Friday, February 28, 2014

Beginning ~ with rifles in the office

The Septembers of Shiraz ~ by Dalia Sofer, 2007, fiction (Iran), 8/10
When Isaac Amin sees two men with rifles walk into his office at half past noon on a warm autumn day in Tehran, his first thought is that he won't be able to join his wife and daughter for lunch, as promised.
Here's a synopsis of the novel: 
"In the aftermath of the Iranian revolution, rare-gem dealer Isaac Amin is arrested, wrongly accused of being a spy.  Terrified by his disappearance, his family must reconcile a new world of cruelty and chaos with the collapse of everything they have known.  As Isaac navigates the terrors of prison, and his wife feverishly searches for him, his children struggle with the realization that their family may soon be forced to embark on a journey of incalculable danger."

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Library Loot ~ February 26-March 4

The Invention of Wings ~ by Sue Monk Kidd, 2014, fiction (South Carolina)
Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household.  The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.  This sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten-year-old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship.  Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process.  Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.  Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better.
I see now why it's taken weeks for me to get this book — it's an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection.  At one point, I think I was 43rd on the list.  Finally, I got one of the eight copies in our system.  My librarian friend Claire has heard it's good.  So have I.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name the books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Monday Mindfulness ~ paying attention

"What is the sound of one hand texting?"

That's how the NYTimes article starts, the one about mindfulness getting its share of attention.  The author, David Hochman, defines mindfulness as "a loose term that covers an array of attention-training practices."

Okay, that got my attention, and I wondered, "Am I interested in mindfulness because there's a lot of attention being focused on it?  Or am I noticing the articles and blog posts about mindfulness because I'm already paying attention to it?"

Do you know the zen koan "What is the sound of one hand clapping?"  That first sentence, which changes the last word to "texting" is a play on the classic koan.

Where is your attention these days?  On books?  On texting?  On the world around you?  What's on your mind?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ nothing much to report


Currently reading ~ The Dovekeepers ~ by Alice Hoffman, 2011, fiction (Israel)

Just finishedFive Famous Mice Meet Winston of Churchill ~ by Jean Davies Okimoto, illustrated by Jeremiah Trammell, 2014, children's, 10/10

Need to finish ~ Living Buddha, Living Christ ~ by Thich Nhat Hanh, 1995, religion

Also need to finish ~ Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth ~ by Reza Aslan, 2013, biography

From The Sunday Salon's original website:

"Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together — at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones — and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs."

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Caturday ~ 26 letters

Forgive ~ and let them go

it's important to forgive those who hurt you,
but you don't need to hang out with them.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Beginning ~ with sneakers

The Mermaids Singing ~ by Lisa Carey, 1998, fiction (Ireland)
It is only at night that she has the strength to wander.  Rising quietly, so as not to disturb her lover, Grace pulls a sweater over her pajamas, slips her feet into running sneakers.  Stephen had bought her the sneakers to wear in the hospital after she refused to put on the regulation blue foam slippers.  She is not a runner but she likes the height of them, the curve of the soles which roll her forward like a boat lifted by waves.  She wraps a scarf around her gruesome bald head.

She passes through the cottage quickly, without looking at the tacky furniture — leftovers from someone else's life.  Stephen had rented this place so Grace could be near the sea.  Sometimes she calls it "the hospice," in an attempt to be the blunt, witty sort of dying person she would like to be.
Updated ~ Vonnie left a question in the first comment:  "Is this book about mermaids? If so, I'm adding this to my list!"  I should have told you more about the book.  It's about three generations of women and "the Island of the Mermaids" off the coast of Ireland.  Here's a synopsis from the publisher.
Somewhere off the west coast of Ireland lies Inis Murúch — the Island of the Mermaids — a world where myth is more powerful that truth and where the sea sings with the healing and haunting voices of women.  It is here that Lisa Carey sets her lyrical first novel, weaving together the voices and lives of three generations of Irish and Irish-American women.

Years ago, Clíona — strong, proud, and practical — sailed for Boston, determined to one day come home.  But when the time came to return to Inis Murúch, her daughter Grace — fierce, beautiful, and brazenly sexual — resented her mother's isolated, unfamiliar world.  Though entranced by the sea and its healing powers, Grace became desperate to escape the confines of the island, one day stealing away with her small daughter Graínne.

Now Graínne — motherless at fifteen after Grace's death — is about to be taken back across the ocean by Clíona, repeating the journey her mother was forced to make years before.   She goes to meet a father she has never known, her heart pulled between a life where she no longer belongs and a family she cannot remember.  On the rocky shore of Inis Murúch, she waits for her father and begins to discover her own sexual identity even as she struggles to understand the forces that have torn her family apart.
So Grace in those opening lines definitely does die, probably near the opening of the book.  And then we journey to Ireland with the grandmother and granddaughter.

