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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Friday Quotes: All the Light We Cannot See

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

Book: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

True-Crime writer, Ann Rule, has died

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 27, 2015

TTT: Literary Characters Who Love Books and Reading

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

1. Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

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

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

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

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

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

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

8. Liesel in The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

9. Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

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

11. Cather in Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

12. Alaska in Looking for Alaska by John Green

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

Sunday Salon (on Monday) Reunion Edition

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Liebester Award

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

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award

I was just honored to receive the Sisterhood of World Bloggers Award by Jane at Greenish Bookshelf. Thank you for the honor!
I am supposed to nominate others to participate but let me just invite you, my readers, to grab these questions provided to me by Jane and answer them on your blog, leaving a link to your blog on my comment section.
1. What books might you include on a list of your top 5 favorites?
To Kill a Mockingbird; Pride and Prejudice; Persuasion; Peace Like a River; Chronicles of Narnia and The Harry Potter series (tied)
2. If you could live in a book, which would it be and why?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Classics Club Survey

As a new member of the Classics Club I have been asked to answer this super long survey. Read it if you dare (or at least peruse it, if you want.)

50 Club Questions: 

  1. Share a link to your club list.  Here it is. I have a feeling it will be pretty fluid for a few months while I settle on what I really want to read.
  2. When did you join The Classics Club? How many titles have you read for the club? I actually started reading the classics when I became a high school librarian in 2005 because I realized how woefully illiterate I was about them. I have added a few of these titles onto my list. I've read 24 of the 56 books on my list.:)
  3. What are you currently reading? I am currently not reading a "classic" but I am just finishing up GO SET A WATCHMAN which we know Harper Lee wrote before TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD.
  4. What did you just finish reading and what did you think of it? The Last classic I read was The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. It was surprisingly good.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Friday Quotes, July 24

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

Book: X: a novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Kekla Magoon

Book Beginnings: 
Harlem, New York, 1945. Friends tell me trouble's coming. I ease out of the restaurant onto the sidewalk, gun in my pocket. 
Friday 56: 
But they were always see-you-tomorrows good-byes, not see-you-I-don't-know-when. We've always been a walk or a shout away from one another. This is different. This is huge. 
Comments: X: a novel is a novelization of the formative years of Malcolm X. The style in which the story is told is not linear. It travels back and forth in time so we get the full picture of what made him who he was. Ilyasah Shabazz, one of the authors, is Malcolm X's daughter. The first quote is from the time he is running for his life during his rough period. The second quote is about the time he is moved into a foster home away from his mother and siblings.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Go Set a Watchman---a few thoughts and a short review

Everyone is talking about it. Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee's second or first book, which ever way you want to look at it, is causing quite a stir in the literary world. Why? Because the fair-minded Atticus we know and love from To Kill a Mockingbird turns out to be not so fair-minded. In fact, he looks for all intents and purposes as a racist.

Before you wrinkle your nose and make a decision to not read Go Set a Watchman, and to possibly give TKAM the heave-ho at the same time, let me share a few of my thoughts.

Harper Lee wrote Go Set a Watchman in the mid-1950s. The civil rights movement was just gearing up at that time for many reasons. Here are a few of them:
  • The Supreme Court ruling Brown vs. Education (1954) outlawed segregation in the schools. "Separate but equal" laws no longer applied because, as we all know, the schools were not equal.
  • In reaction to this ruling there was a wave of resistance throughout the South which began as White Citizen Councils but ultimately led to a resurgence of the Klu Klux Klan.
  • Emmett Till, a young fourteen-year-old black boy from Chicago, was brutally murdered in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman in August 1955. His mother did not hush up his murder, rather she put his body on display to raise the awareness of the brutality of racism in the country.
  • The first of the Civil Rights Acts was passed by Congress in 1957, on the heels of integration of the military in 1948.
  • There was an unsolved murder of a NAACP worker and his wife in Florida in 1951.
  • White citizens, fearing that their lifestyle was threatened, were becoming more militant in their defense of Jim Crow laws in the South.
  • The NAACP started pushing for voting rights for African-Americans.
Harper Lee lived (and still lives) in Monroeville, Alabama in what we would consider the Deep South. As she was writing her book Go Set a Watchman she would not only have been very aware of the events mentioned above, she would have been living them. She likely had friends or family members on the White Citizen Councils. Her community was no doubt involved in resistance of segregation and a tightening of Jim Crow laws. This was her world at the time.

