Read With The Safety Turned Off

I have a bone to pick.

In a conversation not long ago the subject of trigger warnings arose.

If you aren’t familiar, trigger warnings are warnings that give you a “heads-up” as to what a book contains. These triggers are things or subjects that may upset or possibly offend a perspective reader.

Now before you jump all over me, let me state a partial exception – books for children. I understand that books may contain subject matter that you feel is too mature in content or language. I understand these concerns and they are definitely valid. The reason I stated this exception as only partial is this: if your child is at the skill level to read books that contain more mature content (that you feel they may not be ready for), there is a chance that they may be able to also readily discuss these subjects with you on a more mature level. You may not be ready for these conversations, but these books may be the perfect avenue for some authentically great communication that might not otherwise have come up either at all or not until much later. Every parent obviously makes the call here, and these are just my own thoughts.

Now that all of that has been said, the rest of this post pertains to adults.

The back of a book or the cover flap of a dust jacket is where a book synopsis is typically found. Other times, you may go online to places like Goodreads or Amazon to find this information. Another source may be a friend who tells you about it and follows up with a “must-read”, a “steer clear”, or somewhere in the middle.

To me, the above options are plenty. There have even been times when I pick up a book without reading any kind of synopsis, just for the heck of it.

Honestly I had never even heard of trigger warnings for books until the aforementioned conversation. Now I feel like I am seeing more and more books or posts prefaced by these.

Have we become so worried that someone will be offended or upset by a book that specific details have to be spelled out? I do understand that life sometimes deals a raw hand and maybe you are dealing with something horrible. And maybe you don’t or aren’t ready to read something because it’s a little too close to home-but that’s what book friends are for. They are the absolute perfect source to say, “Hey, you may want to skip over that for now or forever.” What’s not perfect is assuming the masses want that labeled across everything they read. Not to say something of the sordid or intense in nature is a spoiler, but in a way, it sort of is. And we all know that spoilers tend to piss people off.

So the books in the picture, Gone With the Wind, Lolita, Lonesome Dove, and The Prince of Tides deal with some pretty heavy subjects. But I can read the back and get a pretty good idea of whether or not I want to read it or not.

Lonesome Dove is an old western. It goes without saying, or at least I thought it did that Indians and Mexicans will probably be referred to in negative ways. Does it make it right, no, of course not. On the same note, am I offended by it, should I be? No and no. It’s a book. Stop taking everything personal or as if you have a personal stake in it all. You don’t, none of us do. These references were true to the time they were written in, therefore since LD is more or less realistic fiction they should rightfully be there. It’s part of history whether you like it or not, not whether you are offended or not.

We as readers are some of the most open-minded people, and because of this it amazes me that trigger warnings are a thing. That labels have to further specify what the synopsis apparently did not do a good enough job of. Read with abandon, read to gain insight and knowledge, read to understand change or to make change happen. But read the book and then decide, don’t let a label cheat you out of what could be something great.

We don’t need labels or warnings to assume we are going to be upset or offended by every blessed thing. We are adults and we don’t reside in bubbles. We aren’t made of glass and our minds are usually pretty discerning, so remember that next time you see a trigger warning. Skip over it and let your own beautiful mind decide and then let that be enough.

“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” – Sherman Alexie


Forever Fall & Forever Friday Please

Dear Bookworms,

Today was beautiful and because it’s Friday, well that’s just the icing on the cake.

It was so beautiful that it almost made me sad. Fall does not ever last long enough in my humble opinion.

If it could just be forever fall and forever Friday.

If you are new to my blog, on Fridays, along with book stuff I also post about dessert and wine. So now that you are caught up, let’s go!

The Book:

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen was first introduced to me by a girl in my bookclub. She raved and raved about it so I went to Overdrive (free library app for e books for my Kindle) to put it on hold. As amazing as Overdrive is, it didn’t have Harry’s Trees in its collection yet, so my only choice was to put it on their recommendation list. Usually my library is pretty good about buying recommend books, it’s just sometimes you’ve got to be a little patient.

