"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=========

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Friday Quotes: ON THE COME UP

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

The book I just finished reading (with a short review)...

Title: ON THE COME UP by Angie Thomas

Book Beginnings: 
I might have to kill somebody tonight.
Friday 56: 
I stop. The crowd is going bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S!
Summary: Bri wants to be a rapper like her late father who didn't quite make it big before he was murdered. She's like to make it great or at least get out of her neighborhood which seems like a big dream. Then her mother loses her job, they have to get food from a food pantry, and the heat and lights have been turned off. Now Bri wants to make it big to help her family. To begin with she has to get invited to compete in the Ring. The quote from book beginnings is Bri daydreaming that she gets that invitation to rap in the ring that night, but she hasn't got the call, yet. The Friday 56 quote shows the crowds reaction after she finishes her rap. They go bananas. This is only the beginning of what Bri hopes will be a big career in rap.

Review: Angie Thomas burst onto the YA lit scene two years ago with her book THE HATE U GIVE. She is a phenomenal writer and gives the reader a realistic view of life in an impoverished community where most of the people are people of color. In both books I felt like I was reading about a another culture, it was so foreign to me. Thomas brilliantly lets her readers experience the hopes, joys, and challenges of Bri and her family without blinking. At one point in the story Bri's mother exclaims that she is being accused of being poor, as if poverty is a sin. That really hit me since so often people living in poverty are treated as if they are sinners. Bri is a very flawed character, but what teen isn't a mess of maturity and immaturity? Sometimes I just wanted to shake her for the decisions she made. And the language, oh the language. Be prepared for lots of swearing and slang.

On the Come Up has earned six starred trade reviews, which is almost unheard of. I think it deserved all the hype though as the dialogue is so authentic, the plot so realistic, and the character growth appreciable. Several reviewers have criticized the book for trying to tackle too many topics (poverty, drugs, family dysfunction, gang affiliation, school issues, profiling, rap music, friendship problems, and sexual orientation.) Reading over the list, it does sound like a lot but I think it is very possible that a high school student might have to deal with a whole plethora of issues every year. I recommend the book highly.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Top Literary Characters I'd Like for Best Friends

Top Ten Tuesday at Artsy Reader Girl
What Literary Characters Would I Like for Best Friends?
Note to reader:  My best friend in high school was male.  In fact, we are still great friends.  So while making my selection of potential best friends from the literary world I did not think it necessary to select same gender characters.  This list is in random order.

