Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

I was reading some posts about what people are bringing with them on their trips home for Thanksgiving (like this one at Sophisticated Dorkiness) and I was feeling super jealous that they had all these great books packed and then I realized I was being an idiot. Sure, I'm not packing to head back home but that is because I live so close to my family. And that's when I started thinking about all that I have to be thankful for.

I am thankful for a husband who left the Army so we could move back to the county I grew up in and live 10 minutes from my parents and brother. I'm thankful for a family I actually like and want to spend time with. I'm thankful for in-laws who accept me with all the ways I am different from them and have joined my family as one giant, crazy group. I am thankful for friends who know me and love me and will travel to visit me, especially this awesome person. Finally, I am thankful for all of you awesome people who read my blog and comment and make me feel a little less insane when I want to spend absurd amounts of money on books and obsess over grammar and say f-it to grammar. You are there when I obsess over a book and you have tips when I get into a reading slump. You guys are awesome!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Nonfiction November - Week 4

I can't believe November is almost over. I have loved my first Nonfiction November and while I may not have finished as many books as I had hoped, the month isn't over and at the very least I have a fantastic (and possibly unreasonable) TBR list to work my way through.

This week, Katie from Doing Dewey asks us to make a list of the new books that have made it onto our TBR list.

I have quite a few books on my list that were mentioned on more than one blog. I also have a few blogs that were multiple offenders in the game of See How Big My List Can Get. I see River City Reading on here 7 times and Sophisticated Dorkiness on here 5 times. Thanks Shannon and Kim. To keep this post from getting as carried away as my list, here is a smattering.

Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti - Shannon at River City Reading
I Am Not a Slut by Leora Tanenbaum - Shannon at River City Reading 
Shut Up, You're Welcome by Annie Choi - Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness
Unspeakable Truths by Priscilla B. Hayner - Jenny at Reading the End
The Worst Hard Time by Timopthy Egan - Jennifer at The Relentless Reader
How to Be a Victorian by Ruth Goodman - Andi at Estella's Revenge
The Collapse by Mary Elise Sarotte - My Book Strings
That Others May Live by Pete Nelson and Jack Brehm - Becca at I'm Lost in Books

See what I mean? I better get reading. I already have some of these from the library.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Weekly Refresh

Loving the vineyards while driving around with the husband

~currently involved with~ house cleaning...aren't I always? My friend is coming to stay the night with her family and I'm getting the house ready. I have been slacking off for the past few days because the husband is about to start a new job and we have had a few days off together, which is rare. I have been running around with him to help get him ready. It has been fun, it's just delaying the other things I need to do.

~taking with me~ a few new theme songs for my life. I can't get enough of "Tough Love" by Sailor & I also, "Paranoia, Ghosts & Other Sounds" by SAFIA.  I went to see Gone Girl with the husband last night. It was good but we both agreed that it was a little to soon after just recently reading the book. There were some differences but having exactly what is going to happen so fresh in your mind doesn't work for that kind of movie. It was exactly the exact opposite of what happened with Harry Potter but I still should have known better. When HP came out, I reread the books right before going to see the first three movies. For the first two it was fine but Prisoner of Azkaban came out and there were so many differences that I spent every scene being angry about everything that was left out. I'm still not over SPEW.

~moving on from~ a busy week. I barely read last week and the only thing getting me through was knowing that I had an entire week off for Thanksgiving during which I could read to my heart's desire. That week is quickly filling but I'll still find time...I'll force it if I have to.

~quote of the week~
A teenage boy in one of my classes as he runs his hand through his Bieber Bangs:
"I hate when I wake up in the morning and look in the mirror and my hair is going in the opposite direction.  

Friday, November 21, 2014

Raising My Rainbow - Lori Duron

Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son

by Lori Duron

I think I have been putting off writing this post because I don't know how I can do justice to Lori and C.J. and all the other people in this book and the people not in this book and...see I'm already starting to ramble.

Lori is a fierce mom who not only stands up for both her boys but has made it her mission to make sure she is doing the best she can for her gender creative younger son. She attempts to become an expert and it all started with a barbie. So C.J. wanted a barbie, was that okay? Should she let him have it? Would it harm him to say no? What about to say yes? She talked to her husband, her brother, a therapist.
"I finally gave up and shook my head in disapproval at myself because I was a mother who had her son evaluated by a doctor because he liked the color pink more than the color blue."
pg. 25
Every time I picked up the book I cried at least once and laughed at least twice. There is so much emotion and truth to Lori's story, because it is Lori's story. Yes, she is telling C.J.'s story but it's not just about him. It's about her fears and doubts when she makes decisions for her children. She is telling the story of parenting, she just has an extra layer on top and it happens to be covered in glitter. She is also telling the story of her older son Chase, who was bullied so severely that he stated "I want to kill myself so that all the fear and anxiety leaves my body. Then I want to be alive again."

The book will break your heart but it will also heal it because Lori never stops fighting. The book started because of her blog and on her blog she is still sharing her fight. Just last week she shared her struggle at a PTA meeting and the backlash she dealt with afterwards.

