22 Jul, 2016

Mini Reviews

/ posted in: Reading

The Looking Glass Wars (The Looking Glass Wars, #1)The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“When Alyss Heart, newly orphaned heir to the Wonderland throne, flees through the Pool of Tears to escape her murderous Aunt Redd, she finds herself lost and alone in Victorian London. Befriended by an aspiring author named Lewis Carrol, Alyss tells the violent, heartbreaking story of her young life. Alyss trusts this author to tell the truth so that someone, somewhere will find her and bring her home. But he gets the story all wrong. He even spells her name incorrectly!

Fortunately, Royal Bodyguard Hatter Madigan knows all too well the awful truth of Alyss’ story – and he’s searching every corner of our world to find the lost princess and return her to Wonderland, to battle Redd for her rightful place as the Queen of Hearts.”

I loved the creativity of this retelling of the Alice in Wonderland story. I wasn’t as in love with the overall plot.

In Need of TherapyIn Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?”

I wish Pilar had been a little more professional and a little less damsel in distress.

Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1)Timebound by Rysa Walker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.”

I loved the idea of bad guys going back to time to invent a religion to get people to follow them. Trying to work in time travel and the Chicago World’s Fair and a serial killer was all a bit much though.

Jeweled Fire (Elemental Blessings, #3)Jeweled Fire by Sharon Shinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“As one of the four princesses of Welce, Corene always thought she might one day become queen. Only circumstances changed, leaving fiery Corene with nothing to show for a life spent playing the game of court intrigue—until a chance arises to become the ruler of a nearby country.

After stowing away on a ship bound for Malinqua with her loyal bodyguard, Foley, Corene must try to win the throne by making a play to marry one of the empress’s three nephews. But Corene is not the only foreign princess in search of a crown.”

I absolutely love this series but this was my least favorite book. Corrine is a brat and I didn’t find her that interesting. She grows up in this story but I still found the romance unlikely and the story not up to the previous books.

DNF Review

Lilac GirlsLilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

“New York socialite Caroline Ferriday has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France.

An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia Kuzmerick, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. In a tense atmosphere of watchful eyes and suspecting neighbors, one false move can have dire consequences.

For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta Oberheuser, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power.”

I didn’t DNF this book because it was bad. The writing is beautiful and draws you into the story. It was the subject matter. The descriptions of Nazi cruelty were so brutal that it was difficult to read much at one sitting. My time ran out at the library. I’m not sure if this is a book I would pick up again.

21 Jul, 2016

The Hindi-Bindi Club

/ posted in: Reading The Hindi-Bindi Club The Hindi-Bindi Club by Monica Pradhan
Published by Bantam on May 1st 2007
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 431
Format: Paperback
Source: Library

For decades they have remained close, sharing treasured recipes, honored customs, and the challenges of women shaped by ancient ways yet living modern lives. They are the Hindi-Bindi Club, a nickname given by their American daughters to the mothers who left India to start anew—daughters now grown and facing struggles of their own.

The Hindi-Bindi Club


Survived breast cancer this year and has found that this experience has opened her mind to things that she would have rejected in the past


Had to flee her beloved hometown of Lahore as a child during Partition.  Now is considering traveling back to Lahore to find the childhood friends left behind.


Disowned by her father after marrying an Irish man, she wants to translate her late mother’s poetry from Bengali to English if she can get her relatives to give her access to the journals

The Daughters


Meenal’s daughter disappointed her family by marrying a man they disapproved of and then getting a divorce.  Now, 5 years later, she is considering a semi-arranged marriage.


Saroj’s daughter was always the perfect one but she’s haunted by a romance that her mother put a stop to because the man was Muslim.


Uma’s daughter left her prestigious job to be an artist.  Now she isn’t sure that she made the right choice.

The women would have never been friends if they hadn’t ended up in the same university when they came to the U.S. and then all moved to the outskirts of Washington D.C. Their daughters were never friends despite being thrown together all the time. Each of them is now struggling with major life decisions and finds that they need each other.

I expected this book to be much lighter than it was. There are some serious issues here but there are also funny moments.

There are some amazing sounding recipes here. I want to try the rice dish. I can never get rice to taste as good as it does in Indian restaurants.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

20 Jul, 2016

The Hick’s Guide to Uber

/ posted in: travel

I love public transportation. I live in an area where it isn’t developed enough to make it a practical option for everyday living so when I travel to a city with a good system, I love it.

We went to Washington D.C. for the weekend. Our hotel was right across from a Metro station in VA. Perfect. Well, it would have been perfect if there wasn’t a track closure on that line this weekend.

There was a work around. You took the train to the next station from where we got on (less than one minute after getting on). Get off. Take a free bus service to the next clear station. That added 20 minutes to what would have been a 10 minute trip. It was also roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun and you were crammed on the bus with a gazillion grumpy people and sometimes you couldn’t get a seat. I didn’t want to try it during rush hour on Monday morning.

Download the app before you need it

I thought about this before I left home. But, but, public transportation is available. It is just a little more complicated, right? No need to add to the congestion by hiring a car.

Then we tried to leave the National Mall on Saturday afternoon when some large prayer rally was letting out. I’m actually glad there was a prayer rally because I noticed that a lot of people on the Mall were wearing Christian t shirts and I was afraid. I’m glad it was a Christian gathering and not just a bunch of people independently feeling so superior that they needed to proclaim their faith through their attire. Mind you, we wandered all over the Mall and never noticed this gathering actually happening. To be fair, my eyes were on the gay men’s kickball tournament.

Anyway, the point is, we couldn’t get into the Metro stations because of all the Christians. There were also ambulances everywhere. We later heard that many were passing out from the heat which made me ask why they didn’t pray to their God to be saved from heat stroke but I digress again.

I sat on a lawn and tried to download the Uber app. It took forever to get it to download outside in the middle of a crowd of people using devices. It never did connect to Paypal. There was also a storm coming in. Seriously, if there is any chance you will use it, download at home.

