Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven Book Cover Station Eleven
Emily St. John Mandel

The sudden death of a Hollywood actor during a production of King Lear marks the beginning of the world's dissolution, in a story told at various past and future times from the perspectives of the actor and four of his associates.

It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine…

A global flu is spreading rapidly.  A flight from Moscow brings it to Toronto.  In a matter of days, an estimated 99% of the population is dead.

Years later, a troupe of actors and musicians travel around the Great Lakes performing Shakespeare to isolated towns of survivors and people born after the flu.  Kirsten was a child actor on stage when Arthur Leander died in Toronto the night the flu hit.  She has vague fond memories of him as a kind man who gave her some comic books about Station Eleven, a space station the size of a moon.

The book traces her experiences after the flu and the experiences before and after of several people who were in contact with Arthur Leander.  The book jumps around in time to compare their intertwining lives before the end of civilization and now.

It took me a while to get into this book.  I almost put it aside but everyone has been raving about it so I gave it another go.  I’m glad I did.  I liked the way the disparate characters in the story are actually related in tangential and circumstantial ways.

I think the thing that will stay with me from this book though is this.  Kirsten had heard of the theory of multiple universes.  She wasn’t sure if it had been a real theory or if the person who told her about it had made it up.  She asked around but no one could tell her anything.

“No one had any idea, it turned out.  None of the older Symphony members knew much about science, which was frankly maddening given how much time these people had had to look things up on the Internet before the world ended.”  pages 199-200

I’ve often been frustrated by myself whenever I feel bored when I am holding access to the sum total knowledge of humanity in my hand.  Now I’m going to add the guilt of knowing that playing Candy Crush was wasting knowledge gathering time that I won’t get back.  But that’s ok, I guess.  I’ve never wanted to survive an end of the world scenario.  No, thank you.  I’d like to be first to die, please.  No running for my life while fighting zombies for me.  I’d like to be at the epicenter of the nuclear bomb blast.  While reading this book, I was making disaster plans involving access to the good drugs at work to kill myself before the food ran out.

Is it just me?  Do you imagine yourself as a survivor or as zombie food?


Books N Bloggers Swap Reveal

I received my package today in the Books N Bloggers Swap.

My partner was Kenzie from Chasing My Extraordinary.

We were to send a book we loved, a book we haven’t read but are interested in, and a book from our partner’s wish list. Here’s what I got.


One for the Money (Stephanie Plum, #1)One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

“Pestered by her close New Jersey family, Stephanie Plum offers to catch high-school crush Joe Morelli, cop turned bail jumper, for her cousin Vinnie’s company. “

City of WomenCity of Women by David R. Gillham

“Whom do you trust, whom do you love, and who can be saved?

It is 1943—the height of the Second World War—and Berlin has essentially become a city of women.
Sigrid Schröder is, for all intents and purposes, the model German soldier’s wife: She goes to work every day, does as much with her rations as she can, and dutifully cares for her meddling mother-in-law, all the while ignoring the horrific immoralities of the regime. But behind this façade is an entirely different Sigrid, a woman who dreams of her former lover, now lost in the chaos of the war. Her lover is a Jew.”

Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke & Bone, #1)Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor

“Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grows dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.”

I also received some hot chocolate and some great skin care products which will be great during this cold snap. Thanks Kenzie!


Persuasion by Jane Austin

Persuasion Book Cover Persuasion
Jane Austen

Twenty-seven-year old Anne Elliot is Austen’s most adult heroine. Eight years before the story proper begins, she is happily betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but she precipitously breaks off the engagement when persuaded by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy. The breakup produces in Anne a deep and long-lasting regret. When later Wentworth returns from sea a rich and successful captain, he finds Anne’s family on the brink of financial ruin and his own sister a tenant in Kellynch Hall, the Elliot estate. All the tension of the novel revolves around one question: Will Anne and Wentworth be reunited in their love?

My mother and I are headed to Bath this May.  Since Jane Austen is a big deal in Bath, I’ve decided to reread at least a few of her books before we go.  I started with Persuasion because I didn’t remember it.  It is her last book.

I didn’t find it as readable as Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.  The sentence structure was more complex and convoluted.  I had to concentrate a lot to figure out what person in the beginning of the sentence she was referring to by the end of the sentence.  If this was the first Austen you read, I don’t know that you’d try another.

Since this is Austen I promise that (SPOILER ALERT) – ladies act silly, a poor man makes his fortune, some female gets an illness, and they all live happily ever after.
BBC pointed shaded




reading england 5


American Visa by Juan De Recacoechea

American Visa Book Cover American Visa
Juan De Recacoechea
Akashic Books

Armed with fake papers, a handful of gold nuggets and a snazzy custom-made suit, an unemployed schoolteacher with a singular passion for detective fiction sets out from small-town Bolivia on a desperate quest for an American visa – his best hope for escaping his painful past and reuniting with his grown son in Miami.

One of my goals in looking for books set in South America was to find books from Bolivia.  I spent some time there during vet school.


I spent time in Santa Cruz and then in a small town east of Santa Cruz, about halfway to the Brazilian border.  Even on maps of Bolivia that area never gets any love.  So far I haven’t been able to find any books set there.

