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Burma Chronicles- Guy Delisle

Another book that’s been sitting on my shelf for a bit. I found this copy of Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle (Jonathan Cape, 2007) at a thrift store a few years ago. It had all sorts of paper clips marking different pages. I never did figure out what those clips were marking, but it intrigued me enough to pick the book up, leaf through it, and say, “A graphic novel for a quarter? Heck yeah!” I have major thrift store privilege; the St. Vincent de Paul thrift store near me has tons of books and their prices are amaaaaaaazing.

Guy Delisle followed his wife, a doctor with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) to Burma/Myanmar (he covers the discrepancy between the names right away; if you’re interested, check out the Etymology section in the Wikipedia article on the country), along with their infant son. He chronicles his adventures in the country, pushing his son’s stroller along the streets, in markets, taking him to playgroups with other foreign parents, sending him to some sort of school, visiting a monastery, shopping for food, interacting with the locals and the local people they’ve hired to work for them. Occasionally Delisle and his wife travel within the country; he also writes of living within walking distance from Aung San Suu Kyi but, as she was on house arrest at the time, he was never able to approach her house.

Burma Chronicles is a graphic memoir and doesn’t have a plot or overarching structure to it; it’s a portrayal of one man’s experiences in the country in his time there. It’s not comprehensive enough to give the reader a good feel for the country, but it did whet my appetite to learn more (which is good, because I have another book on Myanmar on my TBR). His drawings are simple; it’s a style that meshes well with the complexities of the country and the difficulties his wife deals with at work, red tape for miles and miles and miles.

This is a bit difficult to review, since there’s no story to recount, no plot to pick apart, no characters to ponder, but I enjoyed the book. I was impressed by Mr. Delisle’s constant wanderings around town with his son; I’m pretty anxious and wouldn’t really feel comfortable pushing a stroller around an unfamiliar place where I didn’t speak the language (and most locals didn’t speak mine). That’s either serious courage or brash foolhardiness right there; I’m a little envious and wish I were more adventurous, although unfortunately, the stakes are probably a little different for me as a woman than they would be for Mr. Delisle.

I’m deeply curious about his other books, however. Guy Delisle has also written a book about the time he spent in Pyongyang, North Korea, appropriately titled Pyongyang, and I absolutely smashed the Want-to-Read button on that. He’s also lived in China and Jerusalem that I can see; what a fascinating life! If I can’t live in all those places, traveling there through books is the next best way, so I’m looking forward to more travels with Guy Delisle.

Do you have any graphic memoir recommendations for me? I love memoirs, so graphic memoirs are nice way to get my memoir on and add a little art into my life. 🙂

Visit Guy Delisle’s website here. (En français!)

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I’m back! (Or, when life gets in the way)

Hello! Remember me?

It’s been a minute, huh? Not intentionally, I swear. If you had any idea how many times I’ve tried to write a post and instead got called away, you’d weep alongside me. The combination of trying to get my life and house back together after multiple months of being sick/taking care of a sick kiddo and then going on vacation for a little over a week, plus it’s summer and my little one wanted to be outside and at the park, among various other places, well… There just hasn’t been ANY computer time lately!

Fortunately, there has been some book time. I’m currently about ten books behind when it comes to book reviews (and I STILL owe two people posts!!! ARGH), but I WILL get caught up. My house is in semi-decent shape (I made sure of that before we left; nothing worse than coming home to a messy house), and we need some down time after our week+ of GO GO GO in Branson, Missouri (it was fantastic. The kids and I travel somewhere with my mother every summer and we basically exhaust ourselves, but we have a great time), so I’ll be doing my best to get caught up here. Not to forget that school starts for the kids in 29 days, and with my daughter headed off to full-time kindergarten, I’ll have a lot more interruption-free time during the day! I do have an enormous list of projects that I want/need to get done around the house, but I’m planning on incorporating plenty of time for reading, writing, and blogging, too. 🙂

So it’s nice to be home, and I’ll be doing my best to keep things better updated around here! I hope you’re all having a lovely summer (or winter, if you’re in a place where the seasons are opposite where I am!), and that you’re getting substantial amounts of reading time with stacks of amazing books. 🙂

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April is the cruelest month: to bloggers who are struggling.

Spring is a terrible time of year.

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, we have this idea in our heads that spring is a time of warmth, of regrowth and beauty and sunlight. Unfortunately, reality refuses to comply with this and often offers us nothing but rain, wind, chilly temperatures, and gray skies that seem to drag on forever. Is it any wonder that so many of us struggle during this time of year?