Know your pricing

In this situation when there were lots of people trying to get away, hello surge pricing.  The app helpfully informed me that surge pricing was in effect and my rate would be 2.5 times the regular rate.  Did I want to accept?  No, because I am cheap but it was still cheaper than a taxi might have been.

I like the fact that Uber gives you a price up front.  I always worry with a taxi that the driver will wander around the long way and jack up the price.

On Monday morning during rush hour I looked at the app to see how expensive it was to get to the Capitol visitors’ center.  I was given an option of sharing a ride and it was actually cheaper than what the Metro would have cost.  I contemplated the fact that I was a horrible person contributing to the destruction of the planet from overuse of fossil fuels in air conditioned luxury.

Take a car person

I don’t know cars.  I refer to cars solely by color.  I don’t know the icons on the front and what brand they represent.  When the Uber app connects you with a driver it tells you the driver’s name and the make of car.  It doesn’t tell you the color.  Luckily, the husband is a car person and he understood what he was looking for.  When I used it alone, I quickly googled to know if I was looking for a car or an SUV.


The app has a map that shows you where the car is in relation to you. So then a car that you think might be the right type slows down near you. You rush over to it and you and the driver question each other’s identity to make sure you aren’t getting into a random person’s car who just happened to slow down. That would be awkward.

Bottom Line

I wasn’t murdered by getting into cars with strangers.
I never got heat stroke.

19 Jul, 2016

Travel Through Books

/ posted in: Reading

Today’s topic is Travel Through Books. I write about this all the time. I think it is important to read books written by authors all around the world.

Here’s how I keep track of how I’m doing on this each year.

The purple is fiction and the green is nonfiction.

I can tell at a glance that South America, Australia, and northern Asia are being neglected.

My Favorite Books Set Outside the U.S. I’ve Read in 2016 (so far)



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.” It’s Nnedi Okorafor. Just read it.


Saudi Arabia

City of Veils (Nayir Sharqi & Katya Hijazi #2)City of Veils by Zoë Ferraris

“The body of a young woman is discovered on the grimy sands of Jeddah beach; soon afterwards, a strong-minded American woman finds herself alone and afraid in the most repressive city on earth when her husband suddenly disappears.

Investigating police officer Osama Ibrahim, forensic scientist Katya Hijazi and her friend, the strictly devout Bedouin guide Nayir Sharqi join forces to search out the truth in the scorching city streets and the vast, lethal emptiness of the desert beyond.”


The Mango SeasonThe Mango Season by Amulya Malladi

“Every young Indian leaving the homeland for the United States is given the following orders by their parents: Don’t eat any cow (It’s still sacred!), don’t go out too much, save (and save, and save) your money, and most important, do not marry a foreigner. Priya Rao left India when she was twenty to study in the U.S., and she’s never been back. Now, seven years later, she’s out of excuses. She has to return and give her family the news: She’s engaged to Nick Collins, a kind, loving American man. It’s going to break their hearts.”

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

“What does an Indian man with a wealth of common sense do when his retirement becomes too monotonous for him to stand? Open a marriage bureau of course!”



England and India

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

“In 1876 Sophia Duleep Singh was born into Indian royalty. Her father, Maharajah Duleep Singh, was heir to the Kingdom of the Sikhs, one of the greatest empires of the Indian subcontinent, a realm that stretched from the lush Kashmir Valley to the craggy foothills of the Khyber Pass and included the mighty cities of Lahore and Peshawar. It was a territory irresistible to the British, who plundered everything, including the fabled Koh-I-Noor diamond.

Exiled to England, the dispossessed Maharajah transformed his estate at Elveden in Suffolk into a Moghul palace, its grounds stocked with leopards, monkeys and exotic birds. Sophia, god-daughter of Queen Victoria, was raised a genteel aristocratic Englishwoman: presented at court, afforded grace and favor lodgings at Hampton Court Palace and photographed wearing the latest fashions for the society pages. But when, in secret defiance of the British government, she travelled to India, she returned a revolutionary.”


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

“Marie Mutsuki Mockett’s family owns a Buddhist temple 25 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In March 2011, after the earthquake and tsunami, radiation levels prohibited the burial of her Japanese grandfather’s bones. As Japan mourned thousands of people lost in the disaster, Mockett also grieved for her American father, who had died unexpectedly.”


The Bahamas

SEAsoned - A Chef's Journey with Her CaptainSEAsoned – A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain by Victoria Allman

“Victoria’s Recipe for Marriage: Take two adventurous newlyweds and place them on a floundering yacht where the wife is the chef, and her boss, the captain, is also her husband. Add two inexperienced crew members, an anorexic diva and her bully of a husband, a CEO who thinks he’s in charge, a drunken first mate, and a randy wife looking for diversion. Stir with a violent storm and a rapidly flooding engine room. Apply pressure and watch the situation simmer to a boil. Sprinkled with over 30-mouthwatering recipes and spiced with tales of adventure, SEAsoned is the hilarious look at a yacht chef’s first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain, trying to stay afloat.”


The Violinist of Venice: A Story of VivaldiThe Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo

“A sweeping historical novel of composer and priest Antonio Vivaldi, a secret wealthy mistress, and their passion for music and each other.”




More Ketchup Than SalsaMore Ketchup Than Salsa by Joe Cawley

“When Joe and his girlfriend Joy decide to trade in their life on a cold Lancashire fish market to run a bar in the Tenerife sunshine, they anticipate a paradise of sea, sand and siestas. Little did they expect their foreign fantasy to turn out to be about as exotic as a wet Monday morning.”



The Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World's Happiest CountryThe Year of Living Danishly: My Twelve Months Unearthing the Secrets of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell

“Denmark is officially the happiest nation on Earth. When Helen Russell is forced to move to rural Jutland, can she discover the secrets of their happiness? Or will the long, dark winters and pickled herring take their toll?”



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.”


