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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Nonfiction November - Week 2

The first week of Nonfiction November is gone and I am happy to say I am pleased with my progress so far. I haven't completed any huge number of books but I am continuously making my way through a stack that I am  fully enjoying. I returned home from my family reunion in San Diego and I feel a little silly bringing so many books with me. I should have known the only reading would happen on the plane, and even that was limited once the complementary wine was handed out. What can I say, I enjoyed my travel companions.

Now that I am home, I feel like I can officially jump into the second week of Nonfiction November. If you head over to Regular Rumination, you will find topic for this week. Be/Become/Ask the Expert. I am going to strive to become an expert on a topic that has fascinated me since we put on The Crucible in 6th grade and I was cast in the role of Tituba. The Salem witch trials.

The Penguin Book of Witches
by Katherine Howe

I can't wait to get my hands on this book. I was so excited when I found it was coming into existence. This should have been the biggest hint into the perfect topic for me this week. Katherine Howe also wrote The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane (my review) so it makes sense that she would continue with this subject.

From a manual for witch hunters written by King James himself in 1597, to court documents from the Salem witch trials of 1692, to newspaper coverage of a woman stoned to death on the streets of Philadelphia while the Continental Congress met, The Penguin Book of Witches is a treasury of historical accounts of accused witches that sheds light on the reality behind the legends. Bringing to life stories like that of Eunice Cole, tried for attacking a teenage girl with a rock and buried with a stake through her heart; Jane Jacobs, a Bostonian so often accused of witchcraft that she took her tormentors to court on charges of slander; and Increase Mather, an exorcism-performing minister famed for his knowledge of witches, this volume provides a unique tour through the darkest history of English and North American witchcraft.

A Storm of Witchcraft
by Emerson W. Baker

Beginning in January 1692, Salem Village in colonial Massachusetts witnessed the largest and most lethal outbreak of witchcraft in early America. Villagers--mainly young women--suffered from unseen torments that caused them to writhe, shriek, and contort their bodies, complaining of pins stuck into their flesh and of being haunted by specters. Believing that they suffered from assaults by an invisible spirit, the community began a hunt to track down those responsible for the demonic work. The resulting Salem Witch Trials, culminating in the execution of 19 villagers, persists as one of the most mysterious and fascinating events in American history. 

Salem Possessed
by Paul S. Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum

Tormented girls writhing in agony, stern judges meting out harsh verdicts, nineteen bodies swinging on Gallows Hill. The stark immediacy of what happened in 1692 has obscured the complex web of human passion which climaxed in the Salem witch trials
From rich and varied sources—many neglected and unknown—Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum give us a picture of the people and events more intricate and more fascinating than any other in the massive literature. It is a story of powerful and deeply divided families and of a community determined to establish an independent identity—beset by restraints and opposition from without and factional conflicts from within—and a minister whose obsessions helped to bring this volatile mix to the flash point. Not simply a dramatic and isolated event, the Salem outbreak has wider implications for our understanding of developments central to the American experience: the disintegration of Puritanism, the pressures of land and population in New England towns, the problems besetting farmer and householder, the shifting role of the church, and the powerful impact of commercial capitalism.

A Delusion of Satan
by Frances Hill and Karen Armstrong

This acclaimed history illuminates the horrifying episode of Salem with visceral clarity, from those who fanned the crisis to satisfy personal vendettas to the four-year-old "witch" chained to a dank prison wall in darkness till she went mad. Antonia Fraser called it "a grisly read and an engrossing one."

Six Women of Salem
by Marilynne K. Roach

Six Women of Salem is the first work to use the lives of a select number of representative women as a microcosm to illuminate the larger crisis of the Salem witch trials. By the end of the trials, beyond the twenty who were executed and the five who perished in prison, 207 individuals had been accused, 74 had been "afflicted", 32 had officially accused their fellow neighbors, and 255 ordinary people had been inexorably drawn into that ruinous and murderous vortex, and this doesn’t include the religious, judicial, and governmental leaders. All this adds up to what the Rev. Cotton Mather called "a desolation of names."

The individuals involved are too often reduced to stock characters and stereotypes when accuracy is sacrificed to indignation. And although the flood of names and detail in the history of an extraordinary event like the Salem witch trials can swamp the individual lives involved, individuals still deserve to be remembered and, in remembering specific lives, modern readers can benefit from such historical intimacy. By examining the lives of six specific women, Marilynne Roach shows readers what it was like to be present throughout this horrific time and how it was impossible to live through it unchanged.

Six Women of Salem hooked me the moment I read a review on Goodreads that said one one of the six women is Tituba. Sold!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Weekly Refresh

~currently involved with~ hanging out with my family. I'm in San Diego for a family reunion and I haven't done any reading since we arrived (despite packing half a bookshelf) but I took advantage of my time on the plane. 

~taking with me~ photos. Memories. Probably a few extra pounds by the time the weekend is over. 

~moving on from~ fiction. I'm loving Nonfiction November. My list is exploding and so is my bookshelf. It's amazing. 

~quote of the week~

Students arguing who is better, Batman or Superman.
First Student: "If you take away Batman's power, he's just a billionaire." (emphasis mine)
Second Student: "If you take away Superman's power, he just an alien."
First Student: "Batman is just whining about his parents being dead. Superman gets over it."
Whiny billionaire or alien who moves on? Which would you choose?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Children of the Dust Bowl - Jerry Stanley

Children of the Dust Bowl: The True Story of the School at Weedpatch Camp
by Jerry Stanley

I was browsing my library's downloadable audiobook site when I  came across Children of the Dust Bowl and decided it would be a good audiobook to kick off Nonfiction November. To be honest, I was drawn to it partly because it was so short (only 1.5 hours or so) and it seemed like it might be something I could listen to when I only had 15 minutes here or there but still have time to actually finish the story.

The other reason I was instantly drawn to it was that I have a deep fascination with the Dust Bowl that is usually hidden deep with my memories of reading Grapes of Wrath in school. There was something about that book that stuck with me. I remember the brief scene that talks about Tom Joad (I think that's who it was) driving the car and how he basically became one with the stick shift and clutch because every bump and clink could lead to their demise. I have this image in my head that I don't think has changed since the moment I read it.

Children of the Dust Bowl gives a little snippet of the life of "Okies" but really gets to the heart of what the kids must have been going through. Constantly picked on in school, the kids found strength in each other. They often had little or no food due to the lack of job opportunities for their parents. Then Leo Hart decided to build them a school, and teach them useful things, and care for them. They all worked together and built a pool. It was the first public pool in Kern County. That's crazy!

This book was tiny but packed an emotional punch. It made me, at times, ashamed to live in a state that could treat people so terribly, with such little care. There were happy moments too though, and they reminded me that there are people who show compassion for no other reason than because it is the right thing to do.

I didn't realize it was categorized as a children's book but now the length makes more sense. I think I may have to find the actual book because there are pictures in it that I just didn't get to enjoy from the audiobook.
Building the pool at Weedpatch Camp

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

TOP TEN Books to Reread

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks list features the top ten books I want to reread.

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor

2. Harry Potter (always)

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

4. The Crucible by Arthur Miller

5. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

7. Animal Farm by George Orwell

8. Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff 

9. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

10. Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nonfiction November

I am officially on-board for Nonfiction November and I am officially stoked for it. I have a quickly growing list of books I want to read and plan to read as many as possible.

To kick off the first week, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness is prompting us to look back at our year of nonfiction.

Sadly, my year have been pretty much a bust. I have had a really hard time sticking with books for all different kinds of reasons. One book I was having fun reading in the sun and I didn't want to read it any other time which eventually became a problem with the change of the season (yes I am that crazy). One book I love so much but it also makes me cry pretty much every time I pick it up so I only read it at times when I am prepared to cry. (I have already been recommending this book even though I am only half-way finished with it but I do give that disclaimer.) I'm all over the place with my nonfiction reading and my goal this month is to fix that. I have a few books I am determined to finish (sun or no sun) and some I am excited to grab from the library and start.

I am also excited for the readalong to push me to finally read Cleopatra.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Weekly Refresh

~currently involved with~ pretty much filling my shelves with library books for Nonfiction November. What can I say...I tend to be a last-minute joiner on most things. I'll be reading doing some light cleaning today but mostly taking it easy while my stupid broken toe heals.

~taking with me~ The sky looked amazing on Halloween so I grabbed my camera and took some photos. I'm still learning how to use it (one year later) and I want to take a class but for now I'm having fun playing around with it.

~moving on from~ Umm...warm weather? Not so much. I was hoping we were finally getting our fall weather after some rain on Halloween. It even cooled down enough that I turned on the space heater in my bedroom for an hour last night. Sadly, the forecast shows that we will be getting back to 80 again.

~quote of the week~
"Do you have turkey?"

-little ninja on Halloween who thought my purple lights meant I was ccelebrating Christmas with Halloween and he didn't want Thanksgivig to be left out.