Tag Archive: husband


June Life Update

Things have been really crazy lately. I’ve been really busy with work and haven’t had a whole lot of free time. This is especially true last week and this week so far. I hope everyone had a fantastic Father’s Day! My husband, son and I had lunch with my parents to celebrate. My hubby finally decided that he wanted a custom license plate for his gift, so we’re just waiting for the tag to come in before we can do anything. I finally got invitations for my son’s birthday party, but will probably get decorations closer to the day. The party is on July 14 but his birthday is the 15th. I can’t believe my big boy is going to be 2 years old!

I am horrible at remembering things, so I use Google Calendar to keep track of things for me, and it sends me email reminders. Usually I have one event a week but this week, I’ve got three. So feeling a bit overwhelmed. I decided to volunteer for a program at Phoenix Public Library called Talk Time, which is very similar to another program I did for two years in Columbia called Let’s Speak English (LSE), which allows ESL speakers to practice their English in a non-classroom setting. It is supposed to be more comfortable and make the students more at ease with conversing in English. I have several friends who I met through LSE and before when I was in school in Scotland that English is not their first language and I know how difficult it can be to do if you are not confident in your abilities or have been made fun of for the lack of English or many other reasons. I got to sit in on a Talk Time session last week and was surprised and pleased that so many people came. The previous week (which was the first one) only had 6 people, but the second one had 20+. I never had that many with LSE, it had a max of maybe 10 people. As we live in the Phoenix area, there are a lot of Mexican immigrants and this meetup was no exception, but there were also people from Korea, India, Colombia, Panama and Nicaragua as well. The big difference between Talk Time and LSE, aside from the numbers, is what I would be doing with the program. With LSE, I was one of many volunteers who partnered up with one or two internationals and talked in English. With Talk Time, I would be leading the session by myself. I met with the coordinator, who was very excited about my joining the program, especially as I could actually commit to 6+ months. So I am now completing 3 online courses in Adult Education, which I’m trying to finish by tomorrow (maybe more like by Wed or the end of the week, depending on how tired I am). I’m excited about volunteering again and yes, I hope this will add to my library experience so I can eventually get a good job in a system somewhere.

I also have to finish creating an art talk, before Saturday, which I’m making for one of the committees I’m a part of at my church. We have an art exhibition opening for the current exhibit of Ethiopian Orthodox Church art, a bit late, but better late than never. I’m going to give a bit of history on the church and on the icons/art in the exhibition. I’ve honestly never done one of these, so I’m a little nervous about boring people. I’ve discovered that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is incredibly old and complex, so it makes summarizing fun (not!). However, I am learning a bunch I didn’t know, so that’s always a bonus. I will post the speech/paper after I have given the talk.

I’m also finally getting my car tinted. I would never have thought about doing this prior to living in Arizona, as I think it’s a bit pretentious. However, with having a little one and trying to protect him from the sun as much as I can, it is now essential. Plus it is a dark colored car and we have no garage so it just gets hotter and hotter sitting outside and it will up the value of the car if we ever sell it.

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Happy May Day!

May Day Celebrations

Today is May 1st, otherwise known as May Day. This holiday has had good connotations, such as the traditional notion that it was a celebration of Spring, linked to pagan celebrations of Beltane and the Roman goddess Flora. According to Encyclopedia Britannica,

” Although later practices varied widely, the celebrations came to include the gathering of wildflowers and green branches, the weaving of floral garlands, the crowning of a May king and queen, and the setting up of a decorated May tree, or Maypole, around which people danced. Such rites originally may have been intended to ensure fertility for crops and, by extension, for livestock and humans, but in most cases this significance was gradually lost, so that the practices survived largely as popular festivities.Because the Puritans of New England considered the celebrations of May Day to be licentious and pagan, they forbade its observance, and the holiday never became an important part of American culture.”

May Day is still celebrated in England as a bank holiday. When I was first dating my husband, my second visit coincided with May Day celebrations and the closest town had a fair. We had so much fun riding all the rides, by ourselves and with his niece and nephews,  and he won me a stuffed hippo that I still possess. I confess that I never saw a Maypole or a May Queen, although I’m sure there was one somewhere in England. So for me the day has very good memories. Similar holidays are celebrated in Finland, Germany, Ireland, and Romania, to name a few. In France, according to Wikipedia, “On May 1, 1561, King Charles IX of France received a lily of valley as a lucky charm. He decided to offer a lily of the valley each year to the ladies of the court. At the beginning of the 20th century, it became custom to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime, on May 1.”

may-solidarity

I had no idea that the day had more serious overtones to it as well. Elsewhere in the world, May 1st is known as International Workers Day. It is meant to celebrate the labor movement, in particular the Haymarket Affair in Chicago in 1886, which was a protest which demanded 8 hour workdays for everyone. However the establishment of this law didn’t happen for many years after this date. In the US, the holiday is  called Law Day by President Eisenhower in 1958 to emphasize American Democracy, as the other celebration of the day was thought “too Communist”. For a more detailed history on the holiday, check out this webpage. Today workers all over the world have been involved in rallies and protests. According to this article, rallies were

“from fury in Europe over austerity measures that have cut wages, reduced benefits and eliminated many jobs altogether, to rage in Asia over relentlessly low pay, the rising cost of living and hideous working conditions that have left hundreds dead in recent months. In protests, strikes and other demonstrations held in cities across the planet, activists lashed out at political and business leaders they allege have ignored workers’ voices or enriched themselves at the expense of laborers. In some places, the demonstrations turned violent, with activists clashing with police.”

For more information about demonstrations happening today in Bangladesh, Greece, Spain, Turkey, Denmark, Sweden, Indonesia and many other places, please check out the above article. While I meant Happy May Day in association with the nicer side of the day, I think it is also important to speak out for workers rights all over the world. There are sadly a lot of injustices going on by companies and governments in the US and abroad that need to be addressed and today is the internationally recognized day for doing so.

Monday was my seventh wedding anniversary, though my hubby and I celebrated this past weekend. Nothing too crazy, just an afternoon/evening without my son (thanks to my parents agreeing to babysit), where we watched The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and got a quick dinner. If you haven’t seen the movie, I recommend you don’t read the rest of the paragraph as I give some spoilers. I liked the movie, although there are definitely some caveats to that answer. First off, I think it is ridiculous that they’re making this into three movies (they originally said two) as there simply isn’t enough material to stretch it out. I think Peter Jackson is trying to make it as grandiose as The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those three movies. To make three movies, that I’m assuming will all last 2 1/2 hours, he’s added a lot of material into the storyline. I’m reading the book again now, as I’ve not read it since I was about 13. The whole Pale Orc thread, the scene at Rivendell with Galadriel, Saruman, Gandalf and Elrond where they are talking about the Necromancer and the Witch King of Angmar, and the more detailed introduction to the movie are all not in the book. Wargs were technically in the book, though they are referred to as wolves for the most part. I liked their addition of Gandalf speaking to the moth like he did in The Fellowship of the Ring to summon the Lord of the Eagles to their rescue from the Orcs and Wargs. I was glad they kept in the songs, like the one the dwarves sing about breaking Bilbo’s plates and glasses and the one about the Lonely Mountains, which becomes the theme song for the dwarves throughout the movie. I must say, I was crushing on Richard Armitage quite a bit in the movie (he plays the prince Thorin Oakenshield), even since I started watching the BBC’s most recent Robin Hood series (even if he does play a baddie). On a side note, I did find this interesting article while looking for the songs from the animated and movie version of The Hobbit. I grew up with the 70s animated version, so I love it!

Since I am a book nut and youth services librarian and I knew someone who went to Seattle this week for the ALA (American Library Association) Midwinter Conference, where they announce all the ALA youth media awards, I knew I wanted to post on it. They released the info on Monday, but I’ve been so scatterbrained that I’ve been unable to post on it until today. At least this year, I’ve read the Caldecott winner (wouldn’t have been my choice, but there ya go). I was happy that Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin won a Theodor Geisel Honor award, as I love that book series! And I was glad to see Seraphina by Rachel Hartman win the William C. Morris for best debut YA book, as it was a really interesting first book to the beginning of a series, especially for someone who has never written YA books before. Here are the results as taken from School Library Journal’s posting:

