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

Monday, November 28, 2016

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter is nothing like I thought it would be. Actually, I don't know what I thought it would be but it wasn't like anything I've ever read before and it was really, really weird, so that counts as unexpected, right? Before I reached page 50 there was no way I was going to finish it...it was too weird and I couldn't figure out what was going on. But I have this thing about not abandoning books before a good, heartfelt try so I read on. By page 100 I could see the potential and I was completely confused. It was still weird. By page 150 I was hooked and reading as fast as I could to figure out how this weird tale was going to work out.

Let's see, what was so weird about it?
     To begin with, Vassa, the main character, has a little doll which lives under her clothes and has a huge appetite. She also steals things.
     Then there is a store which spins and moves up and down deciding to allow or not allow entrance.
     The store is guarded by a motocycling portion of the night.
     And, of course since it is from a Russian fairy tale, there is a witch with a name close to Baba Yaga and lots of swans. I am not familiar with the fairy tale it retells: Vassilissa the Beautiful.

What I liked about the book.
     Well, it was unpredictable.  Ever feel like you are reading the same story over and over? Not this time.
     The characters grew on me. Even the detached hands that do the witch's dirty work.
     I knew everything was going to be OK in the end, but I had no idea how we were going to get there. So I was satisfied with the entirety of the tale.

Will I recommend it to other readers? Why not? But I will add a caveat about how weird it is and how the reader will need to be patient to allow the story to unfold.

Here is what a few other readers (from Goodreads) had to say about Vassa in the Night:
This is one of those books that I absolutely loved but I'd hesitate before rushing out to recommend it. Because it's weird. No, seriously, it's REALLY weird.---Emily May
Well that was COMPLETELY BIZARRE...but in a good way! You know what makes sense in this book? Absolutely nothing. Welcome to Russian foklore!  ---Cait from Paper Fury
This book was so bizarre. Magical realism in YA, at its finest. Bizarre, but intriguing. ---Alyssa 
This is what a YA book should be -- dark, specific, weird... Vassa lives in a dystopian futuristic Brooklyn with Erg, the doll who lives in her pocket. There is so much wonderful imagery. The perilous journey Vassa must take to Baba Yar's convenience store, the scuttling helpers there. The whole thing is like Tim Burton meets Judy Bloom in a Salvador Dali painting. Or maybe Madeline L'Engle meets Fellini. Whichever: read and love. ---Elizabeth Gold
This is probably one of the weirdest books I have ever read and I can tell you it is so worth the read. ---Michelle
This was so, so weird. I enjoyed the hell out of it!---Petra 
See? I am not alone. Weird, but wonderful. Oddly fantastic. Read it, I dare you, but be sure to keep an open mind...weirdness guaranteed.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Sunday Salon, Nov. 27th

Sunrise  November 26, 2016. Photo by Nancy Nelson. Used with permission

Sunrise and Mt. Rainier. Nov. 26, 2016. Photo by Nancy Nelson. Used with permission
Weather: Overcast and sprinkling rain.

Spectacular sunrise: Saturday morning we awoke to the most spectacular sunrise. See the photos above taken by a friend, Nancy Nelson, from her house, which is not far from here.

Thanksgiving: We hosted dinner this year. There were thirteen of us, just enough that we had to split into two tables. It was a lovely day and meal with everyone contributing something but by the end of the evening I was completely spent. I crawled away from the party around 9 PM and fell exhausted into bed. Wednesday evening we all attended a multi-congregational worship service to thank God for our many blessings. The front of the church was festooned with symbols of plenty and reminders of God's bounty. See photo below.

Football: It was not a good weekend for our teams: The UO Ducks lost to their rivals OSU Beavers and the WSU Cougars lost to their rivals UW Huskies. The Husky win means they will go on and play for the conference championship, which will make people around here happy. Don started wearing his Seahawks jersey later in the day in hope that they would win their game today. Ha.

