Monday, July 30, 2007

Cat says, "So long!"

I've been posed here, reading the same page of this book, for quite long enough now. I'm an adventurous feline who is tired of sitting around, so ... I'm outa here! Yes, I know some of you think I can't REALLY read, but I noticed a comment Dewey made a few days ago, right here on this very blog. She wants to turn me into a lolcat. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds like fun, so bye ... I'm slinking on over to Dewey's place to see what's happening. Maybe I'll drop back by, one of these days. Maybe not. It's been fun watching all you people coming here to read the posts, to laugh, to comment, to borrow ideas. Why should I miss all the fun?

I didn't see any treats, did you?

But I'm being such a nice, sweet kitty. Don't make me bare my claws.

Beneath a Marble Sky ~ by John Shors

1. Title, author, and date of book?
Beneath a Marble Sky: A Novel of the Taj Mahal, by John Shors, 2004.

2. Genre: historical fiction

3. What made you want to read it?
Since the Taj Mahal was just voted one of the NEW seven wonders of the world, the timing seemed perfect.

4. Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
The story takes us to 17th-century Hindustan, where the reigning emperor, consumed with grief over the tragic death of his beloved wife, commissions the building of the Taj Mahal as a testament to their love. (Hindustan is the ancient name for the place where Hindus live, in what is today called India.)

5. What did you think of the main character?
"Princess Jahanara recounts the mesmerizing tale of her parents' love, while sharing her own parallel tale of forbidden love with the celebrated architect of the Taj Mahal." (Does that sentence from the publisher sound slightly melodramatic? So is the book.)

6. Were there any especially interesting characters?
Yes, I was taken by Nizam and Ladli, friends and servants of the narrator. Nizam was amazingly strong and perfect in protecting Jahanara and her family; Ladli, Jahanara's Hindu friend, always managed to perfectly spy on "the enemy" and confound his plans. Both would have been even more interesting if they weren't protrayed as heroic beyond belief.

7. Did you think the characters and their problems were believable?
More or less. The author WAS having to work within historical parameters, but the love story between the narrator and the architect hired to build the Taj Mahal was a bit overwrought ... as though the author hoped the book would eventually appear as a Bollywood film.

8. From whose point of view is the story told?
Princess Jahanara, daughter of Shah Jahan, emperor of Hindustan. She is telling her life story to her two young granddaughters.

9. Was location or time period important to the story?
Yes, it was the whole point, to tell the story of the construction of this soaring and beautiful building.

10. What did you like least?
Jahanara, knowing the evil inclinations of an opponent, had a chance to let him die. Instead, using romanticized logic, she risked her own life to save him. Foreshadowing? Oh, yeah, the reader knows she just made a horrible mistake and people, including Jahanara and her family and the people of Hindustan, will suffer for the choice she made.

11. What about the ending?
Shall we all say in unison, "And they lived happily ever after"? At least the ones still alive.

12. What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?
I enjoyed learning how huge the structure really is, which is not apparent from the usual photos most of us have seen. It's a lot bigger than I had imagined and that, not the love stories, will stay with me forever.

13. How would you rate the book?
Rated 8/10, very good (... but not excellent)
Here are some links showing the architectural beauty of the monument:
1. Take a virtual tour of the Taj Mahal.
2. Beautiful photos of the Taj Mahal.
3. Four photos, including one showing descendents of the original Muslim builders, still doing inlaid stonework.
4. Detail photo of one of the towers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Oh, what a lovely book shop!

Oh, what a lovely book shop! And oh, what a lovely story!

