Weekly Report # 6

The week went well and we are still working our way up to a full schedule. What we accomplished:

Faith, Character and Catechism:

Boyhood and Beyond: James and Father read Where Do I Belong and Mr. Industry vs. Mr. Sloth.

"Every day you have the desire to be industrious. Every day you have the desire to be slothful. Some days one desire is stronger than the other. The desires you follow determine the man you will become." pg 92

St Joseph Baltimore Catechism: # 5 Creation and Fall of Man; Bible History Cain and Abel and Matthew 5 the Beatitudes. All lead to some interesting discussions.

Math: Completed Lessons 15 through 18.

Voyages in English: Lesson 4 writing skills pertaining to personal narrations and focused on Compound Predicates and Direct Objects.

Spelling: Lesson 4 Hard and Soft c & g. James scored 18 out of 20 on test.

Writing with Ease: Lesson 20 - concentrating on identifying narrative thread in excerpts from Alexander the Great and his Horse. James has no problem taking dictation.

History: This Country of Our Chapter 29 Founding of Connecticut and War with the Indians. Even the Indians were at war with one another. But after this particular skirmish, peace for 5 years or so.

Science: In Physics read and discussed all about Simple machines. In Isaac Newton Chapter 2 and all about his study at Cambridge. James and Father did a lever experiment using 2 4 x 4's.

Reading: James and Father reading the Bard of Avon together and learning all about Shakespeare.

We didn't get to Art or Latin this week. Don't know what happened to our days but they seem to have gotten away from us.

Last Saturday we participating in the Boy Scouts California Capital March. Unfortunately Schwarzenegger didn't show up. No sure what happened. His staff must have double booked him because instead of addressing the Boy Scouts, he spoke at a NAACP conference. The boys and parents were all disappointed but the Lt. Governor, John Garamendi spoke and he was quite eloquent.

Getting it together

The walk there

Lots of people

Entrance to the Event

Father and James

The kids were exhausted but did good. Resting while waiting for the speeches to start.

Halloween Spooktacular One Word Reviews



I don't have time to write any intelligent reviews this weekend. I enjoyed reading both these books. DeLint's was spooky, scary, chilling, good. A five star book in my book. Sergie's Nightwatch - complex, esoteric, philosophical book about good and evil. Surprisingly good.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley



Mary Shelley

Back Cover: "Obsessed with creating life itself, Victor Frankenstein plunders grave yards for the material to fashion a new being, which he shocks into life with electricity. But his botched creature, rejected by Frankenstein and denied human companionship, sets out to destroy his maker and all that he holds dear. Mary Shelley's chilling Gothic tale was conceived when she was only eighteen, living with her love Percy Shelley near Bryon's villa on Lake Geneva. It would become the world's most famous work of horror fiction, and remains a devastating exploration of the limits of human creativity."
For Heather's of Age 30's Dueling Monster's Read-A-Long I decided to read Frankenstein since I had never read it before. Frankenstein was quite interesting given that it was written back in the 1800's by an 18 year old girl. It was slow reading simply because of the writing style back then. I was surprised by the story because I some preconceived ideas about it from various films I had seen over the years and those were shot all to heck.

The story starts with an Adventurer Robert Wallen, trying to reach the North Pole. He tells the story in letters to his sister, Elizabeth. Out in the middle of the frozen ice lands, they meet up with Dr. Frankenstein who is chasing the monster. Frankenstein takes over the narrative at this point, telling his story and how he came to be there.

He had created a monster. Upon creating this monster and shocking it to life, he became instantly disgusted with it and himself and abandoned it.

"The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep....

I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed: when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced it way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch - the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs." pg 58 -59

He leaves the house for a couple days and when he returns is overjoyed that the monster has left. The monster disappears for a period of time only to resurface angry with Frankenstein and kills his brother. Frankenstein knows the monster is responsible, however he is very depressed and travels up into the Alps to escape and sooth his weary spirit. The monster finds him and approaches and asks him to listen and help him. Seems the monster has managed to educate himself quite well.

"Be calm! I entreat you to hear me, before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more powerful that thyself; my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king, if thou wilt also perform thy part, of which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection is most due. Remember, that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a friend. Make me happy and I shall again be virtuous." pg 102-103
Seems the monster has educated himself living in a storage shed by a French family's house and spying on them. He managed to get a hold of three books and learned to read. The three books: Milton's Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Parallel lives and Johann von Goeth's Sorrows of Werter. The monster wants Frankenstein to make him a woman, a mate who will keep him company and he promises to disappear forever. After some thought, Frankenstein decides to so. He disappears to a tiny island and in the middle of making the monster's mate, is so overcome with disgust, destroys the mate halfway through. The Monster, who had been keeping tabs on him, kills his best friend, Cherval and Frankenstein is put in jail for the murder. When he is acquitted, he returns home to his father and his lady love who is still waiting for him.

Even though the Monster told him he would be there on his wedding night and kill him and despite the fact the good Doctor tells his lady love he has a terrible secret, but can't reveal it to her until they are married, he and Elizabeth get married. Frankenstein sends his new wife off to bed, while he paces the floor in the library, overcome with worry about the monster.

