Post to Ponder

One Step Further

Do more than exist: Live.

Do more than touch: Feel.

Do more than look: Observe.

Do more than read: Absorb.

Do more than hear: Listen.

Do more than listen: Understand.

Do more than think: Reflect.

Do more than just talk: Say something.

-author Unknown-

Excerpt:Success - One Day At A Time by John C. Maxwell.

Musing Mondays - Keeping Track of your Books

Today's Musing Monday, hosted by Rebecca of Just One More Page is about keeping a record of your reading.

"Do you keep track of what and/or how many books you read? How long have you been doing this? What's your favorite tracking method, and why?If you don't keep track, why not? (question courtesy of MizB)"

Honestly, before I started this blog I did not keep a record of my books, when I read the book, the number of pages, etc. Why? Laziness would be a good excuse. I had a large amount of books and the thought would occur to me from time to time. Especially when I was working in Insurance writing policies and the number one thing we told every single person that the most important thing they need to do is keep an inventory of their personal belongings. Did I practice what I preached. No. *Gasp*

I would take pictures occasionally and figured I could use that for a record. Of course, by not keeping a record, I ended up buying duplicate copies of some books - but that is because they kept changing the covers. New cover - oh, what a lovely new book. Not!

This blog has become my way of keeping track of the books I read. Last year I took the time to enter all the books I read in 2008 into Library Thing. I even copied it over into excel. I can't imagine doing that with all my books - we have over 2000 on the shelves alone. I swear I'm going to buy the CueCat one of these days.

I was reading about MizB's idea of a journal and it looks like a good idea. A lot of work, but a good idea.

Please share with me your ideas of the best way to catalogue my books.

The Sunday Salon - Brain Food

The Sunday

Good evening Sunday Saloners. I've been up to ears in a salon of another type today. The art salon. In my Art History course, we have been reading about and discussing impressionism and expressionism for the past two weeks and I have to say I like impressionism so much more. Monet, of course, being my favorite. However, Auguste Rodin's expressionistic style runs a close second. I have always like the thinker, however he has done other sculptures that are much more emotional and sensual such as The Kiss or The Eternal Idol. You'll have to click on the link to see the pictures, as they are too graphic to post on the blog. I gave Father a copy of The Eternal Idol a few years back for a birthday or valentine's, I can't quite remember. He keeps it in his home office and says it reminds him of us. Gee - perhaps that is why I gave it to him.

I finished "War and Peace" Saturday (review here) and after my reading binge, my brain is on strike, it is full. I have no desire to read at the moment. My father said this would happen someday. He did! He said your brain can only hold so much and once you fill it up, you can't handle anymore. It is just as well because I need to concentrate on doing our business taxes this week. Plus there are only two weeks left to Easter and I am bound and determine to finish writing the first draft of Winter's Illusion by then.

While I was reading "War and Peace" I didn't write a thing because my brain was completely wrapped up in Tolstoy. So, I lost a week, but will make up for it this week. I started writing the exciting part this morning - the villain and villainess (whom my main characters thought were dead) made their move and kidnapped my two main characters. Ah hah! What is going to happen next?

I may not know what I'm reading next, but I have acquired a few new books. I promises James I would take him to Borders, so we went before grocery shopping today. I only picked up two books for myself - Allison Brennan's newest release "Sudden Death." Plus Antoine De Saint-Exupery's "The Little Prince" for the Martel Harper Challenge. I received "Re-Deal, A time Travel Thriller" by Richard Turner 'the cheat' courtesy of Lillie Amman yesterday and look forward to reading it. Thank you, Lillie.

Thanks to the weekly geekers, I have set up a new policy of exchanging review links, so if you see any books on my 2009 Reads or To Be Read booklist, let me know and I will add your links to my posts. I'll be working on adding links for my current 2009 list for the next week.

Have a good week. Happy Reading!

Weekly Geeks - Linking Book Reviews

This week's Weekly Geeks is an interesting one - it is all about linking your reviews to other book bloggers reviews. Several times I have come across blogs that linked to one of my reviews and thought "oh wow, how neat." But I've never quite had the nerve to request another blogger link their review to mine. So I think this is an excellent idea.

When Dewey started Weekly Geeks, one of the first projects she encouraged us to do was link our book reviews to each other. Sadly, I've fallen of the wagon on this one. For people like me who need a refresher and for all the new Weekly Geeks this is a topic that could use repeating.

Let's look at Dewey's original post : Dewey's post.

Here's what we'll do:

1. Write a post encouraging readers to look through your archives (if you have your reviews in a particular place on your blog, point them there), and find the books that they have also written reviews. Tell them to leave a link to their review on your review post.

2. Edit your reviews to include those links in the body of the review post.

3. Visit other Weekly Geeks and go through their reviews. Leave links for them.

4. Leave a note somewhere on your blog to let people know this is your new policy.

5. Write a post later this week letting us know how your project is going!

My reviews for 2009 are easy to find and can be found in the center link bar under "2009 Book Reviews." I'm going to make this easy and just stick with 2009 reviews. Since I switched to the new template, all my old posts from 2008 need a little fixing - which I don't have time to do. You are welcome to delve through my archives - link is at the bottom of my sidebar. Also if you happen to see a book coming up in one of my challenges that you have already reviewed, let me know. My email is at the top of my side bar to the right, so just email me and I will include a link in the post to your reviews.

