January Wrap-Up

Every month I intend to create a bloggie wrap-up.  I swear to myself I’m gonna do it next month.  Then, the first of the month rolls around and I read Fyrefly’s and DevourerofBook’s, among others, and I say, “Ah CRAP! I forgot to do a wrap-up post!  Dang it!  Okay, I’ll do it next month, I swear…”  And you’ll know how many times I’ve actually followed through on that when I say, “Yay! This is my first monthly wrap-up post!”  LOL.

K, I have ADD bad.  I get distracted so very easily.  Sometimes it’s TV or gardening or doing stuff with the kids, and sometimes it’s computer games like SecondLife or World of Warcraft or the latest, face book apps.  SecondLife pulled me away from everything for about 5 months straight, and now I can’t remember the last time I was on.  With WoW, I’d learned a thing or two from SL, and so I didn’t go so long or so deep, but still I was absent for a while, traipsing through Azeroth.  Facebook games are so getting old, and I’m down to a few that have to be tended daily:  Farmville, the café game and the pet games.  I’m mostly still doing those because my mom is actually on facebook, SHOCK! and the kids play, too, so I play with them.

Where was I even going with that?  Oh, ADD… lol, I swear, that wasn’t on purpose!  Okay, I’m lost now… that was funny, and I laughed, and lost my train of thought.  Oh well, must not have been too important.  That’s why I like to outline things, and why I hate stream of conscious storylines.  I get lost enough in my own thinking, I don’t need to do so in a book!

Moving on…

I decided during Bloggiesta, that the best way to do a wrap-up post was to write it all month long, keeping track of commentors and other things that happen, so I started this post about a week after Bloggiesta, because I got distracted and it took a while to get back to it.  Maybe that’s where I was going with that up there. :-D

Maybe ADD is why I hate long paragraphs?  It feels like being trapped in a room with no windows.  I often skim through the middle of them, or just read the first and last lines of it and move on.

Moving on…

During the Month of January I:

Started my first book challenge, The Welsh Reading Challenge, because I wanted to read more books relating to my own heritage, but needed a little prod to do it and keep on track. The fact people joined the challenge was GRAVY :-)

Joined a total of 13 reading challenges, 11 of which are being tracked on my Reading is Challenging! page, as well as two more at LibraryThing:  The 75 Book Challenge, and the Books off the Shelf ChallengeThe Sookie Stackhouse Challenge was in progress, though I don’t know if I can call it progress, since I have YET to pick up the first book. Actually, I picked it up, read 2 paragraphs, then put it back down… don‘t tell BethFish :-D.  This is the most challenges I’ve ever participated in, and I don’t expect to complete them all, realistically, but I’m hoping!

Spent a total of 21 hours working on blog improvements as part of Bloggiesta.  Thanks, Natasha! And after all the work everyone else did and the mini-challenges I wanted to do but didn’t get to, I now have a longer to-do list than when I started!

Created The Welsh Reading Challenge blog.  After reading how other bloggers who host challenges have found a separate blog is a better way to keep it all organized, I started the blog for TWRC during Bloggiesta, and had it open and ready for visitors about a week later.  We’ve also got a couple sponsors, some mini-challenges in the planning stages and some prizes on the way :-) Too cool!

Started a weekly award called The Kool-Aid Flavor of the Week.  I’m still trying to figure out the exact criteria for this, but right now it’s been for people who are doing something to make the world better.  Presenting Lenore received my inaugral award for her International Book Blogger Mentor Program, and She’s Too Fond of Books received the second for her post about Kiva.org and how micro-lending requires so little of us and can make such a difference in the life of someone overseas.

Joined the Tolkein Readalong.  I’ve been wanting to read the Lord of the Rings for a long time, but just needed the push.

Books read and reviewed in January:

Of Bees and Mists by Erick Setiawan ~ A magical and fantastic adult fable about love, self-respect and self-confidence, about doing what’s right and forgiveness.  I gave it 4 stars.  It counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

Fruits Basket, Volume 5 by Natsuki Takaya ~ I love the Furuba series, and volume 5 introduced Kisa, the tiger, and Hanajima’s little brother.  I gave it 5 stars.  It counted as a food title for my What’s In a Name?3 Challenge, Manga Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

Any Given Doomsday by Lori Handeland ~ Atrocious, far-fetched and just plain BAD. 2 stars.  It counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge and New Author Challenge.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl ~ Filled me with warm feelings of childhood and chocolate, and was a pleasure to read cuddled up with Maggie.  I gave it 5 stars.  It counted for The Welsh Reading Challenge.