"She left me, and I continued some time walking up and down the passages of the house, and inspecting every corner that might afford a retreat to my adversary. But I discovered no trace of him, and was beginning to conjecture that some fortunate chance had intervened to prevent the execution of his menaces; when suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. It had come from the room into which Elizabeth had retired. As I heard it, the whole truth rushed into my mind, my arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre was suspended; I could feel the blood trickling in my veins, and tingling in the extremities of my limbs. This state lasted but for an instant; the scream was repeated and I rushed into the room." pg 199

Yes, the monster killed Elizabeth and the chase is on. Dr. Frankenstein chases the monster until we get to the point where the doctor meets up with Robert Walden. He is in ill health and ends up dying. Robert discovers the Monster in the cabin with Dr. Frankenstein, saying goodbye to his creator. After a long and dramatic discourse over his body, jumps out the window and disappears into the night.

"But soon,' he cried, with sad and solemn enthusiasm, 'I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The last of that conflagration will fade away, my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell.' pg 225

Whoops - Folks are asking "Did I like the book?: Forgot to say didn't I. I found Frankenstein to be whiny and self centered. Many of his decisions made me mad. I couldn't believe Elizabeth's devotion. She seemed to ignore his faults, up to the point of marrying him even though he told he has this 'terrible' secret. The monster, well - in a way I felt sorry for it. Even though I found fault with the story, I couldn't put it down. I wanted to know what would happen next. Frankenstein is one of those books that you find fascinating simple because it is a train wreck waiting to happen. Yes, I liked it.

Head on over to Heather's and see what everyone else thought.

New Challenge - Shelf Discovery Challenge

Shelf Discovery Challenge
November 1, 2009 to April 30, 2010

The year is coming to an end and I've been looking at all the challenges for 2010 that have been coming up. I swore I wasn't going to do any challenges that didn't last the whole year, but one caught my eye that I just have to do: Shelf Discovery Challenge hosted by Julie of Booking Mama. It is her first challenge ever, so congrats to Julie for thinking of it. The challenge is based off of the book "Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics we Never Stopped Reading. I was browsing the book on Amazon and really liked the author Lizzie Skurnick's sense of humor. There are lots of interesting books I read when I was younger and surprisingly quite a few I didn't. I decided to join in on the challenge. The goal is to read 6 books mentioned in Shelf Discovery. It looks like I'm going to go on a Lois Duncan kick.

Besides reading Shelf Discovery, the books I have chosen to read are:

1. A Gift of Magic - Lois Duncan
2. Summer of Fear - Lois Duncan
3. Down a Dark Hall - Lois Duncan
4. Stranger with My Face - Lois Duncan
5. Daughters of Eve - Lois Duncan
6. The Westing Game - Ellen Raskin

And a bonus book: The Endless Steppe: Growing up in Siberia by Esther Hauzig.

I'm psyched about the challenge and look forward to reading these books. Now I just have to figure out my book budget for next year, before I commit to more challenges. :)

Libri Multus

Mini reviews - first time author reads

Thoroughly enjoyed Nevada Barr's Blind Descent. Once started reading it, didn't want to put it down. Anna's coworker is hurt while exploring a deep underground cavern in Carlsbad Cavern's. She wants Anna by her side. Only problem, Anna is very claustrophobic. She battles her fears as she goes deep underground to help rescue Frieda. Mix in the fact that someone deliberately tried to kill Frieda and doesn't want anyone to get back to the surface.

Kill Her Again by Robert Gregory Browne. One of the authors who blogs at Murderati. Well written thriller about Anna, a FBI agent who has been having visions of a kidnapped little girl since she was seriously injured on the job. While investigating the murder of a family and the disappearance of the little girl, the visions keep reoccuring. Supernatural elements come into play when a hypnotist tells Anna the girl in her visions is her from a past life. Spooky, scary and very interesting.

The Ark, the Reed, & the Fire Cloud by Jenny L. Cote. Excellent children's book about animals traveling from all over the world, following the fire cloud to Noah's ark. Scottish dogs, French and Irish cats, Russian polar bears, Spanish Bull and cow, and and a wide assortment of other animals. Fun read for both James and I.

The Red Siren by M.L. Tyndale. Christian historical fiction story in which Faith, determined not forced into an arranged marriage by her father, becomes a pirate in order to make the money to support her and her sisters. In the process, she's abandoned her faith, but through her relationship with Dajon, Captain of the British Royal Navy, starts to believe again. However, what will happen when he discovers she is a pirate.

hush, hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

hush, hush


Becca Fitzpatrick

Sidewalk Drawing done for Simon and Schuster, Canada

Publisher Description: Romance was not part of Nora Grey's plan. She's never been particularly attracted to the boys at her school, no matter how hard her best friend, Vee, pushes them at her. Not until Patch comes along. With his easy smile and eyes that seem to see inside her, Patch draws Nora to him against her better judgment.

But after a series of terrifying encounters, Nora's not sure whom to trust. Patch seems to be everywhere she is and seems to know more about her than her closest friends. She can't decide whether she should fall into his arms or run and hide. And when she tries to seek some answers, she finds herself near a truth that is way more unsettling than anything Patch makes her feel.

For she is right in the middle of an ancient battle between the immortal and those who have fallen -- and, when it comes to choosing sides, the wrong choice will cost Nora her life.

