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:

26 May, 2016

Midnight Taxi Tango

/ posted in: Reading Midnight Taxi Tango Midnight Taxi Tango (Bone Street Rumba, #2) by Daniel José Older
Series: Bone Street Rumba #2
on January 5th 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 319
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New York three-half-stars
Also in this series: Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba, #1)

The streets of New York are hungry tonight... Carlos Delacruz straddles the line between the living and the not-so alive. As an agent for the Council of the Dead, he eliminates New York’s ghostlier problems. This time it’s a string of gruesome paranormal accidents in Brooklyn’s Von King Park that has already taken the lives of several locals—and is bound to take more.
The incidents in the park have put Kia on edge. When she first met Carlos, he was the weird guy who came to Baba Eddie's botánica, where she worked. But the closer they’ve gotten, the more she’s seeing the world from Carlos’s point of view. In fact, she’s starting to see ghosts. And the situation is far more sinister than that—because whatever is bringing out the dead, it’s only just getting started.

In Half-Resurrection Blues we met Carlos, a half-dead agent for the New York Council of the Dead.  He has no memory of the time before he was killed and sort of brought back to life.  He had a short fling with a woman he met who is like him and she left him when she found out that she was pregnant.  It is now several months later.

Kia is 16 and runs a Santeria shop after school.  When she was 7 she went with her beloved older cousin Gio to watch a house of a friend of his.  The friend said that there were strange men outside his house every night and Gio wanted to see what was going on.  That night the men, who appeared to be made out of bugs, attacked his friend Jeremy.  Gio disappeared a few months later.  Kia is still mourning him deeply.  When she is attacked by a ghost in a park, she gains the ability to see the dead and it unnerves her.  She also finds out that the bug men were real and that they are back.

Older writes great characters. In this book I particularly liked Reza.  She is a bodyguard for a prostitution ring.  She likes to dress in menswear and prides herself on being very dapper.  Four months ago her girlfriend went missing while on a job.  No trace of her has been found.  Now another woman from the company was abducted.  Reza and her boss decide to shut down the prostitution business and go after people that they decide are evil.  This brings them into contact with Carlos and Kia when their investigations overlap.

I liked this book in the series better than the first. I’m interested to see how this series develops.

#socksunday with Midnight Taxi Tango by Daniel Jose Older

A photo posted by @dvmheather on


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

25 May, 2016

Why I Binged on Air Awakens Books 1-3

/ posted in: Reading Why I Binged on Air Awakens Books 1-3 Air Awakens (Air Awakens, #1) by Elise Kova
Published by Silver Wing Press on August 27th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 377
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond...
The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.

I received Air Awakens from my OTSP Secret Sister.  I had heard that it was good but didn’t know much about it.  I figured this was a good time to start reading the series because I thought the last book was just released.  Turns out that book 4 was just released and there is a book 5 that is coming out in July.

I ended up binging on the first three books over the course of 2 days.  I finally made myself stop before reading book 4.  I loved this world and this story.  I was totally immersed in it.  You know how when you are deep in a story and you start thinking in the author’s style of writing.  That was me.  I had to force myself to come back to the real world for a while.

The books all end with cliff hangers too.  Actually in one case it is falling off of a cliff.  I knew that if I read book four and there was no option to find out what happened, I wasn’t going to be happy.  I had to make the decision to stop instead of it being made for me.

In the first book, Air Awakens, Vhalla is a library apprentice who more comfortable with books than people.  When she is called upon to help research a cure for a curse put on a prince it is discovered that she possesses magic.  Magic users are powerful but are shunned by most of society so she doesn’t want to be magical.  But now that her magic is starting to manifest itself she doesn’t have a choice.  She is trained by the Prince himself because he realizes that she has an affinity for working with Air.  There hasn’t been a sorcerer with that affinity since they were all slaughtered in a war one hundred years ago.  They were considered too dangerous and even now some powerful people aren’t sure that Vhalla should be allowed to live.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

Fire Falling (Air Awakens, #2)Fire Falling by Elise Kova

Ok, so I’m moving to the next book so this might get a little spoilery. You’ve been warned.

To contain Vhalla’s power she has been made property of the crown and is being sent into the war as a weapon of mass destruction. She doesn’t want to go to war. In her mind she’s still a librarian. But she needs to learn to use her power to survive and to protect her friends who are marching with her.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

Usually I hate, hate, hate romances in books. That goes double for romances in YA books. I think they are awful. This is one of the few romances that I actually love. The chemistry between the characters is incredible.

Earth's End (Air Awakens, #3)Earth’s End by Elise Kova

The Prince is greviously injured and Vhalla is the only one who will be able to save him. The lengths she goes to illustrates for everyone how much she loves him. His father is not having this so he tightens his control over Vhalla. Now she realizes that she will never be able to earn her freedom from him.

OMG, the ending! Nope. Nope. Nope. This is why I had to make a conscious decision to walk away after 2 days of nonstop reading. I needed to know what happened but if there is an ending like that in book 4 with no way to read book 5 yet, I would not be happy. Right now I’m telling myself that I used my will power to walk away.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

Seriously, if you are at all into fantasy, go read this series.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

24 May, 2016

My BEA Most Wanted

/ posted in: Reading

I went into BEA with a list of 34 books I might want to get.  I got 18 of those.  I’ve written about the books that I didn’t know I wanted from BEA.  Which books that I knew about ahead of time am I the most excited about?
Ghost TalkersGhost Talkers by Mary Robinette Kowal

“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’ve started this one and it is very good.