This book features a man from Oruro, Mario Alvarez, who is in La Paz (one of the capitals) to get a visa.  When he realizes that his forged papers are going to be checked out at the consulate, he panics and tries to find illegal ways to get a visa.

The Good

  • The city of La Paz is a character in the book.  At 13,000 feet above sea level it is the highest capital in the world.  At that altitude it is cold and windy.  Mario Alvarez wanders through the city in search of ideas about how to get to Miami and the different areas of the city and the occupants are discussed.
  • Sassy dialogue – I love funny dialogue with quick comebacks.  This book also talks a lot about the problems trying to get ahead in Bolivia.

“Most of the customers were recruits, laborers, and hoods, the kind of people who couldn’t afford more than twenty pesos a session.  Blanca surprised me.  She didn’t waste any time….. The country’s rotten economy was hitting the expensive hookers; for the common people, something good had finally come out of the recession.”  page 84

He goes past a protest by miners who have tied themselves to a fence in mock crucifiction to protest their wages and working conditions.  He finds that he knows one of the protestors and goes to talk to him.  The miner introduces him to his wife.

“The lady sighed and then covered Justo’s neck with a garment that looked like a scarf.  ‘He told me about you,’ she said.  ‘Would you crucify yourself?’

‘Not for a miner’s salary.’

page 98

The Bad

  • Racism – Every character is described by race or color of their skin.  Generalizations are made based on skin color.
  • Sexism – Every woman in the story is there for sex.  I’m not that surprised by that though.  Bolivia is the only place I’ve ever been where strange men addressed all conversation directly to my breasts and didn’t even pretend to hide it.  Also, the male characters can always easily get sex with every woman even when the men don’t appear to be all that appealling.  Wishful thinking?

The Verdict

If this was a book set in the U.S. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much.  The excitement of having my hands on a real live Bolivian book helped a lot.


Books in Translation Reading Challenge hosted at The Introverted Reader



Fitness Tuesday



I laughed when I saw this shirt today.  I had to buy it because I knew it would have the Freckles seal of approval.



10,307 steps 4.45 miles


I went to Universal Studios.  20,110 steps for 8.68 miles


Back to the real world of cold and snow and no convention centers to walk for miles in.  8,121 steps.


I did 2 miles on the track in the morning.  Then I took Freckles for a short walk in the snow.  It was maybe 3/4 of a mile.

Later I did:

One bear complex (clean, squat, push press, back squat, push press) every minute on the minute for 10 minutes.  I used 45 lbs.

5 rounds of:

  • 5 cleans
  • 5 front squats
  • 5 push presses
  • 5 burpees

I used a 55 lb bar.


4,849 steps


7,053 steps


House of the Rising Sun by Kristen Painter

House of the Rising Sun Book Cover House of the Rising Sun
Kristen Painter
Urban fantasy

Every vampire has heard rumors of the mythical place where their kind can daywalk. But what no vampire knows is that this City of Eternal Night actually exists in New Orleans. For centuries, the fae have protected the city from vampire infestation. But when the bloodsuckers return, the fragile peace in New Orleans begins to crumble. Carefree playboy Augustine, and Harlow, a woman searching for answers about her absent father, are dragged into the war. 

This book takes place in New Orleans in the 2060s. The supernatural creatures are public knowledge.  New Orleans was cursed by a witch to be a place where vampires can day walk.  Other witches have tried to protect the city by making vampires forget about the city as soon as they leave the boundaries.  Now someone is bringing vampires in – but for what purpose?

The Good

  • Many species of fae with lots of unusual talents
  • A variety of strong female characters who aren’t just love interests

The Bad

  • Harlow and Augustine kiss during a fae festival before they realize they will be in each other’s lives.  It was the most magical thing ever and they just can’t quit thinking about it – blech, who cares?
  • This is the first book of a series and there isn’t enough resolution of story lines to make this a satisfactory book on its own.

Verdict – I’ll probably pick up the next book but I’m not sure I’d commit to the whole series unless the next book blows me away.

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post

On The Blog This Week

Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs

Goblet of Fire reread

Migratory Animals by Mary Helen Specht


Where I Am

I’m back in the great frozen north after a week in Florida.  I did get to Universal Studios and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter but I’m saving those pictures for the next edition of the Harry Potter reread.

Here’s one picture though from the Toon Landing section of the park.

Coming Up This Week

Hopefully, there will be a new theme.  I installed one and it is all working except for one itsy bitsy problem.  It is going to a blank static homepage instead of my blog even though I’ve told it repeatedly  not to do that.  Of course the place I got the theme from doesn’t have any customer service on weekends.  I hate it when technical stuff doesn’t work right out of the box.

I got so many blog posts written and books read when I was in Florida!  Lots of stuff coming up.  I’m way ahead. Let’s see how long that lasts.

What I’m Reading

Listening to:

Cold Magic (Spiritwalker, #1)Cold Magic by Kate Elliott
As they approach adulthood, Cat Barahal and her cousin Bee think they understand the society they live in and their place within it. At a select academy they study new airship technologies and the dawning Industrial Revolution, but magical forces still rule. And the cousins are about to discover the full ruthlessness of this rule.  (from Goodreads)


The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa ParksThe Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis

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. (from Goodreads)