1st quarter book update: Challenge craziness is over!

Hello April!   Goodbye Challenge Craziness!  

The first quarter of the year has been rather hectic and my reading has slowed down considerably.  I've read 13 books this month and managed to review 3.

  1. The Scarlet Lion - Elizabeth Chadwick (review book)
  2. Spin - Robert Charles Wilson 
  3. Hothouse Orchid - Stuart Woods 
  4. The Cold Room - J.T. Ellison
  5. City of Bones - Cassandra Clare
  6. The Third Circle - Amanda Quick
  7. Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs
  8. Nausea - Jean  Paul Sartre (class)
  9. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - Jules Verne  (read aloud with James)
  10. The Scarlet and the Black - J.D. Gallagher (non fiction)
  11. Young Bess - Margaret Irwin (review book)
  12. Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway  (class)
  13. Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show - Frank Delaney (tour book)

The same for February:

  1. The Eye of the World - Robert Jordan
  2. Shimmer - David Morrell (review book)
  3. Cold River - Carla Neggers
  4. Cold Pursuit - Carla Neggers
  5. Under the Dome - Stephen King
  6. The Mayo Clinic Diet (review book) 
  7. M is for Malice - Sue Grafton 
  8. Keeping the Feast - Paula Butturini (review book)
  9. The Gatekeeper - Michelle Gagnon 
  10. Don't Look Behind You - Lois Duncan
  11. Double Eagle - Sneed Collard (review book)
  12. The Bible of Clay - Julia Navarro
  13. Untraceable - Laura Griffin
So, after reviewing all the challenges I so optimistically joined at the beginning of the year, I am dropping out of all of them.  Besides the challenges I'm hosting, I'll continue with Spring Reading Thing, Ireland Reading Challenge and the U.S. President's Reading Project.  They are low stress, casual challenges.  And I've almost completed the Dare challenge with two more movies to watch and a vlog to do.  I seriously doubt I'll find time to watch Xena.  

I just don't have time to figure out which book goes with what challenge and I keep forgetting to link my reviews anyway.    I am behind on reviewing several books I received for review, some I've read and others are still waiting patiently on the shelf.   I'm going to continue with my buying ban and not buy any new books until I'm whittled down my TBR pile.   I've done pretty well and only bought two in the past couple months.  And I'm trying to behave myself when it comes to accepting books for review. 

It's all becoming a bit stressful and overwhelming and that's not what reading is supposed to be about. Reading is as necessary to me as breathing. It's my pleasure, my relaxation, my escape.  I love this quote:

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
~ Francis Bacon ~

I love diving into new worlds, discovering new or new to me authors and being entertained.  I'm getting back to reading deliberately and decided to slow down, relax and enjoy what's already on my plate.

Cowboy Trouble by Joanne Kennedy


Joanne Kennedy

Back Cover:  Fleeing her latest love life disaster, big city journalist Libby Brown's transition to rural living isn't going exactly as planned.  Her childhood dream has always been to own a farm--but without the constant help of her charming sexy cowboy neighbor, she'd never make it through her first Wyoming season.

Handsome rancher Luke Rawlins is impressed by this sassy, independent city girl.  But he yearns to do more than help Libby out with her ranch..he's ready for love, and he wants to go the distance...  

Then the two get embroiled in their tiny town's one and only crime story, and Libby discovers that their sizzling hot attraction is going to complicate her life in every way possible....

Joanne Kennedy's debut novel "Cowboy Trouble" is very well done and Libby and Luke tickle your funny bone from the very start of the story. Especially her first impression of Luke when he greets her with a Howdy down to his cowboy attire and his first impression of her backside to her ugly, antique furniture.  Combine  the nutty town characters,  a crazy wild chicken, Ivan the terrible (the jack russell terrier she tries to pass off as a huge guard dog), add in a murder, some passion, romance, and suspense and it makes for an entertaining read.   Thank you to Danielle of Sourcebooks for providing me with an advance reader copy of the book.   If you love romantic suspense novels, then this is a book for you.  

Pages:  416
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Released:  March 2, 2010
Genre:  Contemporary romance/mystery

Other Thoughts: 

"The combination of mystery and romance was a hit with me and I look forward to seeing what else Joanne Kennedy brings us."

"Joanne Kennedy has penned a winner with Cowboy Trouble, and if you love cowboys, you won't want to miss this one! Romance, Mystery, and Spurs! YUM!" 

"If you want a fun story with a mix of rolling in the hay and murder, then you need to read Cowboy Trouble. This is a book you won’t want to miss."

