Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Glance to the Past - 2010

This year has been a whirlwind. It did not bring me everything I asked for but so much more than I expected.



This year saw me break my blog in two and have my much neglected home blog and my break-away book blog which I started in about June. And I'm really feeling like I've come home.

So to take a quick look....

March saw me join my first reading challenge over at Callipidder Days.. and looking back I realized I hadn't visited there in awhile.

I joined and finished a Summer Reading Challenge

In August I decided to finish my degree and went back to school as a VERY non-traditional student. I thought at the outset that I was just doing it to help my current, good position. But I'm re-thinking

I joined, but did not finish (yet) a fall reading challenge - these challenges are great! I find myself stumbling across books I"ve overlooked or haven't heard of and find my horizons broadened with every season.

October changed my whole world..for the good! I discovered the glory of Iowa City... a college town full of life I didn't think I'd ever find again. And a very plausible option for somewhere to live other than here.

And I did my first, or many, meme. I don't want my whole blog to be just a meme roll, but I join in from time to time and LOVE reading them too!

November made me realize that 3 classes, 2 teenage girls and 1 full time job, make me pretty busy and not always able to blog :(

December brought me straight A's in school and things going pretty smoothly at home. My girls did good in school too and seem pretty happy right now. Weather is annoying, but it is Iowa.

And now, in the lull between the numbers, I'm looking forward to 2011 and wondering how it will play out and making plans anyway, but ready to modify, adjust, and overcome at a moments notice.

And hopefully get to read TONS of amazing books :)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another Tuesday! But not quite 10

It's Top Ten Tuesday again!

One of the things I look forward to during the week is reading every ones answers to the Tuesday question for this weekly meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish.

This week we are reporting on our Best Reads of  2010. I would love to step up my reading and read more than 20 books a year, because this year I only have 5 I would consider Best Reads. That makes me sad! I think I have some on my TBR list that may qualify for next year though :)


So, for my part, here is my countdown of favorites:

5) The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield  4.5/5 




1)  To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee - 5/5

Next year I want to have a hard time choosing 10!! :)


Friday, December 24, 2010

For Unto YOU!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 
Luke 2:8-14

 
From THE book worth constant re-read :)
Wishing all my Blog world friends a joyous and peace-filled Christmas.



MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Love,
Laura

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fall Reading Challenge Wrap-up

Fall has come and gone and while it feels like winter has already been here for months actually the calendar just turned winter and my fall reading challenge is over.

One good thinkg about a self-imposed challenge is it is not a failure if you don't get through your list...and it's not a race.. and there are no grades... So I consider it a HUGE success!

I made it though 4 1/5 or my challenge book list. I had some fabulous reads and some not as fabulous, but I'm glad to have read each one.

Here is how I fared with links to my reviews.
Completed:







Still on the TBR Pile
I'm a little over 100 pages into Dr. Zhivago. And still relishing it! It's like the best cheesecake, you want to devour it and can't wait for more of it, but the slower you go the more you get from each bite...if that makes sense. :)




 The library called yesterday and said this was in now... I was on the waiting list, but since there is still a lot to find out about Yuri and Lara, I better let it go. I've heard the first few chapters on the audiobook and I can't wait to get to this one!
 


This is a continuation from my summer vacation. We went back to my dad's boyhood home of Ansted West Virginia. I hadn't been back there in years and it was so cool to get to see it again and to share it with my daughters who had never been there. So I wanted to read something from the region as a tribute and part of my blog.

So these will push my start of the Back To The Classics Challenge back a bit.

And my daughter's boyfriend brought me over a book he thought I might like. When a young man admits to liking to read, especially when he dates your daughter and he is willing to share his books with you... You. Do. Not. Say. No! :)

I'll bump this up to the top of the list.

It's Brising by Christopher Paolini.

I've read the other two and he owns all 3 so he lent it to me.. How sweet is that!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Semester's joyous end

It's official... even at 45 I can go back to school and do well.

I took 3 classes this semester, held down a full time job, and tried to keep raising 2 teenage girls and yes

I DID IT!!