Many of the books I will be reading are new authors finds and are due to reviews by other bloggers, but unfortunately didn't keep track of which book I found where. This looks like a fun task this week and I'm looking forward to checking out all the other bloggers reviews in the process. You can never have too many books.

Weekly Report # 23 3/23 to 3/27

We had a very productive week and I'm beginning to plan what we are going to do for 4th grade. When we decided to home school years ago, I thought that by the time James was done with 3rd grade, we would have moved to a better area with better schools and we would be putting him into school. Well, we haven't moved and we have no desire to send James to public school. We have been taking things one year at a time and each year, we decide to continue with home schooling. James is thriving and at this point, it is pretty much a given that we will continue for the rest of his elementary school years. So, I'm reviewing my well worn copy of Well Trained Mind and thinking about our choices. The revised and updated 10th Anniversary edition of Well Trained Mind will be available in May and I am looking forward to reading it.

What we accomplished this week:

Explorer Bible Study: Lesson 7: Crisis on the Earth - Genesis 7 & 8. More about Noah and the Ark, their landing on Mt Ararat, including a map study of the area where the ark landed.

Voyages in English: Completed Section 6 about Adverbs. Lessons 6.6 Good and Well; 6.7 To, too, and Two; 6.8 Their and There; and 6.9 Coordinating Conjunctions. One of the most important lessons James will ever learn is the difference between there and their. Everyday I run across discussions and receive emails that mix up the two. One of my big pet peeves.

Their is an adjective and tells who owns something

There is an adverb and usually means "in that place."

Father told us how he learned to remember the difference when he was in school. All he has to do to remember Their is relating to the heir and the heir is a person. There has here in it and you are either here or just add a t and you are there.

Spelling Workout: The list words are now in cursive only which is a good test of James reading cursive skills. We completed Lesson 22 - double o.

Writing with Ease: Completed week 7 identifying the narrative thread in a passage and involved copywork, narration and dictation. The excerpt was from Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes which neither one of us had ever heard of before.

Handwriting without Tears Cursive: Practiced cursive while learning about Contractions and Apostrophes, Similes and Metaphors, and copying Quotations from Shakespeare and others. We are almost through with the 4th grade book and I will be ordering the 5th grade book soon.

Math: Completed lessons 26, 27, 28 and 29 in Kumon Workbook about subtracting from 16, 17, and 18. Father has started timing James on his days and giving him 3 minutes to write the answers. James is zooming through the answers. He is at the point where everything is clicking so we are going to move forward to get him caught up to grade level according to California Department of Education standards. I've ordered a few more of the Kumon Math workbooks including multiplication. Father wants James to take the 3rd grade cat test to see how he is doing, so we will be working toward it.

Chemistry: Continuing to read from Eyewitness Books and read about Acids and Bases. I'm going to be ordering ChemC500 chemistry set from Home Science Tools. It has 30 experiments and teaches about Acids and Alkalis, Liquids and Gas, Electric current and Chemical Compounds. James is now interested in doing the experiments himself, rather than watching me do an experiment, which is great. In Great Scientists - He and Father read all about Robert Hook

History: In This Country of Ours we read Chapter XVII - How the Redman Fought against their White Brothers

Cub Scouts: Worked all this week on Achievement 5 which included learning about Extinct and endangered animals, Choose a bird or animal and find out how it lives and make a poster showing what learned, (James choose cats), Visit a nature center or wildlife refuge and build a bird house.

He and Father have been working on the birdhouse all week and will be finishing it this weekend. Last October, James and I went with my parents to an animal sanctuary in Arizona, plus we went to the Effie Yaw nature center here in town. We are working on James completing all the achievements for his bear badge by the end of may when his den moves up to Webelos. So far we are on track.

Next week is our break and I will have the joy of working on income taxes all week. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Book Review # 41 - War and Peace

War and Peace


Leo Tolstoy

A New Translation by Anthony Briggs

Front Flap: "At a lavish party in St. Petersburg in 1805, amid the glittering crystal and chandeliers, the room buzzes with talk of the prospect of war. Soon battle and terror will engulf the country, and the destinies of its people will be changed forever. War and Peace has as its backdrop Napoleon's invasion of Russia and at its heart three of literature's most memorable characters: Pierre Bezukhov, a quixotic young man in search of life's meaning; Prince Andrey Bolkonsky, a cynical intellectual transformed by suffering in war; and the bewitching Natasha Rostov, whose impulsiveness threatens to destroy her happiness. As they seek fulfillment, fall in love, make mistakes, and become scarred by conflict in different ways, these characters and their stories interweave with those of a huge cast, from aristocrats to peasants, from soldiers to Napoleon himself. Battles, love affairs, births, deaths, changing family fortunes, unforgettable scenes of wolf hunts, Russian dancing, starlit troika rides, the great comet of 1812--the entire spectrum of human life is here in all its grandeur and imperfection."