She does her best; she makes mistakes. It's not always pretty (although it is usually funny). On of my favorite moments was when she told C.J. he couldn't buy princess underwear because there wouldn't be room for his wiener and balls and it might hurt them. And they stared at each other. I don't know why the stare got to me but I could picture the moment and it cracked me up. And then this happened...
"I turned to see where Chase had wandered off to when I heard...
'Mommy, will these hurt my wiener and balls?!'
I turned to look. C.J. was standing about six feet away from me, in plain view of the entire line, and holding up a package of Little Mermaid underwear.
Chase returned to my side quickly, mortified.
I waved C.J. over because I couldn't think of anything else to do. I waved him over more quickly. He interpreted my wave to mean I can't hear you. Say it louder.'I SAID, WILL THESE HURT MY WIENER AND BALLS?!' He enunciated perfectly and yelled loudly."
pg. 138
This book rocked my world, and it's not just me. On vacation recently, I handed the book to my friend, opened to the princess underwear section and told her to read. She didn't want to give the book back. She kept it so long, she passed my bookmark and I had to threaten her with pain and suffering if she spoiled anything for me as if it were a mystery I was going to solve. I decided to let her hold onto it for the flight because I knew the moment I tried to read it I would be the crazy person crying in seat 17B.

I highly encourage you to not only read this book but check out Lori's website.
or follow her on twitter: @RaisingRainbow

**Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cleopatra: A Life - Stacy Schiff's the thing. I have been wanting to read Cleopatra by Stacy Schiff since I first laid eyes on it and when I found out there was going to be a readalong for Nonfiction November I was all "heck yes, I'm there." I quickly requested the book from the library and then became impatient and downloaded the audiobook. Well, from time to time the downloading of audiobooks gives me trouble and does this glitchy thing where it jumps back to some random place and I have to find my space again. It is some error when it downloads and I haven't figured out if it is to be blamed on the app or my phone but it is extremely annoying. So of course this happened with the beginning of Cleopatra.

Why am I telling you all this? To explain that I am aware some of the difficulties I had with the book may very well be attributed to my unfortunate downloading of the first few chapters.

Why didn't I just read the book you had checked out from the library instead? Excellent question. Allow me to explain some of the difficulties that I know were actually attributed to the book. There were so many facts! Yes, I know it is a biography and as such will include important things like FACTS but at times they were flung at me one after the other after the other. For example:

Is it really necessary to take a page-long paragraph to explain the value and amount of money Cleopatra had? Maybe. But when this way of explaining is happening on every other page, it get exhausting. Every time I tried to pick up the book to read, I didn't get very far before I was wishing I was reading or doing something else. I realized the multitasking I could do with the audiobook was key.

I didn't finish the book in time for this readalong post. I know, major fail. I'm about 3/4 of the way through. But I still wanted to share my thoughts so far. On the positive side, I successfully downloaded almost the rest of the audiobook and have been much more into it since then. See, some of my problem was technology. I am getting more into the story of Cleopatra's life and less hung up on other things. I think I'm going to finish with a combination of reading and listening. There is so much to learn.

I have been fascinated with Egypt since I was little. Cleopatra has always been a familiar name but I knew so little about her actual life. I am enjoying learning so much about such a powerful and yet mysterious woman.

A special thanks to the ladies at I'm Lost in Books and Doing Dewey for hosting this readalong. To Becca especially, whose tweets helped me to feel less like I was failing the book when I was struggling through.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Nonfiction November - Week 3

This week, Nonfiction November is hosted by Becca from I'm Lost in Books (aren't we all Becca, aren't we all). She's got us thinking about diversity in books and she asks:
What does “diversity” in books mean to you? Does it refer to book’s location or subject matter? Or is it the author’s nationality or background? What countries/cultures do you tend to enjoy or read about most in your nonfiction? What countries/cultures would you like nonfiction recommendations for?
Diversity has been a big topic lately, and an important one. I have personally seen the lack of diversity in my own reading and want to make a change. I think of diversity as all of the above. I don't think just reading books set in different countries/cultures is the same than if you also read books by people from different countries/cultures.

I realized that before I began paying attention, most of my "diverse" books were nonfiction. Now, don't get me wrong, there is a huge benefit to reading diverse nonfiction books and I'm not going to stop. It just struck me that there is something wrong with reading diverse books simply to "learn." I want to read diverse books that are fiction and I can fall into the story and see myself at the protagonist, someone who may be different from me but that I can relate to, or maybe not but I am going make an effort to add more diversity to my fiction reads.

When I was in college, I minored in Women's Studies and the classes were heavy with civil rights and diverse books. I fell in love with some of the books that I read in those classes.

The bookshelf where my favorite books from college live.
It wasn't until looking back at my bookshelf that I realized most of the books were fiction. Weird...that's just what I was looking for. One class in particular, "Chicana/Latina Women Writers," rocked my world and I would love to read more nonfiction in that category.

Starting with the new year, I will be taking full advantage of this spreadsheet from Book Riot and paying more attention to the books that I read. In the meantime, I will be stacking my TBR list with all kinds of options.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Weekly Refresh

~currently involved with~ cleaning, organizing, reading. Recuperating from a few fun weekends away from home. Back to the real world where the work week is longer than three days.

~taking with me~ some fun bookish craft ideas that I got from a friend I was talking to at a birthday party. I think I am going to try them out in a few weeks and report back. But then the age old question: keep it for yourself or gift it to someone else?

I also acquired a copy of My True Love Gave to Me which I am stoked to now own. I even ordered from the UK because I couldn't pass up all that amazing pinkness. While I love reading within the holiday theme for Halloween, I can't say the same for Christmas. I think Little Women is the closest I've come to reading a book that I enjoyed that actually had a little Christmas mood. So I am extremely excited to have My True Love Gave to Me as a December read to jump into after Nonficion November.

~moving on from~ busy weekends? Oh no wait, we are just rolling into the holidays. More busy to come. I need to really my reading time during the week because it never seems to happen in the great amounts over the weekend that I expect.

~quote of the week~ 
"We are deathly afraid that you and your brother are going to be make fun of, to an extent that not only dulls your sparkle but ruins your life forever."
-page 136 Raising My Rainbow by Lori Duron
I loved this book and this quote is a good hint at the vibe throughout. Review will be up this week.