Additions from 2019-
  • Andy (An Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green)- Andy and April May discover the original Carl, a visitor from another planet. While April May's fame goes to her head and she has a hard time coping with instant fame, Andy remains constant and calm. Points for being loyal, calm, and kind.
  • Raymond (Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman)-Eleanor has worked for the same company for years yet she has no friends and weekends are a miserable time for her, until Raymond, the slovenly I.T. guy invites her to do things with him and helps her come out of her shell and get the help she needs to recover her mental health. Points for thoughtfulness, kindness, and willingness to be friends for the long-haul.
  • Sam (When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore)- Sam and Miel are best friends and they have to navigate a world dominated by the lovely yet wicked witches, the Bonner Girls. Sam protects and loves deeply despite so many dramas and secrets. Points for devotion.
  • Malcolm Polstead (La Belle Savage, The Book of Dust #1 by Philip Pullman)- noticed suspicious activity around the convent where the baby, Lyra, was hidden. Malcolm saved Lyra and delivered her safely, against all odds, to her father. Points for bravery
  • Travis and Lydia (The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner)- Dill is a senior about to graduate. Travis and Lydia are his only friends. This book is really the story of devoted friends who want what is best for each other but friends can't always save us. Points for being the kind of friends that everyone needs.
  • Hermione, Ron, Luna, and a host of characters (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)-Need I say more?
This is a re-post, my original list posted in 2010.
  • Quentin "Q" Jacobsen (Paper Towns by John Green)- Q is completely devoted to his neighbor and friend, Margo Ross Spiegelman.  When she goes missing he dedicates all his efforts to finding her.  Points for loyalty and stick-to-it-ness.
  • Gonzo (Going Bovine by Libba Bray)-Gonzo is the death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf who is friend and side-kick to Cameron when he goes on his epic journey to save the world.  When everyone else disappoints, Gonzo stays by his side to the end.  Points for loyalty to the mission.
  • Stargirl (Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli)- Stargirl is the eccentric new girl in town who is willing to show her courage by not conforming to the normal teenage standards and behaviors.  In the process, she brings out the best in many people.  Points for uniqueness and being willing to go it alone, if need be.
  • Corrigan (Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann)- The Irish monk who is willing to set himself aside and lovingly tend to the needs to the down-trodden.  Points for giving of self.
  • DJ Schwenk (Dairy Queen series by Catherine Murdock)-DJ an athletic girl who knows and appreciates hard work on her family's dairy farm.  She is very talented yet she is humble and loyal to her friends and family. Points for not letting her talents go to her head and for loving her family even when it isn't cool to do so.
  • Katsa (Graceling by Kristin Cashore)-Katsa is "graced" with the skills to protect and to kill yet she is loyal to her friends and fights on the side of good and justice.  Points for loyalty and good use of gifts.
  • Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen)- Her maturity in the face of family disasters and her willingness to do what is right for her family even if it means she has to hide her own sorrows makes her a worthy friend.  Points for being calm and caring.
  • Karl Shoemaker (Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes)-Honestly, if you are a reader of my blog and you haven't read this book yet, you must! Karl is friend to all the members of the Madman Underground.  He is always rescues, listens, gives, drives, does what it takes to make sure his friends are OK. Points for devotion and determination.
  • Marcus aka wln5t0n (Little Brother by Cory Doctorow)-Marcus gets swept up and arrested in a terrorist event in SF.  When he finally gets free, he uses his knowledge of technology to expose the Homeland Security's techniques as illegal.  He also devotes much effort to freeing his friends, still in prison.  Points for using gifts of technology information to fight the good fight.
  • Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery)-Mark Twain proclaimed that Anne Shirley is the most delightful, moving heroine. Points for her romantic soul, her idealism, and her adventurous spirit.
  • Ed Kennedy (I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak)-Ed starts off in the book as a ne'er-do-well but all that changes when he thwarts a bank robbery and becomes the Messenger.  As he accomplishes his messenger tasks, he grows and matures.  Points for being an all-around good guy.
  • Jem Finch (To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee)-Scout's older brother who actually attempts to fight off an adult who is attacking his sister.  Points for being loyal and kind, even to his younger sister.
  • Lucy Pevensie (The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis)-Lucy is my favorite of the four Pevensie children who enter the magical Narnia.  She loves Aslan and reminds her family of his love for them.  Points for being such a kind and gentle person.
  • Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien)- Sam is possibly the most well known "best friend" in the literary world.  He stayed by Frodo's side through all the trials on his epic journey.  Points for being the best friend a person could want and for being strong when Frodo was weak.
  • Piglet (Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A. Milne)
Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  “Pooh,” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw, “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

How about you?  Do you know any literary characters you would like to have for a best friend? 


Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday Salon: August 11, 2019

A lizard so intent on capturing a butterfly he let the photographer get quite close. (Credit: Don Bennett)
Weather: Overcast with a few rain showers, temperature is in the high 60s. It is unusual summer weather. Friday night we had a thunderstorm, also unusual for the Pacific NW.

A view of the Deschutes River near Eagle Crest. (Credit: Don Bennett)
Eagle Crest: Last week my family (minus daughter #2) joined my mom and my sisters for a vacation at Eagle Crest outside of Redmond in Central Oregon. The weather was lovely, not too hot like it can get this time of year. We swam, golfed, walked, played games, read books, and ate. Nature was a theme for the week, as you see from the photos on this post. The two pics above were taken during our trip by my hubby, who has a talent for photography even if it is only using his phone.

Mom and her daughters in front of her childhood home in Bend, Oregon (Credit: Rock Ruddy)

A walk down memory lane: My mother, who turned 90 last March, grew up in Central Oregon and always feels at home when we vacation near her old home. All week Mom guided her daughters, their spouses, and her granddaughter down memory lane as she talked about what it was like growing up in Bend during the 1930s and 40s. One evening she decided to host us for a dinner at the Pine Tavern where she and Dad celebrated their wedding reception back in 1951. As my sister drove the car, Mom tried to guide Kathy to the restaurant by saying things like, "Turn right after the street where the Pilot Butte Hotel used to be." My younger sister, Grace, and I were sitting in the back seat trying to muffle our laughter. How was Kathy supposed to know where the hotel USED to be? After dinner we drove past mom's old house and found it was for sale. Mom, the friendliest person ever born, got us an invitation to go in for a tour by the current owners. They remembered her from a previous visit and it was so nice to see how the house has been remodeled. A few days later Kathy and I escorted Mom to the church she attended as a child and where her parents were members until they died. Mom stood up during the service and introduced herself and said she would dearly love to talk to anyone who remembered her or her parents. It seemed unlikely that anyone would remember her since she's 90 and not many people live to that age. But sure enough, an old man approached mom and told her his name. Mom used to babysit him when she was in junior high and he was in elementary school. It was a precious moment for both of them.

