Saturday, December 31, 2016



Welcome to the 2016 Read 52 Books in 52 Week Challenge


Also the home of Well Educated Mind, A to Z, Dusty and Chunky,
52 Books Bingo and various mini challenges. 


The rules are very simple and the goal - read one book (at least) a week for 52 weeks.



  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016. 
  • Our book weeks will begin on Sunday 
  • Except for our first week which will run from Friday Jan 1 through Saturday Jan 9 
  • Participants may join at any time. 
  • All books are acceptable except children books.** 
  • All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc. 
  • Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2016 
  • Books may overlap other challenges. 
  • Create an entry post linking to this blog. 
  • Sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" in the sidebar
  • You don't have a blog to participate. Post your weekly book in the comments section of each weekly post. 
  • Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post for you to link to reviews of your reads. 

All the mini challenges are optional. Mix it up anyway you like. The goal is to read 52 books. How you get there is up to you.




**in reference to children books. If it is a child whose reading it and involved in the challenge, then that's okay. If an adult is doing read aloud with kids, the book should be geared for the 9 - 12 age group and above and over 100 pages. If adult reading for own enjoyment, then a good rule of thumb to go by "is there some complexity to the story or is it too simple?" If it's too simple, then doesn't count.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

BW39: Book News

George Goodwin Kilburne-  In The Garden 

Happy Sunday! My mind is full of chatter, complexity, corniness, characters and coltish conundrums, and since I haven't entertained you with babbling and bookish news in a while, now seems the perfect time.

For the couple months,  I've been immersed in the 18th century with Claire and Jamie in Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and just finished the whole series ending with Written in My Own Heart's Blood.  However, Gabaldon says there is more to come and is in the midst of  researching and writing the 9th book Go Tell the Bees That I am Gone.  Fortunately Heart's Blood didn't end in a cliff hanger so I'm not left with an unfinished feeling.  It's one of those series, just like J.D. Robb's In Death Series in which I will no doubt, want to revisit at some point.

This week the book world is celebrating Banned Book Week which runs from September 25 through October 1st and the theme is diversity.  Check out the list of frequently challenged diverse books and be sure to check out ALA's free webinar on September 29 on how Authors and Librarian's respond.

And while you are delving into banned books, check out the Library of Congress list of Books that Shaped America.

The 2016 Nobel Prize winners in all categories including literature will be announced the first week of October  and Literary Saloon (19 September post) contemplate who the winner will be along with links to several discussions.

Also check out PW's Inside the 2016 National Book Award Nominees. The finalists will be announced in October and the winner in November.

Have you ever read The Lottery by Shirley Jackson?  Publisher's Weekly lists 11 Things You probably didn't know about Shirley as well as Atlantic Monthly's review of  Haunted Womanhood.

And speaking of haunted, next week begins our October Spooktacular reading month.  Start brainstorming and figure out which spooky read you want to tackle.


Happy Reading!

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Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.










Sunday, September 18, 2016

BW38: September Equinox

Paul Hugues - Women in the Park 

I've got James Taylor's You Got a Friend running through my brain today.


When you're down and troubled and you need a helping hand
and nothing, whoa, nothing is going right.
Close your eyes and think of me and soon I will be there
to brighten up even your darkest nights.

You just call out my name, and you know where ever I am
I'll come running to see you again.
Winter, spring, summer, or fall, all you have to do is call and I'll be there, yeah, yeah,
you've got a friend.

La la la la ~~~~~~  *grin* 


As of Thursday, it's Fall here in the Northern Hemisphere,and for those in the Southern half, Spring.   It's all about the leaves, springing forth  to brighten our lives or changing colors and decorating the earth.  ~Beautiful either way~.

Since I have music running through my head, let's run with it and see where it goes.  My trusty thesaurus  gives me for lyrical: melodious, soulful, passionate, dulcet, agreeable and orchestral to name a few.   Feeling a bit poetical as well as epic, dramatic, song-like or tuneful yet?  What about the melody of crackling leaves, the romance of flowers, the wind whistling through the trees, the song of birds and odes to the moon.  Hmm! There seems to be a number of directions to go, so pick a musical word or theme and see where it leads you.

