"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=========

Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday 56 and Book Beginnings, Feb 28, 2014.

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Participants don't dig for their favorite book, the coolest, or the most intellectual. They use the one they are currently reading.

Book: Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Book Beginnings:

I just got back from Celia Forester's funeral. I'm supposed to be writing up an official report for the Tempest she flew into the ground, since she's obviously not going to write it herself and I saw it happen.
Friday 56:
By the time we were over Notre Dame I was singing to myself again. The cabin was so noisy I thought no one would be able to hear me.
My thoughts: By page 56 the reader is just starting to understand how talented Rose, the narrator, is as a pilot and how dedicated she is to helping the Allies win WWII. At this point in the story the action is just starting to warm up and soon it takes a dramatic twist. I don't think that either of these quotes are good examples of how wonderful both this book and the writing are. (I'm almost finished with this book.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

When I was young, my mother impressed upon me to be wary of strangers. She made such a strong impression I ended up as not only wary but terrified. When I walked to my music lessons alone (that is another story altogether) I actually ran between driveways so I would possibly have a chance to get away from the scary stranger who was lurking to offer candy before he nabbed me. One time my mother invited a stranger into the house (at least he was a stranger to me) and I hid under my bed until he was gone. My childhood was full of fears.

My mother's attempts at keeping me safe did just that but also made me a bit neurotic. I wonder if she ever knew how terrified I was as a child? It would crush her now to know I was so fearful because of what she said to me at the time. The Ocean at the End of the Lane opens with a quote from Maurice Sendak that speaks to childhood fears, “I remember my own childhood vividly. I knew terrible things. But I knew I mustn’t let adults know I knew. It would scare them.” Clearly I was not the only child consumed by my fears and worried that adults mustn't find out.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman opens with a man returning to his childhood town and to the home of his old friend, Lettie Hemstock. Lettie's mother still lives on the old farm and invites the man in for a visit. Before he leaves he ask whether it would be alright to go down to the duck pond, the one that he and Lettie called an ocean when they were children. Sitting on the bench overlooking the pond the man tosses a nut into the water and the ripples cause him to remember everything.

When the narrator was seven-years-old an evil magic was unleashed on his neighborhood and on his family. This evil-being took the form of Ursula in the guise of a nanny. The young boy seemed to be the only person in his family to see her as the monster she was. The only person he could turn to for help was Lettie Hemstock because magical things seemed to happen around or because of her.

The boy led a lonely life filled with fears---he was even afraid to sleep without the bedroom door open to the lighted hall and no one came to his seventh birthday party. He certainly fits the definition of the unreliable narrator. Did these horrible things really happen to him or are they just the memories of a fear-filled kid? Gaiman, a master at writing an almost-terrifying story, leaves that answer up to the reader. Since I was also a kid consumed by my fears, I can relate to this question. Was my childhood as scary as I remember it or do I have a faulty memory of that time and place?

Clearly I could relate to this book filled with childhood memories about past fears, but that is not the only point of this fairy-tale like story. As I closed the book on the last page I found myself wondering, given a chance to look at my life, if those people who helped guide me through childhood would be pleased at how I turned out. Gaiman asks us to examine our lives from that vantage point, to see if we are wanting in some sort of way. I hope, as does our narrator as an adult, that they would be pleased with the grown-up me.

Clearly I loved the book, even the scary bits. I can easily recommend it for adults and older teens, and in fact, already have. I had the good fortune of consuming this book in the audio format where Neil Gaiman himself performed it. It was magical---the story and the recording.

Gaiman, Neil. The Ocean at the End of the Lane. New York: William Morrow, 2013. Print.
Gaiman, Neil. The Ocean at the End of the Lane. HarperAudio, 2013. CD.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I liked even though I was "forced" to read it

Top books I liked even though I was "forced" to read them. I have forgotten most of the books I had to read in high school or college so, for the purpose of this list, I will define "forced" as any book that was chosen for me to read either by a teacher, an assignment, or book club.