Nim’s Island by Wendy Orr ~ I read this one with Mags, and since it was a re-read for me, I had Maggie sit down and write her first book review.  I did help her with grammer and spelling, but the words and thoughts expressed are totally Maggie… lol… including her expressing how much she disliked having to sit and write a review on a snow day from school when she could be outside playing.  Mags gave it 4 out of 5 stars.  This counted towards my We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge

Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine ~ Interesting reflection on life in our modern world and how our advances in technology are contributing to a decline in interpersonal relationships, as well as a disconnect from nature.  I gave it 4 stars.  This counted for my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge.

The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine ~ Reading this felt like a prolonged hug from creepy Uncle Stan at the family reunion, but was a necessary evil.  Still, I stand by my 2.5 rating, which is based more on the writing itself than the book’s subject material.  I wasn’t wowwed by Levine’s writing, though it had some beautiful moments.  This book counted toward my ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, and POC Reading Challenge.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein ~ I finished off this month with a comfort read and old friend.  Even though it was a third read through, not to mention the numberous times I watched the 1977 cartoon of it growing up, it still held my attention and kept me in suspense, a sure sign of a classic book.  5 stars for sure.  This was for the Lord of the Rings Readalong and counts toward my 451 Challenge.

People who Commented:

Bluestocking from The Bluestocking Guide
Kathy at Bermudaonion
Wendy, the Literary Feline at Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Anna at Diary of an Eccentric
BethFish at Beth Fish Reads
Kailana at The Written World
Ita
debnance at readerbuzz
Care at Care’s Online Book Club (Hi, blogging buddy!)
Mona Everett
Aarti at B O O K L U S T
Annette
Sally906 at Sally906’s Reading Challenges
Sharon at Ex Libris
Eibhlin
Lynda at Lynda’s Book Blog
Ladybug at Escape in a Book
Aastacia
Amanda at Life and Times of a “New” New Yorker
Serena at Savvy Verse & Wit
Susan Evans at Well-Mannered Frivolity
Melanie at Cynical Optimism
Shannon at Flight into Fantasy
Sheila at One Person’s Journey Through Books
Janet at Fond of Snape
Vasilly at 1330v
Snowbell
Jack at Slightly off-center
Debbie at Debbie’s World of Books
Amber at Mommy Mania
Zee at Notes from the North
Meghan at Medieval Bookworm
Gina at BookDragon’s Lair
Rebecca at The Book Lady’s Blog
Jennie at Biblio File
Amused at Amused by Books
Michelle at Michelle’s Masterful Musings
Rebecca at Lost in Books
Lenore at Presenting Lenore
unfinishedperson at Unfinished Person
Marie at The Boston Bibliophile
Dawn at She is Too Fond of Books
Rhinoa at Rhinoa’s Ramblings
Traci at Traci’s Book Bag
Laza at Gimme More Books!
Grad at The Curious Reader
Sandra at Fresh Ink Books
BookMoot at BookMoot
Jackie at Literary Escapism
Janelle at Brimful Curiosities
Novroz at Novroz’ Life
Jennifer at Rundpinne
DanaB at Windows Wide Open
Nisé at Under The Boardwalk
Alayne at The Crowded Leaf
Violet at Violet Crush
Angie at Annie’s Home
JDaniel4’s Mom at JDaniel4’s Mom
Ann Marie
Joy at Joy’s Blog
Stephanie at Bad Mom
Emerald Yomi at Emerald Yomi
Debbie at Wrighty Reads (go lefties!)
Pippi at Pippi’s Postings
Memory at Stella Matutina
Petunia at Educating Petunia
Sarah at SmallWorld Reads
Lisa at Online Publicist
Myriam Kross
Guatami Tripathy at everything distils into reading
Ariel at Sycorax Pine
Nicole at Linus’s Blanket
Kay at The Infinite Shelf
jo at attalife
Dawn at For the Love of… Eloquence 
Kimberly at A Child of the King!
Mizhelle at Life Can’t Wait
Amateur Reader at Wuthering Expectations
Keely at The Un Mom
Rebecca Reid at Rebecca Reads
Molly at my cozy book nook
uninvoked at uninvoked 
Stacey at Confessions of a Pastor’s Wife
Lisa at Lit and Life
Vicki at Reading At The Beach
Callista at SMS Book Reviews
Farmlanebooks
Meg at write meg!
Marce at Tea Time with Marce
Jenny F at Have a Happy Day
Irene at Irene’s Desk
Wordlily at Word Lily
Beth at Weavings
Laurel-Rain Snow at Laurel-Rain Snow Creations

