fiction, nonfiction, reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: Have I Got a Book for you! #diversiverse

sunday salon

Happy Sunday! Instead of telling you what I’m up to, I decided to do something different. A Diverse Universe event is coming up and I thought I’ll write a list post for anyone who’s thinking about joining the event and don’t know what to read.

Bloggers like Aarti and Nymeth have eloquently written about why more people should read diversely. I’m not going to do it. I’ve realized that exploring works of art based on an author’s race means being open to something different. And either you are open to that or you’re not. Readers love the adventures that books can take them on, like new worlds light-years away or a dystopian version of the world they live in. Looking at race can be a different and harder thing to do. But it doesn’t have to be.

It’s an ongoing process, one that means making a decision book by book. It doesn’t mean suddenly changing the way you read overall. I, myself, have been guilty of not reading many books by people of color over the years. Or, I’ll read them but don’t review them. This year has been fantastic with books by people of color dominating my reviews, but I still have work to do.

Some critics have stated that by purposely choosing to read a book written by a person of color, you’re excluding whites. Well, that’s true. When you’re in the mood to read science fiction or fantasy that means excluding all writers who don’t write in that genre. Race isn’t any different. Nor is it any different when choosing to read books that won certain awards or set in different countries or translated from other languages. I hope everyone who reads this post makes a decision to pick up a book by a person of color. Like I stated earlier, that choice is up to you.

The books on my list were all published this year. I decided to give newly released books more bookish love than those that were published in previous years. By buying, borrowing, or reviewing new releases shows the gatekeepers that books by people of color are desired by readers.

Note: Most of the links to the titles below will take you to Goodreads. Several will take you to my reviews or the reviews of other bloggers.

Looking for a short read?

diverse collage 7

I don’t read short stories often enough though I love them. The great thing about them is that you can often find amazing ones online via Tor and other online publications.


Diverse Collage 1

diverse Collage 2


Diverse Collage 3


diverse Collage 4


Diverse Collage 5


Diverse Collage 6


Have you read any of these books? What newly released books would you recommend?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 5:14 p.m. Saturday afternoon. You guys, we have to stop meeting like this! It’s becoming a bad habit that I’m only posting on Sundays. Luckily, I have a few book read and I plan on spending some of this weekend writing reviews.

The scene: // sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee and the fan directly on me. It is hot outside, just a little over 80 degrees but it’s Cali. (That means I’m a wimp when it comes to the heat.) Half the kids are at a neighbor’s birthday party while the other half is munching on hot wings and macaroni and cheese. Kids.

kids books
Reading: // Nothing right now. I’m supposed to start read-alouds with the kids. With Piper it’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It’s a re-read for me but her first time. Oliver and I are going to read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Wonder by R.J. Palacio is Avram’s book. I plan on spending part of this week catching up with the kids.

Listening to: // The 39 Clues: Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan on audio. I can count that as reading. I’m trying to get the kids to try new formats and genres of reading this year. The first book of the 39 Clues series is fantastic. Every time I’ve listened to it (three or four times so far,) I’ve been glued to it.

Thankful for: // the first week of homeschooling being over. The bad: my youngest’s perfectionism reared its ugly head. The good: the kids’ microscope and slides for biology and life science are coming. One of the best things about homeschooling through a charter school is that the kids can take advantage of so many opportunities like cooking school and are able to get their hands on materials they wouldn’t have been able to in our local public schools.

Now I’m off to: // read and relax.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 5:32 a.m. Sunday (Insomnia is no joke.)

Listening to: // “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor. What a fun song about plus-size women! Have you heard it?

Reading: // I’m still reading The Canon by Natalie Angier. I’m liking it a lot but I do notice that Angier tries to show off her science knowledge in a way that can be distracting. I’m hoping to finish it in a few days. For some reason, I’m not really in the mood to read fiction right now.

This week: // is the last week of summer before we start back homeschooling. Is it possible to cram in everything I want to do in seven days?! Oliver, my oldest son, has his 11th birthday tomorrow, which means he’s having a cakepops party and food will be all over the kitchen as the kids make their own. With his new bike, I’m sure we’ll spend most of the day outside.

Thanks to my reading mojo vanishing for much of the summer, I didn’t get to half of the books on my summer reading list (or any) but that’s okay. I can read them over the year and it’s a small stack anyway.

I need to spend the next week cramming in time at the beach, reading, lesson planning, and just relaxing. We’ll see if I can get it all done.

Promoting: Melissa’s (Feminist Texican) review of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood on audio. I keep saying that I’m going to listen to this and haven’t yet.

Buried in Print’s post on This One Summer by cousins Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. B.I.P., Candace (BethFishReads), and my daughter have all enjoyed this book. What am I waiting for?

Now I’m off to: // enjoy my coffee and curl up with The Canon.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 7:14 am

The scene: // with the exception of the fan going, the house is pretty quiet. Almost everyone is still asleep and the air is so cool since it rained last night. I hope it continues today.

Drinking: // coffee because no one is crazy enough to want me to go without it.

July: // wasn’t the best month. I spent most of in a blah type of mood, where I didn’t get much read or done. I finished seven books, three of which were picture books and one was a graphic novel. In terms of quality, six out of the seven I would definitely recommend.

