Showing posts with label Book Lover. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Lover. Show all posts

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Years Resolutions and the First Book of 2015

Happy New Year, everybody!  I had a lovely, fairly low-key little party last night and now I'm full of plans to sit by the fire and read any number of books.  My first read is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.  I'm actually really enjoying the dramatic, yet surprisingly unsentimental account of passionate love on the barren moors.  I'm reading this as part of a book club, so I'll be writing a nice long analysis very soon.  Just 100 more pages to go!

My copy is a very ratty, beaten up one with some college notes in it.  Interesting, but not the most beautiful copy.  Anyway, that's my first read of 2015.

My reading resolutions are as follows:

1.  Better balance between blogging and reading.  It's easy to read a whole bunch and then get completely lazy and not feel like writing about the books.  Or, to spend too much time focusing on the blog and not enough on the books.  So my main goal this year is to focus on finding that balance.

2. Join Classics Club.  I have heard so many wonderful things about this great club, including the facts that it is fairly low-maintenance, gets you to read some great literature, and you can connect with others also reading classics.

3.  Read through more books that I own and stop checking out ones from the library until I've made a serious dent.  I do love the library.  I think it's probably one of the greatest civic institutions.  But I have books at home that I really, really need to read.  This resolution was inspired by Lory's great challenge for January.


4. Read some nonfiction!  I want to branch out in my reading.  I am normally a strictly fiction reader and I want to change that a bit.  I've started by reading What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions.  It's a fun, quick nonfiction read and I'm really enjoying it (and I own it!).



My resolutions aren't huge, but I'm hoping to follow through with them.  I wish you all a very, very happy 2015 with lots of good reading!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I Read in 2014

I read a lot this year.  I think I read so much because I had this blog that was quietly tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me to take the time to read and write on my blog.  Yes, there was my (brief) hiatus from blogging, back in the fall, but I could never completely leave this blog and, so, I'm committing to a brisker blog schedule and even more reading this year!  I thought I would compile a list of what I read this year.  I was so pleased, readers!  The list starts in March because that was when I started blogging and, honestly, I have absolutely no memory of what I read before that.

March

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery (And my first blog post!)
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Still one of my favorite works of fiction)
The Penderwicks Books by Jeanne Birdsall
Two Sherlock Holmes Books
Canterbury Tales
Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
Hotel Paradise by Martha Grimes
Don't Look Now by Daphne DuMaurier (NOT a hit!)
The Beginning of Flavia de Luce
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays
The Life of Pi

Saturday, December 13, 2014

A December Poem

My December has been absolutely jam-packed.  Even my reading has slowed down!  Not halted, but slowed down.  I thought I would just give a quick summary of what's on my book list or is currently being read:

1.) My Cousin Michael by Mary Stewart

2.) The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley-This book is absolutely fabulous!  The books are modern settings, but they remind me so very much of Mary Stewart's work.  They're that amazing combination of thrilling, yet cozy.

Aaaand that's it.  See?  I told you I wasn't reading much.  In other news, here's a lovely poem I picked out, along with a December painting, called Winter Painter by Carl Larssen (A Swedish artist, whose paintings I dearly love).  I really do love December, and Longfellow, which is why I picked this poem about winter.



Snow-flakes, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Out of the bosom of the Air,
     Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken,
Over the woodlands brown and bare,
     Over the harvest-fields forsaken,
          Silent, and soft, and slow
          Descends the snow.
Even as our cloudy fancies take
     Suddenly shape in some divine expression,
Even as the troubled heart doth make
     In the white countenance confession,
          The troubled sky reveals
          The grief it feels.
This is the poem of the air,
     Slowly in silent syllables recorded;
This is the secret of despair,
     Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded,
          Now whispered and revealed
          To wood and field.



Sunday, November 30, 2014

An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by L.M. Alcott

This is a book that is neglected and forgotten about all too frequently.  We've all read, or at least read part of, Little Women and maybe and Old Fashioned Girl or Eight Cousins, but most people haven't ever read An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving, unless they know of it from the smarmy, schmaltzy tv movie that was done in the early 2000s.  Just in case you were wondering, that movie has absolutely nothing to do with the book by Alcott except for the title.

This book was also made into a picture book at some point, but this was a short story written by Alcott around the same time that she wrote Hospital Sketches.  In this story, the Bassett family is bustling around, getting ready for a big Thanksgiving feast when a carriage comes up to the gate, bringing word that grandmother is desperately sick.  The mother leaves, putting her 7 young children in charge of cooking the Thanksgiving meal.  There are all kinds of funny upsets and mishaps, including stuffing the turkey with truly nasty herbs (can't remember what they were....catnip, maybe?).

This book was been rather overlooked because it's not very long and it's very easily cute-ified, something that can very easily happen to holiday stories.  I think that Alcott originally wrote this as a children's short story, but I really enjoyed it, just as an Austen fan.  This was really very well written and gently funny.