"hush, hush" is a very, very good young adult paranormal story in which teenagers act like typical teenagers, except with a twist. Nora gets paired with Patch in biology class. Their first assignment - interview your partner. However Patch makes it difficult for Nora because he is the silent, mysterious type and doesn't like to answer questions. She's persistent though which leads to all kinds of trouble. The more she gets to know Patch, the more difficult life becomes. Someone is following her and she thinks it is Patch.

She lends Vee, her bff, her jacket and Vee gets beat up. A homeless woman takes her coat in exchange for directions and is gunned down. Then the body disappears. Someone breaks into her house and her bedroom is totally ransacked. But when the police arrive to investigate, everything has been set back to normal. And the two young men who befriend her and Vee seem to be acting strange.

It all seems to center around Patch. Sometimes he acts like he wants her around, other times he doesn't. He seems to be everywhere she is. Is he the one trying to make her crazy? The story is full of twist and turns and at times you can't tell who the good guys are, which makes it all the more scary and interesting.

Thank you to Emily of Simon and Schuster via Shelf Awareness for sending me an ARC of hush, hush to review. I thoroughly enjoyed it. However, I don't know how it really ends. Why? Because the hardcover release has a completely different ending. Looks like a trip to the book store is in order.

Pages: 400
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Released: October 13, 2009
Genre: Young Adult paranormal

Other Thoughts:

Steph of Reviewer X
(Teen point of view)
"...dark and both relevant and whimsical, with memorable characters, great quotability, and abundant humor. Hush, Hush doesn’t stop at exciting--it was an experience so complete and enjoyable, it tides you over."

Karin Librarian of Karin's Book Nook:
"HUSH, HUSH by Becca Fitpatrick is an enjoyable mix of suspense and romance. Patch is definitely the type of dark and mysterious character that will make girls go weak in the knees."

Liviania of In Bed with Books
"Creepy moments and sexy moments abound, in a nice balance. Plus, several of Nora and Patch's conversations are snarky fun."

*non compensated, unbiased opinion - book received free of charge from the publisher.

The Sunday Salon: Nooks and Books

The Sunday Salon.com

Dear john letter to Kindle. I'm so sorry, darling, but I've found something new that offers me so much more and I can't resist it.

What sold me on the Barnes and Noble Nook: AT&T's 3G Network and Wi-Fi enabled ereader -- Can't, can't stand Sprint. Plus the color touch screen -- cool! Other cool features - ability to download thousands of free ebooks from google and read up to 10 days before having to recharge the battery. After mulling it over for a couple days and discussing it with Father, pre ordered the Nook. It is set to be released on November 30th. It will either be a late birthday or early christmas present to myself.

During BBAW I won the Reading and Writing Bundle from Harper Collins and I received the books on Friday. Very cool selection.

Don't Know Much About Literature
* by Kenneth C. Davis. Lots of interesting facts about great books and their authors.

How to Read Literature Like a Professor
* by Thomas C. Foster. A guide to reading between the lines and finding out what the author meant or what something symbolized.

A Novel in a Year * by Louise Doughty. 52 chapters of practical advice from start to end. Great timing since just about to start writing a new story.

Reading Like a Writer * by Francine Prose. Using examples from the great books, the author teaches how a close reading will teach you to not only be a better reader, but a better writer.

You've Got to Read This Book * by Jack Canfield and Gay Hendricks. 55 Celebrities, authors, singers, etc talk about the book that changed their lives.

All very neat books and I look forward to reading them. A big thank you to Harper Collins for sending them to me.

I'm currently reading Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko. Very interesting and the last of the books I had decided to read for the Spooktacular month of October. I finished "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley and "From a Whisper to a Scream" by Charles DeLint. Also "Hush Hush" by Becca Fitzpatrick. All very good books and will be reviewing them sometime this week.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention Dewey's Read-a-Thon. Even though I was just a cheerleader this year, I enjoyed the event and had fun cheering on the readers. A big cheer and thank you to the organizers who hosted the event: Eva, Nymeth, Hannah and Trish. They really worked hard and deserve a big round of applause - imagine virtual applause. Also the readers who put their heart and souls into reading and the cheerleaders who urge them on.

You guys Rock!

* note: links are not amazon associate links.

Dewey's 24 hour Read A Thon

The readathon is in full swing. Readers are in their 13th hour. I decided instead of being a reader this year, that I would be a cheerleader. I knew that once the California Capitol March was over, I would be too brain dead to read. And I was right. I tried reading a bit after we got home and couldn't comprehend a thing. Took a nap and jumped on line to visit all the readers and urge them on.

I got in some practice (inadvertently) cheerleading at the march, leading our troop in the YMCA song. They were playing YMCA over the loudspeaker and the cub master thought I was doing such a good job of it, that she appointed me to lead the boys in the Y M C A hand movements. Yes, father took pictures. Soon. Soon.

So, what is the read-a-thon all about.

What is Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon? For 24 hours, we read books, post to our blogs about our reading, and visit other readers’ blogs. We also participate in mini-challenges throughout the day. It happens twice a year, in April and in October.

It was created by the beloved Dewey. The first one was held in October 2007. Dewey died in late 2008. We’re still saddened by her absence, but the show must go on. The read-a-thon was renamed to honor its founder in 2009.

