Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

number the starsPublished by Yearling, 1989 *****

What an amazing little book. Annamarie and her family live in Nazi-occupied Denmark, and when the Germans begin rounding up the nation’s Jews, she will do anything to protect her best friend Ellen. I was so enamored with this story and with Annamarie’s selflessness and bravery. Lowry created a wonderful heroine and successfully turned the harsh realities of war into a story of hope and honor.


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The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby

the diving bell and the butterflyPublished by Vintage, 1997 *****

I was so deeply affected by this book and utterly amazed by Bauby’s fierce determination. Left completely paralyzed by a debilitating stroke, he dictated his memoir by basically blinking the alphabet. I can’t even fathom the isolation he must have felt to be of sound mind in an utterly useless body. It is incredibly tragic and moving and I am completely in awe of this man’s legacy.

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Readathon Updates

UPDATE 5, 7:00 pm:

I read all of The Diving Bell and The Butterfly and it took me a few minutes to decompress after reading it.  Heavy, man.  Completely unfathomable.  Extremely well-written.  But shit.  I just can’t even…

At about 5:00 I finally changed out of the pajamas I slept in.  Into a different set of pajamas.  But I needed to freshen up a bit.

We are calling it a wrap for our most fun readathon ever!  9 whole hours! Rach finished Gone Girl, I finished two books and read another two (Number the Stars by Lois Lowry being the latest completion).

Pages read (Julz): 166, 364 total

Pages read (Rach): 174, 282 total

We are going to spend the rest of the evening organizing Rach’s bookshelves, making brie and raspberry jam grilled cheeses, watching Pride and Prejudice, and drinking Michigan wine.  To those of you staying up for the duration, good luck!

UPDATE 4, 4:00 pm:

I don’t typically resort to cursing when I write, but HOLY FUCK this book.  In case you aren’t familiar with The Diving Bell and The Butterfly, the author “found himself paralyzed and speechless” following a stroke and dictated his memoir by his only means of communication: blinking a eyelid.

Pages read (Julz): 110, 227 total

Pages read (Rach): 64, 174 total

“Alright assholes, whatcha got?” -Rach, upon resuming reading Gone Girl

Speaking of assholes, unopenable pistachios are the worst.

But this face:


UPDATE 3, 2:00 pm:

Four hours in!  It is cold and rainy here in Michigan.  So it is an ideal day for snuggling up with books.  We have snacked on cucumbers with dill cream cheese and smoked salmon.


Also, radishes and pistachios.

Mind blown:  my last book ended on page 233 and when I picked up The Tudor Vendetta, I was on page 233.  Whoa.

Pages read (Julz): 57,  117 total

Pages read (Rach): 60, 110 total

Rach is totally engrossed in Gone Girl and keeps making comments while she’s reading.  “Oh snap.”  I just finished The Tudor Vendetta and am about to start The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

UPDATE 2, 12:00 pm

I finished reading Glimpsing Heaven.  It was amazing, I can’t wait to post my review.  Thanks to Trish from TLC for recommending it!

Pages read (Julz): 60

Pages read (Rach): 50

“I just gleeked on my book” -Julz

“Nick just turned into a compete douche if he wasn’t already.” -Rach (reading Gone Girl)

UPDATE 1, 10:00 am

Yeah, so sorry again for the late start.  Additional sleep was necessary.  But I’ve had a white chocolate raspberry scone and fruit salad, so I’m energized and ready to read.  As for this fruit salad, it is quite exceptional and I want to share the recipe with you:

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. The zest of one orange.  Two tablespoons of honey and two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.

Delish!  Rach is still snoozing, but I’m ready to read, though a nap may be necessary.  Plus I’m an hour ahead of Chicago time.  Yes, I’m making excuses, but Tanqueray.  I’ll check in in again in a couple of hours…


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Readathon Ready Set Go!

Readathon is here!  My apologies in advance, we will not be starting on time.  Tanqueray.

I am reporting to you from lovely Benton Harbor in Southwestern Michigan.  This is a monumental occasion, as Bestie Rach are participating TOGETHER and we are a snuggled up in her living room ready get our read on.  I will probably post a few updates throughout the day to share what we’re up do and what we’re eating.  Because food is almost as important as the reading.  We’ll be checking in with the blogosphere on occasion to see what everyone else is doing and entering giveaways and whatnot.  Otherwise, there’s not really much structure to our day.

Now some of you may be wondering why Bestie Rach is suddenly showing up so much on the blog this past year.  Well here’s a little background, a proper introduction if you will:  We met in college when I found out she was dating my ex.  Became friends despite him.  Eventually we were sorority sisters and roommates.  We stood up in each other’s weddings, and over the years, Rach would occasionally come Chicago way for fun weekends.  Fast forward:  the beginning of 2014 brought some big personal changes for Rach, and since then, she has been reading more than ever, having fabulous adventures with Julz, and bantering about books on the blog.  After 16 years of friendship, we have never been closer.


circa 1999

My reading pile has changed a bit, as there are two books I really want to finish, Glimpsing Heaven and The Tudor Vendetta.  Then I’m moving on to The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Alice in Zombieland, and Number the Stars.  If I have time, I want to start The Fifth Gospel.  My next post is where I will include updates throughout the day, so stay tuned!


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Readathon is Coming!


This weekend is the bi-annual Dewey’s Readathon, and I’ve never been so excited to participate.  I will be traveling to Michigan to readathon (v.) with my Bestie Rach!  I’ve never done a readathon with a buddy before and  Rach is the perfect readathon companion.  Squee!

We will be kicking off the weekend Friday night by honoring F. Scott Fitzgerald and sipping on some French 75 cocktails and prepping The Food.  My god, we’re going to do it up right. Here are the list of yummy snacks we’re going to devour:

  • Berry salad with balsamic vinegar, honey, and orange zest
  • Cucumbers with dill cream cheese and smoked salmon
  • Brie and raspberry jam grilled cheese

My pile will include:

  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby
  • Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
  • Alice in Zombieland by Lewis Carroll and Nickolas Cook
  • The next Daniel Silva
  • And whatever else I’m currently reading

Rach will be reading:

I don’t know exactly when on Saturday we’ll get started, and I can’t guarantee how late we’ll make it.  But in lieu of late-night reading, (and because there will be much consumption of Michigan wine), we will be watching bookish movies that may include The Ninth Gate, Pride and Prejudice, and The Book Thief.


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Bookish Thoughts

It’s going to be a while until I post any new reviews because I’m currently working on a handful of tours that won’t be posted until the end of the month.  But here’s a few things worth mentioning:

  • Totally unexpected Vine scores: The Fifth Gospel by Ian Caldwell and The Marriage Game by Alison Weir.
  • I am so stoked for this month’s readathon I can hardly stand it (more to come).  But Rach and I found our most ideal reading room.
  • I bought a bunch of charms and jewelry findings in an attempt to recreate this Harry Potter bracelet.  Alas, it was more of trial and error than success.  More materials (and patience) needed.  Don’t know if it will ever happen.
  • I’m really getting dreamy/nesty lately thinking about all of the cool ways to style our next home.  It’s going to be our “forever” house and I’m going to customize it to highlight my bookish nerdiness.  I’m going to make these.  And I’m going to hang my wall bracket shelves like this.

pinterest frame shelves

  • I’m disappointed, all of the Relay convenience stores in Union Station stopped carrying postcards.  It was so convenient to just pop down there whenever I needed to restock for Postcrossing, but now I’m actually going to have to leave the building…

(Thanks Christine!)


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The Confessor by Daniel Silva

the confessorPublished by Signet, 2004 (originally published 2002) *****

Gabriel Allon is back and uncovering the Vatican’s dirty secrets. When his friend and fellow Israeli intelligence agent Ben is murdered, Allon is tasked to discover the motive for the killing. Ben was researching a book, but the subject was so clandestine, it takes all of Allon’s investigative skills to determine who would want Ben out of the picture. Allon encounters missing priests, a convent with a shady past, and a secret society within the Vatican that will stop at nothing to keep the current Pope from exposing a shameful secret. The passivity of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust and its complicity with The Third Reich is certainly not something it is proud of, and Allon teams up with The Holy Father and his most trusted Catholic advisors to thwart a deadly plot. This novel offers great historical context, an exciting plot with plenty of unexpected twists and turns, and intrigue galore. I am enamored with this series and can’t wait to see what conspiracy Allon will get involved in next.

Other book from the Gabriel Allon series:

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