Graphic Novel Week and Nonfic Recommendations

November 23, 2014 Reading Nook, Sunday Salon 6

Sunday Salon


So, it’s still November, which means that I’m still talking about Nonfiction this month! Yay! But Kristilyn from Reading in Winter is also hosting a Graphic Novel Week this week, so I’m combining the two and will be reading Nonfiction Graphics!



If you still haven’t joined in Nonfiction November  (hosted by Kim, Becca, Lu, and Katie), this is the perfect week to check out all of the posts because everyone will be sharing the recommendations that they’ve gained during the week.

My list seriously runneth over, but since I’m focusing on Graphics, those are the recommendations I’ll share with you. I have all sorts of crazy holds at the library and have already picked up one haul. I can’t wait to dig into some Graphic Nonfiction this week! Below are the ones that I’ve already picked up.

nonfic graphics recs

The Photographer by Emmanuel Guibert, Didier Lefèvre, and Fréderic Lemercier – “In 1986, Afghanistan was torn apart by a war with the Soviet Union. This graphic novel/photo-journal is a record of one reporter’s arduous and dangerous journey through Afghanistan, accompanying the Doctors Without Borders.” (from Goodreads) (recommended by Sharlene)

Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me by Ellen Forney – “Shortly before her thirtieth birthday, Forney was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Flagrantly manic and terrified that medications would cause her to lose creativity, she began a years-long struggle to find mental stability while retaining her passions and creativity.” (from Goodreads) (recommended by Farin and Leslie)

The Initiates: A Comic Artist and Wine Artisan Exchange Jobs by Étienne Davodeu – “French comics artist Davodeau approached winemaker Richard Leroy with the proposition that they switch roles for a year: Davodeau would work in the vineyard, and Leroy would learn about comics. The resulting graphic novel recounts their experience: Davodeau prunes vines, plows fields, and educates his palate with numerous tastings; Leroy accompanies him on visits to his publisher, meets some of France’s most renowned comics artists, and dutifully completes assigned readings of selected graphic novels.” (from Amazon) (recommended by Sharlene)

El Deafo by Cece Bell – “Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.” (from Goodreads) (recommended on twitter)

Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City by Guy Delisle – “In Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City, Delisle explores the complexities of a city that represents so much to so many. He eloquently examines the impact of the conflict on the lives of people on both sides of the wall while drolly recounting the quotidian: checkpoints, traffic jams, and holidays.” (from Amazon) (recommended by Sharlene)

nonfiction november


What’s on your reading agenda for the day? I’m almost done with Under the Banner of Heaven by Krakauer and holy cow has it been a wild and intense ride. I’ve been having all of the thoughts and feelings while reading it and I can’t wait to share when I’m finished.  Scott and I are heading out to see Interstellar this afternoon (yay!) and then perhaps I’ll dig into one of the graphics above. I’ve already started The Photographer and I can’t wait to read more!

Happy Sunday! Happy Reading!




Crimes of Paris by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

November 18, 2014 Reading Nook, Review 11

crimes of paris

Title: Crimes of Paris: A True Story of Murder, Theft, and Detection
Authors: Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
Published: 2009 Pages: 320
Genre: Nonfiction (Historical)
Rating: Lots of great “Did you Know…?!”

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads

In Short: In 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre resulting in a crime mystery that was not solved for two years (and is still partially unsolved!).

Why I Read: I won this in a giveaway about 5 years ago! I chose to read it for Nonfiction November, bonus points for having a female author.

Thoughts in General: While the theft of the Mona Lisa serves as the backbone for Crimes of Paris, the authors take a look at several contemporary crimes, the culture and ambiance of Paris around the turn of the century, and the evolving methods of solving crime during this time period. At times the writing felt a bit clunky and it certainly wasn’t a quick read (wish I could have listened), but overall Crimes of Paris was a fascinating book that left me much information to bug Scott with while he was trying to watch TV. Or drive. Or eat dinner.

Things I learned: (spoiler free)

  • Picasso lived in Paris at the time and was briefly thought to have involvement in the stolen Mona Lisa. He is also partly influenced the invention of camouflage.
  • Argentina was the first country to use fingerprints to solve a crime.
  • Literature of the day was greatly influenced by true crime (and visa versa)
  • The first crime involving a getaway car happened in Paris
  • There was a Parisian subculture of criminals in the early 1900s called the apaches and they even had their own dance! I looked the dance up on YouTube, as one does.

