"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, August 3, 2015

TTT: Favorite retellings

Favorite Fairy Tale Retellings (with book trailers)

Top Ten Tuesday hosted by The Broke and Bookish.

1. The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress by Marissa Meyer
     Cinder-Cinderella; Scarlet-Little Red Riding Hood; Cress-Rapunzel; not yet published: Winter-Snow White all retold in a future world full of cyborgs, space ships, and lunar creatures. My students love this series.

2. Entwined by Heather Dixon
     Retelling of the Grimm Fairy tale "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." Very dark.

3. The Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maquire
     Retelling of several Russian fairy tales that include magical geese, a phoenix, mistaken identity. Very fun. By the author of WICKED.
(Not a book trailer, it is a one-minute teaser for the audiobook. Sign up to win, details below.)

4. The Book of Lost Things by John Connelly
     This book turns fairy tales on their heads. Everything you think you know about fairy tales is turned upside-down and backwards. This is a favorite book for sure.
No official book trailer available

5. Far, Far Away by Tom McNeal
      A retelling of Grimm's "Hansel and Gretel." Another favorite book!

6. Cloaked by Alex Finn
     A mash-up of over five rather obscure fairy tales. Good fun.
This trailer may not be official but it is fun, too.

7. Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
     A modern fairy tale based loosely on Greek Mythology. I didn't learn about this until after I red the book so now I want a reread to find all the similarities.
(No official book trailer available.)
8. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
     A retelling of 1,001 Arabian Nights. Book #1 in a new series. I just finished listening to the audiobook last week. No official book trailer is available.

9. Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
     A very popular retelling of Grimm's Goose Girl Fairy Tale. It is the first book in a series of four.
(I couldn't find an official book trailer.)
10. Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Retelling of Snow White and Rose Red. Very dark and complex.
This is NOT an official trailer for the book but it is pretty good. I warn you, it contains SPOILERS.

And drum roll for my favorite of all retellings...

11. Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Based on Celtic Mythology about the legend of eich uisce, deadly horses that come out of the sea.
Love it!!!!!
(If you watch only one trailer, watch this one. Maggie did the art and the music for it.)

Join my blogoversary give-away 
for an audiobook of the wonderful Russian Fairy Tale
Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire.
Follow the link here and sign up on the official page by making a comment and leaving your e-mail.
Click This Link!


Blogoversary Give-away. Enter to win.

It's My Head is Full of Books sixth blogoversary. Time to celebrate with a give-away.

If you enjoy listening to audiobooks.

If you enjoy fairy tale retellings.

If you enjoy anything Russian.

If you enjoy books by the author of Wicked, Gregory Maguire.

If you aren't sure about any of the above but you like winning free stuff.

Enter to win the audiobook of Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Listen to a four-minute preview of the audiobook here. Doesn't the reader have a magical voice?

Here's how to enter:

In the comment section below leave me a little note and include your name and email (make the email fancy so it can't be picked up by bots, but I will be able to contact you if you win.) International guests may join in the give-away, too. 

The audiobook contains regular audio CDs. It is recorded in English.

Enter by August 13, 2015 at noon, PDT

Good luck.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Salon, August 2nd

A male Anna's Hummingbird who guards our feeder keeping other hummingbirds away.
Weather: hot. The past few days have been record-breaking temperatures. Today there are high clouds and it is muggier than in the last few days. Everything is tinder-dry. There was a huge brush fire near an area high school yesterday and the smoke permeated the whole region.

Open House: Dan and Rita had an open house party this week to show off their new home and to celebrate Rita's Master's Degree and new job. Their house looked so cute and they have such big plans for the future. Congratulations, you two!

Wine Tasting: the Fellowship Committee at church hosted a wine tasting yesterday evening at our favorite place, Rainier View Winery. My friend JoLeigh and her husband Clay make the wines and have a little tasting room. For $6.50 we got to taste five wines. Usually I am all-over the sweet, berry wines but yesterday I was more interested in the drier reds. I bought a delicious Malbec bottle to share.

Mondays: Don's new schedule is 4 days a week, 10 hour days. Mondays are his new days off. For the summer we have decided to make this our exploration days. Tomorrow we will head to the Washington Coast for a day of cooler breezes and sandy feet. Generally temperatures are at least twenty degrees cooler at the coast. I always laugh when people on blogs talk about "beach reading" since it is the unusual day one can comfortably sit and read at the beach in Washington.

It's a job! Carly finally landed a job and will start working on August 10th. After making over 100 job applications she found a job as a receptionist at the hospital. It is not a dream job. She was really hoping for something doing medical research, but it gets her in the door. She will apply again for graduate schools in the Fall, hoping this new job will give her more experience to site on her resume.

Currently reading:
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr...(audiobook); This National Book Award finalist claims no neutral readers. People either love or hate it. We'll see which side I fall on
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson...(graphic novel); a side-kick to the evil supervillain keeps goofing up his plans. Parts are pretty silly but I am enjoying it.
Completed this week:
  • X: a novel by Ilaysah Shabazz...the early years of Malcolm X. Audiobook. An interesting and totally unknown to me, look at his early and formative years.
  • Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (e-book) A coming-of-age story about a young gay boy as he is forced to "come out" by circumstances. This book is getting a lot of love in the blogging world for good cause.
  • We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach...(Audiobook, YA) a large meteoroid is bearing down on earth and there is a 66% chance it will make contact and wipe out life on earth. These are the last few weeks before the "possible" end. 

Book Clubs: In both my book clubs this month we discussed two clunkers---The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (SOTH book club) was much less fun and lighthearted than the movie. We all liked the movie better, which is a rarity. Deep, Down, Dark (RHS book club) about the 33 Chilean miners trapped underground for 69 days. It was interesting but a bit too long for our liking and since it covered all 33 men, we all got confused about who did what and when. It was a good read, not such a good book club selection. Selecting good books for book club discussions is not as simple as just picking a well-liked book. Often those are the worst for discussions.

Rubber Biscuit: Yesterday as Don and I drove home we listened to an old CD of the Blue's Brothers (Dan Ackroyd and John Belushi) and we just laughed and laughed over this song: Rubber Biscuit. Like everything, I was able to find it on YouTube. Enjoy!

Paper Towns: Carly and I went to see the movie of John Green's Paper Towns this week. We liked it but both of us like the book better. Typical.

Years of Love: tonight we are celebrating with friends their 50th wedding anniversary. Such an accomplishment in today's society to not only stay married for 50 years but to stay in love for all those years, too. Congratulations, Jane and Bill!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Celebrate This Week: August 1st

Carly and Rita goofing around and celebrating sisterhood years ago. It is time to celebrate again.
This week I am celebrating the accomplishments of my daughters, Rita and Carly.

Rita obtained a Master's Degree in Education in June and secured a new teaching position as a middle grades math teacher 3 minutes from her home. For the past several years she has had to commute over 45 minutes to get to work. Yay for Rita!

Carly will be starting work as a receptionist at the hospital next week. This is not her dream job but a transition job, hoping to gain experience that will enhance her chances of getting into graduate school. Since April she has probably applied to over 100 jobs, an arduous task. Yay for Carly.

This post is part of the CELEBRATE This Week Link Up that Ruth Ayres hosts each Saturday. Click here to read more posts from the CELEBRATE Community, or click the little icon below.

Discover. Play. Build.

The Wrath and the Dawn audiobook

This last week I have finished listening to three audiobooks and I am working on my fourth. Some books are better (in my opinion) in the audio format because the voice actor can pronounce hard to pronounce words, like foreign words or made up words and places in fantasy books. They also can help build the tension by using their voice as any good story teller can do. The actor can bring humor or sadness to the text that may have been missed by the reader. The opposite can also be true. If the actor reads the text too slowly, mispronounces words, or doesn't understand the text they are reading it can really distract from the listening experience. I think the best example I can give is the time I tried to listen to one of Bill Bryson's book when he wasn't reading it. The voice actor just didn't get the timing of the jokes and didn't put the emphasis on the text where Bryson himself would have.

One of the audiobooks I finished this week was The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh and read by the actress Ariana Delwari who has roots in the Middle East. Her pronunciations were spot on, especially for the characters names which I would have stumbled over if reading the print edition. For this reason, I can recommend this format of the book.

The Wrath and the Dawn is an imaginative retelling of 1,001 Arabian Nights. In this book, as in the original, Shahrzad (Scheherazade) marries the wicked king who has been murdering all his brides after only one day, because she wants to exact revenge for the death of her friend and for all the innocent girls. She "buys" herself a one night reprieve by telling the king a story, promising she will finish it the next night. She continues to do this gaining one night at a time until the king issues a general order in which Shazi is not to be killed automatically the following day. Along the way she comes to admire, possibly love this tortured king. But does she come to this opinion too late?

The language of the book is rich, exotic, and colorful just like the land where it is set. We can easily picture the gossamer curtains, the jeweled headdresses, the plates full of delicious and dainty foods. When the wind picks up we can see in our mind Shahrzad's dark tresses whip about. We feel the tension in the palace caused by some unknown source. We want to know what it is that is making the king behave in such a monstrous way.