My meanderings lead me to K.M. Aul and his Senses Novels #1 Aura and #2 Dulcet.






Have fun!

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Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.








Sunday, September 11, 2016

BW37: Time for another mini challenge

Courtesy of Love to Sew 

Happy Sunday!   Just realized we are halfway through the year and I haven't done a Pick a Book by the Cover or Pick a Random Book mini challenge yet. Shame on me. Your mission this month is to go on an adventure to the library or book store in search of a new book.  Or play along using your home shelves if short of funds or time.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to pick a book based on its cover.  Don't read the synopsis on the back or the inside flap.  Tell us what you think the story is going to be about based on the cover.  Then after you've read it, let us know if you were close or no cigar.

Or you can pick a Random book based on its position on the shelf.  To choose a book: decide in advance  (1) which Genre, (2)  two numbers between 1 and 5, and (3) one number between 1 and 30. Using these numbers, find the chosen Genre in the book store or library, count over certain number of sections in the aisle, go down that number of shelves and count to the 3rd number and that's the book you'll get.

That's how I found Anne Bishop's Written in Red a couple years back. I chose the science fiction/fantasy aisle, counted over 3 sections, then down 2 shelves and looked for the 15th book on the shelf.

You can also challenge yourself to spread your reading wings a bit and chose a genre you don't normally read.

Have fun exploring!


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Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.









Sunday, September 4, 2016

BW36: September Sojourns through the South





Welcome to September Sojourns through the South celebrating all things southern as well as our annual Banned Books Months.   We are going to stroll through the southern states with our author flavors of the month William Faulkner as well as Zora Neale Hurston.

William Faulkner is known for his southern literature and won a Nobel Prize in 1955 for his fictional story A Fable and posthumusly in 1963 for The Reivers.  However, he is best known for As I Lay Dying and The Sound and the Fury. He set the standard for southern literature which focuses on the American South's history as well as family, community, racial tensions and social class.

Check out his 1965 interview in the Paris Review with Jean Stein in The Art of Fiction #12 as well as Ol' Curiosities Book Shoppe What is Southern Literature.

Zora Neale Hurston was a cultural anthropologist and writer during the Harlem Renaissance and is best known for Their Eyes Were Watching God,and  wrote 4 novels as well as numerous short stories, essays and plays. After she died, Alice Walker wrote an essay about Hurston introducing her work to a new generation of readers. 

Check out The Power of Prose presented by PBS on African American Women as well as History.com's The Harlem Renaissance.

Since I think we should start celebrating the freedom to read now, September is also designated as our annual Banned Books Month. For more on  Banned Book week which runs from September 25 through October 1, check out Banned Books website to read about this year's theme on diversity.



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Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.








Sunday, August 28, 2016

BW35: Summer Sun by Robert Lewis Stevenson







Our summertime break is coming to an end and 11th grade is about to begin. So decided to entertain you with Robert Lewis Stevenson.


Summer Sun

By

Robert Lewis Stevenson



Great is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven with repose;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.

Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.

The dusty attic spider-clad
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad;
And through the broken edge of tiles
Into the laddered hay-loft smiles.

Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy's inmost nook.

Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.


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Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.



Sunday, August 21, 2016

BW34: 52 Books Bingo mini challenge - Pick a book with color in the title




Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting that speaks ~ Plutarch


Time to add a bit of color to our reading lives - a dash of vermilion, a pinch of amber, a rainbow of blues and greens, a dab of sienna or a splotch of tangerine. Find a book with color in the title. Let your imagination run wild and paint your day!



















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Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.







Sunday, August 14, 2016

BW33: Ray Bradbury and Zen in the Art of Writing






Last year,  I read Ray Bradbury's writing essays from his Zen in the Art of Writing and felt like he’d given me marching orders for Bradbury's Book Camp for Writers.  Zen is a short but powerful book and lights a fire under you with his passion and zest for life and writing. I've been in sort of a writing slump lately and decided to revisit his book. 

