Archive for the ‘Hey! You over there! Entertain me!’ Category

Read Harder 2019: Check-in Post.

May 30, 2019

On Thursdays, I write about books! If you guessed today is Thursday, well…I really hope you’re correct because I’m writing about books anyway.

I thought I’d do a check-in on my progress for the Read Harder 2019 challenge. For those playing along, you know the good people at BookRiot (Hello, Rachel – you’re lovely!) put together these challenges to encourage us to read outside our comfort zones. As such, if you need to tweak a prompt – go ahead and do it! If you’re not sure what it means, and want to interpret it a different way, or your way, or however which way – go ahead and do it! The world will not tilt off it’s access if you go a bit wobbly on one. I promise.

All right! Let’s dive in:

An epistolary novel or collection of letters: I was planning on reading Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing, a letter to his daughters. But then I tripped over a similar book, David Chariandy’s I’ve Been Meaning to Tell You, a letter to his daughter about parent-kid wishes for who and how they’ll be, but also about what it means to grow up different in today’s world. Chariandy gorgeously balances infusing hope, happy, and stardust in with the warnings, tips, and survival tactics. But the happy outlives the woe. Reach for the Better. 5 of 5 stars.

An alternate history novel. I chose Dread Nationby Justina Ireland. Fantasy, alternate realities, anything Kindred-esque and I’m a brick wall. Not my strength, you guys. Fortunately I have a little black book stuffed with books I’ve heard about here and there. And one of them was Dread Nation. It’s a book about a slightly apocalyptic world, walking dead, you know – white people end of the world crap. And where young people elect to go to  training centers in Washington, D.C. instead of university. They learn to fight, defend – basic survival tactics. Picture Hunger Games, but with dreads, and zombies. Ha, ha! It’s the first in a series if it’s your bag. It was a fun romp, difference in a sea of sameness, but still not for me. 3 of 5 stars.

A book by a woman and/or AOC that won a literary award in 2018. I think everyone here knows, but in case they don’t – all of the books for my challenge are written by an  AOC. About half of what I read is written by an AOC. It takes a little more effort to find the books because publishing companies suck, but it’s definitely doable. And enjoyable. This was a fun category because it felt like a freebie. Still, I chose My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite. MStSK was SUCH a fun book to peel back, layer by layer. There was the on-top discussion of sisters and hos-before-bros and what not. A YA blockbuster. Then you dig deeper and wonder if it’s not a toxic, dare I say symbiotic relationship. Soooo many things to discuss! But I don’t want to give any of it away. DM me when you’re ready to talk! 4 of 5 stars.

A humor book. I have to admit, dear readers – I have no plans for this category. Wait, wait, wait – that’s not quite true. I have a plan, I just don’t have a book. My plan is to go back through the Goodreads Awards selections for the past few years, and I’m sure to find one or two.

A book by a journalist about journalism. This one I thought would be a tricky. Tricky!, but enjoyable. Surprisingly, I found a book rather quickly. At the library, months ago, I stumbled across How I Resist: Activism and Hope for the Next Generation. And while Maureen Johnson, a white woman, is listed as primary author, the collection is co-authored by: Jacqueline Woodson,  Malinda Lo, Sabaa Tahir, and others. The essays are short, but powerful. Quick jabs of hope! Undercuts of joy! Their words implore us to write our way out of this prison! Vote our allies into office! USE YOUR VOICES! Yes!! 5 of 5 stars.

A book by an AOC set in or about space. I am straight-up stumped here. If you guys have any suggestions.

An #OwnVoices book set in Mexico or Central America. My choice, The House of Broken Angels, is narrated by Angel, the patriarch who grew up in Mexico, and moved his family from Mexico to Southern California. Angel is dying and he often thinks back to his Mexico, the place where he grew up. Yeah, it’s a bit of a stretch to fit it in this category. But I loved this book with all my heart. It’s a modern classic, and I’m still upset it didn’t win the Tournament of Books! 4 1/2 of 5 stars.

An #OwnVoices book set in Oceania. This book popped into my mind as soon as I heard the category. Isn’t it funny how some books just do that? America Is Not the Heart, by Elaine Castillo. Another Tournament of Books entry, another protagonist, Hero, who grew up some where else (this time in a very violent Philippines), and then she came to America, because she was running out of lives to shed, and everyone, EVERYONE said America was the answer. Guess what her #ownvoice said?  Plot was great, but the story – it was too structureless for me. I had to do all the heavy lifting and I just couldn’t right then. 2 of 5 stars, but that just might be me.