Books and reading: I brought home several books from school on Tuesday, hoping I'd have enough time to get away and read a bit over the holiday weekend. That did not happen. I seem to be just plodding along in the books I've been reading for weeks now:

  • Little Women...I have a goal of finishing this book for my Classics Club Challenge by Dec. 1st. It may be a race to see which happens first: the turning of the calendar page or the finishing of this long, classic, children's book. 91% complete.
  • Girl at War...a fictional look at what children go through when war hits their country. It is not a light read and I am finding it hard to want to read many pages at a time. 69% complete.
  • The Singing Bones by Shaun Tan...Tan is an artist who created 3-D objects to represent aspects of many of Grimm's Fairy Tales. I am discovering fairy tales I haven't heard before.
Finished this week:
  • John Ball's In the Heat of the Night by Matt Pelfry...a full cast audio production of the play In the Heat of the Night. Very well done. Look for my review today or tomorrow.
  • Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford...another audiobook and a book club selection. The book had a lot of good messages but I felt it to be too melodramatic. Not a favorite.
Prayers for: Sharon's mom. She had surgery for an obstructed bowel last week and now is struggling to regain her health.
Our sanctuary was transformed over the weekend and now we are ready for Advent.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. We look forward to the reminder that God loves us and he sent his Son to the earth as a reminder of that love. Maybe I'll be able to talk Don into helping me get out the holiday house decorations.

Have a good week, my friends!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Lists! 'Tis the Season

Best Books of 2016 lists

It may not be December yet but the Best books of the Year lists are starting to show up. I shall attempt to keep a list for you here of as many as I find them. As per usual, my focus shall be on Young Adults but many of these lists are attached to best adult list. All you need to do is trail back on the lists I link.

1. Publisher's Weekly- Best Children's and Young Adult books.
     The list is divided into Picture Books, Middle Grades, and Young Adults. There are 15 YA books identified, only one is nonfiction.

2. School Library Journal. Best Books of 2016.
     66 books are listed, they are divided among five categories: Picture books; Chapter books; Middle Grade books; Young Adult books; Nonfiction books. I watched the one hour into to the list on Kid Lit TV and got all excited about many titles. Fifteen YA titles were listed.

3. National Book Award.
     Young People's Literature division winner: March, Book Three by John Lewis.

4. Kirkus Prize.
     One winner, and five finalists were listed in the Young Readers category, the two YA titles on the list Burn Baby Burn and The Reader.

5. Audible (Audiobooks). Best YA audiobooks of the year.
The Sun is Also a Star is the winner. Honors go to: Anna and Swallow Man; Exit, Pursued by a Bear; Gemina; and The Forgetting.

6. New York Times 100 Notable books of 2016. None are YA titles. Sigh.

7. The Washington Post. Best Children's and Young Adult books of the year. The only problem with this list is that there are no Young Adult titles on the list. There are several middle grade titles but nothing for teens.

8. Best of 2016 Goodreads. Three YA categories: Debut Goodreads author: Rebel of the Sands. Young Adult Fiction: Salt to the Sea. Young Adult Fantasy: Court of Mist Fury.

9. 2017 Morris Award finalists.  Girl Mans Up; Rani Patel in Full Effect; The Serpent King; The Smell of Other People's Houses; Tell Me Something Real.

10. 2017 YALSA Nonfiction finalists. 
Hillary Rodham Clinton: a Woman Living History; 
In the Shadow of Liberty: The Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives; March: Book Three; 
Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minimoto Yoshitsune; 
This Land is Our Land: The History of American Immigration.

11. Horn Book Fanfare. I count only 6 truly YA books (high school) on the list but my favorite is on it: The Passion of Dolssa. Whew!

12. NPR Best Books of 2016, Twelve of them are identified as YA. Though my favorite, Dolssa, is noticabley missing in contains other favorites of mine like Lucy and Linh, The Lie Tree, and Burn Baby Burn.

13. New York Times Notable Children's Books . There are six YA titles. Dolssa is here as well as others we left off our Mock Printz list.  Oh oh.

This list will be updated as more Best of lists are published.

