Friday, September 30, 2011

September Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up and Giveaway

September Author in the Spotlight Wrap-up and Giveaway

Vestments Giveaway Ends Today at Midnight!!!

September- Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up.

September is coming to an end.  I would like to highlight Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, John Reimringer.  Congrats to John and his wife on the birth of their baby.

Today is the last day to enter the contest to win a copy of VESTMENTS.  The contest ends at midnight tonight.  The contest is open to people living in the U.S. that are current Booksnob followers.  Good Luck and as always thanks for following Booksnob!

Click here to enter:  Vestments Contest

Check out my book review of Vestments.  Vestments is Reimringer's first novel about a spirited priest set in the city of Saint Paul.  Vestments won the Minnesota Book Award for fiction in March of 2011.  I enjoyed reading about all the places in Saint Paul that I frequently drive by or have visited in the city and the book made me miss my grandparents who lived in the same neighborhood as the main character, Father Joe and his family. 

Book Review:  Vestments Book Review

Be sure to read the Author Interview with John Reimringer, he describes how he ended up penning a novel about a priest set in St. Paul and also what authors influenced him.  He also talks about the new novel he is writing and I can't wait to read it! 

John Reimringer Author Interview

John Reimringer wrote an excellent guest post about his writing life and rituals, including a calender with little gold stars.  You need to read it, it is very inspiring.

John Reimringer Guest Post

As September comes to a close I would like to thank John for being the September Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  He is a talented writer and I look forward to reading his next book and working with him in the future.  Please visit his website at and support him by reading his award winning book VESTMENTS. 

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Did you know this book is considered dangerous?

Reading this book could arouse the suspicions of the secret police.

I read the The Handmaid's Tale about 10 years ago and I have never forgotten the powerful impact of this book.  I read it for a reading retreat through The Women's Press and their BookWomen magazine.  We met in the north woods of Minnesota to talk about the dire and scary prospects The Handmaid's Tale presented.  This weekend forever changed my reading life and I am so grateful I was able to digest this novel with amazing women from several different states. 

This dystopian novel takes place in totalitarian country called Gilead.  Gilead is a theocracy that conquered the United States and is suffering from a declining birth rate.  Offred, the main character, is forced to copulate and give birth to children that are raised by infertile couples.  Offred belongs to a man named Fred hence her name (Offred) Of Fred. 

The Handmaid's Tale takes place in a completely cashless and chauvinistic society.  We are now entering a similar type of cashless society that no longer takes checks and the book is becoming very relevant.  All women have had their assets frozen and taken away as well as their basic rights and freedoms.  Reading is forbidden because it is a dangerous activity.  Eventually Offred learns of an underground movement and makes a courageous decision to take her fate into her own hands. 

The Handmaid's Tale has won and been nominated for many book awards.  It has been made into an opera (which I saw several years ago) and it also been challenged and banned in schools. 

The controversy: A Judson, Tex., school superintendent banned the novel from an advanced placement English curriculum after a parent complained that it was sexually explicit and offensive to Christians. In doing so, the superintendent overruled the recommendation by a committee of teachers, students, and parents. The committee appealed the decision to the school board, which overruled the superintendent in 2006

Reason for challenge in the U.S.: Parents complained about sexual and anti-religious content.

I challenge you to exercise your first amendment rights by reading a banned book.  Unlike Offred, YOU are FREE to read any book you choose.  Choose Wisely!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Waterfall Wednesdays Read-Along

Waterfall Wednesdays Read-Along Week #4
Pages read:  274-
Chapters read:  18-23

Here are the discussion questions and my answers for the read-along.  This week's questions are provided by:
 Nic at Irresistible Reads

1.  After Gabi is injured, the doctor gives her a tonic.  Gabi questions the doctor several times what is in it but he refuses to tell.  Would have you taken the tonic in Gabi situation?

I wish I could answer no to the question, but I know that I would take the tonic because I want to trust the doctor and because I wouldn't want to offend the doctor or Marcello.  I don't like this polite version of myself because I end up doing things I really don't want to, all because I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings.  