A book published prior to Jan. 1, 2019, written by and/or translated by a woman. Ohhhh. This book! Andres Barba’s Such Small Hands. Translated by Lisa Dillman (check), and published in 2017 (check,check). Although I “cheated” a little because the book is written by an AOC, so the fact that the translator isn’t, is okay. And really, really is okay. Because: The book is billed as Shirley Jackson meets Virgin Suicides – and it lives up to the hype! It’s short, just 105 pages, so you can knock it out in a sitting. But be prepared to be chewing it for quite. a. long. time. 4 of 5 stars.

A book of manga. I don’t imagine this will be difficult to find; it’s just not a category I’m racing to prioritize

A book in which an animal or inanimate object is a point-of-view character. This is a GREAT category, and I can’t wait to see the selections, but I’m still looking at the moment.

A book about someone who identifies as neurodiverse: Again, GREAT category! Slaying it with stretching readers minds! I haven’t worked on this one yet, but I am so looking forward to the adventures of finding something! What have you guys read?

A cozy mystery. I hopped across the globe and tried Journey Under the Midnight Sun, by Keigo Higashimo. To be honest – and I feel a little ashamed confessing this – because I was unused to this cultures naming schemes, I had to use note cards to keep track of who was who. I felt like when I was reading Russian literature in high school, or that summer I binged Downton Abbey. Once I got past that part, the story was a straight up mystery, just like you order them. I like ’em enough to read them when they come my way, but don’t keep up with the latest. So take my taste into account here: 3 of 5 stars.

A book about mythology or folklore. I was going to use Call Me Zebra because the protag – who we never learn the name of – creates her own mythology. She thinks she’s a god and tramples all over the world to prove it. But there’s also Marlon James’s The Night Woman, a POWERFUL novel that explores the suffering slavery imposed. But from that pain, or maybe because of it, Lilith has this power, a reckoning kind of power, and Lilith taps into this mantle of connection, the African-American experience from the first ship of slaves, straight through to the last. There’s collective memory, explored like this in Beloved. But Lilith got it. No one can take it. And she can’t shake it. Oof. 5 of 5 stars. Wow.

An historical romance by an AOC. If you’re fulfilling the challenges in list order (I’m not), this is a soft, squishy place to land after the brainful of the mythology challenge. And you know what? I’m stretching the rules here, too. I haven’t ready it yet, but right now I’m planning on reaching A Bollywood Affair, by Sonali Dev. She’s a great write, and what I love is that this Bollywood romance series, you can pick up any book and just GO! if you want to. There are so few authors who do that any more. I can’t wait to sink into this book. There are so few romance authors who write for smart people., ya know?

A business book. Oh, this one I have no idea who I’m about to read, or about what. I’ll go and find it – unless you want to throw one my way?

A novel written by a trans or non-binary author. I’m going to sink my teeth into the YA thriller, The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, by Kim Fu. I don’t know much about them, but I did a bit of research when I was trying to pick something, and everything I find out is YAAAAAASSS!!! And the first chapter of the book flew by fast! I can’t wait for the rest!

A book written in prison. I’m up for some suggestions, but right now it’s looking like Prison Letters, by Nelson Mandella, might be the winner.

A comic by an LGBTQIA creator. You all know my reading proclivities, and comics really aren’t on there. But read them I shall! for that is the point of this adventure!

A children’s or middle grade (not YA) that has won a diversity award since 2009. I just recently had the pleasure of reading One Half from the East, by Nadia Hashimi. I’ve read several (if not all) of Hashimi’s work. It’s solid, but I was waiting for this – the emotions broil over in this story and you feeeeeeel the characters! The youngest girl, Obeyda, longs to be a boy so she can climb trees, play in the dirt, be outside the house even! So she becomes Obeyd: a bach posh. “She’s” allowed to be a “he” and have all the freedoms a boy would. Hashimi finally climbed up into her own, as well.   4 of 5 stars.

