Booking through Thursday on Saturday

Booking through Thursday this week asked about Collectibles:

  • Hardcover? Or paperback?
  • Illustrations? Or just text?
  • First editions? Or you don’t care?
  • Signed by the author? Or not?
I would have to say I collect books and have been since I was a teenager. I rarely get rid of any, because love having them around - to read and reread, to share with family. I like looking at them in the shelves and thinking about the stories, the people, the places. I buy both Hardcover and paperback. Generally I buy more paperback than anything else. However, if the hardcover comes out and I don't want to wait several months for the paperback to come out, then I'll buy the hardcover.

I prefer text over illustrations. Graphic novels are too busy for me and I can't concentrate on the story. I do like it when maps are included in the beginning of the story so you get an idea of where the story is taking place. I did like the few illustrations in The Book Thief. They provided an extra element to the story.

I don't generally look for first editions, except when we go to a library book sale or wander into an antique shop with books. It is always neat to discover a hidden gem amongst the rest of the books. I have a few, plus some given to us by family members.

I have a few books signed by Nora Roberts and Brenda Novak. When you buy books from Turn the Page Bookstore Cafe, her husbands bookstore, you can request an autographed copy. When Brenda Novak visited Book Lovers Cafe, my favorite bookstore as you know, Brad had her sign one her books for me and brought it down to me. I appreciate autographed books, but won't go out of my way, such as standing 3 hours in a line at a book signing for it. I take that back. I wish I could have attended the one last week at Turn The Page with not only Nora Roberts, but also Deanna Rayburn, Donna Kaufman and Mariah Stewart. Sigh!

Weekly Report # 20 2/23 to 2/27

What have we been doing this week. Father has been busy working on the computer, drawing up a circuit board for his microphone project and has done a good job of teaching himself the in's and out's of the program. Sorry, I don't remember the name of it. He has a tendency to work late at night after James has gone to bed and he can work without interruption. I am generally able to tell when the frustration level gets high with the loud banging of fingers on the keyboard, cussing at the computer and pulling of hair. Don't we all want to cuss out the computer every now and again? I find myself giving him the same reminders I do with James when he gets frustrated with his wii game. "Time to take a break - NOW!"

He's off this weekend for a recording workshop at a music studio in Berkeley. One of his dreams has always been to learn from a professional recording engineer, not only how to do a recording, but everything involved from the placement of the microphone to the set up of the equipment. The workshop is a hands on one and everyone involved will be put to work, so it will be interesting to hear about his experience when he gets home.

Speaking of Wii games - James has been playing his Mario Super Galaxy game diligently every day for who knows how long and has worked his way up to 114 power stars. He is limited to playing one hour at a time and he generally manages to get 2 power stars at a time. The goal is 120 power stars which he will probably accomplish in the next few days. He said I had to say that when he gets the 120 power stars, then Mario gets to refight Bowser at the center of the universe. Once Mario defeats Bowser, this will unlock Luigi and you get to play the game all over again, except in fast mode. He has been reading and studying the Prima Game guide every night discovering everything there is to know about the game. The guide is 336 pages and chock full of game playing information. I consider that educational - he has been spending a lot of time studying the book, reading silently to himself, looking up information and utilizing that information.

We did do regular lessons this week as well.

Explorer Bible Study - we completed Lesson 4 Genesis 3 - Temptation and the Fall of Man. It prompted some interesting discussions about temptation and Adam and Eve.

Voyages in English - Continued learning about Adjectives. Completed 5.5 Adjectives that Compare, 5.6 Irregular Adjectives that Compare and 5.7 Adjectives that Tell How Many.

Spelling: Completed Lessons 19 Regular Plurals adding s or es

Cursive: Practiced writing capitals and cities, compound words and created Fun Letter Sentences. For fun letter sentences, james had to pick out 5 letters from the alphabet and writing sentences with words starting with these letters. The sentences he came up with are:

  1. Bullet Bill is part of the Koppa troop (something from super mario galaxy)
  2. Count coco's octopuss crashed the car.
  3. Dilly duck is under the deck.
  4. Echo Elmo was eating.
  5. Robin rocket raced. (he was getting tired of writing at this point)
Writing with Ease: We are loving this program. Completed week 5 and this week the excerpts were from "Misty of Chincoteague"

Day one identifying the central idea and narrated: "The ponies were on a ship and ship shipwrecked. The ponies found an island and they found salty ground and water for them to eat and drink. After that they slept all night long." Day two and three completed copywork and dictation. Day 4 he identified the central narrative thread from the passage and came up with: "The ponies learned how to get out of the mud and they had more ponies."

Math: Continued with subtraction from 11,12, 13

Science: In Chemistry, read "What Drives a Reaction", and in the Periodic Table read about the Oxygen Elements.

History: We read Chapter XIV More Adventures of Captain John Smith. It was interesting to read about Smith having to deal with the colonists who didn't want to do any work and just live off the work of others or barter away their tools for food from the indians. He also had the misfortune of a new group of colonist arriving who didn't care to work either.

"Unfortunately, among these new arrivals there were few likely to make good colonists. They were indeed for the most part wild, bad men whose friends had packed them off to that distant land in the hope of being rid of them forever. 'They were' said one of the old colonist who wrote to them 'more fit to spoil a Commonwealth than either to begin or but help to maintain one.' (TCOO page 122)

No cub scout meeting this week, but he worked on putting together a poster about cats for Achievement 5 Sharing your world with wildlife. Next week will be our off week for lessons and James will be working on building a birdhouse and he'll be learning about one animal that has become extinct in the last 100 years.

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. William Yeats

Posts to Ponder

Today is my work day and tomorrow is one of my Internet Free Days. So I'll leave you with these posts to ponder:

Today's Booking through Thursday asks about collectibles:
  • Hardcover? Or paperback?
  • Illustrations? Or just text?
  • First editions? Or you don’t care?
  • Signed by the author? Or not?
Check out what everyone has to say and I'll have an answer for you sometime on Saturday!