I just finished reading "War and Peace" and just have to say -- Wow! What a ride! When I started reading the book, I had never read anything by Leo Tolstoy, nor did I have any preconceived ideas about the story. From the very beginning I was captured and couldn't put the book down. I started it on Saturday, March 21st at 8:10 p.m (Father made me write it down) and finished it this morning at 8:53 a.m. I would have finished it last night, but the Epilogue was blowing my mind and I decided to read it while my brain was fresh.

The Anthony Briggs translation stays faithful to the original Russian but takes out all the thee's, thou's and thy's for easier reading. Also included is a list of characters in the back of the book you can refer to, because there are many, many characters and if you don't pay close attention, it is easy to get them confused.

Tolstoy blends history with fiction to create an interesting, educational, classical story about war, love, family, and power. In the latter part of the story Tolstoy mixes in his analysis of the actions of Napoleon, Alexander and the people surrounding them. The Russian Commander in Chief, Kutozov was one particular person whom Tolstoy felt should have been honored over Napoleon.

"For Russian historians (strange and terrible to relate) Napoleon, the least significant instrument of history, who never once in any place, not even in exile, displayed a trace of human virtue, is an object of admiration and enthusiasm; he is one of their 'great men'.

By contrast, Kutozov, the man who from start to finish during his period of command in 1812, from Borodino to Vilna, never once let himself down by word or deed, an unparalleled example of self sacrifice and the ability to see today's events with tomorrow's significance, this Kutuzov is conceived of by the same historians as a rather pathetic, nondescript character, and any mention of him in relation to the year 1812 always causes a stir of embarrassment.

And yet it is difficult to think of any historical figure whose activity shows a greater determination to focus continually on a single aim. It is difficult to imagine a more noble aim, or one more closely attuned to the will of an entire nation. And it would be even more difficult to find an example anywhere in history of a historical personage accomplishing his declared aim more completely than Kutuzov did after total commitment to it in 1812." pg 1208

In the Epilogue, Tolstoy analyzes how historians apply the actions of one person and represent it as the action of an entire people. He discusses the actions of Napoleon, the question of power and whether power is taken by one person or given to that person by a select few or the masses.

"How did these individuals compel whole nations to act in accordance with their will? pg 1317

What is the meaning of power and what happens if no one follows that power. What is the meaning of free will and if people are influenced by the actions of those around them or if it is all meant to be. His examination of the events of 1812 is very interesting and gives you much to think about.

Not only did I fall in love with the characters, I was fascinated by the whole story, how events unfolded and one person's actions affected not just one person, but everyone.

Highly recommended!

Previous Reviews by other Bloggers

Matthew - A Guys Moleskin Notebook

War and Peace is a grand undertaking of humanity that is both epic and intimate."

Eva - A Striped Armchair
"Well, I finished War and Peace. I’m now in that state of post-reading experience stupor, when I’m not quite sure what to do with myself. Read a book? But what can follow Tolstoy?"

Matt - Imaginary Magnitude
"There is a time and place for everything. The trick is having a sense for timing; the place will take care of itself, which I believe is an as-yet undiscovered Newtonian law."

Booking Through Thursday - Best "Bad" Book

Today's Booking Through Thursday is all about the best "Bad" book.

"The opposite of last week’s question: “What is the best ‘worst’ book you have ever read — the one you liked despite some negative reviews or features?”

The best "worst" book I ever read would have, and this is according to the press and many book bloggers and my dad, would have to be Da Vinci Code. This book upset many, many people - for various reasons. Now me - I happened to enjoy the book. And upon hearing all the controversy read it a second time, took notes and did some research. Came to the conclusion as with all things that it is a fiction book after all.

We all know what fiction is, right?

A literary work whose content is produced by the imagination and is not necessarily based on fact.

Evidently there are some folks out there that believe everything they read or hear without regard to the source. The same thing happened when the first Harry Potter book came out. I had never heard of the book and probably wouldn't have read it, except for the press about it being harmful for kids and magic is bad, etc., etc., etc. I picked up the book and read it, thoroughly enjoyed it. Now I'm not putting Harry Potter and Da Vinci Code in the same class by any means. Just illustrating a point.

For some reason, there are people out there (everyone involved in BTT excluded - because literary people do use their brains) that think we can't think for ourselves. That we must be told how to think and what to think. I actually find that very offensive and insulting. I've always been a non conformist, independent person who doesn't like being told how to think. So when the masses are being told - you must think this way about a certain thing, I research the heck out it and come to my own conclusion. Which 9 times out of 10 is the opposite of what we are being told. Which is one of the reasons why we home school. And that is another story...

See - ask a simple question and you don't always get a simple answer.

What is the worst book according to popular opinion, that you liked?

Work In Progress Wednesday

Work In Progress Wednesday is brought to you by Kate of The Lovers, The Dreamers and Me.

Well, I really fizzled this week and only wrote 450 words. However, I did think about the story alot. Does that count? :) I was going to let this week's post slide and not say anything, but I swore I was going to be accountable to not only myself, but my fellow WIPers, so laying it out there. I didn't accomplish much.

Anyway I have to blame it on this thing

I decided to come up with an arbitrary number of words to reach in finishing "Winter's Illusion" of 100,000 words and put in it the sidebar. Must be a psychological thing. It is all that little widgets fault - yeah that's right.

I was getting ancy about not writing and working on the story. Yesterday, the books I ordered from Amazon arrived and one of them is "Zen in the Art of Writing" by Ray Bradbury. Within the first few pages of just the preface I was hit with

"We must take arms each and every day, perhaps knowing that the battle cannot be entirely won, but fight we must, if only a gentle bout. The smallest effort to win means, at the end of each day, a victory. Remember the pianist who said that if he did not practice every day he would know, if he didn't practice for two days, the critics would know, after three days, his audiences would know."


"I have learned, on my journeys, that if I let a day go by without writing, I grow uneasy. Two days and I am in a tremor. Three and I suspect lunacy. Four and I might as well be a hog, suffering the flux in wallow. An hour's writing is a tonic. I'm on my feet, running in circles, and yelling for a clean pair of spats." preface xiii
Great kick in the seat of the pants. That's generally the way I feel when I don't read everyday. Now it is the way I feel when I don't write everyday.

Then I read Lady Glamis's post on "The Motion of Your Novel" and realized I had missed a wave or two somewhere in my story, when I wrote the love scene for my main characters. I realized I had jumped from point A to point C and left out Point B which told you how they arrived at point C. There are bits of a little b roaming around, but not enough from keeping you from being jarred by the great "I love you." So something I will have to fix in the edit. I love her posts - they make me think and ponder and think some more, then little creative sparks going flying off and I want to rewrite everything. That's actually a good thing - I just have to remember to write those spark down, so can utilize them later.

So, getting back in that proverbial saddle. My goal is to complete two more chapters.

I'm going to take some writing advice from Ray Bradbury.

"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together. Now it's your turn. Jump!

I'm jumping!

Perseverance pays off - He Did It!

For the past month James has been diligently playing his Super Mario Galaxy Wii Game and earning 3 or 4 power stars a day. The game isn't easy especially with having to play the game two handed with the wii remote and the nunchuk remote. He earned 119 power stars and got really stuck with the hardest challenge of all. Luigi's purple coin which he had to get 100 coins in 3 minutes and back to the start. He tried and tried, but just couldn't do it. So what did he do? He started a new game and went as fast as he could through the challenges.

In one week he earned 112 power stars. Then, he decided to go for the purple coin challenge and did it. At first, he said he was just going to finish the current game and not go back to the original game waiting for him with 119 power stars. Finally, Father talked him into it and he tried. He did it!

Look at that happy face!

He is so happy and we are thrilled he has finally mastered the game. But did the game end there? Nope. Once he earned the 120 power stars, it unlocked brother Luigi. Now he gets to play the game again as Luigi who happens to move much faster than brother Mario did. James is already gotten 67 power stars and still going strong. I'd say we are getting our monies worth with this game.

Book Review # 40 - The Seven Storey Mountain

Thomas Merton

The Seven Storey Mountain

An Autobiography of Faith

Back Cover:"The Seven Storey Mountain is one of the most famous books ever written about a man's search for faith and peace. While still in his early twenties, Merton, an intensely passionate and brilliant man, found that nothing in his worldly life assuaged a growing restlessness. His curiosity about spiritual matters led him first to baptism as a Catholic and ultimately to entry into a Trappist monastery--'the four walls of my new freedom.' There he wrote this extraordinary testament, a unique spiritual autobiography of a man who withdrew from the world only after he had fully immersed himself in it. In the half century since its original publication, The Seven Storey Mountain has been recognized as one of the most influential religious works of our time. Translated into more than twenty languages, it has touched millions of lives.

I discovered "The Seven Storey Mountain" a couple years ago when researching Catholic conversion stories for my first Nano book "Floating on the Surface" in which I converted my main character to Catholic. I had came across several interesting books including Thomas Merton's and truthfully, even though I have been Catholic all my life, had never heard of him. I didn't get around to reading it until now.

It is definitely an interesting study of his life, especially since it is written from his perspective after he became a Trappist monk. When he first joined the Trappist, his desire was to leave his old life behind, including his life as a writer and forget all about it. However, the abbot encouraged Thomas not only to keep writing poems and stories, but to write the story of his life.

His parents, who were both artists, did not raise him with an particular religious upbringing. His 'pop' (grandfather) disliked 'catholic' and 'Jews' so essentially he was raised with a fear of Catholics and did everything he could to avoid them and the church. Merton was a young man who liked women, drinking, partying, and was very much into materialistic things. But he was restless as well because something was missing in his life. He was deeply introspective and kept searching for truth, dabbling in many lines of thought including communism.

Merton's spiritual awakening was greatly influenced by several things. While he was in college he purchased a book called The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy not realizing it was Catholic philosophy. He decided to read it instead of tossing it away.