*ftc:  I did not receive any compensation for my unbiased opinion of this book.

The Old Man and The Sea by Ernest Hemingway

I think I just fell in love!  One of the authors I chose to read for my Nobel Literature class is Ernest Hemingway.   Father has "Green Hills of Africa" and has been encouraging me to read it, but I wanted to read "The Old Man and the Sea" first since I've never read any of his books.    Last night I sat down to read it and fell into the story hook, line and sinker.   Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down.  It's a novella, only 127 pages long so I spent the evening reading it.   Now I want to read his other books.  I loved Hemingway's writing -  very descriptive without wasting any words and just gives you the impression of warmth.  

In a nutshell:  Santiago is an old man, an old Cuban fisherman who has been unlucky.   For 84 days the fisherman has been unsuccessful in catching anything and is bound and determined to go out and catch the biggest fish there is. Santiago is old and poor and makes his living fishing. His apprentice Manolin helps take care of him without making it obvious or making it seem like it’s charity. He loves Santiago and is devoted to him. Manolin usually goes out fishing with him, but because the old man has been so unlucky, his father has forbidden it.

On the 85th day Santiago goes out alone beyond the other boats in the early, early morning. He hooks a marlin but it is so big he is unable to reel it in. The fish starts to swim out to sea dragging the skiff behind. The old man holds the line, bearing the weight of it on his hands, back and shoulders, unable to tie it off. He struggles to keep the line from breaking and for two days and nights, the fish drags the boat. When the fish finally tires on the third day and starts to circle the boat, the old man is able to pull in the line and harpoon the fish. He ties the fish to the side of the boat and starts to sail back to the shore. However, sharks attack and though he manages to kill a few, by the time he reaches shore, all that is left of the fish is the skeleton, head and tail. 

After reading the story, it makes me want to read more of Ernest Hemingway’s books and I plan to do so.  I can see why he was awarded a Nobel prize in Literature.  Not only for what he managed to accomplish in his life, but his writings.   According to the committee   

“Within the frame of a sporting tale, a moving perspective of man's destiny is opened up; the story is a tribute to the fighting spirit, which does not give in even if the material gain is nil, a tribute to the moral victory in the midst of defeat. The drama is enacted before our eyes, hour by hour, allowing the robust details to accumulate and take on momentous significance. ‘But man is not made for defeat’ , the book says. ‘A man can be destroyed but not defeated.’”   

Hemingway was born July 21st 1899 and died July 2, 1961 at the age of 62.   I'm  going to dedicate July as Hemingway month here on the blog and reading another one of his fiction stories plus his nonfiction story "Green Hills of Africa," (since we have it) and also  his book on writing "Ernest Hemingway on Writing."  

Help me to choose which book to read:

I'm thinking of having a readalong. Who would like to join me? 

Wannabe Writers

Where I am at in the Writing Process:   I'm currently having a Mwaahaaahaaa moment in Eyes in the Ashes.   My prime suspect just got killed off by a mystery person who is setting up someone else to take the fall. The story is moving along and I managed to write 3270 words in the past week.  I started the 50,000 words in 50 days a week late, so have some catching up to do. 

My Current Problem:  One is getting distracted from working on the novel every single day.   I did manage to write 4 out of the 7 days last week.  I made some major progress with the story so those days were very productive writing days.  I'd like to get back to writing seven days a week, so going an attempt to get up an hour earlier, since I've finally adjusted to the time change.  My other current problem:  Not admitting to myself I wanted to be published  and convincing myself that I won't be in comparison to all the experienced writers out there.  I got a good kick in the seat of my pants with  Elena's post "Just Admit it."  In a nutshell:

"Why is it so hard for us to admit to ourselves that we want something? Are we trying to avoid selfishness? Do we think we don't deserve it?...   Sometimes it's this fear of admitting that we want something that holds us back the most."

It made me realize that I fear to say I want it for fear of failure. I've always hated thinking out loud and saying what I truly want. Don't know why that is. Maybe because it's a commitment, maybe it's lack of confidence. It's been holding me back - so I'll admit it. I do want to be published, see my name on the front of the book cover. Be giddy with the knowledge that I wrote that.

Sarah's question of the week:  "Writing Romance? How to develop a relationship out of thin air and make it believable? (And not just lust)."   Study the successful romance authors.  One of the best I think is Nora Roberts. Read a few of her trilogies such as The Quinn Brothers, The Key Trilogy, The Irish Trilogy or the series that made me fall in love with her writing - The MacGregor's.    Look at how she develops the relationships of her characters.  By the end of each story, you'll have fallen in love with the characters yourself.

Wannabe Writers is a weekly meme hosted by Sarah of Confessions of the Unpublished.   Join in this week or find out more about it here.

What's in the Bible Giveaway Winner

What's in the Bible Certificate Giveaway Winner

and here's another glimpse of What's In The Bible

Available now at your local christian bookstore or online at Christianbook.com. 

Young Bess by Margaret Irwin

The Girl Who Would Be Queen

Margaret Irwin

Back cover: "Growing up in the shadow of her moth, the infamous Anny Boleyn, young Princess Elizabeth has become a master at dodging the constant political games and deflecting the unpredictable royal whims that threaten to topple her precarious royal perch.  But when her distant father, tryannical King Henry VIII, dies, the future brightens for Elizabeth.  She moves in with Henry's last wife, Catherine parr, and Catherine's new husband, Tom Seymour--uncle of Elizabeth's brother, the new king Edward VI.

Handsome Tom, however, is playing a risky game.  Marrying a widowed queen is one thing; flirting with the king's daughter and second in line to the throne is another.  As the adolescent Elizabeth finds herself dangerously attracted to him, the tragedy that looms ahead seems inescapable.  Elizabeth will have to summon the strength to claim her royal destiny, even if that means facing her future alone...."

I wanted to like "Young Bess," I really did, but unfortunately was unable to finish it, which rarely happens for me.  Usually I'll pick up a book and start reading and if it doesn't click will try again later.  I tried 3 times with this one. This last time I made it through almost 100 pages to Chapter 5.  The characters thoughts were all over the place with meandering digressions upon meandering digressions until I forgot what they were talking about in the first place.  There were points of clarity in the story and just as you settled into the present, back to they go to the past and over there, twist round and go another direction.  I unfortunately could not finish reading it.    However, from reading other reviews, I'm in the minority and will leave you with some links to those who loved it.

Thank you to Danielle from Sourcebooks for providing me with an advance copy of the book.  
Pages:   400 
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Landmark
Released:  March 1, 2010
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Other thoughts: 

"This is still a well-written and fascinating tale on the early years of Elizabeth Tudor and her complicated childhood and adolescence.  The novel leaves you set up for Elizabeth's dramatic future as princess in peril and eventual queen in later books by Margaret Irwin.  This is a fine tribute to the youthful Elizabeth Tudor before she was England's beloved Virgin Queen."

"Exquisitely written, well researched, with intense and vivid imagery, Young Bess The Girl Who Would Be Queen is an absolutely amazing beginning of what promises to be a spectacular trilogy chronicling the life of Queen Elizabeth."

"I was thoroughly engrossed, feeling like I’d entered the shifting world of Tudor England. From the rule of a godlike madman to nobles full of greed while claiming high intentions, what a time it must have been to live in, and how powerless the women were."

Blogoversary Giveaway / You asked!!!

Hello My Darlings!   Thank you for all the wonderful comments, thoughts and wishes.   You all asked some great questions:

Kristen asked:  "What has been your greatest challenge in blogging?"  Time mainly. I never imagined how much time blogging would take.  Along with creating the blog, there is the time it take to keep it up to date, create and write all the posts,  I don't schedule my posts ahead of time because I like to see them out there as soon as I write them.  I tried writing some in advance and scheduling them to post later, but it made me antsy for some reason.   Sometimes I get ideas in the middle of the night, which has me sitting down in the morning and typing like mad or searching the internet for information to write my posts.  Or I get an idea to improve the blog and make a new widget.  I enjoy the creativity of blogging and writing.  

Booksync of Books in the City asked:  "I notice a theme of Irish in your blog - what is the connection"

You know, sometimes you get a thought in your head and life synchronizes with you.  I'm part Irish and have been wanting to expand my reading repertoire a bit.  Learn more about the country where my family originated.  Coincidentally, Carrie of Books and Movies started the Ireland Reading Challenge and I thought what a neat idea. Perhaps I'll join.   Then all of a sudden, everywhere I looked - on the internet, movies, books were about Ireland.   Just as I decided to join, but hadn't mentioned it yet, I was offered the chance to read Venetia Kelly's Traveling show by Frank Delaney.  Synchronicity (the coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related) is a wonderful thing.

Candace of Beth Fish Reads asked: "I'm not sure if you've discussed this before, but when you decided to home school, how did your families react? Were they immediately supportive, or did you have to convince them that it was right choice?"

