Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: She’s Nice Though by Mia Mercado (8/30/22)

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is She’s Nice Though by Mia Mercado!
Expected Release: August 30, 2022

Why wait on this one?

  • This is a collection of essays and musings on societal expectations and stereotypes, which is always something that fascinates me. The social science behind decisions is often such a web to untangle, and I love going on that journey with someone. The blurb highlights a focus on Asians, Midwesterners, and women and some common ones that come to them: being “nice” in particular.
  • And you know what? I bet it’ll be funny. I bet I will half the time be cackling and the other half be thoughtfully tilting my head. If I’m really lucky, there’s be a bit of both at once.
  • The author’s other work, Weird but Normal, also sounds like something I’d like. That gives me a lot of hope that if I like one, I’ll like the other, and then potentially have two great books to add to my list! Humorous and personally introspective nonfiction is some of my favorite. Also as a side thing, to be 100% honest, the bright yellow cover absolutely makes me like it more, PLUS the cover format of title-on-cake looks like Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want To Come by Jessica Pan which I LOVED.

Summary

And, at the center of it all, am I actually nice or am I just performing a role I think I’m expected to play?”

Mia Mercado is a razor-sharp cultural critic and essayist known for her witty and hilarious dissections of the uncomfortable truths that rule our lives. In this thought-provoking collection of new essays, Mercado examines what it means to be “polite,” “agreeable,” and “nice.” She covers topics from the subtleties of the “Bad Bitch” and why women dominate the ASMR market, to what makes her dog an adorable little freak and how you know if you’re shy. This is a book about the unspoken trick mirror of our “good” intentions: the inherent performance of the social media apology, celebrating men when they do the bare minimum, and why we trust a Midwesterner to watch our stuff when we go pee.

Throughout, she ponders her identity as an Asian woman and asks what “nice” even means–and why anyone would want to be it. With writing that is as precise as it is profound, and cultural references that range from trash reality television to the New York Times Sunday-morning crossword puzzle, Mercado uncovers weird, long-overdue truths about our frailties and failings. In the end, she sees them not as a source of shame but as a cause for celebration. Filled with revelations that range from the silly to the serious,

She’s Nice Though offers a mind-bending glimpse into the illusions and delusions of contemporary life–and reveals who we *really* are when no one is watching.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Recommended: for certain people
For folks who love food or have strong memory associations with it, for a heartwrenching amount of grief, for (seemingly, I guess who knows what she kept to herself) total honesty and dull blunt assessments of some of the most painful moments in her life, for little splashes of joy, for baffling contrasts of explosive anger and tender love

Summary

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band–and meeting the man who would become her husband–her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Thoughts

I guess I didn’t expect or realize that this would be a memoir entirely via food. I’m not terribly interested in descriptions of food or eating or cooking or really much of anything about food, so this was honestly a struggle for me. Pretty much my own fault, but I still would have given this a go had I realized, I just would have been more prepared for it. There are a lot of sections that are entirely about different ingredients, or the process of cooking a meal, or the experience of eating it. If food holds memories for you (or you just like food I guess) then it probably won’t be any issue. This is a huge part of why I didn’t connect to or enjoy this one much, as much as you can “enjoy” such a sad focus in a memoir.

Continue reading “Review: Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner”
Posted in Chatty

Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes from my favorite nonfiction books

Hey y’all! Top Ten Tuesday is a bookish question idea that was originally created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, from way back in June 2010! Since January 2018, Top Ten Tuesday has been hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Thanks for taking it over! The idea is to make a list of ten books or bookish things on different topics each week. Check out her site for details on how to join and what the upcoming prompts are. 😊 You can also see all the posts from other bloggers linked on each weekly post on their main site.

This week’s prompt is listed as a quote-based freebie. I honestly had no idea where to start so I just started going through my reading journal for books I had quotes from. Once I realized I had a lot from nonfiction titles, I realized how much sense that made. I learn a lot in nonfiction titles, and authors usually have reign to be silly and include some humor. I will often highlight lines that made me laugh so I can return to them! So below are a collection of educational and/or amusing lines that I found in nonfiction books.

The quoted books

Travellers stick to their schedules. They travel to a plan and it’s rare that they’ll change it, even for something as magical as peeling away your onion layers and losing all your body weight and probably your hair just to make the jungle happy.

