Sunday, December 31, 2017



Welcome to the 2017 Read 52 Books in 52 Week Challenge


Also the home of Well Educated Mind, Dusty and Chunky, Birthstone Bookology,
52 Books Bingo, Mind Voyages and various mini challenges. 


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



  • The challenge will run from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2017. 
  • Our book weeks will begin on Sunday 
  • 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, 2017 
  • 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, May 21, 2017

BW21: Happy Birthday Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 25, 1803 


This week is the anniversary of Ralph Waldo Emerson's birthday so thought I'd leave you with one of his poems.  His complete works including essays and poems are available online at RWE.ORG.








The House

There is no architect
Can build as the muse can
She is skilful to select
Materials for her plan;

Slow and warily to choose
Rafters of immortal pine,
Or cedar incorruptible,
Worthy her design.

She threads dark Alpine forests,
Or valleys by the sea,
In many lands, with painful steps,
Ere she can find a tree.

She ransacks mines and ledges,
And quarries every rock,
To hew the famous adamant,
For each eternal block.

She lays her beams in music,
In music every one,
To the cadence of the whirling world
Which dances round the sun.

That so they shall not be displaced
By lapses or by wars,
But for the love of happy souls
Outlive the newest stars.






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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. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

BW20: Happy Mother's Day

In the Garden - George Goodwin Kilbourne


Happy Mother's day, my lovelies. Whether your child is 6 months, 6, 16, 26 or even 36, you are there for middle of the night feedings to middle of the night heartfelt chats. Motherhood's nest is always open and ever comforting.  And when you need wisdom, a dose of I told you so, a good laugh, a healing cry or a not so patient nudge out the door, you can rely on your mom to know the right thing to do.

Your mission is to read a book about mothers.  There are many different avenues to pursue from essays to humor to self help to real life to fiction. Books about mothering, motherhood, mothers and son or mothers and daughters. Nurturing and creating, cooking and tending.  Relationships and life, rights and wrongs.  Books talking about traditions and different cultures and how mothers are honored around the world.   Find a book with mother in the title or challenge yourself to read several books with one letter in the title to spell out mother.  












Happy reading!


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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. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.


Sunday, May 7, 2017

BW19: W. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham - Courtesy of Carl Van Vechten 



It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything 
but the best, you very often get it. ~ W. Somerset Maugham



Our armchair travels are taking us to India as we follow in the footsteps of W. Somerset Maugham. This post is brought to you by Jane, one of our 52 Books Well Trained Mind Book a weeker's, who kindly offered to guest post this week.


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If I had only one word to describe W. Somerset Maugham's writing, it would be "exquisite." Not that I have read everything produced by this prolific novelist and playwright, but those works that I have read never disappointed.

Maugham was a best selling author in his day with many of his novels being made into films. What is often called his masterpiece, Of Human Bondage, was transformed from page to screen three times. The same is true for The Painted Veil. I can't help but wonder if the exotic settings of many of Maugham's novels contributed to his popularity in the teens, twenties and thirties. The Moon and Sixpence, loosely based on the life of painter Paul Gauguin, is set in Paris and Tahiti, The Painted Veil in China. The book we are about to read, The Razor's Edge, will carry us to India. But more on that book later.

Maugham was born in 1874 into a family of lawyers. He lost his mother at age 8, his father two year's later. His childhood under the care of his uncle was dismal and lonely.

Eventually Maugham finds his path. He attends medical school, but on the side he is always writing. London's turn of the century slums where he does medical work provide insight into the human soul.

When WWI begins, Maugham is too old to enlist but joins other literary comrades in the so called Literary Ambulance Corps. Before America's involvement in the war, Hemingway, E.E. Cummings, Archibald MacLeish were among the volunteers. Robert Service and Jerome K Jerome were also among the drivers. (Idea for a 2018 Bingo square: WWI Literary Ambulance Corps author!!)

After the war, Maugham joins British intelligence which leads to another book, Ashenden: Or the British Agent.

The Razor's Edge comes later in this career. Published in 1944, this novel focuses on a wounded WWI veteran who abandons his comfortable American life to pursue truth. From war to the Depression, from Chicago to Paris to India, we shall follow Larry Durrell as he seeks to find the meaning of his life.

I suspect when all is said and done that many of you will also find the writing of W. Somerset Maugham to be exquisite.

Please join me in reading Razor's Edge or the book of your choice by W.Somerset Maugham.

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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. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.