  1. The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck---a required book in junior or senior high school. For a long time I considered it my favorite book. (Read sometime between 1970-75.)
  2. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway---I read this small volume in an English class in junior high and still remember how the writing touched me. (Read in approximately 1971)
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald---I reread this book last year and was surprised at a few of the details so I don't think I read it very carefully the first time in high school, but nonetheless I liked (and still like) it. (Read in 1974 and 2012.)
  4. Peace Like a River by Lief Enger---a book club selection in 2004. It is still one of my top ten favorite novels. I have reread it at least three times.
  5. Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen---This was a book club selection in 2005 and I decided I didn't have time to read it before the club met. Everyone liked it so much and had so much to talk about I went back and read it for myself.
  6. Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder---another nonfiction book club choice. This is about the amazing doctor, Paul Farmer, who is trying to make a difference in the world, especially in Haiti. This book changed my world and I never would have read it had the club not selected it in 2007.
  7. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan---an important book about the racism in our country at the end of WWII. Before we read it in 2011 no one had heard of it. It is very well done.
  8. The Lost City of Z by David Grann---I am starting to notice a trend. I am less likely to read nonfiction books unless our book club selects it first. This nonfiction book is about the quest of two different men to find the lost city of Z in the Amazon. I learned a ton when my club read it in 2009.
  9. The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Oguara---this ended up being one of my favorite book club choices in 2012. It is about the story of a math professor who suffered from a brain injury that impaired his memory. It is also about the special relationship with his housekeeper. I not only liked it but I learned a little math along the way.
  10. Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver---this book was on my TBR pile for several years. I finally dusted it off last month and read it for book club. I loved it. We also had a fabulous discussion on this big book, too.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Salon, Feb. 23, 2014

Weather: Grey and depressing. Winter skies in the Northwest are the worst. I actually have to use a light box in the winter months to keep myself from spiraling down emotionally/mentally because I have S.A.D. (Seasonal Affected Disorder.) Today's weather reminds me to spend some time in front of the light box for sure.

Musical Interlude: I listened to the classical music radio station on the way to church this morning. This piece by Handel lifted me up and carried me away. Click the play button and have a listen while you read my blog. I hope it elevates your mood, too.

This past week: was a short and long one. Have you ever felt that way? We had Monday off work for President's Day. Then we had no students on Tuesday for teacher in-service. The work week was short. But by the end of the Wednesday I thought the week would never end, it had been such a busy day.

Birthday week: My birthday celebrations started last week-end and continued through Wednesday, may actual birthday. As I reported last week my daughters took me to high tea on Saturday. We had a big family dinner that evening. Two days off (Friday and Monday) made the long week-end seem like a gift to me. Fr dinner Wednesday my husband and I went to a favorite Thai restaurant but had to rush through the meal because Don had a meeting at the church. He gave me a very blingy new ring made from green quartz to match other jewelry he's given me over the years. I know I am spoiled when my husband and the local jeweler are on a first-name basis. He tells her what he wants and she makes it happen. She even knows my ring size. Spoiled brat, I know.

Birthday greetings and gifts: I heard from my parents and all my siblings. My mom, who is busy sorting and giving away treasures she has kept for years, gave me a Tri-Delta pendant that her "little sister" in the house gave her in 1962. Since we were both Tri-Delts while we were in college, mom knew I would enjoy this trinket. She also gave me an envelope full of family photos. I am not very photogenic, that is for sure. My mom is so precious.

Educators Night at the Museum: Thursday was a special night at the Tacoma Art Museum set aside for educators. An art teacher from my school and I went together and had fun looking at the art and getting to know each other better. We entered a raffle for one of three prizes. Two of the prizes were signed prints by Eric Carle. We both swooned over them. The third was a goodie bag of undisclosed items. As we prepared to leave the event we stopped by the booth to see if we had won anything. Both prints were awarded to someone else and they hadn't done the drawing for the bag of goodies yet. The next day I got an email from the TAM. I won the goodie bag drawing. Now I must go back to Tacoma to claim my prize.

Soups this week: Minestrone (reprise, since I still had all the ingredients on hand from the last batch I made) and Coconut Chicken Curry, which was spicy and delicious.  After a week of eating birthday food and cake, I am happy to report that I didn't have any net gained weight thanks to eating soup the rest of the time.