Vivian In RedVivian In Red by Kristina Riggle

“Famed Broadway producer Milo Short may be eighty-eight but that doesn’t stop him from going to the office every day. So when he steps out of his Upper West Side brownstone on one exceptionally hot morning, he’s not expecting to see the impossible: a woman from his life sixty years ago, cherry red lips, bright red hat, winking at him on a New York sidewalk, looking just as beautiful as she did back in 1934.

The sight causes him to suffer a stroke. And when he comes to, the renowned lyricist discovers he has lost the ability to communicate. Milo believes he must unravel his complicated history with Vivian Adair in order to win back his words. But he needs help—in the form of his granddaughter Eleanor— failed journalist and family misfit. Tapped to write her grandfather’s definitive biography, Eleanor must dig into Milo’s colorful past to discover the real story behind Milo’s greatest song Love Me, I Guess, and the mysterious woman who inspired an amazing life.”

IQIQ by Joe Ide

“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.”

Arabella of MarsArabella of Mars by David D. Levine


“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.”

Truevine: A Strange and Troubling Tale of Two Brothers in Jim Crow AmericaTruevine: A Strange and Troubling Tale of Two Brothers in Jim Crow America by Beth Macy


“The year was 1899 and the place a sweltering tobacco farm in the Jim Crow South town of Truevine, Virginia. George and Willie Muse were two little boys born to a sharecropper family. One day a white man offered them a piece of candy, setting off events that would take them around the world and change their lives forever. Captured into the circus, the Muse brothers performed for royalty at Buckingham Palace and headlined over a dozen sold-out shows at New York’s Madison Square Garden. They were global superstars in a pre-broadcast era. But the very root of their success was in the color of their skin and in the outrageous caricatures they were forced to assume: supposed cannibals, sheep-headed freaks, even “Ambassadors from Mars.” Back home, their mother never accepted that they were “gone” and spent 28 years trying to get them back.
Through hundreds of interviews and decades of research, Beth Macy expertly explores a central and difficult question: Where were the brothers better off? On the world stage as stars or in poverty at home? TRUEVINE is a compelling narrative rich in historical detail and rife with implications to race relations today.”

23 May, 2016

Sofia Khan is Not Obliged

/ posted in: Reading Sofia Khan is Not Obliged Sofia Khan is Not Obliged by Ayisha Malik
on September 3rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Fiction, Great Britain
Pages: 456
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in England four-stars

"Brilliant idea! Excellent! Muslim dating? Well, I had no idea you were allowed to date.' Then he leaned towards me and looked at me sympathetically. 'Are your parents quite disappointed?'
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.
As her woes become her work, Sofia must lean on the support of her brilliant friends, baffled colleagues and baffling parents as she goes in search of stories for her book. In amongst the marriage-crazy relatives, racist tube passengers and decidedly odd online daters, could there be a lingering possibility that she might just be falling in love . . . ?

Sofia Khan’s almost-fiance has told her that he expects them to live with his parents in side by side houses connected through a hole in the wall.  She breaks off the relationship.

Now she is forced to face her extended family again who can’t figure out what her problem is. She’s so old! She’s (gasp) 30! How will she ever find a husband at her advanced age?

Her mother says it is because she insists on wearing a hijab. Everyone else just thinks she is too picky.

When she makes a comment in a staff meeting about her dating life, her superiors decide that she should write a book about Muslim dating. She signs up for Muslim online dating sites to try to gain stories for the book. That’s in between dealing with crisis after crisis with her sister’s wedding and hiding her father’s cigarettes from her mother and trying to convince her friend not to marry a man who is already married.

I loved this book.  It was a perfect light read.  I actually stayed up way too late reading it while trying to convince myself that even though I was only 56% done I could finish it fairly soon.  The husband had to gently remind me that I had to go to work in the morning and I really should get some sleep.

Sofia had a great voice.  She’s a modern Londoner who takes her faith seriously which makes her a bit of an outsider to her coworkers and to her family.  She deals with racism on the streets of London.  She isn’t sure exactly what she wants to do when she grows up but she knows it isn’t being a live in slave to a demanding mother-in-law.  She isn’t particularly interested in learning to cook anyway.

This is Ayshia Malik’s first book.  I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

20 May, 2016

Modern Married Romance

/ posted in: Family

Three weeks after the husband and I started dating I went out of town to be on Jeopardy.  We called each other all the time.  We actually ended up talking all night one night and didn’t even realize it.  I was getting mad because my phone battery was dying and I couldn’t figure out why until we realized we had been on the phone for 8 hours.

Fast forward eight years.  Now this happens when I go out of town.


When I came home this time the husband actually woke up and came out to greet me. He hugged me and then pulled back, stared into my eyes, and whispered, “Can I kiss you?” It was so sweet. It was like a scene out of those romantic novels. Then I remembered that I had been gloating about eating my body weight’s worth of his deadly allergens while I was gone and he literally wanted to know if I was safe or if it was going to be a kiss of death.

Now I’m home and he’s out of town. I told him that I realized that he’s the reason I get out of bed. Yep, when he’s not around Freckles and I lounge in bed and watch Netflix on the iPad.

19 May, 2016

A Tale of Two Conventions

/ posted in: ReadingWork

My coworkers are used to me going to conventions. They just aren’t used to me going to conventions that aren’t veterinary-related. They were very confused that I was going to a book convention. I don’t think that they believed that book conventions are a real thing and if they are real, why was I going to one. It was like my secret double life was being exposed.

Book Conventions vs Veterinary Conventions


Obviously there are way more animals at a veterinary convention.  Greyhounds lounge by adoption booths.  Golden Retrievers hang out in the exhibit halls to draw people into booths.  Rabbits have an area at one big convention.  Stuffed animals are out in droves too.  They model medical equipment mostly.

There were two dogs that I saw at BEA.  George the Newfoundland was there to promote his book and there was another dog at one point in a booth for reasons that were unclear.


