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, 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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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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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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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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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!




Sunday, July 10, 2016

BW28: Ode to the Artichoke

Flowering artichoke

July 12th is the anniversary of Pablo Neruda's birthday and since I've over inundated you with links the last few weeks,  figured I'd keep it simple this week.



Ode to the Artichoke

by

Pablo Neruda



The artichoke 
With a tender heart 
Dressed up like a warrior, 
Standing at attention, it built 
A small helmet 
Under its scales 
It remained 
Unshakeable, 
By its side 
The crazy vegetables 
Uncurled 
Their tendrills and leaf-crowns, 
Throbbing bulbs, 
In the sub-soil 
The carrot 
With its red mustaches 
Was sleeping, 
The grapevine 
Hung out to dry its branches 
Through which the wine will rise, 
The cabbage 
Dedicated itself 
To trying on skirts, 
The oregano 
To perfuming the world, 
And the sweet 
Artichoke 
There in the garden, 
Dressed like a warrior, 
Burnished 
Like a proud 
Pomegrante.

And one day 
Side by side 
In big wicker baskets 
Walking through the market 
To realize their dream 
The artichoke army 
In formation.

Never was it so military 
Like on parade.

The men 
In their white shirts 
Among the vegetables 
Were 
The Marshals 
Of the artichokes 
Lines in close order 
Command voices, 
And the bang 
Of a falling box.


But 
Then 
Maria 
Comes 
With her basket 
She chooses 
An artichoke, 
She's not afraid of it.

She examines it, she observes it 
Up against the light like it was an egg, 
She buys it, 
She mixes it up 
In her handbag 
With a pair of shoes 
With a cabbage head and a 
Bottle 
Of vinegar 
Until 
She enters the kitchen 
And submerges it in a pot.


Thus ends 
In peace 
This career 
Of the armed vegetable 
Which is called an artichoke, 
Then 
Scale by scale, 
We strip off 
The delicacy 
And eat 
The peaceful mush 
Of its green heart.

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Sunday, July 3, 2016

BW27: Sailiing West of the Prime Meridian



Ahoy my dear seafarers and welcome to Maritime July.   It's time to weight anchor and head west of the Prime Meridian. We'll head out across the Pacific Ocean and let the trade winds determine our direction. You can go in search of Moby Dick, join the Napoleonic Wars, experience mutinies and ship wrecks or simply explore. 

Let's climb on board Herman Melville's fictitious Pequod with Captain Ahab as he searches for Moby DickFor those who have already read Moby Dick, explore nautical adaptions, alternatives or non fiction. Join the Essex (inspired Moby Dick) in Nathaniel Philbrick's historical tale In the Heart of the Sea.  Fight the seas as well as the whales in Mel Odom's Hunter's of the Dark Sea.  You could also chose to stay on land with Sena Jeter Naslund's historical fiction saga Ahab's wife or China Mieville's dystopian parody Railsea. Follow Ishmael into outer space with Ray Bradbury's Leviathan 99 or Philip Jose Farmer's Wind Whales of Ishmael.  

Immerse yourself in sea life during the Napoleonic wars and climb on board with Captain Aubrey in Patrick O'Brien's Master and Commander series or Horatio Hornblower in C.S. Forester's Hornblower Saga.  

Live vicariously through Thor Heyerdahl as he replicates the mythical voyage of Kon Tiki across the Pacific in a raft or with Joshua Slocum in Sailing Alone around the World.

Our nautical explorations wouldn't be complete without Herman Wouk's The Caine Mutiny or Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea or Jules Vernes' 20,000 leagues under the sea.

Need more ideas?  Check out the Mother of all Maritime Links or the ever helpful Goodreads Book of the High Seas and Books about Seafaring Cats.

Happy Sailing! 


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Sunday, June 26, 2016

BW26: British Village Cozy Mysteries

young Agatha Christie

Woot! Woot! We have reached the half way point in our reading year. How are you enjoying your armchair travels so far?  With the historic vote this past week in the United Kingdom, figured it is apropos for Sandy, our very own mumto2, who hails from England, to talk to us about British Village Cozy Mysteries.  


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When I first heard the title for my introduction week, I thought it would be easy because I love Miss Marple and have read many mystery series.  For those who aren’t familiar with the term, Cozy Mystery generally refers to a mystery that features an amateur sleuth who seemingly stumbles onto their mystery.  The setting is frequently limited to a small geographical area, hence my village heading.  The characters are normally likable, and there is a serious sprinkling of red herrings throughout the books.  The books are generally not graphic either in terms of murder descriptions or adult content. 

So my search for British Village Cozy Mysteries began.  I felt pretty confident because I have been reading mystery series since my childhood obsession with Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon.  The first thing I did was take a look at many lists of cozy books and start separating out those set in the United Kingdom.  To my surprise many of the popular authors listed did not meet my graphic criteria because of violence (Elizabeth George and Stephen Booth) which was a bit of a concern for my project.  I went through many lists and started ordering the first in many series from various libraries; then I started reading.  I recently discovered that since joining BaW, I have read well over 100 British Cozy Mysteries according to the huge variety of lists available on the internet.

Some of my favorite lists are:


Criminal Element, starting with this article

Stop You’re Killing Me Newsletter’s list which can do counties


Over the course of my research, I came to the conclusion that my British sleuths have a hard time staying in one place and have an occasional tendency to swing to the more graphic side of things. Even Agatha Christie had some topics that I really wished she would have skipped when my 11 year old was reading them!  I have put together an assortment of mystery series that to the best of my knowledge are as cozy as Christie because she is definitely the queen of the genre.

I have decided to let a few professionals mix with the amateurs if they have village settings because Christie had her share of Inspectors.

To start with we have the classic authors like Josephine Tey, and her Alan Grant Series, Ngaio Marsh and Patricia Wentworth. Dorothy Sayers is classic but not always cozy.


Then we progress to Catherine Aird’s long running series, Inspector Sloan, Deborah Crombie’s Duncan Kincaid, and Robert Barnard’s Perry Trethowan (adult topics in the first book) which features a policeman within village settings; at least some of the time.

Professional sleuths of a village variety also exist in M.C. Beaton’s Hamish MacBeth who never wants to leave his Scottish fishing village.  The Welsh equivalent is Rhys Bowen’s Constable Evans  who just wants to live in his village at the base of Snowden.  Then there is G.M. Malliet’s Max Tudor, a former MI5 spy turned village vicar.  

There are also numerous post-WWI cozies with woman who have turned to crime-solving after losing their significant others in battle.  My favourites in this sub genre are Carola Dunn’s Daisey Darymple, Frances Brody’s Kate Shackleton, and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs.

For someone looking for a more traditional village cozy mystery Simon Brett, Hazel Holt, Margaret Mayhew, Veronica Healy, Elizabeth J. Duncan,, and M.C. Beaton, all have series to choose from.

If you desire royal connections, Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen , C.A. Belmond’s Penny Nichols, and Sharyn McCrumb’s Elizabeth McPherson can offer some of those.

For a crime solving ghost try Aunt Dimity by Nancy Atherton. Or for a sweet widow of a crime lord who keeps moving house, try Mrs. Pargeter by Simon Brett.

A rather young sleuth is Flavia De Luce in Alan Bradley’s wonderful series.

For a truly odd cozy sleuth there is Suzette A. Hill’s Reverend Oughterard. He did it in the first book and apparently spends the rest of the series trying to cover up his crime!

Happy exploring!

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

BW25: Summer and Winter Solstice

Josephine Wall - Summer Breeze 

Happy Father's Day to all our dads and welcome to the beginning of Summer for those in the northern hemisphere and Winter for those located in the southern hemisphere. It is  time for a bit of seasonal reading and/or revisiting old friends.  You'd think with all the time I have, now that lessons are done for a while, I'd be reaching for all those new books waiting on my shelves.  Summer busyness is different from all the other busy activities we're involved with during the year.  Don't you think?  So my mind turns to all things fluffy and light. Mind candy! Chick-Lit Romances and cozy mysteries or a visit to flufferton abby!

Flufferton is a term coined by one of our Well Trained Mind mom's in relation to all things regency, both classic and modern.  Regency stories revolve around romance, mysteries, and the Napoleonic war. Modern fiction is set in the regency era and can run the gamut from historical romance fiction to horror to paranormal.

Here are a few lists to spark your reading taste-buds

Best Beach Reads for a Summer Getaway

Goodreads Popular Light and Fluffy Reads

Summer Themed Cozies


and for my friends in the Southern Hemisphere 

Fall into Winter: Ten Coziest Cozy Mystery series

So check your shelves or even the library's shelves and settle in with a beverage of your choice and enjoy!


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