"I discovered a entirely new concept of God--a concept which showed me at once that the belief of Catholics was by no means the vague and rather superstitious hangover from an unscientific age that I had believed it to be. On the contrary, here was a notion of God that was at the same time deep, precise, simple, and accurate and, what is more, charged with implications which I could not even begin to appreciate, but which I could at least dimly estimate, even with my own lack of philosophical training." pg 189
After reading this book, he read as many catholic books as he could find. Within a year and a half of reading this book, Thomas decided to convert. While working on his Thesis which was based on the Poems of William Blake, his poetry and religious ideas:

"As Blake worked himself into my system, I became more and more conscious of the necessity of a vital faith, and the total unreality and unsubstantiality of the dead, selfish rationalism which had been freezing my mind and will for the last seven years. By the time the summer was over, I was to become conscious of the fact that the only way to live was to live in a world that was charged with the presence and reality of God." pg 208
One night while reading a book about Gerard Hopkins and his decision to become Catholic, Merton was struck with a strong conviction to become Catholic. Months after his baptism, he desired to become a priest. It is amusing as he learns about the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Dominicans, and the Benedictines and systematically eliminates each one because one has too many rules or they have to sleep in a common dormitory or they aren't allowed to eat meat. He initially disliked the idea of becoming a Trappist monk because among other things:

"Dan said, 'Do you think you would like that kind of life?"

"Oh no,' I said, 'not a chance! That's not for me! I'd never be able to stand it, It would kill me in a week. Besides, I have to have meat. I can't get along without meat, I need it for my health." pg 289
Once he learned to listen to God's will and not his own, did he find the happiness he sought. Three years after his baptism he entered into the Trappist life at the Our Lady of Gethsemani Monastery in Kentucky. But it doesn't end there as he talks about life in the Monastery and his growth in God and faith. Merton's story is truly inspirational and educational as we follow his life, his search for happiness and his spiritual awakening. Highly recommended.

What's On Your Nightstand - March Edition

My goodness-the month just flew by. I totally forgot about it being the 4th tuesday of the month until I came online today. What is the significance of the 4th Tuesday.

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

Each month, you can participate by sharing your reading habits with us in one of these ways:

  1. Give a list (or take a picture) of the stack of books that you are in the process of reading or planning to read (it might be on your nightstand, on a bookshelf, or like me, under your bed).
  2. Give short reviews of the book or books that you read that month.
  3. Tell about what you are reading and why. I love to read the backstory on books. Did someone give it to you? Are you trying out a new genre at the recommendation of a friend (or website)? Did you stumble across a new author in a used bookstore?
  4. Fill us in on your reading habits. When are you reading these books? Is one reserved for bedtime reading? Does one stay in your car to be read while you are waiting? Do you read just one book at a time?

My theme for the Spring Reading Challenge this year is first time author reads since I have several books on my nightstand this month that are by authors that I have never read before.

I'm currently reading "War and Peace" by Leo Tolstoy. It has been one of those books you always swear you are going to read someday - well someday has come. For Christmas last year, Father decided he was going to find me books with the most pages ever written. He found and bought "War and Peace" which is 1412 pages long if you include all the appendixes and indexes and notes. He also found a book written by Courtney Thomas called "Walls of Phantoms" which is 1320 pages long and considered the third largest novel ever written.

I promised Father I would read War and Peace "soon" and decided it would be the first book I read for Spring. I started reading War and Peace on Sunday and currently on page 403. I have to say I am actually enjoying the book and if I keep reading at the same rate, will finish it by the end of the week.

What books am I looking forward to reading when I finish?

For the Once Upon a Time III fantasy reading event I can't wait to start

For the Spring Reading challenge I am looking forward to reading

E-book courtesy of Frederic Guarino

Courtesy of Shelf Awareness
Release Date: March 31, 2009

I just finished reading Thomas Merton - The Seven Storey Mountain - An Autobiography of Faith and will be reviewing sometime this week.

Happy Reading!

Teaser Tuesdays

hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading 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. You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Please avoid spoilers!
"Zherkov responded smartly; still saluting, he spurred his horse and galloped off. But the moment he was out of Bagration's sight his courage failed him. He panicked uncontrollably and could not bring himself to ride into the danger area. Approaching the left-flank troops, instead of riding straight ahead into the gunfire, he veered off to look for the general and his officers in placed where they couldn't possibly be." pg 196

"I would never dare to claim that I know the truth,' said the mason, whose manner of speaking, with its firmness and preciseness, impressed Pierre more and more. 'No one person can attain truth. It is only stone by stone, with everyone's involvement, over millions of generations from our forefather Adam down to our own day, that a temple arises to be a dwelling-place worth of Almighty God,' said the freemason and he closed his eyes." pg 378

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
(I'm currently on page 403 and enjoying the heck out of this book - surprise, surprise!)

The Sunday Salon - The Art of Reading

The Sunday

Good Evening, Sunday Saloners. Today has been one of those days that everything you didn't get accomplished during the week catches up with you. It was a day of working on my Art History course, doing laundry, going grocery shopping, paying bills, planning lessons and of course, giving my loving hubby a foot rub.

This morning I received a surprise when I came online. I received the Sisterhood Award from not one, but two lovely ladies: Desert Rose and Sheri of A Novel Menageri

Thank you, my bloggy sisters. It is very much appreciated. The rules are to nominate up to 10 blogs which show great attitude and/or gratitude. I am going to reserve the award for the future to share when you least expect it.