And that’s a total of 81 commentors so far (1/25)

Other fun facts:

Kitty Litter Cake (and Cat Litter Cake), Gary Larson (and The Far Side) and qoutes for The Book Thief are the most widely used search terms that bring people by, along with Confessions of a Shopaholic and Vampire Kisses bringing in plenty, too. “erotomania” surprisingly, brings in a fair share. Uh oh, do I have a stalker?

TSS ~ Oh, the Book Gluttony!

The Sunday Salon.com

This weekend, my local library held their first book sale since before Thanksgiving, which meant I had gone TWO WHOLE MONTHS without being able to peruse, pet, and purchase previously loved (some more lightly than others) books.  I LOVE the library sales!  If I could, I’d just pack them all up and take them home.  As it is, I have to limit myself for two reasons:  1)  We always walk to the library, and it’s about 6 or so blocks, so I have to carry home everything I buy.  2)  I would go broke if I didn’t watch myself.  So I went in with a self-imposed $10 cap on my total, and I left having forked over $9.50 for two sturdy bagfuls of lovely books. 

Library Book Sale Loot

One of the things I love about the book sales is that I can get books that I might not otherwise ever know about, and they often turn out to be quite a treasure.  This weekend’s loot has introduced me to Angela Thirkell, who has quite a pedigree and a life well-worth reading her biography (and I hate biography books!).  As I was looking through the titles on the tables, my attention was caught by Wild Strawberries

A witty romp through English Country-house life at its most delightfully absurd. At Rushwater House in West Barsetshire, Lady Emily Leslie and her family are entertaining an assortment of house guests, hangers-on, and French monarchists. Amid a perfect welter of rapturous embraces and moonlight madness, a marriage is finally arranged. A glittering summer party provides a hilarious climax to the various intrigues. -from product description at Amazon.com

As soon as I picked it up, I noticed there were three more by the same author, so they all jumped in my bag.  I also found some wonderful treasures I had previously heard of like The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, and the box set of James Herriot’s All Things first four books.  I also picked up a couple books that I’ve read before and loved, but no longer own like The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Salinger’s Franny and Zooey.

A couple of books I picked up just to put on BookMooch and PaperBackSwap.  Obsession and Intimidation by Wanda Dyson are the second and third, respectively, in Dyson’s Shefford-Johnson Case series.  The library didn’t have the first book in the series, Abduction, but the books looked nice and new and I thought someone some where would appreciate them.

Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Goldman GelmanA couple books I picked up I did so after reviewing Islands Apart and making the statement that there were no women authored Waldens out there.  Care of Care’s Online Book Club commented that Eat, Pray, Love (one of her favorite books in 2007) was one such book, so when I saw it sitting in one of the boxes, I snatched it up.  Then, as if by fate, the title Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman caught my eye.

I am a modern-day nomad. I have no permanent address,  no possessions except the ones I carry, and I rarely know where I’ll be six months from now. I move through the world without a plan, guided by instinct, connecting through trust, and constantly watching for serendipitous opportunities.  -from the author’s site.

After separating from her husband, 48-year-old Gelman looked around at her well-to-do life and her soul cried out for change.  She took off to explore the world and hasn’t had a permanent address since 1986.  As you would expect, she initially got flak from her friends and family for running away.  Of course, her kids were in their early twenties when she began her new life as a nomad, which still leaves me saying that if it were a mother instead of a father who took off to explore the world like McAlpine did, she would get hate mail from readers, society would label her a bad mother, and she’d likely lose her children.  And YES! I am still jealous that they can jaunt all over and see the world ;-)

I had to do the book-victory dance when I found a book that I have wanted for a LONG time, and was the basis for one of my all-time favorite movies:  The Inn of the Sixth Happiness.  I was initially “forced” to watch the movie when Turner Classic Movies first showed up on our cable box and my dad never changed the channel again.  Ingrid Bergman is one the greatest and most beautiful actresses of all time, so it didn’t take too much coaxing.  When I found out it was based on a book, I made my way to the library, only to discover they didn’t have a copy.  Years have passed, and I’ve never forgotten I wanted to read the book, but never found it in the bookstores or library.  So seeing it in the book sale was quite a surprise.  Where have they been hiding it all this time?