Monday, November 21, 2016

TTT: Ten bookish things I'm grateful for

Let me pause and just say that this Fall has been rough for me and mine. My brother was diagnosed with serious cancer. iPad deployment was a month-long nightmare at work. My beloved father-in-law abruptly died while on vacation in Arizona. And then the election. Ugh. I am sad, sad, sad over the turn my nation has taken. In light of all these events I still need to pause and gift thanks for so many good things in my life this time a year, specifically (on this blog) for bookish related things, not sure i can come up with ten but I will try.

Bookish things I am thankful for:

1. The English teachers and their classes are back! Two years ago our district selected a particular curriculum which de-emphasized reading full-length books and embraced reading segments of books and essays. Almost all the teachers stopped bringing their classes to the library for free-choice books. Last year a few trickled back and this year they are back in greater number than ever before. I am grateful for English teachers who recognize the importance of getting books in students' hands.

2. For the district tech department that placed filters on the student iPads this school year.  Last year the iPads had no filters and most students spent all their time using the iPads to play games and listen to music. This year kids are finally making their way back to the library and checking out books again after a year hiatus where they almost abandoned books entirely. Finally the iPads are being used for the  purpose they were purchased, to enhance education not to enhance game playing. Whew!

3. Students who love to read. I had a girl who was so excited today when a book I was holding for her came available. She said last year (1st year of iPads) she just couldn't make room for reading, but this year, "everything else is getting pushed over so there is room for books and reading."

4. For my Shepherd of the Hill Presbyterian Church book club.  I was at the very first meeting over 21 years ago and been a member ever since. At our last meeting there were 17 members in attendance. We all love God and love books. Wow.

5. For my RHS Book Club. All nine of us worked together at RHS. Most are retired now, or like me, moved to another school, but we are all Rams and love books. It is so nice to keep this connection going.

6. For audiobooks so I can share my reading experiences with my husband when we are in the car together.

7. For public and school libraries. I know I say this every time I get a chance but libraries really are the best bargain around. Use them!

8. For my fellow librarians locally and nationally. I get so much support from my librarian friends in my district and region, and my blogging librarian friends often offer great suggestions and support, too.

9. For my library clerk. Sharon works really hard every day and I appreciate all she does for our school and how much she helps me do my job. Thank you.

10. For all my blogging and Facebook friends who make comments or link me to all things books, reading, and libraries. I'm afraid you all think of me as a one dimensional character but I love you all.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone (US) and have a good week (International).

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Salon, Nov. 20th

Weather: overcast and cool. Threatening to rain on and off all day.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and Anne a dull girl. I had one of those weeks that was just crazy busy at work. I double booked myself almost every period for three days in a row. So I not only was busy every period I was also running around every period from class to class. I ended up staying late every day except Wednesday when I had to leave early for my follow-up mammogram (gulp) but they discovered nothing after closer inspection (whew.) I came home every day completely pooped. See what I mean about Anne having a dull week?

"Look everybody. Look whose back. Again." That is one of our favorite lines from the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". In the movie the grandmother keeps running away and a neighbor brings her back. In our life, we say the line whenever someone is gone for a while and returns. This week it was Ichiro, our fifteen-year-old cat, who disappeared for over 48 hours before returning all bedraggled with a wounded foot. Boy, were we happy to see the old boy. I had already written our girls an email telling them I thought he was gone for good. Glad I was wrong. The photo montage (above) is one photo of him which I manipulated with Waterlogue.

Thanksgiving this week: We are hosting the dinner this year and plan the traditional meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and sides, and plenty of pies. My parents and sister and her husband are driving up from Eugene, her daughter is flying up from California, a cousin and my aunt are driving down from Seattle, my cousin's daughter and her husband will be here (they live nearby), and so will our daughter and her husband. It will be a full house, but lots of fun. We will miss our youngest daughter who will remain in New York and dine with friends.

Books read this week:
  • Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. I attempted to finish this book last Sunday as part of my 24-hour reading/blogging event. I didn't quite get it finished in time but finished it later in the day. It is a weird one but I did end up enjoying it.
Currently reading:
  • Girl at War by Sara Novic. For an upcoming book club about a girl trapped in the fighting during the Bosnian War. 33% done.
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. For my Classics Club challenge. I hope to finish by Dec.1st. 69% finished. Audiobook.
  • Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. Another audiobook and book club selection. 70% complete.
Fish Tacos:  A new food obsession of mine is fish tacos and we dined out one day at the local Taco Del Mar and each had two fish tacos then later in the week we successfully made them ourselves, using two recipes, one for cooking the fish and the other for the white sauce.  In my opinion it is the white sauce that makes them extra special, but we did use cabbage, cheese, and pico de gallo along with the fish and sauce. Since we had leftovers, we are having them again today. Yum. Anne Burrell Fish Tacos.  and Wickedly Good Sauce for Fish.

Have a wonderful week. Even with all the disappointments of this Fall (election results, death of my father-in-law, cancer diagnosis for my brother) I still have so much to be thankful for. Bet you do, too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Three short YA reviews

I am attempting to clean up my inbox and finish up all past due book reviews. Here are three short ones:

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
Amulet Books, 2016
Audiobooks by Brillaince Audio, Read by Stephanie Willis
From the Publisher:
January 29, 2035. That's the day the comet is scheduled to hit--the big one. Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise's drug-addicted mother is going, they'll never reach the shelter in time. A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter--a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she'll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister? When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?
My thoughts: We listened to this audiobook on two different long trips, separated by a week.  That and some of the production decisions of the audiobook really detracted from my enjoyment of this book. Perhaps I would have liked it more had I read the print edition. Other reviewers talk about the exciting, almost thrilling post apocalyptic nature of the Sci-Fi drama. I thought the strength of the book was in the characterization of Denise, an autistic teen. Denise is a deeply complex character who is very self-aware of her autism and how it impacts her life. "It's unsurprising that Duyvis, autistic herself, draws a superbly nuanced portrait of Denise as person (not a collection of pitiable autism tropes or cure narratives), but what makes this a winner is the nerve-wracking adventure" (KirkusReviews). 

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse
Little, Brown, and Company, 2016
Hachette Audio, read by Natalia Payne
From the Publisher:
 Amsterdam, 1943. Hanneke spends her days procuring and delivering sought-after black market goods to paying customers, her nights hiding the true nature of her work from her concerned parents, and every waking moment mourning her boyfriend, who was killed on the Dutch front lines when the Germans invaded. She likes to think of her illegal work as a small act of rebellion. On a routine delivery, a client asks Hanneke for help. Expecting to hear that Mrs. Janssen wants meat or kerosene, Hanneke is shocked by the older woman's frantic plea to find a person--a Jewish teenager Mrs. Janssen had been hiding, who has vanished without a trace from a secret room. Hanneke initially wants nothing to do with such dangerous work, but is ultimately drawn into a web of mysteries and stunning revelations that lead her into the heart of the resistance, open her eyes to the horrors of the Nazi war machine, and compel her to take desperate action.
My thoughts: Another audiobook which I listened to with my husband on a trip to Oregon and back. Initially we both thought it was going to be a mash up of The Diary of Anne Frank and The Hiding Place, both Holocaust stories from The Netherlands. Although there is a missing girl who was hiding, The Girl in the Blue Coat is really a mystery, with a lot of history mixed in. Where is the girl and how did she disappear? A long the way we learn more details about resistance work in The Netherlands during WWII, such as how babies and young children were squirreled away right under the noses of the Nazi guards and placed in homes with Dutch families. It always surprises me that new information is still coming out about the Holocaust over seventy years after the war has ended. This book is appropriate for younger teens, 13-16 years old.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian
Simon and Schuster, 2016
From the Publisher:
The Last Boy and Girl in the World is a stunning new novel about a girl who must say goodbye to everything she knows after a storm wreaks havoc on her hometown. What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together? While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together. And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she's loved forever.  It's the end of Aberdeen, but the beginning of Keeley's first love story. It just might not turn out the way she thought. Because it's not always clear what's worth fighting for and what you should let become a memory.
My thoughts: I bought this book for my library based on the summary from the publisher (above). It sounds so good and interesting. And maybe the book is good for teens but to an adult (me) the characters are too selfish and childish to like or even to cheer on. Everything in their town is being destroyed and everyone has to move and move out quickly, in weeks. The school year isn't quite over so graduation is canceled, the principal leaves town even before the last day of school, and the building is dismantled in days. Yet, kids go out and slip and slide in their swimsuits and make hay while it rains on. I just couldn't square it in my mind...if this were reality things just can't move that fast and kids aren't really that selfish and self-absorbed. Only one student has checked the book out so far and I haven't talked to him to see what he thought of the book. I hope he liked it better than I did.

Rating: 2 of 5 stars.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Flannery by Lisa Moore

Sixteen-year-old Flannery Malone lives in Newfoundland with her artist mother and younger brother. Her mother is loving but incapable of adequately taking care of the financial needs of the family, which includes not having enough money to buy Flannery's biology book. Her best friend, Amber, has ditched Flannery for an abusive, awful boyfriend. And Flannery had a crush on her old childhood pal, Tyrone O'Rouke, who has grown into a bit of bad-boy/heart-throb and rarely attends school. So Flannery is thrilled when she is paired with Tyrone for a Entrepreneurship class project. But having a partner who doesn't come to class often and often misses meetings means that Flannery has to do all the work on the project: to market and sell love potions.

As I think back on Flannery by Lisa Moore, I am not sure why I liked the book as much as I did. Perhaps it is because Flannery is such a kind, thoughtful person who keeps getting dumped on but she remains positive and upbeat. Perhaps it is because the drama of the book seems realistic to the kind of situations students face today: friends who abandon friends because of a boy (or girl); partners who do no work on class projects but want credit; parents who love their children but seem incapable of taking care of the needs of their children; pointless and mean-spirited bullying; teens finding new friends who have similar interests only after some traumatic event gives them pause to think and notice.

Several reviewers commented on how Moore abandoned the use of punctuation, especially quotation marks which is a narrative style which alternately draws the reader in closer but makes the action seem a little further off. I am usually put-off when authors abandon punctuation but I don't remember it, so I don't think it detracts from the story. I hope readers will root for Flannery, like I did, and should cheer for her throughout this touching coming-of-age book.

Monday, November 14, 2016

TTT: Favorite Christmas movies

Top Ten Tuesday: Movie Freebie.
My favorite Christmas/holiday movies

10. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966 version)

9. Home Alone (1990)

8. The Polar Express (2004)

7. A Christmas Story (1983)

6. Santa Clause Two (2002)

5. White Christmas (1954)

4. The Holiday (2006)

3. Elf (2003)
2. The Santa Clause (1994)

1. It's a Wonderful Life (1945)

Railhead by Philip Reeve

Zen Starling is a small-time thief. After he steals a necklace from a shop, he is chased but he is able to hop upon train to avoid capture, just as it is disappearing into a K-gate, en route to another planet. Once he is on the train he is sure he wasn't followed so he lets down his guard. When he departs the train at his destination he is amazed to see the Motorik android he thought he had eluded waiting for him. To his surprise he learns she is not interested in the necklace but wants to offer him a job, a big job, to steal an object from the Emperor's train. Zen decides to take the job but when the heist goes awry, everything Zen knows about the world is spun out of control. Now he must steal the item back or perhaps the universe, as they know it, will come to an end.

