"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=========

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Salon...Favorite Books of 2012

Top books of 2012.

Here is my list of all books read this year.

Favorites with a brief rationale each by category:

1. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dustbowl by Timothy Egan...before reading this book I knew very little about the Dustbowl. Egan made this bit of American history come alive by including information from survivors.

2. What is the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? By Martin Thielen...I know this title is very intriguing. I actually used this book as a study tool for a Christian Ed. class. It was helpful in framing my thinking and ability to articulate my beliefs, especially in an election year.

3. Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin...a fascinating look at Mandela and how he used Rugby to remake South Africa into a new nation without any bloodshed.

Adult Fiction:
1. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline...I don't think I've been more excited about a book ever.  This book feeds the geek in me.  I've told everyone who will listen to read it.

2. State of Wonder by Ann Pratchett... I love Pratchett's writing style even though I am completely determined to NEVER go to the Amazon after reading this book. Ha!

3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern...A magical circus, a contest between two talented magicians, and an everlasting love story.  What's not to like?

Young Adult Fiction
1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...this was my favorite book of the year. Two teens with cancer form a relationship and find a spot in the world for themselves. I was captivated from page one.

2. Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater...a horse race with magical water horses and a love story set on a wind swept island off the Scottish coast. The setting came to life for me , as if I was actually present at the Scorpio race.

3. Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers... a young man with dyslexia asks a local author to help him write a love letter to his girlfriend. So begins a friendship that ultimately saves both men.

*Dodger by Terry Pratchett...I am only half finished with this book and I doubt I'll get it done by tomorrow so I can't really count it as a 2012 book, but I am really enjoying it.  Pratchett is a master. This book makes me laugh.

Young Adult Fantasy
1. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman...this book won this category hands down. Dragons, humans, and half dragons. A fully conceptualized world. Very satisfying.

2. Cinder by Marissa Meyer...a futuristic Cinderella retelling. I can't wait for the sequel.

3. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers...an assassin nun.  Need I say more?

Audiobooks (of books not listed above):
1. Peace Like a River by Lief Enger, read by Chad Lowe... a family in crisis. The oldest son commits a crime, the father trusts in God and his miracles, the daughter writes cowboy poetry, and the youngest son is the witness to it all. This is a reread/relisten. I am a huge fan.

2. The Old Kingdom trilogy (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorssen) by Garth Nix, read by Tim Curry...this is high fantasy at it's best. I loved the whole series and was sad when I finished it.

3. Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton...recognize the author? I am a Stiefvater fan and this book, the first of a trilogy has it all, mystery, love, and a bit of paranormal activity. Will Patton is one of my favorite voice actors. I could listen to him forever.

Poetry or books written in verse
1. October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman... Matthew Shepard was a young homosexual who was killed because of his sexual orientation. This book is dedicated to him and his legacy. Very moving.

2. God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant...even thinking about this book makes me smile.  If God went to beauty school he'd focus on hands. Hands, one of his best creations. Actually very funny.

3. The Good Braider by Terry Farish...a story of survival in Darfur and immigration to the USA. Thought provoking.

Graphic Novels
1. Mirrormask by Neil Gaiman...an artistic gem.

2. Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral... scrapbook style book. Reading this was like telling myself a story.

3. Pyongyang: a Journey in North Korea by Guy Delisle...a graphic biography/memoir about the artist's experiences in North Korea.

