Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Book Title Book Tag

book title book tag

This fun book tag is all about book titles! I had fun looking through my read and to-read lists and finding the right title for each prompt! I came across this tag on Rebel Mommy Book Blog. Feel free to "tag" yourself if you want to play too!

1. Title that's the story of your life:
Marley and Me: Life and Love With the World's Worst Dog

If you've been following my Monday Musings posts, you'll know that our adorable boxer puppy, Alohi, has been a bit of a problem child lately!

2. Title of your perfect weekend:
In the Woods, At Home

Give me thick treecover and mossy rocks and cute critters and birdsong and gurgling streams, please! If that's not available, I'm happy to curl up on the couch with a book. As Jane Austen said, "There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort."

3. Title of an adventure you'd like to go on:
Murder With Puffins

I'll skip the murder part but take the puffin part! Seeing puffins in the wild is high up on my bucket list!

4. Title you want to name your child:
An Appetite for Violets

I'm not sure if we'll ever have kids, but if we do I'm all about botanical names. Violet is one of my favorites. (I also like Holly, Ivy and Juniper.)

5. Title of your ideal job:
The World's Strongest Librarian, The Postmistress

It seems life has steered me into the library careerfield, and that's fine with me! If I were to live in another time period, though, I think I'd love to be a postmistress in a small English town in the late 1800s a la Flora in the adorable BBC show "Lark Rise to Candleford." I love snail mail and letter-writing, and being a postmistress means you get to make everyone's day by handing them their much-anticipated mail. Plus you get to hear all the town news and gossip! 

6. Title of a place you'd like to visit:
The Alaskan Laundry, South Pole Station

There are soooooo many places I want to visit -- pretty much everywhere. But two places that I especially want to go -- and which kind of fit together by virtue of their cold weather -- are Alaska and Antarctica (via an Antarctica cruise).

7. Title of your love life:
Where We Belong

I've been happily married to my husband for 9 years, so this about sums it up!

8. Question you ask yourself:
Maybe in Another Life

Despite being happily married, as mentioned above, I do sometimes wonder what my life would be like it I hadn't married into the military. I can certainly say that when I was in college, where I saw myself in 10 years is not quite where I ended up: a part-time-working pseudo-housewife moving around every few years. I always thought I'd head to New York City and get a job using my journalism degree, or maybe join the Peace Corps. Also, in another life I'd probably be a vegetarian. I was headed in that direction when my husband reignited my carnivorous side. And if I hadn't married Jarrod I never would've taken that year off work in 2008, so I wouldn't have taken up knitting, one of my favorite things to do. What would my hobbies be instead?!

9. Title of a kingdom you want to rule or name:

Ok, so this is the name of the series, not the book, but oh well. I'm not even sure if Temeraire means anything or if it's just a made-up word, but I love it! Also, the books feature sentient dragons (and the titular character is absolutely the most lovable dragon you'll ever meet) so if there are dragons in my kingdom, all the better!

10. Title you'd name your band:

I love the name Artemis -- and in fact I lobbied to name our cat after the moon goddess by was vetoed but my husband. I think it'd make a great name for a girl band!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

11 Hidden Gems on My To-Read List

The topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday is 10 hidden gems in the genre of your choosing. Perhaps this isn't always a good thing, but I'm a pretty best-seller-y, well-known-book type of reader and I don't come across all that many hidden gems. The ones I've read that I'd highly recommend are covered in this post: 10 Underrated Books You Should Check Out. The only recent book I'd want to add to that list would be "My Last Continent" by Midge Raymond, which is set in Antarctica and involves penguins, a shipwreck and a love story. (Here's my review.)

So today I decided to list some lesser-known books from my to-read list. They all have fewer than 600 ratings and all are rated at close to or over 4 stars -- I think that qualifies as a "hidden gem"! Have you heard of any of these? Read any? (All book summaries are from Goodreads.)

Chasing the Light by Jessie Blackadder
Published in 2013
Goodreads rating: 4.01
186 ratings

It's the early 1930s. Antarctic open sea whaling is booking and a territorial race for the mysterious continent is in full swing. Aboard a ship setting sail from Cape Town carrying the Norwegian whaling magnate Lars Christensen are three women: Lillemor Rachlew, who tricked her way on to the ship and will stop at nothing to be the first woman to land on Antarctica; Mathilde Wegger, a grieving widow who's been forced to join the trip by her calculating parents-in-law; and Lars's wife, Ingrid Christensen, who has longed to travel to Antarctica since she was a girl and has made a daunting bargain with Lars to convince him to take her. As they head south through icy waters, the race is on for the first woman to land on Antarctica. None of them expect the outcome and none of them know how they will be changed by their arrival. Based on the little-known true story of the first woman to ever set foot on Antarctica, Jesse Blackadder has captured the drama, danger and magnetic pull of exploring uncharted places in our world and our minds.

Escape from Baghdad by Saad Z. Hossain
Published in 2015
Goodreads rating: 3.96
206 ratings

Welcome to Baghdad during the U.S. invasion. A desperate American military has created a power vacuum that needs to be filled. Religious fanatics, mercenaries, occultists, and soldiers are all vying for power. So how do regular folks try to get by? If you're Dagr and Kinza, a former economics professor and a streetwise hoodlum, you turn to dealing in the black market. But everything is about to change, because they have inherited a very important prisoner: the star torturer of Hussein’s recently collapsed regime, Captain Hamid, who promises them untold riches if they smuggle him out of Baghdad. With the heat on and nothing left for them in Baghdad, they enlist the help of Private Hoffman, their partner in crime and a U.S. Marine. In the chaos of a city without rule, getting out of Baghdad is no easy task and when they become embroiled in a mystery surrounding an ancient watch that doesn’t tell time, nothing will ever be the same. With a satiric eye firmly cast on the absurdity of human violence, Escape from Baghdad! features shades of "Catch-22" and "Three Kings" while giving voice, ribald humor, and firepower to to people often referred to as "collateral damage."

The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh by Kathryn Aalto
Published in 2015
Goodreads rating: 3.99
273 ratings

Delve into the home of the world’s most beloved bear! "The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh" explores the magical landscapes where Pooh, Christopher Robin, and their friends live and play. The Hundred Acre Wood -- the setting for Winnie-the-Pooh’s adventures -- was inspired by Ashdown Forest, a wildlife haven that spans more than 6,000 acres in southeast England. In the pages of this enchanting book you can visit the ancient black walnut tree on the edge of the forest that became Pooh’s house, go deep into the pine trees to find Poohsticks Bridge, and climb up to the top of the enchanted Galleons Lap, where Pooh says goodbye to Christopher Robin. You will discover how Milne's childhood connection with nature and his role as a father influenced his famous stories, and how his close collaboration with illustrator E. H. Shepard brought those stories to life. This charming book also serves as a guide to the plants, animals, and places of the remarkable Ashdown Forest, whether you are visiting in person or from the comfort of your favorite armchair. In a delightful narrative, enriched with Shepard’s original illustrations, hundreds of color photographs, and Milne’s own words, you will rediscover your favorite characters and the magical place they called home.

Surviving Henry: Adventures in Loving a Canine Catastrophe
Published in 2014
Goodreads rating: 4.04
319 ratings

You don't always know what you're getting into when you bring home a puppy. Enter Henry, a boxer who suffers from Supreme Dictator of the Universe Syndrome. He vandalizes his obedience school, leaps through windows, cheats death at every turn, and generally causes his long-suffering owner Erin Taylor Young to wonder what on earth she did that God would send this dog to derail her life. Through his laugh-out-loud antics and escapades, Henry will steal readers' hearts. Anyone who has ever owned a dog, especially a canine catastrophe like Henry, will enjoy this lighthearted book about a dog who brings new meaning to the concept of unconditional love.

A Drop in the Ocean by Jenni Ogden
Published in 2016
Goodreads rating: 4.02
337 ratings

On her 49th birthday, Anna Fergusson, Boston neuroscientist and dedicated introvert, arrives at an unwanted crossroads when the funding for her research lab is cut. With her confidence shattered and her future uncertain, on impulse she rents a cabin for a year on Australia's Great Barrier Reef. However Turtle Island, alive with sea birds and nesting Green turtles, is not the retreat she expected. Here she finds love for the eccentric islanders who become her family; for Tom, the laid-back turtle whisperer; and for the turtles whose ancient mothering instincts move her to tears. But Anna finds that even on her idyllic drop in the ocean there is pain, and as the months fly past her dream for a new life is threatened by a darkness that challenges everything she has come to believe about the power of love. Evocative and thought-provoking, "A Drop in the Ocean" is a story about second chances and hard lessons learned in the gentlest of ways.

Tough As They Come by SSG Travis Mills
Published in 2015
Goodreads rating: 4.32
389 ratings

Thousands of soldiers die year to defend their country. United States Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills was sure that he would become another statistic when, during his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, he was caught in an IED blast four days before his twenty-fifth birthday. Against the odds, he lived, but at a severe cost -- Travis became one of only five soldiers from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to survive a quadruple amputation. Suddenly forced to reconcile with the fact that he no longer had arms or legs, Travis was faced with a future drastically different from the one he had imagined for himself. He would never again be able to lead his squad, stroke his fingers against his wife’s cheek, or pick up his infant daughter. Travis struggled through the painful and anxious days of rehabilitation so that he could regain the strength to live his life to the fullest. With enormous willpower and endurance, the unconditional love of his family, and a generous amount of faith, Travis shocked everyone with his remarkable recovery. Even without limbs, he still swims, dances with his wife, rides mountain bikes, and drives his daughter to school. Travis inspires thousands every day with his remarkable journey.

The Death's Head Chess Club by John Donoghue
Published in 2015
Goodreads rating: 4.18
525 ratings

A novel of the improbable friendship that arises between a Nazi officer and a Jewish chessplayer in Auschwitz. SS Obersturmfuhrer Paul Meissner arrives in Auschwitz from the Russian front wounded and fit only for administrative duty. His most pressing task is to improve camp morale and he establishes a chess club, and allows officers and enlisted men to gamble on the games. Soon Meissner learns that chess is also played among the prisoners, and there are rumors of an unbeatable Jew known as "the Watchmaker." Meissner's superiors begin to demand that he demonstrate German superiority by pitting this undefeated Jew against the best Nazi players. Meissner finds Emil Clément, the Watchmaker, and a curious relationship arises between them. As more and more games are played, the stakes rise, and the two men find their fates deeply entwined. Twenty years later, the two meet again in Amsterdam -- Meissner has become a bishop, and Emil is playing in an international chess tournament. Having lost his family in the horrors of the death camps, Emil wants nothing to do with the ex-Nazi officer despite their history, but Meissner is persistent. As both men search for a modicum of peace, they recall a gripping tale of survival and trust. A suspenseful meditation on understanding and guilt, "The Death's Head Chess Club" is a bold debut and a rich portrait of a surprising friendship.

No Better Friend: One Man, One Dog and Their Extraordinary Story of Courage and Survival in WWII by Robert Weintraub
Published in 2015
Goodreads rating: 4.04
539 ratings

The extraordinary tale of survival and friendship between a man and a dog in war.  Flight technician Frank Williams and Judy, a purebred pointer, met in the most unlikely of places: a World War II internment camp in the Pacific. Judy was a fiercely loyal dog, with a keen sense for who was friend and who was foe, and the pair's relationship deepened throughout their captivity. When the prisoners suffered beatings, Judy would repeatedly risk her life to intervene. She survived bombings and other near-death experiences and became a beacon not only for Frank but for all the men, who saw in her survival a flicker of hope for their own. Judy's devotion to those she was interned with was matched by their love for her, which helped keep the men and their dog alive despite the ever-present threat of death by disease or the rifles of the guards. At one point, deep in despair and starvation, Frank contemplated killing himself and the dog to prevent either from watching the other die. But both were rescued, and Judy spent the rest of her life with Frank. She became the war's only official canine POW, and after she died at age fourteen, Frank couldn't bring himself to ever have another dog. Their story -- of an unbreakable bond forged in the worst circumstances -- is one of the great undiscovered sagas of World War II.

Meadowland: The Private Life of an English Field by John Lewis-Stempel
Published in 2014
Goodreads rating: 4.31
547 ratings

"To stand alone in a field in England and listen to the morning chorus of the birds is to remember why life is precious." In exquisite prose John Lewis-Stempel records the passing seasons in an ancient meadow on his farm. His unique and intimate account of the birth, life, and death of the flora and fauna -- from the pair of ravens who have lived there longer than he has to the minutiae underfoot -- is threaded throughout with the history of the field and recalls the literature of other observers of our natural history in a remarkable piece of writing.

Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon by Paul Rosolie
Published in 2014
Goodreads rating: 4.28
561 ratings

For fans of "The Lost City of Z," "Walking the Amazon," and "Turn Right at Machu Picchu" comes naturalist and explorer Paul Rosolie’s extraordinary adventure in the uncharted tributaries of the Western Amazon -- a tale of discovery that vividly captures the awe, beauty, and isolation of this endangered land and presents an impassioned call to save it.

Down the Garden Path by Beverley Nichols
Published in 1931
Goodreads rating: 4.24
565 ratings

"Down the Garden Path" has stood the test of time as one of the world’s best-loved and most-quoted gardening books. From a disaster building a rock garden, to further adventures with greenhouses, woodland gardens, not to mention cats and treacle, Nichols has left us a true gardening classic.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Monday Musings

likeke falls
Likeke Falls.

My week: Jarrod had the entire week off work and I took off Monday through Wednesday, and it was an absolutely fantastic and refreshing break! We took Alohi on her first hike, we ate lunch at La Mariana Sailing Club, a famous tiki bar/restaurant that we'd been meaning to try forever, and we went snorkeling and saw a few sea turtles.

Unfortunately... we also had quite a few rough spots to the week. We continued (and eventually gave up) trying to leave Alohi out of her crate when we left the house and that resulted in a broken lamp (possibly an accident, but still), a chewed-through computer cord ($65 to replace) and a corner of our big area rug shredded. On Saturday we were playing and she just so happened to skid on the tile at the right angle to crash into and break a leg off the kitchen table. And on Sunday we had to do a (rather expensive) walk-in vet visit because of swollen and pussy sore she suddenly developed (and now we have to smear antibiotic ointment on her rear end every day for a week). On top of that, I discovered the cat had peed on the sofa in my reading room/office! These animals, I swear -- they're giving me gray hair!


Reading: I guess I had to balance out my previous very productive reading week with one where I didn't read much at all. I continued to read the second Temeraire book, "Throne of Jade," which I found much slower going than the first (a book I adored!), and I finally finished it Sunday night.

Mid-week I started reading 25 pages a day of "One Summer: America, 1927" by Bill Bryson. Bryson writes interesting, accessible non-fiction and I'm really enjoying my short chunks of "One Summer." It's crazy how many fascinating events happened in just a few months (so far I've read about the Great Flood of 1927, Charles Lindbergh's flight to Paris, and a murderess and her beau who captivated the country, among other things), and I'm loving that sense of '20s atmosphere and lifestyle that permeates the book!

Today I'll be starting "The Essex Serpent." I fully admit that the cover is what attracted me to the book! The plot sounds pretty interesting, though, and I love stuff set in the 1800s. I hope it lives up to my expectations!

Watching: "Game of Thrones," "Homeland," "Elementary." Movie-wise we watched "The Zookeeper's Wife," which was overall a good film, but I feel completely misled by the cover art of Jessica Chastain snuggling an adorable lion cub -- it was pretty grim and depressing (it is a WWII story set in Warsaw, after all).

Eating: Dunkin Donuts! They recently built the first DD in Hawaii -- right near our house -- and I've been craving donuts ever since, but it has been a complete and utter madhouse the past month. We drove by a few times but it was either ridiculously packed or closed early for no apparent reason (likely they ran out of donuts). Jarrod was sweet enough to brave the drive-thru one night on his way home from surfing and came bearing glazed, maple and guava-filled donuts. Pretty tasty -- though not necessarily worth all that effort!

Something most people don't realize about Hawaii is that it doesn't have all typical chain stores and restaurants we take for granted on the Mainland -- it has some (like Target, thank god!), but there are definitely some notable places missing. Whenever one comes to the island, it's a massive event! Personally, I really miss Kohl's and craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Michael's. Many people -- military people stationed here, I should say -- especially miss Chick-fil-A. I actually saw a couple weeks ago where a fellow military spouse brought back 200 nuggets in her airline luggage to freeze and re-heat!

Monday Musings
Suggested Reading for Kids and Teens (and Adults!)
Mini Reviews: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

Looking forward to: Our upcoming weekend getaway to Kauai! It's going to be a very quick little trip, but I'll take whatever type of vacation I can get.

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

Friday, August 25, 2017

Mini Reviews: This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel and All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

I recently read two very different books that both happen to deal with the issues of family, identity and love. Opposite though they are in many ways, I loved them both and I figured I'd review them together.

"This Is How It Always Is" by Laurie Frankel
First published in 2017
327 pages
My rating: 4.5 out of 5

I came for the plot about a transgender child -- something I want more perspective on -- and I stayed for the fresh writing and the wonderful characters! This book was fantastic -- one of my favorite reads of the year.

"This Is How It Always Is" introduces readers to the large, quirky, lovable Walsh-Adams clan of Madison, Wisconsin -- doctor Rosie, writer/stay-at-home-dad Penn and their five boys.

The youngest is 5-year-old Claude, who is about to start kindergarten and suddenly announces he wants to wear dresses -- not only that but a bikini to go swimming and a purse to take his lunch to school. He wants to grow out his hair and go by a girl's name.

