26 February 2009

Thank you

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. Bone scan results show NO evidence of bone cancer which is such a relief and blessing. What wonderful friends you are!

24 February 2009

Tuesday Things

Today's question: Do you have a specialized blog where you only review a certain genre or type of book? If so, what is your favorite thing about that type of book? If not, what is/are your favorite genre(s)? What makes that genre(s) a favorite?

I have been reading a LONG, long time and I have gone through many different genres over time. When I first started reading "adult" books, I read what my mother read. I think I can safely say that I have read ever Perry Mason mystery ever written, old series and new. In fact, I still have most of them. When I was sixteen I had my tonsils removed and my mom sent my dad to the store to buy me some books to read. This event changed my reading habits forever. For some unknown reason, the book my father deemed appropriate for his 16 year old daughter was Black Like Me by John Griffin, which is the author's recounting of the years he spent disguised as a black man in the Deep South. The racism experienced by Griffin was awful even though I knew similar behaviors and beliefs existed even where I lived in Florida. From that time on, my main focus in reading was the struggles of peoples who were victims of the same, or worse, sort of racism. My college educational activities focused on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe. I also still generally prefer autobiographies to fiction.

Like you Wendi, because of a variety of book activities that I particpate in, I now read a wide variety of books. I also read for different reasons - to learn, to escape, to relax, to feel. I try hard to read every Holocaust narrative that can find. Having read so many over the years, I wish that I had been blogging (at least on paper somewhere) the titles so that I could remember all of them now.

I work in a Curriculum Materials Library, so I have started a separate blog to collect reviews of Holocaust materials for children. I have been slow to add things to this blog simply due to a lack of time. If you would like to visit, click here.

Even when you are busy, you always come up with good questions Wendi. I am not sure that my answer is reflected in my LibraryThing library because I have not upgraded to a paid account and really could not even begin to identify all of the Holocaust resources that I have read, or Southern history for that matter. Maybe one day!


22 February 2009


I just finished reading and reviewing Astrid & Veronika by Linda Olsson, which I loved. Tonight as I was browsing some of the Sunday Salon posts, I found a review of Rena's Promise: A Story of Sisters in Auschwitz by Rena Kornreich Gelissen with Heather Dune Macadam. Over my college career which has spanned thirty years, I have tried to read every Holocaust narrative that I hear about. I completed my MA in European History in 1996, so it has been rather spotty research since then. Not the point, other than my interest in the book. Our library has an electronic copy, so I started looking at it tonight. Think back to my Astrid & Veronika review as you read the following dedication to Rena's Promise:

Dear Mama and Papa:
This book is for you. For fifty years
I've been telling you this story in my mind.
Now it's finally written down
and I won't have to tell it anymore.
Love, Rena

And for Danka:
Without you there would
be no story. (p. v)

I hope that in finding the words to share her story that Rena found some peace. I will lovingly read her story with hope and admiration.


2. Astrid & Veronika

The only thing more inviting than the cover of this rather short novel is the story itself. Linda Olsson's first novel Astrid & Veronika is beautifully written and the two women come to full life as their stories unfold slowly over the course of four seasons.

This is a story about home; two homes really. Veronika comes to live in one home running from her life. Astrid has always lived in the other home to avoid life. In spite of the fifty years between their ages, the two women come to be just what the other needed. Olsson paints a picture of the two houses, the two women, and the beauty that surrounds them in darkness and light. To add to the wonder of this novel, the author includes translated verses of poems (with references should one wish to read more) throughout.

I read this book in two short bursts and was often surprised at the outcomes when I thought I knew what was coming. We learn about the women in two voices - Veronika's and Astrid's. Often sad and often uplifting, I could not put this book down and cannot wait to read it again.

One passage led me to think about blogging in our often lonely busy electronic world. Astrid said:

I think that if we can find the words, and if we can find someone to tell them to, then perhaps we can see things differently. (p. 153)

I can think of many instances in my life when it was very difficult to find the words to describe an event of great joy or great sorrow. But in considering the event enough to find the right words and sharing them with a friend, the event takes on a new, and perhaps more clear, meaning. Even committing events or feelings to our blogs, we define how we felt and even why. I wish that I could find all of the right words to talk about how this book made me feel. It reminded me of who we are, how we relate to nature, how secrets must be shared, what it feels like to come home.

Olsson's next novel Sonata for Miriam is released this month - I should run to the bookstore to see if I can find it. Her writing is beautiful and will surely get even better.

TITLE: Astrid & Veronika
AUTHOR: Linda Olsson
PAGES: 247
TYPE: fiction
RECOMMEND: Absolutely


13 February 2009

1. The Cats in Krasinski Square

Dear Fellow Readers and Reviewers,
I am trying to get caught up with books that I read in November and December. We have just been so busy with puppies and children that I can barely find time to read much less post a review. But I am determined to share my thoughts with you as you share yours with me. Thanks for the daily inspiration.

This is a book about a girl; a picture book about a very brave Jewish girl passing as Aryan who helped to get food and supplies to the Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. The tale focuses on one very small event where the young girl and her sister and friends trick the Nazi guards to smuggle needed supplies to the over-crowded Ghetto. The Nazi dogs trained to sniff out food are foiled when the resistance members release all the Ghetto cats! This book could be used with young children as a lesson in bravery. Because the author provides factual information in the back of the book, it could also be used with older children as a means of introducing the Resistance movements. Illustrator Wendy Watson did a beautiful job with conveying subtle meanings to enhance the story.

TITLE: The Cats in Krasinski Square
AUTHOR: Karen Hesse
TYPE: fiction, based on historical events
AWARDS: Sydney Taylor Book Awards Honor Book 2004 Older Readers, ALA Noteable Book for Children 2005
RECOMMEND: This is a wonderful short book to introduce children to some of the events and emotions of the Holocaust


10 February 2009

Tuesday Things

Today's question: Do you use a rating system on your blog? How do you feel about using the rating system provided on sites like Library Thing and Amazon? When looking up information on a book you are interested in, do you use the ratings provided by these sites (or similar sites) to help you make the decision on purchasing the book?

On my blog I make a recommendation - sometimes positive as is in "Everyone must read," to the negative as in "could not finish" or "maybe someone will like it, but not me." On LibraryThing, I do select the star ratings for each book that I read and review. But sometimes, I admit to being a tiny bit influenced by the ratings already posted by others...never by much, maybe a half star especially if I sort of liked the book but had a small issue with some parts.

When I am thinking about reading a book, I usually take a look at the reviews on LibraryThing first, and then glance up at the star rating. But I have to tell you that, much like movie reviews, there are some books that I absolutely loved that have very low ratings...and some that I cannot even begin to finish (or review for fear of offending the world) that others have rated highly.

First I am fairly easy to please, don't meet too many books that I hate. But when I don't like a book, I really do not like it. Do any of you do that where you have problems with reviewing a book that you just did not like at all or cannot finish? Sometimes I cannot even verbalize why I don't like it, other times it is the writing style, the characters, the story. Anyway, hints for the faint of heart who are hesitant to post negative reviews.
Happy Week to all,