Book Club & Tigerheart

by Peter David
You’ll have to write your own reading/discussion guide for this one.

nablopomo2009
a review
Rarely do I have to read a fiction book with a dictionary and I found it rather refreshing to expand my vocabulary while I read a reimagining of Peter Pan. Many of the potential new vocabulary words are explain either through context or by the narrator. I love the names of two of the pirates, “Caveat” and “Roomer,” they live up to their names. The only place Peter Pan is mentioned is in reviews on the covers of the book. After that we follow the story of “The Boy,” Gwenny, Paul Darling and a host of “Anyplace characters” The author wrote Tigerheart from the narrator’s point of view, but the narrator recorded the story in the first person. The narrator will occasionally become sidetracked explaining why something is the way it is or why he doesn’t know something he doesn’t know. I found myself giggling through the book often. I’m not sure this is a children’s book, but it could be read to a child with creative editing done by an adult. What I enjoyed most wasn’t the story line, who won the battle, what happened to the characters. I enjoyed trying to guess how the characters and plot twists related to the original story. Did this story occur before Wendy, John and Michael flew with Peter? Was “The Boy” Peter? Was Gwenny (Gwendolyn) Wendy? How does Paul relate to the Wendy, John and Michael?

I would like to read the Peter Pan stories and then Tigerheart again to compare the writing style and characters. To read the original Peter Pan and Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, please visit Project Gutenberg.

a summary
While villains and heroes come and go, one thing remains, there must be heroes and villains. Tigerheart is a story from “Anyplace” where in there are pirates and non-pirates, heroes and villains. Which are which are for you to decide. Paul Darling’s sister Bonnie disappeared, she didn’t want to be a baby, turned into a bird and flew away. This tale follows Paul’s adventure to and from “Anyplace” on the quest to bring a baby girl back to his mother to make her happy again.

siggy

The Book Thief

by markus zusak
reading guide

a review/a summary
It’s not often I struggle to write about a book. What to say without giving too much away? A familiar topic fictionalized in an unique manner, “The Book Thief” will keep you turning the pages. The main character, Liesel, becomes a thief of books among other things. The narrator leads the reader through Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and early 1940s while following a child, her family, neighborhood and government. While technically a young adult book, I would highly recommend it for a wider audience including plain-old adults.

siggy

A new iPod

Late this summer my Nano developed a problem. I was no longer able to use the center click wheel. The iPod still played music/podcasts, I was just unable to select what I wanted to play in what order. It started at the beginning of the list, then I had to fast forward to the episode I desired. I attempted to fix this by only putting on a couple of episodes at a time, which was less than ideal, but worked as long as I had enough listening material. I toyed with purchasing a replacement wheel and inside electronics but was concerned about wasting money if I didn’t fix it. I was also a bit envious of the amount of space on newer iPods. When the Nano was in tip-top shape, I regularly filled it and had to leave off music lists or newer podcast episodes. On Friday, I will finishing paying for my “new” iPod Classic. I purchased it before Apple released its new line in September, but overall I’m happy with my purchase. I have a smaller Classic, 120GB, as opposed to the newer 160GB one that was released in September. I looked at other brands, other sizes, other others and decided that between the ease of use of iTunes and a similar price point for other mp3 players with comparable size, the Classic was what I wanted.

And it’s that time of year again, what’s on the iPod in the podcast realm. Many old favorites are still in the mix, some no loner on the list have discontinued new episodes, some have become a bit erratic, some just don’t suit me any longer and some I try again after a hiatus.

I’ve still decided not to review any of the new podcasts nor explain why others are no longer on the list. My skin isn’t thick enough when the podcasters leave me feedback. I feel guilty when I share my opinion which hurts complete strangers. Yes, they put themselves out there. Yes, I am trying to be unbiased, I have no stake in the success or failure of a podcast so I’m not playing favorites. Moving on . . .

Standard disclaimer-not all podcasts in my list are suitable for family listening, please check reviews left on iTunes and the shownotes for the podcasts to determine if you would enjoy or be offended by a podcast.

Still hanging on:

New-ish, but staying for a bit longer:

On probation:

If I add too many more to my lists, I’m going to have to take a screenshot and color code them as old, new, and on probation. If you have a podcast or know of one related to literature, crafting (knitting, crocheting, quilting, scrapbooking, stamping, etc), gardening, real-life stories, etc that is not commercially produced (we all know that Lion Brand Yarn has good things to say about itself, but I’m still not going to listen) leave a comment.

siggy

Book Club & The Help

by Kathryn Stockett
reading guide

a review
As the title indicates, this is a book I read for book club. I wouldn’t have read it otherwise. I find it hard to believe that a white author can write an account of life for African-American housekeepers/maids in the south in the 1960s. Penguin books had a podcast episode with the author about why she felt she could write this book. I listened to part of it and was so bored I turned it off before finishing it. The stories from the housekeepers/maids in the book were interesting enough to hold my interest.

a summary
A fictional account of the life of African-American housekeepers/maids set in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. The book is written by a white woman and is told from the point of view of a white woman just out of college and two housekeepers/maids. The white woman, Skeeter, wants to be a journalist and decides to interview at least 12 woman who spent their lives taking care of other people’s children and house. The story is full of racial tension as all of the women sneak behind the backs of their employers, friends, family, neighbors and high-society. The story was creative enough to hold my interest, but I have no idea as to the accuracy of such an account, fictional though it is.

siggy

Book Club & The Glass Castle

by Janette Walls
reading guide

a review
A well written memoir of the author’s childhood with an alcoholic parent and an out-of-touch parent. I was genuinely surprised by the depth of caring toward her parents the author could express as she wrote her account. I had a difficult time finding any empathy for the parents, while Janette clearly found common ground on which to stand with her family. I found myself a hybrid between Janette and her youngest sister, who when the time came, ran from her family and hasn’t looked back yet.

a summary
Janette recounts her childhood and the chaos that one alcoholic parent and one free-spirit parent brought to her life and the lives of her siblings with love and respect for them. While her father was not violent, his drinking left the family with little to no money to provide for basic needs, including food, clothes, and shelters. Her parents pride wouldn’t allow them to accept handouts or help of any kind, rather the children went without meals, clothes, appropriate shelter and more. Her mother would work only when absolutely necessary and kept secrets of her own that may have saved the children a great deal of pain and anguish had she been a bit less selfish. This is a heart wrenching account of a child watching her parents spiral out of control of their lives and their failure to provide for the basic care of their children. The few things the parents did instill were pride in education and pride in self, that one could do just about anything one set about doing.

siggy

Library Plugin gone wacko

I have used a WordPress plugin called “Now Reading” for several years to track the books I’ve read. Though it is designed to be more for my library collection, I use it generically. Some of the books I list I own, many I borrow from the library or friends. After the latest “upgrade” the plugin broke. I’m not heartbroken, but I am bit upset as I have over 150 books listed as read, reading or planned to read since Nov. 2007. Less than 10 books are listed as reading or planned to read. The error I get is, “You are not authorized to perform this action.” Creating a new users on my blog with admin privileges didn’t change the problem. I did find that if I worked backward from the blog to the plugin I could edit “currently reading” books, but received the same error if I tried to add a new book. Part of me things it’s a WordPress problem as my WordPress hiccuped a week or so ago, but I also upgraded this plugin around the time it hiccuped. I didn’t notice the hiccup until Friday. I do have a work-around since I know how to edit MySQL databases but man is that a pain. The plugin wrote a nice little interface that runs information across 4 databases in one little form. I’ll keep using the silly thing until I’m too annoyed with the upkeep and then I’ll switch. If anyone out there uses something similar, I’m taking recommendations.

Ok, after setting my categories and scrolling down the page, I can say it’s a WordPress problem. WordPress has merged my admin account with a contributor account, grrr. I thought I fixed this last week.

Well, after deleting all author/admin/contributor accounts except the admin one, I have had no luck in forcing Now Reading to work. Maybe it’s time to uninstall and reinstall or just replace it with Now Reading Reloaded. I seem to have fewer consistent errors with the new plugin. It’s written by someone else but based the original plugin, so it works with minimal effort.

It seems to be stable now, 20 minutes later. I’ve had to disable another coolie plugin as the install went totally wacky after a recent plugin upgrade-YARPP-yet another related post plugin. As of Aug. 28, an updated release of YARPP seems to have addressed the issue so I have reenabled the plugin and fixed the template to show the related posts on the index as well as the single post pages.

siggy

Book Club & For One More Day

by Mitch Albom
reading guide

a review
A quick read wherein the author let’s you in on his secret a bit at time, though with enough information to figure out most of it before the last page. I’d read it again.

a summary
In the author’s typical style, the story looks at past choices and regrets, and then offers a way to rectify some. The premise of this work asks if you could have one more day with a loved one who had died, what would that day look like, what would you talk about, what would you do, etc. Charley, the main character, is allowed one more day with his long dead mother. He learns to look at himself and his family in a different light.

siggy

A Review: Made from Scratch

Subtitled “Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life”
written by Jenna Woginrich

a review
I can’t rate this high enough. A must read for anyone who would like to depend less on corporate America (or any other country), our Government and more on him/herself. In a humorous yet factual manner, the author shares her adventures of moving, raising small animals for food and fiber (to spin into yarn), crafting, thrifting for essentials that need not be brand new and other interesting discoveries along the way.

a summary
The author shares her experiences and knowledge of learning to live local. She shares chapters on raising a few chickens with limited acreage, gardening on a budget, learning to live without modern distractions, and shares a wealth of research at the end of the book.

favorite quote
“Vegetable gardening has been called ‘the peaceful sedition’ because at the most basic level, when a person can feed and shelter herself, she doesn’t require a government to provide for her.”

siggy

A Review: Forever Lily

Forever Lily discussion guide:

  • Guide 1
  • a review
    I read several reviews that were less than glowing for this book. I have to respectfully disagree. Maybe because I am expecting our first little one and while I do not know little one, I already treasure little one more than words can describe. I found the switch between the account of the events and the dreams the author had interesting. While I may not believe in past lives, it’s not for me to jump all over someone who does. The author shared deeply personal emotions as she went back and forth in through decisions about the adoption.

    a summary
    The author shares her account of events as she travels to China with her neighbor, who intends to adopt an orphaned girl. The events seem to change and swirl around the author as she attempts to understand her role in the adoption process of a woman she barely knows. She bonds almost immediately with Baby, while the adoptive mother won’t even hold Baby. She struggles with dreams of a previous life in China while seeking her path in the present day China and USA.

    siggy

Book Club & Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants discussion guides:
Guide 1
Guide 2

a review
It was a fun little story, though not especially deep or philosophical and a nice diversion from what I usually read, but that was the point of joining the book club. There were a few unseen twists. I enjoyed the author’s note at the end explaining where and how she developed all the intricate characters and plots.

a summary
The story is told by Jacob about his life before the nursing home. Near the end of college, a tragedy sends him running from college and searching for what he will do with the rest of his life. A traveling circus gobbled him up to be the on-site vet, quickly. In the opening chapter, a circus man is killed in a melee that may have been preventable. At this point in the story, I understood absolutely nothing of the character of any of the characters. I struggled trying to understand the death and motives. I spent over half the book quite upset and unwilling to understand the characters involved in the death. The half-way mark or so gave enough insights into the character of all parties involved to allow me to understand a bit more. As the story progressed, the chapters would flip from “young” Jacob to “old” Jacob (93 yrs old). This odd storytelling method surprisingly held my interest better than had it only been old Jacob telling of his youth.

siggy