We now know that Go Set a Watchman was rejected by her publisher originally with a suggestion that Lee go back and write more about the childhood memories and events. That advice led to the writing of To Kill a Mockingbird and we all know how that turned out. Most experts thought her first book was just essentially an earlier draft of TKAM not realizing it was a separate novel about Scout twenty years later. After reading it, I completely understand why the publisher rejected GSAW in 1955. It would have been like publishing a book in Germany during WWII about the horrors of the Holocaust. The world, especially the South, was not ready for it.

Years ago when I read Sylvia Plath's classic novel, The Bell Jar, I was struck by how historical it felt. She wrote it in the late 1950s but I read it in 2010. I kept thinking how different the world was "back then" as I read it, even though fifty years didn't seem like a long time historically. I had the same sensation as I read Go Set a Watchman. Harper Lee didn't write it as an historical novel, she wrote it as current events. It was present-day to her at its writing. The world wasn't ready for it then and may not be happy about it today because the mirror that the book holds up for us to view doesn't reveal a very pretty world.

I personally loved the book. Yes, I was disturbed by what I learned but the book rounded out a picture for me. Atticus isn't a god. Good people often do and say unkind, even awful things. Children are often forced to learn things about their parents which make them more human but may bring them down a notch. But as the quote on the back of the book says, "Every man's island, Jean Louise, every man's watchman, is his conscience." We have to learn to heed our own watchman, even if he is guiding us on a route different than our parents and our past.

I'd love to hear from you as to your thoughts about the book.

Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

30 books Summer Reading Challenge

22 / 30 books. 73% done!

Monday, July 20, 2015

TTT: YA Books that celebrate diversity/cultural differences

Top Ten Tuesday hosted by Broke and Bookish. 
Today's topic:
YA Books that celebrate diversity or cultural differences.
Will Grayson, Will Grayson
by John Green and David Levithan
Five Flavors of Dumb
by Anthony John
Deaf culture
The Running Dream
by Wendalin Van Draaden
Physical Disabilities
Golden Boy
by Tara Sullivan
Albinism and Tanzanian culture
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian
by Sherman Alexie
Native-American culture 
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
by Mark Haddon
She's Not Invisible
by Marcus Sedgwick
Say What You Will
by Connie McGovern
Physical and mental disabilities
The Crossover
by Kwame Alexander
Africa-American culture
A Time to Dance 
by Padma Venkatraman
Indian culture and living with a disability
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
by Isabel Quintero
Hispanic Culture; LGBT issues
I'll Give You the Sun
by Jandy Nelson
Artistic individuals and LGBT issues
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13-B
by Teresa Totem
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Hispanic culture and LGBT issues

Please let me know what you think of my selections in the comment section. Thank you.

Preparing for a road trip

I leave Wednesday for a few days on the road. While I'm gone I will: attend a 60-year-old birthday party; go river rafting; attend a few Shakespeare plays; and attend my 40th high school reunion. I need to get organized for the trip! The trip will also take me over 900 miles of road miles which will mean over 15 hours in the car.  Time to plan what I will read and listen to during the trip, in addition to what I will wear.

I am currently listening to the audiobook of X: a novel by Shabazz (current progress 10 of 35 "chapters") but my daughter, my traveling companion, has already listened to it so I will put it on the back burner to listen to for the few hundred miles I'll be driving alone (from Ashland to Corvallis to the reunion, and then from Corvallis to Eugene to pick up my daughter, again.) Not sure that will be enough time to finish the book, but I'll be close.

Carly and I will have to choose between the other two audiobooks I have on hand, The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh (10 hours) and The Alex Crow by Andrew Smith (8 1/2 hours.) We would definitely be able to finish the second choice during the time we are together in the car. We might not be able to quite finish the other. But since we are together so much, it won't really matter.

My sister, (the soon-to-be-60-year-old), asked me to make her a copy of the audiobook To Kill a Mockingbird, so she has something to listen to while she is traveling from Eugene to Ashland and back. We'll be in separate cars.

