Monday, March 28, 2016

What I'm reading this week (3/28/16)

I'm taking my spring break read-cation this week, Monday through Wednesday. Temps are supposed to be in the 60s (that 7" of snow we got last week should be gone shortly), and I've finished all but one of the books on my March reading list, so I'm on to April a week early!

Last week, I finished:

Ella Minnow Pea is a fascinating novel. I highly recommend it, especially for getting out of a reading rut. You've likely read about the plot, but in short, the island nation founded by the man who created the sentence "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." which uses each of the 26 letters of the alphabet. When the letters fall one by one they are banned from use--and those who slip up are banished from the island. It's an epistolary (written all in letters) novel and the letters get more and more creative as the letters go away. You've really got to try it, I think. It's sort of genius. I do have qualms about its deeper meanings, though.

This Strange Wilderness was a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, and I'd wanted to read at least one ALA award book besides the picture books this year. And since I've always had a thing for birds, I chose this one. It's about the life and artwork of John James Audubon, and it was fabulous. I'm unsure exactly what makes it YA instead of adult other than perhaps length (it was only about 90 pages) and the explanation of some terms that actually seemed juvenile and random. I learned just enough about Audubon to be interested and not enough to get bored. I highly recommend it. If for the fabulous artwork alone.

Lastly, I finished my re-read of The Duggars: 20 and Counting! There isn't much to say, really. You either love the family or you don't. I was in the mood for something simple and uplifting and this fit the bill.

Last week, I began:

It's time to finish my Jane Austen list, and Emma is the last novel to read. This is a long one, and I've had a hard time getting into it. Not only are you not supposed to really like Emma, Austen's writing always seems a little laborious at the beginning. After awhile I'll get into the writing and it will pick up, I think.

I continue with:

Oh how I adore Appleblossom the Possum. The writing is witty and fresh. I can't recommend it enough.

And I'm thoroughly enjoying my re-read (listen) of The Latehomecomer. It's an important book, especially for my area of the country which is rich in Hmong heritage. But it's also important in what it does to explain the immigrant child's life in America.
I'm sure I'll begin one or two more this week to switch off with Emma, but you'll have to wait for my April Reading List post later this week to see what it/they might be!


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday (2015 loves w/o reviews)

This week's topic: Ten books I haven't talked enough about, which I modified to "Top ten 2015 loves that didn't get reviews."

(But I could only think of nine.)

Link up here.


Monday, March 21, 2016

What I'm reading this week (3/21/16)

My hubby worked on Saturday, so I took a much-appreciated reading day.

Last week, I finished:

"Beautiful," "devastating," "one of the best books of the decade." Those are some of the words used to describe The Remains of the Day. And I'd have to say I pretty much agree. For several days, I was unsure what I thought of this character-study novel, but I think I've settled on something one tick down from devastating. It's worth the read.

She Walks in Beauty has been a wonderful nightly read. It's been fun thinking which poems I'd include in the various sections that Kennedy overlooks.

Last week, I began:

My current audio book is The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang. It's the memoir of a Hmong family's move from the refuge camps of Thailand to the wonders of America. I'm currently about one-third of the way through it, and little Kao, age 7, has just made it to America. This is a re-read to me and a book I think everyone should read to understand the life of a refuge and the Hmong culture.

I'm also re-reading The Duggars: 20 and Counting! With the recent Duggar scandal that destroyed their television show and set their viewers reeling, it's a little difficult for me to remember what I felt about the family in the early days. Am I trying to recapture those feelings? Have they even changed? I'm unsure. I think I'm re-reading this now to forgive the family who never claimed to be perfect.

This week, I continue with (or perhaps finish):

And it's official, my heart has been stolen by a little possum called Appleblossom. If you haven't read this book to your kids, go get a copy now.

Monday, March 14, 2016

What I'm reading this week (3/14/16)

Last week was a rough week. My work life was turned on its ear, I lost a beloved friend and mentor, and I was dealing with lingering headaches for most of the week. It was like a bad dream; I kept looking for a quiet corner of my life to decompress, and every corner I found was occupied by another change. I tend to go from zero to overwhelmed quickly, and last week I hovered around overwhelmed all week. I was able to come down a bit this weekend so I'm beginning the week on more of an even keel. Reading was good therapy, too.

Last week, I finished:

When Breath Becomes Air was a good read. I was not astonished by it as so many were. In fact, I wondered when I'd finished what the point was? It's a book that meant something based more on the fact that Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon, died, than anything else. That felt manipulative to me. There is deeper meaning there, of course, and I enjoyed his lifelong quest to find where life, meaning, literature, and death intercepted, but I don't feel that I learned anything by reading the book.

I hadn't intended to read two books about neurosurgeons in a row, it just sort of happened. A Doctor in the House is written by Ben Carson's (former neurosurgeon and presidential candidate) wife, Candy. It's a gentle, quiet book, much like Mrs. Carson herself. She tells about her life with Ben, about raising her boys, and the sacrifices and joys involved by being married to a renowned neurosurgeon. The Carson family is one of deep faith, and I enjoyed reading about that.

