Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Welcome to the 2014 Read 52 Books in 52 Week Challenge


Also the home of  Well Educated Mind, Nobel Prize Winners, Around the World  and various mini challenges.  
The rules are very simple and the goal is to read one book (at least) a week for 52 weeks.

  1. The challenge will run from January 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014. 
  2. Our book weeks will begin on Sunday  
  3. Participants may join at any time.
  4. All books are acceptable except children books.**
  5. All forms of books are acceptable including e-books, audio books, etc.
  6. Re-reads are acceptable as long as they are read after January 1, 2014.
  7. Books may overlap other challenges.
  8. Create an entry post linking to this blog. 
  9. Come back and sign up with Mr. Linky in the "I'm participating post" below this post.
  10. You don't have a blog to participate.  Post your weekly book in the comments section of each weekly post.  
  11. Mr. Linky will be added to the bottom of the weekly post for you to link to reviews of your most current 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, August 17, 2014

BW34: Flufferton Abbey


April Lady
 The moonlight glinted on the pistol, and the hand that held it. Letty cried: "Don't, don't!" and tried with feverish haste to unclasp the single row of pearls from round her throat.
"Not you!" said the highwayman, even more ferociously.
"You!" The pistol was now pointing straight at Nell, but instead of shrinking away, or making hast (as Letty quaveringly implored her to do) to strip off her bracelets and rings and the large pendant that flashed on her breast, she was sitting bolt upright, her incredulous gaze fixed at first on the hand that grasped the pistol, and then lifting to the masked face.
"Quick!" commanded the highwaymen harshly. "If you don't want me to put a bullet through you!"
"Dysart!"
"Hell and the devil confound it!" ejaculated his lordship, adding,however, in a hasty attempt to cover this lapse: "None o' that! Hand over the gewgaws!"
"Take the pistol away!" ordered Nell. "How dare you try to frighten me like this? Of all the outrageous things to do -! It is a great deal too bad of you! What in the world possessed you?"
"Well, if you can't tell that you must be a bigger sapskull than I knew!" said his lordship disgustedly. He pulled off his mask, and called over his shoulder: "Bubbled, Corny!"
"There, what did I tell you?" said Mr Fancot, putting up the weapon with which he had been covering the coachman, and riding up to bow politely to the occupants of the carriage. "You ought to have let me do the trick, dear boy: I said her ladyship would recognise you!"
"Well, I don't know how the devil she should!" said the Viscount,considerably put-out.
"Oh, Dy, how absurd you are!" Nell exclaimed, trying not to laugh."The moonlight was shining on the ring Mama gave you when you came of age! And then you said Not you! to Letty! Of course I recognised you!"



One genre I didn't mention last week is the Regency Romance period which flourished between 1811 to 1820's during the shift from the aristocratic Age of Enlightenment to the artistic movement of Romanticism.  Since the period overlapped the Napoleonic wars, writers expanded on themes of the drama of wounded soldiers, mystery, adventure and of course, romance.  Regency romances are light and fluffy reads and since most are set in England, hence the term Flufferton Abbey. 

The queen of the Regency Romance is undoubtedly Georgette Heyer.  Although Jane Austen lived and wrote her books during the 1800's, Heyer created the Regency England genre of romance novels. Back when I was a teen in the 70's, Harlequin romances and historical romances were my favorite reads and I actually still have a few in my shelves, all yellowed and well read. 


Authors to check out,  besides Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer,  are Julie Quinn, Mary Balogh, and Loretta Chase to name a few.  Be sure to peruse  Goodreads list of  Popular Regency books.  And we can't forget the classic authors whose best known works were written during the Regency period: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Sir Walter Scott as well as poets Lord Byron, William Blake and John Keats.

Join me in flufferton abbey this month and read a book from the regency era. 

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

BW33: Armchair Traveling through the 19th century



The 19th century, from 1801 to 1900, brought us the continued development of the United States and Canada,  civil war between the north and the south and ending of slavery; the Victorian age with the reign of Queen Victoria, and the Golden Age of romanticism and poetry in Russia.

