Monday, November 20, 2017

Monday Musings

leaves collage

My week: Goodbye Hawaii, hello Colorado! Jarrod and I left Saturday night to spend Thanksgiving in Colorado with my family. It's so nice to be home for the week! And to be wearing boots and sweaters! And playing in crunchy leaves! (All that's missing is Alohi -- gosh I miss her!)

Reading: After a few really productive reading weeks, I got hardly any reading done at all last week. I had actually hoped to be finished with "The Heart's Invisible Furies" before our trip, but that sure didn't happen -- I'm only 100 pages in! I also squeezed in a few more chapters of "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" for Non-Fiction November. It's well-done, educational and interesting, but still over my head at times.

Instead of either one of those books, though, I'm reading "The Song Rising" by Samantha Shannon, the new book in the Bone Season series. The library in Hawaii is apparently never going to get it in, so I had my mom pick it up from the Colorado Springs library. Luckily it's only 350 pages, since I have less than a week to read it!

Watching: "This Is Us" and "Poldark." I also watched two delightfully cheesy Hallmark Christmas movies.

On the plane I watched an indie movie starring Chris Evans called "Before We Go," which was pretty good. I had actually downloaded the first three episodes of the British show "Midsomer Murders" -- something I'd been wanting to see forever -- to watch on the plane, but I was so bored! I gave up 30 minutes into the first episode.

Knitting: Making good progress on the Newt Scamander scarf! I've knit more in the last week than in the last year!

Looking forward to: Spending time with my family, going up to the mountains, shopping at stores we don't have in Hawaii (like craft stores!!!), and eating tons of yummy food! And tomorrow we're going to see "Murder on the Orient Express," which will be Jarrod's and my first movie at the theater in a whole year, if you can believe that.

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

My Life in Books Tag

I came across this tag at Rebel Mommy Book Blog, and it was started at Rantings of a Reading Addict. I tried to choose books I enjoyed and would recommend! Feel free to play along if you'd like -- this was a fun tag to put together!

Find a book for each of your initials.

(All these books are awesome! Read them!)

Count your age on the shelf. Which book is it?

Thirty-two books in: "The Lacuna" by Barbara Kingsolver. I bought this years ago at Borders' going-out-of-business sale. One day I'll get around to it. I loved the one Barbara Kingsolver book I've read, "The Poisonwood Bible."

Pick a book set in your city.

The first part of this (fantastic!!!) book is set in Honolulu. 

Pick a book that represents a destination you'd love to travel.

Alaska! And Washington state!

Pick a book that's your favorite color.

I love anything in the blue-green family: teal, turquoise, mint, etc.

What book do you have the fondest memories of?

I read this a couple years ago on my birthday trip to the Smoky Mountains. It was rainy and gray and the trees were on fire with color, and it was the absolute perfect time to read this atmospheric tale nestled in a cabin in the woods! Plus it was an all-around fantastic trip, and I loved the book. Good memories!

(I went with an adult book here, but if we're reminiscing about childhood, I'd have to say Nancy Drew and The Babysitter's Club.)

What book did you find the most difficult to read?

This is a complicated question! I decided to think about books I've read fairly recently, and I chose one I hated and one I liked. For the most part, I've enjoyed Laurie R. King's Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, but this installment was just brutal for me. I picked it up and put it down so many times, and I finally ended up skimming the last 100 pages. On the other hand, "A Little Life" was long, and it dealt with some very disturbing subject matter. It was tough to read in a completely different way from "O Jerusalem," and it was a book I ended up liking -- or maybe we'll say "appreciating." "Like" isn't quite a word I'd associate with the things that happen in this novel.

Which book on your TBR list will give you the biggest sense of accomplishment?

This book has been languishing on my to-read list for soooooo long. I keep vowing to read it each year and then I put it off and off and off, probably because the length makes it such a time commitment!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

10 Books I'd Want My (Hypothetical) Kids To Read

This week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is books I'd want my kids to read, if I ever have any. Boy, was I tempted to choose all picture books -- I have some favorites from my childhood, and I see adorable ones at work every day. Plus there are tons of great picture books that help explain important issues (like "And Tango Makes Three"), teach positive behaviors (like sharing, friendship and understanding feelings, as in the fabulous "Bear" books by Karma Wilson -- my go-to baby shower gift!), and make scary things less frightening ("The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor" was one I loved as a kid).

But I decided to think about what I'd want my "kids" to read as they got a little older, and this is what I came up with:

books i'd want my kids to read
1. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: You might have noticed that I'm a pretty big HP fan, and if we ever have kids I will do my darndest to insure they love Harry Potter too! There are so many life lessons to be taken from these books, plus I want my kids to be able to escape into this magical world and enjoy all the fun of the fandom.

2. Wonder by R.J. Palacio: This is a charming, sweet book that reminds everyone -- not just kids -- to be compassionate and kind.

3. Bunnicula by James Howe: I was obsessed with rabbits as a kid, so of course I loved this story about a vampire bunny. I'm always excited when kids check it out at the library, and obviously I'd foist it on my own children!

4. Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole: There are so many books in this series, and they really make non-fiction fun and interesting! The one above, with the popcorn-filled stomach, was my favorite when I was little.

5. March graphic novel trilogy by John Lewis: Now we're getting into some high school-level books, and I think "March" would make excellent required reading, but if that doesn't happen I'd read it with my kids anyway. It's a fresh way of educating people about the American Civil Rights Movement, and it hit home much more than anything I'd read or learned about it previously.

6. Maus graphic novels by Art Spiegelman: In the same vein as "March," "Maus" brings the Holocaust to life. I read the books in college and it wasn't until then that the full atrocity of it all sunk in; the narrative non-fiction and graphic novel formats give a face and a name to the horror in a way a dry textbook never can.

7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury: I didn't read this book until I was around 30, but I think high school is a great time to explore the harms of censorship. Plus this is a highly readable classic! And if my "kids" are anything like me, they'll largely shy away from the classics genre, so it'll be gratifying to find one they'll (presumably) enjoy.

8. 1984 by George Orwell: This book goes hand-in-hand with "Fahrenheit 451." Everyone needs to know where the phrase "big brother" came from!

9. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger: This is another book I didn't read until recently that I'd want my hypothetical teenager to read. What adolescent wouldn't relate to angsty Holden Caulfield?

10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: The earth is wrecked and everyone escapes from their miserable lives in a virtual reality universe -- sounds like something that could happen in our not-too-distant future! But the main reason I'd want my "kids" to read this book is so they can get a feel for the decade during which their parents were born! (Plus, kids these days probably have no idea about half the stuff in there -- cassette tapes? Arcades?)

Monday, November 13, 2017

Monday Musings

alohi book

My week: Monday through Thursday was a bit rough -- it was just one of those weeks -- but who cares when I had a three-day weekend?! Friday we ate lunch out, ran some errands and took Alohi to the vet (always an adventure). Saturday it rained all day long, and while I had a million things on my to-do list I ended up being supremely and completely lazy.

Reading: It was a great reading week for me! I'm blazing my way through the list of 2017 releases I want to read by the end of the year, and so far they've all been really good books. I finished and thoroughly enjoyed "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine." I liked it so much I convinced a patron at the library to check it out this week!

Then I read "The Blinds," a sort of speculative fiction story about a tiny community in the middle-of-nowhere Texas full of heinous criminals whose memories of their misdeeds have been wiped clean. For eight years the Blinds has been a peaceful little settlement, but all of a sudden things start falling apart in quick succession.

After that I read my first book for Non-Fiction November, Lauren Graham's quick and funny and "Gilmore Girls"-filled memoir, "Talking As Fast As I Can." It was pretty much book fluff, but there were definitely a few good takeaways.

Then I positively blew through "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I started it Saturday morning and, as mentioned, it rained all day long, so I spent hours immersed in the glamorous (and not-so-glamorous) world of '50s (and '60s and '70s and '80s) Hollywood. I fell in love with the characters and I just could not put this book down!

Yesterday I read the first few pages of "The Heart's Invisible Furies" by John Boyne, an epic novel set over several decades in Ireland. Several of my real-life and online friends have given it 5 stars and I'm hopeful I'll love it too -- and that it sucks me right in. It's almost 600 pages and I don't want to lug it on an airplane with me just to finish the last bit, so my goal is to get it read before we leave for our Thanksgiving trip on Saturday!

I'm also reading my second Non-Fiction November book, "Astrophysics for People in a Hurry" by Neil DeGrasse Tyson. It's short and sweet (though still a little over my head sometimes), and I'm reading a chapter a day.

Watching: "Stranger Things" season 2, "Broadchurch" season 3, "Poldark," "This Is Us."

We also watched the first episode of "American Gods," and it was soooo weird. But I'm intrigued! I was planning to read the book before watching, but our DVR is in desperate need of some space and I was chatting with a patron at work who was telling me about the show and convinced me to go ahead and start it.

Movie-wise, we watched "The Dead Poet's Society," a 1989 movie starring Robin Williams as a delightful and unconventional teacher at a stuffy New England prep school. It's one I've been meaning to watch for-ev-er, and I finally got to it as part of our DVR clean-out!

Knitting: It feels so good to have knitting needles in my hands again! I'm chugging along with my Newt Scamander scarf for my friend Jessie. I've made more progress in the last week (after ripping out and starting over) than I did in almost a year! It's definitely been an off-year knitting-wise for me, but every hobby needs a break now and then.

Listening to: "Faking It" by Calvin Harris, etc.

Monday Musings
The Book Releases I'm Most Looking Forward to Oct. to Dec. 2017
Non-Fiction November Week 3: Be the Expert, Ask the Expert, Become the Expert

Looking forward to: Our last-minute trip to Colorado for Thanksgiving! I haven't spent a holiday with my parents since 2008, and I'm soooooooo ready to get off this island for a week!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Non-Fiction November Week 3: Be the Expert, Ask the Expert, Become the Expert

It's already week three of Non-Fiction November -- the month is positively flying by! This week's link-up prompt is Be The Expert (share books you've read and would recommend), Ask the Expert (ask for suggestions on a specific topic), Become the Expert (create a list of books on a subject you'd like to read).

This was a bit of an overwhelming topic for me because, as it turns out, my non-fiction reading is all over the place. There aren't one or two topics that I find especially interesting -- I've got everything from the Middle East and North Korea to celebrity memoirs to books about race and the invention of the birth control pill on my lists, and I really could not bear to narrow things down.

So instead, I put my own little twist on the prompt. I chose eight subjects and listed one book I've read and would recommend, along with three that are on my to-read list (and even this was difficult to whittle down -- I have sooooo many good-looking non-fiction books on my TBR!). And if you have any recommendations based on the books below, I would absolutely love to hear them!

Today's link-up is hosted by Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness.


Read and recommend:
Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him by Luis Carlos Montalvan (review)

Want to read:
A Dog Called Hope: A Wounded Warrior and the Service Dog Who Saved Him by Jason Morgan
Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon by Bronwen Dickey
No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog, and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII by Robert Weintraub


Read and recommend:
The Daily Coyote: A Story of Love, Survival and Trust in the Wilds of Wyoming by Shreve Stockton

Want to read:
American Wolf: The True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee
All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot
A Sting in the Tale: My Adventures With Bumblebees by Dave Goulson


Read and recommend:
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann (review)

Want to read:
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette by Hampton Sides
Walking the Nile by Levison Wood
Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey Into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon by Paul Rosolie


Read and recommend:
Maus: A Survivor's Tale by Art Spiegelman

Want to read:
How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman
The Radium Girls: The Dark History of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore
The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation's Largest Home by Denise Kiernan


Read and recommend:
When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (review)

Want to read:
Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner by Judy Melinek
The Skeleton Cupboard: The Making of a Clinical Psychologist by Tanya Byron
The Real Doctor Will See You Now: A Physician's First Year by Matt McCarthy


Read and recommend:
Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (review)

Want to read:
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Young


Read and recommend:
My Life in France by Julia Child (review)

Want to read:
Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World by Suzy Hansen
Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia by Lisa Dickey
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson


Read and recommend:
Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand (review)

Want to read:
Ashley's War: The Untold Stry of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick
Tough As They Come by SSG Travis Mills

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Book Releases I'm Most Looking Forward To Oct. to Dec. 2017

It's so hard to believe we're already halfway done with the final quarter of the year; 2017 has positively flown by for me. I feel like it was just Christmas, and here we are less than two months away from Christmas all over again! All this is to say, I intended to publish this post back toward the beginning of October, before all these books were released, but oh well: better late than never, right?!

fall book releases

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty: Doughty's first book, "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes," about her time working in the funeral industry, was fascinating and morbid and has stuck with me more than most books do. It was really thought-provoking -- why are we as a society so distanced from death? what do I want to happen to my body after I die? -- and I'm excited to read her new book, which takes the topic even further.

Origin by Dan Brown: I've already blazed through this newest Robert Langdon installment! It was a typical Dan Brown book, but I'll tell ya -- I could not put it down!

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West by Nate Blakeslee: I'm trying to read more non-fiction and this one, which tells the story of a particular wolf in Yellowstone, sounds really interesting!

Strange Weather by Joe Hill: I've read most of Joe Hills books, and the ones I haven't I'll get to eventually. I don't often read short fiction, but I'm planning to try this compilation, which includes four horror novellas.

Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King: Ok, so this technically came out at the tail-end of September, but we might as well include the whole King family here (in case you didn't know, Joe Hill is Stephen King's son too). This book is super-long, but the plot (about a disease/curse/thingie that only affects women) has me totally intrigued!

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan: I'm in a total fantasy mood right now and the premise of this one, the first in a new series, sounds really good! It's pretty complex, but it has to do with some badass magical women fighting off a "superstitious patriarchy...bent on world domination."

Artemis by Andy Weir: I loved "The Martian" and I've been looking forward to Weir's second novel since the day it was announced! I'm excited that it's more of a traditional sci-fi story -- it's set on the moon -- and I can't wait to get my hands on it!

The Revolution of Marina M. by Janet Fitch: I'm having a moment where I'm really interested in books set in Russia, and this chunkster promises to a captivating epic historical fiction story.

City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty: This is the first book in a new fantasy series set in 1700s Cairo that features a spunky-sounding protagonist and a djinn. I'm not quite sure if it's supposed to be adult or YA (I usually avoid YA) but I'm definitely going to give it a try!

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden: I enjoyed "The Bear and the Nightingale," a historical fantasy derived from Russian folktales, and I'm excited to dive into book 2!

Monday, November 6, 2017

Monday Musings




My week: I had fun dressing up with my co-workers at the library for Halloween! It was a nice change to wear a tutu to work instead of my uniform shirt. The rest of the week was pretty quiet... I've been busy at work getting the November bulletin board up (it's 13x9 feet, so it's always an endeavor!). In October I asked patrons to trace their hand and color it in however they liked, and now those hand prints are feathers on a giant turkey.

turkey board

turkey board 2 

Reading: I tried for a second time to read "The Keeper of Lost Things" and I got stuck at the same spot, about three chapters in. I really wanted to love this book, but I decided to give up on it, at least for now. I think part of the problem is the authors way-overuse of alliteration, but really, I'm surprised I couldn't get into it.

Instead I started working on my list of 2017 releases I want to read  by the end of the year, and I stated with "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas. I'm sure you all know the novel has to do with Black Lives Matter and a black teen boy shot by a white policeman. Regardless of your politics or viewpoint, it's a book I recommend because the author did such a good job making me feel connected to the main character, 16-year-old Starr. And it also gave me a glimpse into a life very different from mine -- which is one of the things I most enjoy about reading.

Then I read "Tuck Everlasting," the November book for the 4th and 5th grade book club I do at the library where I work. It started off really cute, but it suffered from exactly what I mentioned above -- I closed the back cover and didn't feel like I knew any of the characters at all. Winnie almost decides to become immortal for Jessie Tuck, a boy she knew for ONE DAY, and I didn't know anything about him other than that he was cute. I imagine the movie version fixes this problem, and since it stars Alexis Bledel (aka Rory Gilmore), I do want to watch it.

And now I'm reading "Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine" by Gail Honeyman, another book from my list of 2017 releases. I'm a little over halfway done and really enjoying it so far. I didn't exactly know what to expect with it, but it's different that the vague idea I had in my head -- in a good way, though! As prickly and awkward as Eleanor is, I'm starting to fall in love with her!

Knitting: I'm finally knitting again! I hardly knit at all in 2017, but I'm back to work on the Newt Scamander scarf for a friend. Perfect timing, since I like to knit while watching TV (see below).

Watching: I had a wake-up call this week when I saw our rather massive DVR only had 10% space remaining! I feel like since I only work part-time I should watch "my" shows when Jarrod isn't around, but all too often I choose reading over watching and now I have entire seasons of shows to catch up on, not to mention a bunch of movies.

So, what am I watching? I'm keeping up with "This Is Us," "Poldark" (which Jarrod watches with me -- yay!) and "Grey's Anatomy." I finished the first season of the new Masterpiece show "My Mother and Other Strangers," which is set in a small Irish town during WWII, where American troops have set up a base, and I picked back up with the final season of "Switched at Birth." It's been my guilty pleasure for years, but this season is way too political for my taste and I had to take a break from it.

I had been recording the "Will and Grace" revival and I finally gave that a try, but after five minutes of audience sounds and canned laughter I just couldn't handle it. It occurred to me how much TV has changed -- growing up, most of the shows I watched were sitcoms "filmed in front of a live studio audience," but now there aren't even many shows like that left, much less ones that I'm interested in (period dramas don't have laugh tracks!). It never bothered me when I was younger, but hearing a bunch of audience laughter every 20 seconds was like nails on a chalkboard, so "Will and Grace" got the delete button.

We're also watching "Stranger Things" season 2 and it's really good!

Signing up for: The Broke and Bookish Secret Santa! It'll be my third year participating and I'm so looking forward to it. Though the real fun for me is buying for my secret buddy, I've had absolutely fabulous Santas the past two years and it's just been a great experience!

Monday Musings
Turning the Page on October 2017
Mini Reviews: The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, The Alice Network, Origin, Setting Free the Kites & Red Sister
Non-Fiction November Week 2: Five Non-Fiction/Fiction Pairings

Looking forward to: Changing out my display of spooky books and movies to Thanksgiving and Christmas ones at work today!

*I'm linking up with Kathryn of Book Date for It's Monday! What Are You Reading?
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