PicMonkey Collage

August: // holds a lot of promise. Hopefully. We start back homeschooling in two weeks. Until then, I’m getting lessons and materials together. The thing I really love about homeschooling through a charter school is all the materials and things the kids can do that they weren’t able to do in public school.

Looking forward to: // reading and reviewing more this month. Ruby by Cynthia Bond is a hard book to review. I’m trying to balance the summary without giving too much away. It’s a book more people should read.

I also plan on finally joining Trish’s Cook it Up: A Cookbook Challenge with my kids. We have lots of recipes just lying around, so I plan on making a recipe scrapbook to help us get started.

So what are you up to today? Have you read any good books?

Sunday Salon

Monday Salon. . .again

Time: // I originally started writing this post around 8:30 Sunday night as I waited for my son’s x-rays to come back. He was playing soccer and miss the ball and kicked the concrete wall outside instead. Ouch!

The scene: // It’s now 6:55 am Monday morning. I’m sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying my coffee. With the exception of my daughter Piper’s chattering, it’s mostly quiet.

Reading: // I’m actually reading again! It’s like the world is more beautiful now! On a whim, I downloaded two graphic novels from NetGalley on Saturday and devoured both of them within hours. Now I’m reading Cynthia Bond’s Ruby. From what I’ve read about it, I’m sure it’s a devastating read. You know, the kind of read that breaks your heart with its characters’ lives and beautiful writing.

high summer rat

Promoting: // Michelle’s High Summer Read-a-thon which starts today and ends this Sunday. I’m joining the event in hopes of keeping my reading streak going. I have no idea what I’m going to read after Ruby and that’s okay. I’m going to go where my mood takes me.

Aarti is bringing back A More Diverse Universe event for the third year in a row. In the past, the event highlight speculative fiction by writers of color. This time around Aarti is expanding the event’s reach by highlighting books of all genres by writers of color. A More Diverse Universe is going on the last two weeks of September, so there’s plenty of time to sign up, help out, and figure out what to read for the event. You can find more information on Aarti’s blog.

Now I’m off to: // read.

What have you been up to lately? Read any good books?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 9:20 a.m.

The scene: // Sitting in bed as the sun shines through my window. The fan is on, my cup of coffee is on my nightstand, and I feel so good.

Reading: // a bunch of teaching books before we start back homeschooling the middle of next month. For some reason, it’s been hard for me to settle down with a book. The weather is pretty mild right now but I have almost no desire to read. I’m thinking about returning all of my library loot unread and just waiting this mood out.

Promoting: // I may not be reading too many books right now but I’ve read several interesting online articles this week. Penelope Trunk wrote a fantastic post this week called “Leaving Your Options Open Sets You Back”. Y’all, I am the queen of leaving my options open. I thought it was smart but over the past year or so, I’ve been kicking myself in the ass big time. My problem is every option looks GOOD. This is why I’ve changed majors a million times: Anthropology English Psychology Anthropology and why so many occupations sound right up my alley.

So anyway, Trunk writes about how it’s important to stop trying to multitask since it’s foolish and start taking action. She writes every day and says that the only way she can get it done is to give herself no choice in the matter.

“You might tell me that I do have a choice. When we have a choice to not do something big, we don’t do it. Each of us has a challenge to find something big that we want and then convince ourselves there is no option but action. Focused action does not include hedging our bets with something else. Because hedging your bets is like multitasking: everything degrades. And taking action toward a goal we’re committed to is like splashing cold water on your face: it’s difficult and jarring but you feel power to do anything in that moment.”

Go read the post.

Now I’m off to: // go back to bed.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

Time: // 7: 28 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my desk as the family sleeps. With summer here, the kids are staying up late and sleeping in pretty much every morning. I’m loving it. I can enjoy my coffee in peace without anyone wanting to talk about Legos or trying to plan my day.

What’s happening: // I haven’t been in the mood to blog for ages now. It still amazes me how hard it is to try to blog again after taking so much time off. I’m going to try though one post at a time. . .

Finished reading: // The Bees by Laline Paull. The author made bees so fascinating! Now I want to read a few interviews with the author to see how this story came about. I’m so curious.

For some reason: // I always have a problem figuring out what’s going to be my next read. I think it has to do with having too many books to choose from. Has that ever happened to you? I have library books, my own tbr pile, and advance reading copies to choose from.

Hating: // the weather. Yes, I’m complaining. Can I get the cool kind of summer? You know, mostly in the mid-70s? It’s 7 a.m. and it’s already hot!

Loving: // how carefree my summer has been so far.

Now I’m off to: // relax.

What have you been up to so far this summer? Have you read The Bees? How do you choose your next read when you don’t have deadlines to think about?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 8:14 am – Sunday morning

Place: // the usual: at my desk with a cup of coffee.

What’s happening: // Now that my sisters’ graduation is behind us along with Avram’s birthday, I can finally relax!

Just finished reading: // the first two books in Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle quartet: The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves. I finished both books in the past three days. That says a lot since I rarely read young adult books. The next book comes out in October and I’m looking forward to it.

Up Next: // I have no idea. Maybe Brando Skyhorse’s Take This Man, a memoir about the author’s childhood with his mother, grandmother, and the five stepfathers he had. I read Skyhorse’s previous book, The Madonnas of Echo Park and loved it so much.

Loving: // 100 Happy Days meme. I saw a few people via Facebook participating in the meme and decided to join. I love finding a moment that captures my day.

PicMonkey Collage happydays1

Thankful for: // everything. I’m really enjoying the time I’m spending with my kids and these lazy summer days.

Not thankful for: // various neighbors. I wish they would move but I’ll move instead.

You guys should read: // Jill’s review of Knock Knock by Daniel Beaty, a children’s book. I haven’t read this yet but I’m sure I’m going to start crying once I do.

Now I’m off to: // enjoy my coffee.

What are you up to today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon – Busy, busy, busy

Time: // 6:31 a.m. – Good morning.

Drinking: // coffee. Have you guys tried the Dunkin Donuts Hazelnut coffee? It’s heaven.

The scene: // Sitting at my desk after watching the first episode in the second season of Orange is the New Black. I don’t watch a lot of shows but I really enjoy this one. I’m trying to space the episodes out so that I can enjoy the show longer, but I already know after writing this post, I’m going to watch the next episode.


Currently reading: // My Real Children by Jo Walton. It’s about an elderly woman who remembers living two lives – one in which she says no to marrying a boyfriend as a young woman and another life in which she says yes. Readers experience both possibilities and the consequences. I’ve read some reviews that compare it to Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life but an overwhelming majority prefers this book instead. This is my first book by the author and I’m pretty impressed.

Up Next: // The Woman Who Would Be King: Hatshepsut’s Rise to Power in Ancient Egypt by Kara Cooney. This book came at the perfect time last week. The kids and I were doing a unit on Ancient Egypt and learned a little about Hatshepsut. I’m so excited to read this.

Blogging: // about nothing much but I will start back with reviews this week.

Anticipating: // how busy this week is going to be. My sisters are graduating from eighth grade on Thursday, which means I need to do some last minute shopping for dresses, take them to get manicures, and do their hair. My youngest, Avram, is turning nine on Tuesday so I need to do some Lego shopping. Plus, I want to see Maleficent today with the boyfriend.

Now I’m off too: // watch Orange is the New Black before I have to start my day.

What are you up to today?

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon


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Time: // 8:08 a.m.

The scene: // sitting at my desk, waiting for the donuts to finish rising. I have about 45 minutes left before I can start frying them. Most of the kids are asleep and I’m enjoying the silence.

Listening to: // Melody Gardot’s album, My One and Only Thrill. It’s jazz and her voice is so beautiful. Take a listen:

This week: // Bout of Books was a fail. Well, not really. I did manage to finish and review, The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton. I’ve started reading Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok. I’m really enjoying it and will try to finish it today.

Grateful for: // the fact that I start work tomorrow. It’s a warehouse job through a temp agency but it’s a start. I was looking for a job that I can work late afternoons or nights so I can still homeschool during the day and be around the kids. I’m glad I found one with compatible hours.

Appreciating: // my extended family. My cousin recently passed and Friday was his funeral. There was so many people there and we laughed and cried over my cousin’s antics. He was one of the most giving and friendly people you could ever meet. Going to his funeral was sad but it didn’t end that way. I was so happy to see my family and will keep in touch.

Writing down: // my summer bucket list. I saw a post on How Sweet It Is and within minutes came up with a ton of things for me and the kids to do this summer, which includes making watermelon gazpacho. Have you ever made a summer bucket list?

Now I’m off to: // fry some donuts.

What are you doing today?

Readathon, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonAnother read-a-thon has come and gone. I didn’t try to read for the full 24 hours, so I don’t have a reading hangover. I did pretty well, as I read and finished Cress by Marissa Meyer, a chunkster, yesterday. My daughter finished two books and my son finished a comic. We ate, relaxed, and really enjoyed ourselves yesterday. I’m thankful to Ana for reminding me what the read-a-thon is all about with her post about Dewey. Thanks also go to Heather and Andi for pulling off another fantastic event.

Now that the read-a-thon is over, it’s time for me to start writing reviews. I have about five books to review including a few DNFs. I plan on spending the next few hours writing reviews, reading, and nursing my migraine.

What are you up to this Sunday?

It's Monday, reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon on a Monday

Time: // 7:12 pm

The scene: // Sitting in my living room, typing this. Spring break for my sisters and I have started. I still have homeschooling but since spraining my neck (didn’t know that was possible) earlier last week, I’m going to be lying down a lot.


Just finished reading: // An Untamed State by Roxane Gay. Shannon and I were discussing it a little via Goodreads. I recommend it to Aarti, Ana, Jill, and Jenny.

Now I’m continuing: // a few books I started earlier last week like A Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean (nonfiction) and Cress by Marissa Meyer. I like I’m going to DNF Delancey by Molly Wizenberg for now. It’s an okay book but I’m not pulled in to the writing.


Next up: // Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Someone (who?) reviewed this book a few months ago and I had to pick it up.

Promoting: // Though I haven’t been blogging a lot lately, I’m still reading everyone’s posts. On the Read-a-thon blog, Andi wrote why Dewey’s read-a-thon is a lot like a choose your own adventure book.

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride was recently nominated for a few awards. Heather at Between the Covers recently wrote a review about the book as hard to read but still impressive.

Now I’m off to: // start my day.

What have you been up? What are you reading?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

Embed from Getty Images

Time: // 8:50 am

The scene: // Writing this from my desk. I’m in the middle of a mess since I’m decluttering my desk, bedroom, and living room. I want to move this summer so the more things I get rid of, the less things I have to pack.

Drinking: // coffee. I’m going to need as much as I can to get through all of this.

Just finished: // Why Don’t Students Like School?, The Bloody Chamber (reread), and a few children’s books


Currently reading: // Bourbon: A History of the American Spirit by Dane Hucklebridge. I’m a few chapters into the book and already I wish that the author was more concise with his writing. I may just put the book down and read something else.

I’m also reading Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage by Molly Wizenberg. It’s the story of the author and her husband starting a restaurant after being married for a short time. I’ve been baking up a storm lately so I’m reading Delancey at the right time. I haven’t made macarons yet but give me time.

Loving: // that today’s Sunday. I dread Mondays with a passion especially since I have to be out of the house early Monday morning for class. Today I plan on finishing up my decluttering mess, read some more, and work on my resumѐ.

Hating: // that my phone isn’t working. It’s basically a clock and music player right now. If it’s not this, it would be something else. . .

Anticipating: // summer break for me! When we had summer break a few weeks ago, it was for the kids. Next week, I get my break from school and I can’t wait.

Now I’m: // off. Breakfast won’t make itself.

What are you up to today?


reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

Time: // 8:28 am

The scene: // at my kitchen table, nursing a cold cup of coffee. After going to a late showing of Captain America: The Winter Soldier last night, I’ve had very little sleep.


For two weeks: // I was unable to finish a book. I would start a book, only to put it down after a few pages. Life has been chaotic and hard lately. There are so many changes coming and I’m trying to brace myself. Yesterday, I needed something fairytale like and found it with Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, a modern-day retelling of the Snow Queen fairy tale. It was just what I needed. I finished the book in one day. Review coming soon (hopefully).

For homeschooling, I’m reading Love that Dog by Sharon Creech with my youngest. I’m also diving into A Wrinkle in Time with my middle son.

Celebrating: //my blogiversary! I’ve been blogging for seven years now. It doesn’t feel like it’s been that long. I may celebrate with a giveaway in a week or so.

Wishing: // I could stop time. I have so much to do today including homework, washing clothes, and a million other things. I need my weekend to be a little bit longer.

Promoting: // Jill’s (Rhapsody in Books) review of Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer. Jill heard about Annihilation via Facebook, one of the few online places that I don’t see many book recommendations. What about you, do you get book recommendations on Facebook?

Now I’m off to: // start on my to-do list.

What are you up to this Sunday?

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

Embed from Getty Images

Time: // 8:08 am

The scene: // sitting in my living room, relaxing. It has been a long morning as I’ve been up since 4 am. I went for a sunrise stroll on the beach, ate breakfast at a local diner, and now I’m ready to go back to bed!

Currently reading: // Why Don’t Students Like School?: A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What it Means for the Classroom by Daniel T. Willingham. I started this book last month but finally found the time to read it earlier this week. I’m only a few chapters in but this book is stuffed with information.


I needed some fiction to read, so I started reading Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile.

Completing: // the last day of Bloggiesta. I’m more than halfway through with my to-do list. Now I just need to brainstorm some ideas for future posts.

Celebrating: // the fact that the Excel portion of my computer class is over with! Now my class will try to conquer Microsoft Access.

Thinking about: // two posts with similar ideas. Yesterday Shannon (River City Reading) shared what she read in March and how she hasn’t read any books that blows her “out of the water”. Andi (Estella’s Revenge) write a similar post this morning.

I had to check my own Goodreads account and see how many 5-star books I’ve read for this year. The number: 3. That’s not surprising. I’ve read some pretty good reads but not many amazing ones. Hmmm.

Sleep: // is calling my name so I’m off.

What was the last 5-star book that you’ve read?

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 6:52 a.m. Sunday

The scene: // sitting at my desk in the living room. The coffee pot is perking and the kids are asleep!! Yes! Spring break started for the kids yesterday and I’m have a four-day weekend filled with Excel sheets to create, a midterm to do, and books to read and review.

Eating and drinking: // coffee! We’re having waffles for breakfast.


Currently reading: // The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith and Mr. Loverman by Bernandine Evaristo. I’m hoping to finish both within the next day or so.

Up next: // All the Bird, Singing by Evie Wyld and a host of children’s books

Blogging about: // a poem by e.e. cummings and a foodie memoir

Promoting: // as usual, bloggers all over the blogisphere are adding books to my tbr list

 Melissa’s (Feminist Texican) review of Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Jenny’s (Jenny’s Books/Reading the End) review of Pandemonium by Daryl Gregory

Aarti’s (Booklust) review of Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi

The quotes that Lu (Reading Rumination) shared with readers make me want to read While Beauty Slept soon.

Last but not least, Laurie’s (Bay State Reader’s Advisory) thoughts on The Accidental Universe by Alan Lightman had me rushing to my library’s website to put the book on hold.

Thankful for: // this nice spring weather we’re having. I’m a winter person but I can’t help but enjoy all the sunshine.

Now I’m off to: // get started on those Excel sheets.

How are you spending your day?


reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salon

Time: // 8: 00 a.m. Damn Daylight Savings time. I’m exhausted. At least I have some coffee.

The scene: // Sitting in my living room, most of the kids are asleep. The sun is shining and there are some awesome clouds in the sky.

Listening to: // “Out of My League” by Fitz and the Tantrums. Thanks to Bryan for the suggestion. Thanks to everyone for their music suggestions last week.

Listing: // my Memoir March list of books. I finally figured out what I’m going to read this month.

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  • Red and Me: My Coach, My Lifelong Friend by Bill Russell – audio
  • Around the House and In the Garden by Dominique Browning
  • The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann
  • Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
  • Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman – (Maybe I’ll finally get to this one)
  • Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge
  • The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle, and The Quest to Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz
  • Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (recommended by Olduvai)
  • The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
  • L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi

I tried to pick some diverse reads, ranging from format (Woman Rebel and Maus are graphic novels) to experience.  I’m currently reading L.A. Son, a foodie memoir, and Out of the Woods. I’m really enjoying both of them.

Blogging about: // everything! I had one of those rare urges to write my ass off this week. I wrote graphic novels reviews, a review of The Perfect Score by Debbie Steir, and a wrap-up of my February reading.

Promoting: // Andi’s Book Nook guest post over on Relentless Reader. Since rearranging my apartment, I no longer have a book nook but it’s nice to look at everyone else’s.

Also promoting: // When the Universe Ain’t Talking by QuinnCreative. I’ve been in a rut for a while now and this post came at a perfect time.  It’s about when you have to wait for an answer from the Universe and you just.can’t.wait.

You should also read: // Buried in Print’s Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi.

Now I’m off to: // relax a bit before I spend the day doing homework.

What are you up to today? Any suggestions on how to get out of a rut?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: Thank God for this Three-Day Weekend

sunday salon

Time: // 7: 30 a.m.

The scene: // at my kitchen table, drinking coffee. The kids are watching TV in the living room and playing with the Nook.

Listening to: // Spotify’s Jazzy Romance playlist.

Reading: // everything! Earlier this week, I checked out a ton of books from the library: non-fiction, graphic novels, and children’s books.  Thanks to our lovely three-day weekend, I’m trying to read as much as possible. So far, I read six children’s books and four graphic novels. I plan on reading a few more graphic novels and maybe unreading two non-fiction books that are due back at the library this week. Anyone care to join me for Comics Sunday?

Thinking about: // next month’s reading theme. This month was graphic novels and I ended up reading a lot of books from the library instead of my own stack. It’s been pretty fun though. I think next month’s theme for me will have something to do with tackling my tbr mountain. I also realized that I’ve been neglecting my Project Fill-in-the-Gaps list, so I may focus on my list next month but only the books I own.

Blogging about: // love, what else? I shared a poem on Valentine’s Day from Naomi Shihab Nye called “San Antonio”.

Hating: // vertigo. I’m so dizzy right now. Hopefully, it’ll go away soon.

Loving: // Lettermo. There’s two weeks left in the month and I plan on sending out a dozen or so letters. On Friday, I wrote a letter that was about five pages long to my little brother. I’m sure he’s going to be surprised.

Thankful for: // my family. I love those guys.

Now I’m off to:// make waffles. I hope you all enjoy your Sunday.

What are you up to today?

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 8:02 p.m. Saturday night

The scene: // hanging out in my living room with the heater on and some pretty tulips on my table

4959061Currently Reading: // so many books right now. I think I’ll spend the next week trying to get through most of them. I set aside The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean and An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield to pick up Why Don’t Students Like School? by Daniel T. Willingham. Willingham is a psychologist who writes about how our minds work and how our theories about thinking can help or hinder kids in school. It’s really interesting.  I’m also rereading The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan with one of my sons. Bryan read the series a few weeks ago and it made me want to read the first book again.

Setting aside last Sunday to dive into graphic novels felt great. I may have to do that every Sunday in February. Last Sunday I read Jane, the Fox, and Me by Franny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault along with A Matter of Life by Jeffrey Brown, and Aphrodite by George O’Connor.

Blogging about: // nothing. I haven’t had the time to write a post. Maybe I’ll review the books I mentioned above.

Promoting: // a few fantastic posts I read this week. M over at Buried in Print wrote about kidlit especially the books she read as a child and current children’s books.

Jenny (Reading the End) wrote another Stuff to Worry About Post about the plague that’s currently affecting starfish. It’s fascinating and pretty sad.

Bryan (Still Unfinished) wrote about his progress on his 2014 goals. It made me remember that not only have I lost my list of resolutions, I don’t remember what they are! At least I remember my word for this year: Leap.

As much as I like bookish posts, I love posts about happiness and gratitude even more. Iliana (Bookgirl) recently wrote about the things that make her happy. It doesn’t take much to make most people happy.

Last but not least is the latest issue of Bloggers Recommend which you can find here. The issue is the best looking one to date. It includes author interviews, excerpts of upcoming releases, and of course book blurbs.

Now I’m off to: // do homeworking, lesson planning, and of course make some waffles.

What are you up to today?

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 7:29 am

The scene: // At my desk with my first cup of coffee, while listening to Gregory Porter’s album,  Be Good.

What’s going on:// I’m anticipating the chaos of this week. Today, I have to submit the kids’ grades to their charter school. When I decide to homeschool my kids (ages 8, 10, and 12), I didn’t think of grades (and still don’t really). Instead, I try to help the kids master the subjects they’re taking without the pressure of getting top grades. I need to finish up since today’s the deadline.

In case you missed my last post, February is Graphic Novels Month. There’s so many people participating and everyone’s welcome. I already finished my first comic: Aphrodite by George O’Connor. I hope I get through my stack this month, but there’s always March. The twitter hashtag is #comicsfebruary.

Between homeschooling and reading graphic novels, I have school myself. The first day of the spring semester starts tomorrow. Luckily one of my class websites opened up yesterday, so I’ve gotten a head start on this week’s homework and studying.


Today’s plans: // include missing the Super Bowl to do some studying and reading for pleasure. Lu and I decided to have a mini comics readathon today. My stack includes A Matter of Time by Jeffrey Brown and Jane, the Fox, and Me by Franny Britt.

I’m not just reading comics this month so Sam Kean’s The Disappearing Spoon is in today’s stack. Its subtitle: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements tells it all. A plus for this book is that it’s so readable. I wasn’t sure if a book about chemistry would be.

Now I’m off to: // make waffles, sausages, and eggs for breakfast. What are you up to today?

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: 2014 as The Year of Tackling My TBR Mountain

sunday salonWhen I look back at all the books I’ve read this year, I realize that only a handful were books of my own. Now that’s disappointing since I have so many unread books. Every year I say this but I mean it this year; it’s time for me to focus on my tbr pile.

Like many readers, my tbr pile is not a pile but more of a mountain, spanning across genres and years, collecting dust as I read books from the library and publishers. Granted, my stack has gotten smaller as I’ve given away hundreds of books (200+) this year, but there are still so many books unread.

I’ve started to realize that this quest to tackle my tbr mountain is a never-ending one. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. How many readers among us have read every single book on their shelves?  When I’m constantly ignoring the books I’ve spent money on, it’s a problem.

I’m declaring 2014 as The Year of the Tbr Mountain. I have over 600 books and probably 60-75% of these books are unread. Some are of these books are classics like The Iliad, Richard Wright’s Black Boy, and I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Others are modern favorites like Louise Erdrich’s Love Medicine and The Namesake by Jhumpi Lahiri. When am I ever going to get to these rich and seemingly deserving titles if I don’t make an effort to?

Some of you might be wondering what’s the big deal. Why not read whatever I want? I do and I still will but I’ve been feeling some guilt over the years about these books collecting dust. What usually happens is that time passes: months and years go by and I’ve forgotten why I was so excited to read these books. I end up giving them away to my local library or thrift store.

No more. With a few exceptions, I’m no longer accepting review copies. I still have a few arcs left that I plan on reading and reviewing at the beginning of the year along with a stack of library books that are too interesting to give back unread.

I’m excited about this goal and I’ve already started. If I can read at least one book from my shelf every week, I’m happy. Wish me luck.

What are your reading goals for 2014? 

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 6:33 a.m.

The place: // my living room. The heater is going and for the most part, it’s quiet.

Eating: // nothing yet.

Drinking: // I plan on starting on my first cup of coffee in a minute 

Reading: // I’m in the middle of four books right now: a collection of poetry called Chasing Utopia by Nikki Giovanni, Why Teach? by Mark Edmundson (essays), This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (essays), and The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt for the read-along. The nice thing about dipping in and out of the nonfiction books is that I can’t lose my place. I can read an essay by Patchett on writing, read another essay by Edmundson on teacher evaluations, and go back and forth without having to remember a plot or character’s name. We’ll see what happens once I get deep into The Goldfinch.

Blogging: // I’m pretty proud of myself for blogging a few times this week. I shared:

I’m thinking about: // my resolutions for 2014, reading and otherwise. I’m still working on my list, but I think I’m going to start working on my resolutions now instead of waiting for the new year to arrive. The kids are out on Christmas break so I can focus on the things that I want to change or get done. I plan on sharing my list sometime this week.

Now I’m off to: // read and enjoy my cup of coffee. What have you been reading/writing/listening to this week?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 7:04 p.m. – Saturday

Place: // my living room, looking at my Christmas tree. I wish I could take a decent picture of it to show you all. It’s white with bulbs that are dark purple, dark blue, and periwinkle.

Listening to: // Christmas music

Eating:// just finished oxtails and rice. Yum!

Drinking: // what else? A cup of coffee.

Currently reading: // My reading is going slowly. I just started Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and continuing The Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.

Up Next: // Flora and Ulysses by Kate Dicamillo.

chunkster challenge 2014a

Promoting: // sign-ups for The Chunkster Challenge. I’m the new host and have made some changes to the rules of the challenge. E-books and audio books are now acceptable. I hope you all think about signing up.

Avoiding but really need to: // write some reviews.

Watching: // Iron Man 3. After that, it’s on to Sweet November with Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron and then the latest Sherlock Holmes movie. Robert Downing Jr. can do no wrong in my book.

Now I’m off to: // read and enjoy the rest of my night.

What are you up to?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 4:40 p.m. Saturday

The scene: // my living room

Eating: // saltine crackers while waiting for my chili to warm up.

Listening to: // Marsha Ambrosius

Celebrating: // the fact that Thanksgiving break is here! It actually started last Wednesday. I am so happy. Now I can dive into all the books I’ve been ignoring.

gaiman milkSo far I’ve read: //

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Chew Vol. 6 Space Cakes by John Layman

You and Your Anxious Child by Anne Marie Albano

beamCurrently reading: //

Why Teach? In Defense of a Real Education by Mark Edmundson (essays)

To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam (Publishers Weekly deemed it one of the best books published this year.)

Did not finish: // The Whatnot by Stefan Bachman

Up next: // who knows? I am eyeing The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, which I never did get a chance to start reading the last time I had it. I need a good fiction read to start on. Other choices include:

            Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

            Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

            The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky

            Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

 All five books are also on Publishers Weekly Best of 2013 list.

Now I’m off to: // relax and dive into a book. What are you up to?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonGood morning! Once you stop blogging, it’s hard to start back. Hopefully, I can get myself together and start blogging more regularly.

Time: // 8:08 a.m.

The scene: // my living room

Drinking: // coffee. It’s been a hard night.

Eating: // nothing. I couldn’t find any pumpkin muffins at the store.

Just finished: // the graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time illustrated by Hope Larson. What a fantastic adaptation. Now I want to reread the original again.

Reading: // Ingenious: A True Story of Invention, Automotive Daring, and the Race to Revive America by Jason Fagone. Ingenious is about the race to win the Automotive X Prize. I picked it up since it sounds interesting. So far, it is.


Today, I also plan on starting The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I checked it out weeks ago from the library. Now, it’s due in a few days. What piqued my interest is that the book has been nominated for the Man Booker and National Book Award.

Today I plan on: // having a mini-read-a-thon. I missed last week’s read-a-thon after I became sick. I’m reading the books I mentioned above.

Promoting: // Aarti’s A More Diverse Universe blog tour. The purpose of the tour is to celebrate the diversity in speculative fiction by highlighting writers of color. There’s still time to sign up.

What are you reading today?

lists, reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon: Favorite Books of Summer

sunday salonIt’s official. Fall is finally here. I love the need for scarves and cute boots, umbrellas and sweaters. The weather in SoCal has been pretty odd lately. Last night, dark clouds moved in and the air was pretty chilly. Only a few hours before, it was in the 80s. I may have to wait a little longer before I can wear a scarf.

I’ve been pretty much absent from my blog this summer but I did read a lot. Instead of trying to write a bunch of reviews, I decided to share some of my favorite books of summer. Overall, I read a total of 62 books in a variety of genres and formats. Clicking on the titles below will take you either to Goodreads or my review.


lamott help

Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott. In Help Thanks Wow, Lamott writes about the words help, thanks, and wow are the only words she truly needs for prayer. Lamott’s humorous tone can be found throughout this short read.

lamott stitches

Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, Repair by Anne Lamott. The follow-up to Help Thanks Wow, Stitches is quieter in tone than all of Lamott’s other non-fictional reads. Long-time fans of the author’s writing will find this short meditative book a nice addition to their library.


The Year of Learning Dangerously by Quinn Cummings. This hilarious read about a mother’s first year homeschooling her daughter isn’t for everyone.


Genius: A Photobiography of Albert Einstein by Marfe Ferguson Delano. This is a short biography of the physicist that both kids and their parents can enjoy.

cohen ignorance

I Don’t Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance by Leah Hager Cohen

ottaviani feynman

Feynman by Jim Ottaviani


Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Hicks

karbo julia

Julia Child Rules by Karen Karbo. Karbo is back with the latest addition to her Kick Ass Women series. Karbos’ fans will love this book while new fans will rush out to pick up her backlist.

say tea

Tea with Milk by Allen Say. If you haven’t read anything by Say before, pick up all of his books. You can’t go wrong.


The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdös by Deborah Heiligman. This is a short look at the life of Paul Erdos, a mathematician who loved numbers even as a young child.



Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman. This middle-grade debut novel set in a post-apocalyptic world surprised me with its brave heroine and unique setting.

danticat claire

Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. The author’s writing is so poetic. I enjoyed this short read about a young girl who was leaving her father for a better life.


Saga Vol. 2 by Brain K. Vaighan and Fiona Staples. The second volume of this fantastical series will leave fans longing for volume 3.

brown cinnamon and gunpowder

Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown. Blood-thirsty pirates, good food, and a captain who is more than what she appears to be.

You can find a list of all the books I read this summer here.

What were your favorite books of summer?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 8:35 am

The place: // my living room

Listening to:// the sound of kids tickling each other

Eating:// Carrot cake. It goes great with coffee

Missing:// all of you guys!!

lamott stitchesReading:// Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair by Anne Lamott. It’s the follow-up to Help, Thanks, Wow. So far, it’s different in tone as it’s a “quieter” book but it’s still interesting.

Excited for: // The #LiveLikeJulia Project. A few weeks ago, I finished reading Karen Karbo’s Julia Child Rules. The project is inspired by the book and also Child’s life. Bloggers all over the web are living like Julia and following one of the rules in Karbo’s book for one week. There are so many fantastic rules but I’m leaning toward rule #1: Live with Abandon.  It means being all in with your life.

Grateful for:// this summer weather is starting to cool off. Southern California is known for its perfect weather but for the last week or two, we’ve almost hit the 100 degrees mark.

What are you up to today? 

reading, Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonThe time: 4:09 am

In the past two weeks that I’ve been away from my blog, I’ve been doing a lot of non-bookish things. The kids and I have spent as much time as I can handle outside playing and riding everything from skateboards to scooters. There have been a couple of scrapped knees but it’s been fun. We’ve also baked everything from glazed orange pound cake to bread to last night’s brownies.

In between riding on things I have no business being on, baking, and meeting other homeschooling parents, I have read a few books.

SundaySalon collage

Leah Hager Cohen’s I Don’t Know: In Praise of Admitting Ignorance and Doubt (Except When You Shouldn’t) found its way to my doorstep earlier this month. A slim volume of only 128 pages, it took a few days to read the author’s exploration of our fear of being ignorant and what happens when we go through such lengths to hide it. What resonated with me is the section about preventing ourselves from knowing something. Cohen uses the example of people who refuse to see cultural differences between themselves and others even when it would help them understand someone’s background more. She calls it “treating ignorance with ignorance”. I don’t think I’m going to write a full review on this book because I want to read it a few more times. I do recommend it though.

Before I read I Don’t Know, I was in immersed in a totally different genre with the middle grade book, Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddlemean. Sky Jumpers is the author’s debut novel. It’s set forty years after World War III in a world much different from our own. The main character is a headstrong young girl who pushes through her problems even when it seems like her flaws might hold her back. I can’t wait to get a hardback copy of this for my girls.

Speaking of my girls, I picked up a copy of The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker at the library a few days ago. I checked it out for myself since so many bloggers have raved about this tale of an unlikely friendship between a golem and a jinni in 1899 New York. My eleven-year-old has taken the book for herself so I can’t tell you anything about it just yet. My daughter is a reluctant reader of anything that’s not animé, so The Golem and the Jinni must be great if she’s reading this chunkster (486 pages) of a book and is not complaining about it. We’re having a mother-daughter book club featuring the book for the next few weeks.

I’m currently reading an e-galley of Karen Karbo’s latest book in The Kick Ass Women series, Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life. What I really like about Karbo’s biographies is that they’re more than biographies: they’re also social commentary filled with humor and passages you want to highlight. The book won’t be in stores until October 1st but I recommend putting it on your wish lists now.

My coffee is getting cold so it’s time to wrap this post up. What have you been up to lately? What books have you read or non-bookish things you’ve done?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 6:39 am

The place: // my living room

Drinking: // nothing yet but the coffee pot is going

Eating: // carrot cake if I can find some in the frig

Just finished reading: // Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory School by John Taylor Gatto


Next up: // one of two YA books: Chasing Shadows by Swati Avasthi or Sky Jumpers by Peggy Eddleman

Hating: // vertigo. My balance has been so off.

Loving: // the song “Royals” by Lorde. Can you believe she’s only sixteen?

Considering: // homeschooling my two oldest who are begging to do so

Celebrating: // my oldest son’s tenth birthday. Kids grow up so fast!

Blogging about: // The Back to School Reading Challenge that’s hosted by Joy at Joy’s Book Blog

Now I’m off to: // drink coffee and read


What are you doing today?

Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon

sunday salonTime: // 5:11 am

The scene: // my bed listening to my 13 year-old sister talk about an actor she’s obsessed with. It’s too early but she has insomnia so what can I do?

Eating: // nothing yet.

Drinking: // coffee.

Listening to: // Nikka Costa’s Every Got Their Something album. I love her voice.

Currently reading: // Project-based Homeschooling by Lori McWilliam and Yellowcake by Margo Lanagan. After this, I plan on either reading Paris: A Love Story or The Shining Girls.

Blogging about: //my review of Cinnamon and Gunpowder, a fun pirate story by Eli Brown.

Participating in: // the last day of the High Summer Readathon. This is my first week-long readathon and I think I need to do this more often. It’s been fun.

dog days of summer readathon

Reminding you all about: // Estella Society’s Owen Meany Read-along. I need to get my butt in gear and start reading. The read-along is over August 13th, so you still have plenty of time.  Also, Estella Society is hosting The Dog Days of Summer Readathon.

Now I’m off to: // read and get a cup of coffee.

What are you up to today?