Dewey’s 24-Hour Read-a-thon is hosted by Eva, Nymeth, Hannah and Trish.

Check it out here and take the time the cheer on some of the 376 readers participating. Some reading for fun and some reading not only for fun, but charities as well. Good luck to all the readers!

Weekly report # 4 & 5

Last week was an extremely light week. After accomplishing very little on Monday and Tuesday, hung it up for the week. I think the planned change to 6 weeks on, 1 week off isn't going to work. After three weeks we all look forward to a little break. I use it to regroup and get stuff done around the house. Father uses the break to work on his electronics project. James still gets in plenty of educational stuff although informal. Research on the computer, working on making lego movies, etc. So going back to 3 weeks on and 1 week off.

What we accomplished:

Faith, Character and Catechism:

Boyhood and beyond
: Father and James read 5 more chapters about Coveting, Temptation, Education for Life, Forgiveness and Dirty Diapers and Get up Again. The quote I like the best is:

"Whenever you fail, never lie down and quit. Get up! Restore. Get up! Reconcile. Get up! Rebuild. Pick up and ball and run. As long as there is even one second on the clock of life, GET UP!" pg 79

Read and discussed: Matthew 4 Temptation of Jesus. James had lots of questions about Satin tempting Jesus in the desert and all the why's and how comes and why didn't he.... St Joseph Baltimore Catechism 4 Creation of the Angels. Fun discussion about good, bad and guardian angels. Bible History 4 The Fall of our First Parents. Discussed tied back again to temptation.

Saxon Math: The repetition seems to be working and I'm loving the scripted lessons.

Voyages in English: Lesson 3 all about time lines and creating personal narrative from timeline. Completed sections 1.5 subjects and predicates and 1.6 compound subjects.

Writing with Ease: We're in the middle of the book on Week 19 and all about identifying central actions in scene, plus narration and dictation. The excerpt from Edith Nesbit's "Five Children and It."

Spelling Workout: Completed Lesson 3 Long Vowel Sounds

Exploring the World of Physics: Father and James completed reading and discussing Chapter 3 all about gravity. From Physics Workshop, James put together his Gravity Locator tower and experimented with finding the center of gravity (or center of area).

They also started reading "Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids."

History: Read Chapter 28 How Maine and New Hampshire were founded in This Country of Ours and Also started reading "Bard of Avon, the Story of William Shakespeare. Started having James practicing copywork using George Washington's Rule of Civility and Decent Behavior. "Rule #1 - Every action done in company, ought to be with some sign of respect, to those that are present." He still likes to print in all capitals. Working on getting him to write everything properly with capitals only at the beginning of sentences and the rest lower case.

Artistic Pursuits: We completed Unit 2 and learned all about Line and Shape and artist George Catlin. We practiced free drawing a small pumpkin.

Lively Latin: Completed lesson 1.1 and that's about it. Inevitably this gets push aside when tired from completing everything else. Working it in slowly.

Read Aloud: I finally discovered the secret to getting James interested in a story. I read the book, tell him about it and he either expresses interest or says meh!. The other day I read The Black Stallion and told him all about the story. The response - that's nice mom. Okay. Then I started reading "The Ark, The Reed and The Fire Cloud" by Jenny Cote. A scottish terrier, Max who lives in Scotland of course, hears a mysterious voice coming from the reeds saying Come to Me - Follow the Fire cloud. It's an adventure about animals being lead from all over the world, meeting up with their mates if they didn't have one and journeying to Noah's ark and the resulting flood. I started reading it and mentioned it to James and he's show me, show me.

He looked at the book and decided he wanted to read it together with me. So we've been reading it together every day, three or four chapters at a time. It's a fun read, especially with all the different characters accents - scottish dogs, french cats, spanish hummingbirds, english whales. However, I'm finding I can't go from a scottish brogue to an irish one. They kind of get mixed up. This is one story I'd love to have as an audio book. We are two thirds of the way through.

Boy Scouts: Tuesday was the monthly pack meeting and everyone went in their halloween costumes. The older boy scout den did a haunted house and it was fun watching all the kids go in. The first time, most of the younger kids had trepidation all over their faces. When they came out, face were lit up with glee and almost all of them went right back to the line to go through again. It was the first time James has ever experienced a haunted house type thing. I decided to go through with him the first time, since we didn't know what to expect. The kids were dressed up as gorillas, ghosts, and goblins and just jumped out from behind black curtains yelled boo and stuff. Pretty mild. He ended up going back again and again and again.

Tomorrow we are going down to the capitol for the California Capitol March in celebration of 100 years of scouting. The mayor will lead the march from Raley field to the Capitol steps where they will present a report on scouting to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Then back to the Field for all kinds of fun festivities. It should be interesting and I'll be taking lots of pictures.

National Novel Write Month: I told James about it and he thought of a story he wanted to write. He's already started working on it and is writing a chapter a day. Fan fiction type of story about Super Mario Brothers. I wasn't going to stop his creative process by telling him he couldn't start until November 1st. So he's unofficially involved. I'm champing at the bit to start my story and working on outlines, writing down ideas, figuring out characters.

TSS: More Challenges!

The Sunday Salon.com

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening and happy monday, depending on where you are on the globe. I swore I wasn't going to join any more reading challenges or set any more challenges for myself, but you know, sometimes you just can't resist. I've been thinking about the new year and reading challenges. I came up with a new challenge for myself - the Hugo Award Reading challenge.

The Hugo Awards are awards for excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy and are awarded each year at the World Science Fiction convention.

"The Hugo Awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, a famous magazine editor who did much to bring science fiction to a wider audience. Gernsback founded Amazing Stories, the first major American SF magazine, in 1926. He is widely credited with sparking a boom in interest in written SF. In addition to having the Hugo Awards named after him he has been recognized as the “Father of Magazine SF” and has a crater on the Moon named after him."
The first award handed out for best novel in 1953 was The Demolished Man by Alfred Bester. The 2009 award went to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book. I will be working my way through the list of award winners for best novel, starting with 1953. The winners through 1969 are

  1. 1953 The Demolished Man - Alfred Bester (have)
  2. 1954 Fahrenheit 451 - Ray Bradbury
  3. 1955 They'd Rather be Eight - Mark Clifton
  4. 1956 Double Star - Robert Heinlein
  5. 1957 none
  6. 1958 The Big Time - Fritz Leiber
  7. 1959 A Case of Conscience - James Blish
  8. 1960 Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein
  9. 1961 A Canticle for Leibwitz - Walter Miller
  10. 1962 Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Heinlein
  11. 1963 The Man in the High Castle - Philip K. Dick
  12. 1964 Here Gather the Stars - Clifford D. Simak
  13. 1965 The Wanderer - Fritz Leiber
  14. 1966 Dune - Frank Herbert
  15. 1967 The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert Heinlein
  16. 1968 Lord of Light - Roger Zelany
  17. 1969 Stand on Zanzibar - John Brunner
The website also lists the runner ups and I may be taking side trips reading through those books as well. They all look like really interesting books and I may just have a few packed away in the closet. I'm going to have to go through my boxes and see. At some point I will either write up a post with a total list of best novels or set up a separate site. It will be a perpetual challenge and I'll set a goal of reading the novels winners from 1953 to 1969 for the first year. If anyone wants to join me in the challenge, let me know and I'll set something up.

Two other challenges that I am joining this year are BethF's Sookie Stackhouse Reading Challenge and The Really Old Classics Challenge co hosted by Rebecca and Heather.

A couple weeks ago I picked up "Dead Until Dark" by Charlaine Harris and was hooked. Immediately went out and bought "Living Dead in Dallas." Target had the whole series and I was tempted to buy all then and there, but resisted the temptation. I picked up "Club Dead" and "Dead to the World" today. And when I saw Beth is hosting a Sookie Stackhouse Challenge, couldn't resist joining in on the challenge.

The challenge runs through June 30, 2010 so plenty of time to read Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series.

Then Rebecca and Heather announced their Really Old Classics Challenge which is a challenge to read those really old classics written prior to the 1600's.

We have a few books on the shelves I've been meaning to read such as St. Augustine's Confessions and Five Great Dialogues by Plato to name a couple so decided to join the challenge. The challenge runs from November 2009 through February 2010. Will definitely be Reading St. Augustine's Confessions and perhaps a bonus book or two.

How am I doing on my current challenges:

Fall into Reading: Finished 6 out of 13 so far.

Take a Chance Challenge: Finished 3 out of 10 tasks. Have til the end of November. Not sure I'm going to make it.

Random Reading Challenge
: Finished 9 out of 12.

Lisa Jackson Reading Fest: Finished 1 out of 6. Have til the end of next year so will carry over to 2010 and not worry about it for the rest of this year.

I Dare You to Accept this Challenge
: Finished 1 out of 10 things. Have til April 2010, so will concentrate on finishing those tasks next year.

Agatha Christie
and U.S. Presidents Reading Projects are perpetual challenges. Working slowly on these two.

Have a few books I finished but haven't had time to review yet and will try to get caught up before the end of the month: "Hush Hush" by Becca Fitzpatrick, "From a Whisper to a Scream" by Charles DeLint, "The Brutal Telling" by Louise Penny, "The Red Siren" by M.L. Tyndale and "Kill her Again" by Robert Gregory Brown. I'm currently reading "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley" and next up to bat will be "Night Watch" by Sergie Lukyanenko.

Then I have to clear the decks for National Novel Write Month.

Happy Reading!!!

Post to Ponder - Lord Woodhouselee and democracy

I heard an interesting quote on Television last night and looked it up today.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess of the public treasury. From that time on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the results that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship....

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through this sequence:

from spiritual faith to great courage;

from liberty to abundance;

from abundance to selfishness;

from selfishness to complacency;

from complacency to apathy;

from apathy to dependence;

from dependency back again to bondage."

Written back in the late 1700's by Lord Woodhouselee, Sir Alex Fraser Tytler, a Scottish jurist, professor and historian.

