Wednesday, November 30, 2016

ABC Reads: November 2016

ABC Reads: An alphabet reading list challenge

Hello hello again, friends! Welcome back to the ABC Reads link up! We're linking up to share the books we've read in the lovely month of November and the letters we can check off our lists. 

Need a refresher on what the ABC Reads challenge is all about? Never fear, we've got your back: 

What does the challenge entail? Well, I'm glad you asked. There are 26 letters of the alphabet and we challenge you, during the course of 2016, to read a book that starts with each letter. For example, Atonement (A), The Bell Jar (B), Catching Fire (C), and so on. Makes sense, right? You don't need to go in order - if you want to start with S, go for it. We're easy to please around these parts. On the last day of each month, we'll host a link-up for you to share your ABC Reads.  We will award one point for each letter you review AND a bonus point for linking up with us!  At the end of the year (or when the first participant reviews a book beginning with each of the 26 letters), the winner will be awarded a $30 Amazon gift card.  Congratulations to Jessica at Frikken Duckie for completing the challenge and winning the gift card! Go visit her and say congrats! :) 

If you didn't get a chance to link up last month - no worries at all. Feel free to jump in with Andrea and me anytime between now and the end of the challenge on Dec 31st. 

Alrighty then, let's get to it. What did you read this month? How many letters did you check off? Here's my progress (November books in blue): 

A: (The) Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Completed March 2016. 
B: Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin. Completed February 2016. 
C: (The) City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin. Completed May 2016. 
D:  Dark Witch, by Nora Roberts. Completed April 2016. 
E:  Europe on 5 Wrong Turns A Day, by Doug Mack. Completed April 2016. 
F:  Finders Keepers, by Stephen King. Completed January 2016. 
G: (The) Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown. Completed January 2016. 
H: (The) Hereafter, by Jessica Bucher. Completed April 2016. 
I:  I Will Find You, by Joanna Connors. Completed June 2016. 
J:  Julia, by Peter Straub. Completed July 2016. 
K: Keeping Faith. Completed July 2016. 
L:  (The) Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks. Completed January 2016. 
M: (The) Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, by Mitch Albom. Completed February 2016.
N:  Night Film, by Marisha Pessl. Completed June 2016. 
O: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. Completed January 2016. 
P:  (The) People of Sparks, by Jeanne DuPrau. Completed August 2016. 
Q: Queen of the Tearling, by Erika Johansen. Completed October 2016. 
R: (The) Revenant, by Michael Punke. Completed March 2016. 
S:  Some Kind of Fairy Tale, by Graham Joyce. Completed June 2016. 
T:  Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed. Completed April 2016. 
U: (The) Unit, by Ninni Holmqvist. Completed September 2016. 
V:  Violin, by Anne Rice. Completed November 2016. 
W: Warm Bodies, by Isaac Marion. Completed February 2016. 
Y: Year of Yes, by Shonda Rhimes. Completed October 2016. 
Z:  Zone One, by Colson Whitehead. Completed May 2016. 

Violin by Anne Rice - a book review

This book gets a great big NOPE from me. Oy vey. But first things first, here's the synopsis from Goodreads: 

Anne Rice's Violin tells the story of two charismatic figures bound to each other by a passionate commitment to music as a means of rapture, seduction, and liberation. At the novel's center: a uniquely fascinating woman, Triana, and the demonic fiddler Stefan, a tormented ghost who begins to prey upon her, using his magic violin to draw her into a state of madness. But Triana sets out to resist Stefan, and the struggle thrusts them both into a terrifying supernatural realm. 
I have previously read other books by Anne Rice - her vampire series, her Mayfair witch series, and I truly enjoyed them all. They weren't my most favorite books ever, but I did really like them. This one, to me, had no redeeming qualities whatsoever, other than my appreciation of music and reading things about classical composers such as Beethoven and Tchaikovsky. 

But the main character, Triana, has some serious issues. She has unresolved grief from the death of her mother, father, her daughter, and her husband (all at different times), along with the disappearance of her younger sister. It feels like too much already at the beginning of the story and her descent from deep grief into madness was very, very painful to read. She is visited by Stefan, a ghost who plays the violin. Apparently everyone can see Stefan and talk to him. And Stefan and the violin help her to re-experience painful moments from her past and she just gets more and more upset and mentally unwell. 

There are too many flashes between her hazy memories, and her strange conversations with Stefan, and back again to real life when she is talking to her sisters about practical things. 

I gave this book 2 out of 5 stars. But I think it's probably more like 1.5. 

So, there you have it. 25 letters down. I have one left for next month, eeekk! :) How are you all coming along on your challenge? Link up with us below!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Fade to Black

I've struggled with my words and thoughts today. I feel like yesterday and today went by in a blur and I felt very lost. I felt frozen in place. And so I write these words to document how I'm feeling right now. So, if you're tired of political posts, or don't want to hear from another sad voter today, this post is not for you. 


As the world knows by now, Donald Trump has been elected as the 45th President of the United States. 

I'm not writing to protest the election or call anyone any names or spread any kind of hate. Trump won the Presidential election, there's no question about that. We all had our chance to vote and make our voices heard. This post isn't about that. 

I'm also not writing to say that Hillary Clinton was the perfect candidate or even that she was my candidate per se. 

When I cast my vote on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, I voted for the Democratic Party. Because it represents the values and beliefs that I, and many citizens across our nation, hold dear. 

I voted because I am a woman. I am a mother who worries about her children's future. I am a minority. I have a diagnosed mental illness. I have been sexually harassed and assaulted. I am the daughter of a veteran. 

I voted because I believe in tolerance. I believe in equality. I believe in unity. I believe in helping your fellow man. I believe in love. I believe in choice. I believe in a world where differences are welcomed. 

When I cast my vote on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, I voted against a candidate whose words and actions do not represent my beliefs and values. One whom I feel will take our country in a direction that I do not wish for us or my children or their children. I voted against a party in which I do not, and have not ever, felt welcome. 

In Hillary's concession speech, she said: "Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years but all the time." And after I heard that, I felt a sense of shame because she's exactly right. Showing up in November every 4 years isn't enough. Putting all of my hopes for change and action into one person in an election isn't enough at all.

The only thing that I can do from here is speak up and put my beliefs into action. Whether it's donating my money to a cause or organization that I believe in, or volunteering my time to help my local community. I will use my voice and speak up with our local or state officials. I will no longer sit back and wait and hope for something to happen. 

I joked with a couple of my close friends that I was going to wear black every day for the next 4 years, as a sign of mourning. But I am no longer joking, because I *am* in mourning. Saying goodbye to the naive, quiet girl I used to be. She is gone. The woman who remains will be loud in her quest to make a difference. One who vows to do all she can to spread love, hope, joy, and equality wherever she goes. One who hopes to finally see our country free from hate and discrimination. 

Alas, the election is over and the United States starts a new chapter in her history. Let's fill those pages with light.