Wednesday, November 8, 2017


My sister Quinn and I embark on our next European adventure in about a week! I'm super excited obviously. We have a pretty packed and detailed itinerary since our trip won't be that long and I can't wait to tell you all about it when we get back!

I'm actually reading a book right now called "The Last Seven Months of Anne Frank" by Willy Lindwer. It's about, well the last seven months of Anne's life. It's interviews with people who, in general, knew Anne in "real life" and then ended up in the same concentration camp(s) that she was in. It's interesting because of the tie in to Anne but the first hand witness accounts would be able to stand on their own.

If anyone has read anything good (and maybe light and in paperback!) that would be good for airport reads let me know! Packing the reading is one of the most important parts of packing :)

Friday, November 3, 2017

Book Review: "The Book Thieves: The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance" by Anders Rydell

It's not a secret that when the Nazis tore through Europe they helped themselves to mostly anything that they wanted and destroyed whatever they didn't want. I think with the suceess of Monuments Men (book and movie) people mainly think about this in terms of art. But what about books? That's what this book focuses on.

The Nazis didn't just steal books from wealthy individuals personal collections (which of course they did) but also institutional libraries, like rabbinical schools. A lot of these books were either studied or kept (like to be put in Hitler's museum of "Oh my gosh, look how backward the Jews were, aren't you glad we eradicated them?") or destroyed. "And in the little town of Herford in Western Germany, children used them (Jewish sacred texts) to make confetti for a folk festival".

The author travels to the sites where these libraries and personal collections used to be  and places where restitution is trying to take place. A lot of these books after the war were either just let to rot somewhere or were absorbed by local public libraries, including some big ones in Berlin. Now librarians have the Herculean task of going through the books and seeing if there are any clues on who they belonged to so that they can get the books back the right families. (A lot of this information is being digitized and put on the internet, and they are hoping that people will go looking for this information when they start doing research on the family tree.)

Im always curious about the stories of countries that were invaded by the Nazis that you hear less about, some good examples being Greece and the Scandanavian countries. This book has some heartbreaking stories about some Greek Jews. Anyone have any book reccs on these settings?

Did you know that no Guttenberg Bible has been for sale since the 1970s but the estimated current market value is $35 million?

Really, my only complaint about this book is that it had a lot of background information about the Nazis. This in an of itself was not a bad thing, but if you're a person reading this book you probably have a pretty solid background on that group and don't need it re-explained. Like, if you're just starting to read books about WWII this probably isn't the book you're reaching for. If that makes sense.


Monday, October 23, 2017

My 5 favorite things I learned from "What We See in the Stars: An Illustrated Tour of the Night Sky" by Kelsey Oseid

I often talk about how much I love me some space travel. I always cry at the same parts of Apollo 13, etc. etc. However, what I lack is a basic understanding of what makes the space that we travel through what it is. I also never try to present myself as a learned student of the sciences because I'm just not. So when I saw this pretty little hardcover on the Blogging for Books website I said "Self, let's get some education about this amazing place where we live". And I did.

Here are my  5 favorite things I learned from this book:

1. Do you ever think "Uh, I dont know why they named Ursa Major after a bear because that is literally just a string of stars that looks nothing like a bear". The answer might be: false pattern recognition.

2. Did you know that Uranus has 27 moons? And I feel like so many of them are named after Shakespeare characters or Shakespeare characters were named after them, whatever. (Miranda, Oberon, Titania)

3.Did you know that shadows cast on the moon are MUCH darker than shadows cast on earth?

4. When the moon appears to grow is waxing. When it looks like it's shrinking it's waning. (I feel like that should be basic moon 101 but I was not 100% on that)

5. When people talk about the Dog Days of Summer its a reference to Sirius, when the sun and Sirius rise at about the same time aka during some of the hottest days of summer.

In addition to being full of awesome, helpful facts - the illustrations are beautiful, clear and helpful. I want the pretty, smudgey background of all of the pages to be my desktop wallpaper. 

Beautiful, interesting and informative. If you have even half of an inkling to pick this book up you should!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Book review: "Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain's Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War" by Ben Macintyre

Oh man, this book. It's got heroics, Nazis assholes, British stiff upper lips, daring escapes, terrible deaths and literally everything you would need to make an awesome movie. (But no Hollywood, by all means give us another Fast and the Furious). Even when the subject matter is this macho and rough the writing in this book was always just lovely and elegant and there were a lot of sentences that I just wanted to savor.

Examples: "A warrior monk, he craved action and the company of soldiers, but when the fighting was over, he embraced solitude". "Recruiting Mayne was like adopting a wolf: exciting, certain to instill fear, but not necessarily sensible".

(I didn't realize it until about 30 pages left in the book but I've actually read another book by this author. It's about Kim Philby and it's also elegantly written and ALSO has people you want to punch in the face. So there's that).

So, the SAS were a group of men that specifically were designed to go behind enemy lines, sabotage, wreck all kinds of havoc and then get out. This was not generally how things were done, and it took a certain type of person to be able to do it (especially where they first started, fighting in the Libyan dessert, jumping out of planes at night, which they were the first to do - probably because it's dangerous as hell and you shouldn't do it). So these men who had to be tough, committed, wiling to follow orders but not be "yes men", and be willing to work as a part of a team-being devoted to each other (but also to leave someone who broke their back in the middle of the desert because they couldn't carry him and endanger the mission - this happened a fair amount. Jumping out of planes in the desert, remember?) came from surprisingly diverse backgrounds. You had upper crust rich guys, guys who came from tomato farms,a Belgian merchant with a name no one can pronounce so they gave him a new one, american cowboys who turned into pilots who crashed in Europe and then got recruited, someone from Wisconsin - woohoo!, a parachuting priest and at least 2 totally homicidal Scots (bless their homicidal hearts, they were nuts). AND THAT'S NOT EVEN THE GUY WHO SCALED A TOWER WHERE A SNIPER WAS SHOOTING FROM AND STRANGLED HIM WITH HIS BARE HANDS.

The book covers how the group began, their first theater of battle (Libyan dessert - sounds terrible) and then on to Europe. It is kind of hard because you get attached to a few of them and then they die when a bomb explodes their truck or get lined up and shot outside of a train car in the forest (god damned Nazis). It's a lot of names, but these men are memorable. But they aren't just caricatures of action heroes, there's a particular scene around a campfire that was bittersweet.

So you may be able to tell from my rambling, but I really enjoyed this book. It's in my top 3 of the year. I will actively seek out more of Mr Macintyre's books!

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review from Blogging for Books

Friday, October 6, 2017

Book Review: "Last Christmas in Paris" by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (HFVBT)

I'm always a little leery of a romance, but with this books unique format and interesting setting I gave it a go, and I'm glad that I did! It's about Evie Elliot, who is "left behind" as her brother Will and his best friend Thomas leave their upper class lives in England for dirty, awful, hellish trench warfare on the continent. (The story is told mostly through letters back and forth between a few key people, but occasionally there is a chapter that is just a normal chapter.) They (like a lot of people) assume that this war will just be a small skirmish and that it will be wrapped up by Christmas where they will meet in Paris and celebrate. It is not wrapped up by Christmas. They do not celebrate. Evie is spunky and bright and refuses to let the fact that she was left behind mean that she isn't doing "her part" for the war back at home. She even rides a bicycle for a job she gets. Scandal upon scandal!

The letters back and forth between these three showcase the worry and uncertainty of the people who are waiting at home, the terror and the boredom of trench warfare, love lost, love gained, grief, how life goes on at home while people are away at war and on and on. It's all very human and realistic feeling. 

A small thing that kind of poked at me was how fast the mail supposedly worked. And maybe the author did the research and found out that if the different battalions were ensconced somewhere for awhile that mail delivery was pretty regular. (The letters are dated, which is why I noticed). But considering it was 1915-ish and it had to cross the English Channel AND government services were stretched pretty thing AND it's a war it seemed like those letters were zipping fast and furious like Amazon prime orders! Probably not a soul other then me would give that a second thought. I might just be insane.

A great romantic read, especially in fall or winter!


Praise for Last Christmas in Paris

“Beautifully told…the authors fully capture the characters’ voices as each person is dramatically shaped by the war to end all wars.”—Booklist
“For fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society comes another terrific epistolary historical novel that is simply unputdownable […] this remarkable novel will undoubtedly go on my keeper shelf.” —Karen White, New York Times bestselling author of The Night the Lights Went Out
“Humor, love, tragedy, and hope make for a moving, uplifting read. A winner!” —Kate Quinn, author of The Alice Network
“An extraordinary epistolary novel that explores the history and aftermath of the Great War in a sensitive, memorable and profoundly moving fashion. A book to savor, to share and discuss with friends, and above all to cherish.” —Jennifer Robson, international bestselling author of Goodnight from London
“There is a special talent to writing the epistolary novel and Gaynor and Webb have mastered it. Letter by letter, the complex lives of Evie and Thomas unfold as WWI wages on, bringing with it the heartbreaking news of physical and emotional casualties. And yet, in the midst of such sacrifices, an ever-deepening love surfaces, finding a unique way to live on in this devastatingly beautiful work of historical fiction.”—Renee Rosen, author of Windy City Blues

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Chapters | IndieBound | Kobo

About the Authors

HEATHER WEBB is the author of historical novels Becoming Josephine and Rodin’s Lover, and the anthology Fall of Poppies, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews. RODIN’S LOVER was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. Up and coming, Last Christmas in Paris, an epistolary love story set during WWI will release October 3, 2017, and The Phantom’s Apprentice, a re-imagining of the Gothic classic Phantom of the Opera from Christine Daae’s point of view releases February 6, 2018. To date, her novels have sold in ten countries. Heather is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend.

HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel The Girl from the Savoy was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris will be published in 2017.
Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Originally from Yorkshire, England, Hazel now lives in Ireland.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Author Event with Mary Roach

Ya'll it's been a shit week out in the world. Let's make it a little bit better by talking about a fun author event that I went to last week.

I love me some Mary Roach, so much so that I picked GRUNT, her latest, as my book club pick for the workplace book club that I am in. Low and behold, only a few short months after we read the book and everyone enjoys it, she comes to Milwaukee for a talk. Hooray! So a group of 4 of us went to check her out.

