Saturday, November 30, 2019

Book Review | Soulless: The Case Against R. Kelly

I know, I know. I went and made a list of books that people wanted to see reviewed and then I go off and review something else anyway. But this NEEDS to be said, even though it has been said a million times already: sexual predators and their enablers are scum-sucking pieces of shit.

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Rating: 5 Stars

This won't be terribly long, because I am pretty rage-y about this. I was pretty rage-y about it nearly twenty years ago when he was found not guilty in the first trial, but it didn't matter then, because - as the author states (factually, unfortunately) - R. Kelly got away with his crimes for so long because he targeted the population that is the most vulnerable in our society: young Black girls. I remember people making jokes about that tape, calling it the 'pee tape'. Um, excuse me, how about calling it what it actually is - child pornography and the rape of a minor. For fucks sake. I can't even.

This book infuriates me in that it even needed to be written. I had to skim over the more graphic parts because I just can't hear it any more. Everyone knew for years what he was doing, and they allowed it. No one did anything to help these girls he was hurting. They certainly did not get justice the first time around in that joke of a trial with that joke of a fucking judge who THREW A PARTY when it was over. Everyone knew, no one cared. Just like with Weinstein and all those other fucking assholes who think they can do whatever they want because they have money and power.

R. Kelly is a piece of shit. Don't come at me about, "But oh, his music is so great." Fuck that noise.

If you are an R. Kelly supporter (which then makes you garbage as well), this book won't change your mind because you already know everything and you choose to not care, just like all those people who could have done something but didn't, chose to not care.

If you see R. Kelly for the monster that he is, you will probably get rage-y like me and flip out and want to punch a hole in the wall or something.

Even so, this pretty succinctly and evenly lays out the timeline, from start to finish. My heart breaks for those girls and I hope to God that Kelly never sees freedom again.

Stacking the Shelves #71

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc.

Prime Treasures
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Library Treasures
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What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

First Line Friday #83

First Line Friday is brought to you by Hoarding Books. Playing along is easy: open the book nearest you and share the first line. Then check out the link to see the other first lines offered up this week.


"By the time Dad pulled into the driveway of our new house, all I wanted was to go inside and jump in the shower. If we had a shower, that is. Or even any water. Dad had warned us the house needed a lot of work, but the place was in worse shape than I'd imagined, old and run-down, paint peeling and flaking, a broken downspout dangling from the eaves, old papers littered the porch. The grass was two feet high, choked with towering thistles and milkweed. The bushes and the trees had a wild, shaggy look."

Hahn certainly knows how to set the tone, doesn't she?

You'll have to excuse the middle grade love I will be showing the next couple weeks. Around Halloween I went on a Mary Downing Hahn binge after finding her newest book at our school book fair during conferences. I requested a bunch of her books from the library that I hadn't read, due to them being published while I was in college (or later).

Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Happy Reading,

Books From The Backlog #22

Books from the Backlog, hosted by Carole's Random Life in Books, is a fun way to feature some of those neglected books sitting on your shelf unread.

I am featuring books in the order that they were added to my Goodreads To-Read shelf, so sometimes there will be a couple weeks in a row of books on the same topic.

Neglected Book of the Week

Why did I add The Lost Books of the Bible to my TBR?

Because I'm endlessly curious about theology and if any of these 'lost texts' were ever truly lost/rejected, or are simply fabrications.

Have you read this book, or is it somewhere on your TBR? If you've read it, would you recommend it to others?

Happy Reading!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

The Sunshine Blogger Award

The Sunshine Blogger Award is an award given by fellow bloggers to those who are creative, positive, and inspiring, while spreading sunshine to the blogging community. I do not typically think of myself in those terms all the time, so I was glad to see that someone else does!

Before we get to the requirements and whatnot, a big thank you goes first to Judy over at Keep The Wisdom for nominating me for this award. It is always nice to be recognized by fellow bloggers as having a blog worth reading - though I admit especially in the first months/years I was probably just talking to myself a lot!

The Rules:
1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in a post and link back to their blog
2. Answer 11 questions the blogger asked you
3. Nominate 11 blogs to receive the award and write for them 11 new questions
4. List the rules and display the sunshine blogger award in your post and/or on your blog

Here is my list of bloggers who I enjoy reading regularly, and hope you will too. There will be some overlap with Judy's nominations, as now we kind of run in the same circle, so that's extra blog-love for those nominees. If you do not want to create a post of your own, or answer the questions I am going to shamelessly steal borrow from Judy (and others, because I am so not creative in this area), no worries. Just know that you are valued and I appreciate you!

Judy's Questions:
1. How did you get started blogging?
I was posting my reviews on Goodreads, and as I read more and more about how Goodreads was sometimes deleting reviews without warning or notice that it somehow violated one of the 'rules', I wanted a place where my reviews would be safe. I also had a blog in college, and I kind of used it to make fun of the word blogging when it was a new thing, because it was such a dumb word. I obviously do not make fun of it anymore.

2. What do you enjoy most about being a book blogger?
I love to write, and have since I was young. Same with reading, of course. I enjoy sharing about books that I love or loathe with bloggers who have become my friends, and talking with them about all sorts of bookish and non-bookish things. I also enjoy the fact that I have begun to cultivate relationships with publishers and authors. Free books for reviewing purposes is also a bonus!

3. How long have you kept your blog going?
Oh goodness, I am not even sure. I am literally going to have to stop typing this answer and look it up...Okay, first post here was February of 2015.

4. Would you say you have a philosophy behind your blog? If yes, please say what it is.
My number one goal is to be honest about everything I read. I never have and never will take money to write a review. Unless of course I am working for a publication that pays me specifically for the job of reviewing books, because that would be amazing. But there, the payment would be tied to the actual job and not a specific book. But I digress. I do not hold back in reviews where I think a good scolding is warranted. I do not tolerate books which are sloppy in research, contain vast amounts of supposition, or are flat out wrong and go against all the research currently being done in a particular area. I also do not tolerate sexist, misogynistic, and/or homophobic bullshit and will immediately call out any and all that I see. So, in summary, honesty is the best policy.

5. What genres do you enjoy reading the most?
NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION. I specifically am interested in European history, and even more specifically that of Scotland, England, and Ireland. I love reading about feminism, LGBTQIA+, Black Lives Matter, and politics. There are so many more topics I am completely enthralled by and this answer would grow rapidly if I listed all of them.

Oh, and I dig a good cozy mystery (Mercy Watts is my fave series), plus I am having a not so hush-hush affair with both YA and middle grade as of late. But non-fiction will always be my first love, and history especially.

6. Who are your top three favorite authors?
Tee-hee, this is a no-brainer if you read my blog regularly 😉
First, forever, is Dan Jones. He introduced me to Eleanor of Aquitaine through his book The Plantagenets and I have not looked back. We are also practically BFFs. Which I'm sure he NEVER gets tired of hearing...
I also am really loving Karen McManus. I LOVE her books and am dying to get my hands on One of Us is Next!

7. Do you attend any reading groups? If so, how many?
None. I am a solitary reader, Eleanor is the only exception to this! Unless you count my job as a Resource teacher, where I meet with my kiddos who need reading support. Then I would have to say I belong to five reading groups.

8. If you could invite a few authors over for dinner, who would they be - even if you had to resurrect them from the dead?
Dan Jones, obviously. Remember how we are BFFs? Also, Helen Castor, Karen McManus, Bernie Sanders, Louisa May Alcott, LM Montgomery, Michael Crichton, and Agatha Christie.

9. How do you find the books you want to read?
I stalk follow Dan Jones religiously on Facebook, waiting for the announcements of his next books, tours, haircuts, recent purchases, etc. Just kidding, mostly. He is pretty hilarious in general so definitely check out one of his Facebook Live chats. I also find so many books through Goodreads, as well as the bloggers I follow who have similar reading tastes.

10. Do you think authors today are as good as those from earlier years? Better? Worse? Why?
This is actually a really tough one to answer. For what I mainly read, non-fiction, I think authors in every era have done the best they could with material they had to work with. Access to contemporary resources for research is much easier today, though not always as easy as I wish it was. Worldviews have also changed, and so many fields that were once dominated exclusively by men are now getting female perspectives as well - a perspective that has been needed for a loooooooooong time. Women who have been treated horribly by past historians are finally getting more fair and unbiased representations of themselves. Catherine Howard (5th wife of Henry VIII) is a prime example.

