There are a couple of events in the blogosphere coming up that I'm excited about participating in. The first in Dewey's 24-hour Read-a-thon on April 26. I haven't had a chance to participate in any 24 hour read-a-thons yet, and I know this is a great one to start with. I also know that I'm not going to get anywhere close to actually reading for 24 hours straight. My students would not be very happy with me on Monday morning if I didn't sleep at all Saturday night. So my participation will be limited, but I'll do the best I can!
The second event I'm excited about is Armchair BEA, coming up on May 26-31. I'm still fairly new to the book blogging world, so last year at this time, I didn't have my blog up and running yet. Honestly, I hadn't even heard of BEA until last year (gasp!). I would LOVE to actually go to BEA in New York some year, but that rather unlikely, since it always seems to be scheduled during the penultimate week of the school year. Not a great time for a teacher to skip out. . . But this year, I will be able to participate in Armchair BEA. I'm looking forward to all of that fun and crazy bookishness!
Happy Easter Monday! I hope you had an awesome Easter celebration with your Lord and with your family!
My Recent Posts
These Old Shades by Georgette Heyer - Review (One of my all-time favorite authors)
The Color of Rain by Michael & Gina Spehn - Review (What a powerful book!)
What I Read Last Week
Aunts Aren't Gentlemen by P.G. Wodehouse (Wodehouse always provides a fun read!)
What I'm Reading Now
My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (This one will probably show up on my It's Monday! posts for a few weeks. It takes me awhile to get through an audiobook, even one as enjoyable as this one!)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows (Our book club is meeting this Friday night, but I know I'll have no problem finishing this one in time. What a great story!)
What's Coming Up Next
My Venice and Other Essays by Donna Leon (I'm visiting Venice this summer, and I love reading about places before I get there. This book was the perfect find at the library!)
Happy Easter to you and your families! May you take time this weekend to focus on what Christ has done for each and every one of us. Praise the Lord for His triumph over sin and death! The facts of Christ's resurrection are irrefutable and miraculous. I hope that you enjoy this time with your family as we celebrate Christ's victory. Happy Easter!
The Color of Rain is about God’s plan prevailing through adversity. It’s not an easy book to read, but it is worthwhile. It provides an essential reminder that when our world is crumbling around us, God is still in control and will be with us through it all.
Michael and Gina Spehn are the authors of this book – a true story of their lives, and a story that only God could write. Gina’s husband Matt was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. Not long after he passed away, doctors discovered that Michael’s wife Cathy had a brain tumor. Nineteen days later, her battle with cancer was over. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows what they went through during these awful days, weeks, and months.
But that’s not the end of the story. Because God is in control, there is always hope. There is always a plan. There is always a future. And Michael and Gina found their future together. Helping each other through their losses brought them a happiness that they never saw coming.
Michael and Gina visited my church earlier this year. I heard them tell their story, and then I went home and read their book. It truly is a powerful story of God’s love and provision. It’s not easy to read about the hard times, but it’s incredibly uplifting to learn how God has worked good through the bad. Please pick up a copy of this book and be reminded of all the ways that God is working in your life every single day.
I'll readily admit that Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances are my escapist reading. When I’m looking for a literary treat, I’ll pick up one of her novels. I love the Regency world. Even though Heyer’s characters are far removed from the sphere of Jane Austen, the wit and sparkle is very reminiscent of her.
One of the books I’ve treated myself to was These Old Shades, the first of three books about the Alastair family. My mother lent me her copy, knowing that I would get around to reading it before she would. In fact, based on my recommendations, my mother has bought several Heyer novels – but has yet to read any, if I remember correctly. What treasures lurk in to-be-read piles!
These Old Shades takes place mostly in Paris. Justin Alastair, the Duke of Avon, is walking home late one night when a boy crashes into him. The boy is running away from his brother. Justin spontaneously decides to purchase him and make him his page. This earns the boy’s undying gratitude and an extreme amount of loyalty. The boy, Leon, begins his life as Justin’s page, but Justin soons discovers that Leon is not exactly who – or what – he seems. This book is a mystery and a romance, giving insights into the not-so-wholesome life of the nobility and glimpses of Versailles under Louis XV. The climax is suspenseful and dramatic, but leads (as you would expect from Heyer) to a happy ending for the characters you have come to love.
If I told you any more about the plot, I would spoil the mystery! Suffice it to say that the characters are endearing (even Justin – eventually), the plot is twisty, and the wit is present as always. Heyer delivers a very enjoyable tale again – the perfect escape for, well, just about anytime you’d like an escape!
P.S. Does anyone know what the phrase “make a leg” means? The male characters were constantly “making a leg” to another character. Of the many Heyer books I’ve read, I don’t remember seeing this phrase before. Is it a type of a bow? That was the best explanation I could come up with. Anyone got another??
Alas, spring break is over, and it's back to school time. I'll gladly admit that I missed my students, although I loved being able to sleep in and read as much as I wanted!
My Recent Posts
Reading Rewards (Have you ever rewarded yourself for reading a book or books? Join the conversation!)
The Help by Kathryn Stockett - Review
Used Book Sale Haul
What I Read Last Week
The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer (A spring break treat!)
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (Okay, as I write this, I haven't technically finished reading this book. But I'm close enough I'm going to count it as read!)
What I'm Reading Now
Side-by-side P.G. Wodehouse. My Man Jeeves, which I'm actually listening to as an audiobook, is the April selection for the Reading to Know Book Club. It's the first book in the Jeeves series. Then I just so happen to own the last book in the Jeeves series - Aunts Aren't Gentlemen - so I thought I'd read that and compare. I love Wodehouse's British sense of humor!
What's Coming Up Next
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (The third meeting of my brand new book club is coming up soon, so I should probably get around to reading the book!)
There's a church in the area that has a giant used book sale as a fundraiser for their ministries every year. And if I'm lucky, it happens during my spring break, so I can spend hours browsing. I was lucky this year! Tuesday afternoon was spent finding books, helping my brother go car shopping, and eating Chinese food with my family. Who could ask for a better day?
In past years, I've brought a box with me to this book sale. And I've filled it up every time. (Although last year, that was because I got an entire classroom set - 27 books! - of Strider by Beverly Cleary. So that doesn't really count.) This year, I tried to be good and I just brought the bookish tote bag that I got for Christmas.
I own so many books that I haven't read yet. I'm doing my best to read some of those this year, but it doesn't help if I just load up again at every used book sale I run across! So this was my way of trying to limit myself. It sort of worked. You'd be surprised how many books you can cram in one tote bag. . .
Cheshire decided to check them out, too. So without further ado, here are the amazing books I brought home:
Fudge-a-Mania by Judy Blume (I read Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing to my fourth graders, and they absolutely love it. Now I've just got to collect the rest of the books in the series for them.)
Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel & Leah by Orson Scott Card (The idea of Biblical novels written by a sci-fi author intrigued me so much that I ended up grabbing all three books in the series.)
The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse (Reading about journalists fascinates me.)
Chasing Redbird by Sharon Creech (Another book for my classroom library.)
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (This one is on my Classics Club list, so it doesn't hurt to grab a copy when I can.)
The Reluctant Tuscan by Phil Doran (I can't resist books set in Italy.)
The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig (I've already read this one, but I'm in the process of collecting the whole series.)
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See (I just saw this one at Barnes & Noble over the weekend, and it looked interesting. And just like that, now I own a copy!)
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Sounded interesting)
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (This is on our book club list, so I figured it I should pick up a copy when I see one.)
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (I've been eyeing this book for awhile, but had never committed to buying it. But for $1, how could I resist? This is also a book my husband would enjoy, so really I'm just helping him out. :)
Affairs at Thrush Green by Miss Read (A series my mom enjoys. I haven't read much of it, but I know I'll enjoy it when I do.)
Sent by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Somehow every book in this series made it into my classroom except for book 2. I was very excited to find it at this book sale, especially since it was the only one in the series they had!)
The Gawgon and the Boy by Lloyd Alexander (I reread the Prydain Chronicles many times as a kid. And here's a book by Lloyd Alexander I haven't read yet! I just may have to read this one before it enters my classroom library.)
A Class Apart by Alec Klein (The story of Stuyvesant High School. Since I'm a teacher myself, it's hard to pass up these sort of books.)
Whew! Thanks for listening as I babbled on about my used book sale finds. It's always fun to share treasures with other readers. Now I just need to find places for these books on my bookshelves. Hmm. . .
I’ve decided that I’m too young to truly do justice to a review of this book. I didn’t live in the 1960s. I’ve never lived in the South. In my memory, normal has been happily coexisting with people of all races. And yet, maybe it’s people like me that need to read this book the most.
If you’re not familiar with the storyline of The Help, here’s the basics. It follows three women in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s. Two of them, Aibileen and Minny are black women, maids to the white women of the city. The third is one of those white women – Skeeter Phelan, whose plan for her own life is very different from her mother’s. She wants to be a reporter, a real writer. When a New York publisher tells her to write about something that bothers her, she comes up with the idea to write a book telling the maids’ stories. What is it like to work for the white women of Jackson? To be told that you are diseased so you can’t use the indoors bathroom? To be expected to clean the house perfectly while taking care of the children? Aibileen and Minny know how dangerous this project will be, while Skeeter is discovering a whole new side to what she thought was reality.
I grew up in a time and place where racism wasn’t really a problem. I know our country isn’t perfect now when it comes to this area. But I just was blown away by how far we’ve come in the past fifty years. I have no doubt that this was these women’s reality. They feared for their lives and for their families if they spoke out. I can’t imagine living like that, and I have so much respect for those that did.
The Help brings this time period to life for those of us who didn’t live through it. Kathryn Stockett views the issue of racism through so many people’s eyes – the fresh college graduate determined to change the world, the older generation that can’t see anything wrong with the way things are, the younger generation determined to keep the status quo no matter what, the maids who give their lives to these families only to be treated like nothing, the maids who love the white children as their own, and all who were determined to take a stand despite the danger and their fear. It was really this that sold me on this book. It’s not a one-sided look at life in the South in the 1960s. It covers as much ground and as many perspectives as it can. This is one of the many reasons why reading this book is most definitely worth your time. And there is no doubt of that – reading this book is most definitely worth your time. Everyone can learn something from this book, whether you lived through the 1960s or not. Kathryn Stockett’s story is one that needs to be read.
Everyone has a point in their lives where they need motivation to do something. Mine is reading books from my own library. I LOVE buying books (especially used ones because you just never know what treasures you will find). Unfortunately, these are the books that take a backseat to library books or the next exciting book to come across my path.
I thought I had a solution for this. I signed up for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge this year. Last year, I barely made my goal of reading 12 of my own books. This year, I thought I would be challenging yet safe, and aim for 24 books. Then at the last minute, I decided to really challenge myself and commit to reading 36 of my own books this year. I had it all planned out - 6 books per month. I'd be done by June. Just in time for summer and library book season.
It hasn't quite worked out like that. Here we are in April, and I've only read twelve of my own books. That's not precisely where I had hoped to be at this point.
Which leads me to the title of this blog post - reading rewards! I recently purchased a brand new copy of Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen. This is big for me. I never pay full price for brand new books. (But it's a brand new book by Sarah Addison Allen! How could I not buy it?) However, instead of getting home and immediately devouring it, I've decided to use it as motivation.
When I complete half of my Mount TBR Challenge - that's reading 18 books off my own shelves - then I will allow myself to read Lost Lake. It's going to be tough, but so far, it's working. Looks like reading works as a reward for reading!
Have you ever had to set a reward for yourself to stay on the right reading track?
This week is spring break!! Time to get stuff done (garden is already cleaned out and ready for spring)! Time to relax! And time to read!! Can you tell I'm excited?
My Recent Posts
My 2014 Reading Thus Far
Mini-Challenge #2 for the Newbery Reading Challenge
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain - Review
What I Read Last Week
The Constantine Codex by Paul Maier (Definitely worth the second chance I gave it. I'm glad I decided to reread it!)
What I'm Reading Now
Travels in the Greater Yellowstone by Jack Turner (This is a bit more soapbox-y than I'd like, but it's still an interesting look at Yellowstone National Park and the areas that surround it.)
What's Coming Up Next
The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer (In honor of spring break, I thought I would indulge myself with one of my favorite authors. Time for a vacation in Regency England!)