Tag Archive | books

No Obligation but if you would like to…

Donate to my kids read-a-thon!

This is a program that I actually believe in enough to post.  The school retains 80% of donations and the kids get decent prizes.  (So many fundraisers keep up to 50%, those I don’t really bother with)

School is also getting behind this one because it is actually educational, unlike selling wrapping paper etc where you have to squint and say “they learn about money and change…maybe?”.  Every couple days they have an extra fun thing for reading during the read-a-thon.

Zoe                   Niamh                      Fiona

The last day is Thursday so if you feel like donating to a good cause; ie – the PTO that funds the extras that make school fun, consider clicking and donating for one of the kids (or all three!)

I have no idea if putting this out to you all will work at all, but, you can’t say yes if I never ask!

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All the light we cannot see

I heard about this book ages ago, so long I don’t remember who said it but they raved and so I went to my book app and reserved it.  That was in JUNE.  I think I was number 85 and the library had 3 copies.  I promptly forgot about it and like a Christmas gift my turn came up while we were in Hawaii.  I powered through the book I was in the middle of (the newest in the scifi Laundry Files series that had way too many shades of Pearl Harbor, or maybe that’s more about where I was) and downloaded.

I’m going to call this my official first book of 2017 because while I started just before new year, the majority was in the past 2 weeks.  On top of that, this is the type of book that colors the world around you.  I can’t look at a snack without thinking of all the times the characters had nearly nothing.  I can tell this will be one of those books I remember at odd times in conjunction with odd things because of what I was doing or where I was when reading.  Do you get the feeling that it was a powerful book?

The writing style is like a fine meal.  The words are carefully chosen and put together in such a way to evoke a feeling.  There is the simplicity of Hemingway and the convergence of all the adjectives of Robert Jordan and this book is riding somewhere in the middle.  I especially like that the two main characters are both children and the story is told through the eyes of kids that grow up in WWII.  One is pulled into the Nazi war machine, the other a blind French girl who finds herself in the resistance.  Nazi and Resistance are both in the story, but, they are side details and only if you actually already know about them do the little bits draw together.  They are kids, regardless of where they are, and the world around them is ‘normal’ like a frog slowly being boiled.

The author also pulls in a few other classic books that parallel the story.  I’m sure it was done on purpose, there is just too many coincidences for it to be accidental.  Hitler v Darwin.  The journey to the center of the earth v trapped in their respective situations.  Captain Nemo being crazy but then again not wanting him to fail and in the end never quite knowing what happens…

Overall the story that knits the lives together is interesting and enough of a link that it is realistic and magical and not prosaic.  I love the ending, both for what actually happened and the fact that it is written like a dream as both characters are so starving and going slightly crazy from life.   I also appreciate that the author ends with a more adult view of what happens when everyone grows up.  There is a shift in tone as we see former children as full adults post-war, but, there is still point of view differences in each based on where they came from and their journey there.  I’m glad that it was not like Journey to the center of the Earth where you just don’t know, I really really like knowing.

It is almost hard to pick up the next book because that will truly finish this one, but, the story is complete and I’m moving on to The Moor, another one I was waiting on, and completely different in every way.  Totally intelligent and adult writing in the Shurlock Homes Genre.

On Vampires

 

For something that ‘does not exist’ there seem to be a lot of conscious on what they are, do, look like, etc.  If someone deviates from the vampire stereotype, like making them sparkle, they catch no end of hell because apparently, you can’t make up new facets to a fictional character.

Where does this collective agreement on vampire life come from?

I read a lot.  I don’t ever change my side widget over there but I’m long past the Outlander series that didn’t actually have any vampires but did have a zombie adventure in one novella.  I read the entire Dresden series, including short stories, and his vampires all conform, he does, however, break out different types of vampires and have ‘reds’ ‘blacks’ and ‘whites’. The Reds are the common ones, Blacks are more evil versions but with all the sunlight and blood issues.  Whites are energy drinkers – that was a new one for me but…

635520038055890005-day-shift-cover-artCharlaine Harris, who is most famous for the Sookie Stackhouse Vampire novels that True Blood is (loosely) based on also has a few other series that I love all the more.  Recently she published a new series, Midnight Texas, that is in the same Vampires are ‘out of the coffin’ world but includes a vampire that can eat energy.  So unless Mr Butcher and Ms Harris conspired there is yet another vampire class being acknowledged with distinct characteristics.