There really isn't much else to say about this book.  It's got a lovely atmosphere about it and is, really, still very contemporary, as we could all imagine having an adventure like this.  Although can you even imagine leaving your 7 kids, all under the age of 16 at home to make Thanksgiving dinner?  Whew!

If you have any children in your life, go ahead and read this to them.  If you don't, but you're an avid Alcott fan, then go ahead and read this, too.  I think you'll enjoy it.

So there's my Thanksgiving post for the year.  I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving week!   I gathered with lots of extended family for lots and lots of good food.  It was lovely and now I'm ready for a normal week ahead and, hopefully, a few blog posts!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pride and Prejudice, While Running

I've been running for a few months now, but it's just recently that I have discovered that I can listen to the written word while running.  Happy day!  My first choice was Pride and Prejudice because, why not?  And I figured that if I was going up some steep incline or let my mind wander, it wouldn't matter as much with this book because I've read it so many times.

Every time I listen to an audiobook, I am amazed by the new dimensions that previously explored books take on.  I downloaded a free copy of P&P from Loyal Books (it used to be Books Should Be Free-it's a company that records books that are now free since they are in the public domain).  Luckily, this particular recording was a good one and the narrator's voice didn't annoy me, something that frequently occurs when I listen to audiobooks.

Everybody knows the story of Pride and Prejudice, so there's no way that I need to actually give you a  synopsis here, so I'll just write some of the things I loved about listening, in particular, to P&P.


  • I can be a very a fast reader at times and so being able to catch every word and s  l  o  w down was good for me.  Listening made me realize yet again how brilliant Austen's writing is and that her work is something to be savored and focused on.
  • The dialogue was a huge highlight of listening.  The reader that narrated my recording was very good at switching voices and I had so much fun listening to the pages upon pages of verbal sparring that is so prolific in Austen's writing.  I am always so impressed by how mean those people can be without ever losing their manners.  
  • I completely forgot about running while I was listening and, as such, improved my time immensely.  I've always been a slow-ish runner and it's thanks to Jane Austen that I'm getting up enough speed to run a 5k without driving everybody nuts around me.  
  • I loved the characters more.  For some reason, listening to these characters talk and live, I became more attached to them than I ever have through reading or watching the 4-hour extravaganza of a movie.
  • It made me lengthen my runs.  I was guilty of saying, "Hey, I did 2 miles, what the heck," when I needed to keep going.  Because I was breathlessly (quite literally) eager to hear what was going to happen after Lydia runs away with Wickam (yes, yes, I know what's going to happen, but still…), I did longer runs.
  • Runs became more meditative.  While I was listening, I would slow down a bit to laugh at the squirrel fight going on over my head or turn around to watch a sunset unfolding.  The prettiness around me was perfectly offset by Jane Austen's lovely words.
This is something I really recommend doing, if you run or work out at all.  At first, you're going to be distracted and it's going to be hard to focus if you've never done this before.  But pick a book that you've read a million times and before you know it, you'll be completely engrossed and you'll never go back to book-less exercise.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Just For Pretty


I love capturing the everyday pretty.  Last week, I was getting ready for out of town family and I just walked around, taking pictures of the failed maple fudge, the clean porch, the cat in the sunshine, the dusty piano keys….all of the beautiful, yet boring in my life that isn't enough to make up a real blog post but shouldn't be forgotten.  Here is the recent mundane, yet beautiful from my life:


A bunch of squash, that is now tucked into the
 basement for the winter months.

The knitting project that is going painfully slowly.
I can't write a post these days without adding a cute kitten picture.
Here's Dorcas chasing leaves behind the watering can.

One of a multitude of sunset pictures.
A beautiful wooden bowl that I'm going to put some pretty
little acorns in.

Hetty, short for Mehitabel…the only chicken who has resisted
the coop and, instead, prefers to be free-range.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Place Called Hope

I really enjoyed this book.  A Place Called Hope by Philip Gulley is not the first thing that I've ever read by Gulley.  Philip Gulley is a Quaker minister and a writer of both fiction and nonfictional thoughts, mostly on Christianity and church life.  His portrayal of and insight into church life, both fictional and nonfictional is so very accurate and wise and funny that I can't help but love everything he has written.   And, of course, there is also the added benefit of the books being very, very well written.

The Harmony series is about a fictional series (although I think there's a lot of truth and almost-true events in the books) about a Quaker preacher and his wife and two sons who move home to Harmony where Sam, the main character, grew up.  There, Sam takes over preaching the small, fundamentalist, Quaker church where he spent his childhood.  Throughout the series, we are introduced to a number of characters in this small town-from the sensible church ladies on the Chicken and Noodles Committee to the raving conservative, Dale Hinshaw who manages to alienate almost everybody.   I'm sensing another post about this series coming on...

Anyway, this series is a spin-off of that series.  In this series, Sam and Barbara (his wife) are about to experience a change.  They have to leave their town of Harmony and Sam's pastoring position after an uproar occurs.  The Unitarian pastor in Harmony asks Sam to conduct a blessing at the end of a wedding.  To Sam's utter shock, the couple is gay.  And to add to the problem the local newspaper reporter is there.  When this news gets out, the church creates a complete uproar, fires Sam, and hires a fly-by-night pastor.