My parents were immediately supportive.  My father in law, not so much.  He's a teacher and has worked his whole life in academia. He didn't think we were qualified to teach James because we weren't professionally educated teachers.  Plus the whole subject of socialization came up.  The repeated refrain was he needs to be socialized.   Personally I've always hated that word.  Socialization:    a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position.  No, the kid doesn't know he is supposed to have a "social position."   Is he social - yes.  James is a very social kid and gets along with everybody. It doesn't matter whether they are a baby, kid, teenager or adult, he's very personable.    As far as my father in law is concerned, we didn't make the right choice.   We just don't discuss it with him and my husband has learned to "pass the bean dip."   The people I expected to be the least supportive in both our families - opinionated aunts and uncles have been surprisingly supportive. 

Staci of Life in the Thumb asked:  "Do you just sit down and start writing or did you sketch out the characters and a storyline ahead of time?"

There's a quote I love by Walter Wellesley "Red" Smith that says "There's nothing to writing.  All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."    That didn't work for me.  When I first decide to attempt writing a story for the 2007 Nanowrimo, I got an idea, sat down and figured out my main characters, and outlined the story.   I wrote as many notes as possible, drew little sketches of an imaginary town, cut out pictures from magazines, printed off all kinds of articles about this,that and the other.  I had a huge notebook of stuff.   The story evolved from there.  I ended up not using half the stuff I printed out, but it makes for some interesting reading.    I think all that work is what helped me fall in love with the characters.   I didn't do as much work with my current story, flying more by the seat of my pants.  I'm slowing falling in love with the characters of Eyes in the Ashes as I get to know them through the story.   However, I can see the benefit of all the research and the character sketches and town drawings.    

Thank you for all your interesting questions!  

After entering all your names in Random.org, randomizing the list and then letting the random integer generator pick the number, the winner of the BevMo $25.00 gift certificate is: 

*****Candace of Beth Fish Reads*****

Cheers and a Irish toasts to another blogging year
Here’s to you and yours,
And to mine and ours,
And if mine and ours ever come
Across you and yours,
I hope you and yours will do
As much for mine and ours,
As mine and ours have done
For you and yours!

Question Me An Answer!

Question Me An Answer!

I'll be answering all your wonderful questions from My Blogoversary tomorrow.  In the meantime Enjoy Bobby Van from Lost Horizon, the musical singing Question me an Answer.  I really wish they'd released this movie in DVD.

Question me an answer....

The Scarlet Lion by Elizabeth Chadwick


Elizabeth Chadwick 

Back cover:  Already known as a Knight of uncommon skill and honor, William Marshall has earned the friendship of King Richard and the love of a wealthy heiress.  But when the Lionheart dies, leaving his treacherous brother John on the throne, William and Isabelle need all their strength and courage to face a shattered world. Their sons held hostage, their integrity at stake, the two must choose between obeying their king or honoring their hearts.

The Scarlet Lion is a beautifully written historical fiction story by Elizabeth Chadwick, taking you into the life of William and Isabelle Marshall, their love and affection for each other and their strength as they work together to live their lives with King John on the throne and threatening to ruin them.  When William married Isabelle, she was the heiress to great estates in England, Normandy and Ireland.   When King John came to the throne, William wanted nothing more than to retire to Ireland.   John wants all his land and attempts to do everything he can to ruin William, even holding his two oldest sons hostage at court in  order to get William to do what he wants.   William manages to tread the politics of the court carefully, serving John faithfully and with honor.  Through it all, Isabelle did her best to stand by his side  and he valued her judgment and discussed everything with her.  Uncommon for that period of time in which woman weren't considered strong or intelligent.  Isabelle was both.

The story starts in 1197, when Isabelle is about to have their fourth child and ends with William's death in 1219.  Amidst the politics, court intrigue and deception and battles, is the heart warming love story of William Marshall and Isabelle De Clare.

Some historical fiction novels can be dry as dust and then there are others so well written, you feel you are there in the moment. The writing is excellent and Elizabeth Chadwick brings William and Isabelle to life on the pages and draws you into the action.   I'll admit that while reading the ending when William died, had me in tears.  I'm rarely affected so emotionally by stories. This is the first time I've ever read anything by Elizabeth Chadwick and looking forward to reading more of her works including the first book about William, "the Greatest Knight".

Thank you to Danielle from Sourcebooks for providing me with an courtesy advance copy and  to Elizabeth Chadwick for her amazing writing.  I highly recommend The Scarlet Lion. 

Pages:  576
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Released:  March 1st, 2010
Genre:  Historical Fiction

Other thoughts:

A Work in Progress:
"Chadwick is very talented at bringing her characters and the Medieval world alive in the pages of her books"

Terra of Yankee Romance Reviews:
"From the colors, scents, sounds, emotions of people, places and things you can't help but feel as if you are a bystander watching the entire story unfold right before your very eyes. You will laugh, cry, cringe, hate, loathe and want to really ring someones neck. The author has made this story so viable that you cannot help but feel every emotion tingle throughout your being."

Alaine of Queen of Happen Endings:
"If you read and loved The Greatest Knight then I have every confidence you'll revel in the sequel. If you're like me and haven't read book one, don't let it deter you from picking up this novel...although you're going to want to have The Greatest Knight close by. Elizabeth Chadwick makes one of England's greatest heroes come to life with her brilliant new novel. You don't want to miss it!"

*FTC notice - my unbiased opinion and no compensation was received for this review. 

Happy Birthday to a great man!

Happy 79th Birthday, Dad 

I love you!!!

Life Lessons

You may have thought I didn't see,
Or that I hadn't heard,
Life lessons that you taught to me,
But I got every word.
Perhaps you thought I missed it all,
And that we'd grow apart,
But Dad, I picked up everything,
It's written on my heart.
Without you, Dad, I wouldn't be
The woman I am today;
You built a strong foundation
No one can take away.
I've grown up with your values,
And I'm very glad I did;
So here's to you, dear father,
From your forever grateful kid.
By Joanna Fuchs
courtesy of www.poemsource.com

It's my 3rd Blogoversary!!!!!!

“May the friendships you make be those which endure and all of your grey clouds be small ones for sure. And trusting in Him to Whom we all pray, may a song fill your heart every step of the way.-- Irish Blessing 

Happy Blogoversary to ME!!!

Today is my 3rd blogoversary.  Hard to believe, isn't it. It just seems like yesterday when I started My Two Blessings.   Little did I know I'd still be doing it four years later and have not just one blog but three.  Well, more than that actually  if you want to count Hubby's blog since I'm the one who types all his posts. Or our 3 business websites which is another story all together.  For a person who failed "basic" in college, surprisingly I've haven't had too many problems mastering html, or figuring out ftp and wysiwyg.   Even though it all still seems like foreign language to me. 

I  think blogs are an introvert's dream.   They allow you to ruminate in peace, talk without being interrupted, and write all those thoughts that have been going through your brain. Why is it that people think just because a person is quiet, they have nothing to say.   So cheers to the person who created blogging.  I think he/she must have been an introvert.  Do we know who created blogging?   Hmmm!

I initially started My Two Blessings as a way to share our home school journey with family and  practice my thinking and writing skills.   Along the way I have learned so much and discovered a fascinating variety of book bloggers, aspiring writers and authors.   Now I have evolved into a homeschooling, book blogging, aspiring writer. The woman of many hats.   However, I still have much to learn.  

I'm currently working on my bachelor's Degree and have 3 classes left.  I've begun seriously considering pursuing my M.F.A. - Masters in Fine Arts in creative writing.   However, before I do that I need to take my writing more seriously.  I started back in 2007 on a whim when joined Nanowrimo and discovered I loved creating a story.  After a lifetime of writing business letters, proposals, reports, etc, it was very freeing.  My imagination exploded and since then have come up with three stories.  

What does all this have to do with My Two Blessings?  I'm going to make writing a bigger priority and learn the craft and who better to learn from -  all the writer and authors online.   I've been a lurker on the querytracker writers chain gang (links in side bar) for quite some time.   They ask great questions and provide a wide range of very informative answers.  I've learned much, but never bothered to really think how I would answer the questions.  In order to learn, I need to give the questions some thought and answer them.

How else am I suppose to learn the craft, right.  I'm been concentrating solely on writing and it is time to start using my brain and thinking about the how and the why.   I am also joining in on  Confessions of the Unpublished weekly meme "Wannabe Writer's" for aspiring authors to share, ask questions and get feedback. (links in sidebar)  So you may be seeing more posts on writing for the next year. 

Other than that, I'll still be blogging about whatever comes to mind including home school, books, school and hosting a few book tours.     I also vow for the next year to not lurk so much and comment more.   I blame it all on the Google Reader and realized what the problem was the other day when Elana J. posted her question about comments.   