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I also read the Laundry Files, a series by Charles Stross.  It is a good series and I like the premise of an underground organization fighting extra-worldly things that are a threat to us.  In a middle book of the series Vampires come in and he does not change the general stereotype of pros (strong, mind control) and cons (sunlight), but, he offers a more scientific explanation for the condition.  Harris and most others allude to a virus that causes vampirism but Stross takes it a step further and I like his explanation overall.  Pushing the envelope just a bit but keeping pretty close to what we all define as a vampire.

In the carpool drive, I decided we need some entertainment so I checked out an audio book series A-Z mysteries.  I highly recommend this for the lower elementary group, the stories are short and well written.  We have 15min in the car so each story lasts a little over a week.  This week’s story is what put me on this thought; there is a vampire in town and the 3 protagonists know all about vampires including that they dislike garlic.  Is this how the stereotype is passed to each generation?  Children’s authors conforming to, and passing on, the myth of vampire.  I actually don’t know how this one ends yet, I’m sure he isn’t really a vampire, but still my kids are getting indoctrinated.

So what is the deal?  How did such a hard and fast set of ideas happen with allegedly no basis in reality?  Or are there vampires and I’ve just never run up on one?   Just so many books and movies and common culture that can’t be denied.  But hey, passing it on to the next generation all the same.

Getting used to eachother

Weather – warm but cloudy, a pretty nice combo for avoiding sunblock

Nap – I might never see another…

Bath color – cherry colored, I think they ate a pound and look like they are wearing warpaint.

Workouts – very behind, between gyms, new schedule… I did get an outside run on Sunday

 

I’m sure to all of you not in my tiny niche of life are wondering why there is such angst around this time of year.  My working parent friends have a minor taste but once they figure out the school day alternative they go to work as normal and kids keep rolling in the same type of way they did during the school year.  My friends with little kids see no change beyond needing sunblock because they are very used to shepherding their circus around (I used to be there).  My friends with older or adult children see no change except in their seasonal selection of cocktails – now is the season for wheat beer and mojito!

My little group is undergoing a remix where 3 girls that had 3 nearly separate lives for 9 months are now shuffled back together.  Fiona has no quiet time, Niamh and Zoe have lost the framework of their day.  I need to remember to feed them at regular intervals.  We are not a mess, but we are refiguring it out and like a major cleaning project; things tend to look really bad before they get put back together right.

Today we had our first tennis lesson, I think they liked it.  We went to 2 different grocery stores after and by the end of that my nerves were frazzled.  This is the first grocery trip with 3 kids in forever!  Each one of them pulled out their particular brand of ‘wtf’ but we made it through and had a nice long lecture in the car home.  Good thing it was a short ride…

I can’t just gripe.  We are doing some fun things that are working well.  I got this treasure hunt reading book for Zoe and she ADORES it.  The book is a set of pull out clues that you fold up and hide around the house where they say, most easy rating for parents, and the clues are written in a way that reinforces reading skills.  The forward of the book explains it well but between repeating words, pictures, and increasing difficulty it is a great buy.

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Niamh and Zoe also did all the meal plan for kid dinners this week.  Niamh is cooking tonight and they had a fun time picking recipes and making grocery lists.  One of Niamh’s real challenges is reading out loud so this is a sneaky way to get her to.

I’m also super glad I did the work on the yard to make it fun.  They are on the swing set all the time and in the play house super often.  The next addition might be a tennis ball on a string?  I’m wondering if that will lead to racquet-to-face tears…  The garden is looking well because I’m outside with them and that is probably good for us all.  Yesterday we had a friend over, who will be over the majority of Mondays, and together they decided that we have to go to as many different parks as possible on Mondays.  I like that they are making goals together and that is one I can get behind!

We also have a list of things we want to do, getting to them all will be a challenge, but hopefully, they will all start listening and stop fighting over every little thing and we will have plenty of time for fun.  Some of the big projects on the list are super big tetris the house puzzles because I need to swap rooms and wardrobes and that will take a big chunk of time.  I also need to get ready for two big SCA camping trips and while they are weeks out, I need that much lead time to actually get things done.  My hope is that this remix gels quickly and we can either be a team, or, a group of individuals but either way is better than oil and water and firecrackers.

Next up is garage sale prep.  I’m taking a baby step into the venture by joining a friends neighborhood sale so I’m not resposible for a whole lot.  Getting them to part with anything is not really happening but baby steps…

Happy Pig Day!

Status

nap – no, but there is quiet resting (maybe later she will sleep)

workout – missed yesterday totally, timing is not my friend.  Did a mini arms workout at least

weight – exactly the same as last week.  Not worse at least!  With a vacation week coming up I’m not sure how I’ll be at the end of that.

weather – cold again, but reasonably bright so I like that

lake ice – the loons are still out there but the majority took in their huts over the weekend when it was 50 degrees.

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Today we went to our local library for story time and we sure picked the right week to come.  We used to go every week, to the point where I counted the librarians ‘in’ for all holiday treat distribution.  With a more active MOM club and fewer kids at home (therefore less compulsion to leave daily because she is happy puttering solo for a while) we end up at story time once a month-ish.

Our favorate librarian had a stack of pig books and the finalie was a new book and a copy for each of the kids to keep! – the author is supposed to visit later this month too!.  She also had an activity where they all pretended to be a pig in the story and piled into a kiddie pool.  She out did herself with 2 crafts today too.  We missed the first because Fiona had to go hunt and gather books for herself, but the second was a cute pig nose constructed from one pod of an egg carton.

 

There were cute oinks all around and it was a wonderful hour and a half.

 

I also fulfilled my 1st of the month duties – coffee pots have been vinegared and fridge has been cleaned.  You would think that since I did the fridge last month there would be a minimum of nasty surprises….  well, nasty happens fast I guess.  I found a container of formally macaroni gone pretty festive colors, and, a package of ravioli that fell behind the drawer and is from beyond recent memory.  Good thing I assigned myself this task monthly.

 

I’ve taken all day to peck at this and its not going to get much more done so I must go put kids in the car to get #1 back from her girls scouts.  Sadly, #3 is asleep at this time but #2 and Dad are out at a different thing.  Busy kids…

 

 

50,000 words

I have been pondering the book thing.  Yes I’m doing it, No I’m not doing it all in November.  I decided that was a bit more stress than I needed to pour on myself at the moment.  I did however, write a very extensive outline, hash out a good reason for what is going on and even a resolution.  Part of my exercise yesterday was to even chart out how to accomplish 50k words in this book and once I started chopping up that number it is actually not enough words…

50k in money – I’ll take it and say thanks but not retire or anything, it would be a nice chunk to work with if it was ‘extra’.  50k pushups – my arms would fall off.  50k words… at first that felt really really long but when I chopped it into chapters it looks a lot like 10 chapters of 5000 each, practically nothing.  For comparison, my average blog post is between 500 and 100 words.  At this exact point in this post I’ve written 170 words.   Grammarly, the spell/grammar check I use to avoid the worst of embarrassing errors, sends stats weekly and I happened to get my report today.  In the past week I have typed 11283 words using this browser (where it is loaded).  If I write 11k words a week, I already write nearly 50k a month and I’m hardly trying!  Ok, I do try, I do make an honest effort to write here daily and to work on e-mails and to write some copy for my client, but I don’t sit at the computer for hours a day at the keyboard.  I kinda wish I knew how many words I wrote a day when I did sit at a desk all day.

After I started to suspect that 50k might not enough to cover my story I started looking up word counts on books I like.  Dresden books – the shortest is 80k (goes up to 150ish).  Charline Harris – 90k is her shortest.  Both of those authors I constantly wished they wrote more!  I hope someday to join them in the fantasy/fiction genre but it won’t be by the end of November…

It feels good to have that decision worked out, maybe next year when I have 3 days a week with zero children home, I’ll give writing a book in November a go but this year I have a Fiona to keep track of.