And oh, what a lovely word . . . bibliorphanage . . . is!

~~~ Bonnie

Somebody said, "Treats." Is this the right blog?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Blogging Tips Meme

UPDATED: See updates in red below.
Also, Grace said we can see all the blogging tips HERE.

Stephanie at Confessions of a Book-a-holic has tagged me with the Blogging Tips Meme, which actually has some helpful blogging tips we can all use. Ready? Here we go!

-Start Copy-

It’s very simple. When this is passed on to you, copy the whole thing, skim the list and put a * star beside those that you like. (Check out especially the * starred ones.)

Add the next number (1. 2. 3. 4. 5., etc.) and write your own blogging tip for other bloggers. Try to make your tip general.

After that, tag 10 other people. Link love some friends!

Just think - if 10 people start this and the 10 people pass it on to another 10 people, you have 100 links already!

1. Look, read, and learn. ***

2. Be EXCELLENT to each other. **

3. Don’t let money change ya! *

4. Always reply to your comments. *****

5. Link liberally — it keeps you and your friends afloat in the Sea of Technorati. *

6. Don’t give up - persistence is fertile. *

7. Give link credit where credit is due. ***

8. Pictures say a thousand words and can usually add to any post. **

9. Visit all the bloggers that leave comments for you - it's nice to know who is reading! *

10. Thrown in something humorous occasionally, to keep things fun.

-End Copy-

Time to pass it on, so here are my 10 links ... with a spare in case one of the others isn't able to do this. By the way, folks, you are all #1 in my book!

1. AbVan at Absolute Vanilla ...(& Atyllah)
UPDATED: Absolute Vanilla's tip = Blog for yourself and your own pleasure, because you want to - if it stops being fun, stop blogging.
UPDATED: Absolute Vanilla said: "And I'm going to add to more, just because I can! Extra tips = Blogging is a multimedia environment, use the media to enliven your blog - words, images, video, music but ... stick to good design rules and remember that less is more.
1. Colleen at Loose Leaf Notes
1. Dewey at the hidden side of a leaf
1. Jenn at Something to Say
1. Jill at The Magic Lasso
UPDATED: Jill's tip = Sometimes, less is more. Step back and look at your blog - is it too busy? Are there enough pictures to make it interesting? Think about how a visitor would perceive your blog - making it visitor-friendly will help get you return visits.
1. Karen at Verbatim
1. Lisa at Books. Lists. Life.
UPDATED: Lisa's tip = "When picking the URL for your blog, think short and easy. You'll be typing it a million times."
1. Michelle at
UPDATED: 3M's tip = Do at least a few of the blogging quizzes available. It lets people know a little more about you.
1. Nancy at Bookfoolery and Babble
1. Susan at Patchwork Reflections
UPDATED: Susan's tip = "Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all, accurately so they will be guided by its light." — Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911)
1. Wendy at Caribousmom
UPDATED: Wendy's tip = Make it easy for your readers - use tags and labels and keep it simple!

Have fun! I intend to follow this meme and find out what other wonderful ideas and suggestions you ten ... uhm, eleven ... have to offer.

Oops! Wait! I have linked liberally, responded to Stephanie's comment by doing this meme, visited all of you to set up all these links (and am planning to go back to tell you I've tagged you), had fun doing this ... but ... but ... but I forgot to use a picture to say another thousand words! Aiiiiieeee! Okay, I'm adding a picture now. There! See it to the right? It's a ... wait, let me see what I clicked on ... it's a purple hyacinth! Yay! Umm, you DO see the relevence, don't you?

Place Last Seen ~ by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman

1. Title, author, and date of book?
Place Last Seen by Charlotte McGuinn Freeman, 2000

2. Genre: fiction

3. What made you want to read it? Did it live up to your expectations?
Wendy at Caribousmom put it on her Something About Me Reading Challenge list, and I chose it as one I wanted to read. It is every bit as good as I expected.

4. Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
During an idyllic autumn-day hike in the Desolation Wilderness of the Sierra Nevadas, the Baker family is hurled into a nightmare when six-year-old Maggie, a child with Down Syndrome, runs away while playing hide-and-seek with her brother. As the Search and Rescue team combs the place where Maggie was last seen, all the family can do is wait and hope that a clue will lead them to her.

5. Share a quote from the book.
Here are the opening lines:
Maggie is lost.
Ann crouches in the trail, listening to this sentence loop over and over through her brain. Her daughter is six years old -- blond, brown eyes, Down syndrome, lost.

6. Did you think the characters and their problems were believable?
All except that mother, who seemed strange to the search and rescue team as well. We know the little lost girl through flashbacks; we see that her father, mother, and 8-year-old brother all feel guilty that she got away from them; but the story is really (in my opinion) about the searchers. I was fascinated to learn about THEIR problems as they tried to find nearby dog teams to follow the scent before it was lost -- only to discover they were in Peru, helping there. The longer it took to get the trained dogs to the PLS, the place last seen, the more likely the scent would be washed away by rain or otherwise contaminated by helpful volunteer searchers. And then there was the new guy, learning to track, who stepped on the first good clue to be found. Oh, yes, their problems were very believable.

7. Was location important to the story?
Location was everything. The story is located in the Desolation Wilderness area of the Sierra Nevadas in the state of California. I know I'll have to read the book again, now that I have found a map of that area, but I was too engrossed to look for online information as I was reading the book. The need to know what's next kept me turning the pages. But look at this wonderful map I found since finishing the book! (Click on the map to make it larger.)

8. What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?
What I got from Ed and Michelle, two of the search team members, about the whole point of tracking:
Ed believes, "Tracking's mostly learning to see" (p. 63).
Michelle says, "Tracking's all about learning to see" (p. 66).
Ed "knows that the only way to find something is, in some sense, to stop looking with your brain and start seeing" (p. 127).
I get it, I get it! But do I really? Jonathan, who is on his first search, has a hard time learning to really see the lay of the land (literally) and the little clues that seasoned trackers notice. What I may think I learned by reading this book wouldn't take me far in the wilderness, but what a challenge ... to really pay attention to everything that is in your line of sight. Is there a broken twig? Is the grass flattened? What's really right there in front of your nose?

9. How would you rate the book?
Rated: 9/10, excellent! Thanks, Wendy!

10. What I learned about Wendy:
Oh, yeah, one more thing: I can't forget to report what I learned about Wendy from reading this book ... because that's part of our challenge. She said: "This book is a touching novel about a lost child and the search which ensues to find her. It represents me on a couple of levels. I have been involved in Search and Rescue for almost ten years now (the first 7 of those years was with my Search and Rescue dog - Caribou- and now I'm a certified Tracker I for my county team). In addition, the child in this novel has Down's Syndrome. As a licensed Physical Therapist, I work with children and adults with developmental disability. McGuinn Freeman does an outstanding job of portraying both the search teams and the family of this little girl."

I posted this on Wendy's blog: "I have finished reading Place Last Seen and feel I know you a lot better now. What I want to know is, which dog in the team photo is Caribou?

Wendy replied: "Caribou and I are not on the Shasta County dog team...we worked for an state-wide organization called CARDA. I retired Caribou two years ago due to her developing arthritis ... and now I serve as a tracker for my county team (which is the link I provided in my 'explanation' of the book). You can see a photo of Caribou here on my blog."

Caribou is a beautiful dog! Go see for yourself. This is exactly what I was hoping to learn about some of you when I joined this challenge. Wendy has been out there searching for people like the characters in this book, on search and rescue teams and with her trained dog. This has been great, learning something new to me and at the same time learning about my new friend Wendy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Latitudes of Melt ~ by Joan Clark

1. Title, author, and date of book?
Latitudes of Melt, by Joan Clark, 2000 in Canada, 2002 in the United States

2. Genre: fiction

3. What made you want to read it? Did it live up to your expectations?
I was looking for books that take me to new places in the world. Not knowing anything about the book, I was pleasantly surprised at how it kept my interest and attention.

4. Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
In the year 1912, a fisherman named Francis St. Croix discovers a baby girl adrift on an ice floe in the North Atlantic. He names her Aurora because of her dawn rescue at sea, and she becomes part of the his family on the austere Newfoundland coast. Aurora grows up, marries a lighthouse keeper, and has two children: Nancy, a headstrong woman who wants to be everything her mother isn't, and Stanley, a late bloomer who has his mother's passion for exploration and becomes an expert on ice. Nancy's daughter, Sheila, sets out to unravel her grandmother Aurora's mysterious past and why she was on the ice in 1912 ... shortly after the sinking of the Titanic.

5. What did you think of the main character?
Aurora is quirky, but also very plucky and independent. I like her.

6. Which character could you relate to best, and why?
Probably Aurora herself.

7. Were there any other especially interesting characters?
Tom Mulloy, the lighthouse keeper, seemed to be interesting at first, but I still like Aurora best.

8. Did you think the characters and their problems were believable?
Yes, especially as some of the characters faced old age.

9. Was location important to the story?
Yes, Newfoundland was like another character in the story, and the reader watches it change through the years. The fishing industry changed profoundly from 1912 when the fishermen out in a rowboat got lost from their mother ship to the time of Stanley's deep-sea diving career.

10. What did you like most about the book?
I enjoyed learning about the way people lived nearly a hundred years ago.

11. Share a quote from the book.
Of the ten thousand icebergs calved in Greenland each year, about one-tenth crossed the latitude of 48 degrees north; half that number made it to the latitude of 46 degrees; few of those would make it past the tail end of the Banks at the latitude of 43 degrees. Because Newfoundland was roughly between 46 and 51 degrees north, it was smack in the middle of the latitudes of melt. Every year, icebergs drifted down the Labrador Current to ground in the island's coves and bays (p. 166).

12. What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?
Joan Clark writes beautifully, and I think I'll be remembering writing like this, when a character who was injured and sedated was thinking:
I am on the sea. Am I following Stanley? How strange that I should be floating on the water, when as far back as I can remember I've been afraid of the sea. I'm not afraid now, perhaps because I'm imagining myself as a little boat toddling down the bay. I'm no bigger than a skiff, but I'm perfectly seaworthy and know how to mould myself to the water as the swells lift me up and down. I take my time, drifting into coves and tickles, inlets and bights, on my leisurely journey through the latitudes of melt, idling past capes and points and beaches in no hurry to reach the place of trespass, the bay of souls.

13. How would you rate this book?
Rated: 9/10, excellent!

ADDENDUM: While I was reading Latitudes of Melt, Booklogged and her husband Candleman were actually IN Newfoundland and took a photo of an iceberg floating off-shore at a village near Gander.

Click on the photo to enlarge it. I'm reading the journal of their travels and have gone from Utah to Newfoundland, Canada, with them so far. This is so much fun, traveling in books and discovering another book blogger is seeing IN PERSON what I'm seeing in my book! Read what they wrote and photographed that day by clicking this:


UPDATE: To read my more recent comments about this, click here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Dr. Seuss on the loose!

There's a vote for authors at the Great Wednesday Compare, and today it is between Jane Austen and Dr. Seuss. If you have an opinion, click on the link above and go vote! Here's my vote, following the one I responded to:

Sam Houston said...
It's still Austen for me. The Doc was great for kids, beyond a doubt, but I seriously doubt that I will ever be tempted to pick up one of his books again.

Bonnie Jacobs said...
Oh, no, Sam! It's gotta be Dr. Seuss! His books for children are fun for (some) adults, like me, but there are also books written for those of us older than three. A couple of books come to mind: Oh, the Places You'll Go! and You're Only Old Once: A Book for Obsolete Children.

What about The Lorax? "Unless someone like you ... cares a whole awful lot ... nothing is going to get better ... It's not." Long before saving the earth became a global concern, the Lorax warned against mindless progress and the danger it posed to the earth's natural beauty. And the Sneetches teach us a lot about discrimination.

I had to buy Green Eggs and Ham twice for my nephew because he read the first copy to death. How many times did my children read One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish, and To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, and Hop on Pop, and Fox in Sox, and Horton Hears a Who, and Cat in the Hat as they were learning to read? More times than I can count.

And the Grinch is now more important to Christmas than Rudolph! Seuss is popular with people of all ages, sizes, and shapes. Austen? Not as many. Of course, my vote is for Seuss.