11. Name a few of the best books you have read this year.
Oh Lord, I don't even know where to start. This has been an exceptional year in books for me. There are dozens that I have given five stars to. Crusaders by Dan Jones, City of Ghosts and Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab, The Girl in the Locked Room and Took by Mary Downing Hahn, Nobody's Victim by Carrie Goldberg, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, Tears We Cannot Stop by Michael Eric Dyson, Mercia by Annie Whitehead, The Five by Hallie Rubenhold...this list is out of control so I will just stop here.

Now onto the easy part (nominating bloggers) and the hard part (coming up with questions!), so here we go:

1. Cyber Kitten @ Seeking a Little Truth
4. Sherry @ Fundinmental
5. Stephen @ Reading Freely
6. Nicci @ Sunny Buzzy Books
8. Stephanie @ Literary Flits
9. Evelina @ Avalinah's Books

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to answer the following questions and then nominate some bloggers of your own!

1. What genres do you prefer? Why?
2. What genres do you refuse to read? Why?
3. What is the easiest thing about blogging for you? The hardest?
4. If you could become a character in any book, which book and why?
5. If you could travel to any period in history, which would it be, and why?
6. Do you ever DNF books? What makes you DNF?
7. Who are your favorite authors?
8. How important is book cover quality to you? Why?
9. Name a character that you would want to be best friends with, and why.
10. Name a character who would become your mortal enemy, should you ever cross paths in real life.
11. Which authors would you invite to a dinner party? (never mind silly things like death)

There you have it! If you feel like playing along, great. If not, no worries.

Happy Reading!

Stacking the Shelves #70

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly feature co-hosted by Tynga's Reviews and Reading Reality. It is a chance to showcase all the goodies you've collected throughout the week, whether they're bought on-line or in-store, an ARC or a final copy, borrowed from a friend or the library, physical or digital, etc.

Prime Treasures
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Library Treasures
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What did you add to your stash this week?

Happy Reading!

Friday, November 22, 2019

Drum Roll Please...

A couple days ago I posted about my completely ridiculous problem with having too many reviews to write.

Yes, I not only have an out-on-control TBR, but an out-of-control To-Review pile.

I asked for some feedback on which books people were most interested in hearing about now. The thing is, these are the books I want to review. ALL OF THEM. If you click the second list, you are looking at a curated list - I have already removed the ones I am not particularly interested in reviewing!

I know, I know.

I won't be writing full-length reviews for all of those books - especially true for many on the same or similar topics. BUT, I feel like all the books still on the list deserve to have something said about them and so I will get to them as soon as possible. I am really hoping to use Christmas Break to knock out as many as humanly possible, which also being knocked out on the couch at my mom's for the holiday, snoozing and reading while Mom and Eleanor play.

So, here are the books I received feedback on, and you will be seeing reviews coming out in the next week or so:

1. Killer of the Flower Moon
2. Crusaders
3. Becoming
4. Vikings
5. Earthquake Storms
6. Six Queens of Egypt
7. Eruption

If you feel so inclined, please feel free to peruse the list and add anything else to this order. I am cautiously optimistic that this will help get my review-writing mojo back.

Happy Reading!

Babies and Weddings and Mountains, Oh My!

About a month ago my mom, Eleanor, and I traveled to Colorado for the wedding of one of my best friends, Nicole, and her soon-to-be-hubby, Dyllan. (Dyllan is a pretty good friend too, but he likes the Sooners, so...)


I was excited for a number of reasons:

1. WEDDING! (Eleanor was head flower girl, in charge of getting Baby Peyton down the aisle.)
2. Eleanor had never been anywhere other than Iowa and Minnesota (and Iowa ONLY because we pass through to actually get home to MN).
3. BABY PEYTON! (Nicole had given birth in May to this adorable little girl who I could not wait to snuggle all weekend. I was, of course, also excited to see Nicole and Dyllan, as they live half a country away.)
5. FAMILY VACATION! (My mom came with us and it was so much fun to experience this together.)

