Sunday, June 30, 2013


Sometimes it only takes one sentence to know whether you want to read a book or not.  Which is why I flipped through one of my recent summer rereads (and one of my all-time favorite books) and chose 4 sentences at random. I hope they pique your interest in this extraordinary tale. Here they are:

1. Ned sighed, "I met a girl yesterday morning."

2. "I think you ought to go now," the man said finally. "You have blundered into a corner of a very old story.  It is no place for children."

3. The soul within her, each time she's summoned, alters her a little, makes her behave differently, which is why and how her desire, her need--over two thousand six hundred years--can change.

4. He thought of her, he thought of Ysabel.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In the Library...

Edouard John Mentha - Maid Reading in a Library

In the Library
by William Stafford

You are reading a book, and think you know
the end, but others can't wait -- they crowd
on the shelves, breathing.  You stop and look around.
It is the best time:  evening is coming,
a bronze haze has captured the sun,
lights down the street come on.

You turn a page carefully.  Over your shoulder
another day has watched what you do
and written it down in that book
you can't read till all the pages are done.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Bookish Dilemma

I saw someone I know checking out State of Wonder by Ann Patchett the other day at the library and I wanted to stop her, to warn her, to say, "Don't read that!  You won't like the ending."  But then I hesitated.  Because maybe she would.  After all, State of Wonder isn't a horrible book; maybe the ending wouldn't disappoint her the way it did me.  I don't know what kinds of books she likes to read.  And who am I to spoil a book for someone else just because I didn't like it?  Besides, she seemed so excited to read it.

So, when she showed me what she was checking out, I didn't know what to say.  If I admitted that I'd read it, I'd also have to admit that I really didn't like it.  And I didn't want to taint the book for her before she had a chance to form her own opinion.  People have ruined books for me by doing that and I didn't appreciate it.  So, I took the coward's way out; I didn't say anything at all.

Was I right?  Was I wrong?  I don't know.  What would you have done?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

5 Fun Summer Reads:

  1. Excavation by James Rollins      
  2. One Second After by William R. Forstchen 
  3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  4. Riptide by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
  5. Island 731 (A Thriller) by Jeremy Robinson
These are 5 page-turning thrill rides where not all the main characters survive.  Let's face it, none of these books will ever be classified as "Great Literature", but they are a lot of fun.  I enjoyed reading each and every one.  Even better, they can all pretty much be read in a weekend or less.

So, pop some popcorn, buckle your seat belts, and enjoy the ride!

Happy Summer Reading!

Monday, June 17, 2013

A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

I'm not sure how to describe this book.  On the surface, it looks straightforward and simple, but there are layers and overlaps to this story.  (Think Schrodinger's Cat.)  I've never read Ruth Ozeki before, but I'm glad I stumbled onto this book when I was at the library.

It begins with Nao Yasutani, a 16-year-old Japanese teen, and her diary; she is contemplating suicide, but wanting to write the life story of her great-grandmother, Jiko, first.  Jiko is a Zen Buddhist nun who claims to be 104.  She teaches her great-granddaughter what it means to be a time being.
"A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be."
Then there's Ruth, a middle-aged Japanese American woman living on an island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, Oliver.  One morning she finds a red Hello Kitty lunchbox washed up on the shore.  In the lunchbox?  Nao's diary.

Here's where the overlapping begins:  between Nao writing her story, and Ruth reading it.  They are years and miles apart, yet somehow their lives intersect.  I loved how Ozeki intertwines their narratives. Talk about creative. And so well-written. This is an unexpected, and unique novel; one I won't soon forget.
 "If you do decide to read on, then guess what?  You're my kind of time being and together we'll make magic."
Happy Reading!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Halfway there...

In January, I started reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville.  I figured if I read just two pages a day I'd be able to finish the book by the end of the year.  This week I reached the halfway point!  I've been amazed by de Tocqueville's articulateness and intelligence, and also by how relevant this book still remains today.  Here are two of my favorite quotes:
"...the democratic government of the Americans is not a cheap government .. they must often spend the money of the people to no purpose, or consume more of it than is really necessary for their enterprises." (p.184)
"Unlimited power is in itself a bad and dangerous thing.  Human beings are not competent to exercise it with discretion.  God alone can be omnipotent, because his wisdom and his justice are always equal to his power." (p.216) 
Democracy in America:  352 pages down; 352 pages to go.

