Tag Archive: books


Dear Jane,

I am so sorry for missing these birthday letters. Life has been crazy busy while I was taking two classes this past semester.

My relaxation is watching movies and listening to audio books. Where ever you are these days, do you get a chance to listen to these? I have learned to love them but it really depends on who is doing the reading to make it good or not. Some books done this way can be quite dreadful, especially if the reader doesn’t get the main character.

One book I listened to recently made the two main characters too giggly f

Still Life Audio

or the situations or their own character traits. That to me is really annoying, The other annoying thing is when the speaker’s volume is very loud for one character and very soft for another who are in the same scene. This happened in one book which lead me to turn up the volume for the soft character only to have to quickly turn it down for the next who’s voice was booming.

Well, if you can, I would suggest the Inspector Gamache series on audio. Louise Penny has centered these books in the town of Three Pines, an English settlement in the Quebec province. Our Inspector is French Quebecois but apparently speaks English quite well. These mysteries definitely have an Agatha Christie feel to them. There are many books in this series, each a gem. If you can, get the ones narrated by Ralph Cosham who passed away in 2014.

pride-prejudice-zombies-trailer-poster1Another thing you might want to catch if you can is a movie version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Is this a great movie? Well, no. But Lily James gives a spirited performance as Lizzie who is an excellent fighter. I think you would be proud of her and this version of your book. I still don’t understand the proposal/fight scene. You will have to watch it to see what I mean. I think it is perfect for watching with teenage or older children, if they don’t mind zombie movies.

But it is your birthday and I hope that your special day is just that. I pray you get some cake and a bit of fun. It seems hard to believe that you lived for a short time and I am now older than you got to be. But your legacy has lived on and inspired so many others. I don’t think any of us can say thank you enough.

Wishing you the happiest of birthdays and a wonderful lazy day to dream of the next book,

Sincerely, your devoted friend, etc.

 

 

 

I Read Banned Books

Last week was banned books week.

Maybe you are familiar with it, maybe you’re not. It is this week that we celebrate the freedom to read – even if it is something you or someone else would not read. I prefer not to read horror but I am not going to stop someone else from reading it.

As people try to ban or challenge books, it becomes imperative that we continue to fight for this right. At the beginning of September there was a story about a principle in a Catholic school who wanted to ban the Harry Potter books because he said the spells in the books are real. I think there might be many children and adults who would disagree because they have tried with no results.

But this story emphasizes why it is important to fight for the freedom to read. We won’t agree on everything but by reading the book in question, we can discuss the issues brought up by these books. We can discuss the rights and wrongs of bringing it up and explore those issues.

I read banned booksI work in a library and so we take it seriously, including getting tee-shirts. I love mine which is a v-neck football style. I can no longer find it on Cafe Press but they do have similar tees. I tend to wear it once a week, before and after banned book week.

So I was wearing it this past week and after work I stopped at the grocery store. The thing is, people kept looking at me and smiling. I don’t know any of these people. I was beginning to think everyone was happy that it was Thursday and only one more day in the work left to go.

Then I hit the check out line and the cashier mentioned my shirt. He was smiling, too. We talked about banned books while he rang up my order. Once I got to my car it hit me that the people smiling at me loved my shirt. I forgot about what I was wearing. But for them it must have been a clarion call. A signal that it is ok to reject complacency or lemming behavior.

I was telling people, through my shirt, it is okay to read whatever you want. I gave permission to be themselves as I raised my own freak flag.

It made people smile, even for a moment. And I can get into that.

By the way, I really do read banned and challenged books.

What banned books have you read lately?

Girl, Wash Your Face

I recently read the book Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis.

I have to admit I had a love/hate relationship with this book. I wanted to love all of it. I wanted to love everything she had to say. But I didn’t.

Girl wash your faceIn fact, there were times I wanted to stop listening. Maybe it was the chapter on sex and the chapter on telling yourself to say no to a bad relationship or figuring out when that glass of wine becomes needful instead of wanted. .

The book is set up on the essential lies we tell ourselves, lies that Hollis has told herself over the years. She shares a lot of her life, willingly telling us the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Much of it is poignant, and sometimes I feel as if I am getting too much information despite her best efforts to keep it vague.

But Hollis always comes back to how she propelled herself to a solution She might have a faith-based solution or portion of the story to share.

As the book repeatedly came back to my library, I noticed who was talking about it. Then I started asking question about how they liked it.  It was a fifty/fifty proposition. Some people loved it while others were willing to read  just to get it done. This caused people to say they thought they would relate to her and were surprised when it didn’t go that way.

Some people liked the mild spiritual writings while others wanted it to be more ‘there.”

