Patrin by Theresa Kishkan

Never before has a book—much less a literary novella—had such an impact on my sense of place. Patrin’s European travels as a young woman, her homecoming to Victoria, and then her journey to find traces of her family and heritage in Czechoslovakia simultaneously conjured within me an intense wanderlust, a fierce sense of belonging, and an acute yearning for home. Not only that, it made me thankful for the strong relationships I have with my family—especially my grandparents—and grateful that I have never had to question where I come from (something that I’ve never had cause to consider). Packaged in a gorgeously crafted narrative that often reads more like poetry than prose, this little tale will stay with me for much longer than the ninety minutes it took for me to absorb.

No. 11 on my challenge, though technically it was a gift. Good thing, too, because I don’t know that I’d be able to return it. This one has found a forever home on my shelf.

Book Challenge 2016, Books, One-Liners

Landline by Rainbow Rowell

First I loved Eleanor & Park. And then I loved Attachments. And now I love Landline. I think it’s safe to say that I’m a fan of Rainbow Rowell. Big fan.

Landline is funny, charming, sad, magical, mystical, hopeful, tense, and a little time-bendy. It’s about relationships—between husband and wife, mothers and daughters, best friends, boy and girl, girl and girl, even pug and woman (get your mind outta the gutter), and how one neurotic wife-mother-working-woman juggles all of these relationships during the holiday season. It’s light enough that you’ll laugh out loud, tender enough that you’ll get the warm fuzzies when she talks about her husband’s dimples, and overwrought with just enough anxiety that you’ll actively cheer when even the littlest of things goes well.

No. 4 on my challenge, obviously.


In celebration of The 50th Annual CMA Awards, the CMA created this awesome video of thirty award-winning country acts signing a mashup of John Denver’s Take Me Home, Country Roads, Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again, and Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You. I love it too much. I’ve been listening to it on repeat all day and I still have goosebumps.

I usually post the lyrics as well, but they’re annotated on Genius, so you should go there if you want to sing along (which could be difficult).

Featuring: Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Little Big Town, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Randy Travis, Blake Shelton, George Strait, Kacey Musgraves, Eric Church, Ronnie Milsap, Dierks Bentley, Charley Pride, Trisha Yearwood, Lady Antebellum, Darius Rucker, Martina McBride, Jason Aldean, Rascal Flats, Willie Nelson, Brooks and Dunn, Alabama, Brett Eldredge, Reba, Alan Jackson, Vince Gill, Carrie Underwood, and Dolly Parton.

Of interest: watch the making of the video.



Books, Images, Quoted

Okay, there’s this thing you can do, a thing you can do like no other person on this planet. That makes you special, but being special really doesn’t mean anything. You still have to get dressed in the morning. Your shoelaces still break. Your lover will still leave you if you don’t treat her right.

Quoted: All My Friends are Superheroes

Book Challenge 2016, Books, One-Liners

The Code of the Woosters by PG Wodehouse

As Rory Gilmore once said (in episode 5.5):

I’m very into PG Wodehouse right now.

And to think, before this year’s reading challenge, I had no idea who PG Wodehouse was, nor any idea where Jeeves the Butler originated. But now I’m quite fond of Bertie Wooster, his Aunt Dahlia, and the inimitable Jeeves. I believe I’ll have to find the time to discover more of this brilliant Wodehouse character.

No. 25 on my challenge. Thank you, Rory Gilmore.

Book Challenge 2016, Books, One-Liners

The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

In my opinion Mr. Jonasson has a knack for three things:

1) Writing characters who make the best out of the absolute worst. Take, for example, Nombeko, the heroine of this jaunty little tale. She was born in a South African slum, orphaned at ten, run over by a car, practically imprisoned for more than a decade, and then, just as she escapes, is accidentally saddled with a nuclear bomb (which is where this story really starts). And yet, she’s good with numbers, handy with a pair of scissors, smart enough to keep her eyes open and her mouth closed, crafty enough to escape alive, and lucky enough to meet the one man in all of Sweden who doesn’t give a fig about her rather dangerous luggage (and who also does not technically exist).

2) Connecting fictional story lines with factual events, no matter how unrelated, far fetched, or arbitrary they may be. For instance (and this is just one of many entertaining examples): Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely purchased Volvo from Sweden in 2010. Jonasson’s novel suggests that the purchase was somehow the result of the professional relationship between the fictional Nombeko and Hu Jintao, the real-life [past] President of the People’s Republic of China. (So… satire. He’s good at satire.)

3) Writing light-hearted comedy with such command of his craft that it loses nothing in translation (at least, I don’t think it does), and that even the most horrific scenes are reduced (or perhaps elevated) to hilarity. As such:



And because Mr. Jonasson is so good at these three things, I declare this book an absolute joy to read (despite the large doses of scientific and mathematical jargon and two very frustrating characters whom I will let you discover—and loathe—on your own).

No. 19 on my challenge. Because #2.

Movies, One-Liners

Blue Water, White Death

An article in my August issue of National Geographic opens as such:

“When the documentary Blue Water, White Death hit US theaters in 1971, its footage of great white sharks crashing into diving cages became instantly iconic. But the footage that stands out 45 years later is a long scene showing oceanic whitetip sharks swarming a whale carcass a hundred miles off the coast of South Africa.

“It is an amazing  scene for two reasons: first, because the divers leave the safety of their cages to film the sharks, believed to be the first time anyone had ever tried the technique among feeding sharks [reaction: HOLD UP. WHAT NOW!?]. And second, because it’s a scene that might never be replicated—a marine version of the last photograph of endless bison herds roaming the North American plains [WELL NOW I GOTTA WATCH THIS].”

So obviously I dug it up. Thank you, internets. Not only is this documentary a gold mine in ’70s fashion, hairstyles, and lingo, but it’s also pretty cool to watch four absolutely insane people with underwater cameras swim freely with literally hundreds of feeding sharks. And that’s not the only time they left the cage. Oh, no. First they listened to a diver tell his story about getting attacked by a great white, checked out the guy’s scars, hung dead fish from their boat to attract a 16-footer, and then, when the shark was gnawing on dinner right beside their cage, they decided to OPEN THE DOORS to get closer. Because they’re crazy, obviously.

Now, I don’t recommend this documentary if you watch Shark Week every year, because it’s pretty low-budget (I have to assume they spent all of their money on charting a boat that chased around sharks for five months, cans of blood, and oxygen tanks), and the film quality is that special ’70s-era bad. But for me Blue Water, White DeathThe Most Frightening and Fascinating Sea Adventure Ever was totally worth it.