25 Nov, 2015

Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher

/ posted in: Reading Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher Working for Bigfoot by Jim Butcher
on June 30th 2015
Genres: Fiction, Fantasy
Pages: 136
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Length: 3:47

Three novellas allow the reader to encounter Dresden at different points in his career as a wizard-for-hire.

It is no secret that I love the Dresden Files.  Harry Dresden is a wizard in Chicago.  In these three novellas we see how Harry met River Shoulders, a Forest Person who has a half human child that he wants Harry to watch over.

In the first story the child, Irwin, is an elementary school student being tormented for being big and gentle. Harry goes undercover as a janitor in the school to meet him and finds that his tormentors are also supernatural.

In the second story Irwin is in high school and has become ill. According to River Shoulders that should never happen. Harry goes to visit Irwin to see what has happened.

Irwin is in college in story three. He is having his first love affair but his girlfriend is not what she seems.

I love the whole fresh mythology of Big Foot that Butcher has built in these stories. It isn’t necessary to know the rest of the series to enjoy these stories. This could serve as a great intro to the character. As always, I recommend the audio version. James Marsters voices Harry perfectly.

24 Nov, 2015

Andy and Don

/ posted in: Reading Andy and Don Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show by Daniel de Visé
on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 320
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in North Carolina and California four-stars
Length: 9:29

A lively and revealing biography of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, celebrating the powerful real-life friendship behind one of America's most iconic television programs.
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts met on Broadway in the 1950s. When Andy went to Hollywood to film a TV pilot about a small-town sheriff, Don called to ask if the sheriff could use a deputy. The comedic synergy between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife ignited The Andy Griffith Show, elevating a folksy sitcom into a timeless study of human friendship, as potent off the screen as on. Andy and Don -- fellow Southerners born into poverty and raised among scofflaws, bullies, and drunks -- captured the hearts of Americans across the country as they rocked lazily on the front porch, meditating about the simple pleasure of a bottle of pop.
But behind this sleepy, small-town charm, de Vise's exclusive reporting reveals explosions of violent temper, bouts of crippling neurosis, and all-too-human struggles with the temptations of fame. Andy and Don chronicles unspoken rivalries, passionate affairs, unrequited loves, and friendships lost and regained. Although Andy and Don ended their Mayberry partnership in 1965, they remained best friends for the next half-century, with Andy visiting Don at his death bed.


Andy Griffith and Don Knotts are icons of American television.  They met while on Broadway and then reteamed in the 1960s on The Andy Griffith Show playing a small town sheriff and his deputy.  They both went on to have careers in individual projects – Don in Three’s Company and a variety of movies and stage productions and Andy in Matlock and many TV movies – but they were always best together.

This book is a story of their lives and friendship.  Both were awkward kids from the south who tried to make in it show business and failed.  They tried again and became stars.  Their friendship survived three marriages each, alcoholism, drug addiction, and affairs.

Andy was groomed to be the star but he recognized Don’s brilliance and let him shine.  He won 5 Emmys and Andy never won any acting awards.  He was always proud of Don.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t as nice to the women in his life.  This book glosses over his domestic violence in an era when it wasn’t taken all that seriously.  He was brutal to people who he felt had betrayed him and he held grudges that went on for years.

Don seems like the nicer guy.  He was a lifelong hypochondriac with symptoms that got worse whenever he had to perform live.  He was addicted to sleeping pills to help control his anxiety.  Women loved him.  This book was written by an investigative reporter who was his brother-in-law in his third marriage.

If you are a fan of any of the TV shows that they were on, you will probably enjoy this book.  Just be prepared for the parts of their lives that don’t bear any resemblance to the clean cut characters that they played on TV.

23 Nov, 2015

I Am Malala

/ posted in: Reading I Am Malala I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai, Christina Lamb
on October 8th 2013
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Pages: 327
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Set in Pakistan three-stars

I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday.
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
I Am Malala is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school, and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.



For the last week of Nonfiction November, there is a discussion of the group read, I Am Malala over at Doing Dewey.

1. What did you think of the tone and style in which I Am Malala was written?

While the story is interesting and important, I don’t think that this is a very good book.  It is very choppy.  That is probably because it is written in collaboration with a teenager and an adult coauthor.  While you can’t be sure who wrote what, there are definitely style changes in the book between when she is talking about things that happened directly to her and her family and when the background history is being laid out.

Another confusing point is that there is a young readers edition of this book that has the same name.  I originally got that one from the library by mistake.  I read a little bit of that one and it didn’t seem so disjointed.

2. What did you think of the political commentary in the book?

The commentary is what I would expect from someone who has gone through what this family has.  I hadn’t realized that her father had run a private school that allowed girls to study.  He used Malala as an example of what education could do for girls.  She spoke to the media and had an anonymous column on a website about education for girls.  That’s why she was considered a target.

I think that the background of the situation that is included in this book is very important.  It shows how little decisions in the lives of the people can add up to big changes over time.  The thing I found most scary is the story of how an uneducated guy in town got a radio show and started espousing ideas that a lot of the population adopted to the eventual detriment of the whole society.  That can so easily happen here too.

3. Did anything particularly surprise you about Malala’s daily life or culture?

The emphasis on honor and getting revenge for every slight made me sad.  That is such a horrible way to live.  There can’t be any peace if you can’t ever forgive.

I was struck by her assertion that Pakistanis love conspiracy theories.  She mentions that people don’t necessarily believe that she was shot.  Just reading the reviews on Goodreads supports this.  Some are really nasty about how it was all made up.

4. Do you think you would act similarly to Malala in her situation? If you were her parents, would you let her continue to be an activist despite possible danger?

I don’t think her parents let her be an activist.  Her father made her be an activist. He was using her as a face and a voice of his defiance of the Taliban.  I don’t think that he thought that they would do anything to a kid.  I think it was hardest for him when she was shot because he realized that he had focused the attention of the Taliban on her and hadn’t set up any of the security protocols that he had for himself.

I think it was good and brave to stand up the brutality and anti-intellectualism that was sweeping over their country.  I’m not sure that I would have been able to be so open in my defiance knowing what the regime was doing to dissidents.

