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Monday, March 31, 2014

Ski Vacation Reading

Hello Readers,

Yes, we are on our ski vacation to Winter Park, Colorado and having a fabulous time.  The entire family has been in and out and enjoying this beautiful ski resort at 9000 feet.  I am thankful for medication that helps me with the altitude sickness.

As far a vacations go I have completed two book and have started two others- always a successful time when books are read - don't you agree?

Innocence by Dean Koontz, one of my favorite authors was a page turner and the concept of the story was secret until the end.  Koontz's prose and writing style are superb and I highly recommend his books.  I find that he pulls me into each paragraph with words that surround me and lift and frighten at the same time. Much of his work is religious in theme as this one contains many references to catholicism and Christianity and yet is not some of the soft religious themed writings you sometimes find.  Definitely a strong good versus evil writer and you know where he stands.  (Koontz is from coal country in PA)

The Wild Rose by Jennifer Donnelly is the final book in the Rose Trilogy.  This is a 'saga' book and I really am not  so fond of them but since this was the last in the series I felt the need to read it.  Donnelly spins a good tale in interweaves real life characters into the book but I wouldn't call it historical fiction, although Churchill, Shackleton and Lawrence of Arabia make prominent appearance in this book set in WW1 era Europe, Asia, and Africa.  This would be a great beach read, light, fantastical, sometimes unbelievable and yet compelling.

The low battery on my IPad required me to switch from reading The Color War by Jodi Picoult to Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer.  The later was given to me by Debbie as a 'have a happy vacation' book and I am on the prologue and sucked in already.  The book doesn't seem very 'happy' to me at this point!  The former has been on my IPad for a while but surprise, surprise - all the books I have read on this trip have been actual physical books!

Oh, did I tell you about The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George?  I finished it one day before leaving for vacation and wow, what a long, long book.  I really enjoyed it and found the historical descriptions informative and instructive to a time in history I didn't know much about.  This is definitely historical fiction and although very long, well worth reading.

Time to get moving on another vacation project.  Take care until we meet again.

Barbara

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I know you're out there somewhere, somewhere - a Moody Blues tune

Yes, I am still out there reading and quilting and skiing.  Winter has been great and I am into an epic book.  The Memoirs of Cleopatra by Margaret George.  I have never read anything about this time period so it is very interesting - but it is almost 1000 pages.  

Recently read The Great Santini and The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy.  Many of you really don't like the accounting of child neglect and abuse in  Conroy's books however, I find there is much redemption in them.  

The following listing I just found via Flipboard on my IPad.  Some important and interesting books are on this list.  How many have you read?  How many do you want to read?  How many of them do you question their inclusion on this list?  I have read 30 of this list and I was happy that it was so many!  Of course I read many of the children's book with my children and during my college years for kiddie lit.  I'd like to read about 20 additional ones from this list and there are 20 I never heard of.  That leaves about 30 that I have no interest in, like a Brief History of Time by Hawking - just thinking of it sounds over my head in the science realm.  

Until we meet again - have a great day and take some time out to read.

Barbara


Amazon book editors have just released a list of their 100 Books To Read In A Lifetime.
Many of the books are 20th century classics or recent bestsellers — the oldest book on the list is Jane Austen's 1813 masterpiece "Pride and Prejudice." It also spanned multiple genres, with adult fiction, nonfiction, children's, and young adult novels such as "The Hunger Games" and "Harry Potter" making the list.