Grades were just posted....

STRAIGHT

YAY!! My house however, looks like I'm audittioning for an episode of Clean Sweep. But I have 3 weeks and a new calendar. We'll do some 'family' organizing and see if we can't work some of these chores out a bit.

I'm going to reward myself with another semester of 3 classes :) And maybe something nice... like a book!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Perfect Book for the weather and Follow Friday! yay!

I am having so much fun leisurley reading Dr. Zhivago. I'm not very far into it but so far I'm enthralled.

Part of it could be that I'm reading the perfect book for the perfect weather! We have 11 inches of snow on the ground with wind and everyone all bundled up everywhere they go. So very perfect for the Russian setting.

I can't wait until this weekend when I can curl up in my chair, turn on the Christmas tree lights and relish this reading!

I love the questions this week for Follow Friday so I'm going to join in that too.



Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee's View.
My answer to this week's Follow Friday question:

What did you study in college, or are currently studying and did it lead to your current 9 to 5 or are you doing something totally different?


Funny you should ask.... I just went back to school... I like to tell people I'm working on my Masters.. and I am... but I have to finish my Associates first...then my Bachelors... then... well you get it...

The odd part is I'm 45, so not exactly traditional. I'm in class with my daughter's friends and she is even taking one of the High School sponsored College classes at the same time I'm taking it! So we shared a book... how wierd is that!

My major? Oh..well... we'll see ;) I work in animal nutrition now, and while my goals aren't specifically Ag oriented, they sure won't hurt in the type of position I'm pursuing, and I've had suggestions from management that it may behoove me to consider a degree in IT. I dunno. 

I think the direction my blogging has gone is a stronger indication that the stacks are where my heart lies. Hmmm trained in IT and loves to get lost in the stacks... wonder what goes together like that???  

Looking forward to seeing what you guys are up to!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Nights in Rodanthe - a bedtime story

I finished it very quickly, less than 10 days, that is quick for me!
Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks,
 (My rating: 3/5 )
but don't take that to mean I couldn't tear myself away from it necessarily... well lets face it, at all. It was more like being 7 with a loose tooth, or a big band-aid, the faster you pull it the less it will hurt. I was just busy getting it done.

And it's not that the story is awful...just a fairy tale and yes I do know that is Spark's stock in trade. Still.

Well I had to read one. And now I've got that over with.

Nicholas Sparks is a 'meh' writer who writes ok stories that make GREAT movies! (I do like all the movies I"ve seen, cheesy or not.) I think it is because I feel like the actors do a better job at bringing the characters to life than Sparks did writing them.

Sorry for the brief opinion (aka: review, cuz that's just how I do it), I have 91 vocab words on the final and I"m busy making flashcards! Ah to be back in college!

Oh and on to some more challenging reading (sorry folks if you really really like him, I can sure see it as guilty pleasure reading or for the sweet escapism...we can all use that sometimes!)

Next up is Dr. Zhivago
The Help is on the waitlist at the library after that !

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Fall Reading Challenge book 3 - To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee -
My Rating: 5/5


I wish I wish I wish that I had come to this book of all books without having seen the movie first!!! This was such a deeply moving and morally challenging book that I sure would have liked to have had no preconceptions in my head or actor portrayals to skew my experience.

Like most, I absolutely love this book above and beyond both what I thought I would and most other books. It has that parable-ic quality that makes you examine life in the here and now, and especially your own behavior.

It made me wonder what my hypocritical action is, because I have one I'm sure. There is only one Atticus. The rest of us are more Scouts, Jems, and hopefully not too many Aunties. (I really didn't like it when she came to live with them... I guess it worked out ok, but I still am not a huge fan of hers).

I have a friend who reads this book every year. I thought that was kind of strange...but he is a lawyer, so I guess it's like re-reading the bible. Every time you read it, something speaks to you in a new and enlightening way.

Despite the fact that I wished I had NOT seen the movie first, I went to the library and checked out the movie yesterday!

