Monday, May 31, 2010

A sunny day in my town

The sunshine here in Chattanooga today made it hot and humid.  I had lunch with my friend Carla to celebrate her recent move to my town.  I saw her new condo, showed her where to find the town's best BBQ about a mile from where she lives, and took her to Signal Point (pictured above) so she could act like a tourist. Later I finished cleaning out one of my storage units (the hot and humid part of my day) before having homemade burgers with my friend Donna, who moved to my town eight years ago and now lives in the same senior complex I do.  Walking back up the block to my home after burgers, I was visiting with my next-door neighbor when another neighbor who was walking her dog stopped to chat with us. So it's been a great day for talking with friends. Once I was finally home for the day, I turned on the computer to check email and discovered another "visitor."  This one came, not in person, but to my blog.

My new book blogger friend Helen had left a message, saying, "I have an award for you."  Ha!  My sunny day continues, right up until dark.  Helen presented me with the Sunshine Award.  Thanks, Helen!  I'm tired in a good kind of way this evening, but totally ready to climb into bed and read before sleep.  All of you dear readers who have gotten this far should consider yourselves recipients of this award -- from me to you, and you, and you.  Good night, sun.  Good night, moon.  Good night, friends.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Newest books at my house

Divas, Dames and Dolls: A Celebration of the Female Spirit ~ by Kathleen Fitzgerald, 2005
I like the subtitle, that we can celebrate the female spirit.  Even more, I like that this book is about the spirit of older women.  I'm one, ya know!  I counted about 57 women in this book, most of which has a bold black-and-white photo on the right-hand page and a write-up about the woman on the left.  I bought the book because I loved the photos and the attitude pictured in each one.
The Road Taken ~ by Rona Jaffe, 2000
This novel covers a woman's family in the twentieth century, from Rose's birth on January 1, 1900, through the loss of her mother when she was ten, life with her stepmother, and raising her own three strong-willed daughters.  The dust jacket blurb says this is "a chronicle of a woman and a family and a century like no other."
The Woman Who Gave Birth to Her Mother: Tales of Transformation in Women's Lives ~ by Kim Chernin, 1998
This classic focuses on "the point at which a woman lets go of her past and is able to live vibrantly in the present."  The back cover mentions three women in the book:  "one woman, adopted as a child, embarks on a journey to locate her birth mother; another finds the source of a voice that haunts her -- the voice of her daughter, given up at birth; a third unlocks her own creative process and paints her way out of her painful history."
Evvy's Civil War ~ by Miriam Brenaman, 2002
It's 1860 in Virginia, and Evvy Chamberlyn is expected to behave in a certain way.  She, however, has no intentions of living up to those expectations about how to "dress, speak, and act the part of the proper Southern belle."  I'm not sure what I expect from this small paperback book, but it called to me when I saw it at my library and I checked it out.  I was curious about 14-year-old Evvy.
Return of the Great Goddess ~ by Burleigh Muten, 1994
"From Sappho to Judy Chicago, from the late Egyptian era to Audrey Flack, this anthology of fine art reproductions and literary excerpts proclaims the strength and majesty of the feminine experience. The images and messages remind women of their spiritual heritage, their innate wisdom, the integrity of the female body and its rites of passage, and the growing global community of women who celebrate the return of a female deity." -- product description
Every Last One ~ by Anna Quindlen, 2010
I should probably be leery of reading this book, since the dust jacket says it's "a novel about facing every last one of the things we fear the most, about finding ways to navigate a road we never intended to travel, and about living a life we never dreamed we'd have to live, but find ourselves brave enough to try."  My friend Mary Grace told me, "I identified so strongly with the mother.  I felt like what happened to her happened to me.......and it was awful.  It will take a while to recover from reading this book."
Shanghai Girls ~ by Lisa See, 2009
This is the book chosen for discussion in June by both my face-to-face book club and my online book club.  I had the book on hold at the library, but June is upon us!  So I bought it the other day and will start reading it tonight.  In the mid-1930s, two sisters leave Shanghai when their father, facing bankruptcy, arranges for them to marry men who have come from Los Angeles looking for wives.  They face detention at Angel Island (the Ellis Island of the west) and make a pact no one can ever know.