With no job and two sons just sent off to college, Sam and Barbara get ready to leave for new in Hope, Indiana, respectively, at a congregation of 12 people, and the school library.  They are happy there at this new church, with kind people and, of course, the few malcontents that accompany any church.  And this is the start of a new series.

I knew that I was going to like this book.  Philip Gulley is a very funny writer with a sense of the charming foibles and quirks that accompany church life.  It also makes me laugh at how universal some parts of church life are.  For instance, take this quote from the chapter in which Sam is being interviewed by the Search committee:

"'Now I'm clerk of the Limb Committee,' Hank said.  'Limb Committee?  What's a limb committee?' Sam asked.  'Just like it sounds.  I'm in charge of making sure th tree limbs get picked up.  Got a lot of trees here.  If we didn't have a limb committee, the yard would be a mess.'  'What other committees are there?' Sam asked.  'Well, let's see, we have the limb committee, the pie committee, the roof committee, the snow committee, the lawn-mowing committee, the kitchen committee, a funeral committee, a parsonage committee, and the pastoral search committee,' Hank Withers said.  'Don't forget the peace committee,' Norma Withers added.  'And technically, we have an elders' committee, but it doesn't meet regularly.'"

This sounds ridiculous to the average ear, but this passage so funnily captures that church-wide phenomenon of, "Have something to do?  I know!  We'll start a committee and stick a couple of people on it."

This is the brilliance of Gulley's writing- capturing the mundanities of church life and showing the true hilarity of some of the situations.

This book has also been rather controversial (at least, GoodReads seems to think so), because, by the end of the book, it's pretty obvious that Gulley is in favor of the church becoming more tolerant of homosexuality, something that, at least in the US, the majority of people are not.  I appreciated how he dealt with the topic with grace, humor, and kindness to both sides of the argument, something that is not often done.

This books is obviously a niche-novel.  It's written for a certain set of the population and the majority of the jokes are good-church-people jokes.   That said, if you've ever spent any time in a church setting (and, really, it can be pretty much any church), then I would definitely recommend this book.  It's a funny, kind, gentle book and a very fast read.  I enjoyed picking it up and reading about half of it over a lunch break and then the other half that evening.  I highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Book Lovers Cookbook

I've missed you, dear readers.  After a rather hectic start of October, I'm looking forward to settling done and (hopefully!) getting a good amount of blogging done.  I have two posts lined up for today and tomorrow, so you can get your blog fix this weekend.

Last night we went to a movie and, of course, I kept up my bad habit of tucking a book under my coat. You know, just in case.  Have I ever mentioned this little quirk about myself?  It's true, I very frequently will carry a book with me into the movie theater, particularly if it's a very gripping book that I can't. stop. thinking. about.  Usually I don't need the book, but once that book-under-the-coat move saved me.   It was somebody else's idea to go see the latest Spiderman (can't remember who, but they should thank me for forgetting).  The ending was truly awful and after about five minutes of that nonsense, I quietly pulled my book out and started reading by the flickering of the screen.

Anyway, last night, we got to the theater early and there were those obnoxious ads playing before the trailers start.  I was so thankful that I had along a book-The Book Lover's Cookbook-to read so I didn't have to have my brain melt in puddles around my feet over dumb ads.

I think this cookbook might have been written for me, I mean, a cookbook that is about books?!  I can't think of anything lovelier.  This cookbook did not disappoint.  Most of the recipes were very basic things that you could find in pretty much any cookbook, but there was something so special about having these recipes linked to some of my absolute favorite books.

Each recipe starts with a few paragraphs from the book about that particular dish and then the recipe.  And, of all cool things, some of the book authors actually helped write the recipes like they had imagined.  It rather thrilled me to know that I was reading a recipe for fried green tomatoes written by Fannie Flagg herself.

This book made me exceedingly hungry to read, but it also gave me some great book recommendations.  Just from reading an excerpt from a book, I could pretty much tell whether I would like the book or not.  So now I've added some more books to my TBR list.

I really liked this book.  I think that you would, too if you like cookbooks, books, or both.  Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Miss Read

I have been knocked out by the most awful head cold.  I'm left with watery eyes, a dripping nose, a sore throat, and a dull headache.  Gah.  And it add insult to injury, today was Music Sunday at church.  Every 5th Sunday, we have a gorgeous, completely music-centric church-service and today's was particularly gorgeous.  And, people, I couldn't sing.  I was disgusted.  I came home and brewed myself a cup of tea and pulled out a Miss Read novel while the rain gently drizzled down.  It was lovely to curl up with a gently gossipy novel and forget about my streaming head cold for a few hours.
Miss Read, otherwise known as Dora Saint.

Miss Read wrote these two cozy, gentle series about two English villages.  The stories are just daily life accounts, rather like having a long gossip session with a good friend.  The two series (Thrush Green and Fairacre) are both about small country villages full of eccentric characters who, in spite of their quirks and foibles, are lovable people.

