Books, Books, Books

Hi! and hope you’re doing well, wherever you are and whatever you’re up to.  Here are some books I’ve read and liked as of late.

1.A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihar

This book is becoming a cult classic and I think our grandchildren will be reading and talking about it. I liked it, but it’s hard to get through. I had to take a break from reading it (twice) because it is so devastating, but I really loved the main character, and so I kept coming back. This book is nihilistic, but the prose is exceptional and the character development is realistic, relatable, remarkable. It made me want to learn every word in the world. The plot itself involves some suspension of disbelief. The amount of success, the failure, and abuse in the storyline is completely exaggerated and difficult to believe.

There are a ton of loose ends in this book, which makes it feel sort of sloppy; but it’s engrossing and thought provoking enough to carry. It is definitely rated R. I don’t think I recommend it to everyone, because it is so devastating and graphic.  This book will make you very happy to come back to your life. Also it’s 800 pages.

2. Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty

Oh, this is a good one!  Sort of vapid lifestyles but the main theme of the novel is substantive. It’s delicious, intriguing, and suspenseful. The plot: mothers and their children living in a wealthy part of Australia, a child being bullied in kindergarten, and the secrets these families keep. A sub-theme of the story is that secrets don’t stay secrets. The TV version also emphasizes the tightrope women walk when trying to balance family and career. Loved the ending of this one- Liane Moriarty knows how to entertain.

3. Counting by 7s, Holly Goldberg Sloan

A YA read about a genius, quirky middle school girl whose parents die in a car accident.  She thinks very analytically and the narrative involves a lot of math and science and some amusing thought processes that made me laugh out loud a few times. It’s full of interesting factoids, but the plot isn’t very intriguing. As a side note, the YA read I keep hearing good things about is The Wishtree, by Katherine Applegate.

4. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman

This book is a delight. Hilarious. However, Eleanor’s thinking is super grating.  She is SO judgmental! She is awkward and harsh and very very candid. Her narrative will make you laugh out loud.

As the story progressed, Eleanor completely grew on me.  She is endearing and lovable in the quirkiest of ways. I also really felt for her and her life story. The themes of the book are social awkwardness and loneliness – the author illustrated and articulated her themes so clearly and she depicted life in 2016 (ish) perfectly. I love Raymond and I love Raymond’s mom.

The ending made me question all the thoughts and beliefs we cling to. You will be shocked at the end.

Here is my secret wish: to know what a guy thinks of this book.

5. Since We Fell, Dennis Lehane

Before reading Since We Fell I had never heard of or read anything by Dennis Lehane (have you?). In the prologue you find out that Rachel kills Brian at some point in the story, but you don’t know when it will happen. The beginning is a little slow while Rachel is looking for her birth father and then things pick up in the second half when you learn more about Brian. It’s not meant to be a funny book, but there is one scene near the end, when everything is unraveling, that made me fall over laughing.

The reviews say it’s diabolical. I just looked up that word and it *is* diabolical (of the devil!). At least Brian is.

I think they should make this into a movie and I highly, highly recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers. I loved it. I might even read it again, violating my only-read-a-novel once policy.

6. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

Eh. The plot is sort of interesting but too slow. The characters aren’t really special. I really make an effort to like at least one character in every book I read, but it wasn’t easy in this one. I think the author has potential though.

There is part of me that sort of wants to write a book, but I think coming up with a good plot is pretty challenging. I don’t want to write one that is a thinly veiled story of my own life- That might be kind of bland. ; )

Anyway, I hope this list can help you find a good read for your next vacation. : )

Don’t forget to watch general conference this weekend and please feel uplifted by this video:


Christmas already feels like ages ago. Did you have a great holiday? I hope so. These are a couple of pictures of mine.

We went to see Beautiful at the National Theater downtown. Carole King is one of a kind.

Yuck. Don’t forget to vote November 3, 2020.

Lisa! Friends since my first day of my first job.

My first hatchimals lesson.

One other thing is I got to drive a Tesla 3 for the first time. The dashboard is just a computer screen in the middle of the car and the pedal sort of pushes back when you let go, like you’re in second gear stick shift. The latest update feature is that the driver can make different seats make farting noises. ha. There are eight different noises to choose from, each evidently named after one of Musk’s achievements. I think it would be funny to be on the team that made that feature :); they probably got fired last week.

Tomorrow I fly to Palo Alto- I am watching a family of eight! Wish me luck. I am also tearing through the book Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. It’s a good one.

Hope your week is off to a great start. Also, don’t forget to get plenty of sleep. That’s mostly a reminder for myself. 🙂


Happy New Year!

We have the news conference about Ultima Thule on– it’s the new object that the Hubble Telescope discovered that is 1 billion miles past Pluto. I think NASA first saw it in 2014.  The New Horizons spacecraft flew past it and took pictures of it last night. Since it takes a few hours for the pictures to get to earth, NASA will show them sometime tonight. The New Horizons spacecraft launched 13 years ago– the NASA people look so relieved and happy right now.   

Are you watching? Do you think we’ll get a new planet? What do you think is on it?!

And, did you have a great holiday?  The highlight for me (so far) was getting a ride in the new Tesla 3.

Wishing you a great start to the new year.

Grateful Anew

Thanksgiving is my second favorite holiday.  Isn’t it nice to know we already have everything we need? My list includes: food, shelter, a soft warm bed, my faith, and difficult things. I’m grateful for my computer and all the things there are to learn about HCI. I’m grateful for earnest little humans and for my family.

What are you grateful for?

Of course it is hard to beat the food this time of year.  Here is a Thanksgiving Battlecry to inspire you when it comes time to eat thirds this Thursday. 😀


Wishing you a full heart, table, and stomach this Thanksgiving.


You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman


My brother got an iPod in 2002 and came over to show it to me.  It was blue and boxy and I had never seen anything like it. He was super excited about it and he said it could hold thousands of songs. I was skeptical.

To demonstrate, we went out to his Audi in the driveway, hooked it up with the speakers, and turned on Aretha Franklin’s Natural Woman.  It was my first time hearing the song and my brother sort of ruined it when he sang along. But It was one of those surreal moments when I was holding this weird tech gizmo from the future and  listening to this new, old song from decades ago and it gave me a rush I won’t forget.

What a legend. R-e-s-p-e-c-t. We’ll miss you Aretha.