Saturday, April 30, 2016

What's Making Me Happy This Week

How is this song 25 years old??? I'm not sure, but it still makes me just as happy.

I've joined the Hamilton train, and am having a great time watching and listening to all things Hamilton the Musical. Here's the cast at the White House.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Re-Educaton of a Reader - The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. Recently, however, it has come to my attention that there are some G A P I N G holes in my literary education. For example: I have read every Austen and Bronte you can get your hands on, but somehow had never, until 4 years ago, managed to read a Charles Dickens novel in its entirety. So, with a little help from my mom, the English Teacher, and a couple of good friend, the English Majors, I am setting a course to re-educate myself by filling in some of those gaps.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
first published 1982
295 pages
winner of the National Book Award for fiction, and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction

(recommended by an English Major)

Synopsis -

Taking place mostly in rural Georgia, the story focuses on the life of women of color in the southern United States in the 1930s, addressing numerous issues including their exceedingly low position in American social culture. The novel has been the frequent target of censors and appears on the American Library Association list of the 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2000-2009 at number seventeen because of the sometimes explicit content, particularly in terms of violence. 

My thoughts -

I knew before I started this would be a good book. I had read two of Walker's short story collections in college, and they were some of my favorite discussions in class. So, as per usual, I just waited about 15 years before picking up her most famous work of fiction. :)

This book is an excellent work. I found the epistolary format to be especially effective at telling Celie's story in her own words. Celie's words were not easy to read - often they were devastating. Her story is sometimes brutal, but often beautiful. Despite the difficult subject matter, I flew through the pages, laughing and shaking my fist and crying and rejoicing in turn. 

While I understand why this book has been frequently challenged, I wouldn't stop a teen from reading it. I think it's an honest and forthright depiction of the way in which women were treated in our country, and it's not something we can pretend or ignore away. I would hope this novel would open up conversations about racism and sexism that are important.

I think this will be a novel that will remain with me for a very long time. I'm so glad I finally decided to read it. Highly, highly recommended.

Finished - 4/25/16
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for violence and sexual situations
My rating - 5/5

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Readathon, Day #2!!

Yes, yes, I know - the readathon is really only 24 hours. But every time a readathon rolls around, it seems my Saturday gets filled up with stuff so I can't read. This time, my Sunday is pretty much empty, so I'm just gonna have my own Readathon Day 2, and get some good reading done.

I WAS able to finish 

Lumberjanes, Vol. 3 - which continues to be one of my favorite series. I absolutely love the exploits of these plucky, hilarious campers.

I also read with the kiddos - 

The Princess in Black by Shannon & Dean Hale. We LOVE this book - it's our third time reading it, I think, but Sophia just ordered #2 in the series from her latest Scholastic book order form, so we had to read it again to prepare. ;)

I was also able to read about 1/3 of 

The Color Purple by Alice Walker - which is just as intense and heartbreaking as I'd expected. This is the first novel I've read by Walker, but I have read quite a few of her short stories, and knew going in what an excellent writer she is. I definitely hope to finish this one today.

Okay, enough talk - time to get some more reading done!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Readathon - Update #1

I'm finally reading - woo hoo!!! Not, like, seriously, but I've been able to make some progress on The Color Purple in between family visits and making gingerbread play-dough (thanks, preschool teacher, for that 30 minutes of my life I'll never get back....)

I have a couple of mini-challenges that I've completed as well. The first is the Share a Quote Challenge hosted by Nea -

Pick a quote from the book that you are reading or books that you've read during this read-a-thon. I love quotes, so I would really love hear the one that made a big impression on you. The quote should be: FUNNY (or hilarious) or ROMANTIC (or sexy) or INSPIRING orWOW THIS IS WRITTEN SO BEAUTIFULLY.

I have TWO quotes for you from The Color Purple -

"Everything want to be loved. Us sing, and dance, and holler, just trying to be loved."

"Time moves slowly, but passes quickly."

Next is the Character Road Trip challenge hosted by Felicia - 

  1. Pick a character that you would like to road trip with
  2. Tell me 3 destinations that you would hit

I recently finished Winter, the last book in the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Mayer. I'd love to take Winter on a road trip, and because she enjoyed spending time with the animals on Luna, I'd take her on a zoo road trip - the Blank Park Zoo here in Des Moines, the Omaha Zoo, and the Como Park Zoo.

Alright, back to reading!!!


Yay!!! It's Read-A-Thon day!!!

It's also the day my parents are coming back from spending the winter in Arizona, so my read-a-thon will start......later.  ;)

But here's the opening meme, just to get into the spirit -

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I am reading in Des Moines, IA, USA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I have a bunch of graphic novels that I can't wait to tackle.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Chicken salad and crackers! My current favorite thing.

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

This is only the 3rd read-a-thon that I've participated in as a reader. I have twin 5-year-olds, and solo parent on the weekends, so I always have LOTS of interruptions, but I still love it!

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I'm definitely snacking smarter - less carb, more protein. I'm going to try to participate in more mini-challenges, but we'll see how the day goes.

Okay, time to entertain the family. I will be back and reading later - have fun, everyone!!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Remembering Tori

I don't often use this blog to share personal platforms, but some days need to be an exception.

Over the past year, I've been given the opportunity to come to know Lesa Brackbill, and her daughter, Tori. Tori was a beautiful, fully normal baby, until at 5 months old she was diagnosed with Krabbe leukodystrophy. Krabbe is a progressive, degenerative disease - at the time of her diagnosis, there was nothing medical science could do to save Tori. Tragically, had the Brackbill's hospital screened for Krabbe at Tori's birth, a procedure could have been done to save her life.

On Easter Sunday, Tori went to sleep with her parents next to her, and woke up with Jesus.

Today, Tori's family and friends are gathering in Pennsylvania for a Celebration of Life. While I can't be there physically, I couldn't let the day go by without letting Lesa, Brennan, and the rest of Tori's family know how much her short life has impacted mine.

Tori reminds me to live each day with purpose. Tori reminds me to hug close my kids. Tori reminds me not to let a minute go by without telling someone how much I care about them. Tori reminds me to make a Bucket List, and check off as many items as I can. Tori reminds me to be passionate about a cause, and work to make the world better. Tori reminds me every day to Choose Joy.

To read more of Tori's story, and to see her Bucket List, visit The Adventures of the Brackbill Family

To learn more about Krabbe Leukodystrophy, and to find out if your state requires newborn screening for this devastating disease, visit Hunter's Hope

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What's Making Me Happy This Week

(shamelessly stolen from NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, which also makes me happy each week.)

The pianist in me is IN LOVE with this. I love picking out the pieces I've been lucky enough to play myself.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

March Magics Wrapup

And just like that! March is over - almost like magic.........(heh.)

If you recall, I had BIG plans for my March reading, and in typical fashion, they mostly fell through. In my defense, my lack of following the plan was not due to me reading other things - I just struggled to find the time to read anything at all! The month was busier than I expected, and the kiddos couldn't seem to stay healthy, and the reading just didn't happen.

That said, I DID accomplish SOMETHING -

I read my first Terry Pratchett novel! And OOOOH was it good! I love this world, I love these characters - I am only mad that I have waited THIS LONG to dip my toes into Discworld!

I think part of the reason I'd held back is because, for me, when a book (or movie or tv show or whatever) is sold to me as "funny", it often falls flat. The things authors or creators find funny are frequently not the same things I find funny, so things that are supposed to make me laugh often.....don't. So I think I was worried that I just wouldn't get the humor, and so wouldn't enjoy the series as much as everyone else in the world.

Well, shouldn't have worried in this case. Pratchett is just charming, and his humor was evident and extremely successful. I loved the way he used this book to poke a little bit at the idea of "men's work" vs "women's work" - a serious subject, but without the harsh edges because of Pratchett's light touch.

I'm so happy I decided to dive into Discworld. I will definitely be reading more in this expansive universe.

I am also NEARLY done with Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones. It took me a while to get into the flow - the beginning seemed like it jumped all over a bit, so I had a hard time really sinking my teeth into the story. I'm now just over 3/4 done, though, and really loving it. The family relationships are great, and all the weird animals are so much fun. This is definitely reminding me why I found DWJ so enchanting, and prodding me to read more in her extensive library.

So there you have it - not stellar, but not a bust. As always, I enjoyed my time in the March Magics universe, and am thankful to Kristen for hosting again.