So many books. So little time. What were your favorite books of 2012?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

“Four decades of peace have done little to ease the mistrust between humans and dragons in the kingdom of Goredd. Folding themselves into human shape, dragons attend court as ambassadors, and lend their rational, mathematical minds to universities as scholars and teachers. As the treaty’s anniversary draws near, however, tensions are high. Seraphina Dombegh has reason to fear both sides. An unusually gifted musician, she joins the court just as a member of the royal family is murdered—in suspiciously draconian fashion. 
Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, partnering with the captain of the Queen’s Guard, the dangerously perceptive Prince Lucian Kiggs. While they begin to uncover hints of a sinister plot to destroy the peace, Seraphina struggles to protect her own secret, the secret behind her musical gift, one so terrible that its discovery could mean her very life." From the official jacket blurb
I listened to this exquisitely written fantasy debut by Rachel Hartman on audiobooks. As the last disc finished up and as I sat in the afterglow of the book with the characters swirling around in my head I gradually became aware of the music on the car radio. As the song ended the DJ said "Imagine Dragons, It's Time."  What? How did she know that I just read a book about dragons and was thinking it was time for me to share my love of the book with the world. I thought I was hearing things.  Honestly.  It wasn't until I heard the song again that I realized there is a music group called Imagine Dragons and their current hit is It's Time. Ha! Check it out here on Imagine Dragons Facebook page.
Rachel Hartman created a rich, complex, and utterly original world in Seraphina. The heroine's "tortuous journey to self-acceptance is one readers will remember long after they’ve turned the final page.” Not a usual fantasy reader, I was shocked at how completely I was swept up in the story. All the characters we unique and complex. The setting lush and fully imagined. The plot complex and interesting. I liked everything about this book. And...I understand that it is the first book in a trilogy, though I found the ending to be quite satisfying.
I just bumble along on my reviews while others find eloquent ways to express their devotion to this book. I am jealous of their writing ability.  I really want you to go and read one of those wonderful reviews written by Karyn Silverman over at SLJ. You will get a much fuller idea of just how magical this book really is.  If I was giving out stars this one just earned five!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Friday...Dec. 28

Alison Can Read
Follow Friday---
It has been a while since I've joined in the Friday hops.  Please join in the fun by taking a look around my blog, visiting the featured blog Bookworms Avenue, and then leave me a comment.  Have a wonderful day.

Q: What book do you think everyone should read? If you could gift the entire population with one book?

I love two books that I read this year that I wish everyone would read, each for different reasons:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green ...touching topics of relationships and death and dying.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline... geektastic, gaming fun

Book Beginnings at Rose City Reader hosts...

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

From Prologue- "Every airplane, no matter how far it is up there, I send love to it."

Though I haven't got far in this highly reviewed book I think this opener sets me up to understand that the narrator can't talk to people in her life, so she talks to strangers 10,00 feet in the air. It is sad how isolated some people can be.

Review: Who the Hell is Pansy O'Hara?

Who the Hell is Pansy O'Hara?-The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books by Jenny Bond and Chris Sheedy is my kind of book, telling short bits of information about the authors and how they came to write these famous books. Here are a few snippets of information I gleaned from it:

Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist...When Dickens was twelve years old he was sent to work in a blacking factory that made shoe polish. A middle-class, well-educated boy was not expected to work for a living but because of financial difficulties at home Dickens was sent away to work. "Not only did this open the child's eyes to the putrid underbelly of society and the many ills that plagued London's lower classes, it also burned into his soul a deep sense of abandonment." No wonder Oliver Twist rang true.

J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan...I saw a movie about the writing of Peter Pan with Johnnie Depp where the friendship with the Llewellyn-Davies family was explained as the catalyst for the writing of this childhood masterpiece. I don't know if that movie was historically accurate or not but here is a quote from Barrie to the five children which makes me think it was: "I always knew that I made Peter by rubbing the five of you violently together, as savages with two sticks produce a flame...that is all he is, the spark I got from you."

A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh... Pooh was based on a real bear, also called Winnie, who traveled from Canada with a Canadian soldier during WWI before finding a home in the London Zoo. Milne's son, Christopher Robin, loved the bear and went to the zoo often to visit it, once being allowed in the cage with the bear to feed it evaporated milk. "When Christopher told him he'd changed his teddy's name to Winnie-the-Pooh, Alan was inspired to write a book about the adventures of a chubby bear called Winnie-the-Pooh and his friend Christopher." Milne wrote these tales not for his son, or just for children, he wrote them, according to literary historians, for the child in us all.