I saw this last night on the Glenn Beck show. (no booing) Occasionally Father ropes me into watching Glenn Beck with him and last night Beck was all fired up. He annoys the heck out of me and this is the reason why. He quoted the above material saying he loved it and it made so much sense and really getting into the semantics of it. But surprise-surprise didn't know who had said it. By the end of the show the staff found out and told Beck. Probably because it sounded really stupid admitting he didn't know who wrote it. Beck, then offhandedly remarked who wrote it as if it didn't matter. I can't stand reporters who don't check their sources, who don't check the accuracy of their material, who can't back their words up with facts. It only causes doubt and reflects on their credibility.

Despite that, the quote is interesting. Where would you say we are at this point in time? Complacent, apathetic or dependent. Beck thinks we are at the dependent point and headed towards bondage. Which made me think - where does that place Obama. As a descendant of slavery, he represents the ultimate freedom from slavery. And if the next step is bondage, he would be the one responsible for reducing our country back into that state. Full circle.

Let's hope he breaks the circle.

Nathan Bransford's Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Contest

Nathan Bransford's Stupendously Ultimate First Paragraph Contest

Nathan is hosting a fun challenge in which you pit your first paragraph against other writers first paragraphs.

At this point he has over a 1000 entries. I've read quite a few of them and they are quite interesting and very good. I couldn't possible compete but decided why not. There are rules of course, number 1 being this is solely for fun. The next is post the first paragraph of any work in progress in the comment section. The paragraph needs to be one paragraph and not multiple paragraphs masquerading as one. I may have broken the one paragraph rule simply because I wasn't sure whether dialogue itself is considered a paragraph in the writing rule. The deadline is Thursday at 4:00 p.m. eastern. The finalist will be posted on Friday and then everyone gets to vote on who the winner should be. For the grand prize winner, the prize is a critique or partial critique, and a galley of The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard.

Here's my entry:

Samantha jumped at the knock on the door, the hard rap of knuckles against the wood. She glanced back at the screen at the email she had written. “God I hope I’m doing the right thing. She took a deep breath and clicked send, before getting up to answer the door. “Wow, Leah – you made good time,” she said as she opened the door. Sam gasped “Lyle!” and stumbled back as something silver flashed in front of her, ripping her shirt. Before she had time to think or act, he walked in, like a panther stalking his prey and kicked the the door shut with his foot. “Hello Samantha,” She backed away, gripping her torn shirt. “What…” He leaned back against the door, a sly smile on his face, holding a long edged sword. “You like?” he said, whipping the sword back and forth, and it whistled faintly as it slashed through the air. “Spado da Lato. It’s an antique, given to my father by his father and so on and so forth. I’ve made a few changes to it, of course.” Her stomach started to sting and she glanced down. She felt her stomach and looked at her hand. It was bloody. She looked back up at him. “You cut me.” she whispered.

Hmm! Yep, kind of over did it. Oh well! C'est la vie

Head on over and check out the entries and enter while there's still time.

NaNoWriMo is coming!!!!

National Novel Writing Month is going to start in 21 more days on November 1st and I'm so excited.

What is National Novel Writing month all about you ask? It is a fly by the seat of your pants way to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. The purpose is output. You don't edit, you don't delete, you don't rewrite ---- you just write. You let the muse flow and let er rip. As Chris Baty says:

"Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down."

I don't know what it is about the prospect of ignoring my internal editor for 30 days and writing like crazy. Perhaps the adventure of it all. Totally wrapping myself up in the lives of imaginary characters and subjecting them to all kinds of interesting and perilous activities. Perhaps it is the camaraderie of umpteen thousands of other like minded folks all over the world joining in on the festivities. Last year over 119,000 folks joined in compared to the 21 people who joined Chris Baty in 1999 for the very first NaNoWriMo. It will be interesting to see how many join in this year.

Floating on the Surface has been officially shelved for the time being. I only finished about 1/3 of the rewrite and will get back to it after I'm done with the first draft of Nano 2009. I can't keep two sets of characters in my head and write two stories at the same time, unlike some authors out there who has several different projects going at the same time. I really don't know how they do it.

The new story is shaping up to be a murder mystery with a bit of romantic suspense and will be called "Eyes in the Ashes." We'll see what it ends up being when I'm done. :) The setting of the story is a horse ranch and artists colony in a small oregon town on the river. It is "owned" by the McCourt's. For some reason, bats have moved their roost from the caverns to the roof of the bell tower in an old mission that has been renovated by the McCourt's. It is now a McCourt Ranch luxury Inn and spa. Perhaps some sort of illegal activity taking place in the caverns that has bothered the pregnant momma bats? Perhaps some illegal activity on the part of the McCourt's and various artists. Small town politics and old boy network play a big part. The town's vet calls in his sister Dr. Isabella D'Angelo who heads a wildlife foundation. She is absolutely delighted to come and bring her crew because McCourts bat colony is an unstudied colony. The McCourts really don't want anybody traipsing about their land or the caverns. Gee I wonder why? Isabella discovers a body in the caverns which leads to her being involved with the town sheriff and the attention of parties who remain nameless who want to get rid of her. Now I just need to figure out a short synopsis that makes sense.

I've been working on the outline and working on characters. Isabella is turning out to be quite spunky. I'll have to see if I can find a picture that matches her.
I'm psyched and looking forward to starting the new story.

My call tag on the Nano Site is mytwoblessings and can be found here.

So, if you discover I'm not posting as much, joining in the weekly meme's, commenting or visiting, you'll know where I am. Planning, outlining and as of November 1, writing!!!