Definitely on my 'best books ever' list!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Classics Challenge Winter/Spring

Sarah, from Sarah Reads Too Much, has opened this wonderful challenge!! I'm am soooo looking forward to this! I hate winter and this should carry me right through and keep my mind occupied so I won't even notice if it snows.

The Challenge will be open from January - June 2011.  You can list you book choices before the challenge starts, or as you go along....  whatever works best for you.


The goals to complete:

  1. A Banned Book
  2. A Book with a Wartime Setting (can be any war)
  3. A Pulitzer Prize (Fiction) Winner or Runner Up:  a list can be found here
  4. A Children's/Young Adult Classic
  5. 19th Century Classic
  6. 20th Century Classic
  7. A Book you think should be considered a 21st Century Classic
  8. Re-Read a book from your High School/College Classes
Here's My list :
Banned Book  - The Catcher in the Rye
I've read this but it's been soooo long ago I really think I'll come at it from a totally new perspective. Plus I own a copy so that's handy.


War Time Book - The Killer Angels
I've never read this but my X was completely a non-reader yet he wouldn't put this book down.

Pulitzer Prize Winning Book - A Thousand Acres
I made it my New Years Resolution one year to read the Pulitzer books. I didn't get very far but it was my favorite resolution I've ever made! This year is, of course, finish this challenge :) I chose this one from this awesome list in itself because I about had a cow when this book came out and still haven't thought of a new title for the story I'm working on! Yes I had a story called A Thousand Acres as well. Guess that's what I get for procrastinating... mine still isn't done.

Young Adult Classis - Ann of Green Gables
I've never read this book. There were several I wanted to pick (and to be honest this catagory still may change... The Wrinkle in Time books are calling me too!). I've seen the movie but it seems the book should be like a comfy feather bed in February!

 19th Century classic - Mansfield Park
Sue me, but I'm totally unfamiliar with this Austen piece. I'm looking forward to exploring it. I became curious about from the Movie, The Jane Austen Book Club.  I love that movie :) Sappy as it is.


20th Century Classic - The Jungle
This is a very important book to me. I own a copy but it's acquisition may have changed my life. Which is another long story for a different post. Plus I've been doing some reading on food production (and in case you don't know, I work in agri-business at a feed manufacturing plant) and alternatives to how we are doing things. This is a Don't Miss book for that topic from what I understand.

21st Century Classic - Gilead
I've heard good things about this book and am really looking forward to it. Again, so many to choose from it was a hard pick. I was going to read some blurbs and see what appealed to me. I started with Gilead and that was as far as I got...set in Iowa. Gotta read a homespun book.
A Re-Read - 1984

I read this in High School but it stuck with me. It will be awesome to read it again. Would love to do a read-a-long with some folks on this one!




 
 
So that's my challenge list. I'll put it in the sidebar when it gets closer to starting. I can't wait to see all your lists and keep up with how your reading goes!!


Friday, November 19, 2010

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver

I've been reading and watching a lot about practicle responsible sustainable food production, which makes sense since I work for a swine feed manufacturerer. But it's not for work really, it's actually be sort of 'due' to work. And quite a bit of what I'm learning is disconcerting. It never crossed my mind to question WHY we need all this damn corn...why to feed the world obviously but we don't eat field corn. And guess what... by nature cows don't either!

So I've been reading. It started with an assignment in Environmental Science class. I chose Walden. It's funny how there are so many similarities between these two books.

Like who else but an elitist either supported or independently wealthy can even start to try to do this? And where are the NYC folks supposed to grow pumpkins? Farmer's Markets can't do it all either. The book is about Barbara Kingsolver and her family going on a 'factory farming' strike in essence. No CAFO meat, nothing trucked in from over X miles away. And only farmers market purchases from farmers marketers that practice organic or responsible sustainable farming practices. And growing as much as they can!! (perhaps they just had better green thumbs than I do, I had trouble with 4 tomato plants) They even learned to make their own soft cheeses and yogurt.