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Friday Five ~ favorites

Jan @ RevGals says, "Just getting back from four days of silence, I am suddenly thrust back into the world. Wrestling with choices and seeing elderly decline in others, I am flummoxed about a Friday Five — so think of a favorite off the top of your head for food, drink, animal, color, time of day.  Bonus: Any favorite you haven’t mentioned above that you want to bring up!"

1.  favorite food ~ crispy, crunchy fried okra
2.  favorite drink ~ iced tea, even in winter
3.  favorite animal ~ Kiki Cat

4.  favorite color ~ dark forest green, like my Subaru Outback
5.  favorite time of day ~ late at night when it's quiet and peaceful

Bonus:  favorite place to read ~ stretched out on my bed or on a long sofa (I'm tall)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Word Nerd ~ proofreading

I don't text, except when replying to someone else's text to me, but I do proofread everything.  I may miss a typo on Facebook or here on my blog, but scanning what I've read is automatic.  I wish a few more people would do that, especially on Facebook.  One friend has so many typos that I sometimes have no idea what she's talking about, and her job is one I'd call a "word job," where words matter.  Having been her Facebook friend for years, I would worry about the end results if I ever had need of her services.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Mindfulness ~ focus on your breath

When you notice your mind going off on a tangent, focus on your breath and come back to the present moment so you can be mindful and aware.  Stay in the moment.  Breathe in.  Breathe out.  Slowly.  Deeply.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ book report


Just finished ~ The Housemaid's Daughter ~ by Barbara Mutch, 2012, fiction (South Africa), 10/10

Currently reading ~ The Sunday Philosophy Club ~ by Alexander McCall Smith, 2004, mystery fiction (Scotland)

Up next ~ The Dovekeepers ~ by Alice Hoffman, 2011, fiction (Israel)

Facebook's Sunday Salon page links to other bloggers writing about books.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge ~ 2014

This challenge is hosted by Lori @ Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.  The bowl must be full by December 31, 2014 — one book for each letter of the alphabet.  The challenge is to read one book with a title starting with each letter of the alphabet.  Click here for more details — and to sign up.  I'll be filling my bowl of alphabet soup on this very post (below).

Each letter counts as one spoonful of soup.  So far I've read __18__ books in 2014 that count.

A = The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image ~ by Leonard Shlain, 1998, language and culture, 10/10
B = Brothers on the Run: Based on a True Story ~ by Pat Lorraine Simons, 2013, historical fiction (Germany), 7/10
D = The Dovekeepers ~ by Alice Hoffman, 2011, fiction (Israel), 9/10
E = The Enoch Factor: The Sacred Art of Knowing God ~ by Steve McSwain, 2010, religion, 9/10
F = Five Famous Mice Meet Winston of Churchill ~ by Jean Davies Okimoto, illustrated by Jeremiah Trammell, 2014, children's, 10/10
G = The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes ~ by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein, illustrated by Mark Pett. 2011, children's, 10/10
H = The Housemaid's Daughter ~ by Barbara Mutch, 2012, fiction (South Africa), 10/10
I = The Invention of Wings ~ by Sue Monk Kidd, 2014, fiction (South Carolina), 10/10
J = Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story ~ by Richard Bach, photos by Russell Munson, 1970, fiction, 10/10
K = Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death ~ by Katy Butler, 2013, memoir, 9/10
L = Lost Lake ~ by Sarah Addison Allen, 2014, fiction (Georgia), 9/10
N = Not All Princesses Dress in Pink ~ by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple, illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin, 2010, children's, 7/10
O = Our Endangered Values: America's Moral Crisis ~ by Jimmy Carter, 2005, political science, 9/10
P = Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity ~ by James D. Tabor, 2012, history of religion, 9/10
S = Sisterland ~ by Curtis Sittenfeld, 2013, fiction (Missouri), 9.5/10
T = Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life ~ by Karen Armstrong, 2010, religion, 9/10
V = The Very Hungry Caterpillar ~ by Eric Carle, 1969, children's, 10/10
W = Whistling in the Dark: A Doubter's Dictionary ~ by Frederick Buechner, 1993, religion, 8/10

Friday, February 14, 2014

Beginning ~ with a fur coat

Leaving Home ~ by Anita Brookner, 2005, fiction (France)
"Suddenly, from the depths of an otherwise peaceful night, a name erupted from the past:  Dolly Edwards, my mother's friend, a smiling woman with very red lips and a fur coat.  I remember the coat because it was not removed for the whole of her visit, which she no doubt intended to be fleeting, having, she implied, much to do."

I'm curious about the coat.  It seems an odd way to start a story.  And who is this Dolly Edwards?

Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays.  Click here for today's Mister Linky.

Friday Random Five ~ things you love

Revkarla brings us today's Friday Random Five:  "Happy Valentine’s Day!  Tell us about five random things that you love."

1.  I love my great-grandson Jaxon, who helped build his first snowman a couple of days ago.

2.  I love my great-granddaughter Raegan, who posed as a princess after that same snow storm.

3.  I love punny stuff, like this birthday card by Sandra Boynton.
Hippo birdie two ewe
hippo birdie two ewe
hippo birdie deer ewe
hippo birdie two ewe
4.  I love words.  Read about the connection between this cat and the word "inveigle" that I posted last November.

5.  I love books and share that love with other book lovers on this book blog.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Library Loot ~ February 12-18

Turn Right at Machu  Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time ~ by Mark Adams, 2011, history/travel (Peru)
The lost city of the Incas?  In 1911, the explorer Hiram Bingham III unexpectedly found the spectacular stone ruins of Machu Picchu.  This discovery raised some tantalizing questions.  Why had the ancient Incas built this citadel high in the misty mountains of Peru?  How had it remained hidden for centuries?  Was Bingham — as many suspected — the real inspiration for Indiana Jones?  Or had Bingham actually lied about the achievement that catapulted him to world fame?  Mark Adams decided to search for some answers by retracing Bingham's original route.  But before long, as usually happens in Peru, things began to get a little weird.
The Time Keeper ~ by Mitch Albom, 2012, fiction
Rather than desiring more time, people should instead realize time is precious and should be used wisely.  The central character of this book is Dor, who in this fictional account invented the first clock.  Dor is punished for trying to measure time by being banished to a cave for thousands of years.  Dor becomes Father Time and has to listen to every person who laments about not having enough time.  Eventually, in the present time, Dor has a chance to redeem himself and regain his freedom.  He must help two totally different persons understand the value of making wise use of time.  One is a teenage girl who has decided to give up on life and the other is a wealthy elderly businessman who is terminally ill and tries to cheat death so he can live forever.

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Linda @ Silly Little Mischief that encourages us to name the books we checked out of the library.  Click here to see what others got this week.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Wilma was "the world's fastest woman"

Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman ~ by Kathleen Krull, 1996, children's, 8/10
I learned about this children's book for ages 5-9 from Mighty Girls.  Born in 1940, Wilma Rudolph was a model of determination and resiliency.  Before Wilma Rudolph was five years old, polio had paralyzed her left leg.  She wore a leg brace for years and survived scarlet fever, whooping cough, and measles.  Everyone said she would never walk again, but Wilma refused to believe it.  She vowed that not only would she walk again, she'd run.  When she was 12, Wilma freed herself from her brace and committed herself to athletics, where she quickly excelled in track and field.  After years of rigorous training, she competed in the 1956 Melbourne Games and won her first Olympic medal, a bronze in the 4 x 100 meter relay.  Rudolph truly made her mark, however, at the 1960 Rome Olympics when she became the first American woman to win three gold medals at a single Olympics.  After her record-breaking performance, she was widely honored as "the world's fastest woman."
Here's a little inspiration from the "world's fastest woman":
"Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit.  We are all the same in this notion:  The potential for greatness lives within each of us."

Monday, February 10, 2014


O Brother Jesus
who wept at the death of a friend
and overturned tables in anger at wrong
let me not be frightened by the depths of passion.
Rather let me learn the love and anger
and wild expanses of soul within me
that are true expressions of your grace and wisdom.
And assure me again in becoming more like you
I come closer to my true self
made in the image of outpouring Love
born of the free eternal Wind.
— Celtic Prayer

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Sunday Salon ~ red books

Display window at STL Books, Kirkwood, Missouri, February 8, 2014
When I decided to share this Valentine bookstore display photo from Joy's Book Blog, I looked at the bookshelves around my computer to see if I have any "red" books.  Several practically jumped off the shelves at me, saying, "Me, me, me!"  Have you read any of these red books?

In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development ~ by Carol Gilligan, 1982
If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries — What Am I Doing in the Pits? ~ by Erma Bombeck, 1978
I Never Saw Paris: A Novel of the Afterlife ~ by Harry I. Freund, 2007
The Essential Confucius ~ translated by Thomas Cleary, 1992
The Face on the Milk Carton ~ by Caroline B. Cooney, 1990
The Mommy Myth ~  by Susan J. Douglas and Meredith W. Michaels, 2004
The Tao of Women ~ by Pamela K. Metz and Jacqueline L. Tobin, 1995
The Discovery of Genesis ~ by C. H. Kang and Ethel R. Nelson, 1979
Disciple: Becoming Dsiciples through Bible Study~ by Richard Byrd Wilke and Julia Kitchens Eilke, 1993
Biography as Theology ~ by James Wm. McClendon, Jr., 1990
The Gospel of Mary of Magdala ~ by Karen L. King, 2003
The Price of Liberty ~ by Rosemary Thomson, 1978
The Church and the Second  Sex ~ by Mary Daly,1985
Clutter Busting: Letting Go of What's Holding You Back ~ by Brooks Palmer, 2009

Facebook's Sunday Salon page links to other bloggers writing about books.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Happy Caturday ~ and birthday wishes

Especially to my friend Jeanette, because today's her birthday.