Veterinary conventions are all about the lectures.  At the big ones there are 10-15 lectures going on at all times.  I spend most of my time there and not in the exhibit halls.

I wanted to go to lectures at BEA.  There weren’t a lot of them.  I went to Blogger Con on Wednesday.  I think that is best for newer bloggers.  The content was good but wasn’t anything new to me.  I went to a lecture on Paderewski one day.  He was the famous Polish pianist who ended up living in California and starting a winery while agitating for an independent Polish state during World War I.


The exhibit halls are about the same size at both types of conventions but there are way less people at BEA.  The big veterinary conventions have around 15,000 people.  It was much easier to get to a booth at BEA.  I was surprised by how few people were there.


The one thing that I absolutely look forward to at veterinary conventions is a week of not talking to anyone except servers at restaurants.  I’m an introvert in a job where I talk to strangers all day.  A week of not talking is heaven!

At BEA I was social.  I went out of my way to talk to people.  Totally abnormal.

I met:

Stacey from Unruly Reader

Katie from Words for Worms

Julianne from Outlandish Lit

Sheila from Book Journey
Nicole from Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Janani from The Shrinkette

Florinda from The 3R’s Blog

Nori from Read Write Love

…and more

I just assume that no one knows who I am.  So I would see people I knew and introduce myself.  I’d start to explain in detail who I was and people would look at me like I was a crazy person and say, “I know who you are.”  Amazed me every time.  Of course a few times I would start to talk to someone I recognized and then I’d start wondering, “I follow them.  Do they follow me?  Better check.” and by the time I’d figure it out, they’d be gone.

Free Stuff

At veterinary conventions you might get some pens or some candy.  Big swag might be a small flashlight or a USB drive.  It isn’t like most places are giving out free samples of what they are selling, although a free xray machine would be nice.  BEA totally wins on this one.  They want to give you free books.  At times they can be scarily aggressive with giving you free books.  I swear the people at Hatchette were taken outside and beaten if anyone walked away from them without taking a book.  You did not walk away from them empty handed.  I had one person there actually beg me to “please, please, please take this book.”

I’ve also never been given champagne at a veterinary convention.  Note to self – Just because your hands are full and you need to run downstairs for a lecture, do not think “I’ll just drink this all now.”  Good for you for realizing halfway through the glass that this was a poor life choice.  Then I had to run downstairs carrying two bags and a half glass of champagne after chugging the rest.  Bad idea.

There’s a whole lot less extraneous stuff at BEA too.  At vet conventions there are clothing vendors and massage chairs and shoe insole sellers too.  BEA is all about the books.

World War II

World War II is never discussed at a vet convention.  BEA was all about WWII this year.  And twins.  And twins during World War II.

I’m a veterinarian

People are much less surprised by that at a vet convention.  I was at the Adult Author’s Breakfast with three librarians.  They asked me how bloggers make a living.  I said that we all have jobs.  They asked what my job was.  I said I was a veterinarian.  They look shocked and then said, “So, like real job jobs then.”  Yes, sometimes we crawl out of our mother’s basements into the sunshine so we don’t die of rickets and interact with the real world because we need money to eat.



18 May, 2016

The Real Life Guide to BEA

/ posted in: Reading

Be A Rebel

Some people get there hours early to get in line to get into the exhibit area first.  Bless them.  Remember that they open all the entrances, not just the one where the line is.  I strolled in 10 minutes before opening with the drink I got from the Starbucks around the corner from the one with the huge line near the show floor.  Yeah, there was a second one.  Then when the gigantic line started moving, I walked in too without waiting in line at all because the entry was 30 feet wide and they were letting people in from the line on the left 5 feet of it.  The right side was wide open for anyone.

Be Decidedly Uncool

I am naturally uncool so this is not a conscious decision for me.  Some people want to see the big name authors.  They don’t mind waiting for 1-2 hours in a line to see the High Priestess of YA or other famous folk.  I figure that the books that they are promoting are going to get a lot of promotion anyway.  You’re going to see those on displays in the library and on your favorite blogs.  I’d rather spend the time finding out about books that I would never hear about otherwise.

Go See Lonely People

This fits in with being uncool.  I went in with a plan that looked something like this:

  • 2:00 signing of this book.
  • Also at 2:00 is this signing which might be cool if I could get there.

I’d heard that all the lines were huge so I didn’t figure I’d see both.  Here’s how it went down though.  Since I wasn’t seeing the big name authors, I’d be about 5th in line for the first one when I showed up at 5 minutes to 2.  I’d get it signed at about 2:07 and then head over to the second one I had listed and get that book by about 2:15.  Now what?  The next thing on my schedule is at 3:00.  I would look to see what lines were short and then see what books they had.  I’d hop in those lines if they seemed interesting.  Not going to lie – I went in one line because they were giving out chocolate.

Pace Up and Down the Aisles

I wandered up and down the aisles over and over.  I had about 15,000 steps just in the exhibit hall each day.  Since over half of the booths are giving out books and the books that are being given away change every few hours in many of them, just walking through exposes you to new books all the time.

Don’t stick to just the big publishing houses either.  Some of the books that I’m most excited about come from small houses who had little booths outside of the orbit of the big guys.


Seriously.  I can walk all day normally with no problems.  I lift weights for fun.  Spending 9-4 walking around here carrying books killed me.  When I woke up Friday morning, everything hurt.  My shoulders, my hips, my left calf, my left bicep.  I’ve been doing all my favorite yoga moves since I got home to try to get everything lined up again.


I was carrying a water bottle, protein bars, and hard candy.  I never ate the bars.  I had plenty of time in my schedule to grab lunch.  There was a food court in McCormick that had a vegan’s dream  – a salad bar that was a flat fee per plate instead of being based on weight.  I loaded up all the heavy vegetables and the beans and the fruit and the pasta.

Take Advantage of Shipping

Shipping from the convention center is stupidly expensive but the convenience factor can’t be beat.  Once I got over the sticker shock, it turned out to be the best value for me too.  Here are real numbers.

There is an area where they give you a box that you can leave on a table until you fill it with books.  You can leave it for several days if you want.  That’s nice.  Every time your bag gets heavy you can go unload your books in the box.  Here’s the catch.  Each box costs $41 dollars.  I know.  I hyperventilated too.  That is the handling fee for having all the employees there taping up boxes and taking them to the UPS truck and processing payment and guarding the boxes.

I ended up having 3 boxes weighing a total of 106 lbs shipped for a total of $189.

Other options:

Originally I wanted to drive to spend $0 on shipping.  But my hotel cost $65 a day to park and the convention center cost $25 a day to park so for three days = $225 not counting gas to and from Chicago.

Taking an extra suitcase to fill with books – $50 to check two large suitcases on the way to Chicago.  $50 to check them on the way back.  I had 106 lbs of books, not counting clothes, so one of them would be overweight which adds $30 more.  $130 plus the pain and suffering of trying to haul two huge and heavy suitcases on trains to get to the airport.  I probably would have taken a cab so add at least $30 more.  That nightmare is not worth the savings of around $30 from the cost of shipping in my mind.  Plus, I don’t think my books would have fit in two suitcases.

17 May, 2016

Out on a Whim – My BEA books

/ posted in: Reading

I went into Book Expo America with a carefully crafted plan.  There were 34 books out of the hundreds on the list that I might be interested in.  Of that list I ended up getting 18 of those books.  I figured that there would be a few that I would pick up that I hadn’t planned on and that I would list these here.

Yeah, so I’m shipping home 86 books.

Apparently I am the freaking Queen on picking up books on a whim.

I’m not listing all of them here, but of the books that I have coming to me from BEA, what am I most excited about that I didn’t know about before I went to Chicago?
The Underground Railroad: A NovelThe Underground Railroad: A Novel by Colson Whitehead

“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.”

This isn’t the best description. He imagines the Underground Railroad as a real subway with stops in each state. Each state is a different world.

Believing in MagicBelieving in Magic by Cookie Johnson

“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.”

Grandma Gatewood's Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian TrailGrandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail by Ben Montgomery

“Emma Gatewood told her family she was going on a walk and left her small Ohio hometown with a change of clothes and less than two hundred dollars. The next anybody heard from her, this genteel, farm-reared, 67-year-old great-grandmother had walked 800 miles along the 2,050-mile Appalachian Trail. And in September 1955, having survived a rattlesnake strike, two hurricanes, and a run-in with gangsters from Harlem, she stood atop Maine’s Mount Katahdin. There she sang the first verse of “America, the Beautiful” and proclaimed, “I said I’ll do it, and I’ve done it.”

Grandma Gatewood, as the reporters called her, became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail alone, as well as the first person—man or woman—to walk it twice and three times. Gatewood became a hiking celebrity and appeared on TV and in the pages of Sports Illustrated. The public attention she brought to the little-known footpath was unprecedented. Her vocal criticism of the lousy, difficult stretches led to bolstered maintenance, and very likely saved the trail from extinction.”

How to Get Run Over by a TruckHow to Get Run Over by a Truck by Katie C McKenna

“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.”

I started this one while at BEA. It is very good.

The Other EinsteinThe Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

“A vivid and mesmerizing novel about the extraordinary woman who married and worked with one of the greatest scientists in history.

What secrets may have lurked in the shadows of Albert Einstein’s fame? His first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić, was more than the devoted mother of their three children—she was also a brilliant physicist in her own right, and her contributions to the special theory of relativity have been hotly debated for more than a century.

In 1896, the extraordinarily gifted Mileva is the only woman studying physics at an elite school in Zürich. There, she falls for charismatic fellow student Albert Einstein, who promises to treat her as an equal in both love and science. But as Albert’s fame grows, so too does Mileva’s worry that her light will be lost in her husband’s shadow forever.”

Could there be a book that is more ME? Historical fiction about forgotten women in science?

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

“Ladarat Patalung, for one, would have been happier without a serial murderer in her life. Then again, she never meant to be a detective in the first place.

But while content in her role at the Chaing Mai Hospital in Thailand as the nurse ethicist, Ladarat couldn’t resist when police detective Kuhn Wiriya came to her with his dilemma.

Two nights ago, a young woman brought her husband to the emergency room, where he passed away. Now someone remembers her coming in before, with a different husband (who also died). Is there a serial killer on the loose? One who likes to murder her husbands? And what else can one lone nurse ethicist do about it, but investigate?”

Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water LiliesMad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King

“Mad Enchantment tells the full story behind the creation of the Water Lilies, as the horrors of World War I came ever closer to Paris and Giverny, and a new generation of younger artists, led by Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, were challenging the achievements of Impressionism. By early 1914, French newspapers were reporting that Monet, by then 73 and one of the world’s wealthiest, most celebrated painters, had retired his brushes. He had lost his beloved wife, Alice, and his eldest son, Jean. His famously acute vision–what Paul Cezanne called “the most prodigious eye in the history of painting”–was threatened by cataracts. And yet, despite ill health, self-doubt, and advancing age, Monet began painting again on a more ambitious scale than ever before. Linking great artistic achievement to the personal and historical dramas unfolding around it, Ross King presents the most intimate and revealing portrait of an iconic figure in world culture–from his lavish lifestyle and tempestuous personality to his close friendship with the fiery war leader Georges Clemenceau, who regarded the Water Lilies as one of the highest expressions of the human spirit.”

