Grave Peril, by Jim Butcher


Summary:Β In this third book of the Dresden Files, Harry Dresden, the only private detective Wizard in Chicago, begins the story by fighting a ghouly of ghosts (ghosts come in ghoulies, right?) scared up by…what? He doesn’t know. Soon, he becomes entangled in (seemingly unrelated) vampire politics as well. (Of course, everything’s related in a Dresden Files book, but whatever.) Can the most impolitic of people act with diplomacy if the need arises? (The answer is: of course not.)

My thoughts: Another winner in the Dresden Files books. I really enjoyed this one, although (as you can tell by my sarcasm above) I do think they are getting a little formulaic in the sense that Dresden is hit by a whole bunch of unrelated stuff all at once, and then it all gets tied up in a neat little bow at the end of the story. Other than that, the stories are quite interesting. I was so eager to get to the next one (despite my resolution to read one a month), that I’ve already finished it. I’ll review it at the end of the month, and try to catch up on some of my other reviews this and next week. πŸ™‚

Update Week 51


Hi All! I had no new pictures to use as a topper for this update, so I am using an old picture of Othello, who crossed over to the great baby-bunny hell several years ago. (She was hell on earth to baby bunnies. I think that was her undoing. I think she finally died of feline tularemia from eating infected bunnies. It was going around Minnesota at the time. But while alive, she kept our yard well rid of the pests.)

This past week was the POLAR VORTEX. Yup. It was cold outside. D and M were home all week until Friday, and since we had just started new feeding therapy rules with M (no screens unless you earn it by eating your “power portion”) it was a stressful four days. I spent most of my time thinking up healthy meals for the kids with food that we already had in the house (My shopping hadn’t included Polar Vortex Holiday meal plans, and I wasn’t going out in THAT weather to get some new food!), monitoring the kids for a half hour every meal and 15 minutes every snack because of the “open / closed” kitchen rule, and trying to encourage M and D to entertain themselves instead of using me as a personal entertainment system. Yes, I’m willing to play games sometimes. But whining “nobody wants to play with meeeeeeee” over and over doesn’t make me want to play. lol

Last night, today, and tonight, I’m all alone with IL. D has some treasured alone time with her mom. Aaron and M are at Cub Scout Camp. My plan was to do all sorts of useful stuff that I couldn’t get done over the Polar Vortex Holiday. The house is figuratively trashed. (I had to imagine what a literally trashed house would look like for a moment there….hee hee) But I MAY end up taking the time to read and enjoy the quiet since everyone else is doing something fun and special.


I downloaded the Walk to Mordor App this week (available on iOS and Android). It lacks bells and whistles, but it has lovely goals along the way. Right now, I’m on my way to my encounter with the Black Riders. In case you’re wondering, the app designers decided it’s 1927 miles to Mordor from Bag End – at least the path that Frodo followed. Eventually, I want to do some real hiking to get some miles packed in, but for now, I’m stuck with a small car that won’t fit the stroller and a baby who refuses to be carried in one of those front carriers. When he’s big enough, hopefully he’ll agree to be carried in a hiking backpack. That’s not quite as tight as the front carrier for younger babies. I have made 10 miles since Thursday (by a 2000 steps per mile conversion). Which, according to my calorie-counting app tells me I’m low-active. That is: Polar Vortex active.

Currently Reading

Currently Reading

I may try to cram in some reading time this weekend – hopefully pumping through The Walking Dead before I need to return it to the library and wait another 4 months to get through the queue again. I’m really reading Gulliver’s Travels this time. I have told you I was was going to for a while, but have failed to actually follow through. (For one reason or another.) But this time I’m already a few hours in.



I’ve already finished the next Dresden book, even though the goal was one a month. I just needed some light reading after The Overstory. The Ranger’s Apprentice is another series I plan on completing this year, at the rate of about one per month. The first was excellent.

Update Week 50




Hey all! It’s been a while. I’ve just been too busy to have time to sit down to the computer, though I have lots of reviews to write, including two Shakespeare comedies. Yesterday, IL was baptized. There’s the lovely baptismal gown in the first picture. The second picture has (from left to right) Deacon Mark, Aaron (father), Nathan (Godfather), Me and IL, my dad, D, Liz (Godmother), M, and my mom. It was a beautiful ceremony.

We also learned to crochet since my last update.



The top picture is L and my friend Liz. The bottom is D (with Aaron playing on his phone in the background). Since then, Aaron has decided to teach himself to crochet. He’s already better at it than I am.

Since I last wrote, we also started feeding therapy with M. They gave a lot of suggestions for how to change our current routine. I will have to re-read the suggestions, but for now the most important are that we keep meal-time down to a certain amount of time, to get him into the habit of filling up his stomach during that time. Then he can’t eat until the kitchen is “open” again. We eat as a family, and all eat the same thing. We decided to allow dessert regardless of whether he eats anything at all, because we don’t want dinner to seem like something he suffers through in order to earn a prize. We also don’t want his reward centers in his brain to think snacks are more awesome than they really are. We are rotating who in the family chooses the dessert, so that he is introduced to new desserts. He gets 3 meals and two small snacks a day. Before he gets his second snack for the day, he gets a taste-testing where we expose him to a food that he may not want to eat and explore it through our various senses. I’m not sure I’m going to pull that playful exploration off as well as the occupational therapist and nutritionist. But we’ll see. I’ll let you know if he gains any weight.