2.  Before the games Gabi asks Lia to let Lord Forabosch win in the archery event as people especially Lord Forabosch are becoming suspicious of them.  But during the games Lord Forabosch upsets Lia trying to throw her off her game. So Lia decides to win.  Do you think she did the right thing by not letting Lord Forabosch bully her or do you think she took an unnecessary risk?

I think Lia makes the right decision and I am so glad she beat the pants off of Lord Forabosch but it could come back and bite her in the butt, so to speak.  I think Lia and Gabi should be suspicious of Lord Forabosch as it is he who I believed poisoned her.  Lord Forabosch is only worried that Gabi is going to steal Marcello away from Lady Rossi.  I am glad Lia put him in his place.

3.  When Gabi is dying and she and Lia decide to return to the tombs so they can get the cure at home but they have to tell Marcello the truth.  Even though Marcello thinks that it is madness that they are from the future he believes in Gabi because he loves her.  Do you think this is believable?  What would you have done if you were Marcello?

If I were Marcello, I would have believed my true love and followed her to the ends of the time.  I think it is believable but I did question why Gabi had no wounds or illness when she returned.  I think time would NOT have erased the wounds so easily, so how was she miraculously cured?  Still wondering.

4.       In the end Gabi and Lia return home.  Do you think Gabi will return to Marcello? Would you go back?

Heck Ya!  She will definitely return and I also think now that Luca and Marcello know of the portal and how to access it they will show up in modern Italy.   I would go back to steal kisses and visit but I probably would not stay permanently.  I just prefer living in modern world while I learn and experience the past.

5.  Looking back at Waterfall what was your favorite moment?

Great Question.  I guess my favorite moments are when Gabi is wearing her skinny jeans and she is asked to change and do her hair and she cannot figure out how to do it properly.  They definitely think she is odd and I love how she uses modern words and they just stare at her like she's an idiot and she has to improvise with a proper term.  I am looking forward to the second book.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Vestments by John Reimringer

Vestments by John Reimringer

Have you ever read a novel about a priest?  Let me introduce you to Father James Dressler.  Vestments is about a priest with spirit who plays baseball, poker, drinks Irish whiskey and has a punching bag in his basement.  Most of us only know our religious leaders based on our Sunday observations and assume that like teachers that they have no life.  Father Jim Dressler has a life and is not afraid to live it. 

James grew up in a Irish-German Catholic family.  His dad was a hard hitting, heavy beer drinker and bar frequenter.  His parents fought on a regular basis and were constant chain smokers.  His grandparents were a positive influence in his life as was the church.  By all indications, James path to priesthood was paved with sticks and stones and yet from humble beginnings he rises to the sacredness of priesthood.  He becomes his grandfather's pride much to his father's chagrin. 

Father Jim is a passionate, lonely man who breaks a vow and faces the consequences.  His faith is tested, his vocation in question, when he returns to his beloved city of Saint Paul.  One of the main characters in the book is the city of Saint Paul.  Saint Paul is a vibrant, decaying backdrop for a city full of sinners and a few saints.  Vestments is a book where history clashes with the modern world and leaves the individual alone in the midst of chaos to figure things out for themselves.

Vestments is a powerful, memorable book about faith, life and the struggles to make a place in the world for yourself.   Vestments is a unique story about making a difference and will live long after you close the pages of the book.  You may want to read this novel about a priest as he will shake up your view of the world as you know it.

Vestments won the Minnesota Book Award for Fiction in 2011.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Interview with author, John Reimringer plus a giveaway.

 Interview with author, John Reimringer plus a giveaway.
Hi Everyone, I am thrilled to bring you an interview with Hometown Track Minnesota Author in the Spotlight, John Reimringer.  His book Vestments won the Minnesota Book Award for fiction in March of 2011. 

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Fargo and grew up in Kansas; my wife and I moved to Saint Paul in 2001. But my father’s family had lived in Saint Paul since 1857. My great-great grandfather became a citizen here then, and ran a saloon and grocery downtown. My great-grandfather died at the second-ever Saint Paul Winter Carnival in 1887, when he got drunk, fell off the back of a sleigh, and cracked his skull.

