CURRENT READ

As part of my Madeline L’Engle project, I am reading her autobiography, Circle of Quiet in an eBook. I read it years ago when I first discovered her, in the 70s, and remember being slightly disturbed by her broad spirituality and “religious” beliefs. Now, all these years later, my own philosophy of life and basic beliefs have, not so much changed as, “matured,” and reading her at this late stage of my life is an entirely different experience. I not only am being led by her to “think about things” from a different angle, but to examine my own inner thoughts and, perhaps, to adjust a few of them. Reading her story has been a growth experience. It reminds me of Cassandra Claire’s quote to beware of books because they have the power to change you.

FRIDAY FIRSTLINERS

Friday First Liners are found in the first line of a book you are currently reading or are about to start on a Friday. According to the meme’s originator, The Purple Booker, readers are to copy the first line or two of a book and supply the title and the author for those of us to add to our never-ending list of TBRs.

I was looking at my copy of Darien Gee’s Friendship Bread, which was the first selection for our Third Tuesday book club, ten years ago next week, and I am going to copy the beginning of a good book and a great book club.

Chapter One

“I HOPE YOU ENJOY IT.

Julia Evarts looks up from the paper in her hand and studies the gallon-size Zip-lock bag. Inside is a substance that reminds her of drying wall compound, except it’s much pastier and filled with air bubbles. It would have gone straight into the trash had Gracie not been standing beside her, eyes wide with curiosity.”

Not only was this a wonderful book to start a book club with, but the author, Gee, was available for a Skype session as we ate our friendship bread (made from a recipe given in the book) and asked her about writing books . The meeting ended with each of us taking home a “starter” in a plastic tub. And, no, I no longer have a starter in my fridge, but I am seriously thinking of starting up again. LOL

HERE’S TO FRIENDSHIPS AND BOOK CLUBS!

SIMON THE FIDDLER by Paulette Jiles: A Review

When our Third Tuesday book club read Jiles’ News of the World, which was the Gulf Coast read that year, we all enjoyed it so much!

One of my best reads ever, and My Better Half agrees

Simon the Fiddler was published in 2020, and we “jumped on” picking it for our May selection like a chicken on a June bug. Because it was the first time we had met in person in over a year and were combining our meeting with a going away party for two of our members who are moving, we didn’t give Simon the time due it. However, although we all said it was ok (Our minds were on other things.), we all agreed it was nowhere near as good as News.

The novel is set at the tail end of the Civil War (when both sides were seeking deserters). After a fight at the tavern where they are playing, A “rag tag band of musicians”, with Simon, the Fiddler as its leader, are conscripted into the Confederate army , and although Simon was only 23 and not interested in serving, his life as a soldier included “cushy” jobs thanks to his skill with his fiddle. After walking away from a battle, Simon and two army friends are hired to play at a party for a Colonel’s daughter that Simon meets and falls head-over-heels for her Irish lady’s maid (indentured servant), Miss Doris Mary Dillon. It was love at first sight.

Captain Kidd from News of the World makes a short, cameo appearance in this second novel.

The story becomes a “captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to to to fulfill his heart’s yearning.”

After a brief dance at the party, Simon and Doris are separated, he hitting the road to escape Confederate troops looking for deserters; she traveling to San Antonio with the family who “owns” her. The scraggly band members join Simon, and traveling together, the men have many adventures and some misadventures as well. My favorite was Simon dealing with a huge ‘gator on his river trip to San Antonio to reunite with Doris. After a letter exchange begins, Simon realizes Doris is having to deal with the drunken, lecherous Colonel, and he can’t get to her side fast enough.

Jiles’ second book is good, but not good enough to measure up to her first. However, Fiddler is a fine read on its own.

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS

Just like TV programming in the 50s and 60s, Saturday mornings are reserved for kids on PWR.

Although this is a kid’s book, I found it informative and entertaining as an adult reader. Elizabeth Haidle wrote and illustrated this fine book in 2019, and is a must for every school library. There is something for the very young kids as parents and grandparents read the section on Dr. Seuss aloud, and even a current comic and graphic novel author, Gene Luen Yang, for those older.

10 famous authors are covered.

My specific interest in the book was the chapter on Madeline L’Engle, my topic for a personal “research project.” The book reminds me of a biography series I read as a kid, which featured famous people as children and pointed out how childhood interests and experiences foreshadowed their success as adults. As Pablo Picasso is supposed to have said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one once he grows up.”

The illustrations are excellent, and the book boils down to a series of ten “graphic biographies.” Also, “Writing Wisdoms” and “First Hand Quotes” add to the reader’s pleasure.

The following authors make appearances: Mark Twain, Maya Angelou, Dr. Seuss, Sandra Cisneros, Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling, Gene Luen Yang, Beatrix Potter, C.S. Lewis, and Madeline L’Engle. Besides Madeline L’Engle, Maya Angelou and C.S. Lewis were my favorite chapters. This is a MUST read for any young person who loves to read and loves books!

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FRIDAY FIRST LINERS

First Line Fridays was created by Hoarding Books. Thanks to them for the meme above.

Today’s Friday First Liner comes from A Light So Lovely by Sarah Arthur. This examination of the spiritual legacy of Madeline L’Engle is a gift from blogger Deb Nance of Readerbuzz. She knows about my undertaking to read books by and about Madeline L’Engle and passed this one along to me. Thanks, Debbie.

Here is the first line:”Sitting on my desk is a signed copy of The Rock That is Higher from one of L’Engles Wheaton College visits…” The author recalls her conservative parents having named her “Sarah,” making her one of two “normally” named women attending Wheaton, rather than a hippie-parent’s offspring named something like “River”

“Into that mix came Madeline L’Engle, a giantess in a great flapping dress of patchwork colors…What I do remember is a tall woman sitting at a table in the bookstore blinking her large eyes like a wise and vigilant owl.”

I am already intrigued and can’t wait to start this book.

MANY WATERS by Madeline L’Engle

This review was written in the early days of PWR. I enjoyed this novel as part of the Murray Series, which started with A Wrinkle in Time.

Book four in the time travel quintet

Published in 1986       Takes place sometime after the Wrinkle in Time Trilogy

Sandy and Dennys Murry, twin brothers of Meg and Calvin Wallace Murry (from A Wrinkle in Time) are the “dull,” “ordinary” ones in the family until they interrupt their physicist dad’s computer experiment.  Then, they are in trouble, not just with their dad, but in cosmos-changing trouble.  Many waters were coming soon to the dessert oasis where they “landed”, and stories their mother told them as small children from the Bible, as well as many mythologies and folktales of a world-wide flood come rushing to their minds.

Unknown to them, their dad was experimenting with time travel, and the Genesis (from the Bible) people’s reaction to them, as well as their reaction to the people of “this other place” is the premise for the story.  Unicorns, mammoths (miniature size ones), seraphims, and nephils all appear in this book. Both boys, young teens, fall for the same girl, Yalith, and for the first time, the twins do not tell each other “everything.” Will they get themselves home in time to avoid the “many waters?”/The Great Flood? Will they get home, period? L’Engle’s philosophy shines through as the boys engage in conflicts both on a personal level and on a universal level.

The writing, plot, and characterization are brilliant. This is one of my favorite authors whether she is writing YA novels, memoirs and philosophy, or anything. I highly recommend this book.

This flashback to an old post is part of my Madeline L’Engle “project.”

STARTED IN 2018, FINISHED MAY, 2021, THE BROKEN EARTH SERIES by N.K. Jemison

This is the best science fiction series I have read since reading Dune in the 70s. I had been “off” sci fi in general for some time, but saw this first book in the trilogy reviewed by my blogging friend, Sarah at Brainfluff. I ordered the first book, which I reviewed back in 2018:

This was my introduction to this wonderful author.

THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemison: A Review

This is the first book in the Broken Earth series, which was published in 2015.  I found it reviewed on Brainfluff, and it seemed like a really good story. As soon as the other two books came out, I also ordered them, and last summer My Better Half and I finally got around to reading the books. We decided to read it aloud to each other at night, and it has been an excellent experience.  We finished Fifth Season at the end of the summer and have moved on to Book Two, The Obelisk Gate. We hope to finish by the Holidays.

It is a strange, intricate and fascinating book, which includes a map of The Stillness, which is the known earth in The Fifth Season.  Seasons are eras, some a few hundred years, some thousands in the earth’s history, usually indicated by tectonic plate shifts, earthquakes and weather phenomena. The book begins,

“Let’s start with the end of the earth, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things…”  “This is the way the earth ends, for the last time.”

There are difficulties in reading the book, a vocabulary of words: “roggas,” “sessapinae,” “orogenes,” etc. that we had no idea how to pronounce, but we overcame this problem with pronouncing them however we wanted. A glossary in the back explains many of the words, but if the reader is good at context clues he/she can usually figure out what is going on without stopping and turning to the book’s end. NPR described the series as “astounding.”

Another challenging aspect is that the characters and times shift back and forth, and the reader can get confused.  This, however, was one of our favorite parts of the book, for as we read, it was revealed that main characters in different chapters were actually the same characters we had read about earlier as adults in their childhood days, or that a certain character was a character we had read about previously, but he/she/it ws in a different form.  All of this confusion is worth it to enjoy the beautiful, often poetic writing which makes the reader feel the movement of the earth or see the beautiful power of the gigantic obelisks.

The narrative itself is a “grabber,” which carries the reader along with the action throughout the twists and turns of the plot. We often exclaimed, “Oh, that’s the…” or “Wow! That’s why (the character) said or did so and so…” We felt so intelligent (LOL) that we figured out the revelation just before it became obvious in the “tale.” The author’s way of writing is unique. She feeds the reader information on a need to know basis and lets him/her draw the conclusion on matters just as the character concludes the same thing. The style is masterful, the word choice and phrasing original and spot-on, and the author’s imagination unlimited.

This is a must read.

This was a magnificent book with amazing descriptions and action-packed scenes as well. And while all of this was going on in the author’s writing, the characters were developing into ones the reader really cared about.

It took another year or more to finish the second book, The Obelisk Gate, and I didn’t review it, but looking back there are several mentions in old posts of an ongoing engagement in reading the book. I would pick it up and read for several days, then put it aside as I found other books that piqued my interest. Finally, when I did the Alphabet Challenge, Title Edition, I needed a book beginning with an “O,” and started the book from the beginning again.

In January of 2021, I took out the third book, the final book, which I completed in May of 2021.

The concluding book lived up to the promise of the first volume, something few series achieve.

THE STONE SKY by N.K. Jemisin: A Review

The third book in this powerful sci fi trilogy was published in 2017. Here are the opening lines: “Time grows short, my love. Let’s end with the beginning of the world, shall we? Yes, we shall.” The narrator continues, “The person who witnessed these things firsthand is me, and yet not.” The story continues in this strange, eerie way to tell of strange and eerie events. Essun, the mother from The Fifth Season, an orogene, who has passed down this trait to her daughter, Nassun, has gained control of the obelisk gate. She is also beginning to turn into a stone-eater, with her arm solid stone, after completing her mission with Alabaster of the fulcrum. She has a job to do–“Just catch the moon.”She also has a personal quest–to find her daughter. She is wounded, ill, and carried by stretcher as the book opens.

Hoa, the stone-eater, Tonkee, the old woman, and Lerna, the doctor, all of whom were introduced in the previous book, are carrying her. Nassun, in the meantime has killed her father in self-defense and has been staying at the Moon Compound, a sanctuary and training school for young orogenes. She, too, must take a journey.

The reunion of the mother and daughter, each set on opposite missions to carry out their destinies–one to save the earth, one to destroy it–provide a dramatic, exciting, breath-holding climax.

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2021) finds me with over 50 years of teaching “under my belt.” I have taught all levels from pre-K “(library lady” or “book lady”–volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the “difficult years.” I had some of the “funnest” experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the “young, fun teacher,” I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a “dream-fit” for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is “in my blood,” so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to “come out and play.” View all posts by Rae Longest

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DEAR READER: The Comfort and Joy of Books/A Review

I read this 2020 publication on my Kindle, and I know I would have found more comfort and joy in reading it were I to have read it in a good, old-fashioned, print volume.

Cathy Rentzenbrink has done a marvelous job here of explaining and examining her love of books.

Another Book about Books, one goal of my “read-more-of’s” for 2021 has been called ” a love letter to stories and reading.” (Nina Subbe) There are endless recommendations of books the author read and loved. As she describes her journey from bookseller to author, Ms. “R” comments, “Reading has saved my life, again and again, and has held my hand through every difficult time…” Part memoir, part advertisement for the joys of reading, the book presents a “funny and joyous exploration of how books can change the course of your life.” My Advanced Writing class wrote their Essay #2 on a Cassandra Claire quote that warned them that “Books are dangerous…because they can change your life.” The author, here, preaches the same message, illustrating how books shaped her early years, chose her career path, and brought about her destiny. Dear Reader is a “celebration of the written word.” It is “a life told by and through books.” My TBR list expanded by several British authors and many “must reads” titles. What a fine reading experience for anyone who loves books!

READING IN BED by Sue Gee: A Review

If a book is about books or reading, it hits my TBR pile or folder. Reading in Bed’s cover grabbed me immediately, as did its title–something I do frequently.

I started this book during Dewey’s Readathon in April and finished it a few days afterwards. I never reviewed the book, however, and it deserves at least that for being a “darned good read.”

Georgia, recently widowed, and Dido have been best friends for years. The novel opens with the two women returning from a book convention/fair/retreat. As they separate and return to their homes in different towns, each re-evaluates their everyday, “normal” life apart from the literary world they have just left. Georgia is lonely, odd-friend-out at all gatherings, struggling with her relationship with her daughter; and Dido finds “evidence” that her husband of so many years may be having an affair. Through all the details of their lives, their connection with each other remains sturdy and strong.

Georgia has a side-plot, an eccentric, elderly cousin of her late husband”goes completely off the rails,” and it is up to Georgia to step in and “do something.”Dido also has a side-plot, the marriage and family life of her children and grandchildren, and shockingly, the true story behind the “assumed” affair of her husband. There are enough twists and turns in the plot to titillate the most demanding reader. Both women find themselves “…turning to a well-loved book or a true friend” to get through the situation.

As one critic cited, Reading is “an insightful, witty book about life, friendship, and love.” I loved the book and everything about it, making it a darned good read!

TUESDAY TEASER

TUESDAY TEASER is a meme started by The Purple Booker. Thank you to that blog for the image above.

Tuesday Teaser’s originator, The Purple Booker, encourages readers to copy a couple of sentences at random from one’s current read to “tease ” others into reading the same book. My Tuesday Teaser is from John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down:

Davis and Noah’s billionaire father has disappeared and Aza, the protagonist is trying to get a lead on him to collect the reward money for giving information to his whereabouts. Noah speaks of his fears and concerns for his non-involved parent: “Nobody wants to find him…It’s like I can’t think of anything else. I…it’s…Do you think he would really disappear and not even text us? Do you think maybe he’s trying and we just haven’t figured out how to listen?”

I am at the point where Aza and her best friend, Daisy, are getting clues and have received a large sum of money from Davis and his lawyer NOT to give those clues to the police.

What are you reading currently? What is happening? Copy a few sentences to “tease” us into wanting to read the book. What? You have no blog to post on? That’s ok. Use the reply box to post your “teaser.” Be sure to mention the title and author, and PLEASE, no spoiler alerts to the plot.