimes I had to set it aside for a few months before I could get back into it. Carroll is a cosmologist and physicist who enjoys sharing science with the public. He also enjoys philosophy and tried wax poetic in his book about the Universe and what that can mean for people who aren't religious or believe in a higher power. As a person who falls into both those categories, I thoroughly appreciated his thoughts on purpose and meaning in this life. I enjoyed it but I doubt he would convince a religious person to his philosophy of life. I also enjoyed the explanations on how the Universe works (at least as much as we do know). I still don't know but his book helped a bit!

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

My Thoughts:

Zoboi offers up a fun Pride and Prejudice retelling. She brings the Bennets, the Bingleys, and the Darcys to Brooklyn. She tells a story of first love and how class can interfere with so many things even when race doesn't factor into it. The only complaint is it wasn't quite long enough. I think Zoboi could've spent a little more time developing the characters and the world they inhabit. A lot of the scenes felt a bit haphazard since she was trying to follow events in the original. And I never quite got Darcy. She didn't flesh him out enough for me. So some of his motivation at the beginning of the book was lost on me. But overall it's a fun retelling.

Also that cover is gorgeous!

Emma: An Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen and Anna Lea

My Thoughts:

Audible did a dramatized adaptation. When I bought it I didn't realize that...I was expecting just the book but it was still fun. It's a lot shorter than the book. I had a great time listening to Emma Thompson narrate. It's been a long time since I've read the actual book so the ending was a surprise to me; it's a lot longer than the Emma version with Paltrow. The only complaint was the voice for Knightley. He sounded way too old. He's only supposed to be in his early-mid thirties and this actor sounded like he was in his fifties.

I had fun revisiting selfish and snobbish Emma as she is humbled and makes herself anew with the help of her family and friends.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Week-in-Review--November 19, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving this week! I am definitely looking forward to the long weekend. I'm hoping to gain traction on my crochet projects, get some more reading in, catch up on some library movies that just came in, and eat and drink too much this weekend! I guess I also need to finish up my Xmas cards and calendars as well. I need those soon to send out in a couple of weeks! Christmas is sneaking up on me way too fast.

Books Finished: 

Emma: Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen and Anna Lea, Pride by Ibi Zoboi, and The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll

Books I'm Currently Reading:

These Truths: A History of the United States of America by Jill Lepore, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning by Timothy Snyder, Sadie by Courtney Summers, The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die by Keith Payne, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan, and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. I'm really hoping to get a chunk of War and Peace done this weekend! I'm so far behind on my schedule.

Books Acquired: 

For the Kindle:

Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O'Brien, Women After All: Sex, Evolution, and the End of Male Supremacy by Melvin Konner, M.D., The Magicians by Lev Grossman, A Cat Named Darwin: Embracing the Bond Between Man and Pet by William Jordan, and Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

Adorable, right?
Physical Book:

Literary Yarns: Crochet Projects Inspired by Classic Books by Cindy Wang. I love this book. It has patterns to crochet Frankenstein's monster, Elizabeth Bennet, Mr. Darcy, Sherlock Holmes, etc! Can't wait to make them all.

Listening to: 

Kill Creek by Scott Thomas and Twain's Feast with Nick Offerman



 The only things I've been watching lately are Murphy Brown, SNL, the new Doctor Who season, and some NBA basketball at least for TV.


G and I finally finished up the Harry Potter movies! Now he wants to binge on The Diary of the Wimpy Kid movies....may the gods save me this week!

My Cousin Rachel (2017):

I have not read the book but really want to after seeing this stunning movie starring Rachel Weisz. The ambiguity of it all is maddening but appropriate and Daphne Du Maurier continues to surprise me with her gothic mysteries. Excellent acting, story, and I loved the beautiful countryside.

I'm hoping to watch Ocean's 8, The Mountain Between Us, and The Light Between Oceans which I picked up from the library last week.

We will be heading up to oldest sister's house for Thanksgiving like we do every year. I usually bring a pie and some stuffing. But I've been wanting to do my own Thanksgiving for awhile and plan on making my very first turkey on Friday with G and DH. I'll be making mashed potatoes and gravy, rolls, cornbread, and a salad. And to top it off I'll have hot cocoa for G and Poison cider apple cocktails for DH and me. 

Looking Forward to:

Thanksgiving weekend! G gets out Wednesday. We're going to bake cookies and make snowflakes and decorate the house! I'm looking forward to just spending time with my little family and playing some games and eating and drinking too much with some friends on Saturday.

I hope everyone has a safe and yummy Thanksgiving weekend!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Mini Book Reviews-- The Devil in the White City

I get so far behind so fast in my book reviews... So here we go!

