Desert Island Book Tag

This tag was created by Ali Corvere Books on YouTube. It has 8 questions revolving around books and a desert island experience.

1) The boat you’re sailing on shipwrecks off the coast of a desert island. Only one of your books (or series) washes ashore. What’s one you can read over and over and not get sick of?

I don’t often read series, but a series seems like the best option for if you only have one thing to have with you. So I would choose The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. They are a series I love, they are long, they are an interesting format. I would love to reread them again at some point.

2) Two of the crew members survive and you all come up with a plan for rescue. Name two book characters you wouldn’t mind being stranded with.

I’ll take Kady from The Illuminae Files. She can get stuff done. And I’ll take Clay from Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames. He is strong and brave too. I’ll probably need them to take care of me. I go to pieces in emergencies. Also, he reminds me in some ways of my late husband.

3) After making a smoke signal, you three go exploring and find species of animals you’ve never seen before. What are some fictional fauna you’d want on the island.

Obviously I’m going to choose unicorns.

4) Your group goes into a cave and finds a wishing well. You wish for a cool magical ability. What character’s powers did you choose?

I don’t have a specific character in mind. But I would choose a power that makes me never hungry so I don’t have to eat snails or other castaways.  I don’t know if there is a word for that. I’m not well versed in super powers.

5) On the way back to shore, your group gets attacked by “others” inhabiting the island. What character’s fighting skills would you want to have?

I would like the fighting skills of The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale. The princess uses her scepter to twinkle twinkle little smash the monsters back to monster land.

6) You get captured and taken to their evil leader. What villain would be your worst nightmare.

Richard Theo from Us Against You by Fredrik Backman is the most evil villain I have read about recently. What a disgusting human being.

7) Another ship saw your smoke signal and comes to save you! Name a book crush you’d want to be rescued by.

Either of the men from Red, White, and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston.

8) Your rescuer offers to take you anywhere you want. What book world or setting do you choose?

I would like to live in the Shire from The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien. That sounds like a good place to end this crazy adventure.

Where would you like to be dropped off after being stranded on an island?


Recent Read – Heirs of Power

Heirs of Power by Kay MacLeod

My rating ✰4✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

After stumbling upon an otherworldly ritual, Kitty Fairlow discovers that her own incredible hunting skills are not merely due to a lifetime of training. She has been gifted powers from an ancient spirit, passed down by her father. She is a Constellation.
And she’s not the only one.
A new generation of heroes have each inherited unique abilities in order to prevent the corruption of their world by the Tenebri, a race that thrives on life energy. Kitty, along with a high-born dancer and a snarky juggler, must find their allies before the Tenebri army picks them off.
With the powerful enemy emerging, can the Constellations gather in time to put an end to the threat for good, or will their foe succeed and wreak the same destruction they have unleashed on their own world?

I don’t think of myself as a fantasy reader. I picked this up because I won it in a giveaway on facebook at the end of last year and the author’s sister is someone I follow on Youtube and Instagram and she talks about her sisters books often. I’m very glad I read it and plan to continue with the second book in the series soon.

I liked the story line, it was full of action and the story just kept going forward. The characters were all unique and I enjoyed reading about all of them, even when I didn’t necessarily like them. They all had good and bad days within the story where I liked them or didn’t like them as people. I always liked following on their journey though.

My only two complaints about this book were small and probably nitpicky, but they did drive me crazy throughout the book. Everyone had at least two names, their actual name and their constellation/job title. The characters all used them interchangeably. Because of that it took me a while to get used to each new character because names would come up that I didn’t recognize when they had been calling each other by their job or vice versa. That wasn’t a huge deal, but it did pull me out of the story to try and figure out who someone was every time we found a new ally.

The second issue I had was that we were told things that happened only a chapter or two before, again, several times throughout the book. It felt almost as if we were being reminded of things that happened in a previous book or episode, but it was just a few chapters before that the events occurred.  Again, not a huge deal, but it did frustrate me throughout the story.

Otherwise, this was a fun read. Lots of adventure and danger and world saving. I’m excited to get the next installment.

Recent Read – The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

My rating ✰5✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.

Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.

Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.

Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

This book was so touching. I identified with Ivan far more than I would ever have expected. At one point, early in the story, he says, “Mostly I think about what is, not what could be. I’ve learned not to get my hopes up.” and “With enough time you can get used to almost anything.” While he is thinking about forgetting his life in the jungle and his family and what he could be doing if his whole family hadn’t been murdered, I’m thinking about what my life should be looking like right now. I do my best not to think about my late husband. I don’t hope. I don’t dream. I don’t expect any happiness, With enough time you can get used to anything. Since January, when Jason got sick, I’ve gotten used to surviving one minute to the next. I do what needs to be done to get through the day and that’s it. I don’t think about other possibilities, of what should or could be. I focus on what is. What I need to do today to keep my child alive, safe, and as happy as we can manage.

He survives in his cage by not thinking of his past and so do I. He finds a way out of his trap by taking care of a youngster that needs him to and Pepper is the only thing keeping me going.

I was so grateful that both Ivan and Ruby escaped and were treated kindly and had others to be with them. The message of hope wound it’s way in to my grizzled old widow’s heart, even if it was just for a short while.

I can’t wait to share this story with Pepper when she’s a bit bigger and when our grief isn’t quite so fresh.

August 2019 Book Haul

These are the books I purchased in August (and a few holdovers from July). Most of these are from the library book sale room where I purchase paperbacks 3 for $1. I can almost always find some that interest me. Many of the rest are from The Dollar Tree. Others are from various bookstores too of course.


Of these 28 books I’ve read 1 and started 1 of them so far. 2 of them are on my September TBR. My book buying has gotten out of hand, even more so since my husband’s death. In an effort to combat that I’ve started keeping track of just how much I’m spending on each book so that I can see how much money has been wasted if I don’t actually read them for a while. I may start including that data in my hauls at some point too, just to hold myself more accountable.

Recent Read- Red, White, & Royal Blue

Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

My rating ✰5✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads


A big-hearted romantic comedy in which First Son Alex falls in love with Prince Henry of Wales after an incident of international proportions forces them to pretend to be best friends…

First Son Alex Claremont-Diaz is the closest thing to a prince this side of the Atlantic. With his intrepid sister and the Veep’s genius granddaughter, they’re the White House Trio, a beautiful millennial marketing strategy for his mother, President Ellen Claremont. International socialite duties do have downsides—namely, when photos of a confrontation with his longtime nemesis Prince Henry at a royal wedding leak to the tabloids and threaten American/British relations.

The plan for damage control: staging a fake friendship between the First Son and the Prince. Alex is busy enough handling his mother’s bloodthirsty opponents and his own political ambitions without an uptight royal slowing him down. But beneath Henry’s Prince Charming veneer, there’s a soft-hearted eccentric with a dry sense of humor and more than one ghost haunting him.

As President Claremont kicks off her reelection bid, Alex finds himself hurtling into a secret relationship with Henry that could derail the campaign and upend two nations. And Henry throws everything into question for Alex, an impulsive, charming guy who thought he knew everything: What is worth the sacrifice? How do you do all the good you can do? And, most importantly, how will history remember you?

I thought this was a really cute and fun love story. It was exactly what I needed at the time. My grief is so heavy that anything that can make me smile and laugh as much as this book did is basically a miracle.

Alex and Henry were so cute, individually, as well as together. They were adorable in ways that greatly reminded me of my late husband and I. I especially loved the quotes from historical love letters that they included in their emails to each other.

I also really loved the families of both boys, but especially Alex’s. Each member was quirky and unique and flawed and they all loved him and each other.

This book gave hope where there usually is none, in politics and it let me fall asleep with a smile on my face. I can not wait to read more from this author.

Three Months as a Widow

Three months ago today my beloved husband died. This is a checkin to let you know how myself and my four year old daughter are handling things.

I’m still going to grief counseling and Pepper still isn’t. My grief counselor says we are both doing well. I fill him in on all the details of Pepper and he lets me know if he thinks there is a problem or a potential problem.

It feels like a lifetime has passed since the last checkin, but also like it could have been yesterday or this morning. A current big struggle is how long the days feel. When we had three of us our days were filled with joy and happiness and love. Now each day feels like an endless slog I have to survive to get to go back to bed and forget things for a while. There are just so many moments to fill in a day, for both of us. It is hard being a single parent. We were 28 and 38 when Pepper was born and if we had thought for even a moment that one of us would end up having to raise her on our own, we wouldn’t have had her.