A view of Elk Lake and Mt. Bachelor from the cabin. (Credit: Anne Bennett)
Saying goodbye: On Thursday of the vacation week the family jumped into three cars and drove 50 miles to a small mountain lake where my family has vacationed for decades. The cabin on Elk Lake is owned by old friends and a timely crease between their family visits allowed us to spend a whole day on the lake without impacting them. While there we held a brief personal memorial service for Dad, who loved Elk Lake so much. After sharing memories, and singing a few songs we spread some of his ashes in and near the lake. My daughter and son-in-law even rowed the kayak out to the old favorite fishing hole and sprinkled a few of his ashes there. It is lovely to think of Dad's spirit at Elk Lake forever.

Ian enjoying music played by "Ga" (Grandpa) [Credit: Kathy Kingsbury]
The wisdom of Ian: When you hear music you like, dance to it and ask for more. (Photo: Don is playing a guitar we found at the cabin and Ian danced and danced. Later the family sang the blessing before dinner and Ian kept asking us to sing it again and again. Such joy!)

Reader's dilemma:  I have too many books to read (consume) within the window of time I can have the books. Argh! Why does this always happen? I just got notified that Overstory (e-book) has been checked out to me by the library. I read a portion of the book back in June but wasn't able to finish it before it was due back. I have less than three weeks to finish it or back to the library it goes and back in line I go. Earlier this past week, I checked out a print edition of an upcoming book club selection, Daisy Jones and the Six. It is a special 'Lucky Day' book which means I get it for three weeks only and can't renew it. In addition, I'm listening to an audiobook, On the Come Up, which I've requested three times from the library and finally have time to start it. But then the library sent me the link to another book club selection, the audiobook for Astoria. I can't listen to two books at the same time so I am sure that one book will be returned to the library unfinished. Sigh!

Books finished since my last Sunday Salon: 
  • The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom. Albom is a favorite author and his books usually contain some spiritual aspect. This book is no exception. Print.
  • The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. A collection of over twenty vignettes of one summer's activities of a grandmother and her granddaughter on an island off of Finland. Translated to English. E-book.
  • Sadie by Courtney Summers. This YA book, published last year, has lots of rave reviews. I liked the book, too, but it deals with the very disturbing subject of pedophilia. Audiobook.
  • Red Bird Poems by Mary Oliver. Published in 2008, I found a lot in this small collection of poems which spoke to me and to the politics of today. Print.
  • Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay. Another YA book, this one set in Philippines. It addresses President Duterte's killing squads which have surprisingly a lot of support from the Filipino people. Print.
Very disturbed by racism in full view: This past week's shootings and the rhetoric coming from the White House and elsewhere is so racist and ugly. We must not stand for it. I recommend you watch the Rick Steves' special about how fascists came to power in Germany. This is a very thoughtful program which makes many good points to consider.Watch the trailer and then see if you can find the full program available on your cable or streaming service.


Saturday, August 10, 2019

Review: Red Bird Poems by Mary Oliver

Red Bird by Mary Oliver is another small collection of poems by my favorite poet. It was published in 2008 which makes it even more poignant knowing what happened that year...the economic crash and the election of our first Black President.

The title poem "Red Bird" reminds us to appreciate what we are given. Here the poet is grateful for the colorful little bird who colors the landscape in winter. "Red bird came all winter/firing up the landscape/as nothing else could." Just this past week I took a walk on a very dry, dusty trail. The  color palette was just versions of brown and green when all the sudden I was stopped cold by a profusion of yellow. It was a flower blooming despite the odds. What a gift.

As is often the case, Oliver urges us to stop and see what we may have overlooked before. In the poem "Invitation" to we are urged to  "...linger/for just a little while/out of your busy/and very important day/for the goldfinches/that have gathered/in a field of thistles/for a musical battle." And if we do listen to her advice to "...not walk by/without pausing/to attend to this/rather ridiculous performance.//It could mean something./It could mean everything. It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:/You must change your life." Oliver's advice to change our life always means to slow down and appreciate what is right before us.