This does all seem like a step in the right direction, not, perhaps, the whole journey though. I CAN find farmers markets, for some stuff. I can try to grow some of my own stuff...again. I can look for simpler ingredients. From page 348 "Products with fewer ingredients have probably burned less gas. For example, the oatmeal box on our pantry shelf lists one ingredient: rolled oats...By contrast the ...75% organic cereal box lists seventeen ingredients all of which had to be transported to the processing plant." Now THAT I never thought of even though we buy ingredients at the mill from all over the world. Sometimes by the shipping container full. And I do think I'll think twice with what I choose to purchase...as much as I can.

There is an element of quaint fantasy here. But the reasoning is mostly valid (if a tad alarmist) and I'm all for simplification. Even if it means more work...oxymoron. Not really, it's just a rearrangement. I see a few delimma's flowing into the 'better food' stream. Health issues, land issues, food issues, economic issues.

With all that said, it may be surprising that I actually did very much enjoy reading this book!! And yes it DID make me want to try those 4 tomato plants again. And, since it's already mid November, I'll wait until February to start thinking about what I could put next to them. Peppers maybe? A salsa garden? hmmm?

If I kept them all alive and un-bunny munched, that would be a miracle :)

Rating: 4/5

Hoppin around again - TGIF!

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is a meme sponsored by Jennifer at Crazy For Books.
My answer to this week's Blog Hop question:

Since Thanksgiving is coming up next week, let's use this week's Hop to share what we are most thankful for and what our
holiday traditions are!

At the moment I'm very thankful for Nyquil. But that's no where near what I'm most thankful for!!
 
My kids, hands down, lock stock and barrel, those 2 are my every breath. They are doing pretty good so far and I can't wait to see them grow into adults over the next few years

As far as traditions; I'm a single mom and an only child. Makes for a very casual and laid back day!! We sometimes help set up for the community Thanksgiving and will probably go over to my Aunt's house for some late day dessert.

My mom makes us do the kernels of corn on the plate thing...she puts like 5 kernels of corn on the plate and you have to go around the table with thankfuls moving one kernel off for each gratitude. 
 
It makes my kids roll their eyes, which makes me laugh.

Now I'm hungry!! :)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Top Villain - isnt that an oxymoron? No it's Top Ten Tuesday

I'm Joining Top Ten Tuesday, admittedly on Wednesday, over at The Broke and the Bookish. This weeks list? Tell us your top ten villains!


How Fun!! So here, in no particular order, is my take on it.

1.  Hanzel and Gretel's parents... most awful people I've ever heard of. Period!

2. General Woundwart - Watership Down. Gave me the creeps. One foul rrrabbit!

3. Delores Umbridge - makes my skin crawl just remembering her! bleck!

4. Boise - Cold Mountain - The Albino with no conscience

5. The Little Ladykiller - The Shack. Think what you need to about the theology, the story was heart-breakingly tragic!

6. Sauron - LOTR. He was evil personified. Sauroman was probably worse because he knew better and he betrayed his ways.

7. Corrine - The mother in Flowers In The Attic - awful awful woman, from awful awful parents!

8. Randall Flagg aka The man in black akaWalter o’Dim akaMarten Broadcloak/ -Bad enough to be active in a 7 book series and Kings Iconic novel The Stand. This is another evil personified individual!

9. Pennywise the Clown - It - Stephen King. No wonder a whole generation is scared of clowns!

10. Cujo - Stephen King - Seriously, it's become an adjective and a verb! Can you look at a St. Bernard and not see this dog?

So there they are. King has a fair share on this list and I've seen more on the blog hop that were amazingly bad villains. How fun!

Enjoy your stay on the 'bad' side of town!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Follow Friday!!

To join the fun and make new book blogger friends, just follow these simple rules:
  1. Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Host { Parajunkee.com } and any one else you want to follow on the list
  2. Follow our Featured Bloggers - http://insanehussein.com/blog/
  3. Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing.
  4. Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say hi in your comments
  5. Follow Follow Follow as many as you can
  6. If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love...and the followers
  7. If you want to show the link list, just follow the link below the entries and copy and paste it within your post!  
  8. If your new to the follow friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog! 