Oh boy do I love random information! Crimes of Paris is full of it!

Bottom Line: It’s too bad Crimes of Paris isn’t on audio because that’s definitely how I would recommend digesting this one. It was a fascinating read on many levels and I’m glad I read it, but it was a bit drier than I had hoped it would be. I recommend it but with the caveat that it likely won’t keep you on the edge of your seat.

What’s the most fascinating Historical Nonfiction book you’ve read?



Diversity in Nonfiction – TSS 101

November 16, 2014 Reading Nook, Sunday Salon 19

Sunday Salon


Someone explain to me how it’s halfway through November! After having a quite warm October, we are currently freezing this month. I can’t remember having a colder November–our lows are some days lower than we often get all winter (into the 20s).

The good news is we still have half a month left of Nonfiction November (hosted by Kim, Becca, Lu, and Katie). I just finished my first nonfiction read for the month (Crimes of Paris) and my nonfiction wishlist is exploding from all of the suggestions. If you haven’t joined in yet, it’s not too late! This week we are talking about diversity in nonfiction and there’s been great discussion all month on twitter using #NonficNov.

nonfiction november

Diversity in Nonfiction

Becca from Lost in Books asks: What does diversity in nonfiction mean to you? Is it about the topic or theme of the book? Or is it the race or ethnicity of the author? Do you have any recommendations for diverse nonfiction books? Are there any topics that you’d like to see written about and/or read more widely?

When I was putting together my list of potential reads for this month, I started to realize how little diversity exists on my nonfiction shelf. Most of the authors on my shelf are male (except for the memoirs which lean more towards females), and because I’m not as familiar with the individual authors I have no idea what race and ethnicity most of them are (except for the memoirs).

Because nonfiction reading is so topic/theme driven, I suppose I’ve never paid attention to the diversity of authors other than when specifically seeking out diverse topics/memoirs. I don’t pay a ton of attention to diversity when picking fiction books either, but I am familiar with a wide variety of authors from different races and ethnicity so reading diversely comes fairly naturally in fiction without my trying too hard. I am, however, more aware of diversity with fictional readings.

Any time you’re talking about diversity, it becomes a bit complicated–do you read what you want to read and all of those folks just happen to be white men? Or do you make an effort and give up some of your comfort reads? I’m of the mind that every reader should read what she wants to read, but being aware only helps. I feel as though I’m talking in circles a bit. Though I do think it’s interesting that most of my historical nonfiction reads are written by men (I didn’t look up all of the authors to check race, but I’m going to go ahead and assume most of them are white).

One area where my nonfiction reading does lean toward diversity is in the autobiography/memoir section. I LOVE reading memoirs about individuals from different countries, especially countries and cultures that I am not as familiar with. Below are some of the more memorable memoirs I’ve read–all from the Middle East or Africa.

Nonfic diversity

A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah – Ishmael was forced into a life as a soldier as a child in Sierra Leone. His memoir was my first real introduction to boy soldiers in Africa and the story was heartbreaking and horrifying. (My thoughts)

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached – Zeina and her brother were just children during the Lebanese Civil War and her family lived along the danger zone in Beirut. Her memoir, in beautiful graphic format, tells of a night when she and her brother are left with family and friends while her parents leave home to check that all is well with the grandparents across town. It’s a story of loss and heartache that made me want to learn more about the Lebanese Civil War. (My thoughts)

My Father’s Paradise by Ariel Sabar – Sabar is searching for his Jewish roots in Kurdish Iraq where a tiny fraction of the country is comprised of Jews. Sabar discusses the mass exodus of Jews from Iraq to Israel in the 1940s and 50s as well as the idea of Zionism, linguistics, Isreali, and Iraqi history. I highly recommend this deeply moving story and history. (My thoughts)

Spirit Boy by Paul Apowida – Also set in Africa, this time Ghana, Paul Apowida tells his story of his childhood amongst villagers who thought he was possessed by the spirit of demons and continually tried to kill him or rid their community of him. His story is not an isolated one and he is currently trying to raise awareness in his home village as well as with other Ghanan villages. See more on AfriKids website.

