Thoughts While Reading
21 Jan, 2019

Thoughts While Reading

/ posted in: Reading

From the Corner of the OvalFrom the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein

In 2012, Beck Dorey-Stein was just scraping by in DC when a posting on Craigslist landed her, improbably, in the Oval Office as one of Barack Obama’s stenographers. The ultimate DC outsider, she joined the elite team who accompanied the president wherever he went, recorder and mic in hand. On whirlwind trips across time zones, Beck forged friendships with a tight group of fellow travelers–young men and women who, like her, left their real lives behind to hop aboard Air Force One in service of the president. But as she learned the ropes of protocol, Beck became romantically entangled with a consummate DC insider, and suddenly, the political became all too personal.

OMG why did I do this to myself? This is a story of a stenographer in the Obama White House.  It should be interesting. She sits in on meetings about super important stuff.  She records and then transcribes later.

What this book actually discusses is her horrific private life.  She spends a lot of her off time on work trips drunk and cheating on her boyfriend with the most disgustingly slimy fellow.  This goes on for years.  She destroys relationships with her boyfriend and her female friends.  I spent most of this audio wondering how anyone could be this stupid and if I was this stupid would I write about it for the whole world to know?  Totally should have DNFed it hours before it ended but I wanted to know if she ever got around to fixing herself. 


 

In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts HistoryIn the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu

The New Orleans mayor who removed the Confederate statues confronts the racism that shapes us and argues for white America to reckon with its past. A passionate, personal, urgent book from the man who sparked a national debate.

This was more interesting but the title is misleading.  It only talks about the removal of Confederate statues at the beginning and very end.  That section, especially the violence against companies who might have bid on the removal contracts, kept my attention.  Most of the book was talking about the rest of his political life.  It reads like the book of a person who is considering running for higher office.  He doesn’t admit to many mistakes at all, even in the response to Hurricane Katrina.  I took that whole section with a grain of salt. 

The Ones Who Stay and Fight
18 Jan, 2019

The Ones Who Stay and Fight

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading Genres: Fantasy
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library

The Ones Who Stay and Fight is the opening story in N.K. Jemisin’s How Long ‘Til Black Future Month.

I fell hard in love with this story.  It is a response to Ursula La Guin’s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.  I had never read that story so I did the lazy thing and read the Wikipedia entry on it.  It is the story of a utopian city where the good fortune is predicated on the suffering of one child.  People learn about this as adults and most chose to ignore the fact and live their happy lives.  Some leave because they can’t stand the suffering this city is built on.

The Ones Who Stay and Fight describes my perfect town, Um-Helat.  Everyone is full of joy.  Reading the description of walking through the town brought tears to my eyes.  It was so uplifting and light.  Everyone is accepted where they are at this time without needing to change themselves to fit into society.  Everyone, except for a small group of people who have learned that there can be societies built on greed and that there are people who take advantage of feeling superior to others.  In the story one of these people is killed for spreading this ideology.  He has a daughter who is taken in to be raised to learn not to hate.  She will be given a choice when she is older and she can leave if she continues to espouse the ideology that her father taught her.  

To me the story said that you can have a society built on fairness and social justice if you both envision it and be willing to fight for it.  

I loved this story so much that I shared it with the husband.  Do you know what he said when I finished reading?  

“Well, that’s a cautionary tale.” 

Excuse me?  I asked him to explain himself.  He said, “That story is saying that there can never be a utopia.”

I was taken aback.  I started wondering how I had ever let that man kiss me with that mouth.  Then we went on to say that obviously the girl would grow up to tear down the whole system because hate and revenge are more powerful motivations than love so the enforcers should have killed her too. 

This started an argument that lead to me telling him that he was no longer invited to move with me to Um-Helat and he said he didn’t want to go.  I swear, I almost had to disown him.

So, read The Ones Who Stay and Fight as a Rorschach test to see what side of the divide that you fall on.  Just know that it can lead to squabbles.  

I’ll be posting more about this wonderful collection later.  I’ve been taking my time with it but I think the library is going to start demanding that I bring it back.  

Montly Sewing Update
16 Jan, 2019

Monthly Sewing Update

/ posted in: Quilting

I’m making this post in a fit of optimism on January 1.  It is going to be a monthly update on what I’m sewing.  The idea is that if I don’t have anything new to say at this time each month, I’ll be so embarrassed.  Therefore, I need to sew something, anything, so I have something to blog about.  Let’s see how well this works. (I only finished 1 quilt in 2018. Mind you, I started bunches of stuff…)

2019 Color Challenge

I found this on New Year’s Day and made my block for January on the first.  I was an overachiever this month.  The fussy cut center didn’t really work but I don’t care.  It got me sewing.

20190101_152323.jpg

The Gown
15 Jan, 2019

The Gown

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Gown The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
on December 31, 2018
Pages: 400
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks
Format: ARC
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher

From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.

“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding

London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.

Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?

With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.

Goodreads

I love historical fiction that pulls you in from the beginning. This is the story of two women from very different backgrounds who meet in the embroidery workshop of a dress designer in London immediately after World War II.

Ann is English. She lost her parents before the war and her brother during the Blitz.  She lives with her sister-in-law, trying to scrape by.

Miriam is a French Jew who was in a concentration camp for part of the war.  No one in England knows about this part of her life.  All they know is that she is a skilled embroiderer who worked in a design house in Paris. 

Fast forward to 2016 and a woman in Toronto gets a box of pictures and embroidery from her recently deceased grandmother.  She knew her grandmother was from England but she never talked about her life there.  She also didn’t know how to sew as far as her granddaughter knew.  Why does she have all this?

This is a great story of female friendship and support.  It also shows you the amazing amount of handwork that goes into couture dresses.  I like stories based on unknown women who have had a part, however small, in historical events. 

I had never really looked at the dress before.  It is so detailed with both embroidery and applique.  I can’t imagine doing that day in and day out.  (I hurt my hands just trying to hand sew one quilt.)  They only had a few weeks to get that all finished.  It is amazing. 


Purchase Links

HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Photo by Natalie Brown/Tangerine Photo

About Jennifer Robson

Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and #1 Toronto Globe & Mail bestselling author of Somewhere in France, After the War is Over and Moonlight Over Paris. She holds a doctorate from Saint Antony’s College, University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto with her husband and young children.

Find out more about Jennifer at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

 

 

Blog Tour

Monday, December 31st: Instagram: @ladyofthelibrary

Monday, December 31st: Reading Reality

Wednesday, January 2nd: Instagram: @my_book_journey_

Wednesday, January 2nd: 5 Minutes For Books

Thursday, January 3rd: Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

Friday, January 4th: Into the Hall of Books

Monday, January 7th: BookNAround

Monday, January 7th: InkyMoments

Tuesday, January 8th: Jessicamap Reviews

Wednesday, January 9th: Instagram: @giuliland

Thursday, January 10th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, January 14th: Instagram: @ciannereads

Tuesday, January 15th: Instagram: @sjwonderlandz

Tuesday, January 15th: Based on a True Story

Wednesday, January 16th: Always With a Book

Wednesday, January 16th: Instagram: @tbretc

Thursday, January 17th: Instagram: @somekindofalibrary

Thursday, January 17th: Doing Dewey

Thursday, January 17th: Instagram: @theunreadshelf

Friday, January 18th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, January 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life

Friday, January 25th: As I turn the pages

 

The Convalescent Corpse
11 Jan, 2019

The Convalescent Corpse

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading The Convalescent Corpse The Convalescent Corpse by Nicola Slade
on November 20, 2018
Pages: 223
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher

A story of Family, Rationing and Inconvenient Corpses.

Life in 1918 has brought loss and grief and hardship to the three Fyttleton sisters.

Helped only by their grandmother (a failed society belle and expert poacher) and hindered by a difficult suffragette mother, as well as an unruly chicken-stealing dog and a house full of paying guests, they now have to deal with the worrying news that their late – and unlamented – father may not be dead after all.

And on top of that, there’s a body in the ha-ha.

Goodreads

I adored the characters in this story.

  • Granny is a titled lady who was a failed debutante.  (What she did to Queen Victoria sealed her fate.) However, she is an excellent poacher and that has been most useful in keeping the family going during World War I rationing.
  • Mother is a reclusive author who doesn’t function well in the real world so keeping her out of it is the best course of action.
  • Alix is the oldest daughter.  Her twin brother died in the war a few months ago.  She volunteers at the neighboring hospital to get a look at any potential husbands but she hasn’t been impressed yet.
  • Christy is the responsible one who works out a plan to take in lodgers without her mother knowing about it.  She also publishes stories that no one knows she writes. 
  • Addy is a genius who has been kicked out of school again for talking back to the teachers.
  • Father was a con man who came in and out of their lives until he had the decency to sink with the Lusitania three years ago but now it seems that that might have been a con too.

 Even the secondary and background characters are well developed.  I especially liked the detail of the woman who named her children names that she’d seen in the newspaper but never heard pronounced so Nigel is called Niggle and Penelope is Penny-lope.  

When I started reading this book, I didn’t remember what it was supposed to be about and I found that I didn’t really care.  I enjoyed spending time with this family as they navigated the grief over their brother’s death that is just starting to lift a bit and as they find ways to support themselves.  The book is funny and warm with a mystery or two thrown into the mix.  I will definitely look into more books by this author.  


Author Bio – Nicola Slade lives in Hampshire where she writes historical and contemporary mysteries and women’s fiction. While her three children were growing up she wrote stories for children and for women’s magazines before her first novel, Scuba Dancing, was published in 2005. Among other jobs, Nicola has been an antiques dealer and a Brown Owl! She loves travelling and at one time, lived in Egypt for a year. The Convalescent Corpse is Nicola’s 9th novel. Nicola is also a member of a crime writers’ panel, The Deadly Dames 
Social Media Links – www.nicolaslade.wordpress.com www.nicolaslade.com
Twitter: @nicolasladeuk
https://www.facebook.com/nicolasladeuk/ https://www.pinterest.co.uk/nicola8703 (I have a board for each book)


Giveaway – Win a paperback copy of The House of Ladywell (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
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Briggs Book Tag
10 Jan, 2019

Briggs Book Tag

/ posted in: Reading

The Briggs Book Tag was started here and is based on your Myers-Briggs personality type.

 

INTROVERT: ( I )

 You can be outgoing, but need to recharge with some calming solitude, Where is your favorite place to read & unwind? Why is this little oasis where you choose to go?  

I like to read lying down in bed.  I just actually made myself a whole reading room but haven’t used it yet.  There is a daybed with fluffy pillows and everything but my actual bed is just so comfy….


 INTUITION: ( N )

 Some books are meant to be understood and others are meant to be explored. What book or character stands for an idea that is deeply meaningful to you?

 

The opening story in this collection is hard hitting and deeply meaningful to me.  I’ve been planning on writing all about it when I process it a bit more.  It is about a world built on social justice principles and how/if it can survive.


 THINKING: ( T )

Non-Fiction for some can seem tedious, but where would we be without the truths of our world? What book, text, or reading material have you found yourself referring to when in need of real world answers?

This is a hard one for me.  I love non-fiction but I don’t know that I use it to find answers in my life.  I read mostly about history or other people’s lives.


  PERCEIVING: ( P )

TBRs are fun to construct and meant to be destroyed.   Do you stick to the list or mix it up every now and then? What’s a book you’ve put down that you want to pick back up, but just haven’t been in the mood for?

I am the ultimate mood reader.  I just sent back a bunch of books to the library that I was enjoying but not finishing.  I think the ultimate example of this is:

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

I loved this book.  It was due back to the library before I finished the last chapter.  I loved it so much I bought a copy for myself.  I still haven’t read the last chapter.  It’s been several years.

 


  

INTP: The Thinker

 Many people let themselves feel, but you find value in letting yourself think. What book’s ideas or message stuck with you past the last page? Did it change your perspective, or solidify an idea?

 
The Fifth Sacred Thing (Maya Greenwood, #1)The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk

 

This is the story of a nonviolent, mystical community overcoming a hostile outside force without compromising their ethics. 

Thoughts While Reading
07 Jan, 2019

Thoughts While Reading

/ posted in: Reading

I feel like I’m slacking on the book reading and blogging front.  My total reads last year was about 50 less than 2017.  I guess maybe this is my new normal so I should stop feeling weird about it.

These two books survived the mass library return.

How Long 'til Black Future Month?How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin

 

 

 

 

and

Buttermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot CuisineButtermilk Graffiti: A Chef’s Journey to Discover America’s New Melting-Pot Cuisine by Edward Lee

 

I’m finding both fascinating. Short story collections take me FOREVER to read though. I do have several posts in mind just about this one book though.  It is definitely thought provoking.

I’ve actually made recipes out the food book. I never do that.

 


 

In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts HistoryIn the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu

 

I started this one on Sunday. It is about the Mayor of New Orleans who took down several statues of Confederate men and the problems that caused. The story starts with the firebombing of the car of a person who bid on the removal job so I guess it was fair to say that it was controversial.

I first heard of this book on Barack Obama’s 2018 recommended reading list.

Allergy Diets on Viking River Cruises
04 Jan, 2019

Allergies and Vegetarian Diets on Viking River Cruises

/ posted in: Foodtravel

dining

When we decided to go on a Viking River Cruise the aspect I was most worried about was the food. The husband has life-threatening food allergies and I’m a vegetarian who prefers to eat mostly vegan. We can be hard to accommodate. Everything I read online said that we’d be fine so how did it actually go?

Allergies

The husband came home from France safe and sound so the staff did a wonderful job with the allergy issue.

They don’t have people with food allergies flagged because you can sit anywhere you like for meals. That meant that at every meal he had to give his allergy talk to the waiter. That’s not his favorite thing to do and after every lunch and dinner for a week I could tell he was getting really tired of it. The waiters seemed to have been well versed on what was in each of the dishes ahead of time and they were quick to ask if they had any doubts.

They actually were a bit confusing at first about what they would and wouldn’t let him eat. His allergy is to sesame. We were on the boat on Thanksgiving and they had a pumpkin pie. They told him that night he could have anything but pumpkin pie. Who puts sesame in pumpkin pie? The husband was muttering about how unAmerican it was. (Yes, in France while talking to a Serbian waiter. Of course it was unAmerican.) I was worried that if they did that then what else, that we generally consider safe, would we need to consider potentially unsafe.

After a few days I think I figured out the pattern. They wouldn’t let him have anything that contained bread at all, whether or not there was known sesame in it. So no panini, no brioche on the side of main dish. They also did not let him have things if they weren’t made from scratch on the boat. That was presumably the problem with the pumpkin pie since all other pies for the rest of the trip were fine.

They also had no problem changing my meal if it had sesame. The vegetarian option one night was udon noodles and they made a portion for me with no sesame oil in it.

Verdict – Allergies A+

macarons

Vegetarian

Breakfast

I’m not a breakfast food fan. I’d much prefer left overs from dinner than traditional breakfast food. So, I wasn’t hopeful about the morning breakfast buffet.

The bar consisted of an omelet station with a lot of add-ins if you eat eggs. There was oatmeal, cream of wheat, and muesli. All of these were made with dairy milk. There was an assortment of fruit. Every day there was a changing assortment of small dishes usually with things like smoked salmon or other meats so I didn’t pay much attention to them.

Another table had a bunch of breads and pastries. A toaster was available. Three types of cereal were offered but again there were no non-dairy milks. (If I was going to want this daily, I would have bought some non-dairy milk at a store and kept it in the mini fridge in my room.)
You could also order prepared food like pancakes.

I mostly ate fruit, toast, and oatmeal. I ordered the pancakes once too even though I’m sure they were made with eggs and milk.

Lunch and Dinner

If you’ve been on large ship cruises before you may be used to having a choice of places to eat and times to eat. That isn’t really the case here. There is one dining room and you eat at the precise time they tell you.

Both lunch and dinner had an appetizer, an entree, and dessert.  In theory there was supposed to be a vegetarian option in each one at every meal.  That didn’t always happen.  I could have asked for salads to be made without meats for example but on those occasions I just skipped that part of the meal. 

Pros:

  • The vegetarian food was made out of vegetables and wasn’t a bunch of fake meat substitutes like you sometimes see in places that are trying to serve vegetarians but don’t really know what to make.

Cons:

  • Some of it was well done and others were horrible.  It wasn’t just me.  People we sat with all had at least one meal that had them poking the food and questioning what exactly it was since it didn’t resemble what they thought they had ordered.  When I had the udon noodles (which were actually pretty tasty), the Japanese man I was sitting next to whispered to me, “Those don’t look like any udon I’ve ever seen in my life.”  Apparently the steak was horrible and one person even tried the hot dog on offer which he regretted. 
  • Portions were small especially if you are used to American sizes.  I was pretty hungry every time meal time rolled around and I usually do fine on 2 meals a day at home. 
  • Overall, I’d give the food a rating of “Okay-ish” which isn’t really what you want on a cruise in France.
Tony’s Wife
03 Jan, 2019

Tony’s Wife

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Tony’s Wife Tony's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
on November 20, 2018
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Published by HarperAudio
Format: ARC
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher

Set in the lush Big Band era of the 1940s and World War II, this spellbinding saga from beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani tells the story of two talented working class kids who marry and become a successful singing act, until time, temptation, and the responsibilities of home and family derail their dreams

Shortly before World War II, Chi Chi Donatelli and Saverio Armandonada meet one summer on the Jersey shore and fall in love. Both are talented and ambitious, and both share the dream of becoming singers for the legendary orchestras of the time: Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman. They’re soon married, and it isn’t long before Chiara and Tony find that their careers are on the way up as they navigate the glamorous worlds of night clubs, radio and television. All goes well until it becomes clear that they must make a choice: Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career? And how will they cope with the impact that decision has on their lives and their marriage?

From the Jersey shore to Las Vegas to Hollywood, and all the dance halls in between, this multi-layered story is vivid with historical color and steeped in the popular music that serves as its score. Tony’s Wife is a magnificent epic of life in a traditional Italian family undergoing seismic change in a fast paced, modern world. Filled with vivid, funny and unforgettable characters, this richly human story showcases Adriana Trigiani’s gifts as a storyteller and her deep understanding of family, love and the pursuit of the American dream.

Goodreads

You know what you are getting into if you’ve read this author previously.  This is the story of an Italian family told from the time the protagonists are teenagers until their deaths.  The writing is sparse.  Small pieces of time will be discussed in detail and then years will pass between paragraphs.

I was intrigued by the premise, especially this line from the blurb – “Which of them will put their ambitions aside to raise a family and which will pursue a career?”  I was hoping this was going to be a book that discussed the stereotypical gender roles of a post-WWII marriage and possibly subverted them.  My hopes were high as the beginning of the book shows Chi Chi was infinitely more talented and more ambitious than Tony.

All this was swept aside quickly though once the marriage happened.  I’m not even sure why it happened.  I found their “courtship” incredibly uncomfortable as he basically badgers her into giving up her dreams because he decided that he was in love with her when in her mind they were just old friends.  This is followed by affair after affair until a divorce and then she still supports him through several more marriages all the while closing herself off completely to the idea of finding love. 

“Duty-bound love is the Italian girl’s area of expertise.  The Italian woman is a master craftsman at the art of sacrifice.”

I don’t think that this is a good thing.  This story is about a woman who sacrificed everything that she was to a man who couldn’t be bothered to care.  I found it infuriating and ultimately depressing to read about.  I understand that this is much more likely to be historically accurate than a book about people supporting each other in their careers.  That is part of the reason why this book made me so angry.  This is about a time and attitudes that we have hopefully begun to move past. 

About Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani is the bestselling author of 17 books, which have been published in 36 countries around the world. She is a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker. She wrote and directed the film version of her novel Big Stone Gap, which was shot entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. She is co-founder of the Origin Project, an in-school writing program that serves more than a thousand students in Appalachia. She lives in Greenwich Village with her family.

Visit Adriana at her website: www.adrianatrigiani.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

January 2019 Foodies Read
01 Jan, 2019

January 2019 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Foodies ReadReading

 

Welcome to January 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.

Here is the logo in a few sizes if you’d like to use them on your posts.


We had 16 links in December. Thank you to everyone who linked up. The winner is Lynda with her review of The Cooking Gene.

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


I’d like to thank everyone who participated in 2018. We had loads of people with 20 plus links! Our superstars last year were Mark with 33 links and Cam with 38! I really appreciate your enthusiasm and hope to see more of what you are reading (and cooking) in 2019.


Inlinkz Link Party

31 Dec, 2018

December 2018 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

 

Here’s what I read in December.

 

I also read an ARC of Any Old Diamonds by K.J. Charles but it doesn’t have a cover on Goodreads yet.

Why so few?  I have a stack of books here that I have partially read.  I keep renewing them from the library and then not finishing them.  They are all good.  I want to read them all.  Then I just don’t read them.  So, I’m sending them back to the library.  Really, for real this time.  I’m going to do a fresh start. 

The books I read were:

  • 2 nonfiction
  •  1 audiobook
  • Set in the U.S., England, and on Mars

The authors were:

  • 2 unique white women, 1 African-American woman, 1 Latino man, and 2 white men

Which ones would I totally recommend?

 

 


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.

 

 


 

26 Dec, 2018

The Best Romances I Read in 2018

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

Romance was the genre I read the most of in 2018.  I tend to approach romance like popcorn.  I read a bunch all at once and then I put it aside for a while.  This year I read 47 romance books.

I tend to prefer historical romances.  That has usually always meant Regency but this year I branched out to a few other time periods.

These were Old West, 1920s, and the Civil War.

I still love Regencies although I’m finding that my favorites are not necessarily the traditional “marry a duke” types.

I’ve even read a few contemporaries that I liked.

From these pictures, it looks like I read Alyssa Cole the most but actually my most read author was Tessa Dare because I binged a few series. 


My favorites of the year

Helena Reynolds will do anything to escape her life in London, even if that means traveling to a remote cliffside estate on the North Devon coast and marrying a complete stranger. But Greyfriar’s Abbey isn’t the sort of refuge she imagined. And ex-army captain Justin Thornhill–though he may be tall, dark, and devastatingly handsome–is anything but a romantic hero.

 

 

“Robert Selby is determined to see his sister make an advantageous match. But he has two problems: the Selbys have no connections or money and Robert is really a housemaid named Charity Church. She’s enjoyed every minute of her masquerade over the past six years, but she knows her pretense is nearing an end. Charity needs to see her beloved friend married well and then Robert Selby will disappear…forever.

Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke, has spent years repairing the estate ruined by his wastrel father, and nothing is more important than protecting his fortune and name. He shouldn’t be so beguiled by the charming young man who shows up on his doorstep asking for favors. And he certainly shouldn’t be thinking of all the disreputable things he’d like to do to the impertinent scamp.

When Charity’s true nature is revealed, Alistair knows he can’t marry a scandalous woman in breeches, and Charity isn’t about to lace herself into a corset and play a respectable miss. Can these stubborn souls learn to sacrifice what they’ve always wanted for a love that is more than they could have imagined?”

 

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.”

 

White Fragility
20 Dec, 2018

White Fragility

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading White Fragility White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo, Michael Eric Dyson
on June 26, 2018
Pages: 169
Genres: Nonfiction, Social Science
Published by Beacon Press
Format: eBook
Source: Library

Groundbreaking book exploring the counterproductive reactions white people have when discussing racism that serve to protect their positions and maintain racial inequality

Referring to the defensive moves that white people make when challenged racially, white fragility is characterized by emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt and by behaviors including argumentation and silence. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium and prevent any meaningful cross-racial dialogue. In this in-depth exploration, anti-racist educator Robin DiAngelo examines how white fragility develops, how it protects racial inequality, and what can be done to engage more constructively.

Goodreads

This is a very dense book written by a white person detailing why white people get so defensive when talking about race and what can be done about it.  It is a book that I kept highlighting to remember her points.  I actually feel like I need to read it through a second time to really internalize all the points that she was making.  

Some of her important points

White people aren’t used to thinking of themselves in racial terms

 

“the white reference point is assumed to be universal and is imposed on everyone.”

 

I think this is absolutely true.  We tend to think of other people as having a race and we don’t.  We think of backgrounds by nationality instead of just as white yet we lump everyone with African origins as black.

A side effect of not being used to thinking of ourselves as a race is our lack of experience in racial discussions, specifically in difficult discussions.   When things get tough, we tend to panic and shut down the discussion. 

We don’t understand what racism is

That leads to claims reverse racism, which according to the definitions that she uses isn’t possible.

 

“The simplistic idea that racism is limited to individual intentional acts committed by unkind people is at the root of virtually all white defensiveness on this topic.”

 

Racism isn’t just a person being mean to another.  It isn’t even just prejudice from one racial group to another.  All groups of humans are prejudiced against others.  Racism is prejudice plus power.  

“When a racial group’s collective prejudice is backed by the power of legal authority and institutional control, it is transformed into racism, a far-reaching system that functions independently from the intentions or self-images of individual actors.”

 

In case that isn’t clear, she gives this example using sexism instead of racism.

“While women could be prejudiced and discriminate against men in individual interactions, women as a group could not deny men their civil rights. But men as a group could and did deny women their civil rights. Men could do so because they controlled all the institutions.”

 

White liberals are the worst to talk to about race

“In the post–civil rights era, we have been taught that racists are mean people who intentionally dislike others because of their race; racists are immoral. Therefore, if I am saying that my readers are racist or, even worse, that all white people are racist, I am saying something deeply offensive; I am questioning my readers’ very moral character.”

 

White people have to get over this defensive reaction if they want to be a productive part of the discussion.

 

“For those of us who work to raise the racial consciousness of whites, simply getting whites to acknowledge that our race gives us advantages is a major effort.”

 

“While making racism bad seems like a positive change, we have to look at how this functions in practice. Within this paradigm, to suggest that I am racist is to deliver a deep moral blow—a kind of character assassination. Having received this blow, I must defend my character, and that is where all my energy will go—to deflecting the charge, rather than reflecting on my behavior.”

 

 

I would recommend this to any white people, even if you think you know all about these topics. 

Dactyl Hill Squad
19 Dec, 2018

Dactyl Hill Squad

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Dactyl Hill Squad Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José Older
on September 11, 2018
Pages: 272
Genres: Fantasy, Middle Grade
Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Setting: New York

It's 1863 and dinosaurs roam the streets of New York as the Civil War rages between raptor-mounted armies down South. Magdalys Roca and her friends from the Colored Orphan Asylum are on a field trip when the Draft Riots break out, and a number of their fellow orphans are kidnapped by an evil magistrate, Richard Riker.

Magdalys and her friends flee to Brooklyn and settle in the Dactyl Hill neighborhood, where black and brown New Yorkers have set up an independent community--a safe haven from the threats of Manhattan. Together with the Vigilance Committee, they train to fly on dactylback, discover new friends and amazing dinosaurs, and plot to take down Riker. Can Magdalys and the squad rescue the rest of their friends before it's too late?

Goodreads

Do I really need to tell you anything else besides THIS IS A CIVIL WAR STORY WITH DINOSAURS?  Because, honestly, that’s all it took for me.  I mean, ok, it is written by Daniel Jose Older whose adult and YA books I’ve loved.  Why wouldn’t I love his new middle grade series?

The dinosaurs are both all important and just part of the background in this world.  They are used as draft animals.  The big ones function as buses and ferries.  Triceratops pull carts.  The bad guys ride carnivorous dinos.  

This fantasy imagery is set along side a plot inspired by real events.  There was a ring of white businessmen in New York who kidnapped and sold free colored people into slavery.  The colored children’s home did burn in the Draft Riots.  This book imagines what would have happened if the survivors of the fire found their way to a resistance cell and learned to fight back — WITH DINOSAURS! 

I’d recommend this book to anyone because of the imaginative world building and a look at a part of Civil War history that isn’t often discussed, even without there being dinosaurs.  The dinosaur angle would work well to pull in readers who may be reluctant to read a book about the past.  

About Daniel José Older

“Daniel José Older is the author of the Bone Street Rumba urban fantasy series from Penguin’s Roc Books and the Young Adult novel Shadowshaper (Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books, 2015). Publishers Weekly hailed him as a “rising star of the genre” after the publication of his debut ghost noir collection, Salsa NocturnaHe co-edited the anthology Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History. His short stories and essays have appeared in the Guardian, NPR, Tor.comSalonBuzzFeed, Fireside Fiction, the New Haven Review, PANK, Apex and Strange Horizons and the anthologies Subversion and Mothership: Tales Of Afrofuturism And Beyond. Daniel’s band Ghost Star gigs around New York and he teaches workshops on storytelling from an anti-oppressive power analysis.” – from his website

18 Dec, 2018

To Sum Up

/ posted in: FamilyPets

princess-bride-e1529539670776

Dealing with the repeated malware and spam attacks on the blog, sapped my will.  By the time it was all fixed I didn’t even want to look at the blog and I wasn’t even doing any of the fixing.  But there is so much that has gone on that I need to explain to sum up.

  1. I haven’t talked at all about our trip to France.  What’s the point of a blog if I can’t make you listen to my vacation stories? 
  2. I’ve actually read books this month.  I know, it surprised me too.
  3. The husband had surgery on his foot yesterday.  He’ll be laid up for 3 months including being unable to drive because he isn’t flexible enough to cross his legs and drive with his left foot which is what I would do.  I’m going to try to be patient and kind although I already said out loud to him that it would probably be best if I just suffocated him with a pillow in the hospital to save us all the irritation.  He is not a person who manages inconveniences well and not a person who suffers in silence.  I keep flashing back to my 3 months on crutches where I had to hire help because the husband-at-the-time couldn’t be bothered to help with horses besides carrying some water.  I traveled alone on planes.  I judged events in the woods without whining.  I will try not to think of this when this husband inevitably yells for me for the 14,000th time because he dropped the remote. 
  4. Contrary to what my uncle thinks, we did not adopt a bat.  Meet Lucy. 
11 Dec, 2018

Worst Romance Reader Ever

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

I love reading romance novels.  I mostly like historicals and ones without a whole lot of explicitly-described sex.  But, I have a confession.

I can’t remember the characters or a plot of a romance novel

I see people on Twitter answering questions about romance books like “Who are some of your favorite heroes?”

They list:

  • (1) books they liked with the
  • (2) name of the character and
  • (3) why they liked him.

I stare at my screen in awe.  I couldn’t state any of those three things about most of the books I’ve read.  

I feel really bad about this.  I know people are working really hard to write these books.  Then I go and consume them like popcorn and have no memory of the event afterwards.  

I’m not exaggerating here.  Traditional, white historical romances are complete black holes in my mind.  I completely enjoy the ones I read.  But then I finish a book and look for another and it goes bad.  

Steps to reading a new romance:

  1. See new book that doesn’t sound regressive and horrible
  2. Check Goodreads to see if I’ve read it before
  3. Be surprised that I have
  4. Read the synopsis again and wait for any hint of recognition

I can’t tell you what these books are about.  I liked the last one enough to read the whole series.  No idea about any of those books either.  I’ve read these all in the last month or so.  Embarrassing.

It definitely tends to be books with white, upper class heroines that run together on me.  I have a better memory for working class heroines and/or heroines of color.  (I never remember the heroes of books.)

I can sort of tell you about these ones.  A little.  I liked them.  You should read them.  Likewise, I give a blanket recommendation to anything by Courtney Milan but don’t ask me to tell which book is which without reading a synopsis.  

Is it just me?  Does anyone else have books completely fall out of their mind?

07 Dec, 2018

Rising Out of Hatred

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Rising Out of Hatred Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow
on September 18, 2018
Pages: 304
Length: 9:02
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by Doubleday
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library


From a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind

Derek Black grew up at the epicenter of white nationalism. His father founded Stormfront, the largest racist community on the Internet. His godfather, David Duke, was a KKK Grand Wizard. By the time Derek turned nineteen, he had become an elected politician with his own daily radio show – already regarded as the “the leading light” of the burgeoning white nationalist movement. “We can infiltrate,” Derek once told a crowd of white nationalists. “We can take the country back.” Then he went to college. Derek had been home-schooled by his parents, steeped in the culture of white supremacy, and he had rarely encountered diverse perspectives or direct outrage against his beliefs. At New College of Florida, he continued to broadcast his radio show in secret each morning, living a double life until a classmate uncovered his identity and sent an email to the entire school. “Derek Black…white supremacist, radio host…New College student???” The ensuing uproar overtook one of the most liberal colleges in the country. Some students protested Derek’s presence on campus, forcing him to reconcile for the first time with the ugliness his beliefs. Other students found the courage to reach out to him, including an Orthodox Jew who invited Derek to attend weekly Shabbat dinners. It was because of those dinners–and the wide-ranging relationships formed at that table–that Derek started to question the science, history and prejudices behind his worldview. As white nationalism infiltrated the political mainstream, Derek decided to confront the damage he had done. Rising Out of Hatred tells the story of how white-supremacist ideas migrated from the far-right fringe to the White House through the intensely personal saga of one man who eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe, at tremendous personal cost. With great empathy and narrative verve, Eli Saslow asks what Derek’s story can tell us about America’s increasingly divided nature. This is a book to help us understand the American moment and to help us better understand one another.

Goodreads

It was interesting to listen to this book shortly after listening to Educated.  Both books describe children who were indoctrinated into an extreme worldview and the way that their exposure to the larger world in college helped them break free of it.  (Of course, I kept muttering “Well, that’s why you got to keep them locked up and not let them go to them heathen colleges” like a proper zealot the whole time I was listening.)

I found the responses of his classmates intriguing.  There were basically two responses – shun him with the goal of making it so uncomfortable for him at school that he would leave, or befriend him in hopes of talking to him about his views.  I’m not sure where I would have fallen if I was in that situation.  Both approaches worked on him in different ways.  He had never had a lot sustained pushback about his beliefs before.  Arguments were just intellectual exercises for him.  Now he was facing people he knew who were being affected by the policies that he had helped popularize.  The people who befriended him took the risk of being thought guilty by association.  They were able to work on him in different ways.  His non-white friends could publicly be seen with him without people thinking they were white nationalists.  They put faces to categories of “immigrant” and “Jew” in his rhetoric.  His white friend was able to talk to him about his beliefs more openly because he didn’t automatically feel judgement from her based on her race but she was in danger of being assimilated by him or being thought to be a sympathizer.  

I was uncomfortable with a lot of the decisions that his white girlfriend made.  It worked out in the end but:

via GIPHY

 

She was so naive and he had spent his life converting people to the white nationalist cause.  She went to a nationalist conference with him.  One picture of her there on the internet could have ruined her future.  I wanted to slap some sense into her. 

I thought the book dwelled a little too long on their developing relationship.  Yeah, yeah, I get it.  They are maybe-maybe not dating.  I don’t need a play by play of their personal lives.  I’m here for the bigger picture.

The book’s description of their reaction to the rise of Trump should put to rest any ideas that he isn’t playing directly to white nationalists.  They point out all their talking points that he adopted.  They discuss the proposals that they always wanted that he is trying to enact.  

06 Dec, 2018

Looking To The Stars From Old Algiers

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Looking To The Stars From Old Algiers Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short by Jan Risher
on September 11, 2018
Pages: 328
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by University of Louisiana
Format: Paperback
Source: Book Tour, From author/publisher

Jan Risher took the long way to get from Mississippi to Louisiana with stops in between in Slovakia, Mexico, China, Burkina Faso, and more than forty other countries. Since moving to Lafayette in 2001, she has been a Sunday columnist for The Daily Advertiser and has written a column every single week since March 2002.

Looking to the Stars from Old Algiers and Other Long Stories Short is the collection of these columns written over fifteen years. Arranged in chronological order, the collection creates a narrative of one woman's aim to build her family, build up her community, and weave the stories and lessons learned from the past into the present.

From her family's move to Louisiana, adoption of a daughter from China, covering Hurricane Katrina, travels near and far, author Jan Risher attempts, sometimes failing and sometimes succeeding, to do her small part to make the world a better place.

Goodreads

Jan Risher

Meet the Author:

Jan Risher is an award-winning journalist and investigative reporter. She was managing editor of The Times of Acadiana. Before and after her time as a full-time journalist, she was an English teacher. She has taught English near and far, in its most basic and most lyrical forms. She continues her career as a freelance writer and now owns Shift Key, a content marketing and public relations firm. She, her husband and their two daughters have made their home on the banks of the Vermilion River.

Connect with Jan: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram

1. What inspired you to collect these columns into a book?

Through the years, I’ve been blessed to gather a large following of readers, primarily across Louisiana and Mississippi. Readers have asked for a collection through the years, but finding the time to do so has always been an issue. When the University of Louisiana Press spoke with me about the possibility, I believed in the care they would offer the collection — and had a deadline, which is really the main thing I need to get something done!

I thought I had easy access to all my columns but was wrong. Even though this collection finds its beginning in the early years of this century, I ended up having to go to the local university library and digging through microfilm to locate some of the early ones. I had not done as good of a job as I believed in keeping up with them all!

2. When reviewing the columns did you find that your opinions had changed on any subjects?

Surprisingly, I found that my views on most issues had not changed very much, which I found to be comforting. In a couple of rare instances, I was even proud of myself for certain word choices or insights gained. Going back and reading nearly a thousand columns to select the 182 that were eventually used for the book was a head trip. I relived so many of the experiences I had as a younger mother — things I thought I had remembered, but in fact had forgotten. The experience was very powerful. I was grateful to have a team of editors working with me who were able to take a more objective approach in which columns to include or not.

3. What did you hope your newspaper readers gained from the columns? Is it different for book readers?

When my daughters were younger, we said night prayers together every night. Each evening, we would pray to do our best to make the world a better place. In writing each piece for the newspaper, I had the same hope and prayer — that each could serve to and find the right readers who needed a certain tidbit to do his or her part to make the world a better place. Though I failed on occasion, I never wanted to come off as preachy. This is not a how-to book. As a collection of columns, I do believe it connects some of the dots of my hopes. I continue to pray that it serves readers and the lives they touch in a positive way.

 

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Author Website ~ Barnes & Noble
Add to Goodreads

 

BOOK REVIEW TOUR SCHEDULE:

Dec 3   – Locks, Hooks and Books – review / guest post / giveaway
Dec 4   – Library of Clean Reads – author interview / giveaway
Dec 6   – Based on a True Story – review / author interview / giveaway
Dec 6   – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway
Dec 7   – Olio by Marilyn – review / author interview / giveaway
Dec 10 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views – review / giveaway
Dec 11 – Books for Books – review
Dec 11 – The Hufflepuff Nerdette – review / guest post / giveaway
Dec 12 – Jorie Loves A Story – review / author interview
Dec 12 – #redhead.with.book – review / giveaway
Dec 13 – A Mama’s Corner of the World – review / giveaway
Dec 14 – Novel Escapes – review
Dec 14 – Mystery Suspense Reviews – review / guest post

 

​Enter the Giveaway!
Ends Dec 22, 2018


04 Dec, 2018

Mastering the Art of French Eating

/ posted in: Book ReviewFoodies ReadReading Mastering the Art of French Eating Mastering the Art of French Eating: Lessons in Food and Love from a Year in Paris by Ann Mah
on September 26, 2013
Pages: 288
Genres: Cooking, Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Published by Pamela Dorman Books
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Setting: France

The memoir of a young diplomat’s wife who must reinvent her dream of living in Paris—one dish at a time

"Excellent ingredients, carefully prepared and very elegantly served. A really tasty book."—Peter Mayle, author of The Marseille Caper and A Year in Provence

When journalist Ann Mah’s diplomat husband is given a three-year assignment in Paris, Ann is overjoyed. A lifelong foodie and Francophile, she immediately begins plotting gastronomic adventures à deux. Then her husband is called away to Iraq on a year-long post—alone. Suddenly, Ann’s vision of a romantic sojourn in the City of Lights is turned upside down.

So, not unlike another diplomatic wife, Julia Child, Ann must find a life for herself in a new city. Journeying through Paris and the surrounding regions of France, Ann combats her loneliness by seeking out the perfect pain au chocolat and learning the way the andouillette sausage is really made. She explores the history and taste of everything from boeuf Bourguignon to soupe au pistou to the crispiest of buckwheat crepes. And somewhere between Paris and the south of France, she uncovers a few of life’s truths.

Like Sarah Turnbull’s Almost French and Julie Powell’s New York Times bestseller Julie and Julia, Mastering the Art of French Eating is interwoven with the lively characters Ann meets and the traditional recipes she samples. Both funny and intelligent, this is a story about love—of food, family, and France.

Goodreads

I had this book on my iPad for a long time.  I had started reading it and then wandered off as I so often do.  However, I realized I had this while on my recent riverboat cruise in France, so I decided it was the perfect time to dust it off and finish it up.

I was actually on the outskirts of Lyon when I picked the book back up just in time for the chapter on Lyon. Lyon is known as gastronomic hot spot in France.  Their claim to fame are small restaurants that were started by women catering to working class people.  They are called “bouchons”.  They still exist and are considered some of the best places to eat.  I appreciate this book for explaining that they still feature tripe heavily in their meals.  Vegetarian-friendly is not a concept most of these have grasped.  A few days later I was standing in old town Lyon turning in a circle looking at all the bouchons.

Whispering to the husband – “We aren’t eating anywhere that says bouchon.”

Him – “Why?”

Me, muttering like just saying the word would manifest it in front of me – “Tripe”

Him – “What?””

Me – “It is sort of like restaurants who claim they are Family Restaurants in the U.S.”

He understood my theory that any restaurant that claims that title is using recipes from some old lady who cooked meat and potatoes without any spices and believed that the way to cook vegetables is to boil them until they give up.  Also, the soups are totally made with meat broth and if you order vegetable soup anyway odds are 50/50 that there will be unexpected chunks of meat in it.  Yes, I am a vegetarian foodie snob.

I was inspired by her chapter on beef bourguignon.  Once we got home I made a yummy mushroom version from Smitten Kitchen

I would recommend this book for anyone who likes reading about local food traditions in combination with a memoir.  She decides to write this book to distract her from the fact that she’s been left in France alone for a year.  They just moved there.  She knows no one.  You see her personal growth over the year as she reaches out of her comfort zone to make friends. 


So what did we eat in France?  Stay tuned for that post in a bit.

03 Dec, 2018

November 2018 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

I’m back!  I came back from vacation to a hacked website.  I couldn’t log in.  It was redirecting to who knows where.  I’m thankful for fiverr.com where I could hire someone to FIX IT! since I don’t know what I was doing.

So now here is my delayed November update.


Here’s what I read in November.

 

The books were:

  • 4 nonfiction
  •  1 graphic novel
  • Set in England, France, Scotland, and the U.S.

The authors were:

  • 2 unique white women, 1 Asian woman, 1 African-American woman, 1 Arab-American man, and 1 white man

Which ones would I totally recommend?

 

 


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 gave up on Argentina.  I sent the book back to the library.  I even carried it to France to read.  Never picked it up.

 

 


 

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