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind...Mrs. Mitchell didn't want any of her society friends to know that she was writing a novel. When a publisher came to town, a friend commented "that she didn't have what it took to write a novel." This comment angered Margaret "who rushed home, collected the manuscript  piled it into an old suitcase...she manged to catch the publisher on the way to the railway station, about to leave the city. Thrusting the case of pages at him, she told him to take it from her before she changed her mind." By the time she got home from the train station she had changed her mind, but by the then it was too late, and a bestseller was born. One of the things the publisher insisted upon, however is that Mitchell change the name of her character from Pansy to Scarlet.

John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath... As soon as it was published The Grapes of Wrath became a banned book. "Even in its title The Grapes of Wrath was a blatant indictment against the system. Taken from the Civil War Anthem, 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic', Steinbeck was suggesting a new civil war was being staged between the rich and the poor...After the book's publication, effigies of Steinbeck were burned by angry Californians who saw his work as a scandalous distortion of the migrant situation."

William Golding, Lord of the Flies...The book was rejected by ten publishers before finding a publisher in 1953. The reading public were initially unimpressed and the book went out of print but within a few years "education departments recognized the symbolic nature of the story." Since 1960 the book has been required  reading in many schools and has never been out-of-print since then.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird... Many consider this one the best novel ever written, yet it was Lee's only novel. When her cousin, Richard William, asked her when she was going to write a second novel she purportedly said, "Richard, when you are at the top, there's only one way to go."

Mario Puzo, The Godfather... Critics and readers assumed that Puzo had mob connections and first-hand information before writing his books. "The baffled writer replied, 'Where would I have time to be in the Mafia? I starved before the success of The Godfather. If I was in the Mafia I would have made enough money so I wouldn't have to write.'" I have never read these books, perhaps it is time.

Robert Baden-Powell, Scouting for Boys... Baden-Powell, a British Army officer was distraught over the lack of outdoor and survival skills his soldiers had so he wrote a little guide, Aid to Scouting. When he returned from the war he decided to write a nonmilitary manual for English lads. This manual, Scouting for Boys launched the Boys/Girl Scouts/Guides. Baden-Powell never intended to launch a worldwide movement, he just thought the book would be helpful for youth groups as they participated in outdoor activities.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Sunday Salon...December 23

Weather today is damp and overcast. The foothills have snow. We may actually experience a little snow on Christmas day as we will be going to our daughter's in-laws for dinner and they live near Mt. Rainier. They got about ten inches of snow last week.

Today we arrived home after a three day visit to Las Vegas. Our Christmas gift for our daughters and son-in-law was a trip to Las Vegas to see the new Cirque du Soleil show, Zarkana. We made a little vacation out of it. BTW- We loved the show

Yesterday we went to dinner at a Rodizio Brazilian steakhouse restaurant and gorged ourselves on churrascarias, or a parade of nine meats delivered to the table on skewers that were carved for us. We were so full that we wondered if we would make it in back to our hotel unless we were moved via wheelchair or scooter. We made it, though, and now have a happy memory of a fantastic meal.

Last night we stood outside the Bellagio and watched the water show twice. Both times the water show was choreographed to Christmas music. Though there were Christmas decorations all over Las Vegas it was easy to forget the season in the midst of the casinos and shows.  I was glad for this beautiful reminder of the season. (Songs: We Need a Little Christmas; Sleigh Ride)

Tomorrow, Christmas Eve, we will attend midnight services at our church where Don will sing with the choir and my daughter will sing a solo of O Holy Night. I love singing and listening to Christmas carols. It will be my first Christmas morning in twenty four years without my oldest daughter.  Sigh.

Books finished this week:

  • The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan---the story of selkies, mythological creatures who lives as seals but can shed their skins and live as humans on land in Irish and Scottish folklore.
  • The Faith Club---a book club selection, this book generated a good discussion but most gals had a hard time reading the book as it was pretty tedious. I made spicy hot chocolate as our beverage. It was a bust. Ha!

