Sunday Salon: Happy Easter

Happy Easter! We have had a wonderful spring break and I've enjoyed being extremely lazy, reading and just hanging out.   All those things on my to do list -- are still there waiting to be done and I'm not going to feel the least bit guilty about any of it.  We have nine more weeks and 7th grade will be done.   It was a bit more stressful this year since we joined  Visions, our public home school charter, and followed their schedule which meant fewer breaks. The past few years we did 4 weeks on, 1 week off and usually ended mid June.  I discovered those breaks are absolutely necessary for all involved or we get extremely grumpy with each other and mom has less patience.  So we are going to allow for more breaks come 8th grade.  

Reading wise, I should be reading Manuscript Found in Accra which is being released April 2, but I got sidetracked with Faith Hunter's Jane Yellowrock Series and read Skinwalker.  Finished it, liked it enough to start the 2nd - Blood Cross. What can I say, I'm a sucker for paranormal fantasy series.  This month my reading was eclectic ranging from suspense, psychological thrillers, romance, science fiction,  paranormal and urban fantasies.

Calculated in Death - J.D. Robb (New York - 400) 
Never Let You Go - Erin Healy  (U.S. - 352)
Kitty Steals the Show (KN#10) - Carrie Vaughn (eb)
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip Dick (futuristic S.F. - 256)
There was an Old Woman - Hallie Ephron (New York - 293)
Odd Hours - Dean Koontz (California -413)  

The Likeness - Tana French (Ireland - 466)
Hopscotch - Julio Cortazar (Paris/Argentina - 564)
Touch of a Demon (#5 Kara Gillian) - Diana Rowland (448)
Relentless - Cherry Adair (Egypt - 368)  

Angelopolis - Danielle Trussoni (New York/Paris/Siberia - 302)
Odd Interlude - Dean Koontz (eb)
Sand Castle Bay - Sherryl Woods (North Carolina - 384)
The Wanderer - Robyn Carr (Oregon - eb)
Deadly Sting (Elemental Assassin #8) - Jennifer Estep (eb) 

Skinwalker (Jane Yellowrock#1) - Faith Hunter (New Orleans - eb) 

I also had the 'eyes are bigger than my stomach' syndrome lately when it comes to book offers and will have quite a few reviews coming up in the next couple months.  This week is the release of the first book in Sherryl Woods new Ocean Breeze comtemporary romance series Sand Castle Bay and Paulo Coehlo's latest Manuscript Found in Accra

Writing wise, don't ask.  It's been rather sparse lately, including here on the blog and I'm working on improving.  Speaking of blogs, March marks my 6th year blogging on My Two Blessings and my 4th year hosting Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks.  We'll find a way to celebrate in April, perhaps with a giveaway or two.   

This week on 52 books it is book week 14 and highlighting Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart which lead me to Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln's Mother.  James and I have had many a conversation about Lincoln's mother and how she died from milk sickness so of course I had to buy it.  We'll also be doing a readalong starting April 7th of 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami1Q84 originally was published in three volumes in Japan in 2009-2010 and released as one book in North American in 2011. It is according to Murakami,  a mind bending ode to George Orwell's 1984. 

Have a Happy Easter and a wonderful Week! 

The Sunday

Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni

Book Flap Synopsis : A New York Times bestseller and global sensation, Angelology unfurled a brilliant tapestry of myth and biblical lore on our present-day world and plunged two star-crossed heroes into an ancient battle against mankind's greatest enemy: the fatally attractive angel-human hybrids known as the Nephilim. With Angelopolis, the conflict deepens into an inferno of danger and passion unbound.

A decade has passed since Verlaine saw Evangeline alight from the Brooklyn Bridge, the sight of her new wings a betrayal that haunts him still. Now an elite angel hunter for the Society of Angelology, he pursues his mission with single-minded devotion: to capture, imprison, and eliminate her kind.

But when Evangeline suddenly appears on a twilit Paris street, Verlaine finds her nature to be unlike any of the other creatures he so mercilessly pursues, casting him into a spiral of doubt and confusion that only grows when she is abducted before his eyes by a creature who has topped the society's most-wanted list for more than a century. The ensuing chase drives Verlaine and his fellow angelologists from the shadows of the Eiffel Tower to the palaces of St. Petersburg and deep into the provinces of Siberia and the Black Sea coast, where the truth of Evangeline's origins—as well as forces that could restore or annihilate them all—lie in wait.

