No, Seriously, France…
22 Feb, 2019

No, Seriously, France…

/ posted in: Familytravel

Yes, I did go to France all the way back in November and never even blogged about it.  I’m such a blogger failure.  So here is the start of the story…

AVIGNON Day 1

We flew into Marseilles and were driven on a bus to Avignon to meet our river cruise boat.  We were told that our trip was going to take a bit longer than normal.  They said there was a problem on the road.  Turns out that the Yellow Jackets were out.  This is a group in France who are protesting new gasoline taxes.  They do things like shut down roads or intersections.  We saw them in action (or their effects) a few times on the trip.

Avignon is a really cool place.  All I remembered about it when I heard we were going there was that it was the seat of the anti-Popes.  I did read a book in preparation for the trip that helped a lot with the historic background of the town.  Basically, in the 1300s Rome was a hot mess and the Pope was getting death threats and kidnapped and all sorts of nonsense.  His main supporter was the King of France.  At this time the town of Avignon was part of a territory known as the Papal Free State, which belonged to the Pope. It was located on the banks of the Rhone River which isn’t very wide and there was also a bridge here. On the other side was French territory. The Pope came here because it was safer. For about the next hundred years, the papacy was located in Avignon. It was a boom town because the Pope doesn’t come to town alone. After one of the Popes decided to move back to Rome, there was a contingent who considered him a traitor and installed their own Popes in Avignon. Those were the anti-Popes.

We got to Avignon in the afternoon and crashed. I know you aren’t supposed to do that and the city was literally RIGHT THERE outside our window but we had been travelling for about 18 hours at that point. Even I couldn’t muster up the energy to go exploring right then. We recuperated overnight and then hit the city the next morning.

We started with a guided tour. I was worried about this. I’ve never wanted to be part of a large group following a guide around like little ducklings. Now here we were doing just that. It was ok though. We had headsets so we could hear the guide without having to stay right on her heels.

We made our way through the city walls. Thank you 18th century people who decided not to tear them all down. You go through the walls into an alley that they opens into the town.

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We started at The Pope’s Palace which is a huge structure. It served the same purpose as the Vatican during the Pope’s time here. It was actually a disappointment for me after all my reading up on the subject. There was a fire here long after the Popes left that left the interior mostly just stone walls. What you see now is big cavernous spaces that are described as previously ornate. I know it is Avignon’s Big Thing but I’d read about it and skip the visit.

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We did really enjoy a garden that we found by chance on a cliff overlooking the Rhone. Even in November, it was beautiful.

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Avignon has a bridge. The bridge is important. This was built in the 12th century and was the only bridge across the Rhone anywhere near. It was part of a pilgrimage route from Italy to Spain. It washed mostly away a long time ago.

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It even has its own song. That is obvious to French people. Everything written about this bridge tosses in “from the song” like it is self-evident what song you are referring to. I am an ignorant American. I had to Google. There is a French children’s song about dancing on the bridge. It seems to occupy the same mindspace in French people where “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” lives in English-speaking brains. Everyone just knows it. No one can remember actually learning it. French guides tried so gamely. “The bridge is just down there. You know, from the song?” Blank stares from 20 Americans. French guide bursts into “Sur la pont d’Avignon” with the bouncy rhythm and embarrassment of an adult singing a children’s song alone in front of a group of people who have never heard of it.

The husband and I wandered around most of the town.  It isn’t a huge place so you can get a good feel of it in a few days.  Of course we stopped at chocolate shops for a snack. 

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We rode a carousel because you should never pass up a chance to do that even if your husband is going to start yelling, “Wheeeeee” as he goes around and will be waving to French people who are just trying to live their lives.

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Meet the coolest cat in Avignon.  This guy was playing music on the edge of a busy intersection while this cat just lounged.  He didn’t even care.  

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Hero Dogs
20 Feb, 2019

Hero Dogs

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Hero Dogs Hero Dogs: How a Pack of Rescues, Rejects, and Strays Became America's Greatest Disaster-Search Partners by Wilma Melville, Paul Lobo
on January 8, 2019
Pages: 336
Genres: Nonfiction
Published by St. Martin's Press
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library

Lola was a buckshot-riddled stray, lost on a Memphis highway. Cody was rejected from seven different homes. Ace had been sprayed with mace and left for dead on a train track. They were deemed unadoptable. Untrainable. Unsalvageable. These would become the same dogs America relied on when its worst disasters hit.

In 1995, Wilma Melville volunteered as a canine search-and-rescue (SAR) handler with her Black Labrador Murphy in the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing. At the time, there were only fifteen FEMA certified SAR dogs in the United States. Believing in the value of these remarkable animals to help save lives, Wilma knew many more were needed in the event of future major disasters. She made a vow to help 168 dogs receive search-and-rescue training in her lifetime—one for every Oklahoma City victim.

Wilma singlehandedly established the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation (SDF) to meet this challenge. The first canine candidates—Ana, Dusty, and Harley—were a trio of golden retrievers with behavioral problems so severe the dogs were considered irredeemable and unadoptable. But with patience, discipline, and love applied during training, they proved to have the ability, agility, and stamina to graduate as SARs. Paired with a trio of firefighters, they were among the first responders searching the ruins of the World Trade Center following 9/11—setting the standard for the more than 168 of the SDF’s search-and-rescue dogs that followed. Beautiful and heart-wrenching, Hero Dogs is the story of one woman’s dream brought to fruition by dedicated volunteers and firefighters—and the bonds they forged with the incredible rescued-turned-rescuer dogs to create one of America’s most vital resources in disaster response.

Goodreads

Once upon a time, I was a puppy raiser for a service dog organization so I have had a glimpse of what it takes to make a working dog.  So many of the trials and tribulations of the search dog scene in the 1990s sound familiar.  

It is hard to believe now but at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing, there were only 15 FEMA certified search dogs in the United States.  Search dog training at the time was a volunteer effort.  People trained their personal dogs in their spare time so it took years to get a dog with enough skills to pass the national tests.  Wilma Melville had a FEMA certified dog and was deployed to Oklahoma City.  She decided afterwards that there needed to be a way to get more dog teams ready.  She started a foundation to train stray dogs (because they were cheap/free) full time to try to turn them into search dogs in less than a year.  She decided to pair them with firefighters because they were already trained in disaster response.  

The dogs needed to have high prey drive to want to find people.  They had to be athletic to climb over rubble.  They had to be smart.  She found it all in her first rescue dog, Ana, who was failing out of service dog school for being too active.  When Wilma pulled in the driveway to meet her, Ana the Golden Retriever was standing up in the tree she had climbed.  

Reading about deployments is frustrating.  They don’t find a lot of people buried because they often don’t reach the scene for a day or more.   More teams in more areas could decrease mobilization times.  

This book is both sad and funny.  Stories of fruitless searches and the abuse some of the dogs endured before coming to the school are heartbreaking.  On the other hand, they are still dogs despite all their training and sometimes escape or just refuse to behave at exhibitions.  I loved the story of the dog searching at Ground Zero in New York who found an intact wall of Beanie Babies (his absolutely favorite toy) in a ruined store and had to be taken off the deployment for the day because he was too awe-struck to move on.  

This is a great book for all dog lovers.  

Thoughts While Reading
18 Feb, 2019

Thoughts While Reading

/ posted in: Reading

 

 

 

Wakanda ForeverWakanda Forever by Nnedi Okorafor

I’ve read a bunch of Wakanda graphic novels this week.

  • I think that superhero comics are really hard to get into because there is so much lore and backstory that you are always going to be behind if you are just starting.
  • I’m glad to see how Wakanda is depicted in these stories vs the movie.  It didn’t make any sense that Wakanda was shown as a small town featuring buildings with grass roofs.  In the comics it is a major technologically advanced city.  That makes so much more sense.
  • I don’t see myself reading any more of these.  The short format doesn’t really grab my attention.

A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in AfricaA Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo

“In A Moonless, Starless Sky Okeowo weaves together four narratives that form a powerful tapestry of modern Africa: a young couple, kidnap victims of Joseph Kony’s LRA; a Mauritanian waging a lonely campaign against modern-day slavery; a women’s basketball team flourishing amid war-torn Somalia; and a vigilante who takes up arms against the extremist group Boko Haram. This debut book by one of America’s most acclaimed young journalists illuminates the inner lives of ordinary people doing the extraordinary–lives that are too often hidden, underreported, or ignored by the rest of the world.”

These four stories show people standing up to power to make their world a better place.

  • In Uganda, men who were kidnapped as children to be soldiers and the women who were kidnapped to be their “brides” are often choosing to stay together after they escape.  This is causing a lot of upset in the villages they came from because how can you stay with a man who raped you and possibly killed people you know?
  • In Mauritiania, slavery was just recently officially banned but no one has told the slaves.  One man has built an organization trying to prosecute powerful people who keep slaves.
  • A man in Nigeria decides to fight back against Boko Haram by finding neighbors and family members who are part of the organization and turning them over to the military instead of looking the other way.
  • In Somalia, women are threatened with death for playing basketball but continue despite the risks.

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated AmericaThe Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein

Yeah, so I had this happen and I posted it on Facebook.

A person decided to perkily converse with me about the book I was reading at lunch.
“That looks like a fun book! What’s it about?”
“Um, racial discrimination in U.S. housing law.”
“That’s, um, different.” Then she rallied and got perky again. “Are you reading that for fun?”
“Yes.”
“Great! Have a good day!”
To be fair, the cover is colorful and that is all she saw before she started talking.  </end>

The book is interesting but I’m not going to finish it. I’ve read a bit about this before and this isn’t covering a lot of new material for me. It isn’t the most readable book. It is example after example of humans being horrible to each other and it wears on you after a while.

16 Feb, 2019

What I Can’t Say on Facebook

/ posted in: Ranting and RavingReligion

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This is me today. I have to have a rant.  I have to have it here because I am a grown up who understands that I can’t have this rant on Facebook where the people involved would see it and be made oh so sad.

I read a story this morning about the birth of a person’s child.  This child was premature but is doing well.  That’s good.  It is the telling and interpretation of the story that makes me livid.

It starts with her water breaking 6 weeks early.  She calls her sister who is a doctor.  For a long time, I couldn’t figure this part out.  Why?  Her sister is many, many states away.  She says that her sister helped her get into a hospital with a brand new NICU.  I finally figured it out and it made me even madder than the rest of the story already had.

She had to call her doctor sister because she was 32 weeks pregnant and didn’t have an OB/GYN.  She states later that she doesn’t trust doctors.  (Until you need one.)  She is of the ultra-conservative Christian, homeschooling (and now I presume, homebirthing) persuasion.  I would have hoped she at least had a good midwife and not just some lady from a homeschooling group.  However, a good midwife would have had a better emergency plan than “Call your sister” even if it just was “Call an ambulance.”

Ok, so how could her sister get her into a hospital?  She doesn’t have admitting privileges in a land far, far way.  I’m willing to bet she googled hospitals in the area and saw one that had just built a brand new NICU and said, “Drive there, stupid” or something similar.

But, you know where this is going.  God provided and she was able to get into the hospital.

via GIPHY

If you are a hospital and you have a brand new NICU and a woman about to make a premature baby wanders in off the street, I’mma guess you’ll probably take her in. I don’t know. Just my guess.

Anyhow, they admit her and put her in a bed. Labor stops. I hear that’s the treatment for that. I’ve heard tell there are drugs that might help too. Those aren’t mentioned in this story. They want the baby to stay cooking for at least another 10 days. God was faithful and it did. No thanks to those doctors and nurses and all their intervention and bed rest.

Speaking of interventions, she stated that she needed a lot of prayer to have the strength to endure daily blood tests. (Oh, were you being closely monitored by a team of professionals, maybe?) You don’t need prayer to endure. You just do it because you don’t have a choice. It isn’t going to kill you. You literally just lay there.

 

via GIPHY

So the baby at one point was going the wrong way but then it turned around. That’s what they do when they decide to vacate the premises. Nope. Miracle.

Also for a while it looked like the umbilical cord was in the wrong place but after a few scans it turns out it wasn’t. Miracle – definitely not all the moving around the baby was doing a paragraph before.

It was eventually born and she didn’t need to have a c-section. That was good because she knew she needed to be able to get up and take care the baby and her other children. (Your mother always did say your husband was a lazy, good for nothing…..)

The baby did fine and was able to go home (after a 10 day stay in the brand-new, state-of-the-art NICU).

She was writing all this on Facebook in order to be able to thank all the people who cared for her unprepared self who prayed for her during her ordeal.

via GIPHY

So of course everyone is commenting about how they prayed for her and how all this is proof of God’s love.  I so badly want to say, “Wow, sounds like you did your absolute best to have major birth complications.  Good thing you had great medical care.  Do you trust doctors now?”

There are times when I so badly wish I had the immaturity of an internet troll. 

There are few things I hate more than Christians on Facebook.

via GIPHY

Montly Sewing Update
15 Feb, 2019

Monthly Sewing Update

/ posted in: Quilting


It worked!  It worked!  I sewed so I would have something to say here.  

True confession time.  I didn’t finish the whole post last time before it autoposted in January.  I meant to list all the WIPs (Works in Progress) that I want to work on this year and then show if there is any progress in each one.

2019 Color Challenge

This is a new project.  I figured I could handle one beginner block each month and actually end up with a quilt for someone.  The second block was a simple one to be done in pink.  

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The word fabric was left over from a baby quilt for a kid who is about 6 or 7 now.

I found out recently that a few people I work with don’t like polka dots.  They find them creepy.  They are obviously wrong.  I love polka dots.  I have a lot of dot fabrics at home.


On Ringo Lake

This was 2017 (shut up) mystery quilt from Bonnie Hunter.  I did really well making all my pieces on the weekly schedule.  There are hundreds and hundreds of pieces.  And then it sat.  I had an unexpected day off work during the super cold spell so I decided to spend it sewing.  I went downstairs meaning to work on something else but I saw this and decided to work on it instead.

By the end of the first day I had turned this:

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into this:

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Typical behavior for me would then be to wander off never to work on this again for months. But that didn’t happen! I came back the next day and worked on it again. I ordered a backing for it even.

I had helpers. 20190130_134141.jpg

Powder used to lay right by the sewing machine and I always told her that it was a miracle that she never got her tail sewn. She never really got close though. This was my first time sewing with the Lucy-kitten. She decided that she could catch the moving machine needle between her front paws. I screamed, “Noooooooooooooo!” at her so loud that she went off and pouted because I scared her. Better hurt feelings than sewn together paws.

I’ve even kept going.  I’ve decided to quilt this in a simple all over pattern.  I’m going to quilt this in sections using a Quilt as You Go technique.  I’ve ordered the stencil and received the backing fabric.  Here is the first section put together.

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Look what that kitten did to my high class design wall!

 


De La Promenade

 

This is destined to hang above the daybed in my cat/music room/library. The whole room was painted to show it off. Now I just need to finish it. It is fusible applique and quilt-as-you go. This is what I meant to work on when I got restarted on On Ringo Lake.

This is the third panel. This is fusible applique that is then sewed down/quilted in one step. I finished quilting the second swan so this panel is done. Now I need to start tracing panel four.

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Buttermilk Graffiti
13 Feb, 2019

Buttermilk Graffiti

/ posted in: Book ReviewFoodies ReadReading Buttermilk Graffiti Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine by Edward Lee
on April 17, 2018
Pages: 304
Genres: Nonfiction
Published by Artisan
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

There is a new American culinary landscape developing around us, and it’s one that chef Edward Lee is proud to represent. In a nation of immigrants who bring their own culinary backgrounds to this country, what happens one or even two generations later? What does their cuisine become? It turns into a cuisine uniquely its own and one that Lee argues makes America the most interesting place to eat on earth. Lee illustrates this through his own life story of being a Korean immigrant and a New Yorker and now a Southerner. In Off the Menu, he shows how we each have a unique food memoir that is worthy of exploration. To Lee, recipes are narratives and a conduit to learn about a person, a place, or a point in time. He says that the best way to get to know someone is to eat the food they eat. Each chapter shares a personal tale of growth and self-discovery through the foods Lee eats and the foods of the people he interacts with—whether it’s the Korean budae jjigae of his father or the mustard beer cheese he learns to make from his wife’s German-American family. Each chapter is written in narrative form and punctuated with two recipes to highlight the story, including Green Tea Beignets, Cornbread Pancakes with Rhubarb Jam, and Butternut Squash Schnitzel. Each recipe tells a story, but when taken together, they form the arc of the narrative and contribute to the story we call the new American food.

Goodreads

Edward Lee is fascinated by what happens to food when people move to a new country.  For example, what happens when Korean immigrants move to an area where they can’t get the types of peppers that they are used to using and have to substitute South American varieties instead?  What new types of cuisines emerge?

He traveled around America to areas where new immigrant communities have grown up to sample the food.  Along the way he tries to ingratiate himself in restaurants to find the best food.  It doesn’t always go well. 

This book challenges a lot of deeply held beliefs in the foodie world.

  • What does it mean to call a food “authentic”?
  • If authentic means “the way it was made at a certain time in the past in a certain place”, does that imply that that culture’s food scene can’t evolve?  Must it stay stagnant so rich American people feel it is worth eating?
  • Who gets to be the judge of authenticity anyway?
  • Why is he looked at strangely if he decides to open a restaurant serving anything but Korean food?  Should he be limited to cooking the food of his ancestors?  Isn’t he allowed to evolve too?

There are a lot of recipes in this book.  I actually made a few which is really unusual for me.  I know now that I don’t like anything pickled except cucumbers.  I was making coleslaw at the same time I was reading this and he had a basic coleslaw recipe.  It was good. 

On The Come Up
12 Feb, 2019

On The Come Up

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading On The Come Up On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
on February 5, 2019
Pages: 464
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult
Published by Balzer + Bray
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families.

Goodreads

I’ve been mildly worried about this book.  Second books are always hard but how do you follow up a phenomenon like The Hate U Give?  I didn’t want to hear a lot of snide talk about, “It’s good but it isn’t The Hate U Give.”  I was lucky enough to be able to get a copy from the library on release day.  I stayed up past my bedtime to read it all in one sitting.  Good sign.  What do I think?

It’s good but it isn’t The Hate U Give.

The good thing is that it isn’t trying to be.  This is a much smaller, more personal story.  It is set in Garden Heights a year after the events in THUG.  It is referenced a few times as ‘when that kid got killed last year’.  They are still dealing with increased police presence in the neighborhood that she says is meant to look friendly but really means that they are being watched.

Bri is the younger child of an up and coming rapper who was killed by a gang outside her house.  Her mother got addicted to drugs following the murder.  Bri and her older brother Trey lived with her father’s parents until her mother got clean.  Their grandmother and mother still have a very contentious relationship because of this. Trey just graduated from college but can’t find a job in his field and is home working at a pizza place.

Bri’s mom loses her job as a church secretary because the church can’t afford to fix the damage from the riots a year ago and pay her too.  Their financial situation was precarious before but now they need to decide which bills to pay.  They even have to accept from help from Aunt Pooh, a gang member and drug dealer.  Bri decides she needs to start making money from her music to help out.

She writes a song called On The Come Up.  It references an incident where Bri got thrown on the ground by some security guards at school.  She writes that no matter what she is actually doing she is perceived as a thug and as a gang member who is selling drugs and starting fights.  The song is catchy and gets popular in the neighborhood.  The problem is that the catchy parts that people sing along with are all about guns and being a gang member.  People miss the “I’m not like this but people think it” beginning part.  “Claiming to be into gang life” causes even more problems for Bri because that’s not her and she doesn’t know how to get out of the trouble it is causing.  People are even using the song to justify what the security guards did at school.  “See, she was a gang member..”

Perception vs reality is the major theme here

  • When Bri gets publicly angry that people are misinterpreting her song and making assumptions about her, she gets praised by her manager for perfectly “playing the role of a ghetto hood rat”.
  • Aunt Pooh is a major supportive part of Bri’s life but she is also a gang member who will disappear for days at a time to avenge some slight from another gang leaving people wondering if she is alive or dead.
  • As a female rapper, it is assumed that Bri has someone writing her words for her instead of her speaking for herself.

I love all the interactions in this book.  They feel so real.  You can feel the bitterness and resentment between her mother and grandmother.  I love the descriptions of church services.  It is like a full contact sport of what you say vs what you actually mean. 

This gets deep into what it is like day to day to be very financially insecure.  Which bill gets paid?  How long can you go with heat or electric?  What is it like to have to go to a food giveaway at Christmas?  Bri’s mom was taking college classes but she can’t do that and be eligible for food stamps so she has to drop out.  That puts her even farther away from getting a better job to help out their situation. 

About Angie Thomas

“Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Meyers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her debut novel, The Hate U Give, was acquired by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins in a 13-house auction and will be published in spring 2017. Film rights have been optioned by Fox 2000 with George Tillman attached to direct and Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg set to star.”   from Goodreads

Thoughts While Reading
11 Feb, 2019

Thoughts While Reading

/ posted in: Reading

 

“I went on another library reserving spree for #blackathon books. Nothing I want except for a few graphic novels is available right now so I’m assuming that they’ll all come in at once.” 

I said that last week just like a freakin’ prophet.  I could be crushed under the weight of #blackathon books.  But before they all came in I started some ebooks that I needed to finish.

I’ve been reading so much this week!

HomegoingHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This was not what I was expecting.  I had been putting it off because even though everyone loved it, I had gotten the impression that this was a heavy literary novel.  It isn’t that at all.  It is pretty standard historical fiction.  (That’s a good thing in my world.)

Two half-sisters in Ghana start the story.  One stays in Ghana and marries a British man.  The other is sold into slavery by that British man.  One member of each generation tells their story up until the present.

Everyone is right.  It really is good.  Go read it.

 


Righteous (IQ, #2)Righteous by Joe Ide

“For ten years, something has gnawed at Isaiah Quintabe’s gut and kept him up nights, boiling with anger and thoughts of revenge. Ten years ago, when Isaiah was just a boy, his brother was killed by an unknown assailant. The search for the killer sent Isaiah plunging into despair and nearly destroyed his life. Even with a flourishing career, a new dog, and near-iconic status as a PI in his hometown, East Long Beach, he has to begin the hunt again—or lose his mind.

A case takes him and his volatile, dubious sidekick, Dodson, to Vegas, where Chinese gangsters and a terrifying seven-foot loan shark are stalking a DJ and her screwball boyfriend. If Isaiah doesn’t find the two first, they’ll be murdered. Awaiting the outcome is the love of IQ’s life: fail, and he’ll lose her. Isaiah’s quest is fraught with treachery, menace, and startling twists, and it will lead him to the mastermind behind his brother’s death.”

#Blackathon counts books with Black protagonists even if the author isn’t Black so I grabbed an ebook of Righteous from the library.  I read the first book in the series, IQ, after I picked up a copy at BEA in 2016.  I kept meaning to pick up this one but the time was never right.

There are several different gangs operating in this story.  There are Rwandan gangsters, a Latino gang, and several branches of the Chinese mafia.  What they all have in common is their misogyny. This reminds me why I don’t often read stories that center men.

  • The Chinese gangs are trafficking young girls for sex
  • The Rwandans have a history of shooting the girlfriends of people who wrong them.  One also refers to a person who bit him in a fight as “a woman” and this is meant to be a grave insult.

And then, and then, it turns out that a major part of the backstory of the series was set in motion because of a woman.  It wasn’t anything this woman did.  She is pretty much completely unaware and the main character isn’t going to tell her because why worry her pretty little head.

SPOILERS – She went to Cambridge to go to school and ended up getting stalked by one of the Rwandans who was also in school there.  It was bad enough that she came home early to get away.  Soon after she met Isaiah’s brother and they started dating.  She gets into law school and Isaiah’s brother decides he needs to go to college to be at her level.  He steals money and kills someone in the process.  Unbeknownst (great word) to anyone the Rwandan followed this poor lady to California.  He kills Isaiah’s brother in a hit and run for dating the woman he believes belongs to him.  Now eight years later she comes to Isaiah for help with her sister which is the main mystery in this book.  But, Isaiah gets it into his head that now they are going to live happily ever after because she is so grateful for him solving the crime.  When she doesn’t fall at his feet, he gets all up in his feelings and starts to act stupid.  Eventually, another man tells him off for this and his assumptions which is good but really?  The author puts all this on a woman who is just trying to get her education and live her life.  These fools are all running around thinking she’s either perfect or needs punished based solely on what is in their own imaginations. GRRR!



This works.  I got 5 comics on my iPad.


On the Come UpOn the Come Up by Angie Thomas

This is Angie Thomas’ follow up to The Hate U Give.  That’s a really hard act to follow.  I was lucky enough to get my library copy on release day.  I read it in one sitting.  It is very good.  I’ll be reviewing it tomorrow.

 


Orange Mint and HoneyOrange Mint and Honey by Carleen Brice

This is a family story about Shay, a woman who had a rough childhood with a neglectful alcoholic mother. Now her mother has been clean for 8 years and has a toddler. Shay has stayed away but her life isn’t going well right now and she needs to go home for a while. She doesn’t trust this new version of her mother and things are tense. She is also seeing visions of Nina Simone whenever she really doesn’t know what to do.


The Class: A Life-Changing Teacher, His World-Changing Kids, and the Most Inventive Classroom in AmericaThe Class: A Life-Changing Teacher, His World-Changing Kids, and the Most Inventive Classroom in America by Heather Won Tesoriero

“Andy Bramante left his successful career as a corporate scientist to teach public high school–and now helms one of the most remarkable classrooms in America. Bramante’s unconventional class at Connecticut’s prestigious yet diverse Greenwich High School has no curriculum, tests, textbooks, or lectures, and is equal parts elite research lab, student counseling office, and teenage hangout spot. United by a passion to learn, Mr. B.’s band of whiz kids set out every year to conquer the brutally competitive science fair circuit. They have won the top prize at the Google Science Fair, made discoveries that eluded scientists three times their age, and been invited to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.”

This is my current audiobook. At times I find it a bit stressful listening to all that these kids are doing.

A Rebel at Pennington’s
08 Feb, 2019

A Rebel at Pennington’s

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading A Rebel at Pennington’s A Rebel at Pennington's by Rachel Brimble
on February 5, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Format: eARC
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher
Setting: England

One woman's journey to find herself and help secure the vote. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

1911 Bath. Banished from her ancestral home, passionate suffrage campaigner, Esther Stanbury works as a window dresser in Pennington's Department Store. She has hopes and dreams for women's progression and will do anything to help secure the vote. Owner of the prestigious Phoenix Hotel, Lawrence Culford has what most would view as a successful life. But Lawrence is harbouring shame, resentment and an anger that threatens his future happiness.

When Esther and Lawrence meet their mutual understanding of life's challenges unites them and they are drawn to the possibility of a life of love that neither thought existed. With the Coronation of King-Emperor George V looming, the atmosphere in Bath is building to fever pitch, as is the suffragists' determination to secure the vote.

Will Esther's rebellious nature lead her to ruin or can they overcome their pasts and look to build a future together?

Goodreads

This is the second book in an historical fiction series about a department store in Bath in the early 1900s.  The story from the first book continues in the background of this book so while it may not be absolutely necessary to read them in order, it will add to your understanding.

Esther is a young woman who is focusing on her career and her political activism.  She feels strongly that she is going to be unable to do this and have a marriage because she can’t conceive of a marriage where her activities would be well tolerated, let alone encouraged.  She meets a widower with two young children who has his own hang ups about introducing a new woman in his life.  How do these two stubborn and emotionally damaged people work out their issues?

I am enjoying this series.  It is interesting to see what is considered the height of modernity at this time period.  This book especially deals with the fallout of the suffrage movement in England which became much more violent than it did in the United States.  How did people choose how to align themselves?  How did it affect businesses?

This is a great book for people who love historical fiction because it covers a lot on the suffrage movement as well as the excitement over the coronation of a new King. 

 


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Author Bio – Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.
In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Any Old Diamonds
07 Feb, 2019

Any Old Diamonds

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Any Old Diamonds Any Old Diamonds (Lilywhite Boys #1) by K.J. Charles
on January 30, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Love & Romance, Romance
Published by KJC Books
Format: eARC
Source: From author/publisher

Lord Alexander Pyne-ffoulkes is the younger son of the Duke of Ilvar, with a bitter grudge against his wealthy father. The Duke intends to give his Duchess a priceless diamond parure on their wedding anniversary—so Alec hires a pair of jewel thieves to steal it.

The Duke's remote castle is a difficult target, and Alec needs a way to get the thieves in. Soldier-turned-criminal Jerry Crozier has the answer: he'll pose as a Society gentleman and become Alec's new best friend.

But Jerry is a dangerous man: controlling, remote, and devastating. He effortlessly teases out the lonely young nobleman’s most secret desires, and soon he’s got Alec in his bed—and the palm of his hand.

Or maybe not. Because as the plot thickens, betrayals, secrets, new loves, and old evils come to light. Now the jewel thief and the aristocrat must keep up the pretence, find their way through a maze of privilege and deceit, and confront the truth of what's between them...all without getting caught.

Goodreads

K.J. Charles is one of the romance authors that I found out about on Twitter and now is an autobuy for me.  I was thrilled when she offered ARCs of this book to readers.

A lot of her books that I’ve read previously have focused on people who aren’t part of the gentry.  That has been a major part of the appeal for me.  This one crosses class lines into upper crust society and I think that wasn’t as enjoyable for me as her previous books.  Still, the premise is inventive.

An upper class man has abandoned his children because they vocally opposed his second marriage.  The children are adults and they are living in poverty with some terrible consequences.  Alec decides to get back at his father by hiring thieves to steal the showy anniversary present that his father plans to give his wife.  However, to get close to his father he’ll have to pretend to abandon his principles to get back to a life of leisure.  This is going to alienate him from his siblings who don’t know that he has another motive.

This conflict between what he believes and the pretense that he needs to keep up tears at him.  He has no practice or talent at being underhanded at all.  For help he’s reliant on the con man he hired to coach him and who he is very drawn to.

I like more slow burn and not much sex on the page in my romance books.  That’s definitely not what you get in these books.  This relationship has a dominance-submission aspect to it.  It is handled well and respectfully to both parties.  I would recommend this book if you like historical romances that aren’t just ladies looking for dukes.

To the Horrible Man at the Newspaper
06 Feb, 2019

To the Horrible Man at the Newspaper

/ posted in: Current EventsFeminism

At my office we subscribe to the local newspaper.  We do this because of the police blotter.  Crime is rampant in this town because of drugs so most the stories are tragic but there is also a whole lot of really stupid crime that is hysterically funny.  I take pictures of the best and post them on Facebook to entertain my family members. 

In addition to the police blotter, there is a columnist who is an idiot.  He reduces me to an absolute blithering mess every week mostly through his inability to write a sentence.  If you can’t write a sentence using proper English rules perhaps you shouldn’t have a job writing sentences for publication.  Just a thought.  It isn’t even that he is grammatically challenged.  He doesn’t even try.  He appears to literally write down the thoughts in his brain in a free-form, free associating manner.  He starts the first paragraph or two in a standard manner and then it devolves into sentence fragments with no attempts at punctuation in ways that would make ee cummings cry into his soup.

By the end he is thinking of things that existed in his childhood and is just listing them.  There are toys and sayings and tv shows.  It is just a list.  It occurs to me while writing this that you are never going to believe me so I will insert a picture of a recent column.

20190201_124750.jpg

See?  Anyway the point of this, is that this columnist infuriates me.  He makes me want to write very angry letters to the editor.  I am approaching my dotage but I’m not quite to the Angry Letters to the Newspaper stage yet.  Also I am embarrassed that I am letting this horrible person manipulate me in this way.  He’s too insignificant to upset me this much but at the same time, “Aaaaaaaaaaaggggh!”

He makes me tear at my hair when he states with confidence that certain things no longer exist.  Even if he has not seen them lately, maybe 10 seconds should be invested on Google before declaring things extinct.

Things he as declared extinct recently:

  • School nurses – He knows they don’t exist any more because schools would be sued for letting people practice medicine without training.  Of course, they do exist and they even have training because that’s what the term “nurse” implies to any rational human being and now I’m about to scream again.
  • Comic books – Oh dearie me.  Maybe you don’t see displays down to the ol’ Five and Dime anymore but I assure you that comic books are alive and well.  Five seconds of googling brings up articles about why comics are so popular today. 

Anyway, what has pushed me over the edge is his assertion one week, apropos of seemingly nothing, that women who leave their purse in their shopping cart deserve to have it stolen. 

This made me so blisteringly angry that it has taken me days to make a rational response.  First of all, sir, why are you chastising women for not guarding their purses in what you perceive to be an appropriate way instead of using your platform to tell people not to steal?  Is that too hard of a leap of imagination for you to make?  How can you possibly tell potential thieves to behave themselves?  Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people stood up to wrong doers instead of constantly telling the innocent that you need to protect yourself better from people who mean you harm? 

I know you won’t understand my next point and will probably think I’m being overly dramatic.  I assume you might even think of me as hysterical or hormonal because you seem like that kind of man.  But when I read a man telling me that is my responsibility to keep from being robbed I also hear your unspoken next thoughts.  It moves from “She turned her back on her purse.  No wonder she was robbed.” to “She went out at night.  She was just asking to be raped.”  Men may think of this as a huge leap.  We know it isn’t.  It is all the same.  It is all our fault.  Stay in our place.  Protect ourselves.  Don’t imagine a world where more attention is spent controlling the behavior of the ones who would hurt us than controlling us.  That will never be what the world is.  Well, of course, it won’t with people who think like you running around. 

This is the patriarchy.  This is the inability to imagine and fight for a better world.  This is a world where it is easier to push down and keep people in their place.  It starts with something simple, something benign.  Who is going to so upset about being told what to do with their purse?  Hopefully, we all are.  Hopefully, we will push back against those who tell us to limit our freedom in the smallest of ways in order to limit our freedom in larger ways.  We can imagine a better world.  Now get out of the way and let us make it. 

That’s what I want to say to this man.  I scream inside with frustration knowing that he will never understand.  He’ll never care.  He seems like the type who would go on about how everyone is so sensitive these days and never understand his role is making us this way. 

Something Worth Saving
05 Feb, 2019

Something Worth Saving

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading

Something Worth Saving

Something Worth Saving Something Worth Saving by Sandi Ward
on December 18, 2018
Pages: 309
Genres: Fiction
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation
Format: ARC
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher


Sandi Ward's shrewdly observed, funny, and wonderfully touching novel tells of a fractured family, a teenage boy, and a remarkable cat whose loyalty knows no bounds . . .

A boy and his cat. It's an unconventional friendship, perhaps, but for Charlie and Lily, it works beautifully. It was Charlie who chose Lily from among all the cats in the shelter. He didn't frown, the way other humans did, when he saw her injured back leg, the legacy of a cruel previous owner. Instead, Charlie insisted on rescuing her. Now Lily wants to do the same for Charlie.

She's the only one who's seen the bruises on Charlie's body. If she knew who was hurting him, she'd scratch their eyes out. But she can't fix this by herself. Lily needs to get the rest of the family to focus on Charlie--not easy when they're wrapped up in their own problems. Charlie's mother kicked his father out weeks ago and has a new boyfriend who seems charming, but is still a stranger. Oldest son Kevin misses his father desperately. Victoria, Charlie's sister, also has someone new in her life, and Lily is decidedly suspicious. Even Charlie's father, who Lily loves dearly, is behaving strangely.

Lily knows what it's like to feel helpless. But she also knows that you don't always have to be the biggest or the strongest to fight fiercely for the ones you love . . .

Praise for Sandi Ward's The Astonishing Thing

"A beautiful and touching look into the intricacies of marriage and family life, all seen through the loving and unique perspective of the family pet."
--Modern Cat


"The Astonishing Thing feels like a bit of a miracle and we all could use a miracle." --Holly Chamberlin, author of The Summer Nanny

Goodreads

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble


 This story about a family in crisis isn’t something that I would normally be drawn to without the twist of having it narrated by the family cat.  

This isn’t a cutesy cat story.  Lily doesn’t have magical powers to be able to solve problems or talk to the dog or send messages to humans.  She is just observant and knows what anyone who is truly watching what is going on would know.  The problem is that her humans just aren’t paying attention to each other enough.  

This is a simple read that compels you to keep reading to find out what is going to happen.  I read it in a day because I wanted to know what was going on in this family.  I can’t say that I’m thrilled with all the choices the humans make at the end of the book but that’s humans for you.  Sometimes they should listen more to their pets.

Because I know this is a major concern with animal characters in books, I’ll let you know that nothing bad happens to either Lily or Gretel the dog during the book.  Both of them have previously had human-inflicted injuries that they have recovered from at the start of the book.  


About Sandi Ward

Sandi Ward writes books about love, family, forgiveness…and cats.

Sandi grew up in Manchester-by-the-sea, Massachusetts, and received her MA in Creative Writing at New York University. She’s the author of book club novels published by Kensington Books, stories of dysfunctional families told from the point of view of the family cat. She’s also a medical copywriter at an advertising agency. She lives on the Jersey Shore with her husband, teenagers, dog and a large black cat named Winnie.

On December 18, 2018 her latest novel, SOMETHING WORTH SAVING, will be on sale (available now for pre-order) in trade paperback, e-book and audio book.

Find out more about Sandi at her website, and connect with her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Weather Menders
04 Feb, 2019

Weather Menders

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Weather Menders Weather Menders by Debra Denker
on November 7, 2017
Pages: 290
Genres: Fiction
Published by Catalyst Artistic Productions
Format: eBook
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher

What if Time Travel were real? What if Time Travelers from 300 years in the future told you that there was a chance that you could prevent catastrophic climate change, plagues, and wars by going back in time to key Pivot Points and ethically altering the outcome of rigged elections? What if failure would result in the destruction of the biosphere? Would you go?

In post-plague 2050 Britain, palm trees tower over the rice paddies of Stonehenge. Tara MacFarlane, a weary 96-year-old anthropologist originally from Taos, New Mexico, longs only to finish out her life in peaceful Buddhist meditation, and rejoin the great love of her later years, the humanitarian Scottish-Afghan doctor Xander, in a future incarnation. Suddenly one stifling autumn day Tara, her great-granddaughter Leona, and Leona’s boyfriend Janus are faced with a trio of Time Travelers from a future alternate Timeline where humanity and the eco-system survived and thrived.

The fate of Earth’s biosphere falls squarely on the shoulders of Tara, Leona, Janus, and Tara’s small gray cat, Georgie, who shows a surprising aptitude for telepathy. Time is short to reverse catastrophe that will bleed through into the alternate Timeline, and the Time Travelers must first determine the ideal Pivot Points by reading Time Code vibrations off the great standing stones of Avebury. Unexpectedly joined by the brave and wise cat Georgie, the six plunge into the Time Circle of Stonehenge on their mission. Where and when will they go, and will they succeed in restoring the Earth and humanity to balance?

Goodreads

 

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | IndieBound


There is a lot going on in this book.  The Earth has lost most of its population due to plagues and climate change.  A group of humans living in the now-tropical area of Stonehenge are suddenly visited by people claiming to be from the future.

The story is told in flashbacks and in the current timeline to show how humans managed to destroy the planet in such a short period of time.  The main characters are Buddhists who have invested a lot of their lives into meditation and spiritual practice.  They apply what they have learned through that to help try to heal the planet.  A lot of this isn’t explained in much detail, if at all.  The visitors from the future have a lot of special powers that they are unable to explain.  They explain it as using readily available technology in their world but it can come across as sort of lazy story telling like, “Oh, look, she can project holograms of different timelines from her head.  How, you ask?  Um, technology…”  

The group needs to go back to key points in history to change things.  (They basically need to prevent the 1980s.) 

There is a cat who plays a vital part in the story and is able to speak mind to mind with his people.  He is known forever as Georgie, the first Time Traveling cat.  I approve of cats with good communication skills. 

This book reminds me so much of The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk.  Both books feature a very elderly woman as the main protagonist.  She joins forces with her chosen family to prevent a disaster through spiritual/magical means.  

 


About the Author

Debra Denker has been writing stories since she learned to read. Although novels and poetry were her first loves, she turned her talent to journalism in the ‘70s and ‘80s, writing about Afghanistan and the refugee situation in Pakistan for National Geographic and many leading newspapers. She has specialized in social documentation utilizing journalism, photography, and film to convey the experiences of people in war torn areas, with the intention of stimulating the empathy necessary for humans to stop violence against people and planet.

Denker is the author of two published books, the non-fiction literary memoir Sisters on the Bridge of Fire: One Woman’s Journeys in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, and the novel War in the Land of Cain—a story of love, war, and moral choices set during the Soviet-Afghan war of the 1980’s.

Denker now writes for the award-winning conservation media website, Voices for Biodiversity, raising consciousness to help ward off the Sixth Great Extinction.

She currently lives in Santa Fe with her family of cats, Dorjee Purr-ba, Yeshe Gyalpo, and Samadhi Timewalker, but travels frequently in earthly space, and hopes to travel in time and galactic space.

The novel’s website is www.weathermenders.com.

Her personal blog www.mysticresistance.com explores a range of spiritual, social, and political issues and their intersection with sacred activism.

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, January 25
Review at Locks, Hooks, and Books

Tuesday, January 29
Excerpt at The Book Junkie Reads

Wednesday, January 30
Feature at Broken Teepee

Friday, February 1
Guest Post at Maiden of the Pages

Monday, February 4
Review at Based on a True Story

Tuesday, February 5
Interview at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, February 6
Feature at Just One More Chapter

Thursday, February 7
Review at Pursuing Stacie

Friday, February 8
Feature at Cheryl’s Book Nook

Monday, February 11
Review at History from a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, February 12
Feature at CelticLady’s Reviews

Thursday, February 14
Review at A Book Geek

Friday, February 15
Review at Umut Reviews
Feature at Coffee and Ink

Giveaway

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away two paperback copies of Weather Menders! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.

Giveaway Rules

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on February 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to US/UK/CANADA.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Click HERE to enter giveaway.

 

Thoughts While Reading
04 Feb, 2019

Thoughts While Reading

/ posted in: Reading

I did it.  I cleared out all my library books and review books.  (I’ve written so many blog posts in the last week, y’all.  I’m booked up until the middle of the month and I’m doubling up today so I get to talk about stuff.)

Sometimes when I can suddenly read anything I want with no library deadlines, I get paralyzed by having so many choices.  This time though I started on my #Blackathon TBR list.

Once Ghosted, Twice Shy (Reluctant Royals, #2.5)Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

I’ve been waiting to read this novella that takes place during the Reluctant Royals series. In the first book, Lakotsi, the assistant to the Prince, has a brief romance that goes bad. This is the story of what happened. It isn’t absolutely necessary to read the first book to understand this novella.

I loved this book. I’m not usually a fan of second chance romances but this was done well. The original romance was just a few dates and then they meet again a year later.


The Class: A Life-Changing Teacher, His World-Changing Kids, and the Most Inventive Classroom in AmericaThe Class: A Life-Changing Teacher, His World-Changing Kids, and the Most Inventive Classroom in America by Heather Won Tesoriero

“Andy Bramante left his successful career as a corporate scientist to teach public high school–and now helms one of the most remarkable classrooms in America. Bramante’s unconventional class at Connecticut’s prestigious yet diverse Greenwich High School has no curriculum, tests, textbooks, or lectures, and is equal parts elite research lab, student counseling office, and teenage hangout spot. United by a passion to learn, Mr. B.’s band of whiz kids set out every year to conquer the brutally competitive science fair circuit. They have won the top prize at the Google Science Fair, made discoveries that eluded scientists three times their age, and been invited to the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.”

This is my current audiobook. At times I find it a bit stressful listening to all that these kids are doing.


I went on another library reserving spree for #blackathon books. Nothing I want except for a few graphic novels is available right now so I’m assuming that they’ll all come in at once. In the mean time, I’m going to go with what is on my iPad.

HomegoingHomegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m about a year late to the party with this one but no time like the present. I don’t even really know what it is about except that everyone loves it.

February 2019 Foodies Read
01 Feb, 2019

February 2019 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Foodies ReadReading

 

Welcome to February 2019 Foodies Read!

We welcome your reviews of any books about food.  What are books about food?

  • Cozy mysteries set in bakeries or coffee shops or restaurants
  • Romances set in food trucks
  • Cookbooks
  • Memoirs of chefs
  • Nonfiction about the history of food
  • Political books about food policy
  • Science fiction set in futuristic cafes
  • ….or anything else where food is a major part of the plot

Every entry is entered into a monthly drawing to win a gift card.  Once you win a prize you are not eligible to win for 6 months.

We had 22 links in January. Thank you to everyone who linked up. The winner is Elizabeth with her review of The Night Circus.

She won:

A $10 Amazon gift card if in the U.S.
A book of their choice (up to $10) from Book Depository if international


Inlinkz Link Party

31 Jan, 2019

January 2019 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

 

 

 

The books I read were:

  • 5 nonfiction
  •  2 audiobooks
  • Set in the U.S., England, and in space

The authors were:

  • 6 white women, 3 African-American women, 1 Afro-Latina woman, 1 Korean-American man, and 1 white man

Which ones would I totally NOT recommend?


Usually I say which ones I would totally recommend but everything was pretty good this month.  You really won’t go wrong with any of them with the exception of From the Corner of the Oval which has way too little political stuff and way too much drunkeness, poor life choices, and toxic relationships.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


I’m participating in #Blackathon in February. It has been expanded to all month.  I’ve already read the group book, The Poet X, which was amazing.

 


Reading All Around the World challenge from Howling Frog Books

  • Read a nonfiction book about the country – or
  • Read fiction written by a native of the country or someone living for a long time in the country.

I got nothing.

 

 


 

Binti and Afrofuturism and Art
30 Jan, 2019

Binti and Afrofuturism and Art

/ posted in: Bookish LifeReading

I recently went to a book discussion at my local art museum. They had chosen Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti to read to complement a traveling exhibition called Dig by Jeff Donaldson.

He was an African-American artist in the 1960s who did multimedia work.  He did collages and paintings.  His work tied together African art from the past by using motifs from several African countries in addition to modern images.  I loved the whole exhibit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By far my favorite piece was one called One 4 Bearden.

one4bearden

Obviously the first thing I saw was the image of a harpist partially made up by quilt blocks. Perfect for me. Seriously, this wants to come and live at my house.  I was so sad that there were no available reproductions available to buy.  The museum gift shop didn’t have anything about this exhibit.  I was there with my money out ready to buy.

Anyway, look at the top corners and you see the Egyptian harpists in the background.  The more you look the more you see.  The whole exhibit was like this.

artmuseumtealwall

The discussion was ok. I’m a Nnedi Okorafor nerd. I’ve read all her books and I follow her on Twitter. So people would reference stuff in the biography in Binti and it took all my self control not to be like, “That’s a few years out of date. She’s moved on from there because….” Don’t go all super fangirl on the nice people. You’ll scare the muggles who are talking about never really reading sci-fi much. They liked the book and are talking about reading more of her books.  Let that stand as is.  

I loved the idea of picking a book to complement the traveling exhibits.  They only do it a few times a year but I’ll definitely see what they chose next even if it means going out in public and talking to strangers.

The Further Accidental Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man
29 Jan, 2019

The Further Accidental Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading

The Further Accidental Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man

The Further Accidental Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson, Rachel Willson-Broyles
on January 15, 2019
Pages: 448
Genres: Fiction
Published by William Morrow
Format: ARC
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher

The hysterical, clever, and unforgettable sequel to Jonas Jonasson’s international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.

What's next for Allan Karlsson? Turns out this centenarian has a few more adventures in store . . .

It all begins with a hot air balloon trip and three bottles of champagne. Allan and Julius are ready for some spectacular views, but they’re not expecting to land in the sea and be rescued by a North Korean ship, and they could never have imagined that the captain of the ship would be harboring a suitcase full of contraband uranium, on a nuclear weapons mission for Kim Jong-un. Yikes!

Soon Allan and Julius are at the center of a complex diplomatic crisis involving world figures from the Swedish foreign minister to Angela Merkel and President Trump. Needless to say, things are about to get very, very complicated.

Another hilarious, witty, and entertaining novel from bestselling author Jonas Jonasson that will have readers howling out-loud at the escapades and misfortunes of its beloved hundred-year-old hero Allan Karlsson and his irresistible sidekick Julius.

 

 

Goodreads

Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


I read the previous book, The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared several years ago. I would sum it up as sort of Swedish Forrest Gump. Allan Karlsson managed to be a part of most of the major events in the 20th century. I don’t remember much more that that.

That didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this book. In fact, I think you really don’t have to have read the first book in order to pick up this one. All you need to know is that Allan escaped his nursing home in Sweden and through a series of adventures has found himself in Bali accompanied by a petty thief named Julius and a suitcase full of money that is rapidly running out due to the rate at which they are spending it.

This book focuses on Allan and Julius and their interaction with current events.  My husband wandered in at one point when I was reading and asked what the book was about.  That’s a hard question.  Here’s what I told him.

“A hot air balloon ride goes wrong which leads to them being picked up by a North Korean ship smuggling uranium.  They convince the captain they have the ability to fix the North Korean nuclear program but actually escape with the uranium and head to New York.  There they meet Donald Trump but decide not to give him the uranium because he seems unhinged.  So they give it to the German ambassador under false pretenses along with a note to Angela Merkel written on three napkins telling her not to be too mad that they tricked the ambassador.”

He just nodded and walked away.

That was before they started dealing in coffins caskets.  If you like books full of absurdity, this is for you.  If you like books that work in lots of anti-Trump rhetoric, you’ll love this one extra.  There is a joke very early on about how polar bears should start walking south to stay ahead of the ice caps melting but not all the way to the U.S. because although they are white, they are still foreigners.  That made me laugh hard and settle in for the ride.


About Jonas Jonasson

Jonas Jonasson is the author of the international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, now a major motion picture. Prior to his success as a novelist, Jonas was a journalist for the Swedish newspaper Expressen for many years, and later became a media consultant and founded a production company specializing in sporting events for Swedish television, which he sold before moving abroad to work on his first novel. He is the author of the internationally successful novels The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden and Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All. He lives on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea.

Find out more about Jonas at his website, and connect with him on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

 

 
Tuesday, January 15th: A Bookish Way of Life
Wednesday, January 16th: Instagram: @rendezvous_with_reading
Thursday, January 17th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Friday, January 18th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall

Monday, January 21st: Dwell in Possibility

Tuesday, January 22nd: Instagram: @mrsmurphyreads

Tuesday, January 22nd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Wednesday, January 23rd: What Is That Book About

Thursday, January 24th: 5 Minutes For Books

Monday, January 28th: Laura’s Reviews
Tuesday, January 29th: Based on a True Story
Wednesday, January 30th: Helen’s Book Blog
Thursday, January 31st: Man of La Book
Monday, February 4th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, February 5th: Instagram: @theunreadshelf
Wednesday, February 6th: Write – Read – Life
Thursday, February 7th: Stacy’s Books
Friday, February 8th: Read Till Dawn
Friday, February 8th: Lit and Life
Thoughts While Reading
28 Jan, 2019

Thoughts While Reading

/ posted in: Reading

I’m writing this on Sunday and I’ve been on a bit of a writing spree.  It occurred to me that I have a bunch of things that I want to write about but I just haven’t been writing.  I need to fix this.  I have commentary on things around me.  I have funny things to say.  At least I find them amusing.  I have books to read and review because once upon a time I said, “Sure!  That sounds interesting” to a bunch of review books that were due at the end of January/early February and surely I’d get them read by then.  (Must power-read this week!)  For the love of all that is bloggable, I went to freakin’ FRANCE in NOVEMBER but you wouldn’t know about it from reading my blog.

I need to get to writing.

BecomingBecoming by Michelle Obama

I’m that person. I’m the one holding up the library line because this book is past due and I haven’t sent it back to the library. I feel bad (mostly about the fines accruing) but I’m in the first term of the presidency. I’ll be done soon except time reading this is time I’m not power reading those review books.


The Poet XThe Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

“Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.

But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.”

This is my current audiobook. It is going to be the group read for Blackathon in February. (See my TBR post to learn more.)

This book is making me so angry.  Not angry in a “This book is horrible” kind of way.  Angry in a “I’m going to reach into this book and slap Xiomara’s mother” kind of way.  This is pushing all my buttons.  Her mother treats her as less than and assumes the worst about her because she is female and uses Christianity to support her abuse.  I may be a midwestern ex-evangelical white woman and not a Dominican Catholic teenager but I’ve seen this too much to not get real angry while listening. 

Blackathon TBR
25 Jan, 2019

Blackathon TBR

/ posted in: Reading

Have you heard about Blackathon?  It is a readathon starting in February. You have plenty of time to think up a TBR list.   The challenges fit several of the books on my TBR so I’m going to make time for them now.

 
Once Ghosted, Twice Shy (Reluctant Royals, #2.5)Once Ghosted, Twice Shy by Alyssa Cole

“Alyssa Cole returns with a fun, sexy romance novella in the Reluctant Royals series!

While her boss the prince was busy wooing his betrothed, Likotsi had her own love affair after swiping right on a dating app. But her romance had ended in heartbreak, and now, back in NYC again, she’s determined to rediscover her joy—so of course she runs into the woman who broke her heart.

When Likotsi and Fabiola meet again on a stalled subway train months later, Fab asks for just one cup of tea. Likotsi, hoping to know why she was unceremoniously dumped, agrees. Tea and food soon leads to them exploring the city together, and their past, with Fab slowly revealing why she let Likotsi go, and both of them wondering if they can turn this second chance into a happily ever after.”

This story plays out in the background of A Princess in Theory. Likotsi is the Prince’s bodyguard and she grumpy about a relationship but you don’t know anything about it. This novella is the answer. I don’t imagine that you would have to read A Princess in Theory first, but it is really good so you should.


The graphic novel has to be:

Shuri (2018-) #1Shuri (2018-) #1 by Nnedi Okorafor

 

“The world fell in love with her in the movie. Now, the Black Panther’s techno-genius sister launches her own adventures — written by best-selling Afrofuturist author Nnedi Okorafor and drawn by Eisner-nominated artist Leonardo Romero! The Black Panther has disappeared, lost on a mission in space. And in his absence, everyone’s looking at the next in line for the throne. But Shuri is happiest in a lab, surrounded by gadgets of her own creation. She’d rather be testing gauntlets than throwing them. But a nation without a leader is a vulnerable one — and Shuri may have to choose between Wakanda’s welfare and her own.”

Nnedi Okorafor writing about Wakanda? I’m in.

A work by any black/African author:

My Sister, the Serial KillerMy Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

“Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead. Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
A kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where Korede works, is the bright spot in her life. She dreams of the day when he will realize they’re perfect for each other. But one day Ayoola shows up to the hospital uninvited and he takes notice. When he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and what she will do about it.
Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite has written a deliciously deadly debut that’s as fun as it is frightening.”


Once Ghosted, Twice Shy fits in this category too since it is a lesbian romance. It totally isn’t cheating to use it here too since I might not fit in another book in the two weeks.


I’ve been wanting to read this book. I just started it on audio because it was my turn at the library.

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