Philip Reeve is a master story-teller and world-builder and Railhead is a perfect example of his oeuvre. As the reviewer at Kirkus Reviews says,
Reeve's writing never flags, with moments of pathos and magic seamlessly interwoven. Dozens of characters collide--the sentient trains; the Motorik; the Emperor's daughter Threnody and her boring but stalwart betrothed; Hive Monks; the Railforce agent who has tracked Raven across lifetimes--each one nearly as fascinating as the world Reeve has created (don't miss the glossary at the end). As he did with the Mortal Engines series, Reeve has crafted something at once weirdly familiar and marvelously original. Thank the stars there's at least one sequel planned already.
I just gobbled up this Sci-Fi adventure. Folks who know my reading habits don't think of me as a Sci-Fi reader, and I'm not, partially because I usually have a hard time imagining the world in the tale. Reeve develops a wide assortments of worlds and I enjoy inhabiting them while I read about Zen Starling's adventure. This is the only book on the 2017 Mock Printz list which we put on the list without reading it first, based on recommendations, reviews, and the author's reputation. I know it will garner a big following among my teen readers.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sunday Salon, Nov. 13th

To honor veterans.
Armed Forces Tribute Garden in Westminster, Colorado. Photo by Don Bennett.
Weather: Rainy and cold. Miserable.

I just want to be sad for a while, not mad: After the election results of last Tuesday I've had a very sad several days. I imposed a media blackout on myself because I just want to allow myself the room to grieve over Hillary's loss and to be sad for while. I know if I spend any time on the Internet or watching cable TV my sadness will evolve into a deep anger and I just don't want to go there. Not yet.

Worst party EVER: we hosted an election watch party at our house on Tuesday night and had eight friends over to join us. Everyone brought food to share. Even by 6 PM on the West Coast we could tell things were not going Hillary's way and most of the food sat uneaten as we all dissolved into the miasma of despair as the evening wore on. It was quite possibly the worst party ever in the history of parties. Ugh! I think Saturday Night Live got the idea for this sketch from our party.

Jane Austen to the rescue: I was feeling so sad and upset by the end of the school day on Wednesday I came home from school and took a bath (in the middle of the afternoon) then watched Mansfield Park on DVD until Don got home. Rita came over Saturday and we watched Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen to the rescue. Fanny Price (Mansfield Park) is put down at every turn, yet she sticks to her morals and triumphs in the end. Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility) remains sensible and strong even though she is disappointed with many aspects of her life, one being that she is female, and women in those days just did not have as many rights as men.

24-Hour-Blog-n-Readathon: Don left for Colorado on Thursday. I was still on my media blackout. Friday was a day off school for Veteran's Day. Putting those pieces together, I had a lot of time alone to feel sorry for myself so I decided to spend the weekend reading and catching up on blogging. I got a lot done. Here is my update. It felt good to write eight book reviews which were past due, and I finished two books, while starting three others.

Hope: Last week I posted a prayer about hope. I was thinking about a world where a woman could be president and the causes she supported. This week I have found myself thinking about the word 'hope' in another way---I 'hope' Trump doesn't wreck things for America and the world. Admittedly that is not a very positive way to think of hope. Today in church the sermon was about being 'neighborly', an action verb. When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, he makes no distinction between Democrats and Republicans, black/white, rich/poor. When he taught using the parable of the Good Samaritan it was to make the point that we need to expand our world and treat others with love, compassion, and respect...in other words, to be neighborly. This is what I am going to focus on this week. How can I be more neighborly to everyone, no matter how they voted.

In the church bulletin was a copy of the Presbyterian Covenant of Peace and Unity. I think it is worth the time it takes to read it and to think of it on a personal level:

As followers of Jesus Christ we yearn for harmony and sometimes deny when discord is among us. But disagreements and disputes are natural and inevitable in everyday life, at work, at school, in our community and in our church. We don’t always know the best way to deal with conflict, yet we are called to participate in God’s activity by healing, reconciling, and binding up wounds. Peace and unity require action. As a community of followers of Jesus Christ at Shepherd of the Hill, we covenant together that when faced with conflict:
·         We will pray for each other that we may faithfully serve God, follow Jesus Christ, and be guided by the Holy Spirit;
·         We will seek to be guided by Scripture;
·         We will acknowledge that the peace and unity we seek is God’s gift to us in Christ;
·         We will speak the truth with love, expressing ourselves with candor and humility;
·         We will listen, endeavoring to understand each other, especially those whose views seem to differ from our own, maintaining a spirit of openness and vulnerability;
·         We will respect confidences, show faithfulness in our relationships, and trust each other’s motivations and dedication.
Enough said.

I look to the future with confidence and hope.
Thank you veterans for your service. The flags represent the five branches of the armed services and the merchant marine.

The 24-hour-Blog-n-Readathon Finale

The 24-Hour Blog-n-Readathon results.
How I spent my time over the past three days, reading and blogging:

Time                                 Hours/Running total
4:00-6:30 PM Thursday                         2.5/2.5
Finished In the Shadow of the Banyan
6:30-8:30                                                   2/4.5
Started Little Women Audiobook, listened for over an hour before realizing it had skipped to chapter four at the start, so went back and read the first four chapters.
10:30-11:00 PM                                        .5/5
Read Little Women before turning off the lights
8:15-10:15 AM  Friday                               2/7
Read MARCH 3
11:00-11:15 AM                                     .25/7.25
Listened to Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. I had intended to continue listening to Little Women but for some reason it is not on my iPod as I had thought.
11:45-12:15 PM                                       .5/7.75
Finished MARCH 3
12:15-1:00                                              .75/8.5 
Wrote blog review of Lucy and Linh, linked here
1:15-2:15                                                   1/9.5
Listened to Little Women
2:15-3:00                                               .75/10.25
Wrote blog review for Still Life with Tornado, scheduled it for Saturday publication. Linked Here
3:20-3:50                                                 .5/10.75
Listened to Little Women
4:00-4:15; 6:15-6:30                               .5/11.25
Listened to Songs of Willow Frost as I was driving.
5:45-6:15                                                 .5/11.75
Started Vassa in the Night while eating dinner at Taco Del Mar (fish tacos, oh yum)
6:45-7:15                                                 .5/12.25
Listened to Little Women (up to page 140)
7:15-8:15                                                  1/13.25
Wrote blog review of The Reader, scheduled it for publication on Sunday. Linked here.
8:15-9:00                                                  .75/14
Read Vassa in the Night. Not sure I will continue, very strange.
10:00-11:30                                             1.5/15.5
Listened to Little Women (pg 180)
8:15-8:30 AM Saturday                        .25/15.75
Listened to Songs of Willow Frost while driving
9:00-11:00                                                2/17.75
Read Vassa in the Night (pg 101); Listened to Little Women (pg 220)
11:00-11:45                                            .75/18.5
Wrote blog review of Railhead, scheduled it for publication on Monday.
4:30-5:30 PM                                             1/19.5
Read Vassa in the Night, getting stranger but I will likely finish it. (pg 162)
6:15-7:15                                                   1/20.5
Wrote blog review of Flannery, scheduled for Tuesday publication.
10:00-10:30                                                .5/21
Started blog review, several short reviews combined into one, but decided I needed to go to bed. Only three hours left. I will finish tomorrow.
8:00-9:30 Sunday AM                            1.5/22.5
Read Vassa in the Night (pg. 253)
10:15-10:30                                           .25/22.75
Listened to Songs of Willow Frost (I was driving again!)
12:00-1:00 PM                                         1/23.75
Listened to Little Women. Got to the end of Part 1, pg 246. Listened to the end of disc one of Song of Willow Frost (pg. 36)
1:40-1:55                                              .25/24!!!!
Finished writing blog reviews of three books: The Girl in the Blue Coat, The Last Boy and Girl in the World, On the Edge of Gone, ready for publication on Wednesday.

To summarize, in case you don't want to read my 24 hour blow by blow:

Books read:
  • In the Shadow of the Banyan by V. Rattney. I completed this book which I had started before the weekend event. 
  • MARCH 3 by John Lewis. A graphic biography of the famous Civil Rights Leader. This is the third and last book in the series.
  • Little Women by L.M. Alcott. I read half the book (mostly listened to the audiobook) and got to the end of Part One. The book was originally published in two parts. 
  • Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford. An upcoming book club selection. I hadn't thought I'd listen to any of this book this weekend but I couldn't get Little Women transferred on to my iPod, so I started it. Progress: 11%
  • Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter. A weird YA novel which is a retelling of the Russian Fairy Tale Vassilissa the Beautiful, which I am not familiar. The first 50 100 pages are so strange it is a wonder I read on. I hope to finish it this afternoon. Progress: 85%.

Blog Reviews written (some aren't published yet, to spread them out):
  • Lucy and Linh by Alice Pung
  • Still Life With Tornado by A.S. King
  • The Reader by Traci Chee
  • Railhead by Philip Reeve
  • Flannery by Lisa Moore
  • Three in one: The Last Boy and Girl in the World by S. Vivian; The Girl with the Blue Coat by M. Hesse; On the Edge of Gone by C. Duyvis

If momentum is in my favor, I hope to get these done in the next few days:
  • Write a blog review of the first half of Little Women and continue reading it with the goal of finishing it by December 1st.
  • Write a blog review of MARCH 3
  • Finish reading Vassa in the Night and complete a blog review of it immediately afterwards. I hope to accomplish this by the end of today.

Lest you think I did nothing but read and blog all weekend, I also
  • Went shopping twice, once for new clothes, and once for groceries
  • Went to church
  • Hung out with my daughter, made cookies, and watched Sense and Sensibility together
  • Watched UO Football game and when it got really lopsided in the score, watched the WSU game instead.
  • Took the dog to the Vet.
  • Went out to eat. OK, so it was only fish tacos at Taco del Mar, but still it was away from home.
  • Attempted to get some lab work done but realized I didn't have the correct paperwork with me. I'll try again next weekend.
  • Scheduled appointments
  • Tidied the house
All-in-all I accomplished what I set out to do and I am pleased with the weekend.

The Reader by Traci Chee

What do I love about The Reader by Traci Chee? Let's see.
Could it be because it is about the magic of books and reading?
There are a stories within the story where really magical stuff happens and then it really happens in real life?
The stories are about really fun things like swashbuckling pirates, and journeys to the end of the world?
Or if one prefers...
There are assassins, and fighting rings, and super kick-ass librarians.
But wait, I get ahead of myself.

Traci Chee's debut novel is all those things I mentioned and more (and it is only the first book in a series.) I can hardy contain my glee at the thought of more adventures to come with Sefia and her mute friend, Captain Reed, and others.

Sefia's mother dies when she is very young so she and her father have a very strong bond and he is very protective of her. He trains her very carefully what to do if anyone comes looking for them. When she arrives home one day to find her father murdered, Sefia follows the plan they have practiced many times and is able to escape with Aunt Nin with just one reminder from home, a strange box which contains a large, pages item which she later learns is a book. No one in her land, Kelanna, reads except the elite few, and there are no books to be found anywhere. Sefia and Aunt Nin survive in the wilds for many years until one day assassins tracking the book kidnap Nin. Sefia is alone but determined to rescue her aunt. Along the way she teaches herself to read and saves a boy, who is rendered mute by the horrific circumstances of his life. With the help of her new friend Sefia continues the search for her aunt not knowing that she is also being hunted.

Sounds wild, doesn't it? If Sefia's story isn't exciting enough by itself, she spends the evenings reading out the stories in the book, and by the act of reading them out, makes them come true. Reading The Reader is a multilayered experience both a bit confusing and exciting in turn, "but the author avoids leading readers along too transparently, trusting them to puzzle together the pieces surrounding the mystery of Sefia's past. An exploration of self-determination and the magic of the written word, Sefia's story is an absorbing introduction to the Sea of Ink and Gold series" (Publisher's Weekly).

I don't know what else to tell you, except to ask, what are you waiting for? Get to it. Find a copy of this book and let yourself just fall into the middle of a wonderful book. And, by the way, pay close attention to the printed word. There is a mysterious code just waiting for you to find it.

And yes, this is one of our Mock Printz books. Sure hope it gets a nod this year come award season.

The Reader by Traci Chee
G.P. Putnam's Sons, c. 2016
Print edition checked out from my library.