POC Reading ChallengeA couple of the other books I picked up in response to the Persons of Color discussions and The POC Reading Challenge that will be, I’m sure, the last challenge I sign up for this year, as I’m getting to where I can’t remember which books are for which challenges and what challenges I’m doing.  The books for this challenge are to be either by authors of color or are about persons of color.  The levels are:

Level 1: Read 1-3 POC books
Level 2. Read 4-6 POC books
Level 3. Read 7-9 POC books
Level 4. Read 10-15 POC books
Level 5. Read 16-25 POC books

I’ve committed at the 3rd level, though I’ll probably read more than 9.  I’ve never really sat and specifically thought consciously about the race of the author or characters, though I’ve generally leaned toward POC books anyway.  So, now that it’s something that I’m more aware of, I snatched up the following books:

Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah

Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Mah.

Mah revisits the territory she covered in her adult bestseller, Falling Leaves, for this painful and poignant memoir aimed at younger readers. Blamed for the loss of her mother, who died shortly after giving birth to her, Mah is an outcast in her own family. When her father remarries and moves the family to Shanghai to evade the Japanese during WWII, Mah and her siblings are relegated to second-class status by their stepmother. They are given attic rooms in their big Shanghai home, they have nothing to wear but school uniforms, and they subsist on a bare-bones diet while their stepmother’s children dine sumptuously. Mah finds escape from this emotionally barren landscape at school, but the academic awards she wins only enrage her jealous siblings and stepmother, and she is eventually torn from her aunt, her one champion, and shipped off to boarding school. That Mah eventually soars above her circumstances is proof of her strength of character. The author recreates moments of cruelty and victory so convincingly that readers will feel almost as if they’re in the room with her. She never veers from a child’s sensibility; the child in these pages rarely judges the actions of those around her, she’s simply bent on surviving. Mah easily weaves details of her family’s life alongside the traditions of China (e.g., her grandmother’s bound feet) and the changes throughout the war years and subsequent Communist takeover. This memoir is hard to put down. -from Amazon.com

 

Journal of Emperor BaburBabur Nama -The Journal of Emperor Babur abridged, edited, and introduced by Dilip Hiro and translated from the original Turkish by Annette Susannah Beveridge.

The “Babur Nama”, a journal kept by Zahir Uddin Muhammad Babur (1483-1530), the founder of the Mughal Empire, is the earliest example of autobiographical writing in world literature, and one of the finest. Against the turbulent backdrop of medieval history, it paints a precise and vivid picture of life in Central Asia and Afghanistan – where Babur ruled in Samarkand and Kabul – and in the Indian subcontinent, where his dazzling military career culminated in the founding of a dynasty that lasted three centuries.

Babur was far more than a skilled, often ruthless, warrior and master strategist… [This is] a unique historical document that is at once objective and intensely personal – for, in Babur’s words, ‘the truth should be reached in every matter’. -From the back of the book

This sounds like it might go good with The Art of Warfare.

Maya Angelou's Heart of a WomanThe Heart of a Woman by Maya Angelou -  I love Maya Angelou!  She’s a fabulous woman and writer, and I always have to chuckle when I think about Nikki Giovanni.  When I was in college at IUK, Nikki was a guest professor, though I never had the privilege of being a student in her classes.  I had never heard of her as an author, so when she donated her time as a tutor in the math and language lab, I just chatted with her like you would with any normal person.  One day, we were all talking about her upcoming trip to a writing conference for African-American women (I still hadn’t realized Nikki was, herself, an author) and she asked me if there was anyone’s autograph I’d like.  “Maya Angelou” was quickly off my tongue, as I’d recently read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and was, to be honest, the only black author I’d known of at the time other than Alex Haley (I read Malcolm X a couple years before, and who hasn’t heard of Roots?).  I spent the whole school year never realizing the secret treasure that was in my friend, and didn’t know until the school held a book signing at the end of the year.