In the meantime check out these links.

25 Reasons to Read
by Janet at Across the Page.

Today I found Me, My Shelf and I by Cipriano at Book Puddle in which she quotes Winston Churchill "If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them – peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye"... Check out the link to find out the rest of the quote and what she has to say.

Toni McGee Causey writes eloquently as always about trusting your instincts and asks:
How about you? Tell me what’s the last thing you did where you trusted your gut and it worked out (or didn’t and it didn’t). It might be a family matter and you want to just say “family” — but let’s hear about gut instincts and why you think we don’t always know how to trust them, as women."

Mental Multivitamin highlights "How to procrastinate like Leonardo Da Vinci" and what he says about non productive creativity. Check it out.

Author Brett Battles of Murderati talks about taking a day off, recharging and asks:
"So, do you give yourself time to recharge? If so, what are your favorite ways to achieve this?"

Happy Birthday to author Pari Noskin Taichert who also blogs with Brett at Murderati. Head on over and leave a comment or two or three on Brett's post for him and wish Pari a Happy Birthday at the same time.

She happens to share her birthday with Victor Hugo who was born today in 1802.

" To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark."

Book Review # 27 – The House of Dies Drear

The House of Dies Drear


Virginia Hamilton

Back Cover: "A hundred years ago, Dies Drear and two slaves he was hiding in his house, an Underground Railroad station in Ohio, has been murdered. The house, huge and isolated, was fascinating, Thomas thought, but he wasn't sure he was glad Papa had bought it—funny things kept happening, frightening things… The secret of the house is revealed in an exciting final sequence that maintains beautifully the mysterious and dramatic story of a black family caught in an atmosphere of fear and danger."

Thomas and his family, Mr. and Mrs. Small and the twins move into an old huge home all alone on a hill in Ohio. It is a spooky home, with hidden tunnels and secret passageways and a weird old caretaker. Thomas doesn't like the caretaker, he doesn't trust him. He is hiding something and Thomas and his father set out to find out what. Along the way Thomas learns the history of the abolitionists and the underground railroad. Thomas discovers the secret of Dies Drear and what he finds out will surprise you. This is a book written for ages 9 – 12, but any adult will enjoy it as well. Highly recommended.

This is book # 2 for the Dewey Read's Book Challenge.

Ash Wednesday - Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40 days of Lent. During the period of Lent I am going to have two internet free days on Tuesday and Friday and reduce my time for the rest of the days to two hours in the morning. James will be having a WII and computer free day on Tuesday as well. Father has yet to decide what he is going to do, since he uses the internet mainly for business.

My lenten reading will include

Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton

Keep a True Lent by Charles Fillmore

And as part of the Operation Actually Read Bible challenge, continue my bible reading utilizing the Genre's Literature style. I have fallen a bit behind but currently catching up.

Personally, I will be giving up my beloved Pepsi's again because I'm up to three a day and really, really need to take a break from drinking them. I also will be giving up eating out on work days because all that sodium isn't doing me any good.

As I mentioned in another post, I am going to take the period of Lent to also concentrate on writing and finishing the first draft of "Winter Illusion."

The Anchoress has some wonderful thoughts, reading suggestions, ideas and links to various blogs to read during Lent.

Darcy of Life with My 3 Boybarians has gathered numerous recipes for meatless meals and will be hosting 7 weeks of Meatless Fridays and post links to favorite recipes every Monday.

Work In Progress Wednesday # 1

Welcome to my first Work In Progress Wednesday. Kate came up with this wonderful idea and I decided to join in.

I'm currently working on the first draft of "Winter Illusion" which I began writing for the 2008 nano. I unfortunately didn't finish it and have worked on it sporadically since then. I just finished reviewing the draft and found that I have 72,792 words and 50 chapters. I didn't number the chapters and just put chapter next for each one. According to the word count, the chapters average 1455 words each. I haven't found any specific guidelines for length of chapters and generally they can be as long or short as you want them. (Someone correct me if I'm wrong) I'll go back during the edit process and try to whittle down the number of chapters, combine some, etc.

I also have 7 unfinished chapters in which I just wrote a synopsis and moved on because needed to do more research, (for example: what happens during an autopsy and the findings) or they were from the male and female villains perspective and I wasn't ready to go there. Then I have the climax and ending chapter and not sure how long or how many chapters it will take.

I'm at the point where I going to stop worrying about numbers and just get down to the process of writing - just do it. I'm playing with writing things out in longhand and have started reading and utilizing "A Writer's Book of Day's: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life" by Judy Reeves. The book is chock full of advice and very encouraging, plus many writing prompts to jump start your imagination and write.

I'm also playing with the best times of day to write. In the mornings, I find myself pushing out the minimum number of words in order to go online: check emails, work on my blog, and read other blogs. Then after lessons and household chores, find myself online for a couple more hours. Since the internet is such a big temptation, the plan is to have two internet free days - Tuesday and Fridays, and limit myself to two hours on the other days so I can concentrate on working on Winter Illusion. Since Lent starts today, I am giving myself 40 days to finish the story.

What I hope to accomplish during the next week is

1) write every day for a set period of time
2) finish at least two of the unfinished chapters
3) make writing a habit and part of the daily routine, rather than when I get around to it.

What do you use for motivation? How do you reward yourself for making your goal for the day?

What's On Your Nightstand - February

It is time for What's On Your Nightstand for February hosted as always by 5 Minutes for Books.

This month just flew by and it feels like I've hardly made a dent in my TBR pile. However, I have been good and only purchased about 5 books during the month. I can't tell you how hard it was staying out of the used book store by our business. Easy temptation, but I was too busy to even think about it...most of the time.

