May 30, 2021

My Book Corner, a Month in Review

This is new to me, talking about the books I've read. I've always been a voracious reader, excluding the years when toddlers and exhaustion monopolized every hour of my day. Once the kids were in school and I had time to actually sit on my own sofa, I rediscovered the adventure of reading.

About six years ago, I realized that I was bringing home books I had already read, but didn't realize it until I was tucked in and reading them. Not a good thing when books are bought at a used book store far from home. So I started keeping a book log. Then I started writing reviews of each book so I could remember the highlights in case I ever wanted to discuss it with anyone. No one ever did. After that, I added a vocabulary list and a want-to-read list. Later, I added genre, publication date, and number of pages read so I could see if there was a pattern to the type of books I liked most. And all that combined to be a book journal that is now with me every time I leave the house, because you never know when you are going to pass by somewhere to get more books.

I already posted this on my sewing blog, but I'm going to post it again here for my friends who do not check that blog. It's a pen holder for my book journal. In the past, I just hooked a pen onto the spiral binder of my journal, but I often lost pens that way, and I never did find a way to carry little post it notes so I can mark vocabulary words or quotes when I am reading somewhere that I can't write in my journal. This is the first one, made to fit this particular journal. A comment on my sewing blog called it a book buddy, and I really like the sound of that, so Book Buddy it is. Normally, the book buddy is on the outside of the front cover, but when writing, I like it on the inside.


I decided this would be a great gift for all the ladies in my book club because it's cheap and easy to make as well as handy. There were just a couple of problems: two elastics are a little bothersome when putting it on, and it won't fit just any size book or journal. So I came up with plan B, still cheap and easy to make, but this one will fit on any book.


Now onto the books I've finished this week, and this month. I don't know about you, but I always have at least three books going at the same time. One that is highly recommended but a new author to me, one an author I already love, and one that is completely unknown but I thought would stretch my comfort zone. Kind of like a mom telling her children to at least try brocolli before eating their entree and then moving on to dessert.

Books this week, starting with my favorite:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T J Klune. I've only started reading fantasy fiction lately and oddly enough, it appeals to me. Odd, because I am usually so practical and the first to read something in a book and say 'that can't possibly happen' but in a book that makes it clear from the beginning that they are in a very different world, it is possible. Maybe we all need a chance to be in a different world right now. It was a great escape and had a poignant message. I loved the symbolism (prejudice and acceptance, bullies and friendships, brow-beaten and confident), the descriptions, and the attitudes of the characters. Of course, I will say right now, that children, no matter what kind of children, are not going to get along as well as these, so there is my 'that can't possibly happen' observation for this book. I loved it except for one thing: the profanity and sexual overtones of the adult characters who are supposed to be role models for the children. 5 star.


One Plus One by Jojo Moyes. This is the Jojo Moyes I like best: funny, sweet, romantic, and not very sad. It is a well-written, lovely, and enjoyable book which also has a subtle message about truth and honesty and it would have been my favorite of the week except that it is predictable. At no point in the clashes between the characters did I ever think it would turn out differently than it did. It is the story of a rich, but troubled man who is thrust into the life of a desperate young working mom and her two children and enormous dog and against his better judgement, he agreed to take them across country to a math competition. Along the way, the two adults bickered and then began to fall in love. For some reason, I kept seeing Hugh Grant as the man. Maybe because part of the storyline reminded me of About a Boy. Again, I'm disappointed that the author let the adults use profanity in front of children and expose their sexual relationship to their children. 5 star.


Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. I really disliked the writing style of this book. The author wrote briefly about something that happened years ago and then moved to the present, then back to something else that happened years ago, then back to the present. So brief that several chapters that were only a half page. But most annoying were the witness interviews. That's where my 'that wouldn't happen' hackles were most raised. At about page 160, the author finally quit that style of writing and it became more interesting. Not great, but better. If this hadn't been a book for book club, I would have rejected the book after page 50. 3 star.


A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende. This book started out with a strong storyline, civil war in Spain, a girl who was a starving goat herder taken in by not one, but two, rich families, and the two sons of the second family and how they deal with the war. The hardships that everyone, even the rich families, endure is told in detail so that it feels very real. Then, the author begins to tell the history and politics of the war, and that is very dry reading. There isn't much dialog and I think that makes the characters two dimensional. I never connected to any of them. It's still an interesting story, one that I had never heard about in World History class, but more like a history lesson than novel. 3 star.


The rest of the books I read in May:

Death of a Perfect Wife by M.C. Beaton. This author and this series is easy reading, enjoyable, and just the right thing to read before turning out the light. 5 star.