Also, some of you may have seen mine and Mary's chitter chat on the twitter the day before: (on the tweet I sent I had that GIF of Loki from Avengers hanging out of a car window going YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!)

We weren't allowed to film or take pictures during the event but, being the book blogger that I am, I had brought a notepad with me to take notes! So, the format was a conversation between Mary and a local, public radio personality and then they took some questions.

(I'm obviously paraphrasing these questions and answers because I didn't have a tape recorder and I was trying to drink my Heineken and take notes and listen. So none of these quotes are the "" type of quotes). 

Radio guy: Do you think science writing is a service to scientists?
Mary: Acts as translator and a massive filtration system between the scientists/science and the general public. Spending hours in the basement of a library or a dusty archives to find something that really grabs her attention and then finding a way to make it so that is more approachable for the average reader.

Radio guy: Why are you a science writer and not a scientist?
Mary: No advanced math! She also said she had a great physics teacher but a terrible biology teacher who made everything dull and boring, so she thought that maybe if she had had better science experiences in school she would have stuck more with science. Though, she said she has an admittedly short attention span, so journalism and writing is good for that.

Radio guy: Some question about how she captures a scene/what kind of notes she takes/ how she takes notes. Something like that.

Mary: She has a tape recorder on for her interviews, especially because she wants to get the science words right. Shes takes notes by hand on the people that she is actually interviewing, the situation around them. She always carries two tape recorders just in case one breaks, and she hates pens with caps! In her heart she always wanted o be a travel writer, so she doesn't mind going to the far flung places to chase a lead! GRUNT started when she went to India to chase down a story about really hot peppers and it ended in a government lab who was trying to make leech repellant.

Radio guy: Was it hard to get people to talk to you because of government agencies and secrecy and war and whatever?

Mary: No! People were very open about what they were doing and are prouod of what they are doing so they want to share. Mary herself was shocked she didn't run into more roadblocks that way.

Then she told a couple of stories from GRUNT, which we all kind of already know because we read the book so I didn't take any notes.

People got to ask questions and I got to ask what she is reading right now and she said THIS

So it lasted about an hour and then there was the signing. So, I got a copy of GRUNT as an ARC, so I didn't have a physical copy to sign so she signed my Kindle. She was like, oh my gosh are you sure? And I was like hell yeah! So she did. (Mary was in entirety, funny and happy and sweary and just all around exactly like you would want her to be).

Friday, September 15, 2017

Book Review: "The Secret History of Wonder Woman" by Jill Lepore

If you are looking for a quick, bite sized book that will tell you all about Wonder Woman in big, broad strokes not the book for you. Are you looking for an incredibly detailed, well researched, and interesting book that gives you the real long game about the creator of Wonder Woman, the huge influences on him who made Wonder Woman who she is and more? DING DING. Here is the book you are looking for!

So, the man who created Wonder Woman was....uh...a renaissance man of sorts. Yeah, that's it. He invented the detector! He got fired from almost all of his jobs! He was not classically handsome but must have had a pretty magnetic personality or something because the women in his life put up with A LOT. And yeah, that plural is indicative of lovers and wives...which he usually had one of each for many many years in a polyamorous scenario.

Have you heard the rumors about the reason that there are so many chains and cuffs and ropes and Wonder Woman being tied up is because her creator had some BDSM tendencies? That is not a complete untruth. Though lots of times it serves as a metaphor for women being shackled to traditional gender roles. (And by that I mean, it was 1932 if you were female you went to high school, you got married, you had kids, that's it. Any deviation from that path and you were getting eyebrows raised and people tittering about you. I would never have guessed that: birth control, the women's suffragette movement, and so many other things would have contributed to a comic book!

A thing that this book mentioned in passing that got me weirdly angry is that there were so many women who did work on comic books of the time that were given no credit for their work because they were women. And that's just all kinds of bullshit. Where's a book about the unsung women of the comic book world?!


Friday, September 8, 2017

Book Review: "American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land" by Monica Hesse

This was picked for my work book club. I had heard a lot of buzz about it but couuuuuldn't actually have told you what it was about. True crime is not generally what I find myself reaching for as far as nonfiction is concerned, but it turned out to be a really interesting read.

The author went out of her way to tell you about the community where the story takes place. This is one of those books where the setting itself is a character, and if you didn't get a feel for the place the rest of the book wouldn't make as much sense. 

There's a main couple in this story and I feel like everyone who has gone to a bar, or lives in a state that has a strong drinking culture - for better or for worse- (#DrinkWisconsinbly!) has seem a version of the main couple in the story. I think that was one thing that kinda of made me chuckle at this book. All of the people in this book were interesting, well thought out/fleshed out people. (I mean, it's nonfiction, these people are real but I feel like you got a whole person, not just a weird snapshot, 2D version)

Also, learned so so so so so much about how volunteer fire departments worked! I've never lived in a place that didn't have a city/municipal fire department so that was interesting to me as well.

This very well researched and through book read really fast and kept me hooked until the end, which is quite a feet considering you know who committed the crimes from about the first 10 pages onward!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Poetry confusion.

