The Name of the Wind

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I’m lucky to have a husband who loves to read as much, if not more, than I do. He devours books on his Kindle, while I prefer paper. This is not a huge issue between us, since we can both agree that this was a fabulous fantasy story.

Kvothe, an unassuming tavern owner has a secret past. When a famous chronicler wanders in after being robbed and recognizes him, Kvothe is persuaded to tell his story. The true one, that is. I won’t put in many details for the sake of spoilers.

We find Kvothe starting out in a troupe of performers with his parents, to a starving urchin living on the streets in the city of Tardean, to a young student at the University. This is a realistic, as well as magical world, but the magic is not so overblown as to disrupt the storytelling. There is a group of ghostly bad guys that pop up now and then.

The writing style is terrific and keeps the story moving along. The biggest problem was the character of Denna, his love interest.  I just didn’t feel like she was written well.

All in all though, an enjoyable read, if you like fantasy stories.

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Besides that, I’m getting ready for Christmas. We put up our big tree, and our cat is enjoying his time sleeping under it. At least he’s not knocking over ornaments like last year. I also put up a smaller tree with the teapot and cup and saucer ornaments I’ve been collecting over the years.

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Wow, that picture turned out huge! Here is a closeup of the ornaments. Maybe one is not needed!

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I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays, no matter what they are celebrating!

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Starting the Year off With Poetry

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My friend Wendy over at Musings of a Bookish Kitty suggested we fill up Facebook with poetry today to celebrate New Year’s Day. Why not the whole internet?

My favorite poem, actually it is just a stanza, is from The Lotos Eaters by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

This poem is based on the story of Odysseus’s mariners described in scroll IX of Homer’s Odyssey. A storm blows them off course as they journey back from Troy. They come to a land where people do nothing but eat lotos (the Greek for our English “lotus”), a flower so delicious that some of the men, upon tasting it, lose all desire to return to Ithaca and long only to remain in the Land of the Lotos. Odysseus must drag his men away so that they can resume their journey home.

When my children were small and had a scary dream, or otherwise could not sleep, I would tell them to shut their eyes and imagine they are flying to a beautiful island. Then I would recite this stanza.

There is sweet music here that softer falls
Than petals from blown roses on the grass,
Or night-dews on still waters between walls
Of shadowy granite, in a gleaming pass;
Music that gentlier on the spirit lies,
Than tir’d eyelids upon tir’d eyes;
Music that brings sweet sleep down from the blissful skies.
Here are cool mosses deep,
And thro’ the moss the ivies creep,
And in the stream the long-leaved flowers weep,
And from the craggy ledge the poppy hangs in sleep.”

 

 Have a Happy, Poetry Filled New Year!

     

Summing Up 2011 Books – My Favorites

With all that has been going on this year I managed to read 36 books in their entirety. Usually it is about twice as much but my tiny list is here.  Another difference this year is how few I actually reviewed, which is a disappointment, but there just wasn’t time. Several good books were started but put down for one reason or the other. They sit on my nightstand mocking me nightly but I have learned to ignore them. I will add them into my 2012 book list as soon as they are finished. New Years Resolutions would like a review for each book but will stick to a more realistic percentage of say, two thirds, with mentions of the others in Sunday Salon.

Five runners-up for best books of the year:

 

The Sound of Butterflies by Rachael King

Lady of Quality by Georgette Heyer

Gentleman and Players by Joanne Harris

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason

Plainsong by  Kent Haruf

Top five books in no particular order:

 

The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland – Artemisia Gentileschi was a painter in the 1600’s who led a fascinating life after being raped by her painting teacher and almost lost her fingers in the torture that followed. She rubbed shoulders with many interesting characters including Galileo.

Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI – Tired of Pharisees, Puritans, or Patriarchy? How about those who equate faith with dumb yokel ignorance or the oh so tiresome Christian pop psychology? Where is Jesus in all that malarkey? If you guessed nowhere you are absolutely right. I invite you to meet or reacquaint yourself with Jesus. This unforgettable book will sweep away all the bs and allow you a clear, beautifully insightful picture of who He is.

The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman – I love Goodman and her use of atmosphere is like no one else. She highlights her classical education in her stories by her use of Latin, mythology, and fairy tales. The setting for Ghost Orchid is based on a fantasy for me and many other would be writers and artists. Go to a beautiful estate that is dedicated to encouraging these pursuits by giving them a place to work undisturbed for long periods of time. Sit on the veranda and be inspired by the beauty and quiet. But there’s a catch. It’s haunted.

Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple – the breakdown of a marriage by an unfaithful husband is usually more of a cliché than a story. But Whipple weaves an unforgettable tale that I couldn’t put down.

I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman – Harper Collins sent me this book to review just out of the blue. It was outstanding. A man’s appeals are up and he is going to be executed for the murders of several girls. How does this affect his only survivor, now years later?

I have a feeling that next year will be an outstanding reading year. I have put my many unread books together and am excited to see so many excellent ones waiting for me. I have also decided to get some sort of reading device such as the Nook. Jim loves his Kindle and wants to upgrade to the Kindle Fire.

I hope everyone has a safe and blessed New Year. Happy reading to all!!

Sunday Salon – Reading for Fun

Reading for fun, what is that? Now that I finally can sit down and actually do just that, it opens fresh perspectives. Since August I have been wrapped up in getting my med aid license. To those of you who don’t know what a CMA (Certified Medication Aid) does, we are the ones who actually dispense medication to patients. In my case, it will be a nursing/skilled rehab facility. We give standard meds like thyroid, blood pressure, etc, and also narcotics, which must be counted at the beginning of each shift.

The class was basically a crash pharmacology course and very difficult. The background check, as you might guess, was extensive. The whole FBI thing. But my license finally came through a few days ago, yeah!! Now I can get back to my life again!

I grabbed a book from my TBR shelf and inhaled it! How sweet it was to just read! I finished it last night, how refreshing that was. This was my first by Jennifer Egan and I quite enjoyed it. Her storytelling skills are evident throughout and I hope to write a full review on it sometime soon.

On other fronts we are getting ready for Christmas. Jim found a temporary job at UPS for the holidays that hopefully will lead to full-time employment. He has been working part-time for a year now. To be honest it hasn’t been bad. He keeps the house in good order, does the chores, and has been experimenting with pizza dough and just made a fabulous home-made chicken noodle soup. Since we have enough to get by with our jobs, I’m kind of liking having everything done.

This is our little grandson looking at our tree. Everything is so brand new for them! He was enthralled when he saw all the ornaments but all he wanted to do was put them in his mouth. We took him last weekend to get his picture taken with Santa and he did very well.

I started reading The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland after finishing The Keep. It’s quite a bit different than Egan’s gothic crime ghost story. This is a historical fiction of the very real painter Artemisia Gentileschi, the only woman ever to be accepted into the Florence’s prestigious Academia for art. Google her and take a look at her work, her paintings are fantastic! I’ve been wanting the read this for some time now.

Sorry this Sunday Salon was just a mish mash post but I’m trying to bring everything up to the present. Hopefully I’ll have more to say about books next week.

Hope everyone has a great week!

Reading List – Starting Over for 2010

I’ve been reading everyone’s end-of-year reading lists on my favorite books blogs and thinking, uh oh. What happened to mine this year? I kept terrible track of my books!  And since I discovered the absolutely fabulous library here in Eugene, I can’t even look through my shelves for an “oh yeah” discovery. I read a lot, forgot most, and in doing so learned a powerful lesson. If you don’t keep track, it goes out the window.

Nothing can be done. But I have few favorites from the different genres I read. Above is Complications by Atul Gawande. This is a series of essays on the real life sometimes imperfect science of medicine. Really great stuff and highly readable. I am at a crossroads in my education right now but wherever I go and whatever I do, medicine and medical research will always have my utmost interest.

 

The Story of a Family – The Home of St. Therese of Lisieuz by  Fr. Stephane-Joseph Piat O.F.M. was terrific. I like reading spiritual books and biographies of saints and other spiritual leaders are particularly inspiring. Real people and their challenges are more suited to my taste than religious fiction.

Echoes by Maeve Binchy. How did I not know of author Maeve Binchy? Everyone seemed to know about her but me.  She is my favorite new author for the year. I have The Copper Beech sitting on my shelf waiting patiently for me.

The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson was my browsing-through-Walmart find. I could not put this book down. Wow!

Here is my New Year’s Resolution. Even if I do not review the book, it will be listed here. I joined Sunday Salon on Facebook so that is a good start. I joined them years ago with my old blog and when I started Bunny Stuff, they were closed to new ones. So this way I can at least have that once a week catch-up.

I am out of school and waiting to take my state boards in order to get a job. So I am pretty free for the next two weeks. After that, who knows? But once a week I can commit to.

Happy New Year everyone and happy reading!

2010 Year in Review

Susan on fb did this for the new year and I thought that since we had such a weird year, I would take it also. I edited out some questions that really had nothing to do with me.

1.  What did you do in 2010 that you’d never done before?

 Had our house foreclosed.  Packed up and moved to a different state with no place to live, no job to go to, and never been to before.  How’s that?

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Honestly if I made any, I forgot them long ago.  I probably will forget any I make this year.  

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No, but my daughter Elizabeth got pregnant. 

4. Did anyone close to you die?

Our dog Holly. I still miss her.

5. What countries did you visit?

 Stayed in the USA. I traveled like always, through books and imagination.

6. What would you like to have in 2011 that you lacked in 2010?

 Financial stability. A decent job.

7. What dates from 2010 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

 ILM graduation, the day we moved, the day Elizabeth told us she was pregnant.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

 I have never taken a leap of faith of this magnitude in my life. Not that we had much choice. I think we landed ok, considering.

9. What was your biggest failure?

 Failure is such a defeated term. Most people would think losing their home a major failure. For us it was a way out of an increasing hostile life and a road to another, happier one.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

 I got super sick in May and had a cough that lasted for almost two months. As the foreclosure loomed, I also got regular cases of hives, a new and very unpleasant affliction.

11. What was the best thing you bought?

 My new piano. I was also grateful to be able to help my daughter Melissa with the down payment of her new car.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

 Everyone in our family. We saw what we were made of and it was good stuff.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

 Never mind. It is the same every year and I am tired of thinking about it.

14. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

 The RE Congress in March was awesome as always. My nursing class. Joining the church choir. I loved singing at the Christmas Pageant and on Sunday mornings.  It really began to be home.

15. What song will always remind you of 2010?

 Emmanuel, God With Us. Sung in choir.

16. Compared to this time last year, are you:

More grounded. More confident as a family. More hopeful in ways that I haven’t felt for a long time. Also worried. It’s what I do.

17. What do you wish you’d done more of?

 I love the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I wish I had more time there.

18. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Worrying. It doesn’t help and doesn’t change a thing for the better.

19. How did you  spend Christmas?

At our new home with 2 out of 3 of our children. Better than the last few.

20. What online  friends did you meet for the first time?

Lots! New and old friends!

21. Did you fall in love in 2010?

I fell in love with this area. Wow, it is beautiful!

22. What was your favorite TV program?

Boardwalk Empire.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?

No, I am not that type of person. Though I continue to be disappointed by a few. See #13.

24. What was the best book you read? 

The Story of a Family. Really, really amazing true story about the family of St. Therese of Lisieux.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?

They play lots of good oldies on the radio here. Also Paul McCartney sang on Saturday Night Live a few weeks ago and he was awesome!

26. What did you want and not get?

Difficult to say. I wanted a lot of things, good things. I wanted not to lose our house. I wanted us to find great jobs immediately.  I wanted to not have to live with uncertainty. None of those things happened.  But what a ride it has been!

27. What was your favorite film of this year?

Hmmm. Did I see any? I wanted to see The Town and a couple of others. Just didn’t get around to it. We love the movies so no doubt it will be different next year.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?

In my forties and a good time was not had by all. Jim and I had an argument. I saw the foreclosure coming and he was like, “it’s not happening” . Doesn’t make for good communication. And oh yeah Baby, I was right!

29.What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

A fire? How could it get any more satisfying? I guess doing more cross stitch projects. Or should I say finishing more cross stitch projects.

30. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2010?

Hahahahahaha!

31. What kept you sane?

Who said I stayed sane?

32. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?

Steve Buscemi in his role in Boardwalk Empire. Very impressive!

33. What political issue stirred you the most:

Political issues no longer stir me.

34. Who did you miss?

Melissa. Always Melissa.

35. Who was the best new person you met?

My nursing teacher Joellyn goes to our new church and urged us to join the choir. We have met many new people through her. She’s great!

36. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2010.

Just do it!

37. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

Many nights we’ve prayed
With no proof anyone could hear
In our hearts a hopeful song
We barely understood

Now we are not afraid
Although we know there’s much to fear
We were moving mountains long
Before we knew we could

There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believeHappy New Year Everyone!

In this time of fear
When prayers so often prove(s) in vain
Hope seems like the summer birds
Too swiftly flown away

Yet now I’m standing here
My heart’s so full I can’t explain
Seeking faith and speaking words
I never thought I’d say

There can be miracles, when you believe
Though hope is frail, it’s hard to kill
Who knows what miracles you can achieve
When you believe, somehow you will
You will when you believe

Happy New Year Everyone!

Earth Day – Some Inspiring Books

Happy Earth Day!  I was thinking about talking about books on conservation and global warming but changed my mind.  Instead I grabbed some books from my bookshelf that have gorgeous pictures of fish, animals, and nature which have inspired me for many years. Most of them are regional where I live in California, but every place in America and all over the world has it’s own particular wonders in native plants and animals. 

I truly believe that before change can happen, people must once again learn to love this wondrous world we live in. Not look at it as an enemy to be conquered, a tiresome inconvenience, or a bothersome chore. 

The book at the top is the called Yosemite: The Promise of Wilderness.  It is written by Tim Palmer, with photographs by William Neil who’s use of light and color are astonishing.  

Tim Palmer has also written Trees and Forests of America and several other works.  The pictures are just so beautiful.

Another one of my faves is California Marine Life which is written in cooperation with the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  I purchased this years ago in the gift shop while on one of my many visits with the kids.  I believe they still sell it as well as many other books on fish, mammals, conservation, and life in the bay.  In Botany this semester I learned a lot about protists (algae and kelp) and it’s importance in the food chain.

If you are done looking at pictures and want to read something inspiring on nature, my husband and I both enjoy When the Trees Say Nothing by Thomas Merton. He was a Trappist monk who’s spirituality was rooted in nature.  These are some of his essays and meditations on the sacredness of our planet.

I hope you enjoy your Earth Day. If possible, take a nature walk to be inspired by the beauties of the world around us. Or visit a bookseller to browse and enjoy!