15 Jul, 2016

Santa Muerte

/ posted in: Reading Santa Muerte Santa Muerte (The Daniela Story #1) by Lucina Stone
on January 1st 1970
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction
Format: eARC
Source: From author/publisher
Set in New York and Mexico

In 2030 college student Daniela Delgado decides to kill herself.  Instead of dying though, she is dropped through time to 1923 where her pixie cut and boy clothes convince people that she is a young colored boy.  Soon she is on the run with an abused farm girl posing as an aristocrat and her male servant.

Back in 2030 Daniela’s mother fears that the only way to find her daughter is to contact her mother.  They have been estranged ever since Emma came out as a lesbian.  She also didn’t want any part in her mother’s delusions that she was a witch.  But what if she wasn’t crazy and she is the only one who can help Daniela?

This is one of the more realistic time travel books that I’ve read.  Daniela doesn’t land among rich people who will help her.  She isn’t a history scholar who can fix past events.  She’s just a girl who knows that the 1920s aren’t a good time to be mistaken for a young colored man and she needs to get out.

Things get weird when her smartphone still works.  She is able to message another smartphone user in the area.  This turns out to be another time traveler who recognizes the significance of her last name.  The Delgados are family of powerful witches.  An unprotected Delgado is an opportunity to earn a big ransom.

In the future, Emma is getting a crash course in the magic that she has rejected all her life.  Can she embrace her family legacy and not destroy her relationship with her wife?

This is the first book in a series so things aren’t tied up at the end.  I like a little more ending than we got here.  I am interested to see what comes next in the series.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

14 Jul, 2016

The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

/ posted in: Reading The Marriage Bureau for Rich People The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama
Published by Putnam Adult on June 11th 2009
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 293
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Set in India

It is a universal problem. A man retires and immediately starts driving his wife crazy. What to do? Open a marriage bureau on the front veranda, of course.

Mr. Ali is was a government clerk.  Now he runs a marriage bureau.  He advertises for matches for his clients in the newspaper.  He keeps files with the special requests of people seeking spouses.  Do you need someone from the same caste?  How tall or short?  Will your wife be expected to live with her mother-in-law? Hindu, Muslim, Christian?

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

When the business takes off, he needs an assistant. Mrs. Ali finds a local woman, Aruna, to help out. She’s perfect. She’s unmarried because her family can’t afford a wedding and she is working to help the family finances.

This book is very simple on the surface. It is the stories of the people who come to the marriage bureau and the story of the Ali family. The style of writing reminds me of Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies Detective Agency.

This book is very good at providing a look at the attitudes towards arranged marriages in India in different religious groups. What happens if people want to work out their own marriage? How do the Muslim and Hindu neighbors interact?

If you want a book that immerses you in a slice of life in an Indian coastal town, this is a good read.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

13 Jul, 2016

What to Read for Foodies Read?

/ posted in: Reading

Whenever I talk to bloggers about Foodies Read, it goes like this:

“I have a monthly link up on my blog for reviews of books about food!”

“Books about food?”  confused pause “Like cookbooks?”

“Sure, some people review cookbooks but there are lots of books about food.  There are all kinds of mysteries set in bakeries and nonfiction books too.”  This is when I usually break off because the other person is starting to look a bit scared.

The other day I was randomly rearranging my Goodreads shelves, as one does, and decided to make a shelf just for my Books about Food TBR.  I was surprised to see that I had 23 books on it.  I don’t even have any cozy mysteries on that list.  (Seriously, is it just me or does anyone else thinks that people in cozy mystery series are probably serial killers that haven’t been caught yet?  How does a baker end up tripping over that many dead bodies in her life?)

My food books tend to be either nonfiction or fluffy books.

Here’s what I’m looking forward to reading about food in the future

In Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the WorldIn Her Kitchen: Stories and Recipes from Grandmas Around the World by Gabriele Galimberti

As Gabriele Galimberti was preparing to set off on a trip around the world, his Italian grandmother was more concerned about how well he would eat than any risks or mishaps he might face on his travels. As a send-off, she prepared his favorite dish, Swiss Chard and Ricotta Ravioli with Meat Sauce. He then promised her that he would eat good food wherever he went, and while on his trip, persuaded grandmothers in 60 countries to cook a meal for him.

Tangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of CaliforniaTangled Vines: Greed, Murder, Obsession, and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California by Frances Dinkelspiel


The history of the California wine trade, dating back to the 19th Century, is a story of vineyards with dark and bloody pasts, tales of rich men, strangling monopolies, the brutal enslavement of vineyard workers and murder.

Longthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste BudsLongthroat Memoirs: Soups, Sex and Nigerian Taste Buds by Yemisi Aribisala

Long throat Memoirs presents a sumptuous menu of essays about Nigerian food, lovingly presented by the nation’s top epicurean writer. As well as a mouth-watering appraisal of the cultural politics and erotics of Nigerian cuisine.

Serving Crazy with CurryServing Crazy with Curry by Amulya Malladi

Between the pressures to marry and become a traditional Indian wife and the humiliation of losing her job in Silicon Valley, Devi is on the edge–where the only way out seems to be to jump. . . .

Yet Devi’s plans to “end it all” fall short when she is saved by the last person she wants to see: her mother. Forced to move in with her parents until she recovers, Devi refuses to speak. Instead, she cooks . . . nonstop. And not the usual fare, but off the wall twists on Indian classics, like blueberry curry chicken or Cajun prawn biryani. Now family meals are no longer obligations. Devi’s parents, her sister, and her brother-in-law can’t get enough–and they suddenly find their lives taking turns as surprising as the impromptu creations Devi whips up in the kitchen each night.

The League for the Suppression of CeleryThe League for the Suppression of Celery by Wendy Russ

Kate Pearson heads west from Arkansas in an old jalopy with two parakeets, a job offer and a half-baked plan: Dreamboat celebrity chef Warren Hoffman has offered Kate a job – and himself – if she will relocate to Oxnard, California. The catch? Kate soon discovers Warren has a Big Secret. And that he’s possibly crazy.

During her journey, Kate stumbles into the lair of paranoid militants calling themselves the League for the Suppression of Celery. When they learn her destination is Oxnard — celery capital of the world — they stop at nothing to indoctrinate her into their nefarious cult.