The stories are told by Miss Read herself as though she is just filling you in on the town news.  Here's the excerpt from the back of the book, as the book itself isn't really summarizable (no, that's not a word, but I'm sick and my brain isn't functioning, so I'm allowed to make up words):

"This sleepy, pristine setting conceals a flurry of activity among the villagers.  Rumor has it that Mr. Venables is considering retirement just as the village's teacher is about to make an important decision. Molly Curdle prepares for a new baby.  The kindly vicar, Charles Henstock, works on his sermon-quite unaware of the disaster that will overtake him.  However, there is never any doubt that all will end well in this very English village."

There is nothing thought-provoking or challenging about these books.  They are simply stories about everyday people living everyday lives.  The goings-on are mild and rather uninteresting, if one is used to thrilling, action-packed, drama-filled novels, but that's really the charm of these books.  Their gentleness is what is so drawing about them.  

I think the last time I read one of these books was when I was sick.  These books are akin to a cup of hot tea or a very thick wool blanket (you know, the kind that is so heavy you can barely move your shoulders).  If you are suffering from any sort of ailment, pull yourself off of your sickbed and stagger to the library and pull one of the shelf.  If you aren't suffering from any ailment, just keep these books in the back of your mind for next time your nose runs.  They make being sick positively enjoyable.  


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Library Loot- 9/12/14

I'm participating in Library Loot from The Captive Reader this week!
"Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries."

I haven't done a Library Loot post in a long time, but, unlike my recent library trips, I actually got a good pile of loot.  Yippee!

1. Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams At Home- This cookbook is one that I have heard rave reviews of and I think I'm going to love it.

2.  Adventures in Yarn Farming- Just a pretty book about raising sheep for wool.  Since we do this, this book holds a special interest.

3.  Longbourn by Jo Baker- A book about life downstairs of Longbourn, the fictional house of Jane Austen's Bennet family.

4.  Crossing on the Paris by Dana Gynther- The story of three women on board a ship in 1921.

5.  The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin- A woman's yearlong journey of returning home to create a warm, happy life with her family.

6.  The Language of God by Francis S. Collins- I think this book is going to be fascinating.  It's written by a scientist who's head of the Human Genome project.  He's also a serious Christian.  It's his defense of why Christianity and science need to have a harmonious relationship, and how they can go about that.

7. Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid- I have this on interlibrary loan right now, so I'm waiting for it to come to my library.  I'm including this, though, because it's practically on my library loot pile!  This book is part of a new project called The Austen Project.



What's on your library loot pile?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Shift from Amazon Affiliates

So remember how about a month ago I used to always have a link to amazon affiliates whenever I posted a book review?  Well, then you might have noticed that the links just disappeared.  I thought I would let you all know why I ended up deciding against it.
Breadsticks I made for supper one night this week.  Yes, they're completely unrelated.
They were delicious, though.  I wish I could pass you one through the computer screen.

1.  I felt bad about posting the new books for a variety of reasons- new books can be ridiculously pricey, and environmental, financial, and human resources are needed make a new book.  There are lots of nice books that are already out there.  It felt silly to be advocating buying new books when so many used books are looking for loving homes.  :)  I know, that sounded like I was talking about puppies from a shelter.  It also seems like a bad idea to buy new books simply for financial reasons.  I don't know who's reading this blog and I didn't like encouraging a financially struggling reader to spend exorbitant prices on a new book.  Of course there are exceptions to this rule-textbooks and books that have just been released, among other things.

2.  I just recently learned that Amazon is not the best of companies, ethically speaking.  I don't know why I was surprised.  They really are just a big-box store in online format.  And it's no new news that big box companies are almost never ethically sound.  I would rather support a smaller business, be it online or a local bookshop.  If that's what I believe, then it's talking out of both sides of my mouth to recommend that you buy something on Amazon that I've linked and then turn around and say that I prefer local businesses.  Of course, like in reason # 1, there are cases where Amazon really is the best, nay, the only, place to get something.  Then, I say go ahead.  But I don't think that it's a good default.

So anyway, that's why you aren't seeing those handy-dandy links from me anymore.  I do wish that places like Powell's and other little books companies like this and this would implement a book-linking service for bloggers.  I would gladly use it!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Liebster Award!

Goodness!  Another blog-tag of sorts!  The lovely Girl With Her Head in a Book nominated me for a Liebster Award and I was quite honored and set to work at once.  It's always fun for me to answer these kind of questions, so here goes:

1) How do you feel about print books versus e-books?  
I am a strictly print book girl.  I feel like screens are present in so much of our lives and we don't need to convert good old fashioned reading to a screen, too.  Okay, so that was harsh, but I do love that lovely scent of paper and ink.   Sigh...

2) Which words or plot points automatically make you decide not to read a book?
Hm...These are fabulous questions!  The old, old story of girl meets train-wrecked boy and proceeds to rescue him.  Ugh.  Oh! Oh!  And the still more annoying storyline of so-and-so is in a coma in the hospital and the people around him realize come to realize important truths about themselves.  Gah.  Actually, Hallmark-ey heartwarming stuff always makes me gag.
3) What is your first 'bookish' memory?
Sitting in a huge library with my dad.  I have no idea where my mom or my brother were, but we were sitting in front of a fish-tank reading...I can't remember what.

