The Elegance of the Hedgehog by French philosopher and novelist, Muriel Barbery, was the solution to a problem I’d had for quite a while. I had tried to read this book on several occasions and just “couldn’t get into it,” lost track, or just became bored. Listening to it in the audiobook format, however, kept me intrigued and compelled by the voices of the two masterful narrators.

One, Renee, a short, plump fifty-ish, purposefully dowdy concierge of “a bourgeois building in a posh neighborhood” was a persona to be reckoned with. She and her cat, Tolstoy, led a secret life.  Unknown to her tenants, Renee was knowledgable in art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture.

Paloma, her super-smart, twelve-year-old foil who lives with her family on the fifth floor,   does her very best to appear mediocre, when, in fact, like Renee, she is extraordinary. They are both in disguise! What blows their pretenses to smithereens is when Mr. Ozu, a wealthy Japanese man buys the building and moves in.

This is a “moving, witty and redemptive novel.” It deals with “quiet personal victories” that make the listener laugh, gasp, and cry at times.  The novel itself and the writing, specifically, are wonderful. This was one of the best “reading”/listening experiences I have ever had.




This challenge was originally issued by “Hot Listens” and “Caffeinated Reviewer,” but I came across it on one of my favorite blogs, “Carla Loves to Read.” Carla has planned to read 50 audio books in 2019.  Having come fairly lately to audio books, and being a visual learner, I am not willing to commit to that many audiobooks, but I will  attempt to listen to 30 in 2019.

Here is the first review of Mitch Albom’s For One More Day.  Most of this book I listened to while in the car. I had read other books by Albom (specifically Tuesdays with Morrie, Marley and Me, and The Five People You Meet in Heaven) and was prepared to become teary-eyed, but For One More Day was a heartbreaker.  It was also heart-wrenching as family secrets were revealed to the main character, “Chick” . Albom’s recurrent theme of unsuccessfully trying to please one’s father, and in this character’s case, taking one’s mother’s love for granted made the story hard to hear. Perhaps I would have handled it better had I read it in print.

The title comes from wishing for “one more day to set things right.” Chick was granted that day with his mother.



It is Friday again, and time for First Line Fridays. Today’s first line is from blogging friend, Colin Chappell’s and CarolynShelton’s Odessa Chronicles, which I plan to start tonight.

Introduction    We’re Going to be in a Book!

“There was a familiar whoosh-whoosh sound as Odessa flew down from her roof beam, and landed on the floor very close to Jaxon. ‘Where are the others,’ she asked.

Jaxon rolled his eyes and shrugged his shoulders. ‘I told them to be here for an important meeting at seven o’clock this evening.'”

The characters in the book are gathering to discover that Colin and his partner, Carolyn have been observing them and are going to write their stories/Chronicles down for children and their parents everywhere. Colin describes the book of stories about a Barn Owl, Odessa; a magical Jackalope, Jaxon; Dewey, a cat, and a “Manservant,” Joshua, as “a collection of short stories for children of all ages.”

Having followed Chappell’s blog, for several years now, and purchasing both Who Said I Was Up for Adoption, (Ray’s story told in alternate chapters from the German Shepherd/Rottweiler’s point of view and Colin’s), and Just Thinking, (Collin’s lovely book of poems that make one do just that–think), I was really ready for his children’s book. I have barely opened it, but I am already excited about what is obviously going to be a really good read.

Readers … resolve to read more in 2019!

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

HUGETHANKS to Allan Hudson for hosting me once again on his blog, South Branch Scribbler!
Following is much of that original post. Please visit Allan’s link to read in its entirety.

I am a reader and I read a lot of books! No matter how many I read however I never seem to catch up with my ginormous to-be-read stack/list of books. Even though I try to follow Dr. Seuss’s advice:

I never manage to come even close to catching up.

But then that’s part of the fun in reading, isn’t it? The search for new books to read, test-driving new authors’ writing, the joy in “discovering” a new-to-you book or even a genre that you’ve never read before. I’ve spent my entire life reading and working with books and authors and am an author now myself, yet I never tire of reading, thinking about, discussing, recommending and…

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Cultivate Love + Joy

2019 will be an excellent time to swim in unpolluted rivers, utter sacred oaths near beautiful fountains, and enjoy leisurely saunas that help purify your mind and body. You are also likely to attract cosmic favor if you cry more than usual, seek experiences that enhance your emotional intelligence, and ensure that your head respectfully consults with your heart before making decisions. Here’s another way to get on life’s good side: cultivate duties that consistently encourage you to act out of love and joy rather than out of guilt and obligation.

Text ©2019, Rob Brezsny. He’s a genius and you should subscribe to his Astrology Newsletter.

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Because My Better Half and I were treating one of  my last semester’s Advanced Writing Students to a breakfast at Denny’s and had to be in Houston at 8:00 a.m. to congratulate her on winning a $5.000 scholarship, I didn’t post Saturday Morning for Kids first thing early Saturday morning as usual.(The TV cartoons for kids which inspired this meme/post started at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings.) Instead, I had such a busy, full day that I am just  posting at 8:00 p.m.

Today’s selection is the proposed first book in a series originated by Maureen George and illustrated by Anna DeVito. I do not know if this first book, published in 1992, actually became a series, but the first book, “The Neighbor From Outer Space” definitely had a cliffhanger ending that promised another book.

Katie Taffy, her two best girlfriends, and one of the girlfriend’s pesky little brothers make up the team that is determined to find some excitement in their hometown, Twin Oaks, where “nothing exciting ever happens.” The way in which the kids look for “something strange” to investigate leads them to spy on Mr. Dugan, a neighbor, who is in all the kids’ parents’ eyes the model citizen and good neighbor. When a strange man in a trench coat visits on a regular basis, and a strange hum emanates from Mr. Dugan’s house when the stranger is there, the kids are led to tape record the two men’s conversations from Mr. Dugan’s open window.  Not only are Mr. Dugan and the visitor revealed to be aliens, but their plot to beam up the whole block as a sample of earth life to be displayed in a natural science museum on their home planet, comes to light.

When the children play the tape for their parents, strangely only rock and roll music is where the strange, proof-bearing conversation should be. As Katie tells her companions, “If our own parents won’t believe us, do you think the police will? It is up to us to save us all.” The harrowing, time-limited plan the kids decide to carry out is zany, and the conclusion of the story tells whether it was successful.

This is a nail-biting adventure with a sci-fi “flavor” that is timeless in its setting and theme. This could be any town, any kids, any neighbor, and today’s kids would follow as anxiously as I did, putting themselves in the kids’ situation as they turned the pages rapidly. It is a fun read for kids and one which I enjoyed a great deal.

WWW Wednesdays

With apologies to the bloggers who began and hosted this site/meme, I am flying by the seat of my pants and listing WHAT I have finished this week, WHAT I am reading now, and WHAT I am looking forward to reading.

THIS WEEK I finished: What Great Teachers Do Differently by Todd Whitaker (reviewed on Literacy Lessons/Literacy and Me)//My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Stroud, and another of her most recent books, Modern Lovers.  I have now set a goal for myself to read everything she has written.

I AM CONTINUING to read: The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin, a sci fi masterpiece, the second book in “The Broken Earth Series.” I am also reading two children’s books from the school library where I now volunteer which gives both the English and Spanish wording of the text.  Like the kids in first and second grade who picked these books out for me and are in a bilingual class, I read best from looking at the pictures and guessing than actually translating line by line. The books are helpful to me in my attempts to “pick up Spanish.” I am listening to Stephen King’s audio book Mr. Mercedes as part of the audio book challenge I have taken on for 2019. (This will be discussed in a future post on this blog.)

I AM LOOKING FORWARD to reading Evidence of Flossing by Jen Payne, a book of poetry accompanied by a photo essay, which I have looked at and randomly read a poem or two, but I would like to undertake a “study” or immersion into what I know will be a terrific reading experience.

That’s where I stand this second week in January.  Where are you, and where are you headed in your reading life?  Please comment and share with me your own experiences so far in 2019.