One Hundred Shades of WhiteOne Hundred Shades of White by Preethi Nair

Maya, her mother Nalini, and her brother Satchin have left a carefree life in India to come to England. But when Maya’s father disappears, leaving only deceit and debt behind, they are left to fend for themselves in a strange, damp land.

Maya, though, doesn’t know of her father’s betrayal. Nalini, determined to preserve her children’s pride, tells them that their father died in an accident and, as their struggle to make a life begins, whole realities are built on this lie. While Nalini cooks exotic pickles which enchant all who eat them, Maya begins to adapt to her new home – the unfamiliar food, the language, the music – and then to explore and make bold plans, plans that her mother does not understand.

If you want to see the whole list it is here.  If you want even more suggestions we have a Foodies Read pinterest page.  The link up for each month goes up on the first of the month.  There are prizes!

What books about food have you loved?

12 Jul, 2016

Five Facts About Me

/ posted in: Just for Fun

10 5 Facts About Me

1.  I’m trying to teach myself to play the lap harp.

Not a harp like this:

This is my lap harp.


You are supposed to just play simple stuff on them but I’m trying to actually learn to play cool stuff like this guy.

2. I get confused when people refer to me as a redhead.

My natural color is light brown.  Actually, my natural color is probably mostly grey by now.  I’ve been coloring my hair red because I’m a pale person and red warms my color up some.  There are people who have only ever known my hair red.  Sometimes they say things about me being a typical redhead and I get so confused.  I guess they don’t realize it comes from a bottle.

3.  I don’t know how to turn on the radio in my car.

I got a new car relatively recently.  My ipod plugs into it.  I only listen to audiobooks and songs on my ipod.  I have no idea how to make the actual radio go.

4.  I don’t read or watch westerns.

I think it comes from being around horses all my life.  I get highly critical of the way people ride or take care of the horses.  I can’t watch people jerk horses’ mouths around on screen.

Don’t be dragging that blanket in the dirt! Who’s going to clean that?

5. I’ve been to 15 countries.

Canada, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Peru, England, Wales, Iceland (just the airport 4 times), France, Germany, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Monaco.

Even though I’ve been to more countries in Europe, I’ve spent the most total time in Central and South America.


11 Jul, 2016

So Much for My Quiet Trip

/ posted in: Familytravel

I have a solo, quiet, just me and don’t worry about anyone else trip coming up. I wrote about it here.

Now, the husband has decided that he is coming with me. So much for that plan.

Ok, regroup.

Conditions to Go on Vacation with Me

I planned this vacation specifically around the fact that he wasn’t coming with me so I’m possibly doing things he won’t want to do.  I told him that I’m not changing my plans so if he doesn’t like it, he can make his own plans for that time.

He said that he would just do whatever I was planning and that would be fine.


I plan our vacations. He doesn’t want any input until we are in the middle of it and then he bitches about every little detail. (For example, we were in Nice in the far south of France and he decided that we should just spend a day in Paris.  Geography is important. I imparted an understanding but it was a painful process.) I hold myself back from killing him and then when we get home he tells everyone what a wonderful vacation we had.

There WILL BE showtunes.

If I can’t listen to the audiobooks I had planned for the trip (and I can’t, because he’s a talker), then there will be showtunes – including the entire Hamilton soundtrack, but I didn’t tell him that part.  He asked today if I had Oklahoma on my iPod.  I do not.  I sang “Oklahoma” for him and then took a request for “Surrey with the fringe on top” which got interrupted by him insisting that a surrey was a car.  No!  I wasn’t having that.  He finally caved to saying that it was a method of transportation and that was close enough. Harrumph.  I’m not downloading Oklahoma but I do have the fine distinction of having not one but two Angela Landsbury songs on my iPod.  “Beauty and the Beast” and “Substitutiary Locomotion”, thank you very much.

Get a @#$$%^%^% epi-pen

For a man with actual, literally life-threatening food allergies, he cares very little about safety.  He never had an epi-pen until he met me and he still doesn’t carry one.  The one I carry and the one in the house are expired.  I informed him of this in April.  I’m not going on vacation with him with an expired epi-pen.  He doesn’t get in the car until I see an up to date one.

I’m Driving

PTSD and unfamiliar northern Virginia traffic do not mix.  I’m driving.  Besides, my iPod plugs directly into my car for better showtune enjoyment.


Oh, dear readers, it will be hot and there is a lot of walking on my plan. There will be whining. He says there will not but seriously, husbands are a bit like toddlers on vacation. You have to keep them fed on a regular schedule and let them have scheduled breaks. It adds a level of difficulty. This has been true for both of the husbands that I’ve personally owned. Is it universal?

08 Jul, 2016

Black Man in a White Coat

/ posted in: Reading Black Man in a White Coat Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy
Published by Picador on September 8th 2015
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Medical, Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 294
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Set in North Carolina

When Damon Tweedy begins medical school,he envisions a bright future where his segregated, working-class background will become largely irrelevant. Instead, he finds that he has joined a new world where race is front and center.

Black Man in a White Coat examines the complex ways in which both black doctors and patients must navigate the difficult and often contradictory terrain of race and medicine. As Tweedy transforms from student to practicing physician, he discovers how often race influences his encounters with patients. Through their stories, he illustrates the complex social, cultural, and economic factors at the root of many health problems in the black community.

Damon Tweedy was offered a full scholarship to medical school at Duke University in North Carolina in the 1990s.  That was a deal too good to pass up even though it was well known that Duke had a history of being extremely racist.  Early in his time at Duke a professor mistakes him for a maintenance man and when he says that he isn’t there to fix the lights the professor can’t figure out any other reason why he should be in the classroom.  This spurs him to work even harder to prove that he belongs there.

He is frustrated because over and over in lectures he hears that diseases are more common in blacks than whites.  He worries that frustrating interactions with black patients will turn his white coworkers against black people.

He tells stories about what it is like to be both a black doctor and a black patient.

