Showing posts from 2016

I finished The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead!...and a rant.

Book one--done! (See list below.) I checked out the book again last Friday and finally had a chance to finish. I really loved it. So creative and so much commentary on how things haven't changed much in the US in some respects. The book does have brutal depictions of violence, as it should, but it was amazing and beautiful. *Highly Recommended*

I am debating about reading Grunt. I would love to read it, but the copy from my library has a heavy cigarette smoke smell, and I don't know if I can take it. I tried to read some from it last night, but it was just not happening. So, that one may go off of the list until I buy my own copy one day. I am also trying to decide if I want to delay reading Fates and Furies. I am loving Stephen King's short stories, so I know I will finish that one. In any case, I will keep you posted. Any book I have to toss from the list will be replaced with another book. :)

Now for my rant:
I recently (as in today) listened to a couple of "book r…

December Reading Plans!

Hi, everyone! December is here, which means I will have a lot of free time to read!! HOORAY! So, as usual, I am planning ahead, choosing books I really want to read this month and realizing that I probably will change my mind. But that is okay, because at least I still have that bit of freedom left in this country. ;)

My December reading actually begins over the Thanksgiving holidays each year, because I get a few days off and have a chance to read! I checked out Whitehead's The Underground Railroad from the library on a seven-day loan.

I began reading it on Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but I didn't get to finish it before the seven days because I had to take my mom to the hospital on Thanksgiving day (asthma attack...she's doing okay now) and then I had my hands full getting her through that and a nasty case of bronchitis, which I was also recovering from. So, I only made it about 150-pages into the novel. I plan to check it out again when I get off for the holidays, so…

This Election: My Thoughts and Going Forward

Well, here we are. November 9, 2016. And we have a new president. A "man" who has openly admitted to sexual assault, who has repeatedly proved himself to be a racist, who has absolutely no intent of uniting this country, and--well--you all know the rest of it.

To my international friends, I am sorry. This is embarrassing and shameful. We are in dangerous times, and though America has often failed in the international sphere, this election outcome is especially dangerous.

To my fellow Americans--that slight majority of us who voted for Clinton even though our electoral college system rules the roost--don't give up. Don't let anger and sadness keep you in a state of inaction. Give yourself a little time, but then get right back up and continue the fight.

For white people who voted for Clinton: You did the right thing. But we have been naive in thinking that there has been any kind of significant change in attitude in this country since the civil rights movement. I trul…


Alright, everyone. I haven't said much about politics on this blog, but I will say what is probably obvious: I am emphatically against Donald Trump. This election has brought out the worst in Americans, but whatever side you fall on, the beautiful thing is that we can vote. So, tomorrow, make sure you vote.

And to the women: VOTE PROUDLY. Never forget what our female ancestors went through so that we could vote.

Stand tall. Vote proudly. Never forget your rights.

I'm Just Going to Leave this Here.


Books, Art, Theatre, and Washington, DC!

I've been quite busy since the last time I posted anything! I have been teaching an OLLI class with my boss (we are teaching an intro to genealogy course), working a lot, reading, and traveling!

Since I last posted, I have read a couple of romances by Jill Shalvis (both excellent) and am still making progress with City on Fire. I've just been so busy that I haven't had time to read as much of that one as I would like. Also, I just went on a trip to Washington, DC, and for my plane reading, I decided on Dan Brown's Inferno. It was the perfect book for traveling. Chapters are short but exciting, and details are fairly easy to remember in spite of constant interruptions in airports or on planes.

While in DC, I went to meetings and to several theatre productions, including Sense and Sensibility at the Folger and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time at the Kennedy Center. I also got to spend time at art museums, including the National Gallery, which was amazing…

Book shopping and new reads

I said that I wasn't going to buy any other new books after reading The Couple Next Door, but of course I broke that promise to myself! I bought a few new books, including Zadie Smith's NW, Gloria Steinem's My Life on the Road, a new edition of Shakespeare's Hamlet, and Garth Risk Hallberg's City on Fire. So many good books! I am super excited about each of them.

I've started reading City on Fire, and so far I LOVE it. It is a really long book, so it will probably be a while before I report my final thoughts on it! But this is exactly the kind of storytelling I love. The writer is amazing. Though some people have complained about the length (over 1000 pages of smallish print), I think that everything is perfectly written so far. I love it when a writer can create a world that feels so complete, and though I never visited NYC in the 1970s, I feel like I am there in this novel. The characters are fascinating, and I just don't want to put the book down when I&…

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena


Has anyone read this title yet? I'm probably speaking out into the void here, but I'm just interested in getting some thoughts on this book. I've read some reviews (no spoilers), and I heard this praised to the moon and back on the All the Books podcast. I bought it for my birthday, and I'm just having some trouble adjusting to the narrative voice and point of view. The story so far is fine (I'm a little over 100 pages into it), but sometimes I just wish it was told in a different way. Anyway, if you have thoughts, leave a comment!

I finished the book, and though it was a quick read, I just couldn't get past the style of the novel. It is just a personal thing. Someone told me (after I described the book to her) that this book sounds like the same type of storytelling as can be found in Girl on the Train. I can't speak to that, because I've never read that book. It isn't that the story isn't any good; the problem for me i…

I'm 40!!

Yes! I am 40-years-old now! It has been such a great month of celebration. Yesterday, on my birthday, I took Madison for a walk, and I told her that it was my first walk of my 40th year! It was a great time, because I thought about all of the wonderful things in my life. I also had a chance to reflect on my 30s, and I though about all of the crazy things that have happened!

