A More Diverse Universe – Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis

October 8, 2015 Book Reviews, Books 3 ★★★★★

A More Diverse Universe – Mare’s War by Tanita S. DavisMare's War
Series: diversiverse, mare's war, tanita s. davis
Published by Random House Children's
on June 2009
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Source: Library

There are a great many things I find fascinating.  Family history.  WWII history.  Teenagers.  (No really, they are!) And road trips, for a start.

Mare’s War features all of these, so there was no way I wasn’t going to love this book.  And I did, I sooooo did.

Going on a road trip with their… unusual grandmother Mare is the last thing teens Tali and Octavia want to do with their summer.  At the insistence of their mother, the girls reluctantly get in the car and take off to a mysterious family reunion on the other side of the country, in Alabama.

The girls, like most teenagers, don’t know how they will survive the trip with Mare.  Before they have even left the driveway, their grandmother is getting on their nerves with her smoking and Mare is annoying with Tali constantly listening to music on her MP3 player.  The two make a pact; Mare will not smoke if Tali will give up the music.

To make the time go faster, Mare begins telling the girls stories, stories of her younger years.  The girls are astonished to hear about Mare’s youth in Alabama, about how she grew up during the Great Depression, the lengths she went to to protect her own sister and her differences with her mother.  The biggest surprise of all is learning how Mare ran away from home to join the WAC (Women’s Army Corp) and served during World War II.  Mare’s struggles at home with her mother and her mother’s abusive man make joining the army feel like a piece of cake.  It gives her a safe place to live, three meals and day and gives her strength and a belief in herself that could never be bought.

Yet, even though the WAC gave immeasurable help to their country while fighting the Nazi’s in Europe, the segregation that Mare and all the other colored soldiers in the 6888th Battalion, Company C, face is much harder to defeat.  Mare’s tough spirit and pride in her Company and all the women she served with  remain with her and become a huge part of who she is. After all she’s been through, is it any wonder she thinks Tali and Octavia are a little bit spoiled?

The girls are fascinated.  Who knew their grandmother had done such amazing things?  Mare’s stories are eye-opening to say the least.  By the end of their trip, the three have grown closer and the girls have a new respect for Mare – and Mare for them.

Tanita S. Davis has written a thoughtful, powerful tale about women, African-Americans, and the struggles they have faced in, not only the racist past, but in the still racist present we live in now.  Not only that, but it fills in a blank part of all American’s history of World War II, the brave way the women of the 6888th Battalion, Company C, helped end World War II.  And it’s powerful message of family, of history, of knowing your place in the world and the sacrifices of those who came before us, help shape every reader’s perception of themselves.  I hate to admit that I knew next to nothing about the 6888th Battalion, Company C, so I was so happy to learn more about these amazing women.  It’s a shame that their story has been so hugely lost to history and many props to Ms. Davis for bringing their story back to the light.  This is a book everyone woman, no matter their color, should read.

As for whether a teenager will sit through a book about history, I love what Liz B at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy has to say about that:

Oh, and if you have teens who you know will like this book but may be turned off by the history, because some teenagers eyes glaze over when you say “and it’s about women soldiers in World War II!” Simply say, “and then Mare went after her mother’s boyfriend with a hatchet.” Imagine hearing THAT about your grandma.

Not to mention Tali and Octavia do a lot of growing up during the course of their road-trip.  Octavia especially, a quiet, shy girl, learns to find courage within herself and that is always fun to read. And the dynamic between the two girls, typical sisters, friends and fighters, is well written and felt true to life.

Mare is one tough grandma and I couldn’t help but come to adore her (and the girls!) over the course of this book and is definitely why this was one of my favorite reads ever.



Listen Up! My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

October 6, 2015 Books 3 ★★★★★

Listen Up! My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth ReichlMy Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life
on September 25, 2015
Pages: 352
Format: Audiobook
In the fall of 2009, the food world was rocked when Gourmet magazine was abruptly shuttered by its parent company. No one was more stunned by this unexpected turn of events than its beloved editor in chief, Ruth Reichl, who suddenly faced an uncertain professional future. As she struggled to process what had seemed unthinkable, Reichl turned to the one place that had always provided sanctuary. “I did what I always do when I’m confused, lonely, or frightened,” she writes. “I disappeared into the kitchen.”

