30 July 2010

Book Blogger Hop

1. It is time again for the Book Blogger Hop - Visit Crazy-For-Books to participate.

2. Post about the Hop on your blog. Spread the word about the book party! The more the merrier! In your blog post, answer the following question (new question each week!). I have to thank my friend, Lori, for this week's question! I was drawing a blank and she came up with this fab question! If you have a question that could be used in a future Hop, leave it in the comments! Thanks!
Who is your favorite new-to-you author so far this year?

2. Visit other blogs in the Linky List! Make new friends! Follow new book bloggers! Talk about books! Rave about authors! Take the time to make a quality visit! Check out other posts and content, make a new friend! Don't randomly follow someone if you never intend on actually following them! No spamming please! (Please do not leave your link and not visit other blogs - it's just not cool and not in the spirit of the Hop!)

My favorite new-to-me author this year is Per Petterson, a Norwegian author, that I first read as part of Black Sheeps' Scandinavian Reading Challenge. The book I read and loved was Out Stealing Horses. Click on the title to check out the review. He has a new book coming out soon which was reviewed by The Black Sheep Dances. It is entitled I Curse the River of Time. I cannot wait to read it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

27 July 2010

Think of a Number

Before I get to my review of Think of a Number by John Verdon, I would like to talk a little about my early reading habits. At a fairly young age, probably before I even understood that Donna Parker was "in Love" with the blonde sitting across the booth from her at the soda shop, I read all of the Donna Parker books. Then I moved on to Nancy Drew mysteries - all of them in rapid succession. I hope that some of you remember these series, if not, check them out! They were great!

Then my mother started collecting the Perry Mason mysteries by Earle Stanley Gardner. I read them all...for years. I developed a selective memory, forgetting who the murderer was, so that I could read them all again. The story lines were very formulaic. Mr. Mason, Paul Drake the detective, and Della Street the secretary always worked out the crime - usually when Mr. Mason was interrogating the witness on the stand. I loved them. Four children and a lifetime or two later, Think of a Number is the first murder mystery that I have read in quite some time. And. I. Loved. It!

Dave Guerney and his wife Madeline are trying to adjust to two things - the first is that Dave has just retired from the NYPD as a star homicide detective and the second is grief surrounding the death of their son years ago. But something interrupts the quiet life they are seeking. Mark, a college acquaintance of Dave's, contacts him about strange letters he has received. The first letter suggested that the writer knew Mark well enough to know what number between 1-1000 he would select - and he did know. The letter writer wanted money, then sent more letters:

How many bright angels
can dance on a pin?
How many hopes drown in
a bottle of gin?
Did the thought ever come
that your glass was a gun
and one day you'd wonder,
God, what have I done?

The rhymes continue to arrive - until Mark is murdered. Then no matter how hard Dave, and especially Madeline, try to stay objective about the clues and the new entanglements of the case, Dave is asked to serve as a consultant for what becomes the search for a serial murderer. Because people all over the state of New York are being found murdered with these strange messages in their homes. The story has many twists and turns and every time I thought I knew what was happening, I found I was wrong! As I neared the end, I could not go to bed until I finished the book - which is a true testament to a thriller.

I would like to thank Crown Publishers for providing me with the uncorrected proof of Think of a Number. While it was not required of me, I like to provide an honest review of ARC books (and I am not compensated in any way). If you want to join in the fun of the book, visit Crown Publishers and think of a number !!

TITLE: Think of a Number
AUTHOR: John Verdon
PAGES: 418
TYPE: fiction, mystery
RECOMMEND: I must admit that after years of not reading a good mystery, I really enjoyed this book.

25 July 2010

Sunday Sidelines

So it is Sunday again. It has been an average sort of day, with all of us doing the things we usually do. Are there any ritual things you do on Sunday other than church? When my kids were small we would always go out to my ex-in-laws farm for a big Sunday dinner. That was fun, but no one goes now even though they still live on the farm.

Today I spent time getting caught up on grading since our big trip to Atlanta will be on the weekend before grades are due (sadly I planned that!). Then I spent some time reading and writing a review on Holocaust memoir Isabella: From Auschwitz to Freedom. I finished Adam and Eve: A Novel and should have that review posted here early in the week. I have a few more Holocaust books to review, but that may have to wait until next weekend!

Is there anything that made this weekend special for you? Sunday Sidelines is designed for us to learn something about each other - outside of just our book reviews! I would love to hear about your weekend rituals!

23 July 2010

Book Blogger Hop

Here we are again at Friday's Book Blogger Hop thanks to Crazy-For-Books!

RULES: (in hopes of simplifying things for everyone!)

1. Visit the post at Crazy-For-Books and enter your book blog link in the Linky List (be sure to include how long you've been blogging and what genres you review!).

If you have been blogging 3 months or less, please note that you are a NEW blogger!
If you post about the Hop on your blog, please link directly to your Hop post (don't forget to answer this week's question - see below!).

2. Visit other blogs in the Linky List! Make new friends! Follow new book bloggers! Talk about books! Rave about authors! (Please do not leave your link and not visit other blogs - it's just not cool and not in the spirit of the Hop!)

3. Post about the Hop on your blog! Spread the word about the book party! The more the merrier!

4. In your blog post, answer the following question (new question each week!):

Hello and TGIF both for the blog hop and the weekend. I am currently reading Adam and Eve: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund. I am really enjoying the book and it has pushed others to the side. As always, I am reading Holocaust books for children (you can check out my reviews for these at my other blog, Holocaust Resources). The book centers on Lucy and Adam, who both find themselves in an isolated Eden somewhere in the Mid-East. Adam is a tiny bit mental, but takes care of Lucy who is carrying information which could change the face of modern religion. I am about half way through the book and things are beginning to heat up! Look for my review sometime in the near future.

In other Florida news, Tropical Storm Bonnie is causing some problems with the oil clean up. And it will potentially rain, and hard, the whole weekend. Sounds like good times for reading!

21 July 2010

Hidden on the Mountain

Deborah DeSaix and Karen Ruelle write children's books. In 2002 the pair took at trip to France where they visited a small museum in the south of France. This visit would result in years of research and personal interviews during which Hidden on the Mountain: Stories of Children Sheltered from the Nazis in Le Chambon was born. I am finding it very difficult to review this important book because each chapter, which contains the story of one child, could be, and also has been, written as a book unto itself. As an avid reader of Holocaust memoirs, I must confess that I had never heard of this refuge for Jewish children. The authors confirm that no children's book has ever been written on this topic.

To assist others who might not be aware of this small area of France, I would like to spend some time on the third chapter entitled "An Isolated Haven: Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and La Montagne Protestante" before going on to the meat of the book. The geographic area in question is an isolated mountain plateau in South-central France. Hundreds of years before the Second World War, this area had been a hiding place and refuge for French Huguenots who were persecuted by French Catholics. Ancestors of these Protestants still lived in this area and had a special understanding of the hardships of religious persecution. Fiercely independent, the Huguenot Protestants had a strong sense of right and wrong. They valued their own freedom and respected the freedom of others. They were modest and humble. They beoieved in tolerance and in sharing what they had with others. Every day they read the Bible. and they were committed to living their lives according to what they read. They didn't blindly accept the authority of the government if it contradicted their religious beliefs. (p. 12). After the Germans overtook France, the country was divided into occupied France and unoccupied France which, under the Vichy government, collaborated with the Nazis. In both areas of the country, Jews were rounded up and sent to holding camps and then on to their deaths. And so these often poor farmers and villagers were ready to hide Jews, especially young children, in their homes until they could be relocated to Switzerland or until the war was over. This entire French community of Le Chambon cooperated to keep these children safe, with some offering warnings if a round-up was coming so that the children could be hidden high in the mountains for a day. Today, this beautiful story has been told by one of the Jewish children who was born there - Pierre Sauvage made the documentary film Weapons of the Spirit (the name comes from a speech by Protestant pastor Andre Trocme who urged the parishoners to stand up against injustice in non-violent ways, using "weapons of the spirit" (p. 14)).

And stand up they did, with several thousand children hidden in these mountains. DeSaix and Ruelle interviewed many of these survivors and include their stories as first person narratives in the book. To provide a broader picture of the area and the times, the authors also include chapters, written in third person, of non-Jewish people who lived in the area or helped the children in some special way (many of whom were no longer alive). Each child's story jumps from the pages, with memories often in conflict with that of another child who lived in the mountains during the same time. The authors observe that both memories are correct. Some of the children traveled across countries to arrive in this haven. They traveled without parents or friends. Some came from the nearby camp at Gurs. One thing they all found in Le Chambon was a sense of normalcy - schools, hard work, fun, friendships that continue to this day. What amazing bravery of both the children and their protectors. These stories gave me hope that within us all we have weapons of the spirit and are capable of standing up for what is right.

The history of the area and war, along with the individual histories and memories of the children are enhanced by photographs of the children in their daily activities, maps, a glossary, timeline, and recommended readings. To learn more about this topic, visit The Chambon Foundation and the authors' website for the book.

This review is crossposted at Holocaust Resources which is my blog for Holocaust materials for children and young adults.

TITLE: Hidden on the Mountain: Stories of Children Sheltered from the Nazis in Le Chambon
AUTHOR: Deborah DeSaix and Karen Ruelle
PAGES: 275
TYPE: non-fiction
RECOMMEND: I thought this was a hopeful book - people did what they needed to do to save the lives of these children.

18 July 2010

Sunday Sidelines

This has been a different kind of weekend, and therefore, a different kind of Sunday. My mother is 84 years old and she went to the hospital (only about 5 minutes from our house, thank goodness) via ambulance on Thursday afternoon. She has Congestive Heart Failure and COPD, which means that if she catches any kind of bug, it is very easy for her lungs to become compromised. And this time, like the last two hospitalizations, she has bacterial pneumonia. Thankfully, we seem to catch it earlier now that we know what to watch for in her day to day activities. Even so, they usually have to keep her in the hospital at least a week, so my sister and I have been taking turns visiting and helping her this weekend. My dear husband and daughter have been helping as well. I haven't called my sons, who are really too busy to help and after we found out what was wrong, it seemed there was no immediate danger. All that said, I am so tired. So I didn't do too much else this weekend. It will all wait!

So here is some much better news! My daughter is a huge Braves fan and we have not been to a game in about 10 years. So last week we decided we would plan a trip to see an August home game. We originally thought we would drive up, watch the game, and drive home - why? Because of the dogs! Then it just sort of snowballed. My father-in-law arranged an overnight stay for our birthdays (all late August and early September)! Then my sister called a friend and got us Free Tickets!!! Yes! So now that our money is not tied up in game tickets, we are planning to visit the Atlanta Aquarium - which is the largest aquarium in. the. world! So we are so excited. And no we did not forget about the dogs - a good friend called the same day to offer to come by and stay with them, or just check on them if they won't stop their eternal yapping. So our little short vacation has turned into a nice few days trip. Good times, people! Good times!

16 July 2010

Book Blogger Hop

It's the Book Blogger Hop! This week, we're supposed to talk about what book we're looking forward to reading. And my choice is...

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. I have read the two previous novels in the series and just cannot wait to read this one. I know, I know - it has been out for.e.ver! It's just that my first two are in paperback so I am holding out for that.

I really did love the first two and read them so quickly that I actually reviewed them together. If you haven't started these check out my review. I hope you get interested. Unfortunately the author died shortly after the books were published, but I read somewhere that there are some unfinished manuscripts that might continue the story. Tied up in legal proceedings of course, so who knows.

If you have read this final book, leave me a post telling me if you liked it as well as the first two. Did it tie everything up for you? Did you learn everything you wanted to learn about the characters? I have not read but a few reviews which seem a bit mixed. If you have no spoilers I would love a link to your review.

I hope you have a wonderful Friday. Although I do not have to go to work today, I will be spending the day with my mother who is 84 years old and in the hospital with pneumonia. I will take a book of course!

15 July 2010

Dolphins and reincarnation

As some of you may know, I work in a Curriculum Materials Library at a University. Our collection is K-12 materials for our preservice teachers to use with their students. So you might wonder what that has to do with dolphins and reincarnation??

When I have any spare time I read some of our books that are on display so that I can assist students in finding just the right book for their lesson plans. This last month we have had displays on the ocean - always thinking about the oil spill in the Gulf.

So today I read the book Amazing Dolphins by Sarah L. Thomson and it was wonderful to consider all the facts about dolphins that make them such special mammals. The book is a HarperCollins I Can Read! book which is considered a book that can be read with help and is defined as a book with "Engaging stories, longer sentences, and language play for developing readers." The I Can Read! books have been used with children since 1957 - which means I might have even owned one myself!!
As you can see by the cover, this particular book was written with the assistance of the Wildlife Conservation Society. A great deal of factual information is provided for our young readers and I would like to share a few lines with you:

Dolphins in a school help each other. If one is hurt and can't swim, other dolphins may lift it to the water's surface so it can breathe. (p. 19)

Dolphins like to touch and pat each other with their fins. They rub against each other. They may swim side by side with their fins touching as if they are holding hands. (p. 20)

Grown-up dolphins like to play too. (p. 22)

I am going to run right out and purchase a copy of this book for my two grandsons. They are going into first grade and Kindergarten next year and I want them to know how important it is to think about the beauty of the dolphin. And Lord, if I am going to be reincarnated as something, please let it be a dolphin. One more request, please put me somewhere other than the Gulf of Mexico because even though I don't expect to die any time soon, I am pretty sure that the Gulf still won't be safe for me by then. Until then, I will still visit the ocean to try to see the dolphins and smile that at least a few are still healthy and in the Gulf with those of us who grew up with them.

07 July 2010

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

Please make sure that you watch for Book Blogger Appreciation Week which will be September 13-17, 2010 this year. Tomorrow is the last day to register (which will list your blog in a directory and increase your visibility). In addition, you may submit your blog for awards. I am submitting the following five posts for the Best Eclectic Book Blog:

Growth of the Soil

Writing Reviews for Readers' Advisory

Sunday Sidelines

Song's for the Butcher's Daughter

Girl who Fell From the Sky and Forest Gate

Thank you for your consideration.