Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West

by Hampton Sides

Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hampton Sides

This book solidifies it for me. I need to read more Hampton Sides. I love the way he integrates side stories without seeming to go off on tangents. I enjoy his use of first person sources. I enjoy his narrative voice. I could continue singing his praises, but lets just get to the review shall we?

Sides tackles a large chunk of history covering a wide geographical area, which can be tricky. For some reason (the reason is my little brother… he ended up giving me all these mountain man biographies for my birthday) I have been reading a lot of books about “the west” lately.  Some books try to cover everything, some are too narrow in their scope. Sides hits it in the sweet spot by focusing on one man, Kit Carson, one state (for the most part) New Mexico, and one group of Native Americans, the Navajo. By focusing on the interactions and history of those areas, Sides gives us a snapshot of one western struggle. At the very beginning we are introduced to Kit Carson and shown how we will be following his career that has been immortalized in print, film, and various other visual arts. Kit falls in and out of various careers, that of a guide on the Santa Fe Trail, Army Scout, Indian fighter, and Reservation Superintendent. As a reader, I felt that the landscape provided another character to the story. The struggle to ‘tame’ the New Mexico Territory and the conflicts among the personalities, motivations, and actions of the key players are endlessly fascinating.

A great non fiction should do two things 1) educate 2) entertain. Blood and Thunder managed to do both as well as inspire me to want a visit to New Mexico, no small task as it has not been my idea of a tourist destination. Sides didn’t moralize, but presented a snapshot of what the world once was. I recommend this book to American History buffs, biography fans, and anyone who likes a good read.

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Mudbound

by Hillary Jordan

Mudbound by Hillary Jordan

I honestly don’t remember how this one came into my consciousness. I don’t believe anyone recommended it and I think vaguely I read the synopsis of the movie version and thought that it sounded like an interesting book? Either way, I got it from my old friend Amazon and the rest is history. I really enjoyed this book and it isn’t the sort of fiction that I tend to like. So often I read books about race relations in the deep south pre civil rights movement and I have to roll my eyes so often (I’m looking at you, The Help). Read More »

Running with the Buffaloes: A Season Inside with Mark Wetmore, Adam Goucher, and The University of Colorado Men’s Cross Country Team

by Chris Lear

Running with the Buffaloes by Chris Lear

If you read this website regularly (and there is no guarantee that you do… I’ve seen my web page analytics), you know that I like to read running books as I consider myself a runner on sabbatical just waiting for that magical day when I am no longer birthing or breastfeeding humans and can devote time back to running. Read More »

It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool Too)

by Nora McInerny Purmort

It's Ok to Laugh by Nora McInerny Purmont

Sigh… where to begin? Reviewing a book like this is a bit of a challenge. Purmort’s biggest claim to fame, and her reason for writing a memoir in the first place, is that her husband died of cancer. So, if you criticize a book like this, you come across as a jerk… So with that understanding, I am going into this immediately letting you know that I DISLIKED this book. Read More »

The Trespasser

by Tana French

The Trespasser by Tana French

French and I have had a pretty serious thing going on since I read one of her books while I was in the hospital delivering my first child in 2010. Then I read another in 2012 while I was in the hospital with my second child. And again in 2014 with my third child. Well, her new book came out and I was nowhere near having a kid, so I had to break our streak and read The Trespasser. I was initially pretty thrilled because I knew this book would follow Antionette Conway who I enjoyed in the last book and wanted to delve more into what a partnership between her and Stephen Moran would look like. Read More »

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

by Amy Chua

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua

I’d heard a lot about this book and had always wanted to read it. I’d read excerpts of a few of her other books and it looked like Battle Hymn was a bit of a departure, but exciting none the less. Then I had the opportunity to hear Chua speak at my brother’s law school graduation and enjoyed what she had to say. She spoke a lot about the backlash she received after writing the book and the controversy surrounding it. Which goes to show you, people who don’t read books shouldn’t get to make talking points on morning shows. Read More »

Unfamiliar Fishes

by Sarah Vowell

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

This is another book I picked up for research for our family trip to Hawaii in 2016. I’m already a fan of Vowell, and at this point I’d already done a fair amount of research so I was excited to add Vowell’s perspective. I knew there were certain things I could count on in a Vowell history. 1- She was going to be cutting. 2- She was going to find the ridiculous. 3-She might eviscerate the colonists. I was right on all counts. Read More »

The Song of the Quarkbeast: the Chronicles of Kazam Book Two

by Jasper Fforde

The Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde loses no steam with his followup to The Last Dragonslayer. In the last book we discovered a few things. The Mighty Shandar is kind of not a nice person. Jennifer is a berserker. Big Magic is back. Read More »

The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam Book One

by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

I have a love/love less relationship with Jasper Fforde. One of my favorite books ever Shades of Grey (not to be confused with 50 Shades of Grey) was written by Jasper Fforde. I started out strong with the Thursday Next series, and loved the Nursery Crime series and was fully expecting to read all the books in the Shades of Grey series, only there have been no more books. Read More »

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d

by Alan Bradley

Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd by Alan Bradley

If you recall we last left Flavia de Luce on her way back to England after a brief sojourn at a Canadian boarding school. I must admit, I was excited to see where the series would go once Flavia returned. But I am getting ahead of myself. Read More »

Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier

by Hampton Sides

Americana: Dispatches from the New Frontier by Hampton Sides

I have some go-to non fiction writers that I rely on to provide a variety of real life events or stories that I know will educate, enlighten, entertain, and always be great. Erik Larson, Sarah Vowell, Nathaniel Philbrick, Amy Stewart. And Hampton Sides. It was a happy day when I discovered this man. One thing I LOVE about Sides is that his books are so varied, and still so interesting. There is no better example than Americana. Read More »

Patricia, the Beautiful

by Katheryn Kimbrough

Patricia the Beautiful by Katheryn Kimbrough

These books are not getting any better. Lets start with that. Read More »

Margaret, The Faithful

by Katheryn Kimbrough

Margaret the Faithful by Katheryn Kimbrough

Another bad book brought to you by the Saga of the Phenwick Women. I honestly am glad I only have four of these books in total in this series and this is number three so we are ALMOST finished I promise! Read More »

Jane, the Courageous

by Katheryn Kimbrough

Jane the Courageous by Katheryn Kimbrough

You’ll have to read my review of Augusta, the First to get the back story on this series of books and why they are fundamentally terrible, but let me just tell you why THIS particular book is terrible. Read More »

Augusta, The First

by Katheryn Kimbrough

Augusta, the First by Katheryn Kimbrough

This book was SOOOOOO bad. Ugh. Really. It was awful. My baby brother (who turns 32 this year!) got this for my birthday last last year. Correction, he got the first four books in the series (more about this series later) at a used book store for a dollar. He had the gaul to leave the price tag and when I called him on it he said he just wanted to show me what our friendship was worth. Thanks, Jason. In retaliation, I didn’t get him anything for his birthday, so there is that. Read More »

A Long Way Home: A Boy’s Incredible Journey from India to Australia and Back Again

by Saroo Brierly

A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly

By now everyone has heard this story as the movie based on this book, Lion, was nominated for all sorts of awards. My husband got this for me before the movie was a thing, and so the first time I saw the trailer for the movie I’d already read the book and therefore had a bunch of pre conceived notions about what it should be, but that is another story for another time. You all know my thoughts on movies based on books.  Read More »

Rebel of the Sands

by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Okay, I am warning you right now this is the first book in what looks to be a YA fantasy series so it could go on forever. I didn’t know that when I bought this book. I was hoping for a quick little one off. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) this book was good enough that now I am going to have to continue reading the series. The problems of a person that reads a lot of books… Read More »

The Dressmaker

by Rosalie Ham

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

I saw a trailer for the movie version of this book a few years after the movie was in theaters. As usual, I thought, hmmm… looks like an okay movie, but I bet the book is better. Having never seen the film, I can’t promise I am correct, but the book was fine. It wasn’t wonderful, but entertaining enough. Read More »

Run Gently Out There: Trials, Trails, and Tribulations of Running Ultramarathons

by John Morelock

Run Gently Out There: Trials, Trails, and Tribulations of Running Ultramarathons by John Morelock

Ah, the book that single-handedly killed my love of running. Just kidding. I’m being a bit dramatic, but in a running book my bar is reasonably low: Does this book make me want to run? If the answer is no, then it isn’t a great running book. But I get ahead of myself. Read More »

Assassination Vacation

by Sarah Vowell

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

I don’t know what it is about the darker moments in US history that people find so fascinating, but perhaps it is that psychological warm blanket of knowing that an awful thing happened while you are safe. I could ponder this all day but you came for a review and a review you are going to get.  Read More »

S is for Silence

by Sue Grafton

S is for Silence by Sue Grafon

Rarely do I feel so viscerally about a Grafton book. Generally they fall on the good sort of okay scale don’t make me regret the time spent on them, but are very forgettable once they are done. Read More »

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

Full disclosure, this is usually the type of book that I really dislike. The characters are awful, I mean AWFUL. Flawed, and petty, and one dimensional, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed it. Possibly because all the characters are loathable so I wasn’t rooting for or against any of them.  Read More »

Listen, Slowly

by Thanhha Lai

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

So, I am not Vietnamese, but I am multi cultural. My mom is Chilean, so I understand what it is to float between two cultures, to be American and something else. I’ve rarely read a book, fiction/non-fiction/YA/Adult that captures so well what it means to embrace the beauty of two different cultures to understand what it means to be a person. Read More »

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books

by Paul Collins

Sixpense House by Paul Collins

Help me out there book-lovers: Do you find yourselves getting sucked into reading books about books? That is how Sixpence House came into my hands. Read More »

Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History

by Hampton Sides

Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History by Hampton Sides

I’m a fan of Hampton Sides, if he writes it, I’m going to read it. (I’m currently reading Amercana: Dispatches from the New Frontier and loving it) I read this book at a challenging time which made it a very heavy read. Read More »

Me Before You

by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Oh, yes I did. Yes I DID pick out a cheesy/romantic book to read. Did I read it in a day? Yes. Did I cry? Yes. How did I fall into this trap, you ask? That is a very interesting question. Read More »

Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

by James L. Haley

Captive Paradise by James Haley

Way back in the early days of 2016, my husband and I decided that we would do something spectacular for his four week sabbatical rather than the yard work and errands that we’d initially talked about. Then randomly we decided we’d go to Hawaii, and we’d take the kids. I’ve never had a lot of interest in Hawaii, it seemed too touristy, too obvious, too not my kind of island, but once we decided we’d go (and take three kids aged five and under) for 2+ weeks in paradise, I threw myself into research mode. Read More »

Uprooted

by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Kim Novak

Guys, this book was good. Also, let me put it out there THIS IS A STAND ALONE BOOK!!! Hallelujah! Finally! Read More »

Merlin’s Keep

by Madeleine Brent

Merlin's Keep by Madeleine Brent

Take a trip with me to nostalgia town. Really, I first read Madeleine Brent the summer before I turned 13 and I thought they were the BEST books ever. Back in that time my idea of romance came from Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. Then I discovered Madeleine Brent, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Georgette Heyer. They were my Jr. High staples, and for a LONG while (longer than I’d like to admit) I would re-read my favorites each year.
Read More »

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

So, apparently Jenny Lawson writes a beloved blog. I did not know that when I put this on my Christmas wishlist. I thought the description was intriguing enough and at this point in my life various people I know have suddenly become depressed, are seeking help for depression, or are recovering from depression. I was hoping to get a humorous insight into the disordered or depressed mind… that isn’t exactly what I got. Read More »

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-year-old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny

by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresnioski

Get ready with the tissues because this book is full of big feelings. In this day and age negative race relations is big money as it sells newspapers, has splashy headlines, and evokes strong emotions. Unfortunately the media has seized on the negativity in a way the early yellow journalists manufactured threats, wars, and published rumor as fact. Read More »