~~~ Bonnie, an obsolete child

Monday, July 16, 2007

Reading unpleasant books

Lisa (Books.Lists.Life) reviewed Khaled Hosseini's new book, saying:
A Thousand Splendid Suns is possibly the best book I'll read this year. ... set against the very real political actions of the times- Soviet invasion, Mujahideens, the Taliban. I admit, this is not an area of politics that I know much about. My husband was nice enough to give me mini history lessons as the need arose.

This book was so emotionally hard for me. It took me something like three weeks to read it. I kept reaching points where I had to stop for days to recover my equilibrium. ... The book, though it is fiction, seemed so very real to me. Mariam and Laila are so well done, so different and so believable. I kept saying to myself, "this can't be happening, it can't, it can't!" My mind could not comprehend that in 1994 when the Taliban invaded and women had to be covered in burqas, and couldn't leave home without a man, that I was 19 years old and in college. I had my own apartment. I was wearing swimsuits in mixed company! It was fiction, but it was so real. I cried so many times. ...

Trish recommended that I read The Storyteller's Daughter by Saira Shah and I picked that up at the library today. ... You can bet I'll be paying closer attention to the news now, and trying to imagine myself in their shoes. This was a very good book, I'll be recommending that everyone I know read it.
I left Lisa this comment:
Lisa, I think this is why we need to read novels about current events and places: "You can bet I'll be paying closer attention to the news now, and trying to imagine myself in their shoes."

Our news media gives us Paris Hilton's antics instead of news, so we Americans are likely less informed than others in the world about what is going on. We visit Disney World and (act like we) think that's the "real" world. We are like children, believing nothing will hurt us if we just don't think about it too hard.

I'm glad you were so deeply affected by this book. Saira Shah, who wrote The Storyteller's Daughter, went to Afghanistan with her father's stories in her mind -- and it seemed to me that she preferred to believe the stories even with the horror in front of her there. I would still recommend you read her book. Thanks for a very good review.
If you want to read the whole review, click HERE. Tell her "Bonnie sent me."

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dear Mr. President

Jenn, who blogs about her life in the Netherlands, a country not her own, has a question for us: "Along the route home [from Austria], driving toward Holland through the hills of Germany, this song played several times on the radio. I had not heard it, nor of it, before this trip. I will tell you straight up, I think it beautiful as it captures so much, so perfectly. But I am wondering if it gets any sort of radio play in the U.S. or elsewhere. Weigh in please, and tell me what you think. How do you feel? I give you: Dear Mr. President, by Pink. Lyrics below."

Jenn shares a YouTube recording of the song on her blog. I have copied the lyrics to post here. Have you heard this song? What do you think of it?

Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me.
Let's pretend we're just two people and
You're not better than me.
I'd like to ask you some questions if we can speak honestly.
What do you feel when you see all the homeless on the street?
Who do you pray for at night before you go to sleep?
What do you feel when you look in the mirror?
Are you proud?
How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye
And tell me why?
Dear Mr. President,
Were you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
Are you a lonely boy?
How can you say
No child is left behind?
We're not dumb and we're not blind.
They're all sitting in your cells
While you pave the road to hell.
What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
And what kind of father might hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine.
How do you sleep while the rest of us cry?
How do you dream when a mother has no chance to say goodbye?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Can you even look me in the eye?
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Minimum wage with a baby on the way
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Rebuilding your house after the bombs took them away
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Building a bed out of a cardboard box
Let me tell you 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
You don't know nothing 'bout hard work
Hard work
Hard work
Oh, How do you sleep at night?
How do you walk with your head held high?
Dear Mr. President,
You'd never take a walk with me.
Would you?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Luncheon of the Boating Party ~ by Susan Vreeland

1. Title, author, and date of book?
Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland, 2007

2. Genre: fiction

3. What made you want to read it? Did it live up to your expectations?
Having read other books by Vreeland, I put this one on my TBR list about a year before it was published. I had been looking forward with great anticipation to its publication, but I had such a hard time getting into this book that I gave it up before mid-point. I have gotten deeply involved in Vreeland's other books, like Girl in Hyacinth Blue about a supposed Vermeer painting and The Passion of Artemisia about the life of painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593–1652), arguably the first major female figure in the history of art. Luncheon of the Boating Party, however, was a great disappointment to me.

Because I didn't finish the book, I was left wondering who's who in the painting. Thanks to Dewey for sharing this link: "If you’re planning to read this book and you aren’t well-informed about Impressionism, here is a great site that will provide you a wealth of information about this painting in particular and Impressionism in general." Thirteen people are identified or guessed at in the notes at this link:

There is still one mystery left for me, however: that 14th person in the painting, in profile against the black coat of the man in the top hat (who is said to be Charles Ephrussi, in the notes Dewey shared). The unnamed man (between the numbers 8 and 10 in this chart) is at the table with the actress Ellen Andrée and is looking at her. Only the side of his face is visible because he is nearly hidden by the shoulder of Italian journalist Maggiolo, who is hatless, wearing a light-colored jacket, standing on the right side of the painting, and leaning over the table closest to the viewer. Did anyone find out from reading the book (or anywhere else) who this unnamed man is?

4. How would you rate the book?
I may someday give this book another chance, but for now:
Rated 2, poor, one I abandoned

UPDATE: If you want to read more, here's a reader's guide with discussion questions about the book.