5. What did you think of the book overall?

I think this book should have waited a few years.  It ends rather abruptly.  There have been other interesting things in her life that would have added to the story.  Publishing this book so quickly doesn’t allow enough time to pass to be able to discuss what happened in response to her shooting.  I would have preferred to read a book written about five to ten years after the shooting to see what impact it had.  Then the book wouldn’t have had to be padded so much when the shooting could be the beginning of the story instead of the end.

22 Nov, 2015

What’s Going on Around Here?

/ posted in: Pets

Powder went to the cardiologist and no one was injured

Powder had to go get an echocardiogram because of her worsening heart murmur and bad bloodwork.  Since she was horrible to try to get the blood from, I was worried about her behavior at the cardiologist’s.

She was a complete angel.  The only time she got even a little testy was when they were fussing too much trying to get her blood pressure.  All she did was stand up and decide to leave.  No teeth.  No claws.  I was so proud.  She even laid perfectly still on her side for the echo. I was shocked.

She has off the charts high blood pressure and when her heart rate goes up, one of her valves in her heart flips the wrong way and partially blocks her aorta.  No congestive heart failure.

Now she’s on meds for her blood pressure and her hyperthyroidism.  We have a routine.  She gets 3/4 of a small can of cat food.  Her blood pressure meds are made up into a liquid with fish flavoring and she eats them in her food at night.  In the morning, while she is eating, she gets her thyroid meds rubbed on her ear to be absorbed transdermally.

Because everyone else wants to get involved in this, the remaining 1/4 can of food is split between Paul and Freckles.  Now we can’t even go into the kitchen without all the mammalian pets in the house running in and assuming the position beside their respective plates.  Spoiled brats.  I’ve given Paul and Freckles a talking to about chasing the old lady with a bad heart and high blood pressure.  I don’t think they care.

I’ve Made A Whovian of Him

Remember back when my husband was refusing to watch Doctor Who with me? He’s hooked now.  He got a TARDIS mug and Jammie Dodgers for his birthday.  I came home last night and he was seriously considering buying a TARDIS shower curtain for our green and beige bathroom.  He’s always been a big stickler for everything matching so I reminded him that TARDIS blue doesn’t match our bathroom.  He yelled, “It’s a TARDIS woman!  It @$#$%%^ goes with anything!”  I hugged him and told him that I was so very proud of him.

When I came home from the dog park this morning he was watching a video on youtube that showed River Song’s story cut in chronological order so it makes more sense.  It made him teary.  My work here is done and he hasn’t even gotten to the 50th anniversary episode yet.

I’m Still Writing

I’m at 35,666 words into my NaNoWriMo story.  Not bad for having no idea where this is going.  I started with a character and a setting and no idea of the plot.  Last week a character went rogue and got rid of my main bad guy way too early in the story so I’ve been improvising.  The husband can’t understand when I say that I have no idea what is going to happen next.  It is exciting to see what comes out.

It’s Almost Thanksgiving

And I still have roses blooming!

My birthday is Thursday which is Thanksgiving in the U.S. Having a birthday on a holiday is generally no fun but I’m embracing it this year. I’ve decided to treat the whole day as a national celebration of thankgiving for my birth and am giving people the day off work with my blessing.

What’s Going On In Your World?


21 Nov, 2015

Read This

/ posted in: General

#planner #kindle

A photo posted by Anastacia Zittel (@anastaciaknits) on

Photo courtesy of Anastacia

Welcome to Read This, a collection of book reviews and giveaways that were posted in the past week or so from around the web. This is a collection of book reviews & contests from real reviewers. If you want to be included in the next edition start with the guidelines, then use the submission form. Want to read more reviews? Check out Read This for a list of the latest reviews and stellar reviewers. You can also follow on twitter for the latest round ups. Read This is now accepting photo submissions for each edition.


  • Paperback copy of The Inventor’s Secret and a hardcover copy of The Conjurer’s Riddle (11/17)
  • $120 Gift Card for Amazon, B&N or iTunes (11/19)
  • $30 Gift Card and Swag (11/25)
  • $50 Amazon Gift Card INT (11/25)
  • $25 Amazon GC courtesy of J.D. POOKER (11/25)
  • BookElves Anthology, Volume 2 – TWO paperback copies (11/26)
  • Papercopy of Nirvana and a poster of the cover. US/CAN (12/11)

  • Post Traumatic Church Syndrome by Reba Riley ~Heather @Based on a True Story
  • Saving Simon by Jon Katz ~Heather @Based on a True Story
  • Naked for Lunch by Mark Haskell Smith ~Heather @Based on a True Story
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai ~Sofia @Platypire Reviews

  • Design the Life You Love by Ayse Birsel ~Reading is Better With Cupcakes


  • 50 Shades of Truth by Josef ~Moxxley @Platypire Reviews

  • Still Alice by Lisa Genova ~KissinBlueKaren
  • At the Corner of Magnetic and Main by Meg Welch Dendler ~Moxxley @Platypire Reviews

  • Stolen Crown by Susan Higginbotham ~Anastacia

  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green ~Caroline Andrus
  • Maggie and the Mercury Retrograde by Anya Monroe ~Sofia @Platypire Reviews

  • What We Left Behind by Robin Talley ~Reading is Better With Cupcakes
  • -COMIC

  • Saved By The Bell by Joelle Sellner, Chynna Clugston Flores, Tim Fish ~Caroline Andrus

  • The Revolution of Ivy by Amy Engel ~KissinBlueKaren

  • Enchanted Revenge by Theresa M. Jones ~Anita
  • Uncovering Cobbogoth (Cobbogoth #1) by Hannah L. Clark ~KissinBlueKaren
  • The Conjurer’s Riddle by Andrea Creme ~Reading is Better With Cupcakes

  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater ~Caroline Andrus

  • Fairest (The Lunar Chronicles #3.5) by Marissa Meyer ~KissinBlueKaren
  • Nirvana by J.R. Stewart ~KissinBlueKaren

  • Worth the Wait by K. M. Neuhold ~J. Hooligan @Platypire Reviews
  • #Nerd by Cambria Hebert ~Sofia @Platypire Reviews
  • Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken ~Bekah @Platypire Reviews

  • Should’ve Said No by Tracy March ~Caroline Andrus
  • Breaking Up With Barrett by Katy Regnery ~Bekah @Platypire Reviews