Health tip of the week: Back when I was teaching Health classes (nine years ago) I found an article in Newsweek magazine that talked about healthy and unhealthy oils. At that time canola oil seemed like a healthier option than corn, soy, or vegetable oil so I added it to my shopping list and have used it whenever olive oil didn't seem right. This week I learned that canola oil is probably the absolute worst oil to use. I've been sick to my stomach thinking how I may have been poisoning my family for years. Obviously, I have thrown away all our canola oil and won't buy it again. The most recent information I've found on fats in our diets is related to what I used to think of as the enemy, saturated fats. This clip talks about the health benefits of coconut oil. I have started using it and find it to be very pleasant. Have a listen and decide for yourself.

Books read this week:
  • Earth Girl by Janet Edwards...touted as a dystopian novel but the world is really a fairly nice place populated with generally nice people. Click the hyperlink for my review.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman...a new favorite. I listened to the audiobook which was read by the author. Look for my review later today or tomorrow.
  • "The President has Been Shot" by James Swanson...this audiobooks was ranked as one of the top audiobooks of 2013 by Audiofile. It was read by Will Patton one of my favorite voice actors and included actual recordings of Kennedy giving speeches. Look for my review this coming week. I have a lot to say about this wonderful recording.
  • The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin...a nonfiction account of an almost forgotten WWII tragedy involving black sailors. Click on the hyperlink for my review. I chose this to read in honor of Black History Month.
Currently reading:
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein...I've had the book on my nightstand since before Christmas and it was obviously not being opened. This week I got the audiobook from the public library and finally have it started. My goal is to finish it before the end of the month.
  • How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig...I just want to savor and linger over this book. But alas, it is due back at the library so I might not have a chance to finish it.
Scripture: Mark 2:17 "Jesus, overhearing, shot back, 'Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I'm here inviting the sin-sick, not the spiritually-fit.'" (from The Message version of the Bible)
I am working on my health and attempting to eat and live a more balanced healthy life so this scripture spoke to me today.

I hope you have a week filled with books, fun, family, and good food.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Black History Month: The Port Chicago 50

In honor of Black History Month I decided to read a book that just recently arrived in the library, The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin.

Not being a history major it never surprises me when I read about events from world history about which I haven't heard. But as the facts in this book started to be revealed I was shocked that the events in Port Chicago weren't more well known.

The year was 1944. World War II was in full swing. Black men were finally allowed to do something in the Navy other than KP, but not much as the men highlighted in this book soon found out. These black sailors were assigned to load munitions onto ships as a vital part of the war effort. They, however, were not given any specific safety training and their officers (all white) pressured them to load the ammunition as fast as they possibly could.

It was a huge accident waiting to happen. On July 14, 1944 there was a massive blast that "was felt all over the Bay Area. In Berkeley, thirty miles away, seismographs recorded a jolt with the force of a small earthquake." Every single person on the pier or one the nearby ships were killed by the blast. A total of 320 died, 202 of them were black sailors who'd been loading ammunitions.

When the Navy investigated the blast not one single black sailor was called to give testimony about the lack of training and the efforts of their commanding officers to make them work faster by betting on which division would load more weight of ammunitions per day.

The black sailors were then reassigned to another port and expected to continue loading ammunitions without any additional training or safety measures. When the sailors refused they were arrested and tried for mutiny. Admiral Carleton Wright even told the sailors that they would have to face the firing squad if they didn't go back to loading munitions. Most did but 50 men still refused and they were court martialed.

During their trial it was apparent to everyone that the 50 men were not getting a fair deal. Thurgood Marshall, lawyer for the NAACP, sat in the trial. When all 50 men were found guilt of mutiny, he took up their cases and attempted to get an appeal based on how the trial was so biased and the court discriminated against the men.

The appeal wasn't successful but news about Port Chicago wouldn't go away. The Navy had to finally concede that their policies toward black soldiers were actually making things worse.
Back when the war began, navel leaders had argued that racism was not their problem. The Navy had a war to win, and couldn't be expected to solve America's race problems at the same time. But things looked different after Port Chicago and [other] newer incidents. Segregation was actually hampering the war effort. It was time for a new plan---whether the country was ready for it or not.
Thurgood Marshall and many others still had a lot of work to do to bring civil rights to everyone but the 50 black sailors from Port Chicago were willing to stand up for their rights. All 50 of these men are now dead. They should be remembered for their courageous stand against discrimination.

Steve Sheinkin, the award-winning author of BOMB, has consolidated a lot of information into a nice thin book crammed with important and largely forgotten facts. It is just right for middle grade or high school researchers. I recommend it highly.

Quotes from: Sheinkin, Steve. The Port Chicago 50. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2014. Print.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Books and Reading Quotations.

What is second best to books about books? Why, books full of quotes about books and reading, of course. Here are a few gems found in Books and Reading: a Book of Quotations, edited by Bill Bradfield (Dover Thrift Publications, 2002.) These quotes tickled me today. I'll share more another time. I'm only up to page ten so there will be more to share later..
I'm a voracious reader. You have to read to survive. People who read for pleasure are wasting their time. Reading isn't fun, it's indispensable.----WOODY ALLEN
The only real use of books is to make a person think for himself. If a book will not set one to thinking, it is not worth shelf room.----ALEPH BEY
Morality is not the issue in [fairy] tales, but rather, assurance that one can succeed... More can be learned from them about the inner problems of human beings and of the right solutions to their predicaments in any society than from any other type of story within a child's comprehension.----BRUNO BETTELHEIM
The great threat to the young and pure in heart is not what they read but what they don't read.----HEYWOOD BROUN 
Books are the compasses and telescopes and sextants and charts which other men have prepared to help us navigate the dangerous seas of human life.----JESSE LEE BENNETT 
Of all the odd crazes, the craze to be forever reading new books is one of the oddest. ----AUGUSTINE BIRRELL
(I was just thinking about this point. Everyone wants to read the newest best seller and in the process ignore many wonderful books published in previous years.)
A classic is a  book that has never finished saying what it has to say.----ITALO CALVINO
The contents of someone's bookcase are part of his history, like an ancestral portrait.----ANATOLE BROYARD 
I woke up thinking a very pleasant thought. There is lots left in the world to read.----NICHOLAS BAKER

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd

Isn't it fun to pick up a book on a topic which one knows little to nothing and a few hours later close the book knowing quite a lot? That was my experience with Chip Kidd's book, Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design. It is an easy book to read and digest. It even gives the budding graphic designer ten projects to get started.  The YouTube video trailer makes the book seem like it is just for little kids but this big person found in it a lot to like and I learned so much. I recommend it for kids from 8 to 88.

Take a look:

Now go to your library and check it out for yourself!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday...What I like about blogging and reading, Feb 17, 2014

Hosted by The Broke and Bookish
Things I like about blogging...

1. "Meeting" new friends. Some of my blogging friends have actually become real friends, even though we haven't met in person yet.

2. Influencing the book choices of others because of my reviews. Occasionally friends will tell me that they picked up a book because they read about a book on my blog. I started blogging because I wanted a medium to share with students at my school about good books.

3. Reading others' blogs helps me with book choices for my own reading and for library purchases.

4. Sharing and exchanging ideas for library lessons or library management.

5. Once a week, on Sunday Salon, I update my week. I hope that my family members read it, and many do, but it really isn't for them. It is for me. It is a kind of diary that I can look back on over the years to see what I was doing and reading at a particular time.

6. Reading records and book lists. In the past, before blogging, I kept my reading logs in a paper journal, now I keep these records on my blog.

7. Having a creative outlet. Admittedly mine is not the most creative blog, but it does give me a place to add a little flare that it my own.

Things I love about being a reader....

1. I can go anywhere I want in the world through books.

2. I always have something to do that keeps my brain active and alert.

3. I am interested and interesting. When I read about events or time periods, when I learn new information it is both stimulating and interesting.

5. I always have something to talk about when conversations lag in social setting. "Read any good books lately...?"

6. Through books I can hang onto the past as well as lean forward to the future. "Without leaving your chair, you can travel the world, engage in a silent dialogue with the great minds in history, plumb the sublime depths of Shakespeare's poetry, or the depths of the sea with Jules Verne, acquire a skill, enjoy the world's great art, discover a wealth of facts and information, and perhaps most important, discover yourself."-Bill Bradfield in Books and Reading: a book of quotations Dover Press, 2002.

Review: Earth Girl by Janet Edwards

This will not be the review you are expecting. In fact, this is not a review I expected to ever write.

Earth Girl by Janet Edwards is touted as a dystopian tale set 750+ years in the future. Most reviewers, however, are quick to point out that if a reader is looking for a dystopian novel where the world is awful and the protagonist has to overcome fearful circumstances, as in Hunger Games or Divergent, this is not it. In fact, those books make this book look downright Utopian in contrast.

The protagonist, Jarra, is stuck on Earth because of some genetic handicap which makes it impossible for her to travel or live on other worlds. Only other such handicapped people are stuck on Hospital Earth. They are even called names like "ape" by other humans who aren't handicapped and stuck on planet Earth. When Jarra graduates from school she applies to take a history course with exos from other planets pretending that she is from a military family rather than divulging that she is handicapped. She knows if she does reveal this information to her classmates she will be ostracized and ridiculed by them and she just wants a chance to prove that she is smart and capable. Jarra does show her classmates how capable she is and even ends up with a love interest, though there are no steamy love scenes.

Edwards writing is strong. Her world-building is interesting and creative. Her characters are a bit one-dimensional but likable, for the most part. In a lot of ways the drama and conflict in the book comes across as a bit milquetoast, just a bit bland. There are no hold-your-breath moments in this book. However, generally speaking I liked the book fine. But my beef with the book isn't so much with the story as it is with the actual published book. Prometheus Books, the American publisher of Earth Girl, made a publishing decision that nearly wrecked the book for me. They printed the book using a too small font for easy reading. They used 10 point font, I think, or used a font that looks really little. The book has the normal trim of most YA books at 8 1/2" by 5 1/4". The book is only 262 pages. It is font size that is the bug-a-boo. I thought of it all the time as I read. Everyone that looked at it said, "Wow, that font is tiny." With normal YA eyes maybe it wouldn't be so difficult to read as I found it to be with my old eyes. This is about the size font one would expect to find in a mass produced paperback, not a regular-sized hardcover YA book. I am guessing that the publisher attempted to keep the page-length of the book down by decreasing font size rather than encouraging the author to edit out some of the lengthy descriptions of the world.

My recommendation to the publishers is to choose a larger font for the paperback version of the book. To readers, since the book is still not available in paperback, select e-book or audiobook, if it is available in this format, or purchase a page-magnifier.

I warned you that this review wouldn't be what you expected. Well, here it is. Publishing decisions really do affect the readability of books. From now on I am opening up books to have a look at the font before I decide to read the book or not. Hope this helps you make an informed decision, too.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Salon, Feb. 16

Secret Garden Tea House in Sumner, Washington
Weather: Partly cloudy. It was raining earlier this morning and more wind is expected later today.

Friday: No school. A snow make-up day that was built in to the schedule. I spent it inside because the day was super windy and blustery. I only made one trip outside---to retrieve the garbage can lid from the neighbor's yard.

Yesterday: My daughters took me out to a special high tea at a sweet tea shop in a neighboring town. It was my birthday gift from the two of them. We were there for over two hours and drank so much tea and ate so many little delightful foods that we were simply stuffed when we left.
Remains of a tea party at the Secret Garden Tea Party

A day of eating: When we got home my hubby was out purchasing items for a big family dinner. Thankfully he didn't prepare the lovely dinner of roasted pork tenderloin with apples and onions , asparagus, strawberries, and bread until several hours later. Everything was delicious. After dinner I had a piece of birthday cake from my favorite local bakery. Spoiled girl.

Tomorrow: Is another day off work, this for President's Day. I'm not really sure why we have this holiday.