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – Probably the most popular title on this list, at least amongst bloggers, The Complete Persepolis is still one of my favorite discoveries in the past several years. Persepolis is Satrapi’s memoir (told in gorgeous black and white graphics) about growing up during the revolution in Tehran and later growing up as a Iranian teenager in France. So many great things going on in this book! (My thoughts)

The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah – Many moons ago when I was a student teacher at Texas Tech, this was our assigned reading for all of the freshman students. Even if I had to read more essays about Afghanistan than I ever cared to, reading The Storyteller’s Daughter was a wonderful eyeopening experience to so many of the students. Shah is a British journalist and she traveled to her father’s homeland in Afghanistan in search of the jem of a country she remembers from childhood stories. (More on Goodreads)

I would LOVE to hear suggestions for other memoirs written by authors outside of the United States!

What are your views on Diversity in Nonfiction?

Happy Reading!



Drood. The Dudalong

November 15, 2014 Reading Nook, Review 15



And this is the moment when I confess that I had to give up on Drood halfway through the book after spending three weeks of disliking the experience. Ok, so I’ve already mentioned this on twitter and told some of you on various blogs, but if you haven’t heard: the DroodAlong was the pits and even though I felt all of the guilt for abandoning this readalong, I had to keep my sanity.

Title: Drood
Author: Dan Simmons
Narrator: John Lee
Published: 2009; Pages: 784
Audio Duration: 29 hrs; 59 min
Genre: Fiction (Historical?)
Rating: Dud. Or, Did Not Finish

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible*

In Short: Narrated by author Wilkie Collins, this contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens attempts to uncover the truth about the mysterious figure named Drood.

Why I Read/Listened: I’ve had this book on my shelf for years and even made it one of my 2014 Must Reads just to get it off that TBR shelf. So, naturally I offered up a readalong.

Thoughts in General: The premise of Drood is an interesting one. And I loved that the story was told from the eyes of Wilkie Collins. He takes us on a journey through subterranean London and gives us insight into Charles Dickens’s life. We learn about opium dens (which according to Wikipedia weren’t really a big deal in London) and the processes of writing a novel. Even the mystery of who Drood is was intriguing. And mesmerizing, hypnotizing, laudanum induced psychotic moments?

But. Our poor narrator Collins couldn’t stick to a topic. He droned on and on about things that didn’t matter. His narrative was tangential and meandering and I almost never cared what was going on in the book. It takes a lot of me to abandon a book, but I’m trying to be better about it and after spending weeks on Drood and only making it halfway (and dreading picking it back up), I knew it was time to move on. Perhaps there was a gem of a story buried within the text, but I don’t even care to look for spoilers about what the book is all about.

Bottom Line: Moving on! The upside of reading Drood? It made me interested to learn more about Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and various aspects of Victorian life. Though I can’t say I’m terribly interested in reading The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Dickens, I was reminded that I would like to continue reading through Dickens’s and Collins’s works. But off to the library donations my big giant hardback book goes.

Notes on the Audio: I listened to the unabridged audio version narrated by John Lee. Perhaps it is telling that Audible does not offer the unabridged version, so the link above is to the MUCH shorter version (10 hours versus 30) narrated by Simon Prebble. For what it’s worth, the narration by Lee was fantastic and had I cared a little more about the incessant ramblings of the fictional Wilkie Collins, I might have continued listening.

The DroodAlong

If you participated in the readalong and finished, you deserve the world’s biggest medal. Maybe you loved it. People do love this book. Don’t they? If you have a finale post, please include your link in the comments. If you didn’t write a finale, no worries–but I’d still love to know your thoughts in the comments (whether you finished or not).


readalong gang


What’s the next readalong? BAG OF BONES!!! By Stephen King. Just in time for Christmas. Grab your book/audio (King narrates!) because we’ll start December 1st. Who wants to come up with the catchy hashtag? Because BOBalong is all I got.

Happy Reading!