Currently reading:

  • Ask the Passengers by A.S. King---I just started this book on the flight home and didn't get very far.  The book has received a lot of good reviews.
  • Who the Hell is Pansy O'Hara?---I am still plugging away on this book about 50 memorable books and the story of the authors who wrote them.


  • Dodger by Sir Terry Pratchett---a retelling of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist with the focus on the artful dodger. This is only my second book by Pratchett but I already consider myself a fan. He can write and is so funny.

The most Christmasy thing we did all week---Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert at the Palazzo in Las Vegas. Wow, was it fabulous.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Blessings to you in the New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Top Ten Favorite Books of 2012

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish

10. Cinder by Marissa Meyer...this Cinderella retelling is delightful. I can't wait for the sequel.

9. God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant...a little gem I found in my library that imagines conversations with God. Very charming and funny.

8. Dying to Know You by Aidan Chambers...The nameless narrator and the growth and development of the characters really sets this book above many others.

7. Inheritance by Christopher Paolini...I didn't get around to reading this book until this year even though it came out last year. I am a fan of this fantasy series and was sad to say good-bye to Eragon and his wonderful dragon, Saphira.

6. Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater...the mystery and suspense kept me guessing. I'm a Stiefvater fan!

5. Sabriel (Lirael and Abhorrsen) by Garth Nix...a favorite new (old) series. I've even added this book to my Nifty Fifty cart so I can help build up a fan base at my school.

4. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman...a debut YA author created a rich and colorful fantasy world where dragons and humans coexist. This book is a true gem.

3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline...this book is so geektastic, full of video games, adventures, and good verses evil. I liked everything about this book.  I can't believe it is only #3 on my list.

2. Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater... the descriptions of the imagined world on the wind swept island of Thisby and the wild water-horse race were so well-drawn I almost believed them to be real. The love story was so sweet and tender, I was completely swept up in it.

1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...Surprise! One would think that a book about two kids dying from cancer would be a real downer. But this book is really about embracing life.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sunday Salon...Dec. 16

This week I have just been sick, sick, sick about the shooting deaths of the school children in Connecticut.  Why, why, why? Two things seem obvious: our mental health system in this country is broken and we makes guns way too accessible. We have GOT to fix these things.  Sigh.

The funniest thing that delighted me this week was the message my husband wrote to me with the dirty socks I had left lying around the floor of our bedroom: I LOVE U. Now I really don't want to pick the socks up. Smile.

Yesterday we finished our Christmas cards. We are one of those irritating families that send out a holiday letter each year.  Yesterday Don wrote it, we ran to Kinkos to print it, then we all sat down and personalized  each with a note. All we have left to do is drop them at the post office.  Yea!

Today our church choir, in which my husband is a member, had a program at a tiny little church up in the mountains, not far from Mt. Rainier. It had been snowing and the setting looked a little like a setting of a Courier and Ives picture. Afterwards our eldest daughter had a delicious crock pot roast ready for dinner. Ah.

Tomorrow we celebrate our youngest daughter's birthday. She is turning 21 on Tuesday and will go out with friends that night. Later this week we head to Las Vegas to help her celebrate even more.

Book finished this week:

  • Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd---historical fiction set in Northern Ireland in the early 1980s when the country was experiencing so much turmoil.
  • Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus by Francis Church---a Christmas classic.

Books reading:

  • Faith Club: a Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian- Three Women Search for Understanding...I was hoping to have this book done by now because book club is this Tuesday but I am within striking distance and will have it finished in time.
  • The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan...brides from within seals, hmmm weird stuff.


  • Dodger by Terry Pratchett...I am looking forward to listening to another Pratchett book.

Scripture: Luke 21:28 " And when these things come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; your redemption draweth nigh."