Pretty much, the whole weekend was wonderful and too short, and such a blessing. It was so amazing to watch two of my good friends be Mom and Dad, and to celebrate their love and their baby and their marriage.

There was also TONS of time to explore the area before, in-between, and after the festivities. Naturally there is the required shot at the state border crossing, something we always used to do when I was young on family vacations with my grandma and grandpa. We actually missed the info center/rest area exit and turned around to go BACK. This photo was a MUST!

Once in Silverthorne, we found we were staying at a cute little airbnb up the mountain above the town, then headed over to see Nicole and Dyllan for the first time in two years, and meet Peytie Pie (my nickname for her). It was pretty much awesome and exactly the reunion/meeting I hoped it would be.

After a good night's sleep, the next day it was off to the rehearsal. Eleanor was very excited about her role, because it was her responsibility to bring Peyton down the aisle. A small cart was fitted with pillows and Peytie Pie was safe and snuggled up while we chatted, rehearsed, and general merriment ensued. I am with Nicole on the left, and Dyllan is with Eleanor and another lovely little flower girl.

After the rehearsal Eleanor, Mom, and I set out to find more adventures, as the dinner would not be until that evening so we had a couple hours to kill. It will surprise no one that we immediately found the library, then drove across the Dillon Dam and stood in awe of the beauty around us. In fact, my very first photo on the post is of Eleanor looking out across the Dillon Reservoir atop the dam.

Now, I must be very clear: I am not an "outdoor girl". AT. ALL. I don't like nature, I don't want it touching me, or on me, or by me. But there is something about the Rocky Mountains that soothes my soul.

From there we headed to the nearby town of Frisco because we had learned about this cool little museum there and of course we are going to go to a museum and OF COURSE we are going to buy books!

Frisco's Historic Park and Museum is SO. COOL. The main building is the former school house, which is the only building in the park that sits at its original location. In addition to a school and the main building of the museum (WITH gift shop!), it had at one time been a saloon. The remainder of the buildings were moved to the site for the purpose of being part of the park. All of the buildings had great information, a short video to watch, and tons of artifacts - some that were tied directly to the building they were displayed in. I absolutely loved this part of the trip and Mom and Eleanor had a good time, too. It was really neat to walk in and feel as though I had been transported back in time to when Frisco was coming into existence. I also ended up spending a good bit of time gabbing with one of the museum's employees and we shared our love of museums. Naturally I made sure to let her know if she ever found herself in Omaha, the Durham is a MUST. (That pretty much goes for anyone reading this. Best museum in the Midwest, hands-down, if not one of the top-notch in the country.) She even gave me the pin, pictured below, upon hearing of my love for museums.

There are several buildings on the property, such as homes, a chapel, the jail, etc. There are so many photos to choose from, I really had a hard time deciding which ones to show off. Eleanor really got a kick out of the jail cell, and she also found a large bookcase in one of the homes that we both would have loved to take home with us!

After a busy afternoon exploring the nearby towns we returned to Dillon for the rehearsal dinner. It was great to sit around, relax, and chat. Eleanor was so excited for the big day, she could hardly sleep. Luckily our adventures finally wore her out, and sleep came slowly, but surely.

We arrived at the salon bright and early so Eleanor could get her hair done. Then it was off to the venue to get ready. I had no official role in the actual wedding party, which left plenty of time for me to snuggle Peytie Pie, which was REALLY the whole point of the weekend! (Just kidding Nicole and Dyllan, obviously it was fun to see you get married and party afterwards😉.)

Eleanor was a little nervous, but she did her job beautifully and escorted Peyton down the aisle ahead of her mama.

But, as we all know, all good things must come to an end. Mom, Eleanor, and I had an absolute blast celebrating Nicole, Dyllan, and Peyton all weekend but we had to return to real life on Tuesday, which meant a long drive back on Monday.

I refused, however, to leave Colorado without showing Eleanor the beauty and wonder of the Rocky Mountains. We went up as far as we could into RMNP and while it extended our long day by several hours, I would not trade those experience with my mom and Eleanor for anything.

It was a wonderful end to a wonderful weekend, and I could not have asked for a better trip.

And of course, can't forget the new treasures I came home with:

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Happy Reading!