Dinner at Our Table

November 14, 2014 In the Kitchen 26

dinner table picture

The other day I was brainstorming ideas for Weekend Cooking posts and I started to think about how our dinners have changed since our kids have joined us at the dinner table. Part of this was prompted by my picking up Dinner: A Love Story (the cookbook, Jenny Rosenstrach also has a website of the same name) and thinking about how others tackle dinnertime in their households. I’ll save the post on how our dinners have changed for another day, but I thought I would share what dinner looks like at our house.

Dinner at Our Table

How are Meals Planned?

Meal planning is an ever changing process at our house. And it gives me a headache most days. Right now the idea is to plan two weeks in advance and to have most of the groceries on hand to make those meals (the actual days aren’t set in stone). Getting the ideas for two weeks of dinner is the struggle, so Scott and I have been discussing employing a notecard/magnet system (such as this menu system from Amanda of Fig and Thistle and this magnet system from Hannah at Wordlily). But guess who would have to find the time to do such a task–and here I sit blogging instead. Meow.

I do 99% of the grocery shopping. Sometimes I can convince Scott into going with me, but it does usually mean a more expensive tab at the end. Though, he will give me meal ideas as we browse the grocery so that’s an added plus. Lately I’ve been in the bad habit of going to the grocery store a few times during the week rather than one big trip each week or every other week. This is all fine and well except it means a more expensive tab. Bottom line is we are spending entirely too much on food these days (and sometimes I forget that I’m shopping for two extra people than I was three years ago).

How Many Homecooked Meals a Week?

During an average week, I would say that I prepare three or four full dinner meals. The other nights we eat leftovers (usually once a week), go out to eat with just our family, or go to my mom or dad’s house for a big family dinner. Some weeks are busier than others–my favorite is when both of my parents cook for us during the week leaving just a few days to think up meals.  Most of our main dishes are cooked mostly from scratch. The side dishes…well, we do our best but time and ease usually beat out scratch in this department.

Who Prepares Dinner?

Ahem. Though to be fair, before there were two kiddos running amok, Scott was an excellent helper in the kitchen. Now he helps me by getting at least the little one out from under foot. Of course this works better on days when he doesn’t come home from work too late. We are lucky that we both are home early enough that we can all eat together, even if the little ones are starved by the time dinner is on the table.

I usually start dinner around 5:30 and we usually sit down to eat at 6:30. I always try to have dinner ready earlier than that, but well…  It’s a work in progress.

What Do We Eat for Dinner?

I grew up with a meat, starch, vegetable dinner plate and so this is usually what I follow because it feels most natural to me. Because of allergies, we never eat salad for dinner. I’m too lazy to prepare it for myself. Chicken is on the bottom of the meat totem pole, so we eat a lot of beef and pork. I sneak in the chicken where I can but normally in the form of casseroles. Though rotisserie chicken from the market is a family favorite so we have that twice a month or so. Other favorites include Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, Salisbury Steak, Pork Tenderloin. Tacos is a new favorite (and easy! Yay!), and if I’m pressed for time then I’ll cook ravioli with jarred spaghetti sauce.

For sides, roasted vegetables is a favorite (potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts). Rice is popular with the other three as is a simple pasta, baked beans, or steamed veggies. Sometimes if I have extra time I’ll mash potatoes. Because I spend so much time on the actual main dishes, I don’t put a lot of energy into the sides. The only time I have bread is if we are eating pasta or soup.

Where Do We Eat?

At the kitchen table. Sometimes on the weekends we’ll let Elle sit at the coffee table and watch a movie while we eat, but otherwise we are all at the table. We did not eat at the table as a family until Elle was eating the same foods we were (so about 9-10 months old?). Before that we would feed her and then eat in front of the TV. Before kids we always ate in front of the TV. Scott did not grow up with family meals at a table. I did.

Since we do most of our cooking on the stovetop, I serve up all the dishes at the counter rather than transferring the food to serving bowls/plates and bringing the food to the table to eat family style. This will likely change once the girls are older, but for now the buffet system works for us and it means less dishes to wash up.

Who Cleans Up?

Sigh. Usually because I’m a fast eater and I grow impatient with how slow Elle is. And I figure the more I tidy up before everyone is done, the earlier I can relax after the girls have gone down to bed. I’m trying to be better about not taking on all of the cleaning on my own–but even if Scott does do the dishes and wipes down the counters, I am usually in charge of anything that needs to be handwashed. And there is always something that needs to be handwashed. Yes, I wear hot pink dishwashing gloves.

So…that’s what dinner looks like in our house. Feel free to use these prompt questions and graphic if you’d like to make your own post.

I would LOVE to know how dinner looks at your house!






Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking.  “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.”  Hope you’ll join the fun!



Find Your Beauty

November 12, 2014 Life 58



The other morning I was shaving my legs and having all of the bad thoughts. About my spider veins around my knees and calves. My less than muscular legs. My baby tummy. My post nursing breasts. And then out of the shower, the dark spots around my eyes. My graying hairline. As I looked in the mirror I couldn’t see anything that I liked.

And this made me sad.

On top of the sad I’ve already been feeling for an array of things. For letting my high school friendships slide. For some of the mistakes I’ve made over the years and not knowing how to turn back the clock after so much time passed. For being the awkward one not knowing how to converse at a fun mom’s night out. For snapping at my children too quickly. For nagging my husband about the household chores. All of those ugly things that build up inside and just fester. All the things that others can’t see.

Years ago my cousin wrote a great post about What You Don’t See in response to seeing everyone’s perfect lives online. I think about this post all the time and about coming clean about some of the things that you don’t see. I could go on all day–basically beating myself up over all the little nothings. But that’s not what I need today–or that morning when I looked in the mirror and couldn’t find anything good.

What I need today is to find something beautiful and good within me. I need to do this every day. Because hopefully if I can see it in myself, I can see it in others and others will also see it in me. Hopefully if I can find the good and the beauty, I can continue to strive to let go of the negativity. Hopefully I can allow myself to accept some of the less pleasant aspects about myself because they are not the whole. Hopefully I can look back in the mirror and not see the individual imperfections–hopefully I can look in the mirror and smile back.

We are all a work in progress. At least I know I am.

So, I took a hard look in the mirror again. And though I wanted to quantify or disqualify every single good thing I found (my eyes look better with make-up, my teeth aren’t white enough), below is a list of some things I love about myself.

I have a happy and bright smile.

My eyes are a lovely stormy gray that change color based on many factors.

My shape is beautifully feminine and has supported the life of two.

I give my children the best affection and comforting in the world.

My voices for the characters from storybooks are rocking. As are my Disney melodies.

I take great care and pride in feeding my family home cooked and nourishing meals.

I am hand-freaking-sewing a quilt and it will be stunning.

I can make the hair stand on the back of my husband’s neck after eight years of marriage.

I do NOT make this list in vain–and honestly, I wish my list was longer. But dear, sweet reader–I want you to go look in the mirror. Or look into yourself. And I want you to share something beautiful about yourself. If you don’t want to leave your name, make one up in the comment form below.

But I implore you. I dare  you. I urge you. 

Share something that makes YOU happy about YOU.







So You Want to Read Nonfiction

November 10, 2014 Reading Nook 31

Nonfiction Guide

So you want to read nonfiction but you don’t know where to start. Well, there’s a nonfiction book for you! Or maybe you think you don’t want to read nonfiction–hopefully I can offer up a suggestion here that will whet your nonfiction appetite and have you seeking more. Reading nonfiction can feel stuffy or boring or stiff, but not all nonfiction books are stuffy and boring.

Below is an almost ultimate guide to reading nonfiction. Hope you find something tasty…

Stiff science

If you love science: Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach (my thoughts)

Notable recommendations: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (part biography, part history, part genetics) (my thoughts); The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean (chemistry, also qualifies for longest title ever (according to me))


sex lives of cannibals nonfic

If you love travel: The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost (bonus points for listening to the audio narrated by the fabulous Simon Vance)

Notable recommendations: Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck (my thoughts), A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (my thoughts), In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson (my thoughts)


philosophy Pooh

If you love philosophy: The Tao of Pooh by BenjaminHoff

Notable Recommendations: Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E Frankl (my thoughts), This is a Man by Primo Levi, Walking Through Walls by Phillip Smith (my thoughts)


adventure lost city of z

If you love adventure: The Lost City of Z by David Grann  (my thoughts) – A real life search for El Dorado in the Amazon