A self-published book. Getting your book notices isn’t easy sometimes. Just because a book is self-published – isn’t that assigned the same label and “expectations” we’re trying to undo? I read After Disasters by Viet Dinh, surprising no one who knows me. It’s a compelling story about five different stories, five differing protagonists trying to help after the disaster, but also trying to repair the hurts in their own lives. 3 of 5 stars.

A collection of poetry published since 2014. Poetry also isn’t really my thing. Just like short stories aren’t; you can tell me more! explore the back stories! Luckily for me, I happened across Lin-Manuel’s collection of G’mornin’! G’night!:Little Pep Talks for You and Me that was brilliantly illustrated by Jonny Sun. I felt like I was reading Shel Silverstein, but for “grown-ups” – whatever those are. 5 of 5 pepped up stars.

That’s it from me, twinkletoes! Send me recommendations and send me on grand adventures!

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I don’t know whose serve it is, I’m laughing too hard.

May 23, 2019

Sometimes you have a LOT going on.

It’s the end of the year, high school is high schooling, and there’s DRAMA.

So, you do what you can. You teach kids how to question evidence. Write reports. Know when to bite their tongues, and when to speak up.

And sometimes you teach them that 8 p.m. on a Sunday night is a FANTASTIC time for a ping pong tournament on the kitchen table near glass windows and a low-hanging glass light fixture!

For real. Sometimes it do do be like that.

And so you make up rules and see how many times you can catch each other changing the rules, and you cheat just a little when you can get away with it, and generally just laugh too hard to stand up straight. Soooo, kind of like the rules of Uno, but with weapons in your hands.

[Don’t worry: Inhalers were on stand-by for the wheezers. {That be all of us. We’re a fun bunch.}]

Did you know you if you hit a ping pong ball just right in my kitchen, it zips between chairs, off the wall, through your hands, and between buckets high-speed style? It was a serious throw-back to that segment on Sesame Street when the pinball machine is yelling out “One-two-three-FOUR-FIVE-six-seven-eight-nine-ten-eleven-TWEL-ELL-ELL-ELL-ELL-ELVE!” Except maybe without the airplanes. Maybe.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say, is that when you do have a lot of things going on, what you need to do is stop, grab a paddle, and just. let. go. We could all use a little dab of that.

PingPong

Step forth, Worthy Opponent!

April 9, 2019

I have always loved board games. When we were little, Mum would play Mothers’ Helper, Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho Cherry-o!, Trouble (though she never liked the noisy ones), Candyland – all the basic board games that teach little kids important lessons.

When we got a bit older, the lessons we learned from board games seemed to be more along the lines of how to sharpen our negotiating skills. Like, my sister would play Hotels, Price Is Right, and three rounds of Life if I’d play one game of Othello with her. (I haaaaated that game!)

Sometimes games were the main event that we gathered around: I remember massive rounds of Scat, Uno, or Spoons played with our entire extended family. One year there was very nearly a formal Ex-Communication that went down because Uncle Teddy snuck back into the camper to get another spoon, thwarting the “point” of the game. But who didn’t notice it was yellow instead of white?! Really.

Then games became something to do while we were watching tv and talking; something to keep our minds busy because who can just sit and watch TV by itself? My mind races and the rest of me gets fidgety. So when my sister Kim would visit, we’d play cards or Rummikub, or a massive marathon of Sorry (for which we may or may not have hash marks scored into the lid of the box). And sometimes we’d play Boggle.

Boggle was one of our favorites. So much so that we made up our own set of rules. Astonishingly (not really), our rules pretty much centered around one golden rule: If you can argue your case successfully, you get points for the word. Like “ho”, “ho-ho”, and “Ho Ho Ho!” are accepted, but “Hohohoho” is not. Thems the brakes, kiddo. Another rule: there are no timers. Timers are for silly out-of-the-box rules followers. Our way was once you stopped finding words and you gave up, the other player had a grace period, and then everyone compared lists.

I was trying to explain all of this to Gracie last night. She’s been asking to play games, more, as we sit and watch TV, and last night I sprang Boggle at her. She knew I played it with Kim (and therefore she felt grown-up) so she was game. [See what I did there?] Out came the box, the pens, and the pieces of paper, and off we went.

