Posts Tagged ‘book response’

In My Hands by Irene Gut Opdyke

in my handsI have always been drawn to read literature from the Holocaust, both fiction and nonfiction, but especially memoirs of people who lived through it. I sometimes wonder at my fascination. Why do I enjoy reading about such a dark period of history? I think reading these stories forces me to ask the question, “What would I do?” Would I have been able to cling to the best of my humanity–hope and kindness and love–as did many survivors of the ghettos and concentration camps? Would I have had the courage to help my neighbors by hiding them or sharing food? I like to think that I would, but I honestly don’t know since I have never been confronted with such choices.

Irene Gut Opdyke (with Jennifer Armstrong) shares her journey of becoming a resistance fighter and smuggler of Jews in her memoir In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer (Laurel Leaf Books 1999). She didn’t start out to become a hero, but she is a hero. I don’t know how I could have survived the horrors that she experienced as Germany and Russia invaded her homeland of Poland. It didn’t matter which side of the border she was on, the conquering armies made life miserable for all of Poland, but she still found the compassion and courage to protect those who were being hunted down.

As I read, I kept coming back to Irene’s words: “You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a defier of the SS and the Nazis, all at once. One’s first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence” (143). Irene did not stop with hiding food under the fence. She listened as she served Nazi and SS officers their dinner and passed along news of raids to her friends in the ghetto. She transported Jews in a horse and buggy to hiding places in the deep forest. She hid a dozen Jewish men and women in the basement of a German officer’s house. Not bad work for someone who was “only a girl.” While the Germans may have underestimated her, the Russians considered her a dangerous Partisan resistance fighter–and she was.

I may not be faced with life or death decisions this week, but every day I am given the choice to act with kindness and love–or not. It is in making those small decisions that I can develop the habits and character that would lead to the courage to do the right thing in more desperate circumstances. I hope that I will one day show the courage that Irene did.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people  are reading.

image

It’s been a good writing week. I posted two reviews this week of Pucker Up and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books. I’m finishing up the profile of a gourd farm and starting on a another profile for a different publication. I do enjoy the opportunity to meet interesting people and write a bit of their story.

I finished…

in my handsIn My Hands:Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer by Irene Gut Opdyke with Jennifer Strange – This haunting, beautiful memoir is a powerful addition to Holocaust literature.  Even though she was “just a girl,” Irene saved the lives of many Jewish friends by passing along information and hiding a dozen people in the home of a German officer. I am still thinking about this quote: “You must understand that I did not become a resistance fighter, a smuggler of Jews, a fefier of the SS and the Nazis all at once. One’s first steps are always small: I had begun by hiding food under a fence.”

look againLook Again by Lisa Scottoline – Another fast-paced adventure with a strong mom determined to uncover the truth, no matter the cost. In this case, Ellen Gleeson, a reporter, glances at a “Missing Children” flyer and is stunned by her son’s resemblance to one of the pictures. Even though everyone advises her against it, she is determined to learn the true identiy of her adoptive son. Along the way she uncovers murder and kidnapping and puts herself and her son in danger. The plot may push the bounds of belief, but I kept turning pages late into the night to learn what happens.

I’m currently reading…

Poliser_SummerLettingGo_jkt_website_207_1Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner – It’s been a busy week with soccer games and late night homework, but my daughter still asks me to read every night we can. I suspect the only reason she hasn’t picked it up to finish it off is because she’s so swamped with school work. I’m glad to enjoy the story with her.

forgive me leonard peacockForgive Me, Leonard Peacock – When I started this audio book, I couldn’t remember anything about it except reading lots of positive reviews when it came out–and that it was an intense book. Let me say, that when I listened to the first chapter, I didn’t expect what I found–a teen plotting a murder-suicide at his school. I’m glad I’ve had lots of time to listen this week because the longer I’ve listened to Leonard tell his story, the more I am pulling for him.  I keep hoping someone will reach out and get through to him even though he pushes away every attempt thus far.

two kidsTwo Kids by Richard Levine – This came in the mail this week after the author sent me a review copy. So far I’m enjoying the two kids–gawky D.C. and bashful Rob–of the title though the story is slow to pick up.

les-miserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo – I’m plugging away. I may not reach my goal to finish by Christmas, but at least I’m back in the habit of reading some every week. The rebels are building the barricade, and Gavroche is in the middle of it all. He would be completely happy if only someone would give him a gun, too.

