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20 Oct, 2016

Karen Memory

/ posted in: Reading Karen Memory Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Published by Tor Books on February 3rd 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Steampunk
Pages: 350
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Washington

“Set in the late 19th century—when the city we now call Seattle Underground was the whole town (and still on the surface), when airships plied the trade routes, would-be gold miners were heading to the gold fields of Alaska, and steam-powered mechanicals stalked the waterfront, Karen is a young woman on her own, is making the best of her orphaned state by working in Madame Damnable’s high-quality bordello. Through Karen’s eyes we get to know the other girls in the house—a resourceful group—and the poor and the powerful of the town. Trouble erupts one night when a badly injured girl arrives at their door, begging sanctuary, followed by the man who holds her indenture, and who has a machine that can take over anyone’s mind and control their actions. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the next night brings a body dumped in their rubbish heap—a streetwalker who has been brutally murdered.”

Oh my God, I loved this book.  Loved it as in I started it Tuesday at 8 PM, finished it Wednesday at 3:30 PM, and am posting this review on Thursday.

It grabbed me from the first page where it explains that prostitutes are taxed as seamstresses. They even have sewing machines — a regular one and one that you get inside and use your body to control.  I don’t understand how that would work but I want it!

The story is told from Karen’s point of view. She has a great voice.  She is an uneducated sixteen year old who grew up with her father training horses.  After his death she ended up working as a “seamstress” in an upscale house.  The girls of the house are a family and protect and love each other in spite of their differences.  They are from many different races.  There is a trans woman. There are disabled women.  Some are lesbians who only serve male clients because it’s their job.  Karen accepts this all but sometimes still falls into the casual prejudices of white women in that time.  Sometimes she gets called out on it.  Sometimes she needs to learn her lessons a harder way.

The women of Karen’s house protect a prostitute escaping from a more disreputable house.  This fans the flames of a simmering rivalry into out and out war.  Karen gets grabbed by a thug at the market.


Don’t worry though.  She hits him the face with a bag of onions.  She holds her own until the fight is stopped by the appearance of a U.S. Marshal.  He’s chasing a murderer who was in Indian Territory previously.  When dead prostitutes start showing up, the Marshal enlists Karen and her friends to help his Comanche deputy and him find the bad guy.


This is a great read for any one who likes a fast moving adventure tale full of steam punk technology and daring ladies.  Karen is a great lesbian heroine who sees the world in her own unique way.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

19 Oct, 2016

Books By Asian Authors 2016

/ posted in: Reading

Books By Asian Authors not set in Asia


I wrote about the books that I’ve read so far in 2016 that were set in Asia.  Here are some books by Asian authors that I read that were set around the world.

Unidentified Suburban ObjectUnidentified Suburban Object by Mike Jung

The only Korean girl in a midwest U.S. school finds more than she expected when researching her family history



Sammi Ever AfterSammi Ever After by Soma Helmi

An Indonesian-Australia woman follows a guy to England and disaster follows.



Truffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey Through the Exotic Food UndergroundTruffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey Through the Exotic Food Underground by Ian Purkayastha

An Indian-American teenager starts an exotic food business



The Hindi-Bindi ClubThe Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan

Chick lit about a group of Indian female friends and their daughters



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

One of my favorites of the year so far! Muslim dating in England.



The Sari Shop WidowThe Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal

An Indian-American widow needs to take control of her family’s sari shop to save it.



Rejection Proof: 100 Days of Rejection, or How to Ask Anything of Anyone at AnytimeRejection Proof: 100 Days of Rejection, or How to Ask Anything of Anyone at Anytime by Jia Jiang

A man tries to get rejected 100 days in a row with surprising results.



What books have you read this year that fit this list?

18 Oct, 2016

The Girls of Atomic City

/ posted in: Reading The Girls of Atomic City The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan
Published by Touchstone/Simon & Schuster on March 5th 2013
Genres: 20th Century, History, Nonfiction
Pages: 373
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Tennessee

“The incredible story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history.
The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities, it didn’t appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Their jobs were shrouded in mystery, but they were buoyed by a sense of shared purpose, close friendships—and a surplus of handsome scientists and Army men!
But against this vibrant wartime backdrop, a darker story was unfolding. The penalty for talking about their work—even the most innocuous details—was job loss and eviction. One woman was recruited to spy on her coworkers. They all knew something big was happening at Oak Ridge, but few could piece together the true nature of their work until the bomb “Little Boy” was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, and the secret was out. The shocking revelation: the residents of Oak Ridge were enriching uranium for the atomic bomb.”

Oak Ridge was a temporary city in the middle of nowhere, hidden by topography, and never meant to see the light of day.  It had one purpose — to enrich uranium to feed the development of the nuclear bomb.  A lot of people were required to build and then run the huge plants.  How do you get a lot of people to agree to do a job that they aren’t allowed to know about or talk about?  Pay high wages and tell them it is for the war effort.

People left other jobs without knowing where they would be going or for how long.  Many were told to go to a train station and they would be met.  They had no idea where they were heading.

I can’t believe that people agreed to do this.  I’m too nosy.  If you gave me a job and told me to spend eight to twelve hours a day manipulating dials so that the readout always read the correct number, I couldn’t do it.  I certainly couldn’t do it for years without needing to know what I was doing.  I would have been fired and escorted out of there so fast.  How was the secret kept for so long?

Coming out of the Depression though, any job was a good job.  These jobs were hiring women and African Americans at wages they wouldn’t see elsewhere.  Of course, there was discrimination and segregation.  Housing for African Americans was poor and they were not allowed to live together if they were married.  When someone started wondering, “What happens if we inject this uranium into a person?” you know they picked a black man who just happened to have a broken leg to experiment on.  He did manage to escape eventually but not before they had done a lot of damage to him.

This book tells the stories of women in several different jobs – secretarial staff, Calutron operators, cleaning staff, and scientists.  They made a life in a town that wasn’t supposed to last long.  The audiobook was compelling listening.  The story sounds like a novel.

I went to vet school in Knoxville, which is 20 miles away from Oak Ridge.  I had friends who were from there and friends whose families had been forcibly removed from the area in order to build Oak Ridge.  It was interesting to hear what went on behind the scenes.

I would be interested in pairing this with this book:

Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear WarNagasaki: Life After Nuclear War by Susan Southard

“On August 9, 1945, three days after the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, the United States dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a small port city on Japan’s southernmost island. An estimated 74,000 people died within the first five months, and another 75,000 were injured.

Published on the seventieth anniversary of the bombing, Nagasaki takes readers from the morning of the bombing to the city today, telling the first-hand experiences of five survivors, all of whom were teenagers at the time of the devastation.”

The Girls of Atomic City does discuss the reactions of the citizens of Oak Ridge when they found out what they had been doing.  It discusses the guilt that some people still have for their part in making the bomb.

You know what I kept thinking about while listening to this?  This scene from Clerks.

Randal: There was something else going on in Jedi. I ever noticed it till today. They build another Death Star, right?

Dante: Yeah.

Randal: Now, the first one was completed and fully operational before the Rebel’s destroyed it.

Dante: Luke blew it up. Give credit where credit is due.

Randal: And the second one was still being built when the blew it up.

Dante: Compliments to Lando Calrissian.

Randal: Something just never sat right with me that second time around. I could never put my finger on it, but something just wasn’t right.

Dante: And you figured it out?

Randal: The first Death Star was manned by the Imperial Army. The only people on board were stormtroppers, dignitaries, Imperials.

Dante: Basically.

Randal: So, when the blew it up, no problem. Evil’s punished.

Dante: And the second time around?

Randal: The second time around, it wasn’t even done being built yet. It was still under construction.

Dante: So?

Randal: So, construction job of that magnitude would require a helluva lot more manpower than the Imperial army had to offer. I’ll bet there were independent contractors working on that thing: plumbers, aluminum siders, roofers.

Dante: Not just Imperials, is what you’re getting at?

Randal: Exactly. In order to get it built quickly and quietly they’d hire anybody who could do the job. Do you think the average storm trooper knows how to install a toilet main? All they know is killing and white uniforms.

Dante: All right, so they bring in independent contractors. Why are you so upset with its destruction?

Randal: All those innocent contractors hired to do a job were killed! Casualties of a war they had nothing to do with. All right, look, you’re a roofer, and some juicy government contract comes your way; you got the wife and kids and the two-story in suburbia – this is a government contract, which means all sorts of benefits. All of a sudden these left-wing militants blast you with lasers and wipe out everyone within a three-mile radius. You didn’t ask for that. You have no personal politics. You’re just trying to scrape out a living.


This book is basically the point of view of the people building the second Death Star.



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

17 Oct, 2016

The Sweet Life in Paris

/ posted in: Reading The Sweet Life in Paris The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - City by David Lebovitz
Published by Broadway Books on May 5th 2009
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 282
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Setting: France

“Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighborhood.
But he soon discovered it’s a different world en France.
From learning the ironclad rules of social conduct to the mysteries of men’s footwear, from shopkeepers who work so hard not to sell you anything to the etiquette of working the right way around the cheese plate, here is David’s story of how he came to fall in love with—and even understand—this glorious, yet sometimes maddening, city.”

This is the book the husband would have written if he lived in France.  He is the person who said halfway through our trip to France that it would be a wonderful country if there were no people in it.  His favorite French vacation story is the time we watched an older French woman beat a disabled British tourist with an umbrella because he didn’t give his seat up to her. He learned that parapluie is umbrella from that incident.

We once had a black, female, French neighbor to whom the husband had to explain several times that while the people in our small town might in fact be both racist and sexist, what was getting her in trouble was being French.  No, it wasn’t ok to park in the fire lane and then cut in line at WalMart because she was parked in the fire lane, for example.

David Lebovitz had this same frustration with French people when he moved to Paris.  Why are they always cutting in line?  Why won’t they help you in a store?  Why does it take so long to accomplish everyday tasks?

This book is hysterically funny.  He is a cookbook author whose new French apartment had a tiny kitchen and suspect plumbing.


Eventually he learned to adapt and thrive in his new city. He learned to cut in line with the best of them. He started dressing up to take out the garbage. That’s when he knew he was home.


There are lots of recipes in this book.  I even made one.  I know!  I’m shocked too.  I almost never make recipes in books.  I made the fig and olive tapenade though and it was scrumptious.  I even took a picture of it as proof but it looks like a glob of clumpy black stuff on some bread.  Yummy food photography is not a skill I have.





Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

14 Oct, 2016

How (and Why) to Get Overdrive Audios on Your iPod

/ posted in: General


I transfer all my audiobooks to my iPod instead of listening to them on my phone. Why would I do that? Am I just tragically old and unhip? (Possibly, if I use the word unhip.)

Here’s why I don’t listen to books on my phone

  1. My phone is big.  Seriously, who wants to carry that nonsense around when you are trying to work out?  Yes, I listen to audiobooks when I work out.  iPods are much easier to carry.
  2. My phone’s battery is crap.  If I was going to listen to several hours of an audiobook, it would need to lie down and have a recharge when I need it to be doing other things.

Yes, this is ok.  It says so on the book info on my library website.

Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 10.54.13 AM

So how do you transfer them?  Audible makes it easy but Overdrive is obnoxious.

1. Download to the Overdrive Media Console on your computer.

Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 10.45.19 AM

2. Select Transfer on the top menu. Follow the instructions on the pop up menu to transfer all the files. This is a slow process. Give it at least 10 minutes. Go do something else while this is happening.

3. The files are imported as Music and not Audiobooks. Find them in your music library and hover your cursor next to the name. When 3 dots appear click on it to bring up this menu. Select Get Info.

Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 10.29.37 AM

4. Choose Options on the top menu.

Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 10.29.53 AM

5. Change the file type from Music to Audiobook for each file. Make sure that the Remember playback position is checked so it doesn’t start each file from the beginning every time you stop and start.

Screen Shot 2016-10-07 at 10.30.07 AM

There you go. Audiobooks on your iPod so you can save your precious phone battery time for other things.



13 Oct, 2016

Frustrated with YA

/ posted in: Reading

You see articles every so often that say that adults shouldn’t read YA books.  There is always a huge firestorm of outrage across the YA bloggisphere.  But, I’ve come to a conclusion.

I’m an adult who shouldn’t read YA

It just makes me mad. There are the usual exceptions – Harry Potter, Hunger Games, etc.- but overall, most hyped YA annoys me.

The latest one is Illuminae.

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files, #1)Illuminae by Amie Kaufman


This book and the sequel are everywhere. The ebook was on sale for $0.99 last week so I decided to try it.

Spoilers Ahead

The story starts in an illegal mining colony on an isolated planet.  It is attacked by a rival mining company.  Only one distress call gets through.  One nearby battleship comes to help.  By the end of the battle, that ship, a research ship, and a transport ship have taken as many survivors as they could find and are running for safety.  They are being chased by one of the bad guys’ spaceships.  All the ships are damaged so they can’t make a wormhole and jump to safety.  It will take months to get to a safe place.  The battleship’s artificial intelligence was also damaged and may be out of control.

The story is told through intercepted messages and briefing notes and other found information.  I like the format.  That made it a bit different from just a straight novel.

Here’s what frustrates me about this book

Overly emotional protagonists

Yeah, I get that they are teenagers and supposedly teenagers are all hormonal and don’t think logically.  In this case the protagonists broke up the morning of the attack.  Their world is literally being blown apart and yet they still have time to have thoughts about how mad they are.  Nope, during a run for your life scenario, running should take up all of your brain.

Over and over in the book they have to remind each other to think instead of reacting.  Good that one of them is thinking at any time and can remind the other.  Maybe it is just because I’m not an emotional person that I totally don’t understand this behavior.

Lack of communication

I hate this trope.  If the whole conflict in a book is occurring because character one is keeping a secret (usually unnecessarily and dramatically) from character two, I’m likely DNFing.  (I still maintain that most of the horror in Harry Potter could have been avoided if Harry and Dumbledore had sat down over a mug of butterbeer and said, “Ok, all cards on the table.  Here’s everything I know.” )

In Illuminae they can only only communicate ship to ship in short bursts.  That doesn’t excuse the fact that they keep big things from each other.  Basically, they are on different ships and one hacks the computers to talk to the other.  Of course, they realize that they still love each other.  They spend time declaring their love for each other but it never comes up in conversation that the girl’s mother was killed when the ship’s AI blew up the third ship in the fleet.  Really?  Never?  She’s supposedly all upset about it and she never mentions it to this guy that she is declaring her love for?  This guy knew and liked her mother and she never thought he might care about that piece of news?  She doesn’t mention it for weeks.  When she does it is super casual like, “Hey, thought you might like to know…”  And he’s all, “Woah, that sucks.” And then they move on.

He’s of course keeping big secrets about his mother from her.  This is what was behind the whole fight that made them break up in the first place.  Of course it wasn’t that they were incompatible and needed to move on because they are teenagers.  No!  They are each others’ true love of course.

Know it all teenagers

I get that this is escapist reading for teenagers who want to feel more empowered than society allows them to be.  But reading YA has made me think that teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to make any decisions because the ones they make in books are so completely stupid.

In this book the female teenager, who of course is an expert hacker (that almost goes without saying), decides to steal a shuttle and go to the ship where the boyfriend is.  This is a problem because that ship is infected with a virus that turns people into paranoid murderers.  Her ship is not infected because they have a strict quarantine system in place.  The AI on the infected ship is not letting the clean ship fly away alone.  If she was going over there on a suicide mission to distract the AI so everyone else could get away, I’d be behind this.  But she’s not.  She needs to save her True Love against all odds.  Mind you, she recently talked Loverboy out of freeing his friend from the affected area of his ship because that would spread the disease.  All that common sense apparently went flying out into the void though.  This is the point where I started hoping that she would get squashed like a bug.  Actually I’m a bug rescuer.  I don’t want them squashed.  I just wanted her squashed.  That’s when I quit reading at 70%.  Hoping the main character dies an ugly death isn’t nice or helpful especially when you know she lives through it.

I know that I’m old and cranky but is it just me?

I think my problem is that a lot of YA is so fully plot driven that the characters don’t get well developed.  I think that is part of the appeal for a lot of people.  I like a fast moving story as much as anyone.  But if you don’t take the time to make characters that are more than cardboard cut outs with only a few defining traits then you risk running into tropes.  Maybe it is intentional that so much YA puts people into good or bad categories with no nuance.  That’s what I think I’m missing in YA — the grey areas.



12 Oct, 2016

Where I’ve Been Reading 2016 – Asia

/ posted in: Reading


Where Have I Been Reading In Asia This Year

Screen Shot 2016-10-05 at 11.56.38 AM


Smile As They BowSmile As They Bow by Nu Nu Yi

LGBT story by a Burmese author




I totally fell down the Goodreads “You may also like” rabbit hole and just started requesting books from the library.


The Bollywood Bride (Bollywood)The Bollywood Bride by Sonali Dev

A light romance by an Indian author



The Marriage Bureau for Rich PeopleThe Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama

Cute story about a retired clerk who opens a marriage bureau. Indian author



The Mango SeasonThe Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

An Indian expat returns home to tell her family that she is marrying an American. Indian author



Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, RevolutionarySophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary by Anita Anand

Nonfiction that starts in India and then follows the Duleep Singh family to exile in England.




A graphic novel about Ganesh



Bollywood ConfidentialBollywood Confidential by Sonia Singh

More Bollywood chick lit




Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness (Ethical Chiang Mai Detective Agency #1)Murder at the House of Rooster Happiness by David Casarett

Mystery that looks deeply into Thai culture by a Western author



Hong Kong

Small ShenSmall Shen by Kylie Chan

Don’t even try to read this if you haven’t read the rest of her fantasy series. You will be so lost.




Where the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A JourneyWhere the Dead Pause, and the Japanese Say Goodbye: A Journey by Marie Mutsuki Mockett

Nonfiction about grief in Japan




11 Oct, 2016


/ posted in: Reading Troublemaker Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini, Rebecca Paley
Published by Ballantine Books on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 228
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible, Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: California

“Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.
That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.”

Leah Remini is the perfect person to write this tell all book about the inner workings of The Church of Scientology.  She was brought into the religion as a child when her mother joined.  She was taken out of school and moved to Florida in order to work at retreat center for Scientologists.  She progressed through the religion as she started her acting career.  As she became more famous, she was given more and more opportunities to promote her faith.

She knew that she was working to clear the planet.  She was part of saving the world.  If that meant that she needed to go to the center and do her courses for hours a day, she did it.  If it meant giving millions of dollars for church activities, she went along.  She faced interrogations based on reports that people wrote about her.  She was even thrown off a boat once.  It didn’t faze her.

Through it all she remained a true believer

Then she was invited to be part of the elite group of Scientologists who grouped around Tom Cruise.  That was when she started to see hypocrisy.  She saw people how weren’t behaving like the church demanded and nothing was being done about it.  She noticed that people were disappearing and no one would talk about it.  She decided that she needed to speak up to save her church — and they silenced her.  Eventually she was declared to be a Suppressive Person who no Scientologist is allowed to associate with.  This is a horrific punishment for a person whose entire life revolved around the church for thirty years and whose entire family are members.

That’s when she decided to speak out publicly.

I listened to the audio version of this book and I think that was a good choice.  She reads her own story and you can hear the emotions brought up.  There is sadness for her lost life and anger at the people who deceived her.  There is love for her family who decided to stand by her.

My only issue with the audio is that got slow in the middle.  She spends a lot of time detailing growing up in Scientology.  It was necessary information to have to understand what happened later but it didn’t keep my interest.  I actually put this audio down for several months and didn’t intend to go back to it.  I only listened again because I finished another book and didn’t have anything else with me while in the car.  I’m glad I picked it back up.  The last third of the book was very compelling.

I’d recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about Scientology or anyone who is in the mood for a different look at a celebrity memoir.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

10 Oct, 2016

Radio Girls

/ posted in: Reading Radio Girls Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford
Published by NAL on June 14th 2016
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 384
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: England

“London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity.
Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be. Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living.”

I love historical fiction and especially British historical fiction.  I was thrilled to receive this book from my OTSP Secret Sister and had to read it immediately.

BBC radio was only allowed to broadcast during set hours and was not allowed to cover news.  One of their most popular departments was Talks, headed by Hilda Matheson.  It was unusual for a woman to be allowed to head a department.  The head of the BBC, John Reith, was a very conservative man who asked all (male) applicants for executive positions two questions – Are you a Christian? and Do you have any character flaws?

He thought that Miss Matheson was too liberal in topics she wanted to cover.  She also kept bringing in homosexuals to present topics.  He did not approve but did seem strangely up to date on who had rumors circulating around about their sexuality.  Their conflict was real and this novel examines their issues through the voice of Maisie, a secretary that they share.  Reith warns her about being too ambitious and being exposed to the wrong kinds of people while working in the Talks department.  Matheson encourages her to speak up and promote ideas for new shows.  Eventually Maisie is enlisted by Matheson to spy on some new backers of the BBC who have ties to an increasingly unstable Germany.

Hilda Matheson was a fascinating woman who I’d never heard of before.  She was a political secretary for Lady Astor, the first female Member of Parliament.  Then she went to the BBC and after that she worked on the Africa Survey.  She also became a radio critic and wrote a textbook on broadcasting. She was a lesbian who had relationships with several high society women in England.  A book on her alone would have been fascinating.

There is spying, burgeoning feminism, the evolution of new technology, and arguments about censorship.  What more could you want from one book?

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

07 Oct, 2016

I Hit My Breaking Point Tonight

/ posted in: Current Events

I’ve been a Trump hater since the beginning but today was the first day he made me cry.

I’ve been frustrated almost to the point of tears before while trying to explain why as a woman I could never support him to people who didn’t want to hear but I’ve never totally lost it before.  So why, after all the bullshit he’s said about women and Muslims and Mexicans and LGBT people and everyone other than U.S. born white men did today’s release of the recording of him bragging about grabbing women and kissing them and grabbing the pussy finally break me?

It’s because we’ve all been there.

We all have the stories.  The grabbing, the groping, the men who won’t back off, the ones who feel like they are entitled to any woman’s time and body.  Ask any woman.  Don’t be surprised if she asks you which time you want to know about.

I was living in an apartment complex with a popular bike trail that connected to the parking lot.  I walked out there after classes all the time.   There were always people around.  One day a guy came up behind me and grabbed me.  He kissed me.  When he let me go I did a quick scan.  We were completely alone.  That was really unusual.  He told me that he had been watching me.  I had never seen him before.  I never have the snappy comeback or the instinctive right jab that I should in these situations but I instinctively knew to turn and start walking back to the parking lot.  It wasn’t far.  He walked beside me calmly and asked if I wanted to go out.  I agreed in order to keep things peaceful and friendly since we were still alone.  Then he matter of factly told me that he was married and his wife was pregnant.  He was looking for someone to have sex with until his wife gave birth.  I remember his next words.  “Is that a problem for you?”

I turned and looked at him like he was the biggest idiot ever.  “Yes, that’s a problem!”  That’s when I got huffy.  I was offended on his wife’s behalf.  By then we were in the parking lot.  He let me walk away.  I think he was shocked that I had back talked him about his plan.

But here’s the thing.  Turns out they lived in the apartment above me.  He would stare at me in the parking lot or in the stairways.  He watched me get my mail.  I changed grocery stores because he worked at the one I had been going to.  I rearranged my life to avoid him but it never occurred to me to say anything about it to anyone.  Thinking about it now I really wish I would have gone up there and told his wife what was going on but I don’t think I’d change anything else I did.  What’s the point?  No one would have done anything.  He wasn’t doing anything illegal.

And that’s the point.  We rearrange our lives all the time to avoid these jerks and don’t think anything of it.  It’s just the way it is.

You know how you can always tell if a movie or TV shows was written by a man?  There’s a scene where a woman goes alone to her car in a dark parking lot.  While she walks there, she is fumbling in her oversized bag for her keys.  No, sir!  Never happened.  Ask any woman.  We know if we are going to have to walk into that situation.  We got our keys out when we were in the last secure and well lighted area.  We are holding them tightly in our hands in case we need to use them as a weapon.  If we are able, we remotely unlock the car when we are about 10 steps away.  Not so early that someone could get to it before us but in time for us not have to slow down much to get safely in the car.

We all know that because we are all taught to protect ourselves from men who feel entitled to us.  We are universally taught how to protect ourselves because men aren’t universally taught that we aren’t their property.

So to hear a man bragging about how he grabs women against their will broke me.

And don’t even “Not all men” me.  I know the majority of men are fine.  But let a woman go walking somewhere alone and she’ll be able to tell you the location of every man under the age of 65 within 100 yards of her.  I’ve had a man get within an inch of my face and roar at me.  I’ve been yelled at by a guy in a car while I was in the dog park who wanted to me to watch him masturbate.  These were in the last few years.  Don’t try telling me that it’s a compliment.  I’m in my 40s and believe me, I don’t dress up all pretty to go to the dog park.  I was just the closest female human at the time.

I had my hot bath with a candle and small cry.  Now, I’m more pissed off than anything.  This isn’t locker room talk.  This is bragging about participating in terrorizing an entire gender for our whole lives.   It’s time to call out the supporters of this toxic masculinity.


07 Oct, 2016

Mighty Be Our Powers

/ posted in: Reading Mighty Be Our Powers Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by Leymah Gbowee, Carol Mithers
Published by Beast Books on September 13th 2011
Genres: History, Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Liberia

“In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia’s women together–and together they led a nation to peace. As a young woman, Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realization that it is women who suffer most during conflicts–and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force. In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia’s ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace.”

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War came over Liberia in waves. First Charles Taylor took power and then a group of rebels fought him. Each group terrorized the citizens. The soldiers were boys with guns who were told to take what they needed as they moved through the country. They murdered and stole and raped their way across the country.

Leymah Gbowee had just graduated from high school when the fighting started. She had a bright future ahead of her and it all collapsed. Suddenly, getting food and water and a safe place to sleep was the only priorities. She went from being an aspiring doctor to being a mother of four children trapped in an abusive relationship in a few years. She got a job working with trauma counselors during a time of relative peace. She loved the work and was able to move into working with women who were the most impacted by the fighting.

When the war started again she mobilized the women in the capital and in the refugee camps to stage sit ins to protest for peace. She claims that her story shows how God worked in Liberia through the women’s prayer. I say that it shows the exact opposite. The mass protests (and prayers) were not effective until they were paired with direct political action. They would protest for weeks and then she’d get mad because nothing was happening. At this point they would get in the faces of the men who were obstructing the peace and cause change to happen.

To give all the credit for this to God erases the power and bravery of the women who stepped up and said, “Enough!”

This isn’t a fairy tale about bringing peace.  Their world was cruel and heartbreaking.  Leymah sacrificed her family over and over.  She is open about drinking to cope with what her life had become.  This book was published in 2011 just before she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work.

A documentary about her work called Pray the Devil Back To Hell was made.  You can watch it for free on Amazon. It puts faces to the women who she writes about.

I’d recommend this for anyone who loves women’s history and the power of women to demand change in the world.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

05 Oct, 2016

Happy Paul-iversary

/ posted in: Pets


Yesterday was our one year anniversary of adopting Paul.  He was such a worried little kitty.  


He had been born at the shelter and adopted as a kitten.  He was returned to the shelter after 11 months for being too active.  He’d been there over year before we found him.  The husband wanted him because he was cleaning himself when he first saw him and personal hygiene is important.  He was also hanging out with a calico in the cat room and he figured that was good practice for living with Powder.

It took him a long time to get comfortable.  Every step was a hard one.  He hid in a closet for weeks and then under the bed for longer.  We knew when he started coming out at night because he was finding cat toys under couches and bringing them out to play.

After a while he’d come out but wouldn’t come into the living room.  He’d sit at the doorway and look in.  I’m assuming it was a Powder rule that he wasn’t welcome.  Now he hangs out in the living room with us.  The final frontier was the bed.

This was this morning.  Now he has his own designated space during reading time.


He’s a thief.  He takes anything he can.  Let’s not forget the Fitbit incident.  He loves to steal ear plugs.  He plays with them and then leaves them for Freckles to eat.  We’ve been getting better about putting the ear plugs in drawers.  The other day I heard Freckles crunching on something and she didn’t seem happy.  Turns out Paul had bit the earbuds off a pair of headphones and fed them too her.  She didn’t like this new type of crunchy ear candy.  I got them from her before she ate them.

He tries so hard to be tough but Powder still steals his food if we don’t watch.  The other day Freckles jumped up on the bed and laid down partially on top of him.  He was so offended.  He took a second to psych himself up.  Then he puffed himself has big as he could and hissed right in her face.  She was asleep already and didn’t react.  He was so sad.  He looked over at me.  I commiserated with him.  “It’s hard being a bad ass when no one notices.”


Here’s to seeing what else you decide to do now that you are comfortable.

04 Oct, 2016


/ posted in: Reading Everfair Everfair by Nisi Shawl
Published by Tor Books on September 6th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk
Pages: 381
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Congo

“Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier. Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo’s “owner,” King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated.”

Laurie Albin has a complicated home life.  He has a wife named Daisy with whom he has children.  He has a secretary/mistress named Ellen living in his house with whom he also has children.  He has just brought home Lisette, another mistress.  He has also decided to move his whole family to Africa to help set up a new country.  He promptly then abandons Daisy, Lisette, and most of the children when he heads back to England with Ellen and one son forever.  They don’t really miss him though.  Daisy and Lisette have been lovers since Laurie brought Lisette home.

That’s just part of one family to keep track of in this sweeping stories that takes place over decades in many countries across Africa and with a huge cast of characters.

The British settlers are one aspect of Everfair. There are also African-American missionaries led by Mrs. Hunter.  She’s a woman who believes that absolutely nothing is more important than converting souls to Christianity.  She’ll stand in the way of humanitarian aid if it doesn’t include Bibles.  She’ll refuse to work with other people for the good of everyone if they aren’t Christian.  She also is upset with the French woman Lisette because she is mixed race but living the life of a European white woman.

Tink is a Chinese man who was being held by Leopold’s men.  He escaped and now is the mechanical guru of Everfair.  He loves making ever more advanced artificial limbs for people maimed in wars.  He invents better and better airships.

King Mwenda and Queen Josina are the African leaders of the area that Leopold seized and then sold to the colonists of Everfair.  They maintain that it is still their land to govern.  They were willing to work with the colonists to get rid of the Belgians but now they want to take control back.

Other characters come and go.  The book takes place between 1889 and 1919.  There can be large jumps in time and/or place between chapters.  It is important to pay close attention to the notations of where and when the action is taking place.

I think this book was ambitious in its scope and ultimately didn’t stand up to it.  There is so much going on that some story lines just disappear.  There are characters that are in the story and then you just never hear from again.

I enjoyed the characters and their interactions with each other.  But there was a time when a character heard that another war was looming and expressed frustration that there was yet another one.  I felt the same way.  It was one world conflict after another with a lot of the time in between compressed or skipped over.

The technology that is so important in the steampunk genre didn’t feel fully formed either.  The imaginative artificial limbs were wonderful.  Everyone had several to wear for different occasions.  Some were weaponized.  Others were just pretty.  I didn’t get a great feel for the airships though.  They were being powered with some sort of local magic earth that was never explained.  I wasn’t sure if that was supposed to be a nod to the uranium of the area or not.

This is a hard book to decide if I liked it or not.  What is on the page is interesting and worth reading but you are left with a sense that something is missing.  It could have been more.  Perhaps if the scope was narrowed, it could have gone more in depth and I would have liked the overall story more.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

03 Oct, 2016

Born A Crime

/ posted in: Reading Born A Crime Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
Published by Doubleday Canada on November 15th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 224
Format: eARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: South Africa

“The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.  Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.”

This book is amazing.  That is all.  Go preorder it.

I was reading this on my Kindle app and was highlighting like crazy.  Trevor Noah has been an outsider all his life.  In South Africa under apartheid there were four racial categories – white, black, colored, and Indian.  Colored people were the descendants of interracial relationships in the past.  There was no category for 50/50 black/white children because it couldn’t legally happen.  He chose to identify as black because that’s what his mother was but he wasn’t accepted there either.


Growing up both defined by and outside of such a strict racial hierarchy sharpened his insights.

“That is the curse of being black and poor, and it is a curse that follows you from generation to generation.  My mother calls it “the black tax.” Because the generations who came before you have been pillaged, rather than being free to use your skills and education to move forward, you lose everything just trying to bring everyone behind you back up to zero.”


“British racism said, “If the monkey can walk like a man and talk like a man, then perhaps he is a man.”  Afrikaner racism said, “Why give a book to a monkey?”

He talks about history when describing why having a friend named Hitler wasn’t considered strange.

“Every country thinks their history is the most important, and that’s especially true in the West. But if black South Africans could go back in time and kill one person, Cecil Rhodes would come up before Hitler.  If people in the Congo could go back in time and kill one person, Belgium’s King Leopold would come way before Hitler.  If Native Americans could go back in time and kill one person, it would probably be Christopher Columbus or Andrew Jackson.”

“Holocaust victims count because Hitler counted them.  Six million people killed.  We can all look at that number and rightly be horrified.  But when you read through the history of atrocities against Africans, there are no numbers, only guesses.  It’s harder to be horrified by a guess.”

This is the story of growing up illegally because his mother fought to make a place for him even before the fall of apartheid.  She was a visionary.  However, even after apartheid there wasn’t a place for him to make a legal living as easily as it was to make an illegal one in the townships.  He talks about the saying about teaching a man to fish vs giving him a fish.  He points out that it doesn’t work if you don’t also help him get a fishing pole.

This isn’t the story of how he became a comedian or how he ended up taking over for Jon Stewart as the host of The Daily Show.  That all comes later.  This is the story of the world that shaped him into the person he is today.  It is funny.  It is horrifying.  It is necessary reading.

I received this book from NetGalley.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Africa
  • Books by POC authors
  • Travel the World in Books
01 Oct, 2016

October Foodies Read

/ posted in: Reading



Welcome to October Foodies Read!

We had 20 postings last month.  Our winner of the drawing for a free book is Camilla.

We will have another drawing this month for a foodie book.  This month I’m not picking the books ahead of time.  I’ll be sending October’s winner a list of what books are available so they can pick which ones they want to win.  Here’s a peak at some of the books that you might win.


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30 Sep, 2016

September Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

I had a great reading month!

I read 22 books.  That’s a huge amount for me but it helped that several were romances so I finished those in a day each.

The authors were:

  • 8 male authors and 12 female authors (one read more than once)
  • 8 authors were POC
  • 4 were LGBT

The books were:

  • 15 fiction and 7 nonfiction
  • 2 were audiobooks

They were set in:

  • England – 6
  • Guatemala
  • Italy
  • Myanmar
  • France – 2
  • Fantasy Africa – 2
  • All over Africa (Afro SF)
  • South Africa
  • US – California (2), Iowa, New York (2), Tennessee


I participated in Diverseathon on Twitter for one week this month.  This was an event started by mostly Booktubers on Twitter to discuss diversity in books.  There were Twitter chats every day and I met lots of new people to follow.  While it was nice to see new people getting excited about the topic it was a bit frustrating to hear “Why has no one ever talked about this before” and variations on that theme over and over.  Um, hi!  This topic has been around forever.  This wasn’t the first event of its kind.  The question might better be phrased as, “Where have ya’ll been all this time?”

I’m also too old to get all worked up about what everyone else is doing.  There were a few people majorly focused on calling out popular booktubers for not supporting more diversity.  Because everyone knows the best way to open hearts and minds is to publicly denounce the person whose mind you want to change. Lord save me from teenage enthusiasm and self-righteousness.


I’m giving Litsy another try.  It won’t replace Goodreads for my tracking needs but I’m using it for more casual snapshots of my reading day.  I’m dvmheather over there too if you are on.

Quote for day 21 of #booktemberGR #RealTimeReadingADOW #vampire #ADiscoveryofWitches

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

Real Time Readathon

I decided to try doing the real time readathon of A Discovery of Witches.  I love that book and reread it about once a year.  I figured this would be fun.  The story starts in September and runs until Halloween.  You read the action that takes place on that date.  It was hard to have to stop after one or two chapters but I did it.  Then there was a period where you didn’t read anything for 4 days and I broke.  I read the rest of the book.  I’m not even sorry.  There is a lot of fun stuff online though like pictures of the locations in the book.  Since a lot of it takes place in libraries at Oxford it is fun to see the pictures.


I did some swaps this month.

In October I’m doing the Ninja Book Swap and continuing OTSP Secret Sister.


I did NaNoWriMo last November and it was so much fun I’m going to do it again.  In case you don’t know, you write 50,000 words of a book in November.  My book last year was fantasy.  I haven’t done anything with it because I was totally making it up as a went along and it has plot holes in it big enough to drive a truck through.  This year I’m going to write a book that I actually started before.  I wrote a lot of it (but it is locked forever in an old computer) and then I got stuck because I had to do some research to move forward.  I still like the idea.  It is based on reading way too many Regency Romances in my life and thinking that I could do that too.  I need to spend October doing the research that got me hung up so I’m ready to go in November.


I don’t usually watch TV because we don’t have cable but there are a few shows I’ve gotten into this fall.

Queen Sugar

If you’ve read the book, you just need to set everything you know aside when you watch this show. I know, that’s hard. It hurt. Basically, it has some characters of the same name as the book but some are different sexes and races. It is still in Louisiana. There is a sugar cane farm. That’s all they kept from the book. But the TV show is so good that I was able to get past it. It is good enough that I even bought the season on Amazon to be able to watch it. I also love reading the #queensugar hashtag on Twitter because people lose their minds over this show.

The Good Place

The idea is that there is an afterlife made just for really good people (defined by a mathematical formula).  Eleanor is here by accident and now the whole afterlife is falling apart.


Minnie Driver is the protective mother of a teenage boy with cerebral palsy so needs to learn to let go a bit when he gets a new aide in school.

What are you all watching?


29 Sep, 2016

Seducing the Marquess

/ posted in: Reading Seducing the Marquess Seducing the Marquess by Callie Hutton
on October 17th 2016
Genres: Regency, Romance
Format: eARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: England

“Richard, Marquess of Devon is satisfied with his ton marriage. His wife of five months, Lady Eugenia Devon, thought she was, too, until she found the book. Their marriage is one of respect and affection, with no messy entanglements such as love. Devon’s upbringing impressed upon him that gentlemen slake their baser needs on a mistress, not their gently bred wives. However, once married, he was no longer comfortable bedding a woman other Eugenia. When she stumbles onto a naughty book, she begins a campaign to change the rules.”

This book started with an interesting twist.  Instead of being all about the courtship like most Regency romances, this story starts after the couple has been married for five months.  Eugenia hears the news that her husband’s mistress has died in an accident and decides to take this opportunity to convince him to not find another one.  At the same time she comes across a sex manual in a book store.  (Let’s just set aside the unlikeliness of a sex manual in a Regency bookstore in a place where a lady could come across it, ok?)

Up until now their physical relationship has consisted of scheduled three nights a week sex mostly clothed in the dark in order to produce an heir.  She was told by her mother that she should just lie still and think about redecorating and it would be over soon.  He was told that you do you duty with your wife and keep a mistress on the side for any of your desires other than procreation.  All this advice has resulted in some people with some very mixed up ideas and hang ups about sex.

Eugenia’s attempt to spice up their marriage does not go well.  Her husband is horrified.  He starts to avoid her.  No more scheduled times.  Now she has to try to seduce him to get him back.  He is convinced that she has taken a lover because of her new found knowledge.  It is all an object lesson about why people should talk to each other when they are married instead of making assumptions.

I did enjoy this twist on a historical romance.  This book would be good for Regency fans who don’t mind a little bit of explicit sexual talk and activity.


I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • Europe
  • Travel the World in Books
28 Sep, 2016


/ posted in: Reading AfroSF AfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers by Ivor W. Hartmann, Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah Lotz, Tendai Huchu, Cristy Zinn, Ashley Jacobs, Nick Wood, Tade Thompson, S.A. Partridge, Chinelo Onwualu, Uko Bendi Udo, Dave-Brendon de Burgh, Biram Mboob, Sally-Ann Murray, Mandisi Nkomo, Liam Kruger, Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu, Joan De La Haye, Mia Arderne, Rafeeat Aliyu, Martin Stokes, Clifton Gachagua, Efe Okogu
Published by StoryTime on December 1st 2012
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Africa

“AfroSF is the first ever anthology of Science Fiction by African writers only that was open to submissions of original (previously unpublished) works across Africa and abroad.”

Short story collections take me so long to read.  I’ve had this book on my iPad for years. Here are some of my favorites.

Moom by Nnedi Okorafor – This is the short story that was reworked into the opening of her novel Lagoon.  What if alien first contact on Earth was made by a swordfish?

Home Affairs by Sarah Lotz – I loved this story of a bureaucratic nightmare taking place in a modern city.  When I think of African sci fi I tend to think of monsters and countryside.  This turns those assumptions around and makes a nightmare out of the most annoying aspects of modern life – waiting in line.

The Sale by Tendai Huchu – Third world countries have been sold to corporations and citizens’ health is monitored at all times in these new perfect cities.  But what if you want to rebel?

Planet X by S.A. Partridge – A new alien society has made contact and the people of Earth are afraid.  One girl thinks that humans have more to fear from themselves than from the aliens.

Closing Time by Liam Kruger – Alcohol and time travel shouldn’t be taken together




Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

27 Sep, 2016

Smile As They Bow

/ posted in: Reading Smile As They Bow Smile As They Bow by Nu Nu Yi
Published by Hachette Books on September 1st 2008
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 146
Format: Hardcover
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Myanmar

“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.”

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I bought this book several years ago when I was trying to read books set in as many countries as possible. I had never seen any other books written by a Burmese author. I never got around to reading it though. I finally decided to get to it during the #diverseathon readathon. I’m glad I did.

I didn’t know anything about nats or the Taungbyon festival to honor these spirits in Myanmar. Worshippers, mostly women, come to the festival to promise the nats favors and offerings if they help their family in the coming year. The book opens with beautiful descriptions of some of the people coming to the festival – a pickpocket lamenting the poor pickings this year, a poor woman, and a rich woman. Once the stage is set, the story moves to Daisy Bond and Min Min.

Daisy is a natkadaw or spirit medium. He pretends to be possessed by a spirit to bestow blessings in exchange for cash. The women around him will hear about it if they don’t offer him enough cash too.  Min Min is his “husband.”  He acts as a manager for both Daisy’s career and house as well as being his lover.  Daisy is very insecure about his relationship with Min Min.  Daisy is in his 50s and Min Min is a teenager.  Min Min also isn’t gay.  Daisy bought him from his mother to serve this role in Daisy’s life.  He knows Min Min isn’t happy and is afraid that he is planning on leaving.  His paranoia is serving to push Min Min farther and farther away until he does make plans to get away from Daisy.

Here’s a video that shows what the festival looks like now.

This book is beautifully written and draws you into the festival that you’ve probably never heard of.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

26 Sep, 2016

Dancers After Dark

/ posted in: Reading Dancers After Dark Dancers After Dark by Jordan Matter
Published by Workman Publishing on September 28th 2016
Genres: Photography, Subjects & Themes, Sports
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

“Dancers After Dark” is an amazing celebration of the human body and the human spirit, as dancers, photographed nude and at night, strike poses of fearless beauty. Without a permit or a plan, Jordan Matter led hundreds of the most exciting dancers in the world out of their comfort zones not to mention their clothes to explore the most compelling reaches of beauty and the human form. After all the risk and daring, the result is extraordinary: 300 dancers, 400 locations, more than 150 stunning photographs. And no clothes, no arrests, no regrets. Each image highlights the amazing abilities of these artists and presents a core message to the reader: Say yes rather than no, and embrace the risks and opportunities that life presents. “

It started with an offhand comment from a contortionist.  She’d be available for a photoshoot after her show.  It might be raining.  Maybe they should try nudes.

Jordan Matter had been photographing dancers and circus performers for years but now that work went in a new direction.  This is a book of photos of dancers naked in public at night.  There were no permits.  No closed sets.

The photographs in the book are beautiful.  Several of them I stared at just to try to figure out how they got into those positions.  I love one of a dancer balancing on pointe on top of a wine bottle.  Other times I could only imagine how incredibly cold they must have been. Here’s a behind the scenes video of one of the shots that made me freeze just looking at it.

The cover dancer is Michaela Prince, whose autobiography I reviewed.  Most of the rest are anonymous except for Alan Cumming.  At the end of the book there are some of the stories behind the pictures.  It wasn’t enough.  I wish there had been a story for every picture.  I wanted to know if the participants were ballet dancers or modern dancers.  Did they perform on Broadway or in circuses? Luckily there is video of the process that gives more background on his website.