He talks about volunteer work at a clinic for the uninsured and whether or not the Affordable Care Act could help these people.  He had always assumed that people were uninsured because they didn’t work before helping at this clinic.  That’s a pet peeve of mine.  I’ve had this argument with my middle to upper middle class family members who were against universal healthcare and who have always had jobs that offered insurance.  I’m a veterinarian.  Until July 1 of this year when my practice was bought by a large corporation, I’ve never had a job that offered health insurance.  At least I could afford to buy it when I wasn’t married.  Most of my coworkers who make just above minimum wage didn’t have any health insurance.  Most of them still aren’t opting to get the available insurance now because it is very expensive with huge deductables.  /rant

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

He talks about how he was treated as a black man in sweats and a tshirt with a knee injury and how his treatment changed when he revealed that he was a doctor.

Should doctors be discussing sterilization with a drug addicted woman who just miscarried?

How do you deal with patients who don’t want to have a doctor of a different race than them?

How does poverty and cultural attitudes tie into poor health in the black community?



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

07 Jul, 2016

The Mango Season

/ posted in: Reading The Mango Season The Mango Season by Amulya Malladi
Published by Ballantine Books on October 26th 2004
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 229
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Set in India four-stars

Every young Indian leaving the homeland for the United States is given the following orders by their parents: Don’t eat any cow (It’s still sacred!), don’t go out too much, save (and save, and save) your money, and most important, do not marry a foreigner. Priya Rao left India when she was twenty to study in the U.S., and she’s never been back. Now, seven years later, she’s out of excuses. She has to return and give her family the news: She’s engaged to Nick Collins, a kind, loving American man. It’s going to break their hearts.

Priya is horrified to realize that she considers India differently now than when she left. It is too noisy and chaotic.  She is scared to eat food in the market without washing it first.  She also can’t fit easily back into her family.  Now she sees the racism and misogyny that she grew up with and considered normal.

She knows that her family will probably disown her when she admits to loving a foreigner.  She isn’t going to tell them that she’s been living with him for two years.

Things come to a head during a few days at her grandmother’s house to make mango pickle. Her entire extended family is there. She sees how horribly everyone treats her unmarried aunt and the woman of the wrong caste that her uncle married. Her mother and another aunt spend the whole time in a power struggle. When Priya starts speaking her mind she throws her family into an uproar.

This book made me nervous.  I knew that at some point Priya’s family was going to try to arrange a marriage for her.  So I did the unthinkable.  I read the last chapter to see how it ended.


I knew if it was up in the air for me that I would rush through the book to find out. This is a book that should be savored more than rushed.

“I looked at all the women in the room and wondered if behind the facade all of us wore for family occasions we were strangers to each other.

I was trying to be the graceful granddaughter visiting from America but my true colors were slipping past the carefully built mockery of myself I was presenting.  Maybe the masks worn by the others were slipping, too.  Maybe by the end of the day I would know the women behind the masks and they would know me.

I tried once again to talk to Ma but she shunned me and I concluded that she didn’t want to look behind the label:  DAUGHTER, and didn’t want me to look behind the label:  MA.  If she wouldn’t show me hers, how could I show her mine?”

When discussing her grandfather:

“The man was a bigot, a racist, a chauvinist, and generally too arrogant for anyone’s liking, yet I loved him.  Family never came in neat little packages with warranty signs on them.”

I saw this video just after I finished the book and it fit the story perfectly. I laughed at loud at the line about chapati.





Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

06 Jul, 2016

Ebony Exodus – Time to Give Up on the Black Church?

/ posted in: Reading Ebony Exodus – Time to Give Up on the Black Church? The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion--and Others Should Too by Candace R.M. Gorham
Published by Pitchstone Publishing on September 1st 2013
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 224
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

Black women are the single most religious demographic in the United States, yet they are among the poorest, least educated, and least healthy groups in the nation. Drawing on the author’s own past experience as an evangelical minister and her present work as a secular counselor and researcher, <em>The Ebony Exodus Project</em> makes a direct connection between the church and the plight of black women. 

The 2008 American Religious Identification Survey reported that 86% of black people identified as Christian. Black women make up the majority of most congregations in black churches.

The Ebony Exodus project is a collection of interviews with women who have left the church.  In between the personal interviews, there are discussions of the effect of the black church culture on mental health and physical health.

Several of the women identified the church’s attitude towards homosexuality as a factor in leaving.  Some of them were bisexual or lesbians themselves and others had family or friends who they didn’t want to see denigrated by the church.

The difficulties of leaving an institution that for many people defines the black experience in America is discussed.  Who are you as a woman in the African-American community if you aren’t in church?

Anti-intellectualism rears it head again.  Many women talked about studying their way out of the church (like I did.)  They hate the fact that so many people don’t know anything about the religion that they purport to believe in.

What is the affect of the prosperity gospel teaching on the black community?  What happens when you give the money you had to pay your bills to the church because you are supposed to believe that god will provide for you if you are supporting the church?  Is this helping to keep black women in poverty?

One thing that seemed very different in the black churches described here and the white churches I knew was the idea that you can only speak positive things.  If you say that things are going poorly for you then you are “claiming” that reality.  It is sort of like, “Fake it ’til you make it.”  Women in this book said that it leads to suppression of what is really going on in their lives. No one shares the real problems.  No one admits to be stressed or depressed and may not get the help they need since they are too busy “claiming” their wonderful realities that they want to have. There is also a tendency to blame bad things on a person having demons attached to them.  Nothing is the fault of circumstances that the person can improve on their own.

I’ve never understood why Christianity is so rampant in the African-American community.  It doesn’t seem logical to me.  It is a religion forced on their ancestors by their oppressors as a way of controlling them.  It would seem like people would be in a rush to get rid of it.





Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

05 Jul, 2016

Books I Love with Under 2000 Ratings on Goodreads

/ posted in: Reading

This is a quantifiable way to look at underappreciated books.  Here’s how to figure it out for yourself.

“An easy way to find this — go to Goodreads, your read list, at the top of your read list where it says settings you can add a column for # of ratings, then you can sort by that.”