There is a book that I read every day and when I finish its 700 pages, I begin again. This marks my second (perhaps third?) time through Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy. (Not to be confused in any way with Scientology or other denominations of a similar name.) This book is our companion book to the Bible and serves with the Bible as the clergy in our church. The day after I finished it, I began it again.

This week I'll finish:

Finally. I lost my love for The Longest Trip Home fairly early on, but when I reached the heartrending death scene at the end, I became very emotional. It didn't help that I reached that scene the morning after I lost a very dear friend of mine. Also, if you've lost a parent recently, skip this book. My goodness, I'm still recovering from that chapter.

This week I'm continuing with:

It's quite possible that Appleblossom the Possum will be on my "best of" list at the end of the year. It's that good. It's odd that I'm learning so much about possums from a children's book, but there you go. The writing is excellent, the little possum characters are likable (even if they do eat garbage), and I think most kids and parents alike would love this one. Disclaimer, I'm only about 100 pages in (not halfway), and I don't read a ton of children's books, so take my pre-review with a grain of salt.

I'm also enjoying She Walks in Beauty. I tend to do much better with poetry collections with multiple poets than collections by single poets. This one is quite good.

This week, I'll be reading:

Am I the only one who thought The Remains of the Day was an old book? I'd always thought it was a classic from the Victorian or Edwardian period, but it was actually from the 1990s. I have a definite soft spot for books that are light on plot and heavy on well-fleshed characters, so I'm looking forward to this book.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

What I've added to my TBR lately...

I've been adding things here and there to my Amazon list, though I've forbidden myself from buying anything for a bit. It's torture, but necessary torture.

I'm dying to read Laurie R. King's The Beekeeper's Apprentice, and I've already added two more of her Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes mysteries to my list. Do you ever do that? Add all of something to your must-read list, before you've even read a page?


I've been looking for collection by poets I'd like to spend more time with. Lately, I've added Gerald Locklin, Dorothy Parker, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Jane Kenyon. I know I've read at least one of the Kenyon books--probably both--but I'd like to re-read them.

Children's books

As the official last person on earth to pick up a Harry Potter book, I've decided it's time to read at least the first one, at least to give it a chance. And with the newly released illustrated edition, now's as good a time as any. I also added Baby Island to my list because I kind of wonder it I read it as a child and forgot. And I've added a biography of the Bronte sisters, since all the Bronte biographies for adults are way too long to interest me.

Something for the future list:

I adore Glennon Melton, and she's releasing a new book in August! I cannot wait.


I loved In Cold Blood so much, and I feel that I should read something else by Capote, but I'm not 100% interested in Breakfast at Tiffany's either. I kind of despised the movie. So, mark this down as a possible guilt read.


One of my goals for the year is to read two books on topics I know nothing about. I'd chosen a book on mental math, but when I sat down to start it, I realized it wasn't going to be what I thought. So it was back to the drawing board. Instead of the math book, I think I'll read one or both of these. The Furniture Bible is a good primer on types of, restoration of, and care of furniture. I'm especially interested in the identification of furniture eras. But I'm also willing to try Seven Brief Lessons on Physics. Clocking in at less than 100 pages, it's about all the physics I could handle.

Monday, March 7, 2016

What I'm reading this week (3/7/16)

Last week was a tough week. Work stuff. Icky winter sick stuff. But this weekend I got to rejuvenate a bit. I think it's time to plan a little spring break of my own for the end of the month. I could use it.

Last week I finished:

Philomena was a good read. Where the movie is the mother (Philomena's) story, the book is the son's story. It did include a bit too much about Michael's gay life for my taste. I know what gay is, I didn't need to know so much about his fetishes, but overall, the book was well done.

You guys, who would guess how much I would enjoy Ms. Marvel Vol. 1? I know next to nothing about comic books and superheroes. In fact, my knowledge likely comes 100% from The Big Bang Theory. But this, this is a comic book with a female heroine, and it felt real somehow. I have nothing to compare it to, but I enjoyed it.

Last week I began:

After enjoying The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, edited by Caroline Kennedy, a couple months ago, I picked up her She Walks in Beauty, a collection of poems for women. It's a nice collection of classic and newer poems, lots of which I'm familiar with.

I also started Appleblossom the Possum, a book for younger readers, obviously. It's really good. And the pictures? Forget about it. Stinkin adorable.

This week, I'll continue with:

I stalled out on my audio book last week. Now I'm getting back on track. I'm quite disappointed with it, actually. I don't remember so much deceit and, frankly, immoral behavior with no remorse. Most people would say I'm overthinking it, it's just a guy being a guy, but I don't like to spend a lot of time taking in this kind of smug attitude toward traditional values.  

This week I'll be reading: