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, 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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Sunday, June 12, 2016

BW24: Philosophical rabbit trails

Courtesy of Josephine Wall - The Water Jug


Happy Sunday!  I followed a few philosophical trails today and in my meandering discovered 


Philosophy Now's The Wood that Finds itself a Violin as well as the Philosophy of Poetry which lead to Philosophical Society's article on Philosophical Poems and T.S. Eliot's Burnt Norton.  

This week is also the anniversary of William Butler Yeats, Pearl S. Buck and Dorothy Sayer's birthdays.


And surprisingly Existential Comics How to Study Philosophy as an amateur. 


Don't miss the donut by looking through the hole. ~Author Unknown

Have fun following rabbit trails! 

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

BW23: think about it fiction




“Rabbit's clever," said Pooh thoughtfully. 
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit's clever." 
"And he has Brain." 
"Yes," said Piglet, "Rabbit has Brain." 
There was a long silence. 
"I suppose," said Pooh, "that that's why he never understands anything.” 
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


Do you like reading philosophical fiction?  I've unintentionally read philosophical style stories in many science fiction books, as well as intentionally in utopian, dystopian or Bildungsroman type stories over the years.  Never did I expect to run across philosophy in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Philip Dick's When Androids Dream of Electric Sheep or Leo Toystoy's War and Peace.  I sort of expected it with Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.  I didn't appreciate Gaarder's Sophie's World, nor Sartre's Nausea, or Atwood's Handmaid's Tale, reading them far too quickly to absorb.  Looking back on the books I've read over years, some deserve a second, slower read, time to ponder and discuss.  Now that we are through with lessons for the summer, it would be good time to pull out one or two or three old reads and give it the attention deserved.  

Shall we have a reread summer and visit old friends or maybe those that weren't so friendly the first time and give them a second chance?  Time to contemplate our packed reading shelves again.  *grin*

For ideas and to contribute to the delinquency of your pocketbooks, check out Goodreads  Popular Philosophical Fiction,  Philosophical Science Fiction,  as well as 25 Works of Fiction every philosophy student should read and The Splintered Mind's discussion with 4 philosophy professors and their choices for best philosophical speculative fiction

Happy reading! 

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Sunday, May 29, 2016

BW22: Philosophical June

Raphael's School of Athens

Welcome to Philosophical June and our author of the month - Dante Alighieri.  As you probably have noticed, there aren't any women philosophers included in Raphael's painting, The School of Athens.  There are many women:  from the ancients -  Hypatia -  to the present - Vandana Shiva - too numerous to mention and impossible to highlight just one.  So I'll leave you with a few links to explore for yourself: Reviving the female canon,  Ten great female philosophers and Society of the study of women philosophers 

Everything you wanted to know about philosophy broken down into manageable chunks, history brought to you without any gaps by Kings College, and everything you ever wanted to know (or not) about philosophers around the world, plus 10 easy philosophy books you have to read.

Are you back?  Did you have fun following rabbit trails?  Now that I've overwhelmed your brains and probably pushed your tbr stacks over in a scattered heap, it's time to return to Dante.  I'm currently reading Rod Dreher's How Dante Can Save Your Life which has renewed my desire for completing the Divina Commedia (The Divine Comedy) which includes Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.   I made it through Inferno a couple years ago, meant to read Purgatorio last year, and read Paradiso this year. However I stalled at Purgatorio, so will be diving into it this month.  

Join me in reading The Divine Comedy or delving into the many branches of philosophy.




 “How can you get very far,
If you don't know who you are?
How can you do what you ought,
If you don't know what you've got?
And if you don't know which to do
Of all the things in front of you,
Then what you'll have when you are through
Is just a mess without a clue
Of all the best that can come true
If you know What and Which and Who.” 
― Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh


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Sunday, May 22, 2016

BW21: Middle of the World by D.H. Lawrence

Milk Way over Mediterranean Sea by Albena Markova 






Middle of the World

by 



This sea will never die, neither will it grow old,
nor cease to be blue, nor in the dawn
cease to lift up its hills
and let the slim black ship of Dionysos come sailing in
with grape-vines up the mast, and dolphins leaping.

What do I care if the smoking ships
of the P. & O. and the Orient Line and all the other stinkers
cross like clock-work the Minoan distance!
They only cross, the distance never changes.

And now that the moon who gives men glistening bodies
is in her exaltation, and can look down on the sun,
I see descending from the ships at dawn
slim naked men from Cnossos, smiling the archaic smile
of those that will without fail come back again,
and kindling little fires upon the shores
and crouching, and speaking the music of lost languages.

And the Minoan Gods and the Gods of Tiryns
are heard softly laughing and chatting, as ever;
and Dionysus, young, and a stranger
leans listening on the gate, in all respect.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

BW20: Armchair Travels through the Middle East




As we sail around the mediterrean sea, visiting various ports of call, I'm drawn towards Israel.  So much safer visiting the Middle East vicariously in books, exploring the past, the present and the future.   I currently have James Michener's The Source on my nightstand, calling my name.  




In his signature style of grand storytelling, James A. Michener transports us back thousands of years to the Holy Land. Through the discoveries of modern archaeologists excavating the site of Tell Makor, Michener vividly re-creates life in an ancient city and traces the profound history of the Jewish people—from the persecution of the early Hebrews, the rise of Christianity, and the Crusades to the founding of Israel and the modern conflict in the Middle East. An epic tale of love, strength, and faith, The Source is a richly written saga that encompasses the history of Western civilization and the great religious and cultural ideas that have shaped our world.


Bodie and Brock Thoene take us step by step through the rise of world war II in Vienna in the 1930's through the late 1940's to Israel's Declaration of Independence in their historical fiction series Zion Covenant and Zion Chronicles. Beautifully written and powerfully poignant, once I started reading, I couldn't stop until I'd consumed the whole series. 



Also on my nightstand is Joel Rosenberg's political middle eastern thriller The Third Hostage, which my son immediately absconded with and once he started reading it, couldn't put it down. His stories are spine chilling, finger nibbling, good. 



When New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins hears rumors that an al-Qaeda splinter cell—ISIS—has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria, Collins knows this is a story he must pursue at all costs. Does the commander of the jihadist faction really have the weapons? If so, who is the intended target? The U.S.? Israel? Or someone else? With tensions already high, the impending visit of the American president to the region could prove to be the spark that sets off an explosion of horrendous proportions. Knowing that terrorist forces are already trying to bring down two Arab governments in the region—Iraq and Syria—can Collins uncover the truth before it’s too late? Or will the terrorists succeed in setting their sights on the third target and achieving genocide? 

Two Israeli authors currently on my wishlist are Amos Oz and AB Yehoshua, thanks to Eliana.  Check out Goodreads for the Best Middle East Non Fiction and  Fiction as well as Historical Novels.com for Historical Novels of the Middle East

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Sunday, May 8, 2016

BW19: Ode to Mothers

Artwork courtesy of  Maria Oleszkiewicz 


Before I was Myself, You Made Me, Me

By 


Before I was myself you made me, me
With love and patience, discipline and tears,
Then bit by bit stepped back to set me free,

Allowing me to sail upon my sea,
Though well within the headlands of your fears.
Before I was myself you made me, me

With dreams enough of what I was to be
And hopes that would be sculpted by the years,
Then bit by bit stepped back to set me free,

Relinquishing your powers gradually
To let me shape myself among my peers.
Before I was myself you made me, me,

And being good and wise, you gracefully
As dancers when the last sweet cadence nears
Bit by bit stepped back to set me free.

For love inspires learning naturally:
The mind assents to what the heart reveres.
And so it was through love you made me, me
By slowly stepping back to set me free.


Happy Mother's Day, my lovelies 

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

BW18: Mediterranean May

Courtesy of Child Learns.com



Welcome to Mediterranean May and continuing our armchair travels east of the Prime Meridian.  While some continue their voyage with Darwin on the HMS Beagle, I'll be disembarking and sailing through the Straits of Magellan to cruise the Mediterranean. The sea is bordered by 3 continents and 22 countries as well as a variety of islands. .  We'll spend the next couple months exploring which will give those traveling with Darwin a chance to catch up. You can dive into history, plunge into mysteries,scale the highest peaks or dip into the valleys and submerse your palate in the fine wines and various cuisines offered by the different countries.  The sea is your oyster.

Currently in my backpack are several non fiction books including Rod Dreher's How Dante Can Save Your Life in preparation for reading Dante's Divine Comedy during Philosophical June. 





As well as Stacy Schiff's Cleopatra 




as well as historical fiction including Ben Kane's Spartacus the Gladiator




Have fun exploring! 

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Sunday, April 24, 2016

BW17: Darwin's Bards

Darwin's Bards





Seeing as April is National Poetry Month, figured I'd highlight one of the Poets mentioned in Darwin's Bards written by John Holmes: 

Darwin's Bards is the first comprehensive study of how poets have responded to the ideas of Charles Darwin in over fifty years. John Holmes argues that poetry can have a profound impact on how we think and feel about the Darwinian condition. Is a Darwinian universe necessarily a godless one? If not, what might Darwinism tell us about the nature of God? Is Darwinism compatible with immortality, and if not, how can we face our own deaths or the loss of those we love? What is our own place in the Darwinian universe, and our ecological role here on earth? How does our kinship with other animals affect how we see them? How does the fact that we are animals ourselves alter how we think about our own desires, love and sexual morality? All told, is life in a Darwinian universe grounds for celebration or despair?

Holmes explores the ways in which some of the most perceptive and powerful British and American poets of the last hundred-and-fifty years have grappled with these questions, from Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning and Thomas Hardy, through Robert Frost and Edna St Vincent Millay, to Ted Hughes, Thom Gunn, Amy Clampitt and Edwin Morgan. Reading their poetry, we too can experience what it can mean to live in a Darwinian world. Written in an accessible and engaging style, and aimed at scientists, theologians, philosophers and ecologists as well as poets, critics and students of literature, Darwin's Bards is a timely intervention into the heated debates over Darwin's legacy for religion, ecology and the arts.



Still 

by 

A.R. Ammons

I said I will find what is lowly
and put the roots of my identity
down there:
each day I’ll wake up
and find the lowly nearby,
a handy focus and reminder,
a ready measure of my significance,
the voice by which I would be heard,
the wills, the kinds of selfishness
I could
freely adopt as my own:

but though I have looked everywhere,
I can find nothing
to give myself to:
everything is
magnificent with existence, is in
surfeit of glory:
nothing is diminished,
nothing has been diminished for me:

I said what is more lowly than the grass:
ah, underneath,
a ground-crust of dry-burnt moss:
I looked at it closely
and said this can be my habitat: but
nestling in I
found
below the brown exterior
green mechanisms beyond the intellect
awaiting resurrection in rain: so I got up

and ran saying there is nothing lowly in the universe:
I found a beggar:
he had stumps for legs: nobody was paying
him any attention: everybody went on by:
I nestled in and found his life:
there, love shook his body like a devastation:
I said
though I have looked everywhere
I can find nothing lowly
in the universe:

I whirled though transfigurations up and down,
transfigurations of size and shape and place:

at one sudden point came still,
stood in wonder:
moss, beggar, weed, tick, pine, self, magnificent
with being!


Find out more about A.R. Ammons  in The Paris Review interview as well as with Philip Fried of the Manhattan Review.  Meanwhile continue your voyage following in the HMS Beagles wake.


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Sunday, April 17, 2016

BW16: Following in the HMS Beagle's wake

Courtesy of About Darwin.com


I thought we'd do a bit a armchair sightseeing along with Darwin while reading Voyage of the Beagle.   Our first port of call is the Madeira Islands to explore their vineyards and do a bit of wine tasting. 




Then we'll sail through the Canary Islands and stop off at Tenerife for a walking tour and visit the 16th century town of La Orotava before doing a bit mountain climbing, or golf and/or whale watching if you prefer.




Then we'll cruise around Cape Verde, and visit the birth place of Eugenio Tavares and Pedro Cardoso, fathers of the island's poetical literary movement and popular for its music called morna.




We'll stop to do some snorkeling or skin diving in Fernando de Noronha for a bit, 




before weighing anchor near Salvador and exploring the tropical rain forests of Brazil and the Abrolhos Shoals.





It's going to be a long voyage so fill your backpacks with books set in Brazil. A booklovers guide to Brazil's Best Reads, as well as Books set in Cape Verde,

Happy travels!

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