Nikki is one of the people God had put in my life at a perfect time period in my life who helped combat the racism I had grown up with.  The names of some of the others I’ve forgotten now, not realizing at the time how important they were to me.  Phyllis and Manny, good friends when I desperately needed some.  Nikita, who patiently answered every stupid question I had ever wanted to ask and my mother forbade me ask (“Why are your palms white?  Are there other spots that are like that?  Can you sunburn?” among others).  Kisha, who opened my eyes to the fact Jesus was NOT white with blonde hair and blue eyes, and who told me flat out, “God didn’t put me on this earth to answer your questions about being black.”  Scotti, who was a friend and fellow mom, who was there for me when I was stressed out beyond belief.  And the Professor Emeritus, whose name I’ve long-since forgot, who challenged my thinking that I’d inherited and made me see the world in a different way.  I am eternally grateful to all them :-)

Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Helen OxenburyOne last look around before leaving yielded the last 50 cents spent.  A beautiful copy of Alice in Wonderland (I now have 3 different copies of this book) by Lewis Carroll and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury.  It’s an updated version of this classic, and I thought Maggie would love it.

A quick look through shows a more modern Alice, colorful illustrations, and larger print than my other two copies.  I have loved this classic since I myself was a little girl, and remember my mom reading it to me.  So I thought Mags would be able to enjoy this book as much as I had, and maybe we could enjoy it together :-)  AND it’s worth 12 AR points ;-)  which made her smile.

The only book I haven’t mentioned is The Stolen White Elephant and Other Detective Stories which is a collection of Mark Twain’s detective stories, including Tom Sawyer, Detective.  I adore Twain, and have since I first discovered Tom and Huck.  I actually had a book crush on Huck for about 3 or 4 years as a kid :-)

So are you a book glutton, too?  Do you go to your library’s book sales?  Do you like used books? or do you preffer all new ones?

Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine

Islands Apart by Ken McAlpineTitle:  Islands Apart:  A Year on the Edge of Civilization

Author:  Ken McAlpine

Paperback:  256 pages (Advance Reader’s Edition)

Published: 2009

ISBN:  9781590305300

Acquired:  won in the May 2009 LibraryThing ER batch

Challenges:  ARC Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge, We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge (under California)

A humorous and wise look at contemporary American life—and how time spent alone in nature can give us a fresh perspective and greater clarity about what matters most.

In this touching and often humorous book, author Ken McAlpine does what many of us long to do. Overwhelmed by the hectic pace of his life, he escapes to a beautiful, remote location where he finds the open spaces and solitude that bring him some peace of mind. McAlpine camps alone in the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Southern California, a place where time slows down, the past reveals itself in prehistoric fossils, and where a person can become attuned to the rhythms of the natural world and find their rightful place in it

For McAlpine the Channel Islands become a modern-day Walden Pond—an enchanting, isolated location from which to reflect on nature, civilization, and what matters most. Back on the mainland, McAlpine continues his explorations by seeking out experiences that reflect who we are and what we value today. His travels include spending time at a soup kitchen in Beverly Hills; a Catholic monastery; and visiting Arlington West, a veteran-run memorial to soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Islands Apart is an engaging meditation on what we can learn about ourselves and our world when we open ourselves to the wisdom of nature and begin to look more deeply.

-Product description at Amazon.com

I have had Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine on my ARC-alanche pile since June of 2009.  It’s one of my way-overdue ER books, and the second one I’ve completed this month (three more to go, woot).  When I first read the description and clicked the button to enter my name in the fandangled LT ER algorithm, I was intrigued by the premise of the book.  McAlpine wants to get away from it all, and find a quiet place to reflect on humanity… kinda like Thoreau with Walden, but on the Channel Islands in Southern California.

For the most part, I really enjoyed this book.  The chapters on time spent between the islands and the mainland alternate, so that it has a feeling of interaction with people and then reflection on our place in this world.  I liked this book so much, that I have struggled to understand how the two diverse world are suppose to relate to each other because a lot of the time it felt like I was reading two different books that were mashed together.  What do a hustler/wannabe actor, a tree-loving priest, homeless diners, veteran protestors, and preschoolers have in common with each other, let alone with the foxes, eagles, and xantus murrelets of the Channel Islands?