Zero Day by David Baldacci. As long as he has been around, I have never read his books. I thought I knew what kind of books he wrote, but I was wrong. He had a choppy way of writing that bothered me at first, but then I really started enjoying the book. 4 star.


Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos by Donna Andrews. Another cozy mystery and one with a lively sense of humor, which is exactly what I need at this time in my life. 5 star.


The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom. I tried to read this book once before but just couldn't get into it. This time I finished it. I have loved some of Mitch Albom's books but this was not one of them. Maybe it was the sad tone or the message, but it just didn't resonate with me. 2 star.


Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon by Donna Andrews. Ditto what I said about Donna Andrews above. 5 star.


We'll Always Have Parrots by Donna Andrews. 5 star.


The Haven by Suzanne Woods Fisher. This is an Amish romance and I think one in a series. Like so many Christian authors, this is written with a very simple vocabulary and while there is nothing wrong with that, it always seems like I am reading a book meant for junior high girls. 3 star.


I've decided that my attitude and mental state make a big difference in the way I feel about a book. Right now, I need to escape from reality and be entertained. By fall, I may need psychological thrillers.

All the books I've read this year and in the past six years are in a Reading List Page on the tabs at the top of the page.

In the spirit of trying something new, I am linking to this blog for the first time:

January 28, 2021

Hello Thursday!

I love Thursdays, the anticipation of the weekend, my favorite British tv shows, and a chance to visit with friends or family. Today has all of those!
Free image from Pixabay
Free photo from Pixabay

Things I like this week:

Two joys in my life right now are stitching and reading (beside my family of course), and I have done plenty of both this week. Stitch by day, read by night. Other things go on in the background, but they are just that - background. I have the feeling that I need to get as much done as I can before something puts a halt to it. That halt is usually hay and garden season and it's almost time to start planting and fertilizing. But for now, my time is my own and I love it!

Hubby is taking a ham radio weekend so I am taking another stay-at-home sewing weekend. This is the second one this month. I could really get used to these.

One little thing that has brought joy into my life this week is something that is so insignificant that no one else would ever notice. A cat has started visiting us at night. I don't know how long it has been coming; one morning after a heavy rain, there were little muddy footprints all over the porch. Since then, I've been putting out a little food in the evening and most of the time, the food is gone in the morning.

Books I've read (not just this week): 

I don't think I've talked about books before. I used to be a prolific reader, but that was BEP (Before Eye Problems) and now I'm doing good to read a book in a week. So far this year, I've read:


Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, a historical non-fiction. It is a story about the Osage Indian Nation of Oklahoma in the 1920's. They were among the richest people in the nation after oil was discovered under their land and then their people began dying. At first it seemed that the deaths were from natural causes, but as the number of deaths kept climbing, people began to wonder. Local police found nothing and finally federal agents were called in. These federal agents were to become the FBI.

This book blew me away. Living as close to Oklahoma as I do, having relatives in Oklahoma, and having a Chickasaw heritage, I was amazed that I had never heard this before. The author did extensive research, far more than the FBI did at that time, and what he uncovered is interesting, shocking, revealing, paranoiac, and horrifying. Through it all, I was impressed with the people, the Osage who lived through it and the federal agents who investigated despite the danger they faced from people who didn't want the truth uncovered.

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Cherry Cheesecake Murder by Joanne Fluke, a cozy mystery. I have read other books in this series and with each one, I liked the author's writing style less and less. I reached my limit with this book. All of the books are written for adults, but written on a junior high (or younger) reading level. Her overly explanatory style may be fine for a ten year old, but she makes inferences to clues, makes a deduction, and then beats the reader over the head detailing how she reached the conclusion.

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A Thousand Spendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, historial fiction. This is first book I've read by this author and he is a gifted writer. It is the story of two women in Afghanistan who live through emotional and physical abuse, wars, political unrest, and suppression of women's freedom. And yet, they each found love and became stronger together. I hoped for, but didn't expect the ending for the younger woman, Laila. I read a review once of a Western Novel written by a woman and the reviewer said that a woman writer couldn't understand or describe a man's lack of emotion. This author however, totally understands the ebb and flow of women's emotions. His biography says that he came to America in 1980, well before the Afghan War, and yet, he writes about it as if he has personal experience. His descriptions made me feel like I was there, listening to the whistle of the bomb and waiting to see where it hit. As I neared the end of this book, I was torn whether to read faster and find out what happened to these women I had come to love, or slow down so the book didn't have to end so soon.

Things That Make Me Thankful:

My mother had surgery this week and got a pacemaker. She is already feeling better. She also has a friend who is struggling financially, and they worked out an arrangement so the friend will live with mom most of the time. And that makes me feel better.