In my 30s, I finished and wrote a dissertation and graduated with a PhD, taught a few hundred students, found a full-time job, finished a manuscript, made some great friends, took care of my dad, lost two grandmothers, experienced the joyful event of my best friend's little girl being born, went to my first professional writer's conference, became secretary of my local writer's group, made some crazy terrible mistakes (as we all do!), found out some really interesting things about myself, had the courage to ask for help when I needed it desperately, became even closer to my mom (if that was possible!),…

Massive Update (Thank you for getting me to do it, Chris!)

And, yes, that photo is totally filtered. I was exhausted when I took it. I admit to vanity.  :)
Yes, I have been away from the blog for so long! It has been quite a year. I think my last post was in April, but I haven't actually written an update since last January. Wow. I have been a terrible blogger! But Chris, a reader of this blog, sent a kind message to me, and it inspired me to post again!

So many things have happened since I last wrote. My grandmother passed away in February. She fell and broke her hip in November 2015, and she just never recovered. We did get to celebrate her 94th birthday in January, and luckily she had a really good day where she was aware of everything and knew us.

After that, my cousin found out that she had an early stage of melanoma (thank goodness she caught it in time), and that combined with the two times my dad was in the hospital during all of this really sent me into a bad place. It was just a lot of emotional stuff to deal wi…

Current Audiobook


Current Audiobook...

And, for the record, it is SO good. I have been listening every chance I get. This is a fantastic biography.

Top Ten Tuesday: My Latest 5 Star Reads

A weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Join in!

Today's Top Ten Tuesday theme: My Latest 5 Star Reads!

1. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale. I listened to this book on audio, and it is so addicting! This is a true crime story about a murder in Victorian England. I highly recommend it!

2. The King's Curse by Philippa Gregory. This book is centered around Margaret Pole, and it is one of my favorites in the series. If you enjoy historical fiction about the Tudors, you should check this one out.

3. Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. If you need to refuel your creative soul, I recommend this book.

4. If you haven't read The Crimson Petal and the White, DO IT NOW. More recently, I finished these short stories set in the same world as the novel. I'm not a fan of short stories usually, but I really enjoyed the ones in The Apple by Michel Faber.

5. Part memoir, part writing advice, and all parts wonderful. Check out What I Talk About When I Talk About …

Jean Galloway Reynolds Santina (1922-2016)


Office moving...hospitals...oven breakdowns...etc

I think if you post your New Year's Goals that you automatically jinx yourself.

Right after I posted all that stuff, my life went nuts. The heating element in the oven went no baking. My grandmother is not doing well, and then my dad had a health scare (he's fine, thank goodness), so I haven't been able to do much reading or exercising because of...well, life. However, I have managed to exercise almost every day (I think I have only missed two days). I just haven't upped my mileage as much as I would like. One day I managed four miles, but usually it is only one or two. Ugh. That has to change.

Added to all of this is the big move I made at the office. My coworker and I moved into offices upstairs in our building. The new offices are fantastic! But, you know how it is...exhausting.

Anyway, now that dad is doing well, the kitchen is back in order, and I have finished all of my moving stuff (sorry to say that grandma still isn't doing well), I can at least c…

A Place on the Shelf


Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman.

Yes, everyone knows of  my Alan Rickman love. He was an amazing talent, and he brought so many characters to life. Of course, I loved him in just about everything I saw him in. I first remember him from Die Hard, and I loved him in Sense and Sensibility. But I loved him best as Severus Snape. He took a character that so many people hated, and in the end, he gave such dignity to him. It was more than acting. It was an act of service to the readers and all of those who were devoted to the series. So, I thank him so much for playing that role over and over again.

Rest in peace, Alan Rickman.

A great memory!

I recently received a photo from an event I attended last year. My writers group met with author Julia Quinn, and we had such a great time! Thanks to Julia Muscari for sending me the picture!

Goals for the new year!

I stopped making resolutions a long time ago. They suck, and usually I make them too limiting. In the past, my resolutions usually had to do with denial, so I decided that this year I am going to make some goals for myself that include experiences and feeding the soul...rather than taking something away.

1. My reading goal on Goodreads is (heaven help me) 100 books in 2016. I have done this before, and I planned to do it last year...but life...well, yeah. Anyway, that is my goal, even if I read really short books! (Which, let's face it, is probably all I have time for anyway.)

2. Cooking more. When I cook. I feel more centered. I haven't done a lot of cooking in the last several years, and I miss it. I cooked a lot when I was an undergrad and working on my master's degree, but when I got into my PhD work and also started my job at the magazine, I let it slide. I mean, sure...I cook. But not what I call "soul feeding" cooking. You know what I mean. Those recipes t…

My next read...

Still Tudor obsessed...

Alright, 2016. Get your act together.

It is only the 6th, and so far my television has gone out, and I just had to buy new tires. Come on, 2016. Work with me here.

Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey

I just finished up Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne last night. David Starkey is an interesting writer, and in some ways he is a great entertainer. I enjoy watching his specials about Tudor history (most of them are available on YouTube, if you are interested), and I was curious about this book because it covers Elizabeth's younger years. I find the conflicts that arose out of the Tudor reign to be fascinating, and though I have read much about Henry VIII and his wives, I haven't spent much time reading about his children or what happened in the aftermath of his death. The story is filled with tension, and it is a testament to both the story and Starkey's writing that I read this book so quickly.

Starkey's narrative style is great. He tells an already good story in a way that reads like a novel. Like I said, I am more familiar with Henry and his wives, but this book made me realize how long the consequences of Henry's reign (and those who ruled before him) c…