Google reader is an introvert's dream.  You can read blogs anonymously and quickly, perusing through everyone's post. I may not pop in and leave a comment because my time is limited and the question asked takes brain power and I would have to really give the answer some thought.   Many great questions are asked but in my rush to get through all the posts, figure I'll go back to it later and then forget about it.  Which made me realize I need to slow down, not rush through everyone's post.   I use statcounter as well as many other folks.  There are days I may discover a new blog and drop in on someone's blog I follow through reader, not comment and notice later they drop in on mine.  Like me, when you see a new url in your stat, you check curious to find out who they are.  Then I wonder if they liked what they read or not and why they didn't comment, when I did the exact same thing.  
If we are all rushing through our days, reading but not giving feedback or our opinions or ever just saying 'great post' (which I don't expect a response to) then the other person is left wondering - what did I say? Why aren't they commenting.  So, I'm vowing to no longer be a statistic, slow down and give each blog my undivided attention and respond to their posts. 

Thank you to all my wonderful virtual friends, readers, followers, tweeters and lurkers.  I appreciate each and every one of you and have learned much.  What would you like to know about me?  The floor is open to questions.  Or what advice would you have for me as an aspiring writer.   To celebrate I am giving away a $25 gift certificate from Bevmo.  In order to enter, leave your name and email address, along with your question or advice in the comments.   The giveaway will be open through March 28th and the winner will be picked using Random.org. 


Spring Reading Thing 2010

The first day of Spring.  The Vernal Equinox! The Latin translation - spring of equal night.   Did you know that if you were standing or floating as the case may be,  on the equator during the Vernal Equinox, it is one of two days (the other being the autumnal equinox) in which you could see the sun pass directly overhead.  But I'm sure you already knew that.   One of these years, I'd like to be at the equator when that happens.    I love Spring - nice sunny days, sitting on the patio, listening to the birds, watching the baby birds attempting their first flights and the mommy birds chasing my cats into the house, working in the garden and most of all, reading.  I even remodeled the blog for spring. How do you like my new look?  All of which brings me to Katrina's Spring Reading Thing 2010.

Every year, Katrina of Callapidder Day's hosts Spring Reading Thing which is a very casual, low pressure reading challenge. 

Here’s a brief recap of how to be a part of Spring Reading Thing 2010:
  • Make a list of books you want to read (or finish reading) this spring. Your list can be as long or as short as you’d like. (Also, feel free to modify your list during the challenge if it’s not working for you.)
  • Write a blog post containing your list and submit it to this post using the Mr. Linky.
  • Get reading! The challenge goes from today, March 20th, through June 20th, 2010.
  • Check out other participants’ lists and add to your own to-read-someday pile!
  • Write a post about your challenge experience in June, telling us all about whether you reached your goals and how the Spring Reading Thing went for you. But remember: this is a low-pressure challenge that should be fun. As long as you do some reading this spring (and enjoy it!), that’s good enough for me.

I'm going to continue with my theme - New to Me Authors.  Plus I'm going to be traveling all over the globe.  Besides the books I'll be reading for TLC Tours (info will be posted in my sidebar soon) and my Nobel Literature class,  who are all authors I've never read before, I'll be reading books from the genres: non fiction, classics, historical fiction, science fiction, mystery and young adult currently on my TBR shelves.  Which equals out to about one book a week. 

His Excellency George Washington by Joseph Ellis:   We are studying American history right now and I decided that I needed to educate myself about the Presidents, so joined the U.S.Presidents Reading Project

The Scarlet and The Black by J.P. Gallagher -The True Story of Monsignor Hugh O Flaherty, Hero of the Vatican Underground.     I had seen this book numerous times in the Ignatius Press Catalog and was intrigued.  When joined the Colorful Reading Challenge, decided it was a perfect time to get the book and read it.

The Stargazer: A Novel of the Life of Galileo by Zsolt De Harsanyi.  It's an oldie from 1939 that's been sitting on our shelves for a while and has been calling my name for some time.

Because I have it and haven't read it yet.

Historical Fiction
Across the Endless River by Thad Carhart: A historical fiction novel about Jean-Baptiste Charbonneau, the son of Sacagawea, his travels in 1820’s Europe.

The Road to Jerusalem by Jan Guillou:  It is the first in the Crusade Trilogy and starts off in the 1100's in Sweden.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks:  A rare book export is given the opportunity to restore a illuminated Hebrew manuscript, the Sarajevo Haggadah.   The story traces the journey of the manuscript through five centuries of history.

Science Fiction
(The only two books on my list by authors I haven't read before)

Genesis by Bernard Beckett
Read about the dystopian novel on Beth Fish Reads and just had to get it. 

Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger: A time travel novel

Mystery and Suspense

How to Paint a Dead Man by Sarah Hall
About four artists - two in 1960's Italy and two in present time Britain - a dying painter, a blind girl, a landscape artist, and an art curator.  Sounded intriguing.

Liars Anonymous  by Louise Ure:  By one of the many mystery authors who blogs at Murderati. I'm slowly making my way through and reading books by every author.    

Young Adult

Shapeshifter: The Demo Tapes year 1 and year 2 by Susan Helen Gottfried.   (e-book format) Collection of short fiction about the fiction band  Shapeshifters and their world.  

Nick of Time by Ted Bell.  I heard about this author and the book on one of the Fox News Evening shows and it sounded really interesting.   Set in the 1930's during the war and Nick finds a time travel machine in an old sea chest.  Pirates, nazi's, time travel - sounds like an interesting read.

What are you reading this Spring?
To join in the Spring Reading Thing Challenge, make your reading plan and head on over to Callapidder Day's to sign up.

Happy Spring!   

50 Best Irish Books you should read this month!

Galway Bay

I received an interesting list from Associates Degree online of all places (thank you Kitty) about the 50 best Irish Books we should read that will teach us everything we need to know about Ireland, the country and her people. There are some I hadn't heard of and I'll be looking into a few for the Ireland Reading Challenge.  I'll reading Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot for my Nobel Lit class.  And since I read Frankenstein last year, will be reading Dracula this year during spooky October. 

  1. The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats by William Butler Yeats: Take a look at this book to read works by Nobel prize-winning poet and dramatist Yeats, whose work and activism played a large part in the literary revival of Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  2. Collected Poems: Austin Clarke by Austin Clarke: Try out this book to learn more about this poet, whose Gaelic-inspired works were a product of the generation of poets after Yeats.
  3. Poems and Versions by Brian Coffey: This book was Coffey’s last major publication and helped cement his place as one of the leading Irish Modernists.
  4. Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney: Heaney is a Nobel Prize-winning poet and writer, and this collection of poetry is a great introduction to his writing.
  5. Selected Poems by Patrick Kavanagh: Often regarded as one of the best poets of the 20th century, Kavanagh’s poems won him many accolades. Check out this book to see some of his best work.
  6. Portrait Of The Artist As An Abominable Snowman by Gabriel Rosenstock: While much of his poetry is in Irish, in this book you’ll find a selection of English language poetry.
  7. New Collected Poems by Eavan Boland: Boland has received numerous awards for her poetry and you can find a selection of her more recent works in this volume.
  8. Poems 1968-1998 by Paul Muldoon: This Irish poet is well-known for his work, garnering a Pulitzer Prize and a T.S. Eliot Prize for his poems. This book provides an excellent overview of his work.
  9. Collected Poems Of George William Russell by George William Russell: Often writing under the pseudonym AE, Russell’s work has been popular with poetry enthusiasts since the early 20th century.
  10. Matter of Fact: Poems by Eamon Grennan: This collection of poems put out in 2008 can be a great introduction to this work of this modern Irish poet.


  1. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde: This play set in Victorian England is still popular today for the humor it displays in satirizing the hypocrisy of Victorian society.
  2. Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett: While this play may not be for everyone, it was voted the "the most significant English language play of the 20th century" and is one of the most prominent works of the Theater of the Absurd.
  3. She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith: This comic play is still a popular work to study and enact today, one of the few works from the 18th century to carry well into the modern age.
  4. The Playboy of the Modern World by John Millington Synge: If nothing else, this play is worth reading to see the material that caused riots when it debuted at the Abbey Theater in 1907.
  5. The Plough and the Stars by Sean O’Casey: This play focuses on characters in the Irish Citizen’s Army and takes it’s title from their flag.
  6. The Shaughraun by Dion Boucicault: Read this play about fugitive and a rival, widely popular in when it was released in 1874.
  7. Translations by Brian Friel: Written in 1980, this play deals with issues of language and culture in Ireland.
  8. The Steward of Christendom by Sebastian Barry: This modern play is about a man who was loyal to the British during the Anglo-Irish War and the ensuing punishments he receives for his choice.
  9. Long Day’s Journey into Night by Eugene O’Neill: Make sure to read this play, as it is consider a masterwork of Irish drama and O’Neill won a Pulitzer Prize posthumously for the work.
  10. John Bull’s Other Island by George Bernard Shaw: Shaw is one of Ireland’s best known playwrights, and this particular play is a comedy, and is often one of Shaw’s most overlooked works despite being wildly popular at the time it was released.