Sunday, April 30, 2017

BW18: Eastward May

Hidden Europe: What Eastern Europeans Can Teach Us


Fare thee well April, it's been fun.  Join me in song and dance while we usher in Eastward May, named after Maia, the Greek goddess of fertility, spring and growth. Around the world, folks will be celebrating May Day as well as May the Fourth be with you, Cinco de Mayo, Mother's day, Armed Forces day, Victoria day and Memorial Day.   Let's not forget the Kentucky Derby, Frog Jumping Day in honor of Mark Twain's The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, International Jazz day or the beginning of Ramadan. 

Our  birthstone of the month is Emerald. You may choose to spell out the word, reading one book per letter or read a book with the name or the colors of the stone in the title.  Or perhaps find an author whose name is Emerald or Beryl since it is in the beryl mineral family.  You may decide to find a book set in the time period where the birthstone was discovered or surrounding the myth and lore or set in countries where the birthstone is currently found.

Emeralds are ancient minerals discovered in Egypt, way back in 330 BC and Cleopatra's favorite gemstone.  Legends tell of the stone being one of four precious stones given by God to King Solomon endowing him with power over all creation. The green of the emerald is a sign of spring and also believed to protect the wearer from evil spirits.  Ancient Egyptians believed the stone could ease childbirth and also buried Mummies with the stone in hopes of bringing them eternal youth.  Also found in Columbia, the emeralds were used by the Incas for religious ceremonies.  After the Spanish invaded in the 1600's, they began to trade the stones in Europe and Asia.  Presently Emeralds are mined in Columbia and Brazil, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the Ural Mountains in Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and China.  Jaipur,  India has become the leading cutting and trading center of emeralds in the world. 

Our armchair travels are taking us to Eastern Europe this month. Exactly where does Eastern Europe begin?  Depends on who you ask, whether you get a political, historical or  geographical answer. Rick Steves discusses The Former Eastern Europe as well as the 'Gypsy Question.'   Francis Tapon in his Hidden Europe ponders where is Eastern Europe and what countries are in it.  We can travel in high style part of the way taking a river cruise on board one of Emerald Waterways luxury ships from Budapest to Bucharest.  We can also follow Rick Steves Best of Eastern Europe in 14 Days tour.   From history to science to food to outer space, there are plenty of rabbit trails, heavy or light to travel as you read your way through Eastern Europe.  Follow your own path and see where it takes you. 

Our author flavor of the month is W. Somerset Maugham and we'll be diving into Razor's Edge which Jane from our Well Trained Mind 52 Books group will be talking about next week.  

Happy Reading! 


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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.   Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.







Sunday, April 23, 2017

BW17: Book News and Notes

Courtesy of Inspiring Life


Today is World Book day, promoted by UNESCO and held in honor of several authors who died on this date including Miguel De Cervantes, William Shakespeare, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega.

The Cervantes Prize, in honor of Miguel is awarded this day by the Spanish Ministry of Culture. Founded in 1976, it is the most prestigious prize to “honor the lifetime achievement of a Spanish Language writer whose contribution to the Hispanic Cultural Heritage has been decisive.”

In England, fans of William Shakespeare celebrate his life as well as St. George, the country's patron saint.

National Poetry month is winding up and Thursday, April 27th is Poem in Your Pocket day. Select a poem, carry it in your pocket, purse, book, backpack or whatever else is handy and share it with your family, friends and neighbors.

The Man Booker prize which celebrates translated fiction works from around the world announced the International Shortlist for 2017 and the nominees are:





The 2017 Stella Prize, celebrates fiction or non fiction written by Australian women and has been awarded to Heather Rose for her novel The Museum of Modern Love which is available on Kindle. 


More author birthdays:

April 23rd:  Icelandic author - Halldor Laxness and Russian author - Vladimir Nabokov

April 24th: English authors Daniel Defoe, Anthony Trollope and Elizabeth Goudge as well as mystery writer Sue Grafton

April 25th: English poet - Walter De La Mare and southern author Padgett Powell

April 26th: Philosophers Marcus Aurelius and David Hume

April 27th: Historian Edward Gibbon and poet Cecil Day Lewis

April 28th: Harper Lee, Terry Pratchett and Lois Duncan

April 29th: Gilbert Rocque and Yusef Komunyakaa

Have fun following rabbit trails and share a book or two or three! 


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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. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.


Sunday, April 16, 2017

BW16: Homonym and synonym challenge



Happy Sunday and Happy Easter to all who celebrate.  I have homonyms on my brain today as my brain wonders about the wonders of words as we wander through this universe we call earth.    Think about words spelled the same or that sound the same but have different meanings. Such as  son and sun, write and right, tale and tail, night and knight, coarse and course, medal and meddle,  cache and cash.   How we may fold our clothes or fold at cards.  Go to court or give permission to the boy next door to court your daughter.  Do you need to bail out the boat or bail out your brother.   Are you here or can you hear what is happening or are you searching for the South Pole or your fishing pole?  Where on earth am I going with this, you ask?  I don't know as I've lost my train of thought. It's gone off the rails...


Oh yes, I have a mini challenge for you!

Think about words relating to Easter and/or Passover. Spiritual or secular words related to the occasion or Sundayish.   Then read a book with that word or words in the title.  At first I picked a variety of words and had fun following rabbit trails as I also looked up synonyms for each word. Then I went back to the simple and chose light which lead me to Louise Penny's # 7 in her Inspector Gamache series, A Trick of the Light which I've been wanting to read for a while.




As well as Jayne Ann Krentz's paranormal suspense - Light in Shadow.  Both of which are now in my virtual stacks.  *grin*





Join me in the Homonym challenge and have fun following rabbit trails!

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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. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.






Sunday, April 9, 2017

BW15: Armchair traveling through India




My armchair travels took me to India this week. I discovered the caves of Meghalaya while exploring and searching for diamonds, and ended up following a variety of rabbit trails through India. I enjoy epic novels delving into the history of India and was quite pleased to discover M.M. Kaye's The Far Pavilions:





Ashton Pelham-Martyn's parents die young. He is raised primarily by a Hindu hill-woman who dies, too, a few years later while the two are fleeing from one deadly peril while another one, the 1857 Sepoy Rebellion, drenches the land around them in blood. By a stroke of fortune, good or bad, his English identity is at last discovered, and he is whisked away to aristocratic relations in England who see to it that he can never again think of himself as wholly Indian. Nor will he ever be accepted as truly English. On his return to India as a new Army recruit looking forward to "soldiering among the wild hills of the North-West Frontier," 122 pages of the novel have slipped past, but it's only just beginning. Yet to come are a dangerous trek escorting a native bridal party across India, a forbidden love affair, and a harrowing effort to warn the British authorities against meddling in Afghanistan, a land Ash understands better than his "superiors" do. The last few chapters find him in Kabul in 1879 during the Second Anglo-Afghan War and feature a heroic last stand by an undermanned British garrison.

That one may take a while to read.  Somehow that lead to Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and her magical realism story - The Mistress of Spices which is quite intriguing.  




A classic work of magical realism, this bestselling novel by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni tells the story of Tilo, a young woman from another time who has a gift for the mystical art of spices.  Now immortal, and living in the gnarled and arthritic body of an old woman, Tilo has set up shop in Oakland, California, where she administers curatives to her customers.  But when she's surprised by an unexpected romance with a handsome stranger, she must choose between everlasting life and the vicissitudes of modern society.
Divakaruni newest book Before We Visit the Goddess in which she explores the relationship between mothers and daughters is currently available in India and is coming out April 25th in the U.S. 

One particular bunny trail introduced Tarquin Hall and his character Vish Puri, India's most private investigator in the Case of the Missing Servant which is now waiting in my virtual stacks right after I finish reading Mistress of Spices.    





Meet Vish Puri, India’s most private investigator. Portly, persistent, and unmistakably Punjabi, he cuts a determined swath through modern India’s swindlers, cheats, and murderers.   In hot and dusty Delhi, where call centers and malls are changing the ancient fabric of Indian life, Puri’s main work comes from screening prospective marriage partners, a job once the preserve of aunties and family priests. But when an honest public litigator is accused of murdering his maidservant, it takes all of Puri’s resources to investigate. With his team of undercover operatives—Tubelight, Flush, and Facecream—Puri combines modern techniques with principles of detection established in India more than two thousand years ago, and reveals modern India in all its seething complexity.


Non fiction wise, there are plenty of trails to follow from ancient dynasties to the partition of India to culture and traditions to Indian cuisine.  Check out Lonely Planet travel guides as well as Goodreads popular non fiction books, Culture Trip's 10 Best Bookbooks for Traditional Indian food, and 10 Must Read books on Indian History.

Have fun following rabbit trails! 

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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. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.



Sunday, April 2, 2017

BW14: Artistic April

How Diamonds are extracted


We are saying a fond farewell to March and giving an enthusiastic hello to Artistic April.  Not only is it National Poetry Month, it is also a time to celebrate Easter as well as Autism Awareness, and  Earth Day.  We have a variety of daily celebrations including April fool's, Children's book day, School Librarian day, national Tartan day and Scrabble day.  Plus a few wacky days such as Sorry Charlie, No housework day, Walk Around things, and National cheeseball day.

The Birthstone of the month is Diamond. You may choose to spell out the word, reading one book per letter or read a book with the name or the colors of the stone in the title.  Or perhaps find an author whose name is Diamond.  You may decide to find a book set in the time period where the birthstone was discovered or surrounding the myth and lore or set in countries where the birthstone is currently found.

Diamonds were first discovered during 4th century in India's rivers and streams and believed to be the only source for diamonds and traded along the Silk road between India and China.  Then gold miners discovered diamonds in Brazil in the 1700's and dominated the market until the 1800's when a large deposit of diamonds were found along the Orange River in Africa.  Presently, diamonds are mined in Australia, Russia, China, Africa, parts of South America and Canada.  They are a symbol of love, strength, clarity and truth and believed to have metaphysical properties of energy and vision.

We are going to follow the path of the diamonds so our armchair travels are taking us east of the Prime Meridian. You have a wide variety to choose from this month as you travel the trail of diamonds from Antwerp to Argyle. Follow the Silk Road, explore Africa more in depth and delve into the history of conflict diamonds,  visit Australia, or dive into historical fiction set in Russia. Have fun following rabbit trails.

Happy reading!


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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. Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week. No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.






Sunday, March 26, 2017

BW13: Happy Birthday Robert Frost


I'm out doing the family thing, my father and all my sisters gathered from near and far to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, while we tramp together, here and there and everywhere.   Today is the anniversary of Robert Frost's birthday and since he is one of my favorite poets, I'll leave you with you with one of his poems.



A Prayer in Spring

By 

Robert Frost 

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
The which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends He will,

But which it only needs that we fulfill.

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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.   Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.




Sunday, March 19, 2017

BW12: March Equinox


Splash of Spring by Karen Hale

Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener
seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer. ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth



Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. ~ Albert Camus



Spring is in the air in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn in the Southern side of the world. Nature's paint palette,  combines rich, deep and bold colors with brilliant hues to entertain the eye.  Just imagine the synergism as we blend the seasons to enrich our reading as well as our bookshelves.  

Dive into your trusty thesaurus to look for words that speak to you of either autumn and spring.  Mix them together to discover a new read or revisit an old friend.  

A random pick of cozy earth on Amazon brings up P. Bodi's Mountain Earth's Kitchen Cozy Mystery Series.   Hope orange resulted in Irene Hannon's   Hope Harbor series as well as RaeAnne Thayne's Hope Crossing series.  Blue leaf resulted in Lynn Truss's fabulous and fun book -  Eats, Shoots and Leaves: A Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.  If you haven't read it yet, now is the time.  

Add another layer to include our theme of the month with mystery or nordic authors and see what comes up.  Cozy mysteries are always fun to curl up with when you need something light. Spring brings to mind Debbie Macomber and her Blossom Street or Cedar Cove series.  Check out Cozy Mysteries Unlimited for Spring themed and Fall themed reads.

Try something completely new and delve into the symbolism or magic of the Equinox with Danu Forest's Magic Of ebooks.  

While you are having fun following rabbit trails, don't forget to check out Goodreads Best Books for Spring reading as well as PW's Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2017

Happy Reading! 


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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.   Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.




Sunday, March 12, 2017

BW11: Happy St. Patrick's Week





We'll be celebrating St. Patrick's day all week long and instead of loading your wishlists down with more books, your mission is to find a book on your shelves that has a green cover or has green in the title. Sláinte!!!





Today is the day fer the wearin' o' the green.
Today is the day when the little people are seen.
Today is St. Patrick's Day, so if ye'r Irish me lad,
Join the celebratin' fer the grandest time ta' be had.

Ya' put yer hand up in the air, the other hand on your hip.
Ya' tap yer toe, ya' tap yer heel, ya' bounce yer knee a wee bit.
Ya' prance 'n dance around the room, n' circle one two three.
The saints be praised, I must admit, ya' all look Irish ta' me.

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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.   Every week I will put up Mr. Linky which will close at the end of each book week.  No matter what book you are reading or reviewing at the time, whether it be # 1 or # 5 or so on, link to the current week's post.