In the evening and during the quiet moments of this hectic few days I'd better have some print book to read.  If I don't finish Go Set a Watchman before I leave, I'll pack it. I currently have downloaded Simon vs the Homo Sapiens on my iPad. I will also take the advanced reader's edition of The Prom Goer's Interstellar Excursion. If anything happens to it, like getting wet, I won't mind.

Now that I have the important stuff taken care of I'd better decide what I am going to wear. Ha!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Sunday Salon, July 19

Pt. Defiance Park, Tacoma
Weather: Sunny and hot

Family Reunion: Last Sunday my daughters and I drove to Portland for a family reunion at my cousin's house. My dad and his only surviving sister were the honored guests, both are in their 80s.
My dad and his sister, Betty

The assembled family

Day Trips: This week we took in several day trips, none too far from home, just to experience a change of scenery.

  • Priest Point Park in the City of Olympia. Right on the Budd Inlet, at the end of the Puget Sound, from one angle we could see the state capitol building.
    View of the Capitol building from Priest Point Park on Budd Inlet
  • Nisqually Wildlife Refuge. We were there fairly late in the day. We saw lots of birds, muskrats, and lots of frogs.
    This shot actually has two frogs in it. Can you see the second set of eyeballs?
  • Owen Beach at Point Defiance Park in Tacoma. We ate a picnic lunch, walked the poem promenade, and visited the rose garden.
    Carly and Muffy.

    The Vashon Island ferry

    I call it the poem promenade because poems like this are etched into the concrete: "A child believes daisies, teddy bears, hats. Knows why stars, like horses, gallop across the sky."

    One of many very beautiful roses in the Pt. Defiance Rose Garden

To Kill a Mockingbird: Our local indie theater shows a classic film once a month. This month the film just happened to be To Kill a Mockingbird starring Gregory Peck, just one day after the launch of Harper Lee's second book Go Set a Watchman.  I've never seen this movie before. We purchased our tickets on-line so we knew we would have a seat but we were so late we had to sit in the front row. At one point the film stopped, just like in the old days when films would break and needed to be spliced. It was a fun, literary experience to share with my husband and daughter.
A view of the movie from our front row position.
Whose ever heard of a cat this color? Our cat came in yesterday looking like she was a yellow and while cat. But the yellow is very bright. I suspect it is pollen. Tee-hee!

Demi, our white and now yellow spotted cat 

Books read the past two weeks:

  • Dime by E.R. Frank---about teen prostitution. Very depressing. YA. Fiction.
  • I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest---a mystery set in Seattle. YA Fiction.
  • Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman---a boy's descent into mental illness; very enlightening. YA. Fiction. Audiobook.
  • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson---a coming-of-age story involving roller derby. Graphic novel. Junior.
  • Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell---a young Japanese boy dying of ALS decides he wants to end his life with dignity like a samurai warrior. YA. Fiction.
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee--a reread. Audiobook.
  • What's So Amazing about Grace by Philip Yancey---I finally finished this book I started in April for the Sunday School class I was teaching.

Currently reading:
  • Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee---Need I say more?
  • X: a novel by Ilyasah Shabazz and Keikla Magoon---the early and formative years of Malcolm X. Audiobook.
Scripture for the day: Matthew 5: 5, 6 (from the Sermon on the Mount)
5 "You're blessed when you're content with just who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. 6"You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. 
Food suggestion for a hot summer day: Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches
  • Shopping list: roasted chicken in the deli section of the store; green grapes; celery; almond pieces; crunchy apple; plain yogurt; flat bread; curry.
  • Directions: bone chicken and place pieces in a bowl in the refrigerator to cool; clean grapes and cut in half; chop celery and apple into pieces; make a dressing with the curry and yogurt, I use a lot of curry making it spicy; slice almonds; heat flat bread.
  • Serve: everyone in my family likes/dislikes parts of the salad so I serve everything in separate bowls. Everyone makes their own mixture before loading onto flat bread.
  • Yum!
Today: We will be serving lunch at the homeless day center then dining ourselves at the Food Truck Event at a park in Tacoma.  Ah. Summer.

What are you up to on these lazy days of summer?