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02 Dec, 2016


/ posted in: Reading Flygirl Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on January 22nd 2009
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 288
Format: Paperback
Source: Owned
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Louisiana and Texas

“Ida Mae Jones dreams of flight. Her daddy was a pilot and being black didn’t stop him from fulfilling his dreams. But her daddy’s gone now, and being a woman, and being black, are two strikes against her.
 When America enters the war with Germany and Japan, the Army creates the WASP, the Women Airforce Service Pilots – and Ida suddenly sees a way to fly as well as do something significant to help her brother stationed in the Pacific. But even the WASP won’t accept her as a black woman, forcing Ida Mae to make a difficult choice of “passing,” of pretending to be white to be accepted into the program. Hiding one’s racial heritage, denying one’s family, denying one’s self is a heavy burden. And while Ida Mae chases her dream, she must also decide who it is she really wants to be.”

I loved this book so much.  From the very first pages, I believed that we were in Louisiana in the 1940s.  Ida Mae and her best friend feel like real people who grow apart over time because of the differences in their abilities to advance in the world. This book addresses not only racism but also the colorism in the African American community.

Ida Mae’s father taught her to fly for their crop dusting business.  She hasn’t been able to get her license because the instructor wouldn’t approve a license for a woman. When women are started to be hired to ferry planes between bases to free up male pilots for combat, Ida Mae wants to join.  She is very light skinned so she lets the recruiter assume that she is a white woman.  This makes a divide between Ida Mae and her darker skinned mother, family, and friends.  A big question in the story is can she come back from this?  Once she starts living the life of a white woman, will she be willing to be seen as a black woman again?

I read about this topic in A Chosen Exile:  A History of Racial Passing in America but I haven’t seen it addressed in historical fiction often.

If you are interested in reading more fiction about the WASP, check out The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion.

Flygirl is YA so it is a quick read.  I would recommend it to anyone who likes women-centered historical fiction.



Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

01 Dec, 2016

December Foodies Read

/ posted in: Reading

Welcome to Foodies Read!


Our winner of the drawing for November is Louise.  I’ll email you to see what book you would like to receive.

For December we will be having multiple giveaways!

Everyone who links up a review this month will be entered in the drawing for a free book.

In addition, I will be counting up how many links people had for the whole year.  The person with the most will get a $20 Amazon gift card and the second place person will get a $10 gift card.  Thank you to everyone who participated in 2016.  For those of you who wanted to read a set number of books, did you hit your target?  I was aiming for 1 book a month but I read about 17 books.  I just keep finding more and more food books that sound so amazing!

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Announcing Foodies Read 2017


Do you read books about food?  There are books about food in so many different genres.

  • Cozy mysteries set in bakeries
  • Romance books set in tea shops
  • Nonfiction books about the history of ingredients
  • Cookbooks
  • Memoirs from chefs or waiters or people who just love to eat
  • …the list goes on and on.  Need more ideas? Check out our Pinterest page!

Want to challenge yourself?  Pick a level below.

Short-Order Cook: 1 to 3 books
Pastry Chef: 4 to 8 books
Sous-Chef: 9 to 13 books
Chef de Cuisine: 14 to 18
Cordon-Bleu Chef: More than 19

Don’t like to plan?  Choose the a la carte option and let us know when you read a book about food.

Each month I’ll have a new page for book reviews that you post.  You can find the page for the month linked on the blog’s right sidebar.  Posts will be pinned to Pinterest and publicized on Twitter to get the word out.

There are monthly giveaways.  Every participant is entered in a drawing to win a food-themed book.  I try to have options in several genres so you can pick one that you will love!

If you are making a page with the challenges that you are doing in 2017, feel free to grab the graphic.

Grab button for Foodies Read 2017

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<img src=”” alt=”Foodies Read” width=”300″ height=”300″ />

You aren’t required to sign up to play along throughout the year. Join us whenever you read a food book.

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30 Nov, 2016

November Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

I had big things to say about my plans for November.  I was totally wrong.

First off, I said that although I was going to participate in Nonfiction November’s Monday discussions, I wasn’t going to focus on reading nonfiction this month.

American on PurposeEvery Patient Tells a StoryThe Perfect HorseThe Piano Shop on the Left BankThe Wonder TrailBrave New WeedMarching PowderBeing Mortal

Wow, good to know I wasn’t going to focus on nonfiction.

Here’s the fiction I read this month.

The Chocolate ApothecaryLady KillerFatima’s Good FortuneFlygirl

That’s 12 books all together which is a little low for me.

  • 3 audiobooks
  • Set in France, Poland/Austria/Germany/Czechoslovakia, all through Central and South America, Tasmania, and the U.S.

The authors were:

  • 8 men and 6 women (2 books were written by 2 authors)
  • There were 2 black authors and 1 Indian author

I notice that my nonfiction reading does tend to drift towards white male authors.  I’d love to find more nonfiction written by women and POC authors.  Suggestions?

I also said that I was going to be doing NaNoWriMo.  I started.  This is a book that I had tried writing before and got bogged down when they have a take a trip on a ship.  I didn’t have enough knowledge to be able to write that.  I did some research ahead of time this attempt and got bogged down at the same point.  I still want to write this book though so I have some reference material coming through interlibrary loan to look at the exact type of ship I’m writing about.

So, moving on.  December plans.  I am going to be following along with a Goodreads readalong of A Close and Common Orbit, the sequel to The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet.  That’s about it.

What do you have planned for December?

29 Nov, 2016

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank

/ posted in: Reading The Piano Shop on the Left Bank The Piano Shop on the Left Bank: Discovering a Forgotten Passion in a Paris Atelier by Thad Carhart
Published by Random House Trade Paperbacks on March 12th 2002
Genres: History, Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 268
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: France

“Walking his two young children to school every morning, Thad Carhart passes an unassuming little storefront in his Paris neighborhood. Intrigued by its simple sign — Desforges Pianos — he enters, only to have his way barred by the shop’s imperious owner. Unable to stifle his curiosity, he finally lands the proper introduction, and a world previously hidden is brought into view. Luc, the atelier’s master, proves an indispensable guide to the history and art of the piano. Intertwined with the story of a musical friendship are reflections on how pianos work, their glorious history, and stories of the people who care for them, from amateur pianists to the craftsmen who make the mechanism sing.”

