Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ science and books

My book blogger friend Helen marched for science on Earth Day, holding a sign that says:
Science, not ignorance
Click to enlarge the photo and see the yellow sign in the middle:
Science, not silence
And the white sign in the middle:
Defiance for science
Under Helen's sign I can read one that says, "Bill Nye is my Hero!"  Good for you, Helen and everyone else who marched that day!


Books I've completed since my last Sunday Salon post three weeks ago:

32.  Stuffocation: Why We've Had Enough of Stuff and Need Experience More Than Ever ~ by James Wallman, 2013, economics, 7/10
"The runaway success of consumerism is now not only causing what may be irreversible climate change, for instance, but also, which is perhaps worse, the greatest extinction of plant and animal species since the dinosaurs died out" (loc. 764).
33.  As the Poppies Bloomed: A Novel of Love in a Time of Fear ~ by Maral Boyadjian, 2015, fiction (Turkey/Anatolia), 9/10
"The Turkish government had separate laws for the Christian citizens than for the Muslim" (p. 15).
34.  Daddy's Girl ~ by Lisa Scottoline, 2007, fiction (Pennsylvania), 9/10
"They're law students.  They should be interested in justice."  "No, they're interested in law, and there's a difference" (p. 10).
35.  A Weekend Getaway ~ by Karen Lenfestey, 2014, fiction (Indiana), 9/10
"You need to balance planning for tomorrow with enjoying what today has to offer" (p. 283).
36.  The Other Queen ~ by Philippa Gregory, 2008, fiction (Great Britain), 9/10
"She [Queen Elizabeth I] and her archadvisor Cecil have such suspicious, embittered minds that they have imagined their own undoing and so brought it about.  Like fearful, suspicious people always do, they have dreamed the worst and made it real" (p. 157).

"How can we have fallen so quickly into such suspicion and fear?" (p. 396).
37.  The Muralist ~ by B. A. Shapiro, 2015, fiction (the United States and France), 9/10
"Alizée taught me that just because there aren't any objects in a painting, that doesn't mean there isn't a subject.  She said you're not supposed to recognize what's in it as much as feel the artist's emotion" (p. 302).
38.  The Chamberlain Key: Unlocking the God Code to Reveal Divine Messages Hidden in the Bible ~ by Timothy P. Smith, 2017, religion, 8/10
"...Genesis 30:20-23 ... was the only place in the Scriptures that displayed a highly improbable biographical connection to me and my family (my father having six sons and a daughter and I also having six sons and a daughter)" (p. 183).

"When some Jewish communities in Europe were compelled to convert their synagogues into Catholic churches during the Inquisition, they replaced the Torah ark with a statue of the Virgin Mary to represent the ark, or physical vessel, of the Word of God" (p. 204).
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Shalom Y'all ~ coincidences

I nearly always have bookmarks in fiction and nonfiction at the same time.

This week, I've been reading The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro, a 2015 novel about a 21st-century woman searching for what happened to her grandfather's missing sister in the early 1940's.  They are Jewish, they are from France, and Danielle's relatives had been trying to get out of Europe.  The book follows both Danielle and Alizée, her grandfather's sister, and I've just read about each of them in France this morning.

I've also been reading The Chamberlain Key: Unlocking the God Code to Reveal Divine Messages Hidden in the Bible by Timothy P. Smith (2017 nonfiction).  I'm in the middle of the book, and the author and his son are also in Europe, having discovered that Jews in Spain learned to hide their Torah scrolls inside statues of Mary after they were forced to "convert" to Christianity.  The statues became, in effect, their "hidden" Torah ark.  I read this morning about their visit to a site in Spain.

On my birthday two days ago, a new resident came over to my table at dinner time to ask about the Hebrew letters on the back of her new black tee-shirt.  Having learned the Hebrew alphabet, I said with my Jewish friends, "Shalom ― it says Shalom, which means peace."

My friend Miriam, who had not eaten with us, had come to wish me happy birthday as we sat and talked around our very-talkative table after the meal.  When I went back upstairs, I found a birthday card from Miriam in the box beside my door.  Inside with the card was that bronze Shalom gift I'm holding in the top photo.  Shalom, again!  Tee-shirt and gift.  Wow!  But I was puzzled about those symbols around the words שָׁלוֹם and Shalom.  So I asked Miriam and learned they represent the twelve tribes, the twelve sons of Jacob.  Although no one knows for sure these days, judging by her birth name, she thinks she may be of the tribe of Naphtali, represented by a doe, a female deer.