Thought that speaks to me after the events of this week:

Our hope is in no other save in Thee; 
Our faith is built upon Thy promise free; 
Lord, give us peace, and make us calm and sure, 
That in Thy strength we evermore endure.
-John Calvin

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

End of the Year Lists...I love this time of year.

With the end of the year fast approaching comes one of my favorite "events" of the year...2012 Best of Books Lists. I have provided links for those lists reported just this past week.  Most of these lists have a YA focus but may possibly include both Children's and Adult books.

1. School Library Journal Best Books of 2012
Categories include: Picture Books, Fiction (School Age, Grades 1-12); Nonfiction

2. Horn Book Fanfare for 2012
 Same categories as above but the list is much shorter.

3. Goodreads Choice Awards 2012
 20 categories of awards given to books based on voting by Goodreads members. There are four categories for children: Young Adult Fiction, Young Adult Fantasy, Middle Grade and Children's, Picture Books.

4. Top Ten books of 2012, New York Times
None of the books on this list are YA or children's books. The two categories are fiction and nonfiction.

5. National Book Award
Not just a list, these are the actual winners for the National Book Award given at the ceremony in November. Categories are: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Young People's Literature.

6. Publisher's Weekly Best of 2012
13 categories include Top Ten, Adult fiction, Nonfiction, Romance, Mystery/Thriller, Poetry, Comics, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Religion, Lifestyle, Children's Picture Books, Children's Fiction, Children's Nonfiction. Young Adult titles are listed in the children's books.

7. NPR Best of Books 2012
Lots of different categories for mainly adult readers.  A very eclectic list that I won't attempt to summarize.

8. Time Magazine Top Ten Fiction Books of 2012.
I've already blogged about this list because The Fault in Our Stars is #1 on this list!

9. Kirkus Reviews, Best Teen Books of 2012
This is a really lengthy list.  Perhaps every YA book they gave a starred review to made this list. They have lots of other categories of lists, too.

This is what I have found so far.  If you know of others, please post a link in the comments section and I will add to this post as a clearinghouse for Favorites of 2012!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday Salon...December 9

"The days are short, 
the sun a spark,
Hung thin between
the dark and dark."
                   -John Updike

Yesterday my daughter and I worked on the Christmas puzzle, played on our computers, and eventually got dressed. Later my husband and I went to a holiday party hosted by my school district director.  He is in charge of arts (drama, music, art), libraries, and physical education.  Anyone who teaches in those disciplines was invited.  It was a mash of people who by in large don't know each other but it was a very festive event. (By the way, the puzzle was missing a piece even though we just opened it new.  How does that happen? See above.)

Day before yesterday we decorated the house for the holidays while music blared from the stereo, "I'm dreaming of a White Christmas..." (Which, by the way, pretty much never happens around here.)

Today is a blank palette on which I hope to paint a lovely day.

Books read this week: Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler... a slow moving but rather thoughtful examination about the choices we make in life and the path those decisions sends us on. The ending was very satisfying.

Books I'm currently reading:

  • The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew---Three Women Search for Understaning by Idliby, Oliver, and Warner
  • The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Audiobook: Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd...Fergus is inadvertently caught up in the NRA struggle in Northern Ireland. He also discovers a young girl entombed in the bog near his house.

Scripture lesson of the day: Colossians 2:2, 3 "My purpose is that they may be so encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God..."

Prayers for my friend whose husband just died of lung cancer. May she find comfort and peace in these dark days.

From the kitchen: Tater Tot Casserole. I had the worst headache on Tuesday at work. Part of the way through the day I started thinking about the ingredients and fixings for dinner that I had at home so I wouldn't have to go to the store with a headache. I recalled a conversation my husband and I recently had about this old recipe of comfort food when it hit me, I have all the ingredients.  I can make that.  It WAS comforting but certainly not health food.

Dark Christmas Comments
Magickal Graphics

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Bookish things I am doing, or plan to do this Saturday...

Source of the photo
It is Saturday morning and the day awaits...What bookish things do I have planned for the day?

