November 26, 2015


Family, friends, my health, a job I love, a cozy home, my health, the joy of travel, and my loving husband and sweet dog... I have so very much for which to be thankful.

I wish you all a safe and happy day with your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving!

{Thanksgiving 2012, Thanksgiving 2011, Thanksgiving 2008}

November 24, 2015

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Teen Fiction
2012 Simon and Schuster
Finished on April 16, 2015
Rating: 4.75/5 (Outstanding!)

American Book Award Winner
Pen/Faulkner Award Winner
Stonewall Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature
Michael L. Printz Award Nominee
Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children’s/Young Adult
Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis Nominee for Jugendbuch
Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award (ALAN/NCTE) Nominee
Pura Belpre Award for Narrative

Publisher’s Blurb:

Dante can swim. Ari can’t. Dante is articulate and self-assured. Ari has a hard time with words and suffers from self-doubt. Dante gets lost in poetry and art. Ari gets lost in thoughts of his older brother who is in prison. Dante is fair skinned. Ari’s features are much darker. It seems that a boy like Dante, with his open and unique perspective on life, would be the last person to break down the walls that Ari has built around himself. But against all odds, when Ari and Dante meet, they develop a special bond that will teach them the most important truths of their lives, and help define the people they want to be. But there are big hurdles in their way, and only by believing in each other—and the power of their friendship—can Ari and Dante emerge stronger on the other side.

It’s been over six months since I read this Young Adult book and I still find myself thinking about the story and characters. Benjamin Alire Saenz’s lyrical prose pulled me in from the opening pages and I was sorry to see the book come to an end. I’ve read a lot of coming-of-age novels, but this is the first that I’ve read that explores homosexual love, and Saenz handles the topic with honesty and tenderness. Saenz not only addresses themes such as sexuality, love, and family, but also hate crimes and Mexican-American identity. Set in El Paso, the dialogue between Dante and Ari, as well as that of their parents, is spot on.

Final Thoughts:

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is a thought-provoking and beautiful book about friendship, family, loyalty and love. I think this book will appeal to fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor & Park, and I plan to buy a copy to read again and share with my granddaughter. I loved this book. Highly recommend!

Go here to read more about this book on NPR.

November 23, 2015

Annie Girl!

Today is Annie's "adoption/rescue" day! She came to live with us on November 23, 2007 and I often think it wasn't she who was rescued, but rather it was us.

Things Annie loves:

Pretending she's a lap dog
(and cuddling with Deb)

Leading the pack

Hunting chipmunks with her bestie 

Hanging out with her boys,
 Suki, Sundance and Bandit
 Going for walks in her park

Teaching little ones to be brave

 Ear rubs and cuddles
(notice she's hugging him!)

Having her coat brushed

 Belly rubs

 New friends who come to visit

 Sharing pig ears with Sundance

Having her very own chair
 (and couch, guestroom bed and dog bed)

Warming up my side of the bed


Chasing squirrels, rabbits and cats
Licking the egg bowl
Peanut butter on toast
Things Annie dislikes:



Bows on her ears

Having her picture taken


People with hiccups
Smoke detectors

Such a goofball!
Thanks for choosing us to be your family, sweet girl!
You are so loved.

November 14, 2015

The Infinite Sea

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
The 5th Wave Series, #2
Teen Fiction
2014 Penguin Audio
Readers: Phoebe Strole and Ben Yannette
Finished on April 10, 2015
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

How do you rid the Earth of seven billion humans? Rid the humans of their humanity.

Surviving the first four waves was nearly impossible. Now Cassie Sullivan finds herself in a new world, a world in which the fundamental trust that binds us together is gone. As the 5th Wave rolls across the landscape, Cassie, Ben, and Ringer are forced to confront the Others' ultimate goal: the extermination of the human race.

Cassie and her friends haven't seen the depths to which the Others will sink, nor have the Others seen the heights to which humanity will rise, in the ultimate battle between life and death, hope and despair, love and hate.

I don't remember too much about this follow-up to The 5th Wave (which I loved), but according to my notes, I zipped through the audio book in four days. Zoom! That's fast, especially for me, since I usually just listen while I'm at work (and only for two hours each morning). So, apparently, it really pulled me in and held my interest. It's only been seven months since I finished, so I'm a little surprised that I don't remember it in more detail. Oh, well. It was entertaining and that's what matters, right?

The final installment (The Last Star) is due to be released in May 2016.

The first installment (The 5th Wave) is due to be released in theaters in January. 

I plan to read and watch both, respectively. How about you?

November 11, 2015

Wordless Wednesday {more or less}

A Trip of a Lifetime {Day One}

Spoiled on Austrian Airlines!


The Danube and Vienna

St. Stephen's Cathedral

For those of you not on Facebook or Instagram, I decided to share these photos here, as well.

November 8, 2015

Nora Webster

Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
2014 Simon & Schuster Audio 
Reader: Fiona Shaw
Finished on April 1, 2005
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

From one of contemporary literature's bestselling, critically acclaimed and beloved authors, a magnificent new novel set in Ireland, about a fiercely compelling young widow and mother of four navigating grief and fear, struggling for hope.

Set in Wexford, Ireland, Colm Toibin's seventh novel introduces the formidable, memorable and deeply moving Nora Webster. Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven--herself.

Nora Webster is a masterpiece in character study by a writer at the zenith of his career, "beautiful and daring" (The New York Times Book Review) and able to "sneak up on readers and captures their imaginations" (USA Today). In Nora Webster, Toibin has created an iconic and engaging character who will be remembered for decades, even centuries.

Colm Toibin is one of those authors (as are Wallace Stegner and Ivan Doig) that I've always meant to read, so when I came across the ARC for Nora Webster I was intrigued. Of course, the book sat on one of my shelves for quite some time and it wasn't until I saw the audio book at my library that I finally decided to give it a try. I alternated between the print and audio editions and almost abandoned the book on more than one occasion, but I kept listening, hoping it would win me over. I can't say I loved it (or even liked it a lot), but it did speak to me (with regard to the ways in which one grieves), in spite of being fairly dull and bleak.

How about you? Are you a fan of Toibin's works? Any recommendations? 

{Gratitude Lately}

Lately, I've been thankful for

Cocktails by the fire 
on a beautiful autumn evening

Delicious souvenirs 
from an unforgettable vacation

The sweet smell of pipe tobacco

Walks in the park with this goofball

Lifelong friendships that 
remain strong in spite of distance

Beautiful sunrises that 
make getting up early worthwhile

and sharing my life with this man,
 my best friend and husband for 27 years.

It's been over a year since my last Gratitude post. Thank YOU for remaining constant friends and followers while I get my blogging mojo back in gear!

Happy Sunday, friends!
What are you grateful for this week?

For more Gratitude posts, click here.