Notable recommendations: Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer (Everest), Wild by Cheryl Strayed (The Pacific Crest Trail),  A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson (The Appalachian Trail)


true crime hot house

If you love true crime: The Hot House: Life inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley  (my thoughts)

Notable recommendations: Catch Me If You Can by Frank Abagnale, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale


nonfiction madman
If you love history: The Professor and the Madman by Simon Winchester (bonus points for you literary folks as this is about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary)

Notable Recommendations: A Rumor of War by Philip Caputo (Vietnam, also memoir), Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (electricity), Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand (WWII)


father's paradise
If you love learning about people from around the world: My Father’s Paradise by Ariel Sabar (Iraq)  (my thoughts)

Notable Recommendations: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi (Iran), The Storyteller’s Daughter by Saira Shah (Afgahnistan), A Long Way Gone b y Ishmael Beah (Sierra Leone)


glass castle nonfic
If you rather read fiction: First–let me say that I am not trying to devalue these narratives by comparing them to fiction. I simply mean that they feel more similar to reading a novel than reading a history text. There is a lot of great nonfiction out there, but if people are reluctant, I always recommend memoirs as a kind of nonfiction gateway.

If you love fiction: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls  (my thoughts)

Notable recommendations: Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, Wild by Cheryl Strayed (also for adventure and travel)

I realize that I have a lot of holes in my recommendations, but this post was starting to get way out of control. There are books for foodies (I loved Kitchen Counter Cooking School), and women’s studies (Bad Feminist), books for comic lovers (Persepolis and Maus are must reads), and more. I also recognize that I am lacking in female authors. This is something that I’m working on remedying, especially outside of the memoir subgenre.

nonfiction november

This post is part of a series for Nonfiction November hosted by Kim, Becca, Lu, and Katie. While they asked us to Be the Expert for today, I just couldn’t narrow this post down to one little area. Instead of being an expert, I’ve always gone for breadth rather than depth. I hope you’ll visit Lu’s Be the Expert link-up today and find even more nonfiction recommendations to add to your list.

I would love to hear what you would recommend for any of these nonfiction categories–or others!




One Hundred Sunday Salons

November 9, 2014 Reading Nook, Sunday Salon 37

tss celebration


Today marks my 100th Sunday Salon Post! Or at least it’s something close to that–I didn’t always do a great job tracking numbers and there are some weeks that are duplicated and some that aren’t numbered at all. Neither here nor there, right?

My very first Sunday Salon post was written in March 2009 in response to a post My Friend Amy wrote about community versus connection in the book blogging world (this was back when the book blogging world was much smaller and it felt like one little community). In response I decided to fully throw myself into the community and officially introduce myself. It was a breakthrough for me as I wanted to be more than just a book reviewer. I wanted my blog to be a forum for discussion and fun.

It seems crazy that after 5 years, I’ve only amassed 100 Sunday Salon posts. Though my 20th Sunday Salon post is the one where I finally said goodbye to my book blog Trish’s Reading Nook. I had just had a miscarriage, was having difficulties getting pregnant again, and had distanced myself from much of the world. Depression is such a lovely thing. I started this blog and took a bit of a break from Sunday Salon posts.

While I’ve never gotten back into the habit of writing a Sunday Salon post every week, I’ve always looked forward to scheduling the posts that I do write and waiting for your answers to my questions, your suggestions, your support, your comments. Sunday posts are my favorite posts of the week to write (although I put too much pressure on myself to have a defined topic–and yes, sometimes I do pester y’all for topics…speaking of which… *winkwink*).

Over the years we’ve talked about ARCs, Freezer Books, Audiobooks, Nonfiction, Book Cataloging, Bookshelf Overhauls, Authors’ Canons, E-Books, Book Confessions, Book Obsessions. Books Books Books. Sometimes the topics are more serious, such as the discussion on Authenticity and Diversity and sometimes silly memes are more fun. Either way, I love that these posts are often my most popular and I love the comments and discussion they garner.

I look forward to many many more Sunday Posts and I want to thank you SO MUCH for joining in with me on this bookish journey. *Cue cheesy music and group hugs*


In honor of 100 Sunday Salon posts–which to me is really in honor of community–I would love to give away one $20 e-gift card to your online bookstore of choice (or choice of book in value up to $20).  If you’d like to be entered, just fill out the form below. All you need to enter is your name and email–the rest is just extra. I’ll close the giveaway on Midnight (CST) Thursday Nov 13, 2014.  Please note that you do not have to be a Sunday Salon participant in order to join the giveaway.


As always, thank you so much for following along!

What are you reading on this fine Sunday??




Fall Fun and the Girls Right Now

November 7, 2014 Life, Mommyhood 25

 Alternate Title: My kids hate smiling for the camera.


Go ahead and enlarge. I love where Elle is making faces unbeknownst to me.

Unless you looked at a calendar, you wouldn’t really have known that it was fall in Dallas until about a week ago. At least based on the weather. The week before Halloween we headed to a local pumpkin patch and roasted in the 90 degree heat. By the time Halloween rolled around a week later, our temperatures had dropped 30 degrees and we weren’t really sure what to do with ourselves for our first “cool” Halloween with the kids. Turns out that the prospect of free candy is enough to keep a preschooler from complaining of chill.


IMG_8250 IMG_8265 IMG_8289 IMG_8292 IMG_8300


Elle right now. Exactly three and a half and at the same time such a delight and such a pill. She can be so endearing and sweet and then so frustrating, all within five minutes. She is still prone to temper tantrums, especially if she is hungry or tired. But I’ve learned to recognize my own frustration on her face. I always take a step back when she tells me “that’s otay, mommy” (such as if I’ve commented on paint on her shirt or something such). Yes, it’s OK. It’s not the end of the world.

Now that I’m not nursing Evie in the evenings, she has requested that I read her books instead of singing her songs. I love having this reading time back with her again (Scott read her books while I was nursing, and then I would come and sing songs and give kisses). For the record, her favorite songs were Old MacDonald, Ants go Marching, Row Row (freaking still!), and You Are My Sunshine (which she wants me to sing two times).

She’s curious and inquisitive. She told me the other day “when I was a baby I was in your tummy, but how did I get out?” I told her through hard labor. Thankfully she accepted that answer for now. I’ve always been very frank with her but I’m not sure how much information to give a 3.5 year old? I always encourage her questions and a lot of nighttimes we would chitchat instead of singing songs.

She’s sensitive and very aware of the emotions of others. As noted above, I can usually see her watching my reaction and will change the look on my face and immediately see a giant grin spread across her face. It’s one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from her (and am still learning). She has had a little trouble with her friends at school and I’m trying to teach her to be strong and aware at the same time. Being three is tough.

She cut her hair for the first time (at school). And then lied about it (blamed it on a friend). This was her first outright lie. I’m not ready for things like this.

Daddy’s girl through and through. I try really hard not to take this personally but I do more than I should. But nighttimes are all me and it is my favorite time with her (after we got through the whole going to bed battle–which pretty much ended as soon as she went back to school fulltime). She wants a certain kissing routine that my mother did for me when I was a child. We laugh so hard and I love sharing those moments of boundless joy with her.

Her language and conception is rapidly developing but she still thinks that any day in the past is “last night” and that any day in the future is “tomorrow.” She measures her time in naps (nighttime is the big nap) and wants to know how many minutes for everything. Today she wanted to know how many minutes until lunch (right after breakfast). I told her over 200 minutes and she held up her five fingers and said “this many minutes?” Um…a few more than that.

She loves to dress up, play outside, dig in the dirt, run wild, help me cook. Her favorite cartoons are the old Spiderman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that are on Netflix (we won’t let her watch the newer, edgier episodes). She loves princesses but not exclusively.

I look at her and just melt. And then I ask her if I can eat her all up and she tells me that she’ll gobble me up instead.



IMG_8342 IMG_8333


Evie right now. Goodness I can’t believe that this girl is 14 months old. Just this week we finished nursing (at least I think…we were down to nights and have now gone two nights in a row without. Last night she even let me put her to bed). She’s still an itty bitty peanut, but she’s full of spunk and I adore her little toddling self and big round belly. Not sure how her chicken legs support her!

When she dances she shakes her head no instead of up and down with the beat. She is obsessed with “Let it Go.” I had been avoiding playing it for a while and when I finally did put it on for the first time in weeks, she went crazy. Now everytime she hears the song she screams and gets so excited. It’s hilarious.

