Tag Archives: reading

Anointed is in the Kindle Store NOW!

Holy crap! I did it. I did it on the eve of my 35th birthday.  I uploaded everything and clicked the magic button that made my book available on the Kindle Store.  WOO HOOOOO!

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So, if you would be so kind and consider reading it, and writing an honest review, I would be much obliged.  I’m more than happy to take constructive criticism.  I almost have the second one completed so that will pop up soon.  Then to get the next one done…

Terrifying and exciting all at once! But I did it.

Get out and chase those dreams people.  You never know unless you try!

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Book Hoarder or Bibliophile?

I have always loved reading.  For my birthday and Christmas (and any other holiday that involves gift giving), I usually end up with at least one or two books.  My husband learned quickly that while flowers are pretty and nice, books are even better.

Books

Over the past week, between birthday gifts and a REALLY good sale at BarnesandNoble.com, I have added a whopping total of 12 new books to the “to-read” pile.  While I may have been a bit over-zealous in my birthday shopping, I really am more than excited to get into these books (if I EVER finish Sense and Sensibility).  They range from YA to Nonfiction; Crime to Vampires; Classics to Pop Culture phenomenons.

As I look at the list, I realize that those books are 12 more books closer to my goal I set at the beginning of the year.  Goodreads.com has an annual reading challenge.  It’s nothing truly competitive.  It’s more just for people to set personal reading goals for themselves.  This year, I pledged I would read 100 books.  I know that sounds a bit outlandish, but I figured what the hell, aim for the stars.  I am nowhere near that goal but I’m going to keep trying to hit it, after all I have five months left.

These new books will hopefully help me get a little closer to that goal but in all honesty, I don’t really care if I hit the goal.  There are just so many books and not enough time!

reading quote

That being said, I have to wonder if I have a problem.  Am I a book hoarder?  I cannot ever bring myself to give away a book I buy.  I once saw an interview with Neil Gaiman and proudly showed the interviewer his basement in which he had every single book he had ever read.  I felt like I had found a kindred spirit.  When I read a book, it’s like it’s part of me and I can’t just give it away.  I want to keep it.  I may want to re-read it some day and see if I find a new meaning in the words.  It happens, you know.  Take a book like the Fountainhead.  I read it my sophomore year in high school.  I hated every minute of it.  It was haughty and seemed to really push away what I thought I knew at that point.  Then I reread it after I left College #1 because I remember someone saying that they re-read it and enjoyed it the second time around.  I was at a crossroads and thought maybe now was the time to pick it up again.  As I read it for the second time, I started to understand different things in the book.  It had new meanings in different places.  It held new insights to life, whether it meant to or not.  I haven’t picked that one up in a while but I’m sure in a few more years, I may consider tackling it for a third time.

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But keeping all these books I have read over the years can take up space I don’t have.  Yes, there are Kindles, Nooks, iPads, e-readers but honestly, they are not the same.  They don’t have beautiful cover art.  They don’t have bindings that can be organized alphabetically by author and then chronologically by title, after being sorted by genre of course!  They are great space savers but, I feel like something is lost in their cold electronic fonts.  Does that stop me from filling mine up?  No.  It just lets me hide my books a little better.

I posted something to my FB wall today stating that I might have to admit a book hoarding problem and I was quickly answered with the idea that I was a bibliophile.

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Call it what you will: Book hoarder, bibliophile, book collector.   I just know that nothing makes me happier than knowing I have worlds waiting for me (well, my kid might make me happier than that, but a good book is a close second).  I suppose I need to get started on that pile…after I finish that other book…

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Books I Haven’t Read but Probably Should

There are books that everyone reads in high school. Or at least there are books most everyone reads in high school. Recently, I realized that I have not read quite a few of the “classic” works of American literature.

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It surprised me to see how many of the books on the list of and on school curricula that I have never read. I have seen the movies, but we all know that they typically pale in comparison to the books.

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Over the next few months, I have decided that I am going to rectify this problem, starting with Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Yes, you read that correctly. I have never read that book. Not in High School. Not in college. Odd for someone who was an English major, isn’t it?

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The other books only list include e Catcher in the Rye, Catch-22, Pride and Prejudice, and Brave New World (just to name a few).

I am looking forward to it, even if it seems like a daunting task to tackle some of these classics. I feel kind of like a fraud for not having ever read them and the countless others that are on this list and the summer reading lists of many students.  I want to really work through the 100 greatest novels of all time (most of those books are on the list) and over the next few weeks, I think I can begin to put a dent in that list and add to the list of ones I have already read.

What book have you never read but think it might be time to take a stab at?

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A Most Valuable Lesson

Every day we are presented with an opportunity to teach and often, we don’t even realize it.  I look at my daughter and realize that every day, she’s learning something new. There’s so much her brain is processing and learning and it fascinates me.  Watching how she just picks up the smallest things and incorporates them into her life is amazing to see.

I enjoy being able to help someone learn something.  Watching a person have that “ah-ha” moment when they understand a new concept or idea is a very cool thing to witness.   With the Daughter, I get to see this in some form every day.  I know it sounds a little cheesy and sometimes I question myself writing about it.  Whatever.  I’m cheesy.

Most recently, I have been working on teaching the Daughter how to read.  She knows her letters and she knows most of the sounds of the letters.  Those are the two basic building blocks of reading so since she knows those things, it should be easy, right?   Being an avid reader myself, I always knew that I wanted to do my best to make sure that my child enjoyed a good story.  I figured that the leap between knowing the letters and their sounds and actually recognizing sight words would be a simple step.

Call me naive, it’s ok.  I just don’t remember how I learned to read so I’m not sure what the exact steps are.  It’s not like it comes with a manual, though that would be a little ironic wouldn’t it?  I’m sure somewhere, there’s a manual on how to teach someone to read, it’s probably called a “school book.”  At any rate…

She’s been slowly getting better at it.  Small words like “stop” and her own name are very easily recognized.  She knows that Mommy starts with “m” and Daddy has “d”s in it.  She has most of Green Eggs and Ham memorized which is also a good sign because now when we read it, I can point to a word and she knows what it is, at least in the early pages where it’s pretty much the same ten words just in a different order.  (Here’s your useless trivia for the day:  Dr. Seuss was challenged by his publisher to write a book using no more than fifty words.  Green Eggs and Ham was the winning story.  That is also why it’s such a great book to start teaching kids how to read!)

We also make sure that we spell out the smaller words so she can start to understand how the letters go together, kind of like how Word World makes everything out of the words themselves.  It’s fun to see her spell things like h-a-t, hat and c-u-p, cup.  My favorite thing is how she comes up with her own spelling.  Like on Sunday, she was telling us how she needed a “drink, p-i-n, drink.”  Her random string of letters are sometimes comical and I often have to stifle laughter so I don’t insult her attempt at spelling the word she is so desperate to communicate.

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Word World – where words come alive

I’m sure that as the weeks go by and we keep reading books over and over, taking care to point out the smaller three and four letter words, we will be reading even more in no time at all.  Until then, I will relish the fact that I am able to spell-talk with the Husband or any other adult.

This post is part of December’s NaBloPoMo.  Check it out!  Today’s prompt was: Do you enjoy teaching others? Talk about a time you taught someone how to do something.

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Friday Library Fun

It’s Friday.  I’d say TGIF if this really were my Friday but, working from home doesn’t really give one a true Friday.  Friday in our house, as you have probably read in the past if you’ve been following this infant blog, is story hour at the local public library.  I honestly think I look forward to it as much as the Daughter because reading is one of my most favorite things and my heart is so happy when my daughter shows her own love for a well-told story.

The library story hour started off with two great stories.

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams

This story was great.  The repetition and addition of new sights and sounds made the kids all enjoy it that much more.  The little old lady does have some courage and in the end, the kids know that there is nothing to really be afraid of if we see it in a new light.  I have to say though, the scary pumpkin head…not so scary looking.  I personally thought it was kind of friendly looking.

We’re Going on a Ghost Hunt by Marcia Vaughan

“We’re going on a Ghost Hunt. We’re going on a Ghost Hunt. I’m not afraid! I’m not afraid!…”  This is like that old song we played in Girl Scouts, except instead of the bear hunt/lion hunt, we were on the search for a ghost on Halloween night while we were trick-or-treating.  I say we because after we read the story at story hour, the kids picked up some instruments and went on a ghost hunt, crashing cymbals, shaking maracas, and banging drums in the hopes of scaring the ghost out of the library.  Instead, the candy ghost left them all a lollipop and they were quite thrilled with their find.

As for our picks for this week’s bedtime stories:

Three By the Sea by Mini Grey

We had borrowed this book a few months ago and it’s a sweet story of three friends who live in a house by the ocean.  Once night a stranger washes ashore and tries to sell them something they don’t really need.  As the three friends drift apart because of the promise of something better, they discover what they truly are looking for and what they truly need.  A sweet story of friendship and the dangers of letting others influence your what you know in your heart to be true.

Cinder Hazel by Deborah Nourse Lattimore

A very cute new take on the classic Cinderella.  Lots of little giggles through this sweet tale.

Monsters Eat Whiny Children by Bruce Eric Kaplan

I picked this up because I was thinking about how the Daughter would eventually start hitting that point in the day where Sassy Molassy takes over my usually sweet and loving child.  Sassy Molassy is the Daughter’s alter ego and she does nothing but cry and whine.  This book is my (most likely futile) attempt at trying to curtail the whiny Sassy Molassy.  This is a very endearing tale though, about a monster who cannot decide how to cook the whiny children recently caught.

A Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker

A funny tale of two friends who decide to have a sleepover.  The only problem, as many moms and dads are aware, is that both have very different bedtime rituals.  Another fun read for just before bed – the Daughter really enjoyed it!

 

Those Darn Squirrels by Adam Rubin

When the grouchy old man in the neighborhood notices that the birds he loves to watch and paint are fighting off a very clever family of squirrels (genius squirrels to be exact), he tries to stop them from stealing all the food.  That is until the birds fly south for the winter and he finds himself lonely.  Then the squirrels hatch a plan of their own.  Even a grumpy old man can appreciate a grand act of kindness.

I like to share our reading selections each week because I know there are so many stories out there.  Some are instant classics and others kind of quietly sit on a shelf just hoping that someone, sometime will just pick it up and read it.  Those books need to get some credit too.  Plus, I know I love getting good book recommendations, whether it’s a book for me or one to be shared.

Reading is so important and builds so many skills but most importantly, it allows kids to grow their imaginations.  If you have a child and that child asks you to read to them, try to make every effort to put down what you’re doing and read that book to them.  In the end, that is the memory that will stay with them.

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Friday’s Library Picks

Today was the Pre-School Story hour at the Mashpee Public Library.  This is the story hour for the 3+ year old children.  It’s by far one of the best story hours we have been too.  The Daughter loves it because not only does she get to see some of her friends from pre-school, but also because she is able to hear new stories, sing a song or two, and then make a fun craft to bring home.

Today’s stories were fall themed and featured the animal so many of us associate with fall: Squirrels.

The first of three stories was

Look Both Ways: A Cautionary Tale

The story was a cute rhyme that told the tale of a little squirrel who, in his haste, did not stop to look both ways.  No, he did not meet an untimely and messy demise, but he did learn the importance of stopping before crossing the road.  This one was perfect because recently, the Daughter and I have been working on looking both ways and being safe in parking lots.  It was a cute little tale that hammered home the message of street safety.  Remember folks, when you see a ball roll into the street, there is most likely a child right behind it!

The second story was a great positive tale of how to turn a bad situation into a positive situation.  A tale that accentuated the notion that everything happens for a reason.

A Good Day

I think when the Daughter gets a little older, we will revisit this one when she can get a better understanding of the underlying message to this one.  It was cute, though.

The librarian’s third selection was a very nicely illustrated book.  I’m a sucker for well illustrated children’s books.  The art in children’s illustrations are amazing.  A comment on a recent blog post I wrote had me thinking about how fantastic some of the artwork in children’s books is.  But I digress…

The last tale of the story hour was:

The Busy Little Squirrel

The repetition of why this busy little squirrel could not stop to enjoy the day with all the other animals really got the children engaged.  They eagerly waited for the moment to answer and then when it got to the end, they were surprised to find out why the squirrel had been so busy.

After the Daughter created her own squirrel with a very bushy tail made out of grass that grows in the salt marsh, we went to find our own books to bring home.  After reading all of them tonight for bedtime, I have to say this week was a good selection of books.

1) Skippyjon Jones in Mummy Trouble – We have recently been on a huge Skippyjon Jones kick.  We recently took out the first book in this delightful series.  I love reading aloud to my daughter so when this little Siamese kitten decided that he was really a chihuahua, I found the voices for this story to be too much to resist.  Poquito Tito is my favorite to be honest.

2) Necks Out for Adventure – The illustrations in this one were the main reason why I picked this book off the shelf.  Following the story of Edwin Wigglskin and his thirst for adventure, this tale teaches the importance of not being afraid to be yourself and sticking your neck out there.  Though, I don’t know that my daughter will ever eat little neck clams again, let alone go clamming with the family again.

3) And Here’s to You! – A celebration of life and how wonderful the world truly is.  A story that definitely ends with a hug and a kiss.

4) Oh No, Gotta Go! – I picked this one because it was bilingual.  My sister-in-law is Mexican and all of her family still lives there and when we went last year for the wedding, I realized that maybe I should have taken Spanish instead of 8 years of French.  So, every chance I get to expose my daughter to Spanish (we’re going to start with this one), I do.  This book was great because it didn’t translate all the words, but rather left them as context clues in the story.  The daughter understood all but one word which was good in my opinion!

5) Is Anybody Up? – This was a sweet tale of how even when we feel alone, there are people all over the world who are doing the same thing and are just like us, even if they speak a different language or are in a different place.  A sweet story.

So, those are the five Library picks for this week.  Have you read any of the above books?  What did you think?

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Apple Picking and The Best Season of the Year

Fall is by far my most favorite season of the year and September is my most favorite month.  The skies seem bluer and the air is full of fantastic smells.  The cooler nights mean perfect sleeping (even if the ragweed is currently wreaking havoc on everyone’s sinuses in the family) and the early morning dew makes the air seem that much more crisp because it’s visible.  Even though technically, by the earth’s rotation, this is the last weekend of Summer, it felt like a proper Fall weekend.

It was an action packed weekend too!

The Daughter and I were very happy to go back to story hour at the Mashpee Public Library.  This is, by far, one of the best story hours I have ever been to.  The children’s librarian does an amazing job with the 3+ year olds.  Three stories, a couple of little songs and dances, all finished off with a craft. It’s a wonderful story hour.  This week, we read stories all about Bears.

This was a very cute book.

I enjoy it as a mom because it gives me a chance to kind of sit back and relax while the Daughter gets some very important kid time and reading time – it’s a win-win-win.  I worry sometimes since she is an only child that she doesn’t always get as much interaction with other kids as she should.  Yes she’s in daycare two days a week but I wonder if that’s enough sometimes.  Story hour is good because a couple of her friends from daycare go too so she gets to see them and there are other kids as well so she gets to make new friends too.
I’m so happy that she loves to read and loves the library. Reading is probably one of the most important skills in my opinion so I’m thrilled that she seems to love it and looks forward to our weekly trip to the library and our nightly bedtime story ritual.

Saturday was even more excitement for the Daughter.  We surprised her with Disney On Ice – Rockin’ Ever After at the Providence Dunkin’ Donuts Center.  I have very vague memories of my first time ever going to Disney on Ice.   I was around the same age as the Daughter and I remember Peter Pan was in the show we saw.  It was so much fun to see her face light up when Mickey and Minnie skated out on to the ice.  She almost jumped into the rafters and it was amazing!  The excitement and the joy at seeing the Mouse and his “gang” as she called them.  She was a little sad that Pluto and Daisy weren’t there but after we told her that they must be back at the Clubhouse making sure that Pete wasn’t lonely, she was ok.  Then there were the princesses.  They were supposed to be the main event, but for the Daughter, they were second fiddle to the mouse.

The Grand Finale

But the fun didn’t stop there!  Oh no!

Today, we did our annual family trip to Pippin Orchards in Cranston, RI. Every year, we usually will drive out here to go apple picking.  Today was the day because one of the Brothers was running a 5K in downtown Providence so it made sense that after we went to the race (which we didn’t exactly make), that we continue on to go apple picking.  They said that they had honey crisps ripe.  Sadly, the few trees that had the honey crisps had nothing but rotten apples on them.  That was sad.  Luckily, the Macintosh apples were ripe and ready to be picked.  Though, the ripe ones were so high up in the tree, we had to jump to reach them.

All the best apples were out of reach and they hadn’t brought out the pickers yet – said it was too early. 😦

It was the perfect day to be out and enjoying the day with the family and tasting the delicious, fresh apples.

When we got home, we pried the Husband away from football, and the three of us went for a walk down to the lake.  It was just after sunset and peaceful.  The lake was like glass and the minnows were in the shallow end grabbing their supper, making ripples every few minutes that spread slowly over the smooth surface.

The clouds reflected perfectly.

The colors of the sunset reflected on the water.

A neighbor’s sailboat on the glassy water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The walk home was shorter than the walk there only because the Daughter was on a mission to get home for a “special treat” for eating her dinner and going for a walk.   That pretty much meant racing home the whole way shouting “I’m winning.  I’m winning.”  But she did end up making some time to hold hands with Daddy and talk about what a wonderful weekend it truly was.

Hand in hand. ♥

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Book Review: Where Rivers Change Direction

We have a bookshelf in our break room at work that is used as our book swap area.  People bring in all kinds of books: fantasy, thrillers, romance, self-help.  Being the book lover that I am, I can’t help but checking the bookshelf every Monday to see if there are any new titles.

In the past I have picked up some gems like Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees and The Best American Short Stories 1991.

Most recently, I picked up a book that had an interesting title: Where Rivers Change Direction.  The title had enough meaning to make me use my tried and true book test.  After reading the back cover, I will read the first and the last sentence of a book just to see if both hook me.  I do not read anything more.  Just the very first and the very last sentence.

I can hear you gasping where you are reading this.

No, reading the last sentence doesn’t ruin a book.  I like to see if the first sentence grabs me.  Then I read the last sentence and if the two are interesting enough for me to ask “How did we start with that sentence and end with this one?” then I read it.  Sometimes the last sentence is just one word.  To be honest, I’ve yet to be let down by my little test.

That being said, the first sentence of this book is “When I was a boy my father had horses, over a hundred of them, some of them rank, and I sat them well.”  The last sentence of the book is “The fear that I have lived a careless life sweeps some nights over me with liquid flame  – hot as the fires that clear these ditches for their clean water.”  What brought that fear about?  What did his father do with the horses?  These questions instantly flood my mind.  I wanted to dive into Spragg’s world and discover what I could.

The book is an autobiographical memoir of his life on one of the oldest dude ranches in Wyoming just outside of Yellowstone Park.  Each chapter is an essay that moves through the author’s life and highlights the way life in the vastness of the Wyoming country.

Crossed Sabres Ranch

The essays are beautifully crafted, bringing the reader back into the author’s memories.  Each of the ranch hands are introduced in a way that you can easily understand why they still live in Spragg’s memory.  The descriptions of events at the ranch that hosted many people who came only for a week to play cowboy were wonderfully described in a way that I felt I was with Spragg as he rode his horses down the trails.

As he grew up, the essays took on a different tone, that of a young boy becoming a man.  His view changed, but his heart never really did.  Through each essay, you saw him deal with the reality of life yet hold on to the tenderness of his youth just more hidden than before because he understood more.

I have always held a romantic view of the American West.  The greatness of the land and the rugged wildness of it always called to me.  Maybe I was a ranch hand in a past life and reading this memoir allowed me to reconnect to that time when life was simpler in so many ways yet still forged strong people.

This book just confirmed the fact that I need to go on a dude ranch vacation before I die.  Even if they see me as a silly tourist playing cowgirl, I don’t care.  The idea of just being out in the open on a horse riding through the mountains and valleys is something that just seems so freeing and wonderful.

I also can see the value of having children read this book.  It’s the perfect coming of age story that really shows the struggles a child goes through on the path to becoming an adult.  The pains of first loves, spending one-on-one time with a parent, first jobs, dealing with loss are all artfully told in a way that allows the reader to immerse him or herself into the story and completely be able to relate.  The book also allows you to re-read it again in a few years and pick up entirely new meaning from the collection of memories.  If I ever become a teacher, I would like to think that I would include this in the reading list just for the sheer fact that it’s a beautiful memoir.

So, if you are looking for something different to read and something that will spark your imagination and probably increase your wanderlust, pick up Mark Spragg’s Where Rivers Change Direction.  You won’t regret it.

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