Weekly Report # 3

This week went pretty well, except for a few minor glitches. Our schedule gets thrown off for the day when Father sleeps in and leaves later for work. Benefits of having your own business with employees who open the shop for the day. We usually start lessons as soon as he leaves. But when he doesn't get out of here until 11:30 or so, we just hold off until after lunch. Sometimes this works. Other times, I swear James brain has left the building. Hello? Anyone home?

Faith, Character and Catechism: Father and James read two more chapter in Boyhood and Beyond: Ch 5 A man and Ch 6 Be of Good Cheer.

"There is not a set day when you become a man. It's not a matter of age. Manhood is built within you little by little. Each time you accept one of life's responsibilities as your own, you take a step toward manhood... Each time you claim some task as your own, you advance toward manhood. When you begin to see the needs of others and feel the urge to meet those needs, you're becoming a man. When you develop a useful skill, gain wisdom, or protect someone that is weak, you are moving toward your life's purpose." pg 42

"Get to know the truth. Refuse to let yourself become discouraged. Let God's cheerful Spirit rule your heart. Life is full of hope. If you find yourself sliding into discouragement or into a sour attitude, know for sure you are listening to some form of lie. Go back to the truth and believe it." pg 49

We completed Lesson 3 Unity and Trinity in St Joseph's Baltimore Catechism, Chapter 3 Creation of Man in Bible History and read Matthew 3:3 John leads the way in Adventure Bible.

Voyages in English: Chapter one Personal Narratives. Lessons two covered Introductions, body and conclusion and we focused on subjects and predicates. Homework I gave to James to complete on daddy day was pretty simple: Think of something you made recently, like the birdhouse, and list as many details as possible about the experience. Then write a conclusion to the personal narrative about the experience.

I'll spare you the list, but his conclusion was great: "It saves the birds from the cat's grinding jaws."

Wordly Wise: I'm not liking it and neither is James. Shelving it for now.

Spelling Workout D: Lesson 2 Short Vowel Sounds. Scored 18 out of 20 on the spelling test. Two words going into the word locker for more practice next week - adopt and pencil.

Writing with Ease: Will pick this back up next week. Janet from Across the Page wrote up an excellent post spotlighting WWE this week. Well worth checking it out.

Saxon Math: Moving right along and though it seems a bit easy for James, the repetition is great. May end up moving a bit faster and doing two lessons at a time.

Exploring the World of Physics: The guys read and worked on Chapter Two - The Laws of Motion. Father says it is challenging and James is getting it. He covered the math equations presented in the chapter on the laws of motion. Pretty advanced stuff, but its all going into James head. He scored 100% on the questions at the end of the chapter with a bit of help from Father. When I got home from work and quizzed him, he answered the questions correctly. I'm impressed. Want James to learn more about Isaac Newton. Shelved Tiner's biography of Isaac Newton. Found it to be a bit too depressing and wasn't enjoying reading it. Picked up "Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids: His Life and Ideas with 21 Activities" by Kerrie Logan Hollihan. It is much more detailing, interesting, positive and has some interesting activities to do such as making your own waterwheel and making your ink.

History: Read Chapter 27: How Quakers first came to New England. Interesting, because I either didn't learn this part or had forgotten how hated the Quakers were and the attempts to get rid of them.

Lively Latin: Still haven't actually started any lessons as of yet. Read a bit more about the mysterious french connection and picked a latin name for James. He picked Titus. I picked Scribonia for the fun of it. But when a certain party who will remain nameless said Scribonia sounded like screw bony, I decided against it. Maybe I'll just skip the latin name. :)

Artistic Pursuits: Completed Unit 1 all about Space. Learned all about vertical and horizontal spacing. About artist Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze with a bit of history about General Washington thrown in. We tried free drawing from a photograph that I forgot to pick in advance, so was scrambling to find something to draw. James chose to draw a lightsaber from a picture on front of one of his movies. I drew a flower from a photograph in Woman's day magazine. And no you don't get to see it. Both our attempts were quite amusing.

Picked up some additional books this week - now we just have to find the time to read them.

Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Dracula The Un-Dead


Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Product Description: "Dracula The Un-Dead is a bone-chilling sequel based on Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Written with the blessing and cooperation of Stoker family members, Dracula The Un-Dead begins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula "crumbled into dust." Van Helsing's protégé, Dr. Jack Seward, is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school for the London stage, only to stumble upon the troubled production of "Dracula," directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself.

The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents' terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he experiences evil in a way he had never imagined. One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula a quarter-century ago is being hunted down. Could it be that Dracula somehow survived their attack and is seeking revenge? Or is their another force at work whose relentless purpose is to destroy anything and anyone associated with Dracula?"
I recently received an Advance Reader Copy of "Dracula The Un-Dead" by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt from the Penguin Group through Shelf Awareness. I just finished reading "Dracula the Undead" and have to say I was pretty well riveted through the entire novel. Having never read the original "Dracula" by Bram Stoker (shame on me), didn't have any preconceived ideas about the story. Yes, it was a bit gory at times, but nothing I couldn't handle.