This week in Art History is all about my favorite artist - Claude Monet. I have this wonderful screen saver which is a slide show of his artwork.
One of these years, we plan on going to stay with friends in France and one of the many stops will be Claude Monet's house and gardens in Giverny. In the meantime we continue to read all about him and enjoy his artwork. Some time ago I found "MONET by himself" edited by Richard Kendall which is a collection of his letters to friends, artists and family, plus pictures of all his paintings. James and I enjoy reading the children's book "The Magical Garden of Claude Monet" written by Laurence Anholt. He has written a wonderful series of books called Anholt's Artists Books for Children about Monet, Degas, Leonardo, Van Gogh, Matisse and Picasso. They are very good.

I managed to read ONE whole book this past week: Thomas Merton Seven Storey Mountain An Autobiography of Faith. I put everything else aside and decided to concentrate on reading and finishing it. The book has been on my nightstand for over a year now and I'm happy to say I finally read it. Merton was an interesting man, especially since he wasn't a particularly religious person growing up and decided to become a priest even though he hated Catholics and knew nothing about prayer. Yes, you heard right. His journey to catholicism and becoming a trappist monk is certainly an interesting one and well worth the read. I'll be reviewing it soon and expanding more about his trials and tribulations. Let's just say that when I finished the book, my mind was so full I couldn't read anything else, nor could I come up with the words to adequately review it until I had thought about it for a while.

In the meantime Spring is upon us and two great reading challenges are taking place in the Blogosphere: Callapidder's Days Spring Reading Thing and Stainless Steel Droppings Once Upon A Time III. My theme for the Spring Reading Thing is first time author reads and for OUATIII I will be reading a few new to me authors, a few favorites and revisiting a few oldies. Lots of reading. To start off spring with a bang, I am reading a book Father gave me for Christmas - War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. No, I have never read anything by Tolstoy believe it or not.

Yes, I started it last night and am on page 66. I started off reading a little too quickly and found myself going back a couple pages every few minutes to keep the characters straight because there are so many. So I slowed down and made sure not to skim and found myself intrigued. Who knows how long it will take me to read but it will be my only read until it is done.

Weekly Report # 22 3/16 to 3/20

This has been a fun week. Besides normal lessons, we've been working on Cub Scout stuff and Friday was the monthly pack meeting. This month's pack meeting was all about inspections.
Does he look ready for inspection? James' den was also supposed to be responsible for the invocation. However, neither Den mother was there because one was out of town and the other one sick. So they just skipped the invocation and Father and another parent stepped in to do the inspections.

In the past couple weeks, two new kids have joined James Den and didn't have uniforms yet. A blamed his dad for losing his hat, so he was wearing a bright yellow one that skated pass inspection since it was a cub scout hat of some sort. James skated by not having blue socks - something a mother can easily overlook since you can't see their socks. Instead of the the kids doing skits, the parents were enlisted to perform silly jokes in the midst of the cub master trying to talk. Father and I were volunteered. Our skit - I ran into the middle of the circle yelling:

"They're on me, they're on me!

"What's on you?" Father asks

"My Clothes!

Exit stage right to laughter and groans. Yes, the rest were equally silly. But a good time was had by all with much laughter, singing, yelling and the general mayhem you get with an auditorium full of boys.

What we accomplished this week:

Explorer Bible Study: Lesson 6 covered Genesis 5 - 6 Increase of Wickedness. God's decision to flood the earth because of the wickedness of man and his covenant with Noah.

Voyages in English: Working on Unit 6 - Adverbs and completed lessons 6.3 Adverbs that tell where and 6.4 Adverbs that tell how. The worksheets included exercises in which James had to write a couple sentences, with one an adverb that tells how and one that tell where.

His sentences: The Goomba chased Mario clumsily across the planetoid. He also drew an interesting picture of Mario being chased. The Goomba charged forward and the Mandibug charged inside.

His mind is still on completing Mario Super Galaxy and he has one power star left to get. He saved the hardest one for last, unfortunately - Luigi's purple coins in which he has three minutes to race around on crazy rocking squares and pick up 100 coins, then get back to the start point. He hasn't been able to do it, so what does he do. He started a new game and has been zooming through it all week, practicing going really fast and managed to get 113 power stars, including completing Luigi's purple coins. We are trying to talk him into going back into the old game and completing the last challenge. But he wants to finish the 2nd one, then go back to it. He's just stubborn that way.

Writing With Ease: Week 6 involved identifying the central theme of a poem and included reading "My Shadow" by Robert Louis Stevenson and "The Owl and The Pussycat" by Edward Lear. James narration after listening to "The Owl and The Pussycat."

The Owl and the pussy cat decided to get married. They got a nose ring from a pig and got married.

Spelling Workout: Completed Lesson 21 - vowel pairs.

Cursive: Working on writing paragraph in cursive and homonyms. Word fun involved writing two sentences for each homonym - bat, bug, hide, seal, and star.

Math: He's rolling along with subtraction. Reviewed subtracting from 10 to 15, plus subtracting from 16.

Science: He and father finished reading Periodic Table: Elements with Style.
Fun little book with each element, explaining what they are and what they do. They also read about Oxidation and Reduction in DK Chemistry book and in DK Eyewitness "Great Scientists" read about Alan Turing. Turing developed The Bombe which cracked the German Enigma code and also help create the design for the Automated Computer Engine.

