Update on a December’s Eve

My blog is undergoing a transformation or experiencing metamorphosis; perhaps some great cataclysmatic eventing, too. Not sure. YET.

I just decided ‘eventing’ is a word. Deal.

Because I am sitting here facing a challenge at a time of year when I want to both cuddle with my dogs and watch movies while also furiously ranking my best-of lists and getting ready to chunk reading stats and making to-do and goals lists because that is what I love about December. I love the festive hustle-bustle and flipping through my many pie books to decide some new concoction for a Christmas gathering and wrapping of gifts! But I loath getting out the stuff to decorate and worrying about where the tree should go and the pounds I pack on while stressing about what to wear to office ‘parties’ where I have to smile at people who know of me but I don’t know at all. The competing forces of this time of year…

And now, you see, please understand… my blog has been sickly. If you have visited in the last few weeks, you may have noticed that my menu bar had disappeared. This was due to an unsupported theme. A theme that I had been using at least five (six? SEVEN?!) years and loved. I loved the look of my blog. I love(d) the clean-ness, all the white space, the uncluttered, everything-in-its-place feel. I had it just like I liked it, or at least had grown to fondly dismiss any of its weaknesses and those features that I couldn’t change anyway. But now!

Now! I have changed to THIS theme. Whaddya think? It still allows my customizable header photo. My search button is in the same place. And now I get the comment-link at the top. #sadface.  And the tags are at the bottom. #cantrecallifthatiswhatIusedtonotlikeandcouldntchange? And the font is BIG. BIGGER. Whaddya think?

Note: the menu bar is confusing here. You must click on the menu title to see THAT PAGE and not just the links to more pages. SO confusing. For example, if you only hover over the 2015 Challenges, you might think my only Challenge is the Classics Club and that’s not true – it is just one more page of specifics. Am I explaining that clearly?

Maybe this is good for me. Perhaps I *should* start thinking about going WP.org. I have had such good times here, though and I feel like I’m deserting an old friend when the friend just happened to got a new hair cut. And I should. I really should get my fingers into the goo of really owning my own blog; cease my dependency on WP.com. I should. I should think of it as adventure. #braveface

Updates. Here’s one: Welcome to this new theme! Don’t get used to it? Be prepared for an announcement that you will have a new url addy to follow! But don’t worry, I do not anticipate this happening soon what-with Christmas being a quick zoom of two weeks or so? Three? Feels quick. I have real life things to do a lot of in the next two weeks, I’m thinking with a side-glance at my calendar…

Updates, some more: NaNoWriMo. Yes! I didn’t finish with a word count of the goal of 50,000 but I DID write 15,000! I refuse to think of this as a failure even if I really didn’t write anything at all the last two weeks of November. Nor much of the second week. But for the first 10 days, I really applied myself. I had zero ZERO idea of what I was going to write about and I actually had a few characters come to a little bit of life and speak to me with ideas. The ideas didn’t pan out but maybe they needed to go to sleep til a later time. OR maybe I just need to actually take some plot-development courses and see what I got? cibbyiw Sure, I had some blahblahblah words that were typed and sentences strung out to multiply word (oh crap, I can’t think of THE word that should go here!) <— such as; this is a great example. I typed in a TON of notes to myself to “explore this further in detail, etc”. So, true, I didn’t “make it”, but I am not unhappy with my experience and I thank Nancy and Athira for checking in on me. Congratulations to all my buddies for their successful 50K counts!

What else?  Thank you Kim Lulu Becca & DoingDewey (a blog I need to spend more time with) for #NonFicNov! I am deep in my civics lessons still but am glad for the push to devote the reading time I did to these brilliant texts. Also, on Small Business Saturday, I purchased Devil in the White City by Erik Larson so I can jump into that in December, methinks.

Estella’s Revenge is cussing over at her blog… Having just purchased a book that I apparently already had on my shelf, I guess I need to spend some of my time considering this idea, too. ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton

On a plus note, I have zero books to hurry!!!-and-read to complete any 2015 challenges and THIS is something to celebrate. Reviews of I am Malala and The Bungalow by Sarah Jio (fiction for neighborhood book club) coming soon. Back to my audio of My Brilliant Friend, oh oh yes. Looking forward to this sinister-feeling Italian escape.