I completed the remaining books on my Winter Reading Challenge list, which freed me up to read what ever I feel like in my TBR pile.

Since Lent starts on Wednesday, my plan is to read The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton and complete Bridges to contemplative living # 1: Entering the School of your Experience.

I have been going through my old boxes of science fiction / fantasy books and decided to revisited some old friends and reread a few. Next up I think will be "On a Pale Horse" by Piers Anthony. I acquired most of these books during the 1980's so will see if they are as good as I think they were or if my opinion has changed.

I am looking forward to reading these because I have heard many good things about them.

Also these two authors are my favorites and enjoy everything they write.

What book is on your nightstand calling your name to read next?

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about the library…

How often do you visit the library? Do you have a scheduled library day/time, or do you go whenever? Do you go alone, or take people with you?

I used to go to the library all the time years ago. Until I got a job that is and could afford to buy books and keep them. You see I like books and like the way they look in my bookcases and like to reread them whenever I feel like it.

Sing it with me: me me me me!

We have several libraries in our county and they are all open different hours, different days and then some days just because they have to close due to budget issues. They aren't open when I'm available to actually go. It is more convenient to go to a bookstore.

Last year, I took the time to take James to the Library and get library cards for both of us. It was time to teach the child about libraries and how they work. We walked around the library and watched the homeless guys on the internet, the kid with the cold sneeze and wipe his boogers on a book before putting it back on the shelf, and the old couple giving us dirty looks because James wasn't using his indoor voice. We haven't been back since.

I'd rather buy our books. Like Bluestocking, we are building our own library and the best part, you don't have to return them.

The Happening - A movie you want to miss

Instead of watching the Oscars, Father and I watched The Happening by M. Night Shyamalan.

I thought anything by Shyamalan can't be bad. I loved Sixth Sense, The Village, Signs, and Lady In The Water. His movies are strange, make you think and most times the ending is a surprise. My employees had told me you will like this one. I didn't. It was morbid and gross.

The description from netflix said "In this thriller, a deadly airborne virus threatens to wipe out the northeastern United States. Fleeing from contaminated cities into the remote countryside, science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg) and his wife Alma, (Zooey-Deschanel) fight to survive and discover the truth: is it terrorism, the accidental release of some military bio weapon; or something even more terrifying?"

I thought this should be good - probably aliens are something like that. I neglected to read the description on Amazon or read any reviews. In the beginning of the movie, two woman are sitting in New York City's central park. One of the women hears a scream, then notices everyone standing frozen. Then her companion pulls out her knitting needle and stabs herself in the neck. It proceeds from there with construction workers throwing themselves off a building, then a progression of a police man shooting himself in the head and various people picking up his gun and doing the same thing. A man walks into a lions den and feeds himself to lions and another starts a lawnmower and lies down in front of it.

I tell father "I don't think I'm going to make it through this movie."

He says "oh I'm sure this is just the set up, it will get better."


The premise of the story was the plants and trees were creating this air borne virus and it was being carried by the winds. The virus eliminates the self preservation gene in people on the east coast and consequently they all began killing themselves. The story follows Elliot and his wife as they try to flee the cities and get away from whatever the virus is. His friend played by John Leguizamo and his daughter accompany them. When his friend's wife doesn't show up, he leaves his daughter with Elliot and goes to look for her.

Elliot figures out the wind affects big groups of people so split up from the group they are with and take off with the daughter and two teenage boys. The boys end up getting killed at some point, leaving only Elliot, Alma and the girl. The virus struck at 8 something a.m in the morning and the winds carrying the virus ends abruptly the next morning at 9 something. The only explanation anyone can give is that it was a natural occurence that sometimes occur in nature. Life returns to normal, but... 3 months later, two men are walking through a Paris, France park. One man sees everyone freeze and the wind starts to blow. "Mon Dieu" he says and fade to black the movie ends.

Father and I sat there looking at each other, shaking our heads. Father says "I don't felt like I watched a movie" and I understood what he meant. We were both left with a feeling of dissatisfaction and wouldn't recommend the movie to anyone. Of course, we had to watch something else before we went to bed in order to take the bad taste out of our mouths. What did we watch? "Meet the Press". You know its gotta be bad when I watch "Meet the Press" and find the discussion actually interesting.

We should have watched the Oscars!

Edited to say:

I just found out Sheri at A Novel Menagerie is hosting a fun Monday's Movie Meme. Check out what every one else has to say about movies they saw this past week. Sheri says: the only small request that I have is that you rate the movie out of 5 bags of popcorn (so, 1 bag out of 5, 2 bags out of 5, and so on).

Rating: I would give the movie 2 bags out of 5 because the premise was good, but not fully developed. They carried on way too long with all the deaths and about 5 minutes discussing the whys and there fore's of the plants and the virus. The acting was pretty good, especially with Mark W. and John L. playing meek, nerdy type characters.

The Sunday Salon # 7 - Reading and Writing

The Sunday

The rain is back and the kittens don't care...they want out. Then, every few minutes, one is running up to the patio door, scratching on it with their nails (imagine the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard) wanting to come in. We have a towel sitting by the door so I can wipe the mud off their feet and dry them. Amazingly enough, each one will voluntarily walk onto the towel and wait for me. "Play time, Mommy!!!" Then the process begins all over again a few minutes later. This was rather annoying, especially since I was working on my Midterm exam for Art History. I finished it with 5 minutes to spare and got an 88 out of 100. The ones I missed - dumb mistakes.

My brain is mush, drained. Much the same way I felt when I finished reading "The Book Thief" (you like the segue - nudge, nudge, wink, wink) And now a word about Books. Interesting read, "The Book Thief" seeing how it was narrated by Death. There is a sci fi/fantasy book I read years ago and will be rereading it soon "On a Pale Horse" by Piers Anthony. The main character ends up killing Death and has to assume his position. You don't find too many books narrated by Death or someone playing the incarnation of death. Rather interesting perspective.

If you were in Liesel's place, (given than you've read the book) would you be a book thief?

Once I finished the book, I had to read something easy so opted to reread "So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish" by Douglas Adams. I have an old 1984 version of the book and it is book 4 in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series. In the story, Arthur Dent returns to earth, which he thought had been destroyed 8 years before, and found, according to earth time, he had only been gone 6 months. He enters into a romance with Fenchurch. They go off to search for God's final message which was essentially rather silly.

Now I'm reading "The House of Dies Drear" by Virginia Hamilton which is part of the Dewey's Books Reading Challenge. Interesting story about a 13 year old boy and his family who move into a home in Ohio that was used as an underground railroad station . Dies Drear, the former owner of the home and two runaway slaves were murdered in the home and may be haunting the home.

For the Barnes and Noble First Look Book program, we are talking about "Sag Harbor" by Colson Whitehead. Mr. Whitehead will be joining in on the discussions this coming week. This week we are discussing the first few chapters of the book and have had some discussions about how racial barriers have changed in the past twenty years, friendships, and slang we used during the 80's. First time I've been involved in an online book club / discussion group and finding it rather educational.

A recap of this week for those who missed it:

Musing Mondays was about reading non blogging book reviews.

Monday I also discussed my writing goals and coincidently Kate from The Lovers, The Dreamer and Me decided to host a weekly event called Work In Progress Wednesdays in which you post an update on where you are with your current work in progress.

Kate says "As for what exactly counts as a Work in Progress, I am giving that a broad definition. Whether you are on your first draft or twentieth, in the process of querying agents, or are just between projects trying to decide what direction you want to go in next - feel free to share." I decided to join in order to hold myself accountable to my writing goals.

Tuesday Teasers hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading had some great teasers and I added a few books to my wishlist.

Wednesday I finished and reviewed "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" and "A Ghost in the Machine" which completed the list of books I planned on reading for my Winter Reading Challenge. Come check out the reviews and see what everyone has been reading.

Booking through Thursday was all about how you organize your books. I've only read about 1/8 of the 129 responses. Eventually I'll find time to wonder round to a few more before next thursday.

Friday I joined the Agatha Christie reading challenge hosted by Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise. There is a monthly carnival that takes place on or around the 20th of each month. The February carnival is up and running - come check out what everyone has been reading.

Friday was our homeschool weekly wrap up and the big pack meeting of the year - The Blue and Gold Dinner.

Last but not least,

for Faith N' Fiction Saturdays hosted by Amy at My Friend Amy's, we discussed "how do you feel about biblical fiction. I discovered a few new authors to check out.

Are you still with me? As a present, here are a few interesting conversations to check out.

Darcy of Life with my three boybarians asks what are you going to do with the $13 Obama's big plan saves us each week.

Amy of My Friend Amy discusses her theory on the best selling nature of James Patterson Books.

The weekly geeks is all about interviewing your favorite character from a novel. Check out some of the creative imaginations of the participants.

For the question of the day we travel back to the 1980's: What was your favorite book?

Weekly Report # 19 2/16 to 2/20

We had a lovely week and seem to be getting back into stride.

Bible Study: In Explorer Bible study we did Lesson 3 "The Details of Man's Creation" - Genesis 1:26 to Genesis 2. The word meanings are great and help James to understand what is being talked about. I appreciate the insight as well, because sometimes I just can't find the words to explain what something means -- probably comes from being asked a million questions every day.

Voyages In English: Started Unit 5 about Adjectives and completed 5.1 Identifying Adjectives; 5.2 Adjectives before Nouns; 5.3 Subject Complements and 5.4 Compound Subject Complements. He completed worksheets with Father and did an excellent job.

Spelling: Lesson 18 was a review of lessons 13 - 17

Writing with Ease: Completed Week 4 Identifying central ideas and actions in two excerpts from Doctor Doolittle. James narration: "Dr. Doolittle became an animal doctor and many people began bringing their animals, sick cats, poodles, cows and chickens. We are really enjoying WWE so much more than writing strands. The story excerpts are interesting and keeps James interest.

Cursive: This week was a little tough because he had to translate printed sentences and capitals into cursive. It was slow going, but he did it.

Math: Completed lessons 10 through 13 working on subtracting from 11 and 12.

Chemistry: James and Father read all about Chemical Reactions and Group V of the periodic table Nitrogen Elements.

History: Read Chapter XIII Adventures of Captain John Smith. It was very interesting and according to TCOO, Captain Smith was the first American Writer. I found a copy of his first book online called "A True Relation" by Captain John Smith 1608. It is very interesting and tells all about the settling of Jamestown and his adventures.

Cub Scouts: James and Father continued to do their energy audit and we received our first smud bill since we got the new refrigerator and our personal energy conservation program began. It actually went down $50 - YEAH!

Last night was the annual Blue and Gold Dinner and James received his Bobcat Badge along with 3 other boys from different dens.

Look at that happy face!

Proud Mom!

James Den

Then Father told them to get silly. Imagine when you tell 6 boys who are already silly to get even more silly

Strike a pose

Get Silly!

I am very proud of James. When we were leaving last night and without any prompting from me, he walked up to the Cub Scout Master and said "Thank you for giving me my Bobcat badge." What a kid!

Faith N' Fiction Saturday - Biblical Fiction

Amy at My Friend Amy Asks:

"One area of Christian fiction that is thriving is Biblical Fiction. Biblical fiction, in case you don't know, is when an author takes a story from the Bible and imagines more of the details. Tosca Lee's Havah would be a recent example of Biblical fiction.

What I want to know today is how you feel about Biblical fiction. Have you ever read any Biblical fiction? Did you enjoy it? Do you think Biblical fiction helps us to understand people who lived during Biblical times better or do you think that it's unnecessary? Have you ever read any Biblical fiction that offended you?"