History: Read Chapter 16 How Pocahantas took a journey over the Seas in This Country of Ours. When the english heard about Pocahantas's father, Powhatan, they had no idea he wasn't a real king. Because he was leader of the indians, they considered him a king and thus Pocahantas was a princess. The english treated her like royalty.

And that wraps up our week of learning, fun and frivolity.


Happy 2nd Blogoversary to Me!

I am excited to be celebrating my 2nd blogging anniversary today. When I first started this blog two years ago, I had no idea what the future was going to hold. When blogs first started appearing on the internet, I didn’t have a clue what they were about. Just a web log about something or other and basically ignored them. I used the internet to gather information, not to read or browse through someone else’s thoughts or feelings. After I was on the well trained mind boards for while, I was exposed to the homeschool blogs. I actually read a few and thought how interesting. Not really something I could do...had all the excuses in the world popping up. I am not that verbose, our life isn’t interesting enough, why would anyone read it.

Then as the blog world matured or maybe as I matured; learning, thinking, expanding my horizons, the thought crossed my mind. Hey, I could do that! Even if it was to keep our families abreast of our daily doings, it would be fun and help my writing skills. Having recently gone back to college, I needed to refresh my writing and thinking skills. It would be a journal of our life. I’ve never been able to keep a written journal for very long. Always too tired to write, to think. But, I was on the computer everyday…doing lessons, reading the news, research, so why not add in blogging.

So I figured I would probably write one post a week at max. My very first post after introducing myself to the blogging world at large was about Reading.

Wow! James reads so well, how did you teach him? The person who asked expected a simple answer. What she wanted to hear was “Oh, it was easy, all we did was show him how to read and that was it”

What she got was a loaded answer. See the rest of the post here
I have gone from writing maybe one post a week to posting daily, sometimes more than once. As of today, this is my 508th post. I had never imagined I could be so verbose. I'm from a family of 7 and was the quiet one, without much to say....Or so they thought!!! I think blogs are a blessing for introverts - we get to talk without being interrupted.

The blogosphere is an amazing place. In the past two years, I have discovered a vast worldwide internet community of bloggers who are diverse, interesting, entertaining, informative, helpful and wise. Very Wise! I discovered a whole new world of book bloggers, author blogs, writers blogs as well as home school and educational blogs. It has evolved or rather I have evolved since then and my blog has become a creative outlet for not only discussing homeschooling, but writing, book reviews, challenges and memes.

I have something for you all today, and some folks will be surprised because I don't think they even know I exist - because I lurk a lot.

This Beautiful Heart award goes out to all my readers. This includes you too, Mom and Dad. Thank you for all my wonderful readers, my faithful cheerleaders who uplift me with their positive words and spirit. Thank you to all the lurkers as well...I know you are there.

This award also goes to all of the bloggers who put their hearts, mind and soul into their blogs and give us a glimpse into their worlds. They are positive and may not realize it, but are leading by example. They inspire with their words, educate and inform. They entertain and uplift with their humor. They are welcoming, helpful and friendly and no one is a stranger, whether you've commented once or a million times. They are ever so wise and giving. Most of all, they have Beautiful Hearts.

I am giving this award to all of those bloggers listed on my sidebar, plus some bookmarked ones and a few unsuspecting folk who don't know I read their blogs. I have a tendency to lurk because I don't always have something to say. Without you, I don't think this blog would be what it is today. I have learned so much from all of you.

I'll be visiting all this week and handing out the award. There are no rules for this award which means you don't have to bestow it on 3, 5, 7, or 10 people. If you want to pass it on, it is up to you.

Thank you for helping me celebrate my 2nd blogging anniversary!

Once Upon A Time III

Challenges, Challenges, Challenges

I just finished two challenges, but couldn't resist taking on another two-Callapidder's Day's Spring Reading Challenge and one more.

In celebration of my 2nd Blogoversary, which is tomorrow, I am going back to my roots - my reading roots that is. When I was a teenager back in the 70's, my favorite genre was Fantasy and Science Fiction. I lived on a diet of Charles De Lint, Tom Deitz, Ray Bradbury, Mercedes Lackey, Joel Rosenburg, Katherine Kurtz and more. I've been going back through my old boxes of books and pulling out a few to re-visit.

Coincidently, I also discovered Carl's Blog Stainless Steel Droppings and I was very excited to see he annually hosts a reading event that celebrates not only Fantasy, but Fairy Tales, Folklore, and Mythology.

Once Upon A Time III

The Reading Event takes place during Spring from March 21th through June 20th. It is actually a low key event in which you can choose to list your books or just decide as you go along what you are going to read. There are several quests and I have decided to join in

For Quest the First, the goal is to read at least 5 books that fit somewhere within the Once Upon a Time III criteria. They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres. Carl has created a book review site for the quest for those who wish to post reviews.

I will be revisiting a few old favorites, plus discovering some new to me authors. There are a few books on my Spring Reading Challenge that will apply to the event. Plus the list is subject to change at any time.

I may or may not be able to finish them all, but I will certainly try. Happy Spring!