Breakfast appears to be her favorite meal of the day. She gobbles down everything I can give her faster than I can give her more. She has started drinking milk in the morning, but not until about two weeks after I had morning weaned her. Some meals she eats a ton of food and sometimes nothing at all. I remember being so frustrated when Elle did this, but I have to trust that she’s getting what she needs and if she’s hungry she’ll eat. She usually eats at least a modified version of what we’re eating (if not the exact same thing).

She signs please and more and sometimes all done. She still isn’t saying real words but she calls Scott Da. She’ll sometimes call me Da, too, but rarely. Elle didn’t say Mama until she was closer to 18 months. She babbles a lot, especially when we’re in the car. She points and it sounds like she says “this” and Scott is convinced that she says thank you.

She’s still a mama’s girl and is glued to my hip. Most evenings she and Scott go upstairs to play while I cook dinner (often with Elle’s help). She plays perfectly contently until I head upstairs and then she wants me to hold her and cries and cries if I don’t. She loves to cuddle (and I think I’ve spoiled her too much with too many cuddles). ‘

One of her favorite things to do is put items into a bag or bucket or receptacle of any kind. She also loves tearing apart the pantry and the cup/Tupperware cabinet. She plays with toys much more than Elle ever did (the same toys that Elle rejected) and is very tactile. She hates having her diaper changed, being put into her carseat, going grocery shopping. Basically anything that requires her to be still. When she gets mad, she gets mad. My favorite is when she throws herself down and tries to bite the floor.

But I love love love those moments when she does slow down and will crawl into my lap, put her head on my chest, annoyingly suck her sweet little thumb (which she often offers to me), and cuddles. She’s always been my sweet girl.


he does it to irritate me. she’s his twin.


this was the best I could do. at least one is smiling?


sweet Elle-sa. to everyone’s delight, her dress also lights up and sings Let it Go. Yay.


So now we prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Time, as always, passes too quickly. I tell Elle all the time that I wish she would stop growing up. She looks at me frankly and says “No mommy, I have to get bigger so I can be a big girl.” Fine–but not too quickly my little ones.





Top Ten Books to Read Again

November 4, 2014 Reading Nook 33

top ten re-reads


To Re-read or Not to Re-read. Is that a question that you ask yourself? I love the idea of re-reading books and I have a whole bookcase devoted to books that I’ve already read, but in reality the “too many books, not enough time” gets in the way of actually picking up something I’ve already read. This is a bummer because there are quite a few books that I deeply loved and would like to experience again. I might even be guilty of keeping books I didn’t like at the time in hopes that if I read the book again I might like it more. I know, this is crazy talk.

Today the ladies at The Broke and the Bookish ask us to share some of the books we would like to re-read.

Books I’d Love to Read Again

rereads 1

The Bone People by Keri Hulme – Though The Bone People isn’t a happy read, this tale of three unlikely companions in New Zealand is an emotional journey I wouldn’t mind taking again.

The Remains of the Day by Kazou Ishiguro – This quiet novel about an aging butler really struck a chord with me when I first read it.

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – This one snuck up on me. When it did hit me, it hit me hard, and I would love to go back to the beginning again.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver – Told from the view points of sisters in the colonial Congo, I feel I must revisit Kingsolver’s wonderful narrative.

Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier - The US Civil War fascinates me and this tale of love and war was so beautifully written.


rereads 2

House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III – Haunting and emotional, but I remember being so stricken by the gorgeous writing.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon – It’s short. It was powerful. It’s been so long since I’ve read it.

Fall on Your Knees by Ann-Marie MacDonald - Fall on your Knees is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read. Bonus points because I’ve forgotten the gut-punching ending (except for that it is gut-punching)

The Red Tent by Anita Diamant – The lives of Biblical women, even when fictionalized, is endlessly fascinating to me. I loved this one the first go-round.

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields – And the one on the list that I did not like the first go around. Since it has received so much praise, I’ve always thought I might revisit it to see what I’m missing.


So, I’ve noticed that none of these books are particularly happy books. What the heck does that say about me?! Though I will say that I have read Bridget Jones’s Diary a few times. She’s not quite a happy specimen but she does make me laugh.

 Are you a re-reader? What are some books you would love to re-read?