There is one particular author duo I absolutely love who writes biblical fiction and I've mentioned many times on this blog - Bodie and Brock Thoene. They wrote a series called the AD Chronicles which retells the new testament in a whole new way. In the stories, they take characters from the bible and tells a story of their life and how they lived and interacted with Jesus. For instance in First Light: Peniel, the blind beggar who was healed by Jesus, Marcus Longinus - the centurion who wanted his servant healed, Miryam, the fallen woman.

The stories really bring home the people and actions in the bible and has really personalized it for me. Every time I read the bible now, I have a picture in my mind of who the people are and what has taken place. So, in answer to your question, Definitely yes - biblical fiction has helped me understand the people in the bible better and given me a better understanding.

There is indeed some biblical fiction out there that has offended me and I honestly can't remember any names of the books, because I guess they were just so bad, I pushed it all out of my mind. I just know when I go into the store and look at books, there are certain authors I avoid.

What Biblical Fiction have you read lately and enjoyed?

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie

Kerrie of Mysteries in Paradise has finally done it. She's managed to talk me into joining yet another challenge - which wasn't really too hard. And a great one it is - The Agatha Christie Reading Challenge. Kerrie decided to work her way through Christie's books in order that they were written. Several people decided to join in and when she saw my reviews, she invited me to join. I finally decided to jump off the fence. Go here to read more about the challenge.

There is a great list on Wikipedia and also

The books should be read in the following order:
  1. The Mysterious Affair at Styles
  2. The Secret Adversary
  3. Murder on the Links
  4. The Man in the Brown Suit
  5. The Secret of Chimneys
  6. The Murder of Roger Akroyd Ackroyd (finished)
  7. The Big Four
  8. The Mystery of the Blue Train
  9. Black Coffee (play novelisation by Charles Osborne)
  10. The Seven Dials Mystery
  11. The Murder at the Vicarage
  12. The Sittaford Mystery
  13. Peril at End House
  14. Lord Edgware Dies
  15. Murder on the Orient Express
  16. Why didn't they ask Evans?
  17. Three Act Tragedy
  18. Death in the Clouds
  19. The ABC Murders
  20. Murder in Mesopotamia
  21. Cards on the Table
  22. Murder in the Mews (four novellas)
  23. Dumb Witness
  24. Death on the Nile
  25. Appointment with Death
  26. Hercule Poirot's Christmas (Finished)
  27. Murder is Easy
  28. And Then There Were None (have it)
  29. One, Two Buckle My Shoe
  30. Sad Cypress
  31. Evil Under the Sun
  32. N or M?
  33. The Body in the Library
  34. Five Little Pigs
  35. The Moving Finger
  36. Towards Zero
  37. Death Comes as the End
  38. Sleeping Murder
  39. Sparkling Cyanide
  40. The Hollow
  41. Taken at the Flood
  42. Crooked House
  43. A Murder is Announced
  44. They Came to Baghdad
  45. Mrs McGinty's Dead
  46. They Do It With Mirrors
  47. After the Funeral
  48. A Pocket Full of Rye
  49. Destination Unknown
  50. Spider’s Web (play novelisation by Charles Osborne) Finished
  51. Hickory Dickory Dock
  52. Dead Man's Folly
  53. 4.50 from Paddington
  54. Ordeal by Innocence
  55. Cat Among the Pigeons
  56. The Unexpected Guest (play novelisation by Charles Osborne)
  57. The Pale Horse
  58. The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
  59. The Clocks
  60. A Caribbean Mystery
  61. At Bertram’s Hotel
  62. Third Girl
  63. Endless Night
  64. By the Pricking of my Thumbs
  65. Hallowe'en Party
  66. Passenger to Frankfurt
  67. Nemesis
  68. Elephants Can Remember
  69. Postern of Fate
  70. Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case
I haven't included any short stories. I checked both lists and they agree - how about that. Wikipedia is right for once. This is a perpetual challenge and you can sign up on Kerrie's blog.

On or around the 23rd of each month, Kerrie will be hosting the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Carnival. Carnival # 2 is up and running and waiting for you to check out what everyone has been reading and what they have to say. The next carnival will be March 20th, so put it on your calendar and come join in on the fun.

Looks like I'll be visiting my favorite used bookstore soon!

Book Review # 26 - The Book Thief

The Book Thief


Markus Zusak

Back Cover: "It is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still. By her brother's graveside, Liesel Meminger's life is changed when she picks up a single object, partially hidden in the snow. It is The Grave Digger's Handbook, left there by accident, and it is her first act of book thievery. So begins a love affair with books and words, as Liesel, with the help of her accordion-playing foster father, learns to read. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever there are books to be found. But these are dangerous times. When Liesel's foster family hides a jew in their basement, Liesel's world is both opened up and closed down."

Have you ever read a book that captures your attention and when you have read the last page, you sit there, so filled by the words, the images, the characters, you don't want to read anything else. It reminded me of Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place and The Diary of Anne Frank while reading the story. I finished The Book Thief last night and have to say it was a very unusual, yet interesting book. Very powerful. I can't say it was an easy read, because the subject matter is not an easy one. It wasn't a book I would ordinarily pick to read and chose it as one of the books for Dewey's Books Reading Challenge. None of the books I chose from her archive of reviews are books I ordinarily would read. But I'm glad I did.

How to describe this story or say what hasn't already been said in numerous reviews? The story is narrated by Death and takes place during the era of Hilter. I am used to reading stories from the jewish perspective from that period such as the Zion Chronicles by Bodie Thoene. This story is not only from Death's perspective, but Liesel's, too and provides you a look into the lives of the Germans and how they suffered under Hilter's rule. When death introduces the beginning of Liesel's story, she is traveling with her mother and brother to Munich where the two kids are going to be left at a foster home. During the journey Liesel's brother dies and Death comes to take his soul. Liesel's mother leaves her with the foster car authorities and is never or heard from again. Liesel is taken to live with her new foster parents, Hans and Rose Hubermann in Molching where life for ten year Liesel is changed forever. They end up hiding a young Jewish man named Max in their basement because Max's father saved Hans life during WWI.