This book starts out with a mystery.  How does a small shop that repairs pianos survive in a neighborhood that isn’t around any other music stores?  The author is an American living in France, is fluent in French, and played the piano as a child.  He uses the excuse of asking if they know of any place to find a used piano to get into the store.  He is turned away for weeks with the excuse that they will let him know if they hear of any used pianos. Finally, a new worker, Luc, lets him know that he needs an introduction from a current customer to be allowed in the store.  Once he gains that password he is let into the back of the store where they keep an ever rotating collection of used pianos.  Luc takes on the task of finding the perfect used piano for the author’s family.

In between the story of learning how to be accepted in a very French establishment, the author tells the history of the piano.  We hear about trying to pick up the piano again as an adult.  He introduces us to people trying to make the most perfect piano possible.  He compares learning the piano as a child in France with the lessons that he continued to take when his family moved back to America.  He also discovers all the musicians that inhabit the world around him.

This is a quiet book that had a fascinating amount of history in it.  I learned more about how pianos work here than in years of music lessons.


Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

28 Nov, 2016

Nonfiction November – New to the TBR

/ posted in: General


New to My TBR: It’s been a month full of amazing nonfiction books! Which ones have made it onto your TBR? Be sure to link back to the original blogger who posted about that book! Hosted by Lory

I don’t remember where I heard about the books I added to my non-fiction TBR this month.

The Oregon Trail: A New American JourneyThe Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck

“In the bestselling tradition of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz, Rinker Buck’s “The Oregon Trail” is a major work of participatory history: an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules–which hasn’t been done in a century–that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country.”

I’m telling lies already.  JoAnn recommended this one.

Imperial Dreams: Tracking the Imperial Woodpecker Through the Wild Sierra MadreImperial Dreams: Tracking the Imperial Woodpecker Through the Wild Sierra Madre by Tim Gallagher

“Naturalist Tim Gallagher journeys deep into the savagely beautiful Sierra Madre, home to rich wildlife and other natural treasures—and also to Mexican drug cartels—in a dangerous quest to locate the rarest bird in the world—the possibly extinct Imperial Woodpecker, the largest of all carpinteros.”


I think this one came from a Goodreads recommendation.

We Gon' Be Alright: Notes on Race and ResegregationWe Gon’ Be Alright: Notes on Race and Resegregation by Jeff Chang

“In these provocative, powerful essays acclaimed writer/journalist Jeff Chang (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, Who We Be) takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country. Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, passionately personal writing, and distinguished cultural criticism, We Gon’ Be Alright links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism. Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. He argues that resegregation is the unexamined condition of our time, the undoing of which is key to moving the nation forward to racial justice and cultural equity.”

The Magnolia StoryThe Magnolia Story by Chip Gaines

“The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.”

Mother Tongue: My Family's Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in SpanishMother Tongue: My Family’s Globe-Trotting Quest to Dream in Mandarin, Laugh in Arabic, and Sing in Spanish by Christine Gilbert


“Gilbert was a young mother when she boldly uprooted her family to move around the world, studying Mandarin in China, Arabic in Lebanon, and Spanish in Mexico, with her toddler son and all-American husband along for the ride. Their story takes us from Beijing to Beirut, from Cyprus to Chiang Mai—and also explores recent breakthroughs in bilingual brain mapping and the controversial debates happening in linguistics right now.”

American on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely PatriotAmerican on Purpose: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot by Craig Ferguson

“In his memoir American on Purpose, Craig Ferguson, host of The Late, Late Show, traces his journey from working-class Glasgow to the comedic limelight of Hollywood and American citizenship. Moving and achingly funny, American on Purpose moves from Ferguson’s early life as an alcoholic to his stint on The Drew Carey Show to his decision to become a U.S. citizen in its unique and honest look at his version of the American dream.”

25 Nov, 2016

The Wonder Trail

/ posted in: Reading The Wonder Trail The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World by Steve Hely
Published by DUTTON on June 14th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs, Travel
Pages: 336
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

“Steve Hely, writer for The Office and American Dad!, and recipient of the Thurber Prize for American Humor, presents a travel book about his journey through Central and South America. Part travel book, part pop history, part comic memoir, Hely’s writing will make readers want to reach for their backpack and hiking boots.The Wonder Trail is the story of Steve’s trip from Los Angeles to the bottom of South America, presented in 102 short chapters.  The trip was ambitious – Steve traveled through Mexico City, ancient Mayan ruins, the jungles and coffee plantations and remote beaches of Central America, across the Panama Canal, by sea to Colombia, to the wild Easter celebration of Popayán, to the Amazon rainforest, the Inca sites of Cuzco and Machu Picchu, to the Galápagos Islands, the Atacama Desert of Chile, and down to the jagged and wind-worn land of Patagonia at the very end of the Western Hemisphere.
Steve’s plan was to discover the weird, wonderful, and absurd in Central and South America, to seek and find the incredible, delightful people and experiences that came his way. And the book that resulted is just as fun. A blend of travel writing, history, and comic memoir, The Wonder Trail will inspire, inform, and delight.”

I loved this book.  I listened to the audio and the author’s enthusiasm for his trip was infectious.  He was so excited that he got to spend time fishing in the Panama Canal, for example.  He set off on this trip with no set plan other than a few dates where he would be meeting up with friends at a specific spot.  I’m never brave (or crazy) enough to travel like that.   He’s the kind of traveler who always finds interesting people to talk to in bars.  They tell the best stories.

The other thing I loved about this book is that it led me to other books.  The author read a lot of books set in and about South America.  He listed many of them.  Since I was listening to the audio it was hard to remember a lot of them but I did mutter some names over and over until I got to a place where I could write them down.  In fact, I’ve already read one of his recommendations and it was as exciting as he promised it would be.

If you are looking to read more books set in South America, this is a great place to start.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

23 Nov, 2016

Kiss and Spell

/ posted in: Reading Kiss and Spell Kiss and Spell (Enchanted, Inc., #7) by Shanna Swendson
Published by NLA Digital Liaison Platform LLC on May 17th 2013
Genres: Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 284
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: New York

“With great power comes great danger…
When a freak accident leaves Katie Chandler with magical powers, it seems like a wish come true for the former magical immune. But it also means she’s vulnerable to magic, just when the dangerous Elf Lord is cooking up another scheme in his bid for power. Anyone who gets in his way disappears–including Katie and her wizard boyfriend, Owen Palmer.
Now Katie’s under a spell that obscures her true identity, living a life right out of a romantic comedy movie in a Hollywood set version of New York. Will she be able to find her true Mr. Right in time to break the spell with a kiss and warn everyone, or will she be trapped forever, unaware of the doom facing her world?”

