Thursday, February 26, 2015

Literary Link Love: February 2015

It's time for another wrap-up of all the literary links I shared on social media this month, and let me tell you that there is a number of good ones here!!  Let's get to it . . .

Panels published a list of The Top 9 Comics That Got You Hooked.  I definitely recommend Saga, Y:  The Last Man, and Fables!  Those are some of my faves!  But, I do admit that I need to read more superheroes.

Here's a great list of 33 Thoughts on Reading.  I agree with a good chunk of them, but not all of them.  Each to their own.

A list of Stephen King's Top 10 All-Time Favorite Books.  At first, I thought I had not yet read a single one on the list, but now I'm wondering if I have read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  I had better just (re)read it to be safe, along with so many others on this list.

Flavorwire highlighted 50 Writers to See Read Live.  I think there are some notable authors that are missing, particularly Gregory Maguire.

Have you seen these Vintage Ads for Libraries and Reading?!?  I seriously want a bunch of these framed in my own home library (when I get one)!

Book Riot highlighted some literary tourism in my home state!  I need to visit these jewels soon.  I do have to add, however, that they are missing a big author that lives in that area.  Christopher Paolini, author of the Inheritance Saga, used these homelands as his inspiration for Alageasia.

Since my own household has had cookies on the brain, this fun post on book and Girl Scout cookie pairings was very timely!

Can you believe that these books are turning 10 this year?!?  I can't believe it!!

For the Harry Potter fans out there, I shared a number of fun pieces ...

And, last but not least, I shared this clever little image!  Am I right?!?

What were some of your favorite links this month, whether on this list or not?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Streets of a Ghost Town

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

Last week, I went (sorta) wordless with some old school rules for teachers.  This week, I thought I would share with you all a picture of the main street where that school stood -- Bannack, MT.  Enjoy!

Have you had the pleasure of walking the streets of a ghost town?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

This is a book that I have been eyeing for a while now.  I can be a sucker for books set during World War II and when I discovered that this was a nonfiction book, I knew I had to read it.  It was perfect timing when one of my book clubs selected this as our next read.

The Zookeeper's Wife follows the life of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, the zookeepers of the Warsaw Zoo.  The two fall in love, take over the zoo, and build it with great success.  Then, the zoo was bombed and many of the animals lost.  The Germans came to "save" some of the remaining animals, to preserve the pure breeds, leaving the Zabinskis with a home in shambles.  Yet, they stay to care for those that remain.  In truth, the zoo is a cover for Jan's secret activities and becomes a home for their ever-expanding family, both their own children as well as their "guests" that come to visit and those that hide in the cages with secret animal names.

The Zookeeper's Wife was an absolutely fascinating read that made me ponder so much and created great discussion in my online book group.  I marked a number of pages in this story, noting certain passages that I needed to revisit.  My only downside is that it initially took me a while to get accustomed to the writing.  The author is known for her poetry and her writing reflects that even in this nonfiction.  Her descriptions of some items were extensive and seemed to be unimportant (though not always the case).  In the end, it is a book that I would recommend, especially if you are looking to expand your list of reads pertaining to World War II.  You need to know the Zabinski's.

Are you familiar with the Zabinski's story?  What are your thoughts on The Zookeeper's Wife?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday Maunder: A Never-Ending List

Welcome to another Monday Maunder!

Let me tell you ... this last week was so much better than the week before!  I have now written all the reviews for books that I plan on highlighting here on the blog.  I got in some good reading (be sure to check out my review of X: A Novel).  And, I checked off a number of other things on my list of things to do.  Woohoo!

BUT, have you ever noticed how when you keep a list of things to do, it just seems to grow rather than shrink?!?  I think I end up adding more items to my list than I cross off.  Why?!?  How am I ever to feel productive when the list keeps on getting longer and longer?!?

For example, this last week I got all those reviews written that I have been delaying.  Then, I added taxes, finalizing a family book that I am compiling, and getting registered for another Out of the Darkness Walk this summer.  All things that I really HAVE to get done!

And, to make matters worse, I found myself feeling like I have to cross off a certain number of items on this big ol' list before I can spend time on my different fun writing projects.  Or, spending time reading a good book.

Forget it!  Let's change that this week.  I still need to work on the items on this never-ending list, but I am promising myself a certain amount of time each day this week to work on my fun stuff.  Afterall, don't we all deserve a little fun each day?!?  Or, should I just add the fun stuff to my list, so I remember to make this time for myself?!?  ARGH!!!!

How do you manage your never-ending list of things to do?!?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

X: A Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz

Fifty years ago today, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (aka Malcolm Little and most notably, Malcolm X) was gunned down prior to speaking to the Organization of Afro-American Unity.  He was an influential man in America's history, serving as a human rights activist, in particular for the rights of Black Americans.  Most of what we know of this man begins after he was released from prison and became the leader that he was known for.  What led up to his time in prison can sometimes be a mystery, but can also be a window into the man that he would become.  He daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz attempts to shine a light onto her father's memory by providing readers with X:  A Novel.  Though her story is fictionalized, it also rings in large part of fact and biography, creating quite an unique read.

Malcolm was the fourth child born to Early and Louise Little.  At the young age of six, his father died under very suspicious circumstances.  At thirteen, his mother was committed to a mental institution.  Even before being separated from his mother, Malcolm was moved into foster homes.  At school, he was popular and smart, but he was prone to trouble.  He soon moved to Boston with his half-sister, hoping a change in scenery would be good for him.  It was here that the trouble grew, involving drugs, hustling, sex, and more.  The trouble moved with him to Harlem, and finally back to Boston before he landed himself into too much trouble.

Malcolm's story is not an easy one to read.  It reflects the difficult times that people faced during his lifetime, particularly African Americans.  However, I think it is a story that needs to be heard.  We need to step into Malcolm's shoes for a moment to get a better understanding of his life and times.

At the end of the book, Shabazz details the information that she fictionalized and that she took liberties with.  My interpretation is that the bones and much of the meat of Malcolm's story is still very much present.  And, it can be very eye-opening, both for Malcolm's own history in creating the man that he would become as well as the history of our own nation.

The end of the novel also includes a number of additional extras for the reader, all of which must be read to better understand the story.  One section is a list of additional recommended reads.  X has served as my gatekeeper and I cannot wait to dive into many of the suggestions, both fiction and nonfiction alike.

Have you had the opportunity to meet the young Malcolm in X?  What other reading suggestions might you have on Malcolm X and/or the civil rights movement?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Old School Rules for Teachers

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

This is more of a Wordy Wednesday, but the words are all in the pictures!  I took these pictures in the old mining town of Bannack, Montana last summer.  I think we have come quite a ways since 1872 and 1912.

For more Wordless Wednesday selections, check out the devoted blog.

What are your thoughts on these old school rules for teachers?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday Maunder: Where Did Last Week Go?!?

I was looking at the calendar earlier today, and all I could think about was ... Where did the last week go?!?  I think some of it went to sleeping because that cold I mentioned last week really kicked me down hard for a few days.  After that, I have no idea!  I didn't get much reading done. I didn't get much writing done.  And, I obviously did not get much blogging done.  This week, I am determined to make that change.

I have a huge pile of reviews that I have written and need to get scheduled.  I have a couple of fun pieces that I have outlined that I need to get fully written.  I have some awesome books that I am in the middle of and need to finish up.  And, I am feeling like I need to do double time this week because last week seems to have disappeared into oblivion.

Here's to a productive week filled with lots of reading, writing, and blogging!

What do you have planned for this week?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Maunder: Cookies, Catch-up, and A Cold

You are probably wondering what kind of title that is!  It really is what my life has been like for the last week.

Cookies ... My daughter started selling Girl Scout cookies this last weekend, so my week was filled with preparation for that and then the actual task of chaperoning my little Daisy as she began selling the cookies.  She is so excited for it this year and it is so much fun to watch!

Catch-up ... Over the last few months, I have gotten desperately behind on writing reviews for the books that I have read.  I have sat my rear in the chair and began getting caught up.  As of this moment, I have written more than ten reviews and am only three reviews behind.  I plan to finish those up tomorrow.  Then, I will be typing them up and scheduling them as early as later this week.  It feels so good to get caught up!  

Cold ... I was feeling good about my progress over the last week.  Then, I woke up this morning to a horrible head cold.  NOT how I wanted to start off this week after such a successful one.  I spent most of my day relaxing on the couch, then am going to take some meds and head to bed.  I'm hoping this extra rest and relaxation will help tackle this cold before it knocks me completely down.

Do I have any other highlights from this last week?  I sure do!  I went snowshoeing for the first time over the weekend and had a blast.  I cannot wait to get back to the mountains with a pair of snowshoes on my feet!

Last, but not least, I had better share my current reads.  I am currently listening to the Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford.  It is not what I expected when I first started listening to it, but I am really enjoying it.  I am only pages away from finishing The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman.  Another book that I am enjoying and bookmarking multiple pages along the way.  Last, but not least, I finally returned to reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with my kids, and of course, I am enjoying it!

Let's hope that the rest of this week is filled with more cookies and finally catching up, but no more head cold.  I am done with being sick.

How was your week?  Do you have any exciting plans for this week?  What are you currently reading?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Hiking Beauty

Welcome to Wordless Wednesday!

One of my favorite little hikes with this beauty along the way!

Are you a fan of waterfalls?  How about hiking?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Monday Maunder: January in Review, Readathon Wrap-Up, and Giveaway Winner!

I have so very much to chat about this week, so let's get to it!

Let's first start with a great big CONGRATULATIONS for Carol of Carol's Notebook.  She was the big WINNER of the Candlewick Giveaway that closed on Friday!  Happy Reading Carol!!

Next, let's look at my results from the Winter's Respite Readathon that I participated in this last week.

Minutes Listened:  202 minutes
Pages Read:  514 pages
Books Completed:  Ape House by Sara Gruen, Ms. Marvel, Volume 1:  No Normal by G. Willow Wilson, Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel

Not bad, not bad at all.  I was hoping to finish one more book, especially considering that I needed it read by today for an online book club.  BUT, I should finish it probably in the next day or so.

Last, but not least, let's take a look at the month in review.  January proved to be a successful month for reading.  Sadly, I am way behind in writing reviews for these books, but that is my goal to catch up on this week.

The TOP POSTS from the month were twofold this time around.  The Candlewick Giveaway received the most hits, but 2015: My Year to Persevere received the most comments.

The TOP PIC was from the big snowstorm that I got stuck in during the Bout of Books Readathon.  There was a LOT of snow that week!

My final list of BOOKS READ for the month ended with a good number.  According to my Goodreads goal, I am currently three books ahead of schedule.  Two readathons in one month really helped with that!
  1. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
  2. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
  3. The Death Cure by James Dashner
  4. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
  5. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
  6. Saga, Volume 3 by Brian K. Vaughan
  7. Saga, Volume 4 by Brian K. Vaughan
  8. Ape House by Sara Gruen
  9. Ms. Marvel, Volume 1:  No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
  10. Are You My Mother? by Alison Bechdel
Here's to hoping that February proves to be just as amazing as January has been!

Did you participate in the Winter's Respite Readathon?  How did you do?  How was your month of January?