Conceived against an astonishing fresh tableau of history and science, Angelopolis plumbs Russia's imperial past, modern genetics, and ancient depictions of that most potent angelic appearance—the Annunciation of Gabriel—in a high-octane tale of abduction, treasure seeking, and divine warfare as the fate of humanity once again hangs in the balance.

Back in 2011 when I read Angelology, I was completely blown away and the rich, complex story enthralled me so much I couldn't wait for the sequel to come out.  Perhaps I should have read the book again before reading Angelopolis to refresh my memory but didn't want to wait and dove into the story.  Maybe my anticipation of the story was too high because although it was just as richly written, the visceral connection I felt in the first book just wasn't there.  In most fantasy stories, I can usually suspend disbelief but there were too many instances in which I couldn't.  There were continuity issues which left me wondering what just happened when things suddenly changed in a scene and the characters weren't following through or how they could have possibility 'ignored the elephant in the room.'  And, as in the first book, there is more to the story which will be answered in the 3rd installment.   Which I'm looking forward to reading because I do want to know 'the rest of the story'. You'll have to decide for yourself, but definitely read Angelology first, then Angelopolis. Both will be on my shelves for a reread later on.

Thank you to Jane from Viking, a division of Penguin publishing for providing me with a courtesy copy of the book and Danielle Trussoni for her vivid imagination. 

Released:  March 26, 2013
Pages:  302
Setting: New York/Paris/Siberia
Rating: 3.5

Cha cha cha changes

New and improved doesn't always mean better.   I've been ignoring Google's little messages up until now about the loss of reader and igoogle because simply haven't  had the time to deal with it. No that's not true. I didn't want to take the time because I knew it would take time, lots of it.   As we all know, when it comes the computer, it takes time.  I've also been contemplating a new laptop but that's a whole other story.  Have been researching and reading and checking out what other folks have been saying about all the choices out there.

I personally hate, err dislike Google's Chrome. It's a very simple but important reason - I can't make changes on blogger through Chrome.  Believe me, I've tried. Which is odd since blogger and Chrome are both Google products.  And if I can't update my blogs, well.  Nuff said.  So Firefox remains my number one browser, and I love Adblock plus which between Norton Security and it, pretty much wipes out all ads everywhere.  Imagine my surprise when I went onto facebook using my nook and saw all the ads in the sidebar.  So nice to know what I haven't been missing. 

I've gone exploring and checked out NetVibes which was snazzy but way too slow to load.  Protopage just rubbed me the wrong way. I've fallen in like with and after playing with it a while, think it will make a good replacement for igoogle. Have taken the plunge and set it up as my home page.  

As far as the reader goes, I discovered Feedly who has stepped up to the plate to take over and seamlessly clone google reader and make the transition very smooth.  I'm getting used to it, but debating whether I'll just go back to old fashioned method of keeping the blogs I follow in my sidebar and clicking over from there.  Have already weaned myself from google reader and rarely look at it these days so won't be much of a loss.  

 When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.  ~Victor Frankl

Sunday Salon: Happy St. Patrick's

         Dia duit ar maidin! Happy St. Patrick's day.  It is a beautiful day and spring is approaching.  I'm looking forward to hanging out on the patio, pondering and enjoying nature again.  

         I just finished a book that really made you ponder -  Hopscotch by Julio Cortazar.   One of those book in which the characters discuss the meaning of life to death in a stream of consciousness fashion.  Plus one in which I needed the dictionary/encyclopedia several times to look up words and people.  Which made me realize I wouldn't have liked or finished the book at all 20 to 30 years ago because I wouldn't have appreciated or understood it.  I totally disliked the main character, Horacio Oliveira, and there were times I simply wanted to throw the book across the room in disgust. He had no redeeming qualities and I felt the same way about him as I did about Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.   But like a train wreck waiting to happen, had to finish the book. There were two ways to read the book - straight forward or in a Hopscotch manner jumping into 'expendable' chapters the author had written which were suppose to add to or explain some of what was going on.  I hopscotched around, letting the number at the end of each chapter tell me what to read next.  Which if you weren't paying attention, wouldn't realize you were in an endless loop at the end.  