Secrets of Writing High-Performance Business-to-Business Copy(AWAI) – Another couple of chapters read this week and another class down. I am learning that I enjoy this type of business copywriting more than I thought I would.

Coming up…

I have lots of writing to finish up this week, so my reading plans are to finish what I’m in the middle of and make more progress with Les Mis. Of course, if something good comes my way (like the latest edition of Better Homes and Gardens) I’ll pick it up, too!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

image

Once again, my reading took another unexpected turn.  Last Saturday, my daughter suffered a concussion during a soccer game.  What happens when you take a high energy, active, intelligent girl and take away all screens (television, computer, ipod, phone), take away reading and writing and even listening to audio books for a week?  You have a girl who is desperate to escape boredom but can’t do much of anything.  Once the worst of her symptoms passed, she begged me to read to her. Leery of taxing her brain too much, (Mental and physical rest is the cure of choice for concussions), I read aloud some of our old, favorite picture books, without showing her the pictures.  Much of what I read this week came from that.

I finished….

song of the quarkbeastSong of the Quarkbeast – Combine a dash of magic, quirky characters, and off-the-wall humor for a rollicking good story where the fate of the Ununited Kingdoms once again rests in the capable hands of foundling Jennifer Strange, who just happens to be the acting manager of Kazam Mystical Arts.  Click on the picture to check out my review.

B2B Business-to-Business Quick Start Guide by Steve Slaunwhite, Ed Gandia, Pete Savage for AWAI – I’m signed up to take a class on B2B copywriting next week, and I’m trying to read as much as I can before the class starts so I can get more out of it.

Picture books I read to my daughter (who still loved them as a sixteen-year-old):

IMG_20140914_203704542

  • Love You Forever by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Sheila McGraw
  • Mud Pie Annie by Sue Buchanan and Dana Shafer, illustrated by Joy Allen
  • You Are Special by Max Lucado, illustrated by Sergio Martinez
  • Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by James Ransome
  • The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
  • The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story by Rebecca Hickox, illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
  • Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China retold by Ai-Ling Louie, illustrated by Ed Young
  • The Egyptian Cindrella by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Ruth Heller
  • The Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin,illustrated by David Shannon

I’m currently reading…

summer of letting goThe Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner – Since my daughter enjoyed my reading favorite story books to her this week, she asked me to keep reading aloud to her before bedtime out of a novel.  Since she has been symptom free all weekend, I told her I would if I could pick the book.  She knew I was going to pick this one (I’ve been bugging her to read it all summer), and I know she’s going to love it.

les-miserablesLes Miserables by VIctor Hugo – I’m still making slow progress.  I’m stil lin the riots following the general’s funeral. There’s a lot of talk and action in many different parts of Paris.  I suspect it all happened much quicker than the lengthy description of it all.

complete idiot's guide to publishing children's booksThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold D. Underdown – Much of the information I’ve read this week I’ve picked up from following the blogs of different authors the past few years, but it is helpful to have it outlined in one place with all the possible variations.  I knew publishing was complex, but not just how complex until seeing it all in one place.

Secrets of Writing High-Performance Business-to-Business Copy – This is the text for the class I start this week.  As I get into it, much of the information is clicking into place and starting to make sense.  Even though the terminology and focus is different, I recognize many of the writing principles as lessons I taught my middle school students.

confessions of a murder suspectConfessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson – I had hoped to get through with this one, but I didn’t quite make it.  Tandy is remembering secrets that she had blocked from memory and discovering secrets about her family, but she is no closer to discovering who killed her parents.

Coming up…

This week will be busy with writing (I get to go on a road trip for an interview tomorrow!) and my class, but I hope to finish up some of the books I’m reading and dig into the stack of YA books I’ve been putting off through the summer. Which one should I read first?

Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde

song of the quarkbeastA gift came in the mail this week, a gift of the best kind, a brown envelop containing a book I have been waiting for most of this year.  You see, last Christmas I had gift cards to spend on books.  Since I had been given Jasper Fforde’s The Last Dragonslayer in paperback, I chose to preorder the second book in the Chronicles of Kazam in paperback, too.  The Song of the Quarkbeast (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2013, Hodder and Stroughton 2011) finally released in the US in paperback this month.

That’s a long time to wait to see what the rise of magic might mean to Jennifer Strange and the motley collection of magicians at Kazam Mystical Arts Management.  It was worth the wait.  Even though magic is surging through the Ununited Kingdoms, all is not well.  King Snodd and his Useless Brother are up to their usual tricks.  This time they are joined by an evil magician who goes by the name of Conrad Blix, and the fate of magic–and the world–hangs in the balance. Who is the only one who can stop them?  Jennifer Strange, of course.

The highly capable foundling might have her hands full.  Kazam Mystical Arts Management forced into accepting a challenge from Blix.  Kazam should have no trouble taking on Blix and his few magicians, but the contest just might be rigged.  Two of Kazam’s most powerful wizards get turned into stone.  They others are being rounded up by the police.

Just like the first book in the series, The Song of the Quarkbeast is packed with quirky humor and unforgettable characters.  Blix is a villain that you will love to hate.  I loved the introduction of the Mysterious Boo. What’s not to love about someone who rescues quarkbeasts and has a deep, dark secret?  We even learn more about the transient moose and finally meet–however briefly–the Great Zambini.

If you’re totally confused right now, don’t worry.  Jasper Fforde excels at the kind of humor that introduces random things that somehow make sense in the end.  Just hang on tight and enjoy the ride.  The only down side is now I have to wait for the release of The Eye of Zoltar.  The sneak peek in the back is just enough to leave me wanting more.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

image

My reading week took a surprising turn–not at all what I expected to read. We also had a weekend filled with soccer, and I chaperoned the girls’ soccer team on their overnight tournament. I’m glad to be home and hopefully get back to a more expected reading and writing week.

I finished…

The Federal Election Commission Campaign Guide – A friend asked me to serve as treasurer on her campaign committee for Congress. Before I accepted, I wanted to know what I was getting into.  Let me just say that reading through all the rules, laws and guidelines for federal campaigns was eye-opening. I value even more Susan’s campaign that does not rely on extensive fundraising, but on talking with people directly.

I’m currently reading…

les-miserablesLes Miserables by VIctor Hugo – I didn’t get too far this week.  I only made it to 73%.  The story got bogged down with political theory about the differences between revolution and insurrection.  We did see the funeral of the beloved general that incited riots and Gavroche is a part of it all.  I like that kid.

complete idiot's guide to publishing children's booksThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold D. Underdown – I’m taking my time with this one to absorb the information.  One of the most valuable parts of this book is the resources included.  By the time I’m done, I’ll have sticky notes sticking out all over.

confessions of a murder suspectConfessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson – I’m not sure what I think of this one.  I’m intrigued enough to want to finish to find out who murdered the parents, but the narrator is a bit much.  She addresses the listener/reader frequently, and it seems almost overdone, especially when she’s dropping what seem to be obvious hints and claiming that “this is a story for another time.”

song of the quarkbeastSong of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde – I’ve been waiting for this one since just after Christmas.  I received a paperback of the first book, The Last Dragonslayer, for Christmas. Since I started the series in paperback, I preordered the paperback for this second book in the series, and it just came out in the US.  I love Fforde’s wordplay and humor, and so far I’m loving Jennifer Strange’s second adventure.  Magic is indeed on the rise again, but that doesn’t mean the Kazam’s problems are decreasing. If anything, they face even more trouble.

Coming up…

I definitely will be finishing up the books I’m in the middle of here.  My goal is to catch up on some blog posts as well.  I have several good books I’ve been reading that I want to share.

What are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

image

I finished:

murder at the vicarageMurder at the Vicarage by Agathy Christie – Doing lots of mowing this week gave me lots of time to listen to this audio from SYNC YA.  It was a delight to listen to.  I love Miss Marple and her keen observations–though if I lived in her village, I’d probably think she was a busybody when she turned her skills on my life!

and the mountains echoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – This is my favorite of the three Hosseini books I’ve read.  The end was bittersweet, and I definitely wanted to read more about some of the characters.

save meSave Me by Lisa Scottoline – Everything that could go wrong when Rose volunteers at her daughters school does go wrong–bullying girls, an explosion, a missing/injured child, lawsuits and possible criminal charges.  Then Rose turns into an amateur detective and brings the true bad guys to justice.  I liked it.

I’m currently reading…

les-miserablesLes Miserables by VIctor Hugo – I’m up to 72%, but the story is bogging down with more political theory and lots of mooning over each other by Marius and Cosette.  In this section, I’m most impressed with Eponine’s bravery.  She protects Marius and Cosette from a gang of six robbers (including her father) who have just escaped from prison.

complete idiot's guide to publishing children's booksThe Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books by Harold D. Underdown – I’ve just started another text in my crash course on freelance writing.  Now to start getting all these ideas that are swirling around my head down on paper and out into the world.

Coming up…

confessions of a murder suspectConfessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson – I just transferred this one to my iPod to listen to while I run and do other mindless tasks.  The heat and humidity kept me from running this morning, but I have something to listen to when I do get on the road!

I’ll continue reading the books I’m in the middle of.  I also have another book by Lisa Scottoline that I will start.

History Is So Bugged!

buggedI’ve been around long enough to learn that my history classes in school left out a lot of history. Kings and generals, battles and revolutions certainly shape history, but did you know that tiny bugs played their role as well? Nope?  Neither did I. Or at least I didn’t until I read Sarah Albee’s Bugged: How Insects Changed History (Scholastic 2014).

It is indeed “swarming with facts,” as the cover proclaims.  Not just any facts–it is packed with facts that are shocking and disgusting and gross.  There is mayhem and death and destruction on every page that is guaranteed to make you itch–if you can manage to scratch between peals of laughter. Did you know that bugs were once used as a form of execution? (Read all about it on page 100). You may even discover that your favorite red sports drink or cherry ice cream or pink blush contain dyes made from squashed bugs. (Read about it on page 20.)

Bugs have done dastardly things–devour food crops and spread deadly diseases–that have changed the course of battles and wiped out large numbers of people.  Albee digs to find the traces of bugs behind some of the most dramatic events of history, from ancient times to modern history, and from the Far East to the New World. I just wish my history textbooks in class could have been as much fun to read as this one was.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

image

It may have been because I was procrastinating other things, but this was a good reading week for me.  I finished up several books that I had been reading for quite a while and started several others.  Now if I can just crank up the writing to match for this coming week!

I finished…

code name verityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I finished this last Monday morning.  The audio was excellent, but I am glad I had read the text first.  Hearing the words after reading them highlighted details that I missed or sped through when I first read it.  I defnintely want to read Rose Under Fire.

2014 childrens writers market2014 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market edited by Chuck Sambuchino – Okay, confession time.  I didn’t read every description of every publisher, agent, and magazine, but I did glance through them and looked up a few using the subject and age level indexes.  Once I get my writing going, I will want to invest in a yearly subscription to refer to.  I learned much from the articles and interviews in the first half of the book.

buggedBugged!  How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee – My view of history will never be the same.  It’s too bad that history textbooks can’t have this much fun with history.

anne of green gablesAnne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – Anne Shirley kept me good company this week as I ran, mowed, cleaned, and canned salsa.  This story has long been one of my favorites that I revisit again and again.  I enjoyed listening to Anne’s scrapes and kindred spirits and imaginative stories just as much as reading them.  Of course, now I want to go back and read the rest of the series.

heaven is for realHeaven is for Real by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent – I didn’t intend to reread this book this week, but it was lying around and I found myself picking it up. (My husband’s Sunday School class is getting ready to start it.)  Once again I found myself captivated and wondering at the experiences of this little boy.

I’m currently reading…

les-miserablesLes Miserables by VIctor Hugo – I’m up to 70% of the way through despite getting bogged down in another detour, this one about slang and a history of language and politics.  I would have found the sland discussion interesting, but my French is not good enough to get the points he was making.  I don’t think the English translation caught the whole of it.

murder at the vicarageMurder at the Vicarage by Agathy Christie – I also downloaded this title from Sync YA over the summer.  I love Agatha Christie mysteries. Even though I very likely read it long ago, I don’t remember the end, so I get to enjoy it all over again–and it is a Miss Marple mystery.  She’s my favorite.

and the mountains echoedAnd the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini – This is breathtaking so far.  I love how Hosseini’s writing sweeps me out of my world and into one that is so very different.  After reading his books, I would love to see the country and people of Afghanistan.  I’m not sure I’m brave enough to visit in real life right now, but I am grateful that he shares his vision of it through his stories.

Coming up…

I will finish the books I’m in the middle of.  I also want to catch up with my blogging and writing in general.  I have a couple of books that a friend lent me that I’d like to pick up next. I am hoping for a productive week for both reading and writing!

What good books are you reading this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? Is a meme sponsored by Sheila at Book Journey.  Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Menor Texts gave the meme a kidlit twist.  It’s a great way to reflect on what you’ve read and reviewed the last week and plan what you want to read next.  Join up with us and discover what good books other people are reading.

image

I got some writing done, I canned more tomatoes and pasta sauce.  I battled yellow jackets and baby snakes.  I even read some.  Here are the books that joined me through this week.

I finished…

cup of our lifeThe Cup of Our Life by Joyce Rupp – I’ve been using this book for my morning devotions the past six weeks.  I’ve used it before, but since I’m at a different place in my life, the reflections are still fresh and relevant.  Once again, I am moved by the symbolism of a cup for many things in my life.

staff of serapisStaff of Serapis by Rick Riordan – I found this one while poking around on Amazon looking for something else.  I still have to wait until October for The Blood of Olympus, but this long short story–or is it a short novella–might hold me over until then.  This time Annabeth Chase and Sadie Kane come together to defeat a monster that combines Greek and Egyptian elements.  The question remains, is Riordan just teasing us with these shorts, or is he planning another series joining the Greek demigods and the Egyptian magicians?

I’m currently reading…

les-miserablesLes Miserables by VIctor Hugo – I know this is one reason my reading (in terms of number of books) has slowed down.  I have spent quite a bit of time this week with Gavroche (a Paris street urchin) as he rescued his unknown younger brothers and escaping from prison with Thenadier.  He may be a rascal and the “master of the house,”  but he does have street smarts.  I am now 67% of the way through.  I’m still working to finish it by the end of the year.

code name verityCode Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – I am almost done–just 25 minutes or so left.  I loved Morven Christie’s narration of Queenie/Julie.  She wrung every drop of emotion out of the character without being overwrought.  Then when Lucy Gaskell started narrating Maddy’s/Kitty Hawk’s part, I was blown away.  Her voice brought Maddy to life in my mind.  I will be sad to finish with this story again.

2014 childrens writers market2014 Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market edited by Chuck Sambuchino – I have learned so much from reading the articles and interviews–making the most of conferences, creating compelling characters, taking the plunge into self-publishing, and more.  I am almost through the informational part for writing craft and business and to the list of publishers, agents, editors, magazines.

buggedBugged!  How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee – I am having too much fun reading this one.  I have to bite my tongue to keep from sharing gross facts about bugs and the diseases they spread at inopportune times.  Even though much of the information is groww, I find myself laughing, too.

Postponed…

How to Write Successful Fundraising Appeals by Mal Warwick – This one is due back at the library today, and I think I’m going to hand it back in unread.  My heart is with writing stories–both fiction and nonfiction–not in copywriting.  If that opportunity presents itself, I know where I can get the book if I want to learn it later.

Coming up…

I am nearly finished with several books.  I’m not sure what I what I will grab off the shelf next.  I will choose another audio book from the ones I downloaded from Sync YA earlier this summer.  I’m looking for something lighter after the intensity of Code Name Verity.  I’ve also been picking up Khaled Hosseini’s And the Mountains Echoed, so it may be next up, too.

Praying in Color by Sybil MacBeth

praying in colorPraying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God is not just a book to read.  Sybil MacBeth invites you to grab some markers or colored pencils or pens or even crayons and a sheet of paper and give expression to your prayers in a new way.

I appreciate how she shares her own spiritual journey in coming to doodle as a form of payer.  I often feel inadequate when I pray.  Sitting in silence didn’t often work for me unless I had a pen and notebook and could write my prayers.  Even though I do write to express myself, sometmes words don’t seem to be enough to still my frantic thoughts.

I dug out and sharpened my color pencils.  I grabbed my notebook.  I began to doodle and pray in color myself.  It is not instantly comfortable for me, but I am finding value in it.  I have to remind myself (and MacBeth emphasizes the point) that artistic talent is not the point.  The point is to hold someone or something in the presence of God.  In some ways, the practice reminds me of the exploring I’ve done with using doodling as a means of taking notes on what I read or hear.  The visualization is a different way of thinking as well as praying.

I found the book easy to read.  The short chapters are focused and sprinkled with many examples–both in anecdotes and in actual icons created by praying in color.  She starts with her journey of using doodles to pray for others.   As the book continues, she shares many other ways to doodle with other ways of praying and entering into Scripture.

Not only do I look forward to what I will learn from this experience, but I am also excited to share it with the teenagers in the Sunday School class I teach.  I hope they find it a way to come before God, too.

 

1 2 3 49