  • Download the audiobook Dodger by Terry Pratchett from my computer onto my iPod Touch. I am pretty irritated with Apple or Overdrive, I can't decide which. When I get audiobooks from Overdrive I have to convert them to MP3 files in order to listen to them on my iPod. The process is lengthy and tedious. I wish the two companies would fix their incompatibility. Anyway, I am done with the conversion process so now I just need to transfer the book to the iPod.
  • Order the book Tear Soup from Amazon for my friend who just lost her husband to lung cancer. The book explains the grieving process and how it must be done in a personal way. It is a very comforting book. Though it does not bring back the loved one, it is my experience that it does bring a measure of comfort to the grieving.
  • Read at least 100 pages of this month's book club selection: The Faith Club by Idilby, Oliver, and Warner.  No excuses for not completing the book this month as I am the hostess of the club this month and must lead the discussion. No more procrastination allowed!
  • While driving around completing my Saturday chores I'll listen to the audiobook Bog Child Siobhan Dowd. This is last book of this amazing author, published posthumously in 2009. It is historical fiction about the Northern Ireland conflict with Britain.
  • Shop for Christmas books/gifts. I generally give everyone in the family a book for Christmas in addition to other gifts. I've already purchased books for my husband and son-in-law. Now to figure out what my daughters might like. Book buying isn't as easy as it was it was a year ago before Borders closed its doors. Our community no longer has a book store.
  • Attend a Holiday Party hosted by the district director of libraries.

What bookish things will you be doing today?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Goodreads---The Fault in Our Stars and Insurgent

It has been a very good week for The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. Today Goodreads announced its Goodreads Choice Awards and it was selected as the Top YA Literature book of 2012. Over a million readers voted and it soared to the top of the list. Congratulations, John Green, we love your book!
For more award winning news about TFIOS see yesterday's post here.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth won for Young Adult Fantasy and for Goodreads Author. Insurgent is the second book in the exciting Divergent series.

Read the whole list of the 2012 Goodreads Choice Award books given out by category at Goodreads here.

(I love this time of year when everyone is making favorite books of the year lists.  Stayed tuned for my own lists in a few weeks.)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars is the Time Magazine best book of the year

Just a very quick note to share the good news: John Green's amazing YA novel, The Fault in Our Stars was named Time Magazine's #1 book of the year.  Most of the books on the list are adult books, so this seems like an extra special award for this fabulous YA novel.

Here is what they said about the book:

The Fault in Our Stars is about teenagers who happen to have cancer, but it’s not a cancer book, because as the narrator, 16-year-old Hazel Grace, bluntly puts it, “cancer books suck” — by which she means they’re full of clichés and sentiment that conceal hard truths. John Green, writing with wit, unpretentious clarity and total emotional honesty, clears away the clichés to reveal the hardest possible truths, which Hazel and her boyfriend Augustus have to face head on. The Fault in Our Stars is a love story, one of the most genuine and moving ones in recent American fiction, but it’s also an existential tragedy of tremendous intelligence and courage and sadness.

Read more: http://entertainment.time.com/2012/12/04/top-10-arts-lists/slide/john-green-the-fault-in-our-stars/#ixzz2E9s5TkQp

My daughter, an avowed Nerdfighter, was so delighted she made the announcement to me before she said hi!

If you haven't read this marvelous book yet, it is time! (Get it? Time. Ha!)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Sunday Salon...December 2

Weather: I see blue sky out on the horizon but right now it is drizzling rain here at the house. I should be able to take the dog for a spin around the block later today without getting too wet.

The day before yesterday: We attended the Seattle University Choirs Christmas Program at St Joseph Cathedral in Seattle. This is the first year that my daughter is part of the chamber group in addition to the main choir and the woman's chorale. She sings first soprano down to alto depending on the song and for this concert had a small solo on one piece. This concert in such a lovely setting prepares me for the Christmas season. The photos were taken at St. Joseph Cathedral.