You Negotiate Like a Girl: Reflections on a Career in the National Football LeagueYou Negotiate Like a Girl: Reflections on a Career in the National Football League by Amy Trask

“The Princess of Darkness. Former NFL team executive Amy Trask has held many titles during her career – including chief executive, analyst, and author – but this nickname is what she is first and foremost known by to Raiders fans. Trask joined the Raiders as an intern during law school after the team moved from Oakland to Los Angeles – the position the result of a cold call she made to the team. From there, she worked her way up through the ranks of the organization, to the post she would eventually hold as chief executive.”

The NextThe Next by Stephanie Gangi

“Is there a right way to die? If so, Joanna DeAngelis has it all wrong. She’s consumed by betrayal, spending her numbered days cyberstalking Ned McGowan, much younger ex, and watching him thrive in the spotlight with someone new, while she wastes away. She’s every woman scorned, fantasizing about revenge … except she’s out of time.

Joanna falls from her life, from the love of daughters and devoted dog, into an otherworldly landscape, a bleak infinity she can’t escape until she rises up and returns and sets it right – makes Ned pay – so she can truly move on.

From the other side into right this minute, Jo embarks on a sexy, spiritual odyssey. As she travels beyond memory, beyond desire, she is transformed into a fierce female force of life, determined to know how to die, happily ever after.”

This description sounds like a horror book but it is supposed to be funny.

A Deadly AffectionA Deadly Affection by Cuyler Overholt

“New York City, 1907. At the dawn of the twentieth century, Americans believe that science, especially the medical sciences, will soon conquer all of mankind’s ills. For a brief time medical schools open their doors to women, allowing them to join the scientific crusade. Genevieve Summerford is one woman who answers the call….

After a past family tragedy for which she holds herself to blame, Dr. Genevieve Summerford wants nothing more than to succeed in her new career as a psychiatrist, and win back the respect of her family and peers. That goal is thrown into jeopardy, however, when one of her patients is arrested for murder – a murder Genevieve fears she may have unwittingly provoked. Desperate to prove to herself and the authorities that her patient is innocent, she is forced to enlist the aid of an influential Tammany captain who once worked for her family as a stable boy, and whose motives for helping her now are open to doubt. Forging an uneasy alliance, the two uncover an astonishing secret about one of the city’s most powerful families: a secret which, should Genevieve choose to reveal it, could bring down catastrophe on those she cares most about, but which, should she let it lie, will almost certainly send her patient to the electric chair.”

But what is my favorite new book?

Hands down, no questions, Shambhala Publishing for the win!
Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet: 75 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream, Fruit-Forward Ice Pops, Frozen Yogurt, Granitas, Slushies, Shakes, and MoreIcy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet: 75 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream, Fruit-Forward Ice Pops, Frozen Yogurt, Granitas, Slushies, Shakes, and More by Christine Chitnis

“With 75 recipes for a full range of frozen sweets, you’ll find healthy treats that use fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs, that are free of refined sugars, and that include vegan and dairy-free options. The results are flavorful, unique, refreshing, and healthy—making the whole experience a little sweeter.”

DAIRY FREE ICE CREAM!!!!!  I got quite a few books to give as prizes for Foodies Read but no one is getting their paws on this one.  This one is mine!

Overall, I found a lot of great nonfiction and historical fiction. I was disappointed by a lack of urban fantasy. In fact I only got a few books that would be considered fantasy at all.

I’ll be writing more this week about BEA.

I also wrote posts for Armchair BEA:

16 May, 2016

Code Name Papa

/ posted in: Reading Code Name Papa Code Name: Papa: My Extraordinary Life While Hiding in Plain Sight by John Murray
on September 30th 2015
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 326
Format: Paperback
Source: From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Who'd have thought a bright, but fairly ordinary young man from middle class America who got just above average grades, dated the same girl throughout high school and went to church most Sundays, would grow up to eventually head a very secretive band of brave individuals--both men and women--who regularly put their lives on the line because they wanted to protect the rest of you. Yet that's what we did, often sacrificing our personal lives (four marriages for me, all in the book) and our health (countless broken bones, major surgeries, even death) to do it.
Meanwhile you're just going to have to call me "Papa" like everyone else around the globe has through most of those wildly unpredictable and dangerous years.


John Murray joined the Marines during the Vietnam War after working as a police officer in Florida.  He becomes friends with two men named Jake and Bill.  Over time he finds that Jake’s father is a powerful man who has the power to make things happen for him, including getting him out of the Army.

Eventually, Jake’s father offers them all a job.  He heads a team of people who are the American branch of an international organization who kill people that governments can’t touch for various reasons.  They will be given cover careers but will be out of contact with their families for much of the time and they can tell no one what they actually do.

Not a lot is explained about how it all works.  Jobs are assigned but by whom?  How is this funded?  He says over and over that it isn’t illegal but defined how?  I kept waiting for the plot twist.  You know the one.  In the thriller the main character is working for a shadowy organization and eventually realizes that he is on the side of evil.  Spoiler alert – it doesn’t happen here.

Some of the locations discussed in Code Name Papa

The stories of the jobs are told in a very matter of fact style.  There is not much emotion expressed about the many people who died in these jobs except for when it was decided to kill innocent people to eliminate witnesses.  The descriptions are brutal but clinical instead of sensationalized.  It is a lot like listening to war veterans discuss battles.

When Jake’s father becomes ill, John takes over the running of the team.  He decides how to recruit and train new members.  He decides how to get jobs accomplished.  He makes decisions like requiring all female team members to have a hysterectomy because periods are inconvenient but the men don’t need to be castrated (because I guess testosterone never leads to anything bad happening?).