It’s been especially hard not to regret that we did when she is having difficult days. Balancing my grief with her acting out due to her own grief has been more challenging than I’m up for most days. Everything she has done or gone through has been totally normal to the grieving process, she’s leaving those various behavioral issues behind quickly enough that my grief counselor is not concerned, and in every instance I have handled the problem well enough that she knows she is loved and safe and the behavior is or is not okay depending on what the problem is. But it is not easy.

I’m still journaling to my late husband. My grief counselor gave me four things to include in those writings. Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. So far all I’ve tackled is I love you and that may not be quite done yet either.

A yoyo made with a color way in his honor was made and I have one on the way to me from the creator. Also, the profits from the yoyos in that colorway are being donated to Pepper and I. So cool!

We have a new bed. We had been sleeping on the floor on the mattress from Jason’s hospital bed for nearly 3 months, but a family friend was able to get us a new queen size so we are sleeping well again. That makes a big difference.

I’m still not able to use our dishes or mugs. I am using the utensils though. I’m still not really cooking. I’m keeping up on showers and laundry and that’s about it for my personal care and household care. My mother is coming over a couple of times a week to break up the monotony and to help me catch up on the chores I do more sporadically like washing Pepper’s dishes and taking our the trash.

For the first time this month I told someone that Pepper and I are okay and realized that I meant it. We’re not good. But we are okay. Apparently at some point I decided to survive my husband’s death and as much as that makes me feel guilty and sad, it’s true. I plan to be around for as long as possible for Pepper, even if most days I would still rather be dead.

I think of my husband every day. I cry every day. Random things trigger grief attacks, like the drive past the hospital yesterday. Or pictures. Pictures are the worst. I still turn to tell him things multiple times a day. I miss him like crazy. But Pepper and I are holding on to each other and for each other.

Recent Read- From Scratch

From Scratch: A Memoir or Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke

My rating ✰5✰

Picture and quote from Goodreads

It was love at first sight when Tembi met professional chef, Saro, on a street in Florence. There was just one problem: Saro’s traditional Sicilian family did not approve of him marrying a black American woman, an actress no less. However, the couple, heartbroken but undeterred, forges on. They build a happy life in Los Angeles, with fulfilling careers, deep friendships and the love of their lives: a baby girl they adopt at birth. Eventually, they reconcile with Saro’s family just as he faces a formidable cancer that will consume all their dreams.

From Scratch chronicles three summers Tembi spends in Sicily with her daughter, Zoela, as she begins to piece together a life without her husband in his tiny hometown hamlet of farmers. Where once Tembi was estranged from Saro’s family and his origins, now she finds solace and nourishment—literally and spiritually—at her mother in law’s table. In the Sicilian countryside, she discovers the healing gifts of simple fresh food, the embrace of a close knit community, and timeless traditions and wisdom that light a path forward. All along the way she reflects on her and Saro’s incredible romance—an indelible love story that leaps off the pages.

In Sicily, it is said that every story begins with a marriage or a death—in Tembi Locke’s case, it is both. Her story is about loss, but it’s really about love found. Her story is about travel, but it’s really about finding a home. It is about food, but it’s really about chasing flavor as an act of remembrance. From Scratch is for anyone who has dared to reach for big love, fought for what mattered most, and needed a powerful reminder that life is…delicious.

This book was generously gifted to me by a follower. Thank you so much Kristin!

This book touched me in so many ways. I didn’t have nearly as long with My Jason as Tembi had with Saro, but I also didn’t have to watch him battle cancer for nearly as long. The author’s husband dies of cancer when she was 42 and left behind her and their 7 year old daughter. We follow her through three summers spent in Sicily where her late husband was from. Seeing her healing journey though those three summers, spaced so far apart, made the length, difficulty, and hopefulness of the grief process show very well.

I annotated this book as I went along and I am happy to say that, though most of my annotations were sad, there were nearly as many that I would label as hopeful or happy. It was a wonderfully balanced book that I could relate to on so many levels and left me with an overwhelming feeling of hope when it concluded.

I am grateful to have read this book.