Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Blog All About It: Bloom

hosted by Herding Cats & Burning Soup
I missed last month's theme on sweet but I'm back this month with Bloom! I figured my flowers would be a great thing to showcase this month.

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Week-in-Review: All the Things...

It's been a couple of weeks since I've put a week-in-review up. My nephew got married last week. G had a dance performance. Mother's Day was last weekend and we saw the play Matilda on Monday. We've done lots of planting and put in some veggies and flowers. School is almost out and it's the last month of get-everything-done at school with the Book Fair, school performances, projects, and a field trip.

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My sister married into a Tongan family back in the day, and they always know how to throw a party, with lots of dancing and amazing food. DH and G got up on the stage and learned how to do a dance. It was hilarious!

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G's final ballroom performance until the dance festival in a couple of weeks.

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Finally got my veggies planted along with a few violas and marigolds to round it out! And I threw together some frozen margaritas after our hard day of planting and gardening!

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We saw "Matilda" Monday and it was so much fun. Tim Minchin wrote the music and lyrics. If you haven't heard anything by him, you should go check him out.

Last Week I:

Read: Small Spaces by Katherine Arden, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, How to Live: Or a Life of Montaigne in One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell, and Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly

Listened to: Someone Knows Something Season One. It's a cold-case podcast and it's really fascinating. Believed by Michigan Radio from NPR. It's all about the victims of Larry Nassar and how it all went down for so long. It's triggering but a very important story to listen to.



Unforgotten on PBS, Chernobyl on HBO--wow, so good. There's even a podcast to get more show notes and facts about what happened, a behind-the-scenes look. What We Do in the Shadows is just the best thing on TV right now for being funny. It's a good time and it's something I need right now. And a little bit of the NBA playoffs if I have time.


Over the last few weeks we've seen Shazam!, Avengers: Endgame, and The Kid Who Would Be King, and my horror movies were Overlord and Cold Moon (so dumb it was good....)

I need to get my movie reviews up soon!

Made: fresh guacamole and pico de gallo for tacos, snickerdoodles for fun, and lots of stuff on the grill from asparagus to hamburgers and brats and Kabobs.

This Week I:

Am currently readingMy Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Argos: The Story of Odysseus as Told by
His Loyal Dog by Ralph Hardy, The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey, The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esme Weijun Wang, and The Sense of Style: A Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Stephen Pinker.

Am currently listing to: The Library Book by Susan Orlean and On the Come Up by Angie Davis

Am looking forward to: G getting out of school for summer! It'll be crazy but we both need the break. Camping Memorial Day weekend. It's supposed to rain this weekend but if it lets up, I may plant a few more flowers this weekend. We're also planning on seeing "Detective Pikachu" Sunday!

Friday, May 10, 2019

Book Review: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit
Published in May 2014 by Haymarket Books
Genre: Non-fiction, essays, feminism, current events
Format: Kindle, 100 pages, own
Rating: 5 stars

Publisher's Summary:

In her comic, scathing essay “Men Explain Things to Me,” Rebecca Solnit took on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She wrote about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.

She ends on a serious note— because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, “He’s trying to kill me!”

This book features that now-classic essay with six perfect complements, including an examination of the writer Virginia Woolf ’s embrace of mystery, of not knowing, of doubt and ambiguity, a highly original inquiry into marriage equality, and a terrifying survey of the scope of contemporary violence against women.

My Thoughts:

This is a very short collection of Solnit's essays from around 2014 and before. Her essay "Men Explain Things to Me" is my favorite and the one essay the propelled me forward head-first into her thoughts and brilliant ideas on society.

Here's just one quote from this essay: "...the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is, in my experience, gendered. Men explain things to me, and other women, whether or not they know what they're talking about. Some men.

Every woman knows what I'm talking about. It's the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keep women from speaking up an from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men's unsupported overconfidence."

I have experienced this many times in my life from school to work to even at home or meeting new people in a friendly setting. This happens all the time. And my more career-driven friends have experienced it in their fields and jobs.

She has other essays that discuss global economics, politics, and culture. Solnit is a thinker, an old-soul. I can't believe I haven't read more by her. The best thinkers are those who can see the past, learn from it, and offer hope for the future. She tells it like it is, but she is no cynic and her hope is inspiring. 

I just picked up her newest collection of essays and look forward to the wisdom and insight she'll no doubt supply.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Cat Thursday-- Larger Than Life Cats!

Welcome to the weekly meme that celebrates the wonders and sometime hilarity of cats! Join us (Michelle at True Book Addict) 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!

My Modern Net has featured Japanese digital artist, Monokubo, who has created some amazing art featuring larger than life cats, dogs, and other forest animals.

According to the article,

Monokubo was inspired to produce these illustrations after seeing iconic Studio Ghibli films like Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro which both feature large creatures in their cast. Many of the animals that Monokubo depicts are house cats. “In most cases, I choose the animals that have left an impression in my daily life,” she tells My Modern Met. “I have a cat and he is very cute.”
I definitely want all of these beautiful portraits! My Neighbor Totoro is one of my all-time favorite movies ever!

Check out the article for more details on Monokubo and their other portraits of forest animals!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Spring Into Horror and April Stats

I finished 6 books this month! And 4 were for the Spring Into Horror Readathon from Michelle over at Seasons of Reading. I'll be delving into the second book of The Call this month. I also picked up an India-based mystery book called The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey. So there will indeed be more horror and mystery for me in May. I'm always in the mood for a little horror and mystery this time of year. I didn't get to a few I had planned and I added a couple I wasn't expecting. Such is the nature of reading. But I have a few I definitely plan on reading in September and October.

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The two non-horror I finished were: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (didn't enjoy this one, unfortunately, and skimmed the last half of the book to finish) and How to Live or a Life of Montaigne: In One Question and Twenty Attempts at an Answer by Sarah Bakewell (very enjoyable book on Montaigne and his essays). (I actually started this one a while ago with my friend for our philosophy book club but we finished it and I'm counting it!)

Here were my original ideas and I only ticked off two of them but I added Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz and The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan.

  • The Exorcist by William Peter Beatty
  • Fledgling by Octavia Butler
  • The Call by Peadar O'Guilin
  • The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
  • The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle
  • The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
  • Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke
  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
  • Mini Book Reviews: Era of Ignition

    Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
    Published in October 2016 by HarperCollins Publishers
    Genre: Mystery
    Format: paperback, 496 pages, own
    Rating: 2.5 stars

    Such an interesting premise here. Two mysteries in one. Author Alan Conway has written his last Detective Pund novel and his editor Susan reads the manuscript but that very weekend Conway dies from an apparent suicide. So now it's up to Susan to figure out where his missing final chapters are for his book....who killed Magnus Pyle??? And who killed Alan Conway?

    The concept was intriguing but the overall story was lackluster. It was too long as well, nearly 500 pages. Many parts were a slog to get through. I also was troubled by Horowitz' on the nose meta-commentary in regards to the mystery genre. Is he really saying it's all dribble? I felt like Horowitz was Conway and that's not a good thing. Plus the Pund novels were supposed to be crap and yet we read 200 pages of that crap book...yikes. I don't know. I read the whole thing and I enjoyed the premise but everything else was off.

    NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
    Published in April 2013 by William Morrow
    Genre: Horror
    Format: Audiobook, 19 hours, 41 minutes, library
    Rating: 2 stars

    I didn't realize Joe Hill had thrown this story into the world of his father, Mr. King. I literally rolled my eyes when I found out. Lots of people love Stephen King's stories. I enjoy some of them but I don't enjoy reading them very often. They are too long, way, way, way too long for me. But I loved Hill's "Heart-shaped Box" and so I was hoping for something along those lines with this one. Nope.

    The audiobook was narrated by Kate Mulgrew and she's amazing. She allowed me to get through most of the book without wanting to destroy my copy! I actually couldn't finish the audio. I ended up getting a hard copy from the library and skimming the rest of the book and the ending.

    It's an interesting plot about a man Charlie Manx who can suck the life out of children and live forever using a Rolls Royce...but man it was hard to feel truly scared by Manx. Him and his buddy are Chucky from Child's Play comical. Not my cup of tea. The protagonist Vic McQueen is a tough-girl trope. She had no real character. It was meh and I don't think I'll be reading more from Mr. Hill, unfortunately.

    Era of Ignition: Coming of Age in a Time of Rage and Revolution by Amber Tamblyn
    Published in March 2019 by Crown Archetype
    Genre: Memoir, Feminism
    Format: Audiobook, 6 hours and 14 minutes, own
    Rating: 4 stars

    I really enjoyed Amber Tamblyns thoughts and anecdotes on how she got to her own era of ignition. She has some real insights and ideas about our world today and where it's going. I listened to it and enjoyed her voice. But since I listened to it, it was hard to save or pick out any specific quotes or thoughts. But I thought her story about her abortion was moving and I loved her thoughts on her relationship with David Cross. Her ideas and hopes for her daughter Marlowe were also beautiful and thought-provoking. She's an inspiration. Loved it.

    And now I'm off to watch her movie Paint it Black on Netflix!