This is the seventh and last book in this series from Shanna Swendson.  Katie Chandler is from Texas.  She decided to move to New York City even though everyone told her things were weird there.  So when she got there and started noticing some very odd people, she wasn’t surprised.  It turned out that Katie was immune to magic so she saw through the spells that magical people used in New York to keep themselves hidden.  Eventually she got a job at a magical company because she could tell if people were trying to use magic to steal trade secrets.

At the end of book six an accident gave her some magical powers.  She loves this but it allows her to get caught up in a magical trap when she is investigating some bad guys.  People are disappearing and they are all in a fantasy New York in the elven lands.  You know the New York.  It is the one from the movies were people dance in the rain on rooftops and meet in perfect coffee shops and book stores.  As Katie’s magical powers drain she starts to see through the illusion and recognize people from her real life now living in her fantasy world.  It up to her to wake them up and get them back to the real world.

This is a really cute series.  The descriptions of how magic works (or fails to work) on people are original.  There is a slow burn romance through the series.  The characters are fun.  I’d recommend this for anyone who wants a magical escape from their non-magical day to day life.

About Shanna Swendson

Shanna Swendson is the author of the Enchanted, Inc. series, the Fairy Tale series, and Rebel Mechanics.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

22 Nov, 2016


/ posted in: Reading


“The intent of the project is to share your gratitude to the book community! So we invite all of you to pick a day from the week and share a post about everyone and everything you’re thankful for. It can be books you’re thankful for, authors, bloggers, people in your life and even websites!”

Libraries and Interlibrary Loans


I’d go broke trying to buy all the books I read in a year. I also don’t like the clutter that would happen with all of those books around. I like to read books and then give them back.

I also like to read unusual books. In the picture above, 2 of the three came through interlibrary loan because even though I have a great and huge library system, sometimes I stump even it with my requests.


Hi, my name is Heather and I’m a swap addict.  I do OTSP Secret Sister and Ninja Swaps and any others I find but who doesn’t love book mail?


You need to be following this hashtag on Twitter for all the best book recommendations.  If you don’t know where to find books that aren’t written by straight white people, start here.  If you are reviewing great books written by authors of color or LGBT authors or disabled authors, tag them and let everyone know.  It is a great community.  There are readalongs and book discussions with people all over the world.


I hated Litsy when it first came out.  I think that was because there was no one using it.  Now it is much better.

I like that there is actually a place where people want to hear about what I am reading right this second instead of annoying people on any of my non-exclusively bookish social media.  I need more people to follow though.  If you are on there, let me know.  I’m @dvmheather.


21 Nov, 2016

Nonfiction November – Be The Expert

/ posted in: Reading



Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).  Hosted by Julz

I’m going to do this a bit differently.  I found myself reading books that fit into two categories this month.  They are all very good and you should really read them if the topics interest you at all.

The History of Animals

I’ve been reading two amazing books that fit this premise.

Pit Bull: The Battle over an American IconPit Bull: The Battle over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey

“The hugely illuminating story of how a popular breed of dog became the most demonized and supposedly the most dangerous of dogs—and what role humans have played in the transformation.”

I actually bought my own copy of this book when I had to give back the library copy because there is so much in here that I want to remember. Just a few of the topics that it covers are DNA testing, dangerous dog laws, and racism in animal welfare.

I love pit bulls. They are so sweet. Most of them rival Golden Retrievers for pure enthusiasm about going to the vet. I’ve held a lapful of wriggling happy dog while the owner told me about how the dog was seized out of the ring by the police and had to stay in a shelter for a year while his previous owner went to trial before he could be adopted. We refer to “Being Mauled by a Pit Bull” as that state when you have to curl up a bit to try to avoid a deliriously happy dog who is intent on licking your face at high speed while also wagging his tail so fast and hard that are you in danger of being beaten black and blue by it.

The Perfect Horse: The Daring American Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the NazisThe Perfect Horse: The Daring American Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts

“As the Russians closed in on Hitler from the east and the Allies attacked from the west, American soldiers discovered a secret Nazi effort to engineer a master race of the finest purebred horses. With the support of U.S. general George S. Patton, a passionate equestrian, the Americans planned an audacious mission to kidnap these beautiful animals and smuggle them into safe territory—assisted by a daring Austrian colonel who was both a former Olympian and a trainer of the famous Lipizzaner stallions.”

I thought I knew this story. I’ve read about it and there was Disney movie about it even. But this book is giving more background into the mindset about horses in the Third Reich. I got really mad in the first chapters when the Germans changed dressage scores in the Berlin Olympics so the German riders won. I mean the Nazis committed so many atrocities that it is a bit wrong that this offended me so much but seriously, dressage scores? You just don’t do that. I had to walk away for a bit.
It also focuses a lot on Polish horse breeding during the time. I’m 1/4 Polish and a horse person. So I got mad every time the Russians showed up and started slaughtering horses in Poland just to be jerks. I’ve been texting my husband and calling my mother randomly as I read whenever I get mad at the Russians for a new reason. Now I know Russians + Horses = unmitigated disaster.

I sighed about something the other day and my husband yelled patiently from the other room, “What did the Russians do now?”

Being a Doctor

Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of DiagnosisEvery Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders

“Through dramatic stories of patients with baffling symptoms, Sanders portrays the absolute necessity and surprising difficulties of getting the patient’s story, the challenges of the physical exam, the pitfalls of doctor-to-doctor communication, the vagaries of tests, and the near calamity of diagnostic errors.”

Getting a good history is hard, especially in my world where we aren’t talking to the patient but to a third party who may or may not have observed the real problem. Doctors and patients talk differently. (My pet peeve is when I ask if a pet is itchy and the owner says “No, but he does scratch a lot.) Physical exam is such an important part of the veterinary world that it always amazes me when I venture into the human medical world and physicals often aren’t done. I’m also inordinately proud that I knew what was going on in the first case in this book and the people doctors didn’t. This was written by the medical advisor to the TV show House.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the EndBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

“In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.”

This is my current audiobook. Again, here is a huge difference between human and veterinary medicine. What we would consider cruelty in end of life care is routine in human care. How can the process of aging be done better? How do you step away from making safety such an overwhelming priority that it interferes with letting people live a good life?

18 Nov, 2016

Brave New Weed

/ posted in: Reading Brave New Weed Brave New Weed: Adventures into the Uncharted World of Cannabis by Joe Dolce
Published by Harper Wave on October 4th 2016
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)

“The former editor-in-chief of Details and Star adventures into the fascinating “brave new world” of cannabis, tracing its history and possible future as he investigates the social, medical, legal, and cultural ramifications of this surprisingly versatile plant.
Pot. Weed. Grass. Mary Jane. We all think we know what cannabis is and what we use it for. But do we? Our collective understanding of this surprising plant has been muddled by politics and morality; what we think we know isn’t the real story.
A war on cannabis has been waged in the United States since the early years of the twentieth century, yet in the past decade, society has undergone a massive shift in perspective that has allowed us to reconsider our beliefs. In Brave New Weed, Joe Dolce travels the globe to “tear down the cannabis closet” and de-mystify this new frontier, seeking answers to the questions we didn’t know we should ask.
Dolce heads to a host of places, including Amsterdam, Israel, California, and Colorado, where he skillfully unfolds the odd, shocking, and wildly funny history of this complex plant. From the outlandish stories of murder trials where defendants claimed “insanity due to marijuana consumption” to the groundbreaking success stories about the plant’s impressive medicinal benefits, Dolce paints a fresh and much-needed portrait of cannabis, our changing attitudes toward it, and the brave new direction science and cultural acceptance are leading us.
Enlightening, entertaining, and thought-provoking, Brave New Weed is a compelling read that will surprise and educate proponents on both sides of the cannabis debate.”

I knew nothing about marijuana.  I’ve never smoked or eaten an edible.  I wouldn’t have the first clue how to get any marijuana if I was interested.  However, I am interested in the medical aspects of marijuana use.  This is what I found most fascinating about this story.

The author had smoked in college but hadn’t used any in years.  He wanted to investigate the claims on both the pro-legalization side and the prohibition side.  He worked in medical dispensaries in states where it is legal.  Different strains of marijuana have been bred to work better for different diseases.  Some get rid of nausea.  Other work better for pain.  Others help calm anxiety.  Some don’t produce a much of a high but help physical illnesses.  A well trained dispensary staff can help patients determine what strains are best for them based on the chemical profiles of the particular plant and determine the best delivery mechanism for each patient – smoke, vaporize, eat, oils?

How did a plant that appears to have many benefits get to be so reviled?  It doesn’t have a history of recorded deaths, like alcohol and tobacco.  However it is a schedule I drug which means that it is considered to have no medicinal value.  That puts it in the same class as heroin.

He covers the history of marijuana and the racial inequality that led to it being so problematic in the United States.  He investigated what happened when other countries decriminalized possession.  He talked to scientists to learn about the latest research in medical marijuana.


I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the history of the drug wars in the United States and the potential benefits of legalization.


16 Nov, 2016


/ posted in: Reading Brazillionaires Brazillionaires: Chasing Dreams of Wealth in an American Country by Alex Cuadros
Published by Spiegel & Grau on July 12th 2016
Genres: History, Nonfiction
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Brazil

“When Bloomberg News invited the young American journalist Alex Cuadros to report on Brazil’s emerging class of billionaires at the height of the historic Brazilian boom, he was poised to cover two of the biggest business stories of our time: how the giants of the developing world were triumphantly taking their place at the center of global capitalism, and how wealth inequality was changing societies everywhere.  Eike Batista, a flamboyant and charismatic evangelist for the country’s new gospel of wealth, epitomized much of this rarefied sphere: In 2012, Batista ranked as the eighth-richest person in the world, was famous for his marriage to a beauty queen, and was a fixture in the Brazilian press. His constantly repeated ambition was to become the world’s richest man and to bring Brazil along with him to the top.  But by 2015, Batista was bankrupt, his son Thor had been indicted for manslaughter, and Brazil its president facing impeachment, its provinces combating an epidemic, and its business and political class torn apart by scandal had become a cautionary tale of a country run aground by its elites, a tale with ominous echoes around the world.”


This is a book that I would not have picked up if I wasn’t consciously trying to read more books set in South America. I’m glad I read it.

Alex Cuadros was selected for an unusual job.  He was to monitor the billionaires of Brazil.  He needed to maintain an up to date list of the net worth of the richest people in Brazil.  In trying to find out who these people were, he started to look at the world around him.  Who owns the company that makes your soap or the roads you drive on? There may be a hidden billionaire behind it.  Some billionaires weren’t so hard to find.  Eike Batista was one of these.  He flaunted his wealth.  He bragged on Twitter whenever he moved up in the rankings of richest people.  Then suddenly he lost it all.

The rise and fall of Eike Batista is told along with the stories of other Brazilian billionaires.  Some are in construction or broadcasting.  There is even a billionaire pastor.  Cuadros brings up the question — Is is possible to amass this amount of money in an ethical way in a country with such rampant poverty?  Is corruption endemic in a country founded on a system where slaves do all the work and higher classes live off of others?

I didn’t know anything about Brazilian history or politics.  This was a great introduction in an engaging story.  I enjoyed listening to the author narrate the book so I could hear the proper pronunciations of places and names in Portuguese.


I’d recommend this book to anyone who wants to combine the voyeurism of watching how the super rich live with an education in the culture and politics of Brazil.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

15 Nov, 2016

November is Knocking Me Down

/ posted in: Current EventsReading

I knew that November was going to be a slow reading month.  A lot of my reading time is taken up with doing NaNoWriMo.  So far that is going well.  I’m writing a book that I wrote part of previously but then lost it.  This week I’ll run into the part that I haven’t written before and don’t have a great plan for.  I mentioned this to the husband.  I told him that they are about to leave England and go to America in 1790.  He immediately suggested that the crew should throw a pregnant woman overboard so she drowns while in labor.  He’s a cheery fellow.  He said it was my fault for setting the thing in 1790.  He doesn’t understand the appeal of Regency books.