A few weeks later, translating: last week, I went to the library looking for a different book. I found what I was looking for and was on my way out, when Harry’s Trees about hit me in the face! The cover is so darn beautiful too, and I’m a sucker for a stunning cover. I added HT to my bundle and headed home.

Of course I’m reading a million other books and truthfully I did not open HT for at least four days after checking it out.

But it’s just so pretty, that it simply begs to be opened.

So I opened it and started reading it. I know, I know, I should’ve stopped, but my will power is complete crap when it comes to books. I’m just a few chapters in and so far, so good. Below is the Amazon synopsis:

• Thirty-four-year-old Harry Crane works as an analyst for the US Forest Service. When his wife dies suddenly, he is unable to cope. Leaving his job and his old life behind, Harry makes his way to the remote woods of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains, determined to lose himself. But fate intervenes in the form of a fiercely determined young girl named Oriana. She and her mother, Amanda, are struggling to pick up the pieces from their own tragedy – Amanda stoically holding it together while Oriana roams the forest searching for answers. And in Oriana’s magical, willful mind, she believes that Harry is the key to righting her world.

Now it’s time for Harry to let go….

After taking up residence in the woods behind Amanda’s house, Harry reluctantly agrees to help Oriana in a ludicrous scheme to escape his tragic past. In so doing, the unlikeliest of elements – a wolf, a stash of gold coins, a fairy tale called The Grum’s Ledger and a wise old librarian named Olive – come together to create a golden adventure that will fulfill Oriana’s wildest dreams and open Harry’s heart to a whole new life •

So what do you think? Have you read it? Let me know your thoughts.

The Dessert:

These are Almond Butter Blondies. What makes them so amazing besides being low sugar (low carb) is the key ingredient. I use Trader Joe’s Almond Butter and it makes them nothing short of phenomenal. A friend of mine figured this out when she was experimenting with the recipe one day. On my next trip to the grocery store I grabbed some random jar of almond butter. They were good, but they weren’t what my friend had made. The skeptic that I can be (and totally not doubting my friend) was thinking how can one almond butter be so drastically different from another. The other reason, the closest Trader Joe’s is an hour from me. And you can’t order it online unless you want to get ripped an new one by some price gouger on Amazon selling it for $14 a jar (normally it’s $5 something a jar at TJ’s). So now when I make the trek to TJ’s I buy it in obsessive amounts-as in nine or so jars. If you were eating these right now, you’d understand.

The Wine:

This is my first time trying Crushed. It’s a red blend from California. It’s good, pretty smooth and somewhat dry. No complaints for under $10 and a screw off top.

So there you have it, my dears. Another Friday post for the books, or the blog? I don’t know how the saying goes, just go with it and have another glass.


“I think books are like people, in the sense that they’ll turn up in your life when you most need them.” – Emma Thompson

I Hope She’s Found Her Eden

Dear Bookworms,

Today I have a story for you.

When I began this blog, one of the things I wanted to share on here were the particular books that hold great meaning to me and why. East of Eden by John Steinbeck is a book that is forever etched on and in my heart.

• A long time ago in a land west of here there were two sisters. The older one, L, had blond hair and was sort of bossy. The younger one, D, had brown hair, freckles, and was ultimately the cooler one, although L wouldn’t have dared to admit that back then. Although they looked quite different, many times they were told they had the same smile. The sisters liked that.

Throughout the years they had their normal ups and downs, but were always close friends despite L being bossy. They had their differences, but they also liked many of the same things. L was the bigger bookworm, if only because she was taller than D. Although D never grew tall, she hit her reading stride in high school. Over the years the girls would read vastly different books and authors, but would occasionally pick a book to read together.

Life continued as it can’t help but do and L decided to leave and go somewhere far away for college. D was ok with this because her life was getting busier as well. The girls knew distance didn’t matter and that one day they’d live near each other again, it was just a simple matter of when and where.

