Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- Benji takes a peek

Our neighbor's dog Benji likes to peek under the fence at Penny.

Monday, April 25, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila atBook Journeywhere you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week!

This week was a rainy spring break for me - I read a lot, and also abandoned two books. I just wasn't in the mood for them this week. Phil Rickman, I will see you in the fall, when I try again.

Read Last Week:

Farm City by Novella Carpenter: I don't want to say much about this one today, it is our book club pick for May, and I always do a book club blog. I will just say this for now: I am glad I read it.

The Girl Who Would Speak For the Dead by Paul Elwork: This book was excellent. The ghosts in the book were not literal ghosts, like ones that haunt houses, but the ones that haunt a person internally, the ones they live with personally everyday.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker: Last week, I had just started this book and stated I felt badly for Truly. By the end of the book I had changed my mind. This book left me feeling a million different ways. At the beginning, I felt sympathetic towards Truly- all the way up to page 219. This is where she turns a dark corner to me. After that, she seemed so full of rage and hate. Even her acts of mercy were tainted by this hate. True, she had some reasons to feel that way, but she also had reasons not to- Marcus, Amelia, Bobbie to list three. And while she had a difficult upbringing, she found a real sister of the heart in Amelia, and she threw that to the ground. Poor Amelia had to be sacrificed before Truly could be purged of her rage, and Amelia was the best of the bunch.

The writing and imagery were beautiful however, and I enjoyed all the turns and twists the book took, with the exception of Truly's personality becoming a little less than I expected from her. So, while Truly did not remain a sympathetic character to me and I actually hated her by the end of the book, the rest of the book stood on its own, and I loved the other characters, like Amelia and Marcus.

Currently Reading:

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sarah's Key

Hostess: Jill
Book: Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
Food: Homemade Baked Macaroni and Cheese, Hummus and Pita, Homemade bumpy cake, Artichoke and Goat Cheese Bruschetta, Strawberry Salad with blue cheese
Wine of the Night: Columbia Crest Riesling
Month: April

It seemed that most of us in book club are closet Francophiles - however, the book Sarah's Key reveals a not so great side of French history during World War II. I hate writing my own plot summaries, so I will just let the publisher do it for us:

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is brutally arrested with her family by the French police in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ roundup, but not before she locks her younger brother in a cupboard in the family's apartment, thinking that she will be back within a few hours.

Paris, May 2002: On Vel’ d’Hiv’s 60th anniversary, journalist Julia Jarmond is asked to write an article about this black day in France's past. Through her contemporary investigation, she stumbles onto a trail of long-hidden family secrets that connect her to Sarah. Julia finds herself compelled to retrace the girl's ordeal, from that terrible term in the Vel d'Hiv', to the camps, and beyond. As she probes into Sarah's past, she begins to question her own place in France, and to reevaluate her marriage and her life.

It was unanimous- everyone loved this book - and for the first time, we had almost everyone finish the book. Only one person did not finish in time. Most of us read it in one sitting, not able to put it down, and all of us cried. We talked about the internment camps full of children with no one to care for them, of Sarah's brother, and of Julia's marriage.

Personally, this book opened my eyes to a part of history that I did not realize happened. I am not sure why I never put this together, that France sent Jewish citizens to concentration camps. I feel like Julia did, like it is a little known horrible fact, probably much like America's internment camps of Japanese-Americans during the same time frame. I have a degree in History, but this was an event that remained hidden in all my studies. I think that de Rosnay did a wonderful job of bringing it into the light, to remind us all of events that should never be forgotten.

Next month is Jennifer's pick - Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter. It seems like the perfect pick for spring.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeywhere you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week!

I knew as soon as I posted the titles of the books I hoped to read last week that I would probably end up switching what I was reading. I am not loyal to a reading plan, and if a different book comes along I want to read more, I will. A few books I was expecting to get in at the library didn't come in, but others did. And, my Amazon order came! Yay! That being said:

Read Last Week:

The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich: I thought this would be a fun horror read - how could it not be with the main character a self proclaimed "hobo vampire junkie"? Maybe I wasn't in the mood, but partway through, I set it aside. I am home on spring break this week, and if I run out of books, I will pick it up and finish it. Otherwise, it will be a book I couldn't get into, at least right now.

Specials by Scott Westerfeld: This is the last book in the Uglies trilogy - I picked it up after reading Twilight and The Hunger Games. I liked it more than Twilight and less than Hunger Games; I love this world that Westerfeld has created, very futuristic and scary in a conformist way. It is a quick, young adult read.

Pale Demon by Kim Harrison: I love this series by Kim Harrison, and her main character Rachel Morgan is so spunky. I have to admit, one of the reasons I enjoy it is that it is set in Cincinnati, and being from the midwest, I support all books that are set here. It is a fun series, and exactly what I needed last week. The week before spring break is nuts at work!

Currently Reading (or so that is the plan):

A Crown of Lights and To Dream of the Dead by Phil Rickman: Two holds of mine that came in to the library. I will probably read at least one today, since the nice spring Michigan weather has given way to SNOW today.

The Little Giant of Aberdeen County: I started this last night, and it is sad so far. I am enjoying the story, but poor Truly!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wordless Wednesday- Message in the leaves

Saw this in the leaves, I have always wondered if he got his message.

Monday, April 11, 2011

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journeywhere you list the books you read last week and the ones you hope to read this week! This is my first time participating, should be fun!

Read Last Week:

Midwinter of the Spirit - Phil Rickman: I read this author a very long time ago, and something about these dreary gray rainy days of April made me check him out again. I am glad I did- this book is part of the Merrily Watkins series. Merrily is a Deliverance priest in England, or what we would call an exorcist. Very interesting book.

Catherine, Called Birdy - Karen Cushman: I work in an elementary school library, and try to work my way around the books, especially the Newbery Award winners like this one. I loved how it was written in journal form, our students love that style. It was also an easily read depiction of life in England in the 13th century for a girl of minor nobility.

Adventure Divas - Holly Morris: To be honest, I expected more from this book. I enjoyed parts of it, others just left me bored. I wanted it to be as fun and adventurous as the cover and title make it out to be, which it wasn't, and to introduce me to the lives of great women throughout the world, which it did.

Currently Reading:

A Crown of Lights - Phil Rickman: Another in the Merrily Watkins series.

The Orange Eats Creeps - Grace Krilanovich: I heard about this through NPR, I am very excited!!

Watership Down- Richard Adams: One of my favorite books ever, top ten for sure. I reread it every year around this time. I love rabbits, and this book gives them great feisty personalities. This book also probably influenced my decisions regarding animal rights and vegetarianism. Love it, love it.

So there it is, my lists. What about you, what are you reading? I would love to know!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

And then Meghan made pancakes..

Last weekend I went to Chicago, by myself, on a train. My parents gave me many directives on how to monitor my personal safety, which I thought was cute, since I have definitely reached an age where I can take care of myself. But I will still always be their child, so I guess it is ok.

The train ride on the way to Chicago was so pleasant and calm ~ I have never traveled so comfortably or serenely. As the train chugged us through Ypsilanti, I witnessed a spectacular sunrise - I have never in my life been so upset not to have my camera. It was a singular, perfect moment - the fuschia, pinks and yellows lit up the sky, but not yet so bright that you had to look away. The sun was just peeking up over the tops of trees which lined the shore of the Huron River, with this old Pennisular Paper Co. sign standing by the edge of the water. It made me think it should have been a book cover. I also was surprised at how much wildlife I glimpsed from the train car - Sandhill Cranes, deer, Blue Herons, ducks and geese. For awhile, it was a birdwatchers dream.

I had a great time visiting my cousin Meghan and her fiancée Mike - Meghan planned a day that seemed perfectly planned to my personality, which I am sure she actually did plan that way. We spent Saturday at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museuem, which everyone must check out while in Chicago, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. The Nature Museum had a butterfly room, which Meghan described as being an earthly paradise, and I have to agree. We stood still, silently watching as butterflies of all colors and sizes, some as big as our hands, flitted about. We wished one would land on our hands, to make us feel like a chosen part of the scene, like the butterflies welcomed us into their land. Unfortunately that did not happen. We enjoyed reading the names of the butterflies living in this Eden, such as the Small Postman and the Scarlett Mormon. I, of course, loved the Owl Butterfly. After exploring these sights, which I have to say were all free except for the Nature Museum (unless you are an educator), we met up with Mike and went to the movies. I cried my way through the National Geographic movie, The Last Lions, which was powerful, moving, and tragically sad. I do recommend it, and urge everyone to visit their website to learn more about the plight of lions on earth. In 50 years, we have gone from 450,000 lions to only 40,000. It is terrifying to realize we may watch one of nature's most awesome creatures become extinct.

They also took me to two fabulous restaurants, Irazu, a Costa Rican place, and Jane's. I fell in love with Jane's goat cheese, tofu and veggie burrito - and insist that everyone try it if ever in Chicago. We spent much of the weekend talking and getting to know each other better as adults, and I was grateful for this time we spent together. When you get older and the only time you see each other is at family holidays, you don't often get to have the best conversations, and I felt that we had great conversations over the weekend. For not being raised that closely, Meghan and I are so similar - I guess it is in the blood. We all talked about how we missed Billy too - I would go to point something out to him and he wouldn't be there. I did go home with many stories to tell him though, and I made plans for us to visit Chicago together.

But then, all good things must end - Sunday morning rolled around, Meghan made us perfect pancakes, each one the ideal size and golden color, a wonderful last moment in the trip. Then I left for Union Station, where I boarded the most jam packed train and experienced the most uncomfortable ride home - not nearly the idyllic ride that I enjoyed on my way to Chicago. After 7 excruciating hours, we pulled into Dearborn, where Billy was waiting. The best way to end a trip by far, with your husband waiting for you with a smile, welcoming you back home.

A Lesson Before Dying

Hostess: Mary with the Most-ess
Book: A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
Food: Fruit Tray, Vegetarian Lasagna, sauteed peppers and Italian bread, Spring Salad mix, and Key Lime Cupcakes by Chrissy
Wine of the Night: Cupcake Wine - Shiraz (probably a book club all time favorite)
Month: March

This was yet again another book club book not to be missed. I have to admit, I did not finish it before book club. I was feeling very whimsical this month, and just couldn't focus on such a serious book, so it took me a tad longer than normal. A few did finish the book on time, and really enjoyed it. It reminded me in a sense of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, both novels dealing with the unfair incarceration of a black man. The references to Jefferson being a hog, or like one, were so upsetting and bothersome, and exactly what the reader needed to feel what was happening from Jefferson's perspective. This is a book that everyone should read at some point in their lives.

It was also the birthday celebration for Alyssa ~ Chrissy made yummy Key Lime Cupcakes. As I type I want another one. Alyssa couldn't make it due to a family emergency (everything is ok though) but we all ate her cupcakes in her honor.

Our book club sponsors a child through World Vision, a young girl named Marisol from Peru. This month we were lucky enough to have received a letter from Marisol. She is such a great artist, and we recently sent Marisol a gift of colored pencils to use in her drawings. Our letter came with a very well drawn picture of her family farm. We have also introduced her to the American trend of Silly Bands, which she thanked us for. I am getting ready to send another letter out, with a few new goodies for her.

Next month is Jill's pick- Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay. Should be another good one!!