Then the election knocked me for a loop.  All I did for days was read things on Twitter.  With all that, so far this month I’ve only finished two books.  Two books?  Who am I?

November is usually one of my favorite reading months with Nonfiction November going on.  Luckily those weekly prompts have been keeping me in things to blog about.  I do have quite a few books on the go.  Maybe this will be one of those months where I suddenly finish a stack of books all in the course of a few days because I only have a few chapters left in each of them.

I’m currently reading an amazing book.  It was so amazing that when my library wanted it back and I wasn’t completely finished, I ordered a copy for my own self instead of pushing to finish it.  I wanted to be able to take notes and keep it for reference.  It is called Pit Bull by Bronwyn Dickey.  More on that when I finally finish and decide how to review it.  I’ve been posting all kinds of quotes on Litsy.

I have an audiobook about a piano store in Paris almost finished.  I just picked up an interlibrary loan about a prison in Bolivia where tourists could go and stay for months.  That is nonfiction in case you were wondering.  I’m halfway through a book about Mexican drug cartels but it is confusing.  Once I get a handle on who the people are and who is in charge, someone gets killed and I have to figure out the organizational chart all over again.  I guess I sympathize with the investigators in that respect.  I picked up a book on medical diagnosis that I’m partway through.

It is totally short bookish attention span time around here.  I think I’m going to go read a graphic novel I got.  That will count as a finish and maybe spur me on to finishing everything else.

How is your November reading going so far?

14 Nov, 2016

Nonfiction November – Book Pairings

/ posted in: Reading



“This week, pair up a nonfiction book with a fiction title. It can be a “If you loved this book, read this!” or just two titles that you think would go well together. Maybe it’s a historical novel and you’d like to get the real history by reading a nonfiction version of the story”. Hosted by Sarah

Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist ChurchBanished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain

“Lauren spent her early years enjoying a normal life with her family in Florida. But when her formerly liberal and secular father set out to produce a documentary about the WBC, his detached interest gradually evolved into fascination, and he moved the entire family to Kansas to join the church and live on their compound. Over the next seven years, Lauren fully assimilated their extreme beliefs, and became a member of the church and an active and vocal picketer. But as she matured and began to challenge some of the church’s tenets, she was unceremoniously cast out from the church and permanently cut off from her family and from everyone else she knew and loved.”

The Sacred Lies of Minnow BlyThe Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes

“The Kevinian cult has taken everything from seventeen-year-old Minnow: twelve years of her life, her family, her ability to trust.

And when she rebelled, they took away her hands, too.”


The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to JusticeThe Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice by Rebecca Musser

“Rebecca Musser grew up in fear, concealing her family’s polygamous lifestyle from the “dangerous” outside world. Covered head-to-toe in strict, modest clothing, she received a rigorous education at Alta Academy, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ school headed by Warren Jeffs. Always seeking to be an obedient Priesthood girl, in her teens she became the nineteenth wife of her people’s prophet: 85-year-old Rulon Jeffs, Warren’s father. Finally sickened by the abuse she suffered and saw around her, she pulled off a daring escape and sought to build a new life and family.”

The 19th WifeThe 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

“It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.

Soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death.”

My (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street ExecutiveMy (Underground) American Dream: My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive by Julissa Arce

“When she was 11 years old Julissa Arce left Mexico and came to the United States on a tourist visa to be reunited with her parents, who dreamed the journey would secure her a better life. When her visa expired at the age of 15, she became an undocumented immigrant. Thus began her underground existence, a decades long game of cat and mouse, tremendous family sacrifice, and fear of exposure. After the Texas Dream Act made a college degree possible, Julissa’s top grades and leadership positions landed her an internship at Goldman Sachs, which led to a full time position–one of the most coveted jobs on Wall Street. Soon she was a Vice President, a rare Hispanic woman in a sea of suits and ties, yet still guarding her “underground” secret.”

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).”

War of the Whales: A True StoryWar of the Whales: A True Story by Joshua Horwitz

“War of the Whales is the gripping tale of a crusading attorney who stumbles on one of the US Navy’s best-kept secrets: a submarine detection system that floods entire ocean basins with high-intensity sound—and drives whales onto beaches.”


Fluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale SingsFluke: Or, I Know Why the Winged Whale Sings by Christopher Moore

“Just why do humpback whales sing? That’s the question that has marine behavioral biologist Nate Quinn and his crew poking, charting, recording, and photographing very big, wet, gray marine mammals. Until the extraordinary day when a whale lifts its tail into the air to display a cryptic message spelled out in foot-high letters: Bite me.”

11 Nov, 2016

Evangelicals’ Persecution Complex

/ posted in: Current Events

“Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.”  1 Peter 3:16

People are rightfully wondering why white liberals haven’t done a more effective job of calling out their friends and families who are on the other side when it comes to social issues.  I think a lot of the problem comes from evangelical Christian thinking.

It goes like this:

  1. I have an opinion that I think is right.
  2. I can find support for my opinion in the Bible or in church therefore it is Godly.
  3. If people disagree with me on this, then they are disagreeing with God.
  4. Jesus told me that people will disagree with me and I need to stand strong in my beliefs.
  5. Therefore, if people call me out on my beliefs, I must be right.

“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  John 15:9


If you’ve never lived in that world it is hard to get your head around that warped mindset.  Logical arguments about equality or fairness or ANYTHING bounce right off that kind of thinking.


“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.  Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”  2 Corinthians 11:14-15

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

The Christian persecution complex is real and powerful.  But where the writers of the New Testament were talking about being killed for their faith, western Christians today take that to mean any disagreement.  So call them out on not separating church and state?  Persecution.  Don’t say Merry Christmas?  Persecution.  Say that gay people deserve to live happy lives?  Persecution.  And they know what to do when they are being persecuted.  Dig in and defend their position to the death if need be.

How do you get through to people who believe that?  It is hard.  I don’t know if it can be done by outside forces alone.  People who have left tend to get there mostly by having one breaking moment like a crack in an iceberg.  Something happens that doesn’t fit nicely with how they were told the world was going to be and suddenly the whole thing crumbles.

What I found really interesting is that while I was leaving Christianity, I was experiencing exactly what I had been told would happen.  I was told that it would look like I had come across some great new wisdom.  It would seem to make more sense than Christianity.  I was told that these were signs that I was being deceived.  Luckily I was able to push past those voices in my head and laugh at the church’s foresight in programing that one last thought into escaping people’s heads.

My hope is that things like having gay marriage and the sky not falling might be that crack that starts the iceberg tumbling.  It is slow and it is hard but it is working.  I have a lot of hope for people younger than me.  They are seeing through this.  They live in a world where this Christian mindset is not the only way they see.  I think supporting them is the best way forwards.

10 Nov, 2016

Echo Chamber vs Safe Space

/ posted in: Current Events

Because of what I like to call my wayward youth that I wrote about yesterday, my Facebook page had gotten particularly nasty.  When I say that I’m talking about people who felt safe to post memes actively encouraging violence to Black Lives Matter members and Native American protestors at Standing Rock along with the common memes of the “Don’t like it here, go live in (insert country here).”

Twitter was my safe place which always makes me giggle since the typical conversation about Twitter make it seem like everyone on there is getting constant abuse.

I had been avoiding Facebook for weeks.  I don’t feel like I was free to be myself on there.  So many people knew a person that I used to be.  I didn’t want to get into the conversations that would ensue if I let that world know the real me.  Part of it comes from being a very private person.  I don’t like to let people I know in my brain to know what I am actually thinking or feeling.  It is much easier to talk to strangers about it.  Part of it is being very non-confrontational.

But, I’m also the first to criticize people for setting themselves up in an echo chamber where they only hear their own thoughts reflected back to them.

I’m not sure how to find a balance.

Yesterday I realized that I wasn’t going to go on Facebook anymore the way it was.  I do get a lot of news from several sources through my timeline there and I wasn’t getting it.  I wasn’t getting updates from groups I participate in.  I either needed to walk away entirely or fix it.

I ended up cutting out half of my friends.  It was a sad and strange process reading down my friend list and thinking, “Are you a racist?”  I consider the people I have left to be on a probationary period.  Two have already been kicked out.  In case you feel I am being too harsh here’s what they posted last night that made that decision for me.

One posted a picture of a man snuggling multiple assault rifles and was captioned, “It’s alright.  You’re safe now.” I spent yesterday watching friends on Twitter expressing real fears for their safety and their family’s safety.  That picture was callous at best.

The other posted a cartoon of multiple women crying.  This included some caricatures meant to demean people.  It was labeled SJW (Social Justice Warrior) Tears.  Again, the pain right now is real and people who don’t get it are reveling in it.  (As an aside, why do people think SJW is an insult?  That’s an awesome title to have!)

How are other people handling this?  Is this just a retreat?  I feel like it is but I also know the reality is that if you call people out you just end up reinforcing their rightness in their minds. And that will be tomorrow’s rant…


10 Nov, 2016

The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

/ posted in: Reading The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (Wayfarers, #1) by Becky Chambers
on August 18, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction
Pages: 519
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Setting: Space

“When Rosemary Harper joins the crew of the Wayfarer, she isn’t expecting much. The patched-up ship has seen better days, but it offers her everything she could possibly want: a spot to call home, a chance to explore the far-off corners of the galaxy, and some distance from her past.
And nothing could be further from what she’s known than the crew of the Wayfarer.
From Sissix, the exotic reptilian pilot, to Kizzy and Jenks, the chatty engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble captain Ashby, life aboard is chaotic and crazy—exactly what Rosemary wants. That is until the crew is offered the job of a lifetime tunneling wormholes through space to a distant planet. Sure, they’ll earn enough money to live comfortably for years, but risking her life wasn’t part of the job description.”

The overwhelming sentiment that I gathered from reviews of this book is that nothing much happens but it is amazing and you have to read it.  I totally agree.

Rosemary is a human from Mars who is on the run from her life there.  She is hired to be a secretary.  She has skills with languages too that may come in handy.  She’s never been on a long haul ship before.  The crew of the Wayfarer is different than any group she’s been around before.

Captain Ashby is human.  He’s been looking for a way to make the Wayfarer more profitable.  Now he’s been selected for a huge job.  They will open a wormhole between a newly settled planet in a war zone and their home galaxy.  It will take over a year to get there.

Sissix is reptilian but don’t say that out loud because it is rude.  Her race is very affectionate.  They form different families at different times in their lives.  Their sexual freedom makes many humans uncomfortable.

Kizzy is human.  She loves machinery and keeps the Wayfarer running with help from Jenks.  She reminded me of Kaylee from Firefly.

Jenks is human.  He works mostly with the AI system on the ship.  During his time on the ship, he has fallen in love with her.  They are considering getting her a body so she can leave the ship.

Lovey is the AI system.  Her name is short for Lovelace. She controls everything on board.

Dr. Chef is both the doctor and the chef.  He’s in the male phase of his life right now.

Ohan is a Sianat pair.  He carries an alien parasite inside him that allows him to see in multiple dimensions and wavelengths.  He understands the workings of the universe.  It allows him to navigate when they are making wormholes.  The pairing drastically shortens his life expectancy and he is starting to show signs of physical deterioration.

Corbin is the ship’s algae specialist.  The ship runs off of algae most of the time.  He’s grumpy and a loner but good at his job so everyone puts up with him.

The story mainly involves putting these diverse species in a ship for a long period of time and watching what happens.  There are a few close escapes but mostly it is a story about making a family – the good and the bad.

Just go read this one if you haven’t yet.  You won’t regret it.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

09 Nov, 2016

I’m Horrified but Not Surprised

/ posted in: Current Events

I’m numb this morning.  I’m horrified.  I wish I was surprised.

White, college-educated people voted majority Trump.  That’s my demographic.  Those are a lot of the people I know.

I grew up in western Pennsylvania in a rural area outside of a city.  For most of the time when I was in school there was one non-white person.  I don’t mean in my class or in my school.  There was ONE non-white student in the entire school district.  She had been adopted by a white family.

My extended family on both sides was very racist.  Recently I found out that my great-grandmother was a Klan member.  Which great-grandmother? Oh, the one who was a teacher.  Yes, the most educated great-grandmother was KKK.

I was raised as an evangelical Christian.  That was a lily white world.

My classes for my major in college were all white.