Here is the list of winners of the ALA’s Youth Media Awards:

Newbery IVAN Applegate, Klassen Win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

(John) Newbery Medal
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
by HarperCollins Children’s Books

Honors:
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
Candlewick

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Dial/Penguin Young Readers

CALDECOTT NotMyHat 300x219 Applegate, Klassen Win Newbery, Caldecott Medals(Randolph) Caldecott Medal
This Is Not My Hat, illustrated and written by Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press

Honors:
Creepy Carrots! illus. by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds
Simon & Schuster

Extra Yarn illus. by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray

Green illus. & written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Neal Porter Books/Roaring Brook

One Cool Friend illus. by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo
Dial/Penguin Young Readers

Sleep Like a Tiger, illus. by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Grouped Winners 1 Applegate, Klassen Win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

Theodore Seuss Geisel Award
Up, Tall and High written and illustrated by Ethan Long
G. P. Putnam’s Sons

Honors:
Let’s Go for a Drive! written & illus. by Mo Willems
Hyperion/Disney

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin, created and illus. by James Dean
HarperCollins

Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover written and illus. by Cece Bell
Candlewick

(Laura Ingalls) Wilder Award
Katherine Paterson

Andrew Carnegie Medal:

Anna, Emma and the Condors
Produced by Katja Torneman

Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
By Steve Sheinkin
Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Honors:
Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin written and illus. by Robert Byrd Dial/Penguin Young Readers

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 written by Phillip M. Hoose and published Farrar

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster written by Deborah Hopkinson
Scholastic

Mildred L. Batchelder Award
My Family for the War
written by Anne C. Voorhoeve
Dial/Penguin Young Readers

Honors:
A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return
written and illus. by Zeina Abirached, tr. by Edward Gauvin
Graphic Universe/Lerner

Son of a Gun written and tr. by Anne de Graaf
Eerdmans

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
Andrea Davis Pinkney

Grouped Winners 2 Applegate, Klassen Win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

Pura Belpré Awards
Author: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Simon & Schuster

Honor:
The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
Scholastic

Illustrator: Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert
Illus. by David Diaz, written by Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion

Grouped Winners 3 Applegate, Klassen Win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

Michael L. Printz Award
In Darkness
By Nick Lake
Bloomsbury

Honors:
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Simon & Schuster

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Hyperion/Disney

Dodger by Terry Pratchett
HarperCollins Children’s Books

The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna
Red Deer Press

Odyssey Award
The Fault in Our Stars, written by John Green, narrated by Kate Rudd
Produced by Brilliance Audio

Honors:
Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian, produced by Listening Library, written by Eoin Colfer and narrated by
Nathaniel Parker

Ghost Knight, produced by Listening Library, written by Cornelia Funke and narrated by Elliot Hill

Monstrous Beauty, produced by Macmillian Audio, written by Elizabeth Fama and narrated by Katherine Kellgren

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon
By Steve Sheinkin
Flash Point/Roaring Brook

Finalists:
Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different
By Karen Blumenthal
Feiwel & Friends

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95
By Phillip Hoose,
Farrar

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster
By Deborah Hopkinson
Scholastic

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March
By Cynthia Levinson
Peachtree Publishers

William C. Morris Award
Seraphina
By Rachel Hartman
Random

Finalists:
Wonder Show
By Hannah Barnaby
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books

Love and Other Perishable Items
By Laura Buzo
Knopf/Random House

After the Snow
By S. D. Crockett
Feiwel and Friends

The Miseducation of Cameron Post
By emily m. danforth
Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Margaret A. Edwards Award:
Tamora Pierce for her “Song of the Lioness” series\

Grouped Winners 4 Applegate, Klassen Win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Author: Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America
By Andrea Davis Pinkney illus. by Brian Pinkney
Hyperion/Disney

Honors:
Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by E. B. Lewis
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Young Readers

No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Carolrhoda Lab/Lerner

Illustrator: I, Too, Am America
illus. by Bryan Collier, written by Langston Hughes
Simon & Schuster

Honors:
H. O. R. S. E., illus. & written by Christopher Myers,
Egmont USA

Ellen’s Broom, illus. by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons
Putnam/Penguin Young Readers

I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King, Jr., illus. by Kadir Nelson, written by Martin Luther King, Jr. Schwartz & Wade/Random House

Virginia Hamilton: Demetria Tucker
Practitioner Award for Lifetime achievement

AristotleDante PuraBelpre 198x300 Applegate, Klassen Win Newbery, Caldecott MedalsStonewall Book Award 
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Simon & Schuster

Honors:
Drama, written and illus. by Raina Telgemeier
Graphix/Scholastic Inc.

Gone, Gone, Gone, written by Hannah Moskowitz
Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard
written by Lesléa Newman
Candlewick

Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie, written by S. J. Adams
Flux

Grouped Winners 5 Applegate, Klassen Win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

Schneider Family Book Award:
Teen:
 Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am, written by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis
Simon & Schuster

Middle Grade: A Dog Called Homeless written by Sarah Lean,
HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Book

Children: Back to Front and Upside Down! written and illustrated by Claire Alexander
Eerdmans

Jobs and Book Reviews

I have been very busy the past week and a half taking care of my son and trying (unsuccessfully) to keep on top of house work. Despite my husband’s prediction that I will sustain myself on ramen, I can actually cook and have been doing so every other night since he’s been in England. I’ve discovered that my son likes both avocados and homemade mac ‘n cheese, so we’ll be making more of that tonight. My hubby was supposed to fly in tonight at 6pm, but because of a gigantic delay on the European flight, he’s not coming in till tomorrow morning. I am VERY ready for him to be back home. Just having another adult in the house to help take care of things will help out a lot. I was let go on Friday from my job, which was partially anticipated after my evaluation (apparently I’m not chipper enough on the phone, though I thought I was doing a good job, and not passionate enough about my job). I’m sorry but I can’t be fake happy, it’s not in my nature. Part of the reason I wasn’t excited about the job was because I never had enough to do. Now don’t get me wrong, I like free time at work, but when you’re going to work and only really working maybe 2 out of 4.5 hrs, it’s easy to get bored. It was never supposed to be a permanent job, but rather an in-between one. But that’s enough dwelling on that subject. So I’m redoing my résumé again and applying for jobs once again. Let’s be honest, I never really stopped looking, but now it is more in earnest than it was before. On top of all of this, my best friend is in the hospital with blood clots and hemorraging  and no word yet if they are going to have operate on her. So I’ve got plenty of things to worry about.

Enough of the frustrating and on to the fun stuff. I am currently listening to the audiobook version of Garth Nix’s Sabriel, narrated by the brilliant Tim Curry. I’ve decided to start attending another bookclub, this one is a crafting and reading bookclub. It’s cool because they pick a category and you can pick whichever book you want to read and discuss. The category for June is nonfiction and I’ve picked this book called The Perfect Nazi,which is a combination of nonfiction and biography. As with all my book reviews, I rate the books on a scale of 1-5 stars (1 being the lowest and 5 the highest). Enjoy!

Children

The Goblin and the Empty Chair by Mem Fox

This book was weird. I’m glad that I read the write-up on the story on Goodreads or I would have no idea what was going on. A goblin sees his reflection and is so scared that he resolves never to be around anyone or show his face. Years go by and he is alone. Then one day, he happens upon a farmer who while working in the field, sighs and covers his face. The goblin decides to help him out, trying not to be seen, but is secretly seen by the farmer. The same thing happens with the farmer’s wife and daughter. One day they are getting ready to sit down for dinner and there are four places set but only three people (therefore I’m guessing the fourth person died). They set out food at the fourth place and wait for the goblin, who eventually comes and sits down to eat, after revealing his true face. The reader never gets to see him, so maybe he’s the son they lost, but I’m not really sure. The ending was abrupt. The only thing I liked about this book were the illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon (who also illustrated the Caldecott award-winning books “Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears” and “Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions”). Recommended for ages 7+, 2 stars.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

A very simple picture book about a man formed out of leaves, this book explains how the wind decides where the leaf man goes. On his way around, he sees chickens, ducks, geese, vegetables, fruits, turkeys, bunnies, cows, fish and all other manner of things. I like the end pages with their illustrations of individually named leaves in all kinds of colors. The author apparently liked to collect leaves and had a leaf file, where she kept them so she could illustrate them, which is how she came up with the idea for this book. This book really makes me miss the autumns back east. Recommended for ages 1-7, 4 stars.