We lay claim to the things we come across in our lives, as if it is possible to own them, but you can no more own an island or a stoic gull than you can possess the fleeting moments that accumulate into a lifetime.  It is good to recognize life’s gifts, but foolish to hold them too tightly.

-Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine, page 201 (ARE)

I think what McAlpine was trying to do was to show that there is a deep desire in all things, in people and in nature, to know that there will be some piece of them left behind after they die.  To know that they won’t just fade into oblivion.  It is why we have children.  It’s why writer’s write, cavemen drew, why the park ranger’s work so diligently to preserve the foxes and murrelets and the ugly scrub that’s native to the islands.  It’s why the xantus murrelets continue to lay eggs in caves where rats destroy the embryo within before it’s even had a chance to firm up.  What’s more, in an effort to ensure we continue on, we do what we can to control what little bit we can, whether by planting a tree in the desert or by working long hours to invest every cent possible in a future hoped for. 

This book was a slower read, no matter how much I wanted to hurry, and I almost abandoned it at one point.  Despite absolutely loving the first 127 pages, when I hit the chapter on San Miguel Island, it was like falling into a pit of quicksand.  It’s the only part of the book that I hated.  I think it was too long, too boring, and interminable (a word I had to learn to spell to describe this chapter)  That chapter should just say, “Spent a week on San Miguel. Ian was cool. The elephant seals were horny buggers. The fur seals are mean little shits. And all the pinnipeds are louder than a Greek convention at Grant’s Farm! There’s bird poop everywhere, the ravens know how to pick locks… oh, and some dude killed himself because he thought this place was Heaven on Earth.” Next chapter!

I’m very glad I didn’t abandon it, because the next chapter, “Almost Famous”, was the best part of the whole book.  In this chapter, McAlpine explores the extent people go for the chance to be famous.  He spends long hours with James, a Captain Jack Sparrow working the tourists outside Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  I liked James, and you can tell McAlpine does, too, but I can’t help but wonder how much more he could accomplish if he would put his hard work toward something tangible.  At what point in time do you accept the reality that your dreams are just that, pipe dreams, and the real world is calling.  James wants nothing more than, and WORKS harder than anyone I’ve seen to achieve it, to be a star.  But does he have a viable and real future in it?  Sadly, I don’t think so.  I think he should grow up and get a job and find a way to contribute that way.  But… no one’s depending on him, he’s his own man, and he’s not taking public assistance, so who is he hurting?

I also relished the chapter “Lunch in Beverly Hills” where Ken spent time getting to know and gaining an understanding and appreciation for the homeless.  I have a personal interest in this issue.  You see, seven years ago, the girls and I WERE homeless.  We weren’t without a place to stay, there’s a large shelter here in town, and the people who run it are fantastic.  Thanks to them, I was able to take some time to look at my life and where I was taking my kids, and to reevaluate my priorities.  I want to go back to school to finish up my degree in Sociology so that I can get a job as a client-to-community liaison in a homeless shelter.  In this book, McAlpine says that homelessness is a complex problem, and that is very true.  Some people have chosen it as a lifestyle, others are there because shit happens, while still others are there because it’s better than where they came from.  We were in this last group, having left an abusive and volatile situation with the hope of something better.

I must admit, however, that I can very much relate to MRS. McAlpine, who told him at one point in his working on this book, “I hate you, you know.”  Ken is a white professional male, close to, if not already, middle-age, and has the means, ability, and the people in his life that affords him the ability to just take off whenever he feels like it to spend a week camping on an island or at a monastary, to just sit and think.  Kathy McAlpine makes the statement that she doesn’t have time to go off and think.  And I have to say this:  Where are the books where women just take off, leaving their children for weeks at a time with their fathers, so they can go listen to their inner voice? 

No Where.

Why?  Because we live in a society that, despite the lip-service of equality, that if Ken had been a Kendra, she would have been railed against as a bad mother who abandoned her kids to selfishly wander.  Mr. Kendra would have filed for divorce, and NOT wanted custody, so that Kendra would have had to either cart the kids around, (What a bad mother, not giving her kids a stable place to live) or leave them with someone (What a bad mother, she just dumps her kids and runs off). 