I went to vet school in Tennessee.  There were 2 POC students in my class.  I didn’t know one of them was Latina until the last semester of our fourth year when she was talking about how people always speak Spanish in front of her because they think she can’t understand them.  She was born in Columbia.  I met my first openly gay person during my second year of vet school.  (Turns out that I was raised with a gay man but I didn’t know that until much later.)

I didn’t have any African American friends until I moved to a rural county in Ohio that was 97% white.  We made friends there with some neighbors and the father of some kids in my 4-H group.  But guess who was the most vocally concerned about us moving to a very racially diverse city?  “Are you sure you want to move there?  There are so many black people.”

“Um, we live by you now and you are black.”

“It’s different.  Make sure you find a white neighborhood.”

Are you getting the idea of how segregated the United States is and how easy it is for white people to be completely isolated from any engagement with people of color?  It is so easy to think in terms of “those people” when you don’t know any people who don’t look like you.

And let’s be honest, white people, if people of minority races are terrified of what white people say and do in public, I don’t even want to let them know the things white people say when they think they are among like-minded white folk.

That brings me to Facebook.  Dear god.  Consider my past life.  With that background you know my Facebook page is white-white.   By contrast my Twitter feed of primarily book people and social justice people is diverse.  I think there were four consistently pro-Democratic people on my Facebook page.  I’m sure there were a few other quiet ones but my Facebook page is meme after meme of pro-police brutality, pro-DAPL, and anti-Kaepernick rhetoric.  I countered with pro-sanity links which probably only got read by the people who already agreed.

I’m sure that any social justice awareness I have was started though reading.  I can name the books that started to open my eyes to life experiences that were different from my own.  That’s why continuing to read books written from a variety of viewpoints is so immensely important.

I don’t know what to do going forward.  Obviously call out what I see but it feels so futile. I want to scream at them for their blindness to what they are doing to other people but I know that they don’t see it.  I don’t know if they can see it.  Fellow white people, what is your plan?

In the mean time, I’m clinging to my Twitter feed.    Book people are the best.  I think it is because we’ve all read this novel over and over that we can see where the plot is going next….

09 Nov, 2016

African Books 2016

/ posted in: General

Where Did I Read in Africa in 2016?

Libya (and the U.S.)

My Accidental JihadMy Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer

“Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer was a surfer and an aspiring journalist who dreamed of a comfortable American life of adventure, romance, and opportunity. Then, on a running trail in North Carolina, she met Ismail, sincere, passionate, kind, yet from a very different world. Raised a Muslim—one of eight siblings born in an impoverished fishing village in Libya—his faith informed his life. When she and Ismail made the decision to become a family, Krista embarked on a journey she never could have imagined, an accidental jihad: a quest for spiritual and intellectual growth that would open her mind, and more important, her heart.”

Canary Islands

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.

Amidst a host of eccentric locals, homesickness and the occasional cockroach infestation, pint-pulling novices Joe and Joy struggle with the expat culture and learn that, although the skies might be bluer, the grass is definitely not always greener.”


Strange Gods: A MysteryStrange Gods: A Mystery by Annamaria Alfieri

“In early 20th century British East Africa, there are rules for the British and different ones for the Africans. Vera McIntosh, the daughter of Scottish missionaries, doesn’t feel she belongs to either group; having grown up in Africa, she is not interested in being the well-bred Scottish woman her mother would like her to be. More than anything she dreams of seeing again the handsome police officer she’s danced with. But more grisly circumstances bring Justin Tolliver to her family’s home.

The body of Vera’s uncle, Dr. Josiah Pennyman, is found with a tribesman’s spear in his back. Tolliver, an idealistic Assistant District Superintendent of Police, is assigned to the case. He first focuses on Gichinga Mbura, a Kikuyu medicine man who has been known to hatefully condemn Pennyman because Pennyman’s cures are increasingly preferred over his. But the spear belonged to the Maasai tribe, not Kikuyu, and it’s doubtful Mbura would have used it to kill his enemy. Tolliver’s superior wants him to arrest the medicine man and be done with it, but Tolliver pleads that he have the chance to prove the man’s guilt.”

This one is problematic.  In an attempt to illustrate the racial attitudes of the time when it is set, it gets a little too white savior-y for my liking.


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.”


The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious ManuscriptsThe Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer

“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.”


All Over 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.”


AfroSF: Science Fiction by African WritersAfroSF: Science Fiction by African Writers by Ivor W. Hartmann

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




Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at WarMighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War by Leymah Gbowee

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


EverfairEverfair by Nisi Shawl

“Everfair is a wonderful Neo-Victorian alternate history novel that explores the question of what might have come of Belgium’s disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier.”


South Africa

Born a CrimeBorn a Crime by Trevor Noah

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

My Recommendations

For nonfiction – Born A Crime

It mixed humor and profound depth.  I kept highlighting my copy because I wanted to share large passages.

For fiction – The Shadow Speaker

It is a wonderful middle grade/young adult fantasy with talking animals and magic.

08 Nov, 2016

New to the TBR

/ posted in: Reading

Newest Books on my TBR


Nirzona (A Love Story)Nirzona by Abidah El Khalieqy

“When Sidan’s family and village are swept away in the 2004 tsunami that ravaged Indonesia, he rushes home to Aceh, leaving behind Yogyakarta, his studies, and his beloved, Firdaus. Interrupting their plan to marry, Sidan promises Firdaus he will soon return to her side so they can spend the rest of their lives together.

But the unimaginable scale of loss and the political and cultural complexities that ensnare the recovery make it impossible for Sidan to abandon his birthplace and the graves of his family. Stoked by his love for Firdaus and their shared devotion to the poetic beauty of Islam, Sidan remains in Aceh, doing everything in his power to help the survivors while keeping in close contact with his beloved.”

This was offered as a Kindle First book this month for free. It is translated from Indonesian.

The Cosy Christmas TeashopThe Cosy Christmas Teashop by Caroline Roberts

“After a rocky start, Ellie Hall baked her way into everyone’s hearts at Claverham Castle – even the miserly Lord Henry was won over – and the run-down teashop regained its old sparkle.

Now Ellie has upgraded cupcakes for fairytale masterpieces as the proud caterer for an ever-growing list of weddings at the castle. The teashop team love baking to the tune of happy ever afters, but can they pull together when a certain bridezilla pushes them all to boiling point?”