As I listened to The Wrath and the Dawn I was reminded how much I enjoyed the 1,001 Arabian Nights tales as a young girl. I must have had a young reader's edition because I remember reading them myself. I recall being swept up in the stories. In fact, I am determined to go back and read some of the tales again as soon as I can lay my hands on a book. It was this aspect of the book that I liked the best.

What I didn't care for, or even fully understand, was the weird love triangle between Shazi, an impulsive childhood friend, and the king. It was hard to understand how and why Shazi could change her allegiances so quickly. But my main beef with the book should be leveled at the publisher. I didn't know the book was the first book in a series. I thought it was a stand-alone book. No where on the CD case does it indicate being part of a series. As the tension was building I kept looking at the time left on the disc wondering how all the action would be resolved in such a short amount of time. Then BOOM it was over, ending on a huge cliff-hanger. Sigh. Be forewarned!

I guess I was living with my head in a hole, however. If I had just bothered to look around the Internet a bit I might have run into the interview with the author, Renee Ahdieh, where she said, "I'm working on edits for the second book in the series, tentatively titled The Rose and the Dagger. I really can't wait to share it with readers, and I feel so lucky to have people already awaiting the sequel. For any writer, that's a dream come true. As for details, I can promise sword fights, swooning, and a possible tear or two!" (Huffington Post). 

I predict this is going to be a very popular book in my library this Fall. When I peeked at the reviews for it on Goodreads I could hear the actual swooning. Ha!

My rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

30 books Summer Reading Challenge

23 / 30 books. 76% done!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Friday Quotes: All the Light We Cannot See

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.
Check out the links for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't select their favorite, coolest, or most intellectual books, they just use the one they are currently reading. This is the book I'm reading right now: 

Book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Book Beginnings:  
Leaflets: At dusk they pour from the sky. They blow across the ramparts, turn cartwheels over rooftops, flutter into ravines between houses. Entire streets swirl with them, flashing white against the cobbles. Urgent message to the inhabitants of this town, they say. Depart immediately to open country.
Friday 56: 
Not so long ago the Hotel of Bees was a cheerful address, with bright blue shutters on its facade and oysters on ice in its cafe and Breton waiters in bow ties polishing glasses behind the bar.
Comments: It seems like I am the last person alive to read this book, and I only just started it. Some have liked it, others not. If you have read it, please comment about why you liked it/did not like it. If you haven't read it, please let me know in the comment section what you think of the two quotes. I confess to already be in love with the language.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

True-Crime writer, Ann Rule, has died

Ann Rule. Photo source: Seattle Times.
Ann Rule, the true-crime writer who became well-known for her book about Ted Bundy, A Stranger Beside Me, has died. She was 83. Here is the Seattle-Times story about her death.

Ann Rule wrote several other true-crime books mainly exposing the lives and motivations of serial killers in the Northwest. Her books were meticulously researched yet also quite readable.

I grew up in the days before Ted Bundy started stalking college campuses, kidnapping, and killing young coeds. In those days young women were allowed to walk home from events without fear of being attacked or worse. Then Ted Bundy went on his rampage and everything changed. The world no longer seemed safe for women. He eventually confessed to raping and killing 30 women in seven states between 1974-78. During that time Ann Rule knew Ted Bundy. They worked together on a crisis hotline. After his arrest, she was in a unique position to write about him, since she knew him. The resulting book, The Stranger Beside Me, was published in 1980. It not only described the crimes but also delved into Bundy's childhood, looking for motivations for his actions. Ann Rule said she wrote this way because people are fascinated by "the need to know."

The first book I read by Rule, Small Sacrifices, tells about a mother, Diane Downs, who tried to kill her three children in attempt to get them out of her way so she could start a new relationship with a man. Diane Downs was from Springfield, the town right next to where I lived. We followed the few details we could get from the news then devoured Ann Rule's book for the full scoop.

My mother-in-law and sister-in-law enjoyed reading Ann Rule books so much they attended seminars taught by her and purchased all her books. Rule had a huge following. I read several of her books before I decided I'd had enough of serial murderers. Nonetheless I am saddened at her passing.

Monday, July 27, 2015

TTT: Literary Characters Who Love Books and Reading

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Characters Who Love Books and Reading
TTT hosted by Broke and Bookish

1. Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

2. Scout Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

3. A.J. Fikry in The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

4. Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series
Hermione - Quote Silhouette -- by:   GTRichardson  --  Piece 3 of 7 In Harry Potter Series of images.