So, I struggle with poetry. I want to like more of it. There's some that I really like. I like the Romantic poets, like Blake and Coleridge. I like some Tennyson. I can be down for some Shakespeare sonnets. (Though if I am reading Shakespeare it's Hamlet or Macbeth, let's be honest.) 

I keep saying I'm trying to get more into TS Eliot because I like the Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock and The Wasteland. 

But when I try to get into more of his poetry or, you know, literally any other poetry I feel like I don't know where to start. I know I probably can just jump in anywhere and that's fine (like there's no wrong way to read, we all know that) but I always feel like I'm starting at the wrong place. Apparently I need chapters and chronologicalness to make me confident in what I am doing bookwise.

Does anyone have any suggestions? Poets? Poems? Poetry for Dummies?

I will say, poetry that rhymes or is more lyrical in nature is the most appealing to me. I feel like that's my only parameters.

And because the internet is full of whatever you need at your fingertips I found one of my favorite pieces of poetry. I thought it was a Longfellow, and it kind of is, but it's actually "his" because he translated it into English.

Image result for soul from thy casement look

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: "Blink- The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" by Malcolm Gladwell

Several of the very smart scientist ladies that I work with have been talking about Malcolm Gladwell's books lately and I thought I would jump in and try one for myself. This is not my most favorite nonfiction read (that's a pretty crowded category to be fair) but I still learned a lot. 

One of the things I learned kind of made me sad. I always assume that everyone in them as a little psychic ability in them. Just your gut instinct on why you do or don't do something. This book tells me it's just because my brain is moving a lot faster than I thought that it was. Which FINE OKAY SCIENCE but that's just a little bit less fun.

The two parts of the book that I found the most interesting were:

The Pepsi Challenge. A thing when Pepsi did a study giving people one sip of Coke and Pepsi, with the sippers not knowing which was which, to see what they prefered. That section goes into what was weird about that study (who ever drinks just one sip of something?), what factors made it turn out the way that it did and finally an answer on why New Coke was a thing. 

The other part was the very very end about people auditioning for orchestras that play their instrument behind a screen. It is supposed to help take out people's bias and holy cow it sounds like there's a lot of bias floating around in that world! Basically, women can't play brass instruments. Stick to the flute and the violin and the clarinet women of the world or else be ready to face some unfair and unbiased scrutiny! #smashthepatriarchy

I gave this book a solid 3 out of 5. Some of it was interesting but then some of it seemed to go on for far too long on any certain topic.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

DNF: "The Physics of Everyday Things: The Extraordinary Science Behind an Ordinary Day" by James Kakalios

I have a Did Not Finish review for you today.

I picked this book from Blogging for Books to review because I was like "Hey, I like nonfiction. This is probably harder on the science then I am used to, but I can handle it. I'm a badass!". Dear reader, I AM a badass, but I am not great at science comprehension which is what you might need to be to really enjoy this book.

I thought the format was really great though. It goes through a person's average day and points out the uh, physics of the everyday things. Like how bluetooth speakers work and how an airplane stays in the air and all of that type of thing. I knew I was in trouble with this book when I hit this sentence:

To understand how the toaster converts electrical energy into heat and light requires and understanding of thermodynamics, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics".

Even with the simplest of explanations and many many pictures this was not going to be something I could really comprehend AND enjoy learning about.

So, while this wasn't a good fit for me, maybe it is a good fit for you! If it sounds interesting give it a shot!


Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Book review: "Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

I can't remember how Salt to Sea ended up on my TBR but I am sure glad I did. The fast moving story and the short chapters made me want to sit down and read it all at once, but alas  half hour lunch breaks would not allow it.

The book's short chapters are narrated by four different people all thrown together in the horror and panic and chaos that was the end of WWII in Europe. Each of the 4 people are making their way towards a port city where they are hoping that a boat will get them to safety. Most of them are running away from things in their past, that inevitably leak out little bit by little bit as the story goes on. However, one of the people is a douche bag moron who is looking for glory and all I could do was root for an untimely and violent demise for him. Which, you know, in a book about WWII the odds are pretty good. 

The characters were varied and interesting and believable and the last 4 or 5 chapters in the end are tense and scary and makes you feel happy that you are reading on dry land. Unless you are reading this on a boat. Then put on your life jacket and sit on the deck.

I liked that this book had such short, easily digestible chapters. AND that they were clearly marked with who was narrating what. I hate it when books switch between narrators and you spend the first 10 pages of each chapter trying to figure out who is talking. It's format makes it for a good book that you can put down and pick up again easily, or one that you can blow through in one sitting. 

I will give it 3.5 out of 5 stars!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Book review: "Color: A Natural History of the Palette" by Victoria Finlay

While this book lacked the conversational tone that I prefer in my nonfiction books it still gave me a lot of really interesting tidbits that I can share with you.

-When you rub a thin layer of graphite around a canonball it makes it pop nice and cleanout of it's cannon. And you can also, you know, write with it.

-When Gutenberg printed his first few Bibles he couldnt keep the ink from fading. Luckily Jan Van Eyck, the famous painter. started making oil based ink a few years before and Gutenberg took that idea and ran with it. If not for Van Eyck those pages could be blank now!

