Afterward was the book signing. I appreciate the organized way that the library handled the signing (and being able to sit in a chair until it was my turn.) I was probably there three hours, which isn’t bad, and it was worth it.
June was a really slow reading month for me. I think that is because I was reading two books that were long–one at 649 pages and the other at 816 pages. One (1421: The Year China Discovered America) is taking me awhile to get through, because of all the detailed facts in it. I haven’t finished either yet. We’ve also been really busy and I haven’t been in the mood to read as much.
So here’s the latest:
Books finished in June (3)
The Kitchen House read for the What’s In A Name Challenge
Miss Zukas and The Library Murders read for the Cruisin’ Thru the Cozies Challenge
The Hydrogen Murder read for the Cruisin’ Thru the Cozies Challenge
Books finished in 2012
24 books toward my goal of 50
5580 pages total
Hey, guys! My name’s Rebecca and I write the fashion blog Rebecca (hearts). Kim asked me to be a guest blogger while she was away and I jumped at the chance.
Sure, they may not be literary classics (one day I plan on reading a bunch of the books that Kim has already devoured), but the books I keep close by tend to be style or fashion-centric.
The first book is 9 Heads. I’ve been trying to improve my fashion illustration. I certainly have a long way to go, which is why I keep this amazing reference book close by.
Some days I just need a little visual stimulation. That’s when I grab Artwear. This collection of beautiful images of wearable art is just the thing to bust out of an inspiration rut.
So those are my favorite fashion-themed books. And I promise, next time I’m in a bookstore I’ll pick up a classic. A girl’s gotta be well-rounded, right?
It’s awesome because Rebecca lives in Salt Lake, so I get to read all her recommendations on where to shop locally and go try them out! Plus we have similar taste so when I want to look good I just copy one of her outfits. Ha! Rebecca just recently did some fashion segments on Fox 13 which you should check out and you can also follow her Facebook page. She’s also an amazing artist and I love to check out her fashion sketches and her sewing projects. Thanks Rebecca!
Kim and I have a lot in common. That is why when she asked if I could do a guest post, I jumped on board! I love reading her blog and feel like she and I would get along great in real life. One of the main things I think we share is our love of books. We are also both doing a couple of reading challenges this year. Actually, I am only doing two.
(1) The bookmark break challenge. This is a challenge by AudrieAnne to get those books off the shelves and read them. If you can read more books than she can this year, you get a prize! Last year I beat her by only a few books, so this year, it’s a challenge to try and do it again! So far, I have read 31 books this year.
(2) No book buying. This challenge is to myself, since I cleaned out my storage space late last year and found many (MANY!) books that I haven’t read yet. I also gave away 4 boxes of books. Since the last thing I need is to have to sort through and give away more books, OR to spend money on more books since I have so many waiting to be read, I told myself that I would only read (a) library books, (b) books I already own, (c) borrowed books, (d) books that are given to me as a gift, or (e) as a treat, I could buy books with B&N or Amazon gift cards that I already had. I have not used the gift cards yet. In fact, I have not even bought a book at a thrift store, although that is my downfall, if you will. I did trade about a dozen books with a fellow blogger. I have also received books for free in return for a review. These are all still “legal”.
Now, Kim has a few fun book challenges as well. You probably already know all about them, but if not, they are here. My favorite is the What’s in a Name Challenge, which challenges readers to read a book with these items in the title: (a) a topographical feature, (b) something you would see in the sky, (c) creepy crawly, (d) type of house, (e) something you would carry in a pocket, purse or backpack, and (f) something you would find on a calendar. Kim’s doing great; she’s got 5 out of 6. So I thought I would see how I measured up.
(a) The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton****
(b) The Night Circus – Erin Morgenstern****
(d) Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jamie Ford****
(e) Sarah’s Key – Tatiana De Rosney****
(f) Three Cups of Tea – Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin***
So I guess I need to read something with a creepy, crawly name! By the way, the stars are my rating system (out of 5) so all of these books are good ones! Thanks again Kim for having me. I can’t wait to see how we both (and all of you!) do on our reading challenges this year! For other reading recommendations, you can visit my Bookshelf page.
I thought I’d mention a few of the books that made me fall in love with reading as a little girl. There are so many more though, I may have to do a part 2 of this post!
Read for: The Eclectic Reader Challenge
Length: 336 Pages
Filed Under: European Literature, Mystery, Crime
Setting: Yugoslavia, Orient Express Train
Most Liked Character(s): Hercules Poirot-patient & clever;
Most Disliked Character(s): Mrs. Caroline Martha Hubbard-loud & dramatic; Cyrus Beth Hardman-purposely slow & unhelpful
Plot: A slow time for travel, the Orient Express is unusually full on the evening that Samuel Edward Ratchett is killed in his compartment. Stabbed several times while the train is immobilized due to a snow drift, it is obvious that one of his fellow passengers is the killer. It is Hercu Poirot who must unravel the mystery.
Read for: The Dystopia Challenge
Length: 324 pages
Filed Under: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Dystopian, Young Adult, Action
Setting: North Carolina, Battle School, Fairyland/the End of the World, Command School, and the Colony
Most Like Character(s): Andrew “Ender” Wiggin-level headed & compassionate; Commander Hyrum Graff-caring & a friend
Most Disliked Character(s): Peter Wiggin- hateful & cruel
Plot: A hostile alien force has set its sights on Earth. In order to fight this enemy, the government breeds child geniuses and trains them for war. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin survives this rigorous training in Battle School and comes out way above the rest of his classmates. Is Ender the general who will lead Earth to overcome the Buggars?
Read for: The Eclectic Reader Challenge
Length: 320 pages
Filed Under: Literary Fiction
Setting: Baltimore, Philadelphia and the train in between
Most Like Character(s): Opal Gaitlin-intelligent and forgiving
Most Disliked Character(s): Mrs. Gaitlin-dwells on past mistakes and makes others feel unnecessarily guilty
Plot: A troublemaker since childhood, Barnaby Gaitlin still can’t seem to grow up and enter adult life. For eleven years he’s been working for Rent-A-Back helping elderly people do odd chores around their home. When he begins to have a genuine relationship with his daughter, Opal and meets and begins dating Sophia (who he thinks may be his guardian angel) he starts to realize that his life really could be more. Throughout the book, Barnaby works to regain the trust his juvenile delinquency caused people to lose in him and prove that he really is the ‘good guy.’
Length: 649 pages
Filed Under: Non-fiction, Historical
Plot: On March 8, 1421, the largest fleet the world had ever seen set sail from China. Its mission was “to proceed all the way to the ends of the earth to collect tribute from the barbarians beyond the seas” and unite the whole world in Confucian harmony. When it returned in October 1423, the emperor had fallen, leaving China in political and economic chaos. Lost in China’s long, self-imposed isolation that followed was the knowledge that Chinese ships had reached America seventy years before Columbus and had circumnavigated the globe a century before Magellan. (taken from goodreads)
Length: 369 pages
Filed Under: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Plot: Orphaned while onboard a ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master’s illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family. Eventually loyalties are questioned and Lavinia finds herself in a very difficult situation. (taken from goodreads)
The questions and answers:
1. Anya Whitson is color blind and cannot see the colors in her winter garden. Why do you think the author gave the character this particular trait? In what ways is it a metaphor for what Anya has gone through in her life? Do you believe it is a physiological blindness or a psychological one?
She’s chosen to be blind to everything that is happening in her life and to continue to live in the past. I think her color blindness is a psychological and physiological problem.
2. Memory is an important theme in Winter Garden. Meredith often regrets–when looking at old family photos taken without her–that she was often off organizing or obsessing over details, while everyone else was living in the moment, creating memories. How common is this for women and mothers? What memories keep your family together?
I think this is really common for women.. we seem to take on the role of memory keeper instead of memory maker in the family. Mothers are often trying to do it all and in the meantime they don’t slow down enough to just enjoy things.
3. Jeff tells Meredith that “words matter.” What are some examples of this throughout the story? How have words saved and harmed each of these characters’ lives? How has silence saved and harmed each of these characters’ lives? How do words—the telling of the fairy tale—change their individual and collective perceptions of who they are?
It’s obvious that words matter because the only thing that seems to calm the children down is when Anya tells them her fairytale. They have no hope and are starving to death but it is Anya’s stories that get them through it. Her words become important with Meredith and Nina only they don’t understand the importance until she finally tells the story to the end.
4. Anya is an unsympathetic character throughout much of the book. How did your perception of her change as the fairy tale unfolded? Did you end up sympathizing with her, or even liking her? Or do you feel that her treatment of her daughters was inexcusable, regardless of the hardships she had faced in her life? How do you think you would have fared in Leningrad under the siege? Was Anya heroic in Leningrad, or a failure?
I think that was her coping mechanism- shutting people out and being ‘tough.’ It was how she managed to survive the siege of Leningrad. But after she thought her family had been killed, she just put those walls up even thicker. I’m honestly wondering why Meredith and Nina’s father never explained to them why their mother was the way she was. I think Anya was heroic. She had many chances to give up and never did.
5. How did you feel about the ending? Why do you think the author chose the surprising meeting in Sitka?
It was far fetched but I’m glad she was able to end on a positive note.
So far I’ve read:
8 books towards my goal of 50 books this year…
2 Cozy Mysteries towards my goal of reading 6 this year…
1 book for the April Book Club…
1 book for the Eclectic Reader Challenge…
1 book toward my Newberry Book Challenge…
2 books toward my Caldecott Book Challenge…
So far I’ve really enjoyed this book. There’s not a lot of drama in it but there is a lot of emotion, both spoken and unspoken. Kristin Hannah paints a picture of a family desperately trying to find their way through the tragedy of the death of their father while at the same time deal with the tragedy of a crumbling family unit. Each person is struggling in their own way and I have wondered throughout the first half of this book, how they will finally find a way to be there for each other. It is plain to see that the fairy tale and the winter garden are the common ground but it seems as if Meredith, Nina and their mother are not quite ready to accept that.The Whitson women are all so stubborn and strong willed that they refuse to let themselves feel anything but anger. But eventually a person has to break to heal.
Questions by The Many Thoughts of A Reader
1. How do you think the peasant and prince fairy tale ends? If you finished, what were your guesses?
I’m not sure how it will end but I have a strong feeling that the story is parallel to Anya’s own life in some way and that will be Meredith and Nina’s key to understanding their mother.
2. Will Nina stay or go?
I believe that Nina will stay. She has something to prove to Meredith and her stubbornness will keep her around.
3.What do you think Mere and Jeff need to do to save their relationship? Is it worth saving?
Jeff wants to feel that his wife needs him and until Meredith can share her burdens with him and allow him to be there for her and comfort her, it won’t be able to work. If Mere can let her guard down and admit to Jeff that she can’t always do it all alone, then I think they can save their marriage. They both still love each other so yes, it’s worth saving.
4. Meredith and Nina are both reluctant to let the men in their lives help them through a difficult time, yet both are suffering from the grief caused by the death of their father. Do you think this is something they’ve inherited from their mother? In what other ways are they similar to their mother? Do you think it’s impossible to avoid becoming like the people who raised you?
They were raised by a strong willed woman. The only person their mother let in was her husband which is why I find it odd that the girls can’t find comfort in their own men. Their father was the only person who could comfort their mother and get through to her so it seems as if Meredith and Nina would be more likely to turn to their significant others for support and shut everyone else as, just as their mother has done.
5. This novel explores a complicated and strained relationship between two sisters. Do you think Meredith is justified in being so angry with Nina? In what ways are the sisters different and in what ways are they alike?
Meredith and Nina’s frustration toward each other stems from misunderstanding and miscommunication. Each woman copes with things in their own way and neither is very tolerant of the other. There is a sense that Meredith envies Nina’s free lifestyle because Meredith has been stuck in one place her whole life. Nina, on the other hand, envies Meredith’s ability to ‘handle everything.’ They need to recognize each others strengths and see that they both have something good to bring to the table.