Diving Deep and Surfacing: Women Writers on Spiritual Quest (2nd ed.) ~ by Carol P. Christ, 1980
"Based on the writings of Kate Chopin, Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, Adrienne Rich, and Ntozake Shange, Diving Deep and Surfacing reveals how the classic works of these five writers can take the place of traditional religious texts in women's search for spiritual renewal."  (This shows the cover of the third edition, because I couldn't find an image of the second edition.)
What books have "walked into your house" this week?

Friday, May 28, 2010

Book sale!

I'll be selling books tomorrow at our annual neighborhood yard sale. This sign was the small one beside the back entrance to our bookstore, and I've already put it out in front of my house because BOOKS are the big deal in my yard.  Oops!  It just started raining here (at 11:00 on Friday morning), and it's supposed to rain again tomorrow.  Luckily, I have a covered front porch for the books -- if anyone goes out shopping.  Here's what I'm sending out on our neighborhood listserv:

Multi-family yard sale at 4603 St. Elmo Ave.
Large selection of Books (hardbacks and paperbacks),
CHRISTMAS decorations, HOUSEHOLD items,
hand-crafted FABRIC purses, afghans and KNIT items,
Nikkormat SLR camera, COMFORTER SET with dust ruffle, etc.

Look for the Book Buddies sign in front of the house.

~~~ Y'all come!  Meet the Book Buddies
~~~ between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 29th.
~~~ Bonnie, Donna, Emily, and Halle

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Book power


In all this willful world
of thud and thump and thunder
man's relevance to books
continues to declare.

Books are meat and medicine
and flame and flight and flower,
steel, stitch, and cloud and clout,
and drumbeats on the air.

-- Gwendolyn Brooks, 1969

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Armchair BEA: Book Signings and Author Sightings

It isn't true that all book bloggers have left the blogosphere to attend the BEA (Book Expo America) in New York this week.  There is, for example, me!  I'm still here at home, and I have discovered that other book bloggers (like Sarah of Puss Reboots, who designed the logo pictured here) have decided we could have our own BEA on our blogs.  Here are some examples:
  • Yesterday Chris of Book-A-Rama posted I See Dead People and populated her "dream panel" with dead authors -- Jane Austen, Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot), and Charlotte Bronte -- adding, "though I doubt Charlotte would be comfortable being stared at by so many people."
  • Today Nancy, the Bookfool, posted Blast from the Past, showing us a dozen books she fell in love with as a child and as a young mother.
  • Yesterday Florinda of the 3 R's Blog posted If I were there, and NOT in my chair. She imagined herself THERE in New York City and wandered through the New Title Showcase.
I knew I needed an idea, so I searched Armchair BEA Central's suggestions and came up with this BEA-related one.


Here I am with Fannie Flagg, who is signing my copy of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. (Photographing a small snapshot with my cell phone caused that reflection across the top.)  My favorite of all her books is Red Bird Christmas, because of quotes like this one from page 35:
Mildred looked at her, highly incensed. “And just how am I supposed to know what I want until I get there? That’s why it’s called shopping, Frances!” And with that she marched out the door.
Laurie Halse Anderson signed Fever 1793 for me when she was in Chattanooga a couple of years ago.  I have reviewed her YA novel Speak, which has been challenged, on this blog and on my Banned Books blog.

John Dominic Crossan signs books as "Dominic," as you can see.  This is what he wrote for me in his memoir A Long Way from Tipperary.  I've met him a couple of times, once when he led a seminar about his book God and Empire and another time on The First Paul, which he wrote with Marcus Borg.

Dom's friend and occasional co-author, Marcus Borg, led a day-long seminar that I attended on his book The Heart of Christianity.  I got my email moniker from that book:  Emerging Paradigm.

After driving three hours to a conference in the northeast corner of Tennessee, I lucked out and actually had lunch at Masha Hamilton's table before taking part in her workshop about her novel The Camel Bookmobile.

Theda Perdue wrote a history of Cherokee Women: Gender and Culture Change, 1700-1835, probably the best history book I've ever read.  Aong with the other women of my face-to-face book club, I met her when she spoke at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga on the same night we sat around a table to discuss her book.

Years ago, I drove an hour north of here to hear Madeleine L'Engle, who wrote A Wrinkle in Time and dozens of other books.  She was younger then than this picture of her.  She is one of my favorite authors of all time, and I was surprised at how sad I was when I heard she had died in 2007.

Robert Hicks signed his novel, A Separate Country, for me.  I've been to two of his book signings.

I'm trying to remember other authors I have met, but this may have to do for now.


Addendum (5-27-2010):  Yep, I knew I'd start remembering other authors I've met.  Here are two more I have remembered this morning.

Just this past August I met Susan Gregg Gilmore at a local bookstore where she was promoting her 2008 book Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen. Here's a teaser from page 236:
"My mama and daddy had certainly left me a mess to sort out, and I couldn't think of a single verse of scripture that was going to comfort me as I came to terms with an adulterating daddy, a resurrected mama, and an expectant mistress with an imaginary fiance."
And another author I met was Paul Von Ward, who wrote Soul Genome.  I've run into him a time or two since I first met him two years ago, and he has signed three of his books for me:  Our Solarian Legacy, The Soul Genome, and Gods, Genes, and Consciousness.

UPDATE on Sept 8, 2010:  I met Janisse Ray about a decade ago, but I had forgotten until I read about her on another blog. I've written about her on my blog today.  Click here to read about her and her books.

UPDATE on Dec 12, 2010:  Helen listed books she read during 2010 that got her highest rating, and among them is Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.  That reminded me that I met him at a reception held in the home of another member of the committee that brought him to Chattanooga.  I even chatted with him over hors d'oeuvres.  I highly recommend Bud, Not Buddy.

And it just crossed my mind that I met Avi at a conference in Kentucky.  My favorite book by Avi is Nothing But the Truth.

The list keeps getting longer.  So far I've remembered Fannie Flagg, Laurie Halse Anderson, John Dominic Crossan, Marcus Borg, Masha Hamilton, Theda Perdue, Madeleine L'Engle, Robert Hicks, Susan Gregg Gilmore, Paul Von Ward, Janisse Ray, Christopher Paul Curtis, and Avi.  That's a baker's dozen (thirteen, in other words).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Cougar Club ~ by Susan McBride, 2010

I won it during Dewey's 24-hour Read-A-Thon, I read it, and I'm not sure why. Three "aging" women in their forties find life again after hooking up with younger (20-something) men.  That's the "cougar" definition, a term that's new to me.  I have no desire to fall into bed with a 20-something boy.  I turned 70 last month and dating a 20-ish boy would be like dating my grandson.  Whatever would we find to talk about?  Or is talking beside the point in books like this?

I did like one part of the book, which is mentioned in the very last sentence on the back of the book:
"True friendship never dies, the only way to live is real, and you're never too old to follow your heart."
And in the last nine pages of the book, one of three women friends -- following her heart -- was ready to open an art gallery and live above it.  Oops, did I just give away a plot element?  Nah, the book is all about the young guys, sex, and getting back together with old friends.  Do I recommend the book?  Nah.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Newest book arrivals

The Secret Supper ~ by Javier Sierra  (2004):
"Milan, 1497:  Leonardo da Vinci is completing his masterpiece, The Last Supper.  Pope Alexander VI is determined to execute him after realizing that the painting contains clues to a baffling — and blasphemous — message, which he is determined to decode.  The Holy Grail and the Eucharistic Bread are missing, there is no meat on the table and, shockingly, the apostles are portraits of well-known heretics — none of them depicted with halos.  And why has the artist painted himself into the scene with his back turned toward Jesus?  The clues to Leonardo's greatest puzzle are right before your eyes."
The Smoke Jumper ~ by Nicholas Evans (2001):
"The fire that was to change so many lives so utterly started with a single shaft of lightning. ... The woman, camped nearby with her group of troubled teenagers, slept on and heard nothing.  She has brought them here by court order on a youth program to help them find themselves.  But one among them will be lost forever.  For soon the cocoon of fire will hatch to engulf the entire mountain and exact its deadly toll.  And into this inferno will come the smoke jumper.  His name is Connor Ford and he falls like an angel of mercy from the sky, braving the flames to save the woman he loves but knows he cannot have.  For Julia Bishop is the partner of his closest friend, Ed Tully, an ambitious young musician.  Julia loves them both but the tragedy on Snake Mountain forces her to choose between them..."
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman ~ by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792) is one of the earliest books on feminist philosophy. Wollstonecraft argues that women must be educated according to their class, since they had the major responsibility for educating the nation's children. Women are not ornaments or property to be traded in marriage, but human beings who deserve the same fundamental rights as men.
Remember when you were a kid and getting new crayons was a big deal?  Getting new books holds the same kind of magic for some of us big kids.  Susan at Color Online came up with the idea of New Crayons to represent new books that arrived during the week.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What's around the bend in your driveway?

Susan at Patchwork Reflections asked that question this morning, after posting a picture of her driveway -- bending.  I left this message and am only just now getting my photo posted.
My "driveway" is a parking lot, but "around the bend" is a gazebo. I'll try to take a picture of it today and post it on my blog.
I tried taking the picture so it showed the "bend" in our parking lot here at the gated senior community where I live, but the gazebo was almost too small to see. So I moved my car, which is usually parked in that empty spot nearest to the gazebo.  As a matter of fact, the photo I posted on Sunday showing a single daylily was taken at the gazebo.  See those yellow flowers along the sidewalk?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Book shopping ~ at a yard sale

This photo is deceptive, because the slipcase for this folio-sized book (15 inches tall by over 11 inches wide and weighing over eleven pounds) is almost 2-1/2 inches thick!  Guess what it cost me today at a yard sale?  One dollar for a book that is in near fine condition.  When I got home, I checked online for information. One copy -- with "water damage, mildew, a few scuff marks, and curled pages" -- is listed by an online seller at $10.  Most of the ones I found have "dust jackets" and range up to $150 (from a US bookseller) to $168.24 (US dollars, from a French bookseller) to $178.11 (US dollars, from an Australian bookseller).  The copy that says it is "enclosed in a pictorial slipcase" like mine is listed at $75 from a bookseller in Memphis, TN.  I'd say I made a good purchase today.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reading Habits ~ a meme and a book I "bought"

I found this meme on Helen's Book Blog.  Her answers helped me know her better as a reader, so maybe you'll know me better when you learn about my reading habits.

Do you snack while you read?  If so, favorite reading snack:
Food?  Why are we starting with food?  No favorite reading snack, though I often read during a meal, if I'm alone.
What is your favorite drink while reading?
Food, and now drink?  When do we get to the books?  That's what reading is all about.  I drink when I get thirsty, not because I'm reading.
Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?
I read with pen and tablet at hand, so I can make notes to use when reviewing or discussing a book with other book lovers.  I wrote in books in college and graduate school, because it was faster than copying from the book -- and saving time was important when it seemed I was expected to read the entire theology library before graduation.  Now my books come mostly from the library or are novels I never plan to re-read and will thus trade in for other books at the giant used book store in my town.  Books are tradeable only if they look good.
How do you keep your place while reading a book?  Bookmark?  Dog-ears?  Laying the book flat open?
Always a bookmark.  Writing in books (see the question above) does not horrify me, but folding down a corner of the page in the shape of a dog's ear does.  Sometimes I use two bookmarks at a time, especially if I'm studying a nonfiction book -- one marks my place in the chapter, while the other marks my place in the endnotes section.  (During the Read-A-Thon, I won one of these crocheted bookmarks made by Joy Renee.)
Fiction, nonfiction, or both?
Both, though fiction is usually a quicker read because I am not having to assimilate ideas in the same way.  I take fiction breaks from nonfiction, especially when I'm really working at a particular subject.  Fiction is a change of pace from my deeper studies.
Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?
What happens is that I decide to read to the end of the chapter before (choose one) turning off the light or having lunch or doing the laundry or whatever.  Then the next time I think of it, I'm in the middle of the following chapter!  The author beguiled me into finding out what happens next, and I didn't stop at the end of the chapter.  Now that I know that about myself, I've learned to stop at the nearest section break (extra blank lines or one of those squiggly marks between sections) and just do what I need to do.  It works for me.
Are you the type of person to throw a book across the room or on the floor if the author irritates you?
No, because I don't "do violence" to a book because of the idiot who wrote it.  I did once throw a book, though, I must admit.  My husband complained, once too many times, that I was reading -- and throwing the book (carefully, so that it landed on a sofa, but defiantly, to express my frustration) was my signal that THAT was the last straw.  Within a year I had divorced the husband, but kept the book.  (Sounds cold, but I had tried for 14 years to make the marriage work and finally gave up.)
What are you currently reading?
Woman's Inhumanity to Woman by Phyllis Chesler, a library book I brought home last week.  I'm 112 pages into this 551-page nonfiction book, which has a second bookmark in the endnotes.
What is the last book you bought?
This morning I was working my way through this meme and, when I got to this question, I wrote (yes, I did, I left this message to myself):  "Be right back -- I want to go buy a book so my meme will be an up-to-the-minute report!"  Actually, I needed to get ready to meet my friend Donna for lunch, knowing we were going to a bookstore after we ate.  She bought the book I picked, which doesn't usually matter, since we share whatever books we read.  But I protested that this meme asks for the last book I "bought," not the last book I "borrowed."  She laughed at me when I handed her a shiny nickle and two shiny pennies so I could pay for part of what is now OUR book.

Look Again, a 2009 novel by Lisa Scottoline, is about a woman who suspects that her adopted child is actually another couple's kidnapped child.  The "look again" title is what the mother did when she glanced at one of those missing child cards we all get in the mail -- and realized the kid looked like her son.
Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?
Always several.  Reading novels is a break from studying nonfiction, so I always have a novel handy and usually several nonfiction books in varying stages.
Do you have a favorite time or place to read?
Anytime, any place, but stretched out comfortably on sofa or bed is always nice.
Do you prefer series books or stand alones?
A book that stands alone.  If I know a book is part of a series, I usually forgo reading it.
Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?
At my bookstore, I sold every book by Jodi Picoult almost as soon as it came in the door.  Donna and I owned a USED book store, so we could never predict when a book might show up.  However, I would willingly order new books for anyone who gave up waiting for a particular book to be traded in.
How do you organize your books (by genre, title, author's last name, etc.)?
My fiction is alphabetized by author; my nonfiction is by genre (my interests include women's studies, religion, books about books, and writing).  Occasionally I have had a novel on the nonfiction shelf, like when I would assign the students in my Religions of the World class to read Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh (1956), which follows the fate of the Sikh, Muslim, and Hindu inhabitants during the violent 1947 partition of the Punjab region between India and Pakistan.
That was fun!  Now you know me better.  If you do the Reading Habits meme, leave a link so I can read about you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Out of My Mind ~ by Sharon M. Draper, 2010

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is about a wheelchair-bound ten-year-old girl with cerebral palsy, who has never been able to walk, or talk, or write.  Because of that, everyone at school, including the teachers, thinks Melody isn't very bright.  In fact, she's brilliant.  She has a photographic memory, and her mind is like a video camera always running, recording everything.  Yet even though she's the smartest kid in her whole school, nobody there knows it because Melody  has been stuck inside her mind all her life -- until now.

She's been going "out of her mind" listening to the same preschool-level alphabet lessons, over and over every school year.  When she discovers a device that allows her to "speak," a whole world opens up for her -- because she now has a voice.
"You are Spaulding Street Elementary School's own personal Stephen Hawking" (p. 199).
Having a voice does not mean, though, that everyone accepts her.  When she scores high enough to make the academic team, teachers and students alike think somebody cheated.
"You know, it really ought to be you up there instead of Melody," Claire says loud enough for me to hear.

"Well, I'm ready if she messes up," Molly whispers back.

I just shake my head and think, Delete, delete, delete.  No way am I letting their negativity mess me up.  I have enough to worry about.
Maybe it's her making the team for the academic bowl, but something about this book reminds me of The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg (1996), which I reviewed here.  In the earlier book, it's the teacher who is in a wheelchair; in this book, it's a student.  We learn a lot about the difficulty of being unable to do for oneself, because Out of My Mind is written from the point of view of the girl trapped inside a body that won't do what she wants it to do.

I rate this one 9 of 10, an excellent YA book, right up there with The View from Saturday.

P.S.  See that big book bag Donna is holding (on the right side of the photo) in yesterday's post?  There's a copy of this book in it -- a birthday gift I got for her because The View from Saturday is her favorite YA book.  Donna taught View many times when she was a middle-school English teacher.  I hope she also enjoys reading Out of My Mind.

New books (like new crayons) are such a pleasure!

Several books arrived at my house this week.  I'll start with one I won from Color Online.

Page from a Tennessee Journal, a novel by Francine Thomas Howard (2010), is loosely based on a well-guarded family secret, we are told on the page about the author.  Rural Tennessee in 1913, black woman sharecropper trying to feed her children after her husband runs off, white landowner who gets her pregnant -- one reviewer on posted a quote from the book, about what the woman's Aunt Becky said:
"Ain't never been a brown-skinned woman who had any say over what a Tennessee white man can do with her body."
But it isn't as simple as that, apparently, when we throw in the spouses.  I'll let you know what it's all about, after I read the book.

I ran across Woman's Inhumanity to Woman by Phyllis Chesler while reading about feminism in relation to the Women Unbound reading challenge.  Luckily, my library had a copy.
"Like men, women are exposed to the messages of misogyny and sexism that permeate cultures worldwide. Like men, women unconsciously buy into negative images that can trigger abuse and mistreatment of other women. But like other social victims, many do not realize stereotyping affects members within the victimized group as well as those outside the group. They do not realize their behavior reflects society's biases."
I am working at my branch of the public library, as a volunteer -- two days this week, and two more next week -- so one of the three employees could take a vacation.  I was telling someone about Laurie Halse Anderson, one of my favorite authors, and showed the woman the two of her books on the YA shelves that were not checked out:  Speak, which I've read (and reviewed), and Chains, which I haven't.  Are you surprised to learn that I checked out Chains myself?  I didn't think you would be.

I read about Faith and Feminism on Ronna Detrick's blog and immediately put the book on hold at my library.  Two questions seem to be at the heart of the book, according to the back cover:
"Why do so many women of faith have such a strong aversion to feminism?  And why do so many feminists have an ardent mistrust of religion?"
The book takes a look at five spiritual women who combined their faith with feminist beliefs:  Emily Dickinson, Teresa of Avila, Sojourner Truth, Lucretia Mott, and Dorothy Day.  And I like the title of the last chapter:  "Weaving a Connection."

I'm still emptying boxes of books from my storage units.  One book I added to my TBR pile was Networking: The Great New Way for Women to Get Ahead.  I hear you thinking, "Networking is not new!" and you're right.  But this book by Mary Scott Welch was published in 1980, thirty years ago.  That was decades before Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites.  I'm curious to see how it all started.  When the author died in 1995, at the age of 75, the New York Times obituary said:
"Ms. Welch wrote Networking: The Great New Way for Women to Get Ahead (Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1980) in an era when more women were competing for jobs traditionally dominated by men.  Networking, through individual contacts and professional organizations, became an important technique for women to get career advice and make connections. Such contacts also helped offset the competitive advantage men often enjoyed through their own 'old boy' network.
Based on this cover and even the title -- Clone Codes by Patricia C. McKissack, Fredrick McKissack, and John McKissack -- this doesn't sound like my kind of book at all, but I've nearly finished reading this YA novel.  Here's the online synopsis of the story:
The Cyborg Wars are over and Earth has peacefully prospered for more than one hundred years. Yet sometimes history must repeat itself until humanity learns from its mistakes. In the year 2170, despite technological and political advances, cyborgs and clones are treated no better than slaves, and an underground abolitionist movement is fighting for freedom. Thirteen-year-old Leanna's entire life is thrown into chaos when The World Federation of Nations discovers her mom is part of the radical Liberty Bell Movement. ... With help from unlikely sources, Leanna learns the origin of The Liberty Bell Movement and how its members may have answers about her past-and her new reality.As family secrets are revealed, Leanna must face startling truths about self-identity and freedom. Through time travel, advanced technologies, and artificial intelligence, this exhilarating adventure asks what it means to be human and explores the sacrifices an entire society will make to find out.

Another book from the library this week was Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke, which I've already read and reviewed here.  It's a great little children's book that I highly recommend.
Remember when you were a kid and getting new crayons was a big deal?  Getting new books holds the same kind of magic for some of us big kids.  Susan at Color Online came up with the idea of New Crayons to represent new books that arrived during the week.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Once upon a birthday...

Arline, Bonnie, Sharon, Pansy, and Donna (left to right) -- the five Plums of the Plum Crazy Red Hat Mamas -- got together for lunch at the Olive Garden today to celebrate Donna's birthday.  Arline is the odd one out, as the other four of us were born in a year ending in zero.  Our ages are (left to right) 72, 70, 60 (in July), 80, and 60 today. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Full, Full, Full of Love ~ by Trish Cooke, 2003

Full, Full, Full of Love is a wonderful picture book (32 pages), written by Trish Cook and illustrated by Paul Howard.  Bright and colorful pictures tell the story of a Sunday when Jay Jay's Mama leaves him at Grannie's house while she goes to get Dad.

Jay Jay can hardly wait and keeps asking:
"Is dinner ready, Gran?"
"Is dinner ready now?"
"Is dinner ready NOW, Gran?"
"Is dinner NEARLY ready, Gran?"
She finds things to keep him busy, but they are really waiting for the others -- Jay Jay's aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, Mama and Daddy -- to get there.  When they arrive, Jay Jay says:
"Dinner MUST be ready now, Gran!"
And she laughs.
"Mm-mmm, I think it is!"
The book ends with this summary of what we've read about and seen in the illustrations:
Grannie's house is always full,
full of hugs and kisses,
full of tasty dishes,
full of all kinds of fishes,
full to the brim with happy faces,
full, full, full of love.

That's Sunday dinner at Grannie's house!
This book gets a rating of 10 out of 10, because it's one a parent could read over and over to a child, with all the things Grannie had to do to keep Jay Jay occupied while they waited:  putting out the dishes, feeding the fish, spilling the candy tin (no, that was Jay Jay without Grannie's help), watching for the arrival of the cars full of people.  I like this book (can you tell?).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Invisible Mountain ~ by Carolina de Robertis, 2009

I read this novel three months ago, but I've had a hard time figuring out what to say about it.  It takes place mostly in Montevideo, Uruguay, and chronicles four generations over several decades.  Ignazio Firielli arrives from Italy and eventually meets Pajarita, the woman who will be his wife.  Pajarita gives birth to Eva, who in her turn gives birth to Salome, who in turn gives birth to Victoria.  Born in prison, Victoria becomes the "daughter" of Salome's brother Robertito and his wife in California.  We see the family's history through the lives of the women:
1924 ~ Pajarita grew up in the country and first arrived in the city as a seventeen-year-old bride.  Now, her husband has not been home for days, leaving her alone with three small children and a house that has run out of food.  Her friend Coco, the butcher's wife, has come over to visit.

1938 ~ Eva is thirteen years old.  After two years of working for a shoe salesman who abused her, she has rebelled against him and her parents, found a job in a fashionable cafe, and begun to spend her evenings with a group of aspiring poets.

1966 ~ Salome is fifteen years old.  She has watched the nation become increasingly repressive, as well as admired the Cuban revolution from afar.  Her best friend, Leona, has just led her to a clandestine meeting.
It's almost too much for me.  Ignazio left Pajarita because ... well, I don't know WHY he left, unless he was too great a coward to face the fact that he gambled away two months pay, leaving no way to feed their three sons.  Because he was upset, he apparently needed to hit something -- like his wife (pp. 53-54):
Two months of pay.  And days yawning in front of them like mouths.

"What will we do?"

No answer.


"Shut up, woman!"  Ignazio stood so suddenly that the table knocked from her hands and fell.  "Shut your stupid f**king mouth."

Pajarita stood too.  "Don't shout at me."

Ignazio tightened backward in an enormous bow and arrow and the force of him flew forward in a fist that crashed against her face so that she fell against the wall, toward the floor; she curled around her burning face -- the world was turning turning, full of shouting, full of stars, full of silence.  Silence.  Pain ebbed slightly. ... But she was bleeding.  She stood up and sought a rag to wipe her face.  The taste of iron tinged her tongue.  She wet the rag and wiped again.  Thank god thank god the children were asleep.  She lifted the table into place, back onto four legs, and cleaned blood from the floor.  Dizzy.  She listened for living room sobs.  None.  She went to look.  There he was, her husband, tear-streaked, drunk, fast asleep in the rocking chair.  She walked past him to her room, to bed, to sleep.

The next morning, when she woke, the rocking chair was empty.  No Ignazio.  She used the last of the flour for bread that day.
He disappeared and she went to work to feed their children, including a girl conceived the night before he gambled away the money.  The girl was five years old when Ignazio returned.  Pajarita asked him:
"Do you have any idea what it's like to see your children hungry?"
No, of course he didn't know.  If he really understood, he couldn't have disappeared with no thought for his wife and three sons.  (And later the baby girl he knew nothing about.)

There's more -- lots more -- including that baby born in prison (the fourth generation in the book).  But I'll end my review here by rating the book 8 of 10, a good book.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Trial by Journal ~ by Kate Klise, 2001

I wrote about Kate Klise's novel, Trial by Journal (2001), last week when I got it from the library.  The book, illustrated by the author's sister, is told through journal entries, news clippings, and letters.  I was curious about a sixth grader sequestered with a jury "while conducting her own undercover investigation of the case."  I was willing to suspend my disbelief long enough to find out what happens.  Well, I've found out.

Lily's assignment during her time sequestered with the jury is to keep a journal.  She does, even though she is certain teachers never read journal homework after all the hard work done by the students.  Her "undercover investigations" are mostly what she notices going on around her in the jury room and at the hotel where they are kept when not in court.  This young sleuth doesn't exactly rival Nancy Drew, but she would probably be fun reading for elementary school children who enjoy dreadful puns.  Here are some "punny" names:
  • Rhett Tyle is the villain.  (Think "reptile."  Surprise, surprise!)
  • Anna Conda is in cahoots with Rhett Tyle.  (Think BIG snake.)
  • Bernie "Buzz" Ard writes a column called "What's the Buzz."  (Buzzard, geddit?)
  • Perry Keet is missing, presumed killed.  (Think "parakeet.")
  • Mallory Mute, usually called Mally Mute, is the public defender.
  • Golden Ray Treevor is the trial's prosecutor.  (Lawyers are dogs?)
The book didn't exactly excite me, though I did keep reading.  It's one of those "the child is smarter than the adults" books, so a child may rate it higher than I do.  My rating is 6 of 10, above average.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

New Crayons ~ new this week on my bookshelves

The one book I put on hold at the library hasn't come in yet, so no library books are among the six books I got this week.  However, one sunny day my neighbor Gussie and I visited the biggest used book store in town, and the UPS fella brought me the two books I won three weeks ago, during Hour 14 of Dewey's 24-Hour Read-A-Thon (no sign of the chocolate monkey yet).
Remember when you were a kid and getting new crayons was a big deal?  Getting new books holds the same kind of magic for some of us big kids.  Susan at Color Online came up with the idea of New Crayons to represent new books that arrived during the week.

Two by two, they come.  The two I won are new, but one arrived from HarperCollins with the back cover and one page creased because of the way it was shoved into the mailer, and the other has a slight crease angled across the front cover.  Too bad.

The Cougar Club by Susan McBride is a novel about "three women who aren't about to run and hide just because the world says they should be on the shelf and out of circulation."  Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick is about the "teen classics we never stopped reading," including ones like A Wrinkle in Time, Harriet the Spy, Blubber, The Cat Ate My Gymsuit, Bridge to Terabithia, and The Clan of the Cave Bear.  Whoa!  How'd that last one get on that list?

Homelands, edited by Patricia Justine Tumang and Jenesha de Rivera, is subtitled "Women's Journeys Across Race, Place, and Time."  It's a women's studies book, in case you can't guess.  The Sound of a Silver Horn by Kathleen Noble also has a telling subtitle:  "Reclaiming the Heroism in Contemporary Women's Lives."  This hardback (autographed by "Kate Noble" and with a different cover than shown above) is cataloged by the Library of Congress as women-psychology, heroines, women-mythology, and feminist criticism.  Sounds heavy, but looks quite readable.  Both books are for the Women Unbound reading challenge.

Woman's Consciousness, Man's World
by Sheila Rowbotham is labeled political science, sociology, and anthropology.  It's the tiniest book here, but the heaviest subject matter.  If I Had My Life to Live Over, I Would Pick More Daisies, edited by Sandra Haldeman Martz, is full of stories and poems and haunting black-and-white photographs -- and it's a gift for my friend on the day of her croning ceremony.  I was croned eight years ago.  Do any of you reading this know what I'm talking about?

What books came into your house this week?