My favorite poem in the collection, "Percy and Books (Eight)" is a humorous conversation between the poet and her dog, starting with the line, "Percy does not like it when I read a book." He wants to be out in the sun and the wind, playing with other dogs. After she counters with the values associated with reading, he answers, "Books? says Percy, I ate one once, and it was enough. Let's go." Percy, apparently, provided the poet with lots of inspiration. In "Percy (Nine)" the poet tells her dog that a friend is coming to visit and he runs to the door with his mouth in a "laugh-shape." At this point Oliver stops to contemplate Emerson's advice to live an examined life, but throws it off by asking, "How would it be to be Percy...not/thinking, not weighing anything, just running forward?" Dogs and young children are good reminders to enjoy the special moments in each day.

The longest titled poem in the collection is the shortest poem. It is very pertinent for today:

Watching a Documentary about Polar Bears Trying to Survive on the Melting Ice Floes

That God had a plan, I do not doubt.
But what if His plan was, that we would do better?

"Of the Empire" is the most pointed poem in the collection. It talks about how history will remember us for our poor treatment of most people so that the rich can have everything they want. We will be remembered for the ways we used politics "to accommodate the feelings of the heart, and that the heart, in those days, was small, and hard, and full of meanness." Ouch. That was true in 2008 and even more so today in 2019, when our President is full of racial hatred and his policies put children in detentions worse than any prison.

But Oliver does not leave us in complete despair. In another short poem, "Where are you?" she reminds us there is a way out:

Where are you?
Do you know that the heart has a dungeon?
Bring light! Bring light!

And Percy offers one more piece of advice:

I Ask Percy How I Should Live My Life (Ten)

Love, love, love, says Percy.
And run as fast as you can
along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust

Then go to sleep.
Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.

We've got to trust that God has this and has us, otherwise we can give ourselves over to despair. In the end all that matters is love.

In conclusion, Oliver closes her collection with the poem "Red Bird Explains Himself." Red Bird tells us that he is sent to teach our hearts that "...the body needs a song, a spirit, a soul."

Thank you, Mary Oliver, for reminding me of these truths today.


Friday, August 9, 2019

Friday Quotes: Patron Saints of Nothing

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

The book I'm reading now (with a short review)...

Title: Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay

Book Beginnings: 
It was a day of soil, sunlight, and smoke.
Friday 56: 
'Pasalubong for the balikbayan boxes,' he explains.
Comment:   The book begins with a memory of the last time Jay visits his father's family in the Philippines. He remembers all the details including the dead puppy and how his cousin, Jun, comforted him after he found it. The book also contains a lot of words and Filipino cultural references throughout. The quote from page 56 is an example how the Tagalog words are incorporated into the text. Here the father is preparing boxes of Costco goodies for Jay to take to his father's family when he goes to the Philippines in a few days.

Summary: Jay is Filipino-American, living with his parents and siblings in Michigan, when he learns that his cousin, Jun, was killed by Duterte's killing squads in the Philippines for being on drugs. Jay is certain that his cousin wasn't a drug addict and he wants to investigate what really happened so he asks his parents if he can go to visit the family in the Philippines in hopes of discovering the truth. He does learn the truth, eventually, but learns a lot about himself and his culture along the way.

Review: I have heard of Duterte and his killing squads through the news, but I didn't know that a majority of Filipinos support the killings because they believe that they are ridding the country of a terrible scourge. I also have many friends and relatives who have family in the Philippines so my interest was high to learn more about the culture and the Tagalog language. The hook, the mystery of what happened in the death of Jun, was a good tool for introducing many aspects of Filipino culture, words, foods, and history into the story.  For example, Filipinos have patron saints for everything, thus the title of book relates to the culture. In the end Jay learns much about himself and is able to look toward the future in a positive way. I recommend this book, which has earned three trade magazine starred reviews, to anyone who wants to learn more about the Philippines or likes reading about other cultures.


Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Author Toni Morrison has died

Toni Morrison receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012 (Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Toni Morrison- February 18, 1931 to August 5, 2019.

Toni Morrison, author of eleven novels about the black experience, has died and the world, along with this blogger, is mourning today.

Here are a few morsels I have gleaned about this towering author today as I prepared to write this post:
  • Toni Morrison won the 1993 Nobel Laureate in literature. The Nobel Academy said that her novels were "characterized by visionary force and poetic import." And that she "gives life to an essential aspect of the American experience."
  • "Her prose, often luminous and incantatory, rings with the cadences of black oral tradition. Her plots are dreamlike and nonlinear, spooling backward and forward in time as though characters bring the entire weight of history to bear on their every act" (NYT).
  • Her novel BELOVED won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. It is an eye-opening novel about the experiences of American slaves and the ghosts that haunt all of us because of the travesty known as slavery. I could even get students to read this one, when they tended to avoid books they thought of as too schoolish, because of the ghosts!
  • Her novel THE BLUEST EYE broke my heart. It was my first Morrison novel and the first she ever published. It is so impactful.
  •  In addition to her eleven novels, she wrote many children's books and essays. After the election of Donald Trump in 2016 she wrote an essay, published in the New Yorker, titled "Making America White Again" (New Yorker).
  • Unlike most authors Toni Morrison's books were met with critical and commercial success. She was also featured often on the Oprah Winfrey show, which, of course, helped increase her popularity.
  • The Guardian newspaper printed an article today called "Toni Morrison-A Life in Quotes" (Guardian). I recommend that you hop over to their website and read it. The quotes will give you a fuller picture of this marvelous author who made no bones about being a black author, writing about the black experience. In one quote she says that she wrote for black people because she couldn't relate to Tolstoy as a fourteen-year-old black girl growing up in Ohio. "I don’t have to apologize or consider myself limited because I don’t [write about white people.] –  The point is not having the white critic sit on your shoulder and approve it."
  • About racism, a topic very much in the news again today, Morrison said, "The function, the very serious function of racism is distraction. It keeps you from doing your work. It keeps you explaining, over and over again, your reason for being."
  •  Before she was an author, Morrison was a editor for Random House. She worked very hard to find black authors, to increase the canon of black literature. She recognized that most black entertainers were writing for white audiences. She wanted to find writers who would write for a black audience.
A documentary about her life and her influence on literature is likely playing in a theater near you today. I went to see it and was moved beyond words. What this woman has done for the literary world is astonishing. Go see it if you can.  The Pieces I Am trailer:

Thank you, Ms. Morrison, for your bold voice. It was needed and is still needed in the world today. Rest in peace.


Monday, August 5, 2019

TTT: Book cover redesigns which will make you want to read the books again

Top Ten Tuesday: Cover redesigns that are so wonderful you'll want to pick them up and (re)read the book.

1. Pride and Prejudice (Penguin Classics)

2. Emma (Penguin Classics)

3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Scholastic, 20th anniversary)

4. Scarlet Letter (Penguin Classics)

5. Black Beauty (Penguin Classics)

6. Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics)

7. Great Expectations (Penguin Classics)

8. The Complete Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe (Signet Classics)

9. Anne of Green Gables (Penguin UK)

10. Alice in Wonderland (Barnes and Noble)

11. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (not a book cover, but it should be. Available as a poster)


Tuesday, July 30, 2019

TTT: Books which make me appreciate nature more

Top Ten Tuesday: 
Books that have increased my knowledge and/or appreciation of nature

1. RED BIRD Poems by Mary Oliver
I am currently reading this little volume of poems published in 2008. Oliver always make me walk out the door with a new appreciation of nature and new eyes to with which to see.  Here is a small word of advice for today---
Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

2. FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver
This novel deals with the results of global warming on one creature: the monarch butterfly.
“For scientists, reality is not optional.”

3. LAB GIRL by Hope Jahren
Ms. Jahren is a scientist who studies plants, especially trees. My heart opened to a new language, the language of plants, as I read this memoir.
“Each beginning is the end of a waiting. We are each given exactly one chance to be. Each of us is both impossible and inevitable. Every replete tree was first a seed that waited.”

4. OVERSTORY by Richard Powers
This Pulitzer prize winner is described as a "paean to the natural world." It is also about how humans can help resist the downfall of nature.
  “To be human is to confuse a satisfying story with a meaningful one, and to mistake life for something huge with two legs. No: life is mobilized on a vastly larger scale, and the world is failing precisely because no novel can make the contest for the world seem as compelling as the struggles between a few lost people.”

5. MARTIN MARTEN by Brian Doyle
This quirky book set in a small community on the foothills of Mt. Hood opened my eyes to the unknown specialness of a certain animal I've never thought of before---the pine marten.
“It’s wrong to say that animals do not feel what we feel; indeed, they may feel far more than we do and in far different emotional shades.” 

After reading this novel I dearly wanted to visit a marsh before they are all gone.
“Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”

Extinction is forever and this book is about how a bird, the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, went extinct. Can we prevent it from happening to other birds, species?
Audubon's illustration of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker. This is all the world has left of this magnificent bird.
8. THE LORAX by Dr. Seuss
My first book about conservation. It should have been a warning to us all. Heed Dr. Seuss's words.