5. Hazel Grace in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

6. Clay from Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

7. Daniel Sempere in The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

8. Liesel in The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

9. Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

10. Anne Shirley from The Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery

11. Cather in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

12. Alaska in Looking for Alaska by John Green

I only included books I have actually read. Can you think of some other literary bookworms?

Sunday Salon (on Monday) Reunion Edition

Corvallis High School Class of 1975 reunion
Weather: A storm moved through the area yesterday with heavy rains and thunder/lightning. This morning it is hard to tell what will happen.

What a week! My sister's 60th birthday involved a raft trip down the McKenzie River in Oregon; plays in Ashland at Shakespearean Festival; and a birthday party breakfast followed three days later by a birthday party luncheon. In between I attended my 40th high school reunion in Corvallis. And to get everywhere involved lots of driving.
Here we are getting ready to head out on our rafting adventure.
Raft trip: My sister arranged and invited seven of us to join her on a float down the beautiful McKenzie River in Oregon which involved a few whitewater stretches. It was very scenic and serene most of the time. It felt like we had the river to ourselves for most of the ten-mile trip.
Elizabethan Theater at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. Photo source Destination360.
Ashland: Plays, plays, plays. Ashland, Oregon is host to a huge Oregon Shakespeare Festival every year. They have three theaters and run a dozen or more plays through them on a rotating basis. The first night we were there we say "Head Over Heels" which was a world premiere musical and a mash up of Arcadia, an epic poem written in Shakespeare's day, and music from the Go-Go's, a pop band from the 1980s. It was good fun. This was performed in the large outdoor Elizabethan Theatre. (See photo.) The next day we attended a matinee in the smaller Thomas Theatre, "The Happiest Song Plays Last."
Both plays were excellent and so different. After the matinee I jumped in the car and raced north to join my high school classmates for a reunion. My daughter stayed behind with her cousin and aunt. They saw two more plays: "Guys and Dolls" and "Much Ado About Nothing."

40th Reunion: I graduated high school in 1975 with around 270 other students. This past weekend around 70 of us gathered for a reunion. I haven't done a good job staying in touch with most of my old classmates but it was very fun reuniting for a weekend of reminiscing and updating.
One of the stained glass windows depicting life of Christ
Pipe organ and rose window at Corvallis First Methodist

Spiritual homecoming: We haven't been back to Corvallis for years since my parents moved away in 1984. As we were driving around town on Saturday before the reunion dinner, Don and I went past the church I attended all the years I lived in Corvallis and where we were married. We decided to attend services the next day. As we entered the sanctuary I was bowled over by the rush of memories. The organist was playing something on the pipe organ, the familiar stained glass windows telling the story of Jesus's life, the beautiful wood benches and ceiling just swept me up. I was returning to my spiritual home where I first experienced God in a real way. I turned to Don and noticed that he too was "misting over" as he was remembering the place where we married. One of my best friend's mother and father came and sat with us, so a few folks remembered this gal who found her spiritual footing in this place over forty years ago.

Books this week:
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee...very controversial but I recommend folks read it. Please check out my review which includes some historical information from the time period in which it was written.
  • The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh...I didn't realize it was the first book in a series. Boy did it leave us on a cliff-hanger. (Audiobook)
Currently reading:
  • X: a novel by Ilaysah Shabazz...the early years of Malcolm X. Audiobook. I listened to this on the parts of the trip when I was in the car alone. (Page 307 of 348)
  • Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (e-book) (page 112 of 337)
Drive home: after leaving Corvallis I had to drive south to Eugene to pick up Carly who came up from Ashland with my sister and her husband earlier in the day. My mom hosted a birthday luncheon and then we headed north right into heavy traffic. The trip took over an hour longer than usual to get home. Don had a light dinner waiting for us and we fell into bed. It was a long, but rewarding week!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Liebester Award

I was awarded another award this week, this one by Paein and MS4Tune. Thank you for this honor. Some of the questions are quite silly but I had fun. I am supposed to award these to ten other blogs, but instead I encourage my readers to grab the questions and have fun with them, too.
  1. What is your favorite classic novel? Why is it your favorite?
    Pride and Prejudice. There is just something about the story that appeals to me.
  2. For some reason, the universe is feeling generous and everyone gets $10,000 next weekend to go anywhere in their respective countries. Where would you go?
    Alaska. I've only been once and saw very little of our 49th state. I want to see more.
  3. Have you ever seen a shooting star? Did you make a wish? Care to share? Did it come through?
    Yes. I'm sure I did when I was a child but I don't remember what I wished for.
  4. What’s your favorite type of blog post to write?
    Book reviews.