I read the book in one day because I found it intriguing but the more you think about it the more disturbing it becomes.  I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone who is bothered by reading about violence.  The husband read this book also.  Like me he was quickly absorbed into the story and read it over the course of a few days.


I received a copy of this book from the author for possible review.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

14 May, 2016

Armchair BEA – Surviving Fictional Worlds

/ posted in: Reading
Armchair BEA

Could I survive the fictional worlds that I read about in books?


I’m a wimp.



Narnia is too cold.

Panem is just nasty.

I figure with my luck I’d be a non-magical peon in any other fantasy world and what fun would that be?


There is one world though that I’d like to try out. I want to go to the world in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series. I like the alternate reality England where discussion of Shakespeare and cheese is very, very important. There is cloning so you can have a pet dodo (although you know some fool would try to make a dinosaur and everyone who has seen Jurassic Park knows how that ends).

In addition, there is the Book World. Tourists can go into books to have a look around. Imagine visiting Mr Darcy’s house. There is also the Well of Lost Plots for books that don’t quite make it. Jurisfiction is the law enforcement in the world to keep the stories running on track. You can’t have characters jumping between books or otherwise acting out of line.

There is a huge library of every book ever presided over by the Cheshire Cat (or the Unitary Authority of Warrington Cat, since England has been redistricted since Alice was written).

I think I could survive in this world although there are numerous Mrs. Danvers (from Rebecca) running around and causing mayhem.

12 May, 2016

Armchair BEA – Book Covers I Hate

/ posted in: Reading
Armchair BEA

I’m not a person who gets all gushy about book covers. I don’t care about cover reveals. I don’t care if the covers of a series don’t match. But there are a few things I absolutely hate when I see them on covers.


This is when the cover models are white when the people in the story are not.  Here’s an example.

Alienated (Alienated, #1)Alienated by Melissa Landers

This is a description of the alien race in the book.

“All of them, men and women alike, wore their shoulder-length light brown hair tied neatly behind the neck. It blended perfectly with their russet skin, and when combined with the tan uniforms, they were a monochromatic solid wall of brown. Like walking paper bags.”

Ok, got that?  Now look at the male person on the cover.  He’s the alien.  He’s looking a bit pale, isn’t he?

There are all kinds of examples of this.  Check out this article for more.

The Overly Sexy

In the Mercy Thompson series Mercy is:

  • Half Native American / half white
  • a mechanic with the grease stains to prove it
  • not fond of a lot of jewelry
  • the owner of one small tattoo of a coyote footprint

So what do her covers look like?


Ok, so maybe trying not to whitewash her so that’s good but the dangly feather earrings are a bit much.  What’s the all the arm tattoos?  And the outfit?  She totally can not run and fight in those pants and she never ever is depicted as randomly deciding to knot her shirt into a fake halter top.

Seriously, does that cover make people more interested in reading the book?  Maybe the flaming dog in the background helps.

And let’s take it as a given that I’m not a fan of any of the Fabio-esque romance book covers either.

Lone Arrow's PrideLone Arrow’s Pride by Karen Kay






TopazTopaz by Beverly Jenkins

These people never look comfortable. That’s not sexy. That’s “Wait, wait, I’m getting a cramp.”



What are your book cover pet peeves?

11 May, 2016

Armchair BEA – Diversity

/ posted in: Reading
Armchair BEA


I think the diversity debate boils down to this:


  • White writers are over-represented in publishing because the percentage of authors who are white is higher than the percentage of white people in the population
  • Reading books written by people from other backgrounds exposes readers to a lot of different viewpoints that they may not have experienced otherwise


  • I don’t pay attention to the race of the writer when I choose a book.  I just read stories that interest me.

I started paying attention to the race of the authors that I read a few years ago.  Here’s the thing.  If you don’t mindfully choose your books you will end up reading almost all white authors.  How do I know this?

Look at my numbers from 2015.

Here are the unique female authors I read.

Unique male authors

Compare that to the real world

Remember, these are the authors I read when I was actively seeking out POC authors to read.  My reading was still overwhelming white.

Since I started making a point to find out about POC authors, I’ve found some wonderful authors whose work I love – Nnedi Okorafor, Tananarive Due, Courtney Milan, Jamie Jo Hoang – just to start listing a few.

Ok, how do I find new authors?

Follow people posting about POC authors

Find lists

  • Google your preferred genre(s) and “POC author” to find lots of lists to get you started

Then Hold Yourself Accountable

We all keep track of what we are reading.  Monitor your authors too to make sure you are not reading all white authors.  I have bars on my sidebar to keep track.  On my monthly wrap up reports I keep a tally of how many POC authors I’ve read.  Even when you open yourself up to reading diversely you still have to pay attention.  This January I ending up reading all white authors.  I balanced it out with reading all POC in February.

Need more suggestions?


7 books set in Africa 7 books set in south asia

11 May, 2016

Armchair BEA – Intro

/ posted in: Reading
Armchair BEA

Armchair BEA Introduction

Hi!  I’m Heather and I’ve been blogging here since 2005.  This year I’m part of the Armchair BEA team as an on-site correspondent.

That’s right.  I’m at BEA!  I’m a first timer this year.  I’m going to be a table discussion leader on Negative Reviews today at Blogger Con.  I’ll be posting about that and the Adult Authors Breakfast and some posts about international visitors to BEA on the Armchair BEA website throughout the week.

What is your favorite genre and why?

In fiction, I like fantasy best.  I want to live in a world with magic.  I want to be able to flick my fingers and have objects fly across the room and into my hands.  But, let’s face facts, I would probably use my powers to flick annoying slow walkers out of my way in stores and that wouldn’t be very nice.

Which day of ABEA are you looking forward to the most?

Today actually.  Diversity in books is a major interest of mine.  You can see from the sidebars on the right that I track the diversity of my reading.  I’ll talk more about why in my diversity post.

How do you arrange your bookshelves? Is there a rhyme or reason? Or not at all?

I normally never answer questions like this because I’m the weird book blogger who doesn’t like having books around.  I use the library and when I buy books I usually get ebooks.  We have two bookcases here that were overwhelming full.  I have a weakness for book swaps that was overloading me.  I knew that I would be getting even more books at BEA so I’ve been working on it.  I took 40 books to Goodwill.  I cleared a shelf of sewing books and magazines in my sewing room and moved part of the permanent collection down there.  These are the books that aren’t going anywhere.

This is the Terry Pratchett shelf guarded by Worf, Ten, and Adipose.

What is the most interesting thing that you have learned through your reading this year so far?

The books that I’ve learned the most from this year are:

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and RedemptionJust Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

This book talks about the criminal justice system and severe punishments that are given out to poor people, including some wrongly convicted.



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

I had never heard of Sophia Duleep Singh but her life was fascinating. My review.

10 May, 2016

What I Read When I’m Not Reading About Books

/ posted in: General

Today’s prompt is websites you read that aren’t about books.

Minimalist Baker

This is a blog about vegan gluten-free food with the most amazing recipes ever.  They are easy and delicious.

Renegade Mothering

Amazingly written posts from mother of 4 who is fighting the good fight against most parenting advice.  I don’t have kids.  I don’t like kids.  But I love reading what she writes.

Nerds of Color

Reviewing geeky entertainment news with an eye towards positive portrayals of minority populations

The Mary Sue

Entertainment news with a feminist perspective

Yarn Harlot

This is a hugely popular and funny knitting blog.  I don’t knit.  I am a failed knitter.  For some reason I’ve been following this blog for over 1o years.  I’m the ultimate lurker.  I’ve never commented.  I admire the way she’s made a professional life from knitting.  She makes amazing stuff at the speed of light.  Seriously, she makes socks as quickly as I read books.

Friendly Atheist

This blog points out the nonsense done in the name of religion.  Find out about what the religious right is calling persecution these days.  I don’t agree with them on everything since they are very against any non-western medicine.

No Longer Quivering

This blog is written by women who have left very fundamentalist Christian communities.  Think Duggars and other families where women are told that they can only be mothers of large families.

Raising Homemakers

This is the opposite of No Longer Quivering.  This is a site for families who believe that their goal in life is to raise their daughters to be homemakers.  I go on Wednesdays for their link up.  Here you can find posts about why women should stay home and not be educated.  It is good to raise your blood pressure every so often.

LAF/Beautiful Womanhood

If you haven’t been outraged recently, try this site.  LAF stands for Ladies Against Feminism.  Yeah, really.

09 May, 2016


/ posted in: Reading Terrier Terrier (Beka Cooper, #1) by Tamora Pierce
Series: Beka Cooper#1
on October 24th 2006
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 584
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Beka Cooper is a rookie with the law-enforcing Provost's Guard, commonly known as "the Provost's Dogs," in Corus, the capital city of Tortall. To the surprise of both the veteran "Dogs" and her fellow "puppies," Beka requests duty in the Lower City. The Lower City is a tough beat. But it's also where Beka was born, and she's comfortable there.
Beka gets her wish. She's assigned to work with Mattes and Clary, famed veterans among the Provost's Dogs. They're tough, they're capable, and they're none too happy about the indignity of being saddled with a puppy for the first time in years. What they don't know is that Beka has something unique to offer. Never much of a talker, Beka is a good listener. So good, in fact, that she hears things that Mattes and Clary never could - information that is passed in murmurs when flocks of pigeons gather ... murmurs that are the words of the dead.

Recently I’ve been seeing posts singing the praises of Tamora Pierce.  I had to admit that I had never heard of her even though she written a gazillion books.  (There are 79 distinct works listed on Goodreads.)  I decided to give her a try and Terrier was an available ebook on my library’s website.

I’m not sure what I was expecting.  Fantasy?  YA?  Whatever it was, it wasn’t this.

This book reads more like a crime story than typical fantasy.  There are fantasy elements.  It is set in a fictional world with its own unique idioms and cultures.  There is magic.  But those things are secondary to the story being told.

Beka is a police trainee.  Real police are known as Dogs and trainees are Puppies.  She is assigned to a rough part of the city by request and is partnered with a well known team of Dogs.  She wants to be here because she comes from these streets.  As a child she helped the Provost with a tip on a crime gang and when he went to thank her he found her living with her terminally ill mother and her younger siblings.  He took the family into his household.  Now her siblings are growing up with aspirations of a better life than Beka could have ever imagined for them but she is afraid that they are ashamed of her and where they came from.

Beka is also magical.  She can hear the ghosts that ride on the backs of pigeons.  She can hear the snippets of conversation that get caught up in wind swirls in city corners.  She has a feline companion named Pounce who may or may not be a God. He isn’t saying. She uses this information to find out about two crime sprees going on under the noses of the Dogs.

She has other issues too.  Twenty percent of puppies die during training.  A charming gangster who is new in town and his entourage decide to move into her boarding house.  Her childhood best friend has married into a crime lord’s family and now her son was murdered.

The policing skills she are learning are a bit questionable.  She learns the correct etiquette for taking individual bribes and how to collect the weekly bribes due to the Dogs as an organization.  She is learning the proper way to beat criminals into submission.  Bribery and police brutality are just how things are done in this world.

I enjoyed this first book in the Beka Cooper series. I will definitely be reading more. Thanks to Nori and everyone else who has recommended her recently.