-The author talks about what Victorian ladies who through the use of their white face powder, slowly poisoned themselves with lead. THAT was super interesting and sad.

-Did you know that if you swish our hand around a container of mercury (DONT DO THIS AT HOME) with the direction it's going it feels like water, no resistance. If you go against it, it's like an unstoppable force. Take of your jewlery when you do this, or else it will eat the rings off your hand immediately. PLEASE DON'T SWIRL YOUR HAND IN MERCURY.

- If you're a synaesthetic your brain can make connections between things that the majority of people don't. A man named Scriabin associated musical notes with color. But the problem is, if Scriabin heard an F flat he might see the color green. But it another person with this condition hears an F flat he sees navy blue. The connections are not universal between people. Which would be awesome. But also weird.

-There's a whole page that talks about Jan Van Eyck's most famous painting "The Arnolfini Marriage". There is probably no other painting in the world that is open to more interpretations than this painting. Are the couple happy? Are they pregnant? Are they in love? Is it significant that the window is open and she has a hand on her belly?! No.Clear.Answers. I could sit in art history classes forever just about this painting.

So while the writing style wasn't my favorite I still learned a lot. My other super small criticism is that she spends time in Iraq and Syria and while she does talk about the Taliban (it was written in 2003, so still post-9/11) I feel like the picture over there is a bit different now....


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Book review: "Break Open the Sky: Saving Our Faith From a Culture of Fear" by Stephan Bauman

This is one of those books that after I read it I kind of just felt happy and calm and introspective. Which is kind of a rare thing, which I don't know if that attests to the books that I read or how I am as a human!

In the introduction the book talks about how at even though (generally speaking) people are living longer, earning more money and have more things than any other time period in the past our anxiety is also at an all time high. And according to the poll, people in the United States are getting progressively less happy. Maybe we need to realign our priorities?

Quote: "But meekness is not synonymous with weakness. For Jesus, being meek didn't mean the lack of strength but rather strength under authority, his Father's authority. The Greek word for meek (praus) means excersizing strength with humility, gentleness and even restraint, all of which requires a deep level of trust. This is not what we normally think of when we think of power....But meek is not weak".

Another quote: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other" - Mother Teresa. 

I liked that the author seems to have a lot of experience with a lot of different people all around the world. That might seem like a weird compliment but there's a lot of Christian authors who write well meaning books who seem like they live in a little Christian bubble.

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

All Lady July - Book Review: "In the Shadow of Lakecrest" by Elizabeth Blackwell

While reading this book, especially the first half, all I could think was "Oh yeah, I know this book. Except it was called Rebecca. And Lakecrest was called Manderley and it was way better written than this". 

This is a little harsh (though not unfair) because you could reach the moon if you stacked all of the books that have this basis premise on top of each other: poor girl meets rich but mysterious man, whirlwind romance, quick marriage, he brings to his ancesteral home, family is mysterious and unwelcoming and then the mysteries of his sordid past unravel.

As the book went on it came into it's own a little bit more, but noone of it was reinventing the wheel. However it's a pretty short, fast read so if you want a little escapism this isn't the worst way to go. I think it's like, 276 pages?

I read this for my work book club so I will have to think of something more constructive to say for our meeting :)


Monday, July 24, 2017

All Lady July - Female Author Word Search

Let's ease ourselves back into the work week with something just for fun.

G W U M I N B Z U W O O L F A 
N H U X U L O O H U R S T O N 
I A X E U N L S A P G H L L D 
L R R M C E R T N H C E L Y C 
W T E Y G I W O C I E N I U G 
O O Q N F O R P S T K H V X O 
R N A E O N E T S U A C H F A 
J R A D T E M R D Q V X I H T 
T E R C T N C G J M I H Y D E 
T E V H L T O U K A I J F Q S 
O E P C A Q L R D H C V A N H 
C L L O O U T N B G G K A D N 
L Z A E L M Z I J U Z T S N C 
A W J X U L W V Z G N C V O G 
I N J L I R L T B Y O Z Z S N 


Thursday, July 20, 2017

All Lady July Book Review: "98 Reasons for Being" by Clare Dudman

I'm honestly so meh about this book it's kind of hard to write a review about it.


*An excuse to use an X-Files GIF almost makes up for it*

Our story takes place in an insane asylum in 19th century Germany. A young woman is brought in who refuses to eat, sleep or speak in a few weeks. Dr Hoffmann is the very caring doctor who runs the asylum and he takes a particular interest in Hannah. There are side stories about a few of the other patients and the people who work at the asylum (spoiler alert, not many of them are good folks. Some of then are actually very not good folks.) The doctor uses his therapy time with Hannah to exercise some of his own demons as well because his home life isn't great. And he also wrote a book of like, cautionary kids poems that are apparently famous in real life that I've never heard of?

Here's some of the things that didn't work for me:

-Switching character perspectives within the chapers
-Having the side story characters be more interesting than the main characters
-I found myself not really caring how it ended because I wasn't invested in the characters

Just because I didn't like this book doesn't mean that you might not like this book (it's got a lot of good reviews on goodreads, so many I'm just some barbarian, who knows?) Cover is fun though!


Monday, July 17, 2017

All Lady July Book Review: "Things We Lost in the Fire" by Mariana Enriquez

When I met up with Julianne a few weeks ago she HIGHLY suggested this book, she also said Shannon (formerly of River City Reading) also loved it. I trust both of these ladies taste in books so I picked this one up from the library last week.

I couldn't stop reading this book. When I wasn't reading this book, I wanted to be reading this book.

Karen Russell is my short story go to, but when if you want something that skews a little more to the horror side of the weird short story genre then I can not point you to this book fast enough.

All(ish) of these spooky stories take place in Argentina, and some of that countries' complicated history plays into some stories, but if you don't know anything about Argentina you're still going to be fine. (All of my Argentine history comes from the musical "Evita"  but I like that musical considerably less know that I grew up and realized Peron basically through open the doors for escaping Nazis and laid down the god damn welcome mat. ANYWAY, rant over). 

The stories are short, maybe 10-15 pages at the longest but they feel complete, not like some short stories when you feel like maybe a page or two got left out somewhere and your book is faulty.  A lot of the stories deal with people's strange experiences after a personally traumatic event which is interesting. A few of the stories address the issue of poverty and drug use which I think is interesting. And at least one of them has really great, creepy, religious undertones which is boss. And a haunted house or two, naturally.

If you want some books that scratch that itch of tense, interesting and downright spooky I can't think of a better book to recommend. 4 outta 5!


Friday, July 14, 2017

All Lady July 2017 - The Shopping Post

Oh these darn shopping posts, they are so fun to do but I always just end up wanting to BUY ALL THE THINGS! All of these posts, of course, celebrate ladies of lit or things that ladies who love lit might love for themselves! Click on the pictures for the link to where you can purchase these fine items!

Simple but high impact!

Book Page Flower Terrarium Pendant Necklace. One of a kind.

Books combined with a plant I don't have to actually take care of? Yes please!

Button-Eyed Mug, Unique Coffee Mug, Illustrated Mug, Cute Mug, Gifts for Him, Gifts for Her, Movie Mug, Film Mug, Fantasy Mug

Don't let an alternate family with button eyes keep you down Coraline!

As You Wish Quote Hand Embroidered Hoop Art, Princess Bride Art Romantic Gifts Under 50 for Her, Hand Stitched Nerd Wife Gifts

That embarrassing moment when the Dread Pirate Roberts is actually your BFF Westley.
(Spoiler alert, but that book is like 30 years old so....)

Reading is Revolt Racerback Tank Top-- Readers for Change, Protest shirt, Feminist, Reader, Book shirt, Bookish, Literary shirt, Bibliophile

Want want want. Want want. Want want. WANT.

Jane Austen Mug, Jane Austen Heroines Ceramic Mug, Literary Gift, Bookworm for Her, Pride and Prejudice, Bookish, Book Lover Gift

This is obviously a tea mug not a coffee mug.

William Shakespeare Tote Bag. Shakespeare Tote Bag. Shakespeare Quote. Book Bag. Bookish Tote Bag. Book Tote Bag. Book Lover Gifts. Reader

You might be like, uh Wesley that is from Shakespeare, from McB. And Shakespeare is a dude. And you are correct but this line is spoken by one of the weird sisters and I love them AND it's one of my favorite lines of all of Shakespeare and I make the rules SO IT'S IN. And I want this thing desperately bad.

Wonder Woman Inspired "Daughter of Themyscira" Women's Tank Top

If you love yourself some Wonder Woman but want something different from the Double W's, this is a good option!

Monday, July 10, 2017

All Lady July 2017- "We Should All Be Feminists" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

This is a kinda, not really book review.

When I was recently at a great indie bookstore, finally getting to meet Julianne of Outlandish Lit fame, my hands wandered over this book. It was a book I'd heard a lot of good things about but I was confused because this. thing. is. tiny. My copy is 48 pages. I picked it up and brought it home and read it in a very short sitting by my sisters pool.

It's wonderful. It's so worth a read. It's already made me more conscious of the things I say and how and why I say them.I'm trying to pass it around to as many ladies as I can. My work friend Maggie has already read it and it's with my Mom currently.

But, it's basically a TED talk that the author gave.

So, please feel free to pick up the book, but maybe start with the TED talk. Just think of it as the audiobook version with bonus visuals :)

We should all be feminists TED talk 

Thursday, July 6, 2017

All Lady July 2017 - Books that are authored by women that are "on deck" for my TBR

(All Lady July will be a ghost of it's normal glorious self this year, but it's too fun and too good of a cause to not do it at all! So thanks for being here!)

Oh the TBR shelf, a place where books go to languish. However, I organize my books in such a way that I have an "on deck" stack, books that I anticipate will be something I will want to read next. Of course always subject to change -  a readers prerogative. So here are some of the books that I anticipate reading soon (or "soon", realistically) that are authored by women. -All synopsis from goodreads.


This ARC is on my coffee table waiting for me as a part of Amy's Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours!

August 1914. England is at war. As Evie Elliott watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas Harding, depart for the front, she believes—as everyone does—that it will be over by Christmas, when the trio plan to celebrate the holiday among the romantic cafes of Paris.

But as history tells us, it all happened so differently…

Evie and Thomas experience a very different war. Frustrated by life as a privileged young lady, Evie longs to play a greater part in the conflict—but how?—and as Thomas struggles with the unimaginable realities of war he also faces personal battles back home where War Office regulations on press reporting cause trouble at his father’s newspaper business. Through their letters, Evie and Thomas share their greatest hopes and fears—and grow ever fonder from afar. Can love flourish amid the horror of the First World War, or will fate intervene?

Christmas 1968. With failing health, Thomas returns to Paris—a cherished packet of letters in hand—determined to lay to rest the ghosts of his past. But one final letter is waiting for him…


I have actually checked this one out from t he library and had to return it because I hadn't gotten to it in time. Oh those damn due dates. Will try again soon!

Novelist Clare Dudman, whose work has earned comparisons to Andrea Barrett and Barry Lopez, is that rare kind of author who can bring history dramatically to life. Here she conjures up the revolutionary nineteenth-century German physician Heinrich Hoffmann (best known today for his book of children's rhymes, Shockheaded Peter, or Struwwelpeter) as he struggles to cure an inhabitant of Frankfurt's Jewish ghetto who hasn't spoken, slept, or eaten in weeks. As the secrets hidden in the girl's mind are exposed, Dr. Hoffmann also begins to uncover his own buried truths and, in the end, discovers his real reasons for being.


I know, you guys are shocked. A super specific nonfiction book. So unlike me. /sarcasm font/

Discover the tantalizing true stories behind your favorite colors.
For example: Cleopatra used saffron—a source of the color yellow—for seduction. Extracted from an Afghan mine, the blue “ultramarine” paint used by Michelangelo was so expensive he couldn’t afford to buy it himself. Since ancient times, carmine red—still found in lipsticks and Cherry Coke today—has come from the blood of insects.


This one is a little hyped and I think the premise isn't as unique as it probably wants to think that it is but I'm still a pinch intrigued.

Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. And whether Caraval is real or not, Scarlett must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over or a dangerous domino effect of consequences will be set off, and her beloved sister will disappear forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…beware of getting swept too far away.

Anyone read any of these?

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Philadelphia in Books

I'll be spending Memorial Day weekend in Philadelphia for my cousins wedding, and I've never been there before.  In typical Wesley fashion I'm like "Hmm I wonder if there's any interesting books about/set in  Philadelphia..." considering it's role in the founding of this country I figured there wouldn't really be any shortages. So I did a little research and here's some things I found!

Also, if you're a Philadelphian and have any tips on Must See or Must Eats or Must Avoids please let me know!

(All descriptions from goodreads)


It's late summer 1793, and the streets of Philadelphia are abuzz with mosquitoes and rumors of fever. Down near the docks, many have taken ill, and the fatalities are mounting. Now they include Polly, the serving girl at the Cook Coffeehouse. But fourteen-year-old Mattie Cook doesn't get a moment to mourn the passing of her childhood playmate. New customers have overrun her family's coffee shop, located far from the mosquito-infested river, and Mattie's concerns of fever are all but overshadowed by dreams of growing her family's small business into a thriving enterprise. But when the fever begins to strike closer to home, Mattie's struggle to build a new life must give way to a new fight—the fight to stay alive.


Set in Philadelphia's badlands, where drug gangs rule the streets, this debut novel has the explosive authenticity, the narrative drive, and the tender passion to knock you out of your seat! Fourteen-year-old Gabriel's father skipped two years ago. Now his mother, Ofelia, is searching for her runaway son, riding her bicycle at night through the city's darkest, most violent stretch. The pavement beneath her is mysteriously painted with chalk outlines of bodies. Each time a child is killed, another white outline appears. While Ofelia tries to outrun a vision of her son's death, her son tries to outrun the neighborhood, taking cover with a drifter; but Gabriel is already trapped, at the mercy of Diablo, the ugliest of the dealers, a man who kills for fun.


A collection of fourteen essays which records the cruelties of racism, celebrates the strength and pride of black America and explores the paradoxical "double consciousness" of African-American life.


Imagine undergoing an operation without anesthesia performed by a surgeon who refuses to sterilize his tools—or even wash his hands. This was the world of medicine when Thomas Dent Mütter began his trailblazing career as a plastic surgeon in Philadelphia during the middle of the nineteenth century.

Although he died at just forty-eight, Mütter was an audacious medical innovator who pioneered the use of ether as anesthesia, the sterilization of surgical tools, and a compassion-based vision for helping the severely deformed, which clashed spectacularly with the sentiments of his time.

Brilliant, outspoken, and brazenly handsome, Mütter was flamboyant in every aspect of his life. He wore pink silk suits to perform surgery, added an umlaut to his last name just because he could, and amassed an immense collection of medical oddities that would later form the basis of Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum.

Award-winning writer Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz vividly chronicles how Mütter’s efforts helped establish Philadelphia as a global mecca for medical innovation—despite intense resistance from his numerous rivals. (Foremost among them: Charles D. Meigs, an influential obstetrician who loathed Mütter’s "overly" modern medical opinions.) In the narrative spirit of The Devil in the White City, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels interweaves an eye-opening portrait of nineteenth-century medicine with the riveting biography of a man once described as the "P. T. Barnum of the surgery room."


