Tag Archive: reading


On the Book Pile

Do you have a book pile by the bed?

I do along with a magazine pile and a catalog pile. There is no end to these things. And yet, I love it all. One magazine has a picture of how I want my hair highlighted the next time I get it done. A few catalogs show outfits I would like to own.

I also have books I am currently reading or have read and would like to read again. Then there is the pile of books I need to take over to the paperback book store to add credit to my account and buy more books.

Some of the books by my bedside are the books we read at bedtime. Dr. Seuss and other favorites gather around. My seven-year-old has been getting books about the planets and weather events from the library which is always fun. These two books are ones we have read recently. One is almost 20 years old (and still a lot of fun). The other is a newer book.

Image from AuthorHouse

I was recently sent a review copy of The Year the Snow Didn’t Melt by Dr. William Kirmes by AuthorHouse in Bloomington, Indiana to review. It is a small book, about 27 pages long. The pictures are worked in solid bold colors and fun in their depictions of snow falling all year-long.

The story is about a town that gets an early snowfall in October. The snow lasts through the winter and does not go away when the spring months arrive. Nor does the snow go away when summer comes around as well.

My children liked the story, found images of people playing baseball in the snow funny, and enjoyed the idea of ice cream cones lasting longer.

When I was cleaning up around the house I found The Three Little Wolves and the Big, Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. We received it through the RIF program at our school but it was published around 1993. There have been several re-tellings of old fairy tales and this one is just as clever and insightful as many of those.

Image from Barnes and Noble.com

Here we find that the three little wolves are being put in the world by their mother. They build wonderfully strong homes but the Big, Bad Pig destroys each and every one. Then one day they decide to try a different tack with the Pig.

Does it work? Well, you are going to have to read the book to find out. I find that this book tells a good story and makes the wolves likeable. Their creativity along with a real love for each other is something that the classic story does not always give to the readers. In any case, if you happen upon this book expect to have a good time.

Now a note for adults. Chick Lit Plus ran a challenge this year to encourage her readers to read twelve books in the Chick Lit genre, including two by debut authors. She enjoyed it so much that she is doing it again this year. I have already signed up and she is asking those who did sign up to tell others.

So if you are interested in taking a reading challenge, here is your chance.

What have you been reading lately?

Getting Stirred Up

This past week I have felt myself get hot and bothered over a number of things that just piss me off royally. I can feel compassion for the people who have been hit by a tornado or other natural disaster. These things happen and there is no control over them.

Picture by Cohdra

People purposefully acting stupid, cruel and plain evil get to me. Some I want to spit at, others I want to slap and some, some I wish could find out what waterboarding is all about because I think they deserve that kind of torture to even out what they gave to their victims. I might want to be a pacifist but I am not very good at it, still.

So let me share a few.

I learned that the First Responders Bill, the legislation forcing our government to help out those people who came to ground zero to help clean-up after 911, has been hi-jacked by idiotic politicians who sought to tack all sorts of amendments on to this bill. If you apply for the health care relief you might need because you are dying of cancer and do not want to leave your family in debt, first you have to prove you are not a terrorist.

While that is a long term plan at best – living in this country, helping with a terror plot and then applying for medical aid to the government you sought to destroy ten years earlier – I bet there are some terrorists jumping for joy at being able to destroy our country by getting money from it. Thanks for that goes to Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida.

Picture by Grafixer

Then there was the whole Donald Trump congratulating himself for getting the truth about Obama’s birth certificate out of the way. Now let’s look at his academic records, Trump says. Really?

You want to investigate the college records of a Harvard Law School graduate? A man who was the editor of the Havard Law Review which only goes to a top student? A man who worked as a professor at a law school? You want to pick a fight with a man who is that much smarter than you?

Hey, Donald? Can we look at the books for your businesses? I hear stories about you losing money for your investors. Perhaps we need to check that out. You know where there is smoke, there is sometimes a blazing hot inferno.

Which leads me to the Birthers and Tea Party members. Where were you guys when we wanted to know if President Bush had really served in the National Guard as he stated? Few pictures or records tell the story on this one. Your dogged determination should have set the record straight on that mystery.

Hey, where were you guys as this war with Iraq went on and on, long after President Bush declared “Mission Accomplished?” Billions have gone from the treasury to pay for this war. We even learned we were lied to about there being weapons of mass destruction. Not a peep out of you people about that or the first round of stimulus money given to the banking industry with no way to track it during the final days of President Bush’s term.

I am not even sure I have heard you people complain about the bombing of Libya all that much. Just the bombs alone covered  NPR ‘s annual budget at least three times. So let’s be honest – do you really want responsible spending OR do you just want to get President Obama out of office?

Now the next thing had me going all day yesterday. Really hot and angry. The news on Sunday reported that a man raped a six-year-old little girl while her brother watched, terrified. This man was a friend of their father’s. He comes into the room and rapes a six-year-old girl.

There are a few choice words for a person who does such a thing. SCUM comes to mind. I could go off on a torrent of swearing. But the one I hope describes him best is DEAD MAN WALKING. It won’t be me who does it. But I hope his life is living hell from now until the moment he does meet our maker. I know Jesus saves but this is going to be tough.

I haven’t told the saddest part of the story yet. This “shitbird,” as one blogger called him, had been turning his life around, making things better. Now he is in jail and his five children are in protective service. All seven of these children need our prayers.

Jane Austen, enhanced portrait by Cassandra Austin, source unknown

Now, remind me again why I prefer to work in my garden and read Jane Austen novels? Why I would rather spend my days quilting or making a fabulous meal or having fun with the kids? Why I would rather stick my head in the sand than listen to this stuff on any given day?

Reading with our youngest

My six-year-old who is in kindergarten surprised me this past week.

Picture by Kahanaboy

He has been studying sight words at school and so we have been reading the little booklets they make every week.

Lately, I have asked him to pick out these word in whatever book we are reading. I want to encourage him without frustrating him.

This week we have been working on a collection of Biscuit stories. My mother likes to buy the kids ‘collection’ books and this one seemed perfect for him. We also have Scooby Doo and Curious George and Dr. Seuss books in collection form that get the “go around” until we get though each book.

So he is going along, pointing out sight words when he decides he is going to try for each word on the page. Some words he knows and are easy. Some, like those pesky “w” or “wh” words don’t want to sound out so I whisper the word to him and he tries it on for size.

Picture from Barnesandnoble.com

Soon, he knows “biscuit” and “woof” as soon as he sees them. Other words come easily while those “w” and “wh” continue their troubling way. But he hears my little whisper and sounds them out on his own. Before you know it, he is reading the whole sentence on the page.

The next night we work on a different Biscuit story. That puppy wants to make friends with the kittens but they want to follow the butterfly. After the word gets broken down into simpler pieces, he gets it. He gets that this jumble of letters means “butterfly. ”

Suddenly, I have a new reader on my hands. I am very excited. But I must be patient. He is not quite ready for that first Harry Potter book.

Reading Lorna in the Winter

Several years ago, the book group I used to be in read the wonderful Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons by Lorna Landvik. We loved the book that many of the women in the group could identify with as they were the same age of the protagonists.

Picture from Borders.com

They had lived through the 50s and Vietnam in the 60s. They understood how a child leaving could break your heart and how someone might pretend to be totally different to hide an unsavory background.

As a younger member of the group, I understood how these women connected over children and books, babies and delicious desserts. I remember lines at the oddest moments whether it is about Grant, an openly gay man at a time that was dangerous to be so, or Merit who bravely leaves her abusive husband and finds true love elsewhere.

So imagine my delight that my birthday gift from my mother included two books from Landvik. I was ecstatic.  Here were two new books right at a time that I was in a book rut.

