Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Book Review -- The Lost Symbol

The Lost Symbol (Robert Langdon, #3) The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first thing you will do after finishing The Lost Symbol, is start making your summer vacation plans to Washington DC. Or, in the case of our family, Spring Break! (Seriously, there is a web site to help plan your trip).

Dan Brown has once again turned history, legend, symbols, mystery, art, and religion, into an engrossing, pulse-quickening, “can’t put the book down,” best-seller.

Robert Langdon has been summoned by long time mentor, Peter Solomon, to DC as a substitute key note speaker for a gala benefiting the Smithsonian Institution. Once he arrives, it is immediately evident that there is no gala, no key note speech and no Peter Solomon. Well, that’s not entirely true, because a part of Peter Solomon is found, in the middle of the Capitol Rotunda. And thus begins the 24 hour race against a maniacal, tattooed, eunuch (who makes the Albino in The DaVinci Code, look like an altar boy), who is determined to bring down the United States Government.

This story line was a lot more confusing than his previous novel and a lot less WOW compared to The DaVinci Code (how can you top Jesus being married to Mary Magdalene for WOW factor?). I had a hard time keeping track of the Masons, their symbols and rites. But I am biased towards anything set in DC – my home for 5 years and where my husband and I got married. I loved racing through DC with the characters, even when they were in danger – The Capitol, The Library of Congress, The Folger Library, Union Station – I know them all intimately. Even some of the private, “off-limit” places – heck, I was in the basement of the Capitol in a “hideaway” office in January for the Inauguration! So this book hit home.

Symbol is not without a significant layer of evil – Mal’akh – the tattooed, eunuch – he is one freaky, wicked, dude. But his relevance to the story line was one of those, “No way!” moments at the end of the book. Gotta like being stunned (or I was, maybe he was obvious to others). However, I was surprised that I agreed with much of the religious doctrine incorporated into this book: Humans as divine (yep!), group prayers and fasting having positive effects (yep!). Maybe the missionaries need to visit Dan Brown’s house!

The Lost Symbol is exactly what it is marketed to be – an exhilarating, albeit, formulaic, sequel to Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code. But if he were to write another one, I’d read it too.

View all my reviews >>

Read A Banned Book!

Celebrate the freedom to read during Banned Books Week Monday, September 28 through Sunday, October 4 at your local library. Since 2001, American libraries have had more than 3,700 challenges requesting that materials be removed from circulation. Some of the most challenged books include The Catcher in the Rye, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and the Harry Potter series.

Other classics which have been challenged include The Great Gatsby, The Grapes of Wrath, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Color Purple, Brave New World and Gone with the Wind.

Children's books are not immune to challenges as patrons have sought to remove fables such as Winnie-the-Pooh and Charlotte's Web from library collections.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group. Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others.

Although they were the targets of attempted bannings, most of the books featured during Banned Books Week were not banned, thanks to the efforts of librarians to maintain them in the collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers,and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the American Library Association, American Society of Journalists and Authors, Association of American Publishers, and the National Association of College Stores. It is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tales from the Infirmary

It’s been a little tough to update blog posts when the Gerbera Daisy household has been in near quarantine for the week. I’m so glad we are finally all well.

I decided to save a few germs for when my husband returns from NYC. He deserves a few trips to the bathroom!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Day vs. My Husband’s Day

Me: “Mrs. Daisy Mom, your son just threw up at school, will you please come get him?”

Hubbie: Meetings in New York City with Actor’s Equity regarding contract negotiations.

Me: “Mommy, I’m still sick” – as three year old throws up in the car.

Hubbie: Still in NYC.

Me: Two other children arrive home from school; oldest daughter says, “my stomach hurts” and hurls in the proximity of the bathroom, not quite making it to the toilet; cleaning barf out of tile grout.

Hubbie: Still in NYC

Me: After 3 more rounds of vomit, daughter hurls in her room on her area rug.

Hubbie: Now on to 5th Avenue for shopping.

Me: 3yr old, after not throwing up for 4 hours, makes it to the bathroom in time do an impression of the Exorcist.

Hubbie: Now at Broadway show with college friends.

Me: 2nd load of towels in the laundry.

Hubbie: Not sure I care!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rise and Shout the Seminoles are OUT!

My new favorite team! Thank you Florida State for doing what my Sooners couldn't do. My arm is tired from doing the Tomahawk CHOP!

Sooners take on ACC foe Miami (who beat FSU) in two weeks. We have a huge game ahead of us!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Football Saturday!


Big football Saturday day for this Oklahoma girl.

U of Tulsa is my home, where my niece is a Senior and dates a football coach, and my Daddy's alma mater and employer.

OU -- well, I bleed Crimson and Cream.

However, when they play each other -- it's a conflict of mammoth proportions.

Who will I cheer for today??



I hope it's a tie!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Go Buy a Tropical Smoothie Drink Now!

Why a Tropical Smoothie Cafe clip? The little girl, in the chair, who you can't see, but is stirring with a straw?? She's mine!! Do you think stirring a drink is Oscar worthy?? And that 30sec clip -- she was there for 4 hours!! She had to wait for the volleyball players to leave the sand court!

Book Review -- Pope Joan

Pope Joan: A Novel Pope Joan: A Novel by Donna Woolfolk Cross

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Legend, myth, truth?

Such is the mystery surrounding Joan of Ingleheim – who later became known a Pope John VIII.

Novelist, Donna Woolfolk Cross, tries to give life and breath to Joan, a young girl in the 9th century, who with an eagerness for learning, is prohibited from doing so simply because she is a girl. With the help of an older sibling and a willing tutor, Joan begins a life of intellect as she manages to find her way through a “schola” (what I would consider a 9th century boarding school for boys, where she has been reluctantly accepted) and finally, Fulda, a Catholic seminary (where she gains entrance because she disguises herself as a boy).

Through her studies at Fulda, she also becomes a learned “healer,” a person with a keen knowledge of herbs and plants that she uses skillfully to diagnose and treat the sick. With that knowledge, she makes her way to Rome, where she is called upon to serve the ailing Pope Sergius. Once in the “court” of the Pope, she becomes respected and revered. After the death of Sergius, she eventually finds herself elected Pope.

Cross, an academic, historian and scholar, has been given a “gem” of a subject to write about. One who is free from any other known popular fiction or non-fiction baggage. She has certainly done extraordinary research in trying to detail the panorama of 9th century political and religious life. With that, I was expecting to be “wow’d” by this book, energized, uplifted, educated – but I wasn’t.

For the most part, I felt like I was reading this book in a closet. It was shadowy and oppressive and suffocating. Not to mention brutal. I suppose that’s why they call this time period the “Dark Ages.” The author explains in her epilogue that she spared the reader -- that the 9th century was much more ruthless than she portrayed. For that, I thank her. Joan was routinely beaten by her father as child, almost till death, for her covert learning efforts. Later, during a Norse invasion, a friend of Joan’s in gang raped. I’m sure this is a historically accurate portrayal of the time period, but it didn’t make it any easier to read.

Joan herself could have been so much more. Or I expected so much more. I never really connected with her. Although she overcomes begin beaten, sent away from home, humiliation, her sacrifice of identity, to become an intellect, respected and ultimately, the supreme religious leader of the time, I never found myself “cheering” for her or caring, one way or the other. I did like her ability to take on her leaders and debate them. One particular episode finds her discussing the proposed inferiority of women to men with her teacher Odo. The best line in the whole book is Joan’s retort to Odo, “As for will, woman should be considered superior to man…for Eve ate of the apple for love of knowledge and learning, but Adam ate of it merely because he was asked.” You go girl! That’s the Joan I wanted to see throughout the whole book.

And the story itself was marred with these last minute heroics, or “saved by the skin of her teeth” clich├ęs, that by the end, you began to wonder what other “rabbit” was going to pop out of a hat to save Joan: being saved from an arranged marriage by barbaric Norsemen; her father dying of stroke-like symptoms right before he “outs” her as a woman; finding a boat to take her away from Fulda when she is once again nearly “outed” after becoming deathly ill; and finally, saved by an intact building during a flood where she revives her “soul mate” with her body heat. Enough said.

I admit, I rushed through the end of this book because Dan Brown’s "The Lost Symbol," is sitting on my bed side table. And whether or not there was a Joan, I’m not convinced. But it made me wonder – think of what Dan Brown did to the mystery of Mary Magdalene, I wonder what a Dan Brown version of Pope Joan would look like?? Now that’s a book I would love to read!

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Did You Know?

That it's Book Bloggers Appreciation Week?

Me either...and I'm not sure I fall into that category or not, since I like to blog about things other than my books...but, books are my M.O. (But football is a close second!)

There are TONS of book bloggers out there -- I follow a few (they are on my sidebar). It's too bad you can't vote on blogs that aren't listed. I really like Reading for Sanity's reviews and Lucy at Life Is A Spasm Who Flow, both have some of the best reviews out there, but aren't listed as candidates. Too bad.

But here is there Q&A for today -- I thought it was a fun!

Do you snack while you read?
I usually read at night, after dinner, when the kids are in bed. So, no, I don't snack...plus, crumbs in a book? Or greasy fingers on a page? Blasphemy!

If so, favorite reading snack?
If I were to snack -- chips & salsa.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of
writing in books horrify you?

If it's a text book or my scriptures -- yes. But I have a REALLY HARD time making notes in my novels. I wish I did -- because if I went back to read it, I would like to know my thoughts and feelings, and how they have changed or not.

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears?
Dog-ears?? Seriously!! Bookmarks ONLY!

Laying the book flat open?

Fiction, Non-fiction, or both?
Both -- but I've avoided YA fiction.

Hard copy or audiobooks?
Hard Copy!! Must have something physical in my hand. No Kindle either!

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of chapters, or are you
able to put a book down at any point?

Does falling asleep in the middle of a page count?? :) I TRY to finish a chapter -- because if I don't, I don't remember what I've read.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop to look it up right away?

In a perfect world I would say, "Yes, I keep a dictionary by my bed and look up every word." NOT!

What are you currently reading?
Pope Joan and The Help -- and they have both been painful.

What is the last book you bought?
See previous post -- two L.M Montgomery's, Still Alice and Josephine B.

Are you the type of person that only reads one book at a time or can
you read more than one at a time?

I don't multi-task -- so one book at a time -- unless, of course, you are cramming for book group, and had to put down The Help, to start Pope Joan.

Do you have a favorite time of day and/or place to read?
24 hours a day? Oh, yeah, that's not possible.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?
I can honestly say, the only series I've read is Harry Potter. I have SO many books/authors I want to read, that reading a series is redundant. I rarely even read the same author more than once -- unless the name is Austen.

Is there a specific book or author that you find yourself recommending over and over?
Hmmmm....two books I highly recommend from this summer: The Moonflower Vine and These Is My Words. LOVED THEM BOTH!!!

How do you organize your books? (By genre, title, author’s last name, etc.?)
I like them to look PRETTY on my bookshelves!! I also group read books and non-read books together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 2 at the Library

Best mystery title I shelved today:

Seriously -- if you Googled that title too many times, the FBI might put you on some kind of WATCH list!!

But this is the BEST part of today -- I walked out of the library with this:

Can you believe it??!! No book holds, no waiting, no one's grubby fingers on the pages -- it was like nirvana walking out the door with this in my book bag -- I felt like a thief! I'm just bummed I still have to finish Pope Joan before Thursday! I want to read it NOW!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s Off to Work I Go…

Today, for the first time in 9 years, I was someone’s employee.

I started my part time job at our local library, and even though I had a few butterflies buzzing around in my stomach, I think it’s the perfect fit – me, a cart full of books, author’s I’ve never heard of, books I’ve never read, and lots and lots of library shelves.

My 1st responsibility is to sort returned books on to sorting shelves, then stack them on carts for re-shelving.

I’m in charge of re-stocking mysteries, juvenile fiction and large print books.

I’m NOT a mystery reader, so it was a thrill to roam the aisles of mysteries and discover so many books I would like to read! My biggest obstacle is not having the liberty of thumbing through a book to see what it’s about!

I am also thrilled to be shelving JUV fiction, so I can scour the titles for things my 8 year old might want to read. I found this today:

I’ve heard about Betsy-Tacy, but never read them. I’m so unfamiliar with youth literature – this is going to be a fantastic education – and SO MUCH FUN!

It was weird working WITH people I’ve grown accustomed to seeing on a regular basis, but not really knowing them. They were very welcoming.

I work two more days this week.

I wonder what books will be waiting for me tomorrow?? Can’t wait to find out!!

Any mystery lovers out there?? I need recommendations!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Book Buying!

Spent my Saturday at my favorite used book store, River Market Books and Gifts -- and this is what I walked away with:


We read Emily of New Moon as a book group choice, and I absolutely loved it! I've always wanted to read the sequels, and now I have them -- got them both for $2.

Then I added this for $3.50:

and this for $3:

Two blogging friends wrote raving reviews about the the above two books. Still Alice is here -- Josephine B. is here. If I can get out of my "reader's block" (similar to writer's block -- I haven't finished a book in two weeks! It never takes me two weeks to read a book!), I plan on starting any one of these soon!

Friday, September 11, 2009


May we always remember those who lost their lives this day...

Opening Night at The Rep!

It's hard to believe that this is my husband's 10th season managing The Arkansas Repertory Theatre!

It's opening night -- if you are in the area, please join us!

Based on a true story, this touching remembrance tells the intimate details of Patsy Cline's friendship with Houston housewife Louise Seger. After meeting at a concert in 1961, the two women struck up a friendship that lasted until Cline's untimely death in a plane crash in 1963.

SEPT 9 – OCT 4 Wednesday curtain 7 p.m; Thursday, Friday, Saturday curtain 8 p.m.; Sunday curtain 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Single ticket prices range from $20 - $40 per seat depending on date, time and seat selection for the performance. Discount rates are available for groups of 10 or more. To purchase tickets call The Rep box office at (501)378-0405 or 1-866-6THEREP or visit us online at www.therep.org.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Librarapy Part II!

At the beginning of the summer, I wrote about my love of libraries here. Now, two months later, my dream of shelving books has come true! On Monday, I start my 1st job (part time) in nearly 9 years, shelving books at my local library branch. This branch library has become like a member of the family. My kids know every shelf and every librarian.

I'm a little bit terrified! What if I don't remember my alphabet? Or the Dewey decimal system?

Dinner Tonight -- Slow-Cooker Pork Pozole

Slow-Cooker Pork Pozole - Womansday.com

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Football Requiem

(That's me -- standing against the wall -- with my daughter -- and the Sooner Nation).

Needless to say, the big football weekend did not turn out as planned. OU went down with a thud to my arch enemies, BYU (why they are my enemies, is another blog post in and of itself – you can ask me about it later). Not to mention, Sam Bradford may be out for the year with a shoulder injury.

(Sam Bradford, before the injury)

But, in spite of it all, the family had a great time at the game!

I still love my Sooners! I’ve been through losses before – LSU, USC, Boise State, Florida – and I will survive this one. I managed the vast, post-Barry Switzer, waste land, of bad OU football with John Blake and Howard Schnellenberger. Bobby Stoops will salvage this season. He did it with Paul Thompson; he will do it with no offensive line, no wide receivers, no tight end, and now, no QB.
Sooner born and Sooner bred, and a Sooner fan forever!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

And the award goes to....

Many, many, thanks to Heather, at Gofita’s Pages, for nominating my new blog for The Heartfelt Award. It totally made my day!

Do you reach for something comforting when you’re relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside.

The Rules for the Heartfelt Award are:

1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

I'm passing this award on to:

Dandelion Mama
Good Clean Reads
Homespun Light
Reading For Sanity
The Book Nest

Thanks again Heather! And I hope this is a "place" of comfort, familiarity, and friends.

Sooner Born and Sooner Bred...

I am so excited I can hardly stand it!! OU/BYU in TWO DAYS!!! Dallas here I come!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009