  1. Ulysses by James Joyce: While it is notoriously hard to read, this book rewards those who persevere, winning the Irish writer Joyce a memorable place in modernist literature.
  2. The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen: This story published in 1929 details the fictional events at a country mansion during the Irish War of Independence.
  3. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce: Those who struggled with Ulysses will have an equally difficult time with this work by Joyce, written in an experimental style that makes it hard to understand. Nonetheless, reading it will make you not only look smarter but actually be smarter as well.
  4. Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor: Check out this historical novel set in 1847 to learn more about the hardships of the Potato Famine.
  5. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift: This satire and parody is a fun read for young people and adults alike.
  6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis: While written for children, this book still holds a lot of philosophical and spiritual meaning for adults.
  7. At Swim-Two-Birds by Flann O’Brien: Those who want to delve into O’Brien’s oeuvre will find this novel one of his best, with critics often calling it the best and most sophisticated examples of metafiction.
  8. Dracula by Bram Stoker: If you’re looking for a spookier story why not pick up this vampire classic?
  9. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Lawrence Sterne: These fun novels follow the life of Tristram Shandy and employ copious amounts of bawdy humor.
  10. Amongst Women by John McGahern: In this novel you’ll read the story of a bitter, old IRA veteran and the fear he strikes into his family who both love and are terrified of him.
  11. The Country Girls by Edna O’Brien: Released in 1960, this novel was popular at the time and later made into a movie, telling the tale of two small town girls who set out to find their fates in the big city.
  12. The Year of the French by Thomas Flanagan: This historical novel brings into vivid clarity the events of the brief union of the French and the Irish during the Irish War of Independence.

Contemporary Fiction

  1. Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt: Many are familiar with this stunning memoir of poverty, starvation and struggle written by author Frank McCourt.
  2. Everything in this Country Must by Colum McCann: Check out this book to hear the story of a group of teenagers dealing with growing up and the fear inspired by the political climate in Northern Ireland.
  3. The Walled Garden by Catherine Dunne: Released in 2000, this book tells the story of woman who has returned home for the first time in many years to care for her dying mother.
  4. Beyond by Michael Foley: Set in the 1960s, this book follows one man as he gets caught up in the liberation of the sexual revolution happening in the era.
  5. A Wild People by Hugh Leonard: This novel is the first by the Tony Award winning playwright Leonard.
  6. Dancing With Minnie the Twig by Mogue Doyle: Readers will find a fresh take on tales of poor, Irish village life in this novel.
  7. Undertow by John Deane: This novel isn’t always an easy read as many tragedies befall the characters living on a small Irish island, but hope, perseverance and love still abound in the story to make it a worthwhile read.
  8. Any Other Time by John Trolan: Here you’ll find a novel set in the underworld of Dublin, perfect for those who want a read that addresses a more modern issue in Ireland.
  9. Big Mouth by Blanaid McKinney: These short stories have come out to much acclaim and are a great way to read Irish fiction without having to commit to a novel.
  10. The Gingerbread Woman by Jennifer Johnston: In this novel, a chance meeting changes the lives of a man and a woman with damaged pasts.


  1. The Troubles: Ireland’s Ordeal and the Search for Peace by Tim Pat Coogan: This book offers information and history on the nearly 25 years of violence between North and South that shook Ireland.
  2. The IRA by Tim Pat Coogan: This book on the IRA is considered by many to be the definitive one on the subject and as such is a required read for those hoping to learn more about the group and the history that surrounds them.
  3. The Making of Modern Ireland 1603-1923 by J.C. Beckett: You’ll find a great historical survey of Irish history in this book, perfect for those with little knowledge of the subject.
  4. Modern Ireland 1600-1972 by R.F. Foster: This sweeping history of Ireland is a great read for scholars and novices alike.
  5. Oceans of Consolation: Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia by David Fitzpatrick: This book puts a personal face on the many people who immigrated from Ireland to Australia from 1843 to 1906.
  6. Armed Struggle: The History of the IRA by Richard English: If you’re still curious about the IRA and the struggles of Northern Ireland, try out this well-reviewed book.
  7. Connemara: Listening to the Wind by Tim Robinson: In a similar vein to Thoreau’s Walden this novel takes readers out into the wild to appreciate the true beauty the natural world of Ireland has to offer.
  8. Stepping Stones by Seamus Heaney and Dennis O’Driscoll: Learn more about the amazing poet and playwright Seamus Heaney through this award-winning interview.
 Do you see any books missing, you would add to the list or substitute for on listed?

***links are for informational purposes only.