4) Do you find that you read books which are more by male or female authors?
I scanned my bookshelves and found that I tend to read books by female authors more than male authors.  I had no idea which I read more of until I saw this question.

5) Where's the strangest/most unusual place that you've ever read a book?
I read books in some pretty strange places.  I think the funniest is sitting with the car parked in the driveway, reading.  I have also read in a hot, unfinished attic in August (can't remember why).

6) Do you read in any other languages than English? How do you feel about translated fiction?
I read Spanish (took several years of it) in a halting way.  I have never attempted novels.  One day, I was in the library and picked up Amelia Bedelia in Spanish.  It was brilliant!  All of that word-play done with totally different words when translated to English!  I think that translated fiction has to be handled very gently, with plenty of poetic license on the part of the translator in order for the book to be enjoyable.

7) How do you feel about Reading Challenges eg. Goodreads challenges?
I love reading challenges!  They also make me feel good because I read such a copious amount of books.  I finish those challenges lickety-split.

8) Do you often read books that you feel you 'ought' to read rather than ones that youwant to read?
This is the reason I refuse to be in a serious book group.  I will read academic books because I feel that they are stuff I, you know, kinda need to read, but the majority of my reading is my choice.  Reading is, after all, a hobby and hobbies should never be about doing things you dislike.

9) If you could pick one fictional character to be your friend in real life, who would it be?
Oooo...Jo March from Little Women!  I think that she would be a good friend.   I am much more Meg March-ish in personality, but a great many of my friends are of the Jo March persuasion.  I think that more steady personality combined with a spunky, stubborn personality works very well.

10) Which author would you most like to meet and why?
Jane Austen.  There's a reading challenge currently going on called Austen in August.  I'm participating in it (in a disultry way) and after reading all this stuff about her, I really want to meet her!
11) What do you like best about blogging?
That daily act of sitting down and writing.  It's a rhythm that I love.  I also love all of the reading/bloggy connections that I have made in such a short amount of blogging time.  I can see why there are bloggers that write for years and years and never get tired of it.

I nominate:
1. EverydayHas@ http://everydayhas.wordpress.com/
2. countrygirlsread@ http://countrygirlsread.wordpress.com/
3. Desperate Reader @ http://desperatereader.blogspot.com/
4. Jennine G. @ http://livingawritinglife.blogspot.com
5. Michelle F. @ http://newhorizonreviews.blogspot.com
6. Books as Food @ http://booksasfood.blogspot.com

And here are my questions:

1.  What is the first book you remember reading?

2.  What is your favorite genre of reading?

3.  What book character do you think you are most like?

4.  Are you part of a book club/group?  How do you feel about book clubs?

5.  The most annoying book I ever read was…

6.  Did you like reading in school?

7.  Where is your favorite place to read

8.  If you could pick one fictional character to be your best friend, who would it be?

9.  Do you read seasonally?  That is, do you read lighter, beach-read books in summer and heavier books in winter?

10.  Can you listen to music while reading?  If so, what kind of music do you like to have as background noise?

Thanks for nominating me, Girl with Her Head in a Book!  I had fun writing this.  Any of you readers who I missed are welcome to chime in in the comments or on your own blog post.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reading Habits Tag

I was just recently tagged by Girl With Her Head in a Book to answer a series of questions about reading habits (you can see her answers at the above link).  Fun!  So here goes:


1. Do you have a certain place for reading at home?- Not really.  Well, I read all over the place.  My favorite places are stretched out longways on the sofa with the little lap dog curled up next to me or at the kitchen table in the morning.
2.  Do you use a bookmark or a random piece of paper?- Random shreds of paper.  The little tear-out ad cards in magazines work beautifully.  Sometimes I feel like I should have real bookmarks (see this post and this post), but for the most part, I use random shreds because I lose the real bookmarks so quickly.  They're like bobby-pins.  So loseable.
3.  Can you just stop reading or does it need to be at the end of a chapter or a certain number of pages?-Definitely at the end of a chapter.  I can never get back into a chapter that I've stopped halfway through with.  You know what else is weird?  People that read the first chapter of a book and then stick a bookmark in and walk away.   I have to read a least 5 chapters into a book before I stick a bookmark in it.
4.  Do you eat or drink while eating?- Well, I read at breakfast and lunch.  At dinner I tend not to because everybody's back from work and it's nice to sit and talk.  I would feel weirdly anti-social reading at dinner.  Sunday afternoons, when I have a huge glut of reading time, I'll often make some little treat to share and eat myself while reading.  My family has a tradition of eating sunflower seeds in the summer while reading novels.  I still carry that on.
5.  Do you read one book at a time or several at once?- Always several at once.  I like having something light, something tome-like, and something pretty to look at.
6.  Do you read out loud or silently in your head?- Huh!  I didn't know there were people who read out loud to themselves.  So yes, I read silently.  I can still remember the first day that I learned to do that in about 2nd grade.  I was so proud.
7.  Do you ever read ahead or skip pages?- *Ahem*.  Well, yes, I do.  I very often skip long, rhapsodizing descriptions of scenery or people.   If I see a whole string of sentences chock full of adjectives, let the skimming begin!  I must say, I am quite a skilled skimmer.  I read ahead if I suspect an author of writing a depressing ending.  If I find out that the outcome is not what I want, I slam the book shut and no harm done because I haven't gotten all invested with the characters.
8.  Breaking the spine or keeping it new?- Argh.  What a question.  I always want to crack the spines, but as soon as I do, I feel bad that the book has lost its newness.  I ask myself which I'm going to do every time I open a new book.
9.  Do you write in your books?- Depends.  Never in fiction, but from all my academic exposure over the years, I do write in nonfiction books.  I do think that writing in some books can have value.  I love finding old family members' books that were written in.  It's like a window into their minds.  So I'm not opposed to writing in books, I just don't do it frequently.
10.  What are you currently reading?- An Old Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott, Eat and Make by Paul Lowe, Tea with Jane Austen, and The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen (the Austen books are for Austen in August).

