baronessekat: (book)
Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True MemoirLet's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it. The audio version had me laughing throughout

Update: I chose this book for a reading challenge's category "book you've read before that never fails to make you smile". Even with the one depressing chapter, I always find this book funny and making me laugh out loud in many cases.

The language is not one that is safe for work, but for me, makes her all the more relatable. Any I know part of the humor comes from a strong sense of schadenfreude, cuz it's not like many of us grew up in rural Texas with a father who thought bringing home wild animals was fun, if they were alive, and if not, doing taxidermy and having to use phrases like "let's take your car, mine's too full of blood".

I cannot help but feel sorry for her husband, and the post-it note wars, the bringing home 6 foot tall metal chickens and the like. But you know what... he married her.

All in all I recommend this book to others who need a good laugh.

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baronessekat: (book)
The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing WorldThe Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by Dalai Lama XIV

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every now and then a non-fiction book comes along and really resonates with you. This book was one such book for me. After every chapter I found myself pausing to reflect and ruminate on what had been discussed and how it made me feel, why I felt that way and what I could do to continue with that teaching.

For his 80th birthday, the Dalai Lama invited Archbishop Desmond Tutu to come spend a week and discuss what is "joy". They invited another to come and moderate the discussion and write a book on it. I feel envious of the man who got to experience and witness the gathering of two such remarkable men.

You could tell from the writing that His Holiness and the Archbishop were old friends and had an almost sibling-esque relationship. I found myself smiling at the banter and playfulness the two expressed. I mean... the Archbishop and the author brought trick candles and used them on the Dalai Lama's birthday cake. That mental image had me giggling.

But through it all, the underlying reason for the book... What is Joy, how is it different from Happiness, and what can we do to bring and maintain it in our lives... was a powerful and resonating message. There were times that an almost off-handed statement made by one of these great men made me stop the audiobook, pause and just reflect. "remember, you are a masterpiece in the making". "In my faith, I am created in God's image. Therefore I am a God-carrier". and also the recurring message of "if what you fear/makes you sad is within your control... why waste the energy fearing/being sad and use it instead to effect the change needed. If it is not in your control, fear/sadness is not going to change the situation and you need to figure out what needs to be done instead with that energy".

I foresee this book being one I listen to on many occasions and one where I will learn a new lesson every time. Highly recommend.

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baronessekat: (book)
RoomRoom by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The premise was interesting. Our narrator is Jack. He has lived his entire 5 years in "Room" with Ma. Room is 11 ft x 11 ft. Jack's entire world is Room and Ma. He's allowed to watch TV every day but to him, TV is not real. The stories on all the TV "planets" are made up because the only humans are he and Ma. But to him, it's all good. He has all he thinks he needs because "Old Jack" bring them stuff. But he's never fully seen Old Jack because he has to hide in the wardrobe when Jack visits Ma.

But shortly after Jack turns 5, Ma designs a cunning escape plan to finally leave room and go "outside".

I had issues with this book and I think the majority of it has to do with the choice of Jack as the narrator. Because he's five and his entire life experience has been in confinement, he not only an unreliable narrator, he's unbelievable. The author's choice of language skills for Jack seem at the same time incredibly stunted and incredibly over-reaching. Add to that, because of his limited experiences it's hard to feel the emotional response expected for Ma's ordeal. It's not hard for an adult reader to know exactly what's happened to Ma and what she's been experiencing for 7 years at the hands of Old Jack.

The other thing I had trouble with was Jack's roll in the great escape. I just didn't believe it. A boy who's never seen another human being, never talked to anyone but his Mother, is supposed to do what he did and get help? I would have trouble believing a 5 year old who has lived in the world could do what he did, let alone one as cloistered as he was.

I also expected more psychological responses to having to now deal with "outside". I expected more agoraphobia, more reactions to having to deal with so much outside stimuli (sounds, sights, smells, etc). To me, he adjusted just way too quickly.

All in all, the book fell flat for me. and I think if you want to read something about this type of difficult topic, it would be better to read a true account of a kidnap victim or one of the psychological write ups of their treatment.

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baronessekat: (book)
The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the AmazonThe Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

in 1925 Percy Fawcet became the Archeological equivalent of Amelia Earhart. He went into the Amazon jungles to find the fabled Lost City of Z (often referred to as El Dorado) and never returned. Search parties that went looking for him never returned.

David Grann, a modern journalist, became interested in the story of Fawcet and researched and then went looking to trace the route Fawcet and others might have taken.

Overall I liked this book. I was an Archeology and Anthropology major in college and would have loved an adventure like Fawcet's (maybe without the disappearing into the jungle, never to return part) and have believed for a long time that I was born to the wrong time period and gender, as I could easily see myself as one of the explorers of the 1920's.

I found the reader engaging and the story moved along well. My only complaint is that it kinda just sorta ended. No clear wrap up. Grann may have found what could have been the remnants of the ancient city that the legends were based on, but it's not very clear and he never did say anything at the end about Fawcet himself.

I want to see the movie but I do believe it will be a Netflix/Redbox rather than an in-the-theaters movie for me.

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baronessekat: (book)
Now I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World's Most Interesting FactsNow I Know: The Revealing Stories Behind the World's Most Interesting Facts by Dan Lewis

I could not finish this audiobook. It annoyed me too much, which is sad as I was looking forward to it as it sounded like my kind of book.


I could overlook saying "actor Leslie Howard, best known for HER portrayal of Ashley Wilkes". Any Gone with the Wind fan (movie or book) could tell you that Ashley is a man and Leslie Howard is a man. But when you are a factual book telling the stories behind things and you say "according to Wikipedia..." NOPE! Sorry, you lost me.

Could not finish. I don't care how well researched the rest of the book may be, when you've sited Wikipedia as your source AND you get the gender of a famous movie actor/role wrong... two strikes and you're out.

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baronessekat: (book)
The Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and LoveThe Perpetual Now: A Story of Amnesia, Memory, and Love by Michael D. Lemonick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a very interesting look at memory and the brain.

Lonni Sue suffered a debilitating illness (encephalitis) that, though she survived, left her with an inability to make new memories and erased all but some basic long term memories. Yet she has been able to continue with her life, learn things (though she doesn't remember that she has learned them) and help doctors and scientists learn about how the brain works and how memories are made and stored.

I also found this a slightly disturbing book as it makes you look at how you would feel losing memories (though Lonni Sue doesn't realize she's lost memories most times so she is an incredibly happy person as every day is a new experience) and how would you deal if a family member, be it sibling, child, parent or partner were to suddenly fall ill and then not remember or be able to build new memories.

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baronessekat: (book)
Etta and Otto and Russell and JamesEtta and Otto and Russell and James by Emma Hooper

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this book. I did it as an audio and I did like the narrator's voice. But I'm wondering if I might have liked this book better had I read it.

My problem was that it constantly flipped between the present and back to the 1940's and WWII, and at times I had trouble figuring out which time we were in when a new sub-chapter started.

Etta is 80 something, suffering from the beginning of Alzheimer's (though it never says the name directly) and has spent her whole life in a small rural town in Saskatchewan and wants to see the ocean before she dies. So she packs a bag and leaves a note for her husband telling him where she's gone to and that she will try to remember to come home. Otto is her husband, who had his adventure in his late teens when he went off to Europe to fight the war, so he lets her go and stays behind to learn to live on his own.

Russell is their friend, who has had a crush on Etta since they were teenagers, and is mad that Otto just let her wander off and goes off to find her.

James is a coyote that Etta meets along the way. Only I can't tell if he is real or a figment of her imagination.

The two storylines were good, but the ending kinda left me... eh with more questions than answers.

All in all, not sure I would recommend this book to my friends, but I am not left feeling that I wasted my time.

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baronessekat: (book)
Hidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space RaceHidden Figures: The Untold Story of the African American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am going to echo everyone I know who has read/listened to this book. WOW. I found myself drawn in immediately and did not want to stop listening. The women in the book are such an inspiration to all people, not just blacks, not just women... all. The determination they showed to do what they loved and be allowed to succeed was just phenomenal. That they were able to get into an organization that eventually became NASA, prove their worth and go on to have lasting influence over the space and aeronautical industries left me breathless.

I have not yet seen the movie, as I wanted to experience the book first, but now I can't wait to see the adaptation. This will definitely be one of the books I am constantly recommending to people when they ask "what should I read next"

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baronessekat: (book)
One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish (Beginner Books)One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Seuss

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I think back to the books of my childhood, this one is at the top of my list. My earliest book memories involve going to the library with my mother and borrowing this book. The library had several copies and when we returned one, I would borrow another. I remember how excited I was when Santa brought me my very own copy.

For the Popsugar Reading Challenge's category "book that you loved as a child" I could think of no other book but this one.

Even now, at the age of 43, I love the rhyming, the imagry, the pacing and just fun of the book. And it has a good lesson:

From there to here,
from here to there,
funny things
are everywhere.

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baronessekat: (book)
Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor EnglandWinter King: The Dawn of Tudor England by Thomas Penn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was torn between a 3 and a 4 on this one. Again, how I wish I could give a half star rating.

This was a very interesting examination into the reign of Henry the VII, which I admit is not one of the Kings of England I'm much familiar with. But I did like the looks into trying to establish a dynasty in the aftermath of the War of the Roses, the ways Henry worked to maintain control and exert dominance over the land, not to mention the backstabbing and political machinations of those he put into positions of power.

It was also hard to not draw parallels to the current US Administration and how Henry basically put into positions of authority those that could afford to pay for the privilege.

All in all, an interesting book about an interesting time in England's history

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baronessekat: (book)
Knight-napped! (Dragonbreath, #10)Knight-napped! by Ursula Vernon

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yet another wonderfully funny romp with Danny, Wendell and Christiana.

This time Danny's cousin Spencer is in trouble. He went for a sleepover at a new friend's house. Only to end up kidnapped. See his friend is from a family of Knights and well, Spencer and Danny are Dragons, and as always Knights and Dragons are "mortal enemies"

So it's up to Danny, Wendell and Christiana to go save the annoying cousin before he gets slain by Knights and get him home before any of the grown-ups find out.

I'm bummed that, right now at least, this is the last book in the series. I have totally loved each book and constantly tell people to read them. So what that they are "kids books"? They speak to kids of al ages, including your inner child.

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baronessekat: (book)
Bear Naked for Valentine'sBear Naked for Valentine's by Edith Hawkes

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This came to me as a free kindle book that was available at Valentines Day. I needed a book for a reading challenge that was "a book that takes place at a Holiday other than Christmas" and there you go.

Well... it was short. And given that I went in, fully expecting it to be rather.. um... given the cliche of the title, it wasn't as bad as I expected. Though I probably should have done a little research to see if this might be in a series (which it is), as it was clear that there is a whole world that I've just been dumped into with no introduction that can only be in previous stories.

I used to love paranormal/shifting romance. Back in my early 20's I totally devoured the books I found in the genre. This book hit all the tropes for the genre... sexy guy who is a shifter of some flavor (in this case a bear - no surprise again due to the title of the book), instant and explainable soul wrenching connection when first laying eyes on the woman, overwhelming protective need to the point of risking exposure to normal humans, independent woman forgiving the over-protectiveness and falling hopelessly for him as well, some kind of mind-blowing sex, and "it all works out in the end and they all live happily ever after" ending.

I will say that I expected a lot of over-written purple prose for the sex scene (of which there is only one) but it wasn't. I wasn't completely moved by it, but I have certainly read way worse.

I don't think I will be looking for more of this series, but based on this one book, I wouldn't tell people to not read it, if it is a genre they enjoy.

I'd give it a 2.5 if I were able to do 1/2 stars.

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baronessekat: (book)
Old Man's War (Old Man's War, #1)Old Man's War by John Scalzi

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was very pleasantly surprised to enjoy this book. I don't know why as it has very high reviews and several of my friends highly recommended Scalzi's work. This was my first interaction with John Scalzi and I will definitely look to read more of his stuff.

I cannot remember the last time I read a true, what I call hard core/classic science fiction book, but this is certainly what I would call one. Future, space travel, aliens, space battles. Tick, tick, tick.

John Perry celebrates his 75th birthday by visiting his late wife's grave to say goodbye and then go join the military. It's a special branch of the military. the Colonial Defense Force only takes senior citizens to go out to defend our interstellar colonies. The seniors are promised a renewal of life in exchange for service to defend humans against hostile aliens.

John gets the promised renewal, though not in the way he expected and becomes a Private in the CDF. In his first combat situation he shows ingenuity that gets him quickly promoted. He continues to show out of the box thinking as he continues to battle various types of alien species and comes to be noticed by the powers that be, continuing to cause him to rise in the ranks.

I really don't want to give much of the plot away so as not to spoil the story for others. But, if you are interested in Military Science Fiction, I recommend this book and I most likely will be seeking out the others in this series for future readings.

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baronessekat: (book)
Norse MythologyNorse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What an absolute treat.

There really isn't that much more to say about this book. The title pretty much tells you what the book is about.

Gaiman retells many of the old Norse myths, using both the translations from his childhood as well as doing the research into older texts, some from over 900 years ago.

I absolutely enjoyed the tellings, especially as Gaiman was the reader for the audiobook. I find that I really enjoy the audiobooks of his tales when he reads them. He is what I consider a true storyteller - someone who can entertain by saying out loud the stories he writes. There are some authors who make great writers but not so good tellers. Gaiman is not one of those.

If you are remotely interested in the old Norse myths, I cannot praise this book enough and recommend you get it NOW. And get the audio with the author reading it.

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baronessekat: (book)
Shard's ThugsShard's Thugs by Dexter Herron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This tale was an absolute hoot and a half. A grown-up story that puts the underdog grunt in the spotlight.

What do you do when you're a worthless, good-for-nothing thug in the goblin army but somehow you keep surviving? You make yourself the Captain by taking the dead one's uniform and try to continue not getting dead. At least that's what Shard figured.

But he proved not only competent, he proved imaginative in ways to keep alive. Then he's charged with the task of getting the Goblin Princess across enemy lands to safety. Which might have been easier had he been in charge of a company of anything other than worthless, good-for-nothing Goblin Thugs or if the Princess were remotely Princess-y and docile.

But through it all, he managed to stay just one step ahead of the Goddess of Death.

This was one of those books that I would classify along the lines of a Grown up version of the M.Y.T.H. books by Robert Asprin and recommend to others.

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baronessekat: (book)
The Leadership Secrets of Santa ClausThe Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus: How to Get Big Things Done in YOUR "Workshop" All Year Long by Eric Harvey

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A quick but insightful read on the various things to keep in mind when taking on a Leadership or Managerial role. Each subsection of the chapters were only 2 pages but they were concise and on topic.

I don't know if I like the use of Santa as the Leader and the elves and reindeer as the employees, but it did work and overall the book worked to make me think on how I interact with others in my mundane job and in the officer roles I hold in my hobby to make me a better communicator and leader

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baronessekat: (writing)
Again... why can't I seek both.

But right now, all I seek is the ability to have the brain power to get the scroll for this coming weekend done.


Feb. 6th, 2017 02:41 pm
baronessekat: (arms)
I've been asked by a potential Mayor of Pennsic to be their Admin Assistant. I agreed. We've gotten together to start compiling all the info needed to put the bid together. Part of this includes going over bids from past Mayors in order to get an idea of how best to submit the needed information.

What struck me was reading over past winning bids and realizing... outside of Ed and maybe Morgan, I am the longest consistent working staff member. The other than Ed and Frog, I have actually put in more time at War as staff than any of the other 5 bids I read.

This still doesn't mean I want to be Mayor (though they keep hinting I should consider it). It just struck me and made me think about how one person said that I am the embodiment of the Institutional Memory of the Watch like Ed is for Pennsic and how even then I still have a strong knowledge of the operations of war in general (just know to his extent).

I never think of myself in that way. Same for people tell me that there was no surprise being named a Jewel of Æthelmearc - I just don't see it, but I guess if others do that is all that matters.
baronessekat: (writing)
Question 33: Who do you live with

I live with my 9 year old Chihuahua The Grimm Nikolai Ekaterinavich, my 12 year old female tabby cat Talia Christine Ekaterinova, my 4 year old male Nebelung cat Nimbus Alexander Ekaterinavich, my 4 year old male medium hair tabby cat Ozymandius Eugene Ekaterinavich, and my 4 year old tuxedo cat Puck.

Yes, Puck is the only one who does not have a full given name. He never told me it, if he has one.

Question 34: On a scale from one to ten, how sad are you today? Why?

I'd say about a 5, maybe 6. Still dealing with the aftermaths of a severe migraine. But I was able to go back to work and I had dinner with chosen family who all agree that we need to consider re-instituting "Friday Family Food"

Question 35: Outside the weather is_____"

Cold. The weather is cold.

Question 36: What are you obsessively listening to?

I've gotten into a Podcast called "West Wing Weekly" where each week they take an episode and discuss it. Sometimes they have guests who were either involved in the show as staff or actors or sometimes they have actual members of the government come and talk about that particular episode or the show in general and how it relates to the actual workings of the West Wing. Next up will be catching up on "Welcome to Night Vale". I haven't listened to it in a very long time and Minionus Maximus got us tickets to a live show in May and I figure I had better catch up.
baronessekat: (quiet)
I've been debating this post for a while. I more or less keep my political views to myself and only share it with a small selection. Why? Because I was raised that it wasn't anyone else's business how I voted.

I sign the occasional petition, though I don't really think it will go anywhere. I've escorted friends through picket lines to have a Planned Parenthood appointment (never asking the reason for the appointment as it wasn't my business).

I more or less tried to boycott watching the Inauguration, but when your desk is less than 40 feet from the only TV on the floor at work, I did hear it. The only part I got up from my desk to go see was to watch him put his hand on a book and swear to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. I wanted to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears those words come from his mouth. When he took the oath, and the audience (and many of my co-workers) clapped, I shook my head and simply quoted Senator Amidala ... "This is how democracy dies, with thunderous applause".

But it's been now a couple weeks since the new President was sworn in. And with every day I get more and more scared. Not just for myself. I am a single woman, though white, who at times lives paycheck to paycheck but has medical issues. I'm terrified of getting sick now that health care is under attack and if I lose my job, may not be able to be insured again because I have a preexisting condition (asthma and migraines). I'm scared for my friends who are of foreign descent and a "terror faith". Yes I actually heard someone call Islam "that Terror Faith". I'm scared for my sister who works in Government and wondering how long will she have a job? I'm terrified for friends who rely on the VA and Medicaid to fulfill their medical needs. I am no scared for my SCA foster daughter who is close to graduating High School and it looks like the new Secretary of Education is not for education... how will she afford to attain her dream of attending Medical School? I fear for my friends who risk their marriage being voided, their proper gender not being recognized because that was not the way they were physically born. I am to my core terrified of losing drinking water you don't have to pay to a corporation for, that the extinct species list will triple or quadruple in the next year, and that people and the nation will lose homes and land because parks will no longer be protected and the environment is just another commodity to be abandoned because it is not profitable.

Every report that comes out of Washington talks of what stupid, insane and destructive thing the new President has said. Not to mention the idiotic and uneducated things his mouthpieces have said about "alternate facts". By reports, he can't seem to hold a civil conversation with Foreign Officials without being rude. He insulted Australia for cripes sake. Now I wonder how long before my friends in Oz will not be able to come visit for Pennsic because it's just too dangerous. I'm afraid to cross the border to see friends in Canada for fear that somehow I won't be allowed back in, let along if they would be allowed in to visit here.

I fear for the general public.

And I wonder if all this bombardment of stupid, ridiculous and insane, not to mention fear mongering is planned so that we get so overwhelmed in the first couple weeks that we, as a nation, get to the point of going from "we need to stop this" to "how do we stop this" to "can we stop this" to resignation and acceptance because we can't.

THIS is what I fear the most. The complete and utter feeling of hopelessness and giving up of the American people. That the universal belief will become that if you are not lucky enough to have been born into the elite 1%, you're worthless and why should we bother trying to educate you and keep you healthy.

People used to look at me when I said we no longer lived in an electoral republic but instead have become an electoral oligarchy. Now they aren't thinking I'm so crazy. Now I wonder how long before the electoral part is eliminated. And if it is... how long before the next American Civil War?


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