Maybe some people resented the spirituality. Others thought it could have been more.

Some people just don’t get it, some wished it wasn’t so much about Hollis despite this being her life story.

In the end I did take away a few things. Get together with friends, forget the “i’m too busy not to” excuse. Another was to make goals, set time limits to make your dreams happen instead of just saying you will get to it. Everything in this book is not going to speak to you so take what works or makes sense to you.  The biggest take-away is that we need to honest with ourselves to make our lives more joy-filled.

Was it the greatest, maybe not but I did listen to it getting more inflection from the author.I would still refer this to my younger friends. As for the older women, I would say read it. You will get something out of it.

 

 

Comfort Movie

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

As we zoom into the holiday season, I find I want to watch those movies that are comforting and familiar.

Youve-Got-Mail-movie-posterThis past week I watched You’ve Got Mail for the umpteenth time. One child shook his head and asked if I hadn’t watched this movie too many times. Another child wondered why I was watching the movie without her.

I found myself reading quotes from the movie on IMDb.com and knew where each one came from. Okay, maybe not right down to the minute but I recognized where each one fit in the movie.

I know the movie well despite hating the ending which I will talk about later.

I find that this movie has a wonderful mix of the sentimental and the modern. In this movie the characters meet in an online discussion group, something very modern in the late 90s as AOL and the internet takes off. They meet at Starbucks, which was beginning to be everywhere.

youve got mail coffee shopAnd yet it is filled with memories from the music by Harry Nilsson and Roy Orbison. Each song seems perfectly fitted for the emotional moment of each scene. The most modern song comes from The Cranberries at the beginning of the movie which set the tone of the busy-iness of New York City, of the people walking to work at a quick and excited pace.

There are all of these charming moments throughout the movie with lovely incidental music that has a slight jazzy tone that romances us and reminds us of an earlier citified age.

All of these elements allow me to forgive the ending in which I think Kathleen should have slapped Joe in the face for his deception. She should have told him off before admitting she hoped it would be him all along. Maybe that would have been trite, maybe not the right payoff. But I always felt that she accepted Joe too easily.

You've Got Mail book storeWe all have that kind of movie that makes us happy, where all of the pieces come together perfectly and tell a story the right way. I have wonderful friends who love horror movies, my mother could watch Humphrey Bogart movies all day. My sons are happy with movies that have explosions and chase scenes.

These are the movies we all turn to when life needs to stay on the other side of the door, when we just need a break from the world for a little while. In the next month and a half, life will get crazy for some of us with holiday events and concerts and family gatherings. For some of us the holiday season is a simple reminder of all the things and people we are missing.

Comfort movies help us get through, maybe they allow us to cry or feel exhilarated. We know how everything will move through the story, we know the dialogue, and the various underlying themes that we may or may not think about.

Maybe for you that movie is Godzilla in whatever iteration but for me it is You’ve Got Mail. And the only other thing I need besides a box of kleenex is a bowl of popcorn with cinnamon sprinkled about.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

bannedbooks-2016

 

It is that special week again when we celebrate books that were challenged or banned in libraries and school libraries across the country. I hope that the ALA does not mind I took their great graphic and the list of the top ten banned or challenged books for 2015.

  1. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  2. Fifty Shades of Grey, by E. L. James
    Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited to age group, and other (“poorly written,” “concerns that a group of teenagers will want to try it”).
  3. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
    Reasons: Inaccurate, homosexuality, sex education, religious viewpoint, and unsuited for age group.
  4. Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin
    Reasons: Anti-family, offensive language, homosexuality, sex education, political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“wants to remove from collection to ward off complaints”).
  5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, by Mark Haddon
    Reasons: Offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).
  6. The Holy Bible
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint.
  7. Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel
    Reasons: Violence and other (“graphic images”).
  8. Habibi, by Craig Thompson
    Reasons: Nudity, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group.
  9. Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story from Afghanistan, by Jeanette Winter
    Reasons: Religious viewpoint, unsuited to age group, and violence.
  10. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Homosexuality and other (“condones public displays of affection”).

So ask yourself when was the last time you read a banned book, on purpose?

Dear Jane,

Happy Birthday and all that. It is another grey day here.

Joanna Trollope, S&SWell, I had just written a lovely letter talking about the new Austen Project that Harper Collins is working on when my computer decided to lose everything. I had a link for you( http://theaustenproject.com/) and a little discussion on it all. But so much for that. I have neither the patience or the time to rewrite everything.

The first book in the series is Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, yes, of that Trollope family. Why did they need to use the exact same titles I do not understand but there it is. I have request a copy from the Library and hope to get it soon so that I may devour it. Then, and only then, will I come back with a full review.

Jane AustenWell, I would write more but the shower awaits and then I am off for the day to do numerous errands before showing up to work. This is a long day at work, which I do appreciate. Lord knows the money is helpful. I will tell you about my novel which is going through various re-writes before I send it off to my beta readers. I only have five chapters to go. Perhaps someday I will see it published but that is next year’s goal.

Once again, wishing you happy, happy. Have a lovely day, doing whatever it is you do there in heaven.

Yours, etc.

Karyn

From the Bookpile

Have you ever had an off day, a not so good project?

For me the last few weeks have proven I am not always as efficient or competant as I like to believe I can be. So I understand when this happens to other people or at least I try to understand.

I have been on a reading tear lately, reading authors in the genre I want to write in to see what makes them good, what makes their stories readable or not.

One of the authors I have been exploring is Barbara Delinsky. She writes women’s fiction and has been at it for a long time. I read The Secret Between Us and Sweet Salt Air.

So what happened? I loved one book and totally hated the other. I almost gave up on her because the first book I read, Sweet Salt Air, was the one I hated.

Book Sweet Salt AirThe story is about two friends who come back together to write a cook book about the Maine island where they spent their summers. Both have secrets that could dammage everything.

I liked the writing, the decriptions of the island. I felt as if I was there. But it was the lack of suspense, the excessive reference to the one big secret (three times in the first chapter before being revealed in the second chapter) was the real turn-off. And that was before some conversation turned me off to one character in particular. I kind of sort of read the end but even that did not save my interest in the book.

I hated the book, gave it what I felt was the appropriate rating on Goodreads and felt guilty. I wanted to like it, I really did and knew I was telling the author she stinks when maybe this was just a bad outing. So I used the resources at hand, I asked another librarian to help me find a book by this author.

My thought was maybe I caught Delinsky on a bad day, maybe it was the topic I didn’t like, who knows. That is when I was handed The Secret Between Us. As I type this in, my mind is going into bad soap opera drama voiceovers. That voice in my head is going deep and melodramatic. Book the secret between us

The story is about a mother and daughter who are in a car accident. Their car hits a man on the side of the road during a rainy night. He dies but what everyone does not know is that the daughter was the one driving. She is on a permit and so Mom is right there. But Mom doesn’t tell the police that. She lets them assume she was driving.

There are more secrets that will come out. And we have to deal with an autocratic father, a selfish ex-husband, a pregnant sister, a child with vision problems, and the grieving family members of the victim. But I liked this book better. Perhaps it was because I can identify with this cast of characters better. Perhaps it seemed to me that this situation could really happen. Perhaps it was because the secret affected people but it was not as longly held.

For whatever reasons I felt one book was better than the other. When I looked at Goodreads I noticed that both books received positive reviews, both received negative. I hoped that Sweet Salt Air was one of her earlier efforts but it came out last year. Secret was published in 2008.

Perhaps Delinsky’s next book will hit me better. In the meantime, I am reading Delinsky’s 3 Wishes. Strangely enough, it feels like an upbeat Steven King book.

What are you reading?

It is summer time and your beach- read is not going to be some long-winded tome on butterflies, mosses, or goldfinches and the people who explore these topics.

 

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Really, who wants to read five hundred pages when there is a wonderful breeze slipping past as the sun dances on the waves of the water? And that drink at your side might have a little extra kick in it.

 

I am ready for something light-weight and fun when Chick Lit Plus sent me a copy of Tax Cut by Michelle Lynn Seigfried.

 

This is Seigfried’s second novel featuring single-mom Chelsea Alton, a New Jersey municipal clerk who won a settlement against her former employer for unsafe working conditions. This has allowed her to stay home with her adorable 2-year-old girl. But the settlement is getting low and while being at home is great, Chelsea is starting to miss work.

 

When she gets a call from a friend alerting her to a job opening, well, she decides to jump on it. Mom and Dad are retired and willing to babysit the adorable granddaughter. Things progress at work but as Chelsea settles in, she begins to notice funny things. They are not connected until chips and pieces appear to fit  it all together with disappearing residents, ramblings of a woman with dementia, and bosses seen talking to people they shouldn’t be otherwise.

 

Then there is the subplot of the potential boyfriend. He is a single dad and a great kisser. But Chris cannot seem to make a relationship work from a perfectly willing woman who is crazy about him.

 

Image from Chick Lit Plus

Image from Chick Lit Plus

I found Tax Cut to be an interesting novel that is a perfect vacation read. Want a little time to yourself then go and hang out with Chelsea and her friend, Bonnie. Bonnie is everything a side kick needs to be; she is sassy, confident, and not without a few resources and connections. She works well with Chelsea whether it is in the office with a crude co-worker or checking out why a former employee left.

 

While the pacing could have been a little tighter, it did not stop me from enjoying the book. Plus, I am very familiar with the mom routines that show up so I felt as if I was someplace I already knew. When we finally get to the action, let me just say it goes very quick. But it is an end that satisfy, especially for those of you with a boss you hated.

 

Would I read it again? That is always my big question and the answer is yes. On those days when I am gifted with some time to myself, I am willing to hang out with Chelsea and Bonnie once more.

 

To Purchase Tax Cut (Jersey Shore Mystery Series #2):

 Amazon:  http://t.co/dZvYKmEy51

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/tax-cut-michele-seigfried/1117789686?ean=9781494215330

To Purchase Red Tape (Jersey Shore Mystery Series #1):

Amazon:  http://t.co/asOvRiAD9J

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/red-tape-michele-seigfried/1115098453?ean=9781482012880

There are several services out there that allows one to get books, read them and review them. I personally subscribe to Booksneeze which sends one book at a time that I can review in a truthful and honest manner. If I hated the book, I am free to say so.

This time around I choose 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. I enjoy biographical stories and thought this grouping would be interesting.

Image from Goodreads.com

Image from Goodreads.com

Things did not go off to a good start as the author started down the road of what makes a good man in his forward. He pulled out the chestnut of how men  are being redefine and it is so difficult to know. This offends my sensibilities because being a good man should not be that difficult.

The men chosen are George Washington, William Wiberforce, Eric Liddell, Deitrich Bonhofer, Jackie Robinson, Chuck Colson and Pope John Paul 2.

Once I got into the stories of these men’s lives, the book became increasingly interesting. He details the simple things that make them great, the small actions that almost seemed to count more than the large actions. In Colson’s case, one could say he was a great man for his prison ministries. But Metaxas argues that it was his decision to repent that was the greatest action of his life.

The highest compliment I can give any book is to state if I would read it again. And I have to say I would because I thought these biographies were compelling and interesting. Once I find the book in my messy stack again, I would like to re-read the portion about Wilberforce and his fight against the slave trade or Washington’s speech that made people love him.

Now you may notice that the title says “Giveaway” in it. And the truth is I will send out this book to someone who says they want it. But first you have to place in the comment section the names of a man who has achieved a level of greatness in your eyes. I will make a random selection from there and contact the winner. But you have to hurry. You have only until June 28th to name your man of greatness. Good luck!

Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

The last day of school this year, was especially emotional and poignant.

It wasn’t because I have a child graduating or making some great leap on the road map of life.

 

Picture by Clarita

Picture by Clarita

What brought me to tears was the special ceremony honoring Mrs. Pat Farman, trusty librarian at the grade school, as she went through her last days before retirement.

I had the good luck of being a volunteer with Mrs Farman in the library and with a few book fairs. Our conversations centered on books and, well, they were exciting enough to not have to go much farther. We talked about the Young Adult genre a lot because that is one area we both read a lot. We never got into the “who is a better writer – Austen or Bronte” conversation which is probably a good thing.

Now some of you who have not been in a library for a few years might wonder why I would celebrate a librarian besides the fact that I am a book nut. I celebrate librarians because they are some of the bravest people I know.

 

Image from IMDb.com

Image from IMDb.com

Librarians across the country fought for our rights to privacy when the Patriot’s Act tried to take too many away. And when it comes to standing up for books that others try to ban, well, thank a librarian that you can get a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird or Huck Finn or Where’s Waldo. All of these books were on lists to be banned and librarians fought them down.

Maybe that is not the kind of bravery you were thinking of, was it? Not every librarian can be like Noah Wylie in The Librarian movie series that showed up on the TNT network. Granted, how many librarians do you know get to chase after a historic relic with a martial arts expert on their side.

Maybe not all librarians look like Rachel Weisz in The Mummy and get to fall in love with Brendan Fraser while trying to figure out how to get a mummy back into his resting place.

 

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in The Mummy, Image from IMDb.com

Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz in The Mummy, Image from IMDb.com

Perhaps the most memorable librarian is Marian played by Shirley Jones in The Music Man. She learns to trust and love a man who is a con-artist. His plan usually consists of collecting money for band uniforms and instruments. Before anything arrives or has even been ordered, Harold Hill takes off with the money but this time it might turn out differently.

Oh, librarians might seem ordinary, maybe even useless. But they help those of us coming into a library discover new books, new worlds, new information. A library without a librarian is a like a hollow book; it looks good but you need the inside scoop for guidance, direction, to find one that best suits your needs. A good librarian, such as Mrs. Farman, does just that with love and enthusiasm. And that is what kids need in order to foster a love for reading and learning.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.