Alexander Puskin pushed Russian literature to a whole new level and influenced a new generation of poets including Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy (2nd cousin to Leo Tolstoy), Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov and Konstantin Nikolayevich Batyushkov to name a few.

The Victoria period revolved around Queen Victoria and writers who were born and died during that period of time include Lord Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning,  Elizabeth Barrett Browning  Emily Bronte and Charles Dickens to name a few.

In the later half of the century, the United States saw the evolution of penny dreadfuls, later know as dime novels about the Old West with themes of gunslingers, outlaws, and lawmen.

Currently in my backpack are:  Master and Commander by Patrick O'Brian, Daughters of the Loom by Tracie Peterson, Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson and Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy.

Be sure to check out Historical Novels online for their huge selection of 19th Century European, 19th  Century American and  Old West selection of books as well as Goodreads Popular 19th Century literature.


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Sunday, August 3, 2014

BW32: 100th Anniversary of World War I




August 1st marks the anniversary of the beginning of World War I.  The event that sparked the war. On June 28, 1914, The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, along with his wife, Sofia,  by Gavrilo Princip in Sarajevo, Bosnia. 

In a nutshell:  Austria-Hungary blamed the Serbia government for the attack and declared war on them on July 28th and shelled the Serbian capital.  Russia, Serbia's ally mobilized again Austria-Hungary on August 1.  Then France allied with Russia and then France and Germany declared war against each other on August 3rd.  When the German army invaded Belgium, Allie Great Britain declared war against Germany. 

To honor the anniversary of World War I, join me in reading All Quiet on the Western Front




Synopsis:  Paul Baumer enlisted with his classmates in the German army of World War I. Youthful, enthusiastic, they become soldiers. But despite what they have learned, they break into pieces under the first bombardment in the trenches. And as horrible war plods on year after year, Paul holds fast to a single vow: to fight against the principles of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other--if only he can come out of the war alive.
This month, I'll also be reading Mark Helprin's A Solder of the Great War:






Synopsis: For Alessandro Giullani, the young son of a prosperous Roman Lawyer, golden trees shimmer in the sun beneath a sky of perfect blue. At night the moon is amber and the city of Rome seethes with light. He races horses across the country to the sea, and in the Alps he practices the precise and sublime art of mountain climbing. At the ancient university in Bologna he is a student of painting and the science of beauty. And he falls in love. His is a world of adventure and dreams, of music, storm, and the spirit. Then the Great War intervenes.

Half a century later, in August of 1964, Alessandro, a white-haired professor, still tall and proud, finds himself unexpectedly on the road with an illiterate young factory worker. As they walk toward Monte Prato, a village seventy kilometers distant, the old man tells the story of his life. How he became a soldier. A hero. A prisoner. A deserter. A wanderer in the hell that claimed Europe. And how he tragically lost one family and gained another.

The boy is dazzled by the action and envious of the richness and color of the story, and realizes that the old man's magnificent tale of love and war is more than a tale: it is the recapitulation of his life, his reckoning with mortality, and above all, a love song for his family.


For more choices, check out Historical Novels selections about World War I,  or Goodreads selections of World War I historical fiction and Non Fiction.


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Sunday, July 27, 2014

BW31: Come In by Robert Frost



I'm off in the mountains this weekend, so leaving you with something simple this week.





Come In

by 

Robert Frost

As I came to the edge of the woods,
Thrush music -- hark!
Now if it was dusk outside,
Inside it was dark.

Too dark in the woods for a bird
By sleight of wing
To better its perch for the night,
Though it still could sing.

The last of the light of the sun
That had died in the west
Still lived for one song more
In a thrush's breast.

Far in the pillared dark
Thrush music went --
Almost like a call to come in
To the dark and lament.

But no, I was out for stars;
I would not come in.
I meant not even if asked;
And I hadn't been. 