Spring Reading Thing 2009

Callapidder Day's
Spring Reading Thing 2009

March 20 to June 20

Spring is upon us and once again it is time for Callapidder Day's Spring Reading 2009. I decided to have a theme this year since have so many new books in my to be read pile. The theme is First Time Author Reads. Due to the wonderful reviews out there in the blogosphere, I've have acquired quite a few. Also, due to the advent of book reviewing, I've been requesting and receiving review copies of book from different sources, which thrills me to no end.

War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy. (Translated by Anthony Briggs) Father gave me this book for Christmas and I promised him it would be the first book I would read for Spring. At 1424 words it will take some time.

1st to Die (The Woman's Murder
Club series)- James Patterson. Believe it or not I have never read anything by James Patterson and heard much about him. Decided it's time to give him a try. We'll see what I think.

14 - J.T. Ellison. A murder mystery written by Ellison who blogs on one of my favorite group author sites - Murderati. I am working my way through reading books by all the authors who blog on the site so first time author read.

Duma Key - Stephen King. Surprisingly, the only thing I have read by King is his non fiction book "On Writing."

French Bred - Frederic Guarino (E-book) Referred by J.Kaye

Homicide in Hard Cover (A Bibliophile Mystery) - Kate Carlisle. Cozy mystery

House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings Series 1) - Robert Liparulo. A young adult christian mystery thriller.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Young adult fantasy. I finally succumbed and picked this up at Target.

Inside Out - John Ramsey Miller. Suspense Thriller He blogs on another multi author website The Kill Zone.

Long Lost - Harlan Coben. (Courtesy of Shelf Awareness) Mystery and will be released March 31st.

Magyk (Septimus Heap Book 1) - Angie Sage. Young Adult fantasy novel

Mysterious Benedict Society - Trenton Lee Stuart. Young adult adventure story

Safe Haven (Hideaway # 2) - Hannah Alexander. Christian Suspense thriller

Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader - Joe Hilley. Another book purchased by Father and I promised I would read it. Joe is always waiting to hear what I think about it.

The Ghost and Mrs. McClure (Haunted Bookshop Mystery) - Alice Kimberely. Book 1 of another series by author Cleo Coyle writing as Alice Kimberely. I haven't technically read anything by Alice Kimberely so, cheating a little on this one.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians book 1) - Rick Riordan. Young adult fantasy / mythology story about a 12 year old who learns he is the offspring of one of the Greek gods.

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman. Young Adult fantasy story I've seen many great reviews of this book and hope it lives up to it.

The Soul Collectors - Charles Quince. Courtesy of Bostick communications, this novella is a mystery thriller.

The Titian Committee - Iain Pears. Art History mystery

Too Hot To Handle - Robin Kaye. Advanced Reader Copy of romance novel courtesy of Sourcebooks being released May 1, 2009

Virgin River (Virgin River series # 1) - Robyn Carr. (autographed copy) Romantic novel.

Author face off: You may notice I have one book each from Stephen King and James Patterson. King doesn't like Patterson's writing, so I decided to pit one against the other and see for myself.

What are you planning on reading?

Winter Reading Challenge Wrap up

The Winter Reading Challenge is coming to an end as of March 20th. Originally I had 18 books on my list and ended up reading 24. The only books I decided not to read during this challenge were Magyk by Angie Sage and Joe Hilley's book about Sarah Palin: A New Kind of Leader. I started Magyk and just couldn't get into it and just wasn't in the mood yet to tackle the Sarah Palin book. I set these books aside to read at a later time.

  1. Salvation in Death by J.D. Robb
  2. Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  3. If There Be Dragons by Kay Hooper
  4. Love by Design (2 classic novels) by Nora Roberts
  5. Fire Dancer by Colleen Coble
  6. Five in a Row by Jane Coffey
  7. Bad Faith by Aimee Thurlo
  8. Unspeakable by Sandra Brown
  9. Distant Echoes by Colleen Coble
  10. To Catch a Thief by Christina Sky
  11. Black Sands by Colleen Coble
  12. Hot Mahogany by Stuart Woods
  13. Split Second by David Baldacci
  14. Kiss - Ted Dekker
  15. Spider's Web by Agatha Christie
  16. Destiny Kills by Keri Arthur
  17. Prey for a Miracle by Aimee Thurlo
  18. The Bone Garden by Tess Gerritsen
  19. The Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary
  20. Dance with the Dragon by David Hagberg
  21. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  22. A is for Alibi by Sue Grafton
  23. Hercules Poirot Christmas by Agatha Christi
  24. A Ghost in the Machine by Caroline Graham

Most of the books were new author reads and I enjoyed almost all of them. It's hard to say which one was my favorite although Life of Pi, Promises in Death and The Bone Garden stand out. My least favorite author read were the books by Colleen Coble. I had come across a sale on and bought her books after finding Fire Dancer at the local christian book store. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get into her characters. I won't be repeating the type of book buying binge again, unless I've actually read something by that author and know it will be something I will enjoy.

Once you are done with your wrap up post, leave a link on Mr. Linky. If you are not done with your reviews, the link to the book reviews will remain up in the link bar for a few more days. Then this post will be taking its place.

Looking forward to hearing how you did with the Challenge.

Thank you so much for participating and making my very first challenge easy and enjoyable. I enjoyed reading all your reviews and adding so many interesting books to my ever growing wish list.

Click here to see links to all book reviews