Yesterday: I helped decorate the church for Christmas, though I haven't done anything here at home in terms of holiday decorations. I also washed several loads of bedding, a chore left undone after our Thanksgiving guests left, read a little, baked a cake, and did a bit of shopping.  Typical Saturday stuff. Today will be a similar day.

Today: Is the first day of advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. The church looks lovely with the greens, the poinsettias, and the twinkling lights. This is a very special time in the church year. During the church service today we were reminded that advent is a special time of waiting.  Waiting for the birth of Christ, but also waiting for an important message from God.  It isn't easy to wait, but it is a necessary thing for us to do.

Quote of the Week: "Celebrating advent means being able to wait. Waiting is an art that our impatient age has forgotten. Whoever does not know how to wait- that is, of hopefully doing without- will never experience the full blessing of fulfillment."---from the weekly church bulletin

Question of the week: Why do people who love to read balk at reading books that they "have" to read? I see this all the time with students and it happens with me, too.  I will have a book that I need to read for book club and I continually set it aside in favor of other reading selections that aren't required.

Books completed this week:

  • Bomb: The Race to Build, and Steal, the World's Most Deadly Weapon by Steve Sheiken---I learned a lot about a topic that I knew bits and pieces of information about before. This book helped put all the pieces together. Written for a young adult audience I will still recommend it to any age reader who wants to learn more on this topic.

Book(s) I'm currently reading:

  • The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan---a Mock Printz selection, so far I am captivated by the language but have no idea what is going on.
  • Who the Hell is Pansy O'Hara? The Fascinating Stories Behind 50 of the World's Best-Loved Books by Jenny Bond and Chris Sheedy---I am a fan of this type of book. These types of stories really do fascinate me and I love reading books about books.

My current audiobook:

  • Noah's Compass by Ann Tyler---Liam receives a serious blow to his head during a burglary attempt. This event changes the coarse of his life.

Scripture in church today:  Psalm 62:5 "For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from God."

Prayer of the week: For my friend whose husband has been brought home from the hospital with the help of hospice. For strength and courage during these last days of his life.  I pray for their daughters, also.

From the kitchen: A huge pot of turkey meat sauce and organic penne. The kitchen was a mess when I was done, but it was worth the effort.

Friday, November 30, 2012

BOMB: the Race to Build-and Steal- the World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

"In the end, this is a difficult story to sum up. The making of the atomic bomb is one of history's most amazing examples of teamwork and genius and poise under pressure. But it's also the story of how humans created a weapon capable of wiping our species off the planet. It's a story with no end in sight. And like it or not, you're in it." -p.236

Physics. World War II. Einstein. Robert Oppenheimer. Fission. Uranium. Plutonium. Los Alamos, New Mexico. Richard Feynman. Radiation poisoning. Trinity test site. Heavy water. Race to beat the Germans building the atomic bomb.Manhattan Project. FBI. KGB. Hiroshima. Enola Gay. Harry Truman.

These are all words (names) I knew a bit about prior to reading this book.  But here are some that were new to me---

Otto Hahn. Klaus Fuchs. Jens Poulsson.  Vermork, Norway. Harry Gold. Knut Haukelid. OSS. Theodore Hall. Paul Tibbets. Moe Berg. Greenglass. Potsdam Declaration. Lona Cohen. 50-megaton monster hydrogen bomb.

All the disparate pieces of information I had in my brain about the Atom Bomb came together through the reading of this book.  I had never before drawn the line between all the spy work done during World War II by the KGB, the creation of the Atom Bomb, and the Red Scare of the 1950s. Now I see how all of this is connected.

I found the book, written for young adults, to be both fascinating and terrifying. My whole life has been lived in the shadow of this bomb and the terrible consequences it can evoke on mankind. I remember as a child in elementary school practicing Air Raid drills. We would all jump under our desks as if those flimsy things would protect us from the melting heat, and earth flattening power of these huge bombs. How naive and stupid we were.