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

BW30: World War I and II European Theatre

Abandoned building in Black Forest, Germany
Next month we are coming up on the 100th Anniversary of World War I and currently my son's personal interest of late is all things world war II. We've been watching Great Courses lecture series on WWII: A Military and Social History, plus the history channel just did a marathon run of their series, The World Wars.  I recently finished The Monument's Men, hubby is reading John Toland's The Last Hundred Days and James just finished The Book Thief and is now devouring William Shirer's  Berlin Diary.   His birthday is coming up in August and one of the things on his list is the dvd of the tv miniseries War and Remembrance.  It aired back in the 80's and starred Robert Mitchum and Jane Seymour.  I remember reading Herman Wouk's book way back when and probably still have it on our shelves somewhere.  I'll have to see if I can find it.  

Several years ago I discovered Bodie and Brock Thoene's Zion Covenant and Zion Chronicles series which followed the struggle of  Jewish people from the time of Hitler's takeover through Israel's statehood in 1948.  After I read the first book, I was hooked, collected and read every single book.  The story has been on my mind of late, so think I'll be rereading  Vienna Prelude.  




Synopsis:  No one is safe. . . .  In 1936 Nazi darkness descends upon Europe. Every person is only one step away from being swept into the nightmarish tide of evil. Blond Elisa Lindheim, a violinist with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, adopts an Aryan stage name for protection. But her closest friend, Leah, a talented Jewish cellist, is in a perilous position.
There are those who choose to fight Hitler’s madness. Elisa’s father, Theo. A courageous American reporter, John Murphy. Winston Churchill, the British statesman. A farm family in the Tyrolean Alps. The Jewish Underground. But will all their efforts be enough to stop the coming Holocaust? And now Elisa must decide. If she becomes part of the Underground, she will risk everything . . . and put everyone she loves in danger.

Which brings us back to World War I and II and armchair traveling.  After hanging out for several months in England, it's time to move on.  And since the theatre of operations is so huge - from Poland,  to the Mediterranean to the Middle East and North Africa, it's a pretty broad range of countries from which to choose.  Dip your toes in, dive in with both feet or hang glide across the continents and see where the wind takes you.

Currently in my backpack are: Rebecca Cantrell's A Night of Long Knives, Thomas Keneally's Schindler's List and Mark Helprin's  A Soldier of the Great War.

Check out historical novels huge list of selections as well as the Goodreads World War II fiction and WWII Holocaust Fiction and Non Fiction

Read books set during World War I or II or just read books set in those countries - it's up to you.  

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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 don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.   


Sunday, July 13, 2014

BW29: Armchair traveling through the 18th Century

Caspar David Friedrich



The 18th century, from 1701 to 1800, began in the the age of Enlightenment, turned to Romanticism in the later part of the century.   In the late 1700's in Germany, Wiemar Classicism was dominant, combining the elements of romantic, classical and enlightenment.  Rather than the seriousness portrayed by English romanticism, German writers veered towards beauty, humor and wit.

Key literary figures during that period of times were Germany's Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel; French writer François-Marie Arouet, better know as Voltaire; Irish poet, essayist and cleric Jonathan Swift; British writers Henry Fielding and Jane Austen, among others.

Currently in my backpack is Henry Fielding's The History of Tom Jones, Matt Rees Mozart's Last Aria, Diana Gabaldon's Voyager and Mathew Gregory Lewis's The Monk.  

Be sure to visit Historical Novels which has a great list of books from Britain, the European Continent and North America.   Plus Goodreads list of Popular 18th Century Literature.  Also check out The Search for National Identity - Russian Literature of the 18th Century.

Join me in exploring the 18th century.  


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Sunday, July 6, 2014

BW28: Thomas More and Utopia


We are moving on from the philosophical ideas of steampunk to the philosophical ideals of a perfect society, or maybe not so perfect.  

Today is the anniversary of the death of Sir Thomas More. He was tried for treason when he refused to sign the Act of Succession and when he refused to accept King Henry III as the head of the Church of England. He was beheaded on July 6, 1535 and his final words were "The King's good servant, but God's first."  He was canonized by the Catholic Church as a saint in 1935. 

