Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Grizzly

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

I met this beauty (from a distance, of course) a number of years ago at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone, Montana.  I am constantly in awe (and fear) of these gorgeous animals.



For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

Have you ever met a grizzly bear before?  What was your experience like?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Monday Maunder: A Little Getaway


Do you ever have those times that are just so chaotic that sometimes you just need to get away from it all?!?  That's where my little family currently was, so we decided to take a little road trip over the long weekend and get away from it for a little while.  And, it was so refreshing!

Our first day away, we hit up the best museum in the state, the Museum of the Rockies.  For those of you who may not be familiar with this amazing museum, the curator may be a bit more mainstream.  But, before I get to that, let me tell you about our little visit.  We watched a couple of presentations at the planetarium, toured a special exhibit on chocolate (complete with the sweet scent!), meandered through the permanent exhibits on Native American culture and the history of the state, and the biggest and most well-known, their amazing dinosaur exhibit.  Their newest exhibit features a full replica of a T-Rex and it was amazing!!  Now, back to the curator -- Jack Horner.  Does the name sound familiar?  If not, then Jurassic Park may.  He was the inspiration behind the character Alan Grant.  If I can work things out, I am hoping to even hear him speak later this week!

Our second day away, we spent the day relaxing and checking out our surroundings.  I got to visit the largest bookstore in the state of Montana, and I may have come home with a huge stack of books!  We went to the movie, Tomorrowland.  (It was not what I expected, but it was still a decent fun film.)  And, we took a drive to a prime location to watch kayakers play in the rapids.

Finally, today was our last day, and we wanted to squeeze in one last adventure.  We hit up the oldest state park and explored some caverns.  It was quite a hike, but it was a fascinating place for the whole family.  In fact, my little fitbit tells me that we hiked 34 floors today!  No wonder my legs are so tired this evening!

You can check out a few pics of my little getaway over on Instagram or Tumblr.  I will be posting more tonight before I head to bed as well as a pic later this week of that stack of books that came home with me.  When I have more time to go through all my other pics, I will be sharing them over there as well or here during one of my Wordless Wednesday posts.

I'm hoping that this little getaway will get me through these last few crazy weeks of work and kids' school days.  My reading has been a little slow and my writing pretty much non-existent.  Maybe this little getaway was just what I needed to get back on track.

What did you do for the weekend?  How is your reading going?

Friday, May 22, 2015

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

I recently read Boxers & Saints by Yang and found myself being schooled.  I knew I had to also read American Born Chinese by the same author.  I was sure that he would have more wisdom and knowledge to share with me.

American Born Chinese first appears to be a graphic novel of short stories.  The first introduces us to the Monkey King.  The second changes direction and shows us the world of Jin Wang.  And the third, changes gears yet again to introduce us to Danny and his cousin, Chin-kee.  The reader rotates among these different stories until the end wraps them up into one.

Let's be honest.  At first, I was a bit confused with all these different story lines.  BUT then . . . then Yang comes from out of left field and BAM!  Home run!!  I'm telling you that this book just blew me away.  And, it could not have been done so brilliantly in any other way than in graphic form.  I can't really say anything more without sharing spoilers, so I am going to leave you with only one recommendation . . .

READ IT.  RIGHT NOW.

Have you had the pleasure of surprise from American Born Chinese?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bossypants by Tina Fey (Audiobook Review)

Whenever I request recommendations for my next audiobook, Bossypants by Tina Fey always appears on this list.  I finally gave in, requested it, and waited . . . because let's be honest, this book still has a large demand even after being released four years ago.  And, for good reason.

In Bossypants, Fey shares snippets of her life and she doesn't sugarcoat it.  From views on women, beauty, business, comedy, and more, Fey brings us her sarcastic sense of humor in a brutally raw form.  She doesn't beat around the bush, even on controversial topics, but rather lays it all out on the table for all to see.

I found myself frequently laughing out loud and sometimes, feeling uncomfortable, but in a good way.  I admire and respect Fey for all of it, even if I did not always agree with what she had to say.

I am not sure if I would have enjoyed Bossypants in written form.  I preferred hearing Fey in all her sarcasm tell me her story.  I missed out on the pictures, but no worries.  I searched out a print copy later to check them out.  In the end, it was worth it.  I could get a few extra laughs even after I finished listening to the book!

Have you heard Fey's story?  What do you remember enjoying the most?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Gibbon Falls

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

I am pulling yet another one from the archives because I simply have not had the opportunity to get out and shoot some pictures as well as edit the ones that I do have.  However, with the nice weather coming, I hope that I will be getting out more.

This week, I share with you one of my favorite lesser known waterfalls in Yellowstone National Park:  Gibbon Falls.  Enjoy!


For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

Can one ever get enough of waterfalls?!?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Monday Maunder: Bout of Books 13 Results


Last week in my weekly ramblings, I mentioned that I would be devoting my week to Bout of Books 13.  I had a stack of five books that I had hoped to get to, and now is the time to talk about how the week actually went.

The week started off very slow.  I woke up on Monday morning feeling very much under the weather.  On top of that, we had had a gas leak from a few days before that was finally getting fixed.  That meant that I was not able to get much rest with workers trampling through my house.  Then, my garage door broke for the second time in less than a month.  Thankfully, we have had very responsive landlords to assist with all of this.  But, alas, my reading still took a hit with all that was going on.  Then, the weekend hit and I was able to make up some lost ground.  I had a nice quiet weekend that I was able to devote a good chunk of reading to, and I took advantage of it.  With all of this in mind, I leave you with my final statistics for the week.

Total Pages Read:  788 pages
Total Minutes Listened:  186 minutes
Books Completed:  4
  1. Worthy by Catherine Ryan Hyde
  2. Fables #19:  Snow White by Bill Willingham
  3. Fables #20:  Camelot by Bill Willingham
  4. Ms. Marvel #2:  Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson

As for my plans for the coming week . . . I hope to get in more good reading with the start of a new book this evening -- The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd.  However, most importantly, I hope to get in more writing time.  I was doing really well there for a bit, but it has taken a major hit again and I feel like I'm back to square one again.  Here's to a great reading AND writing week!

Did you participate in Bout of Books?  How did you do?  What's on your schedule for this week?

Friday, May 15, 2015

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

I read Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel a while ago and my first reaction was "meh."  However, as time has passed, the book has stuck with me and I find myself frequently thinking about it.  When I saw Fun Home (the book she wrote before Are You My Mother?) at the library, I knew I had to read it and was immediately thrown in my bag to come home (after I checked it out, of course).

In Fun Home, Bechdel's primary focus is on her father and their relationship.  She focuses on his occupations as an English teacher and funeral home director with many references to literature and death speckled throughout her story.  In fact, death is more than just speckled.  It is a major focus because of the suspicious circumstances surrounding her father's death, leaving those close to him with the conclusion that his death was actually a suicide.

As with her other memoir, I found myself slowly reading Fun Home, frequently revisiting pages and panels.  I do tend to wonder if I was drawn to this book because of my own father's death (I speak about it here for those not familiar with my own experiences).  I even found myself marking passages, which is honestly not a common occurrence when reading and experiencing graphic novels and comics.  To make it even more rare, some of those passages even made it into my own personal journal.  They just hit too close to home.

In the end, I think this was a book I needed to read; one I was meant to read.  Is it a book that I would recommend to anyone and everyone?  No.  It does contain difficult and controversial topics of conversation.  Topics that need to be addressed by everyone, but ones that not everyone may be ready and willing to face.  Readers would need to be prepared prior to opening the pages of this book.  But once you are ready to have those conversations, even if you are borderline ready, open up this book.  It won't always be easy, but it will be worth it.

Have you yet read Fun Home?  What are your thoughts on this memoir?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford (Audiobook Review)

I have heard rave reviews of Jamie Ford's debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, but have yet to read it.  I came across his most recent novel, Songs of Willow Frost in my Overdrive audiobook library and decided to give him a try.  Afterall, he is an author based in Montana!

At the tender age of seven, William Eng was placed in the Sacred Heart Orphanage in Seattle after his mother was found lifeless in the small apartment they called home.  For five years, the orphanage is where he called home with only a couple of kids he could call friends.  During those five years, he believed his mother to be dead, but on one afternoon during an outing, he spotted a beautiful actress that he believed to be his long-lost mother.  He set out to find this woman, determined to learn what happened five years ago.

Songs of Willow Frost proved to be a beautifully tragic story.  I grew to love Ford's characters, the good and the flawed.  I easily got swept into his worlds, both in the 1920's version as well as into the Great Depression years with his vivid imagery of words.  I found myself wanting to walk beside William on his journey of discovery -- the path that led his mother to leave him to an orphanage when it seemed she loved him so much.  It proved to be an emotional path, for both characters and readers, and when the last words were spoken, I found myself a bit sad to be done with William's story.  I really could have continued with him longer.

Ryan Gesell narrated Ford's story, and I was pleased to have him read to me.  His voice made it easy for me to quickly fall back into the story, bringing it to life around me.

Since I was so impressed with this story by Ford, it seems only necessary that I get my hands (or ears) on his debut novel now.

Have you read either of Ford's novels?  What did you think, keeping in mind that I have only read his second?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Giant Tortoise

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

Yet another photo from the archives this week.  This one comes from a trip to the Reptile Gardens down the hill from Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.  I am completely fascinated by these beauties!



For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the dedicated blog.

Do you find the giant tortoise to be gorgeous or not so much?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pet Sematary by Stephen King

I saw a group of fellow bloggers chatting about a possible readalong for Stephen King's Pet Sematary.  I wanted to join in, but had no idea where my personal copy was currently hidden.  My local library came to the rescue and I jumped right in on all the readalong (aka #gangstercats) chatter!

Louis is a doctor starting a new job in a new town, so naturally he must find a new house for his family to call home.  It is a beautiful home surrounded by a gorgeous wooded area and an elderly couple across the street that quickly befriends the family.  What Louis does not know is that behind his home, surrounded by those gorgeous trees, is a pet cemetery.  What he also does not know is that there is something even creepier beyond that.  He has been warned not to wander into the beyond, but his friendly neighbor disagrees from the bottom of his heart.  That's when the real trouble begins to grow.

I *think* I first read this book when I was in high school  It could have been college.  Either way, it was a long time ago and the story was one that stuck with me.  Nothing really came as a surprise.  I found myself knowing what was to come next.  All these years (and two children) later, it really did not help in certain circumstances.  I found myself dreading certain scenes approaching.  I read one night before bed and experienced weird -- not scary, but bizarre and disturbing -- dreams.  King himself claims to believe that this is the book that scares him the most.  In his words . . .
"When I'm asked (as I frequently am) what I consider to be the most frightening book I've ever written, the answer I give comes easily and with no hesitation:  Pet Sematary . . . All I know is that Pet Sematary is the one I put away in a drawer, thinking I had finally gone too far."

When I first read this book, I would not have agreed with this statement.  Now, I am more likely to and I believe it comes down to my motherly ways.  It was more disturbing and heavy this time around.  Was it still good?  Yes.  It is King at his usual fineness.  That I can guarantee you.  In short, it is disturbing, but good.  If you decide to read it, just be forewarned!

Have you read Pet Sematary before?  How about re-read it?  Did your thoughts change like mine did?