There are so many snippets I underlined and wrote down, it is hard to know where to start.

Everything you have ever experienced in life goes into your subconscious as food for your muse.  How do you tap into that food to help you grow as a writer? Bradbury kept a book full of lists of nouns; words that reminded him of experiences. He'd refer to the list and a word or collection of words would spark an idea such as the ones that lead him to write Something Wicked This Way Comes:

The lake. The Night. The Crickets. The Ravine.  The Attic.  The Basement.  The Trapdoor. The Baby.  The Crowd.  The Night Train. The Fog Horn. The Scythe. The Carnival. The Carousel. The Dwarf. The Mirror Maze. The Skeleton.

In his essay How to Keep and Feed the Muse he says:

What if the Subconscious to every man, in its creative aspect, became, for writers, the Muse. 

How do you feed your muse? Read poetry every day which will flex your muscles and expand your senses. Consume essays, travel through the centuries. Learn and fill up your senses with the shape and size of the world, every color, smell, texture and sound. Read Short Stories and novels. Not only those who write the way you think but those that don't. It all serves to stimulate your Muse's tastebuds. And while you are feeding your muse, you have to keep it shape.  And you do that by writing 1000 words a day for the next ten to twenty five years.  Why?


...to learn enough about grammar and story construction so that these become part of the subconscious without restraining or distorting the muse.

In the essay Zen in the Art of Writing, he goes on to say follow your own path, write for the right reasons and not for the money or accolades.

Fame and money are gifts given us only after we have gifted the world with  our best.

Write from the heart and emotions and learn. Keep writing.  There is no failure as long as you keep writing.  His Zen mantra is  WORK -- RELAXATION -- DON'T THINK

So work at your writing and shoot for 1000 to 2000 words a day for the next twenty years.  Write one short story a week for 52 weeks for five years. Much like the surgeon or artist or athlete train for years before they become proficient and successful, so must you train. Quantity provides the experience and with experience eventually comes quality.  As in all things, writing takes practice.  So feed your muse and start practicing.


To feed well is to grow. To work well and constantly is to keep what you have learned and know in prime condition.  Experience. Labor. These are the two sides of the coin which when spun is neither experience nor labor, but the moment of revelation. The coin, by optical illusion, becomes a round, bright, whirling globe of life.

His idea to read one short story, poem and an essay a night applies for readers as well. You know me and my rabbit trails.  Just think of all the directions our reading could take. So, whether you need reading or writing motivation,  read  Zen in the Art of Writing. 

Also, when you have the time, check out this video – An Evening with Ray Bradbury 2001 of his keynote address at The Sixth Annual Writer's Symposium by the Sea.

If you have any favorite poetry or essay books, I'd love to hear about them.

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Link to your most current read. Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you have multiple reviews, then type in (multi) after your name and link to your general blog url.



Sunday, August 7, 2016

BW32: Bookish birthdays and news



Step into my parlor and join me for a cup of tea as it's time for another edition of Bookish birthdays and news.

Neil Gaiman on Why We Read and What Books Do for the Human Experience.

Nicholas Bakalr - Read Books, Live Longer?

The Strand's Literary Quiz - Want to Work in 18 miles of Books?  First, the Quiz

The Millions - A Thousand Hands will Grasp You with Warm Desire


Authors celebrating birthday this month are:

1  - Herman Melville
2  - James Baldwin
3  - Leon Uris
4  - William Henry Hudson
5  - Conrad Aiken
6  - Janet Asimov 
7  - Garrison Keillor
8  - Elizabeth Ann Tallent
9  - Daniel Keyes
10  - Witter Bynner 
11  - Alex Haley
12  - Mary Roberts Rinehart 
13 -  Alfred Hitchcock
14  - Russell Baker
15  - Edna Ferber
16  - Hugo Gernsback 
17  - Charlotte Lottie Forten
18  - Paula Danziger
19  - James Gould Cozzens
20  - H.P. Lovecraft
21  - Lucius Shepard
22  - Dorothy Parker and Ray Bradbury
23  - Edgar Lee Masters
24  - Mason Williams
25 -  Bret Harte
26 -  Barbara Ehrenreich
27 -  William Least Heat-Moon
28 -  Rita Dove
29 -  Oliver Wendell Holmes
30 -  Mary Shelley
31 -  Dubose Heyward

Have fun following rabbit trails! I did!

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Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading.





Saturday, July 30, 2016

BW31: August Peregrinations

Muir Woods Beach (Guidoo.com)



If you are still searching for Moby Dick or pursuing other nautical adventures, feel free to continue. For those who are feeling a bit waterlogged, join me for some August Peregrinations. Grab your backpacks and put on your walking shoes as we follow in the footsteps of our author flavors of the month - John Steinbeck and Willa Cather.  


In 1960, Steinbeck and his faithful travel companion, a poodle called Charley, took a car trip across the United States.  They started off in New York and traveled almost 10,000 miles around and through the states until he arrived in his home town of Salinas, California.  He wrote about and published his journey in Travels with Charley.   Steinbeck wrote 27 books during his lifetime, including Grapes of Wrath, Of Mice and Men and Cannery Row as well as short stories and non fiction books. 


“Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip. Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” ~ Travels with Charley: In Search of America

Willa Cather, best known for Death comes for the ArchbishopMy Antonia, and Oh Pioneers, lived the majority of her life in Nebraska, but traveled quite a bit through the United States as well as Europe.  

“I was something that lay under the sun and felt it, like the pumpkins, and I did not want to be anything more. I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun and air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.” ~ My √Āntonia

Cather leads the list of 20 Iconic American authors and Steinbeck is one of five authors to  Inspire the Ultimate American Road Trip.



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Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading.



Saturday, July 23, 2016

BW30: Come sail away!





"Come Sail Away"


By Styx


I'm sailing away, set an open course for the virgin sea
I've got to be free, free to face the life that's ahead of me
On board, I'm the captain, so climb aboard
We'll search for tomorrow on every shore
And I'll try, oh Lord, I'll try to carry on


I look to the sea, reflections in the waves spark my memory
Some happy, some sad
I think of childhood friends and the dreams we had
We live happily forever, so the story goes
But somehow we missed out on that pot of gold
But we'll try best that we can to carry on

A gathering of angels appeared above my head
They sang to me this song of hope, and this is what they said
They said come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me


I thought that they were angels, but to my surprise
They climbed aboard their starship and headed for the skies
Singing come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me
Come sail away, come sail away
Come sail away with me


I'm in the mood for a seafaring mini challenge.  Pick a word related to water.  It can be nautical or ship related as well as ocean related. You can even use a fantasy ocean generator to help you fire your imagination.  I'm going to go with something mundane and boring - SEA.  Find a book on your shelves, the library or even pick up a new book at your local bookstore.  My finds of the day:

John Banville's The Sea


Deborah Lawrensen's Sea Garden

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Please link to your specific post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, leave a comment telling us what you have been reading.






Sunday, July 17, 2016

BW29: Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

I have Ernest Hemingway on my mind this week, especially since Old Man and the Sea is one of the American literature books James will be reading for 11th grade.  I read the book for the first time myself a few years back.  Don't know how I managed to skip it during my high school years.  Making up for lost time now and finding I appreciate the books more now than I would have then.  And coincidentally, July 21st is the anniversary of Hemingway's birthday.

I was pleased to find a free audio version, narrated by Charlton Heston. I just love his voice, don't you!




Versions of the movie with Anthony Quinn  or Spencer Tracy are available on Amazon instant video.

If you are a major Hemingway fan, get the Ernest Hemingway Audiobook library, compiled by publisher Simon and Schuster, narrated by a variety of actors including Donald Sutherland and Stacy Keach.

His books and short stories are also available in ebook online.

Happy Birthday, Ernest Hemingway!