Sunday Lowdown #118


This week was my birthday, and to answer your question before you ask, yes, I did get my Ninja Golf! birthday cake. The employees continued to act like I am a nutbar, but whatever. Here she is:

Such angry little eyebrows

I proceeded to spend the whole next day giving way cake to neighbors, which was loads of fun for me.

Biscuit (and my dad by proxy, lol) ordered me birthday tickets to see Alison Bechdel doing a virtual reading, and the price includes a signed copy of Bechdel’s newest book. If that name sounds familiar, Bechdel is the cartoonist who came up with the Bechdel Test.

Nick gifted me a bevvy of things: an Alfred Hitchcock jigsaw puzzle, a Pusheen card game, flash cards for ASL, Twizzlers, and a game called Unstable Unicorns (which I think Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku would appreciate).

Several people texted to say hello — more so than I remember from past years! — and I wonder if the pandemic has somehow influenced us to reach out more.

I also received a package in the mail just yesterday from the lovely Roshni (a former book blogger) that held a personalized address stamp. Our relationship developed into letter writing shortly after we met online, so it’s a thoughtful gift of her to send.


Some of you are more familiar with Chavisa Woods’s writing, especially her memoir 100 Times. I hope folks will give her novel, The Albino Album, a chance, as it takes a lot of imagination to write an epic that includes so many wonderful and varied characters of different nationalities, races, genders, sexuality, politics, income, religions. Just something intriguing for everyone, and I confess I think about this book a lot.

Once Upon Another Time by Pat Ballard could have been polished up in places and done a bit differently in some areas, but overall the time travel-western-romance was still interesting and got me hooked after I pushed through the unenthusiastic first chapter.


I’m pretty excited to share my review of Lantana Lane by Eleanor Dark, an Australian writer. It’s basically a novel made of a collection of comic stories in which you get to know a bunch of folks who were never meant to be farmers trying to make the land bend to their will, especially with pineapple (???) crops. Check it out Tuesday.

Invisible by Jeanne Bannon is a young adult novel starring a fat teen who starts to literally disappear when she is upset. The book came out in 2011, so a few years before the craze around fat characters in YA novels like Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. Review Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 220

Thanks to Emily @ Literary Elephant for her recommendation!


  1. Happy birthday! I’m glad you got your cake πŸ™‚ Unstable Unicorns is a great game – if you enjoy it and you haven’t already played Exploding Kittens (which is by the same company) then I recommend that as well!

    Lantana Lane sounds fun, so I look forward to reading your review of it later on this week.


    • I have played Exploding Kittens! I also have Bears vs. Babies, which is lots of fun. I thought Unstable Unicorns looked very The Oatmeal-ish, but didn’t see his name on the box.

      Thank you for the birthday wishes ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, I keep seeing Made in China, I ought to give that a go although it will be upsetting to read, I’m sure. But necessary. Some great incomings, actually!


    • I was telling Emily, who recommended Made in China, that I am able to distance myself from nonfiction because I read for more information and then act if I can. It’s the fiction of horrible situations that really upset me because the author needs to make me feel something, and I DON’T WANNA feel that much. Plus, I often feel helpless after truly dark fiction.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy Birthday, Melanie! That’s a great picture of you with your cake. And I have to say, Nick has good taste in gifts – all things I would like!


  4. Well, happy birthday to you. Love the cake. So pretty. Love the variety of gifts you were given too. Is the Alfred Hitchcock jigsaw puzzle of him or? I do like a good puzzle.

    Of course, I’m looking forward to the Lantana Lane review which is a book I’d love to read too.

    BTW, Besides getting presents and cake, did you DO anything special for your birthday?


    • Thanks Sue! Well, in the U.S. right now there is no “doing” because we still have COVID issues. I know the Australian bloggers talk about meeting with family, friends, etc. I did video chat with my parents, brother, his wife and their kids. Okay, that’s not fair to say. My brother sat on the couch and literally tipped over and didn’t wake up the whole time. This is how I learned he has sleep apnea, which… that I think about it, doesn’t surprise me.

      The Hitchcock puzzle is a dew images of him in different scenarios. I love Hitchcock, especially Rebecca. I know most folks go right for Psycho, but his early work is lovely.

      I’m hoping you’ll pick up Lantana Lane after you read my review!


  5. Happy Birthday! I’m glad you got your cake (and got to share!) I am also loving what looks like a Their Eyes Were Watching God t-shirt!

    Made in China was added to my TBR as well this week after Emily’s review!


  6. Happy Birthday, fellow Taurus! My birthday is today. πŸ™‚

    I think your cake is cute but I don’t know who she is.

    We don’t have the unicorn game but we have all the Kittens games (we’re obsessed with them) and the Throw Throw Burrito, which is great fun, and we just got Tacocat. We love those game creators!


  7. Woo! Happy (belated) Birthdayyy! πŸ˜€
    Sounds like a very lovely birthday! ❀ Aw, that Pusheen game sounds adorable. I love Pusheen. We have Unstable Unicorns too but we haven't gotten to play it yet.


  8. Happy (belated) birthday!! πŸ™‚ I hope the cake was as delightful as it looks and the gifts as fun as they sound!
    Best of luck with Made in China (and thank you for the shout-out). I hope you’ll find it as impactful a read as I did.


    • I can’t wait to play the new games Nick got for me. We’ve been quite busy lately and haven’t gotten there yet. I plan to start the Hitchcock puzzle after we finish our ASL course. We’re required to wait two months before we can sign up for the next course.

      Liked by 1 person

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