All of the men who were involved in the Manhattan Project later questioned if they had done a good thing. Oppenheimer himself tried to talk President Truman out of developing an even bigger bomb than the one he created to no avail.

Now with Iran threatening the fragile situation in the middle East with their nuclear aspiration, I am reminded again of how awesome and awful the inventions of man can be.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Books that would make good gifts

After viewing the video blog (below) put together by a favorite author, John Green, I decided to start a list of books that I think would make good gift books this holiday season.  I hope to hear from all of my readers with your gift book suggestions.

Here are a few books that I suggest:

For video game aficionados: 
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline...this is the most geektastic book I've ever read.

For fantasy fans:
Serpahina by Rachel Hartman...a mystery, an adventure, fantasy with dragons, and a bit of a romance. This book has eight starred reviews for good reason.

For fans of The Fault in Our Stars, especially irreverent boys: 
Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews. Yes, there is a dying girl but this book is very different than FIOS and provides a humorous voice to a very serious subject. Boys at my school really like this book but beware of foul language.

For PBS viewers who enjoyed the Dust Bowl special: 
The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan. This book must have informed the special. It is a very enlightening book about the conditions that led to and the tragedy of the Great American Dust Bowl. Timothy Egan is a fabulous writer.

Interested in LGBT or equal rights issues:
October Mourning-A Song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman. A very touching, moving poetic book. It deserves wide distribution.

Enjoy a little magic in your life:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern...this book has savored well as the months pass since I've read it.

After you take a look at what books John Green suggests, please leave a recommendation on my comment section.  Thanks you.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday Salon...Nov. 25th

The famous purple tree at Zoolights
My husband and daughter bundled up for a brisk walk around Zoolights.

Weather:  We've had record levels of rain this past week. Today it is foggy and cold with the threat of freezing fog.  Miserable but typical November stuff. The afternoon ended up being sunny.

This past week: Was our Thanksgiving holiday here in the USA. We hosted 17 friends and family for dinner, eight spent the week-end with us. We ate, laughed, shared remembrances and stories, watched football and movies, enjoyed being together.

Red wolf to match the type of wolves at the zoo.
Yesterday. The family members, that were still here, stayed and watched the Civil War game with us (Oregon v Oregon State.) After everyone left, we cleaned the kitchen (again) and then put on our woolies for a fun evening trip to see Zoolights at the Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma.  We haven't been to this annual event since our children were young. It has improved since that time.  We enjoyed all the lights and the few animals that we saw (seahorses, sharks, tiger cubs, and meerkats.) Check out my photos. It is obviously very colorful.
An illuminated Mt. Rainier is tallest point in the background. The foreground was a wall of lights.
Today:  We will put all the fine dishes away, strip the beds and wash sheets, shrink the dining table back to its normal size, watch a Christmas DVD (The Santa Clause), and deliver our daughter back to college.

Book(s) I've finished this week:
  • A Certain October by Angel Johnson...another Mock Printz selection that deals with death, grieving, and friendship. Though it is well-written, I didn't think the characters were developed enough to really care what happened to them.
  • No others.  Sigh. A slow reading week (Wonder why?)
Currently reading/listening to:  
  • .Artistotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz...the story of two boys who must learn to trust each other and allow their friendship to develop.
  • Bomb: the Race to build, and steal, the world's most dangerous weapon by Steve Sheinkin...fascinating and frightening stuff. I was considering this as an addition to our Mock Printz list but think that teens won't find it that readable.
Scripture Lesson today: 1 Timothy 6:17-19...."17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds,and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life."

I'm praying this prayer
: "God please give my friend comfort. Her husband is so ill with cancer. She needs your love and grace right now. Be also with her husband as he faces the challenges of serious illness. May he find comfort and strength in the promises of your love and eternal life."

From the kitchen: Leftovers. Mashed potatoes, turkey gravy, stuffing and baked chicken, since we ran out of turkey already.