  • Macyn’s Decision by S.L. Stacker ~Kelli @Crazy For Indies

  • The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher ~Heather @Based on a True Story
  • The Soul Summoner by Elicia Hyder ~Charlie @Girl of 1000 Wonders

  • Cat Who Walks through Walls by Robert Heinlein ~Anastacia

  • Next Stop: Nina by Robin Raven ~Bob @Platypire Reviews
  • Scattered Ashes by Annie Anderson ~Kelli @Crazy For Indies
  • Redemption by Mary Reason Theriot ~Just Another Girl and Her Books

  • Horror in the Night by Mary Reason Theriot ~Just Another Girl and Her Books

  • A Deadly Combination by Mary Reason Theriot ~Just Another Girl and Her Books
  • Leverage by Nancy S. Thompson ~Papervida @Platypire Reviews

  • 300x200readthis

    Enter to win (1 of 2) $10 Amazon Giftcards!


    20 Nov, 2015

    Things I Wish The Book Blogging Community Would Do

    / posted in: Reading


    As bloggers we’re good at doing what we do.  We read and write and discuss books among ourselves.  But what can we do to pass on a love of reading to others?

    Donating Books

    You know you have extra books laying around that you are never going to read again.  Yes, you do! Why not give them a good home?

    Start or support a Little Free Library

    I have one of these in my neighborhood.  I drop off books there sometimes.  Need more info?

    Volunteer at a Local Literacy Program

    • Read to kids at a library or school
    • Help out with an ESL class
    • Work with an adult literacy program


    What other ideas can you think of?


    19 Nov, 2015

    Meet Me In Atlantis

    / posted in: Reading Meet Me In Atlantis Meet Me in Atlantis by Mark Adams
    on March 10th 2015
    Genres: History, Travel
    Pages: 320
    Format: eBook
    Source: Library
    Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
    Set mostly in Europe three-half-stars

    A few years ago, Mark Adams made a strange discovery: Far from alien conspiracy theories and other pop culture myths, everything we know about the legendary lost city of Atlantis comes from the work of one man, the Greek philosopher Plato. Stranger still: Adams learned there is an entire global sub-culture of amateur explorers who are still actively and obsessively searching for this sunken city, based entirely on Plato's detailed clues. What Adams didn't realize was that Atlantis is kind of like a virus--and he'd been exposed.

    First line –

    We had just met the previous week in Bonn, my new German acquaintance and I, and here we were on the west coast of Africa on a hot Thursday morning, looking for an underwater city in the middle of the desert.

    Most people don’t realize that everything we know about Atlantis comes from Plato.  Basically, he tells a story about finding this information in some papers of his ancestor Solon.  Solon traveled all over.  On a trip to Egypt a priest tells him a story about a civilization that was destroyed by water 9000 years ago.  There are a lot of very specific descriptions of the size and set up of Atlantis.  People have been looking for it ever since.

    But, is it a real story or an allegory?  If there is a kernel of truth to it, what part is true?  There are many ancient Mediterranean powers that were destroyed by natural disasters.  Any one of them could have been the basis of the story if you discount the 9000 years before Solon’s time part.

    The idea that Atlantis was on an island in the middle of the Atlantic comes from an American named Ignatius Donnelly who I learned about in this book.

    Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the FreeIdiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free by Charles P. Pierce

    (That’s a good book too.)

    Most everyone else is looking in Spain, Morocco, or on islands around the western Mediterranean.

    This book doesn’t give you any answers but it is an interesting look at what is known and what can be known about ancient civilizations. Some intriguing work is being down with under water exploration because many ancient cities are now in areas that are in the sea.

    I now know more about Plato than I’d ever thought I would know. I skipped the chapter on his numerical theories though. It made my eyes hurt.

    18 Nov, 2015

    Blogger Positivity Campaign Introduction Post

    / posted in: Reading

    THE BLOGGER The Blogger Positivity Campaign is a series of posts that aim to spread the love around the book blogging community.


    Introduce yourself and your blog!

    If you are new here, I’m Heather from Ohio.  I’ve been blogging since 2004 and here since 2005.  I write about books and travel and pets mostly.  I’m on Twitter and Instagram as @dvmheather.

    Who or what made you the reader you are today?

    Good question.  I always had books around as a kid.  I don’t really ever remember not reading.  I remember compulsively reading phone books (I’m old) and cereal boxes over breakfast as a kid just to entertain my brain while I ate.  I still read to entertain my brain.  I don’t know what other people do.

    Who or what made you decide to create a book blog?

    I didn’t really decide to do that.  I started a blog just to have a place to vent all my opinions on things.  Eventually I started doing the It’s Monday!  What are you reading? meme.  For that I did a weekly post about all the books I read that week.  Just in the last year or two, have I started talking about books in separate posts.

    What are your thoughts on the blogosphere today?

    I think people are getting too specialized.  I like blogs where people talk about a little bit of everything.  In book blogs I get bored when people only read one genre.  I want them to branch out and find new things!  I wish people commented on blogs as much as they used to but there are just so many other platforms.

    5 random facts about you?

    • Christmas is my least favorite holiday mostly because of all the hype and all the War on Christmas stupidity that is going to show up on my Facebook feed.
    • I’ve been avoiding all political talk by saying that I won’t discuss it until it is 2016.  I’m about to need a new excuse.
    • If you consistently can’t spell and make elementary grammar mistakes, I will judge you.  Not sorry.  Education is important.
    • I’m doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. My main character is over 70 because there needs to be more tough older women in fiction.
    • Getting rid of cable was the best decision ever.

    5 favorite books you’ve read and loved?

    Are you serious?  This is the hardest question ever for a book person!
    Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter, #3)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

    The fact that I know off the top of my head that I’m a Ravenclaw and that I’ve been to Universal Studios several times just to go to the Wizarding World must mean I’m a fan. Oh yeah, there’s this too.

    Me at King’s Cross in London

    Alice in Wonderland (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, #1)Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

    I love Alice. It was a book that made me love absurdity in my reading.

    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1)The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

    I think this is the logical successor to Alice. This is a book that I’ll reread over and over. It is on my iPad so I can read it anytime.