More wrote many works including Utopia, and essentially popularizing and influencing the genre of the Utopian literature. Utopia is essential an ideal society and Dystopia is a society in decline, characterized by dehumanization, strife, or totalitarian government to name a few.  The earliest novel about a utopian society was The Republic written by Plato in 350BC.   Dystopia is an offshoot of Utopian literature, popularized in the early 1900's.

Goodreads provides the best synopsis:


First published in 1516, Thomas More's Utopia is one of the most important works of European humanism. Through the voice of the mysterious traveler Raphael Hythloday, More describes a pagan, communist city-state governed by reason. Addressing such issues as religious pluralism, women's rights, state-sponsored education, colonialism, and justified warfare, Utopia seems remarkably contemporary nearly five centuries after it was written, and it remains a foundational text in philosophy and political theory.
Since Susan Wise Bauer includes Thomas More's Utopia in the list of great history/political reads in Well Educated Mind, now seems like a good time to read it. 

Currently in my stacks, along with Utopia, are James Hilton's Lost Horizon, Veronica Roth's Divergent,  Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and Cormac McCarthy's The Road.  

Check out this list from Utopian Literature and the ever popular goodreads list of Best Utopian and Dystopian fiction.

The theme of the month for July is reading Utopian/Dystopian novels.


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Sunday, June 29, 2014

BW27: The Trial by Franz Kafka



The 21st novel in Susan Wise Bauer's list of fiction reads from her book The Well-Educated Mind is The Trial by  Franz Kafka. Kafka started working on The Trial in 1914 and the book didn't get published until after his death in 1925.  Before he died in 1924, he bequested all his papers and unfinished stories to his best friend and translator, Max Brod and requested all his unpublished works be destroyed.  Brod ignored his wishes and went on to publish The Trial in 1925, The Castle in 1926, Amerika in 1927 and The Great Wall of China in 1931.   The Trial was never completed but the last chapter does bring the story to a close.  


Synopsis:  A terrifying psychological trip into the life of one Joseph K., an ordinary man who wakes up one day to find himself accused of a crime he did not commit, a crime whose nature is never revealed to him. Once arrested, he is released, but must report to court on a regular basis--an event that proves maddening, as nothing is ever resolved. As he grows more uncertain of his fate, his personal life--including work at a bank and his relations with his landlady and a young woman who lives next door--becomes increasingly unpredictable. As K. tries to gain control, he succeeds only in accelerating his own excruciating downward spiral.

Chapter One:

Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested. Every day at eight in the morning he was brought his breakfast by Mrs. Grubach's cook - Mrs. Grubach was his landlady - but today she didn't come. That had never happened before. K. waited a little while, looked from his pillow at the old woman who lived opposite and who was watching him with an inquisitiveness quite unusual for her, and finally, both hungry and disconcerted, rang the bell. 

There was immediately a knock at the door and a man entered. He had never seen the man in this house before. He was slim but firmly built, his clothes were black and close-fitting, with many folds and pockets, buckles and buttons and a belt, all of which gave the impression of being very practical but without making it very clear what they were actually for. 

 "Who are you?" asked K., sitting half upright in his bed. 

The man, however, ignored the question as if his arrival simply had to be accepted, and merely replied, "You rang?" 

"Anna should have brought me my breakfast," said K. 

 He tried to work out who the man actually was, first in silence, just through observation and by thinking about it, but the man didn't stay still to be looked at for very long. Instead he went over to the door, opened it slightly, and said to someone who was clearly standing immediately behind it, "He wants Anna to bring him his breakfast." 

There was a little laughter in the neighbouring room, it was not clear from the sound of it whether there were several people laughing. The strange man could not have learned anything from it that he hadn't known already, but now he said to K., as if making his report "It is not possible."

"It would be the first time that's happened," said K., as he jumped out of bed and quickly pulled on his trousers. "I want to see who that is in the next room, and why it is that Mrs. Grubach has let me be disturbed in this way." It immediately occurred to him that he needn't have said this out loud, and that he must to some extent have acknowledged their authority by doing so, but that didn't seem important to him at the time. 

That, at least, is how the stranger took it, as he said, "Don't you think you'd better stay where you are?" 

"I want neither to stay here nor to be spoken to by you until you've introduced yourself." 

 "I meant it for your own good," said the stranger and opened the door, this time without being asked. 

The next room, which K. entered more slowly than he had intended, looked at first glance exactly the same as it had the previous evening. It was Mrs. Grubach's living room, over-filled with furniture, tablecloths, porcelain and photographs.

Continue reading here

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

BW26: Summertime reading

Josephine Wall's Summer Breeze
Hey, we are halfway through the year and hallelujah for summertime. For me, it is a well needed break from lessons, although planning never ends. Time to indulge in those books,   you know the ones - those chunky and dusty ones sitting on your shelves - that you haven't had time to read during the busyness of the year. 

Tell me what you think of when you hear the word summer?  Besides freedom, that is. *grin*   Summer brings thoughts of lightness and frivolity, fireflies and gnats, pools and pool parties, golden sunshine, and moonbeams, birds singing and the growl of lawnmowers.   Blue, green and yellow;  daffodils and daisies; ice cream and sweet tea; bbq and beer.  Or wine, depending on your preference. ~clink~

My stacks have a few summery reads so I won't have to resort to sifting through 1000's of choices from goodreads for summer light, blue, or daffodils to name a few.  Currently in my stacks is Adichie's Half of a Yellow Sun, Kingsolver's Prodigal Summer, Bradley's Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and Lehane's Moonlight Mile.  Not exactly cozy beach reads, but I'm sure to find a few along the way.  

Join me in reading books with summer or summer related words in the title for the season for summer.


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Sunday, June 15, 2014

BW25: Happy Father's Day



Happy Father's Day!   Let's celebrate the dad, papa, pop, daddy, father, old man, poppa, sir, or pa or whatever you call him.  My dad is 83 years young and still going strong. He's out today at Six Flags with another one of my sisters having fun riding the roller coasters.  I found this great poem entitled What Makes a Dad  and just had to share:


What Makes a Dad
God took the strength of a mountain,
The majesty of a tree,
The warmth of a summer sun,
The calm of a quiet sea,
The generous soul of nature,
The comforting arm of night,
The wisdom of the ages,
The power of the eagle's flight,
The joy of a morning in spring,
The faith of a mustard seed,
The patience of eternity,
The depth of a family need,
Then God combined these qualities,
When there was nothing more to add,
He knew His masterpiece was complete,
And so, He called it ... Dad


In honor of Father's Day, let's read a book with Father or any derivative in the title.  One of my favorite is


Then you can't go wrong with Father Brown





Check out Goodreads humongous list of books with father in the title and have fun picking out a book to read.  It is interesting that if you do a search for literary dads, the common denominator is King Lear, Atticus Finch, and Prospero.    One of my favorite dads in literature is Arthur Weasley. Who is yours? 


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Sunday, June 8, 2014

BW24: Armchair traveling through the 17th Century




The seventeenth Century, which ran from 1601 to 1700 was the early modern period in Europe and dominated by the scientific revolution, the beginning of the Baroque period, and the Pilgrims sailed the Mayflower to colonize America. 

In 17th century France, we had the birth of the literary academy for the purpose of literary criticism and analytical debate.  By mid 1600, Literary salons flourished, started by Madame de Rambouillet and her rival, Madeleine de Scudéry,  for the purposes of discussing literature and amusing and intellectual  conversation.  The salons flourished during the 17th and 18th century as the women of that period used the salons to pursue their own education, hear the works and ideas of other intellectuals as well as read their own works.

Literature wise, authors born and buried during that period of time including John Bunyan who wrote Pilgrim's Progress, Daniel Defoe introduced Robinson Crusoe, John Milton brought us Paradise Lost and William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes both passed away in 1616.

Currently in my backpack is The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips as well as Shinju by Laura Joh Rowland.  

Be sure to check out Historical Novels which has a huge list of Novels of the 17th Century as well as  Goodreads popular 17th Century reads.  I'm sure I'll be adding a few more books to my want list and tbr pile soon.

Join me in exploring the 17th Century!

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