Click to enlarge image

Monday, April 24, 2017

Remembering the Armenian Genocide

As the Poppies Bloomed: A Novel of Love in a Time of Fear ~ by Maral Boyadjian, 2015, fiction (Turkey), 9/10
It is 1913 and late summer in the Ottoman Empire.  The sun rises, full and golden, atop a lush, centuries-old village tucked into the highlands where the blood-red poppies bloom.  Outside the village leader's home, the sound of voices carries past the grapevines to the lane where Anno, his youngest daughter, slips out unseen. She heads to a secret meeting place.  She forgets that enemies surround her village.  She forgets that her father meets each day with trepidation.  She knows only the love she has for Daron, who waits for her as she hastens to him, once again breaking the ancient rules of courtship.  Anno and Daron wish for nothing more than marriage and a better day alongside their neighbors, but neither is prepared for the dark, dangerous secret that Daron's father keeps or the upheaval that will soon envelop their village, their land, and their hearts.
Armenian Genocide forget-me-not symbol
It's been 102 years since the Armenian Genocide.  Did you learn about it in school?  I didn't, but this book made it real to me.  One woman blogged today about her grandfather surviving that 1915 genocide.  She also includes a link to what she posted in 2015:  Azad’s Story: A Child’s Experience of the Armenian Genocide, if you'd like to read what her grandfather remembered all his life.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

TWOsday ~ comparing peek and pique

I read "peeked my interest" and I thought "piqued."  So here I am this evening comparing two sound-alike words:  peek and pique.  Think about peek-a-boo, the game we play with babies ... or kittens.
  • The word "peek" ... pronounced /pēk/ ... is a verb, and it means looking furtively, as in:  "The baby (or the kitty) peeks from behind hands or paws."
  • The word "pique" ... pronounced /pēk/ ... is also a verb, but it means to arouse my interest or curiosity, as in:  "That book has piqued my interest."
What else can I say?  I was piqued by the blogger's misunderstanding of peeked.  Or at least, her misunderstanding of how to spell the word that correctly conveyed what she meant to say.

Also posted on my Joyful Noiseletter blog.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mailbox Monday ~ Little Boy Lost

Little Boy Lost ~ by J. D. Trafford, 2017, fiction (Missouri), 9.5/10
Attorney Justin Glass’s practice, housed in a shabby office on the north side of Saint Louis, isn’t doing so well that he can afford to work for free.  But when eight-year-old Tanisha Walker offers him a jar full of change to find her missing brother, he doesn’t have the heart to turn her away.  Justin had hoped to find the boy alive and well, but all that was found of Devon Walker was his brutally murdered body — and the bodies of twelve other African American teenagers, all discarded like trash in a mass grave.  Each had been reported missing, and none had been investigated.  As simmering racial tensions explode into violence, Justin finds himself caught in the tide. And as he gives voice to the discontent plaguing the city’s forgotten and ignored, he vows to search for the killer who preys upon them.
This ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) arrived in my mailbox last week, and I started reading it the next morning.  Although it's 329 pages long, I finished it before going to bed that night.  Maybe it's that I have lived for almost three years in St. Louis, the setting of the book.  I was pleased when I recognized a location and just as pleased when I googled a location and looked at Google's "street view" to visualize the locale.
"We walked down two blocks from Crown Candy to my office on the corner of Fourteenth and Warren" (p. 32).
Sure enough, Crown Candy is exactly two blocks from a couple of buildings that could house a lawyer's office.  When I mentioned Crown Candy to my friend Barbara, she said we'll have to go there to eat.  Our friend Donna agreed.
"As the rest of the city emptied out, heading to South County and Saint Charles, I crossed Forty against traffic and drove back over to the Northside" (p. 38).
When I moved here, I quickly learned that the locals still say "Forty" instead of I-64.  It's both, but when I hear "Forty," I think of I-40 going East and West across Tennessee from Nashville to Knoxville.  In St. Louis, "Forty" is the highway that was there before the Interstates were built.  One local told me today, "I always say '40-64' so everyone understands."  Yep, I've learned that, too.  The author mentions...
  • "...the Central West End's beautiful brownstones" (p. 72).
  • "...eating ice cream from the Clementine's Creamery on Lafayette Square" (p. 120).
  • "Castlewood State Park..." (p. 139).
  • "...dinner together on The Hill..." (p. 166).  I've been there, done that.
  • "...McKnight Road..." (p. 175).
  • " off the highway in Clayton..." (p. 211).
  • "...Carl's Drive In off Manchester Road" (p. 212).
  • "...North Florissant..." (p. 226).
  • "...Bellefontaine Cemetery..." (p. 240).
  • "...Page Boulevard..." (p. 272).
  • "...Bosnia..." (p. 274).  A lot of Bosnian refugees settled in St. Louis.
  • "...Tower Grove Park" (p. 286).
  • "Traffic on Forty wasn't too bad.  I took the Jefferson exit off the highway..." (p. 289).  I've taken that exit to go visit a friend.
  • "Then I crossed an imaginary line, and everything dimmed.  Cafe's were replaced with dirty fast-food restaurants.  Churches went from majestic to pop-up, and the brownstones devolved into a mix of questionable housing, pawn shops, and dollar stores" (p. 72).
Aha!  That "imaginary line" has a name here in St. Louis:  the Delmar Divide.  Delmar Boulevard runs from the downtown area through the Delmar Loop, an area of shops and restaurants where an eclectic group of people hang out, from elderly folk like me to college kids and parents with children.  The Delmar Divide apparently ends at the Loop, and I live two or three miles west of there, near the western end of Delmar Boulevard.  I can see Delmar from my window.
My father took a deep breath, and then he ... turned around.  "I fought the battle over segregated lunch counters and the right to vote, but this is different."  He pointed at me, lying injured in bed, my face swollen and cut.  "The White Only signs have been taken down, but they're still there.  This is your fight now" (p. 57).
The story is about racism, so this quote feels loaded to me.  I moved to St. Louis in June 2014, a couple of months before Michael Brown was shot and killed in Ferguson.  That area is, of course, north of Delmar.  The police in the story are "worried about another Ferguson" (p. 262).  It's a divided city, so this remark by one of the characters in the novel about a cemetery is on target:
"Truly sad that the most diverse neighborhood in our city is one for the dead and not the living" (p. 242).
And yet there was humor in the book, too.  Like this from the narrator, who is a single parent:
"Like all middle-aged men who were about to have a romantic liaison in a fancy hotel, I called my mother first to ask for permission" (p. 236).
I rated it 9.5 out of 10 and definitely recommend this book, but the sad news is that it won't be published until July 18.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ a weird week

My life outside books

I edited last Sunday's Salon post at 9:35pm after learning that my brother Bill had died, and I haven't been motivated to post anything all week long.  This is the picture his family chose for his obituary.  I'll just leave it here and see if I can get back in the groove to blog again.  Our sister Ann died eight months ago, so only two of us siblings remain:  my baby brother Jim and I.  I'm the oldest and feeling my age this week.  Bill was 74, and I'll be 77 in a couple of weeks.  Rest in peace, little brother.

My life in books

Books I've completed since last week's Sunday Salon:

29.  Windless Summer ~ by Heather Sharfeddin, 2009, fiction (Washington), 8/10
"It was July, 104 degrees that afternoon on the bluffs overlooking the Columbia River in eastern Washington State" (p. 1).
30.  Little Boy Lost ~ by J. D. Trafford, 2017, fiction (Missouri), 9.5/10
My father took a deep breath, and then he walked toward the door.  As he went into the hall, he turned around.  "I fought the battle over segregated lunch counters and the right to vote, but this is different."  He pointed at me, lying injured in bed, my face swollen and cut.  "The White Only signs have been taken down, but they're still there.  This is your fight now" (p. 57).
31.  The Color of Hope: A Color of Heaven Novel ~ by Julianne MacLean, 2013, fiction (California and Massachusetts), 8/10
"I longed for a sibling, but I knew I didn't have any because I'd been told my real mother never had any other children previously" (p. 36).
Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sunday Salon ~ books and authors

My life in books

I completed seven books in January, five books in February, but a whopping total of fifteen books in March.  Wow!  That's a lot, even for me.  As you can see from this week's list, I have read 28 books so far in 2017, finishing that last one today.

25.  The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer ~ by John Dominic Crossan, 2010, religion, 9/10
"I would find in that prayer what the historical Jesus stood for ― or knelt for" (p. 7). ... "Could it be that love is a style or mode of justice, so that you can never have either alone?" (p. 189).
26.  Finding Jake ~ by Bryan Reardon, 2015, fiction (Delaware), 9/10
"...neither Jake nor I talked to anyone else while at the bus stop.  Thinking about how easily my daughter melded into 'the group,' I wished, not for the first time, that I could be more like her.  I also wished (although I would never admit it) that Jake could be more like her, too" (p. 125).
27.  Girls Will Be Girls ~ by Franklin Folger, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, cartoons, 6/10
Woman standing in front of seated women, all wearing hats, at a meeting:  "Since many of you applauded when it was announced that we have a large deficit in the treasury, I feel I should explain what that means" (p. 64).
28.  Keeping Sam ~ by Joanne Phillips, 2015, fiction (England), 8/10
"Just how much else had her amnesia made her forget?" (loc. 278).
Donna and I went to Left Bank Books to hear Ferguson Wellspring Church pastor F. Willis Johnson discuss his book Holding Up Your Corner: Talking About Race in Your Community (2017).  The book points out the complex causes of violence in the community, including racial prejudice, entrenched poverty and exploitation, segregation, the loss of education and employment, and the ravages of addiction.  I read the book in January and rated it 9 of 10, an excellent book.
"People who are hurting
need to be affirmed in their hurt;
people who are angry
need to be affirmed in their anger" (p. 54, repeated on p. 60).
My life outside books

This photo shows the progress of the blooming trees where I live, and today my son and his wife are celebrating their 31st anniversary.  When my friend Joan moved from the apartment complex next to mine last week, I "inherited" some of the food from her shelves.  While looking at the "Best by" dates to decide what to use first, I found "Philippians 4:6-7" stamped beside the date on one box.  Naturally, I looked it up in my Bible (NRSV).
6  Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  7  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Yes, I know that's another book I just quoted from, so let me get back to life outside books by sharing a yoga video.  You may remember I'm in a Gentle Chair Yoga class, so here's "Yoga for Yankees" featuring Yankee humorist Fred Marple.  If the video quits working, view it on YouTube.

Edited at 9:35pm:  I just got a call from my daughter Barbara relaying the news that my brother Bill died.  Jim, my other brother, asked her to call me.  He's my only sibling now, since our sister Ann died in August.

Bloggers gather in the Sunday Salon — at separate computers in different time zones — to talk about our lives and our reading.