Book meme

Dewey posted a good meme on her blog, one about favorite books at various times in her life. I don't want to go through the whole list, but this is what I wrote after reading hers:

Dewey, your opinion of magical realism may not be popular, but I agree with you. I don't like it.

The book I loved in preschool was Uncle Wiggily's Story Book; my parents would read us a chapter of it each night at bedtime.

I also loved Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, but I wasn't in college when I read it.

Ishmael is a keeper, and I am currently reading Daniel Quinn's When They Give You Lined Paper, Write Sideways and discussing it with a friend on Sundays.

All of my favorite sci-fi books are really speculative fiction (SF works, even if sci-fi doesn't): Jack Finney's Time and Again is at the top of the list. Have you read Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman? I love it and re-read it about every ten years. Now I need to read The Gate to Women’s Country.

The Mists of Avalon is my favorite fantasy book.

I haven't read a lot of mysteries lately, but I did like Marcia Muller's Listen to the Silence.

Thanks for posting this Margaret Atwood quote in your left sidebar: “The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.” As a philosophy major one thing I learned to do was ask good questions.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Memory Keeper's Daughter ~ by Kim Edwards

Title, author, and date of book, genre?
The Memory Keeper's Daughter, by Kim Edwards, 2005, fiction

What made you want to read it? Did it live up to your expectations?
Because several people had recommended it, I put it on the lists for two of my challenges: Something About Me and Saturday Review of Books. Yes, it was as good as I had expected.

Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
On a winter night in 1964, Dr. David Henry is forced by a blizzard to deliver his own twins. His son, born first, is perfectly healthy; his daughter has Down's Syndrome. Rationalizing it as a need to protect Norah, his wife, he makes a split-second decision that will alter all of their lives forever. He asks his nurse to take the infant to an institution and never to reveal the secret, then tells his wife their daughter was stillborn. Caroline, the nurse, cannot leave the baby at the institution and disappears into another city to raise the child herself. What happens when secrets are revealed?

What did you think of the main characters?
This book has three main characters. I cannot imagine lying to a spouse as David did. I do understand Norah's being more upset by her child's death than her husband had expected and Caroline's desire to raise the baby rather than consign her to a life in an institution.

Which character could you relate to best, and why?
Caroline, who raised the little girl and fought for her right to an education, even if she did have Down's.

Were there any other especially interesting characters?
I liked Albert (Al) Simpson, who helped Caroline when her car battery died during that night's blizzard, and Dorothy (Doro) March, who later became Caroline's friend. The twins were also interesting: Paul, who was smart and handsome, and Phoebe, who thrived in a loving household.

Did you think the characters and their problems were believable?
Most of the time, yes, but Dr. Henry's problems were self-inflicted and could have been solved if he had had the gumption to tell the truth. Of course, we wouldn't have had a story then, would we?

Share a quote from the book:
"He had tried to protect his son from the things he himself had suffered as a child: poverty and worry and grief. Yet his very efforts had created losses David had never anticipated" (p. 258).

Share a favorite scene from the book:
Paul, the son, sees himself as a "caretaker of the past" (p. 378). "His to choose, what to keep and what to discard. ... his deep sense of responsibility, how what he kept from this house of his childhood would become, in turn, what he passed down to his own children someday -- all they would ever know, in a tangible way, of what had shaped him" (p. 378).

What about the ending?
I could think of better ways for it to end, or at least as I would have wanted it to end. But the story works with the ending the author gave it.

What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?
How secrets can tear a family apart or harm them in unexpected ways. Not everyone in my own family agrees with me, but I do believe in telling the truth and getting secrets out in the open so they don't poison relationships.

How would you rate the book?
Rated 9/10, excellent!

Book review outline

March 9, 2008
My best short summary of what to include in a review:
Was it a good book?
Would you recommend it?
What did you like about it?
What did you dislike?
Tell us whatever you thought.

February 21, 2008
Something new!

for interviewing writers

1. Tell me about your book.
2. How did you come up with that (story, angle, idea)?
3. How did you get interested in writing ...

(historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children's books, etc.)?
4. Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
5. What's a typical working day like for you?
6. Do you have a special place where you write best?
7. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
8. Do you set a daily writing goal?
9. What are you working on now?
10. What advice would you give aspiring writers?


Some examples: fiction, history, historical fiction, poetry, science, science fiction, travel, memoir, biography, and literature, which can include nonfiction as well as fiction.
Most of what I review is either fiction or memoir.


1. Title, author, copyright date, and genre?
2. Summarize the book without giving away the ending.
3. What did you think of the main character?
4. Which character could you relate to best?
5. Were there any other especially interesting characters?
6. From whose point of view is the story told?
7. Were the characters and their problems believable?
8. How did the main character change during the novel?
9. What was the book's central question, and how was it answered?
10. Was location important to the story?
11. Was the time period important to the story?
12. What alternative title would you choose for this book?
13. Share a quote from the book.
14. Share a favorite scene from the book.
15. What did you like most about the book?
16. What did you like least?
17. Did you like the way the book ended?
18. What do you think will be your lasting impression of this book?
19. What did you think of the cover?
20. For banned books: Why was this book banned?
21. How would you rate this book?


1. Title, author, date of book, and genre?
2. What do you think motivated the author to share his or her life story?
3. Is the author trying to elicit a certain response, such as sympathy?
4. How has this book changed or enhanced your view of the author?
5. Were there any instances in which you felt the author was not being truthful?
6. What is the author's most admirable quality?
7. Is this someone you would want to know (or to have known)?
8. Share a quote from the book.
9. Share a favorite part of the book.
10. What did you like most about the book?
11. What did you like least?
12. What will be your lasting impression of the author?
13. What did you think of the cover?
14. How would you rate this book?

Please feel free to use any or all of these questions for your own reviews. Thanks to Dewey for the idea of making such a list.
MotherTalk suggests these questions to jumpstart your thinking:
1. What was your favorite thing about the book?
2. What impressions stayed with you when you were done reading it?
3. How was the book different than what you expected, or surprising?
4. What did the book teach you or inspire you to do different or better?
5. What made the characters believable? Likeable? Familiar? (or not?)
6. If you loved it, what could the author have done to make the book even better?
7. If you didn’t like the book, what qualities might appeal to others?
8. What kind of person or group would you recommend this book to? (For example, book clubs, women struggling with depression, Stephen King fans, vacationers looking for a good beach read, etc.)
9. How has the book affected you as a person? As a mother? As a [fill in the blank]?
10. How has the book changed your opinions or feelings about the topic at hand?
11. In what ways did the book take you out of your comfort zone?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Which book are you?

You're The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

You're obsessed with Camelot in all its forms, from Arthurian legend to the Kennedy administration. Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in the Stone." But more than tales of wizardry and Cuban missiles, you've focused on women. You know that they truly hold all the power. You always wished you could meet Jackie Kennedy.

Your favorite movie from childhood was "The Sword in the Stone." Really? And I thought my favorite was Uncle Remus in "South of the South." Besides, "The Sword in the Stone" came out when my CHILDREN were little.'ve focused on women. You know that they truly hold all the power. Well, yes, I focused on women's rights in the 1970s, but mainly because I knew we had been powerless for too many years.

You always wished you could meet Jackie Kennedy. Well, not ALWAYS, but I think I would have liked her when she was working in the book trade.

You're Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Bright, chipper, vivid, but with the emotional fortitude of cottage cheese, you make quite an impression on everyone you meet. You're impulsive, rash, honest, and probably don't have a great relationship with your parents. People hurt your feelings constantly, but your brazen honestly doesn't exactly treat others with kid gloves. Ultimately, though, you win the hearts and minds of everyone that matters. You spell your name with an E and you want everyone to know about it.

You spell your name with an E and you want everyone to know about it. This is about the only thing right in the Anne paragraph above; I do tell people that my name is "Bonnie," spelled with an "ie" rather than with a "y" as in "Bonny."

You're A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Despite humble and perhaps literally small beginnings, you inspire faith in almost everyone you know. You are an agent of higher powers, and you manifest this fact in mysterious and loud ways. A sense of destiny pervades your every waking moment, and you prepare with great detail for destiny fulfilled. When you speak, IT SOUNDS LIKE THIS!

When you speak, IT SOUNDS LIKE THIS! Hey, I love Owen Meany, but we don't sound alike at all. People usually say I'm rather soft-spoken, unless I'm preaching!

You're The Dictionary by Merriam-Webster

You're one of those know-it-all types, with an amazing amount of knowledge at your command. People really enjoy spending time with you in very short spurts, but hanging out with you for a long time tends to bore them. When folks really need an authority to refer to, however, you're the one they seek. You're an exceptional speller and very well organized.

You're one of those know-it-all types, with an amazing amount of
knowledge at your command.
Okay, I don't mind being the dictionary. What word do you want to know?

And how did I get four different results from taking this quiz?
Take the Book Quiz at the Blue Pyramid.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Oh, my!

Oh, my! Post one little article by Gloria Steinem and my blog goes from "G-rated" to "R-rated," just like that!

Online Dating

Here are the bad words: prick (7x), dead (3x), pain (2x), corpse (1x). I must have shocked all of you, too, because no one has commented on "Prick Flicks" or suggested a single film for the category. Hey, all it takes is blood and gore and violence and smash-'em-up-wrecks to become the opposite of a chick flick.

Do you want to see what color my rating was before it turned as red as a stop sign? Click HERE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Prick flicks

I like this definition, that chick flicks are more about "how people live instead of how they die." Do you agree? Let's talk about it.

In Defense of the 'Chick Flick'
By Gloria Steinem, Women's Media Center
Published on July 7, 2007

Here's a modest proposal to the young man on the plane from Los Angeles to Seattle who said of the movie that most passengers -- male and female -- voted to watch: "I don't watch chick flicks!"

So what exactly is a "chick flick?" I think you and I could probably agree that it has more dialogue than special effects, more relationships than violence, and relies for its suspense on how people live instead of how they die.

I'm not challenging your choice; I'm just questioning the term that encourages it. After all, if you think back to your school days, much of what you were assigned as great literature could have been dismissed as "chick lit." Indeed, the books you read probably only survived because they were written by famous guys.

Think about it: If Anna Karenina had been written by Leah Tolstoy, or The Scarlet Letter by Nancy Hawthorne, or Madame Bovary by Greta Flaubert, or A Doll's House by Henrietta Ibsen, or The Glass Menagerie by (a female) Tennessee Williams, would they have been hailed as universal? Suppose Shakespeare had really been The Dark Lady some people supposed. I bet most of her plays and all of her sonnets would have been dismissed as some Elizabethan version of ye olde "chick lit," only to be resurrected centuries later by stubborn feminist scholars.