Okay, social rant is over.  In the interest of full disclosure, I hate Ken, too, and wish I could run off to an island and just sit and ponder, too. But, I still love the book, even if I am jealous. ;-)

I think Islands Apart by Ken McAlpine is a book that will stick with me for a while.  The Channel Islands are a beautiful place, and I recommend you take time to check out their website.  The Parks Department has put together an extensive, multimedia site with details of what’s being done to preserve as much of the indigenous species as possible, as well as the discovery of the best preserved and most complete fossilized remains of  a pygmy mastodon.

4 out of 5 stars

FFI ~ Kittens and Dead Bodies? Back Through the Stargate, Everybody!

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1. The lesson I learned yesterday was reading a book with your ten-year-old while the new(ish) kitten is diving under the covers and attacking your feet is NOT easy, and very hard to talk over the giggling.

2. Weddings and funerals are where friends and family meet.

3. All these years I’ve looked forward to the kids growing up, and now that they’ve become interested in boys, I’m wishing they could be little again.

4. Like I told the cops, those bodies were like that when I arrived.

5. The truth is I was enjoying the Kyo the kittens play-time as much as Maggie was.

6. The feeling I could’ve died had it not been for the zip line is what I remember most from that day. (I went repelling, and I let go of the hand-loops, but luckily I was also hooked up via a clip, as well)

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to finishing up Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Maggie and Kyo, tomorrow my plans include our trip to the library and lunch, and watching The Seeker with Mags and maybe starting James and the Giant Peach with her and Sunday, I want to have finished Islands Apart, which I’ve been really enjoying, and watching a few episodes of Stargate!

Check out more Friday Fill-Ins here!

BTW, I’m a little frightened of the fact that when I went and added “dead bodies” to the tags, I had already used that before :-o

BTT ~ I’ll Flap You Silly!

btt button

Suggested by Prairie Progressive:

Do you read the inside flaps that describe a book before or while reading it?

I usually do glance at, and read part of, the inside flaps of the books or the back of the book before choosing a book, but ADD usually takes over and I get distracted by something – a sound somewhere, the cats and dog fighting, what’s that smell?  OOoooh, pretty colors….

What was the question?

you can find more Booking Through Thursday answers here.

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By the way, speaking of distractions and stuff, I did find yet another challenge to add to my growing list.  I’m really, really meaning to make this the last challenge, but I just couldn’t resist.  Sarah at Behold, the thing that reads a lot is hosting the We Didn’t Start the Fire Challenge 2010.   Inspired by her love of all things 80s, she’s taken Billy Joel’s 80’s “History of the 20th century in less than 5-minutes” song, or “We Didn’t Start the Fire?” and made a reading challenge out of it.   We Didn't Start the Fire ChallengeParticipants are challenged to read books and learn about the topics mentioned in the song’s lyrics.  You can read fiction, non-fiction, or a combonation of both.

COMBO

Bronze Combo: Read any combination of 5 fiction or nonfiction books related to the song.

Silver Combo: Read any combination of 8 fiction or nonfiction books related to the song.

Gold Combo: Read any combination of 10 fiction or nonfiction books related to the song.

I’ll be going for the Bronze Combo, and I realized earlier today that my current ARC, Islands Apart, can fit into this one under “California”, as it deals with The Channel Islands off the coast of southern California.  And I have another ARC called Last Night I Dreamed of Peace which will fit in under Ho Chi Minh.  AND I saw “suicide” in the lyrics, so Surviving Ben’s Suicide will qualify for this challenge.  That just leaves me 2 to figure out, so I should be in good shape.

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I have to say THANK YOU to Sally906 for letting me know Roald Dahl was Welsh, because now I’ll probably have to add a “platinum” level to the Welsh Reading Challenge :-D  I came across a copy of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in the thrift store the other day and snatched it right up.  It’s a good time for a re-read, and Mags agreed.  We spent a couple hours tonight whizzing through the first third of the book -she wanted to go on, but I thought 11:30 on a school night was late enough. 

Oh, and one thing I have to say about the whole paper book vs. e-readers and digital books.  I just don’t think they’ll ever do away with the “real” thing.  I can’t imagine cuddling under the blankets with your child and holding the print-out or the little plastic doo-hickey and convincing them, “No, really!  This is the book!”  There’s something special about asking them to turn the page for you because your free hand is wrapped around them ;-)

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