Check out the final list of books in alphabetical order below.
  1. "1984" by George Orwell
  2. "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking
  3. "A Long Way Gone" by Ishmael Beah
  4. "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle
  5. "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll
  6. "All the President's Men" by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein
  7. "Angela's Ashes: A Memoir" by Frank McCourt
  8. "Bel Canto" by Ann Patchett
  9. "Beloved" by Toni Morrison
  10. "Breath, Eyes, Memory" by Edwidge Danticat
  11. "Catch-22" by Joseph Heller
  12. "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White
  13. "Cutting For Stone" by Abraham Verghese
  14. "Dune" by Frank Herbert
  15. "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
  16. "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn
  17. "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown
  18. "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens
  19. "In Cold Blood" by Truman Capote
  20. "Interpreter of Maladies" by Jhumpa Lahiri
  21. "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison
  22. "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain
  23. "Life After Life" by Kate Atkinson
  24. "Little House on the Prairie" by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  25. "Lolita" by Vladimir Nabokov
  26. "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  27. "Love Medicine" by Louise Erdrich
  28. "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl
  29. "Me Talk Pretty One Day" by David Sedaris
  30. "Middlesex" by Jeffrey Eugenides
  31. "Midnight's Children" by Salman Rushdie
  32. "Moneyball" by Michael Lewis
  33. "Of Human Bondage" by W. Somerset Maugham
  34. "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac
  35. "Out of Africa" by Isak Dinesen
  36. "Persepolis" by Marjane Satrapi
  37. "Portnoy's Complaint" by Philip Roth
  38. "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen
  39. "Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson
  40. "Slaughterhouse-Five" by Kurt Vonnegut
  41. "Team of Rivals" by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  42. "The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton
  43. "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" by Malcolm X and Alex Haley
  44. "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
  45. "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger
  46. "The Color of Water" by James McBride
  47. "The Corrections" by Jonathan Franzen
  48. "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green
  49. "The Giver" by Lois Lowry
  50. "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  51. "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
  52. "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins
  53. "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry
  54. "The Long Goodbye" by Raymond Chandler
  55. "The Lord of the Rings" by J.R.R. Tolkien
  56. "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Norton Juster
  57. "The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel" by Barbara Kingsolver
  58. "The Right Stuff" by Tom Wolfe
  59. "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy
  60. "The Secret History" by Donna Tartt
  61. "The Shining" by Stephen King
  62. "The Stranger" by Albert Camus
  63. "The Sun Also Rises" by Ernest Hemingway
  64. "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien
  65. "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame
  66. "Things Fall Apart" by Chinua Achebe
  67. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee
  68. "Valley of the Dolls" by Jacqueline Susann
  69. "Where the Sidewalk Ends" by Shel Silverstein
  70. "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak

Friday, November 15, 2013

Turkey Day is almost upon us!

Happy November dear readers,

Hope you have enjoyed the autumn weather and are getting ready for winter.  I spent the day sorting and getting clothes out of storage.  A little late since we were in SC for two weeks and then AZ for a couple of weeks before that.  It certainly was brisk when we landed in New England late Wednesday night - 38 degrees and it just kept going down.

I had hope that those two trips would afford me lots of time to read lots of books but it seems that wasn't the case.  However I did download 5 and got through only one, The Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford.  Ford was also the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  If I recall that book was the first I read on my tablet.  Ok, back to Willow Frost.

As a white woman you think that we have always had rights and the ability to thrive in the US but while reading this book it hit me smack in the face once again how those who came before us struggled with 'the way things were'.  Thinking of a Chinese woman who only had the rights of her father or husband is just so foreign to me but yet the story rings true.  In 1924-35 a woman who married a man who was a foreigner was 'no longer American'.  For those of you who know my mother's story of getting 'stuck in Greece', maybe this is why my grandmother could not bring her husband and children back into the US and they had to wait for my aunt to reach 12 to get her an American passport.  Then the family had to go through Ellis Island like they were new immigrants.

Ford has a great way of mixing the bitter and sweet, forgiveness and acceptance of reality, benevolence and honesty.  The main character in this book is a 12 year old boy and his maturity and ability to accept reality and the past is surprising however, orphans must always feel they can 'find a way' to family.

Both of the books by Jamie Ford are well worth reading.  They are inciteful and well intentioned as well as informative.  I cannot recommend them enough.

I also completed Kristin Hannah's Between Sisters.  As always I enjoy Hannah's books but I thought this one seemed a little out of date.  It was supposedly published in 2009 but it seemed to fit better  into 1975 - the days before cell  phones and more readily available communications.  It was an easy read and brought tears to my eyes in many spots.  It was sorrowful with redemption and lots of what Hannah is best at, forgiveness and love.  It is a quick read so dive in but it's not her best book.

So, there it is folks, another episode of what are you reading now!  Have a great Turkey day and Happy Reading!

Barbara


Sunday, October 13, 2013

This is how it goes.....

 Hello readers,

This is how it goes for now.  I will write on this blog when and where I have time and desire to do so.  Having just finished reading two books I will let you know my impressions of them and .... we are off!

I just finished reading The Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff.  It is a true story of  an 11 year old panhandler and the woman he encounters on a NYC street.  This book was suggested by my lovely niece, Marla and I liked the book.  It fascinated me that she would so highly recommend this book having two children who are about the age of Maurice.  Had I read this book as a young mother I would never let my children out of my sight.  The stories that Maurice lived through were devastating to any human being.  (Have you read The Color of Water?  - it is a similar story of survival and rising above your circumstances).

I would highly recommend this book as well as highly recommend we all take steps to help someone who is in need.  Many people say charity begins at home but sometimes, just once in a while we can touch someone's life with a gentle act of kindness.

The other book completed recently was  And the Mountains Echoed by Hosseini ( the same author as The Kite Runner).    This was another interesting story about Afghanistan and the custom and culture of the country.  IMHO Kite Runner is his best book - hands down!  The Mountains Echoed had soooo many characters that got into so many situations that it was hard to follow the twists and turns of their lives and how it affected the story plot line.  I am glad I read it but wouldn't put it on the top of my reading list.

FYI - I am in Phoenix now and yesterday we visited the most fun museum.  The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM.ORG) is fun, fascinating and fabulous museum that we could have spent many hours in.  We loved it!  So... if you are ever in Phoenix, add that as a wonderful stop and place to see some spectacular instruments.

I have begun a new Kristen Hannah book and have received another hard copy book from my DDIL called A House in The Sky by Amanda Lindhout who was held captive in Somalia.  I look forward enjoying both of those books in the next week or so.

Signing out with lots of books still on my reading list,

Happy Reading!
Barbara

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Still alive and well and enjoying the great summer

It has been a while since I have written so I want to catch up on some of the books I have been reading. 

Don’t know if any of you subscribe to Bookbub via Ipad but I get notices that some wonderful reading is available at very reasonable prices – sometimes it is free!  Most recently I finished reading Blood Orchids  (The Lei Crime Series   by Toby Neal.  It is a suspense thriller set on the Big Island of Hawaii and it had me spellbound from the first and then just when I though the book was over it went on and on and still held me on the edge of the bed – I did stay up reading until after 1 AM on just two nights finishing this book.  Characters were well defined and carefully created.  The main character, Lei, has a wonderful watchdog that is a Rottweiler and those of you who know me will know I love Rottie’s.    Toby Neal has many books and they will be on my ‘to read’ list when I am looking for a great beach, summer, airplane, just need to lose myself in a book – book! 

Then I also read The Ice Man by Philip Carlo.  This is a terrifying book because it is a true story of a mafia hit man who has admitted to killing hundreds if not thousands of people over his lifetime.  When finally caught he lived out his life in the Trenton State prison – just miles from our home in PA.  Philip Carlo also wrote Night Stalker so you can get the drift of the explicit descriptions in the book.  The main character killed people for a living and his family ‘didn’t know’ and didn’t care as long as he didn’t go off on them.  I felt the book was so graphic that it desensitized the violence and reality of the frequent murders or assassinations. 
Here are two links if you want to become familiar with the book before you might pick it up.

I am going to post this now and will be back sometime soon to tell you what else I am reading.  Enjoy the summer skies!

Happy Reading,

Barbara

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Their Eyes Were Watching God Part 2

Hello dear Readers,

As promised this is the follow-up to part 1.  These are some of the passages I marked and enjoyed while reading the book.  Hope you liked them also.

