Show us your books: March 2020

March 10, 2020

(aka Books in the Time of Coronavirus, part 1)

Hello! I’ve been reading at a steady clip again, thanks to regular library trips. In fall/winter, I’ll go to the hometown library. In spring/summer, I visit the Philadelphia Free library during my lunch break. And I use the Libby app to put ebooks on hold. It’s a good system, even if it means I have gluts of books from time to time.

I’m comfortable with a 3 book cushion.

The Goodreads goal is looking achievable, too!

Onto the books! I use the Goodreads rating system, which is:

  • One star: did not like it
  • Two stars: it was ok
  • Three stars: liked it
  • Four stars: really liked it
  • Five stars: it was amazing

The Satapur Moonstone (Perveen Mistry #2) — Sujata Massey
This is second in a series featuring Perveen Mistry, a “lady lawyer” in 1920s India. She’s not allowed to go to court, so she works as a solicitor in her father’s firm. One of the few benefits of being a lady lawyer is that she can talk to clients who cannot or will not speak to men. In this book, Perveen is hired by the (British) government help settle a dispute about a young maharaja’s education. Naturally, it ends up being more than that. These books start very slowly and are amazingly descriptive. When business starts to pick up it’s a heck of a ride, but this might not be your thing if you want suspense and danger from beginning to end.

Three stars – a solid and enjoyable mystery, and I’ll pick up book #3 which is supposedly in the works.


Ladysitting: My Year with Nana at the End of her Century — Lorene Cary
A memoir about a middle-aged woman who finds herself taking care of her elderly and failing grandmother. The book dives into the dynamics of this African-American family and the challenges of taking care of someone who took care to you. Bonus for Philly-area people: the author lives in Philadelphia, teaches at uPenn, and Nana used to live in Collingswood, NJ!

Four stars – it’s a hold-no-punches look at difficult times.

She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman — Erica Armstrong Dunbar
I heard about this book on the Call Your Girlfriend podcast. What do you know about Harriet Tubman? Yeah, okay, Underground Railroad, blurry picture of a lady with a headwrap, not on the $20 bill. But Harriet Tubman had a whole rest of a life before and after that sliver of time that the history books mention. She accomplished so much – your mind will be blown. For example, did you know that she was the first woman to lead an armed military operation in the US? This very short and well-researched book with witty Beyonce-inspired chapter titles gives you all of the details. Obvious trigger warnings for slavery and all of the violence and horror that entailed.

Four stars. Really, go read this book, and have the young kids in your life read it too.

Wham! George & Me — Andrew Ridgeley
I saw this in the “new biographies” section when I was looking for She Came to Slay and I grabbed it like Gollum and the One Ring. If you were a Wham! fan, you know that Andrew Ridgeley was George’s best friend who disappeared back into private life after Wham! ended. You may think, “Well, here’s Andy cashing in.” But remember, Andrew never said one bad thing about George, even when George was in his really messed up, depraved, carcrashing phase. This is a very loving memoir of Andrew’s life with George. It mostly ends when Wham! ends, save for the final chapter about George’s death. When you thumb through it, you’ll see that it’s full of photos (many, many photos), the font is large and the margins are large too. You might chuckle. And then you’ll see the dedication, which reads:

This memoir is dedicated to the memory of my dearest friend, with whom I did the only thing I ever really wanted to do and was the only person I ever imagined doing it with.

And you’ll read every word and love it like Andrew loved George.

Like Eat, Pray, Love, this book was written expressly for me. Therefore I give it FIVE STARS and a can of Aqua Net, but if you’re not me, you’ll give it a solid three.

This was considered gorgeous in 1985 shut your mouth.

The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family — Josh Hanagarne
Seems like it was memoir month for me. This is Josh’s story. Josh has Tourette Syndrome and not the sassy punchline kind where a person blurts expletives out in the middle of a board meeting. He has the kind that interferes with every aspect of his life: school, dating, fitness, and faith. While my interest waned during the parts when he was with the strange fitness teachers, Hanagarne wrote one of the most realistic accounts of being part of an infertile couple who desperately wants a baby but accepts that they can’t that I’ve read. Spoiler alert: they end up having a baby, because EVERYONE has a baby excep– oh, whatever. And his family is solid. It’s very nice to read a book where the author genuinely loves their family. Also, if your only exposure to LDS families are the super-rich blogging ones, this is a nice counter to that.

Two and a half stars, rounded to three.