Thanks so much to Girl With Her Head in a book for this fun challenge!  I can't wait to see what others say about these questions.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

An Old-Fashioned Girl

I have always loved Louisa May Alcott's writing.  Like so many little girls, I was introduced to Little Women by my mother early on.  We read the book together and laughed over the adventures and felt sorry for Laurie and wept over Beth.  After that introduction, I adored everything by Alcott.  I went on to read Little Men and Jo's Boys and all of the lesser-known books, like Under the Lilac Bush and Hospital Sketches.  However, my favorite is An Old-Fashioned Girl.

An Old Fashioned Girl is the story of Polly, a shy, smart, highly spirited girl.  She goes to visit a friend, Fanny, who lives a cosseted life with her wild brother Tom, her whiny, spoiled little sister Maud, her distracted businessman father, her self-absorbed, hypochondriacal mother and her lonely grandmother who disapproves of the whole family.  Into this scene full of ennui and dissipation comes a breath of fresh air in the form of young Polly.  She, a country girl from a countercultural family that reminds me of the Marches,  is shocked by the city life so full of problems and trouble in spite of the wealth.  She is introduced to Polly's shallow friends and she begins to work change in the family and she begins to see the real sides of her hosts.

The book is spread over a time period of about 10 years.  By the end, there is a charming suitor, Mr. Sidney, and Polly has grown in wisdom and maturity and has become an even more well-rounded character.  Polly is living in a little apartment and keeping house for herself and giving music lessons to support her brother in college.  Then the unthinkable happens-Polly and her family lose all of their money in some banking crises.  And…well, you'll have to read this wonderful book to find out what happens!

The domestic descriptions are unbelievable cozy, particularly when Polly moves into her own house.  It's one of the lovely bonuses of this book.  I couldn't find the particular description that I love, so you'll just have to read the book and find it for yourself.
I sat down with a delicious slice of peach upside down cake made with roasted cornmeal,
hot peppermint tea, and An Old Fashioned Girl (rereading for the millionth time).
It was so pretty, I decided to take a picture-yes, I've become one of those bloggers who takes
pictures of her food.

Even though Polly is a Victorianly good character, there is nothing saccharine or fake about her goodness.  She has her struggles, very much like the March sisters of Little Women.  She has troubles and setbacks just like all of us, but she has a loving family base that is helping her along as she sees new, tempting, strange things.  The old-fashioned in the title is from when Fanny and her friends refer to Polly as "old-fashioned" and "little-girl-ish" because she doesn't behave the way Fanny and her friends do.

Polly's family is not portrayed as a demon-family, but simply one that has become distracted by worldly things and in the process has forgotten the family.  Polly is simply there to remind them of the importance of each other.  The books is not explicitly Christian, but there is that undertone, much like the undertone in Little Women.  I think that also has a lot to do with the way that Polly and her family behave.
Finished!  (Does anybody else prop their books against
their tea pot?  It makes the perfect hands-free reading!

Polly reminds me of Meg March is so many ways.  If L.M. Alcott were to write a story just about Meg on her own in a strange city, you would get this book.  I've always identified with Meg in Little Women.  I do not have that willful, passionate Jo March streak, goodness knows I'm not like saintly Beth and I hope to goodness I'm not like the spoiled, vain Amy.   Meg's calm, practical nature, in spite on her own personal temptations resonated with me, which is part of the reason I identified with Polly.  

The ultimate message of this story and the whole story in general are really timeless.  There is nothing archaic or old-fashioned about the writing or the story.  Louisa May Alcott did it again-she wrote another wonderful book about lovable characters that you are sure to remember for years after you read this book.