The Puma Years by Laura Coleman
Continue reading “Top Ten Tuesday: Quotes from my favorite nonfiction books”
Posted in Reviews

Review: Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori

Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori
Verdict: Plants are really fucking cool.
Also, this book is so good that I bought myself a copy to have halfway through reading my copy from the library. Can’t wait to dip back in and savor it all over again. ^.^

Recommended: yes!
for curious people, for gardeners, for people who like science, animals, traveling, and/or learning, for a fascinating set of plant vignettes that are easy to dip into and savor

Summary

An inspirational and beautifully illustrated book that tells the stories of 80 plants from around the globe.

In his follow-up to the bestselling Around the World in 80 Trees, Jonathan Drori takes another trip across the globe, bringing to life the science of plants by revealing how their worlds are intricately entwined with our own history, culture and folklore. From the seemingly familiar tomato and dandelion to the eerie mandrake and Spanish “moss” of Louisiana, each of these stories is full of surprises. Some have a troubling past, while others have ignited human creativity or enabled whole civilizations to flourish. With a colorful cast of characters all brought to life by illustrator Lucille Clerc, this is a botanical journey of beauty and brilliance.

Thoughts

Fun fact about me: I generally dislike touching plants. It’s a weird little aversion, and maybe it’s from that time I pet a cactus as a child and learned what “regret” meant, but regardless of the reason, it’s a thing for me. Buuuuut I also really love nature and plants and learning and science. This is a fantastic little book, and what I most want to emphasize is that I truly think anyone can read and enjoy this!!! For a very factual nonfiction book on a very sciency topic, that is quite impressive!

So what makes it so accessible? It comes down to a few things: short chapters, cultural and societal stories about each plant, and gorgeous illustrations.

Continue reading “Review: Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori”
Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Dear Dana by Amy Weinland Daughters!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Dear Dana by Amy Weinland Daughters published today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: sure
For people who like to see the good in others, for a real story about human connection, for a story that makes you feel inspired and motivated

Summary

When Amy Daughters reconnected with her old pal Dana on Facebook, she had no idea how it would change her life. Though the two women hadn’t had any contact in thirty years, it didn’t take them long to catch up—and when Amy learned that Dana’s son Parker was doing a second stint at St. Jude battling cancer, she was suddenly inspired to begin writing the pair weekly letters.

When Parker died, Amy—not knowing what else to do—continued to write Dana. Eventually, Dana wrote back, and the two became pen pals, sharing things through the mail that they had never shared before. The richness of the experience left Amy wondering something: If my life could be so changed by someone I considered “just a Facebook friend,” what would happen if I wrote all my Facebook friends a letter?

A whopping 580 handwritten letters later Amy’s life, and most of all her heart, would never, ever, be the same again. As it turned out, there were actual individuals living very real lives behind each social media profile, and she was beautifully connected to each of those extraordinary, flawed people for a specific reason. They loved her, and she loved them. And nothing—not politics, beliefs, or lifestyle—could separate them.

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Dear Dana by Amy Weinland Daughters

Dear Dana: That time I went crazy and wrote all 580 of my Facebook friends a handwritten letter by Amy Weinland Daughters
Expected Release Date: May 17, 2022

Recommended: sure
For people who like to see the good in others, for a real story about human connection, for a story that makes you feel inspired and motivated

Summary

When Amy Daughters reconnected with her old pal Dana on Facebook, she had no idea how it would change her life. Though the two women hadn’t had any contact in thirty years, it didn’t take them long to catch up—and when Amy learned that Dana’s son Parker was doing a second stint at St. Jude battling cancer, she was suddenly inspired to begin writing the pair weekly letters.

When Parker died, Amy—not knowing what else to do—continued to write Dana. Eventually, Dana wrote back, and the two became pen pals, sharing things through the mail that they had never shared before. The richness of the experience left Amy wondering something: If my life could be so changed by someone I considered “just a Facebook friend,” what would happen if I wrote all my Facebook friends a letter?

A whopping 580 handwritten letters later Amy’s life, and most of all her heart, would never, ever, be the same again. As it turned out, there were actual individuals living very real lives behind each social media profile, and she was beautifully connected to each of those extraordinary, flawed people for a specific reason. They loved her, and she loved them. And nothing—not politics, beliefs, or lifestyle—could separate them.

Thoughts

Yes, 580 two page front and back letters is a lot. And that was the goal. What was also a lot were the often emotional responses Amy received back from folks.

As you might imagine, there are snippets of letters from the 580 with the stories behind them when there is something especially notable about it, such as a person important to Amy, a difficult letter to write, or a response that provoked thought. I’d guess there are maybe 50ish letters included this way, which might not seem much, but it is a lot!

Continue reading “ARC Review: Dear Dana by Amy Weinland Daughters”
Posted in Reviews

Review: How to Be Interesting: by Jessica Hagy

How to Be Interesting: by Jessica Hagy

Recommended: sure?
For a quick read of little ideas that can have a big impact, for a book of small thoughts that would be good to read one per day as a daily focus or self-reminder. Not as compelling or effective to just read through in one go as I can attest to….

Summary

You want to leave a mark, not a blemish. Be a hero, not a spectator. You want to be interesting. (Who doesn’t?) But sometimes it takes a nudge, a wake-up call, an intervention!—and a little help. This is where Jessica Hagy comes in. A writer and illustrator of great economy, charm, and insight, she’s created How to Be Interesting, a uniquely inspirational how-to that combines fresh and pithy lessons with deceptively simple diagrams and charts.


Ms. Hagy started on Forbes.com, where she’s a weekly blogger, by creating a “How to Be Interesting” post that went viral, attracting 1.4 million viewers so far, with tens of thousands of them liking, linking, and tweeting the article. Now she’s deeply explored the ideas that resonated with so many readers to create this small and quirky book with a large and universal message. It’s a book about exploring: Talk to strangers. About taking chances: Expose yourself to ridicule, to risk, to wild ideas. About being childlike, not childish: Remember how amazing the world was before you learned to be cynical. About being open: Never take in the welcome mat. About breaking routine: Take daily vaca- tions . . . if only for a few minutes. About taking ownership: Whatever you’re doing, enjoy it, embrace it, master it as well as you can. And about growing a pair: If you’re not courageous, you’re going to be hanging around the water cooler, talking about the guy that actually is.

Thoughts

This would probably work better if I hadn’t read through it in one straight go. This book is broken up into ten sections, each with an overarching theme of that “step” and some pithy diagrams and motivational ideas on how to embrace or enact that step’s theme. I’d recommend reading a section at a time, or maybe one piece of advice/drawing a day and then focus on that for the day.

Continue reading “Review: How to Be Interesting: by Jessica Hagy”
Posted in Reviews

Mini Review: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell

Silly little moments, just as promised. Some do require the reader to also be in on the joke, so if you don’t have the knowledge about a title or author to understand why the customers question have the bookseller pause, you might be iced on a few. Most were pretty self explanatory though. It’s a very dry, sarcastic humor most of the time.

Continue reading “Mini Review: Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops by Jen Campbell”
Posted in Reviews

Mini Review: How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With by Clarice Rutherford

How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live with by Clarice Rutherford

I’m ready! Maybe?

I guess my true of you will have to wait until I’ve had my puppy for a while, but I feel like I know more now! I’ve never had a puppy before, and haven’t even had an adult dog since I was a child, so I really don’t know that much about dogs beyond how freaking cute they can be and that they like to chew.

This book did a great job of giving an overview and then specific pointers about each topic. I appreciated them being very specific in the process of each step, as well as how to correct when they don’t go as planned. Using the already-trained sit command to distract and redirect the puppy from doing something wrong and be able to praise them for doing something right when they follow the sit command is something that sounds useful in many sustains.

*Note* – I just brought my puppy home today! She’s settling right in well so far, and I’m in love already. ^.^

Continue reading “Mini Review: How to Raise a Puppy You Can Live With by Clarice Rutherford”

Bumblebees raise their wing beat to a middle c buzz, which is just right to dislodge the pollen and a noticeably higher pitch than the humdrum wingbeat of flight. The process is imaginatively named buzz pollination, and most commercial greenhouses now employ captive bumblebees to perform this service.

Around the World in 80 Plants by Jonathan Drori

How to employ a bumblebee