Currently Reading

currently reading


currently reading


Update Week 48

Sunday was M’s first chess lesson, and he really enjoyed them. Since then, I’ve been letting him do chess puzzles on my phone (hopefully we can transfer to my Nook as soon as I can get the app on it) when he’s out of screen-time. I figure it’s still a screen (incentive) but he’s doing something productive (learning chess). Later that day, I took him to Into the Spiderverse, which was fantastic. I really suggest it to anybody who likes comics.

Tuesday, I had a couple of appointments, AND I cleaned the horrendous mouse-nest out of my parents kitchen. I hadn’t realized how bad it had gotten since I’d moved out. Since then, the cat has apparently been catching about three mice a day, so hopefully their mouse problem will be at an end soon. If they just go away, then they won’t have to deal with the cat, right? πŸ™‚

Anyway, the week was a series of appointments scattered around, with me trying to eek out some reading time as well as some time to do the necessary things of life. During some of my me time, I managed to finish The Hate U Give (movie), which was also fantastic. The ending was a bit different than in the book, but not different enough to change the basic spirit. Yesterday, Aaron took M snow tubing, paid for the entrance, and then M refused to even try. 😦 Aaron was pretty upset.

My mom got an a “walking EEG” which means she was all wired up but still able to move around freely. We’ll see if she’s been suffering any petit mal seizures. Those could have an effect on her memory. Also, D finally got her autism assessment. I still don’t think she has autism, and I think everyone else now agrees with me, too. But the assessor said that he’d have some interesting information regardless.

Planned for the weekend: today, D will cook us dinner. Which means that Aaron and I will spend the entire afternoon helping her cook dinner. We have decided I’ll take the make-the-shopping-list and the shopping part and he can take the cooking part. That will make accomplishing all the important things we have to do this weekend very difficult. Tomorrow, I will have a “girl’s day” with D and niece L. I’m also inviting my friend Liz, because I was already supposed to hang out with her when my sister suddenly sprung girl’s night on me. (She was planning on taking M and nephew B out for boy’s night, and L assumed I’d do the same with her and D.) I’m thinking we’ll do something craftsy. Maybe teach them to crochet? Can you teach a precocious 3yo to crochet? I don’t know how to crochet either, but Liz does.

P.S. M tells me that staring at a screen will rot my brain. I’m trying to explain the difference between doing something productive like composing a blog post and watching TV. He doesn’t believe me.

Reading this upcoming week

currently reading

This week, I hope to finish and review The Merchant of Venice (coming up on Tuesday). I’m starting The Ruins of Gorlan as a part of a year-long read of Ranger’s Apprentice series with a couple of friends. And I’m FINALLY listening to Overstory.

Completed this week


I finished two books this week: The Scarlet Letter and The One and Only Ivan. I watched three movies: Into the Spiderverse, The Hate U Give, and another version of Twelfth Night. All three were really good, though I preferred the other version of Twelfth Night that I watched a week or two ago.



Since I plan on reading these books soon, I broke down and ordered them on audible. It was one of those days when I wanted to start something light – then I went ahead and started Overstory anyway. lol

Thyroid Awareness Month

Well, if you’ve been following my weekly updates, you’ll know that my new baby was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. This was quite a shock at first, but I’m feeling much more sanguine about the situation now that I have talked to the endocrinologist and know that his meds are working.

A functional thyroid is necessary for brain development in the first 3 years of life, and babies with hypothyroidism can end up with varying levels of intelectual/developmental disability. Of course, I would like to do some research on the subject, and what would you expect me to do but look up some books?

Sadly, there really isn’t very much out there about pediatric hypothyroidism. Here’s the obvious choice:

These seem to be aimed at doctors, of course. Any other readers out there who want to find information about a medical condition, but finding it difficult?

Beyond These Walls, by Tony Platt


Summary: Dr Platt, a well-established criminologist, outlines the history and current state of incarceration in the US. He covers topics such as how women and minorities as overly-impacted by the harsh sentences, the overpopulated prisons, and the enforced deportations of documented and undocumented immigrants. He warns us that past efforts at reforming the system have actually resulted in changes for the worse. He urges that change needs to happen from the top down, rather than from the bottom up – in other words, we need to change how the people at the top think about incarceration, and not focus only on punishing the people at the bottom (i.e. cops and prison guards) for the failures of the system. He suggests that if we punished white collar crimes (especially those that affect thousands of people) with the same ferocity as crimes of the poor, then reform would happen faster – since the people who have power to do something about the problem will witness the problem first hand.

My Thoughts: I admit, at first I didn’t think I was going to like this book. It started out slow – detail-heavy, with too many statistics listed in sentence after sentence. However, I started getting more into the narrative by the second or third chapter, when Platt started including more information on each event spoken about, instead of just listing events. By the end of the book, I was quite enjoying the educational aspects of the book. This is a topic that I have read a bit on, but not extensively, so I can say that it is a good book for a lay-person trying to educate herself on the history of incarceration in the US. Platt’s views on how we got where we are today, and some of his suggestions of how to look at reform differently (i.e. from the top down and by putting more white-collar people in prison) are definitely food for thought. This is a well-researched book, with lots of important information. It’s not fast reading, but it is worthwhile.

four snowflakes

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. Their contribution did not affect the content of my review.