Over the next few years when they were apart they wrote each other so many letters. Even when email became more popular they continued with their handwritten notes. They had grown up writing each other notes, so the writing of letters was just an extension of that little habit.

In their letters they spoke of anything and everything. From the serious to the mundane. They sometimes even made up code names for certain people they might’ve been gossiping about—you know, just in case their letters fell in to the wrong hands. D thought the code names were dumb. She really didn’t care if anyone knew she was talking about them, but went along with it because L said so (ie. bossy).

If only life could remain a certain way forever.

More years went by and the girls continued on. Life handed them good things at times and also introduced them to sorrow. Because they still were not living close together, the letters continued. The girls shared a similar sense of humor and since they each had cell phones by this time, they often called or texted just to laugh about something.

But even if they slowed a bit, the letters never ceased. D often decorated her envelopes in such a manner that the outside was as much of a joy to read as the inside.

Then one day the sky dropped and the ground disappeared in such a way that nothing was ever quite right again.

D was in a horrible car accident. It broke almost all of her small body. And it broke the hearts of everyone close to her.

After a long battle, D’s body finally began to recover. The scars were angry but over time their screaming began to tame. From the outside looking in D was a walking miracle, but D was still hurting. While her bones had healed, her mind still had broken pieces and those pieces were horribly sharp.

Through this recovery L and D saw each other occasionally, talked constantly, but still continued to write. L knew D was hurting on the inside and they talked about it often. They still read the occasional book together and their discussions of plots and characters reminded L of times in the past. Sometimes she would hear an almost lyrical sound in D’s voice and she knew the old D was still in there trying to find her way to the surface. But she didn’t realize just how far the surface looked to D.

Although L and so many others saw incredible odds continuing to be crushed by D almost daily, it was impossible for them to see the distance D still felt she needed to go.

Sometimes when a horizon fails to appear you simply become tired.

And D was tired, oh so tired. The sharp pieces in her mind had not dulled. They simply continued to poke and sometimes cut, only reminding her of it all and how heavy it continued to be.

One day L was at work when her telephone rang.

It was a short conversation. And as simple and as complex as it was—that conversation ended the life as L had known even five minutes earlier.

The sharp pieces had gotten the best of D and it was too much to try and hold together without being endlessly sliced apart on the inside.

D was gone.

And because she was gone, a part of L went with her. Not by choice, but rather a lack of one.

Upon impact, when a heart breaks, the shattered pieces fly in every direction. There is no question whether every tiny piece will find its way back. They can’t. It’s impossible, if for the simple fact that some don’t want to. Some of those pieces go with whatever broke them.

There’s no coming back from an event such as this. You simply breathe because, surprisingly you still can. You put one foot in front of the other and go in some kind of direction. There is no map to tell you the right way. You just keep going the only way you know how.

Years later, fifteen years to be exact, have gone by since L and D last spoke, wrote, or saw each other. L carried on and made her way in life. She’s had good times and the sun has shined many times after the intense season of darkness began to ebb away. She remembers the happy times more than the sad ones. Although time doesn’t isn’t the famous healer everyone claims it to be, it does tend to allow the good to override the bad—if you give it room to do so.

L thinks about D just about everyday. She is sometimes sad when she finds herself thinking about something D has missed, like the nephews she never got to meet. L laughs at something D would’ve clearly made fun of in her unique way. L smiles when she goes through all of the letters D wrote to her. L has D’s words and because of that, maybe some of the broken heart pieces have finally found their way back.

If you have read this story, thank you. It’s been on my heart for a while. And so you know and have the final piece of the story, East of Eden was the last book D and I read together •



“At the right time, in the right light, everything is extraordinary.” — Aaron Rose

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-8255 Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

September is National Suicide Prevention month. Take the stigma away from suicide—talk about it. People are hurting everywhere, show kindness by listening. Hug a little longer and more often, you never know when it might be the last one.