Gracie did really well! She found a lot of the smaller words I missed in my excitement at finding longer words and – of course – the dirty words. I thought she might win by serving me a death of a thousand paper cuts! But I pulled through. Gracie was sad – poor pitiful penguin! – but I’m hoping the addiction grabbed hold and she’ll feel the need to avenge her honor.

Your move, Gracie-guts! Your move.

The Stitch with the Wrong Timing.

March 19, 2019

Morning, everyone! What a day to be alive! I always get jazzed when my StitchFix comes in – especially when it’s a good one! Let’s dig in…

Lil backstory: I didn’t have any requests for this Fix. Spring is coming, it’s time to freshen our wardrobes if we can. I’d love to not have to figure in the expense, but I picked up a few pounds while I was away, so I need a few staple pieces at least, so I have something to wear while I’m working on losing the weight! My only ask was more of a suggestions – it helps me out when sometimes the Fixes match, and the pieces all fit together. That way I have at least one go-to outfit.

Now, the unveil…

It’s a GOOD Fix! My stylist gets my body type – I don’t know how she figured it out so quickly, but she did.

The pants – I had asked for brown pants, because I don’t have any that fit me since I outgrew my fat pants in that color. These are a little baggy at the waist, but snug (good-snug) everywhere else. And the length is perfect. For a shorty that’s important!

The blouse is so pretty! Gracie even said when I took it out of the box that I needed to keep it. It looks great on me and it’s what I want – something I wouldn’t pick up in a store, but looks poppin’ when I tried it on.

The jacket – my stylist went through my old notes and saw that I had tried a jacket on way back in the day and it didn’t fit quite right. I don’t even remember that Fix! But this jacket does fit like a dream. I can even button it! Ha! Imagine being able to button a jacket over boobs!

The black shirt – I’m not diggin’ it. I’m not saying no to all asymmetrical shirts, but this one really isn’t doing it for me. It was very slimming on, but that price for a black jersey is a little insane.

And the necklace – I actually love bar necklaces! Unfortunately, I have one almost exactly like it.

 

So here’s the thing about the timing though – it might take me two months to find a new job, and hopefully I’m going to lose a few pounds while I’m sorting things out. If I was at a desk 8a-5p every day, I’d probably get the full box just to keep the pants, blouse, and jacket. But I’m afraid if I splurge again and get the box…they might be too big. So then I was thinking of keeping just the blouse, but I’m not sure what else I’d wear it with. I need a personal assistant to dress me every morning!

I hate that my life got jumbled right after I ordered my Fix. I feel bad that my stylist nailed the outfit and I still can’t keep it this time. But maybe this is how my luck works – if I send it back, watch an offer be accepted and then I’ll need grown-up clothes again.

And that’s how this month’s Fix missed by no fault of theirs, and still made me smile.

A night out at the symphony.

March 4, 2019

No grumbling or groaning from this girl because today is a Monday. Nope! I had a lovely weekend! This Saturday night I got to play grown-up and go out for a night on the town at the Meyerson Symphony Center. It was so…breathtakingly beautiful that there may not be words.

Naturally, it took a village to get Katie ready for this thing. Seriously, dear readers – you very nearly got a poll-post asking which dress YOU thought I should wear! Gracie and her bestie convinced me to put on a fashion show with my dresses, Bee-girl rolled her eyes, and several other parties with varying levels of interest all weighed in. In the end, we arrived at the long-sleeve deep-purple dress with broach. This is not the best picture, but you’ll see what I mean:

Dress2

So that’s what we had to work with, Katie-land! I had gold peekaboo-toe strappy heels from StitchFix that would work, which meant I needed to run over to Charming Charlies to find a gold handback to match my shoes (how did I not own one?!!) and dangley gold earrings that were fancy enough. I had some earrings that were work-fancy, but not symphony-fancy!

Oh, my gosh – Saturday night! SATURDAY NIGHT! Readers, I can’t EVEN with how nervous I was! I spent two hours trying to get my make-up just right (all the while cursing the fact that I never paid attention when my friends were learning how to do that girly shiiiii…stuff).  I drowned myself in enough YouTube tutorials to get some purple eye shadow on, fought with my curls (at least I know what I’m doing in that cage match), and shimmied into my dress.