This is the sequel to one of my favorite books of the year so I’m a little nervous to read it. What if I don’t like it as much? I’m going to be brave soon.

Unquiet Land (Elemental Blessings, #4)Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn

“Leah Frothen has returned home. But she can scarcely catch her breath before she is summoned by regent Darien Serlast, the man who made her a spy. Leah is reluctant to take on a new assignment, but Darien has dangled the perfect lure to draw her in…

Leah finds she enjoys the challenges of opening a shop catering to foreign visitors, especially since it affords her the opportunity to get to know Mally, the child she abandoned five years ago.”

This is the fourth book of a series that I love. It seemed like it was going to be a trilogy but this character popped up in the last book.

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.”

Remember the LadiesRemember the Ladies by Gina L. Mulligan

“Growing up in an orphanage prepared Amelia Cooke for the high-stakes role of a female lobbyist surrounded by the egos of the 1887 Congress, a time before women had the right to vote. Her success in the isolating male arena comes from using the tactics she’s learned from those who oppressed her. So when she’s hired by the National Women’s Suffrage Association to help pass a proposed constitutional amendment granting women’s voting rights, Amelia feels empowered to at last win a place for herself and give all women a voice in the world. What she doesn’t foresee is the charismatic and calculating Senator Edward Stillman who threatens to ruin her hard-earned reputation and end her career.”

The Nakano Thrift ShopThe Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami


“When Hitomi takes a job on the cash register of a neighbourhood thrift store, she finds herself drawn into a very idiosyncratic community. There is Mr Nakano, an enigmatic ladies’ man with several ex-wives; Masayo, Mr Nakano’s sister, an artist who has never married; and her fellow employee Takeo, a shy but charming young man. And every day, customers from the neighbourhood pass in and out as curios are bought and sold, each one containing its own surprising story. When Hitomi and Takeo begin to fall for one another, they find themselves in the centre of their own drama – and on the edges of many others.”

I love that cover photo.

The Tea ChestThe Tea Chest by Josephine Moon

“Kate Fullerton, talented tea designer and now co-owner of The Tea Chest, could never have imagined that she’d be flying from Brisbane to London, risking her young family’s future, to save the business she loves from the woman who wants to shut it down.

Meanwhile, Leila Morton has just lost her job; and if Elizabeth Clancy had known today was the day she would appear on the nightly news, she might at least have put on some clothes. Both need to start again.

When the three women’s paths unexpectedly cross, they throw themselves into realising Kate’s magical vision for London’s branch of The Tea Chest. But every time success is within their grasp, increasing tensions damage their trust in each other.”

I’m reading another of this author’s books right now. They are perfect for Foodies Read and are light and fun.

The Second MangoThe Second Mango by Shira Glassman

“Queen Shulamit never expected to inherit the throne of the tropical land of Perach so young. At twenty, grief-stricken and fatherless, she’s also coping with being the only lesbian she knows after her sweetheart ran off for an unknown reason. Not to mention, she’s the victim of severe digestive problems that everybody think she’s faking. When she meets Rivka, an athletic and assertive warrior from the north who wears a mask and pretends to be a man, she finds the source of strength she needs so desperately.”

I heard about this on a Twitter chat. It is the first book in a series.

The Moon in the Palace (Empress of Bright Moon, #1)The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel

“A concubine at the palace learns quickly that there are many ways to capture the Emperor’s attention. Many paint their faces white and style their hair attractively, hoping to lure in the One Above All with their beauty. Some present him with fantastic gifts, such as jade pendants and scrolls of calligraphy, while others rely on their knowledge of seduction to draw his interest. But young Mei knows nothing of these womanly arts, yet she will give the Emperor a gift he can never forget.

Mei’s intelligence and curiosity, the same traits that make her an outcast among the other concubines, impress the Emperor. But just as she is in a position to seduce the most powerful man in China, divided loyalties split the palace in two, culminating in a perilous battle that Mei can only hope to survive.”

I think I heard about this author in the same chat.

Murder in the Generative KitchenMurder in the Generative Kitchen by Meg Pontecorvo

“With the Vacation Jury Duty system, jurors can lounge on a comfortable beach while watching the trial via virtual reality. Julio is loving the beach, as well as the views of a curvy fellow juror with a rainbow-lacquered skin modification who seems to be the exact opposite of his recent ex-girlfriend back in Chicago. Because of jury sequestration rules, they can’t talk to each other at all, or else they’ll have to pay full price for this Acapulco vacation. Still, Julio is desperate to catch her attention. But while he struts and tries to catch her eye, he also becomes fascinated by the trial at hand.

At first it seemed a foregone conclusion that the woman on trial used a high-tech generative kitchen to feed her husband a poisonous meal, but the more evidence mounts, the more Julio starts to suspect the kitchen may have made the decision on its own.”


07 Nov, 2016

Nonfiction November – How Do I Choose Books?

/ posted in: Reading


It’s week two of Nonfiction November.

“What are you looking for when you pick up a nonfiction book? Do you have a particular topic you’re attracted to? Do you have a particular writing style that works best? When you look at a nonfiction book, does the title or cover influence you?” – hosted by Rachel


I had to think about this topic for a long time.  I’m not sure what exactly draws me to a book.  I’m 100% a mood reader so what I want to read varies day by day.  Here are a few characteristics that will keep me interested in a book though.

A Year in the Life

I’m a complete sucker for books written because the author takes on a challenge for a particular period of time.  You decided to stand on your head on top of every mountain you could climb in the course of a year?  I’d totally read your book.

The Year of Living DanishlyThe Unlikely DiscipleRejection Proof

Go On A Quest

I love books where the authors travel to research their topic and tell the story of the journey along with what they found.

Naked At LunchTrip of the TongueMeet Me In Atlantis

Obviously the topic can be anything.   Make it a fun journey and I’m in.

Talk About Food

Obviously, I’m a bit obsessed on the topic of books about food.  I do have a Foodies Read monthly link up on the topic.  I love reading the stories of ingredients or the food business.  Even though I’m a vegetarian/wannabe vegan I’ll read books about farming too.

BananaTruffle BoyLocally Laid

Change The World

Books about fighting injustice or helping people always catch my eye.

Outcasts UnitedA Path AppearsHeadscarves and Hymens

What Draws You To A Nonfiction Book?