One Monster After Another by Mercer Mayer

Another great imaginative monster book by Mercer Mayer, this one is a story about a girl who writes a letter to her friend. It gets intercepted by all sorts of monsters along the way. Another reviewer mentioned that it seems Mayer is channeling Seuss with all the crazy made-up words in this book and I’ll have to agree with her. I like that he included a dodo in the background of a couple pages of the book, in addition to the Stamp Collecting Trollusk, Letter-Eating Bombanat, and the Wild-‘n-Windy Typhoonigator. Recommended for kids aged 5+, 5 stars.

The Octonauts and the Only Lonely Monster by Meomi

I had no idea that there was a Disney cartoon show about these books, but I’m not surprised as it is seriously the cutest book I’ve ever seen. The illustrations of the Octonauts are like cartoon versions of kawaii (Japanese for cute – so cute it should be illegal) animals. The Octonauts are made up of a polar bear, kitty, penguin, dog, otter, bunny, octopus/bear (only thing I can describe it as)and a vegimal (vegetable animal, in this case a turnip). They live under the sea in the Octopod, which is being attacked/hugged by a giant squid aka nutopus, who is lonely. They search for another one but find out Archie is the only one, but he now has 8 new friends. I don’t think my son would get it this early in life, but maybe when he’s five I’ll let him borrow my copy that I will get. Recommended for ages 4-8, 4 stars.

Fraggle Rock Classics Volume 1 by Stan Kay

I never even knew there was a Fraggle Rock comic. I grew up watching the show and loved it, so when I found this while browsing the children’s section the other day, I figured it would be good. It had all the classic characters: exploring Gobo and his famous Uncle Traveling Matt, frantic Red, hippie Moki, sock-loving Goober and paranoid Wembley. It also had the Doozers, those crazy building fiends, and the doozer named Cotterpin who wants to be a Fraggle, and the creatures from “outer space”. While I liked reading about them, I think it’s better as a show. Thankfully the show is on Netflix now, so I can watch it with my son. Recommended for ages 7+, 3 stars.

Caldecott Challenge

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead

Amos McGee works at the zoo. Every day he takes care of his friends, which include an elephant, penguin, owl, rhino and tortoise. One day he gets sick and can’t visit them, so they come to his house and take care of him. I thought it was a very sweet story and I love the woodblock printing with pencil drawings. This is the first book I read for my Caldecott challenge, this one won the 2011 Caldecott award and is the first of 177 I need to read. Recommended for ages 1-7, 4 stars.

Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Another book I read for my Caldecott project, this one being a 2012 award honor. The book was a cute mini-biography about Jane Goodall. She, along with her stuffed animal chimp Jubilee, explore the nature and animals around her house. She loves reading about them in books and hopes one day to study the animals of Africa. She gets her wish when she is able to study chimpanzees at the Gombe Stream National Park. There is a further biography of Dr. Goodall in the back, as well as a letter from her encouraging kids to “make the world a better place for humans, animals and the environment.” I would’ve given this book more stars, but I wish that they would’ve included more information in the actual text and not just the addendum in the back. My 9 1/2 month old loved the pictures and illustrations in the book, as did I. Recommended for ages 1-5, 3 1/2 stars.

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith

I really enjoyed this story as seen through the eyes of a child and the sculpted bushes that Grandpa Green creates. Grandpa Green had wanted to study horticulture, but was drafted into World War II, where he met his wife. They had a lot of kids, grandkids and then the main character, their great-grandchild who leads the reader through the story and his great-grandfather’s garden. Grandpa Green created all the sculptures for him to remember his life story. I think this should’ve won the Caldecott 2012 award, instead of just being an honor book. This book was read as part of my Caldecott award winners/honors challenge. My son loved the illustrations as well as I did. Recommended for ages 10 months – 5 years, 5 stars.

Children and Young Adult

Sorcerer of the North by John Flanagan

In this volume, Will is a full-fledged Ranger and about 4 years have passed since the last book. He is on his first assignment to Seacliff and right away he helps them out by stopping a group of Skandians from raiding and pillaging the area. Halt and Crowley order him, through his friend Alyss the courier, to go on a secret mission in Norgate Fief to Castle Macindaw, which is at the northernmost part of Araluen, on the border between it and Picta (the equivalent of Scotland). The interesting point is that Will was travel as a jongleur, basically a traveling minstrel, which is convenient as apparently Will is an amateur musician. Alyss ends up being his contact person at Castle Macindaw, disguised as the airheaded Lady Gwendolyn.

Overall I thought it was a pretty good book. There were some twists and turns, and you could never quite figure out who was bad and who was good until the end. nice change of pace. I like that Alyss is a smart confident young woman. I liked the idea of Will as a minstrel, a person who is well-liked even though they are strangers, in comparison to Rangers who people distrust even if they don’t know them. The Will/Alyss romance, which was hinted at in previous books, was a nice addition. The ending was very abrupt, but I know the story will continue in the next volume of the series. Recommended for ages 10+, 3 1/2 stars.

Young Adult

Natalie’s Good Fortune: A Tale of Piracy and Adventure: The Adventures of Natalie Brennan by Anthony R. Fanning

I was asked by the author to review this book, and as I love pirate books and ones with strong female leads, I said yes. It took me forever to read this book, partly because I was busy and partly because I couldn’t decide if I liked it enough to finish it. Once I really got into the story though, I enjoyed reading it.

Natalie Satterfield is a 15 year old upper class English girl whose Irish mother has recently died and her paternal grandfather sends her to Charles Town (modern day Charleston) to live with her absent father. On the way there, the ship she is riding on is attacked by pirates and she escapes to a deserted island. This is where it turns into a 1930s swashbuckling film. It turns out the island is inhabitated by brown-skinned savages who happen to be cannibals, and she escapes them by being rescued by the island’s other resident, a pirate named Black John Hayes. At first she dislikes him, but after spending a year with him rebuilding a ship from shipwrecks, she comes to trust him and calls him a friend. They go to New Providence (an island in the Bahamas) and end up with two extra crewman who travel with them to Charles Town. The reunion with her father doesn’t go the way she planned, and she ends up back on Natalie’s Good Fortune, the ship that she built with Captain Hayes. They end up finding the pirates that not only raided and sank Natalie’s ship, but also killed John’s wife. Will they be able to claim vengeance for the pirate’s misdeeds? To find out, please read the exciting first book of the series. I hope there are more books to come.

Overall, I think it was a great read. It was very descriptive in the beginning, which I personally like and I’m glad the author took the time to explain the nautical terms as not all seafaring books do that. I will admit that the violence in the book made me question the appropriateness for young adults, even with the kind of things that are out there now in YA literature. I realize that with pirates you are going to get a certain amount of violence given their line of work. That being so, I would recommend this to ages 16+, 4 stars.

Lewis & Clark by Nick Bertozzi

I decided to give this one a try after I remember it was on my to-read list, as I found it in the library today. I know about Lewis & Clark from history class but that was ages ago, so I figured this graphic novel would help me brush up on my history a bit. The overall look was very busy and it took me a bit to get used to how they laid out the design, but once I got into it, I devoured it quickly. Meriweather Lewis was sent by President Thomas Jefferson, a man he greatly respected, to find a water route from the US territories to the Pacific Ocean in 1803. Remember that this is right after the War of Independence and before the  the War of 1812. So there was a lot of un-British sentiment, which was tricky as the British, French and Spanish controlled the rest of what would become the US. Luckily for Lewis and Clark, Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803, which gave the US land from St. Louis following the Mississippi all the way over to where it meets up with the Columbia River. It took them 3 years to complete the journey, and then Jefferson makes Lewis the governor of the Louisiana Territory and Clark the Secretary for Indian Affairs. Lewis seemed to have lost his sanity a bit on the trip and killed himself shortly thereafter. The author kind of left the Sacagawea story hanging a bit, not sure if that was intentional or because there was no more information on her. Recommended for ages 14+, 3 stars.

Adult

In the Garden of  Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Normally I can’t get through nonfiction/biographies in audiobook format because I get bored, but this book was definitely the exception. I had seen a good review on it, and since I’ve always been interested in World War II history, I thought I’d give it a try. It was a really fascinating book and gave a glimpse of the start of Hitler’s regime from 1933-34, as seen through the eyes of a lowly history professor turned American Ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd. He took his wife, daughter and son with him and the evolution of the Nazi state is seen through their eyes. The book features many first hand accounts from not just the Dodd family, who kept extensive memoirs and diaries, but also from other Embassy officials, the friends of the Dodd family living in Germany, and close associates of Hitler. Seeing the collapse of the Weimar Republic (Germany after WWI to before Hitler becomes dictator)from the inside and how the German government sincerely thought that they would be able to control Hitler is intriguing. I find it so crazy and yet fascinating that this slight man who was shy and did really bad in school was so mesmerizing in his speeches as to brainwash an entire country into doing what he wanted. While I think Dodd did the best he could do given the situation he was in with the American government (particularly the State Dept not being on his side), I think he did a good job in Germany. I haven’t quite decided if I like the man as a whole, but he is an interesting character nonetheless, as is his daughter Martha. The books makes me want to further research on Hitler and how he controlled the minds of the German people before and during WWII. 5 stars.

BB Wolf and the Three LPs by J.D. Arnold

I can’t decide if I liked this graphic novel or not. I do believe that it was a very clever re-telling of The Three Little Pigs story, as well as a comment on racism between African-Americans and whites in Mississippi in the 1920s (heck that could be from right now in the Delta, things haven’t changed much in nearly 100 years).

In the book, BB Wolf is a poor farmer who lives with his wife and cubs on his wife’s farm. He plays the blues and drinks a lot. One day, Mr. Littlepig comes to his house and makes up some crap about a loophole in the farm’s contract so that he can kick the wolves off the farm. The wolves are portrayed as African-Americans and the pigs are the whites. The PPP come and burn down his farm and kill his wife and all but one of his children. He is so enraged that he kills Littlepig and is on the run. He ends up in Chicago doing odd jobs and playing the blues. He runs into his pal from MS named Loop and he fills him in on what had been going on back home since he left (i.e. pigs burning down a bunch of farms and causing chaos). BB kills another of the Littlepig brothers and is about to catch the third, when he is arrested and executed. 3 stars.

Rhubarb Renaissance by Kim Ode

The first rhubarb thing I ever ate was Marks & Spencer Rhubarb and Cream hard candy in the UK. Then when I married my hubby, he started making Rhubarb and Apple Crumble, and I discovered this vegetable in all its tart glory. I had no idea that rhubarb was used as a laxative by the Chinese, before it was used by Europeans in pies. I had seen rhubarb used in a curry, though that, I thought, was the extent of its savory capabilities. Boy, was I wrong! They use it here in the Good Medicine Lettuce Wraps (rhubarb and turkey appetizer), Turkey Tenderloins with Rhubarb BBQ sauce, Rhubarb Koresh (a traditional Persian lamb stew). I will say that the highlights of this cookbook seems to be the Salted Caramel Rhubapple Pie and the Eastern Sky Scones with Rhubarb and Mango. 3 stars.

The Big Book of Cupcakes by Betty Crocker

I’ve decided that I might make cupcakes for my son’s first birthday, so I figure this book would at least give me some ideas. I love that the recipes are so easy to make and even allow for recipes made with prepacked cake mix. There is a plethora of choices, so my decision on what cupcake and frosting to do should be easy. His theme is Rubber Duckies, so I figured I could maybe do Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Frosting and a candy duckie on top. They have a recipe for Lemon Curd filled Lemon Cupcakes with Meringue, which I thought might be fun. Aside from that, there are many recipes that just look amazingly tasty, like the Aztec Chile-Chocolate Cupcakes with Cinnamon Chocolate Frosting, the Butterscotch Cupcakes with Salty Caramel Frosting, or the Dark Chocolate Chip-Mascarpone Cupcakes (whose topping sounds like Tiramisu). 5 stars.

The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern: Knock-Out Dishes with Down Home Flavor by Matt Lee and Ted Lee

I’ve been wanting to read this cookbook for awhile as it has had good reviews. Also I was raised in the South and it is refreshing to see someone do something new to Southern cuisine as it can be rather heavy and boring. Overall, I thought it was an interesting twist on traditional Southern fare. I didn’t care for most of the recipes, but their drinks like the Watermelon Margarita looked awesome and I’ve never eaten collards but the Collard Greens with Poblano Chiles and Chorizo looked tasty. And who would’ve thought up Rice Pudding Pops with curry powder or garam masala? I would personally have mine with nutmeg or ginger, but might give one of the other two options a try. 3 stars.

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Bill Willingham

I have read the Fables comic series through Volume 4 and absolutely fell in love with the story and the characters. Because I liked the comics so much, I figured the novel would be great, and Mr. Willingham did not disappoint. This book is a stand-alone story so you don’t have to have read the series, but it helps. Wil Wheaton, star of Star Trek Next Generation as Wesley Crusher, is fantastic as narrator. I would love to hear him narrate more books.

In this book, the story is juxtaposed between medieval enchanted Hesse and our present day world. It focuses on three main characters: Peter and Max Piper and Bo Peep. The Piper brothers are part of a traveling minstrel family, and one day their father decides to give the magical flute Frost to Peter (who is more talented even though he is the youngest). This action royally pisses Max off who basically swears to make Peter’s life a living hell and sends Max off the deep end. After the Empire attacks Hesse and starts taking over the country of enchanted swords and talking animals, Peter and Bo flee to the city of Hamelin. Later, Max teams up with a witch and receives the even more powerful magical flute named Fire, which he uses to get vengeance on all those who wronged him. Will Peter and Bo ever escape Max’s wrath? Will Fire destroy Peter? Will Max ever get his hands on Frost? To find out, read this fantastic book. 5 stars.

For the last 1 1/2 months I have been seeing my new doctor and trying to sort out my health. I’ve found out that I have sleep apnea, which is basically where you stop breathing when you sleep, which is why I’ve been waking up so exhausted (and not just from being a new mom). I’ve had carpel tunnel on and off for about 3 years, but was never sure if it was arthritis, which my mom got at a young age, or not. So I’ve been tested again for it and we’re waiting to see the results. According to my nerve conduction test yesterday, I have a mild very treatable case of carpel tunnel. You try telling that to my hands and arms when I have a really bad case of it and it hurts to move them at all. Let me tell you that ibuprophen doesn’t help. Maybe Aleve will, I don’t know.

Aside from the health concerns, my hubby is flying to England for 1 1/2 weeks to go to his sister’s wedding. He’s not been back for 6 years, since a few weeks before we got married, so it is definitely time. So I will definitely be missing him and his help with the house and the baby. I might need a vacation by the time he comes back, lol.

I was browsing one of my favorite food blogs today, Culinary Concoctions by Peabody. She makes the most amazing desserts that I’ve not actually tried yet but have so many of her recipes. Plus she’s incredibly funny. One of her posts mentioned why she started blogging seven years ago and why she continues to do it today. So I figured I would share. When I started my first blog, a couple of years ago, it was to have something to do in my spare time when I wasn’t doing school work. Now I think it is more of a creative outlet for me. I, as you know if you’ve been a follower for awhile or have read my About Me page, have a degree in Library and Information Sciences but am not currently working in a library. I’m not even volunteering in one at the moment because I’ve been so busy and have had no free time. I miss working in a library, recommending books and helping people (yes I help people in my current job but it’s not the same). I usually go to my public library at least once a week, because I need to drop off books I’ve read but I also just like spending time there. I’ve had some interviews at several different libraries, but none of them have panned out job-wise. This blog has become my connection to the world via books, reviews, and events through the American Library Association (ALA). It’s also a great way to connect with new people. Aside from my family and the people I work with, I never go out, so I don’t know that many people in the Phoenix area. Therefore, connecting with people online is a good alternative. It’s also an opportunity to use my brain as my current job is a more common sense than thinking person’s job. Being stimulated in the brain department is always a good thing, something I feel like I’ve been lacking a bit since we moved to Arizona.

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