Picture from Borders.com

I started on Patty Jane’s House of Curl and found myself all over the map, emotionally. The story is about two sisters who survived alcoholic parents and buried them before Patty Jane was 20. The oldest sister, she makes a great leap in her life when she marries Thor Rolvaag, a young man who is more handsome than anyone in town.

Her sister, Harriet, meets the love of her life who turns out to be the heir to a cereal company. And he is willing to help Harriet realize her dreams of being a truly learned musician. Can it get any better than this?

Then, tragedy comes about. Their bond with Patty Jane’s mother-in-law is forged through tough times and the start of a business and the raising of a beautiful girl. I enjoyed this story and could read it again and again as soon as I find where I left the book! Hate it when they turn up missing.

Picture from Borders.com

The other book was The View from Mount Joy. I had enjoyed the other two and was ready to sink my teeth into this book.

The story is about Joe, a man who is one of those great guys with not much ambition or get up and go. As a teen he gets a job at a grocery store, ends up owning the place after the original owner dies and goes on to create a franchise. But first he flounders through life, especially whenever Kristi is around.

She is the Queen Bee cheerleader when they first meet and she fascinates Joe. Later, he is both fascinated and disgusted by her. Years go by and she becomes a Christian radio show host. Yet Joe wonders what she is really like under all of that. Once his life becomes directed, he doesn’t need her so much but he seems to be the only friend she has ever had.

The problem I had with this book is that I did not like the ‘powerhouse’ character of Kristi. Could not understand why Joe liked her, could not understand why even at the end he held her secrets. Plus, I might have been comparing it too much to Angry Housewives. That book was much richer, characters were more in-depth, the action more tantalizing.

Do you have a favorite author to marathon read?

Our Bedtime Picks!

While I still have little ones in the house, I still have bed time stories.

 This is our cool down activity after baths, bed time snacks and brushing teeth.  We snuggle together and pick out a book to read. I put a ban on Scooby Doo for a while because I am just tired of reading about that dog.

However our house is filled with more children’s books. Some have torn covers or have pages that were given extra help with a pen or a crayon; doesn’t matter because we still read them.

So here are the books we have been reading this summer that we love and adore.

Picture from Barnes and Noble.com

Mick Inkpen’s Kipper’s A-Z Adventure is a delight and a hoot. Most ABC books just have a picture to go with the letter. But in this one we get a story as Arnold, Kipper’s little pig friend, makes a collection of critters and insects in a box. There are funny moments that make me laugh out loud. There are a few sad moments too when Arnold takes a spill. (oo is for oops) And if you do not fall in love with the Zebra by the last page, it is not my fault.

Picture from Barnes & Noble.com

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr. and illustrated by Eric Carle is a part of the great bear series with interesting illustrations and even better prose. I like it because my kids constantly interact with the story. Sam says the first line for each animal, which improves his speech and Sara like to do the end page wrap up. The pictures are interesting and the reading is always fun. 

Picture from Borders.com

The Moon Jumpers by Janice Udry and illustrated by Maurice Sendak is a great book that exemplifies the best of summer. It is about children getting the last of their play time in the yard before Mother calls them to bed. They jump and sing and run and roll. It looks so beautiful and like so much fun. Udry’s writing is beautiful and to the point. “No one has ever touched the moon” she tells us and silently encourages us to give it a try.

 Final note about adult reading.

Do you ever get stuck on one author? Right now all I seem to want to read is Jane Austen. I watch her movies and specials on her life. I even found a “Lost in Austen” miniseries. One of my facebook friends posted a great comedic homage about Austen that involves a girls fight club .

Picture from Borders.com

However, I have decided to give Jane a break for a time. I need to let go and move on. So I have put her books on the shelf and brought out Jane Eyre. I won’t get lost in Bronteland because this is the only Bronte novel I remotely enjoy. Plus, I have picked up a book by William Least Heat-Moon called River Horse. It is about his journey across the riverways of the United States on his boat that was cobbled together. It looks interesting and thick. Should take me somewhere into the fall to finish.