I’ve seen quite a few bloggers who are having a difficult time right now, and my heart goes out to all of you. Whether it’s because of the weather and seasonal depression, difficulties with some aspect of your life or health, or something you can’t put words to, I see you. I hear you. I hate that you’re hurting. You’re important, I care about you, and I’m glad you’re a part of my world.

There aren’t any axioms or proverbs or clever one-liners I can share to change anything for anyone, but if this is a difficult time of year for you, you’re not alone. I’ve been there, I struggled massively through the spring for years when I was younger, and I understand the awfulness of it. I can’t tell you when it will end, but I can tell you that even when things feel terrible, I still care. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here, always.

If you’re feeling okay right now, check on your friends. It’s hard to ask for help and to admit when things aren’t as you’d like them to be, and sometimes a quick note or a gesture means the world. And for anyone who may need it, resources and help are out there:

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

A list of international suicide hotlines.

If you’re struggling, you’re in my thoughts and my heart. Fight on, friends, one breath at a time.

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WWW Wednesday April 3, 2019

ARGH! It’s WWW Wednesday and I forgot earlier.

That sometimes happens when your day starts at 3:42 am. *yawn* My back was hurting too much to sleep. That happens…far too often, unfortunately, but such is life.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam from Taking on a World of Words.

The three W’s are as follows:

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Let’s get this show on the road!


What are you currently reading?

I haven’t read Neil Gaiman since reading Coraline with my son back in like 2007 or 2008, and I haven’t read any mythology since…freshman year of high school? (So. much. reading. from Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton.) I’ve always wanted to learn more about Norse mythology, and Gaiman’s retellings are making it far more accessible than anything I’ve tried before.


What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey is up next and I’m SO excited about reading this!!!! Check out the premise of this book:

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

Is that not completely nuts?!?!?? I heard about this on a back episode of All the Books a few weeks ago and was floored (plus it counts as an alternative history for Book Riot’s 2019 Read Harder Challenge, so YAY!). I can’t WAIT to read this!!!

What are you reading this week???

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Blogger Recognition Award

Hurray! I was nominated for the Blogger Recognition Award by the awesome Surina over at Book Reviews by the Bloggisters. Thank you so much, Surina! Her blog is gorgeous and always has awesome reviews and advice for bloggers (beware, though, your TBR will explode in the best kind of way after visiting her!). Give her a follow, because she’s fabulous!

I saw she had included me in her list of nominees on Saturday and couldn’t get to this until just now (and as it is, I had to break up writing this post into several parts because LIFE and all these people that live with me needing stuff like rides to school and work and for someone to do the grocery shopping. Seriously, don’t they understand that there are BOOKS TO READ???). Here’s the rules of this award:

Rules:

  • Thank the blogger that nominated you.
  • Write a post to show your award.
  • Give a brief story of how your blog started.
  • Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
  • Select 15 other bloggers you want to give this award to.
  • Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

*HOW IT ALL BEGAN*

Years ago, I had another book blog and loved it, but once I went back to school, taking classes, keeping up with housework and family stuff, trying to tackle my own writing, AND reading and blogging about it? Yeah, it all got to be too much, and I ended up shutting the blog down.

So, flash back to a little over two years ago. Picture me, staring at my Goodreads Want-to-Read list in utter horror, because it had 332 books on it (the vast majority nonfiction), some of which had been sitting there for…um…over ten years? I sat there, wtf’ing at myself and realizing that those books weren’t doing me any good if I wasn’t actually reading them, and thus began the journey to read that list down. I read almost 200 books off of it, then cleaned a bunch off that were out of date or that I didn’t actually want to read anymore, and somewhere along the way, towards the end of those 200 books, I thought, “I’ve read some seriously amazing stuff these past two years…Why don’t I start blogging about it again?” And after a few months of blogging over at Blogger, I switched to WordPress, and voila! Here I am.

*ADVICE TO NEW BLOGGERS*

Oh jeez. I’m still pretty new, so I might not have any business giving people advice, but first off, read what you enjoy. I have a serious love for nonfiction, so I blog a lot about that and I can’t ever see that changing. But be open to new genres and new ideas about what to read as well. I’ve already read a few books solely because other bloggers have raved about them, and I’ve added probably twenty or so novels to my TBR list (which I’ll read after I tackle these challenges I’m working on. I’ll NEVER let my TBR list get to 332 books ever again…unless all you book bloggers keep blogging about amazing books, and then it might!).

And secondly, get involved with the book blogging community here and on Twitter! There are so many fabulous book bloggers out there and they’re great people. They share advice about blogging (which has helped me SO much), opinions on books, their lives and hearts and souls…I’m so grateful to have found all of you, because it’s really added a lot of joy to my days!

*TAG OTHER BLOGGERS*

Don’t feel obligated to do this if you don’t want to or don’t have time, just know that I think you and your blog are awesome! Go check them out. 🙂

1. Susan @ Bloggin’ ‘Bout Books

2. Breathe to Read

3. Stacey @ Unruly Reader

4. Heather @ Based on a True Story

5. Kristin @ Always With a Book

6. Rita @ Bookish Rita

7. Kat @ Books Kat Likes

8. Carrie @ Cat on the Bookshelf

9. Amber @ Du Livre

10. Blair @ Feed the Crime

11. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

12. Sam @ Fictionally Sam

13. Katherine @ I Wish I Lived In a Library

14. Chasity @ Ity Reads Books

15. Christine @ Lady Gets Lit

I hope you all have a fabulously book-filled day! Thanks for stopping by, and if you got this far, enjoy this random picture of a baby goat that I took this past summer.

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WWW Wednesday! March 27, 2019

As it’s Wednesday, it’s time for another WWW Wednesday, coming to you from Taking on a World of Words. To play along, all you need to do is answer three simple (HA! Is anything every simple about reading choices?) questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Let’s get started!

What are you currently reading?

I started reading Lessons in Letting Go by Allison Janda two-ish days ago (I think! Kids are on spring break and my son was sick this past weekend, so it’s been busy and my days are all thrown off), about a woman who gets dumped by her husband and who decides to step out of her comfort zone by becoming a travel nurse (and there’s a guy, but…there’s a catch. A big one). So far, I’m really enjoying this!

What did you recently finish reading?

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas. If I were rich, I would throw piles of money at Angie Thomas and fund 100% of her life so she could do nothing but write because I love her books so much.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Up next is a review copy of Bell-Bottom Gypsy: A Jessie Morgan Novel by Maggie Plummer. It sounds interesting, so I’m looking forward to it. And after that, I have a stack of library books waiting for me, including Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, which my husband expressed interest in reading (so I may have to share!).

Hopefully I’ll get some good reading time in in the next few days (not tomorrow, because we’re going to visit my mother- spring break week just isn’t conducive to long, lazy days of nothing but devouring books when you’re the mom…).

What are you reading this week???

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Tell Me Something Tuesday #177: Topics I Avoid in Books

Tell Me Something Tuesday is hosted by Rainy Day Ramblings and covers a range of topics about books and blogging (you can check out their answers here).

This week’s question:

What are things that make you steer clear of a book?

Excessive violence, especially against women. This is where Pat Conroy lost me. His writing is beautiful, but after being shocked by reading brutal rape scenes in several of his books, I decided I couldn’t do any more. I tend to steer clear of a lot of thrillers as well, since I’m not the hugest fan of reading about murder…or heists, for that matter. Crime in general, really.

Titles/covers that show the book is obviously sci-fi or western. Just not genres that really interest me, for the most part.

Sometimes size matters. (Insert inappropriate joke here.) I’m not opposed to gigantic brick-sized books- Alaska and Hawaii, both by James Michener, were gloriously enormous books and some of my favorites ever, despite being close to or over 1000 pages- but at this point in my life, I prefer shorter reads. Hit me up again when my daughter’s older, giant books.

Man vs. nature books. There are exceptions; Jon Krakauer’s books are awesome for this, but in general, I’m not a fan of ‘the plane crashed and now we’re all fighting to survive in the jungle/desert/side of a mountain!!!’ books. I find them stressful. And in that vein…

Books about or containing animals. If there’s a beloved pet in the book, you can be sure I’m stressing from the first mention that that pet is going to die (or be horribly injured) somewhere in the book. This was like the Number One Plot Device in books when I was a kid; the author would kill off the main character’s pet in order to foreshadow the death of someone even more important, like a parent or sibling. It was horrible and traumatizing and to this day, I get uncomfortable when the plot centers too closely on an animal. I LOVE animals and don’t need to stress about them more than my own two cats make me. (See pic of me doing yoga and Turd Cat Reba, also known as The Bitey One, getting all up in my face. Not shown: the blurry pictures of her climbing across my face, the pictures I couldn’t take because she was jumping on me when I was trying to downward dog, and the other cat, Piglet, who likes to stand at the edge of the mat and scream at me. Yeesh!)

I’m half-tempted to put religious fiction here, but I’m not entirely opposed to that. I don’t enjoy religious fiction when it comes on too strongly, but I’ve read a few that were okay, so that’s not a never for me. It doesn’t necessarily have to be my faith for me to appreciate how it works for someone else.

Very Serious Biographies About Historical White Men. I don’t necessarily want to read, say, a biography of Winston Churchill or Abraham Lincoln. It’s not that they’re not interesting people; I just got my fill of that in school. Now, say, a Very Serious Biography about Harriet Tubman or Maya Angelou? YES PLEASE.

Literary Fiction. When it gets too literary and the writing gets too flowery and convoluted for my tastes, I’m out. Just not my thing.

That’s about it for me. What about you? Are there things you run screaming from in the bookstore or library? Any certain genres you refuse to engage with? Certain tropes you can’t stand? (I’m not adding this to the list, but years ago, I somehow managed to read three or four books that year that involved cousin love, and not like, “Here is your cousin, the Earl of Moneyton. Marry him to increase our fortunes!”, more like, “Dude, my mom’s sister’s son is freakin’ HOT!” NO NO NO. SO gross, and I will nope out of books that do that, because seriously, there are so many other people you can get it on with besides one you’re related to.) I’d love to hear what doesn’t do it for you, literarily-speaking!

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WWW Wednesday! March 20, 2019

It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s time for another fun WWW Wednesday, hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. To play along, just answer three questions:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Let’s get started!

What are you currently reading?

Yesterday, I picked up my interlibrary loan copy of Make Do and Mend: Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations (foreword by Jill Norman). It’s a book of WWII-era reproductions of government-issued leaflets designed to teach the women on the homefront to make their clothing last longer (since clothing was rationed during the war years). My mother was up visiting yesterday and my son had a choir concert last night, so I only got about ten minutes yesterday to read, but this book seems really neat so far and I’ve already learned something about making hand-knit socks last longer.

What did you recently finish reading?

Yesterday, I finished Apocalypse Chow: How to Eat Well When the Power Goes Out by Jon Robertson and Robin Robertson. Review will be up tomorrow!

What do you think you’ll read next?

Next up in the pile is The Cider House Rules by John Irving. I’ve wanted to read this for YEARS, so I’m so excited. I very vaguely remember seeing parts of the movie when I was younger, so I may have to seek that out after I finish this book (is it any good, or should I avoid it?). I do have a copy of Angie Thomas’s On the Come Up on hold at the library, so if that comes in, I’ll read that as soon as possible so that I can get it back and it can go to the next person on the list. (I try to be courteous with popular holds!)

That’s it for this WWW Wednesday! What are you reading right now? Anything interesting coming up next?

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20 Questions

Today, we’re going to play 20 Questions, which I borrowed from Blair over at Feed the Crime (her answers are here). The cat in the photo is Piglet; he’s one of my two ridiculously patient cats who put up with my daughter’s insane love of dress-up.

Let’s begin!

How do you feel about cliff-hangers?

If they’re at the end of a chapter, cool. If they’re at the end of the book, ALL OF THE SCREAMS.

Hardback or paperback?

If it comes from the library, I prefer hardback, but if I’m buying, I prefer the bigger-sized paperbacks. The smaller ones, like category romance-sized paperbacks, I have a hard time holding open sometimes, but the bigger ones are easier.

Favourite Book?

Oh JEEZ. You can’t ask a book blogger THAT. SO many books, but Till the Stars Fall by Kathleen Gilles Seidel and Back Home by Michelle Magorian top the list.

Least Favourite Book?

Oof. I really didn’t like Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, nor did I enjoy A Passage to India by E.M. Forster. (Not even linking them, that’s how grumpy they made me.)

Love Triangle… yes or no?

That’s a no from me, dawg. I find them kind of icky.

The most recent book you couldn’t finish?

The Unlikely Romance of Kate Bjorkman by Louise Plummer. Right off, the dialogue seemed forced and unnatural to me, and within a few pages, I noped out and moved on to the next book.

A book you’re currently reading?

I’m going to start this really neat little book called Make Do and Mend: Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations (Reproductions of Official Second World War Instruction Leaflets), foreword by Jill Norman. I try to be a good steward of my resources, so this will help, plus I’m fascinated by wartime rationing. After that, it’s The Cider House Rules by John Irving.

The last book you recommended to someone?

Ooh, I’m not actually sure about this!

Oldest book you’ve read (based on publication date)?

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (which is a seriously weird story), published in 1831.

Newest book you’ve read (based on publication date)? 

Duped: Double Lives, False Identities, and the Con Man I Almost Married by Abby Ellin, which was published in January of 2019.

Favourite author?

Oh gosh. Christina Lauren, Diane Chamberlain, Jennifer Weiner, Jennifer Crusie, Rainbow Rowell, Stephen King, Emily Giffin, James Michener, Ted Conover, Susane Colasanti, Chris Crutcher, Jon Krakauer, and I’m gonna stop there, because otherwise I’ll be here all day.

Buying books or borrowing them?

I think that answer’s obvious. If I’m not home and I’m not running errands like groceries or driving the kids somewhere, I’m probably at the library. (I’m seriously there an embarrassing amount.)

A book you dislike that everyone else loves?

I really wasn’t a fan of The Plot Against America by Philip Roth, which has almost four stars, so I think that probably counts.

Bookmarks or dog-ears? 

Bookmarks. My library has stacks of them for patrons to grab, so I always have a few floating around the house.

A book you can reread over and over?

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee and The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald are books that I seem to take away new things each time I read them (which I do, every now and then).

Can you read while listening to music?

Ugh. No. I can read with the TV on and with my daughter playing and running around, but music makes me lose focus.

Multiple POVs or one POV ?

The more, the merrier. I love dual/multiple narratives.

Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days on average?

Depends on what I’ve got going on. On the weekends, my husband and daughter do a lot of projects together, which frees me up to read and I can plow through quite a few books during that time. During the week, I read when I can, which usually means while my daughter watches TV or naps, when I’m waiting in the car to pick my husband or daughter up, etc. Little bits of stolen reading time here and there.

Who do I want to tag?

If you want to do this tag! You’re it. 🙂

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An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace- Tamar Adler

Over the past two years of reading down my Goodreads TBR (it started at a terrifying 332 books; after reading over 200 books and purging about 50, and of course adding a few along the way, it’s now down to a more respectable 65, which is a lot more manageable), one of things I’ve learned about myself is that I enjoy reading books about food. I would have said differently before the start of this project, but a peek through the lists of books I’ve read the past few years says otherwise. I cook almost every night of the week and occasionally at lunchtime as well, so I’m always looking for better, more efficient means of using the resources I have available to me. Thus, when a like-minded friend suggested An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler, I added it to that TBR list.

This book is not so much cookbook as it is the musings of a woman who truly knows her way around food. While there are a handful of “1/4 cup this, 2 T that” type recipes, it’s more a treatise on learning to cook without recipes. Ms. Adler is a proponent of cooking by taste, adding a dash of this and a splash of that (probably olive oil; there’s a lot of olive oil-usage in this book) in order to come up with dinner. No need to buy specialty ingredients; she makes the case that a perfectly acceptable and possibly wonderful meal can be found even when the shelves are looking a bit bare. Almost anything can go into an omelet (and this is something I agree with. I’ve made curry omelets, chili omelets, leftover vegetable omelets…); anything can be mashed and spread on toast; and if it’s edible, it can become a soup of some sort.

This book is probably best read a little at a time, or read for certain chapters (I was a big fan of the chapter titled How to Chase Your Tail, about using up odds and ends and preventing food waste), as reading it straight front to back makes it a bit dry and somewhat overwhelming. She does tend to wax a bit poetic on cooking, turning boiling water and cooking dry beans into subjects worthy of deep contemplation, which isn’t a style I particularly enjoy. If you’re looking for a bit more accessibility when it comes to learning to cook, I would recommend Kathleen Flinn’s The Kitchen Counter Cooking School first; Ms. Flinn rounds up a group of women who can barely boil water and soon has them carving up entire chickens, baking their own bread, and creating gourmet meals from simple ingredients. That book has the immediacy and the friendliness that this one lacks. That’s not to say that An Everlasting Meal isn’t an enjoyable read, but it does skew a bit towards to the more flowery when it comes to food writing. It’s definitely full of inspiration, though, and makes cooking without a recipe seem simple. (I’m not quite a foodie and am not nearly as comfortable as Ms. Adler in cooking without a recipe, but I try, mostly with success!)

It did inspire me to clean out my refrigerator, however! It needed it, and I had a weird, life-stress day on Friday, so I burned off that nervous energy in part by overhauling my refrigerator, an important step in preventing food waste. (The more of your fridge you can’t see, the bigger the chance you’ll let something get away from you.) My fridge is sparkling clean now and I’m ready to create some delicious new dishes out of my fabulously stocked kitchen.

Do you enjoy books about food? How comfortable are you when it comes to creating meals without recipes?

Visit Tamar Adler’s website here.

Follow her on Twitter here.