My daughter is coming here today. She is only coming for one night and probably wants help moving from her apartment, but I am thankful she still wants to spend time with us.

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I know I am late to the party(s), but I am linking this post to:
Thankful Thursday at Knit by God's Hand
Thankful Thursday at Brian's Home
Little Things Thursday at Random-osity

January 11, 2021

Day Two of Snow

Yesterday, it snowed nearly all day. The temperature was about 34 and the ground much warmer, so a lot of it melted instantly, but we did end up with several inches. My daughter brought the boys out to build snowmen and she ended up doing all the work. The boys ate some snow (hopefully it was clean snow) and then said they were cold and wanted to come inside and have hot chocolate. Evidently, hot chocolate had been promised as an incentive to finish the job

But the boys came in and Hubby went out to help finish the job. It was such wet snow that the snowmen were quickly created. Yes, I said snowMEN; there were two of them. Or maybe one was supposed to be a snowwoman. Unfortunately, the second snowperson suffered from an incurable case of headlessness. Maybe the body wasn't quite big enough, or was too misshapen, but the head just wouldn't stay on. Then boys gathered up some curtain rods for arms, bottle caps for eyes, and of course a carrot and hat and went out to help finish the job and pose for pictures. But first, Hubby asked the boys if they wanted to knock over the headless snowman and the six year old said "I can do that!" (That's what he says about everything, whether he can do it or not.) He stepped back about five feet, ran at the snowman... and bounced backward into the snow.  It was a heavy lineman, headless snowman. But not to be defeated, he begged his little brother to join forces and they ran at the snowman together... and little one tripped on his gigantic scarf mittens and went into the snowman head first, knocking the middle off the base.   You can see some of the base behind my daughter.

In the time it took to get the boys out of their snow gear and settled around the table for a warm treat, the snowman's head was beginning to lean forward like he was about to nod off to sleep. We told the boys the snowman would last long after the rest of the snow melted, but this is what it looked like this morning.

I'm not sure if the temperature got down below freezing during the night, but there were some school closings this morning and our local school had a delayed start. Because of Covid, today was the first day back after the Christmas break. The roads are clear, but the bridges could be icy if there was a freeze.

This is a view out my side window where the snow hasn't been trompled. I spent a lot of time looking out the window yesterday, marvelling at this rare snow fall, and I'll probably look out a lot today. But right now I hear the snow sliding off the roof, so I know it won't last long.




What is your weather like today?

January 10, 2021

Snow!

Our part of the state gets snow about one day in every ten years and I guess today is that day. It's beautiful snow, with big wet flakes falling softly. It's the kind of snow that makes us hum "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas."

Sometimes I get homesick, not just for my mother and friends still there, but for snow and the memories of the cold crisp days of fresh snow, even the days after when it is the dirty mounds down the center of the road - a cold barrier separating cars. I don't miss the days I went to my car in the morning and couldn't get my key in the frozen door lock.

December 28, 2020

2020 Was a Year of Throwing out the Old

The older I get, the less stuff I want. The less stuff, the less cleaning. The less cleaning, the more time for fun. That's the plan. The hard part has been getting rid of all. this. stuff! I've offered it to my friends, I've listed it on buy/sell/swap groups, and I've listed it free on facebook's local town group. As one of my friends so crudely put it, "I don't want your crap to become my crap." True, some things are old enough to be antiques, but some things were still brand new in the box. I've given away a total of two items; I had to beg Hubby to load up the rest and haul it to the thrift store. He hates doing that for some reason. Maybe for the same reason he hates returning things to stores, although there, I think it's the standing in line part.

After my second eye surgery, I experience dry eyes and asked Hubby to buy me some eye drops from the store. When he brought it to me, I noticed it was contact lens solution and no where on the box did it say it could be used as eye drops or for dry eyes. He wouldn't take it back. So the next time he went to a bigger town, I asked him to buy me some eye drops. That evening when he handed me the box and, you guessed it, another box of contact lens solution.

But back to the ridding of stuff. It seems that I am not the only one trying to simplify in 2020. I wonder if it's the extra spare time we all had this year, or if other people have just looked around and realized how much easier life would be without all that stuff. I'm not sure why younger people aren't taking anything though, especially when it is free. Maybe because it isn't new? I couldn't even give away a doll and cradle. I think it's because it didn't do anything. It didn't transform into something else, the doll didn't walk and talk, and neither shot arrows out of hidden parts. It is just a doll and cradle and my kids spent hours rocking everything from dolls and stuffed animals to real live puppies. The puppies weren't keen on rocking so it was back to dolls and stuffed animals.


Oh well. The thrift store reopens Wednesday.