         My brain was saturated upon finishing the book and needed time to rest. Couldn't even think of reading anything else.  James and I went to the comic book store and Barnes and Noble Friday afternoon and I was quite happy to discover the next book Touch of the Demon in Diana Rowland's urban fantasy Demon series.  Perfect book to dive into and escape for a while.  I also picked up a few next in the series books such as Patricia Brigg's Frost Burned, Laurel K. Hamilton's Hit List and Keri Arthur's Moon Sworn. So happy my son dragged me out to the store.

        I finished listening to the In Death  series by J.D. Robb.  Was at a loss wandering what I was going to listen too after a year and a half of the adventures of Eve and Roark. I'm so picky about the narrators and love Susan Ericksen. Checked out Lorelie King who narrates Patricia Brigg's Mercedes Thompson series and downloaded the first book Moon Called. Already read the series, so it's fun listening to it as well.   Enjoying it so far.  

         It's book week 12 in my 52 Books in 52 Weeks reading challenge and this week I'm highlighting  Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter:  Book # 7 in the list of great fiction from SWB's Well Educated Mind. Coincidentally, this is also the anniversary of the book's publication 163 years ago on March 16, 1850.  

         James has started a new blog based on the latest fan fiction story he wrote called Sonic the Hedgehog Z. which is a mashup involving characters from Sonic, Mega Man, Star Wars and who ever else can cook up. My son has a fascinating imagination. He also wants me to pass on to everyone the news that Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man are getting together in a comic book cross over event called Worlds Collide which will be published across three comic books - Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Universe and Mega Man and starts April 10. 

        Hubby just finished reading Lincoln's Last Days written by Bill O'Reilly and Dwight Jon Zimmerman.  He says it's excellent and one of the first history books he's read that is suspenseful, based on reality and simple enough for a child to read, but also good enough for an adult to read without being demeaning or feeling they are being talked down to.  He is encouraging both James and I to read it as well.  

       Life beckons. My HP Printer took a dump so just ordered and received a Brothers Wireless color printer with scanner and other nifty things. I have the fun of getting it set up today along with planning lessons for the week.  One more week to Spring break - Yahoo.  Although I'll be spending it doing the taxes.  But first - 50 more chapters to go in my book, so off to read.  Happy Sunday!

The Sunday

Sunday Salon: Hopscotch

Happy Sunday!  It is the oddest thing....whenever the time changes I feel jetlagged?  The cats have been trying to get me up an hour earlier for the past couple weeks so they've already adjusted.  My body won't adjust until April which is when DST used to start until congress changed it in 2007.  My internal clock really is still geared to that. I know...whine, moan, complain when it's only an hour. 

Life wise, with 7th grade, comes STAR testing for James since we are now involved in  the school district's charter home school.  He's never done any of the star tests before so  we arranged to have him do the tests at home. Why?  Because of his aspergers he is easily distracted and can't concentrate in a new environment.  He also very sociable and put him in a new environment with 20 new kids and forget getting anything done. Hey! A new audience and they haven't heard any of his stories and....  He would be as much as distraction as he would be distracted.  

The writing test was this past week and our counselor/teacher is so wonderful and patient with him.   I sat in the living room while they worked in the kitchen, listening to their conversation.  He'd write for a few minutes, then stop and ask her an off topic question. She'd patiently answer, then steer him back to his work.  Next month is the 2nd part which involves the English and math testing. Meanwhile, we'll do a couple practice tests so he knows what to expect.  

Reading wise, I just finished Tana French's The Likeness.  Booklist says it best so not going to reinvent the wheel right now:  

 "French’s debut novel, In the Woods (2007), introduced Dublin Murder Squad detective Cassie Maddox and earned unanimous critical praise. Cassie is back, and French has written another winner. The body of a young woman is found in the ruins of a old stone cottage in a dying village outside of Dublin, and the dead woman and Cassie are virtual twins. Lacking suspects or leads, the victim is reported by the police to be injured but alive, leaving Cassie to step into the dead woman’s life as a Trinity College graduate student and the housemate of four other students. Despite the tensions of being undercover, Cassie quickly learns to love her quirky, insular housemates and her new life in a once-grand house, even as the Murder Squad investigation yields little. Someone stabbed her doppelganger to death, and Cassie must find the killer. The Likeness has everything: memorable characters, crisp dialogue, shrewd psychological insight, mounting tension, a palpable sense of place, and wonderfully evocative, painterly prose."
One of those unputdownable books, at least for me.  So much so, when I should have been writing the 52 Books blog post for week 11, I was reading instead.   Today is the start of the Hopscotch Readalong by Julio Cortazar which is really two books in one. You can either read in regular chapter order or follow his hopscotch order and start with chapter 73.  I'm going to follow his order and see what happens.

Life beckons. Happy Sunday!  


Sunday Salon: February Wrap up

The sounding refrain seems to be where did February go?  It passed far too quickly in my opinion.  Spring is approaching and hopefully with the beginning of Daylight Savings Time new week and the arrival of spring, my writing mojo will come back. I've not been feeling very inspired lately and more into reading about writing, rather than writing.  However, my guys have been at me to write and James is wanting me to get back to writing Green Cross so I can write a scene which includes my Hero talking to a bikini clad beauty on the beach who will do acrobatics for him.  Yep, he's 13. What can I say.  Plus hubby is wanting me to finish editing Eyes in the Ashes.  Will work on getting into an inspired mood this week.  

February reading wise, I discovered Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series and devoured most of the series reading up through #9 Kitty's Big Trouble.   Kitty is a werewolf with a talk show and she gets into all kinds of trouble - great characters and the storyline is addictive. I've also fallen for Dean Koontz Odd Thomas series and read the next two books in series  - Forever Odd #2 and  Brother Odd #3.  Also working on Robert Jordan's  Wheel of Time series which are chunksters so reading one a month at this point and finished # 3 The Dragon Reborn.  I've had City of Ashes in Cassandra Clare's Immortal Instruments series sitting on the shelf for quite a while and finally got around to reading it.  It took me a bit of time to get back into the characters, but once I did, the story went smoothly.  Not sure if I will continue the series at some point.   

Dusty books wise finished Death and Restoration by Iain Pears in his Art History Mystery series. Have enjoyed reading all of them and think this is the last. Will have to go back and check. Also read Willa Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop which was about a Catholic Bishop establishing a church in the new established territory of New Mexico and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Plus Deborah Crombie's Scotland yard mystery about a drowned rower in No Mark Upon Her. Lots of twists and turns in this one.   And new to me author Hallie Ephron (what took me so long) and her psychological suspense mystery Never Tell a Lie which was creepy good.  Finally read the novella Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson which wasn't much a comedy but a dark story about a dutch couple hiding a jewish man in their home during the war.  Small book but packs a wallop.

Non fiction wise I finally finished Echoing Silence: Thomas Merton on the vocation of Writing - edited by  Robert Inchausti.  It was a mixture of various essays from all of Merton's books and his correspondence with various writers and his thoughts on writing which varied depending on his mood. It was interesting and made me want to read all his other books.  Which lead to me now reading New Seeds of Contemplation which has much to comtemplate so taking it slowly. 

In my A to Z challenge have progressed through the D's and now working on the E's.  I'm currently reading another dusty book Never Let You Go by Erin Healy which is a small town christian supernatural psychological and scary good. 

And I signed up for a coursera class that just sounded really intriguing which will begin tomorrow called Know Thyself:
An investigation of the nature and limits of self-knowledge from the viewpoints of philosophy, psychoanalysis, experimental psychology, neuroscience, aesthetics, and Buddhism.  Readings are drawn from classical Western, non-Western, and contemporary sources.

For the 52 Books challenge, we are taking our armchair travels down into South America and will be doing a readalong starting March 10 of Hopscotch by Julio Cortozar which is a free wheeling, stream of consciousness book in which you can read in chapter order or follow the random pattern set out by the author, hopscotching around.  Should be interesting. 

Cheers to March and Happy Reading! 

The Sunday