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Blog Hiatus

Dear Readers,
I love fall, don't you?  I love the crisp weather, the burst in productiveness that comes with the cooler weather and the lack of canning jars and tomatoes lingering on every surface.  I love sweaters and boots and the leaves and the increase in work, which brings me to my point.  I've decided to take a bit of a bloggy hiatus.  While I love blogging and the act of sitting down every day to write something was rewarding and enjoyable, this fall it's going to become yet another thing to add to my plate.  This year I'm going to be even busier than in previous years, meaning that my posts would either be short (which translates to blurry pictures and no book reviews) or take time that I should be spending working on other projects.

This doesn't mean I'm never going to write here again.  I may eventually shift over to a weekly post on Sunday or something entirely different.  But I wanted to let you all know that my blogging won't be regular, like it has been (because I hate it when bloggers just drop off the face of the internet without a word of warning).

So I'll still be around and in all probability, posts will be added to this blog in the future, but for now I'm letting other things take the front seat and letting the blog slide for a bit.  I'm going to be off on some summer vacation and then before we know it, fall is going to be upon us (yipee!).

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Post about Young Adult Fiction

This is a post that has been in the works for months, I now realize.  Over these few blogging months, I've occasionally made reference to the fact that I don't exactly love young adult fiction.  I finally decied that it would be a good idea to write a whole post devoted to my thoughts on young adult writing.

So first of all, what is Young Adult writing?  The YA label gets thrown around a lot.  There's a YA section in the library, and YA writers are a huge category, "Young-adult fiction or young adult literature (often termed as "YA"),[1] is fiction written, published, or marketed to adolescents and young adults, although recent studies show that 45% of young-adult fiction is purchased by readers under 18 years of age. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) of the American Library Association (ALA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of twelve and eighteen," says Wikipedia.  I found this to be very useful information.  

So there you have the basic explanation.  Here are some of my observations about Young Adult stuff.  First of all, it's a fairly recent invention.  It's been argued that books like Little Women and Tom Sawyer were seen as the YA fiction of their time.  However, I disagree.  Little Women and Tom Sawyer are books for all ages, books that can span all kinds of time and space and have the ability to charm a 7 year old or a 40 year old.  And here's the other thing: They were written about a certain age, they weren't written for a certain viewpoint and age.  In the 80s, books written specifically for an age span of about 6 years started to crop up.  Today you can't spit without hitting a young adult book.

My second problem with the whole young adult fiction category is that a lot of it is really poorly written.  There seem to be two genres:  the entirely too mature romance fiction with ridiculously improbable situations that set girls, particularly, ridiculous expectations.  Then there's the vampire, slashing, killing, also with a side of romance, equally improbable.  Expecting teens to read just these two genres for 6 whole years is quite strange, if you think about it.  Would we ever say, "Ok, the 40-47 year olds should read mysteries.  All novels for 40-47 year olds are going to be mysteries."  Of course not!  There would be a mass rebellion!  

Third, nobody likes to be talked down to.  In the few rare times that I have picked up a young adult book, there is this condescending tone of, "See?  I can write just like you silly little youngsters talk."  Okay, so that's an extreme exaggeration, but there is a definite tone that you get from reading these books that indicates that the author finds his/her audience slightly below him/her.  

And finally, I can see the value of teenagers moving up to adult fiction at some point.  When I was about 13, I remember going to my mom and asking if I could browse in the adult section in the library.  I was thoroughly bored with the children's section and that just felt like the next step.  There was awhile there where she would glance over the books before I checked out.  I discovered a lot of wonderful authors that I still enjoy today.  I think it's a shame to get stuck in this weird middle ground and miss out on some authors that can be enjoyed by younger ages.  

Now this isn't to say that I don't approve of any middle-grade writing.  There has to be something between the adult section and the very earliest of chapter books for early elementary.  That's where good books like Little Women and Tom Sawyer come in-books that are meaningful, well-written, and fun.  

There are also good Young Adult books.  The whole genre is not trash and I don't want to be too quick to throw away the whole thing.  I have picked up Young Adult things on occasion that are well written and meaningful and fun to read and are written in an interesting, non-condescending tone.  I just recently reviewed Code Name Verity, a new-ish young adult book that was very good, although dark. 

I'd love to hear what all of you think about this (and feel free to disagree with me) in the comments.  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Library Loot- 7/19/2014

From the Captive Reader, "Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library."

I finally have a Library Loot post together!  After missing one and then writing a post for one and forgetting about it, here is my post.  I haven't been doing a ton of library reading, just because of a busy summer, but I still manage to have a nice little pile at all times.  So here's my list:


Code Name Verity-Yes, this is on my list again.  But it's first in line, once I finish just one more book.

The Elusive Pimpernel- You know the book The Scarlet Pimpernel that everybody reads?  I read it a couple years back and really enjoyed it.  I just recently discovered that there is a whole series of books about the Scarlet Pimpernel.  I was pleased that my library has some of the books!

Evelina by Fanny Burney- This is one of those books that has floated in and out of my request list and in and out of the house, but I have a firm grip on it this time and it's not leaving until I finish it!

Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson- Shirley Jackson, the well known dark-bordering-on-horror short story writer, also wrote this very funny memoir about raising her children.  The reviews on Good Reads all said that this book was fantastic.  I am really looking forward to reading this!