I’ve always known that I tend to read things that are a bit off the beaten path.  This confirmed it for me.  I had to go deep into my Read list to find anything with OVER 2000 ratings.  About 250 of the 1000 books I have listed as read on Goodreads have under 2000 ratings.

My Book With the Lowest Number of Ratings (that isn’t an ARC)

The Pope and I: How the Lifelong Friendship Between a Polish Jew and Pope John Paul II Advanced the Cause of Jewish-Christian RelationsThe Pope and I: How the Lifelong Friendship Between a Polish Jew and Pope John Paul II Advanced the Cause of Jewish-Christian Relations by Jerzy Kluger

“This book describes the surprising, lifelong relationship between Pope John Paul II and his Jewish friend, Jerzy Kluger. Their friendship played a role in shaping Karol Wojtyla’s early views toward the Jewish people, and his later efforts, as pope, to overcome the legacy of anti-Semitism. Though their story has been previously recounted, here for the first time Jerzy Kluger offers his own account of their relationship over many years. The story begins with their friendship in grade school in Poland, Kluger’s extraordinary survival of the war, followed by his reunion with Archbishop Wojtyla in Rome during Vatican II. After his friend’s election as Pope John Paul II, their relationship unfolds against extraordinary advances in Jewish-Christian relations. Kluger tells a fascinating tale, highlighting the surprising confluences of history, politics, and religion sealed by friendship and mutual respect.”

This one has 17 reviews. 17! It was really interesting.

Blue Sun, Yellow SkyBlue Sun, Yellow Sky by Jamie Hoang

“Hailed as “One of the best technical painters of our time” by an L.A. Times critic, 27 year-old, Aubrey Johnson’s work is finally gaining traction. But as she weaves through what should be a celebration of her art, a single nagging echo of her doctor’s words refuses to stay silent—there is no cure. In less than eight weeks Aubrey is going blind.”

This book is amazingly well written. It is the story of an artist who takes a round the world trip to see all she can because she is going blind. That sounds depressing but it isn’t. Trust me. Read this one.

InkInk by Sabrina Vourvoulias
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“What happens when rhetoric about immigrants escalates to an institutionalized population control system? The near-future, dark speculative novel INK opens as a biometric tattoo is approved for use to mark temporary workers, permanent residents and citizens with recent immigration history – collectively known as inks. Set in a fictional city and small, rural town in the U.S. during a 10-year span, the novel is told in four voices: a journalist; an ink who works in a local population control office; an artist strongly tied to a specific piece of land; and a teenager whose mother runs an inkatorium (a sanitarium-internment center opened in response to public health concerns about inks).”

114 ratings? Seriously? People, this will not do! .Stop reading this post right now and go read this book. Here’s the Amazon link. The ebook is only $5.99 as I’m writing this post. This book is amazing and breath taking and heart breaking and terrifyingly real and possible even if there is a touch of magical realism thrown in. Read this one especially if you are an American in the middle of this stupid election. This is what happens when rhetoric about immigrants is taken to its logical conclusion. Seriously, you HAVE TO read this book.

Why are you still here? Have you gotten copy your copy of Ink yet? Ok, then we can move on.

Noah's WifeNoah’s Wife by T.K. Thorne

“Noah built an ark, but this story has never been told! Noah’s wife is Na’amah, a brilliant young girl with a form of autism (now known as Aspergers). Na’amah wishes only to be a shepherdess on her beloved hills in ancient Turkey–a desire shattered by the hatred of her powerful brother, the love of two men, and a disaster that threatens her world.”

Wonderful historical fiction set in the ancient world

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

“”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.”

Like light and happy books? Get this one.

Faith Ed: Teaching About Religion in an Age of IntoleranceFaith Ed: Teaching About Religion in an Age of Intolerance by Linda K. Wertheimer

“A suburban Boston school unwittingly started a firestorm of controversy over a sixth-grade field trip. The class was visiting a mosque to learn about world religions when a handful of boys, unnoticed by their teachers, joined the line of worshippers and acted out the motions of the Muslim call to prayer. A video of the prayer went viral with the title “Wellesley, Massachusetts Public School Students Learn to Pray to Allah.” Charges flew that the school exposed the children to Muslims who intended to convert American schoolchildren. Wellesley school officials defended the course, but also acknowledged the delicate dance teachers must perform when dealing with religion in the classroom.

Courts long ago banned public school teachers from preaching of any kind. But the question remains: How much should schools teach about the world’s religions? Answering that question in recent decades has pitted schools against their communities.

Veteran education journalist Linda K. Wertheimer spent months with that class, and traveled to other communities around the nation, listening to voices on all sides of the controversy, including those of clergy, teachers, children, and parents who are Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Sikh, or atheist. In Lumberton, Texas, nearly a hundred people filled a school-board meeting to protest a teacher’s dress-up exercise that allowed freshman girls to try on a burka as part of a lesson on Islam. In Wichita, Kansas, a Messianic Jewish family’s opposition to a bulletin-board display about Islam in an elementary school led to such upheaval that the school had to hire extra security. Across the country, parents have requested that their children be excused from lessons on Hinduism and Judaism out of fear they will shy away from their own faiths.”

This was such a great look at the state of idiocy and hypocrisy in teaching about religion as history.

SEAsoned - A Chef's Journey with Her CaptainSEAsoned – A Chef’s Journey with Her Captain by Victoria Allman

“Victoria’s Recipe for Marriage: Take two adventurous newlyweds and place them on a floundering yacht where the wife is the chef, and her boss, the captain, is also her husband. Add two inexperienced crew members, an anorexic diva and her bully of a husband, a CEO who thinks he’s in charge, a drunken first mate, and a randy wife looking for diversion. Stir with a violent storm and a rapidly flooding engine room. Apply pressure and watch the situation simmer to a boil. Sprinkled with over 30-mouthwatering recipes and spiced with tales of adventure, SEAsoned is the hilarious look at a yacht chef’s first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain, trying to stay afloat.”