  1. What inspired you to write Vestments?
It started off as a father-son conflict between a barfighter father and a spiritual son. In the original story, I made the son a seminarian to heighten the conflict with his father; when I decided to turn the story into the novel, I made the son into a full-fledged priest to raise the stakes even further.

  1. Usually an author puts some of his own life experiences in the book. Did you do that? Do you have anything in common with your characters?
If you imagined the whole of a writer’s life as a statue that looks like the writer, what a fiction writer does is to shatter the statue with a hammer, then pick up the pieces that suit the story. So there’s a nose here, and a big toe there, and maybe an elbow.

  1. I am wondering why you chose a priest for your main character? Are you a religious man?
I was a pretty devout Catholic as a young man. I split with the Catholic Church over its view on women’s roles and gay rights, and my wife and I attend the Episcopal Church now, which has taken a courageous and moral stand on the latter issue. But I grew up during the progressive flowering of the Church following Vatican II, and I wanted to explore that time, when the Catholic Church defined itself by the positive changes it could make in the world, not the people it wanted to exclude. The novel is a bit of an elegy for that hopeful moment in Church history.

  1. Why did you decide to set your book in Minnesota and over the time frame of several decades?
The book was initially set in Kansas, where I grew up, but that draft wasn’t going anywhere. Then we moved to Saint Paul. My father, who was from here, had just died, and when we arrived I fell in love with the city and felt very much as though I had come home. So I was exploring this very Catholic city, and thinking about my very Catholic father’s life (the grandfather in the novel is loosely based on him), and it seemed natural to set the story here. Once I did, the book really started to come together.

  1. What are some of the important issues in Vestments that you hope your readers will interpret as integral to the story?
Relationships between different generations of men are a big part of the story. The priest’s father, Joe Dressler, is a profane and violent man, and many readers really dislike him (though an equal number tell me he’s their favorite character). But a lot of Joe’s actions are prompted by fear, and if you look closely, there are hints that his father, the generally sympathetic grandfather, Otto, wasn’t necessarily very kind to Joe when he was growing up. So there’s a cycle of meanness and violence, and along with that, the necessity of grace—unearned forgiveness.

  1. This is your first book. Can you tell us why or when you decided to become a writer? 
I read a lot as a child, and I started trying to write at age ten, imitating the science fiction and juvenile sports novels I was reading then. But I had no idea how one went about becoming a writer, so as an adult I worked around writing and books in the only ways I could figure out how, as a newspaper editor and a library assistant. Then, around age 30, I read Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls and that renewed my interest in being a writer. I learned what an MFA program was, and started writing and applying.
  1. Is it hard to juggle writing, teaching and parenthood? How do you carve out time during your busy day to write?
It’s a constant struggle to carve writing time into your life. It changes from semester to semester depending on classes and schedule and teaching load. I imagine it will change again with parenthood (we’re still expecting as I write this). When I win the struggle, it’s usually because I manage to write first thing in the morning, before the rest of the day intrudes.

  1. Do you like to read? What authors or books influence you?
I’ve never met a writer who doesn’t love to read. Some creative-writing students don’t, and you always wonder why the hell they’re taking a writing class.
            Hemingway was a huge influence for me early on. Like Hemingway, most of my other favorite writers are strong short-story writers: John Cheever, Flannery O’Connor, John McGahern, Andre Dubus. I could go on and on.

  1. Are you currently working on a second novel and will you share part of the plot with us?
Yes. It’s set in Saint Paul during the 1920s, when the city had a corrupt police force and was full of gangsters.

  1. Vestments won the Minnesota Book Award for fiction this year. Can you describe your initial reaction when they called your name at the awards ceremony? How do your students react to your success?
It was the first category announced, which was terrifying because I hadn’t gotten to watch anyone else get up to the stage. And I’d never had to say anything in front of so many people before. So I found myself on stage, trying not to drop this glass-and-marble award that weighs like seven pounds, and say something gracious and witty. It was overwhelming, because there were so many good books among the finalists and nominees.

  1. In one sentence tell readers why they should read Vestments?
One of my professors said, about One Hundred Years of Solitude, that it was a book that left you feeling good about the world; I hope that’s true of Vestments.

