Friday, December 9, 2016

I want a snow day!

A day all to myself.  A day to stay home from work.  A day free from waking up in the dark, scraping the snow and ice off my car windows, fighting the traffic on my way to work, and the impatient holiday crowds on my way home. One whole day with no errands to run, no work to complete, and no items to cross off my To Do list. Wouldn't that be nice?

What I could do with a day like that!  I'd sleep in.  Take a walk in the snow.  Watch a Christmas-y movie.  Bake a yummy treat.  Wrap some presents.  Then curl up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate and a good book or two and I'd read.  And read.  And read.  How I would love a day like that!  (Only I wish it would come without the snow!)

Here's to dreaming!
(And happy reading.)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Murder and Mystery...

What do you get when you combine one snowbound train, one rich American found stabbed to death in his own locked sleeping compartment, one world-renown mustachioed detective, and twelve unrelated passengers who are all now murder suspects? Agatha Christie's classic mystery Murder on the Orient Express. After studying the dead man's compartment and interviewing the other passengers one by one, it's up to Hercule Poirot to solve the murder and apprehend the killer before the snow is cleared from the tracks, or the murderer strikes again.
"We know now all that we can know," said Poirot. "We have the evidence of the passengers, the evidence of their baggage, the evidence of our eyes. We can expect no further help. It must be our part now to use our brains."

I'm so glad that Agatha Christie's novels are still in print because I love reading them. I love her crisp prose, her well-drawn characters, and her ever-puzzling mysteries. I also love her sense of humor. Like when Mary Debenham, an English governess, first sees Poirot with his "enormous moustaches" and "egg-shaped head" and thinks to herself that he's "a ridiculous-looking little man. The sort of little man one could never take seriously." Christie can be unexpectedly funny. And Murder on the Orient Express is one of her best. I thoroughly enjoyed going on this bookish ride as Hercule Poirot figured out the who, what and why. I haven't read all of Christie's novels (yet), but here are three of my favorites if you want to give her books a try: The Seven Dials Mystery, Cat Among the Pigeons, and Sparkling Cyanide. 

Happy Reading!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Reading England Challenge...

The Goal:  To travel England by reading, and read at least one book per however many counties of England you decide to read.

This was a fun reading challenge hosted by Behold the Stars, and a great literary pilgrimage across England as well. I ended up reading 11 books set in 9 different counties, which means I reached Level 3 -- Reading 7-12 counties. Yay! Here are the books I read for the Reading England 2016 Challenge and the counties where they are set:

Jacob's Room  by Virginia Woolf

Rebecca and My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy

The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Seeking Persephone by Sarah M. Eden

When Falcons Fall by C.S. Harris

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons

As You Like It by William Shakespeare

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A bookish treat...

Title:  The Bookshop on the Corner
Author:  Jenny Colgan
First line:  The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.
The protagonist:  Nina Redmond, a shy 29-year-old single librarian who describes herself as "the quiet one, on the sidelines, observing things through the medium of the novels she loved to read." Her world consists of books, and more books. But then they close her library and Nina has no idea what she's going to do next. Unless she opens up her own small bookshop in an old converted van...

My thoughts:  This is a novel about books and reading, and daring to follow your dreams, AND it's set in Scotland where the men are 'boys' and the women are 'lasses'. What's not to love? I've never read Jenny Colgan before, but I'd definitely read her again. This book is a delight, from Nina's early mishaps driving the van, to the slightly motley yet oddly engaging assortment of characters she meets along the way, to her own unexpected romance. There's even a dog named Parsley. The whole thing is a lot of fun. In fact, I think I'd happily live in this book if I could. I didn't even mind the predictable bits. I just lost myself in the Scottish landscape and enjoyed each and every page. So, if you like bookshops and happy endings, give this one a try.

Happy Reading!

Similar read:

Saturday, November 26, 2016

In Order to Live

"I wasn't dreaming of freedom when I escaped from North Korea. I didn't even know what it meant to be free. All I knew was that if my family stayed behind, we would probably die--from starvation, from disease, from the inhuman conditions of a prison labor camp. The hunger had become unbearable; I was willing to risk my life for the promise of a bowl of rice."

Yeonmi Park's story of growing up in North Korea is one of deprivation, oppression, hardship, and struggle. Her escape into China when she was only thirteen is an even more harrowing tale of suffering and survival. I doubt I could have endured even half of what she went through. Reading her story made me appreciate even more the country I live in, and the freedoms I enjoy...and often take for granted. It breaks my heart to think that such terrible atrocities are still happening in the world today, and that oppressive societies like North Korea still exist. How is that even possible?

Park's unflinching memoir is both eye-opening and heart-breaking. It's also a story that everyone should read! I think what I admire most about Yeonmi Park is her courage, resilience, and inner strength; and her hope and optimism through it all. (And the fact that she loves books and reading as much as I do.) In writing this book, she says, "I am most grateful for two things: that I was born in North Korea, and that I escaped from North Korea. Both of these events shaped me, and I would not trade them for an ordinary and peaceful life ... I have seen the horrors that humans can inflict on one another, but I've also witnessed acts of tenderness and kindness and sacrifice in the worst imaginable circumstances. I know that it is possible to lose part of your humanity in order to survive. But I also know that the spark of human dignity is never completely extinguished, and that given the oxygen of freedom and the power of love, it can grow again."

Happy Reading!

Similar reads:
Escape From Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Giving Thanks...

I can no other answer make, but, thanks, and thanks.
--William Shakespeare

"Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgiving, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."
--William Arthur Ward  

"O give thanks unto the Lord;for he is good: 
for his mercy endureth forever."
Psalms 136:1

"At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into an endless sea of gratitude from which I've never emerged."
--Patch Adams     

Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
--Thomas S. Monson

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Some people grumble that roses have thorns;
   I am grateful that thorns have roses."
                                               --Alphonse Karr

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today.
Have you used one to say "Thank You?"
--William A. Ward

Monday, November 21, 2016

A bookish update...

Just finished reading:
(Gotta love Flavia de Luce!)

Quote of the day:
"We make zero percent of the shots we don't take."
--Michael Jordan

Don't miss this fantastic movie:

Recently checked out from the library:
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Close Your Eyes by Michael Robotham
Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer
The Woman in the Photograph by Dana Gynther
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

Up Next:

  Happy Reading!