All of the work, though, mmm let’s just say it was definitely worth it! My date was hotttt(!!) – seriously, it was like on tv when the backstory is you’ve been best friends forever and then there’s this event and the moment you see each other dressed up for the first time, and both of your hearts kind of skip a beat, and, well… I’m putting a lot of thought bubbles in someone else’s mind. I just know I lost the power to speak when I saw my date step out his front door…

Ahem.

So! Moving right along! When we walked into the Meyerson Symphony Center, everything was lit up gorgeously along the marble and glass. The space felt so opulent. In fact, my date and I turned to each other at the same time and laughed about how we felt like frauds almost, like we were playing at being “grown-ups” again, as we settle back into…real life? But is something as sparkly and fantastical as the Meyerson really everyday life?

If it is, I’m all in! We walked the space slowly, enjoying it. A couple offered to take our picture. The buffet was lavish. Staff were everywhere, so helpful and friendly, tripping over themselves to be deferential. The serving staff never once rushed us away from our table, even though we sat there by the window talking about so many different things. It was beyond perfect.

The gongs sounded to find our seats while I was freshening my lipstick and a chorus of: “That sounds straight up from Cinderella!” poured out of everyone’s mouths, making us all laugh as we scattered to find our seats.

We had wonderful seats! And yes, I stole some quick snaps while everyone was sitting down.

And then they orchestra began to play, and my words were stolen. Conductor Carlos Kalmar was animated genius, and watching him dance with his orchestra was a privilege.

The crown of perfection is reserved for the guest soloist, Karen Gomyo. It was if the stars themselves poured out of her violin! I am not very knowledgeable about classical music – I’ve picked up things here and there, but most of what I know comes from having watched Mozart in the Jungle – but even being the classical music simpleton that I am, I still felt that as long as Ms. Gomyo was playing, every single thing in this world was going to be okay. It just was.

It was an enchanting evening. I am beyond lucky to have been part of it!

Ravi

Book Reviews: The ones with suspects and prisoners, strippers and school shooting survivors.

February 28, 2019

Morning, peeps! (We should all be so lucky to be marshmalloy shapes covered in gobs of colored sugar…) Today I have quite a few books to choose from because: 1) I’ve been killin’ it with my reading pace lately, and 2) because I haven’t done my book reviews in awhile! So let’s get to it!

MarsRoomThe Mars Room, by Rachel Kushner (2018, Scribner, 338 pages, digital loan). I picked up The Mars Room because it’s a contestant in this year’s Tournament of Books, but I’ve read The Flamethrowers, which I remember hating the cover of, wanting desperately to love, and then putting down a thousand times because I just couldn’t quite enjoy the telling of. So you’d think once I remembered that, I wouldn’t have been so keen on Mars Room. I loved the cover, by the way, and fell just as hard for the pitch: unreliable narrator Romy Hall is in prison for two consecutive life terms, away from the city of San Francisco, which bound her in a way much different than her young son Jackson. The storytelling was smartly done: I loved watching Romy navigate life at women’s prison, broken and cursed. I kept thinking the fifth season of Orange Is the New Black meets Breaking Bad with the grittiness of a Leonardo DiCaprio or Jack Nicholson film. Only the difference here is that Romy got thrown in jail for being one of the other poorer characters, not Piper or Alex, but she navel-gazes like she was Piper. That could be a little distracting, I do have to admit. As much as I loved seeing the reality of prison laid bare before the readers, I loved even more – surprisingly – the way Kushner showed readers what a cursed dystopia San Francisco is to those who can’t keep swimming fast enough and are drowned by the tide. 3 1/2 of 5 stars.

ParklandSpeaksParkland Speaks: Survivors from Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Share Their Stories, by Sarah Lerner (editor) (2019, Crown Books for Young Readers, 192 pages, paperback)
and
Parkland: Birth of a Movement, by David Cullen (2019, Harper, 400 pages, hardcover). I bought these books on their publication dates (just a week apart) because, like many of us, I was so strongly drawn to the lessons of hope and of activism these high school students have fought so hard to teach us. Ridiculously, this is what feels like the thousandth school shooting in collective memory because there is no clear cut answer – at least that the country can agree on. That’s where the argument seems to stall. The survivors of Parkland say that’s not enough. Parkland Speaks is catharsis bound between a beautiful soft jacket cover. Essays, poems, cartoons, artwork – it is the collective hope of the students, teachers, and others impacted by the tragedy, edited by Ms. Sarah Lerner, an English teacher who watched events unfold from an uncomfortably close perspective. The collection is intimate and gorgeous; one that will help us not just pinpoint the moment the revolution was born, but also reflect on our own losses as well as love those still around us.
ParklandParkland: Birth of a Movement was written by the same journalist who penned the go-to book about the school shooting at Columbine, giving him a unique perspective for his newest project. Whereas Columbine ushered in a horrifically new era and kind of mass shooting, you can’t help but feel that Parkland might usher in the answer for the same. The reason you feel that way is because of the hope these students embody, as the world has borne witness, but also a mighty, present kind of activism MSD students have rolled out with a roaring battlecry: NEVER AGAIN. If you think 400 pages of politics and activism sounds a bit thick, you haven’t read anything by Cullen; he captures the day-to-day – sometimes moment-to-moment – activities of the students and their families so closely, intimately, powerfully that you feel the wind of the carousel as it whips you around. How many times after a school shooting have you thought Stop this ride, I want to get off? Parkland convinces you these kids are going to show us how. 5 out of 5 stars; highly recommend as paired reading.

TheSuspectThe Suspect, by Fiona Barton (2019, Berkley Books, 416 pages, hardcover). I purchased this book as a Christmas gift for myself. So many good books were published in the beginning of January by authors I’ve come to love and rely on. Fiona Barton was one. I stumbled upon her debut, The Widow, at the library. I had no idea it was her first book. It’s your basic psychological thriller: the story is set up, you get hooked, there are twists and turns, and then BAM! the surprise ending. There are bad ones, and then there are good ones. Barton wrote very good ones. Maybe not Gone Girl good, her books are a little formulaic, but good enough to keep me guessing. I love the way the point-of-view shifts, and the way that even I, after alllll these books I’ve read in my life, can’t guess the big reveal. Ooh, and also that while the books are all linked through the reporter, Kate Winters, each book is truly a stand-alone. (I’m not kidding; there was such a gap between when I read the first book and the second that I forgot Kate had been in both til halfway through!) At least, that’s how the first two were. The third one – The Suspect – was set up the same way. Only this time Kate’s son is the title character, unfortunately. The dynamic is shifted a bit, and that was a bit muddy. I found it a bit confusing, along with all of the pov shifts that I normally love. And there was something about the story just I just couldn’t hook into. Normally I race through Barton’s books – that’s why I finally just bought the third one. This time, of course because I bought the hardcover, it failed to catch me. I kept checking the page count and found I was reading fewer and fewer pages each time I sat down. I finished it in the end, but I was very disappointed. Even the big reveal was a bit dodgy and meh. So. Would I recommend? Maybe not this book. But I’m definitely still watching for the next in the series. Barton’s allowed the sophomore slump…even if it took a bit to catch her. I have hope. 2 1/2 of 5 stars.

So there you go – the books themselves are all over the place, from Cali, to Florida, to D.C. and across America, to London, and Thailand. But somehow we’ve all centered around crime. Crazy, huh? Reading is magical. And full of hope.

Thursday Recaps with allll the ‘Tournament of Books’ books.

January 31, 2019

Good morning, starshines! Today is Thursday (right?), and you know what that means… book reviews!

Since I’m catching up still, and I haven’t posted on Thursday since the new year has started, I have quite a few books to choose from. 17 books in fact! (I read double that number last year, but let’s cut me a break this month, considering what I had going on. Mkay?) I’ll just grab a couple of them and see how this goes…

A Very Large Expanse of Sea, by Tehereh Mafi (2018, HarperTeen, 320 pages, Hardcover library loan). I know Ms. Mafi from reading her bestselling novel Shatter Me, which seems to have started a well-to-do series. I expect a series soon and I am here for that!!! For those who haven’t read it, briefly, Shatter Me is a dystopian horror/romance in the same vein of Divergent and Hunger Games. It was fantastic! When the plot felt a little shaky, Mafi’s voice was there to rescue it, strong enough to carry everything asked of it. Given that, I was curious how Mafi would handle teen romance. Expanse is about Shirin, a bright, sarcastic, nearly-mute, Iranian, Muslim girl whose family moves constantly, so Shirin never puts down any roots or tries to talk to anyone at school. It would be pointless. Until this year. It’s just after 9/11, Shirin’s having to navigate alllll the hate that – if you remember – was even more terrifying and devastating than ever before. Shirin and her brother also start a breakdancing club at school. I loved that Mafi was breaking stereotypes by letting a strong female lead enjoy an activity we typically see associated with men. Mafi drew on her past experiences to do so, and I loved the social commentary bit…but the actual talking about breakdancing was a little boring for me. It either needed to be the entire focal point of the book and just go there, or else the technical aspects needed to be trimmed. Otherwise, a very strong showing. 4 of 5 stars.

Call Me Zebra, by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi (2018, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 304 pages, Digital, Tournament of Books finalist). Ohhhhh I so much don’t even want to talk about this book. Zebra has lost every around her, but that doesn’t matter anyway (hmpf!) because she’s a booklovin’ atheist anarchist on a mission to retrace the journey from Iran to the states that she and her dad took waaaaaay back in her childhood. (Pretty hand, huh?)  Dude = there was so much philosophical bullsheep that I couldn’t even barely make it halfway. This book was WAYYYY NIOT my cuppa. So I’m putting that out there. 2 of 5 stars – I could tell there were flashes of brilliance (probably more than a few) even if it wasn’t my thing.

My Sister the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite (2018, Doubleday, 226 pages, Hardcover library loan, Tournament of Books finalist). This book is hot, hot, hot right now and I’m so glad it made the cut for the ToB, even if it’s as this year’s Hot YA Book That Will Make Us All Think. My Sister is about two sisters, Korede (our narrator) and Ayoola, the title character. Korede feels like she’s the smart, ugly sister who is constantly bailing out her beautiful, dumb sister – I mean, she has had to help her sister cleanup after quite a few messes. Even though My Sister is a slim book, it packs a wallop, and I thoroughly enjoyed unpacking everything Braithwaite had to say about sisters – these two, and others. I mean, look at the title – even there, one can’t exist without the other: Korede is unnamed, only seen because she’s claiming her sister, but she gives her sister the big lights as subject and object. It’s glorious! The rest of the book is like that, quick little jabs in short chapters you’ll swallow whole – all the way to the sucker punch ending! 4 of 5 stars.

Census, by Jesse Ball (2018, Echo, 241 pages, Digital loan, Tournament of Books finalist). I have to be straight with you: I hate Jesse Ball. I hate him so much that I thought I would need to leave this book for last – that kind of hatred and judging the book by its author. But let me tell you this, too – I’m glad I read it, Census, because it was actually a really good book! It tells the story of a father who has found out he is dying. His wife has already passed. And he has a son he loves fiercely, a son with Down Syndrome. Clearly the only answer is to help the government take roll call. Adventures throughout England’s gorgeous countryside ensue, and if you don’t need tissues, knowing how everything will wrap up, well…you have a sterner constitution than I.  3 of 5 stars.

That’s all for this week! Have you read any other Tournament of Books finalists? I’ve also read The Parking Lot Attendant (3 1/2 of 5 stars) A Terrible Country (2 of 5 stars), and America Is Not the Heart (2 of 5 stars). I’m still looking for that one book… Every year the ToB gives me one book that surprises me and I fall in lurrrve!!! That hasn’t happened yet, but I’m patient. (Crazy idea, I know.) Give me your recs!

The Return to StitchFix!

January 29, 2019

As a reward for sticking to my plan and putting in the work to make myself (and my family) better, I gifted myself with the return of StitchFix!

It’s been a minute since I last used Stitch, and I didn’t really have any specific needs or goals. I just asked them to make me pretty, Lawd! Here are the results:

img_6807Cranberry pants! Oh, just kill me with the 90s color scheme. Actually, I didn’t mind the cranberry so much. I wasn’t crazy about the seams randomly all up and down my legs. But they were subtle(ish) enough for me to wear these to work.

And I did ask for some colored pants to help make me be less blah and more poppin’!

So while I like the style of these pants…

They didn’t fit. The waist and the seat area (in the front, too) were wicked baggy. The ankles were tapered and the right length. Everything else was too big. Alas.

The cranberry pants will be featured in many of the other pictures. Like they will be with our next contestants! Come on down!….

The grey striped short-sleeved shirt I love! I don’t like that I love yet another something that’s neutral-colored. But it’s meant to go with the cranberry pants, and it goes with just about ALL of my other pants and skirts. So there’s that. It’s wicked soft. And I love that the sleeves are peek-a-boo! I don’t know if you can really see in that pic, but I love them! So this shirt is a keeper.

The hunter green blouse on the other hand… There are those 90s colors again. And hunter green? As much as I loved it the first time around, now not so much. In fact, I told my stylist no hunter green colors at all. I didn’t even know I had to specify that color til it showed up! Color aside, I also wasn’t keen on the “stuffiness” of the blouse. The sheer material was okay, I guess, you can’t really tell. But the fact that the collar is about choking me – nope. And the pleats down the front from the tight collar, nope too. So no, not a keeper. Thank you, next.

Ohmygosh that pattern!!! I mean – !!!!! I loved it so hard, with the pinks and whites and muted peaches, all up against that black! Shirt dresses are so hit-or-miss with me, and this one was a miss, ultimately. The material was just a bit stiff and that was the factor that tipped us over. I needed the material to be just a little slinkier to fall better when I cinched the belt. It looks great from the front when I have my hands at my waist. But when my hands are down – total frumpy bloat box. I nearly cried when I had to say no. Womp wah.

One last item…

img_6811I’m sure you’ve seen the necklace in many of the pictures of my outfits that you’ve already seen.

When I unboxed it, I wasn’t a fan. It feels pretty cheap, and the gold was too bright. AND I don’t typically mix silver and gold together.

But it looks wicked cute with the shirts and dress I tried on. It dressed up even the stripey shirt I like so dang much! It hung and showed well with the outfits I tried on, so I decided to go ahead and keep it.

When you think about it, with my styling fee, it’s like my free item!

So there you have it – my first Stitch since I’ve come back. I know I only kept two items, but that’s pretty good for my first outing, I think. And I gave my stylist a lot of good feedback so she should have a good idea of what I like and definitely what I don’t! Ha!

Now if we could just get the weather to cooperate so I could wear my new shirt and necklace, that would be amazing! You hear me, Weather Gods?!

Quote of the day.

January 28, 2019

Ooh, that Bee-girl! She’s at it again, leaving me in stitches!

Setting the scene: We had Christmas late, as I might have mentioned. And during said Christmas, I received this llama mug from the girls…

img_6793

Isn’t it awesome?! Okay, so there we go. Annnnd scene.

Me: Man, I really don’t want to put away this mug with our Christmas stuff. Girls, what do you think – is this a Christmas mug, or an everyday mug?

Girls: An EVERYDAY mug!!!!

Me: Are you sure? There’s a lot of snow in this picture. That makes it Christmas-y. Especially here. (Sad panda. Er…llama.)

Bee: Well, you could say those snowflakes are just paint splatters! ….Or blood.

While I’m dying of laughter (BWAH HA HA HAHAHA HA!  Blood??!! Seriously, girl?! Too much!!), Gracie finishes perfectly with…

Gracie: Dexter would approve.

She is too much! They both are. And they’re mine, all mine, so just stay away. Good gravy.

Well, me and my, um, MurderLlama are going to enjoy a nice cup of coffee. Have a great Monday, everyone!

Damage (good damage! baseball damage!) done.

October 29, 2018

BOSTON!!!!!!!!!!

Sweet baby jeebus, you did it! And in short order, too. I actually got to bed at a decent hour last night. (Well. Ish.)

It was beautiful. And I needed something beautiful. I needed happy smiles and goofy-ass grown men dogpiling all over my TV.

This morning I worked my smelly, hasn’t-been-washed-since-the-post-season Sox shirt into my dressy work suit for our Big Fall Muckity Muck Meeting, and tried to class it up with fancy earrings as best I could.

SoxWin

I stopped for Dunks and ordered a coffee regaluh. (And, sigh, yes, then I had to explain what that was. God bless.)

Dunks

And this week with its full moon and the Big Fall MMM at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeDiscussed will be…whatever it is. But the thing is…I’m feeling nothing but joy!

My boys won, danced, and repeated right up to the evah-lovin’ end.

I am joyful, Boston.

And that is wicked awesome.