    The Skystone (Camulod Chronicles, #1)The Skystone by Jack Whyte

    This is the beginning of the best King Arthur series, for ever and ever, Amen. It is also one of the best historical fiction books I’ve ever read. This is also one I go back and reread every few years.



    The Dance of the Dissident DaughterThe Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

    This is a great book on evolving spirituality and feminism in religion. It is also a great reread.



    5 favorite book bloggers

    This is hard too!  I can’t limit myself to five without feeling bad about leaving other people out.

    Aarti from BookLust – I love Aarti for organizing Diversiverse in October and having great reviews and discussions all year.

    Katie from Doing Dewey – I love the focus on nonfiction that she has.  Nonfiction doesn’t get enough love.

    Tanya from Mom’s Small Victories – She organizes the Travel the World in Books readathon and monthly events.  This is great for expanding the settings of the books that you read.  I love everyone who participates in this.

    Shannon from It Starts at Midnight – She is a great cheerleader for other bloggers.

    Bex and Hanna from Ninja Book Swap – I like swapping books and they consistently run great events.


    16 Nov, 2015

    Non traditional nonfiction

    / posted in: Reading


    Nontraditional Nonfiction: This week we will be focusing on the nontraditional side of reading nonfiction. Nonfiction comes in many forms. There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, and enhanced books complete with artifacts. So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others? Perhaps you have recommendations for readers who want to dive into nontraditional formats.  We want to hear all about it this week!  

    When I think of nontraditional ways to enjoy nonfiction I think of



    continuing the discussion in another format


    About half of the audiobooks I listen to are nonfiction. Here are some of my favorites.

    Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New AmericaDevil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars


    I recommend this one all the time. You need to get through the beginning section about the life of Thurgood Marshall. That’s interesting but what you really want to get into the story of this rape investigation in Florida in the 1940s. It is stranger and more horrifying than any fiction you’ve ever read.
    My review


    In a Sunburned CountryIn a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    Any book by Bill Bryson is going to be excellent but this one about a trip to Australia is laugh out loud funny. I like to listen to his books on audio because he narrates them so well.


    Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of NepalLittle Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan
    My rating: 5 of 5 stars

    There have been a few times when the husband and I both listen to the same audiobook. We have very different tastes so it is rare to find one that I think we would both like. This fit the bill.
    My review


    Moby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of ThemMoby-Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This is just a good book. You should listen to it. You’ll learn a lot of science but be entertained chasing four bath animals around the world.


    Continuing The Discussion

    Everyday SexismEveryday Sexism by Laura Bates

    The Everyday Sexism project started as a website and morphed into a book. The discussion is continuing on Twitter at @everydaysexism.


    Free-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with WorryFree-Range Kids: Giving Our Children the Freedom We Had Without Going Nuts with Worry by Lenore Skenazy
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    This is about website/book combination. Check out Free Range Kids.


    Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual RevolutionHeadscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy
    My rating: 3 of 5 stars

    Author Mona Eltahawy (@monaeltahawy) on Twitter has a great feed with news about feminism in the Muslim community. She is also traveling so extensively around the world because of this book that I often worry that she isn’t getting enough sleep.


    A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating OpportunityA Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    I listened to this audiobook about gauging the effectiveness of nonprofits. It is very good. There is also now a companion TV short series that shows many of the nonprofits that they discuss in the book.

    15 Nov, 2015

    Book Mail and the Battle of Powder

    / posted in: PetsReading

    I don’t usually get a lot of bookish stuff in the mail but this week was an exception.

    #bookmail from Catherine in Nova Scotia for the All Hallows’ swap organized by @ac_wise

    A photo posted by @dvmheather on

    Last year Powder cat got sick. In the course of figuring out what was wrong, we heard a heart murmur for the first time on her. Fast forward to now, she’s losing weight. I know I have to work on her but she is not a good patient. The last time she had something major done I ended up having to buy people apology chocolate.

    I took her to work one day last week. I was going to hold her and a tech draw her blood. Should be easy. Yeah. Powder goes from ok to “Die!” in a second and with no warning. She was gnawing on my hand but I told the tech to keep going. Round one ended with me looking like this and no blood collected.

    At this point I’m holding a perfectly calm cat in my left arm and asking the tech to remove the piece of claw she embedded into me. Of course the tech said no because she needed to get a good picture and then she wanted me to go show other people in the clinic.

    Round two – We decided to have two techs try because sometimes animals are better if Mommy isn’t there. They were over there for about 10 seconds when I hear a lion roar and one tech yell, “Your cat is the devil!” I walk over to see one tech holding her bleeding hand, one tech on the floor, and Powder running out of the room. (Remember we pull blood from cats all day long. This is never an issue.)

    Round three – I retrieve Powder. I decide that we either need to really fight her or anesthetize her. Neither is good for a cat with an undiagnosed heart ailment but I figure anesthetizing her will cause the least collateral damage. I put a mask over her face and she goes to sleep quickly. We pull the blood. I turn off the gas. She’s been under about 2 minutes. She decides to stop breathing which causes technician panic. She (the cat) got over it. The technician hasn’t yet. Apology chocolate was brought in again.

    Now Powder has an appointment this week with a cardiologist. I want to know exactly what is going on because this isn’t a cat who will tolerate taking lots of meds. She needs the most important one. I will probably be injured repeatedly medicating her. The cardiologist she will go to will come to my clinic if we wanted. I imagined what staff member I would ask to come in early to help with Powder. I decided I couldn’t afford that much chocolate. We’re going to the cardiologist’s office. I’m preparing my warning speech now.  “Yes, she’s 13 years old and sick and very sweet but apparently also the devil…”


    Do you like books?  Do you like food?  Do you like books about food?  Check out Foodies Read!


    I already have lots of food books on my TBR pile.  I’m aiming for at least one book a month but will probably read more.  I’m going to claim a la carte status instead of a challenge level.  I don’t like the pressure of having to read a set amount of books even if I am running the challenge.  I’m a rebel!

    Join me for the fun.  There will be prizes throughout the year!

    14 Nov, 2015

    Foodies Read 2016 Sign Up Page

    / posted in: FoodReading


    Welcome to Foodies Read 2016!


