"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, February 27, 2023

TTT: Books which enhanced my awareness about cultures other than my own

TTT:  Genre Freebie: Books which enhanced my awareness about cultures other than my own.
(Not sure if that is an actual genre delineation but I'm going with it.) I've read all of these books within the past three years.

Fire Keeper's Daughter by Angeline Bouley   //   Native American culture and practices. YA. Fiction. 
The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See.  //  Korean culture, food, history, and unique practices. Fiction.

In the Beautiful Country by Jane Kuo. // Taiwanese culture in America for recent immigrants. MG. Novel-in-Verse. Fiction.

Interior Chinatown by Charles Wu. // Chinese American experiences in the US. Fiction. Written as a TV or movie script with stage directions included.

Hell of a Book by Jason Mott. // Expectations placed on Blacks in America which are unfair and often terrifying. Fiction. Award winner.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel. // Migrants from South America in the US. Their experiences, culture, language. Fiction.

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich. // Native American history, culture, religion, practices. Fiction.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri. // Syrian culture, religious and family life before and during time of war, when forced to flee for safety. Fiction.

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. // Race issues in America written by a Black woman. Nonfiction.

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel. // Being trans in an American family. Fiction.

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy. // Indian cultural and religious practices. Fiction.

Abuela, Don't Forget Me by Rex Ogle. // Latino culture taught to Rex by his abuela, not his mother. Memoir-in-verse.

I recommend stretching your brain. Learn about new cultures. Grow. Be a good citizen of the world.


Sunday, February 26, 2023

Sunday Salon -- Post Hawai'i

Memories of our Maui 2023 trip.

Weather: Currently it is sprinkling and the temperature is 40 degrees. It was supposed to snow here last night, or rather, the forecast was for lowland snow but it never materialized here. It did snow, just lightly, the Wednesday after we got home from Hawai'i. It was a contrast in weather.  As you can see from the photo above, it wasn't overly sunny during our week on Maui. We even had several days with some rain and one day where it rained all day. Other days it would be windy for a while and then sunny, followed by cloudy. a Mixed bag of weather. Temperatures were usually in the 70s. The day we left it was 80 degrees exactly.

When technology causes more headaches than it solves: I started out today hoping to make three or four Hawaiian photo collages of our fun trip. But the photos on my phone were saved in some funky mode and wouldn't communicate with my computer...maddening. Four hours of fiddling and fussing and I gave up and just made one collage and picked from available photos in the right format. Sigh. My stress level is very high right now.

Hawai'i highlights, lowlights, and oddities:

  • We met up with my sister and her husband for a wonderful week on Maui. We had to change hotels three times which was both good and bad. Good because we got to experience different beaches and settings, bad because, um, moving is a hassle.
  • Chickens and cats -- I had no idea until now that Maui has chickens and cats gone wild everywhere. The cats aren't really feral because they are so used to tourists and will come when you call "kitty kitty" but one dares not try to pick them up. (We saw one woman attempt it and it was quite a scene.) The chickens seem like just backyard chickens from home but they are everywhere, usually in smallish groups being bossed around by a rooster. When I say everywhere, I mean everywhere -- parking lots, public parks, by the side of the road in both remote and urban settings. We have no idea if anyone eats them, or collects the eggs.
  • A catamaran whale-watching trip for two hours kept us busy. It is humpback whale season off Maui right now. We saw lots of them, mostly far off. Sometimes we would see three spouts together-- momma whale, baby calf, and their male companion/protector.
  • The scenery is so gorgeous. I kept checking my sources to find out names of plants, flowers, trees. The orange flower above is from the African tulip tree, sometimes called the flame tree. It is gorgeous but apparently it is not natural to Hawai'i and is considered a pest... albeit a beautiful one.
  • I ate shrimp four times. I love shrimp so I was very happy with my choices. Don was much more creative than I and his choices had more variety, mostly fish and pork. So many delicious dinners! We saved money by eating cereal or toast for breakfast and had peanut butter sandwiches everyday for lunch. We also discovered dekopon, or sumo oranges. I know. They aren't special to Hawaii, but it is the first time I ate one and I marveled at how perfect it was. They are only available until April then will be gone again for a year. Look for the oranges with a top knot.
  • Haleakala Volcano National Park was one day's trip (center photo of collage). We drove from sea level up 10,000 ft to view the dormant volcano and the unique vegetation on the slopes. The Hawaiian State Bird, nΔ“nΔ“ (Hawaiian goose), did not make an appearance but we thought the signage was pretty funny and unique. From the top of Haleakala we could see Moana Loa on the Big Hawaiian island. It was topped with snow. The temperature up at such a high elevation was quite cold (in the 30s and windy) but we dressed as warm as we could. It was a spectacular day. 
  • Turtles. Our third hotel/condo was attached to a tiny beach surrounded by rocks. It was a favorite place for sea turtles to nap. One day we counted 27 of them all scrunched together on the tiny spot. Sometimes they are so tired they fall asleep half in / half out of the water and didn't wake up until another turtle came along and attempted to crawl over him/her. The photos of the turtle swimming, with my husband smiling in the foreground, and the octopus were taken at the Maui aquarium. We spent the rainy Friday at the excellent aquarium, so did all the other tourists on the island. The place was packed. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time and learned so much. Did you know that five of the seven types of turtles worldwide make their home in Hawaiian waters? The ones we saw were the most common in Hawaii, the green sea turtle or honu, in Hawaiian.
  •  Definitely the lowest point of the trip was getting an upper respiratory infection the second day we were there that gave me a sore throat and cough, but no fever or COVID. Each morning I'd have to dose myself with some combination of anti-inflammatory, anti-cough, decongestant, and Tylenol before I was ready for the day. Sigh.
  • 'Mahalo' for reading such a lengthy description of our trip.


A Thousand Steps into Night by Chee; The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Christie; The Goblin Market and Other Poems by Rossetti; and The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas.


So Lucky by Griffith; Hot Dog by Salati; The Marriage Portrait by O'Farrell; Poetry Remedy by Sieghart; When I Found You by Hyde; Citizen Vince by Walter; Infinite Country by Engel.

Visitors to our backyard this past week:   

  • A bunny rabbit. We have a fenced yard and have no idea how it got in.
  • A raccoon mommy and her kit. We caught her on our security camera.
  • A sharp-shinned hawk, known as a sharpie. This is the smallest hawk in North America. It is the first one I've ever seen and he visited our bird feeder! ((Looking for song birds to eat!)
  • Daily we have several squirrels who hang out in our yard or use our fence as their highway.

Jimmy Carter in hospice: I'm feeling sad and yet thankful.


Thursday, February 23, 2023

Review and quotes: CITIZEN VINCE

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter

Book Beginnings quote: 

One day you know more dead people than live ones.

Friday56 quote: 

Vince leans forward. "They don't tell you about that in the program. You get your voting rights restored, but what if you've never --" Vince shifts his weight.

Summary: Vince Camden, a small-time mobster who turned state's evidence against one of his bosses, is living in Spokane, Washington now in witness protection. He has a clean slate. He can become whoever he wants to be but for now he is still stealing credit card numbers and saving up his cash. His girl friend is a hooker, he enjoys playing poker, and he works as a baker in the Donut Makes You Hungry shop. He can even vote in the up-coming election of 1980. All is going quite well until an old associate fro New York shows up and Camden has to face his old life.

Review: Citizen Vince was this month's book club selection and half of our discussion was spent on why the librarian who selected it for the library book club kit would pick such a book. First, it was published in 2005. Secondly, it is a mystery, of sorts, the type of book which doesn't always lend itself to good discussions. And thirdly, it didn't fit neatly into the types of books we normally choose. What with our group being a bunch of old church ladies, our sensibilities were shocked by the foul language and the depraved settings and characters. Ha!

Actually I liked the book, rating it with 4 out of 5 stars. Voting was the theme and thread that was pulled through the book. It was a fresh and unique angle on voting, too. Here is an old mobster who gets to vote for the first time in his life and he doesn't know how to do it or who to vote for. It got me thinking. As a politically active person, I've never really thought about how confusing the whole voting process is for someone who has never done it before. Today, in 2023, many states are passing laws which allow people who served their time for felonies to get their voting rights restored. But in 1980 that wasn't a thing. Once a person was convicted of a felony, they forfeited their voting rights for life. As we know now that justice is not always equal so a larger portion of black and brown individuals couldn't vote than for whites. I found this aspect of the book quite profound.

Citizen Vince is funny and surprising and one more thing. Jess Walter is a Washington State author. We suspect that is why our librarian picked this book for the kit. Hey, he's a local guy!

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.The Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.  


Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Several years ago I read the award-winning book A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson.  Unbelievably it was the first book I'd ever read about the young boy whose murder triggered the Civil Rights era. Not only was it the first book I'd ever read about the boy and the aftermath of his death, it was the first time I'd ever even heard about him. It shocked me at the time and saddened me that I had such a poor education up to that point.

When I was in high school, when everyone should learning about world and US history (or whatever country's history), I was being treated to an experimental form of education where we sat around and talked about topics the teacher deemed important. Hey, it was the 1970s and a lot of counter-culture stuff was happening, so why not. Honestly it was a terrible idea. I missed so much. For example, in one of my college classes the professor brought in a speaker who talked about 'the Holocaust' and I didn't know what he meant. I was too embarrassed to ask. I did know a little about concentration camps but had never heard the term 'Holocaust' before. See what I mean about my limited education? Anyway, I tell you that story as an explanation of why I probably missed learning about Emmett Till.

Now in the 2020s, with book banning a big threat to a well-rounded education AGAIN, I am doing my best to rectify my poor education and help educate those of you who don't have a chance to hear about important events from our past by reading and blog-reviewing books on a host of topics.

Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement by Angela Joy, illustrated by Janelle Washington is an excellent place to start that reeducation. In this book, designed for middle grade children, we meet Mamie Till-Mobley, Emmett's mother. "Her story is a testament to the power of love and one woman's unwavering pursuit of justice. Mamie's fearlessly refused to let America to turn away from what happened to her only son [after being brutally murdered while visiting the South in 1955]. She turned pain into a legacy that ensured her son's life mattered."

After Emmett's father left the family when the boy was young, Mamie raised her son with the help of her own mother. Emmett contracted polio as a child, and Mamie helped him overcome his stutter, a visible reminder of the disease, by teaching him a work-around -- to whistle before speaking. (See page below.)

That technique may have been what caused the white people who murdered Emmett later to react so negatively to him. The woman told her husband that a black boy whistled at her. From that comment Emmett was hunted down, drug behind a car, murdered, and thrown into water. When his body was recovered, Mamie insisted that his mangled body be returned to her in Chicago, not buried in Mississippi. Then instead of burying him quietly herself, she opened his casket and invited everyone to come and see what was done to her beloved son. "For four long days, she let the people come: to bear witness, to mourn the son erased for the "sin" of a sound: a stutter, a whistle, a laugh." Reporters showed up, too, to document Emmett's pain and took a photo of a boy in his coffin...striking a match to start a flame for the Civil Rights Movement.

Last week I learned that Choosing Brave was selected as the Middle Grade Nonfiction winner for the Cybils Awards. Here is part of what the judges had to say about their choice:

When we think about injustices, like the horrific murder of Emmett Till in 1955, it can be tempting to focus more on the crime and less on the lives affected by it. In Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement, Angela Joy, and Janelle Washington concisely and thoroughly explain to young readers what happened to Emmett Till, yet they also show the time before his death, when his mother Mamie was a young girl persevering through a hostile world and difficult home life. And they show the time after his death, when Mamie spoke out and fought for change, and chose to open her son’s casket at his funeral so people could see what he suffered... This book connects Emmett Till’s death to racism and injustice today, providing a timely reminder of what we can never forget: the victims of these crimes are more than just victims, and we must join the people who love them in ensuring that these crimes never happen again. (Cybils Award Winners.)

Choosing Brave also won two YMA Awards in January for its excellent illustrations (Caldecott Honor, Steptoe Illustrator winner.) (YMA Awards.) It is truly a book worthy of your consideration and time. I highly recommend it.


Tuesday, February 21, 2023

TTT: Literary Heroines

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Heroines

1. Sabriel from Sabriel (Old Kingdom, #1) by Garth Nix

2. Lirael from Lirael, Abhorsen, and Goldenhand (Old Kingdom, #2, #3, #5)

3. Elinor from Terciel and Elinor by Garth Nix (Old Kingdom, #6) Can you tell? I'm crazy about this series?

4. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

5. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

6. Offred from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

7. Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

8. Matilda from Matilda by Roald Dahl. She gets the best of Turnbull and terrible parents!

9. The Princess in The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. As a mother of daughters I appreciated the princess's moxie.

10. Scheherazade from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Anonymous. Her stories entranced me as a child.

11. Adunni from The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare. As she learns, she gets stronger!

12. Circe from Circe by Madeleine Miller. 

13. Starr from the Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Want to play along? Go to That Artsy Reader Girl.


Saturday, February 11, 2023

Sunday Salon --- Feb. 11

Sunny today (Saturday) but the meteorologist tells us to expect cold temperatures this coming week with possible snow. But we don't care because we are heading to Hawaii tomorrow!!! (Brag, brag.)

Today: Don and I are participating in a Roots of Justice, Seeds of Change activity at our church that is to increase our knowledge and empathy toward Native Americans and what their history has been since the fourteen hundreds. I know it will be  both eye-opening and heart-breaking.

Books for the trip: As per usual I am probably taking too many books for our week-long vacation (including audiobooks and e-books) but one cannot be caught with no reading material, right?

  • Citizen Vince by Jess Walter. This is for a book club meeting two days after we return. I'm 75% done so will opt for just the audiobook to listen to on the plane.
  • So Lucky by Nicola Griffith. Another book club selection, this one for our March meeting. This is a short book so I will carry the print version in my purse.
  • When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde. We are traveling with my sister and her hubby. She loaned me this book several months ago. It is pretty beat up already, so I doubt she will care if I cart this one with me to the beach. Hopefully I will finish it in Hawaii so I don't have to cart it home.
  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Dumas. I have nearly reached the 50% level. I won't drag this tome of a book with me but I do have it on audio so I might find time to listen to a few more chapters but it won't be my prioroity.
  • The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell. Yet another book club selection. I have it on audio and hope to start it on the return trip.
  • The ABC Murders and The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie. I downloaded two e-books as just-in-case options. Unbelievably I've never read either of them.
  • I'm not taking these two poetry books with me: The Poetry Remedy and The Goblin Market. They will have to wait for my return before I finish them.

For your amusement-- on the lighter side:


Something tells me they'll be down to nothing on Dec. 31st!

Happy Valentine's Day!!!πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ’—πŸ˜˜


Thursday, February 9, 2023


Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Book Beginnings quote: 

Reader's Agreement: You agree not to reproduce, replicate, or reprint any of the material in this book without our consent. When reading this book, you agree to give it your undivided attention -- that means no pretend half-reading while calling and placing an order for Thai takeout. At the end of each page, you agree to thrust your arms upward and emit a loud, staccato Hey! just like circus performers do at the end of each stunt...[and so forth for two pages]... You agree that some women look sophisticated wearing a shawl, others foolish. 

Yes, I agree to these terms. [With blank lines provided for Name, Date, Visa#, and Expiration date]

Forward: I was not abused, abandoned, or locked up as a child. My parents were not alcoholics, nor were they ever divorced or dead. We did not live in poverty, or in misery, or in an exotic country. I am not a misunderstood genius, a former child celebrity, or the child of a celebrity. I am not a drug addict, sex addict, food addict, or recovered anything. If I indeed had a past life, I have no recollection of who I was.

I have not survived against all odds.
I have not lived to tell.
I have not witnessed the extraordinary.
This is my story.  -- Amy Krouse Rosenthal, age 39. Chicago. June 2004.

Friday56 quote (pg 56 in e-book): 

ANSWERING MACHINE: In most cases, it is more satisfying to get a friend's answering machine and leave a cheery, tangible trace of your sincere commitment to the friendship than it is to engage in actual conversations.

Summary: Back in 2004 Amy Krouse Rosenthal decided to publish an encyclopedia for ordinary people, in the style of any of those old stuffy encyclopedias that used to be prominently displayed on library shelves and, if you were lucky like I was, on a shelf at home, out of date but still terrific for those reports that I forgot to do until the last minute. In addition to the alphabetized contributions, note the example above for ANSWERING MACHINE, Rosenthal also included some helpful timelines, tables, charts, and lists. For example under the heading, ANXIOUS, THINGS THAT MAKE ME, Rosenthal created a table of things that make her anxious with a description of each, starting with TRAIN SCHEDULES.

Review: Deb Nance at ReaderBuzz was the one who alerted me to look for this book saying of the thousands of books she has read and reviewed over the years Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life is one of her top 15 books. I dropped everything I was reading at the moment and located the e-book at my library and started reading and laughing as soon as it was delivered to my e-reader. 

I knew I was in for a treat right from the start with the reader's agreement which starts off sounding quite serious and devolves into an agreement of a whole bunch of silly things like renaming nonfiction and fiction books, agreeing that black shouldn't be the absence of color and white the combination of all colors, ending on the line about women and shawls. I happen to be one of those who look foolish.

Next up, the Forward, seemed important to include also, since Rosenthal is making the point how ordinary she is. Only stuff that most of us can relate to will be included in the book. Next up is an Orientation Almanac, which she describes as an attempt to orient future readers to what life was like at the beginning of the 21st Century. Since the book was published nearly 20 years ago, it WAS a fun look back at life in the not-so-distant past. In the Evolution of This Moment the reader is treated to highlights from Amy Krouse Rosenthal's life starting in 1965 when she was born.  She doesn't include the normal stuff one would expect like 'in 1970 I started school.' No. No. She included snapshots of memories or pictures of herself doing things. For example under the '1975' heading, she says that she paid attention to: Notices and liked certain signs and phrases such as this sign at friend's pool: THIS IS OUR OOL. NOTICE THERE IS NO P IN IT

On page 53 of the e-book, the Alphabetized Existence begins. Some are of the entries are illustrated by Jeffrey Middleton like the example below for BOWLING, which makes me laugh because I do this not only for bowling but for football games when the kick is wide, or riding in the car on a mountainside and leaning away from the railing:

I shared several of the examples with my husband who found most just as humorous as I did. We read the entry for "clapping" not long before we went to a Broadway musical. Both of us thought about our clapping during the show and when we should stop clapping based on that entry. We laughed about it later.

Is this my 15th favorite book? No. I tend toward favoriting more serious books, but I did love it and can see how this is a book one would want to reread occasionally because it was a lot to take all at once. Plus, we always need to have a laugh and I suspect this is one of those books that will remain funny every time one rereads it.

See if your library still has a copy. Check it out. Enjoy!

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.The Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.  



Monday, February 6, 2023

TTT: Debut Books I'm Interested In

Top Ten Tuesday:
Debut books I am interested in reading...or at least I think I am

True confession: I rarely pay attention to debuts...authors or books. So, I need your help. I am going to visit your TTT posts and will add books to my list that sound good from your lists. I will give you credit. If you beat me before I get to you, please leave your URL in the comments so I can easily find your post. Thanks ahead of time for your help.

I did find two debut books which I think sound good. All others were recommended by you! Watch this space. 

Please Report Your Bug Here by Josh Riedel, a first-time novelist. January 2023.

What Happened to Ruthy Ramierez by Claire Jimenez, debut novel. March 2023.

Night Wherever We Go by Tracey Rose Peyton. Debuting in April 2023. Contribution from: All The Books I Can Read.

She is a Haunting by Trang Thanh Tran. Debuting Feb 28, 2023. Contribution from: Leah's Books.

Hungry Ghosts by Kevin Jared Hosein.Debuts tomorrow, Feb. 7, 2023. Contributed by Bookshelf Journeys

How To Love Your Daughter by Hila Blum. Released Feb. 1, 2023. Contributed by Just Another Girl and Her Books

Adelaide by Genevieve Wheeler. April 2023. Contributed by Books are the New Black.

Maame by Jessica George. Debuted Jan. 2023. Contributed by A Book Wanderer

The Things That We Lost by Jyoti Patel. Debuted in Jan. 2023. Contributed by The Book Sanctuary.

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer. Debuted in Jan. 2023. Contributed by Readerbuzz.

Very Good Hats by Emma Straub. Debuted in Jan. 2023. Contributed by Readerbuzz.

OK. Now it is your turn. Please help me out. Leave your URL in my comments. Thanks.