Friday, July 31, 2015

All Lady July Wrap Up

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Well, today marks an end to All Lady July!

Thank you for being here and for reading!

Thanks to my wonderful guest posters Jen and Jamie!

This weekend I'll put all the links on the top at the All Lady July tab so you can go find your favorite posts easily in the future.

I realized that I was going to try to do a giveaway, but with moving and starting a new job time just got away from me. There's one in the future. Maybe in November for my birthday?

Can't wait to do this again in a year :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

An All Lady July Dinner Party...

If we’ve learned nothing else from this week, we’ve learned that the world is full of talented women. I made a list of 5 of them who I would like to have a nice long and leisurely dinner with, and after that of course, drinks in the library. (I don’t know whose mansion we are having this dinner at but it sounds really nice!)

Mary Roach

Mary seems like she would be a hoot and a half. Smart and funny, I bet conversations with her might verge on the “not a conversation you want to have while you are eating” kind.

Karen Russell

I hope that by hanging out with Karen some of her awesome will rub off on me. She’s young, super talented and everything that she writes intrigues me. “St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves” is the best short story collection I’ve read in such a long time.

Lucy Knisley

I think Lucy and I would talk about cheese and bread the whole time. I feel like those two topics alone would make a great conversation but we could also talk about other food, traveling and her little manatee doodles that I like so much.

Margaret Atwood

The lady is a legend, and she will definitely lend some gravitas to this gathering. Or else it will be talk of alligators, “prison wallets” and the fact I can’t get too close to bleu cheese without feeling a little stomach heav-y.

Jen Hatmaker

Jen would bring some of her southern charm (and hopefully some of the tasty sounding snacks she makes) to this gathering. I like Jen because even though she writes really interesting theological books she’s also a goof who occasionally hides from her kids and just seems like she’s a big ol’ ball of love.

How about you guys? Who is coming to dinner at your imaginary mansion?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Graphic Novel review: "Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo and Me" by Ellen Forney

Ellen is one of those people, who I suspect, was always the life of the party. A talker, hypersexual, creative on the go type of person. She's a cartoonist (kind of obvious, I suppose) and loves drama and theater. One summer she starts to feel pretty consistently and begins to see a therapist. After not many sessions the therapist begins to suspect Ellen might have a personality disorder (manic episodes, not much sleep or appetite, the hypersexuality, family history, among other things). When they open up the DSM-IV and Ellen reads the symptoms she sees herself outlined on the page.

What follows is a story of Ellen's struggle to find the right balance of medications, her own struggle with her creativity and motivation, interesting stories about her friends and family (one with a really sweet Greek name) and more. She also looks to different "tortured" artists to see how their mental illnesses affected them and their work.

I think two of her questions she asks herself were pretty profound, and must have been scary to contemplate:

-I thought this was just my fun, zany personality; but you're telling me these are all symptoms of a disease?

- If I take meds to prevent my mood swings, am I choosing to be less creative?

This was not my favorite graphic novel, but I really appreciate that she laid everything bare. Her struggles not just with medication and side effects, but what the disease meant for her as a person as an artist. I also appreciated the sobering statistics that she included, foremost the pages where she outlined artists who had attempted or had committed suicide. It was a depressingly a lot of people. 3 stars out of 5! (The book does contain a fair amount of female cartoon nudity...just in case you were planning on reading this with a small child or your grandparents or something)


Friday, July 24, 2015

All Lady July Guest Post: Jamie from Books & Beverages talks about what person and what books shaped her as a reader!

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Today on the blog I'm pleased as punch to have the amazing Jamie from Books and Beverages guest posting. All of her info is at the bottom of the post, and I highly reccomend you make regular visits to her site. If for no other reason to talk Tolkien and Lewis (Tollers and Jack to those in the know) during the Inklings readings! I love that Jamie chose this topic to write on! Thanks for being here today Jamie friend, and happy belated birthday! :)

Hello everyone! I’m so excited to be a part of All Lady July this year! Thank you so much Wesley for letting me join in the fun! One of the ideas Wesley came up with was who encouraged me to read. This question fits perfectly because I get to talk about one of my favorite people on the planet and she’s also quite the lady - my Mama!

My Mom has always encouraged my siblings and I. She continues to do so, even though I’m well into my adult years. From building sets (and lots of Legos) to pets, sports and everything in between, my Mom has always encouraged me to explore and find what I love. One of those early on was most definitely books.

I loved the times during summer (when we weren’t running around our neighborhood) when we’d go to the library. To this day my heart holds a special place for my hometown library (and I really hope they have the same 70s carpet and shelves). And those summer reading challenges? My mom was the one to introduce me to them and encourage me to join (I did not mess around people. There were some serious prizes waiting for me - like free books!).

She would often buy me books and my love for literature and reading has never died down. I’m so thankful for those memories and developing an early love for books. Now I’ve been able to return the favor by giving her plenty of recommendations and lots of books - it’s so fun!

I still have many of these books from childhood (I can let go internet, I can’t). I’ve re-read a couple in recent years and y’all - they are just as fun now as they were back then.

I not only remember these books, but each impacted me in different ways - even if I didn’t realize that at the wise age of 10. Whether for their bravery, courage, inspiration or all of the above, here’s a few of my old favorites:

Roll of Thunder Hear MyCry by Mildred D. Taylor - This book wasn’t a light read, but an important one and helped myself, along with plenty of other people, understand racism from a young girl’s perspective in the South.

Island of the BlueDolphins by Scott O'Dell - This book was based on the true story of Juana Maria, who lived on the island by herself for 18 years. I remember thinking - girls DO have what it takes.

Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary - This book? It showed me reading is fun.

The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett - This is one I need to re-read soon, but I don’t think there’s many people who didn’t like this book.

Wesley Note: Jamie and I want to do a read along of this book. Maybe in the fall? Anyone interested in reading along?

A Murder For Her Majesty by Beth Hilgartner.  This was probably the first clue that I would become rather obsessed with Criminal Minds, Monk and Psych. Mystery and witnessing murder? Nothing an 11-year girl can’t figure out right?

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. After I read this (I remember watching the movie back in the day too!) I desperately wanted a secret garden. I re-read this recently and I loved it all over again.

Anne of Green Gablesby Lucy Maud Montgomery. I have to confess, I grew up only with the movies. Yet, this was a story that still impacts me and was a favorite to watch with my sister and cousins. I haven’t been able to watch it since the death of Gilbert Blythe though. Sigh…

Black Star, Bright Dawn by by Scott O'Dell. Another classic from Mr. O’Dell. It involves a husky, so of course it would be a win for me! Bright Dawn’s story was yet another reminder that women can accomplish some pretty amazing feats.

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Another reason I love Jamie's blog, she takes a wonderful picture.

Do you have favorite books from your childhood?

Thanks for reading and I’d love to connect with you! I write over at Books and Beverages ( and can also be found on Twitter Facebook  and Instagram 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

All Lady July 2015 Shopping Spree

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All photos have links to the Etsy shop and their sellers. Lots of fun options for yourself or your book loving friends!

Virginia Woolf To the Lighthouse - Literature Poster Literature Art Print Book Art Classic Literature Decor - Multiple Sizes

So many great items from this etsy shop! Some designs also are available in sweatshirts!

Vintage 1995 American Women Authors Playing Cards & Educational Card Game by U.S. Game Systems

"Vintage"! The most important thing is, can we turn it into a drinking game? Hmmmm....

Maya Angelou Hand-Cut Paper Silhouette Portrait

Lots of authors available! Cameos are so in right now, it seems like...

Jane Austen Novel Quote Burlap Pillow literary decor

Just Jane, telling it like it is...

Book phone /iPhone flip Wallet case- Gone with the Wind for iPhone 6, 6 plus, 5, 5s, 5c, iPhone 4, 4s- Samsung Galaxy S6 S5 S4 S3, Note 3, 4

So cute! And at about $30, not unreasonable!

Women Literature T-Shirt - Agatha Christie - Favorite Author Book Novel Classics Love Reading Clothing Art - Multiple Sizes & Colors

Get your detective on!

Margaret Atwood, A Word, Power, Writing, Quotes, Learning, Inspirational, Literature, Author Quotes, Books, Power of Words


Monday, July 20, 2015

All Lady July Book Review: "When Books Went to War: The Stories that Helped us Win World War II" by Molly Guptill Manning

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You guys. This book. It made me a weepy, grateful mess. But let's start with the basics that everyone already knows.

World War II was terror and death wrapped in bombs and shrapnel. Nazis were (are) assholes. For a soldier, there was a lot of waiting around for the fighting to start and then when it did it was pants shitting horror. Many of the fighting men and women had no creature comforts, and nothing to take their mind of their surroundings, loneliness, homesickness and fright. But a couple of smart people realized that there was a simple thing to lift their spirits and keep morale sliding any more dangerously low - books.

There were a couple of problems:

- A lot of times the government didn't have the money to kit out a soldier completely, and know they have to spend money for books too?

- At first there was a book drive and a million books were collected. However, not all of the books were of interest to the average fighter (obscure theological tomes anyone?) And since paperback books were just starting to be made, most of the books were hardcovers.There was reports of men in the jungles of the Pacific leaving things like gas masks behind to lighten their loads, they are not going to carry a heavy hardcover.

- "In 1943, publishers were only allowed 37.5% of the paper they had been allowed in 1939". Because, you know, there's a war on and you gotta make do.

The solution that was come up with was the American Services Edition. They were paperback, lightweight, designed to fit in pockets and bags (they even measured all the pockets on different armed forces uniforms to make sure). Even the longest ASE (521 pages) fit snugly into pockets.

How were books chosen?

1. Publishers went through their catalogs and tried to pick out books that would have the most appeal.
2. An outside council read the recommended books and discussed their merits. They'd make a list.
3.The government had to approve the books, and the ones they approved got printed and distributed.

The best part of this book was learning about the books the soldiers loved. There are some surprises! They were desperate for the books, they were the hottest commodity in camp next to lighters. Many men said that they weren't really readers but those little books turned them into readers for life! And some books were designed specifically to help men get back into civilian life after the war.

I was just a big spongy mess reading this book, for real. What these books did for those people is extraordinary.

So if anyone wants to buy some ASE's for their own personal library (I know I do!) try eBay.

The last line of the book summed up the whole thing for me. I'm going to put it in italics because putting it in all caps would be me yelling at you (though it deserves yelling: "More than 141 million books were given to the american armed forces. More books that Hitler ever destroyed". 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Author Interview - Vanessa Lafaye of "Under a Dark Summer Sky"

So pleased to be bringing you an author interview this fine Friday morning! Firstly, tip of the hat and thanks goes to T of Traveling with T who made the introduction between Vanessa and myself. 

Vanessa is the author of "Under a Dark Summer Sky", a thrilling summer read based on actual events!  

Here's the goodreads summary to get you all intrigued:

Huron Key is already weighed down with secrets when a random act of violence and a rush to judgment viscerally tear the town apart. As the little island burns under the sun and the weight of past decisions, a devastating storm based on the third-strongest Atlantic Hurricane on record approaches, matching the anger of men with the full fury of the skies. Beautifully written and seductive, UNDER A DARK SUMMER SKY is at once a glorious love story, a fascinating slice of social history, and a mesmerizing account of what it's like to be in the eye of a hurricane.

Intriguing, right? You're in luck because there's a goodreads giveaway of "Under a Dark Summer Sky" going on until the 28th so head on over and try your luck!

Vanessa took the time to answer some questions about her book, being an author and some All Lady July themed questions for me share with you, and here they are!

This is your debut book! What has surprised you about being a published author?

Several things:  that readers in countries very different to the US (UK, Norway, Italy, Holland, Germany, France) would relate to such an American story; that bloggers like you would be so active and energetic in raising awareness of books; that the characters from my imagination would become as real to readers as they are to me.

The book includes some strong female characters, what did you enjoy most about writing them?

I adore strong, sassy women, so it was a delight to write Selma’s character especially.  I think that I’m very drawn to female characters who have special knowledge or powers, real or otherworldly.  It’s very possible that, had I lived in a previous century, I would have wanted to be a witch.  But even the female characters who aren’t strong overtly, like Missy, develop a core of steel through being tested.  I really enjoyed developing her from something of a victim, someone who has been pushed around by circumstances, into someone who takes charge of her life.

If this book was turned into a movie and you could cast whoever you wanted in the roles who would you pick?

That’s easy:  Denzel for Henry (who is technically too old for the part, but Henry looks older than he is and, hey, it’s Denzel); Queen Latifah for Selma; January Jones for Hilda; Oprah for Mama; John C Reilly for Dwayne; an unknown for Missy; Tim Roth for Doc (although he’s a Brit, he does a great American accent, and would bring the vulnerability to the part). 

Who are some of your female authors? 

Pat Barker (The Regeneration Trilogy, which first opened my eyes to the history of WWI); Alice Hoffmann; Arianna Franklin; Mary Wesley; Carol Shields; Kate Atkinson; Jane Smiley; E. Annie Proulx

Who are some of your favorite female character in literature (besides your own, of course!)? 

Mrs Bennett, ‘Pride and Prejudice’, because she’s such an awful social climber, she’s hilarious
Adelia Aguilar, the doctor from Arianna Franklin’s wonderful series of medieval crime stories, so sad that she’s gone now
Lou Clark from Jojo Moyes’ incredibly moving ‘Me Before You’
Izzy Sherbourne in M.L Steadman’s ‘The Light Between Oceans’
Vianne Rocher from Joanne Harris’ ‘Chocolat’

What's next for you? 

Book 2 is another dramatization of a fascinating episode from history.  I wanted to base it again on real events, because I find it so satisfying to use them as a framework to populate with my fictional characters.

Thanks again Vanessa! If you'd like to find Vanessa on the interwebs here is her website, her goodreads page and her twitter

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

All Lady July Guest Book Review: "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot

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My beloved friend Jen is joining us today for All Lady July. At this point she should have an official title like "Special Science Correspondent for Library Educated". She has joined us before talking about brains. She's back this year to share with us an amazing true story about a woman who was almost forgotten despite her great contribution to science. Thanks for being here Roommate Jen. AND Happy Birthday tomorrow! Take it away!...

Before I even started reading The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I knew I wanted to see if Wesley would let me review it for All Lady July. (The door is always open for you Jen!) It’s an important story about a lady and her family’s tumultuous, unintended journey into the world of scientific research, written by another lady who wouldn’t give up on her dream to tell this story to the world.

Full disclosure: I’ve worked in the human clinical research field for the past 7 years so this book has a great deal of meaning for me and what I do every day.  I was somewhat ashamed that I didn’t read it sooner, but when I did start reading, I couldn’t stop. I had this on my TBR list because I was attending a conference where the author was a keynote speaker, but I didn’t start until I arrived at the airport for my flight to the conference (I’m not a procrastinator… I just work better under pressure). I had the whole thing finished before I landed in SLC and I had to fight off some tears on the plane - a fair warning for anyone interested in reading the book.

The book weaves two main threads of this story together: Henrietta and her family’s experience and the scientific community’s actions. We learn about Henrietta’s upbringing as a poor African-American woman in Maryland and her battle with cancer in the early 1950’s. We also learn about her biopsied cells being taken to a lab for research purposes, without her knowledge or consent, and the stir that her cells caused when they didn’t die. Her immortal HeLa cells were used in the creation of the polio vaccine, sent into space, and continue to be used in laboratories around the world today.  (FYI: the name of her cell line makes me SO uncomfortable because it breaks all sorts of confidentiality rules/laws by using the first two letters of her first and last name.)  The cells take the scientific world by storm over the next few decades; meanwhile, Henrietta’s family has no idea this is happening. Fast forward to the 2000’s where our author, Rebecca Skloot, goes on a mission to learn about Henrietta, her family, her cells, and why no one has ever really been able to tell the full story before. There’s so many small things that I could share here about how the stories develop and intertwine, but it’s just best left to Rebecca’s writing. Also, I don’t want to ruin the whole book by having a nerd alert geek fest for 500 more words.  I’ll show some restraint and avoid oversharing.

What I will say is that the book provides a powerful narrative on the intersection of race relations and segregation, doctor/patient relationships, confidentiality, educational disparity, human subject research regulations, bioethics, faith and so much more.  It’s simultaneously fascinating and heartbreaking to see the contribution the Lacks family provided to science and how this contribution was revealed and explained to them. Since I work in the research sector every day, I was reminded of why I do my job and also how I should communicate and treat each person that volunteers to be in a research study. So here’s where I plug a cool program that I’ve found since reading the book: the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science. Yes, that Alan Alda.(Insert Wesley's surprised face here). He’s on a mission to help scientists learn how to take their amazing work and communicate it in a way the public can understand. I feel this is such an important movement within the community over the past few years, and it also ties into my last point about the book. This isn’t really a light read in terms of the subject matter, but it isn’t terribly dense for those not scientifically inclined. I didn’t need to have Google handy, but you might want to if you are interested in following some of the scientific history tangents. If you have any interest in the progress of the field of human research or you just want an incredible true story, I highly recommend this book. 


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

All Lady July Author Interview: Sara R Turnquist of "The Lady Borneokva" (HFVBT)

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An author interview today for All Lady July! It's set in the Czech Republic, so I was all over it. But I thought that an interview might be good for a little variety. Here's the book summary and then Sara's answers to my questions!

"The red-headed Karin is strong-willed and determined, something she inherited from her father. She tries to keep her true nature a secret to avoid being deemed a traitor by those loyal to the king. Karin and her father butt heads over her duty to her family and the Czech Crown. She is then sequestered to the Royal Viscount’s hunting lodge.
Not aware of everything that is happening, she becomes the target of an individual with murderous intent. Her heart soon becomes entangled though her father intends to wed her to another. The turmoil inside Karin deepens and reflects the turmoil of her homeland, on the brink of the Hussite Wars."

And did I mention a giftcard giveaway? Because there's one of those too!

What first peaked your interest in the Czech Republic? What made you decide to set your story there? 

Interestingly enough, I don’t know that I would have thought of the Czech Republic myself. I was invited to travel over to teach English at a summer camp. I loved everything about the Czech Republic and its people so much that I went several more summers. Each time we went, we would spend some sight-seeing time a couple of days prior to the camp. Our trip leader would plan something unique for us to do/see. One trip, we visited a royal summer house near Hradek Kralove. Touring this massive estate inspired the setting of the novel and the basic story. Coming across the story of Jan Hus and the Hussite Wars in their history did the rest.

How much research did you need to do for this book? Did you find out anything surprising? 

I was doing research before I realized I was…like visiting the chateau. One of my English students that summer taught Czech history to high school students and I asked him to tell me about the Hussite Wars. I also poured over what research I could find here in the United States about the Hussite Wars and Jan Hus as I was actually writing the book. I was surprised at how long the Hussite Wars actually lasted. I was also surprised to find out that the Bohemian king during the time was the King Wenceslas from the Christmas carol “Good King Wenceslas”.

This is your debut novel! Has anything surprised you about "officially" being an author? 

Hmmm…all the work that goes into bringing a book to publication. I expected edits, but was surprised that there are so many rounds of edits, for example. I’ve also surprised myself. I have been writing for quite some time and always thought of this as a hobby. But when my husband convinced me to query one of my works and it was accepted for publication, all of a sudden, things got serious and my whole mindset changed. Now, I’m going to writers conferences and I’ve joined a critique group…it’s just gotten a lot more serious (in a good way).

Are there any characteristics that you share with Karin? Or that you wish you did?

I think she has my strong will and determination. Karin doesn’t have the same shyness I have though. I would like to think that under the same circumstances Karin faces, I could hold on to what I believe to be true as firmly as she does.

Who are some of your female authors?

Michelle Moran for sure. I recently read “This Quiet Sky” from Joanne Bischof and was blown away. And I can’t forget an author who has become my mentor and friend, Hannah Conway. Her “Wounded Warrior’s Wife” is just gripping.

Who are some of your favorite female character in literature? (Besides Karin of course!) 

Michelle Moran’s female characters are always intriguing. I really enjoyed reading Nefertari in her “Heretic Queen” and her Nefertiti character from “Nefertiti” is a powerful female character. I’m also partial to some of Jane Austen’s females like the strong-minded Elizabeth Bennet. I also relate to Anne, from “Anne of Green Gables” a lot in my life.

I think it's so interesting that you have a zoological background! Do you work with one kind of animal or a wide range?

I actually work more on the educational side of the zoo institution, so the homo sapiens. We take them around the zoo and talk about a wide range of animals, though. For the adults, we visit a couple of animal night houses and have closer encounters with animals such as white rhinos, elephants, hippos, and the like. I did do an internship where I worked with invertebrates – tarantulas and scorpions and whatnot. Mind you, I am terrified of spiders, but I learned to appreciate these wonderful animals for their uniqueness and the benefit that they are to our planet.

(Wesley's note: Oh homo spaiens. The most unpredictable and strange of all in the animal kingdom :) )

Thanks Sara!

Sara resides with her family in Middle TN. Though she has enjoyed her career as a Zoo Educator, Sara's great love of the written word has always drawn her to write. An avid reader, she has been, for many years, what she terms a “closet writer”. Her travels and love of history have served to inspire her to write Historical Fiction. Sara has made several trips overseas to the Czech Republic for short stints in the summer over several years. Her time among the Czech people and the landscapes of the country inspired her and greatly influenced her work on her debut novel, The Lady Bornekova, set in the Czech town of Hradec Kralove.

Monday, July 6
Spotlight & Excerpt at What Is That Book About
Tuesday, July 7
Spotlight at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Wednesday, July 8
Guest Post at Historical Fiction Connection
Friday, July 10
Spotlight & Excerpt at The Never-Ending Book
Sunday, July 12
Review at Carole's Ramblings
Monday, July 13
Review at Book Nerd
Excerpt at To Read, or Not to Read
Tuesday, July 14
Interview at Library Educated
Wednesday, July 15
Excerpt at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More
Thursday, July 16
Spotlight at The Lit Bitch
Friday, July 17
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Monday, July 20
Guest Post at Unshelfish
Tuesday, July 21
Spotlight at Let Them Read Books
Wednesday, July 22
Character Interview at Boom Baby Reviews
Friday, July 24
Spotlight at CelticLady's Reviews
Monday, July 27
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, July 28
Review at Genre Queen
Wednesday, July 29
Interview & Excerpt at Jorie Loves a Story
Thursday, July 30
Review at Bookramblings
Friday, July 31
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Friday, July 10, 2015

All Lady July Book Review: "Eat, Pray Love: One Woman's Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia" by Elizabeth Gilbert

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Hello, my name is Wesley and I'm a book snob. Sometimes I refuse to read certain books because the hype is so great. This was one of those books. To be honest, if I hadn't read this book I don't think I really would have missed much. But let's make a quick a dirty summary just in case you've managed to avoid hearing about this book in the last 7ish years.

Elizabeth Gilbert rolls into her 30s in crisis. She has a husband that she loves, a beautiful house, great friends and family but she is a wreck. She basically feels like her life is suffocating her. She realizes she isn't ready to settle in a big rambly house, have kids and be that woman. She wants out. Her husband is angry, shocked and hurt. (She confides that there are multiple other issues at play but she doesn't go into it). A terrible, bitter divorce ensues. She gets an advance on an upcoming book (this one actually) and flees to Italy, India and Indonesia to try to make sense of her life, her anxiety and depression that she's struggled with her whole life, and who/what God is and what that means to her life.

I loved the first section, on Italy.The descriptions of the food we're making my mouth water, and the talk of her long, ambling walks among Italy's fountains, neighborhoods and monuments we making me eye up my already depleted travel fund. She improves on her Italian, by talking with Italians. She also learns a string of swear words which was fun."Cafone" means asshole in case you ever need to know that.If you're a good eater you are "buono forchetta": a good fork. Isn't Italian fun? She goes to a futbol match which is rowdy and loud and awesome, but the team loses. Elizabeth assumes that they will go to a bar and drown their sorrows. But they don't, they go to a little hole in wall bakery, eat cream puffs and moan about the loss. I might care more about sporting events if there were cream puffs at the end. I really might. While in Italy she does a lot of eating, and self reflection about who she is and what she actually wants.

Then she goes to an ashram in India and learns about meditation and talking to God, then she goes to Indonesia and hangs out with a medicine man. And meets a Brazillian that she can't resist even though not even a year earlier she got herself gutted financially and emotionally by her now ex-husband and rebound relationship with a guy named David.

Can you tell which part of the book I enjoyed the most? (Though I do like the Texan who sets her straight in India and calls her Groceries,because that's a great nickname). I kind of wished I'd stopped after Italy. I think I only really liked that section because I want to go to Italy, whereas India and Indonesia don't hold the same allure for me. I liked that she was honest about how much of a mess she was, and I appreciated her way of writing but this book was just not for me. I give it 2 out of 5 stars. I was going to watch the movie just for a well rounded review, but I knew it would just make me want to go to Italy, and after that I'd just be kind of annoyed. Even though it didn't jive with me personally I think it was a great book for ALJ2015! I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

I do like this cover though!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Find me elsewhere today!

Over at Books and Beverages it's Inklings Week! A week long celebration of all things Tolkien and Lewis. I'm the guest poster today, talking about what book brought me to CS Lewis as an almost adult. So come by and learn from my bad assumptions and stick around all week to see what other fun is in store!


Monday, July 6, 2015

All Lady July - "Uprooted" by Naomi Novik

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Agniezka lives in a quiet village in a lovely valley. She loves her village, even though the dark, sinister, dangerous Woods linger not far off. The Dragon is the name of the wizard who lives in a high tower that keeps the village safe from the things that lurk in the Woods. His price? Every 10 years he takes a girl from the village. No one knows exactly what happens to the girls when they return to the village after their tenure (though every girl that comes back says he never laid a hand on them) but the girls never stay in the village for long. Agniezka is not worried about herself getting picked by Dragon, because she knows her best friend, Kasia will get picked. She is beautiful, courageous, smart and caring; everything that a wizard would want in a ....kidnap victim. Of course, this book wouldn't be about Agniezka if Kasia actually did get picked,right?

What follow is a book about:
-finding strength and potential in yourself that you didn't know you had
-making hard choices
- why you should always put your cows down IMMEDIATELY after they get bit by a mysterious creature

What I liked about the book:

-The things that happen in the Woods, and what it does to the people who survive the encounters with the Woods, is genuinely scary. I know all the stuff that's going to be going through my end when I'm camping this summer under the trees.

- I like that we hear how Kasia side of the story. By not getting picked the course of her life changed drastically from the one that she had planned. This leads to her having some feelings.

-No instalove! Hooray! Though there is some romance, which is fine.

- There wasn't a "hey let's do a really vague ending so that there's plenty of room for me to start with the sequel" type of ending. I hope she does continue writing with these characters, but if she doesn't "Uprooted" is one full, complete book on it's own.

I think this is my favorite fiction read of the year so far. I liked it very much.I give it 4 out of 5 stars.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Book Review: "Spinster" by Kate Bolick

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Kate Bolick is older than 30, has never been married and doesn't have any kids. This doesn't maker her a part of the "vast majority" of married women with children. She's been in a lot of long term relationships, but none that were so important/special/whatever the right word is, that she would give up her independence.

Interwoven with her stories she talks about Neith Boyce, Maeve Brennan, Charlotte Perkins Gilman,
Edna St Vincent Millay and Edith Wharton. Honestly, I don't know much about any of these women (though I have read "The Yellow Wallpaper" which is awesome and creepy and based on Charlotte's real experiences with postpartum depression).

I kind of struggled with this book, and didn't really like it but I can't really put my finger on why. I think it's fine that Kate chooses to be single, so it's not like I'm upset with her for that life choice. I think maybe I feel like the book is trying to be too many things. It's a memoir and it also talks about these other ladies. I think maybe the format is part of my problem, like I want cleaner separation between talking about herself and the other ladies? Maybe I just don't like her writing style?

This is probably the least helpful review in the history of reviews. I guess all I can say is that, for me, parts were kind of interesting (mostly the parts on Charlotte Perkins Gilman) but the rest of it was kind of a struggle to get through. I give it 2 out of 5 stars.

Did anyone else read this book and love it? Or hate it? Or and weirdly indifferent about it and that it makes them feel guilty for some stupid reason? Oh well, not every book you read will be your next new most favorite!

I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review from Blogging for Books

Thursday, July 2, 2015

All Lady July Book Review: "Gulp" by Mary Roach

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Oh Mary Roach, making science and disgusting things be interesting and fun. Her book "Gulp" takes us on an adventure "through the Alimentary Canal", which means we are talking a bout everything from the saliva in your mouth to the waste that comes out of your body. In typical Mary Roach fashion, she takes kind of a broad topic and then does several chapters about different aspects of that main topic.

This might be a good time to say that if you are eating a meal right now, or want to be eating a meal in the next 30 minutes or so, maybe you should save this review for another time. Really, it's in your gag reflexes' best interest.

I'm just going to give a couple of factoids that I thought were great from different chapters and hope that that intrigues you enough to pick up this book for yourself.!

There's a chapter about saliva. Did you know that excessive salivation might be a symptom of mercury poisoning?

There's a chapter about chewing. Each person's chewing style is completely unique to them, it's almost like a fingerprint. I was thinking, "uh really? I don't know about you but generally my jaw only goes one way". But the more I read the more I learned. Some people are up and down, some are more side to side, some people chew their food into mush before they swallow, some people barely chew it enough so they don't choke!

Of course there's talk about rectum and poop, so here's that info:

A prison slang term for rectums is "prison wallet". So. Yep. Bust out that fact around your grandma and the potato salad at the next summer get together.

Here is my favorite quote of the book. Mary asks an expert (I forget in what) what would happen if a terrorist tried to take down a plane by smuggling a bomb on board using his "prison wallet".

"Crump says a rectal bomb wouldn't bring down a plane. At the most you'd just blow the seat apart".

As a person who worries about literally everything when she's flying, that gave me some relief.

As far as Mary Roach books go, it's not my favorite. (I think Stiff will always be my favorite), but I liked it more than Spook. If you're a science/health/nutrionist or something of the like I bet you would get an especially good kick out of it, but I think it's still a fun read for anyone in general. (Provided they don't mind some talk about poop!) I give it 3 out of 5 stars!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

All Lady July kickoff!!!

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Let's pause for a dance party, yes? Yes!

(Ironically, neither Arnold nor Tom are my favorite people but I couldn't resist. I love Raving Arnold and a lot of my dance moves mirror Mr Cruises', which is not good.)

Alright, let's put the dance party on hold and talk about what you're going to get in this year's celebration of All Lady July!

We've got book reviews! We've got a great link roundup! We've got an author interview! We've got great literary gift ideas! We've got guest posters! (If I get my act together) We've got a giveaway! We've got women talking about women who are awesome! And more! I'll try not to bombard you with too many posts, but you will be getting more content than usual this month. If you're new to this month long celebration of wonderful women, welcome! So happy to have you here. If even know you're like, "holy cow I must guest post this month at LE I have so much to say about women and books!" you just get in contact with me, there's room for you!

At the end of the month all of the posts will be compiled under the All Lady July tab on the top of the page. Tip of the hat to my sister Quinn who used one of her favorite apps to make the picture for this month (way better than what I had cooked up in picmonkey, haha)