Soups of the week: Chicken Chili Soup and Minestrone. I learned something about using pasta in soup. It is good the first day, not so good the second. I will modify this recipe next time to add the pasta to the soup bowl, not the pot. Otherwise both soups were excellent.

Favorite video of the week : Mobiledia. (Click link.) Rick Mereski spent 44 days traveling 38,000 miles across 11 countries just to film this one minute video. It makes me want to get up and MOVE (travel.)

Books read this week:

  • Inside a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know by Alexandra Horowitz...This was an audiobook selection which was both a positive and negative experience. I was a captive audience while I listened in the car and parts of it were less than thrilling. But because of the format I was able to run it in the background of may life while I cooked dinner and moved around the house and I still caught most of the information. It has caused me to look at my dog differently.
  • Go: A Kidd's Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd...a delightful introduction to graphic design and to Chip Kidd's own art. I was completely fascinated by both the book and the topic.
Currently reading:
  • Earth Girl by Janet Edwards...I have less than 20 pages to go on this dystopian/utopian book.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman...my current audiobook selection. Thi book is surprisingly scarey.
  • How to Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig...I am still enjoying this book immensely.
  • The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin...I'm reading this for Black History Month.
Have a fabulous week.~

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Review: Mister Orange by Truus Matti

Mister Orange by Truus Matti won the 2014 Batchelder Award for books translated into English in this case from Dutch. The book was translated by Laura Watkinson. Ordinarily I don't read and review Junior books but decided to read this one as part of my own challenge to read all the 2014 ALA Youth Award books.
The year: 1945. The place: Manhattan. Mr. Orange is told from the perspective of Linus Muller, the third of six children, whose parents own a grocery store. Linus' oldest brother Albie volunteers to fight in World War II, and it's his departure that sets the story in motion. When Albie leaves, Linus takes on new responsibilities, including grocery deliveries to customers. Among his customers is a man who has come from Europe and is an artist, but Linus never quite catches his name, so he names him Mr. Orange for the crate of fruit he delivers to him each week.---Goodreads. 
Mr. Orange befriends Linus and helps him put the war into perspective. He also talks to Linus about art, though the boy doesn't learn the name of his new friend, Piet Mondrian, until after the artist's death.

The short little story piqued my interest in the famous Dutch artist and his work. After reading the book I spent some time on the web reading more about Mondrian's life and looking at copies of his work.

In real life Piet Mondrian did come to New York just prior to World War II, sponsored by a person who appreciated his art. Mondrian was delighted to be in a large city and looked at the move as a positive for his life and his art. He spent the last year of his life working on Victory Boogie-Woogie. It wasn't quite finished at the time of his death.
Mondrian, PietVictory Boogie-Woogie.1944. Geementemuseum, The Hague, Netherlands.Wikipedia, Victory Boogie-WoogieOil and Canvas on paper. Feb. 15, 2014.

Would I recommend this book to anyone? Yes. It was a quick little read and introduced me to an artist I was unfamiliar with. Will I buy it for my library? No. High school students seem to be able to sniff out junior-level books and don't want anything to do with them. I will, however, look for a biography or an art book about Mondrian.


Snapshot Saturday, Feb 15

We love our coffee. We drink fair trade coffee that is roasted in Bellingham, Washington or Equal Exchange coffee which is supported by our church. My husband makes the best cup of coffee of anyone I know. I am so spoiled. When we go out to a coffee shop I never like their coffee as much as what I can get at home. I wish I could send you smell-vision so you could enjoy our coffee, too.

Snapshot Saturday is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Book Beginnings and Friday 56, Feb 14th

Book Beginnings on Friday is now hosted by Rose City Reader. The Friday 56 is hosted at Freda's Voice. Check out the links above for the rules and for the posts of the participants each week. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the one you are currently reading.

Book: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafron

Book Beginnings:
I still remember the day my father took me to the cemetery of forgotten books for the first time.
Friday 56:
'We'll meet again, Daniel. I never forget a face and I don't think you will either,' he said calmly.
My thoughts: I've only read one other book by Carlos Ruiz Zafron. It was a YA horror story. This one has the makings of the last. I haven't gotten to page 56 yet in my reading but in skipping ahead for this exercise I've just learned that the speaker has no face, hence the comment about not forgetting a face. Eek!

Several people have told me to read this book and I am quite looking forward to it, if it doesn't scare me too much.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Best Audiobooks of 2013

 My favorite way of consuming is a book is through a well-narrated audiobook. Here is some information about the best of the best YA audiobooks from 2013.

Audiofile Magazine (December/January Issue):
  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal, read by W. Morgan Sheppard. 
"W. Morgan Sheppard embodies the haunting aspects of this dark tale...[He] is the voice of Jacob Grimm. Sheppard's tone conveys Jacob's tenderness toward his charge [Jeremy Johnson Johnson.]"---Audiofile
  •  The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton
"Patton's narration enriches this contemporary fantasy...His drawl hints at the social divide between prep school boys and the less fortunate...[His] softened tones add to the suspense."---Audiofile
  •  The President Has Been Shot by James Swanson, read by Will Patton
"Patton is purposeful and precise as he narrates...With brisk and urgent pacing, Patton voices each factual nugget and lets it hang momentarily before passing on to the next."---Audiofile
  • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell, read by Rebecca Lowman
"One of Lowman's great strengths is the way she portrays the vulnerability of [Rowell's] characters."---Audiofile
  • Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz, read by Lin-Manuel Miranda
  • A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty, read by Fiona Hardingham
  • Darius and Twig by Walter Dean Myers, read by Brandon Gill
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, read by Rebecca Lowman and Sunhil Mohatra
The Audie Awards are announced in May. Here is a list of the audiobooks that won the 2013 Audie Awards for teens.

Odyssey Awards
“The nine members of the Odyssey committee were taken to other lands, times, and situations as they listened to hundreds of audiobooks and joyously chose the best,” said Odyssey Award Committee Chair Ellen Rix Spring. - ALA/Odyssey Award Page

  • Winner: Scowler by Daniel Kraus, read by Kirby Heyborne (YA)
"In this gripping and horrific tale, Kirby Heyborne’s flawless narration features humming, clicks, and sounds that are not of this world."---from the ALA website
  • Honor books:
  1. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, read by Rebecca Lowman and Sunhil Malhotra (YA)
  2. Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds, read by James Naughton (Junior)
  3. Matilda by Roald Dahl, read by Kate Winslet (Junior)
  4. Better Nate than Never by Tim Federle, read by the author (Junior)
My favorites. I listened to 25 audiobooks this past year that would be considered YA (or that I think young adults would like.) Many were published in previous years. Of the books that were published in 2013 here  are my favorites:
  • Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, read by Rebecca Lowman and Sunhil Malhotra. I like it when books that have two narrators also have two voice actors reading the parts. Both Lowman and Malhotra did an excellent job with their parts which helped me, the listener, to really empathize with the characters.
  • The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, read by Will Patton. I am not only wild about Maggie Stiefvater and her writing but I am also wild about Will Patton and his work as a voice actor. I think I could listen to him all day. I haven't listened to The President has Been Shot yet but I just realized that Patton is reader so I have placed it on my TBR list. (BTW-Dream Thieves is the second book in the Raven Cycle series. Start with The Raven Boys.)
  • Far Far Away by Tom McNeal, read by W. Morgan Sheppard. Mr. Sheppard is the perfect Jacob Grimm. I LOVED the work that he did on this audiobook. As people were debating potential Printz Award book this book was mentioned all the time. Most people didn't think it was perfect enough to win. I thought otherwise. I felt that the book and the audiobook were nearly perfect and it is thanks to the work of W. Morgan Sheppard I am sure!
  • The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey, read by Brandon Espinoza and Phoebe Strohl. I really enjoyed this book while I was listening to it but the memory of that experience has faded a bit. Here is what I said in my review about the audiobooks: "The narrators, Brandon Espinoza and Phoebe Strohl, must have needed oxygen between their reading sessions. They read the book at such a breakneck speed, building the tension with every new chapter."
  • Here is the my list of all YA audiobooks from last year. Click the hyperlinks on the titles for my reviews.
I haven't listened to Scowler and The President Has Been Shot. All the other YA books I have either read or listened to them on audiobooks. Two more books for my list...:)

Happy listening!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Snowy Sunday Salon, Feb. 9

Weather: Snowy. It started snowing around 5 PM last evening. We woke this morning to a lovely world. My husband, a dedicated National Guardsman, had to sweep off the car before he could leave for his week-end duty.

Winter Olympics: What was your favorite scene of the Opening Ceremony? Mine was the ballet with the ballerinas covered by cords of lights/string. (See below.)

Poetry Out Loud regional competition: Yesterday was the Puget Sound regional competition for Poetry Out Loud. Jared, from GKHS, did a nice job but didn't win a berth to go on to the state contest.

Poetry Out Loud contestants, Jared W. is far left.
Yesterday: I attended the celebration of the life of a husband of a friend. He was very athletic and had many, many friends. It was a privilege to join in the celebration of John's life. I am praying for his wife that she can find comfort in family, friends, and her memories.

Soups this past week: Barley Beef (favorite); Zuppa Toscana (better than last time); Ravioli and Broth (ravioli and marinara is better); Greek Lamb Meatball and Yogurt Soup (interesting but very tart flavor. A little goes a long way.) The "soup diet" is working. I'm down 12.5 lbs.

Books read this week:
  • Mister Orange by Truus Matti, translated from Dutch by Laura Watkinson. The winner of the Batchelder Award for best book translated into English for children. I read this as part of my reading challenge to read all the YA- ALA Award books of 2014.
  • Allegiant by Veronica Roth. The third book in the Divergent trilogy. Now I know why everyone who has returned it told me that they didn't like the ending.
Currently reading:
  • How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig...I am so bummed that this book wasn't around when my children were young.  If you have young children, get this book. I am not kidding.
  • Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein...this book has been on my bedside table since before Xmas and I am finally getting to it.  It won the Schneider Family Book Award for Teens in 2014. I am reading it for my same reading challenge, to read all the ALA YA Award books of 2014.  Join me!
  • Inside a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz...this is the most boring audiobook I've ever listened to but I am staying tuned-in because it is a current book club selection.

“Become major, Paul. Live like a hero. That's what the classics teach us. Be a main character. Otherwise what is life for?” ― J.M. Coetzee

Monday, February 3, 2014

TTT: Ten Books that Made Me Cry (reprise)

Top Ten Tuesday Topic of the Day: books that made me cry.
I participated in this meme back in November 2010. 
To avoid repeating books from that list today's list is...

Ten Books that Made Me Cry Between Dec. '10-Feb. '14

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler...if someone is breaking up I'm all about the tissues. I had several bad break-ups as a teenager and these types of books hit nerves directly linked to my tear ducts.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys...I don't see how anyone could read this book with dry eyes. It is about human rights injustices placed on women and children of Lithuania under the Stalinist regime.

Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay...the shocking Holocaust story set in France, based on factual events.

October Mourning: a song for Matthew Shepard by Leslea Newman...the tragic death of Matthew Shepard, a young homosexual man told in beautiful and evocative poems.

Faithful Elephants: a True Story of Animals, People, and War by Yukio Tsuchyia... I cry everytime I read this children's book about the purposeful death of elephants in a Tokyo zoo during WWII. Innocent animals as victims of our awful war.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green...I listened to this book as I was driving to/from work but had to turn it off because I was crying so hard, making driving difficult. I bet this book is on just about everyone's list if they've read it.

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell...No spoilers but suffice it to say Elanor's home life sucks and Park is so loving and thoughtful. Both things made me cry.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick ...Leonard Peacock is suicidal and the only person who seems to notice or care is a teacher. It breaks my heart.

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini...Hosseini is the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. Need I say more about why I found myself crying while I read it.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell...there were just a few moments in this book that I found my eyes tearing up. No big boo-hoos though.

What books have you read recently that made you cry?