Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wild West Wednesdays!

Are you ready for some cowboys? (Queue, Hank Williams Jr. football music!)

Starting October 1st,  Amy, Leah, and I start our Lonesome Dove read along and we want you all to join us too!

You still have time to check out a book at your library, or purchase the snazzy reissued version with a new forward by the author (I'm reading the $1 paperback copy I found at our used book store!).

Lonesome Dove

Here is our reading schedule:

October 6th--Chapters 1-10--My Friend Amy

October 13th--Chapters 11-20--Amused by Books

October 20th--Chapters 21-30--Gerbera Daisy Diaries

October 27th--Chapters 31-40--My Friend Amy

November 3rd--Chapters 41-50--Amused by Books

November 10th--Chapters 51-60--Gerbera Daisy Diaries

November 17th--Chapters 61-70--My Friend Amy

November 24th--Chapters 71-80--Amused by Books

December 1st--Chapters 81-90--Gerbera Daisy Diaries

December 8th--Chapters 91-101
See you 'pokes next Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Book Review -- Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Untimely Death in Africa

WildflowerWildflower by Mark Seal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Joan Root was in love: With her husband, her native Africa, the animals that surrounded her and her home. She built a life filming those things with her husband, award winning documentary film director, Alan Root. But after Alan left her for another woman, she had to rediscover who she was and what in life was worth fighting for. She found that in her home – her 80 acres and small farm on the banks of Lake Naivasha in Kenya. When industrial hot houses that “farmed” roses started flourishing on the banks of the lake, and poachers started invading her land to capture the wildlife and fish, Joan found a cause – that of rescuing the lake and rehabilitating those causing the most harm. What she didn’t realize was by championing this effort, she was setting in motion a chain of events that would ultimately lead to her brutal death.

Author Mark Seal has taken the life of a quiet, devoted woman, who wanted nothing more than to live a life with Alan and her animals, and written a beautiful tribute. He was given access to her many letters and diaries – and it was as if Joan herself was speaking to us.

We learn of the extraordinary talents she had organizing the many safaris, hot air balloon trips, and expeditions, they took to film the amazing documentaries that she and Alan made together. How she put herself in harm’s way to get exactly the right film shot and scene. She spent endless hours on location and in conditions most people wouldn’t tolerate. We also learn of the tremendous heartbreak she endured – and never really recovered from – when the love of her life left her for another woman. She was always looking to the skies – waiting for Alan to return, via helicopter, to the home they shared on Lake Naivasha.

Finally we learn of the tragic outcome – the home invasions, the threats made against her and her property, when she singularly took it upon herself to save the greatest thing of all – her land.

This was an amazing story, about an unassuming, but powerful woman, whose life tragically ended.

Book source: Public library

Although not one of my original selections, this book qualifies for my Women Unbound reading challenge.

For more about the destruction of Lake Naivasha, please view the video below:

View all my reviews

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's Monday -- What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. It's is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.

Finished and reviewed last week:
The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick (3 out of 5 stars -- my daughter enjoyed it much more than I did)
The Mother-Daughter Book Club (The Mother-Daughter Book Club, #1)

Finished but not yet reviewed:
Wildflower by Mark Seal (an amazing story about a remarkable woman who met a tragic and untimely death -- highly recommended). 

Should finish this week:
The Many Lives and Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland
(This was set aside due to other books that needed to be read for book club)

Up Next:
Get ready for Wild West Wednesdays and our read along of:

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry
Lonesome Dove

Our read along starts on October 1st  with our first discussion post on October 6th.  Here is our schedule if you are interested in joining us!

The full reading schedule:

October 6th--Chapters 1-10--My Friend Amy

October 13th--Chapters 11-20--Amused by Books

October 20th--Chapters 21-30--Gerbera Daisy Diaries

October 27th--Chapters 31-40--My Friend Amy

November 3rd--Chapters 41-50--Amused by Books

November 10th--Chapters 51-60--Gerbera Daisy Diaries

November 17th--Chapters 61-70--My Friend Amy

November 24th--Chapters 71-80--Amused by Books

December 1st--Chapters 81-90--Gerbera Daisy Diaries

December 8th--Chapters 91-101

 Have a great week -- what are you reading?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mother Daughter Book Group/Book Review -- The Mother Daugher Book Club

The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

The Mother-Daughter Book Club (The Mother-Daughter Book Club, #1)

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars (it's on the edge of a 2.5 -- but the Little Women theme pushed it up to 3 -- it was OK, not great).

Wow -- what a difference a year makes!

Last year when we started our book group, the girls were pensive and shy and at a loss for what to do during a book discussion.  This year, they were bold and prepared and very opinionated!  I was so proud of them!  I can't believe we've made it.  I mentioned in a previous post that I'm not sure I've done any good as a mother...but at least I know I've done good with this!  Now if I could just solve my yelling problem. :)

As far as the book -- I think the girls enjoyed it for the most part.  Daisy daughter was by far the biggest cheerleader -- the others were not nearly as crazy about it -- but they had a great discussion nonetheless (sounds like my adult book club -- even when the book isn't overly popular, the discussion usually makes up for it).  They liked discussing the different personalities of the girls -- Emma, Cassidy, Jess and Megan.  I was concerned about the "mean girls" and the name calling -- so I asked them how they dealt with girls like that at school.  They seemed nonplussed about mean girls.  Some tried to play peacemakers, others just turned away.  Glad we are raising girls who ignore the taunts of others -- I wasn't so lucky.  I was the brunt of many mean girl antics and remember being despondent. 

I also think they appreciated the Louisa May Alcott/Little Women theme.  Many wanted to read it, but thought it was "way too long!"  Daisy daughter picked up a Barnes & Noble abridged version and she loved it, but was furious when she found out that they didn't include Beth dying!  How is that possible?  That's the apex of the novel! 

From an adults' perspective -- I thought the novel was just OK.  Not sure I'm eager to read the others in the series, even though Daisy daughter insists they get better.  I wasn't particularly fond of how the mothers were portrayed and some of the name calling they exhibited.  I'd like to think my peers wouldn't behave in such a manner, but I'm probably living in a bubble.

But, it was great night and I'm so glad to get back in the groove. 

Our next two selections are:

OctoberA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time (Time, #1)

NovemberWhen You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
When You Reach Me

We decided to do these books in tandem -- considering one is an homage to the other.  And be careful what you wish for -- when I reviewed the latter earlier this year I mentioned that I hadn't heard ANY feedback from the audience for which this book was intended -- I am about to find out!  It will be interesting to see how these are received -- we have a wide range of reading levels, and some of the "ideas" of time travel may be over our girls' heads.  We shall see.

Book source: personal copy

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It's Monday -- What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. It's is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.

Finished and reviewed last week:
The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson (1 out of 5 stars -- I was probably overly harsh on this book -- 1 star maybe extreme, but I wouldn't give it much more than 2 -- it was a rambling mess with no plot).

The Sweet By and By: A Novel

The Mother Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick

The Mother-Daughter Book Club (The Mother-Daughter Book Club, #1)

This was our choice for our own mother/daughter book club.  My nine year old, who is reluctant to read anything, devoured this book and the 2 sequels.  It was her selection.  I, on the other hand, am not quite sure what to think of it.  The premise of mothers trying to encourage their girls to read Little Women is charming, but it is filled with "tweens" being VERY mean to each other and exhibiting rude behavior that I would never tolerate.  It will be an interesting discussion on Tuesday, that is for sure.

Up next:
I have NO idea!  I have three books checked out from the library, that upon first glance, looked really interesting. Now that they are home, not so much.  I still need to finish Josephine B...hopefully I can get that done.

What are you reading this week?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Will you read it?

Oprah's latest book club pick:


What do you think? Did you read The Corrections?

I haven't read an Oprah pick yet. Not sure I will start with this one.

(I take that back, I read The Poisonwood Bible, but received it as a gift LONG before Oprah picked it, and read it LONG after Oprah's influence had any affect).

September Book Club and Book Review -- The Sweet By and By

The Sweet By and By: A Novel

The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson

My rating: 1 out of 5 stars

After a month off due to book group falling on the first night before school, it was great to be back with the gang. We were small in number but not small on opinion.

This month we read Todd Johnson’s The Sweet By and By a southern tale about a pair of nursing home friends, their caregiver, hairdresser, and a variety of family members.

Life in a nursing home is a painful existence – craziness and neglect abound, but Bernice and Margaret forge a friendship that helps them endure their situation with dignity. With the help of their nurse, Lorraine, and their hairdresser, Rhonda, this unlikely quartet forms a bond that goes beyond age and skin color.

I had a really hard time finding a groove with this book. The author’s language was awkward and clunky and his sense of timing way off. Even though I have issues with The Help, Ms. Stockett’s portrayal of Southern dialect was pitch perfect – where Ms. Johnson’s writing made the characters sound stupid instead of endearing.

This was also a book without much of a story – nothing to really link one episode with another other than the relationships between these women. There was nothing to drive this story home or to keep me reading. In fact, when I was stuck in the airport last week (a perfect opportunity to get significant pages read), I chose to walk the concourse instead.

Additionally, there was one scene where Rhonda, the hairdresser, was talking to a client. As they discussed hair color Rhonda states, “Great, let’s get started by getting you washed.” NEVER in 20 years of hair color, has a stylist EVER washed my hair BEFORE she colored it!! Did this author not consult a hairdresser about the hair color procedure? From that point on, I didn’t trust him as a story teller. And since he didn’t tell a story, I don’t think I missed much.

The Sweet By and By was more like a late picked southern peach, dried up and shriveled, after being left out in the sun too long.

Book source: personal copy

For more about this book, the author share's his personal insight and those from other readers:

For October, our selection is:
The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans
The Sunflower: A Novel

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's Monday -- What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books. It's is a weekly event to celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.

I've been MIA for two weeks:  vacation, 12th anniversary, road-trip, death of a friend, funeral -- very little reading occurred during that period.



The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson
The Sweet By and By: A Novel
Summary by Goodreads:
Among the longleaf pines and family farms of eastern North Carolina, days seem to pass without incident for Margaret Clayton and Bernice Stokes until they discover each other in a friendship that will take them on the most important journey of their lives. Margaret, droll and whip smart, has a will of iron that never fails her even when her body does, while Bernice, an avid country-music fan, is rarely lucid. Irreverent and brazen at every turn, they make a formidable pair at the home where they live, breaking all the rules and ultimately changing the lives of those around them. Lorraine, their churchgoing, God-questioning nurse, both protects and provokes them while they are under her watchful eye, as her daughter, April, bright and ambitious, determinedly makes her way through medical school. Rounding out the group of unlikely and often outrageous friends is Rhonda, the Bud-swilling beautician who does the ladies' hair on her day off and whose sassy talk hides a vulnerable heart, one that finally opens to love.

I hated The Help -- but I would gladly read it again to save me from this suffering -- it has been a painful reading experience. I must finish -- it is my book club choice this month, and we meet on Thursday.

The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland
The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. (Josephine Bonaparte, #1)

Summary from Goodreads:
Young Josephine Bonaparte shines at the center of a new, sweeping, romantic work of historical fiction by Sandra Gulland: detailed and exhaustively researched, compelling and powerful, The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. is the first in a trilogy of fictional novels tracing the actual rise of a young European noblewoman who would one day stand next to Napoleon.

I started this before all the aforementioned drama -- I hope to resume once I'm finished the above.

Here is to getting back in the reading grove! 

Also, check out my new read along project with Amy at My Friend Amy and Leah at Amused by Books!

What are you reading this week?

Guest Book Review -- Percy Jackson and the Olypmpians Books 4 & 5

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #4)

The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5)

My rating: Battle of the Labyrinth 5 of 5 stars; The Last Olympian 4 of 5 stars

Guest review by Daisy Dad

I’m back with my review of the final two books of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series – The Battle of the Labyrinth (Book 4) and The Last Olympian (Book 5). After the first three books I finally felt that the author moved out from under another’s series dominance and found a truly original voice for his series.

I loved The Battle of the Labyrinth – easily the best of the series. All of Mr. Riordan’s books have been based on a quest – and he took his half blood demigods from coast to coast in his previous books – but adding the mythology of the labyrinth into the mix was a welcomed change to previous quests. The story moves quickly and anticipation builds throughout the book – a real page turner. The continued development of each of the characters continued and my favorite developments were that of Annabeth and her architectural connection to the creator of the labyrinth, Grover’s overarching quest to find the God of the Wild, Pan, and probably my favorite of all the characters – Nico - the son of Hades. The book was not all about Percy and his growth and maturation as he approached the age of 16 and the fulfillment of the great prophecy which I appreciated.

I did not want to wait for the paperback release of The Last Olympian so I waited a little bit for the library’s copy and went to work on the final book with great expectations for the conclusion of this series. After the breakneck speed of The Battle of the Labyrinth I was a bit disappointed – not with the ultimate finale – which was rather fulfilling – but I found it a bit slow in developing. I am not going to say that I was bored with the first half of the book – but I was close…

Ultimately, I enjoyed the entire series and would recommend it. I often think of what I want my children to be reading as they grow older and how these choices will develop their own interests. I would love to see my children take an interest in mythology through these books because Rick Riordan TEACHES mythology in a way that piques curiosity that could possibly make young readers pick up The Iliad, The Odyssey or other ancient literary classics where these stories were first told.

And yes, my calendar is marked for October 12 when The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost Hero is released – with hopes that Percy and friends (and seemingly NEW friends) will be back for another set of adventures.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Get your chaps, boots and spurs ready!

Welcome all you cowpokes to the Wild West Wednesdays read along hosted by Amy at My Friend Amy, Leah at Amused by Books and ME!

Although most of the summer has been spent honoring the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, another literary giant and Pulitzer Prize winner was also celebrating an anniversary – Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove is 25 years old this year! To pay homage, we are dusting off our best western duds and attempting to read every morsel of Dove’s 945 pages!

To give you plenty of time to practice your sharp shootin’, we are allowing you the whole month of September to prepare for this cattle drive. Our read along will start on October 1st – with our first post on October 6th. We plan on reading 10 chapters a week, with the final installment encompassing the final 12 chapters (there are 102 chapters total). So if this cowgirl’s math is correct, that’s 10 weeks of reading!

We would like all of you buckaroos to join us! Please grab a badge and mosey on over to your own blog to spread the word.

And to whet your whistle just a bit…take a gander at the blurb on the dust cover:

A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

So, y’all come back now y’hear, and join us for some down home, good time, readin’!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Not a typical post

I've been out of the loop for 4 days -- long Labor Day weekend vacation, 12th wedding anniversary, college football, and lots of mileage on the mini-van.

But for all the fun that we had, it was mired by the news that one of my best friends and sorority sisters, Shannon, died on Sunday.

Shannon was diagnosed 10 years ago, at the age of 33, with breast cancer.  After an intense treatment and 5 years of remission, it came back terminal 2 years ago.  We had a marvelous luncheon for her when we found out that she would not survive this.  We thought she had just months to live then.  But Shannon was a warrior and kept cancer at bay for 2 more years.  Earlier this summer, she suffered a series of strokes that left her paralyzed on her right side.  She still fought on.  But like cancer seems to do, it takes the best and brightest. 

Shannon had a wit all her own and a very distinctive voice that I can still hear in my head.  She loved the Denver Broncos, John Elway, New York City and pink frosted lipstick.  She was a flight attendant for American Airlines and when I was single and traveling for work, I always hoped I would see Shannon on one of my flights.  When I was moving from Tulsa to Washington DC, Shannon flew in just to help me pack (something I would have forgotten if I hadn't discovered the pictures of us in my nasty, little apartment).

Since finding out about her death, I haven't been able to open the cover of a book.  Reporting to you about what I am reading seems so silly. 

But I will have plenty of time to read on my flight to Dallas tomorrow for the memorial service.  I just hope the sight of a flight attendant doesn't bring me to tears.

The gang at Shannon's luncheon -- she is on the left in the back row -- white blazer over a black shirt.  Even more disturbing, Angie (red hair, front, middle) passed away last December totally unexpectedly due to complications from diabetes.  We are far too young to be dying.

Friday, September 3, 2010


I have two obsessions --


And this:

I will be indulging on the second obsession all weekend long!

Here we come Sooner Nation!  BOOMER SOONER! 

Oh, how I love college football!