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

My Thoughts: 

Larson weaves the story of how the Chicago Fair came to be alongside the grisly murders of H.H. Holmes. The pacing of the book was a bit jarring because each chapter switched us back and forth between the two tales. There were interesting bits about the fair that I enjoyed but it was Holmes' murders and how those came to be that were the most interesting. I didn't like the constant switching. But when Larson writes about Holmes those were some scary chapters. He did take a few liberties with what was thought or said but he makes that explicit in the introduction. The storytelling of Holmes scared the crap out of me! I was thoroughly captivated by the Holmes side of the fair and not the actual fair so much.

Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales by Kiersten White

My Thoughts:

I bought this for G. at the school book fair so we could read it together during October. I enjoyed the fairy tale retellings in each chapter. White gives us all the classics from Jack in the Beanstalk to Rapunzel. And like the famous broadway play Into the Woods, all the stories are connected and come together in the end. We had a good time.

Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

My Thoughts:

I can't even begin to describe how wonderful this book is. It's funny and scary and light-hearted all at the same time...but the scary parts can be super scary! My DH even got a bit spooked when he overheard my reading to G. FYI it's scary!

Even without the scares I loved this book. Oh tells a wonderful story about Harper Raine who's Korean-American and what she has to deal with looking different and being different. Her grandmother is the only one who understands her. She moves to a new place and at first has no friends. So it's also about finding friends and the importance of family.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

My Thoughts:

I listened to this one right after I finished up the Netflix tv series. I have also seen the original movie and the updated movie with Liam Neeson. While the TV series probably doesn't quite get at the intent of the book it's still a stellar series all on its own. Check out the original movie! Highly recommended. The Neeson version is best left on the shelves...

The actual audiobook was great to listen to. The narrator did a great job portraying the various characters so I definitely recommend the audio version.

Jackson has a way with creating places as actual people. You could feel the house and its sense of purpose and malevolence. Nell is the character we seem to follow throughout the story. She is such a lonely, sad, and isolated woman. I felt sympathy and anger for her all at the same time. It's a great read and one I'll return to each year.

PenPal by Dathan Auerbach

My Thoughts:

This book was disturbing on so many levels. I loved it. But it is not for everyone. Auerbach has a way with letting us see the way children see things and how awful adults can be to kids. I did not see it coming and I could not get this book out of my head for a few days. If you're looking for an excellent horror for Halloween or anytime, read this but be warned!

The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

My Thoughts:

I'm always up for a good haunted house story, but this one fell short for me. It was a little too unbelievable and a little too confusing in the end. The characters weren't quite fleshed out for me and it wasn't creepy enough. Probably my least favorite of the horror I read throughout October.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Nonfiction November 2018-- Become the Expert

Nonfiction November is here (though I'm a week late...) and runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 30. Is being hosted by Doing Dewey, Julz ReadsSarah's BookshelvesSophisticated Dorkiness, and What's Nonfiction?

The third week's discussion post for Nonfiction November is Be/Ask/Become the Expert where you share three or more books that'll help you along to that expert status. I'm choosing Become the Expert this year! I've got a lot on my TBR in various categories so I'll just stick to one category. It's pretty broad but history is my topic.

These Truths: A History of the United States of America by Jill Lepore. I've heard this is a great all-around general history that's not afraid to talk about how America has been built on the backs of slaves and genocide. Let's get it all in the context it unfolded.

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan. I hear this one is also a different focused world history and helps add context to a more concise history of Europe and the West.

Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss. I've been wanting to read this all year on the U.S.'s fight to win the women's right to vote. I saw Iron-Jawed Angels and have been wanting to read more on this important history.

American Slavery, American Freedom by Edmund S. Morgan. Morgan focuses on this specific time in history rather than the whole of U.S. history to present day. This has been recommended by Ta-Nehisi Coates and so it's been on my radar for a little while now.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. Another microhistory of America and how it continues to shape America today.

The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich. Fascinating stories of Russian women from World War II.


I can't believe Halloween has already come and gone. When you're on vacation for a week, you're kind of in a time warp. You pop back home and you realize, yikes! Halloween is next week...It took me a bit to get over the vacation having gotten shingles, then a sinus infection and then migraines...but I'm feeling better and hoping to enjoy the rest of November...which is now almost two weeks in! What?!Thanksgiving is in less than two weeks...

And I voted! We had to go in early since our mail-in ballots did not arrive. We took the time and made our voices heard...and we got the sticker!

Here are a few pics from Halloween and such over the last couple of weeks.

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My congressional race is still undecided! It's been a nailbiter!

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DH's work had a booth or treat in his building. We all had a great time seeing the displays and costumes.

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Happy Halloween, Black Kitty, the cutest kitty ever!

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The neighborhood kids's costumes.

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That's me in the background, the creepy nun! 

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We found this little guy Halloween night but thankfully found his owners the next morning! Whew!

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Shadow basking in the sun Sunday morning.

Books Finished: 

Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cartero, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green.

Books I'm Currently Reading:

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, More Bones: Scary Stories from Around the World by Arielle North Olson and Howard Schwartz (reading with G), Pride: A Pride and Prejudice Remix by Ibi Zoboi, and These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore.

Books Acquired: 

Winter Loon: A novel by Susan Bernhard (kindle), The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (kindle), Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper (kindle), Twain's Feast by Nick Offerman (Audible), Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets: An Audible Original by Stephen Fry (Audible), My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor (kindle), Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie LeDuff (kindle), At Day's Close: Night in Times Past by Roger Ekirch (kindle), Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics: A 10% Happier How-to Book by Dan Harris, Jeffrey Warren, and Carlye Adler (kindle), The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson (kindle), College Unbound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students by Jeffrey J. Salingo (kindle), Dark, Rich & Creamy by H.Y. Hanna (kindle), The Written Word: The Power of Stories to Shape People, History, and Civilizations by Martin Puchner (kindle), Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History by Keith O'Brien (kindle), We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Complicated, Funny, and True by Gabrielle Union (kindle).

Listening to: 

Emma: An Audible Original Drama by Jane Austen. There's something about November that makes me want to read non-fiction and all-things Austen!

I just finished up Halloween Unmasked that reported on the history of the making of the original Halloween movie and they talked about the culture surrounding it, John Carpenter's history and how he got into movies and why and how he make Halloween. They talk about the slasher movies that came after and why they copied Halloween. What made Halloween so different when it came out? And the new Halloween movie. The interview Jamie Lee Curtis, John Carpenter, fans, and others who've worked on the movies on and off over the years. It was a great 8 episode listen. So if you enjoy scary movies and Halloween in particular this one's for you!


I finished up Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I loved it! I can't wait for season two and I hope that happens because Netflix and WB are being sued over the intellectual property of The Satanic Temple's depiction of the deity Baphomet.

G and I are binge-watching the Harry Potter movies! We should be all done by Thanksgiving weekend!

Wildling (2018): An IFC Midnight horror starring Liv Tyler and that Wormwood guy from the Lord of the Ring movies. An interesting concept but it didn't have a lot of logical sense to it so I didn't love it.


I made chicken noodle soup last night and plan on making more chili this week since we didn't get enough leftovers Halloween! I hope to make some cookies this weekend as well and get started on all things holiday baking.

Looking Forward to:

The weekend! Then there will only be two days of school for G and our long Thanksgiving holiday will begin!

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cat Thursday--November 8, 2018

Welcome to Cat Thursday where all things cats are found! Hosted by Michelle over at True Book Addict.

This week I found a great video of cats in slow motion from an article at My Modern Met. It really shows how graceful cats can be! So enjoy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Nonfiction November 2018-- My Year in Nonfiction

Nonfiction November is here (though I'm a week late...) and runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 30. Is being hosted by Doing Dewey, Julz Reads, Sarah's Bookshelves, Sophisticated Dorkiness, and What's Nonfiction?

Week One Prompt: 

1. What was your favorite nonfiction read this year?

My favorites this year have been Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan's Disaster Zones by Richard Lloyd Parry. He blended history, anecdotes, and investigation beautifully to make a book about grief and how we deal with it.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara. I love reading about true crime because it delves into the dark side of humanity. And somehow illogically my brain thinks if I read about it then it won't happen to me...

The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English by Lynne Murphy. This one goes to back to my roots of Linguistics my major in college. It's like a fun mini introduction to the study of Linguistics and I recommend it for anyone who speaks a language.

2. Do you have a particular topic you've been attracted to more this year?

I definitely notice a trend with memoirs this year. I enjoyed listening to them in the car, etc. And after I'll Be Gone in the Dark, I read two more true crime books.

3. What nonfiction book have you recommended the most?

Ghosts of the Tsunami and I'll Be Gone in the Dark were the two I recommended the most with Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover a close second/third.

4. What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

I loved finding people dedicated to reading nonfiction last year! It was kind of a revelation for me to see the nonfiction love. I hope to add to that this year and meet new people and find new and interesting nonfiction reads.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

FrightFall and R.I.P. XIII Wrap-up

R.I.P. XIII went from Sept-Oct.

I read a total of 13 mystery/horror-type books during those two months.


  • The Cutting Season by Attica Locke--mystery
  • The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas--mystery/thriller/ya
  • Nighty-Nightmare by James Howe--mystery/juvenile fiction
  • The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury--horror/juvenile fiction
  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters--gothic mystery/historical fiction

October and FrightFall and R.I.P. XIII:

  • The Changeling by Victor LaValle--horror/fairytale retelling
  • Scream All Night by Derek Milman--horror/ya
  • The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson--true crime/non-fiction
  • Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales by Kiersten White--scary short stories/fairy tale retellings.
  • Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh--horror/mystery/juvenile fiction
  • The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson--horror
  • PenPal by Dathan Auerbach--horror
  • The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero--horror
My favorites:

The Changeling was my favorite, probably will be one of the top ones for the year for me as well! The Little Stranger also blew me away. PenPal was the creepiest book I read during the season. The Haunting of Hill House was also a great listen.

I had a great time reading all the things horror!