Posts Tagged ‘book response’

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 Mentor 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

Keeping up with PO-EMotion poetry challenge has been harder than I expected. I have been inspired by the poems I read from the others participating, and I am pleased with some of my efforts. I definitely find myself paying attention to the smallest details of life more than usual. I’m glad the week coming up has more positive emotions. I hope you enjoy some of the poems linked below. We survived a rainy, stormy week and then enjoyed brilliant sun this weekend. I spent every minute I could outside. And this was a week when I finished several of the books I have been reading for awhile.

This week’s poetry posts:

I finished…

Amazon affiliate link

Seabiscuit by Lauren Hillenbrand – Now that I’m done, I’m trying to wait patiently while my daughter reads it, but she probably won’t get into it until after finals next month. I do want to see how the movie compares to the book. I have not been this excited about reading a horse story since fourth grade when I accidentally cheered out loud during silent reading time while reading one of the Black Stallion books. I caught myself wanting to cheer out lood for Seabiscuit more than once.

Amazon affiliate link

Making Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton – This is another book I’m looking forward to sharing with my daughter. Even more than the thoughtful information shared, I appreciated Hamilton’s tone throughout the book. Hamilton explains the the scope of the Bible and the history of its writing with insight and warmth. It is not a dry, scholarly tome, but more like sitting over tea with a very smart friend. He states his opinions clearly and explains the thinking behind them, but respects fellow believers who draw different conclusions. In the second half of the book, Hamilton tackles many thorny questions about the Bible that too many people want to gloss over.

Amazon affiliate link

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett – Spring arrived in southern Indiana this week, and I couldn’t help revisiting this classic. I can’t count the number of times I have reread this book, and I still enjoy discovering spring on the English moor with Mary Lennox and Dickon and Colin.

Amazon affiliate link

By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York TImes Book Review edited by Pamela Paul – I’m finally saying goodbye to this one. I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting many writers and learning more about their reading habits and quirks. The last interviews this week were with Ann Patchett, Amy Tan, Bryan Cranston, Michael Connelly, Neil deGrasse Tyson, E.L. Doctorow, Chang-rae Lee, Gary Shteyngart and Rachel Kushner.

I’m currently reading…

Amazon affiliate link

What Have You Lost – edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – Each poem is a juicy morsel for me to chew on throughout the day. Some of the poems make me laugh in recognition, but most of them break my heart.

Amazon affiliate link

The Audience Revolution by Danny Ino – This is another volume in my efforts to learn more about copywriting and marketing. I do like his emphasis on serving your audience and focusing on their needs as the foundation for a business.

Coming up...

Amazon affiliate link

Wild Things: Acts of Mishief in Children’s Literature by Betsy Bird, Julie Danielson and Peter Sieruta – I have been looking forward to reading this one ever since I got it for Christmas. I am prepared to be entertained and even shocked. I hope it doesn’t disappoint. Now that I have finished By the Book, I can dive in.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

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 Mentor 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 had to laugh last week Rikki called me on my plan to stick with the books I am in the middle of. Of course, I was distracted by shiny new books–even old books I wanted to reread. I’m also enjoying National Poetry Month by taking part in Mary Lee’s PO-EMotion poetry challenge at A Year of Reading. You can check out the poems I’ve written so far with the links below.

I finished…

Amazon affiliate link

Dr. Seuss Goes to War: The World War II Editorial Cartoons of Theodor Seuss Geisel by Richard H. Minear (Introduction by Art Spiegelman) – I dug this book out because my daughter is taking AP US History this year. They aren’t quite to World War II yet, but I thought she would enjoy flipping through the cartoons and sharing it with her class as they delve into the war. Of course, I got sucked back into it and had to reread it myself! Not only do many of the cartoons skewer their marks, but they also show seeds of Seuss’s later works such as Yertle the Turtle.

I’m currenly reading…

Amazon affiliate link

By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York TImes Book Review edited by Pamela Paul – I’m not sure where this question comes from, but it shows up in quite a few interviews: Do you ever read self-help? Any titles you recommend? Several authors repeat my favorite anwer–don’t all books help? Interviews this week Richard Dawkins, Sting, Andrew Solomon, Malcolm Gladwell, Scott Turow and Donna Tartt.

Amazon affiliate link

Seabiscuit by Lauren Hillenbrand – I’m still enjoying it. Seabiscuit has had a run of bad luck lately, but he keeps on running. I love reading about how Tom Smith, the trainer, antagonized the press by hiding Seabiscuit’s workouts at strange times or unexpected places–and the reporters’ determination to learn anything about Seabiscuit they could report.

Amazon affiliate link

Making Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton – I am finished with the first half of the book where Hamilton discusses his approach for reading the Bible in the context of its history, culture, and church tradition. I find that much of what he says makes a lot of sense. I’m looking forward to the next section where he tackles specific questions and issues–usually the ones that cause the most controversy. So far I’ve been impressed with the level tone he keeps. He writes with respect even when he disagrees with others.

Amazon affiliate link

What Have You Lost – edited by Naomi Shihab Nye – In honor of National Poetry month, I decided to read a poem a day, so you can expect to see this collection for a while. With 140 poems by different poets–all about things lost–it will take longer than a month to read, but I love reading just one poem a day. I find myself turning back to the poem throughout the day and reading it multiple times.

Coming up…

Once again, I will attempt to keep reading the books I’m in the middle of, but don’t be surprised to see me pick up something unexpected as well. I think I might finish By the Book this week (I may have to double up a day or two). I will hate to see it go, but I’m looking forward the the Wild Things book I have to read next.

What have you read this week? Do you have anything to recommend?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

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 Mentor 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…

Nothing! With a big writing project at the first of the week and a college visit with my daughter to Purdue University at the end of the week, I did not have as much time to read as I would have liked. I did enjoy reading several things this week, but I didn’t finish any of them. I did write my response to Learning to Walk in the Dark.

I’m currently reading…

Amazon affiiate link

By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York TImes Book Review edited by Pamela Paul – One of the questions that I find the most interesting answers to is “What book/writer do you think is overrated? Have you ever put down a book you couldn’t finish?”  Many won’t answer the question, not wanting to slam another writer publically because they know how hard writing is. Others will name books they couldn’t finish or didnt’ enjoy, but say the problem is with them as the reader, not the book or writer. Often, one writer will list a book that other writers have shared as the best or most influential book they’ve read. I shared this idea with my students before, that not every book is right for every reader or right for this time. I wish I had had this collection to reinforce the idea. It’s so much more powerful coming from other people, too. This week’s interviews humbled me–so many books and writers I do not know, but like Jonathan Lethem said, “The existence of vastly more great books than I can ever hope to read is a primary locus of joy in this life, and weight on the scale in favor of human civiliation.” Actually, several authors have shared similar sentiments, but I read his this week. I also read interviews by Christopher Buckley, Curtis Sittenfeld, James McBride, James Patterson and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Amazon affiliate link

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand – I read quite a bit this week. I find it hard to put down the story (though my paperback has such small type my eyes  insist I take breaks every once in a while). I am fascinated by the way owner Charles Howard, trainer Tom Smith, jockey Red Pollard and the ornery Seabisuit came together at just the right time. Hillenbrand’s prose keeps me on the edge of my seat and vivid details bring these people to life again.

Amazon affiliate link

Making Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton – I remember a lot of what I read in the early chapters this week from my college class in Biblical history and literature. I found the subject fascinating then, but unlike my college textbook, Hamilton makes the subject very approachable. He survyed the Old Testament in 15 minutes. Coming up is a 15 minute survey of the New Testament. I’m looking forward to diving into some of the more controversial issues later in the book. If Hamilton continues in the same tone, it will be thoughtful instead of strident.

Coming up…

I think I’d better keep reading the books I’m in the middle of. It may not be this week or next, but once I finish Seabiscuit, I want to watch the movie and then check out Unbroken from the library.

What have you been reading this week?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

Amazon affiliate link

Learning to Walk in the Dark (Harper One 2014) will stay with me a long time now that I have finally finished it. Barbara Brown Taylor invites readers to join her on her journey to explore what darkness–both physical darkness and metaphysical darkness–has to teach. As I read, I kept stopping to reflect on my own experiences with darkness and wanting to learn more.

I was fascinated by sheer number of facts I didn’t know about physical darkness. Did you know there are three twilights to end each day? Did you know that humans’ sleep patterns changed with the invention of the light bulb (and not just with less time for sleep)?  Did you know that you could dine in the dark in restaurants that block all light while you eat your meal? Did you know that most people in the United States can no longer see the Milky Way or even many stars at all? I can remember seeing the Milky Way once on a Girl Scout camping trip. I have never forgotten the sight and would love to see it again. I want to share it with my daughter and hope we can find a dark enough place on a clear night with a new moon (and nowhere we have to get up and go early the next morning).

I thought even more about the aspects of spiritual darkness Brown explores. My childhood reading was filled with fantasy that pitted good against evil, often in terms of light over dark. Meg, Calvin and Charles Wallace fought the Dark Thing to rescue Meg’s father on Camazotz in A Wrinkle in Time. In Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising, Will joins the Old Ones in the fight of the Light against the forces of the Dark. The Biblical stories and images I grew up with also associate God with Light and evil with darkness. I had heard of St. John’s dark night of the soul (and knew it was an experience I did not want to spend time with), but I didn’t know much of the history of or John’s thinking about the experience. Now I’m not so sure. It still sounds like a difficult experience, but maybe one I could learn from.

I am already seeing changes in myself as a result of reading. I find myself paying more attention to the darkness rather than trying to shine a light through it to shut it out. I’ve always been fascinated with watching sunrises. I took a couple of evenings to watch the sunset. The changing play of light is beautiful–and darkness takes a long time to fall. I’ve also resisted turning on lights in the house after I’ve gone to bed. Once I paid attention (and didn’t flip the light switch), I was amazed at how many lights glow from buttons and dials and even reflect off the clouds from town.

One idea that I am drawn to is that of practicing courage. Yes, there can be things in the darkness that are harmful, but often we let our fears overwhelm us when there is not anything to be afraid of. Even more, we often shield our children from the opportunity to practice being brave by rushing in to turn on physical (or metaphysical) lights for them and for ourselves. I am trying to practice more courage in my life and allow my daughter the opportunity to practice as well. (She is not thrilled with this idea at all.) For me, I would like to experience the “Green Meditaiton” Brown describes from an article she read by Clark Strand. The experiment is to find a place like a shallow cave (or even an apartment building) where you can let natural light and darkness determine your sleep and rest. Maybe as you do, the darkness will listen to you. We have a campsite that is in the woods that I could spend the night at. It would be a good chance to practice courage and meet the dark.

Now that I have read Learning to Walk in the Dark, I want to catch up on Brown’s earlier two books–Leaving Church and The Altar in the World.

What are your experiences with dark?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

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 Mentor 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 finally reviewed a book that I have been thinking about ever since I read it just after Christmas:  I Am Malala. I can’t wait to add it to the collection in my Little Free Library. I hope with warmer weather on the way, more people will start dropping by again to discover books. I did sneak one out to give to the little boy across the street! I also reviewed In a Glass Grimmly. I have also enjoyed the sunshine this week. Sunday afternoon I tramped through our woods and helped my husband plant several American chestnut tree seedlings. We’ll see if these once common trees take root and grow.

I finished…

Amazon affiliate link

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino – I reread this one in order to write and submit my first paid book review for WINK. We’ll see what happens with that, but I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this delightful story of an unusual friendship. The text and illustrations combine for just the right amount of sweetness and humor.

Amazon affiliate link

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz – This companion to A Tale Dark and Grimm lives up to its predecessor. This time Jack and Jill set off on a quest to find a magic mirror–a mirror that will give wisdom and riches to whoever possesses it. They don’t want the mirror for themselves. You see, they unwittingly made a promise to the Others to bring it back. If they don’t succeed, they die. Of course, they may die anyway at any point along a dangerous and twisted journey. If the giants at the top of the beanstalk don’t squash them, the evil mermaid or the devious goblins  might. Once again, the narrator is an invaluable guide–at least most of the time warning unwary readers to close their eyes or walk away from the book. A few times he forgets to warn of upcoming blood and gore, but he does apologize for the slip up. Learn the true stories behind the fairy tales–if you dare.

Amazon affiliate link

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor – I much to think about and explore after finishing this book. Brown describes and reflects on her experience with physical and spiritual darkness. I learned more than I expected about darkness and dark places. I also have broadened my view of darkness to include its benefits as well as the things that go bump in the night. I am eager to explore darkness for myself as well now to see what it has to teach me.

Amazon affiliate link

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – This book on writing and life is definitely worth the reread. As I sit down to write, I am trying to pay attention and listen to the truth I have to tell from my life. Even if no one else ever sees it, the writing is worth it. Reading this book is like sitting down in a writing class taught by Lamott. Wouldn’t I love that opportunity? I suspect I will turn back to its pages again as I continue writing.

I’m currently reading…

Amazon affiliate link

By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York TImes Book Review edited by Pamela Paul – This week I enjoyed “chatting” with Jonathan Franzen, Hilary Mantel, Walter Mosley, Khaled Hosseini, Jeannette Walls, Dan Brown and Dan Savage. I love learning which children’s books had an impact on these writers. While some admit to reading only the classics, others fell in love with reading through comic books and series such as the Hardy Boys. Even better is when I find I loved some of the same characters. I don’t know how many times I wished I could be friends with Francie Nolan from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It’s like Jeannette Walls and I have a friend in common.

Amazon affiliate link

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand – I had every intention of picking up another middle grade or YA novel to read, but I picked this one up off the shelf where it has been patiently waiting for me for years. I don’t regret it. I’m just getting started and have met Seabiscuit’s future owner and trainer and now the horse himself. I am enthralled. I will definitely want to watch the movie, too, once I finish. After all, I did meet the horse who played Seabiscuit on a tour of horse farms in Lexington a few years ago!

Amazon affiliate link

How to Make Sense of the Bible by Adam Hamilton – My mom gave me this book for Christmas because she got so much out of reading it. I just started this one on Sunday and have read only the introduction. I think I’m going to enjoy it. I do appreciate the fact that he doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but wrote the book to explore the questions he has while reading as well as those he as been asked throughout his years as a pastor.

Coming up…

I have several books I finished that I do want to review and share more thoughts about. I also have some good books I just started that I look forward to getting into this week. After that I have a college visit with my daughter coming up. I plan on enjoying this part of the process and not worry too much about how soon she will be leaving.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz

Amazon affiliate link

The fairy tales (and nursery rhymes and Biblical allusions) are back with the absolutely true (and sometimes bloody) account of Jack and Jill. Yes, they fell down and hill and Jack indeed split his head open, but they were not sent up to fetch a pail of water. Oh no, they climbed a beanstalk, killed the giants, and then fell off the clouds. Why did they do this? Well, it has to do with finding a magic mirror or else they die. Of course, death and gore and horror lurk around every corner where Jack and Jill go in search of this magic mirror. If the giants don’t succeed in squashing them, then they might succomb to evil mermaids or devious goblins. Don’t forget the fire-breathing salamandar and the murderous Others.

At least the narrator is once again a reliable guide. He generously points out the places where it might be best to close your eyes or walk away from the book altogether. Except when he forgets. At least he apologizes after the blood and gore finishes dripping down the page. Just as I did in the first book, A Tale Dark and Grimm, I love the humor the narrator adds as he (or maybe she) interrupts the story to warn and taunt the reader.

Adam Gidwitz has created another hilarious (if somewhat bloody) romp through another collection of fairy tales and nursery rhymes with In a Glass Grimmly (Puffin Books 2012). Rather than connecting retold stories as he did in A Tale Dark and Grimm, he uses the fairy tales as inspiration and and jumping off point for original stories involving characters we thought we knew–llike the Frog Prince. He’s really just a frog, but a funny frog.

Even though this is a fun story to read, it explores big ideas that will resonate with readers young and old. For much of the story, Jack and Jill are con-fused. They can’t separate how they want others to see them from how they see themselves. It is only once they learn to see themselves clearly, that they find what they have been searching for all along.

Maybe that’s why fairy tales have such enduring power. Through tales of princesses and giants and enchantments, we learn to see more clearly through the fog that con-fuses us our “real” lives. Which fairy tales–fractured or not–help you to see life more clearly?

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Amazon affiliate link

My mom passed on her copy of I Am Malala (Little, Brown and Company 2013) to me over the Christmas holidays. I have been thinking about Malala’s story ever since. I had heard on the news about the Taliban shooting her and two of her classmates. I had heard about her being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace this past year. Those brief accounts on the news don’t do justice to Malala’s story as told by herself.

I have to confess that I know very little of Pakistan, much less the region of Swat, where Malala lived. She opened my eyes to a country and culture that is filled with beauty and wonder, yet also suffers under poverty and oppression. Malala was blessed that her father rejoiced in her birth (in a land where sons are usually celebrated much more) and encouraged her education.

Encouraged by her father, who spoke out against the Taliban, Malala found her voice and spoke out as well. For years before she was attacked, she found ways to speak out on behalf of peace and education–especially for girls. She wrote (under the pen name of Gul Makai) of her experiences living and going to school under Taliban rule for the BBC Urdue website. She and her father gave interviews about the need for all children–including girls–to have an education. Woven in with the accounts of her political actions are descriptions of daily life with her family and friends under the most trying of circumstances: an earthquake, Taliban executions in the town square, curfews imposed by the army, the sounds of battle and explosions, even travel as displaced persons.

I am most impressed with Malala’s attitude of peace and joy throughouth. Even though she at times lived in fear, she doesn’t let the fear control her life or limit her opportunities. She wants peace for her homeland and is willing to work to help bring it about. I am inspired by her courage and determination.

I wish the students I had–those who complained about school and thought it a waste of their time–could listen to Malala’s story and see how valuable education is. It is not a surprise that groups who want to oppress people go after schools first. Without education, people can easily be misled and controlled. Education–the ability to read, write, think, and understand the world–is the first step in creating a better life. I am glad Malala is speaking out for education for all, and I hope she is one day able to return to her homeland to bring that dream to reality.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

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 Mentor 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 was so excited this week when I walked outside on one of the few sunny days between rain showers and saw purple crocuses. I have lots of bulbs starting to send up green shoots now that the snow has melted, but those brave crocuses were blooming brightly. My husband also brought home cabbage plants and spinach seeds to plant in the garden. Believe it or not, some spinach made it through the winter from last fall. It doesn’t took too good, but maybe it will bounce back while the new seeds sprout. I hope your week is filled with as much sunshine as rain this week. If our rain keeps up, I may have to break out the canoe to float to town!

I even wrote a review in honor of Pi Day on Saturday:  Navigating Early features the story of Pi, so it seemed appropriate!

I finished…

Amazon affiliate link

Triumph of the Lion by Peter Danielson – A satisfying end to this massive saga–19 books in the series. I am sad to leave this world and the characters that populate it. Urnan, Eri, and Sunu remain loyal armorers and warriors to King David as he establishes the kingdom of Israel and makes his new capitol in the city of Jerusalem. The women they love–Jerioth, Balaan and Mara remain strong as well. The new children to be born to the Children of the Lion bring their gifts to life as well–especially Leah, who shows signs of supernatural tendencies. Kaptor journeys to Israel to scout out the land of Canaan for his brother, the Pharoah Sheshonk, and returns to Egypt after being thought dead to find things are not as he left them. Once again, it is a world filled with war and violence, but also with love and loyalty and honor.

Amazon affiliate link

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool – Where do I even start praising this beautiful, haunting story of two boys–really more than just them–trying to find their way back home again after experiencing grief? It combines unforgettable characters, a mythic quest through the Maine wilderness, the story of Pi as told in the numbers and so much more. I won’t soon forget Jackie Baker, who lands far from his Kansas home in a boarding school in Maine. His voice tells the story and worms its way into my heart. Neither will I forget the strange boy, Early Auden, who becomes Jackie’s friend and gives him direction until he is hopelessly lost himself. They encounter saints and sinners, pirates and poets along their journey and discover that our lives interconnect in the most surprising ways.

I’m currently reading…

Amazon affiliate link

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – There is so much writing wisdom packed into this book. The words that resonated with me this week: “Listen to your broccoli.” Somehow, someway, in order to write, I have to still the outside voices in my head (whether those that dream too big or those that crush any dreams at all) and listen to the voices within the story I am trying to tell. Easy to read about, but oh-so-hard to do. I’m listening and looking. Now I am going to sit down and write what I see and hear without worrying too much yet about where I’m going with this story.

Amazon affiliate link

By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York TImes Book Review edited by Pamela Paul – The more of these interviews I read, the more I am fascinated by the different ways people read, the different books they are drawn to and the different histories they have with reading and literature. I am also humbled by how many books and writers I still have to meet. This week I met Katherine Boo, Marilynne Robinson, Sheryl Sandberg, Caroline Kennedy, Isabelle Allende and Anna Quindlin

Amazon affiliate link

Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor – This is another book that is giving me much to think about. For so much of my life (not all of it) darkness was something to be feared and to keep at bay with lights–nightlights, candles, flashlights, lamps, floodlights and more. In many of the stories I read, dark symbolized evil while light stood for all that is good. I suspect that darkness (both literal and symbolic) may have much to teach me, too. Friday night I even sat on the back porch, listening to the rain fall while darkness fell around me.

Coming up…

I’m obviously going to continue with the books I’m reading. After that, I’m going to dig into my baskets of books that make up my TBR pile. I may just pull one out at random and see where it takes me, or I might browse through the covers and choose one to match my mood.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool

Happy Pi Day! today is an extra special Pi Day since the date (3-14-15) gives five digits of pi instead of the usual three. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to share a book that weaves a story of Pi throughout a quest for two boys–and even more characters they meet along the way–to find their way home again.

Disclosure: Amazon Associates Link

 Jack Baker has lost his bearings after the death of his mother. Instead of letting him stay in Kansas where landmarks show up against the sky, his father, a Naval officer before and during World War II, drops him to find his way alone at the Morton Hill Academy for Boys in Cape Fealty, Maine.

Jack narrates the story of his friendship with Early Auden, “the strangest of boys,” in a voice that is both matter of fact and heartbreaking. Jack makes a half-hearted attempt to fit in with the other boys, but there is too much he doesn’t know (rowing, the sea, school legends), and too much that they don’t know (grief, homesickness, lostness). Instead, Jack finds himself drawn to the mysterious Early.

Early rarely shows up to class. He has a workshop in the basement. He listens to Mozart on Sundays, Louis Armstrong on Mondays, Frank Sinatra on Wednesdays, Glen Miller on Fridays and Billie Holiday when it’s raining. When he looks at Pi, he sees colors and textures. He is convinced that Pi is lost and shares the story revealed in the numbers with Jack as they work together to build (or rebuild) a better boat. Jack even learns to row in a straight line with Early as his coxswain shouting out directions.

When Jack’s father doesn’t show up as planned for fall break, Jack joins Early on a quest to find Pi–and Early’s dead brother Fisher–and bring him home before he disappears completely. As they journey deeper and deeper into the Maine wilderness, they encounter characters that offer help and harm: loggers/pirates, a gruff woodsman and outdoor guide, a lonely old woman, an ugly girl who turns out to be beautiful and the biggest grizzly bear on the Appalachian Trail. Will they ever find their way home again?

I love the way Clare Vanderpool weaves together multiple stories in Navigating Early (Delacorte Press 2013). Both Jack and Early bounce between their past and present stories. Each of the characters they meet has a story as well. Then there is the story of Pi, that only Early can see in the numbers. Each of the stories and the characters within them connect in surprising ways. I will be thinking about this book for some time to come and looking at the connections in my own life in a new way.

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program. If you decide to make a purchase by clicking on the affiliate links, Amazon will pay me a commission. This commission doesn’t cost you any extra. All opinions are my own.

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 Mentor 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 have gotten into a much better routine with my personal writing and business writing this week. Finding a routine that works for me has been freeing in many ways. I’m not wasting as much time, and when I’ve accomplished my goals for the day, I can check them off and then enjoy other work or reading for the rest of the day. My biggest accomplishment for the week is finishing the web copy for my copywriting website and putting it out in the world. If you want to check it out, you can find it at Kay McGriff Copywriting. After one last (I hope) blast from winter, we’ve been enjoying more spring-like days this weekend. Now for the season of mud!

I finished…

departed gloryDeparted Glory by Peter Danielson – Volume XVI presents a break from the prior books in the series. Urnan and Eri are Children of the Lion descended from Belsunu (from Book I), but they have no connection to the characters who filled the books coming immediately before It returns to the first books in several ways. The focus is on the metalworking skill–especially arms-making–of the Children of the Lion rather than on their occult powers. Once again a father (Urnan) and son (Eri) are separated by invading soldiers and sold in to slavery. Once again the Children of the Lion unite with the descendants of Abraham to fashion weapons for them. This time God raises up Saul to fight the Philistines with his friend Eri by his side. Meanwhile, Urnan finds himself in Egypt as friend of and armorer to the prince.

death of kingsThe Death of Kings by Peter Danielson – Saul is king of Israel, but he no longer has the support of Samuel and the priests. Urnan and Eri still fashion arms for the Israelites, but their loyaly is tested by Saul’s insane jealousy of the warrior David. Yes, the same David that slays Goliath and thousands of other Philistines. While life gets complicated for Urnan and Eri, they remain true to themselves–and to the God they almost believe in. I think my favorite character, though, is Urnan’s son Kaptar, left in Egypt with his mother, Tania. The Libyans threaten Egyptian rule, and Kaptor is determined to take a stand in spite of his youth.

shining kingThe Shining King by Peter Danielson – With the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, David is poised to become king of Israel–if he can convince Saul’s remaining son and his loyal general Abner to defer to him. Urnan travels to try to convince young Ish-bosheth to join forces with David–unsuccessfully. Eri stays with David, while young Suno breaks with tradition and becomes a warrior in David’s army, not just an armorer. Throw in young love and mature love and lots of political intrigue in Egypt (where Kaptor still protects his younger brother to put him on the throne of Two Lands one day) and you have another gripping saga. My favorite expression, though, comes from more than one of the Children of the Lion as they wonder why these stiff-necked Hebrews fight against each other when they have more than enough enemies outside their land to fight against.

I’m currently reading…

Triumph of the Lion by Peter Danielson – I’m just starting this last and final book in the Children of the Lion series. I can’t wait to see how it all ends, though I will be sad to leave the world of these books.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott – I read a little more. In my writing this week, I’m trying to trust her advice that I don’t have to know where I’m going when I start to write. I can learn where I’m headed through the process of writing. I also struggle with those first drafts. I labor over each word rather than just writing, trusting that I can find something valauble later and change the rest–or throw it out if needed. I’m also trying to pay more attention to the life around me.

By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York TImes Book Review edited by Pamela Paul – The first question in most of these interviews drives me crazy: What book is on your nightstand? I get that it’s asking what you are reading now, but I don’t keep books on my nightstand. I cannot read in bed. If I do, I never go to sleep because I get sucked into just one more page. Finally, I found someone else who is like me: Lee Child has the same problem. Other interviews I enjoyed this week were with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Francine Prose, Jared Diamond, Alain de Botton and Dave Barry.

Coming up…

I am finally going to finish the Children of the Lion Series. Then I’m ready to dive back into the stack of middle grade and young adult titles sitting around in stacks. I also have some nonfiction titles that I want to explore. I still have Christmas gifts I haven’t read yet!

1 2 3 53