Once again someone or something is preying upon woman and leaving them torn to pieces much like Jack the Ripper of the olden days. Quincey gets involved in a stage production of Dracula written by Bram Stoker. Stoker put the story together from the drunken ramblings of a man he met many times in a pub. Little did he know the stories were true. And that his story would draw the attention of not only Count Dracula himself, but a beautiful and deadly vampiress from the 16th century. Who is attacking the heroes and how can they defend themselves. This supernatural thriller is very well written, full of heart palpating action, and entertaining.

Thank you to Carrie from Dutton of the Penguin Group for providing me with a courtesy copy. Dracula The Undead will be released on October 13, 2009. Check out the website for interesting tidbits about the book, plus events and to test your Dracula IQ. I scored a 7 and am a Dracula student and have more to learn.

Pages: 432
Publisher: Dutton
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Genre: Gothic Horror

Other Thoughts:

Lexie Piper of BCF Reviews:
"I love vampire stories, and this one was everything that I expected. I haven’t actually read the original Dracula story, but I’ve seen the film and know lots about the tale, but that doesn’t matter, Dacre did a great job of recapping the previous book without making it boring and repetative, and I never felt like I was missing any plot lines as it was always explained"

Sidhe Vicious Reviews - excerpt from chapter one

Libri Multus

Hunting Ground (Book2 in Alpha & Omega series) by Patricia Briggs. Charles Connick and Anna's story continued. Charles and Anna travel to Seattle to mediate conference between American and european werewolves. Throw in some Vampires and a Fae who wants to destroy them all.

The Angel
by Carla Neggers. First time author read of romantic suspense novel with supernatural elements. Keira Sullivan goes to Ireland to research Celtic Legends and ends up being in the middle of murder investigation. There is an evil killer on the loose and she may be next. Look forward to reading more by Carla Neggers.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Read for Banned Book week. Full of adultery, treachery and deceit and has a sad ending.

The Judas Strain by James Rollins (A sigma force novel) A terrible plague is affecting the residents, wildlife and sea life of Christmas Island and the surrounding area. It seems it all started with Marco Polo. The good guys and bad guys are both trying to find the cure while duking it out and trying avoid cannibals and killer squids. Very interesting.

Hunt Her Down by Roxanne St. Claire. Another Bullet catchers novel featuring Dan Gallagher. He goes off in search of an old friend, Maggie because the drug lord she put behind bars is out of jail and now her life is in danger. He is in for the surprise of his life. Romantic, steamy, and action packed.

The Magician - 2nd book in the secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series by Michael Scott. Just as interesting as the first and takes up where the first left off. Nicholas, Sophie, Josh and Scatty emerge in Paris only to discover more danger. While they try to outwit those who are after them, Sophie homes her skills in Fire Magic and Josh's powers are unleashed.

The Value of a Book

Father and I had a thought provoking conversation last night about the Federal Trade Commissions guidelines. Looking at it from a business point of view, we came to some interesting conclusions.

Advanced Reader Copies. What monetary value does an ARC have. I can't sell it nor can I take it to my local used bookstore for credit for them to sale. I can't donate it and write it off on my taxes. What the guidelines are saying is I can't keep the book. Either give it way or discard it, throw it away once done with it. What does that tell you? If I give it away, the shipping cost creates a monetary loss for me. But, in giving it away, I am creating the same situation as the publisher giving it to me. I am giving a gift and what is the value of the gift. Business wise, I'm allowed to give up to a certain amount and write it off. But I can't write off this as a gift because, it is for personal use. No value. If I throw it away, it tells me that the book is worth nothing.

Technically an Advanced Reader copy hasn't any monetary value.

Review copies: Again from the standpoint of a business person, a review copy has less value than a copy that is purchased in the store. Why? Prior to the book going into a store, it is a widget - paper and ink. As a manufacturer, when we build a product, it is worth the cost of the parts. Insurance wise, if we have a fire or theft, we only receive the value of the parts. A product which may cost the consumer $30, may cost the manufacturer $2.00 to build. Once that product is sold, then it has more value. The consumer now owns a $30 widget and expects a return of that $30 if something happens to the product.

As a widget, a review book has little monetary value.

Now to make things ever more complicated and get into the technical merits of the whole thing. If the books have value and I am receiving compensation in the form of the book and I provide a positive review, then wouldn't the party sending me the book have to send a 1099 at the end of the year for tax purposes? Let's not go there.

And, let's not forget that a private party and/or business is allowed to gift up to $10,000 per year before estate or gift taxes kick in. If you want to get into semantics, then technically the books I receive are gifts. The reviews I provide are done on a volunteer basis. Do you want me to open up another can of worms regarding volunteers and how this country has survived because of said volunteers. Then you have the First amendment which protects freedom of speech. I have the right to say anything I want on my blog - within reason of course.

The Value of a Book.... Though an ARC or Review book may have little or no monetary value, to me it does have intellectual value and is intangible. The trust endowed by the publishers, publicists and authors who send me their books is invaluable. The intrinsic value of the relationship and the books can not be calculated. Words on a page, that singly are just words. But together, paint pictures that take you to other worlds, into the future or the past and open up a vast universe not available to you anywhere else.

In my opinion the revision of the Guidelines by the FTC will have little impact on me. As in all things, it just makes us more aware of the responsibilities we have as bloggers and readers.

What do you value in a book?