9.  A THOUSAND MORNINGS Poems by Mary Oliver
Poetry speaks to my need for more nature. Lucky I am on vacation is a very nature-full setting.
From the poem Hum, Hum

"The resurrection of the morning.
The mystery of the night.
The hummingbird's wings.
The excitement of thunder.
The rainbow in the waterfall.
Wild mustard, that rough blaze of the fields.” 

How can a forest fire save America? When that fire led to more safeguards by preservation and more National Parks and forests. Now everyone can enjoy nature in these saved spaces.
“Far ahead of his time, and to the criticism of isolationists in his own party, Roosevelt tried to get the major nations of the world to come together and take stock of the globe they shared.”

What books have awakened a deeper appreciation of nature in you? 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Friday Quotes: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from the book.
e Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56.

The book I'm reading now with a review to follow...

Title: Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell

Book Beginnings:
Friday 56:

Comment: Frederica is dating Laura Dean, the most popular girl in school but Laura keeps breaking up with her. Because of this Freddy writes an email to ANNA VICE, who has an advice column. (Book Beginnings.) And she goes with another friend to see if a fortune-teller can offer her advice to help her situation. (Friday 56)

Review and summary:
Tamaki is a genius at understanding people, specifically teens. She is the author of the coming-of-age book, One Summer, which won several awards. This time her tale takes readers to meet Frederica Riley who is miserable. She is in love with the most popular girl at school, Laura Dean. Laura is Freddy's dream girl but Laura keeps breaking up with Freddy. Freddy's other friends are thoughtful at first but get tired of the on again, off again drama. Freddy seeks advice on what to do from an advice columnist ANNA VICE and from a fortune-teller. The fortune-teller tells Freddy to break up with Laura Dean, to stop the dance that she is performing with her. ANNA VICE comes through with solid advice about what love should feel like and what it shouldn't feel like. In the meantime, Freddy has to figure out to how to be a good friend to others in her orbit and she sees first hand both positive and negative examples of relationships in her LGBTQ community. In the end Freddy finds love, acceptance, and happiness right under her nose.

I highly recommend this book for older teens and others who enjoy reading graphic novels. It is a fast read, taking me less than two hours to read.


Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Circe by Madeline Miller

I loved CIRCE by Madeline Miller but it got off to a slow start for me. I listened to the first disc of the audiobook and turned it off thinking I couldn't do it in that format and maybe not at all. But Circe is a book club selection so I waited a few days, turned the audiobook back on and fell in love!

My first problem, I discovered, is that I know very little about Greek mythology. I think the last time I actually read any of the old stories for myself was back in junior high school...a long time ago. I knew the barest bones of the stories told and most of them related to Odysseus and his journeys.  I had never heard of Circe before so I had to do some research about the Greek gods and goddesses and all those demigods and titans.

Here is what I learned about Circe from Wikipedia:
  • She was the daughter of the god Helios (sun god) and the nymph Perse
  • Some accounts have her fall in love with the sea-god Glaucus, but he prefers the nymph Scylla. In jealousy Circe poisons Scylla's bathing water and turns her into a monster. 
  • She was vanquished to Aeaea by her father for a variety of transgressions.
  • She was well-known for her knowledge about herbs and potions
  • She changed most of Odysseus's crew into swine when they visited her island, Aeaea, on their way home from the Trojan war. Odysseus forces Circe to switch them back and then ends up staying with her for a year before returning home, after fathering a son with her, Telegonus.
  • Classic literature from the Renaissance time depict Circe as a predatory female.
  • Art work with her depictions show her as a female to be feared as well as desired since she is viewed as sexually free.
In other words, Circe is the bad girl of Greek mythology, a person to be feared for her skills and predatory nature.

Then along comes Madeline Miller with a new interpretation. In this book Circe becomes a powerful and sympathetic character. Ron Charles, in the Washington Post, started his review with this funny line, "The archaeological evidence is sketchy, but the first pussy hat was probably knitted by Circe." In Miller's hands Circe becomes a feminist before the #MeToo movement. She is powerful, beautiful, wounded, and complicated. She is a very sympathetic character. Ron Charles tells us, "And to anyone who thinks that women can be shamed into silence, this witch has just one thing to say: 'That’ll do, pig.'"

Miller collected all the bits of Circe's stories from mythology and pieced them together into an incredibly and well-written story. AND, and that is a big AND, it made me want to read more on the topic and by this author.

I will be recommending this book to everyone who reads...well, not to little kids, but everyone else.

 (RHS book club July 2019)