This is Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous from the help’s point of view.  I gave a copy of this away for one a prize one month for Foodies Read.

The Violinist of Venice: A Story of VivaldiThe Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo

“Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d’Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family’s palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.”

This is a wonderfully written historical fiction novel.

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa ParksThe Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Presenting a corrective to the popular notion of Rosa Parks as the quiet seamstress who, with a single act, birthed the modern civil rights movement, Theoharis provides a revealing window into Parks’s politics and years of activism. She shows readers how this civil rights movement radical sought—for more than a half a century—to expose and eradicate the American racial-caste system in jobs, schools, public services, and criminal justice.”

I can’t believe this book hasn’t gotten more attention. It was amazing.

The Cosy Teashop in the CastleThe Cosy Teashop in the Castle by Caroline Roberts

“When Ellie Hall lands her dream job running the little teashop in the beautiful but crumbling Claverham Castle, it’s the perfect escape from her humdrum job in the city. Life is definitely on the rise as Ellie replaces spreadsheets for scones, and continues her Nanna’s brilliant baking legacy.

When Lord Henry, the stick-in-the-mud owner, threatens to burst her baking bubble with his old-fashioned ways, Ellie wonders if she might have bitten off more than she can chew.”

I just read this one. It was so cute.

A Bonus Entry

Moonshine (Zephyr Hollis, #1)Moonshine by Alaya Dawn Johnson

“Zephyr Hollis is an underfed, overzealous social activist who teaches night school to the underprivileged of the Lower East Side. Strapped for cash, Zephyr agrees to help a student, the mysterious Amir, who proposes she use her charity worker cover to bring down a notorious vampire mob boss.

What he doesn’t tell her is why. Soon enough she’s tutoring a child criminal with an angelic voice, dodging vampires high on a new blood-based street drug, and trying to determine the real reason behind Amir’s request — not to mention attempting to resist (often unsuccessfully) his dark, inhuman charm.”

I love this series. Vampires and other supernaturals mixed in with social justice work in 1920s New York? What’s not to love?

This is my most popular book on this list and even it only has 500 ratings on Goodreads.



01 Jul, 2016

July Foodies Read

/ posted in: Reading


Welcome to July Foodies Read

The winner of the drawing from all the entries in May and June is Wendy for her Black and White Chocolate Cake.     Wendy will have a choice of books.

Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli (Tara Holloway, #9)Death, Taxes, and a Chocolate Cannoli by Diane Kelly

“He’s no Tony Soprano. Still, local crime boss Giustino “Tino” Fabrizio is one shady character that Tara would love to see behind bars. He operates a security business—or so he claims on his tax forms—but his clients don’t feel so secure when it’s time to pay up. Problem is, no one can get close enough to nail this wiseguy for extortion. No one, that is, except Tara…

Going undercover, Tara lands a waitress job at Benedetta’s Bistro—which is owned and operated by Tino’s wife. Being surrounded by cream-filled cannolis could be hazardous to Tara’s waistline…even though the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, right?”

Homegrown in the Ozarks: Mountain Meals and MemoriesHomegrown in the Ozarks: Mountain Meals and Memories by Rolland Love

“Growing up, Rolland Love roamed the Ozark Mountains, floated its rivers, and provided food for the family. “We grew vegetables, hunted game, and enjoyed the rivers’ bounty,” he says. “We were self-sufficient. And there was no need to travel, we already lived in paradise.”

You’ll find:

Fried sweet corn and peppers
Grandma’s chicken ‘n’ dumplin’s
Jefferson Davis pie
Huckleberry hotcakes
Soft-shell turtle soup
Pawpaw and black walnut cookies

Homegrown in the Ozarks contains Ozarks nostalgia, as well as recipes for traditional home-cookin’ favorites, truly capturing the flavor of the region.”

Hometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America AteHometown Appetites: The Story of Clementine Paddleford, the Forgotten Food Writer Who Chronicled How America Ate by Kelly Alexander


“In Hometown Appetites, an award-winning food writer and a leading university archivist come together to revive the legacy of the most important food writer you have never heard of. Clementine Paddleford was a Kansas farm girl who grew up to chronicle America’s culinary habits. Her weekly readership at the New York Herald Tribune topped 12 million during the 1950s and 1960s and she earned a salary of $250,000. Yet twenty years after America’s best known food editor passed away, she had been forgotten until now”


We will have a winner for just the entries in July.  The person chosen by the random number generator will have their choice of the two remaining books from above and:

My French Family Table: Recipes for a Life Filled with Food, Love, and Joie de VivreMy French Family Table: Recipes for a Life Filled with Food, Love, and Joie de Vivre by Béatrice Peltre

“In her signature style of blending classically French dishes with exotic, modern twists, Peltre offers up recipes for each meal of the day plus the traditional French goûter (afternoon snack), as well as food that she cooks and especially loves to share with her daughter, Lulu.
Peltre ups the ante on what gluten-free foods can be—incredibly tasty, beautiful, and nourishing. Whole grains, colorful produce, spices, and creative use of ingredients abound. Peltre’s bright photography, impeccable styling, and sweet storytelling bring the book to life. All these elements come together to create an inspiring collection of recipes for feeding a family and feeding them well.”

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30 Jun, 2016

June Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

In June I read 16 books.

There were 12 unique authors.

  • 4 were male and 8 were female
  • 6 are white and 6 are POC

The books where set in:

  • United States – New York, Florida, Michigan/California, North Carolina
  • England
  • Mexico
  • Fantasy lands

Four were nonfiction and four were audiobooks

I started playing with some bookish Instagram challenges.

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

What bookish events are coming up in July?


29 Jun, 2016

How To Eat a Cupcake

/ posted in: Reading How To Eat a Cupcake How to Eat a Cupcake by Meg Donohue
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on March 13th 2012
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 309
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in California

“Funny, free-spirited Annie Quintana and sophisticated, ambitious Julia St. Clair come from two different worlds. Yet, as the daughter of the St. Clair’s housekeeper, Annie grew up in Julia’s San Francisco mansion and they forged a bond that only two little girls who know nothing of class differences and scholarships could—until a life-altering betrayal destroyed their friendship.