There are so many nuances to this story that it would be impossible to explain. Zusak manages to make an ugly storyinteresting with words that provide vivid images.

"Upon her arrival, you could still see the bite marks of snow on her hands and the frosty blood on her fingers. Everything about her was undernourished. Wirelike shins. Coat hanger arms. She did not produce it easily, but when it came, she had a starving smile." (pg 31)

"The juggling comes to an end now, but the struggling does not. I have Liesel Meminger in one hand, Max Vandenburg in the other. Soon, I will clap them together. Just give me a few pages. (pg 168

"She didn't dare to look up, but she could feel their frightened eyes hanging on to her as she hauled the words in and breathed them out. A voice played the notes inside her. This, it said, is your accordion. The sound of the turning page carved them in half. Liesel read on." (pg 381)

The Book Thief is a young adult book meant for 9th graders and above. It is an extraordinary and unique way to expose young men and women and adults too, to what life was like during the Hitler era. I highly recommend it.

576 Pages
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf - Books for Young Readers
Historical fiction

Book Through Thursday - Storage

Today's Booking Through Thursday was suggested by Kat.

"I recently got new bookshelves for my room, and I’m just loving them. Spent the afternoon putting up my books and sharing it on my blog . One of my friends asked a question and I thought it would be a great BTT question. So from Tina & myself, we’d like to know “How do you arrange your books on your shelves? Is it by author, by genre, or you just put it where it falls?”

At this point, it is a mixture of all three. In my old apartment, which seems like many, many moons ago, I had bookshelves lining one whole wall of the apartment. I had all my books in alphabetical order and when it came time to move, packed them up in alpha order. To tell you the truth, most of the books are still in the boxes in the bottom of my closet. I've been pulling out a few, here and there to reread. I'm having fun rediscovering books I forgotten about. But that wasn't the question, was it.

Now, with a couple large bookcases in the living room and several of assorted sizes in the bedroom, I have a couple ways of shelving the books. The living room books are grouped by genres basically. We have a bunch of classicals and they are all on the shelves together, but ordered by height of the book. I like my shelves to look neat. The rest of the books in the living room are an assortment of hard back fiction and the same goes. Except for the top shelf which has a bunch of paperbacks stacked double parked and sideways to fit as many as possible on the shelf.

In the bedroom, I do have books ordered a little more neatly and grouped together by author. Except for my one huge stack of paperbacks on top of one of my small bookcases that is currently rising up the wall almost to the height of my 8 foot bookcase. Unfortunately, the cats think this is neat because it gives them access to the top of the bookcase. Which also leads to the paperbacks getting knocked over from time to time - often in the middle of the night, scaring the heck out of Father and I.

In a perfect world (and possibly when we get our income tax refund, which of course won't come until I get off my butt and do the taxes) I would have a library in which every book has a home, ordered by author, alphabetically and absolutely none of them would be double parked or sideways stacked or forming stairways up the wall. I am looking forward to buying several matching bookcases and the ensuing mess it will make when we have move the entire bedroom around to fit them on one wall. Who needs a bed to sleep in anyway!

In my fantasy world, I would have something like this

Book Review # 25 - A Ghost in the Machine

A Ghost in the Machine
(A Chief Inspector Barnaby Mystery)


Caroline Graham

Back Flap: " Scrupulously honest and warm-hearted, solicitor Dennis Brinkley is about the most liked person in the peaceful country village of Forbes Abbot. His only eccentricity--restoring fearsome ancient war machines. So when he's killed by a cannonball from one of his contraptions, even Chief Inspector Barnaby believes it's a freak accident. Until an opportunistic medium claims Dennis about to reveal his murderer to her...and soon turns up deceased herself. Now with two people dead and a possible witness missing, Barnaby must untangle the sinister doings and passionate obessions underneath Forbes Abbot's vale of seeming tranquility. And the eminently rational chief inspector must uncover evidence of things not seen before time runs out--and a calculating killer forever gets beyond his reach. "

This is a first time read of author Caroline Graham and of her Chief Inspector Barnarby Mystery series. Ghost in the Machine is a british who done it with a combination of murder, paranormal intrigue, deception, life, love, greed, and the pursuit of family happiness. Barnaby doesn't actually come much into play until the the 2nd half of the 512 page story. The story revolves around the residents of the small town Forbes Abbot and ends with a twist you really don't expect.

There were so many characters in the story, it is hard to know where to begin. However Publisher weekly says it best "With its focus on a dozen or so richly diverting characters, British author Graham's well-plotted ninth novel featuring Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (
The Killings at Badger's Drift, etc.) has more in common with Dickens than with Conan Doyle. After old Carey Lawson's natural death, her nephew Mallory Lawson, whose idealism has trapped him in a teaching job he can't tolerate; his wife, Kate, who nurses a dream of publishing good books; and their willful, spoiled daughter Polly share in a legacy that will transform their lives. Carey's amiable, competent financial consultant and executor, Dennis Brinkley, collects huge and ancient weapons of war. The indecisive, diffident manner of the late woman's companion, Benny Frayle, hides a steely core of determination. Other striking characters include a medium who's a frustrated actress and her strange, abused daughter; a fortune hunter whose rich wife turns out to be no bargain; and a childless woman who finds an unusual answer for her longings. The first unnatural death occurs well into the book and doesn't become a murder investigation till halfway through. Those impatient with the initial lack of action will be well rewarded when the redoubtable Barnaby finally starts to sort things out. FYI: This series inspired the Midsommer Murders series starring Inspector Barnaby on A&E Television. "

The story is well written and interesting story, however it is very long and gets very convuluted and wordy at times with subplot upon subplot.

Pages 512
St. Martin Paperbacks
Released June 2005

Book Review # #24 - Hercule Poirot's Christmas

Hercule Poirot's Christmas


Agatha Christie

Front Cover Flap: "It's Christmas and Simon Lee has demanded that his four sons and their wives return home for the holiday. But Lee, a wealthy and tyrannical patriarch, has anything but a heartwarming family fathering in mind. He bedevils each of his sons with barbed insults, lavishes attention on his attractive, long-lost granddaughter, and finally announces he is cutting off his sons' allowances and changing his will. So when the old man is found lying in a pool of blood on Christmas Eve, there is no lack of suspects. Did Lee's taunts push one of the sons to a desperate act of murder? Or was the killer really after the fortune in uncut diamonds Lee kept locked away in his safe? And how did the murderer escape from the locked room where Lee was found dead? The intrepid Belgian detective Hercule Poirot is called in to investigate and quickly finds that nearly everyone present had a reason to kill the old man. However, Poirot is determined to solve this chilling holiday crime before more blood is spilled."

Don't all the crimes seem to take place behind a locked door?

Hercule Poirot's Christmas is an enjoyable read. Poirot is visiting Colonel Johnson, chief constable for Middleshire and is asked to provide his assistance in helping the local police solve the murder of Simon Lee. Poirot always seem to be in the right place at the right time to provide his valuable knowledge. The four sons and their wives are all acting suspicious. As poirot ferrets out who is lying and why, all he has to do is stand out in the garden. One at the time, the wives all come to him trying to protect their husbands and provide some explanation for why they all disliked Simon Lee. After all, he was a rather mean old man who loved stirring up trouble and playing one brother off the other.

As convuluted as Agatha Christie's books get, I'll just leave you with this.

"Poirot said, with a sudden ring of authority in his voice: "I have had to show you the possibilities! These are the things that might have happened! Which of them actually did happen we can only tell by passing from the outside appearance to the inside reality...."

He paused and then said slowly: We must come back, as I said before, to the character of Simeon Lee himself...." (excerpt pg 250)

TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to: Grab your current read. Let the book fall open to a random page. Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12. Share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from. Please avoid spoilers

"At home, she was well into reading "The Grave Digger's Handbook" with papa. They would circle the words she couldn't understand and take them down to the basement the next day. She thought it was enough. It was not enough."

Pg 75

"Silence was requested by a man on the podium. His uniform was shiny brown. The iron was practically still on it. The silence began."

Pg 110

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Head on over to MizB's at Should Be Reading to see other teasers.

I am just starting to read The Book Thief so these teasers are even teasing me. What are you reading today?


Writing Goals

Serendipity - kismet - fate - coincidence - whatever you want to call it.

A few days ago I was sitting at the table, thinking about my story Winter Illusion which had began writing for the 2008 National Novel Write Month. In December I had decided to set a writing goal for 2009 of 1000 words a day. The major part of the goal would be finishing the first draft of Winter Illusion (2008 Nano), editing and hopefully completing Floating on the Surface (2007 Nano), researching and writing 2009 Nano story. The rest of the goal would come from blogging and college essays

In December I managed to write 8700 words, January fizzled to a total of 881 and so far for February, I've written 700 words towards completing Winter Illusion. I was feeling really bad about not writing when I figured out I have managed to write 600 words a day on average for my blog. So, I have been writing...just not where it really counts.

During Nano I had been getting up everyday between 6:00 to 6:30 (thank you, cats) and writing for a couple hours until James got up. December I continued trying to get up about the same time. But during the month with Christmas, Christmas vacation, Father breaking his leg and my taking over running the shop, I started getting up a little later, writing a little less. Come January, I was getting up, throwing the cats outside and sleeping until 8:00 - I was tired.

Now, Father has recovered enough that I have returned back to my normal two day a week working schedule and I'm feeling less stressed and more rested. I find myself getting up, thinking twice about throwing the cats out the door and climbing back into bed. The past few days I have woken naturally at 6:00 and not been able to get back to sleep. So, I'm ready. Evidentally, whether it be God or coincidence, I have come across some interesting articles and blog posts that have lead the way.

During Musing Mondays last week I came across a wonderful post called writing vows written by Kate of The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me. She had a wonderful visual of dogs being fenced in or trapped to leaping joyfully over fences, which for me - being a very visual person - hit me right between the eyes. The point being you can't let life stop you from writing. Life hadn't stopped me from writing on the blog, but it had stopped me from writing on my novel. She equated writing vows to marriage vows and said:

"But here's the important thing - writing is the world's most forgiving spouse and will take you back every time. Say you're sorry, promise never to do it again (although you know you will), and then get back to work."

Beautiful. So I start thinking about what I had written so far and wanting to change a few things. Then I receive my weekly email from Writer's Digest and the very first article is "Get Messy with your First Draft" I had been at a sticking point in the story and had thought about jumping ahead to another scene that had been floating about in my head. I'm basically a sequential writer, because that's just me - Organized, follow the straight line, type of person. However, I have taken to reading outside the box lately, branching out - being opened mind - reading different genres, new authors, etc. Shouldn't I do the same thing with writing?

In "Get Messy with your First Draft" Elizabeth Sims writes "For your writing to come alive—to be multi-dimensional—you must barter away some control. The rewards are worth it." Just write - ignore sequence, write what comes to mind, don't edit. Which was what National Novel Write Month had been about. Writing without editing, getting the words out on to the page. It didn't matter whether it was good or bad.

"Why’s it so important to suspend judgment when writing? Because that freedom opens you to the surprising stuff you never saw coming; stuff that makes you smile as you sit there in the coffee shop, your mug of joe cooling because you’ve forgotten to take a sip in 15 solid minutes."

Okay, so what I need to do is go back to turning off the internal editor, sit my butt down in the chair and let it flow. During Nano I had been writing every single day. Afterwards I cut back, working on the story only during the week days and taking the weekend off. Something happened, it just didn't feel right and I had difficulty starting again on Monday. Then it all when to heck... Conclusion I need to write every single day.

Tim Hallinan, author and songwriter, wrote and taught a course Finishing Your Novel and posted it on his website. He says: "1)Write every day, 2), Write something that entertains and/or amuses you, 3) Remember to focus on characters before story, 4) Keep writing no matter what kind of trouble you encounter, and 5) Finish." The article contains a lot of information and well worth taking the time to read. I am still working my way through it and gleaning much information.

Keep writing no matter what. Then I started to think - is 1000 words a day reasonable. I was able to complete 61457 words during November for Nano which equated to about 2000 words. However, that was pushing it, putting all my concentration into writing and letting a lot of other things go by the wayside. Then I remember author J.D. Rhoades post "Faster, Faster" on Murderati. He had asked the question: "what do you consider a good word count for the day?" It was comforting to see many of the authors wrote between 500 to 2000 words a day.

This post is approximately 1000 words and it took me about 2 hours to write. However, I was editing and pulling information from the internet and thinking through what I wanted to say, rather than just free flowing writing. I'm ready to get back in the saddle and work on the story. So are my characters. I have had the imagery in my mind of Winter and Dom sitting at her kitchen table, (where I left them last) drumming their fingers on the table and waiting. Waiting for me to put fingers to the keyboard and let their story continue.

What type of writer are you? Seat of the pants, just let it flow, jumping all over the place or sequential, start to finish.

Musing Mondays

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about book reviews…
Do you read any non-blogging book reviews? If so, where (newspaper, library etc)? Do you have any favorite sources you'd like to share?

Before I discovered all the wonderful book blogs out in the blogosphere, my main source of reviews came from Amazon. I still utilize Amazon quite a bit and thoroughly enjoy reading through all the reviews for a book I am interested in to see what everyone thinks. Of course, if it is one of my favorite authors, I don't give much thought to the negative reviews. (Imagine sticking fingers in ears and saying La la la)

I have since found several other resources for book reviews. I recently subscribed to "Bookmarks" and have to say I am enjoying the heck out of this magazine. It is one of those magazines that you come back to again and again, finding something new each time. The jan/feb issue highlighted Tom Wolfe, Roberto Bolano, and Anita Shreve, plus books published by the presidents First Ladies, a section where readers recommend their favorite books and a new books guide. Just chockful of reviews and good information. The website is pretty amazing and has so much more. is a good resource that not only includes bloggers reviews, but New York Times Book reviews and Washington Post book reviews. J.Kaye's This Weeks Reading List is featured today and I've seen Becky and Beth's posts on there previously. Plus I subscribe to several publishers newletters that include reviews.

Who is your favorite source for book reviews?

The Sunday Salon # 6 - words

The Sunday

It is a blustery Winnie the Pooh day outside and we are cozy and warm inside. I just finished reading Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie. I found myself amused by Poirot's summation of all the characters and who could have committed the murder - you, you or you. Then the person responsible speaks up out of remorse for his fine show of powers. I'll be posting a review within the next few days.

Do you ever step out of your comfort zone when it comes to reading choices? I've started branching out and reading different genres and more non fiction. The other day I signed up for the
Barnes and Nobles First Look Book Program and requested the ARC of "Sag Harbor" by Colson Whitehead. Many thanks to Lenore of Presenting Lenore who wrote up a wonderful new book blogger Faq post which included how you can get Advanced Reader Copies of authors books.

To be honest I had never heard of Whitehead and thought "Sag Harbor" looked interesting. It is a coming of age story about a middle class African American teenager whose family spends every summer at Sag Harbor, the east end of Long Island. I received the book Friday afternoon, started reading it after dinner and finished it Saturday morning. I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to joining in on the discussions with Mr. Whitehead about his book. I'll be reviewing it at some point after the discussions. The setting of the story takes place during the 80's and many of the references brought back fond memories of the time, the music, the clothes, colloquialisms, etc. I've added his very first novel "The Intuitionist" to my wishlist for reading later in the year.

I'm currently reading "A Ghost in the Machine" by Caroline Graham which is the last book for my Winter Reading Challenge. Which means I have made it through all the oldest books in my TBR pile. Yeah! I now get to choose from an interesting assortment of books that I have acquired and it will be interesting deciding which one I want to read next from the list.

I've also reading "How to Read a Book" by Mortimer Adler and finished Part One: The Dimension of Reading. Do you find some non fiction books are easier to read in small chunks? When I sat down and tried to read HTRAB as I would a fiction book, I found it cold and dry and quit reading it. However, when I started reading a little bit at a time, I found it very interesting and informative. So, I designated it my bathroom book. I should use a more polite term such as my water closet book. So many terms to use such as water closet, the loo, privy, lavatory, powder room. They all sound much more polite than bathroom. Why is that?

Words. Do you find words other people use rubbing off on you. I have found myself using iteration alot lately. Father uses this word when talking about business or math or working on his electronic designs. I found myself using in conversation and when commenting on someone's blog yesterday. It just came out and seemed so natural. But it made me stop and think about the use of words. When my brother was in high school he once made up a slang word "Tag" just to see if it would catch on and be used. He used "tag" instead of cool or neat. I think he had all his friends using the word by the end of the school year.

I've noticed hip and groovy have made a come back. Do you notice things from the 70's making a reappearance every 10 years or so: Clothes (bell bottoms, hip huggers, mini skirts, tie die), hair (long and straight), words (hip, groovy, cool).

Words. Language. Books.

Which book should I read next?

  1. The Shape of Mercy by Susan Meissner
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  3. House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton
  4. Augustine, The Confessions
  5. Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs
  6. Killing Fear by Allison Brennan