Wretched Writing by Ross Petras and Kathryn Petras- Just a funny book, filled with examples of horrible writing.  Is started it last night and sat on the couch, laughing my head off.

So that's my smallish Library Loot for the week!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Library Loot 7/3/14

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

This post is brought to straight from the library.  After a long day of flying around cleaning and doing various daily work, it was pleasant to be in the air conditioned library, book browsing.  Sure, there's the local lake and the pond and various other ways of cooling off, but there's nothing quite like going to a nice library on a hot summer day.  So here's what I got:

1.  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury-A dystopian novel before dystopian novels were a thing.  In the most recent Top Ten Tuesday post by The Broke and Bookish, Fahrenheit 451 was mentioned as a favorite classic.  In horror, I realized that I have never read this book.  Well, I'm about to remedy that.

2.  Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein- A young adult thriller.  You heard me right.  Those of you who have read my blog for a while know that I usually (I said usually) sneer at young adult fiction and I almost never read thrillers.  I heard this very highly praised somewhere-can't remember where-and decided to read it.  I have it in both audiobook and regular hardback because my library got mixed up and held the audiobook and then I discovered that they had the hardback.

3.  The Baker Street Letters by Michael Robertson-A mystery about two brothers living in Sherlock Holmes's house.  Sounds quite exciting.

4.  She Got Up Off the Couch by Haven Kimmel-The sequel to A Girl Named Zippy, which I mentioned yesterday.  I am beyond thrilled that this book came so quickly through interlibrary loan.  I am prepared to stay glued to this book, so I'm going to find a big chunk of time some weekend to read this cover to cover.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday- Top Ten Favorite Classics

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup hosted by the blog The Broke and Bookish.)
As I was thinking about my favorite classics, I looked over Broke and Bookish's favorite classics and was amazed that so many of the ones they mentioned were ones I loved as well.  Actually, I had to cut a lot of well-loved classics.  But here are the ones that I believe everybody absolutely has to pick up before they die.

1.  Huckleberry Finn or something else by Mark Twain-There really is nothing like Mark Twain.  My favorite is probably Huckleberry Finn, but I shrieked with laughter at the Book for Bad Boys and Girls.

2.  To Kill a Mockingbird-I first read this in about 9th grade and fell in love with the characters.  It's still one of my favorites.  In fact, I want to go reread it right now.

3.  Bleak House by Charles Dickens-I read the whole book and loved it.

4.  Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen-I love J.A., but this book is my favorite.  I have always identified with Elinor Dashwood more than any other Austen character.

5.  Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell-Gaskell is an oft-overlooked author and I want to set about to change that.  Everybody needs to read something by Gaskell.

6.  Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier-I think Rebecca has become well-love enough that it can be considered a classic.

7. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster-This coming-of-age classic is one of my favorites.

8.  Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte-Poor Anne Bronte.  She always gets so overlooked, yet her writing is just as good as the other two Bronte sisters (am I committing some blasphemy by even writing that?) without the nonstop drama.

9.  The Odyssey by Homer-I actually really enjoyed this book.  I listened to it on audiobook two years ago and it's one of my favorites now.

10.  Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson-Treasure Island is good, but Kidnapped wins.  It's far more thrilling, the pace is faster, and I like the characters better.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday-Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike On A Book Cover

(Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly linkup hosted by The Broke and Bookish.)

The topic for this Top Ten Tuesday is very close to my heart because I am so fond of book covers and they so often sway what I'm going to think about a book (I know, I know, how shallow is that?)

So first of all, the 5 things I don't like:

1.  Those little caption thingeys on a title.   I don't mean a subtitle, but those things that you often see on romance book covers.  "She was looking for a good friend, but he was looking for more..."  or something like that.  Those things make me gag.

2. When the cover of a book is just the movie cover.  That's why I never read the edition of a book that was republished after a movie came out.  Argh.

3.  Most 80s covers.  I know, how's that for a sweeping statement?  But they mostly drive me insane.

4.  All Amish Romance covers.  Now I have to preface this by assuring you that I have never, ever picked up an Amish romance in my whole life.  But those things are knee deep in the library and I've had plenty of chances to form opinions about them.  The people on the covers are always just people that look like models with a bonnet (or a straw hat as the case may be) smacked on top.

5.  Gorgeous vintage book covers that got "modernized" at some point and are now hideous.

So now that I've gotten my book cover hate out, here are the things I love in a book:

1.  Beautiful illustrations on a book- That's a big category, but illustrations that manage to enhance the book while still being unobtrusive enough to not take away from the book itself.  And I always prefer illustrations over pictures.

2.  Vintage book covers-You all know how much I love vintage books and the covers are one of my favorite parts

3.  When the title is based on some quote within the book.  A lot of authors do this, and I always like it.

4.  A clean, non-swirley, yet still interesting font.

5.  A title that makes me laugh.  I love those and those books almost always get put higher on my TBR list.

So those that's my Top Ten for the week!  Don't forget to stop by Broke and Bookish and share your
Top Ten.