Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Winter TBR

Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward To In 2015


I can't wait to read these books.


The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry

In Search of the Perfect Loaf


Microscripts

Bonjour Tristesse

Out of Our Minds

Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times


Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America's Indie Bookstores

The Rights of the Reader

Teaching: It's Harder Than It Looks

Wild Things: Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature

Wislawa Szymborska: Poems, New and Collected


Any other suggestions for me?


I invite you to join me in the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop
and try to win one of my two great prizes:
A Trip to Italy or a $15 Amazon gift card!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because we are particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish. We'd love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

Each week we will post a new Top Ten list that one of our bloggers at The Broke and the Bookish will answer. Everyone is welcome to join. All we ask is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists! If you don't have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It's a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

I Visit Two (Very Different) Farms





What I Read Last Week


Last week was one of those fabulous reading weeks where you feel like a Higher Power is mysteriously and mischieviously guiding one's book choices.

First, this book arrived in the mail from the publisher for review:


It's Dirty Chick: Adventures of an Unlikely Farmer by Antonia Murphy. Murphy and her husband move to New Zealand and gradually and oddly become farmers. I don't know if New Zealand animals are strangely more...well, let's call it "zestful" than American animals, but the goats, sheep, cows, llamas, and chickens that Murphy takes into her farm family are the most shockingly nasty animals I've ever seen. Some spit, in crude and barbarous ways, often right into the faces of their owners. All of them excrete, of course, and it always seems to occur in plain sight of their human farmer friends, occasionally on the carpets and couches of said friends, and in ways that are quite vile. And all of them reproduce, most of them in horrifying ways that, were they humans, would get them long prison sentences. It's all quite terrifying and shocking to this citified reader.

What do I read next? How is this for weird? I learn that my online reading group, 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up, has Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder next on its slate. I obtain a copy from my library. 



Farmer Boy. You probably know of it. Farmer Boy is the true story of the husband of Laura Ingalls Wilder (she of Little House on the Prairie fame). Almonzo Wilder grows up on a farm in upstate New York in the 1800's. 

It's quite another world from the alarming animal world of Dirty Chick. Almonzo's family raises the same animals as the family in Dirty Chick. (Maybe I should say that again, with emphasis this time: Almonzo's family raises the same animals.) But these are not the manic, passion-filled wild things from Dirty Chick; oh no, these animals are calm, gentle creatures who willingly submit to sharing milk from their bodies and giving up their lives to their beloved human owners. If the animals of Farmer Boy defecate or reproduce, they must do so quietly and placidly, perhaps behind a discrete fence or in a remote pasture somewhere.  

This leaves me with many questions. Could it be that farm animals of the past were much more disciplined than our contemporary farm animals? Or are the farm animals of New Zealand somehow temperamentally more passionate than the staid farm animals of America? It's quite mysterious.

And, oddly, I loved loved loved both of these very different takes on farm life. 

           




A question, my friends:

I've got this week off.  :-)

I have four books ready to go: 
Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki by Haruki Murakami
Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence by Daniel Goleman
Florence Gordon by Brian Morton
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

Any thoughts about which book to take on first?



I invite you to join me in the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop
and try to win one of my two great prizes:
A Trip to Italy or a $15 Amazon gift card!




The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! As part of this weekly meme Book Journey loves to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hunting for Geodes




Southern Illinois
Summer 2013



For more wordless photos,
go to Wordless Wednesday.




Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy ReadsTo participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken and then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky at West Metro Mommy Reads.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Week in Books

              



What Arrived Last Week


The Cybil books are starting to pour in....







One more week of school and then I'll have all week to read and review.
               


What I Finished Last Week



It's a good week when you find yourself reading not one but two very good books.

In Flirting with French, author William Alexander makes a fervent attempt to finally master French. He tries all the recommended methods: Rosetta Stone...a tutor...classes...even immersion. He's quite discouraged by the results...initially. But, after further testing, he learns that though his French is not really letter-perfect, he has improved considerably and, even more importantly, his memory and other late-in-life-learning skills have improved. I loved going along with Alexander as he made his way through the world of French language acquisition.

Who knows reality better than author Laurie Colwin? In Family Happiness, Polly is a happy wife and mother, with a large extended happy family. But let's look again. Is Polly really so terribly happy? And, if she is, why is she have a secretive affair with a reclusive painter? And how does her extended family fit in to her troubles? A very real look at life and families and relationships and, yes, happiness. 





What are you reading today?!

I invite you to join me in the Gratitude Giveaway Blog Hop
and try to win one of my two great prizes:
A Trip to Italy or a $15 Amazon gift card!

The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! As part of this weekly meme Book Journey loves to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Win a Trip to Italy or a $15 Amazon Gift Card! Thank You, Followers!


Thank You, Followers!
I have two prizes in the Gratitude Giveaway!

Entering is easy!
Just:
 (1) follow me and
(2) leave a comment,
stating which prize(s) you'd like to win,
and providing an email address where you can be reached.





What are the Prizes?

Prize Package 1...
A Trip to Italy!
Well, a trip to Italy...via books, anyway.
Win Prize Package 1
and I will send you
Essential Italy!
(I'm sorry, but this is only open to bloggers in the US.)





Prize Package 2...
Win an Amazon Gift Card!
(This is open to bloggers anywhere Amazon can ship.)





You can enter one or both of these giveaways!

Good luck!






