February 16, 2018

Pura Vida

Sassy and I are going to Costa Rica πŸ‡¨πŸ‡·!!!! 🐸🌴🌞⛰πŸ–

We’ll be staying in three areas: Arenal volcano, Monteverde Cloud Forest and Playa Hermosa beach west of Liberia.

February 7, 2018

Monthly Book Review: January 2018

I started going to a Pilates studio at least twice a week as well as weekly ski lessons so it's been a busy start to the year. I intended to read more, however watching all three series of The Fall and the new season of Grace & Frankie on Netflix took priority.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney - three siblings' reliance on a sizable inheritance ("the nest") shapes their decisions and relationships. This gets good reviews but I'm giving it a B- for being too predictable and long.

Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann (non-fiction) - I read this for a book club and found it better than expected. Unfortunately slavery isn't the only example of mass greed, envy and wrath in American history. This is investigative journalism at its best and provides history of the Osage Indians, West South Central America in the early 20th century and how J. Edgar Hoover used discrimination against native Americans to bolster the need for a national police force. I really liked two of the three narrator; I recognized Will Patton's voice right away and his performance is outstanding. Random - this story is set in Pawhuska, OK, home to The Pioneer Woman.

Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari (non-fiction) - I cut this short because I found myself feeling defensive as I progressed. I got through chapter 10 of 20, a little over 6 hours of 14 total. This book is long on details and, unlike Killers of the Flower Moon, goes over the top to dramatize the victimization of drug users and chronicle dealers’ backgrounds. I really question how much of this is fact vs. positioning to advance the author's cause. It feels really biased. I agree with the author's assertion that compassion and support are more helpful to a drug addict than shame, victimization and imprisonment. I start feeling squeamish however when the author purports that decriminalization of drugs would go a long way to fix the problem, akin to the repeal of prohibition. The author provides dramatic tales of addicts (Billie Holiday is the first) as well as those who find purpose and create meaningful social bonds when drugs are legalized. Thwarting drug cartels and a broken criminal justice system sound really good. But that's only one part of the solution and likely the easiest. The hard part is improving environmental conditions/social circumstances, especially the mental health system. A superior understanding of and resources to treat the deep psychological pain that I believe is the root cause of the majority of all addiction (food, alcohol, drugs) is absolutely essential. Here's where I am biased - I have witnessed firsthand how a person's addiction to marijuana distorts reality and destroys relationships. It only numbs the real pain, it’s still there and the addict shares it with everyone in their path. What responsibility does the addict have in seeking help, addressing the root cause and maintaining healthy relationships? What about recidivism (relapse)? We have reliable tests and policies for when someone is too drunk to drive or act appropriately in public. Do we have reliable tests to know when someone is too high? How much marijuana is too much? Okay, I'm off my soapbox.

In my queue:
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
Broken Angels by Gemma Liviero
It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
The Map of Heaven by Eben Alexander
All Clear by Connie Willis

January 12, 2018

Get ready readers

Saw this list of anticipated 2018 books and had to share.

December 28, 2017

Monthly Book Review: December 2017

I read 35 books this year. My top 5 of 2017 are:
A Gentleman in Moscow
A Man Called Ove
Breakfast with Buddha
Where’d You Go Bernadette
The Secret Life of Violet Grant

This month’s reads:
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena - this is another variation on the theme that you can’t judge a book by its cover ... things aren’t always as they seem and our secrets and biases keep us from seeing what’s right in front of us. I give it a B-.

The Dry by Jane Harper - a murder mystery set in a drought-stricken Australia town. A man goes to his boyhood hometown for the funeral of his childhood best friend, his wife and son - an apparent murder suicide no one could have ever imagined. But He and the local policeman have a feeling that there’s something else. I give it a B.

Up next:
Chasing the Scream by Johann Hari
The Map of Heaven by Eben Alexander
Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult
The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

December 13, 2017

Winter wonderland 

I heart Christmas. My happy place is in the kitchen baking with the fireplace going and traditional Christmas music on full force. My new space is significantly smaller than my previous plus I purged like nobody’s business during the move so I was honestly curious about what I’d be doing to make the joint festive. I'm pleased to say that I made it work!
 

We always had real trees in the past and while I loved the smell of fresh pine or balsam, I didn’t love the fear of a house fire and constant monitoring of furry kids so it didn’t topple or dry out (my admonishments that the base was not an additional water dish were surprisingly ignored). I bought a 6’ pre-lit artificial tree from Target so I could reuse year after year and am pleasantly surprised that the size is just right and that I'd kept just enough ornaments to make it look full.

Of course my kitten thinks many of the ornaments are there for her #goodthingsheissostinkingcute
 

December 6, 2017

Monthly Book Review: November 2017

Though I only read two books last month, finishing the second just moments ago, they were long (19  and 13 hrs) so I still feel accomplished.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles - I think this is the best book I’ve read all year and it’s a tight race. It follows the life of Count Alexander Rostov from his first day of house arrest in 1922 to his last. A true gentleman, Alexander lives a rich, purposeful life he could never have imagined within the confines of the Metropol hotel.

The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey - I don’t want to give too much away because it had me guessing for the first several chapters and it was an interesting surprise when plot was fully revealed. I will say that it’s a creative good vs evil story with well developed characters that have you vacillating between empathy and disdain.

I intended to join a book club; however, I got through a third of the book and didn’t like it, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance, so returned it and bowed out. I may join next cycle, but not sure their tastes are aligned with mine.

November 15, 2017