If you would like to enter to win a copy of Vestments please enter here:  Vestments Contest


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield

Talking to Girls about Duran Duran.  One Young Man's Quest for True Love and a Cooler Haircut by Rob Sheffield

Hey to all the ladies who grew up in the eighties (gents too), this book is for you.  Talking to Girls about Duran Duran is a trip down musical memory lane.  Remember big hair, bobby socks and stirrup pants. Remember the movies Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day Off.  Do you remember how cute John Taylor from Duran Duran was?  I named a beloved fish after him when I was in high school. 

Rob Sheffield has written a fun, new wave memoir on his life growing up in the eighties.  Rob was 13 in 1980 and 23 when the eighties turned into the 90's.  Rob grew up with eighties music as his life's backdrop and he shares all that he learned from the musical artists of his generation.

Each chapter in Talking to Girls about Duran Duran begins with a year and a song.  Madonna hits the music scene in the eighties, Prince makes Purple Rain and Duran Duran is Hungry Like a Wolf.  The world is changing and the nuclear age of fear is ending.  Life in the eighties is a time like no other, and I, like Rob Sheffield and Loverboy, were Lovin Every Minute of it.

Some of my fondest memories take place during the eighties and I loved this fun romp through musical history.  Music came in two forms, on a cassette tape or on a vinyl record album.  MTV hit the music scene and you couldn't drag teens away from the Top 20 countdown.  I attended tons of concerts, dressed like Madonna and loved Dancing in the Dark with Bruce.  To be a teen in the eighties meant you were free to like any music you wanted, you could be Punk, New Wave, Rock, Pop or any combination. 

Sheffield's memoir is full of literary references and how music shaped a young man.  You will laugh out loud and remember being a teen in love with life and music.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop

Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop

It is time to practice our first amendment rights and read a banned book.  So in honor of protecting the right to read what you want, I will be giving away a 10.00 gift certificate to a online bookstore of your choice so you can buy that banned book you have always wanted to read.   To enter please follow Booksnob (in some manner) and fill out the form below.

This Banned Books Week Giveaway Hop is sponsored by the blogs I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and I Read Banned Books and if you visit their blogs you can find the linky with all the blogs participating in the Giveaway hop.
I Read Banned Books

Rules:  Fill out form.
Open Internationally if the bookstore ships to your country.
                                                         Must be Booksnob follower
                                                         Leave a comment and tell me what is one of your favorite books that has been banned somewhere in the world. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

Irma Voth. A Novel by Miriam Toews

Irma Voth starts out as a tiny spark in a small sheltered Mennonite community in Mexico. Irma has a sister, two brothers, a pregnant mother and an angry, controlling father.  Her father is not speaking to her because she married a Mexican boy against his wishes.  Irma is 19 and is trapped between a immature, drug dealing husband and her domineering father. 

  Irma's star begins to rise as a Mexican filmmaker and his film crew move in next door to make a movie and she is hired to be the translator.   Her errant husband is off on his own adventures and leaves Irma to fend for herself in the dark community that is her home.  Irma's defiant younger sister Aggie, has run away and it is up to Irma to take control of her destiny.

Irma Voth becomes a shooting star on a path to freedom but are we ever really free from our past?  Irma believes she has killed four people with her actions and that you must be prepared to die.  The question is, if you are prepared to die, have you ever really lived?  Irma Voth prepares to live in the pages of a book with the same name.  As a reader I was drawn to Irma's secret struggles, and felt that she bared her soul and stood naked before her audience.

Miriam Toews writing is strong, raw, and philosophical.  I was immediately drawn to Irma Voth and couldn't put the book down.   Irma is a powerful female character on a quest of self-discovery.  I applaud Toews for a tale well told and look forward to reading more great books from her. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Waterfall Wednesdays Read-Along

Waterfall Wednesdays Read-Along Week #4
Pages read:  274-
Chapters read:  18-23

Here are the discussion questions and my answers for the read-along.  This week's questions are provided by:
Jenny at Supernatural Snark!

1. Gabi and Lia both face several life and death situations in these chapters, having to pick up weapons in defense of those they love and experiencing first hand the brutality of close combat. If you had the choice between picking up a weapon and standing on the front lines or staying behind to tend to the wounded as necessary, which would you choose?

I would definitely tend to the wounded.  I am not aggressive and could not shoot anyone with an arrow or a gun unless my life depended on it.  I prefer to stay behind the scenes and help pick up the pieces.  However, I could see myself as someone in charge of battle operations who would oversee the soldiers and relay battle strategy.  Then I am not in the heat of battle nor am I cutting off people's arms or stitching them back together.  Yep, just call me General! 

2. Both girls get to wear extraordinary gowns to their victory celebration; what would your dream medieval gown look like?  

 Hmmm, I have never thought of a dream gown before.  Off the shoulders, beaded bodice, Heart shaped neckline, full skirt with beads or pearls on the bottom.  Silk.  No Lace!  Probably a lovely lavender or periwinkle color.  Maybe a deep purple.  Zipper.  Did they have zippers?  Probably not, so buttons but not too many.

3. Gabi has crude stitches put in and must endure both their removal as well as the cauterization of the wound. How is your threshold for pain? Do you think you would have simply gritted your teeth as Gabi does?

I think I could handle pain without drugs as long as I knew it would be over quickly and as long as I knew they weren't cutting off an arm or anything. I gave birth to a 10 pound baby without any drugs so if I can do that, I could definitely do what Gabi did, although I would totally take a couple of shots of alcohol.  Don't get me wrong, I love modern medicine and in no way would ever give it up.

4. Marcello wants to properly court Gabi after they express mutual feelings of affection, wanting to speak with her mother about his intentions. What do you think is the most romantic aspect of medieval courtship?

Good question!  You are really making me think.  
The most romantic part for me would be the flirting and sexual tension of waiting to be together and not being allowed to be alone until their married.  I also think SOME chivalrous behavior is romantic.  I thought when Marcello picked out and bought Gabi her dresses and underclothes was very romantic.  Frankly, I love it when my husband buys clothes for me.

5. Gabi and Lia find themselves with conflicting desires toward the end with Lia wanting to return home and Gabi hoping to stay. Do you think that Gabi is being unfair to Lia for wanting to stay, or is Lia being unfair to Gabi for demanding they go? A little of both?

Gabi is naturally conflicted about the choice to return or to stay, who wouldn't be?  Lia is trying to appeal to her conscious mind and bring her back to reality, literally.  Neither is being unfair to the other, they each have their own ideas, plans, hopes and fears and they just happen to be in two different time periods.

Next week we are reading:
Chapters 24-28 and Wrap Up Hosted by Nic at Irresistible Reads

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

John Reimringer Guest Post and Giveaway

John Reimringer guest post
Capturing Lightning
One of the most common questions any writer is asked is “How do you do it? When and how much do you write?” Essentially, how do you get lightning to strike?
            My wife (the poet Katrina Vandenberg) and I believe in writing every day, at least a little. Even 15 minutes or a half hour of writing first thing in the morning before you go on to other things gives your mind something to chew on for the rest of the day. When you return to your writing the next morning, you’re often surprised to find that you’ve got more ideas than when you left it the day before.
            In order to encourage this habit, we reward ourselves with stars. That’s right. I use the same little foil stars Sister Mary Cornelius used to stick on the covers of our catechism books in first grade to reward us for getting answers right. Nowadays, I get a star for every hour I write. Sister Mary Cornelius would be proud of my diligence, though perhaps not so happy with some of my subject matter.
            So, the answer is: writers don’t sit around waiting for the lightning of inspiration to strike before they go to their desk and write. They spend time at their desk (or in a coffeeshop with their laptop, or writing longhand in the library) every day. Sometimes lightning strikes. Sometimes it doesn’t. But, like the photographer who took the photo on my writing calendar, writers have to be already working and ready if they’re going to capture lightning on the page. 

John Reimringer is the September Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob.  If you would like to win a copy of his award winning book Vestments please click the link:  Vestments Contest

Monday, September 19, 2011

Readathon Wrap-up

Readathon Wrap-up
These were my goals for Bibliophilic Book Blog's Read Your Own Books Read-A-Thon
Here are the books I planned to read:
Finish:   Talking to Girls about Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield
Pick a random book off my shelf and read it. TBA
Continue with both of my readalongs;  War and Peace and Waterfall
If time: start and hopefully finish Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
Here is what I accomplished.
I finished reading:  Talking to Girls about Duran Duran
I continued with both my readalongs.
War and Peace- I finished Volume Two, Part Two and blogged about it.
Waterfall- I finished chapters 18-22 and can't wait to finish it.
I read Irma Voth by Miriam Toews in its entirety. 
The only thing I didn't accomplish was To Pick a random book off of my shelf and read it.  OK, I did pick a random book, I just wasn't able to read it.  I picked Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons.  It has been on my shelf for something like 10 years but I just put it back, sorry Ellen Foster!
I am so glad I was able to participate!  
Here is to reading and loving great books!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

War and Peace Read-A-Long Week #5

War and Peace Read-A-Long Week #5

War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy
Summer Read-A-Long sponsored by Laurie at What She Read blog.

 Week #5
Pages read:  347-417
Chapters read:  1-21
Volume 2, Part Two read.

I am back from my month long hiatus from War and Peace.  Everyone in the readalong is probably long finished with Tolstoy's masterpiece and here I am still plugging along page by page. 

Tolstoy is setting up his characters like an orchestra and which will eventually reach a huge crescendo but in this section he is just arming his characters with instruments and setting up the music.  Tolstoy the Maestro.   Definitely.

Pierre Bezukhov has just joined the Masons and has found a purpose in his life.  His initiation was quite interesting and odd.  The Masons are a group of men who still exist behind the scenes today in modern society.  Interesting.  Pierre plans to help his serfs, build them a hospital, a school and give the mothers with babies time off but his supervisors undermine him and take his money and make the serfs work harder while Pierre remains oblivious to it all.  Yet Pierre is happier and stands up to his father in law and even defends Masonry to his friend Andrei.

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky's wife has died and he suffers from guilt.  His son is loved and cared for and soon to turn one.  The war has started with Napoleon again but Andrei does not return to the war.  Yet his father has been promoted and is one of the eight commanders in chief of the militia.  Andrei remains steadfast in his will to live a quiet life alone much to Pierre's chagrin.  Pierre is trying to recruit Andrei into Masonry.

Nicholai Rostov has returned to war and loves the camaraderie among the soldiers.  Yet the soldiers are starving, having gone two weeks without provisions and eating whatever they can find.  Denisov is Rostov's friend and fellow officer but he decided to steal provisions and is up for a court martial.  Denisov also gets shot in the leg in battle and is awaiting the consequences of his action in a typhus infected hospital. 
Meanwhile Alexander and Napoleon have reached a 5 year truce and their will be peace.  Yet the men are still starving and dying of infection and disease all over the land.

Tolstoy does an excellent job of contrasting wealthy society with the brutal realities of war and peasantry.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Middle Passage by Tom Feelings

The Middle Passage.  White Ships, Black Cargo by Tom Feelings

Note:  I have decided to start reviewing children's books now and again.  Some children's books are actually meant for adults or mature readers and can be used in a high school classroom.  I find that children's books are a way to gain specific knowledge quickly and the artwork tends to be well done and aesthetically gratifying. Frankly, I love art and pictures in my books, in fact I wish authors would include them in their novels more often.  Children's books bring out the child in all of us. 

The Middle Passage is an amazing book without words.   It tells the story of the journey and perilous capture of slaves in Africa and their horrifying voyage on the ocean during their passage to the Americas.   The entire book is done with expressive black and white artwork. 

It took the author, Tom Feelings, 20 years to complete the art and storyboard for this stunning book.  The Middle Passage is a book without words that communicates volumes of emotions to the reader.  It captures the voice of the African American past and the scar it left on the history of its people.  The Middle Passage speaks right to your heart and the images are unforgettable. 

The Middle Passage teaches us the strength of the African people and their will to survive amidst awful brutality and tragedy.  This book will endure for decades as it teaches future generations the importance of their past and moves a nation to understand its mistakes. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Read Your Own Books Readathon

Read Your Own Books Readathon

I have decided to join Bibliophilic Book Blog in the Read Your Own Books Readathon.  I have tons of books waiting on my bookshelves and they are all calling out:  Read me, Pick Me!!!  So this weekend, I plan to pick one random book off my shelf and read it.  So excited.

Here is the information from Bibliophilic;s blog:'s time for another iteration of the Read Your OWN books read-a-thon. A lot of bloggers get wrapped up in reviewing and forget all about the lovely books they own or bought for themselves, it's time to show them some love. Some other lovely ladies decided it was time to read their own books as well...even before I posted this...I guess I am psychic... Also join in with the Twitter hashtag#SIRYOBM So...the particulars:

- Read Your OWN books
- Runs from 9pm on Thursday the 15th (EST)...some of Bibliophilic posts might be a bit off since she is 11 hours ahead of EST in KST. Sorry for that...anyway it will run until Sunday the 18th at 9pm (EST). This should give everyone some time to participate.   She is giving away a Nook to qualifying participants.

Here are the books I plan to read:
Finish:   Talking to Girls about Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield
Pick a random book off my shelf and read it. TBA
Continue with both of my readalongs;  War and Peace and Waterfall
If time: start and hopefully finish Irma Voth by Miriam Toews

There you have it.  To all those participating enjoy your weekend of reading.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Waterfall Wednesdays Read-Along

Waterfall Wednesdays Read-Along Week #3
Pages read:  191-273
Chapters read:  12-17

Here are the discussion questions and my answers for the read-along.  This week's questions are provided by:
Joy and Serena at Edgy Inspirational Romance.

1. In Siena, on her way to the ball at Palazzo Pubblico, Gabi likened her experience to being on the red carpet at the Academy Awards, the goal being "to see and be seen." If you were a peasant, watching from the crowd, what would you be thinking as this procession passed by?  I would probably wish I were going to the ball, just like I always wish I was at the Academy Awards.   I agree it is totally about "being seen" and being remembered.  I may grumble a bit if I were a peasant and wish they were not starving me to wear their beautiful gowns.  Of course I would also wish for that handsome knight to notice me in the crowd and rescue me from my meager existence.

2. Though quite nervous about dancing at the ball, Gabi discovers a strange feeling of connection to the time, the people, and the society through the unified beauty of the dance. Have you ever been in a position where you felt out of your element, but, in one, pinpointed moment, became a part of or connected to something bigger than your fear? When I started teaching I was terrified, totally shy and out of my element.  I remember feeling, the moment I began speaking on my first day, that this was right where I was supposed to be in my life, in front of the classroom, teaching high school social studies.  Teaching makes me happy (some days it raises my blood pressure to unheard of levels). To me teaching is bigger than myself and I feel a part of each student's present, past and future.

3. The kiss. Oh, the kiss. When Marcello finally kisses Gabi, he believes the experience to be proof that they are meant to be together. What did you think about his assumption? Were you surprised at Gabi's reaction to it? Have you ever experienced a kiss that seemed to be prophetic in a similar (or opposite!) way?  NO prophetic kisses here.  I wish!  Marcello is making assumptions because he has no idea that Gabi has other plans for her life besides marriage.  He may be a hottie, and her first true love but she has bigger problems and his kiss just created even more problems than she cares to have at that moment.  Women tend to think and overthink more than men, men just seem to assume it will all work out to their advantage, no thinking needed.

4. Many go through their teen years with a subdued sense of immortality. Do you think Gabi has a sense of this teen feeling? And did you think Gabi's converse observation, "Sometimes death came hunting and there was no way to cut it off at the pass." was informed more by the experience of losing her father, her self-admitted closet hypochondria, or the forced maturation of being transported to a different time? How does this observation show Gabi's growth as a character?  I agree, most teens think they are invincible and will live forever and Gabi sometimes shows this side of her.  Yet Gabi has learned her history lessons and understands most of what it has taught her and is applying her knowledge to her current situation in Siena.  In some ways Gabi still takes too many risks (I am saying this as her mother) and she needs to start thinking through situations clearly before jumping in but (as a reader) I enjoy her impetuous nature and her sometimes erratic teenager behavior. Going through life changing experiences, like the death of a father or falling into a time warp does tend to make a person grow up faster.  Gabi's character has matured because she is no longer completely self-absorbed and she has started to see the affects of her actions.

5. In the span of a few moments, Gabi goes from sword-wielding teen beauty to man-killing warrior. Did you think her realization of the finality of death -- and her justification for its necessity -- was realistic?
I do. Gabi has strong instincts to protect herself and others and like most women, would go to extraordinary lengths to protect those people that she loves.  It makes sense that she would try to justify the murder of the two men because otherwise she would not be able to go forward with her life. 

Next week will be hosted by Jenny at Supernatural Snark!  We will be reading chapters 18-23.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Food Rules. An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

Food Rules.  An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

This simple little instruction book contains 64 rules to a new and healthy you.  This little book could change your life and is a great addition to the kitchen of anyone who wants to eat and be healthy.

So much of our modern food is fake food, food created by science.  One of my favorite rules is not to eat food that your grandma or great-grandmother would not recognize.  So basically if it genetically engineered or modified and comes in a package it's probably not a real food.   Doritos, Twinkies, cereal, granola bars all qualify as science food not real food.  McDonalds and gas station food equals science food and means you are eating meals consisting of corn and soy and devoid of your body's necessary nutrients.

The three rules that Pollan focuses Food Rules on is Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not too Much.  Seems simple but for most Americans this is very hard to do.  Pollan recognizes the challenges Americans face in our fast moving society but he also states the facts that Americans are living shorter lives because we are not eating real food, we are eating way too much food and not enough plants.  We need to simplify our decisions about food and shop on the outskirts of the grocery store and frequent local farmer's markets. 

Since I have read this book, I have already gifted a copy to someone and plan to immediately begin re-reading Food Rules. I want to keep the information in the book continually in my conscious mind so that I can make better choices for myself and my family.  I am eating better, shopping wisely and am happier.  Thanks Mr. Pollan.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Revolution means a total or radical change.  The book, Revolution follows two girls who are undergoing their own Revolution and trying to overcome the chains that bind them.  Each girl lives a similar life 200 years apart and they are connected through a diary found in a old guitar case.

Andi is a spoiled American rich girl whose brother has died, her mother has just been admitted to a mental hospital and her relationship with her father is strained at best.  Andi is a musical genius with superior guitar skills and is supposed to be writing her senior thesis on a famous guitar player (Malherbeau- who is fictional)  Andi finds an old guitar when she goes to Paris with her father for winter break and finds a secret compartment in the guitar case which holds the key to another girl's past and maybe Andi's future.

Andi finds the diary of Alexandrine who is a poor French girl earning her living by entertaining people with her acting skills on the streets of Paris.  Alex soon becomes the personal companion of the Dauphin of France, 10 year old Louis-Charles when Versailles is overrun by a mob and the French Revolution has begun.  Louis Charles is imprisoned, and when his heart is found encased in a jar 200 years later, it is being tested by Andi's father who is a nobel prize winning DNA specialist.  The lives of these girls are interconnected through the creative dual storyline.

Revolution is also about the revolution of music and a romp through musical history.  It takes you from Bach and Handel which are some of Marie Antoinette's court favorites to Led Zeppelin and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I enjoyed the musical piece of the book even though I hadn't heard some of the music.  I found a website called BookTunes where they created a soundtrack of Revolution that you can purchase on iTunes.
Revolution heads underground into the catacombs under the streets of Paris where bones of people past still reside.  The tour of Paris's underground was so fascinating and full of historical references that I never knew.  I never realized that it is still a burial ground open to the public full of victim's who suffered the fate of the Guillotine.  I am totally going here next time I am in Paris.

As a world history teacher I felt the book included accurate historical information about the French Revolution as well as the importance of music in the world then and now.  Revolution illustrates the importance of connections, change and the illusions of time and space.  History reminds all of us that the past is connected to the future and the future is connected to the past and that we all must adapt and change to survive and flourish.  Such a powerful lesson.