MORE SERIOUS READING (Yes, I do some): A Review

The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell was the Gulf Coast Read for this year.  Several counties on the Gulf Coast all read the same book, discussions and book club meetings are held about that book, and individuals participate in an “everyone has-read-that- book”  atmosphere.  Our Third Tuesday Book Club at the local library selected it as the “assignment” for October as well.

I did not think I wanted to read the book.  In the past, I have always been a reader of novels, especially specializing in debut novels, but as a self-improvement project, I was glad to read this book.

It is the true story of “FDR’s secret prisoner exchange program and America’s only family (italics mine) internment camp during WWII.”  It brings to light the hysteria of Americans against the Germans and Japanese living “among us” in those days, not necessarily a proud time in American history. It also describes the behind-the-scenes, political maneuvering of FDR as he used tactics presumably to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan.

The book tells, in anecdotal form, the stories of two teenage girls, one born to German parents, and one born to Japanese parents, both born here in the United States. It chronicles their eventual exchange and return to war devastated Germany and Japan, respectively, and the toll it had on their adult lives–all stemming from decisions made by their fathers, who had struggles of loyalties and allegiance  to their native countries, Germany and Japan, in spite of their offsprings’ pleas to remain in the only home they had ever known, the US.

The Star Tribune, Minneapolis, describes the book as “…compelling, thought-provoking, and impossible to put down.”  I found this a spot-on description as I read. It is a fine read for book clubs and individuals alike ,and history students will have an eye-opening peek into one of our fairly unknown periods of US history.  Because the camp was located in Crystal City, Texas, its descriptions and information will be of special interest to Texans.

It took me a renewal of the book to finish, and I barely finished by book club meeting day, but I am glad I read The Train to Crystal City.

Monday Morning Musings

In my reading of other blogger’s posts and visiting I did during my feeble attempt at the Dewey’s 24 Hour Marathon this past weekend, I came across one blogger’s meme/item called, “Where Did You Leave Your Bookmark?” (Apologies to the blogger for not writing down her blog address and giving her a “plug” here…)

Reading those words led me to think, “Where is my bookmark, LITERALLY?”  I am constantly losing them, passing them along to someone, bending them in half and making them unattractive and pretty unusable.  So that said, here are some things I frequently use as bookmarks:

  • library date due slips
  • receipts (hopefully only those for cash purposes, for my husband requires charged receipts to use to justify charges on our monthly bill.  He once found a $300 charge at a Sears store in Florida (We live in Texas and have not travelled to Florida) that took months to “straighten out”, but straighten out it did, and we got our $300 credit.
  • recipes (mostly clipped from newspapers conveniently close to where my library book lies)
  • gift book marks  (always welcome)
  • fronts of cards and notes received in the mail with cute kittens, lovely flowers or other pictures that make me smile, both at the picture and remembering the kind friend who sent the card/note

What, friend, are you using for a bookmark?  Do not be like an elderly friend I once had, who after her death, her executor was throwing out old, musty books from her enclosed back porch.  A younger friend of the woman stopped him and said, “Wait, we’d better rifle through the pages first.”  They did, and there was a $2 bill or several of them, a $1 here and there, and even a  few fivers that the dear, older friend had marked her place with!

Sunday (Evening) Post

Here we are again at Sunday evening?  Where did the time get to? I was so busy this week, I met myself coming and going, but did MAKE some time for books and things “bookish.”

What I finished reading this week:  The Train to Crystal City by Jan Jarboe Russell.  This was “due” for my Third Tuesday Book Club at the local library, and I finished it just in time–literally (in the original sense of the word).  As I baked a cake for our wonderful head librarian’s retirement party at the book club meeting, I read the last couple of chapters of the book Tues. morning. (That’s cutting it too close!) Also I finished a cozy mystery which I reviewed here last post–a most refreshing “escape” read. I finished the first two chapters of Acts in time for this morning’s job of subbing for our Sunday School teacher.  It took a lot of digging and thinking and reading commentaries and comments from the writer of our student quarterly, so quite a bit of reading was involved. ( Another “close one.” I finished the “finishing touches” (pun intended) on the lesson last night around 9:30 pm.)

What I am reading now: I am still reading on The True American by Anad Giridharadas, which is really a good read, but “something” ( a library book due, a TV show, a movie on  the computer that was just too tempting,…) keeps popping up, and I know I can keep this one until Thanksgiving or later if necessary (It is on loan from a friend).I am also reading or am reading and looking at two articles in Image, a local (Brazoria County) magazine by a woman who was once my eighth grade student and is now a free lance writer.  Both are on local museums (both in small towns).  She also took the pictures for the articles which are as well done as the articles themselves.As usual, I am reading the Sunday edition of The Houston Chronicle, my usual Sunday afternoon pastime.  Ok, so today I’ve only gotten as far as the comics! I’ve been cooking for the coming week.

What I am starting right now: Three library books, including The Thoughtful Dresser,and The Little Prince,which is the November book club “assignment.”  I have seen the film and read the book ages ago, but the prospect of a discussion prompts a re-read.

What I am watching:  The Big Bang (caught up to date) and the 9:00 hour of the Today Show on NBC which is called “Trending Today” and I tape faithfully so I won’t “miss anything.” (caught up to date). What I have given up on: The Good Life.  I feel I gave it a fair try but found myself “doing other things” while supposedly watching.

Two movies: Into the Woods, which was a “happy accident” and a great movie with a marvelous cast, wonderful songs and superb acting.  The movie I intended to see, A Walk in the Woods, with Robert Redford and Nick Nolte (and Emma Thompson!) I finished today after lunch.  It did not follow the book by Bill Bryson, but in all fairness, it did say, “adapted from the book” and Bryson was in on the planning of the film.  It was good, but I kept reminding myself, “That was a Hollywood touch.”  However, I thoroughly enjoyed the film as a stand alone.

What I intended:  I intended to participate in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Marathon, but life caught up with me and overwhelmed me instead.  I did visit Debbie Nance’s hosting hour yesterday from 2-3 and eavesdropped on blogging friends who have become as close as really flesh and blood friends because of their clever comments and kind commitment to follow my blog.

Thank you, all of you, who have stopped in this evening (even if you are stopping in Tues. or later! Ha!) Please continue to stay in touch, and thanks for all the hours of “happy reading time” well invested in reading your posts, reviews, pass-alongs, and musings.

Rae

ANOTHER COZY MYSTERY: A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP by Fran Stewart

I love being in on the first of a series, and this book is the first in “A Scotshop Mystery Series”.  The heroine/amateur sleuth, Peggy, is a protagonist I want to follow through many adventures solving murders.

At first, I kept thinking, when are we going to find a dead body? as Peggy goes on a buying trip to Scotland to purchase authentic scotch tartan kilts, scarves, and ties for her wee shop, the Scotshop, in the states.  Her trip is as much an escape (from  finding her “almost fiancee” in her bed with her best friend) as it is her annually scheduled buying trip.

Staying at the bed and breakfast she always uses, owned by Mr. and Mrs. Sinclair, the elderly grandparent-like proprietors who don’t ask nosy questions nor for explanations for her low spirits, the three go on a hike to enjoy the Scottish air and countryside.  This is where Peggy meets Macbeth Donleavy Freusach Finlay Macearachar MacPheidiran of Clan Farquharson, who claims his friends call him “Mock-bey-ath” or at least that’s what it sounds like to Peggy.  He is one brawny, handsome Scotsman; unfortunately he has been dead since the thirteen hundreds.  Only Peggy can see him because she has purchased in a wee shop (which she mysteriously is unable to re-locate) a shawl that belonged to Macbeth’s true love, Peigi.  With the assistance of the author’s creative spellings, one can hear the accents and drawn out syllables which are part of our hero’s charm (who is ONE of the book’s heroes and “love interests”; the other is the investigating Captain  Harper, new to the local police force and very much alive.)

It is when the Scotsman and Peggy return to the States that they finally (page 89!) find the dead body–Mason, Peggy’s ex (in more ways than one, now) boyfriend…in her shop! (Have you ever noticed that in cozy mysteries, the person who ends up dead is always someone you love to hate?)

This mystery is funny, has a cast of characters you care about, and the solution to the murder is totally unpredictable (but not out of “left field”). There are so many funny moments explaining printed books,  why things are called certain words when it doesn’t make any sense at all, automobiles, etc. to Macbeth, whom by now Peggy refers to by a pet name “Dirk” in honor of the  huge dagger he carries in his sock/sheath under his kilt (yes, the innuendo is there–one of many clever, sophisticated ones).

The author is a quirky, original, fluid writer who keeps the reader WANTING to read further, not just to solve the murder, but to enjoy the next little cleverly phrased statement or twist in the plot.

I highly recommend this book and the coming series.

SUNDAY (EVENING) POST

The PWR Reading Marathon (W-Sun.  morning) and Rae’s Reading Race Sunday afternoon was a success and was the quarterly get together for the PWR’s.  It was hard to schedule a time when all could meet, and interestingly enough, one member of the group who could not attend said, “October is such a busy month.” With November (Thanksgiving) and December (Christmas) holidays coming up, we could not postpone the “event” any longer. (We were already overdue to meet.)

There were six in attendance and enough food to feed twelve or more, but we “made the best of it” by making returns to the food table.  Most of the guests brought books for Rae’s Little Free Library with promises of even more.  We piled all the books together, and some left with as many as four books to add to their TBR stacks. It was an informal, informative and down-right good time.

Personally, between Wednesday and Sunday, I whittled down my TBR stack as follows:

Started and Finished The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak, a young adult novel, reviewed on this blog Sunday morning.

Started and almost finished a delightful cozy mystery, A Wee Murder in My Shop, which my husband’s cousin who is my  book buddy ,sent me.  It will be reviewed soon.

I had to work on something serious, so I managed (in between serious housecleaning and baking for the “party”) to read 24 pages of Train to Crystal City, my Third Tuesday Book Club assignment (due Tuesday–Yikes!) and 41 pages of The True American:Murder and Mayhem in Texas —a loan from a friend who should be getting antsy about its return, but he isn’t because he is a good, patient friend.

I find marathons a helpful way to whittle down that TBR stack and get reading done that wouldn’t have happened without a concentrated effort.  Dewey’s 24 Marathon is coming up next weekend, and I hope to participate in that. I am determined to MAKE TIME for reading, and marathons can make that happen.

What I’m reading now:  The three books mentioned above; the two non-fiction and the cozy mystery

What I’m looking forward to reading next: The Thoughtful Dresser: The Act of Adornment, the Pleasures of Shopping, and Why Clothes Matter   I checked it out from the Alvin Library, and I sure hope it automatically renews!

It’s been a happy week for reading, and although this week promises to be busy (handing back mid-term papers), I hope I can MAKE TIME FOR READING.

THE IMPROBABLE THEORY OF ANA AND ZAK by Brian Katcher: A Review (YA)

A book I started during the PWR Reading Marathon was The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak.  I read it in one day, picking it up off and on during a major housecleaning. (Well, yes, it was a YA novel, and a very fast read–all the more reason for choosing (AND REALLY ENJOYING) this book.)

The back cover covers it all (pun intended)  with an pictogram that includes Ana plus Zak, plus 24 hours, plus a wild SCI FI Convention, plus an impossible manhunt, plus thousands of costumed nerds, plus an angry viking, times lots of trouble, divided by first impressions, is unequal to anything they ever expected!   The quote next to the pictogram says, “Perfect comic timing and outrageous twists.” And the book delivers!  It is very, very funny, sweet, outrageous and just a darned good read.  Some subtler ideas are introduced than just the madcap 24 hour chase, but the book is never preachy. Young adults are respected and even admired, SOME adults are “almost ok”, and surprises in ALL the relationships abound.

I would recommend it to a friend of any age.

PWR MARATHON and Rae’s Reading Race

You are invited on this loose, lax ,reading marathon, and here’s how you can participate:

Start reading tomorrow (Thurs. Oct 13th) as soon as you can and read as much as you can as often as you can whatever you can (Here’s a chance to finish those books you’ve started and laid aside until later.) until 6:00 p.m. Saturday (the 15th) evening.  Keep a log if you like. If you are in the vicinity, show up at 1:00 p.m. (Sorry, ladies only) Sunday for Rae’s Reading Race where you will share what you have read and what you are reading and take notes on what you want to read. Others may report in to this blog on-line; however, sandwiches do not translate well on line, nor do cookies and coffee…sorry!

On my Sunday (Evening) Post, I will make a short report  and will give a detailed report on Monday’s post.  Get your own report/log/accomplishments from the marathon in by Sunday evening.

Join us if you can.