What is your usual monthly book budget?

 

I wouldn't say I have a set amount. If I luck into a yard sale with some goodies I will drop what it takes to pick up what I like. But with yard sales, that's usually not too much thankfully. I have some books I'm looking for to add to my collection in hardback, nice additions. I think usually $10 or under for those.

Some of my summer scores

 

I never eBay for books I'm looking for collecting. That's cheating if you're on a quest to find something. Much more fun to discover a book on your list in a dark corner on a dusty shelf!!

Other than that, I'm a library girl. Which reminds me! My book is due and I need to call in and re-new it!


Have fun visiting everyone on the hop!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sometimes we hurt the ones we love

Let me start by saying, I love my blog. I love my book lists and I love my content (so far) and I especially love my blog roll and the connection to all you fabulous bookish people!!

But I'm guilty of negligence non-the-less.
I added 3 college course to my life on top of two teenage girls, lots of Church activities and the best full time job in the world. (please re-read that to the tune of 12 days of Christmas )

So I got a lil over busy...

Ok so this isn't REALLY me....it's easy to tell because I don't own a skirt like that.

Ok and Ihave20yearsonherand2x20lbsandmyhairisnothatgreat

But back to the blog...
I'm still reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and am at least thinking about what I'm mindlessly eating which is a start!

The classes are going well and, as usual, I love them!! But I LOVE SCHOOL!! My Environmental Science teacher put a note on the end of my essay test page that made my whole MONTH and will be my fall-back-on-when-I-get-down gratitude... she wrote.... "I love to read your writing!!" (yes double exclamation points!)

 I love to write it! And I've missed it and you, my darling blog, so much!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thirteenth Tale - A Fall Reading Challenge update

I finished my first book from my fall reading challenge over at A Southern Daydreamer Reads.  I hope I haven't set the bar too high based on my other books, since I very much liked this book.


 The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield was a marvelous journey on par with the best gothic tales. Not in anyway shape or form a scary book, the story winds forth at a deathbed-ish biographical confessional of reknowned and beloved author. Skeletal shawdows of tragic family secrets criss cross from both biographer and author.

Amazon's review called it a ghost story but I disagree. I thought it was more contemplative in nature than erie, and only could be a ghost story as these women confronted the ghosts of their pasts.

But I LOVED these women! Their strengths and their weaknesses. An author who's given 19 different versions of her life story to nosey reporters. Gotta love the spunk!

And I loved the way the story played out. And the setting had such a 'Wuthering Heights' melencholy to it!

I simply couldn't wait to get back to this book at night.

A couple small things kept me from giving this book 5 stars - at least for now...perhaps the pace was a little too languid as I found myself having to go back and look up who was who. It could be me of course, but names just weren't sticking which usually means I'm not quite connecting.

And although I loved 99% of how the end played out, there were 3 little loose ends that were tied up like a 6 year old's self tied shoes...too quick and not very neat.


I'll miss my trips to Angelfield but I'm so glad I went!

The Thirteenth Tale - Diane Setterfield  4.5/5

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My First Top Ten Tuesday

I simply could not resist this question. Especially after seeing so many wonderful other Top Tens!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by our friend over at The Broke and The Bookish. And this will be my first time joining in.


This week's topic:

Top Ten Fictional Crushes


10) Enclyclopedia Brown - one of my first crushes...and the beginning of my appreciation of smart guys.

9) Theodore "Laurie" Laurence - Little Women. Although I do still see him with Jo in my head.

8) Inman -  Cold Mountain. Just because. Who else would trek like that for the hope of love!

7) Stuart Redmond - The Stand - Another smart guy but in a more 'common sense' smart way. With a good dose of rugged.

6) Heathcliff -Wuthering Heights - For sheer endurence. 

5) Aragorn - Lord of the Rings

4) Legolas - Lord of the Rings - only beat Aragorn because technically Aragorn HAS a girlfriend and Legolas seems available.