Gratitude Giveaways is scheduled to begin on November 15th, 2014, at 12:01 am EST
and end on November 30, 2014, at 11:59 pm EST.
All participating blogs will be linked up through a Gratitude Giveaways linky.

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?!





Last Week
Books and book-ish things poured into my mailbox and e-mail last week. Such are the lovely parts of celebrating one's birthday with book-ish family and friends. 
Here's what arrived:
  

 

...along with two wonderful gift cards and a very-cool praying mantis puppet! Thank you, all!

Also...

I joined in for the Literary Blog Hop and gave away a copy of Lila by Marilynne Robinson from Book Depository to 

I posted about rereading and vowed to do so more often.


I shared photos from The Texas Book Festival in which I stayed in a Tiny House and met many authors.                                                             








This Week

Last week I read all of these books:

 

along with twelve more Cybils nominees, bringing my totals for the Cybils at 37 out of 93.

This week, I am reading:

  

                                                               






How about you? What are you reading?


The Sunday Post is a meme hosted by Kimba at Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news and recap the past week.

Mailbox Monday was created by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share books that we found in our mailboxes last week. 
 It is now being hosted here.

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews in which you can share the books you've acquired.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is where we share what we read this past week, what we hope to read this week…. and anything in between!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from! I love being a part of this and I hope you do too! As part of this weekly meme Book Journey loves to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Texas Book Festival 2014: I Stay in a Tiny House and Meet Lots of Authors

Call me geeky. Call me a retro-hippy girl. Call me whatever you want, but I've always wanted a tiny house. How could I pass up the opportunity to rent one for our Texas Book Festival weekend in Austin? 



And what did I learn from the stay here? A tiny house is...well, tiny. And going up and down rather steep stairs twice a night to a loft bed might be a bit much at 58. But cozy. Beautiful. And quite ecological and economical, I think.



And...surprise! Who would guess that the owner of the tiny house is...wait for it...an author!
Look what she left for me at the tiny house!



And then it's time for the book festival. Gloriously beautiful weekend weather at the Texas Capitol for the festival. Thank you. 


You'll be happy to know that Texas continues to be properly defended from those who would invade our Great State.



I exclusively focused on children's books this year. My first stop was a presentation, complete with a sitar and drum serenade from a musician who once privately played for Gandhi, for the new children's book, Grandfather Gandhi.



Pat Mora and her new book I Pledge Allegiance were next. Grandma becomes a citizen in this one.



It just can't be a Texas Book Festival without author Mac Barnett. He presented his new book, Sam and Dave Dig a Hole, sans illustrator Jon Klassen, shaming his friend for his failure to show up this time. Facing the blank page, Barnett tells us, is "like having homework every day for the rest of your life." Being an author is pretty nice, though, because he gets up in the morning, walks ten steps to his desk, and "that's my morning commute." 




The Big Reveal. TLA Librarian of the Year ("This ain't your grandma's library") John Trischitti and a crew of twenty elementary students read blurbs for the Texas Bluebonnet nominees. You'd be proud to hear these twenty Texan kids read so beautifully, despite the fact that the blurbs had been presented to them only moments before the reveal. A couple of the authors of the nominees were happily present to appear at the reveal, including Separate is Never Equal author/illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh (left) and Grandfather Gandhi author Bethany Hegedus (right).



The awesome Jacqueline Woodson along with fellow kids' authors Isabel Quintero and K.A. Holt talk about the ways they use poetry as both reflections and windows in their writings. 



A great way to end the first day was with Dallas chef Dean Fearing. He shared recipes from his new cookbook, The Texas Food Bible, though he admits he's not from Texas and he never intended to become a chef. When questioned from the audience about the next wave in cooking, he replied cheerily, "The Texas Food Bible!"



I've been to Book People in Austin many, many times, but I've somehow failed to obtain an iconic Devoted-Reader-in-Front-of Fav-Bookstore photo until now.



Another must-visit stop on this trip was at Recycled Reads, a resale shop for the Austin Public Library system. They always seem to have some sort of paper arts on display.


 

Sunday, the last day of the festival, was devoted to escorting children's authors around the festival. In the past, I've always been assigned to one author, but this year the Powers-That-Be apparently learned of my author-escorting gifts and sent me scurrying to escort six including Chris Barton (his Shark vs. Train continues to be a favorite at my library), jaunty Melissa Guion (Baby Penguins Everywhere), friendly Molly Idle (Flora the Penguin) and Nathan Hale (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales). Nathan Hale was the only one who seems to know of my true navigating abilities.

video
Nathan Hale's presentation was amazing. Here's a taste.



You never know who you are going to meet in the author green room at the festival. Nathan Hale, in his session, told us a cool story from earlier in the day in the green room, while he was waiting to present. Had to share his Facebook post:

Hanging out in the author green room at the Texas Book Fest. Nice older gentlemen is sitting at my moderator table/meet-up spot. I walk up, sit down and ask if he's my moderator. He says no, he's moderating another panel on law enforcement. I make standard festival-related small talk, "Hot out there, huh?" "Is this your first time at the festival?"
At one point, somebody came up to him and said, "Pardon me, sir, I just wanted you to know how much the show meant to me."
I asked what show the person was talking about. He said, "Oh, I worked on M.A.S.H." I asked if he was a writer for the show.
He said, no, I was on the show. 

It was Mike Farrell, aka Captain B.J. Honeycutt.

I am an idiot.


And that was my weekend. Full of delightful stories.