A Tale Of Two Covers

I have a dear friend who I trade books with. He occasionally just brings me books and I do the same for him. Our homes are right next to each other, with just a field between us. We spend a lot of time of time there and vice versa. Sometimes one of my boys runs over after school to hang out. Upon returning, he tosses a bag on the counter, saying, “There’s a book in there from Frank.” Sometimes it’s one being returned, other times it’s one Frank picked up in his travels.

Frank likes all kinds of books, most especially historical fiction. He is retired, so he has a nice amount of reading time and he is a fast reader, so he tears through books at an astonishing pace.

Something fun about being friends with readers is that you become exposed to all kinds of books. Not only books you haven’t heard of, but also subject matter you might not have looked twice at. When a book comes highly recommended from a trusted source, even if you might have not otherwise been interested, you (or at least I am) are more apt to give it a try.

This is where the above books come in. The Winds of War and War and Remembrance by Herman Wouk are two of these such books. Frank loves books about wartime. His brain is a history book, especially Civil War history. These two books, however are about WWII and they go together. He loves these books and brought me the red and blue editions below.

Aside from being mass market editions, which aren’t my favorite due to being difficult to hold open, the covers are, well, not amazing.

I’m not that much of a snob that I won’t read something just because the cover sucks, but if a better cover were to exist and I thought would be keeping these books, I might be tempted to buy them.

I’m always thankful for books. When Frank gave me these, I thought, they aren’t cute, but so what. I gladly placed them on my bookshelf and went about my day.

A few weeks later I was at my local used book shop. Near the back they have a section where they keep books they have many copies of— this is ideal for people buying for a book club selection. Upon browsing, I came across these:

First off these are trade editions. I think book people naturally prefer trade to mass market, in fact I have never met someone who prefers the opposite. These books are big, TWOW is just under 900 pages and WAR is just over 1300 pages. No matter which edition you choose-these are big books. If holding or toting around a large book concerns you, the e-edition of these books would be the best choice in my opinion.

I think the above editions are beautiful and I had to have them. As of yet, I have not read them, but I plan to. Below is the Amazon synopsis for both books:

The Winds of War

• Wouk’s spellbinding narrative captures the tide of global events, as well as all the drama, romance, heroism, and tragedy of World War II, as it immerses us in the lives of a single American family drawn into the very center of the war’s maelstrom

War and Remembrance continues this sweeping epic of WWII •

So in the grand scheme of things, does the cover matter to you? It’s the same story in both books after all. A good book is a good book, and a beautiful cover can’t make up for a boring story or a poor writing style.


If you give me the option to choose a better cover, well that’s a whole different story.

Happy Monday, Bookworms.



“The world belongs to those who read.” – Rick Holland

Weekly Goal: Low-Key Decadence

Good morning.

The hours of Friday have spilled nicely in to Saturday. Because The Goldfinch was released in theaters yesterday, I traded my normal Friday post of books, dessert, and wine to talk about that.

But in my thinking, it just wouldn’t be the same without including some kind of post featuring my favorite trifecta, so here we are.

If not fancy, then decadent is the feeling of a Friday night. Saturdays on the other hand, especially the morning, feel more low key. So—can you be decadent and low key? Yes, you absolutely can, in fact that’s my preference. I am not a fancy person. Brontë has more fancy-ness in her front paws than I could ever have, even if I tried every day for the rest of my life. Her fancy-ness always seems to add a little something to the mix, so she too, is a key ingredient to many of my photos on here. She ups my game (if I have a game?) a bit, maybe she appeals to literary snobs, while my twist-off bottles of wine appeals to the simpletons?

The Book

The Hours by Michael Cunningham, like The Goldfinch (of yesterday’s post) was made in to a movie (interesting tidbit-both films feature Nicole Kidman), and both books won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction—1999 and 2013, respectively. If you are at all familiar with this blog, then you may know I have mixed feelings about books that win prizes. So it surprises me a little that for two days in a row I have posted two award-winning books. If you want to read the original post about my thoughts regarding Pulitzer winners, the link is below. If not, scroll past and move on, no judgement.

Unlike The Goldfinch, I have not read The Hours, but it is a book that has interested me for awhile, because part of its premise is the book in its entirety takes place over the course of one day. One of the characters is the lovely Virginia Woolf, who’s book, Mrs. Dalloway also takes place over the course of a day. The Hours, unlike TG is much shorter in length, 239 pages versus 760. I think it would be fun and quite fitting to read The Hours over the course of one day.

Below is the Amazon synopsis:

The Hours tells the story of three women: Virginia Woolf, beginning to write Mrs. Dalloway as she recuperates in a London suburb with her husband in 1923; Clarissa Vaughan, beloved friend of an acclaimed poet dying from AIDS, who in modern-day New York is planning a party in his honor; and Laura Brown, in a 1949 Los Angeles suburb, who slowly begins to feel the constraints of a perfect family and home. By the end of the novel, these three stories intertwine in remarkable ways, and finally come together in an act of subtle and haunting grace • Side note, the main character in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway is named Clarissa.

Doesn’t it sound interesting? Not exactly a short story because of its length, but a story written over a short time period, while covering different short time periods, and can ultimately be read in a *short amount of time. Kind of a conundrum.

* Please excuse the excessive use of the word short in the above paragraph.

Ok, book covered, on to the dessert and wine.

The Dessert

My aim is to make something homemade every Friday to enjoy over the weekend, but that doesn’t always happen. This week was good, but was a little busier than normal. One of my go-to’s in an event such as this, because forgoing dessert is not an option, is #Lily’s chocolate. If you live in a larger city Lily’s is most likely readily available. I do not and up until recently I had to travel an hour or order online. It has finally made the trek from the olden days to 2019, probably in a covered wagon to a few of our local grocery stores—my heart was singing upon its arrival. There are several varieties, including milk chocolate, dark chocolate, with nuts, without, some with coconut, and even baking chips. The beauty of Lily’s are the ingredients and taste. You should know by now that I eat low carb, which massively cuts my sugar intake and therefore my craving. In addition, Lily’s uses stevia and erythritol and no maltitol. This is major because ingesting maltitol OFTEN causes EXPLOSIVE 🧨 reactions in the bathroom 🚽 (unless you are like my friend J, who has a stomach and intestines made at least partially of steel, which I am jealous of). This chocolate costs a little more than regular chocolate, but is well worth it in my opinion.

(Moving on from the Lily’s Public Service Announcement to wine)

The Wine

This week I am back to featuring #JamJar’s sweet Shiraz. It originated from South Africa and is one of my favorite things. It’s inexpensive, around $10-12, and can be found easily, and has *no need for a corkscrew.

*If that fact, and that I drink it over ice makes me a redneck, so be it.

This is how you open Jam Jar
A. in the wild
B. If you don’t have hands
C. If you are lazy (like Brontë)

Happy weekend, Bookworms!



“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” – Jacqueline Kelly

The Goldfinch & Other Tartt Art

Today is two fun things.

1. It’s Friday!

2. The Goldfinch movie, based upon Donna Tartt’s 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning book by the same name, is released in theaters.

Most of you, I’m sure are familiar with Donna Tartt, or at least with her books.

Her three fiction novels are The Secret History, The Little Friend, and The Goldfinch. All are lengthy novels, each coming in at over 500 pages, and The Goldfinch coming in at over 700 pages.

Tartt’s novels are each unique, I would in fact say their length would be the only thing they have in common. There are several authors, in my opinion that seem to have a formula for writing books. Their books have very similar plots or storylines and occasionally their characters have similar qualities. This obviously works for them-yes, Nicholas Sparks I’m talking about you and your books that mostly all take place in North Carolina, someone named Cody (or other name in the same vein), and someone finding or losing a letter.


All that being said, because Tartt’s books really stand apart, most people have a definite favorite. I like and have read all three, but hands down, my favorite is The Goldfinch. Do you have a favorite? One thing I have often heard about her books are that they could be cut down a bit in length— what do you think? Although I liked it, The Secret History is my least favorite and I do feel it was a little wordy. But it’s a great book—I promise, you should read it, as well as her other two if you haven’t.

I’m somehow rarely get the chance to see movies, but I do hope to see The Goldfinch at some point.

Fun Fact:

Donna Tartt and author Bret Easton Ellis (author of American Psycho and other books) became friends in college when they both attended Bennington College in Vermont. Also there is a ten year gap between each of her books, technically eleven between The Little Friend and The Goldfinch. Maybe thats how long it takes to write that many words? Just a thought 💭

I hope all of you bookworms have a wonderful Friday and perhaps some of you are going to see The Goldfinch? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts!



To understand the world at all, sometimes you could only focus on a tiny bit of it, look very hard at what was close to hand and make it stand in for the whole;

Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch

A Thankful Heart That Beats To The Drum Of Stars And Stripes

Com • bat :

1. To oppose in battle; fight against.

2. To act or work in order to eliminate, curtail, or stop.

3. Fighting, especially with weapons.

4. Contention or strife.

I have never seen the front lines of war or been in combat. I have family members that have, and I’m sure you do as well. A regret of mine is not joining one of the branches of military when I was younger. Not that I have a high desire to see combat so much, but rather, I think the military provides many benefits on so many levels (which is another story for another day). Aside from the benefits, I would have no problem fighting and standing up for this country I call home.

Novels of wartime have always interested me, both non-fiction and historical fiction. In the past years I have read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and Redeployment by Phil Klay.

Both books are short story collections. I highly recommend them if you have an interest in this subject.

Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes is a fictional novel based on the war in Vietnam, and a Marine named Waino Mellas. This was written over a thirty year period by a highly decorated Vietnam veteran. Marlantes was awarded the Navy Cross, the Bronze Star, two Navy Commendation Medals for valor, two Purple Hearts, and ten air medals for his service as a Marine in Vietnam. He graduated from Yale University and was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

This novel coming in at 566 pages with an additional twenty-eight page glossary of weapons, technical terms, slang, and jargon is a book that I have been wanting to read for several years now. This novel is probably over my head in language and jargon alone. There is a page at the beginning that features the chain of command as well as principal characters.

Below is the Amazon synopsis:

Matterhorn is the timeless story of a young Marine lieutenant, Waino Mellas, and his comrades in Bravo Company, who are dropped into the mountain jungle of Vietnam as boys and forced to fight their way into manhood. Standing in their way are not merely the North Vietnamese but also monsoon rain and mud, leeches and tigers, disease and malnutrition. Almost as daunting, it turns out, are the obstacles they discover between each other: racial tension, competing ambitions, and duplicitous superior officers. But when the company finds itself surrounded and outnumbered by a massive enemy regiment, the Marines are thrust into the raw and all-consuming terror of combat. The experience will change them forever •

I know I cannot imagine with any accuracy what that experience was like. Wars are awful, but sometimes necessary evils. We, in the United States of America, are able to agree, disagree, protest, or support — and no matter where you stand in your beliefs, you have a soldier to thank for the continuous privilege of being able to express yourself.



“Perhaps the best, [and] at least the most honest book that has been written about Vietnam.” — The Huffington Post

“The most tone perfect story about the war [I’ve] ever read.” — James Patterson

“Superb…a treasure…Deserves a place on the shelf of any reader with even a passing interest in the lore of Vietnam…It’s a bloody Vietnam epic to be sure. But it’s also a full-blooded inspection of the human spirit.”

— Christian Science Monitor

“It’s been a long time since a novel has cause me to shed tears, but while reading Matterhorn, I had a hard time holding some back as I read passages of violence, and bravery that brutally captured the fog of war, the harsh reality of combat, and the bonds of friendship forged in battle.” — San Antonio Express-News

** Thank you to every soldier past and present for your service to the United States of America 🇺🇸