The Antidote for Everything: Kimmery Martin
I snarfled this book down in 2 days. It’s a great followup effort to “The Queen of Hearts” which I reviewed in October 2018. Georgia (former classmate of Zadie and Emma from The Queen of Hearts) is a urologist, her best friend Jonah is a Family Medicine doc. Their privately owned clinic/hospital in Charleston, SC, decides to stop treating transgender and LGBT patients. Which, you know, is legal in the year of our Lord 2020. This neither flies with Jonah, who is gay, nor with Georgia who is an example of the liberal southerners we find when we stop staring at stereotypes. This book is PACKED with everything. Seriously, there is a LOT going on but the crux of the book is Georgia and Jonah’s beautiful friendship.

Four stars and I’ll repeat this from last time: Kimmery is the quirkiest Kimberly derivative I’ve seen yet. It’s like how I say my own name when I’m drunk.

Currently Reading: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe — Benjamin Alire Saenz. It’s my semi-annual YA read.

All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.

This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!

Life According to Steph

Other SUYB posts:
January | February | March |April | June | July | August | December
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December

PS: Wash your hands!


Stuff I put on my face: Winter 2020

February 13, 2020

I am 47 years old (sweet merciful crap I cannot get with this) and my face is, as always, changing. I think I’ve finally found a skin care regimen that works for me and my dry skin that still breaks out from time to time. None of these are affiliate links, nothing here is sponsored because I am an uninfluencer.

It seems like a lot, but it doesn’t take long.

When I get home from work I wash my face with It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cleanser (gentle on eyes), pat it dry with a towel that’s never more then 3 days old, and apply two drops of Buffet by The Ordinary. More than two drops makes my face sticky.

Before bed, I alternate between applying a few drops of The Ordinary Granactive Retinol 2% Emulsion (effective but smelly) or Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Face Oil (effective and smells great). I let that dry for a few minutes (I’ll pee or brush my hair) I top it with a thin coat of Neutrogeena Hydro Boost Face Gel Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin. I put lip balm on – I was gifted Milk’s Kush Lip Balm in Green Dragon and it works fine. It has cannabis oil in it. Do what you want with that info, it does nothing for me personally. Chapstick works fine too which is great because I have no fewer than 6 sticks in my possession.

We started sleeping with a humidifier in the room, which has been a game changer. By this time of the wretched winter my skin is dry and itchy and my face is flaking off. Not this year. It’s also improved both the canine and human snoring in the bedroom. There is still snoring, but less snoring. We have an ultrasonic humidifier that I bought from QVC (I know) and it does make a watery BLOOP noise every 10 minutes or so. That might not work if you’re a light sleeper. I sleep with earplugs (see: snorers) so it doesn’t bother me at all.

I splash my face with water, apply one drop of Buffet, and then go into makeup.

On an as needed basis, but I need Dark Angels on Friday.

As needed:
On Friday nights I take off my eye makeup with a little Confidence in a Cleanser and then wash my face with Lush Dark Angels charcoal scrub. I let the scrub sit on my face for a few minutes before removing it. It’s my favorite beauty ritual of the week. And then I don’t do anything other than nightly lip balm for the rest of the weekend. I’ll do a light wash if it gets dirty, but I do no serums, no creams, just plain face.

I try my hardest not to wear makeup on the weekends anymore. I’m trying to get used to my actual Kim face again. It’s not a bad face.

If I break out (it’s down to a zit once a month, which wow!) I dab it with Indie Lee’s Banish Stick, which knocks it out in a day or two.

If my eye bags are noticeable, I use It Cosmetics By Bye Under Eye Eye Cream for a few days. I’m still working off of a sample tub from the fall.

No plastic surgery or injectables, although a few years ago my dermatologist pointed out the “elevens” between my eyes and that he could fix them. Now they are all I can see when I look at myself. I’m bothered by them. I’m bothered that I’m bothered by them. It’s a cycle of bother and I haven’t been back to the dermatologist since.

PS: Happy birthday, Mom! 🙂


Show us your books February 2020

February 11, 2020

Missed January but here I am, back in February! I completely missed my 2019 Goodreads goal but you know what? IT’S FINE. It’s an arbitrary number and I missed it and the world still spins. My 2020 goal is 50 books, which is what it was in 2018.

Swing and a miss.

I’m also not going to sabotage my post about these books by trying to make it perfect and witty and then never posting the draft because I feel that it falls flat. Nope. Just gonna barf this post out here because what’s what my personal blogging practice is. It’s a journal.

Onto the books! I use the Goodreads rating system, which is:

  • One star: did not like it
  • Two stars: it was ok
  • Three stars: liked it
  • Four stars: really liked it
  • Five stars: it was amazing

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal (read in 2019)
Edith and Helen are farmer’s daughters in Minnesota. Edith does everything politely and by the book. Helen takes chances. Inexplicably to Edith, their father leaves Helen the farm upon his death. This book is a beautiful (but slow, very slow) study of three generations of women and their chosen family as they navigate the business of brewing. I liked that the story is narrated by various characters, because you learn that neither Edith nor Helen knew the entire story. Laughs, tears, etc.

Five stars and I am so impressed with how Stradal writes his female characters.

Cold Storage by David Koepp (read in 2019)
I chose this one because it was recommended by multiple book nerds and because it was a little out of my comfort zone. I’m not a suspense person and this is a suspenseful book about an organism that comes to earth via the shattered pieces of Skylab.

Effing Skylab! I was a six when Skylab fell and every night there would be news broadcasts of potential doom – that one paper clip sized chunk of Skylab would bash your head in or a brick sized piece could destroy your house. I, and many my age, was convinced we were going to die. I still hate any mention of Skylab.

Anyway, this organism is discovered in the Australian outback, where it mutated enough to kill an entire small town. Roberto Diaz and his coworker Trini manage to contain it and bury it way under the ground in a frozen chamber. Decades later, the land is sold and a storage facility is built above it. And global warming causes all of the safety functions to fail.

This story was very compelling and fun to read (although not really wise when you are already sick and have a headache) but really really really unrealistic. But fun.

Three stars, and it would make a hell of a summer movie. Minus the terrifying Skylab part.

Reaper Man (Discworld #11) by Terry Pratchett
I’m reading through this series slowly — one book every few months — because I know there is an end and I want to draw the series out as much as possible. I was a little skittish abut #11 because I really didn’t enjoy Moving Pictures (#10) and I was worried Pratchett was going to become a caricature of himself, cleverness on top of cleverness. (For an example of a personality who became a caricature of himself, see Emeril Lagasse. Once a innovative chef who ended up a BAM! machine.) Instead, we get this rollicking story about Death (a favorite character of mine) and how he acts when he, himself, is running out of time to live. It was hilarious up until it became touching. The tears were rolling down my face at the end. Pratchett’s writings do that to me.

Five stars and a box of tissues.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
On a scorching New York City summer day in 1969, four siblings (Varya, 13; Daniel, 11; Klara, 9; Simon, 7) go to a fortune teller who is purported to be able to tell people the dates they’ll die. What they learn inform the decisions they make for the rest of their lives and each of them tries to become their own definition of ‘immortal’.

If you were alive during the 80s, you pretty much understand how the first sibling dies as soon as you being reading the first few lines of their story. The rest of them weren’t as predictable, thank goodness.

Trigger warnings for suicide, gun violence, lab animals (not overt cruelty, but a, ‘geez, really?’ instance), and a whole lotta death.

Four stars — While reading this book I had a dream that I only had six months to live; that’s how powerful it was for me.

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland
I have a weakness for books about wholly unlikable, privileged families. Meet the Feldmans, the latest installment in this genre. Annette Feldman is turning 70 and decides to take her entire family on a cruise to celebrate. This includes her husband David, her ne’er do well son Freddy and his much-younger girlfriend, her never-good-enough-daughter Elise, her husband Mitch, and their two crummy teenagers. Every person has a secret that could RUIN EVERYTHING but not really. There’s also a vague subplot about the Cruise Director which doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

Three stars, and did you know that babies fix everything and if you’re not a parent you’ve never understood the true meaning of anything? Also, cruises can be fun.

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Wow. This is a hell of a magical-realism, Southern Gothic book about family and the results of generations of violence against African-Americans in the South. It was beautifully written and so, so, brutal. There is love, too.

Trigger warnings for drug use, child abuse and neglect, violent whippings, murder, torture, lynching, asshole white-on-black mob violence, ghosts, police brutality, and a metric ton of vomit.

Four stars.

Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World by Bruce Schneier
This is a good telling of how data used to be collected versus how (and how much) is collected now. Or, rather, in 2015 when it was published. It’s probably worse now. But it’s a good primer on privacy and surveillance, how much our government does, and some steps we can take to counter it.

Three stars.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
My mom recommended this book to me, and I should have said no because she’s a fan of dire “until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow” World War II books. This book is about two French sisters and the parts they played in the French Resistance. The first three chapters had me all, “you’re going to die. you’re going to die, oh you are TOTALLY going to die.” I was only wrong once.

Trigger warnings for war, murder, rape, torture, THE HOLOCAUST and all the horror that comes with, family separation, you know, World War II.

Four stars. It was beautifully written but oh my geez war books are not my jam.

Currently reading: The Satapur Moonstone (Perveen Mistry #2) by Sujata Massey

All of my book lists and reviews are on Goodreads.

This a part of the Show us Your Books linkup from Jana Says and Life According to Steph. If you want to read more bloggers gush about the books they’ve read this month, click the button below and have fun!

Life According to Steph

Other SUYB posts:
January | February | March |April | June | July | August | December
January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December