Few men could compare to Benjamin Franklin. Virtually self-taught, he excelled as an athlete, a man of letters, a printer, a scientist, a wit, an inventor, an editor, and a writer, and he was probably the most successful diplomat in American history. David Hume hailed him as the first great philosopher and great man of letters in the New World.
Written initially to guide his son, Franklin's autobiography is a lively, spellbinding account of his unique and eventful life. Stylistically his best work, it has become a classic in world literature, one to inspire and delight readers everywhere.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Book review: "Hanns and Rudolf: The True Story of the German Jew Who Tracked Down and Caught the German Kommandant of Auschwitz" by Thomas Harding

I had high hopes for this book because it's my favorite when Nazis get what is coming to them. But this book just kind of fell flat for me. The book ping ponfed between the lives of Rudolf Hoss (pretend there's an umlut over the o) the man who would grow up to become the Kommandant of Aushwitz and and a German Hew named Hanns Alexander who lived a pretty upper crust life until he had to flee Germany, and then joined the British Army, and then eventually went rogue to find Hoss.

Considering the subject matter I just kind of felt bored with the story. But there were a few thing of interest:

- I thought it was interesting to hear about how Hoss ended up running Auschwitz and all of the Nazi bureaucracy and posturing among people. They had people coming through all of the time to talk about how they could be at maximum efficiency, like they were producing cardboard boxes instead of killing people.

-The Alexander family had a lot of money and it made their story have much happier endings then the people who didn't have the means to get their whole family out of the country. 

-The epilogue shouldn't be skipped

-"The Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps had been make use of men who were refugees from Germany and elsewhere who waned to fight Hitler. For these men, the stakes were high. If caught by the Reich they would be viewed as traitors and shot. Yet of the more than 70,000 German and Austrian refugees who landed in Britain between 1933 and 1939 approximately 1 in 7 enlisted in the Pioneers".

All in all I give this book a 3 out of 5.


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Guest post today at Books and Beverages!

The incomparable and awesome Jamie over at Books and Beverages is having her annual Inklings Week and invited me to guest post, which I of course said yes to. My post is up today so go check it out! Also be sure to check out her great giveaway!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Book review: "The Witness House" by Christiane Kohl

The first time I read the synopsis of this book I honestly thought I had misunderstood what it was trying to say. And then I read it again and was like "nope, that's what they mean". And ordered it from the library.

The time immediately following World War II in Germany was rough (#understatement). Food and basic services were still not readily available, there was still smoldering ruins of cities, and the world was beginning to learn the terrors of the Holocaust. But there was one thing that the Allies wanted to pursue immediately - putting those in charge of the horrible things that happened during the war on trial and holding them accountable. So, the Nuremberg Trials were organized and Nazi monsters were brought to Nuremberg to be held accountable (the ones that hadn't escaped. Ugh.)

So where do they stay? Some of them stayed at the Witness House, a little villa not far from the courthouse. Some of the guests were Nazis. Some were concentation camp survivors. Some were something else entirely.  Here are a couple of the folks who occupied the same house at these turbulent and unsure times.
Rudolf Diels 

First of all, look at this guys face. Dude has the face of a gangster with those dueling scars, (proooooobably because he was a drunk philanderer so duels are not far behind with those characteristics.)

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-K0108-0501-003, Rudolf Diels.jpg
Photo from Wikipedia

 Anyway, Diels is a complicated guy. He was on the ground floor with the Nazis, early like in 1933. He was the director of the Gestapo for a short time (you know who replaced him Reinhard Heydrich. That fucker). But then he refused to deport Jews in 1940. And then was involved in the 20 July plot to kill Hitler but was somehow the only person to survive. But then he died in a hunting accident in 1957 that may have involved his dog accidentally tripping the trigger on a rifle(???). I need to find a book about this guy because I have questions.

 Albert Speer

For a long time I only knew that Albert Speer was Hitler's chief architect who was in charge of rebuilding German into a place that exalted Hitler. What I didn't realize is that he was also the Minister of Armaments and War Production (which is far less innocent sounding then architect). For a long time he said that his relationship with Hitler was completely apolitical. He was different then most others at Nuremberg because he accepted responsibility for his part in the Nazi crimes. (Everyone else was basically a variant of "Who, me?" or "I was just following orders" or something else ridiculous).

Erwin Lahousen

Erwin served in the Abwehr, which was an intelligence agency. In the Abwehr there was a lot of anti-Nazi sentiment and he was one of many who successfully sabotaged Nazi operations and helped resistance groups. He was the first witness for the prosecution and testified against Goring specifically.

In the talk about Lahousen there was a few mentions of Wilhelm Canaris who is just...I have a lot of feelings about him. I'm going to get weepy at work if I think about it so here's his wikipedia page. He was held prisoner and executed with Dietrich  Bonhoeffer who I ALSO have lots of feelings about.

The book details their interactions with each other, their reactions to the new world around them (So, that thousand year Reich thing isn't happening, now what?) and more. It's really an incredible story and I highly suggest it to fans of history and psychology - psychologically it is fertile grounds for analyisis!