Beka Cooper by CPattenon DeviantArt


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

07 May, 2016


/ posted in: Enviromentalist Wacko PostsPhotos

It was time for a spring photo walk around the neighborhood with Freckles where I take pictures of flowers and try not to look like I’m casing the joint.

I have baby blueberries!

I planted two blueberries in containers last year. Nothing happened last year but there are babies on the largest plant now. I moved them into a large crop cage to try to save them from predators. I guess they aren’t free-range blueberries any more now that they are in blueberry jail…


Linking up with Saturday Snapshot at West Metro Mommy Reads

06 May, 2016

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu

/ posted in: Reading The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer
on April 19th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Mali three-half-stars

To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven.
In the 1980s, a young adventurer and collector for a government library, Abdel Kader Haidara, journeyed across the Sahara Desert and along the Niger River, tracking down and salvaging tens of thousands of ancient Islamic and secular manuscripts that had fallen into obscurity. The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu tells the incredible story of how Haidara, a mild-mannered archivist and historian from the legendary city of Timbuktu, later became one of the world’s greatest and most brazen smugglers.
In 2012, thousands of Al Qaeda militants from northwest Africa seized control of most of Mali, including Timbuktu. They imposed Sharia law, chopped off the hands of accused thieves, stoned to death unmarried couples, and threatened to destroy the great manuscripts. As the militants tightened their control over Timbuktu, Haidara organized a dangerous operation to sneak all 350,000 volumes out of the city to the safety of southern Mali.

Since the 1300s Timbuktu in central Mali has been a center of learning. The city sits at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert and on the banks of the Niger River.

This made it popular crossroads for people from many cultures to meet. There were many universities here and intellectual debate was popular. The city became known for its Islamic scholarship. Thousands of manuscripts were written and studied here. Some of them were elaborately decorated.

But there have been periods of invasion and anti-intellectualism too. During these times the manuscripts were hidden around the region. By the time of the European invasions, the existence of the manuscripts was not known to outsiders. That led to quotes like these:

“Perhaps in the future, there will be some African history to teach. But at present there is none. There is only the history of Europeans in Africa. The rest is darkness.”

— British historian Hugh Trevor-Roper 1963

After Mali won its independence efforts were made to start collecting the manuscripts in Timbuktu again.  Abdel Kader Haidara’s father spent his life collecting manuscripts.  In his will he chose Abdel to carry on his work but he wasn’t interested.  Ten years passed before a library in Timbuktu convinced him to start buying manuscripts again.  He was so successful that by the early 21st century there were 45 libraries in Timbuktu with manuscript collections.  Then Al Qaeda came.

The librarians knew that the manuscripts would be a target.  After all, they were written in a very progressive Islamic area.  There were manuscripts with sexual advice and rulings on how to treat women fairly.  They decided that it was time for the manuscripts to hide again.

It was a big job.  There were around 350,000 fragile manuscripts in city in 2012.  How do you get them somewhere safe when travel is restricted?

I really enjoyed the part of this book that was about the manuscripts. About half of it though was about the history of the Islamist uprising in Mali. That drug for me. There was kidnapping and crime and torture but I wanted to know about the manuscripts.

This book shows the importance of honoring the history of the a place. I like reading about Henry Louis Gates’ trip to Mali and his reaction to seeing the manuscripts. He had always been told that black people didn’t have a historical culture or anything to be proud of in their past. Seeing these works of scholarship and art made by black people touched him deeply.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

05 May, 2016

Half-Resurrection Blues

/ posted in: Reading Half-Resurrection Blues Half-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rumba, #1) by Daniel José Older
Series: Bone Street Rumba #1
on January 6th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 326
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in New York three-half-stars
Also in this series: Midnight Taxi Tango (Bone Street Rumba, #2)

“Because I’m an inbetweener—and the only one anyone knows of at that—the dead turn to me when something is askew between them and the living. Usually, it’s something mundane like a suicide gone wrong or someone revived that shouldn’ta been.”
Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.
One inbetweener is a sorcerer. He’s summoned a horde of implike ngks capable of eliminating spirits, and they’re spreading through the city like a plague. They’ve already taken out some of NYCOD’s finest, leaving Carlos desperate to stop their master before he opens up the entrada to the Underworld—which would destroy the balance between the living and the dead.
But in uncovering this man’s identity, Carlos confronts the truth of his own life—and death…

After reading Shadowshaper I was interested in reading more from Daniel José Older.  I liked the world building a lot more in this novel.

No one knows quite what Carlos is.  He has no memory of his life before the day he died.  He was picked up by some ghosts and taken to a safe house where he recovered.  He isn’t a ghost but can see and interact with them.  He was thought to be one of a kind until another person like him shows up and starts trying to harm some of the most powerful ghosts in New York.

I love the idea that there is a bureaucracy of the dead in New York.  Carlos works for the afterlife’s law enforcement.  His partners are actual ghosts and this leads to issues like never being able to hand anything directly to him in sight of the living because nothing upsets live people like seeing a coffee cup float through the air.

He also seeks help from a gay Santeria priest and the teenager that runs the priest’s store when he has spiritual and magical issues to resolve.  Add in a paramedic with interest in the occult and a Haitian trauma surgeon for physical help when needed and he is set.

My only quibble with this book is that the female characters aren’t written as strongly as the male ones.  I know that he gets better with this because I read later books first so that’s good, but in this one the love interest Sasha pretty much seems to exist only as an object of Carlos’ desire.  You don’t get a lot of insight into what she is thinking about the situation.  Even when an attempt is made to show her point of view, it is flat compared to the way he writes men.

This is a good start to a series.  I’m interested in seeing where he takes this.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges: