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16 Jul, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Bookish LifeReading


Finished In the Last  Week

 This is the first week in a long time where I’ve felt like myself in terms of reading.  I had a run of good books that kept me engaged instead of letting me drift off to something else without ever settling in.  Now I have lots of reviews to write.




What Am I Reading?


I saw this mentioned on Twitter and had to try it since the ebook was free.


When Thomas Khatt awakens to the magical world following the sudden, violent death of his elderly Archmagus neighbor, he doesn’t get the standard package of awesome power combined with a hero destiny. Nope, he trades his thumbs in for a tail, tawny fur and four feet with a very low co-efficient of friction on linoleum. His destiny as one of three talking mountain lions in the magical world? To be sold at auction and bonded to some pimply faced apprentice for life.

Thomas would rather eat dirty kitty litter.

Armed only with an impressive set of chompers and buckets of snark, Thomas faces off against a lightning-bolt throwing granny and a sexy union recruiter as he desperately tries hold the threads of his old life together. To stay off the leash he’ll have to take advantage of the chaos caused by the Archmagus’ death and help the local Inquisition solve his murder. A pyromanic squirrel, religious werewolves, and cat-hating cops all add to the chaos as Thomas attempts to become the first Freelance Familiar.”


What I DNFed

This was about a quilt and the family that made it including the enslaved people who they owned.  It was supposed to be about northern slave society.  I was supposed to learn stuff.  I started getting annoyed by the author’s daydreaming instead of research.  She’d go on and on imagining what a person’s life was like.  Literally, each sentence would start with “Imagine”.  Imagine her going to the market.  Imagine her trading her vegetables.  Imagine her talking to her friends.  Imagine me starting to bang my head against the steering wheel.  But I shut it off in disgust when she was talking about the death of a toddler.  He had multiple head injuries.  His father was a doctor and tried some blisters before he died.  She went off imagining how if the child had lived he would have always associated pain with relief and blah, blah, blah.  Also she said that women are sometimes referred to as “hoes” because of the farm tools instead of the real story where it is short for “whore.” All credibility gone.


What Am I Listening To


Not long after Rhoda Janzen turned forty, her world turned upside down. It was bad enough that her brilliant husband of fifteen years left her for Bob, a guy he met on, but that same week a car accident left her with serious injuries. What was a gal to do? Rhoda packed her bags and went home. This wasn’t just any home, though. This was a Mennonite home. While Rhoda had long ventured out on her own spiritual path, the conservative community welcomed her back with open arms and offbeat advice. (Rhoda’s good-natured mother suggested she date her first cousin—he owned a tractor, see.) It is in this safe place that Rhoda can come to terms with her failed marriage; her desire, as a young woman, to leave her sheltered world behind; and the choices that both freed and entrapped her.





10 Jul, 2018

Eat The World – New Zealand

/ posted in: FoodReading

Our country this month for Eat the World is New Zealand.  My first thought about New Zealand cuisine was lamb.  Obviously that was not going to be on the menu so my second thought was kiwi.

Of course, kiwis aren’t originally from New Zealand.  They are Chinese in origin and were called Chinese gooseberries until the 1960s when farmers in New Zealand decided to rebrand them to draw attention to their new exports.  I decided to honor this marketing coup but when I went to the store the only kiwis I could find were packaged like this.


New Zealanders better watch out.  The Californians are trying to outmaneuver them.

Since watching the Great British Baking Show I’ve been in the mood for a trifle.  I am not ambitious enough to want to make my own cake.  I would totally disappoint Mary Berry with my lack of knowledge between Genoise and Victorian and all other things I thought were just called cake.  I’m not too proud to just use a regular old store bought angel food cake for easy of assembly.

Kiwi-Strawberry Trifle


Kiwi Curd

  • 14 oz can Coconut Cream
  • 5 Kiwis - peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons Maple Syrup

Strawberry Cream

  • 14 oz can Coconut Cream
  • 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 5 Strawberries - pureed

1 premade Angel Food Cake


Make the Kiwi Curd

  1. Combine coconut cream and kiwis in a high speed blender until smooth.

  2. Remove 1/4 cup of mixture and mix in a small bowl with the cornstarch.

  3. Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Heat to just below a boil.  The mixture should thicken and form a ribbon when spooned across the surface.

  4. Remove from heat for 15 minutes.  Taste and add more maple syrup if needed. 

  5. Transfer to glass bowl.  Place plastic wrap across the surface to prevent a film from forming.  Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours.

Make Strawberry Cream

  1. Refrigerate a can of coconut cream overnight.  Place metal or glass bowl and beaters in freezer for 10 minutes before using.

  2. Combine coconut cream and powdering sugar in chilled bowl.  Mix in strawberry puree.  Store in refrigerator until used.

Assemble Trifle

  1. Layer section of angel food cake, then kiwi curd, then strawberry cream.  Repeat as desired.

20180701_125341.jpg The kiwi curd is a pale yellow color. You could add food coloring if you wanted it to be more green like the fruit.

My trifle making skills are not exactly up to par.  I put a round section of angel food cake in the bottom of a little glass.  I ever so carefully spooned in the set curd.  However, my angel food cake wasn’t perfectly the size of the glass and some curd slipped down the outside.  I’d have been judged to be messy and not a good presentation on The Great British Baking Show.  It tasted good though.


Check out all the wonderful New Zealand dishes prepared by fellow Eat the World members and share with #eattheworld. Click here to find out how to join and have fun exploring a country a month in the kitchen with us!

Evelyne: New Zealand Lolly Cake
Juli: Hokey Pokey Ice Cream
Camilla: Baked Fish Fritters + Wild Sauvignon
Amy: Kiwi Burger
Wendy: Kiwi Pavlova

For my New Zealand book, I read

Eight-year-old Kahu, a member of the Maori tribe of Whangara, New Zealand, fights to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. Her people claim descent from Kahutia Te Rangi, the legendary ‘whale rider.’ In every generation since Kahutia, a male heir has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir, and the aging chief is desperate to find a successor. Kahu is his only great-grandchild — and Maori tradition has no use for a girl. But when hundreds of whales beach themselves and threaten the future of the Maori tribe, Kahu will do anything to save them – even the impossible.

This was a frustrating book for me to read.  The chief is so hateful to Kahu just because she is a girl.  I spent the whole book just wanting to smack him.  I loved his wife though. 

09 Jul, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Bookish LifeReading


Finished In the Last 2 Weeks




What Am I Reading?


Magic marked Miles Singer for suffering the day he was born, doomed either to be enslaved to his family’s interest or to be committed to a witches’ asylum. He went to war to escape his destiny and came home a different man, but he couldn’t leave his past behind. The war between Aeland and Laneer leaves men changed, strangers to their friends and family, but even after faking his own death and reinventing himself as a doctor at a cash-strapped veterans’ hospital, Miles can’t hide what he truly is.

When a fatally poisoned patient exposes Miles’ healing gift and his witchmark, he must put his anonymity and freedom at risk to investigate his patient’s murder. To find the truth he’ll need to rely on the family he despises, and on the kindness of the most gorgeous man he’s ever seen.


What Am I Listening To


“When we think of slavery, most of us think of the American South. We think of chattel slavery, of back-breaking fieldwork, and of cruel and inhumane treatment on plantations. We don’t think of slavery in the North, nor do we think of the grueling labor of urban and domestic/house slaves. Rachel May’s remarkable book explores the far reach of slavery, from New England to the Caribbean, the role it played in the growth of mercantile America, and the unbreakable bonds between the agrarian south and the industrial north in the antebellum era—all through the discovery of a remarkable quilt.”





05 Jul, 2018

Rapid Fire Book Tag

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

1 – E-Book or Physical Book?

E-books always and forever.  I know some people think this is blasphemy.  It won’t be the only time I’ll probably be taking the unpopular opinion here.  But I hate clutter and face it, stacks of books are clutter.  Plus, I love carrying only my ipad and having a huge library at hand.  It is the best thing for a mood reader.


2 – Paperback or Hardback?

Paperback.  I don’t like books that are too heavy and cumbersome when I’m trying to read.

3 – Online or In-Store Book Shopping?

Online, obviously because I like e-books but I also don’t really enjoy the whole book store experience.

4 – Trilogies or Series?

Series.  So many trilogies seem like they should only be one or two books long and the rest is filler to pad out three books.  If there is enough story for a series, I prefer that.

5 – Heroes or Villains?

Heroes, I guess but I don’t have strong feelings on that one.  I do like it when the bad guys win if it is done well.

6 – A book you want everyone to read?

The FrescoThe Fresco by Sheri S. Tepper

“The bizarre events that have been occuring across the United States — unexplained “oddities” tracked by Air Defense, mysterious disappearances, shocking deaths — seem to have no bearing on Benita Alvarez-Shipton’s life. That is, until the soft-spoken thirty-six-year-old bookstore manager is approached by a pair of aliens asking her to transmit their message of peace to the powers in Washington. An abused Albuquerque wife with low self-esteem, Benita has been chosen to act as the sole liaison between the human race and the Pistach, who have offered their human hosts a spectacular opportunity for knowledge and enrichment.But ultimately Benita will be called upon to do much more than deliver messages — and may, in fact, be responsible for saving the Earth. Because the Pistach are not the only space-faring species currently making their presence known on her unsuspecting planet. And the others are not so benevolent.”

I love, love, love this book and want everyone to read it.

7 – Recommend an underrated book?

InkInk by Sabrina Vourvoulias

“What happens when rhetoric about immigrants escalates to an institutionalized population control system? The near-future, dark speculative novel INK opens as a biometric tattoo is approved for use to mark temporary workers, permanent residents and citizens with recent immigration history – collectively known as inks. Set in a fictional city and small, rural town in the U.S. during a 10-year span, the novel is told in four voices: a journalist; an ink who works in a local population control office; an artist strongly tied to a specific piece of land; and a teenager whose mother runs an inkatorium (a sanitarium-internment center opened in response to public health concerns about inks).”

This is being rereleased this fall because it is so timely.

8 – The last book you finished?

The Queen's GameThe Queen’s Game by Carla de Guzman





9 – The Last Book You Bought?

Baker ThiefBaker Thief by Claudie Arseneault

“Adèle has only one goal: catch the purple-haired thief who broke into her home and stole her exocore, thus proving herself to her new police team. Little does she know, her thief is also the local baker.

Claire owns the Croissant-toi, but while her days are filled with pastries and customers, her nights are dedicated to stealing exocores. These new red gems are heralded as the energy of the future, but she knows the truth: they are made of witches’ souls.

When her twin—a powerful witch and prime exocore material—disappears, Claire redoubles in her efforts to investigate. She keeps running into Adèle, however, and whether or not she can save her sister might depend on their conflicted, unstable, but deepening relationship.”

10 – Weirdest Thing You’ve Used as a Bookmark?

I use everything as bookmarks. I’ve probably tried to use a cat’s tail before but they are fickle.

11 – Used Books: Yes or No?


12 – Top Three Favourite Genres?

Fantasy, Historical fiction, and Nonfiction

13 – Borrow or Buy?


14 – Characters or Plot?

I’m all about the plot. I can’t stand books where nothing happens.

15 – Long or Short Books?
16 – Long or Short Chapters?

I’ll answer these together because I don’t have a preference for either.

17 – Name The First Three Books You Think Of…

I’m not sure what made me think of those. They are all African but I’m not sure that is the connection that my brain made.

18 – Books That Makes You Laugh or Cry?

This one snuck up on me and made me cry in several places. I’m not a crier.

19 – Our World or Fictional Worlds?

I can do both but a well done fictional world is a thing of beauty.

20 – Audiobooks: Yes or No?


21 – Do You Ever Judge a Book by its Cover?

I don’t tend to notice covers because you don’t always see them on e-books. I do pick up library books because of the colors on the spines though.

22 – Book to Movie or Book to TV Adaptations?

TV. You have more time to tell the story.

23 – A Movie or TV-Show You Preferred to its Book?

Forrest Gump

24 – Series or Standalone

I love urban fantasy series that go on forever but I also like a good standalone.

01 Jul, 2018

July 2018 Foodies Read

/ posted in: Foodies ReadReading

Welcome to July 2018 Foodies Read

You guys were reading and reviewing maniacs in June.  We had 29 links.  The winner of the drawing is Amy.

She won:

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

Foodie Reads News

The New York Times recommends foodie books for the summer

74 Fantastic Great British Bake Off Cookbooks From Contestants and Judges

Anthony Bourdain’s Literary Legacy in 13 Books

8 Non-Cookbook Food Books to Read This Summer

Link up your reviews of books about food – fiction, nonfiction, and cookbooks are welcome. 

Some people are having trouble with inlinkz new interface. If it says that you need to verify your email, check your spam folder for the email. Sorry for the trouble.

30 Jun, 2018

June 2018 Wrap Up

/ posted in: Reading

I think this is one of the smallest amount of books I’ve read since I started keeping track.

The books were:

  • 2 nonfiction
  •  0 audio books because I started from the beginning of The West Wing Weekly podcast and I’m only on season 4 right now.  Not listening to audiobooks has really dropped my monthly book totals
  • Set in Brazil,  England, Bangladesh, Japan, Australia, made up places, and the U.S.

The authors were:

  • 5 unique white women, 1 Brazilian woman, 1 Indian woman, 1 Filipino woman, 1 Bangladeshi man, 1 Japanese man, and 1 white man

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 did it!  Bangladesh!  I actually was reading a book that would count for Bangladesh but I lost it.  This is a whole other book for Bangladesh because I still haven’t found the first one.




28 Jun, 2018

Djinn City

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Djinn City Djinn City by Saad Hossain
on November 2017
Pages: 413
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction
Published by Unnamed Press
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Setting: Bangladesh

Indelbed is a lonely kid living in a crumbling mansion in the super dense, super chaotic third world capital of Bangladesh. When he learns that his dead mother was a djinn — more commonly known as a genie — and that his drunken loutish father is a sitting emissary to the djinns (e.g. a magician), his whole world is turned inside out. Suddenly, and for reasons that totally escape him, his father is found in a supernatural coma, and Indelbed is kidnapped by the djinn and delivered to a subterranean prison. Back in the city, his cousin Rais and his family struggle to make sense of it all, as an impending catastrophe threatens to destroy everything they know. Needless to say, everything is resting on Indelbed’s next move — and he’s got a new partner to help him: the world’s most evil djinn.


This book is long.  This book is dense.  Try to just breezily rush through this and you will miss things.  This book is also smart and sarcastic and snarky and everything else I love.

Indelbed is adorable.  He’s from the embarrassing part of a prominent family.  He’s pretty much being ignored by his alcoholic father who is in turn ignored by the extended family.  He’s just going about his life the best he can hoping that maybe someday one of his aunts will notice that things are really not ok in his life when he gets kidnapped by a djinn.

From here there are three stories taking place.

  1. Indelbed is thrown in a murder pit where he lives with a djinn prisoner for 10 years while they plot an ambitious escape.
  2. Indelbed’s father is in a coma and his spirit is watching the history of an epic battle through the memories of the people who were there.
  3. Indelbed’s aunt Juny and cousin Rais find out that djinn are real and set out to figure out what happened to Indelbed.

I liked storylines 3 and 1 the best.  Along the way there are wyrms that the prisoners tame in hopes that one will grow into a dragon to help them escape.  There are also djinn airships and submarines and hidden bases in the sky.  Djinns don’t physically fight amongst themselves any more.  Now they engage in legal wrangling that can go on for decades.  Breach of contract is their greatest sin.

It is a very hard book to describe.  It is one where the pleasure is in the journey, not the destination.  In fact, I’m quite annoyed by the end of this book.  Mostly I’m annoyed by the lack of ending of this book.  Obviously this is set up to have a sequel because the book just stops.  Storyline 3 turns in a whole new direction about to have an adventure in the last pages.  It isn’t even a cliffhanger.  It is a “Hey, let’s go look at this new thing……” and we’re out of pages.  The other two stories are likewise incomplete.  I actually kept looking for more pages of book because it was just, “Now we are done.”

27 Jun, 2018

The World Cup Book Tag

/ posted in: Book DiscussionReading

I wish I was into the World Cup.  Everyone is so excited on Twitter.  It seems like the Olympics and I like that.  But, I don’t even know where to watch any World Cup games.  I’m such an uncultured American sometimes.

I can get excited about the World Cup Book Tag that I saw on ZeZee with Books though.  It originated at The Humpo Show.

Here are the rules:
  • Pick ONE country from each group!
  • Your choice can either be an AUTHOR or a BOOK set in that country.
  • If you are struggling, you can pick a book or author you want to read at some point.
  • I’ve included a little bit of information about the book, but you can anything you like — post photos of the cover, favourite quotes, go crazy!


Group A

Saudi Arabia

Finding Nouf (Nayir Sharqi & Katya Hijazi #1)Finding Nouf by Zoë Ferraris

“When sixteen-year-old Nouf goes missing, along with a truck and her favorite camel, her prominent family calls on Nayir al-Sharqi, a desert guide, to lead a search party. Ten days later, just as Nayir is about to give up in frustration, her body is discovered by anonymous desert travelers. But when the coroner’s office determines that Nouf died not of dehydration but from drowning, and her family seems suspiciously uninterested in getting at the truth, Nayir takes it upon himself to find out what really happened to her.

This mission will push gentle, hulking, pious Nayir, a Palestinian orphan raised by his bachelor uncle, to delve into the secret life of a rich, protected teenage girl — in one of the most rigidly gender-segregated of Middle Eastern societies. Initially horrified at the idea of a woman bold enough to bare her face and to work in public, Nayir soon realizes that if he wants to gain access to the hidden world of women, he will have to join forces with Katya Hijazi, a lab worker at the coroner’s office. Their partnership challenges Nayir, bringing him face to face with his desire for female companionship and the limitations imposed by his beliefs.”

Extra credit nonfiction for Egypt

Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual RevolutionHeadscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy

“Drawing on her years as a campaigner and commentator on womens issues in the Middle East, she explains that since the Arab Spring began, women in the Arab world have had two revolutions to undertake one fought with men against oppressive regimes, and another fought against an entire political and economic system that treats women in countries from Yemen and Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya as second-class citizens. Eltahawy has traveled across the Middle East and North Africa, meeting with women and listening to their stories. Her book is a plea for outrage and action on their behalf, confronting the toxic mix of culture and religion that few seem willing or able to disentangle lest they blaspheme or offend. A manifesto motivated by hope and fury in equal measure, Headscarves and Hymens is as illuminating as it is incendiary.”

Revolution for DummiesRevolution for Dummies by Bassem Youssef

Bassem Youssef’s incendiary satirical news program, Al-Bernameg (The Program), chronicled the events of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of Mubarak’s successor, Mohamed Morsi. Youssef not only captured his nation’s dissent but stamped it with his own brand of humorous political criticism, in which the Egyptian government became the prime laughing stock.

So potent were Youssef’s skits, jokes, and commentary, the authoritarian government accused him of insulting the Egyptian presidency and Islam. After a six-hour long police interrogation, Youssef was released. While his case was eventually dismissed, his television show was terminated, and Youssef, fearful for his safety, fled his homeland.”

Group B


The Saffron KitchenThe Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther

“The story begins on a blustery day in London, when Maryam Mazar’s dark secrets and troubled past surface violently with tragic consequences for her pregnant daughter, Sara. Burdened by guilt, Maryam leaves her comfortable English home for the remote village in Iran where she was raised and disowned by her father. When Sara decides to follow her she learns the price that her mother had to pay for her freedom and of the love she left behind.”

Group C


The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World's Most Glorious - and Perplexing - CityThe Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious – and Perplexing – City by David Lebovitz

“Like so many others, David Lebovitz dreamed about living in Paris ever since he first visited the city in the 1980s. Finally, after a nearly two-decade career as a pastry chef and cookbook author, he moved to Paris to start a new life. Having crammed all his worldly belongings into three suitcases, he arrived, hopes high, at his new apartment in the lively Bastille neighborhood.
But he soon discovered it’s a different world en France.
From learning the ironclad rules of social conduct to the mysteries of men’s footwear, from shopkeepers who work so hard not to sell you anything to the etiquette of working the right way around the cheese plate, here is David’s story of how he came to fall in love with—and even understand—this glorious, yet sometimes maddening, city.”

Group D


LagoonLagoon by Nnedi Okorafor

“When a massive object crashes into the ocean off the coast of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous and legendary city, three people wandering along Bar Beach (Adaora, the marine biologist- Anthony, the rapper famous throughout Africa- Agu, the troubled soldier) find themselves running a race against time to save the country they love and the world itself… from itself.

Told from multiple points of view and crisscrossing narratives, combining everything from superhero comics to Nigerian mythology to tie together a story about a city consuming itself.”

Group E


Brazillionaires: Chasing Dreams of Wealth in an American CountryBrazillionaires: Chasing Dreams of Wealth in an American Country by Alex Cuadros
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Group F


My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family's Nazi PastMy Grandfather Would Have Shot Me: A Black Woman Discovers Her Family’s Nazi Past by Jennifer Teege

“Teege is 38—married, with two small children—when by chance she finds a library book about her grandfather, Amon Goeth. Millions of people worldwide know of him through Ralph Fiennes’ chilling portrayal in Steven Spielberg’s film Schindler’s List. Goeth was the brutal commandant of the Plaszów concentration camp—Oskar Schindler’s drinking buddy, and yet his adversary. Responsible for the deaths of thousands, Amon Goeth was hanged in 1946.

Goeth’s partner Ruth, Teege’s much-loved grandmother, committed suicide in 1983. Teege is their daughter’s daughter; her father is Nigerian. Raised by foster parents, she grew up with no knowledge of the family secret. Now, it unsettles her profoundly. What can she say to her Jewish friends, or to her own children? Who is she—truly?

My Grandfather Would Have Shot Me is Teege’s searing chronicle of grappling with her haunted past. Her research into her family takes her to Poland and to Israel. Award-winning journalist Nikola Sellmair supplies historical context in a separate, interwoven narrative. Step by step, horrified by her family’s dark history, Teege builds the story of her own liberation.”

Group G


The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the WorldThe Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World by Steve Hely
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

Obviously this one covers a lot of ground but when I think of it I think of the Panama Canal section.

Group H


Winter JourneyWinter Journey by Diane Armstrong

“When forensic dentist Halina Shore arrives in Nowa Kalwaria to take part in a war crimes investigation, she finds herself at the centre of a bitter struggle in a community that has been divided by a grim legacy. What she does not realise is that she has also embarked on a confronting personal journey.

Inspired by a true incident that took place in Poland in 1941, Diane Armstrong’s powerful novel is part mystery, part forensic investigation, and a moving and confronting story of love, loss and sacrifice.”

Extra credit poetry

Map: Collected and Last PoemsMap: Collected and Last Poems by Wisława Szymborska

“One of Europe’s greatest recent poets is also its wisest, wittiest, and most accessible. Nobel Prize–winner Wislawa Szymborska draws us in with her unexpected, unassuming humor. Her elegant, precise poems pose questions we never thought to ask. “If you want the world in a nutshell,” a Polish critic remarks, “try Szymborska.”

26 Jun, 2018

Why The Great British Baking Show is Making Me Question My Identity

/ posted in: EntertainmentFood

I know I’m late to the party but I just watched The Great British Baking Show on Netflix.


Prior to starting watching this I would have said that I liked baked goods.  Cupcakes are yummy.  I’m a fan of dessert in general.  Bread is good.

But I am disturbed by some things I saw on this show.  At first I was confused by the presence of eggs.  Eggs? People still cook with those?  I realized then that I’ve been living in my vegan cooking blog bubble for a long time.

Then they had a challenge about breadsticks.  I do love breadsticks.  I like soft garlicky ones.  I like soft pretzel ones dipped in cheese sauce when I’m cheating on my vegan cooking blogs.  You might see a theme here.  So I was quite taken aback when the judges said that their main criteria was that the breadsticks should snap in half.  Snap?  Crunchy breadsticks?  What fresh hell is this?  No one seemed to find this strange on the show.  Are soft, yummy breadsticks an American thing?  (Pixabay doesn’t have a picture of crunchy breadsticks available because they are an abomination.  Look at these proper breads instead.) bread-83242_1280

Then, then, I found out about tuile.  Tuile is basically bread shaped to look like a Pringle.  Why would anyone fuss about with these fiddly things that don’t really even have any flavor?  Life is too short for this.  I like Pringles but they have flavors.

As the series went on I started to realize that I wouldn’t eat a lot of things that were being presented if they were in a bakery shop window.  That got me thinking.  Maybe I’m not really a dessert lover after all?

  • I hate flaky pastry crust.  I can tolerate a shortbread crust.
  • Yorkshire pudding is not a descriptive term
  • British people eat some weird stuff

But I have learned some things too.

  • I’d never had a macaron.  I bought some the other day.  They are ok.  Mostly they seem to me to be a vehicle for carrying whatever flavor they have been infused with.
  • I never knew that cakes came in so many different types like genoise and victoria sponges and apparently these things are common British knowledge.
  • Strong flour and plain flours are things.  
  • I still really like desserts but I don’t like baked desserts.
  • The Great British Baking Show influence will be seen in my July Eat the World post.  Stay tuned for July 10.  

Have you watched the show?  Did you bake more in response?

25 Jun, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Bookish LifeReading


Finished In the Last 2 Weeks




What Am I Reading?





Indelbed is a lonely kid living in a crumbling mansion in the super dense, super chaotic third world capital of Bangladesh. When he learns that his dead mother was a djinn — more commonly known as a genie — and that his drunken loutish father is a sitting emissary to the djinns (e.g. a magician), his whole world is turned inside out. Suddenly, and for reasons that totally escape him, his father is found in a supernatural coma, and Indelbed is kidnapped by the djinn and delivered to a subterranean prison. Back in the city, his cousin Rais and his family struggle to make sense of it all, as an impending catastrophe threatens to destroy everything they know. Needless to say, everything is resting on Indelbed’s next move — and he’s got a new partner to help him: the world’s most evil djinn.

I’m in a race with this one.  I have this from interlibrary loan.  I didn’t start it for a long time.  It is due next week.  I was just going to blow off reading it because I was slumpy but I always feel bad about that after putting people to the trouble of interlibrary loan.  So a few days ago I picked it up just to see if it would hold it my attention at all.  On the first page I was like, “#$#@%@, it’s good.”  It is smart and sarcastic and absurd and everything I like.  Now I have to get it done before the loan is up.  It’s long and it is a detailed read but I’m on a mission now. 

What Am I Listening To


In this unique history of 1776, Claudio Saunt looks beyond the familiar story of the thirteen colonies to explore the many other revolutions roiling the turbulent American continent. In that fateful year, the Spanish landed in San Francisco, the Russians pushed into Alaska to hunt valuable sea otters, and the Sioux discovered the Black Hills.”

 I’m interested in getting to the part about the Sioux because how did they not know that the Black Hills were there?  This book has a lot of good information but I’m struggling with the narrator.  It is a very monotone reading of a book that is very fact and date and name-heavy.





22 Jun, 2018

Nonfiction for Pride

/ posted in: Reading


How To Survive A Plague

This is a very detailed book about the history of ACTUP. If you liked And the Band Played On, you would probably like this book. There is also a documentary that goes along with the book.









Becoming Nicole


This is the story of a trans girl who started transition in elementary school and the problems she and her family faced.  Eventually she won a major lawsuit that affects how trans kids are treated in schools.












The Westboro Baptist Church is famous for its anti-gay protesting.  This is a story from a person who was on the inside and then kicked out about how she learned to move past the hate she had been taught.  









These are books about current events written in whole or in part by queer women.  


21 Jun, 2018

Robots and Tea Shops and Magical Bakers!

/ posted in: Book ReviewFoodies ReadReading Robots and Tea Shops and Magical Bakers! The Cybernetic Tea Shop by Meredith Katz
on March 16th 2016
Pages: 65
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Fiction
Published by Less Than Three Press
Format: eBook
Source: Library
Setting: Washington

Clara Gutierrez is a highly-skilled technician specializing in the popular 'Raise' AI companions. Her childhood in a migrant worker family has left her uncomfortable with lingering in any one place, so she sticks around just long enough to replenish her funds before she moves on, her only constant companion Joanie, a fierce, energetic Raise hummingbird.

Sal is a fully autonomous robot, the creation of which was declared illegal ages earlier due to ethical concerns. She is older than the law, however, at best out of place in society and at worst hated. Her old master is long dead, but she continues to run the tea shop her master had owned, lost in memories of the past, slowly breaking down, and aiming to fulfill her master's dream for the shop.

When Clara stops by Sal's shop for lunch, she doesn't expect to find a real robot there, let alone one who might need her help. But as they begin to spend time together and learn more about each other, they both start to wrestle with the concept of moving on…


This novella tells the story of a humanoid robot who is keeping her former owner’s beloved tea shop running almost 300 years after her death.  Robots like her have since been outlawed.  Robotics technician Clara is thrilled to meet Sal and offers to help fix up her ailing software.  What does she want to have changed though?  What makes her HER? 

This book features a f/f romantic, asexual relationship.  

Robots and Tea Shops and Magical Bakers! Batter Up by Robyn Neeley
on June 15th 2015
Pages: 172
Setting: New York

Bakeshop owner Emma Stevens has a secret. A delicious premonition she shares every Monday evening with the bachelors of Buttermilk Falls as they gather at the Sugar Spoon bakery for Batter Up night.

Investigative reporter Jason Levine just found himself as the man candy for a bachelorette party in Las Vegas. Roped into attending the Vegas nuptials, was he hearing things when the groom shares that the only reason he’s getting married is because a small town baker conjured up the name of his soulmate in her cake batter?

Sparks fly when Jason tries to expose Emma as a fraud, but reality and logic go out the window as he begins to fall under her spell.



This is a fun read that works if you just suspend disbelief and embrace the magical realism of the idea.  Emma knows one spell.  There really isn't an explanation for that. 
I also wondered how they have Batter Up night every week in this very small town and never run out of bachelors who want to commit.
It is a fluffy, light romance with fade to black sex scenes and magical cupcake batter so if you are looking for an escapist quick read this one might be for you.
20 Jun, 2018

Books to Learn More About Immigration

/ posted in: Reading

Today is World Refugee Day. 

The United States is such a mess right now on the topic of immigration.  The President prides himself on inciting hate towards immigrants and is making up evil policies.  I’ve read a lot of immigrant stories in the last few years.  If you want to understand what it is like to be an immigrant, check out the following books.


“The Newcomers follows the lives of twenty-two immigrant teenagers throughout the course of the 2015-2016 school year as they land at South High School in Denver, Colorado, in an English Language Acquisition class created specifically for them. Speaking no English, unfamiliar with American culture, their stories are poignant and remarkable as they face the enormous challenge of adapting. These newcomers, from fourteen to nineteen years old, come from nations convulsed by drought or famine or war. Many come directly from refugee camps, after experiencing dire forms of cataclysm. Some arrive alone, having left or lost every other member of their original family.

At the center of The Newcomers is Mr. Williams, the dedicated and endlessly resourceful teacher of South’s very beginner English Language Acquisition class. If Mr. Williams does his job right, the newcomers will leave his class at the end of the school year with basic English skills and new confidence, their foundation for becoming Americans and finding a place in their new home.”

“For millions around the globe, sixteen-year-old Nujeen Mustafa embodies the best of the human spirit. Confined to a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and denied formal schooling in Syria because of her illness, Nujeen taught herself English by watching American soap operas. When her small town became the epicenter of the brutal fight between ISIS militants and US-backed Kurdish troops in 2014, she and her family were forced to flee.

Despite her physical limitations, Nujeen embarked on the arduous trek to safety and a new life. The grueling sixteen-month odyssey by foot, boat, and bus took her across Turkey and the Mediterranean to Greece, through Macedonia to Serbia and Hungary, and finally, to Germany. Yet, in spite of the tremendous physical hardship she endured, Nujeen’s extraordinary optimism never wavered. Refusing to give in to despair or see herself as a passive victim, she kept her head high. As she told a BBC reporter, “You should fight to get what you want in this world.”


“Clarkston, Georgia, was a typical Southern town until it was designated a refugee settlement centre in the 1990s, becoming home to scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones—from Liberia and Sudan to Iraq and Afghanistan. Suddenly Clarkston’s streets were filled with women wearing the hijab, the smells of cumin and curry, and kids of all colours playing football in any open space they could find. Among them was Luma Mufleh, a Jordanian woman who founded a youth football team to unify Clarkston’s refugee children and keep them off the streets. These kids named themselves the Fugees.

Outcasts United follows a pivotal season in the life of the Fugees and their charismatic coach. Warren St. John documents the lives of a diverse group of young people as they miraculously coalesce into a band of brothers, while also drawing a fascinating portrait of a fading American town struggling to accommodate its new arrivals. At the centre of the story is fiery Coach Luma, who relentlessly drives her players to success on the football field while holding together their lives—and the lives of their families—in the face of a series of daunting challenges.”


“What happens when rhetoric about immigrants escalates to an institutionalized population control system? The near-future, dark speculative novel INK opens as a biometric tattoo is approved for use to mark temporary workers, permanent residents and citizens with recent immigration history – collectively known as inks. Set in a fictional city and small, rural town in the U.S. during a 10-year span, the novel is told in four voices: a journalist; an ink who works in a local population control office; an artist strongly tied to a specific piece of land; and a teenager whose mother runs an inkatorium (a sanitarium-internment center opened in response to public health concerns about inks). The main characters grapple with ever-changing definitions of power, home and community; relationships that expand and complicate their lives; personal magicks they don’t fully understand; and perceptions of “otherness” based on ethnicity, language, class and inclusion. In this world, the protagonists’ magicks serve and fail, as do all other systems – government, gang, religious organization – until only two things alone stand: love and memory.”

This book is seriously amazing.  You won’t believe it was written years ago.  It is scarily relevant now and it is being reissued this fall.  

12 Jun, 2018

Fiction for Pride

/ posted in: Reading



This is the story of a Japanese man whose estranged twin died recently.  His twin lived in Canada and was married to a Canadian man named Mike.  Now Mike is coming for a visit.  Be warned that this book opens with a lot of homophobia that is slowly worked through.

This is a novella about a tea shop run by a robot named Sal.  Humanoid robots have been banned from being made for 300 years.  Sal meets a programmer who helps her get a new perspective on her life.  The human in this story is asexual.

Cat Sebastian’s books are known for having queer characters.  This one features a non-binary main character.

I’d recommend starting with the previous book, Karen Memory, if you want to start this series but this is the sequel.  It features an interracial lesbian couple in wild west Seattle.

This story takes place on a space station and features a lesbian couple.

This is the story of best friends who fell in love as teenagers but who were immediately separated by their parents who felt that lesbianism was sinful.  Now, 50 years later, they meet again.

I recommend this one all the time.  It is the start of the sweetest asexual, aromantic relationship series.  Ultimate comfort reading for me.

This book features an intersex main character and a f/f relationship that may be moving towards a poly relationship at the end.

I love this series featuring gay men and a genderqueer person.  I wish there were more romances that were actually written by gay men.


11 Jun, 2018

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

/ posted in: Bookish LifeReading


Finished This Week




What Am I Reading?

“As a child, Coriel Halsing spent many glorious summers at Castle Auburn with her half-sister-and fell in love with a handsome prince who could never be hers. But now that she is a young woman, she begins to see the dark side of this magical place…”

I love a later series by this author so I want to try this one even though it is very different.

“It’s not easy being an undercover restaurant critic—especially when you’re only twelve years old!

After successfully completing her first restaurant review for the New York Standard newspaper, Gladys Gatsby is looking forward to a quiet summer of cooking and eating. But her plans quickly go awry when her friend Charissa Bentley delivers Gladys’s birthday gift: a free summer at Camp Bentley.

As Gladys feared, camp life is not easy; she struggles to pass her swim test, can’t keep the other campers happy while planning lunches, and cannot seem to get away from the annoying new “celebrity” camper. The worst part is she’s not able to find a moment to sneak away for her latest reviewing assignment: finding the best hot dog in New York City. But when Gladys learns that her hot dog assignment might actually be a dirty trick made up by a jealous fellow critic, she fears her reviewing career could be over forever.

When the Imagine Network commissioned a documentary on mermaids, to be filmed from the cruise ship Atargatis, they expected what they had always received before: an assortment of eyewitness reports that proved nothing, some footage that proved even less, and the kind of ratings that only came from peddling imaginary creatures to the masses.

They didn’t expect actual mermaids. They certainly didn’t expect those mermaids to have teeth.

This is the story of the Atargatis, lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the bathypelagic zone in the Mariana Trench…and the depths are very good at keeping secrets.”

Indelbed is a lonely kid living in a crumbling mansion in the super dense, super chaotic third world capital of Bangladesh. When he learns that his dead mother was a djinn — more commonly known as a genie — and that his drunken loutish father is a sitting emissary to the djinns (e.g. a magician), his whole world is turned inside out. Suddenly, and for reasons that totally escape him, his father is found in a supernatural coma, and Indelbed is kidnapped by the djinn and delivered to a subterranean prison. Back in the city, his cousin Rais and his family struggle to make sense of it all, as an impending catastrophe threatens to destroy everything they know. Needless to say, everything is resting on Indelbed’s next move — and he’s got a new partner to help him: the world’s most evil djinn.







10 Jun, 2018

Eat the World – Sweden

/ posted in: Food


This month’s country for Eat the World is Sweden.  A few things came to mind when I first thought of Swedish food:

  • Meatballs, fish, and things I don’t eat
  • Lucia bread that my Swedish aunt used to bring to parties
  • Being upset that I’ve already read Marcus Samuelsson’s wonderful memoir because it would be perfect for this

I started to do some research and learned that:

  • Marcus Samuelsson’s website has some great recipes but everything I liked was not even remotely Swedish
  • Everything I was seeing on other sites seemed so bland.
  • Short growing seasons mean that this is a meat heavy cuisine.

Taking inspiration from I decided to make Korngryn och rotsaker – Pearl Barley with Root Vegetables – with a few changes.

I started by roasting carrots, turnips, and parsnips. Then I cooked my barley in the instapot. I used high pressure for 18 minutes. I used 1 cup of barley and 3 cups of a combination of mushroom broth, vegetable broth, and water. Basically, I had open containers of broth in the fridge and when I emptied one I went to the next until I had 3 cups. That was the ratio recommended in the book for the instapot. It turned out to be a lot of extra liquid but it was a very aromatic, starchy liquid so I decided to turn it into a sauce.


I drained the extra broth into a bowl. Then I poured enough back into the instapot bowl to have a layer 1/2 inch thick. I used this to saute the mushrooms. I let the liquid reduce as the mushrooms cooked. I added a few more spoonfuls of broth as needed to keep it from all evaporating.


This reduced to a very good sauce that added a lot more flavor to the dish.


Pearl Barley with Roasted Root Vegetables and Mushrooms


  • 3 Carrots chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 1 Turnip chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 Parsnips chopped into bite sized pieces
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Pearl Barley
  • 3 cups Mushroom or Vegetable Broth
  • 8 oz Mushrooms
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  1. Spray carrots, turnip, and parsnips with olive oil on both sides.  Spread on a baking sheet.  Roast in an oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.  Set aside.

  2. Combine barley and broth in an electric pressure cooker.  Set on high pressure for 18 minutes.  Release pressure manually when done cooking.

  3. Drain excess liquid from the barley, retaining the liquid.

  4. Set pressure cooker to saute.  Pour enough of the retained broth into the cooker to cover the bottom of the pot to a depth of 1/2 inch.  Saute the mushrooms, adding broth as needed to keep from drying.  Allow broth to reduce to a sauce. 

  5. Top barley with roasted vegetables and mushrooms.  Pour reduced broth over the barley.  Salt and pepper to taste.

This still is a little bland for my taste.  I didn’t add a lot of other seasoning because I was trying to stay true to the ingredients I was seeing in other Swedish recipes.  If I was going to make this again, I would experiment with adding herbs to the broth while cooking the barley and while reducing.

See everyone else’s recipes

Wendy: Rabarberpaj
Camilla: Fläderblomsglass (Elderflower Ice Cream) for Midsommar
Tara: Våfflor (Swedish Waffles)
Heather: Korngryn och rotsaker (Pearl Barley with Roasted Root Vegetables)
Juli: Färskpotatis – Swedish Dill Potatoes
Evelyne: Swedish Egg Coffee recipe
Loreto and Nicoletta: Smorgastarta – Swedish Sandwich Cake
Amy:Rödbetssallad med Getost (Grated Beetroot Salad with Goat Cheese)

So what book did I read for Sweden?  I’ve already read a few very good Swedish books besides Marcus Samuelsson’s.  I’ve loved The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and DisappearedThe 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson.




The Swede (Ernst Grip #1)The Swede by Robert Karjel
is a great thriller.




But this month I read a book that was already on my iPad, Never Stop Walking.

Like Yes, Chef, this is a book about an international adoptee. Christina was a street child in Brazil before she and her brother were taken to Sweden and adopted. This is the story of her travel as an adult back to Brazil to try to find her mother. I reviewed it here.  This story is absolutely heartbreaking.  The life she lived as a child was brutal and hard to read about but I think it is necessary to open people’s eyes to what happens to women and children in these situations.

08 Jun, 2018

Never Stop Walking

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Never Stop Walking Never Stop Walking: A Memoir of Finding Home Across the World by Christina Rickardsson, Tara F. Chace
on June 1, 2018
Pages: 249
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
Format: eBook
Source: Owned
Setting: Brazil, Sweden

Christiana Mara Coelho was born into extreme poverty in Brazil. After spending the first seven years of her life with her loving mother in the forest caves outside São Paulo and then on the city streets, where they begged for food, she and her younger brother were suddenly put up for adoption. When one door closed on the only life Christiana had ever known and on the woman who protected her with all her heart, a new one opened.

As Christina Rickardsson, she’s raised by caring adoptive parents in Sweden, far from the despairing favelas of her childhood. Accomplished and outwardly “normal,” Christina is also filled with rage over what she’s lost and having to adapt to a new reality while struggling with the traumas of her youth. When her world falls apart again as an adult, Christina returns to Brazil to finally confront her past and unlock the truth of what really happened to Christiana Mara Coelho.


This is a heartbreaking story of a child living in extreme poverty on the streets in Brazil.  The things that happen to her are horrific including witnessing the murder of her best friend by the police, seeing numerous rapes, and killing another child in a fight over food. 

Because this all happened as a child she didn’t clearly know or remember the reasons why they lived like they did.  All she knew was that her mother loved her and her little brother but that there were also times when she wasn’t around.  The children were taken to an orphanage where they were eventually not allowed to have contact with their mother and then were adopted by a couple from Sweden. Nothing that was going on was explained to her.

As an adult she decides to go back to Brazil to try to find her mother and to find out what really happened to make sense of her childhood memories. 

She examines the disconnect she feels about being grateful for her good life in Sweden that wouldn’t have happened if she wasn’t forcibly taken from her mother but also being angry about being separated from the person who loved her. 

The book is very simply written or translated.  That makes it a very stark read.  It is very sad but I think it is necessary to know what is going on in the poorest parts of society.  Once again in reading this book I was struck by how often male sexual violence towards women and children is considered to be an everyday thing.  I hate knowing that there are women who have to submit to being raped because they are told that it is her or her child.  Books like this just make me want to have a moratorium on men for a while.

06 Jun, 2018

Best Books I’ve Read in 2018 – So Far

/ posted in: Reading

We’re about halfway through the year so I decided to look back and see what I’ve loved so far this year.  As of this writing I’ve read 88 books according to Goodreads.  It has been a weird year for me so far.  I’ve been reading a lot of historical romance and I don’t remember the plot of those once I’m done so I don’t feel like I’ve read that much.  But looking back I’ve found quite a few books I’d recommend.

This is one of my favorites so far this year.  It is a story about an academically gifted girl who just immigrated to New York from Hong Kong.  She lives in extreme poverty with her mother while trying to find her way in school.  It is based on the author’s life.

This book is told in two timelines.  In the past a young Chinese woman flees from the ethnic cleansing of Seattle.  In the present a wealthy young white woman finds out about her family’s part in the racial violence.

This is a middle grade book but it is very cute.  A mixed race Indian-American girl is being raised by her white mother in the U.S. Her father went back to India before her mother knew she was pregnant and never responded to her attempts to contact him.  Now, for medical reasons, they need to find him.  It turns out that he changed his name and is a big Bollywood star. 

This is a unflinching look at life in the Kibera slum in Kenya and about the founding of SHOFCO (Shining Hope for Communities) that focuses on education for girls as a way to improve lives.


Cat Sebastian is a new to me author this year and is now absolutely an autobuy.  Her historical romances are full of queer and nonbinary people which makes them different from most of the other books in this genre.  Her writing is great and witty also.

I knew Alyssa Cole for her historical romances but this contemporary is wonderful.  It starts off with the idea of what if those “Nigerian prince” email scams really were an African prince’s staff trying to get in touch with you. 

A young woman who has been widowed twice decides to try to take control of her life away from her chaotic family but now there are questions about how her recently deceased husband actually died.

I liked this book for the character arc of the mother who starts the book trying to fit her daughter into a traditional life like she has lived but learns slowly to let go and let her daughter be herself. 

This is a book that combines a scientific look at therapeutic music with the personal story of a man who was a patient and a practitioner.


What have been your favorite reads so far this year?

04 Jun, 2018

Baby Elephant Fighting Crime!

/ posted in: Book ReviewReading Baby Elephant Fighting Crime! The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan
on September 15th 2015
Pages: 320
Genres: Fiction, Mystery & Detective
Published by Redhook
Format: Paperback
Source: Library
Setting: India

On the day he retires, Inspector Ashwin Chopra inherits two unexpected mysteries.

The first is the case of a drowned boy, whose suspicious death no one seems to want solved. And the second is a baby elephant. As his search for clues takes him across the teeming city of Mumbai, from its grand high rises to its sprawling slums and deep into its murky underworld, Chopra begins to suspect that there may be a great deal more to both his last case and his new ward than he thought. And he soon learns that when the going gets tough, a determined elephant may be exactly what an honest man needs...


I requested the first book of this series from the library as soon as I heard about a baby elephant helping in a detective agency.  Really, what more do you need?  Rush out and read this.

On his last day at work before his unwanted medical retirement, Inspector Chopra gets a letter saying that he has inherited a very special baby elephant from his uncle.  He hasn’t seen his eccentric uncle in years.  He has no idea why he had an elephant or even that his uncle had died.  He also has no idea why he would think Chopra would want an elephant.

That gets put out of his mind when he gets to work and finds a woman leading a protest in front of the station.  Her son died the night before and she knows that the police won’t investigate because they are too poor. He starts to look at the case but doesn’t get very involved because it is his last day and he won’t be able to follow through.

He doesn’t take to retirement well.  (Also the set up for the Indian series that starts with The Marriage Bureau for Rich People.)  He decides to go see what is going on with the case of the boy that died.  He realizes that no one is investigating so he decides to go have a look himself.  Soon he is splitting his time between trying to solve this crime and nursing this very sickly, very sad little elephant that was delivered to his apartment complex.

But how does a baby elephant help solve crimes, you ask?  Well, even a small elephant is an effective battering ram.  Elephants can also find people over long distances.  Ganesha is just a baby but his role increases in each book so far.

I’m not usually a fan of mysteries but this one is ok because even though his reason for investigating is mostly boredom and resentment at being made to give up his career, he is a real investigator and not just a busy body.  Well, I guess he starts out as a busy body but then formalizes it to be a real private investigator.  I’m not a fan of cozy mysteries with busy bodies messing up crime scenes.  I’m perfectly ok with elephants trompsing all over crime scenes.

		Baby Elephant Fighting Crime!
	The Perplexing Theft of the Jewel in the Crown (Baby Ganesh Agency Investigation #2) by Vaseem Khan 
on May 5, 2016
Pages: 353
Setting: India

For centuries the Koh-i-Noor diamond has set man against man and king against king. Now part of the British Crown Jewels, the priceless gem is a prize that many have killed to possess. So when the Crown Jewels go on display in Mumbai, security is everyone's principal concern. And yet, on the very day Inspector Chopra visits the exhibition, the diamond is stolen from under his nose. The heist was daring and seemingly impossible. The hunt is on for the culprits. But it soon becomes clear that only one man - and his elephant - can possibly crack this case...


I love the covers of these books. They are so cute and colorful. I’m usually indifferent to covers but I love these.


Mild spoiler for the end of the first book but not really – Chopra ends up opening a restaurant for policemen/detective agency office/place for Ganesha to live in the backyard at the end of book 1. The restaurant itself doesn’t play a huge role here but I’m claiming it for Foodies Read anyway because everyone needs to know about baby elephants.

Speaking of Ganesha, he considers himself a full-fledged part of the agency.  He has a special truck he rides around Mumbai in so he can go on stakeouts.  In this book he gets to go undercover in a circus performance and loves his sparkly costume.  He’s also making new friends at the restaurant and gets to help rescue one when he gets in trouble.

Meanwhile, Chopra is hired by an old colleague who was in charge of security for the Crown Jewels.  He’s been arrested and knows that he’s going to take the fall for this crime if the real criminals can’t be found. 

These books are fun.  I’m looking forward to reading more and seeing how this team learns to work together even more.

01 Jun, 2018

#BookBlogExpo – Most Anticipated Books

/ posted in: Reading

BookBlogExpo is being hosted at Girl Who Reads.

“Tell us all about the books you are most looking forward to this year (share even if your most anticipated book of the year has already come out).”

I am rubbish at knowing when books are going to come out.  I’m always amazed that people who say things like, “I’m starting a list of my most anticipated books of 2020.”  I don’t know what is coming out next week.  I like it that way.  Surprises are fun.  (I don’t look up what the weather is going to be ahead of time either for the same reason.)

But sometimes even I hear of books ahead of time.  Here are few that I have pre-ordered.

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life: A SortabiographyAlways Look on the Bright Side of Life: A Sortabiography by Eric Idle

I’ve preordered this on Audible because I need to listen to him tell these stories. Eric Idle is my all time favorite. Coming out October 2.


Time's Convert (All Souls Universe, #1)



Time’s Convert by Deborah Harkness

I reread Deborah Harkness’ All Souls Trilogy at least once a year. I’ve been following the television show production on social media. This is a new book coming out about a secondary character in the original trilogy. So excited. Coming out September 25.


Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World, #1)Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

I loved her prize-winning short story, WELCOME TO YOUR AUTHENTIC INDIAN EXPERIENCE, so I ordered this book.

“While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.

Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.

As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.

Welcome to the Sixth World.”

Comes out June 26.

A Duke in Disguise (Regency Imposters, #2)A Duke in Disguise by Cat Sebastian

I got nothing on this one except it comes to my iPad in November. I love Cat Sebastian’s Regency romances featuring queer characters. I don’t know what this is about but she’s an autobuy now.