Indeed, as long men are taken seriously when they write about the female half of the world -- and women aren't taken seriously when writing about themselves much less about men or male affairs -- the list of Great Authors will be more about power than about talent.

Still, I know this is not your problem. Instead, let me appeal to your self-interest as well as your sense of fairness: If the "chick flick" label helps you to avoid the movies you don't like, why is there no label to guide you to the ones you do like?

Just as there are "novelists" and then "women novelists," there are "movies" and then "chick flicks." Whoever is in power takes over the noun -- and the norm -- while the less powerful get an adjective. Thus, we read about "African American doctors" but not "European American doctors," "Hispanic leaders" but not "Anglo leaders," "gay soldiers" but not "heterosexual soldiers," and so on.

That's also why you're left with only half a guide. As usual, bias punishes everyone. Therefore I propose, as the opposite of "chick flick" and an adjective of your very own, "prick flick." Not only will it serve film critics well, but its variants will add to the literary lexicon. For example, "prick lit" could characterize a lot of fiction, from Philip Roth to Bret Easton Ellis and beyond. "True prick" could guide readers to their preferred non-fiction, from the classics of Freud to the populist works of socio-biologists and even Rush Limbaugh.

Most of all, the simple label "prick flick" could lead you easily and quickly through the thicket of televised, downloaded and theatrical releases to such attractions as:

All the movies that glorify World War II. From classics with John Wayne and Ronald Reagan, those master actors who conveyed heroism without ever leaving the back lot, to Spielberg's "Band of Brothers," in which the hero would rather die than be rescued, Hollywood has probably spent more on making movies about the war than this country spent on fighting it. After all, World War II was the last war in which this country was clearly right. Without frequent exposure to it, how are we to believe we still are?

All the movies that glorify Vietnam, bloody regional wars, and the war on terrorism. These may not be as much fun to watch -- you probably are aware that we aren't the winners here -- but they allow you to enjoy mass mayhem in, say, South Asia or Africa or the Middle East that justifies whatever this country might do.

All the movies that portray violence against women, preferably beautiful, sexy, half-naked women. These feature chainsaws and house parties for teenage guys, serial killers and sadistic rapists for ordinary male adults, plus cleverly plotted humiliations and deaths of powerful women for the well-educated misogynist.

All the movies that insist female human beings are the only animals on earth that seek out and even enjoy their own pain. From glamorized versions of prostitution to such complex plots as "Boxing Helena," a man's dream of amputating all a rebellious woman's limbs -- and then she falls in love with him -- these provide self-justification and how-to manuals for sadists.

As you can see, one simple label could guide you through diversity, and help other viewers to practice avoidance.

But if you really think about it, I'm hope-a-holic enough to think you might like to watch a chick flick after all.
Gloria Steinem travels widely as a feminist activist, organizer, writer and lecturer. She co-founded New York Magazine and Ms. Magazine where continues to serve as a consulting editor. She has been published in many magazines and newspapers here and in other countries, and is also a frequent guest commentator on radio and television.

© 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at:
Wikipedia has this list of chick flicks:
Agnes of God
A Walk to Remember
As Good as It Gets
Because I Said So
Before Sunrise
Before Sunset
The Bridges of Madison County
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
50 First Dates
Four Weddings and a Funeral
Fried Green Tomatoes
Girl, Interrupted
How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days
Love Actually
The Notebook
Notting Hill
An Officer and a Gentleman
Pretty Woman
A Room with a View
Sleepless in Seattle
Steel Magnolias
Terms of Endearment
Thelma & Louise
Under the Tuscan Sun
Waiting to Exhale
When Harry Met Sally
Working Girl
You've Got Mail
What films would you nominate for the prick flick category?
Here's how Word Spy defines the category:

50 states of mind

The United States is a union of 50 states, and I want to find the best books about each state. The book should help us learn something ABOUT that state and not just be one written by somebody who lives there. Let's "book around the states" and find at least one excellent book for each state of the union.


I have set aside a blog specifically for this challenge. Book around the States is our challenge to find 50 books for 50 states. When we find them, we can challenge ourselves to read a book about each state, maybe a handful at a time.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Something About Me ~ books read previously

Books I had read before choosing what to read from the challenge's lists:

1. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten (NF) by Robert Fulghum ~ chosen by Susan Miller
2. Anne of Green Gables (F) by L. M. Montgomery ~ chosen by Trish, TinyLibrarian, and EnnaVic
3. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl (AB) by Anne Frank ~ chosen by Pattie
4. Awakening (F) by Kate Chopin ~ chosen by Pattie
5. Bell Jar (F)~ by Sylvia Plath ~ chosen by Soleil
6. Booked to Die (Mys) by John Dunning ~ chosen by Bonnie
7. Charlotte's Web (JuvF) by E. B. White ~ chosen by 3M
8. Cheaper by the Dozen (NF) by Frank Gilbreth ~ chosen by Raidergirl3
9. Dance of the Dissident Daughter (NF) by Sue Monk Kidd ~ chosen by Bonnie
10. East of Eden (F) by John Steinbeck ~ chosen by Vasilly
11. Evensong (F) by Gail Godwin ~ chosen by Bonnie
12. Fahrenheit 451 (F) by Ray Bradbury ~ chosen by Faith
13. Fall On Your Knees (F) by Ann-Marie MacDonald ~ chosen by Chris and Christina
14. Five Quarters of the Orange (F) by Joanne Harris ~ chosen by Jill
15. Giver (F) by Lois Lowry ~ chosen by Susan Miller
16. Go Out in Joy! (NF) by Nina Hermann Donnelley ~ chosen by Bonnie
17. Gone with the Wind (F) by Margaret Mitchell ~ chosen by Bookworm
18. Grapes of Wrath (F) by John Steinbeck ~ chosen by Kookiejar
19. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone #1 (F) by JK Rowling ~ chosen by Bookworm
20. Harvesting the Heart (F) by Jodi Picoult ~ chosen by Heather
21. Heidi (JuvF) by Johanna Spyri ~ chosen by Heidijane
22. Iliad (F) by Homer ~ chosen by Alyson
23. Like Water for Chocolate (F) by Laura Esquivel ~ chosen by Maryanne
24. Little Women (F) by Louisa May Alcott ~ chosen by Alyson and Lucca
25. Lovely Bones (F) by Alice Sebold ~ chosen by Chasida
26. March (F) by Geraldine Brooks ~ chosen by Dewey
27. Mere Christianity (NF) by C.S. Lewis ~ chosen by 3M
28. My Name is Asher Lev (F) by Chaim Potok ~ chosen by Heather
29. My Sister's Keeper (F) by Jodi Picoult ~ chosen by Trish
30. Namesake (F) by Jhumpa Lahiri ~ chosen by Heidijane
31. Nothing But the Truth (JuvF) by Avi ~ chosen by Megan
32. Number the Stars (JuvF) by Lois Lowry ~ chosen by Booklogged
33. On Tap (F) by J. Frances Alexander ~ chosen by Bonnie
34. Other Boleyn Girl (F) by Phillippa Gregory ~ chosen by Margo
35. Peter Pan (F) by J.M. Barrie ~ chosen by Athena
36. Poisonwood Bible (F) by Barbara Kingsolver ~ chosen by Bookworm
37. Rebecca (F) by Daphne du Maurier ~ chosen by Christina
38. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (JuvF) by Kate Douglas Wiggin ~ chosen by Stephanie
39. Red Tent (F) by Anita Diamante ~ chosen by Susan Miller
40. Screwtape Letters (F) by C. S. Lewis ~ chosen by Booklogged
41. Secret Life of Bees (F) by Sue Monk Kidd ~ chosen by EnnaVic
42. She's Come Undone (F) by Wally Lamb ~ chosen by Bookworm
43. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (F) by Lisa See ~ chosen by Juli
44. To Kill A Mockingbird (F) by Harper Lee ~ chosen by Janet and Stephanie
45. Tree Grows in Brooklyn (F) by Betty Smith ~ chosen by Becky
46. View from Saturday (JuvF) by E. L. Konigsburg ~ chosen by Susan Miller
47. Walk in the Woods (NF) by Bill Bryson ~ chosen by Wendy
48. Where the Red Fern Grows (JuvF) by Wilson Rawls ~ chosen by Janet
49. Winthrop Woman (F) by Anya Seton ~ chosen by Beachreader
50. World According to Garp (F) by John Irving ~ chosen by Chasida and Dewey
51. Wrinkle in Time (JuvF) by Madeline L'Engle ~ chosen by Juli

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Saturday Review of Books Reading Challenge

My third challenge! Read six of the books that have been linked to reviews at the Saturday Review of Books in the past year. Read the six books by December 31, 2007, review them at your blog, and leave a link to your reviews at the Saturday Review of Books.

My choices:
1. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle ~ by Barbara Kingsolver
2. The Children's Blizzard ~ by David Laskin
3. The Memory Keeper's Daughter ~ by Kim Edwards
4. One Thousand White Women ~ by Jim Fergus
5. The Seven Daughters of Eve ~ by Bryan Sykes
6. The Thirteenth Tale ~ by Diane Setterfield

7. Dreaming in Cuban ~ by Cristina García
8. Lost Geography ~ by Charlotte Bacon
9. Secret River ~ by Kate Grenville
10. Speak ~ by Laurie Halse Anderson
11. The Time Traveler's Wife ~ by Audrey Niffenegger

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Too two?


days before

our launching of


Not a tutu! Two! Two!

Curious? Click HERE.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Before using words .....

..... please put brain in gear!

Disorder in the Court

I received these from Marylyn in an email that said, "These are from a book called Disorder in the Court and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place." On checking, I discovered two books by this title:

(1) Disorder In The Court! by Bob Terrell, 2004

(2) Disorder in the Court: Great Fractured Moments in Courtroom History by Charles M. Sevilla, 1999

Either book of humor seems possible, but I cannot tell you which (if either) has these reported exchanges. So ... just enjoy them.

ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.

ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.

ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy?"
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!

ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.

ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?

ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-one-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty-one.

ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?
WITNESS: Are you shittin' me?

ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?
ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?
WITNESS: Uh.... I was gettin' laid!

ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Are you shittin' me? Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?

ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?

ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.

ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?

ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, okay? What school did you go to?

ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!

ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh.... are you qualified to ask that question?

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Starting this Friday

The first full weekend
in July
starts in just

days! On Friday
I'll post the first
word of the week
check it out

I never doubted this would be my rating

Online Dating

No bad words were found.