This is the beginning paragraph and what can give you a better view of life than this?
Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.  For some they come in with the tide.  For others they sail forever on the horizon, never out of sight, never landing until the Watcher turns his eyes away in resignation, his dreams mocked to death by Time.  That is the life of men.

This paragraph in Zora’s infinite wisdom tells us we really have no control over the things that are not ours to control like the sun, moon, stars, and weather.  Yet, we as men want to believe we can be the sun-maker or weather maker. 
Folkses, de sun is goin’down.  De Sun-maker brings it up in de mornin’ and de Sun-maker sends it tuh bed at night.  Us poor weak humans can’t do nothin’ tuh hurry it up nor to slow it doen.  All we can do, if we want any light after de settin or befo’ de risin, is tuh make some light ourselves. 

Zora’s ability to paint pictures of the people’s lives is amazing and so poetic. I want this porch!  This from the first paragraph in Chapter 6:
When the people sat around on the porch and pssed around the pictures of their thoughts for the others to look at and see, it was nice.  The fact that the thought picures were always crayon enlargement of life made it even nicer to listen to. 

Chapter 16 discusses the fact that black people admire or want to be lighter skinned or ‘high yellow’ or something they are not and that somehow would change who they are or their opportunities.  I am always fascinated by this discussion since most of us would love to have something we don’t and isn’t it all about envy – not necessarily opportunity?  However, most black people don’t seem to assess it this way. 

 Now we come to the end of the book and I think there are two great philosophies shared on the last pages.  Love, life and living, what more can we ask for?
Love is lak de sea.  It’s uh movin’ thing, but still and all it takes its shape from de shore it meets, and it’s different with every shore. 

Two things everybody’s got tuh do fuh theyselves.  They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin fuh theyselves.

Happy Reading ya’ll,
Barbara

PS:  What are you reading now?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Their Eyes Were Watching God #1


 




Their Eyes Were Watching God

From Wikipedia:
Their Eyes Were Watching God is a 1937 novel and the best known work by African-American writer Zora Neale Hurston. The novel narrates main character Janie Crawford's "ripening from a vibrant, but voiceless, teenage girl into a woman with her finger on the trigger of her own destiny" (So to speak!) Set in central and southern Florida in the early 20th century, the novel was initially poorly received for its rejection of racial uplift literary prescriptions. Today, it has come to be regarded as a seminal work in both African-American literature and women's literature. Time included the novel in its 2005 list of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923
More on WIKIPEDIA:


Hello Readers.

Hope you are all well and know that I didn’t fall off the face of the earth.  It’s been hard to focus myself on writing when spring has sprung and the weather turns me to the golf course.  This year I have begun ‘walking’ and let me tell you – its exercise!  Exhaustion follows me each day I walk and it makes my scores go up and up! 

Here is the new addition to our family.  Grandsons are so precious and wonderful.  Alexander and I had almost twelve days to play together before Silas decided to come into this world 31 hours before my trip back east.  Luckily he and his parents came home from the hospital so I could spend hours cuddling this loved bundle.

Well, I know ya'll didn’t turn in to hear me bragging about my grandkids so off we go to the book!

I enjoyed reading this book mostly because it gave me a different perspective about the settlement of central and southern Florida (where I have lived).  Many of the places mentioned in the book have become developments and suburbs filled with houses, cars, stores, and the like.  Trying to imagine it as a untamed place is interesting for me however many of the children I taught had no knowledge of anywhere but where they were as well as very little language skills. 

Do you find it difficult to read a book where the language is in dialect or uses lots of slang?  In Shakespeare he uses so many colloquialisms that many times it is difficult for me to understand and I found the same with this book so it took me quite a while to read.

The next blog post will contain some of my favorite passages from the book and my thoughts on them. 

Happy reading,

Barbara


PS:  I have decided not to name a book of the month, at least for the summer.  I will continue to tell you what I am reading and what I think of it.  Also I will list suggestions received from fellow readers and their reading lists. 

PPS:  The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is what I am reading now. It is futuristic science fiction.