The story is about Claude's gender dysphoria, but it's also about family and how each of them deals with his new identity -- along with the everyday highs and lows of life. Readers get to know everyone from brilliant, athletic, popular eldest child Roo to sweet, sensitive, adorable Claude. And we become intimately acquainted with parents Rosie and Penn as they grapple with tough decisions and try hard to figure out the right things to do for their daughter.

I was completely emotionally invested in this story. It made me smile, it made me want to cry, and I fell in love with the wonderful cast of characters, especially matriarch Rosie whom I found to be perfectly relatable. I was prepared to award it my first 5-star rating of the year, but the last section fell ever so slightly flat for me; it just didn't engage me as much as the rest of the book. Regardless, this is definitely one of the best books I've read in 2017 and I strongly urge you to pick it up whether, like me, you want to learn more about transgender people, or whether you just want a damn good story!

"All the Ugly and Wonderful Things" by Bryn Greenwood
First published in 2017
344 pages
My rating: 4.5 out of 5

Wow. This book was the most unique thing I've read in a long time, it was impossible to put down, it gave me all the feels, and it had me totally wrapped up in the story even as it horrified me.

If you know anything about "All the Ugly and Wonderful Things," surely it's that the plot centers on a romantic relationship that develops over several years between a man and a girl with an age difference of over a decade. That's indeed true and if you think that's an issue you just won't be able to get over, then perhaps this book is not for you. I did find it to be a bit disturbing here and there, but that's what I want sometimes -- a book that makes me feel things, all different kinds of things.

And there's so much more to this unconventional love story. Both Wavy and Kellan have endured unthinkable, hideous things -- and Wavy is just 8 when the story begins. Her father is a meth dealer, her mother is an abusive parent and an addict. And Kellan and Wavy save each other over and over again. They are fascinating characters and, while quite obviously flawed, full of a magnificent strength and courage.

This book had been on my to-read list for a while, and then I was chatting with a patron at the library and she told me she read it in 24 hours. That was just the kind of thing I was in the mood for so I went and grabbed it off the shelf, and she was so right: this is one of those all-consuming stories that sucks you in and won't let you go.

It's a little controversial, yes, but it's also devastating, enthralling and beautiful -- and it's one of the few books I don't think I'll ever forget.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Suggested Reading for Kids and Teens (and Adults, Too!)

This week's Top Ten Tuesday prompt is a back-to-school freebie and after much deliberation (freebies are the bane of an indecisive bookworm's existence!) I decided to compile a list of books I think would make good school reading (or, alternatively, recommended reading for school-age kids).

If you're interested, here's a list of past school-related TTT topics I've done:

2013: Top Ten Books I Was Forced To Read (high school and college required reading)
2014: Top Ten Book Characters Who'd Sit At My High School Lunch Table
2016: Required Reading Done Right: 11 Books I Read For School And Actually Enjoyed

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan

I work at a library, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that these are kids' favorite books right now. They are never on the shelf. Kids want to read them over and over again. They're perfect for engaging reluctant middle-grade readers -- and they even come in graphic novel versions! (They also teach kids about Greek mythology, of course, and there are plenty of themes like friendship, single-parent families, good vs. evil and all that good stuff to talk about as well.)

(my review)

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

"The Book Thief" is a hard-hitting WWII novel that should keep kids' interest. The characters -- young Liesel and Rudy -- are teens who are easy to relate to and the story certainly kept me turning pages. From a teaching standpoint, the novel is unique in that it's narrated by Death. Plus there's a decent movie to watch afterwards.

(my review)

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Everyone, kid and adult alike, should read "Wonder," which teaches us lessons on compassion, acceptance, and being a good human being.

(my review)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

"Cinder" would be a fun read for late middle schoolers or high schoolers. It's a futuristic dystopian fairytale retelling that features cyborgs and robots! It's a little bit more girl-oriented, but I think boys would still enjoy it.

(my review)

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

This is a good entree into the world of science fiction, and it's appropriate for teens because it features one. There a gasp-inducing twist at the end that provides plenty of talking points about morality and such, and there's a pretty good movie as well.

(my review)

I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

"I'll Give You the Sun" was an absolutely fabulous book that has tons of weighty and complex issues to talk about (things that are relevant and important to teens) -- but unfortunately that means it's also one of those books that certain parents might object to their kids reading (it involves LGBT issues and depression among other things). To me, though, all that makes it impactful and interesting and something kids can actually relate to. The writing is also stellar -- especially for a YA novel.

(my review)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

YA is not typically my thing and I wasn't looking forward to reading "A Monster Calls" for the book club at work, but I ended up really enjoying it. It's a great book to bring up the topics of grief and guilt, it's got absolutely gorgeous illustrations, and it also has a wonderful fable-like quality.

(my review)

Boo by Neil Smith

This hidden gem is a good companion to "Wonder," though geared at an older age group; it was shelved in the adult section at my library but I think it's appropriate for teens. It features a 13-year-old boy who's found himself dead and in a sort of in-between for 13-year-old Americans. He sets out to solve his murder; the last thing he remembers is standing by his locker before being shot. This book is short, highly readable, and full of discussion topics.

(my review)

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

"Homegoing" was my favorite book last year and it's the book I recommend most at work. It's a great choice for older high schoolers for several reasons: it features an unconventional format and an absolutely fabulous story, and it's also a history lesson and an important contribution to the discussion on race in our country -- not to mention impossible to put down!

(my review)

March graphic novel series by John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis' graphic novel trilogy is about the American Civil Rights Movement and his role in it. I've read the first two books and they were eye-opening and difficult (sad, frustrating, disturbing) to read at times, but they were fantastic and educational. Teens should appreciate this history lesson + autobiography in graphic novel format.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Older high schoolers can get another interesting (and disturbing) history lesson in "Orphan Train," which is a fictionalized account of a forgotten piece of history -- piling East Coast orphans (often Irish) on trains and shipping them off to the Midwest where many of them were "adopted" and forced into what was basically indentured servitude. It's a dual narrative that connects a present-day foster child and an orphan train rider of the 1930s.

(my review)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Monday Musings

alohi flamingo bw

My week: It was a pretty quiet week here. We had more adventures with leaving Alohi out of her crate when we're gone and the house is completely puppy-proofed now (sadly, a few books, magazines and Wii game cases lost their lives in the process!). Sunday we got Alohi set up at doggie daycare, where we plan to take her once or twice a week. We had to leave her for a couple hours so they could observe her with the other dogs and we had fun watching her on the internet webcam the doggie daycare has while we enjoyed a guilt-free lunch out! (P.S. Alohi turned 8 months old last week!)

Reading: I finished "All the Ugly and Wonderful Things" (and really enjoyed it), then tried again to read the fifth Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes book, "O Jerusalem." I generally like the series, but this book was just a horrific struggle for me (too much unnecessary never-ending narrative and barely any mystery) and eventually I decided reading shouldn't feel like a job and I just skipped to the end to find out whodunit.

Then I read "Silent in the Sanctuary," the second book in Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia Grey historical mystery series. I read the first book in July and loved it so much I immediately requested the next installment; I really liked this one too. After that I blew through Janet Evanovich's "Dangerous Minds," the new book in the Knight & Moon series, in a day, and on Sunday night I read the first little bit of "Throne of Jade," book two in Naomi Novik's Temeraire series (dragons + the Napoleonic War).

I also just started "One Summer: America 1927" by Bill Bryson. I really do enjoy non-fiction but it's hard to remember to read it when I have so many novels on deck, so I set myself a goal to read 25 pages of "One Summer" a day.

Checking out: Way too many library books! I already had several at home (both from my work and the public library) but when I went to pick up a hold last week I couldn't resist taking a glance at the new books shelf... and left with two more! Oops. I really and truly do have an addiction to library books -- and requesting holds! #bookwormproblems


Watching: The series finale of "Turn" and the season finale of "Deadliest Catch." We also finally started watching the most recent season of "Homeland." Movie-wise we watched "Table 19," a cute romantic dramedy starring Anna Kendrick, and "The Fate of the Furious," which kept my interest but ridiculously violent -- and of course unrealistic. And I did miss Paul Walker's character.

I also watched an adorable movie called "The Sapphires," which turned out to be totally different than I expected but really good. It's set in the '60s and it's about four Australian Aborigenese girls who form a group -- the Sapphires -- and travel to Vietnam to sing for the troops (Chris O'Dowd plays their manager). It was mostly a feel-good movie, but it also touched on race relations in Australia at that time as well as the horrors of war. I definitely recommend this lesser-known gem!

Monday Musings
10 Books To Read If You're a Newbie to Sci-Fi & Fantasy
2017 Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag

Looking forward to: Jarrod is off work this week and I have off today through Wednesday! We're hoping to go snorkeling and take the puppy on her first hike.

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