Monday, June 10, 2013

W. Somerset Maugham

"I have an idea that some men are born out of their due place.  Accident has cast them amid strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood remain but a place of passage.  They may spend their whole lives aliens among their kindred and remain aloof among the only scenes they have ever known.  Perhaps it is this sense of strangeness that sends men far and wide in the search for something permanent, to which they may attach themselves ... Sometimes a man hits upon a place to which he mysteriously feels that he belongs.  Here is the home he sought, and he will settle amid scenes that he has never seen before, among men he has never known, as though they were familiar to him from his birth.  Here at last he finds rest."  --W. Somerset Maugham,  The Moon and Sixpence

This is the quote that made me pick up my first Maugham novel.  He used Paul Gauguin's life as inspiration for The Moon and Sixpence.  This novel is a great look at the passion and genius of an artist and I liked it so much I went on to read the rest of Maugham's books.

Up at the Villa reads the fastest.  Rosie, from Cakes and Ale, is one of his most memorable characters.  Liza of Lambeth's story is the saddest, and the story of Mrs. Craddock is quiet and bittersweet.  Of Human Bondage is his most serious and literary, but I admit, it's not my favorite.  I prefer Maugham's shorter novels. In fact, The Magician, with the naive and beautiful Margaret Dauncey, the sinister Oliver Haddo, and intrepid Susie Boyd, just might be my favorite of all his novels. It's the one I chose to reread this summer ... and I liked it as much the second time around as I did the first.  If you haven't yet read W. Somerset Maugham, give one of his novels a try.  He just might surprise you.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Bookish Art for June

John Singer Sargent - Reading
"Literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life."
--Fernando Pessoa    -- 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Gail Carriger and The Parasol Protectorate

I just finished reading Timeless, the last book in Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series, and I'm feeling a little sad to be saying good-bye to the practical, parasol-wielding Alexia Tarrabotti.  These books are a lot of fun.  Mix the supernatural (vampires, werewolves, and ghosts) with steampunk gadgetry and set it all in Victorian England.  Then add in Alexia Tarrabotti; she's a preternatural, a rare human without a soul who can nullify a supernatural's power and momentarily turn them mortal with just a touch of her hand.  Put them all together and you have the very entertaining 5-book Parasol Protectorate Series.

If you've never tried these books, start with Soulless.  It's the first in the series and definitely my favorite.  There's someone, or something, besides the Vampire Queen creating vampires in London.  When one of these new vampires attacks Alexia she's determined to find out who is responsible.  She teams up with Lord Conall Maccon, Alpha werewolf and head of the Woolsey pack.  Adventure and romance (and laughter!) ensue.

This series isn't perfect, and Carriger's tongue-in-cheek style of writing isn't for everyone, but her characters are quirky and unique and her books always make me smile.  Give one a try.  You just might find yourself laughing, too.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Summer Reading

Summer is my favorite time of year.  School is out.  The winter snow is gone.  And I am free to spend my time however I want.  Which means hiking some of my favorite mountain trails, traveling when I have the money, doing a little birdwatching, a little writing, and, of course, reading, reading, reading.

I have a stack of books by my bed just waiting to be read.  Some are the latest books from favorite authors, like Kay Hooper, Victoria Thompson, and Lee Child, that I haven't gotten around to reading yet; and some are favorite books like The Riddle-Master of Hed and Ysabel, that I've been wanting to revisit and reread.  Plus, I should probably tackle some of those 29 TBR books sitting on my shelves like The Moonstone, or Minaret, or The Odd Women.

During the summer I tend to gravitate towards fast-paced page-turners or fun, lighthearted romances -- perfect books to take to the beach.  (If only I were going to the beach this summer!)  With the summer sun shining, I'm usually not in the mood for anything too serious or scholarly.  But there are no rules when it comes to reading...or to summer.

So, go outside.  Enjoy the sun!  Spend time with friends and family.  Star gaze.  Play games.  Hike.  Laugh.  Have fun.  And let the summer reading begin!

What will you be reading this summer?