    Do you love reading books about food?  Do you want to find more recommendations of books to read and to sing the praises of books that you’ve loved?

    You’re in the right place.  Starting in January 2016, I’ll be taking over Foodie Reads.

    We will still have a challenge levels and for those of us who don’t like to plan that much there will be an a la carte option.

    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.

    What counts as a food book?  Any genre – fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, etc.  If food is a major part of the plot then it counts!

    Each month I’ll have a new page for book reviews that you post.  You can find the page for the month linked here and on the blog’s right sidebar.  Each month will feature some posts from the last month.  Posts will be pinned to Pinterest and publicized on Twitter to get the word out.  Along the way there may be giveaways for participants.



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    13 Nov, 2015

    Suffragette: A Movie Experience With The Clueless

    / posted in: Entertainment

    One of the nice thing about having a scheduled day off during the week is ability to see matinees. (Since this was my first day off in three weeks, I was celebrating. I had moved on from yelling, “Dobby is a Free Elf!” like I was when I got home the night before.)

    The problem with going to matinees is that other theater goers are also people who can go on a Friday afternoon. That is mostly retired people. I have nothing against old people. I’m going to be one soon. But, the sight of two elderly ladies entering a movie theater terrifies me. They have a tendency to not understand the plot and to discuss their misunderstanding loudly during the movie. They also have a tendency to sit right behind me.

    I will admit that I’m a person who probably takes movie going too seriously. Nevertheless, I truly believe that no one should ever speak while a movie is playing unless you look like this.

    From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:MST3K_%2813729279755%29.jpg

    I went to see Suffragette. It is only playing in one theater in the entire metro area. It is in a small room. I was pleased to see it well attended but I was worried because everyone was old and sitting close together. I was in a row with a group of two elderly women and a man. I told myself not to stereotype. It was going to be ok.

    The previews started and one of was for Race, the upcoming Jesse Owens biopic. At the end of the trailer that is all about Jesse Owens, the man says to the woman next to him, “I think that movie is going to be about Jesse Owens’ life.” I knew we were doomed.

    The next trailer was for The Danish Girl, a story about the first sex change operation. We were 3/4 through that one before the woman said, “Hey, that’s the same guy playing a woman!”

    Suffragette is the historical fiction version of the British fight for women’s right to vote. It has been highly criticized for having an all white cast and for having the stars appear wearing shirts with Emmeline Pankhurst’s quote “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave”.

    The movie does not attempt to tell the whole story of the suffrage movement. This is a story of a few women in one neighborhood. They are not historical characters with 2 exceptions. They are the foot soldiers with the expendableness that that implies.

    The movie shows all the problems that women face from domestic abuse to sexual harassment to unequal pay. The main character, Maud, gets into the movement and ends up estranged from her family. The man at the end of my row wasn’t having it. He launched into a rant about how she was a wife and mother and she shouldn’t be sacrificing that for any cause. He was echoing the words of the men on screen but sadly didn’t seem to see the irony.

    Meryl Streep plays Emmeline Pankhurst, one of the leaders of the movement. At the time of the movie she is in hiding from the government. She appears once to give a speech. She is referred to often though. There are many newspaper headlines about her. The woman are derogatorily called “Panks”. It is even graffitied on a wall once.

    When the credits were rolling, the man said, “Meryl Streep was in this film?”

    The woman replied, “Yes, she was the one that gave the speech on the balcony. I don’t remember her name though.”

    Oh. My. God.

    Hopefully, other people who see this movie will get more out of it. It isn’t perfect history. It doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t try too. It introduces a time period of women’s history that a lot of people don’t know about. “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave”? Hear it in context before making judgements.


    Want more info?

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


    In 1876 Sophia Duleep Singh was born into Indian royalty. 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.

    Sophia transcended her heritage to devote herself to battling injustice and inequality, a far cry from the life to which she was born. Her causes were the struggle for Indian Independence, the fate of the lascars, the welfare of Indian soldiers in the First World War – and, above all, the fight for female suffrage.

    Something a bit lighter?

    The Suffragette Scandal (Brothers Sinister, #4)The Suffragette Scandal by Courtney Milan
    My rating: 4 of 5 stars


    Miss Frederica “Free” Marshall has put her heart and soul into her newspaper, known for its outspoken support of women’s rights. Naturally, her enemies are intent on destroying her business and silencing her for good. Free refuses to be at the end of her rope…but she needs more rope, and she needs it now.

    13 Nov, 2015

    What I Learned at the Reptile Show

    / posted in: Hometown Tourist

    I think I’m afraid of snakes.

    If you ask me that’s what I’ll always say is my top phobia.  The truth is that I’m actually not afraid of snakes.

    I’m afraid of things unexpectedly coming across things that are shaped like snakes.

    I’ve jumped from abandoned wires on a sidewalk, thin branches on the road, shoelaces, etc.  I almost never see any actual snake in the wild.

    I actually like big snakes like boas and pythons.  My theory is that they don’t slither.  I do hate slithering.  The quick slithering of a garter snake does freak me out.  I’m able to doctor on snakes.  I think it is because I know that they are there.  They aren’t sneaking up and surprising me.  On smaller snakes like corn snakes I have a take a deep breath before I handle it but I can do it.

    I went to the reptile show in my area this month.  This is sadly not a place where snakes do tricks or I’d have visited ages ago.  It is a place to buy reptiles and supplies from lots of dealers.  The place was packed.  You could barely move for all the people.  I really, really didn’t want to bump into any one because a majority of the people were  carrying little plastic takeout containers that held snakes and not left over Chinese food.  I kept envisioning someone tripping and snakes spilling all over.  If I didn’t start immediately thinking of something else I’d start getting shivers up my spine.

    Like these guys!  Aren’t they adorable?


    At first I couldn’t figure out what they were. I’d never seen the bottoms of frog from this angle.

    Most of the place looked like this.

    I actually went to meet some tortoise breeders. I really want a tortoise. I wasn’t excited about the selection here though.

    There was a booth for a reptile rescue. A woman was there looking at a boa. The person from the rescue put the snake in the woman’s arms and it was love at first sight. You could see the lady just melt. She hugged the snake and it nestled down into her arms. The woman looked up at the worker with the happiest eyes. She whispered, “Could I have adoption papers?” I hope they have a very happy life together.

    12 Nov, 2015

    Why It’s What I Do Disappointed Me

    / posted in: Reading Why It’s What I Do Disappointed Me It's What I Do by Lynsey Addario
    on February 5th 2015
    Genres: Biography & Autobiography
    Pages: 368
    Set in the Middle East and Africa two-half-stars

    War photographer Lynsey Addario's memoir It's What I Do is the story of how the relentless pursuit of truth, in virtually every major theater of war in the twenty-first century, has shaped her life. What she does, with clarity, beauty, and candor, is to document, often in their most extreme moments, the complex lives of others. It's her work, but it's much more than that: it's her singular calling.
    Lynsey Addario was just finding her way as a young photographer when September 11 changed the world. One of the few photojournalists with experience in Afghanistan, she gets the call to return and cover the American invasion. She makes a decision she would often find herself making--not to stay home, not to lead a quiet or predictable life, but to set out across the world, face the chaos of crisis, and make a name for herself.
    Addario finds a way to travel with a purpose. She photographs the Afghan people before and after the Taliban reign, the civilian casualties and misunderstood insurgents of the Iraq War, as well as the burned villages and countless dead in Darfur. She exposes a culture of violence against women in the Congo and tells the riveting story of her headline-making kidnapping by pro-Qaddafi forces in the Libyan civil war.
    Addario takes bravery for granted but she is not fearless. She uses her fear and it creates empathy; it is that feeling, that empathy, that is essential to her work. We see this clearly on display as she interviews rape victims in the Congo, or photographs a fallen soldier with whom she had been embedded in Iraq, or documents the tragic lives of starving Somali children. Lynsey takes us there and we begin to understand how getting to the hard truth trumps fear.
    As a woman photojournalist determined to be taken as seriously as her male peers, Addario fights her way into a boys' club of a profession. Rather than choose between her personal life and her career, Addario learns to strike a necessary balance. In the man who will become her husband, she finds at last a real love to complement her work, not take away from it, and as a new mother, she gains an all the more intensely personal understanding of the fragility of life.
    Watching uprisings unfold and people fight to the death for their freedom, Addario understands she is documenting not only news but also the fate of society. It's What I Do is more than just a snapshot of life on the front lines; it is witness to the human cost of war.

    I wasn’t sure why this book wasn’t sitting well with me as I read it until I came across this quote close to the end:

    “Journalism is a selfish profession.”

    That’s the issue I had with this book.  Throughout most of it I felt like the author had little to no empathy for the people whose lives she was invading.  She was there to document their suffering and to get the best picture.  She talks a lot about how stressful her job was and I’m sure it was but she also talks about how she made sure that she would leave combat zones and go on vacation regularly for her mental health.  That’s a luxury that the people she was covering never had.  That disconnect is never discussed.

    There is a time when she is embedded with another reporter in Afghanistan with the U.S. Army.  They are both hiding the fact that the other reporter is pregnant, with no regard for how this increases the danger for the people who are in charge of them.

    “For the first few weeks Elizabeth didn’t seem hindered by pregnancy, aside from the fact that she had to stop to pee several times during the course of each patrol.  After years of trying to get soldiers to overlook our gender on embeds, I cringed each time we had to ask the platoon leader, Lieutenent Matt Piosa, to hold up an entire string of troops in unfriendly villages while Elizabeth scampered off into an abandoned house or behind a tree to empty her bladder.” Emphasis mine

    Then she has a fit because her troops aren’t willing to escort her across a hostile valley during an engagement so she can photograph dead villagers.

    “Afghans dying was an enormous part of that reality, and I was just failing to witness it.”

    Eventually a favorite soldier of hers is killed during this embed and she decides that she’s had enough.

    “Kearney?  Is there any way to get me out of here?”  I cringed as I asked him to also deal with me: a freaked-out girl who was pleading to be extracted from the middle of a hostile ridgeline, where every Black Hawk flight in risked getting shot down by an insurgent on the mountain.”

    I bet all those soldiers would have loved to get out too.  I bet the helicopter pilots had nothing better to do than to risk their lives to go get a freaked out journalist.

    After years of work in conflict zones, she starts to develop some empathy but only after she has a bad experience with Israeli border guards taunting her over her fears about going through a body scanner when pregnant.

    “I was confused, appalled, and angry until I suddenly had a moment of clarity:  If the Israeli soldiers were doing this to me, a New York Times journalist accredited by the Israeli government itself, who had called the press officer in advance to graciously ask to be manually searched, how on earth did they treat a poor, Palestinian pregnant woman?  Or a nonpregnant Palestinian woman?  Or a Palestinian man?  The thought terrified me.”

    Talk about needing to be aware of your own privilege.  If they harass ME, maybe they are even meaner to someone else?  What a novel idea.  That’s the kind of insular thinking I’d expect from someone who has never traveled before, not a journalist with decades of experience in many countries.

    I did appreciate the fact that she talked about the fact that she thought her career would be over if she had children.  She didn’t want to get pregnant.  She talks about her husband pressuring her.  She was very unhappy when she gave in and got pregnant.  Eventually she liked the kid after he was born but I’m glad she voiced the sort-of taboo thinking that not everyone is a gleeful pregnant person.

    11 Nov, 2015

    The Birds of Panedomium

    / posted in: Reading The Birds of Panedomium The Birds of Pandemonium by Michele Raffin
    on October 7th 2014
    Genres: Nonfiction
    Pages: 218
    Format: eBook
    Source: Library
    Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
    California three-half-stars

    Each morning at first light, Michele Raffin steps outside into the bewitching bird music that heralds another day at Pandemonium Aviaries. A full symphony that swells from the most vocal of more than 350 avian throats representing more than 40 species.
    Pandemonium, the home and bird sanctuary that Raffin shares with some of the world's most remarkable birds, is a conservation organization dedicated to saving and breeding birds at the edge of extinction, with the goal of eventually releasing them into the wild. In The Birds of Pandemonium, she lets us into her world--and theirs. Birds fall in love, mourn, rejoice, and sacrifice; they have a sense of humor, invent, plot, and cope. They can teach us volumes about the interrelationships of humans and animals.
    Their amazing stories make up the heart of this book. There's Sweetie, a tiny quail with an outsize personality; the inspiring Oscar, a disabled Lady Gouldian finch who can't fly but finds a brilliant way to climb to the highest perches of his aviary to roost. The ecstatic reunion of a disabled Victoria crowned pigeon, Wing, and her brother, Coffee, is as wondrous as the silent kinship that develops between Amadeus, a one-legged turaco, and an autistic young visitor.

    Michelle Raffin didn’t know anything about birds when an injured dove came into her life.  She took it to an avian veterinarian and that experience led to visiting an exotic bird breeder.  She and her husband left there with several varieties of exotic pigeons.  Over time, she got involved in rescue and rehab until her suburban backyard was full of aviaries.

    The learning curve when keeping birds is steep.  It is especially hard when trying to keep and breed endangered species that haven’t done well in captivity before.  A lot of luck and detective skills are needed.  I don’t think I would do well with this because it is more similar to ranching than keeping pet birds.  You need to focus on the good of the flock more than on what is best for an individual bird.  That can lead to making some hard choices if you are attached to the birds.

    I am familiar with mostly with parrots and didn’t know much about the personalities of the birds that she focuses on.  It was interesting to hear about their lives.  She does have some parrots inside.  She has a morning dance party with them.  I’m trying to get my Senegal parrot to be more active so maybe I’ll try this too.


    09 Nov, 2015

    Pairing Non-fiction and Fiction Books

    / posted in: Reading

    I love both nonfiction and fiction. The theme for this week’s Nonfiction November posts is book pairings.


    The Secret History of Wonder Woman – Did you know that Wonder Woman, Amazon princess, was the invention of a man who was influenced strongly by early feminist theory and lived in a polyamorous relationship that included the niece of Margaret Sanger?

    The Lost Sisterhood – What if a researcher into literature about Amazons was given an opportunity to prove that they were real and that her grandmother’s stories weren’t all crazy?

    YA About African Girls


    Taking Flight – Michaela Prince is an African girl with vitaligo who has to move to the United States to harness her true potential in dance.

    Akata Witch – Sunny is an African-American girl with albinsim who has to move to Nigeria to harness her true potential in magic.


    Female Civil War Spies


    Liar, Temptress, Solider, Spy – The story of four females spies in the Civil War.

    The Spymistress – A historical fiction version of the story of Elizabeth Van Lew, one of the spies discussed in the nonfiction book.


    White Woman Learning about Racism


    From More blog stuff

    Waking Up White – The story of a woman who investigates what it means for her to have white privilege.

    Calling Me Home – The story of a woman who was in an interracial relationship in her youth in segregated Kentucky and her relationship with her hairdresser in present day.


    North Korea is a Scary Place


    Somewhere Inside – The story of journalists held captive by the North Korean government.

    The Orphan Master’s Son – The story of all of North Korea held captive.


    Americans Go To France to Learn in the 1800s


    The Greater Journey – The story of Americans in Paris in the 19th century to learn about art, politics, and medicine.

    I Always Loved You – Historical fiction about American painter Mary Cassatt during the same period in France.


    The War of the Whales – It is a fight between whale researchers and the U.S. Navy over sonar’s potential implication as a causing of whales dying.

    Fluke – What would happen if the whales fought back?


    How’s your Nonfiction November going so far?  I posted three nonfiction reviews last week.

    Naked At Lunch

    Saving Simon

    Post Traumatic Church Syndrome

    After that, I’ve had a hard time settling into a new nonfiction book.  My book picking mojo is way off.  I am enjoying Don and Andy, a dual biography of Don Knotts and Andy Griffith, on audio though.


    06 Nov, 2015

    The Aeronaut’s Windlass

    / posted in: Reading The Aeronaut’s Windlass The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut's Windlass by Jim Butcher
    on September 29th 2015
    Genres: Fiction, Fantasy, Steampunk
    Pages: 640
    Length: 21

    Since time immemorial, the Spires have sheltered humanity, towering for miles over the mist-shrouded surface of the world. Within their halls, aristocratic houses have ruled for generations, developing scientific marvels, fostering trade alliances, and building fleets of airships to keep the peace.
    Captain Grimm commands the merchant ship, Predator. Fiercely loyal to Spire Albion, he has taken their side in the cold war with Spire Aurora, disrupting the enemy's shipping lines by attacking their cargo vessels. But when the Predator is severely damaged in combat, leaving captain and crew grounded, Grimm is offered a proposition from the Spirearch of Albion--to join a team of agents on a vital mission in exchange for fully restoring Predator to its fighting glory.
    And even as Grimm undertakes this dangerous task, he will learn that the conflict between the Spires is merely a premonition of things to come. Humanity's ancient enemy, silent for more than ten thousand years, has begun to stir once more. And death will follow in its wake...

    On paper this isn’t a book that I should be interested in. I don’t care about steampunk airship captains. But, this is Jim Butcher and I will read anything he writes, so I trusted him and downloaded the audiobook.

    Then I realized that the audio was 21 hours long. I really hoped that I wasn’t making a wrong decision. Turns out that I wasn’t.

    Humans live in large towers called spires. Each one is two miles in diameter and thousands of feet high. The surface of the planet is too dangerous to go down to. There are airships that travel in the sky. All energy comes from crystals that harness etheric energy. These crystals are slowly grown in vats and are very valuable.

    The Cast

    Captain Grimm

    He is the captain of the privateer ship Predator. He was an official in naval fleet of Spire Albon but was removed for cowardice under suspicious circumstances.

    Gwendolyn Lancaster

    She is the heir to House Lancaster, the family that makes the best crystals in the world. She is a spoiled brat who is overly convinced of her own importance because she’s an aristocrat. She has joined the Spirearch’s guards to do her few years of service. She thinks everyone should pay her due respect without her having to earn it. I pretty much hated her.

    Benedict Soralyn

    He is a cousin of Gwen’s from a minor branch of the Lancaster house. He is an experienced guard. He is Warrior born – natural born athletes with the speed and reflexes of cats and the eyes of cats. Gwen is quite surprised to find out that he is highly thought of by everyone up to the Spirearch himself, since she never thought of him as anything but a poor relation.

    Bridget Tarquin

    She is the last of a formerly great house that has fallen on hard times. She is also joining the guard even though she isn’t really suited for it. Can speak fluent cat.


    Prince of the Silent Paws clan of cats and friend to Bridget, whom he calls Little Mouse. He is accompanying her to the guard to try to bolster an alliance between humans and his clan. Cats are not pets and most humans see them as a form of vermin. Cats of course feel the same way about humans.

    Master Ferus

    He is an etherialist, a master at manipulating etheric energy. This drives a person mad after a while and he’s been doing it for a long time.


    She is Master Ferus’ apprentice. She carries a jar of apparently dead lumen crystals and can only talk directly to her jar and not to people.

    When Spire Albion is attacked by a force from Spire Aurora it appears that the Spirearch’s guard may be compromised. The Spirearch recruits this diverse bunch of people he trusts to get to the bottom of it – a disgraced captain, some recruits, a trusted guard, two crazy etheralists, and a cat.

    There is so much to love here!

    Any time either of the etherialists open their mouth it is completely mad. It is like trying to go on a spying mission with The Mad Hatter. They know what they mean and they are utterly brilliant but it takes other people a while to adapt to dealing with them.

    Rawl! There are sections of this book told from a cat’s point of view. It is so well done. It is exactly what a cat would think of all this human nonsense. He knows that he is the leader of the mission. He gets angry when his person is in danger because who is going to scratch him like he likes if she gets dead? They go aboard the airship and he can’t concentrate on anything until he gets to climb the “ship tree” (mast). He has a wonderful theory on telling the importance of humans by the size of their hat. At the end, he had had first aid administered by a human and was pouting about it for days. As a vet, I could totally relate to that attitude.

    There is a great discussion at the end about the effects of combat on a person and how hard it is to reintegrate into a society of people who haven’t seen combat.

    It was totally worth the 21 hours of audio. I can’t wait for the next installment.

    05 Nov, 2015

    Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome

    / posted in: Reading Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by Reba Riley
    on August 18th 2015
    Genres: Personal Memoirs
    Pages: 368
    Source: Library
    Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
    Ohio three-half-stars

    Reba Riley’s twenty-ninth year was a terrible time to undertake a spiritual quest. But when untreatable chronic illness forced her to her metaphorical (and physical) derriere on her birthday, Reba realized that even if she couldn’t fix her body, she might be able to heal her injured spirit. And so began a yearlong journey to recover from her whopping case of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome by visiting thirty religions before her thirtieth birthday. During her spiritual sojourn, Reba:
    -Was interrogated by Amish grandmothers about her sex life -Danced the disco in a Buddhist temple -Went to church in virtual reality, a movie theater, a drive-in bar, and a basement -Fasted for thirty days without food—or wine -Washed her lady parts in a mosque bathroom -Was audited by Scientologists -Learned to meditate with an urban monk, sucked mud in a sweat lodge with a suburban shaman, and snuck into Yom Kippur with a fake grandpa in tow -Discovered she didn’t have to choose religion to choose God.

    Reba Riley was a good Evangelical Christian girl up until college.  The reasons for her break from Christianity are not explained but ten years later the effects are clear.  She isn’t able to even think about religion without getting angry and sometimes even physically ill if she goes into a church.

    In the meantime she developed a chronic debilitating sickness that no doctor has been able to diagnose or fix.  On her 29th birthday she decides to do something about her spiritual state if she can’t fix her body.  She is going to attend the services of thirty different religious groups by the time she turns thirty.

    I was interested in this book because it sounded similar to my journey. Our paths are different though because she still feels a need to have a belief in God.  I don’t.  I get angry when I think about people being scammed by religion of any kind.  She just thinks that the environment that she grew up in was toxic.

    I didn’t blame my parents; any system of belief built like a Jenga tower is breakable.  If you much believe x to believe y, and y to believe z, and x, y, and z to believe in God, it only takes a crack in one area bring all your faith crashing down.  My parents didn’t break my faith; they had given me a faith that was inherently breakable.”

    Yes! I agree with that statement wholeheartedly. I tell people that I studied my way out of Christianity. I mean that as I got deeper and deeper into the faith and the Bible, things started not to make sense or to mean something different than I was taught. It took a long time for the first bricks to fall but once they did, everything else happened quickly.

    “…Christianese — the language of Evangelical Christians and therefore my native tongue.  Due to my background, I speak Christianese beautifully:  I can catch and throw idioms and deftly season whole conversations with Scripture.  It’s like a secret verbal handshake, so Evangelicals can instantly recognize one another regardless of the setting.”

    Oh, yes. Just this summer I listened to a story my sister-in-law was telling about my brother’s boss’ wife (also their pastor’s wife) telling her off for letting people know on Facebook that the church staff was on a retreat. Obviously if your Facebook friends know that your menfolk are not home they will rush over to rape and kill you. I said, “Smile sweetly and say, ‘Oh! I thought we weren’t supposed to have a spirit of fear.'”

    For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. – 2 Timothy 1:7

    I told her, “I may not go to church anymore but if you need a Christian smack down for someone just let me know.”  All the studying might as well come in handy for something.

    A lot of the religious facilities she visits are Christian but she does spend some time out of the Christian fold.  She visits Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, Pagans, Hare Krishnas, Scientologists, and Atheists.  I like what one atheist told her.

    “You know, one thing people never consider about atheism is that it gives us even more of a reason to be good people.  This life is all we have.  No second chances.”

    Thank you.  I’m so tired of Christians constantly spouting off about how only Christians can have a system of morality because their god is the basis for right and wrong.  That never made sense to me even as a Christian.

    This book is fun and doesn’t take itself too seriously.  If you’ve ever walked away from religion, you’ll find something familiar here.



    About Reba Riley

    “I’m Reba Riley, the author of Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing in 30 Religions, Patheos.com blogger, speaker, former Evangelical Poster Child and lover of all things sparkly. I live with my husband, Trent, and Welsh terrier, Oxley, in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I plan to write more books…after I recover from Post-Traumatic Memoir Syndrome.
    My hope is that PTCS will inspire you, give you hope, make you laugh out loud at least once (preferably while drinking coffee so you snort it up your nose), and spark an international conversation about the reality of spiritual injury and the many paths to healing.” from Goodreads