A decade later, Annie is now a talented, if underpaid, pastry chef who bakes to fill the void left in her heart by her mother’s death. Julia, a successful businesswoman, is tormented by a painful secret that could jeopardize her engagement to the man she loves. When a chance reunion prompts the unlikely duo to open a cupcakery, they must overcome past hurts and a mysterious saboteur or risk losing their fledgling business and any chance of healing their fractured friendship.”

There is a lot going on in this book.  There is a relationship between Annie and Julia.  There is the mystery of the vandalism.  There is tension between Julia and her fiance.  Annie is trying to find a recipe book of her mother’s.  It is a bit too much taken all together.  What stuck with me was this:

This book is the story of two people who were raised together but who see the world completely differently because of their racial and class backgrounds.

Annie is Hispanic and working class.  She lived in an upper class world but never was allowed to forget that she was the daughter of a servant.

Julia is white and upper class.  She can’t understand why Annie is still bitter from her experiences in high school.  She hasn’t thought about that in years.

Julia is looking for a diversion for a year and offers Annie the chance to open her dream bakery.  Despite her reservations Annie agrees because this is the only way she will ever receive funding.  They can’t even agree on where to open it.  Annie insists on the Mission but Julia is convinced that is a dangerous, lower class area.  When the bakery is vandalized repeatedly during construction it seems like Julia may have been right.





Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

28 Jun, 2016

Traveling with The Lost Symbol

/ posted in: Readingtravel

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3)The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

This book is a hot mess.

I say that as an actual Dan Brown fan. I loved The DaVinci Code. Actually, I love the exposure of the suppression of women by the institutional church – not the adventure story. I consider the ending of Inferno to be the best ending of a book EVER. I swear, if they change that perfect ending to make it more palatable for movie audiences I will have a meltdown. So when I say The Lost Symbol is a hot mess, it is a hot mess.

Let me sum up. Robert Langdon gets tricked into going to D.C. to help a friend. He whines about it. Then he has to run from bad guys. Gets to a new landmark. Whines about it. Gets an info dump about stuff. Claims he doesn’t understand and whines some more. Rinse and repeat.

I love Washington D.C. It is my favorite U.S. city to visit. So, when I decided to plan a quick vacation to D.C. in July, I reread The Lost Symbol to find out about some new places to visit. Here are some new-to-me places I’ll be visiting that featured in the book.

The Capitol

This isn’t actually new to me. I just haven’t been here in a long time.

I was here in 1989(ish) when I got kicked out of the Senate Gallery for looking at a schedule. You weren’t allowed to read while in the gallery. We were checking what time we needed to meet our group and got thrown out. Shortly after that, there were bombings that closed the Capitol to visitors. (Strangely, I can’t find that incident on Google.  I swear, a week or two after I was there, a bomb was found in one of the galleries.  I’m starting to think I’m nuts now.)  Now you need to get a pass in advance to go in. I got one so I’m going back on the tour.

Apotheosis of George Washington

This is the Apotheosis of George Washington on the dome. It features in The Lost Symbol. It shows Washington becoming a god. Gods around the outside teach Americans about technology.

The Library of Congress

I can’t believe that I’ve never stopped in here.

Thomas Jefferson Great Hall by Carol M. Highsmith

I just want to wander around and look at the rooms.

United States Botanical Garden

This is right next to the Capitol.

Model Reflecting Pool in US Botanic Garden

I like plants.  There will be lots of photo ops here.

There is an interrogation scene in the Jungle Room in The Lost Symbol.  I won’t do that.

National Cathedral

I was here when I was in 4th grade. It was still under construction. I don’t remember much about it. I think we just walked around the parking lot.


There is a self guided tour you can take to see all the gargoyles. There are cat ones and even one of Darth Vader.

For non-book stuff, I’m going to:

  • Textile museum
  • Lunch at the American Indian Museum which has the best museum cafeteria ever
  • Afternoon Tea at the Willard
  • National Zoo
  • Smithsonian – Renwick Gallery, Asian Art, and whatever else strikes my fancy

Do you ever use books to plan your travels?


27 Jun, 2016

Do You Review Genres Differently?

/ posted in: Reading

Do you review different genres of books with different criteria?

I started thinking about this when I was writing some reviews of chick lit books.  I love chick lit.  If your book cover is pink, I promise I will at least pick it up and read the back.


A photo posted by @dvmheather on

But when it comes to reviewing light and fluffy books I get stuck. Here’s how star ratings work in my brain for other genres.

  • 1 star – I finished it because the hate and rage was pushing me through
  • 2 stars – I have some issues with this book
  • 3 stars – I liked it.  I finished it.  Moving on now.
  • 4 stars – Better than average.  Probably gave me something to think about
  • 5 stars – Life changing.  Seriously, something about this changed the way I think or see the world.

So light books don’t tend to fit into those categories.  I decided I need a new scale for them.  Partially inspired by Jamie’s timeline rating graphics, I made myself a new grading scale.  I think of these books as fluffy so OBVIOUSLY I needed a FLUFFY BUNNY SCALE!



I made some new graphics for my regular book reviews too.



I also have an add on for those books that you are going to get so sick of hearing me talk about.



Is it just me or do you find yourself promoting books that you didn’t actually rate very high?  For example, Ascension is a book I find myself promoting all the time but it was a 3 star read for me.  It is sci-fi written by a POC author with a black lesbian protagonist and features polyamorous relationships.  So when there are Twitter discussions and someone asks if anyone knows a book about any of those things, I mention it.

24 Jun, 2016

Let’s Look at Puppies

/ posted in: Pets

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

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

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

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

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

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

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

Some were enthusiastic.

Others not so much

Some were more enthusiastic than I expected them to be

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

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

Other dogs just wanted to be adored by the crowd.

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

22 Jun, 2016

The Cosy Teashop in the Castle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Reading this book contributed to these challenges: