24 Jun, 2016

Let’s Look at Puppies

/ posted in: Pets

I’m sick. I have a cold. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? This is a monster cold though. I don’t get sick. If I get a bit of a tickle in the throat I drink cups of ginger tea with honey and it magically goes away. Not this one.

I’m the kind of sick where the other day I started coughing so hard in the exam room that I lost the ability to speak, excused myself with hand gestures, headed towards my office while doubling over coughing, and then got a bloody nose that sprayed blood all over myself and my surroundings. My coworkers have pictures of the carnage because they are helpful. Maybe I shouldn’t be at work, you say? Yeah, the other doctors are in Montana and Korea.

This is all in the middle of MAJOR work drama that I unexpectedly found myself right in the middle of this week. If the dust ever settles on this, I’ll tell this fine story of greed, lying, mansplaining, and patronization. It’s a good one.

So that’s why I didn’t feel up to putting the finishing touches on my blog drafts and publishing. We’ll resume next week. In the mean time – Let’s Look at Puppies!

The husband and I went to a dog festival in a little village near here. Zoar was settled by German separatists who tried to found a utopian community. That never works. They always end up banning sex and that’s the end of that.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

We started out watching Dock Diving. The goal is for the dog to jump off the platform into the water. Longest jump wins.

Some were enthusiastic.

Others not so much

Some were more enthusiastic than I expected them to be

The dock diving was a competition but there was also a lure chasing course. There is a wire laid out close to the ground in a loop. Plastic bags are tied to a shuttle on the wire. A person runs the shuttle by remote control. Dogs chase the bag. Fastest time through the course wins.

Anyone could try it with their dog. Some dogs chased the bag around the course. The smarter dogs (Malinois, Border Collies) were watching the course while they were in line and came out with a plan. They would cut up the middle to where the bag would be and wait for it. Others would step on the line to have it pop off the rollers it was on so the bag couldn’t move. The husband and I cheered for the smart dogs. We figured they were the real winners even though they did it wrong.

Other dogs just wanted to be adored by the crowd.

This is the same Bearded Collie from the little dock diving jump above.

22 Jun, 2016

The Cosy Teashop in the Castle

/ posted in: Reading The Cosy Teashop in the Castle The Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts
on February 25, 2016
Genres: Love & Romance
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in England four-stars

“When Ellie Hall lands her dream job running the little teashop in the beautiful but crumbling Claverham Castle, it’s the perfect escape from her humdrum job in the city. Life is definitely on the rise as Ellie replaces spreadsheets for scones, and continues her Nanna’s brilliant baking legacy.
When Lord Henry, the stick-in-the-mud owner, threatens to burst her baking bubble with his old-fashioned ways, Ellie wonders if she might have bitten off more than she can chew.”

Ellie has always wanted to bake for a living but her parents have encouraged her to get a steady and reliable job.  Now she has a chance to run a seasonal tea shop in a castle in the northeast part of England.  She is even allowed to live in – a fact that horrifies her mother.  She doesn’t see how Ellie will survive in a remote area that is *gasp* over an hour drive from her parents’ house.  Ah, bless the British and their warped sense of distance.  It always makes me laugh in books when they discussed drives that Americans would do without thought to go to a restaurant as epic adventures requiring careful planning lest disaster fall upon them.

The owner of the castle isn’t a fan of business or of letting people come traipsing around his family home.  He needs the money to keep the place up though.  The castle isn’t a huge tourist attraction so keeping it afloat and learning how to make a small tea shop profitable isn’t easy.

Soon Ellie is scraping by and mostly eating left over pastries for every meal.  She doesn’t want to admit to her parents that things aren’t going well.  She determined to make a go of her little tea shop.

I couldn’t sleep one night and downloaded and read this book all in one sitting.  It was sweet and cute.  It was perfect for a light read. I would recommend this for any chick lit or light romance fans or anyone who ever dreamed of quitting their job and cooking for a living.

I’m jealous of British high tea. You can’t get anything like it around here. I torture myself by following Kelly Michelle on Twitter. She has gluten free high tea a lot. I just look at her pictures and drool. I’m going to Washington DC in July and you can get afternoon tea at a few of the fancy hotels. I’m taking the opportunity while I’m there.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

21 Jun, 2016

The CleanSweep Conspiracy

/ posted in: Reading

“Matt Tremain publishes Verité, a modest blog dedicated to writing about the truth and exposing scams. Currently, he’s following up on rumors concerning something called CleanSweep, a mysterious project in Toronto, Canada.

Matt gets his break when a whistleblower connects CleanSweep to billionaire Charles Claussen. Claussen plans to rid Toronto of undesirables, beginning with street people and extending to any citizens who don’t match Claussen’s restrictive screening matrix.

With the help of a high-ranking government official, Claussen plans to incite riots and violent unrest, conning Torontonians into sacrificing privacy and civil liberties for illusionary security and safety. Toronto will be reduced to a repressive city-state.

The information overwhelms Matt, who doubts he has the courage, skill, or readership to take on CleanSweep. But the murder of his source convinces the blogger to take a stand—although he’s too late to prevent chaos from gripping Toronto’s streets.

To get the word out, Matt’s going to need allies. He may have found some in a Toronto police detective and a local TV reporter pursuing the same story—presuming they aren’t allied with Claussen. If they are, Matt’s going to become yet another victim of CleanSweep, and the truth will be buried forever.”


I was intrigued by the Blogger Saves the World premise of this book.  I like realistic dystopian narratives.  This should have been a good fit for me.

However,  I had a really hard time getting into this book.  The opening chapter presents a lot of background information in the form of clunky internal dialogue that had me cringing.  It never pulled me in and made me feel like there were high stakes and real consequences.  Books like this should be hard to put down and this one was all too easy to walk away from.


I received a free ebook for review.

17 Jun, 2016

IQ – Sherlock Holmes in East Long Beach

/ posted in: Reading IQ – Sherlock Holmes in East Long Beach IQ by Joe Ide
Published by Mulholland Books on October 18th 2016
Genres: Crime & Mystery, Fiction
Pages: 336
Format: ARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in California four-stars

East Long Beach. The LAPD is barely keeping up with the neighborhood's high crime rate. Murders go unsolved, lost children unrecovered. But someone from the neighborhood has taken it upon himself to help solve the cases the police can't or won't touch. They call him IQ. He's a loner and a high school dropout, his unassuming nature disguising a relentless determination and a fierce intelligence. He charges his clients whatever they can afford, which might be a set of tires or a homemade casserole. To get by, he's forced to take on clients that can pay. This time, it's a rap mogul whose life is in danger. As Isaiah investigates, he encounters a vengeful ex-wife, a crew of notorious cutthroats, a monstrous attack dog, and a hit man who even other hit men say is a lunatic. The deeper Isaiah digs, the more far reaching and dangerous the case becomes.

Isaiah Quintabe’s whole world fell apart when his brother Marcus died leaving teenaged Isaiah on his own.  In order to make his rent he gets a local drug dealer and petty criminal named Dodson as a room mate.  It changes both of their lives.

Now years later Dodson has a case that he thinks Isaiah would be interested in.  It has a huge paycheck attached and Dodson has decided to help out to get his cut – whether Isaiah wants him around or not.

This book reminded me a lot of a Carl Hiaasen novel.  The mystery is convoluted.  The characters are quirky and unexpected.  The book is laugh out loud funny at times.

  • IQ is a loner who is brilliant and who has trained himself to be observant and make deductions like Sherlock Holmes
  • Dodson is a drug dealer who wants to move on to crimes with a better class of criminals
  • Deronda is a woman from IQ and Dodson’s past who is looking to be become famous any way possible
  • Cal is a depressed rap superstar who has a greedy entourage
  • Add in a hit man with an obsession with breeding the perfect attack dogs

The story is told through dual time lines.

Present Day

Cal is too depressed to leave his house and go into the studio to record his contractually obligated next album.  Anything he writes is way too depressing to record anyway.  He is attacked in his house by a gigantic dog.  He only gets away by falling in the pool and making so much noise that the neighbor calls the police.  A man comes out of the woods to get the dog and lets Cal live.  Isaiah takes the case.

In the Past

Dodson has just moved in with a grieving Isaiah.  He realizes that he has a genius as a room mate and that genius is in need of money.  He decides to put Isaiah’s brain to use to think up better criminal activities.

It is interesting to see what happens in the past to make Isaiah the detective that he is today.  This is supposed to be the start of a series and I can’t wait to see what Isaiah gets up to next.

My only quibble is that at one point they rob a pet store and take feline epilepsy test strips.  I wish they would have gotten me some.  Those would be handy since nothing like that actually exists.  The author probably meant feline diabetes test strips.  Sorry, that’s my veterinarian side coming out.


First come first served and if you want to throw in a few dollars for shipping that would be great but not required.



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

16 Jun, 2016

The Hamiltome for Hamilton Newbies

/ posted in: Reading The Hamiltome for Hamilton Newbies Hamilton: The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter
Published by Grand Central Publishing on April 12th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New York five-stars

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Lin-Manuel Miranda's groundbreaking musical Hamilton is as revolutionary as its subject, the poor kid from the Caribbean who fought the British, defended the Constitution, and helped to found the United States. Fusing hip-hop, pop, R&B, and the best traditions of theater, this once-in-a-generation show broadens the sound of Broadway, reveals the storytelling power of rap, and claims our country's origins for a diverse new generation.
HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION gives readers an unprecedented view of both revolutions, from the only two writers able to provide it. Miranda, along with Jeremy McCarter, a cultural critic and theater artist who was involved in the project from its earliest stages--"since before this was even a show," according to Miranda--traces its development from an improbable perfor­mance at the White House to its landmark opening night on Broadway six years later. In addition, Miranda has written more than 200 funny, revealing footnotes for his award-winning libretto, the full text of which is published here.
Their account features photos by the renowned Frank Ockenfels and veteran Broadway photographer, Joan Marcus; exclusive looks at notebooks and emails; interviews with Questlove, Stephen Sond­heim, leading political commentators, and more than 50 people involved with the production; and multiple appearances by Presi­dent Obama himself. The book does more than tell the surprising story of how a Broadway musical became a national phenomenon: It demonstrates that America has always been renewed by the brash upstarts and brilliant outsiders, the men and women who don't throw away their shot.

I probably would have never even heard of Hamilton if not for the rabid fangirls on Twitter.

I tried to listen to the soundtrack on Spotify once just to see what the excitement was about.  It was ok but I wasn’t overwhelmed. I never made it all the way through. I did like the official website though that had historical notes along with the lyrics.

When the book came out I decided to try again.  I was interested in hearing the story of how the idea came about and how that idea was transformed into a hit musical.

The book covers the history of the show. It starts from an idea that Lin-Manuel Miranda had while reading a biography of Alexander Hamilton on vacation during a time when there was a lot of discussion in the theater world about the possibilities of using hip hop in musicals. It covers the next six years of writing songs and trying them out in front of different audiences and workshopping the show. Interspersed are the songs with the stories of their inspiration and the historical background to each one.

The people involved in the show are profiled. It isn’t just the actors. Choreography, directing, set design, and costumes are discussed.


I listened to each song on Spotify as I came to it in the book. I finally made it the whole way through the show.

Am I a lyric quoting fan girl now? I’m not nearly as obsessed as the people who introduced me to this show on Twitter but the songs do get stuck in your head.* I appreciate it a whole lot more now that I know more about the creation and musical influences and history. If you aren’t sure what all the fuss is about, I’d recommend reading this book to get you up to speed.

*Ok, full disclosure, since I wrote this post:

  • I’ve had songs stuck in my head at all times
  • I bought the soundtrack
  • I was drawing blood on a cat and heard an announcement on the radio that the tour is coming to town in 2017.  I immediately started making plans to get tickets up to and including buying a season pass to be guaranteed a seat.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

15 Jun, 2016

Arabella of Mars

/ posted in: Reading Arabella of Mars Arabella of Mars by David D. Levine
Published by Tor on July 12th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in England and Mars three-stars

Ever since Newton witnessed a bubble rising from his bathtub, mankind has sought the stars. When William III of England commissioned Capt. William Kidd to command the first expedition to Mars in the late 1600s, they proved that space travel was both possible and profitable.
Now, one century later, a plantation in the flourishing British colony on Mars is home to Arabella Ashby. A tomboy who shares her father's deft hand with complex automatons. Being raised on the Martian frontier by her Martian nanny, Arabella is more a wild child than a proper young lady. Something her mother plans to remedy with a move to an exotic world Arabella has never seen: London, England.
Arabella soon finds herself trying to navigate an alien world until a dramatic change in her family's circumstances forces her to defy all conventions in order to return to Mars in order to save both her brother and the plantation. To do this, Arabella must pass as a boy on the Diana, a ship serving the Mars Trading Company with a mysterious Indian captain who is intrigued by her knack with automatons. Arabella must weather the naval war between Britain and France, learning how to sail, and a mutinous crew if she hopes to save her brother from certain death.

Arabella was born and raised on a plantation on Mars.  Her mother is from England and wants to take her daughters back to have them raised as proper ladies.  When Arabella’s father dies, she seizes the opportunity and takes them back to England, leaving Arabella’s brother in charge of the plantation.

Back on Earth, Arabella doesn’t fit in.  When a nasty cousin realizes that he will be heir to the plantation if her brother dies, he jumps on an airship to Mars to kill him.  Arabella realizes that she needs to get to Mars first to warn her brother.

This book felt a lot more like a sea-going novel like Horatio Hornblower than a space-traveling sci fi book.

The ships that travel to and from Mars are basically British naval vessels of the sailing era fitted with balloons.  Arabella disguises herself as a boy and gets a job on a ship.  Most of the book takes place on the ship on the way to Mars with aerial battles and possible strandings and mutinies.

I was interested to see how this wooden ship was going to be made able to withstand the rigors of space.  Were the balloons going to wrap around it and seal the ship?  Nope.  In this world science is different.

  • There is air in space so you don’t need oxygen.
  • There is wind in space to move the ship using the sails.
  • It isn’t cold.  You can wander about in normal clothes.
  • There’s no vacuum so you don’t explode.
  • The only thing different on Mars is lighter gravity.

Social issues discussed

  • The role of women in society
  • The captain of the ship Arabella works on is Indian and that doesn’t sit well with several of the white crewmembers
  • There are native inhabitants of Mars who the English treat as servants as they were wont to do when colonizing places.  The Martians are not pleased with this.



First come first served



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

14 Jun, 2016

My Underground American Dream

/ posted in: Reading My Underground American Dream My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive by Julissa Arce
Published by Center Street on September 13th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Mexico and Texas three-stars

For an undocumented immigrant, what is the true cost of the American Dream? Julissa Arce shares her story in a riveting memoir.
When she was 11 years old Julissa Arce left Mexico and came to the United States on a tourist visa to be reunited with her parents, who dreamed the journey would secure her a better life. When her visa expired at the age of 15, she became an undocumented immigrant. Thus began her underground existence, a decades long game of cat and mouse, tremendous family sacrifice, and fear of exposure. After the Texas Dream Act made a college degree possible, Julissa's top grades and leadership positions landed her an internship at Goldman Sachs, which led to a full time position--one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street. Soon she was a Vice President, a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties, yet still guarding her "underground" secret. In telling her personal story of separation, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce shifts the immigrant conversation, and changes the perception of what it means to be an undocumented immigrant.

Julissa Arce’s parents were working legally in the United States while she and her older sisters lived with her extended family in Mexico.  Her younger brother was born in the United States.  When Julissa started acting out in school at age 11, her parents brought her to live with them.  She had no idea that it was illegal for her to go to school.  She didn’t know that she had outstayed her visa until her mother explained that she couldn’t go back to Mexico for her quinceanera because she wouldn’t be able to come back into the United States.

She was a star student but was not accepted to any colleges because she didn’t have a social security number.  At this point Texas passed a law that allowed undocumented students to go to college at Texas state schools.  This allowed her to be able to go to school.

I was conflicted when reading this book.  I think people should follow the rules of the country they live in.  I also think that it should be much, much easier for people to come to the United States from Latin America so people aren’t required to sneak into the country.  Julissa also buys fake documents as an adult to be able to get a job.  I can see that she was brought into the country by her parents and she had no intent to do anything wrong at that point, but now she was actively breaking the law because she felt she was entitled to stay here and get a very high paying job.  She talked a little bit about whether or not she should go back to Mexico because she would be able to get a very good job so it wasn’t like she didn’t have options.  She also marries specifically get to a green card.  The more unethical things she does, the less sympathy I retained for her.

This book made me understand the issues around children of undocumented immigrants.  They are stuck as they become adults.  I think there should be a way for these children to be able to be legally documented.


First come first served and if you want to throw in a few dollars for shipping that would be great but not required.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

13 Jun, 2016

Can Books Help Overcome Hate?

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

I had already planned to write a post recommending books for Pride month to post today before I heard the news yesterday about the shooting in Orlando.  Unfortunately, this is even more topical now.

Mish wrote a great post recently about why LGBT representation is important from the perspective of someone from Southeast Asia. Her point is that the culture in Sri Lanka is hostile to LGBT people so learning about it from a young age can help overcome that hatred.

We have the same issue in the U.S.  I grew up before a lot of the openness of the movement in the last 10-15 years.  I was a teenager when AIDS became prominent.  It was a very different time.  I don’t remember ever learning anything about homosexuality or ever having it discussed.  The closest thing was the sex ed teacher saying, “Don’t ever let anyone touch you there” when discussing anal sex.  That was the whole discussion.  I don’t remember anyone ever being taunted for being perceived to be homosexual.  It was like it didn’t exist at all.

I was also raised as a conservative Christian.  Again, I don’t ever remember homosexuality being discussed but I know somewhere along the way I learned that it was wrong.

I was in my early 20s before I met my first openly gay person and she had just come out.  It was a different world and it wasn’t that long ago.

I’m not sure what led me to get this book from the library but somewhere in 1997-1998 I read:

Serving in SilenceServing in Silence by Margarethe Cammermeyer

“The distinguished nurse, mother, war hero–and highest ranking officer to challenge the military’s anti-gay policy–speaks out about her life in the armed forces and her search for self. Colonel Cammermeyer’s dismissal from the U.S. Army has stirred debate all the way to the Presidency; now she writes of her decision to challenge official policy on homosexuality.”

This is the book that I credit for opening my mind.

Another influential book was:

And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS EpidemicAnd the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Shilts
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“By the time Rock Hudson’s death in 1985 alerted all America to the danger of the AIDS epidemic, the disease had spread across the nation, killing thousands of people and emerging as the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. America faced a troubling question: What happened? How was this epidemic allowed to spread so far before it was taken seriously? In answering these questions, Shilts weaves weaves the disparate threads into a coherent story, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments.”

I read this after seeing the miniseries, which you can watch on HBO To Go, that tells the story of discovering HIV and the public health disaster of AIDS in the U.S.

Both of these books are old now but still so relevant.

What books would you want people who are anti-LGBT to read now?



10 Jun, 2016

Believing in Magic

/ posted in: Reading Believing in Magic Believing in Magic: My Story of Love, Overcoming Adversity, and Keeping the Faith by Cookie Johnson, Denene Millner
Published by Howard Books on September 20th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 272
Format: ARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Michigan and California three-stars

In her new memoir, Cookie Johnson, wife of NBA legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson, shares details of her marriage, motherhood, faith, and how an HIV diagnosis twenty-five years ago changed the course of their lives forever.
On November 7, 1991, basketball icon Earvin “Magic” Johnson stunned the world with the news that he was HIV-positive. For the millions who watched, his announcement became a pivotal moment not only for the nation, but his family and wife. Twenty-five years later, Cookie Johnson shares her story and the emotional journey that started on that day—from life as a pregnant and joyous newlywed to one filled with the fear that her husband would die, she and her baby would be infected with the virus, and their family would be shunned. Believing in Magic is the story of her marriage to Earvin nearly four decades of loving each other, losing their way, and eventually finding a path they never imagined.
November 7, 2016 will mark a quarter-century since the announcement and Cookie’s survival and triumph as a wife, mother, and God-fearing woman.
Cookie has never shared her full account of the reasons that she stayed and her life with Earvin “Magic” Johnson. Believing in Magic is her story.

We all have had that friend.  You know the one.  She’s the one with the loser boyfriend who she insists is just the sweetest and kindest person ever to exist but he just doesn’t show that side of himself in public.  If you just knew him like she does, you’d understand.


This is what the first half of this book felt like to me. I felt like I needed to stage an intervention even though it all happened years ago.

While they were dating, Magic:

  • Publicly shunned her and then asked her if she learned her lesson when she didn’t follow his orders
  • Got upset when his friends teased him for calling her on an out of town trip so he broke up with her because she was “too controlling.”
  • Dated other women when they were supposed to be exclusively dating and then had the nerve to get mad at her for calling him out on it
  • Saw her with her new boyfriend during a 2 year breakup and then going out of his way to publicly humiliate the new boyfriend.
  • Repeatedly broke up with her for long periods and returned only when he found out she was dating someone else
  • Let her know that he had impregnated another woman during one of their breakups by bringing the now 3 year old offspring to a family party and introducing them to each other in front of his whole family
  • Proposed and then called off the wedding – TWICE


And just like your friend who keeps getting back with her jerk of a boyfriend, she keeps making excuses for him.

Now, I give her credit for not moving to LA with him and living the lifestyle of a basketball girlfriend. He wasn’t going to make a commitment so she stayed in Toledo and worked on her career. Good for her!

Eventually she did move because she felt that she had to prove to him that she could fit into his world.  She kept a job in her field though to maintain her independence.  Soon she had to choose between her career and the NBA finals.  She quit her job to stand by her man and what did he do?  Dumped her again.

This book is advertised as the story of a long and successful marriage in the public eye.  It doesn’t read that way at all.  To me it reads like a woman trying too hard to convince you that everything is ok.

I found the second half of the book more interesting mostly because Magic almost entirely disappears from the story once they got married.  She tells the story of raising her son, who she was pregnant with at the time of Magic’s HIV diagnosis.  She talks of coming to terms with the fact that their son was absolutely not athletic and over time realizing that he was gay.  She talks about the adoption of their daughter and the affect that adoption had on the life of her child.  She touches on the work they do in HIV education.  She does not discuss what it is like to have an HIV positive partner.

This is also advertised as a story of faith.  She talks about getting through the hard times when Magic would run off again by reading the Bible and discovering what God wanted her to do.  Amazingly, God always wanted her to do exactly what she wanted to do.  He would always lead her back to her emotionally abusive boyfriend.  Wow, thanks for looking out for me God!



First come first served



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

09 Jun, 2016

The Underground Railroad

/ posted in: Reading The Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Published by Doubleday on September 13th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Pages: 320
Format: ARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Indiana four-half-stars

Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all slaves, but Cora is an outcast even among her fellow Africans, and she is coming into womanhood; even greater pain awaits. Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her of the Underground Railroad and they plot their escape.
Like Gulliver, Cora encounters different worlds on each leg of her journey...Whitehead brilliantly recreates the unique terrors of black life in pre-Civil War America. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman's ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage, and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.


Georgia functions like a typical slave state.  There are large plantations that house many slaves.  Cora was born here and has been on her own since her mother escaped when Cora was nine.  All she has of her own is a very small plot of land where she grows some vegetables.  After she violently defends her plot from an interloper, she is an outcast among the slaves.

When the master dies and the plantation is in the hands of his sadistic sons, an educated slave convinces Cora to escape with him.  He tells her about the Underground Railroad.  This is a literal railroad underground with stations under houses of abolitionists.  There aren’t many stations now.  Service is erratic at best and no trains may come at all.  They run and catch the train.

South Carolina

Slavery is illegal here.  Former slaves are educated and given places to live.  They have jobs and the ability to live a peaceful and productive life.  But there is a strange tension.  There is a feeling of something sinister under the surface of this utopia.

North Carolina

African-Americans are banned here.  Labor is done by immigrants from Europe.  The penalty for an African-American being in the state or a white person helping a black person is death.


Tennessee is dismal and bleak.  The slave catcher finds her here but she escapes with help from some other escapees.


In this free state, black people live happily on a prosperous farm but will they be allowed to keep their enclave?

This book addresses a lot in a short space.

  • The hierarchy of slaves
  • Torture
  • Slave catchers
  • White people reluctant to help to free people
  • Black people helping to catch escaping slaves
  • What is an ideal society?

My only issue with this book is that there is a jarring change of story structure in Tennessee that took me completely out of the story.  I had to work to get back into it.  I’ve talked to other people who have read this and they agree that it was strange.  That’s the only reason why I’m going with 4.5 stars instead of 5.

I loved the idea of making it a literal train and exploring each state as a different form of government.  It lets him examine what might have been after emancipation if different ideas took hold.



First come first served


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

08 Jun, 2016

Audiobooks So Far This Year

/ posted in: Reading

For this year’s audiobook challenge I set a goal of 30 books.  (Really?  What was I thinking?)

So how am I doing so far around the halfway point of the year?

My audiobooks basically fall into two categories.




12 audiobooks isn’t too far off my goal.  Some of these have been pretty long.  I don’t know if I’ll make it all the way to 30.

I’ve DNFed three audiobooks along the way too.  They have all been history.  It wasn’t that they weren’t interesting topics but for some reason I haven’t been able to settle into those recently in audio form.

What are your favorite genres to listen to?


07 Jun, 2016

10 reasons I loved the Beka Cooper series

/ posted in: Reading

I listened to the Beka Cooper series after reading a few gushing reviews by people like Nori.  This is the first of her series to take place chronologically but not the first to be written.

World Building

The world building for this series is exceptional.  There are even new words used for common things like mot = woman and after a bit it seems totally normal.  That leads to:


There are some of the best insults ever in this series.  I can’t give you examples since I listened on audio and can’t find an example quickly but believe me, there are long bursts of descriptive language that leave you with no doubt how the speaker feels.


Beka has flings with men.  Think about how many young female protagonists are allowed to be romantically involved with someone who they don’t eventually spend their lives with.  Not many.


Magical Cat.  What else do you need to know?  He helps where he is allowed by the gods but otherwise lounges about like a normal cat.  If it is raining on a trip he takes himself to the celestial realm until it stops because he is not going to inconvenience himself by getting wet.


The finest scent hound in the land is a side character in book one but becomes Beka’s partner in the second book.  The scene with her being beaten by her bad handler in book two made me teary.  I was a bit concerned in book three because I have a strict rule that if an author kills the dog, then the author is dead to me.  I don’t care if that is a spoiler – ACHOO MAKES IT THROUGH THE SERIES FINE.  Now that that’s out of the way, you can relax and enjoy the series.

The Blessed Mother

There are lots of gods and religions here but in book three there is an hilarious send up of fundamentalist religion.  Women are called to stay protected and not worry their pretty little brains with things like thinking for themselves.  This annoys the female police and knights in the story and probably the female slaves who need to wait on these precious female devotees of the Blessed Mother but no one probably considered their feelings.

Spiked hair

Beka has long hair that she wears in a braid but we all know that that is a liability when fighting so she braids a strip of spikes through it.  If someone grabs her braid they cut their hand.  I had really long hair as a kid and I wish I had thought of this because people pulled my braid all the time.


The souls of the dead ride to the Black God on pigeons.  Sometimes if they have something to say they come to someone who can hear them like Beka can.  I found myself staring at pigeons when I was in Chicago, just in case.

Dust spinners

Beka can talk to dust spinners too.  Dust spinners are those collections of winds that whirl in corners.  They trap debris and parts of conversations.  It is polite to give them an offering of dirt from another area if you want them to talk to you.

Fan angst

People have feelings about this series.  I got this comment on my monthly wrap up.

Elizabeth:  “I can’t remember if I ever ended up commenting on your review for Terrier, but I’m so excited you’re reading this series!! …I’ll be interested to see what you think about the ending of the last book.”

Me: “Oh no! Is it bad? I’m getting close to the end of audio of Mastiff and things aren’t going well. Now I’m even more nervous”

Elizabeth: “It is literally the only Tamora Pierce book I violently disagree with. And if you’re getting nervous..well, hopefully you won’t judge the rest of her books by this ending haha. I really, REALLY loved the first two books and I’ve never read anything by her that I didn’t love so I had a hard time processing this – it might not be nearly so bad for you haha! But when you’re done let me know because I have been DYING to talk to someone about it!!”

I was about 4 hours from the end of Mastiff and now I HAD TO KNOW what was going to happen.  We’ve processed our feelings now by email.

I also tried to explain my feelings on this series to my husband.  “I thought the dog was in trouble but the cat helped her.”

“That’s not natural.  Cats wouldn’t help the dog.”

“This one did.  There are also horses that kick men’s faces in if they get uppity.”

“This is why I stick to nonfiction.”







06 Jun, 2016

Ghost Talkers

/ posted in: Reading Ghost Talkers Ghost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal
Published by Tor Books on August 16th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in France three-half-stars

Ginger Stuyvesant, an American heiress living in London during World War I, is engaged to Captain Benjamin Hartshorne, an intelligence officer. Ginger is a medium for the Spirit Corps, a special Spiritualist force.
Each soldier heading for the front is conditioned to report to the mediums of the Spirit Corps when they die so the Corps can pass instant information about troop movements to military intelligence.
Ginger and her fellow mediums contribute a great deal to the war efforts, so long as they pass the information through appropriate channels. While Ben is away at the front, Ginger discovers the presence of a traitor. Without the presence of her fiance to validate her findings, the top brass thinks she's just imagining things. Even worse, it is clear that the Spirit Corps is now being directly targeted by the German war effort. Left to her own devices, Ginger has to find out how the Germans are targeting the Spirit Corps and stop them. This is a difficult and dangerous task for a woman of that era, but this time both the spirit and the flesh are willing…

I loved the premise of the British Army using mediums to communicate with soldiers killed in battle in order to find out more about enemy troop movements.  This takes place in 1916 during World War I in France during the Battle of the Somme.

This book is a great historical fantasy/mystery but it also addresses issues of class and race in the British Army at the time.

  • Ginger is the American niece of the titular head of the Spirit Corps.  She attends all the briefings because she is better suited for that duty.  Her aunt is in charge though because she is a Lady.
  • The most powerful medium is a West Indian woman named Helen.  She isn’t known to be the mastermind behind the program because she is black and the army command won’t consider listening to her.
  • Indian soldiers aren’t trained on how to report in after death.  They feel that it is a slight stemming from the fact that the white officers don’t feel that they wouldn’t be able to report accurate information.
  • Married women regardless of their abilities are not allowed to participate until things get desperate.
  • The women of the Spirit Corp are thought to be there to help morale in clubs like USOs.  No one outside knows that they also spend time talking to the dead.  No one thinks of this because they are women so how could they be doing anything vital?

I can’t talk much about the actual plot without giving away some spoilers.  No men know how the Spirit Corp trains soldiers to report in.  Only a few know who the mediums are.  The Germans know that it is happening but want to find out how it all works.  There is a spy and Ginger goes to investigate because she is one of the few people who knows all parts of the operation.

I loved the first half of the book.  For me the story bogged down a little in the second half so I gave it 3.5 stars instead of 4.  I’d recommend this to any historical fiction or paranormal fans.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

I got this book at BEA this year.


The ARC has been claimed.



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

03 Jun, 2016

How To Get Run Over By A Truck

/ posted in: Reading How To Get Run Over By A Truck How to Get Run Over by a Truck by Katie C McKenna
Published by Inkshares on October 4th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 294
Format: ARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New York three-half-stars

People often say, I feel like I've been run over by a truck. Katie actually was. On a sunny morning bike ride in Brooklyn, twenty-four-year-old Katie McKenna was forever changed when she was run over by an eighteen-wheeler. Being crushed under a massive semi wasn't something Katie should have survived. After ten hours of emergency surgery, she woke to find herself in a body and a life that would never be the same. In this brutally honest and surprisingly funny memoir, Katie recalls the pivotal event and the long, confusing road to recovery that followed. Between the unprepared nudity in front of her parents post-surgery, hospital happy hours, and the persistent fear that she would never walk again, Katie details the struggles she's faced navigating her new reality. This inspiring memoir follows Katie's remarkable journey to let go of her old life and fall in love with her new one.

This was the first book I read that I received at BEA.  It was handed to me when I was on my way off the floor one day so it didn’t get packed up with the rest of the books I was shipping home.  (I started it that night in a Jamaican restaurant that served me the most amazing avocado and plantain sandwich.)


Katie was riding in Brooklyn in the early morning. She pulled up next to a semi that did not signal that he was turning. When the light turned, the truck pulled into her lane, knocking her over and running over her abdomen with 8 wheels before stopping.

What I find amazing about this is that she never lost consciousness. It probably would have been better. She was able to tell witnesses her name and had them call her parents before the ambulance got there. Because she was talking, her parents didn’t realize the severity of her injuries until they got to the hospital.

In an instant she went from a healthy woman with no major issues in her life to a person completely dependent on other people for her every need. She was taken to a hospital well equipped to deal with major trauma. However, this hospital’s main purpose was treating prisoners so when she is recovered enough to get out of ICU, her quality of care falls dramatically. This is where this book is difficult to deal with at times. As a young white woman who is not in custody, with parents who are able to advocate for her, she is able to get out of this situation. She also causes problems for several doctors who give her straight answers to her questions without coddling her. She seems to only want to hear happy answers about her prognosis and anyone who doesn’t go along with this suddenly is getting the brunt of her family calling their supervisors and demanding that they never get to speak with her again. Several times while reading this I paused to be grateful once again that I don’t work in human medicine.

I would recommend this book for anyone who ever wondered what to say to someone dealing with a life changing diagnosis or injury.


ARCs are meant to roam so if anyone would like to read this, leave a comment and I’ll send it to you. If you would like to send a few dollars to help cover shipping that would be appreciated.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

02 Jun, 2016

Just Mercy

/ posted in: Reading Just Mercy Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson
on October 21st 2014
Genres: Civil Rights, Nonfiction, Political Science
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Alabama five-stars

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.  Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.  Just Mercy is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Just Mercy had been on my radar for a while but I didn’t decide to pick it up until it was the first pick for the social justice book club hosted by Entomology of a Bookworm.  I listened to the audiobook.  It was narrated by the author and he did a good job of telling his story.

The story begins with the author setting up a branch of the Equal Justice Initiative in Alabama.  The goal is to help people on death row have legal representation.

The case of Walter McMillan is used to explain to the readers how our justice system can go horribly wrong.

Walter McMillan was convicted of a murder even though he was far away from the murder scene with a large group of people, the person who accused him couldn’t identify him in a room, and the truck he was supposedly driving had its transmission rebuilt that day at the time of the murder.

Other cases are discussed throughout the book.  Another focus of the author’s is the plight of children who were tried as adults and received life sentences without the possibility of parole.  One of the people featured had been kept in solitary confinement for decades.  He was caught in a loop of self harming because he was isolated and every time he self harmed he had more time added in solitary.

Sometimes helping someone is making sure seemingly logical things are done like housing young children away from the adult prison population so they aren’t raped.

The author also does a good job of explaining how entire communities are involved in cases of wrongful convictions.  He talks a lot with the family and friends of the accused but I would have also been interested to see how finding out that the person in jail for a family member’s murder was innocent affected the victim’s family.  There was just one brief interaction about this.

Aside from any discussion of the ethics of capital punishment there is one thing that I just don’t understand.  How is it possible to mess up lethal injection as horribly as seems to be happening?  I guess I have an unusual perspective on this because euthanasia is an important part of my job.  It is easy to do without causing pain and suffering.  Why can’t people figure it out?  I guess a large part of the problem is that doctors aren’t allowed to be involved.  Changing that would probably solve the issue instead of letting untrained personnel do it.  But still, books and articles are published in the veterinary literature all the time.  Do some study.  Get it right if you are going to do it.  /rant



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

01 Jun, 2016

June Foodies Read

/ posted in: Reading


Welcome to June’s Foodies Read Link Up!

We had 22 posts linked up in May.  If you haven’t gotten a chance to see all the great posts, remember you can see them on the May page or if there was a pinnable image they will be on our Foodies Read Pinterest page.

I had the opportunity to go to Book Expo America this month and I picked up several amazing Foodie books to use for prizes for the rest of the year.  There are all kinds of cookbooks and some fiction and some memoirs.  I’m excited to start giving those away.  Remember that all the links in May and June will be in the drawing to win a book at the end of June.  I can’t wait to see what you are all reading this month.

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31 May, 2016

May Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

My reading this month can be split into two sections – before BEA and after BEA.

Before BEA

I read all of these by May 8.  I left for BEA on May 10 and I was stalling.  I didn’t want to start anything new when I was going to be surrounded by new books.

Then, I don’t know what happened.  Sensory overload?  I didn’t read anything during BEA.  At night I just crashed in my apartment.  When I got home the husband was gone for a week, I squandered that good reading time by binge watching Sense8.  (Anyone else watch that show?  Seriously amazing.)

Eventually my books (or my preciousessss as I was creepily calling them) arrived from Chicago and then I settled in and got started reading again.  Here’s my after May 20 finishes.

The books I read this month are set in:

  • England
  • France
  • Mexico
  • U.S. – Ohio, New York, Georgia, Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina, Indiana
  • Fantasy lands

The authors are:

  • 8 female and 3 male
  • 9 white and 2 POC

The books are:

  • 8 fiction and 3 nonfiction
  • 5 fantasy
  • 2 historical fantasy
  • 2 romance/chick lit
  • 1 audiobook

This month I’ve been lurking on Twitter around the #diversebookbloggers discussions.  I’m pretty much the definition of who isn’t a diverse book blogger but I like finding new people to follow and hearing book recommendations.  I did their Diverse Books Tag, which was a lot of fun.

I don’t have any big blog news coming up.  Remember that the link for June’s Foodies Read is going up tomorrow.  I got a lot of foodie books at BEA so now there are even more prizes.

Speaking of my BEA books,  there are so many of them that I don’t want to keep them all after I read them.  Periodically now you might see this graphic on reviews.


First come, first served I’ll send the ARC to a new home.  I wouldn’t say no to a few dollars towards shipping fees but I want these books to circulate since they are meant to be for promotion.

30 May, 2016

67 Shots

/ posted in: Reading 67 Shots 67 Shots: Kent State and the End of American Innocence by Howard Means
Published by Da Capo Press on April 12th 2016
Genres: 20th Century, History, Nonfiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Ohio

At midday on May 4, 1970, after three days of protests, several thousand students and the Ohio National Guard faced off at opposite ends of the grassy campus Commons at Kent State University. At noon, the Guard moved out. Twenty-four minutes later, Guardsmen launched a 13-second, 67-shot barrage that left four students dead and nine wounded, one paralyzed for life. The story doesn't end there, though. A horror of far greater proportions was narrowly averted minutes later when the Guard and students reassembled on the Commons.
The Kent State shootings were both unavoidable and preventable: unavoidable in that all the discordant forces of a turbulent decade flowed together on May 4, 1970, on one Ohio campus; preventable in that every party to the tragedy made the wrong choices at the wrong time in the wrong place.
Using the university's recently available oral-history collection supplemented by extensive new interviewing, Means tells the story of this iconic American moment through the eyes and memories of those who were there, and skillfully situates it in the context of a tumultuous era.

When I moved here four years ago the words Kent State only brought to mind the historical event of the shooting in 1970.  Suddenly I was working with several people who went to school there and didn’t cringe every time they said the words like they were invoking a horrific event.  It was weird for me.  Now instead of a scene of carnage it was just that place down the street.

I was interested in reading 67 Shots to find out more about what happened on that day when 4 students were killed by the National Guard.

This book made me furious – but not in the way that I expected

I’m a liberal politically.  I’m fine with protesting.  I’m anti-war.  I’m generally anti-violence but reading this book made me want to slap people.  I’m glad that right now I don’t have any Kent State students in the office or else I’d have to go symbolically slap them for their predecessors’ stupidity.

How stupid were they?  These people (believe me I ran through a list of other words before deciding on the neutral “people”) were rioting for days in town and on campus.  They torched a military building.  They hacked at the firemen’s hoses when they tried to fight the fire.  They repeatedly threatened and threw human waste at the military.  They refused orders to disperse.  Why?  Because they thought that the National Guard didn’t have live ammunition.  They thought they were untouchable.

I was thinking as I was reading that this couldn’t happen like this again because everyone knows now that the police or military will shoot you.  Then I came across this paragraph and footnote that summed it up.

“Until the moment of the shooting, an implicit social contract had prevailed at Kent State.  White, middle-class Americans could scream and shout at each other; they could give each other the finger and throw tear-gas canisters back and forth, and shout ‘Fuck!” as loud as they wanted to.  They could even chase each other with bayonets and helicopters, throw bricks and cement and bags full of shit, but as bitter and divisive as the times were, they didn’t shoot each other, and especially didn’t shoot each other dead.  The sixty-seven shots fired across thirteen seconds at 12:24 p.m. on May 4, 1970, changed that bargain, and Guardsmen seemed as surprised as students that whatever unspoken truce existed had fallen apart for good.*”

“*Black Americans had a different history.  At Kent State, they avoided the weekend demonstrations like the plague.

Emphasis mine.

Yep.  That’s it.  That’s the problem.  Spoiled little white brats thinking that they were invincible.  Reading their interviews decades after the event, a lot of them still don’t seem to think that they did anything that could be considered out of line.  You were throwing bags of urine and feces.  Sure, you weren’t shooting at people but you have crossed far over the line of basic human decency.  By the time you get out of kindergarten, let alone started college, you should have learned to keep your human waste to yourself.

I went to the site of the shooting at Kent State and visited the May 4 memorial and museum.  Being there gave me a better perspective on where the shooting happened.  Because there are hills and buildings that everyone was moving around, being there let me understand it better than just looking at it on a map.

The demonstration was in a large field around a Victory Bell monument (seen in the header photo). This is bowl shaped area with a building at the top. The National Guard marched up the hill and to the right of the building that you see in the background of the picture as they were trying to disperse the crowd. The shooting actually took place there. The people that were shot were in a parking lot behind the building.

The places where they were standing have memorials now.

You don’t seem to get a very complete picture in the museum. There is a gallery about the political climate of the 1960s. Then you watch a movie about the shooting. Then you move to a gallery about the political aftermath.

Things not mentioned in the museum:

  • The rioting for days before the shooting
  • Why the National Guard was on campus

Seriously? That’s a big omission.  If I knew nothing about this I would wonder why the National Guard was there or maybe assume that they were stationed there or something.  There was a line at the very beginning of the movie that says that the National Guard came in after the building burned.  It is very quick.  I might have missed it if I hadn’t specifically been listening for some explanation of the background events.

The museum gives the impression that students were peacefully gathering to sing Kumbaya and the evil National Guard swooped down out of nowhere and shot them for no reason.

What I Think Now

  • Yes, the protest at that point on May 4th was peaceful
  • Yes, shooting at the students was unwarranted
  • Yes, they shot at students who had left the area of the protest and that is why people who weren’t involved at all were killed or injured.  That is all bad.
  • No, I don’t want to say that the students had it coming but I’m almost to that point.  When the National Guard is called away from guarding people crossing the picket lines at a Teamsters’ Union strike and they say they felt safer there than on the Kent State campus, that’s saying something about the level of tension.
  • This is a story of privilege run amok.  I feel sorry for the bystanders caught up in it and for members of the Guard but I don’t feel sorry for anyone else.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

28 May, 2016

Diverse Books Tag

/ posted in: Reading

This tag was started by Naz at ReadDiverseBooks.com.  If you haven’t been following along on Twitter with the #diversebookbloggers discussion, you should.


Find a book starring a lesbian character.

Ascension (Tangled Axon, #1)Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

“Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he’s a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego . . . and Alana can’t keep her eyes off her. But there’s little time for romance: Nova’s in danger and someone will do anything–even destroying planets–to get their hands on her.”

See Also Midnight Taxi Tango

Find a book with a Muslim protagonist.

Sofia Khan is Not ObligedSofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik

“Unlucky in love once again after her possible-marriage-partner-to-be proves a little too close to his parents, Sofia Khan is ready to renounce men for good. Or at least she was, until her boss persuades her to write a tell-all expose about the Muslim dating scene.”

See Also The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and the writings of G. Willow Wilson

Find a book set in Latin America.

The Summer PrinceThe Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson

“A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.

The lush city of Palmares Tres shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.

Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.”

I never seem to read enough in Latin America. The Summer Prince is my go-to recommendation for South America but for something a little more realistic I have this on my iPad.

The cost of sugarThe cost of sugar by Cynthia Mc Leod

“A history of 18th Century slavery in Suriname (1765-1779) … “a frank expose of life in the Dutch slave colony when sugar ruled as king – and the tragic toll it took on the lives of colonists and slaves alike.” “


See Also Ines of My Soul and The Free Negress Elisabeth

Find a book about a person with a disability

Five Flavors of DumbFive Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

“The Challenge: Piper has one month to get the rock band Dumb a paying gig.

The Deal: If she does it, Piper will become the band’s manager and get her share of the profits.

The Catch: How can Piper possibly manage one egomaniacal pretty boy, one talentless piece of eye candy, one crush, one silent rocker, and one angry girl? And how can she do it when she’s deaf?”

See Also Sideshow – fantasy featuring conjointed twins

Find a Science-Fiction or Fantasy book with a POC protagonist.

The Shadow SpeakerThe Shadow Speaker by Nnedi Okorafor

“In West Africa in 2070, after fifteen-year-old “shadow speaker” Ejii witnesses her father’s beheading, she embarks on a dangerous journey across the Sahara to find Jaa, her father’s killer, and upon finding her, she also discovers a greater purpose to her life and to the mystical powers she possesses.”

I mean, obviously, I believe in All Nnedi All The Time, but this is the book of hers that I read most recently.

See also Octavia Butler, N.K, Jemisin, Alaya Dawn Johnson, etc, etc, etc.

Find a book set in (or about) any country in Africa.

African Monsters (Fox Spirit Books of Monsters, #2)African Monsters by Margrét Helgadóttir

“Speculative fiction, art and graphic stories from African authors, based on African folklore, myths and legends about monsters. African Monsters is the second in a coffee table book series with dark fiction and art about monsters from around the world.”

There are so many – Where I’m reading in Africa, Authors who love Africa

Find a book written by an Aboriginal or American Indian author.

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North AmericaThe Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King

“The Inconvenient Indian is at once a “history” and the complete subversion of a history—in short, a critical and personal meditation that the remarkable Thomas King has conducted over the past 50 years about what it means to be “Indian” in North America.”

See also Sherman Alexie

Find a book set in South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc.).

Smile As They BowSmile As They Bow by Nu Nu Yi

“As the weeklong Taungbyon Festival draws near, thousands of villagers from all regions of Burma descend upon a tiny hamlet near Mandalay to pay respect to the spirits, known as nats, which are central to Burmese tradition. At the heart of these festivities is Daisy Bond, a gay, transvestite spiritual medium in his fifties. With his sharp tongue and vivid performances, he has long been revered as one of the festival’s most illustrious natkadaws. At his side is Min Min, his young assistant and lover, who endures unyielding taunts and abuse from his fiery boss. But when a young beggar girl named Pan Nyo threatens to steal Min Min’s heart, the outrageous Daisy finds himself face-to-face with his worst fears.”

I’ve had this one on the shelf for a while. I really need to get to it.

Again, there are thousands more – South Asia

Find a book with a biracial protagonist.

The Lonely WarThe Lonely War by Alan Chin


“Andrew Waters, son of an American diplomat and a Chinese mother, already has two strikes against him when he joins the crew of the USS Pilgrim not long after Pearl Harbor–his mixed heritage and his pacifism.

He never expects he will fall in love with his handsome commanding officer.”

This one was harder for me to think of.  There is Simone from White Tiger.

Find a book starring a transgender character or about transgender issues.

In the DarkroomIn the Darkroom by Susan Faludi

““In the summer of 2004 I set out to investigate someone I scarcely knew, my father. The project began with a grievance, the grievance of a daughter whose parent had absconded from her life. I was in pursuit of a scofflaw, an artful dodger who had skipped out on so many things—obligation, affection, culpability, contrition. I was preparing an indictment, amassing discovery for a trial. But somewhere along the line, the prosecutor became a witness.”

So begins Susan Faludi’s extraordinary inquiry into the meaning of identity in the modern world and in her own haunted family saga. When the feminist writer learned that her 76-year-old father—long estranged and living in Hungary—had undergone sex reassignment surgery, that investigation would turn personal and urgent. How was this new parent who claimed to be “a complete woman now” connected to the silent, explosive, and ultimately violent father she had known, the photographer who’d built his career on the alteration of images?”

The trans issue books I’ve read have been mostly memoir like Janet Mock’s.  I picked up Faludi’s at BEA this year but haven’t read it yet.

The possibilities are unlimited.  Obviously I couldn’t limit myself to one book of each.

What are your favorites?  Consider yourself tagged.

27 May, 2016

Too Many Cooks

/ posted in: Reading Too Many Cooks Too Many Cooks by Dana Bate
Published by Kensington on October 27th 2015
Genres: Great Britain, Love & Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in England four-stars

When Kelly Madigan is offered a job abroad right after reading a letter from her late mother urging her to take more risks, she sees it as a sign. Kelly’s new ghostwriting assignment means moving to London to work for Natasha Spencer--movie star, lifestyle guru, and wife of a promising English politician. As it turns out, Natasha is also selfish, mercurial, and unwilling to let any actual food past her perfect lips.

Still, in between testing dozens of kale burgers and developing the perfect chocolate mousse, Kelly is having adventures. Some are glamorous; others, like her attraction to her boss’s neglected husband, are veering out of control. Kelly knows there’s no foolproof recipe for a happy life. But how will she know if she’s gone too far in reaching for what she wants?

So I couldn’t sleep one night and finished what I was reading.  I looked for something to download from the library -because I don’t have a bunch of unread books just sitting on my iPad?? Anyway, I wanted something new and this fit the bill.  Good for Foodies Read and light.  I ended up staying up most of the night to read it.

Kelly’s life is undergoing some major changes.  Her mother just died.  She left Kelly a letter with her wishes for her.  One of the main ones was to move out of the Midwest and take some chances with her life.  When the opportunity comes to move to London for a year to ghost write a cookbook for a movie star she jumps at the chance even though it means breaking up with her long term boyfriend (also on her mother’s list of things for her to do).

When she gets to England she discovers that superstar Natasha doesn’t really want anything to do with the cookbook.  She wants Kelly to come up with recipes from her vague descriptions of meals she remembers but doesn’t really even want to taste the food.  The only person who does like the food is Natasha’s husband Hugh.  This leads to flirting and then major attraction.  He insists that he and Natasha have a marriage in name only but should Kelly believe him?

I really enjoyed this book.  There are recipes in the back for some of the food discussed.  I wish there had been a recipe for the kale burgers that she struggles to make for most of the book only to have them dismissed by Natasha every time.  “Not green enough,” etc.

I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges: