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Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Musings

Thanks, again, for all the good thoughts, comments, and emails. Laddie has had a difficult week and yesterday, the cardiologist said Laddie would have to have a pacemaker. So in a few hours they will do that procedure, and hopefully, things will improve.

This afternoon, if all goes well, I'm abandoning hospital duty for the weekend. We've been planning to go to Natchez and then on to Baton Rouge for Mila's birthday party, and if the procedure goes well, we will leave this afternoon and be back Sunday night. Mila has sent her "presentations" and has party hats and a pinata that she checks on daily. She will be 4 years old...hard to believe how quickly she has grown!

Still not much reading accomplished, but I'm almost through with the fairy tale book and another Campion book, read in snatches through the hospital hours.

Hope everyone has a great Memorial Day weekend!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Morning...

I appreciate all of your good thoughts and wishes! Laddie is feeling better and has had all sorts of tests run, with another one scheduled for this morning.

I've gotten less reading done than I expected for all of the hours at the hospital, but did finish Mystery Mile, one of the Campion series by Margery Allingham that Jill sent me. Talk about about a quirky English sleuth! Can't wait to begin the next one. Have also been reading Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales, but the mystery is taking precedence, so I'm packing Police at the Funeral for Today.

Thanks again for the nice comments and good thoughts for Laddie.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Disappearing Comment Button

For some reason, my last post doesn't have a comment button. I fooled around with everything in the settings section for comments, then discovered that under Post Options of the draft, that "don't allow, hide existing" was checked. Huh?

My father is in the hospital, and I wish I had a laptop. When I got home last night, there was a ton of email, but I was too tired to go through it. Have to get ready to go back to the hospital, and if I had a laptop, I'd be able to catch up with emails and play some games.

On the bright side, however, the 3 books Jill sent me arrived yesterday, and I will have some good reading material to take with me!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Water for Elephants

Gruen, Sara. Water for Elephants. Jacob Jankowski is in his 90's and living in a nursing home when a circus begins setting up locally. Hoping to attend the show on Sunday, Jacob begins replaying the events of his youth during the depression: the death of his parents, having to leave before his final exams to become a veterinarian, and ending up jumping a train--which turns out to be the train for the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.

The story alternates between Jacob's life in the nursing home and his memories of his years with the circus, and both stories, both Jacobs are compelling.

Gruen does an excellent job in evoking the world of a traveling circus in the 1930's. The characters are skillfully drawn, the details and the language well-researched (in fact, the material at the end of the book concerning her research and sources is fascinating), and the suspense involving love, friendships, and murder kept me involved throughout. I don't want to say too much about the plot or give anything away, but it is a captivating story.

I read this very quickly as I found it difficult to put down. I'll be looking for Gruen's previous books!

Fiction. Historical fiction/mystery. 2006. 331 pages + additional material.

An Old Argument

The first part of this article reviews a lot of the contentious arguments between book critics and bloggers that we've all heard before, but then moves on to some interesting points.

excerpts from Battle of the book reviews:

"Many believe there's a healthy synergy between the two (critics and bloggers). Maud Newton, who runs one of the more respected literary blogs (maudnewton.com), was puzzled by the idea that the two are somehow competing. "When bloggers disagree with or agree with an article about books in the mainstream press, it drives traffic to the newspaper," she said. The cutbacks at newspaper book reviews are unfortunate, but hardly the fault of bloggers."

and

"And although many newspaper reviews are shrinking, Dennis Loy Johnson — an independent publisher who started Moby Lives, one of the pioneering literary blogs — believes they continue to offer more solid content than most online efforts. "It's a dirty word in 2007, but blogs have not raised the level of intellectual discussion," he said. "Book blogging is for the most part book gossip and fresh commentary, or opinion. It's vital, but it's not true literary criticism."

I love reading reviews from other bloggers, but I certainly don't like the fact that newspapers are cutting their book editors and reviewers. The above quote is often true, most bloggers (certainly not all) are interested in book gossip (Who is reading what and does it sound good?), fresh commentary (Gosh, I read the book and didn't notice that --symbol, character, incident, allusion, etc.-- and it makes sense.), and opinion (Liked it. Hated it). This information is fun and informative and has expanded my reading horizons and pleasure. I don't believe it is anything to be ashamed of.


Yet I still want access to a professional critic's opinion, and newspapers are doing us all a great disservice by eliminating book coverage. There are some excellent sites on line for book information, including some excellent criticism, but newspaper coverage IS broader.

Jubilee Trail

Bristow, Gwen. Jubilee Trail. I thoroughly enjoyed this re-read of one of my favorite books from my adolescence. In 1844, Garnet Cameron graduated from Miss Wayne's Select Academy for Young Ladies in Manhatten. Ready to tackle the world, Garnet finds the confines (and eligible young men) of New York society boring, but is too well-bred and polite to completely understand her own feelings.

Along comes a handsome young man from California who, after several years of crossing the continent as a prairie trader, finds New York society as restricted as Garnet does. As Oliver Hale regales Garnet with stories of California and the Oregon Trail, Garnet's longing for adventure increases, and she falls in love with the man who offers her experiences she could never have otherwise.

Before long the two are married and off for a brief honeymoon in New Orleans before embarking on the Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri, crossing the prairies, mountains, and desert to California, a journey of 2000 miles. The first stretch, the Santa Fe Trail, was 900 miles and took nearly two months across the prairies. After that, more than half the journey, the Rockies, and the desert were still ahead.

There are some wonderful characters, lots of exciting adventures, great hardships. The historical aspects from this time period when the Texas, New Mexico, and California territories belonged to Mexico are fascinating, and the hardships endured by those who made this journey were so tremendous that my respect for those early pioneers is almost boundless.

The book is a bit old-fashioned, but still a great read.

(some diaries from early pioneers on the trail)


Fiction. Historical romance/adventure. 1950. 564 pages.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

~Two Steps Forward and One Step Back~

This is the list of books in the stack I have to finish before ordering any more books or bringing any home from the library. Four completed, one in progress, two yet to be started. I'm having a hard time with The Savage Detectives and am not sure yet whether or not to set it aside. The reviews are excellent, but the book is just not calling me to go on.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (F) -- finished

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales -Kate Bernheimer (editor) (NF)

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (F) -- finished

Without a Map: A Memoir by Meredith Hall (NF)

The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano (F) -- in progress

Shadow Cities by Robert Neuwirth (NF)

Jubilee Trail (just realized it isn't in the picture) by Gwen Bristow -- finished

All Creatures Great and Small by James Herriot -- finished

I need to review Water for Elephants and Jubilee Trail, but since I've been so busy lately and having computer difficulties, I simply haven't gotten around to that chore.

AlthoughI haven't ordered from Amazon or been to the library, five additional books have shown up - ARC's and Bookmooch are to blame. And Jill is sending me 3 Campion mysteries that I'm so eager to read that I'm pretty sure they will edge themselves ahead of others.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

8 Things

Melanie at Tea Leaves and Tea Reads tagged me for this meme. I had been tagged for 7 things at Bayou Quilts, so I just added an additional item.

The rules -
1: Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2: People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3: At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names.
4: Don't forget to leave them a comment and tell them they're tagged, and to read your blog.


1. I was a gymnast when I was young, and my joints remind me everyday.
2. Licorice is a guilty secret. Love it, but only once in a great while will I indulge in those love black twists.
3. My last pair of toe shoes, battered and worn, are still in a box in my closet.
4. I made a 9 patch quilt for my granddaughter's first birthday. It was something I had always wanted to do, and I'm still proud of that quilt. Mila will be 4 this month, and both she and quilting have delighted me for these past 3 years.
5. Since July of last year, I've only been to Tai Chi a handful of times. I miss it and don't have the discipline to really practice without having class. If I'm going to class, I will practice, but without that incentive, I'm too lazy.
6. In connection to Tai Chi, I may be the only grandmother among you with a saber and a straight sword. Love my weapons!
7. My favorite city is Edinburgh, and I hope to attend the Fringe Festival there once more before I am too old and decrepit to enjoy it!
8. I am not a witty or funny person, but I'm a great appreciator of and audience for those who are. My daughters are both quick-witted and funny like their father, and I sometimes laugh until I'm in tears at their repartee'. I don't even attempt to tell jokes, much less ad lib!

So I'm tagging the following (but please do not feel obligated; as Melanie mentioned, it is just for fun):

Sam at BookChase
iliana at Bookgirl's Nightstand
maggie at Maggie Reads
Jill at My Individual Take on the Subject
Dorothy at Of Books and Bicycles
Susan at Pages Turned
Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings
Chris at Stuff as Dreams Are Made On

Friday, May 11, 2007

Links

Found The Ultimate Guide: Best Places to Get Free Books, which I'll check out better later. The SF-Books had some interesting titles.

300 Women Who Changed the World also had some interesting material.

Or how about 15 Things Kurt Vonnegut Said Better Than Anyone Else Ever Has or Ever Will.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Flannery, again

Found this great article by Flannery O'Connor via Maude Newton.

Just to add a little color. Most of my garden pictures are on my other blog, but since I don't have much to say right now, I'm adding this clematis, potato vine pic.

Inkheart


Funke, Cornelia. Inkheart. Meggie and her father both love books, but Mo has a secret that Meggie doesn't know about: Mo can read characters right out a book, and unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Sometimes real people can be read into a book. After an incident that occurred when Meggie was three years old, Mo ceased reading aloud for fear of the consequences.
The consequences, however, catch up to him anyway...and therein lies the tale.

I enjoyed this YA fantasy which is filled with magic and the love of books. Meggie, Mo, Elinor, and Dustfinger -- each has a lot at stake as they tangle with the wicked Capricorn and his gang.

The novel ends with the promise of another tale, and Funke has completed Inkspell, but the third book in the trilogy has not yet arrived.

Cornelia Funke has a website that kids might enjoy and this site has pictures from the upcoming movie of Inkheart and pictures of the characters here, but you have to scroll down some.

Fiction. YA fantasy. 2003. 534 pages.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

All Creatures Great and Small


Herriot, James. All Creatures Great and Small. Yorkshire veterinarian James Herriot (James Alfred Wight) began his career in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1930's; he fell in love with the area and remained there until his death. His stories of his adventures with both animals and farmers are delightfully funny. Herriot's ability to laugh at himself only adds to the charm of this series of books based on his experiences.

A book that will leave you smiling and wishing you could have met James, Siegfried, Tristan, and other people and animals from the surrounding area of Darrowby. An all time favorite, re-reading it was a pleasure.

Memoir. 1972. 437 pages.

Monday, May 07, 2007

links

An interesting review of The Road. He certainly has some good points...and I liked the book even if I questioned the Pulitzer.

And this article on the loss of book review sections in newspapers as opposed to the cuts in public funding to libraries....

These articles and more were found at Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind which, in turn, came by way of LitMinds.Org.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Would You Like Your Own Daemon?



I found this on Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic. What fun! You, too, can create your daemon! Thanks, Stephanie!

Finished All Creatures Great and Small yesterday--and it was as good as the first time.
Last night, I put aside the quilt I'm binding and started Inkheart and think I've fallen in love! Thanks to all of you for your high recommendations on this one.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

What Next?

I'm still reading (and thoroughly enjoying) All Creatures Great and Small; it is a great relief to find this book as charming and humorous as it was when I first read it.

Next stack:
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke (F)
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Women Writers Explore Their Favorite Fairy Tales -Kate Bernheimer (editor) (NF)
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (F)
Without a Map: A Memoir by Meredith Hall (NF)
The Savage Detectives by Roberto Bolano (F)
Shadow Cities by Robert Neuwirth (NF)
Jubilee Trail (just realized it isn't in the picture) by Gwen Bristow

I just can't decide which one...or two...