3) Mr. Darcy - Pride and Prejudice (and yes the movie version with Kira Knightly perpetuates this...that was one HUNKIN Mr. Darcy...walking across....NO! STRIDING across that field... sighhhh)

2) James Herriot - All Creatures Great and Small. Ok he's real, but I think it counts! I fell in love with the UK, I fell in love with Veterinarians, and well... Him!

1) Roland Deschain - The Dark Tower series. The creme de la creme of leading men.

Probably lots of others too. This list did take me a bit to put together believe it or not. Turns out the bulk of my books are strong female leads. I, for one, found that surprising.

Well there we have it, my first TTT. How fun :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hello Iowa City!!

My daughter wanted to go visit her boyfriend. She's a junior in High School and he just started his first year at the University of Iowa.



We live about an hour and half away from there in a pretty tiny little town


and I've never really ever been there let alone driven there.

And may I add driving isn't one of my favorite things anyway...



But I felt bad for her...plus there's this kickin little Indie bookstore I've read about and really wanted to find as long as we were there. :)

I don't have a gps, but I do have google maps (yay for satellite view) and pretty good internal sense of direction.
I'm not a fan of interstate 80 so we took backroads getting there which was beautiful and didnt take too much longer, except it's harvest and we got slowed down a couple of times for farm stuff. But not bad.



Once we got in town... I drove right to his dorm. No problem. It was ridiculously easy...made even easier since Iowa played at Ann Arbor. I wouldn't go near there on a home game day. (that's a way lot of people!)



So I dropped her off, made her boyfriend pinky swear that he would take care of her and my younger daughter and I were off to find


Prairie lights... Took a tinie tiny bit of looking but found a parking place pretty close and really enjoyed looking around this amazing downtown area!! Even the sidewalks had points of interest... dumb me didn't take the camera, so I'm having to find pics on the interwebs, and not very well.


And then vioula ... Praire Lights...just on the other side of the most interesting sounding Dublin Undergroud. (may go back on girls night out and check that place out). And it was cool!! 3 1/2 floors of books, cool people that worked there, lots of patrons. I was IN MY ELEMENT!!! Part of me wondered what the job market in Iowa City was like for Animal Nutrition Tech Support.

I came out with a local Independent Press Publication by Timothy Fay, Anamosa, Iowa called The Wapsipinicon Almanac...full of short stories and essasy etc. Love this little magazine.

And a really inexpensive copy of Upton Sinclair's The Jungle...

Did you catch the part where I asked about Animal Nutrition... this book is fated for me, PLUS I just watched last Thursday the Temple Grandin Story... AH. MAY. ZING! So the Sinclair book was Supposed to be mine and at 3 bucks I would have no reason to say no.

I can't wait to go back.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I wanna be the minority...books you loved and me? not so much







I am joining in on Follow Friday over at Parajunkee's View again and, for the first time, Blog Hop this week because I couldn't resist this question.



"When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?"
I probably have a few books I could put here that I moved on from... Atlas Shrugged made me furious and may I say no wonder we had a 'me' generation... House of Sand and Fog; I quit that one because I didn't believe a thing the characters did.

The worst book I stuck out... for the moment is:


The Host - Stephenie Meyer
I know a lot of you probably liked it... and some of you wouldn't pick up a Meyer book for love nor money. I have teen girls. So I had to see what was up with all this and my youngest angel liked this book but we were all pretty lukewarm on Twilight except for the cars. :)
I did not like it but finished it. While the premise was actually not bad and had promise the handling of it was so off the mark. Not for awful writing alone, but for the portrayal that 'strong women take abuse'! That sends me to the moon!(gentle review here)

Usually when I'm reading a 'meh' book, is when I find myself scrounging yard sales for books, rearranging my shelves, perusing my TBR pile. But I like finished books. I won't put a book in my book journal if I gave it up. And I like having books (although not nearly as many as most of you! Wow!) in my journal.

I happen to love the book I'm reading now and actually think about getting back to it the way night owls think about getting back to bed at 7:30 in the morning :) If that makes sense to anyone..