Something else to look forward to? TOMORROW, DEC 1, SHOULD GIVE ME BLOG-SNOW!  Squeeeeeeeeee (It’s the little things, really).

Talk to me! What are YOU up to?


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We Should All Be Feminists

Thoughts wsabfbycna by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anchor Books 2015 (orig 2012), 48 pages

Read this or watch her Ted Talk!

“All of us, men and women, must do better.”


Four slices of pie.



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Between the World and Me #NonFicNov

Thoughts btwambytnc by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau 2015, 152 pages

This book is a letter from Coates to his 15 year old son about what it means to be a black man in America based on his personal experiences and universal studies. Beautifully written, startling, fresh:  POWERFUL.

“This is required reading.” – Toni Morrison

Congratulations Mr. Coates on winning this years National Book Award for nonfiction. nbalogo

“Fear ruled everything around me, and I knew, as all black people do, that this fear was connected to the Dream out there, to the unworried boys, to pie and pot roast, to the white fences and green lawns nightly beamed into our television sets.”

I could mention and include all the quotes that struck me, but perhaps it best to suggest you go read this yourself and mark the quotes that strike you.

On education:  “I was made for the library, not the classroom. The classroom is a jail of other peoples interests.”

“Schools are not concerned with curiosity – they are concerned with compliance.”

Someone in my bookclub (we were discussing a much different book but her comment was startling) mentioned that she had viewed a documentary on how eerily similar our schools are to prisons.

I know I have biases and unconscious thinking that is reflects my privilege and my own experiences and that these don’t always allow for diverse expression, truth and understanding. I want to do better. This is a powerful read for my powerful November.

OTHER Reviews:  Aarti at BookLust, Page247, Estella’s Revenge, Lakeside Musings

RATING: Five slices of blueberry pie.

“That other world was suburban and endless, organized around pot roasts, blueberry pies, fireworks, ice cream Sundaes, immaculate bathrooms, small toy trucks that were loosed in wooded backyard with streams and glens.”


I hope that pie can be connected to a better dream, one of world peace, value and respect for all.



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Week Three #NonFicNov


Week 3: November 16 to 20 (Hosted by Becca)

Nontraditional Nonfiction: This week we will be focusing on the nontraditional side of reading nonfiction. Nonfiction comes in many forms. There are the traditional hardcover or paperback print books, of course, but then you also have e-books, audiobooks, illustrated and graphic nonfiction, oversized folios, miniatures, internet publishing, and enhanced books complete with artifacts. So many choices! Do you find yourself drawn to or away from nontraditional nonfiction? Do you enjoy some nontraditional formats, but not others? Perhaps you have recommendations for readers who want to dive into nontraditional formats.  We want to hear all about it this week!  


I’m really not that particular about how my nonfiction is delivered. I suppose this post idea is to remind me to seek out the variety? I really do not but should know what ‘oversized folios’ are…

I like audiobooks but sometimes nonfiction on audio is tough. Mostly when I want to take notes – hard to do when I am usually driving a car when audiobooking. Now this can happen with fiction, too, so I don’t know why I think it is an extra big deal with nonfic.

With that said, I do enjoy the audiobooks of the comediennes. Comedy in the ears, it just WORKS.

And, if I have to pat myself on the back for something… I did read a nonfic graphic book: stbydc Science Tales. Just sayin’.



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Warriors Don’t Cry

Note: I wrote this review before the events at The University of Missouri. I know we still have a lot to learn and figure out. My wish is for everyone to BE KIND and NOT BE AN ASSHOLE. Call me naive. God Bless and Peace on Earth.

Thoughts wdcbympb A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rocks’ Central High by Melba Pattillo Beals, Washington Square Press 1994, 312 pages

From the goodreads.com blurb:

In 1957, well before Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Melba Pattillo Beals and eight other teenagers became iconic symbols for the Civil Rights Movement and the dismantling of Jim Crow in the American South as they integrated Little Rock’s Central High School in the wake of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling, Brown v. Board of Education.

Throughout her harrowing ordeal, Melba was taunted by her schoolmates and their parents, threatened by a lynch mob’s rope, attacked with lighted sticks of dynamite, and injured by acid sprayed in her eyes. But through it all, she acted with dignity and courage, and refused to back down.

This book was so startling to me. That the white students of Central High, organized by parents and with help from the Governor! could be so … mean, isn’t the right word, and hateful is accurate, but physically abusive is more true. Flaming firebombs and firecrackers, acid, kicks and punches with adults pretending not to see.

I just don’t understand. And don’t say, “Well, that was the way it was in the South back then.” Well, it was disgusting.

And we are only playing these same scenes still but covertly (OR: NOT COVERTLY:  swastikas drawn with feces?) and/or on different groups of underprivileged HUMANs. Because they are ‘different’? Get over it.

Imagine such a scene today if Federal troops were called to keep peace inside a school. Of course, parents would protest if armed soldiers were in the hallways of their children’s school now; but to think that these soldiers were protecting NINE kids from the hundreds attending. It boggles my brain. I don’t think I could would have been quarter as brave and courageous as these African American kids who just wanted to go to school and learn. They really didn’t quite have a grasp of the political undertaking they were about to begin nor the significance that bright September — oh yes, they certainly figured it out!  but this thought of the importance of what they were setting out to do and understanding that it was to be so very difficult; for it to be a sustaining principle to make the abuse ‘worth it’? Amazing. How can a 15 yo have the strength to start such and ‘see what happens?’

Applaud their fortitude and the unwavering support of their families.

And that the judge who ordered that integration should proceed had an armored guards protecting him 24 hours a day?! While these kids only had protection for a few months and only during the school hours – not getting to and from. They couldn’t stick up for themselves or show their fear because then they were the ones at risk of being suspended or expelled.


“Much worse than the fear and any physical pain I had endured was the hurt deep down inside my heart, because no part of me understood why people would do those kinds of things to one another.”

At one point Melba was so discouraged and lonely but she was to get NO sympathy from her very strong, loving and wise grandmother:

“Did you count on the central people for your spiritual food before you went there? Have you been waiting on them to treat you good and tell you you’re all right so you’ll know you’re all right? Does God know your value? You could never in this lifetime count on another human being to keep you from being lonely, nobody can provide your spiritual food.”


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Dear Author

Dear Author:

Thank you for considering me to be a possible book reviewer and CONGRATULATIONS for publishing a book. It does sound like a fun one but I must regrettably say no. I still have the last author’s book waiting for me to read and I sort of? maybe? said yes when he asked because I had actually met him – twice actually and enjoyed his debut novel – but here it is a few years (YEARS!) later and I still have yet to grab it and read it. I do know where on the shelf it sits. Sits glaring at me trying to get me to put it in front of the three book club books I must get through next, and the Twitter readalong book that I am hosting in October* – which I still don’t even have physically in the house (I seem to prefer physical books though my Kindle is loaded) but that’s OK since October is still a few weeks away. I really should request it at the library, now that I come to think of it.
I hope that this last sentence has convinced you that I am not worthy nor able in my scatter-brained way to commit to such a thing as review a non-requested pitched book which if you check again on my blog surely says that I rarely-to-never agree to do such things anyway. And please do not take offense that I say I prefer authors be dead already before I review their books because I hate to upset anyone if I didn’t like it. No, I think I took that off my About page, so never mind. And I really do hope my favorite authors stay alive because that would be just awful. Truly, tis the guilt that makes me say no, I would just feel miserable and I just know I would see a shiny new book pop up due to whatever it is that makes books popular. (I’ve avoided The Girl on the Train so far, I am actually proud to say.) But guilt! I read for fun, you know? I can’t handle the read-cuz-you-PROMISED-kind-of-reading, sadly. And then there was this really sweet author who I chatted with on Twitter and she commented on my blog a few times – we really interacted, ya know? and I still haven’t gotten to HER book and I really do want to. So many books!
Finally, and in more words than I expect you braved through, I must decline and again say I do appreciate you thinking of me and will go ahead an assume it is because I do do (yes, I said it that way and it just sounds right but likely is not ‘proper’) such an awesome job reviewing books. Did you notice that I DNF’d The Secret History?!** And she’s one talented author! oops, oh well. It happens. Hopefully, and I bet likely, she isn’t interested in me to review her books. I don’t wish her dead, of course.
BEST to you in your future endeavors, I’m sure the marketing piece of writing a book is hell, just sure of it. I hope your book is on goodreads – I just might tbr it which might garner you some attention. Really, no one reads my poor little blog anyway. Ok, then, noodles (I mean TOODLES!). Best of luck.
* I wrote this in mid-September 2015 in quick response to a rather charming book pitch email.
**  I ended up getting back to The Secret History and skimmed the middle 3/5ths and 4/5ths sections, listened to the last fifth and happily declared it be “Enough-Done-Read-To-Count”. It really was a mood thing; I would very much have enjoyed it if I had had no other pressing demands on my time at that moment. I would never wish an author dead. Never. But it’s true that dead-author books are much easier to review in terms of risking hurt feelings.
NOTE: I received a rather charming response to this email, too. I just might read the book. Alas, someday.


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The Wrath and the Dawn

Thoughts twatdabyra by Renee Ahdieh, Listening Library 2015, 10’38”

Narrator: Ariana Delawari

for #Diversiverse divers15

What’s it ABOUT: A very vivid and imaginative, dramatic and romantic retelling of the A Thousand and One Nights tale. And as much as I wish I knew more about that, I don’t think it matters. It was as sweeping and enticing a tale – all the way through.

I would recommend this for fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone — [I had originally mentioned Eyes Like Stars here but upon re-reading this a few days later I see my error. But then, maybe not. If you loved BOTH DoSaB and ELS, then you will likely enjoy TWatD, ok?] In other words, I sense this would be well-received by enthusiastic fans of YA. Which is quite appropriate.

We have one tough young lady who schemes a crazy idea to get very close to a bad guy and UH OH!!! – feels a connection with the monster. There’s love and passion and drama and sword fighting and beautiful horses and friendship and family and not knowing WHOM to trust!!!

I enjoyed listening to this but I might not continue with the series because… I’m just rarely a series kind of reader. But I really do think this would be a great one if you love YA, love series, and love action and love.

Rating: Four slices of pie. Although, no pie references were given, let’s go with FIG PIE cuz  I really like fig pie.


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Week Two: Book Pairings #NonFicNov

Week 2: November 9 to 13 (Hosted by Leslie)

imageBook Pairing: Match a fiction book with a nonfiction book that you would recommend.

  • Note: I recommend these but I have NOT read all of these! But I want to so that is just as good, yes? I can recommend books I haven’t read yet, I think.

One of the reasons I love the blog CitizenReader is for the wonderful book-pairing readalongs hosted; so I could easily ‘borrow’ the ones I participated in and share here:

Thomas Keenan’s Technocreep (NF) with John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War (fiction) – oops, I wanted to but did not get to either of these books…

Sherwin Nuland’s The Doctor’s Plague (NF) with Joanna Kavenna’s The Birth of Love (fiction) – I actually DID read BOTH and shall I just say: FASCINATING.

We had a book menage of all nonfiction books by/on Shirley Jackson:  Life Among the Savages and Raising Demons (book about raising her kids) with the biography of her by Judith Oppenhemier, titled Personal Demons –> HOWEVER THIS IS SUPPOSED to be finding a nonfic to go with fiction, so this inspires me to suggest reading Salem’s Lot with the Haunting of Hill House! (yep, havent’ read but saw the movie) Might as well throw in a nonfic book about Stephen King or by King? On Writing would suffice, but that leads me to a fun pairing of On Writing with Carrie, King’s first book. On Writing talks about how he came to write Carrie… 


But let’s think a little. Hmmmm. . .

How about: rlitbyan Reading Lolita in Tehran with tbokbyas The Bookseller of Kabul? Oh – these are both nonfiction, set in different countries but same theme of persecution and restriction of women and education. Perhaps this fiction offering: Khaled Hosseini’s atsskh A Thousand Splendid Suns will work as a good pairing with The Bookseller – both Afghanistan.


Oooooo, how about this? This features a pairing of setting and time frame:  How about fiction scbytd Sister Carrie (set in Chicago 1900ish) with ditwcbyel Devil in the White City, circa 1893? note: I have yet to read Devil White City; I know I know! It’s TOTALLY crazy that I haven’t read it yet.


AND, here’s a good one! I walked into the indie book store in Newport Rhode Island and asked for Jill Morrow’s Newport npbyjm but it wasn’t on the shelf. So the wonderful staff recommended a nonfiction read  gbydd Gilded – which was delicious fun; I got the full scoop on Newport now and then. Um, I still need to get a copy of the Morrow book…


Finally, I present a book menage of my own planned for at the time I started reading Orphan Master but I never did get around to on the nonfic side. (Shame on me?) but I ❤LOVED❤ the fiction half of this pairing: tomsbyaj The Orphan Master’s Son with Barbara Demick’s Nothing to Envyntebybd Ordinary Lives in Northern Korea.



I’m excited to see what everyone posts on this.

What about you? Did this post stimulate any share-able ideas?


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Never Change

Thoughts ncbyeb Never Change by Elizabeth Berg, Washington Square Press 2001, 224 pages

FIRST Sentence: The Tuesday before it happened was a perfect summer day.

What’s it ABOUT: I don’t think I can tell you without giving it all away! Let’s skip to the next section:

WHY did you read this? Implicit or inherent in this question is the WHY NOW and that is what I need to explain. I finished ‘Salems Lot with too much month left. I wanted something short and thus this book won the battle of the books on my fiction shelf.

I had only read one other Berg book and I wasn’t overly impressed. Not UNIMPRESSED but it didn’t wow the socks off. I just reread my review and it seems that my first Berg experience may have suffered from book-hangover. I had read it right after Owen Meany.

So, the point? I wasn’t expecting much. I was just hoping to get another title in on the month.

And I liked it. A solid 3 and half slices of pie that I decided was worthy for a roll up to a 4.

What’ is ABOUT, you ask again? A home health nurse who lives a quiet life of low expectations and tells herself she is happy is assigned a new client suffering from a brain tumor. He just happens to be the hot guy from High School that she dreamed of forever.

Can she make him fall in love with her?!  No, that’s really not quite her mindset. Or is it?

Frankly, she has a poor self-image. Mayhem ensues. No! not quite that, either!! 

Anyway, blah blah blah, life lessons learned, the good and the bad is experienced, we gain new perspectives, and the beat goes on. You get the picture.

Elizabeth Berg likes pie. This book had at least FIVE pie mentions and one of these was to MAKE A PIE! All good.

RATING: Four slices of SUGAR PIE. fourpie





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I Finished What’s in a Name 8 for 2015 #WiaN15


This is my personal favorite of Reading Challenges. I eagerly await the category announcements for the coming year and scrounge books on my shelf that will suffice.

This year, I was able to read multiple books in a few categories!

Here is the post where I announce my options for the 8th round for year 2015.

Here are the books I ended up reading for the categories:

  • Words ending with INGMockingjay, Far From the Madding Crowd, The Making of a Marchioness (still need to someday read: First You Try Everything by Jane McCaffery, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay – Chabon (I just bought the audio! so probably will get to in 2016 if not this year yet), or Music for a Torching by AMHomes)
  • ColorColor by Victoria Finlay (option not chosen: Vreeland’s Girl in Hyacinth Blue)
  • Familial Relationship – Winner: Sister Carrie (losers:  The Family Orchard by Nomi Eve, The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory)
  • Body of Water – It was a BIG FAT YES for my option of Margaret Atwood’s Year of the Flood. Plus two more qualifiers: Lost Lake, Fog Island Mountains; (Two Rivers by T.Greenwood – sorry, maybe later.)
  • CityThe Boston Girl, Mansfield Park, Winesburg Ohio, The Bookseller of Kabul; (still waiting on that shelf: Hard City by Clark Howard)
  • AnimalThe Good Lord Bird, H is for Hawk, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (Not this time Ape House – Sara Gruen)

I think I may have overdone it. I could even count a few more titles that had words with ING: like Wings and Things. Goodness, the poor color category only got one book. A very successful challenge attempt. (Just writing this post makes me excited that we are only two months away from end of year posts!)

Will you be playing along in 2016?


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