My Kitchen Year follows the change of seasons—and Reichl’s emotions—as she slowly heals through the simple pleasures of cooking. While working 24/7, Reichl would “throw quick meals together” for her family and friends. Now she has the time to rediscover what cooking meant to her. Imagine kale, leaves dark and inviting, sautéed with chiles and garlic; summer peaches baked into a simple cobbler; fresh oysters chilling in a box of snow; plump chickens and earthy mushrooms, fricasseed with cream. Over the course of this challenging year, each dish Reichl prepares becomes a kind of stepping stone to finding joy again in ordinary things.

The 136 recipes collected here represent a life’s passion for food: a blistering ma po tofu that shakes Reichl out of the blues; a decadent grilled cheese sandwich that accompanies a rare sighting in the woods around her home; a rhubarb sundae that signals the arrival of spring. Here, too, is Reichl’s enlivening dialogue with her Twitter followers, who become her culinary supporters and lively confidants.

Part cookbook, part memoir, part paean to the household gods, My Kitchen Year may be Ruth Reichl’s most stirring book yet—one that reveals a refreshingly vulnerable side of the world's most famous food editor as she shares treasured recipes to be returned to again and again and again.

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.


Is there anything better than sitting down with a friend, sharing a meal, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine, some great conversation?


Listening to this book, which is yes, part memoir, part cookbook, feels like that. Listening is like sitting down with Ruth Reichl, as she tells of the dismantling of Gourmet magazine and how she handled the aftermath. She talks. She cooks. She inspires. She loves. Her voice is soft and relaxing. Her writing is gorgeous and will make you so very hungry. Really, you can’t go wrong here. Great writing, great stories, great recipes. And the best part? It’s a great story of how to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and find the next thing to fulfill your life.

The only problem, FOR ME (since I had a review copy of the audiobook), is I didn’t get the recipes. If you buy the audiobook however, you get the recipes in a separate file. Win win for you! As for me, I’ll be buying the book.

Seriously, heavily, recommended. 5 delicious stars.



It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

October 5, 2015 Books, Meme 3

h my GOSH you guys. I am reading the best books. The Dead Ladies Project by Jessa Crispin caught my eye weeks ago when Kerry from Entomology of a Bookworm was all Read This Now. And I was all Okay, As Soon As I Can Get My Hands On It. My hands are on it and they don’t want to come OFF y’all. It has so many of my favorite things. Food. Travel. Ex-pats. Looking For Oneself in Unusual (ie: the last place you would think to look for yourself) Places.

Did I mention it is so good?

I am also listening to Toni Morrison read her book Beloved because IT IS #Diversiverse Week!!!! So excited! Aarti’s link up post is here. Follow along with all the diversity fun and heck, link yourself up as well! JOIN IN THE FUN Y’ALL.

Did I mention Toni Morrison reads her book? Her voice is magic. Serious magic.

What are you reading this week? Is it any good?



Currently // Rain, rain, go away….

October 4, 2015 Currently, Miscellaneous 4

Right this minute | I’m listening to the wind and rain outside. It just doesn’t seem to go want to go away! It’s been raining since Friday. We have lots of area flooding and downed trees in the area. Thankfully, we’re unscathed (knocks wood).

Feeling | Pretty good! Just wish the kids would hush and get along. They woke up fussing.

Reading | I’ve already finished 2 books for my #15in31 challenge! I read Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World (Scott Pilgrim #2) yesterday and started The Dead Ladies Project by Jessa Crispin yesterday. If I could find a quiet hole where no one could find me to bother me (the bathtub?), I could probably read a sizeable chunk of it today. I picked those two, plus My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, at B&N Friday night. I needed a bit of retail therapy. I hope to read MBF next.

Listening | I listened to Heartburn by Nora Ephron, read by MERYL F’ING STREEP, Thursday, then started Beloved by Toni Morrison, read by TONI F’ING MORRISON Friday. My God her voice is magic.

Watching | I’m all caught up on The Blacklist (Holy Cow! Bitch better step off my beloved Dembe!) and Blindspot. Need to catch up on Minority Report and Heroes: Reborn today.

Blogging | Blogging is going to be few and far between until after October 17th. All my free computer time is going to the Readathon. However, I did manage to post my join-up post for #15in31 and my meal plan for the week.

Promoting | The Readathon y’all! October 17th! If you can’t read, you can always help cheer!

Loving | Sweater weather!!! I got a new, cozy sweater Friday, and I’ve been living in it. I need to wash it so I can continue living in it.

Hating | While I love a great day of rain, I think we’ve had enough.

Eating | I just had some Cheerios. So good.

Exercising | I’m still trying to get more steps in throughout the day. Lots of pacing going on at work. I’m surprised no one has said anything about it yet!

Anticipating | The readathon! And getting back to my books! Bye!

Have a great week!



This Week For Dinner – Week of October 4th

October 3, 2015 Food, Weekend Cooking 6


I did such a great job planning my meals for next week that I couldn’t wait to share.

TodayHearty Hamburger Soup is in the Crock Pot! So necessary for this blustery, rainy, cold day.

Sunday – Most likely leftover soup! You should see how much soup is in that pot.

Monday –  I saw this recipe for Slow Cooked Tri Tips with Gravy and Mashed Potatoes and immediately put it on my list for next week. IT LOOKS SO GOOD. Will probably just serve with some green beans or asparagus.

Tuesday – It’s my daughter’s TWELFTH BIRTHDAY and she requested salmon patties. I’ve made this recipe before and apparently it was a great success!  She also wants fresh corn and collard greens. Twelve y’all. Twelve.

WednesdayLime Glazed Pork Chops! Egads they look delicious. Will serve with some jasmine rice and a salad.

Thursday – Eat with my aunt and uncle!

Friday – Just me! Who knows what kind of food I’ll get into.

Saturday – Do this all over again!

Let’s hope making this list will help me stay organized, focuses, and get it done quickly! Do you have any food plans this week?

I’m linking up to Weekend Cooking this week. Visit for more on all things food!

weekendcookingWeekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.



#15IN31: or, yes, I AM THAT CRAZY

September 29, 2015 Books 5


My girl Andi, my girl with the crazy brilliant ideas. We’ve both struggled with reading this year and she managed to jump start her reading back in April with a similar challenge to this. Since she decided to do it again in October, I thought I’d join her this time. Lord knows I need to jump start my reading. If it’s not an audiobook, I’m not reading it and this has got to stop! I made a list of 15 books I’d really like to read in October, but of course, I refuse to hold myself to it. :)

  1. Nation by Terry Pratchett
  2. Heartburn by Nora Ephron
  3. The Body Library by Agatha Christie
  4. Jackaby by William Ritter
  5. Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews
  6. Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond
  7. Innamorata by Megan Chance
  8. Tracks: A Woman’s Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback by Robyn Davidson
  9. Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
  10. The Glass Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg
  11. Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
  12. Castle Waiting Volume 1 by Linda Medley
  13. Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb
  14. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
  15. The Porcelain Dove by Delia Sherman

Care to join us? You can sign up here!



Currently // Cough, wheeze, sniff

September 26, 2015 Currently, Miscellaneous 6

Right this minute | Wallowing in the first case of Bronchitis that I’ve had in awhile. I even had to get a shot! Ouch!

Feeling | Tired. And hungry.

Reading | I hope to finish up The Marvels today. It’s so good! I just love Brian Selznick’s work.

Listening | I started listening to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs on Friday. It’s a reread. I still haven’t read the second one and here is the third one coming out, plus the movie soon! I needed to refresh my memory of the story.

Watching | I watched the premiere’s of Blindspot and Heroes Reborn this week. Blindspot looks like it could be good, I just hope they start covering that poor girl up soon! I never quite finished the first Heroes series, but I’m almost there. I watched most of the new show’s premiere and I didn’t feel TOO lost. I need to finish Heroes soon though.

Blogging | I haven’t had much time to put into my blog, since I’ve been working on the Readathon! I did post a look at what’s going on behind the scenes of the readathon, from my viewpoint.  Andi posted another such post last week. Expect more of these!

I also posted my meal plan for the week last week. I hope I can stick to it!

Promoting |

Loving |

Hating |

Eating |

Exercising |

Anticipating |

Meal Planning|



This Week For Dinner – Week of 9/27

September 26, 2015 Food, Weekend Cooking 3


Whoa, you guys. Last week was freaking crazy. Monday night I had to work late to finish up a huge project at work. I just grabbed something when I got home. Daughter had her first band concert Tuesday, which brought back so many lovely memories (proud band geek here!) so we went out that night. A local chain just finally introduced gluten free pizza and y’all. It was amazing. I haven’t had a decent pizza in such a long time. So good. The rest of the week went by in a crazy rush. I don’t even know what we ate, which may be because by Thursday I was sick and didn’t want anything anyway! Yay bronchitis! I’m hoping by tomorrow my appetite will pick back up and I can get a few things out of my freezer. It’s freezer week! Yay!

Sunday – I have a small chicken thawing and hope to make some sort of chicken soup or dumplings with it. Just have to find a recipe for gluten free dumplings I trust. Maybe this one? The last (and only time) I tried to make gluten free dumplings resulted in a gloopy mess. I loved my grandmother’s recipe, so my standards are high.

Monday – What is it about Monday’s? I never feel like cooking. I have some kielbasa and potatoes left over from another day, so I’m doing to try this Cheesy Brat Casserole. Casseroles are easy, right?

Tuesday – I’m leaning toward this Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup. Hurray for crock pots! Plus, it gets those chicken breasts out of the freezer.

Wednesday – I have some fish in the freezer. I love to eat fish out, at restaurants, made by people who know how to cook fish. It’s never quite the same when I make it at home. I still keep trying though! I thought I’d do this method this time. It looks delish. I’ve been wanting some Brussels sprouts, so I think we’ll have some of those, roasted, with the fish and perhaps some rice.

Thursday – I’m hoping we can eat out this night. We usually eat with my aunt and uncle, but they are at the beach. I’d love to go back and get another pizza!

Friday – It’s just me! At home! No kids! No hubby! I may eat a pint of ice cream.

Saturday – Do this all over again!

Let’s hope making this list will help me stay organized, focuses, and get it done quickly! How do you plan for the week?

I’m linking up to Weekend Cooking this week. Visit for more on all things food!

weekendcookingWeekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.



Behind the Scenes of the Readathon

September 24, 2015 Books 6


Since Andi gave a behind the scenes of the Readathon on her blog last week, I thought I’d do the same from my viewpoint this week and bring it all up to date..

  • Early September Andi messages me. It’s time to get started!
  • I contacted Trish (the wonderful lady who ensured that the Readathon would continue after Dewey’s death) to see if we could buy the domain. She agreed (she is so sweet!) and the process was (surprisingly) quick and easy. I transferred the blog to my server and hot damn! It went off without a hitch.
  • Andi and I had discussed bringing the seasons into the Readathon, so, I quickly used my newfound double exposure skills to whip up an autumnal button (see above).
  • Those hitches, that I thought didn’t go off, start popping up. First, the template can’t be viewed correctly on a smart phone. So I found another template. Then, no one can comment on posts. I tracked it down to a faulty plugin and uninstall it. Problem solved! Whew!
  • Test the new template and comments. Get all the test comments in my email. Realize that all the test comments coming to my email means that I will get all comments. In my email. Imagine Readathon day. Contemplate alternative email for comments.
  • Volunteer sign ups go live! So happy so many people want to help us! You are the best, people!
  • Reader sign ups go live!! Each sign up goes into a spreadsheet created by Google from the form. In the past, I’ve lifted out the information into another spreadsheet to sort readers into teams. This year I found a way to link that information into another workbook in the same file. Life just got a trifle easier.
  • Talk with Andi about prizes. Always a constant powwow.We decide to make a few bookmarks for freebies.
  • I quickly realize that, with the changes were making to cheerleading, I actually need help. I enlist several previous Head Cheerleaders for assistance and they quickly say “What? Of course we’ll help!” Love them.
  • Realize this morning that, since the problem plugin from earlier was a spam blocker, that there is nothing blocking spam comments. Evidence: a ton of spam comments coming to my email. Will start looking for a new spam blocker. Feel kinda DUH about the whole thing.
  • 181 readers are already signed up! Time to get the cheer teams set up and tell my helpers what I actually need help on!
  • As usual, wonder what I’m missing. Ask Andi and realize it’s time to post the call for cheerleaders. Duh.

So far, it’s a pretty normal Readathon!!




Currently // 4 Boys and a Girl, Oh My!

September 20, 2015 Currently, Miscellaneous 6

Right this minute | I’m watching my three nephews, son, and daughter hangout in my living room. There are FIVE children in my house. Whoa mama.

Feeling | Borderline overwhelmed.

Reading | I’m not sure yet. It’s early.

Listening | I’ve been listening to Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. Lenny Henry is rocking it!

Watching | I don’t know. They are playing some game on the Wii U. It’s….weird.

Blogging | It’s sporatic, isn’t it? Will be until after Dewey’s Readathon, I’m afraid.

Promoting | Dewey’s!!! Signups should go up tomorrow! I should go write that post!

Loving | The weather! It actually feels like fall!!!

Hating | Politics. And it’s really just getting started, isn’t it?

Eating | Something. Soon. I’m hungry!

Exercising | I really need to get on that. Seriously. My joints would feel so much better, I know.

Anticipating | The readathon, duh!

Meal Planning| I did it. I just don’t feel like getting up to find it. I know it involves soup, potato and kielbasa casserole, and something to do with chicken. Bah.

Have a great Sunday everyone!!!