Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve reflections

This time of year it's fun to read all of the wrap up posts and the big dreams of the new year posts as well. Since I started this blog in 2009, I've always done a wrap up post; how many books I read, challenges I met or failed to meet, etc. 

This year that really isn't that important to me mostly because my role as a blogger and a reader has changed so much. In 2009 when I started this adventure, I really, really needed something like this. I needed this creative, literary outlet. I had been laid off. I was a stay at home mom. I rarely talked to adults. This was a HUGE lifeline for me. It became  a community.

Since then, every year, I've grown and adapted my blog to flow with the changes in my life. I'm no longer laid off, no longer a stay at home mom, and I occasionally talk to adults through out the day. My literary life, however,  has changed. I live a busy literary life, not just as a reader. I work at a library. I work at a bookstore. I blog at work. 

I'm almost too consumed by books to really devote any good attention to my blog. I just don't feel it's as  an important or necessary outlet for my literary desires anymore. Every day at work, I live books and I love it. But when I come home, I'm a mother and a wife and an active parent at my son's school. My life has a different focus now. 

That is evident in the amount of books I read this year. 22. My lifestyle, my pace that I have kept this year has contributed to more audio books. 16 so far. I can only really see this continuing.

So because I feel this year has been such a big change for me, I do not honestly know or really care to "outline" for anyone what shape my blog will take in 2013. But I can safely say it will include what I'm reading, listening to, etc. I also see much more personal items as well; my life as a mother to a soon-to-be 5 year old, my desires for a second child, my search for a career that will fulfill me and my quest to nurture my faith and soul in this ever changing, mixed up world we live in.

Like every year, I thank my readers and friends for sticking with me. I am not as present as I once was and it would be fair to say I have about 16 blogs out there that I absolutely love and seek out. (and no I won't list them-wink!) The rest...well, I just don't have the time. It's so big and ever changing. I just can't keep up. 

If this post sounds tired, that was not my wish. I'm merely reflective on this New Year's Eve. The little one asleep. The musician husband playing at a gig. The house quiet and me thinking.

I wish all of  you a Happy New Year and look forward to continuing on wherever this blogging journey takes me. 

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Gettysburg: The Graphic Novel

Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address is familiar to all Americans. But never has his most famous speech--his 271 indelible words--been presented in such a visual and accessible format.

Graphic artist and Civil War aficionado C. M. Butzer deftly uses a detailed, comic-book style to depict the Battle of Gettysburg; the national movement to create a memorial there; and the quiet day in 1863 when Lincoln delivered his galvanizing speech. Butzer uses only primary sources for the text, drawing from first-person letters and diaries, speeches, and Lincoln's own writing to unpack this series of historical events. The address itself is played out over eighteen pages, with every phrase given a visual interpretation that will resonate with young readers. (Goodreads)

I've been on a Civil war kick recently. No wonder with the new Lincoln movie out with the fabulous Daniel Day Lewis. This is on my list to see in January. I've been listening to Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin on my MP3 player, watching the documentary The Civil War by Ken Burns, surprisingly LOVED the movie Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter (i know, it's not really historical) AND got a honk out of the Magic Treehouse chapter book, Abe At Last! (I'm reading the series with my son, in case  you were wondering why I was seeking out my history lessons from children's chapter books)

I stumbled across this graphic novel, new on display at my library and scooped it up. It was a quick read that outlined the people and the politics involved in the Battle of Gettysburg. Geared towards a younger reader, this summed it up quite nicely with some pretty serious pictures along the way.

For someone like me who likes to learn about different points in history but doesn't always know where to start, this is a nice simple intro to a much larger topic.

Rating: Recommend
Purchase: Indie Bound

Any Civil War buffs out there? Any great recommends for me, either non-fiction or historical fiction?

Happy reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Audio Review: Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Septys

We received several new audio book titles in our young adult section at our library and I was so torn between which one to pick first. I settled on Between Shades of Gray because of the historical mood I was in.

At first I did not know if I would get into it. I wondered if it would be too sad, if the narrator's voice would be too whiny, etc. Let's just say I  haven't been too keen on some other female narrated YA titles.

But this particular narrator was spot on. She narrated voices for characters age six to sixty and had the right emotion for each.

Here's a brief description from Goodreads:
Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously--and at great risk--documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, but it is through incredible strength, love, and hope that Lina ultimately survives.

Lina's story was so powerful and painful to listen to. At times it was incredibly graphic and sad and  I wonder about the young adult audience it was geared for. With any depiction of real life horrific moments in history, it's going to feel like a jagged pill to swallow, young or old, I guess. I am glad I chose this over the others. I think fans of The Book Thief would enjoy this. 

I find it comical that after I read this I had an older woman customer come up to me at my bookstore and ask if that was the Shades of Gray book everyone is talking about. I couldn't help exclaim "Good God NO!  Not at all. Are you kidding me?! That would NOT be in the teen section." She walked away thinking I was tad crazy. 

Well, if she had stuck around, I would have recommended it to her. However, i think she really wanted that other "Shades of Gray book everyone is talking about" :)

Author Website: Ruta Sepetys
Purchase: Indie Bound

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Elf: The Musical at the Ordway

Last night, as part of Blogger Night at the Ordway, I saw the wonderful new musical, Elf. It was the perfect night to see it because we finally got some decent snow!

It was truly a wonderful, magical holiday outing. Downtown St.Paul was lit up. It was snowing and cold. Festive music was playing. The theater was, as always, gorgeous and full of cheer. Folks were dressed up in pretty dresses and suits.

This was a fabulous beginning to a night at the theater.

The musical itself was an absolute riot. So much fun! Most people are probably aware of the movie version with Will Farrell but this stands on its own. Not once was I making any comparison.  Buddy the Elf was played by an actor with so much pep and energy, my +1 made a comment wondering if he had any joints! We were amazed at his ability to move around stage!

(photo from Ordway website)

The music numbers fit perfectly with the story and even though some adult humor was sprinkled throughout, it really would be a lovely holiday outing for the family. The stage settings were colorful, moving from the North Pole, to Macy's Holiday Display, to the Empire State Building to Central Park.

(photo from Ordway website)

This is a relatively new musical but definitely worth making it a new holiday tradition for your family.

Elf: The Broadway Musical
Ordway Music Theater
Playing now through December 30.

Thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Audio Review Part 1: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

It absolutely, positively amazes me that I picked this up to listen to. First, it's 30 discs long. That's gotta be a bazillion hours, atleast :)
Second, it's Stephen King. I haven't read anything by him in YEARS. Haven't really been interested in him either. I loved IT, The Shining, Skeleton's Crew and a few other stories along the way. Thanks to him, I am still scared of clowns, fog and semi trucks. 

I wanted a grand story. Something different. Something rich. And folks I know said this was absolutely wonderful. 

I am half way done, hence the Part 1 review. 15 discs in and I am riveted. 

I love the whole concept of it all. Man gets sent on a time traveling mission to erase the bad of the past, most importantly the assassination of JFK. That's the base of the story but SO much else happens along the way. Jake (his present self) grows to be quite comfortable in his past self as George. The people he meets. The love he finds. The others he gets to save. 

Though at times a little meandering, like typical King, it comes back around and you do see how each piece is part of a giant puzzle.

Anyone out there brave this one? Listen or read?

It only took me 2 weeks to get through the first half. I'm hoping the second half will go as quick!

Happy Reading (or listening) and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

The American South in the twenty-first century. A plantation owned for generations by a rich family. So much history. And a dead body.

Just after dawn, Caren walks the grounds of Belle Vie, the historic plantation house in Louisiana that she has managed for four years. Today she sees nothing unusual, apart from some ground that has been dug up by the fence bordering the sugar can fields. Assuming an animal has been out after dark, she asks the gardener to tidy it up. Not long afterwards, he calls her to say it's something else. Something terrible. A dead body. At a distance, she missed her. The girl, the dirt and the blood. Now she has police on site, an investigation in progress, and a member of staff no one can track down. And Caren keeps uncovering things she will wish she didn't know. As she's drawn into the dead girl's story, she makes shattering discoveries about the future of Belle Vie, the secrets of its past, and sees, more clearly than ever, that Belle Vie, its beauty, is not to be trusted. 

A magnificent, sweeping story of the south, The Cutting Season brings history face-to-face with modern America, where Obama is president, but some things will never change. Attica Locke once again provides an unblinking commentary on politics, race, the law, family and love, all within a thriller every bit as gripping and tragic as her first novel, Black Water Rising (description from Goodreads)

This had been sitting on my shelf for months and I would stare at it and stare at it, knowing I would be in for an amazing read once I actually picked the damn thing up and cracked it open. Finally last week, it happened. Finally, a thriller sparked my interest! I've been in a mystery slump!

Attica Locke's first novel, Black Water Rising, was terrific as well. She immediately hooks you in with vivid descriptions of the setting and the inner turmoils of her characters. This time it was the deep south, Louisiana, which is steeped in history and vibrancy. I loved the main character, Caren. She was tough yet refined. I liked how she ran her job, the complexities of running a historic plantation as a black woman. 

It was edgy at times, the current racial tension between the characters and the past story line about the actual people living and working on the plantation, was intriguing and intense. This book had a lot going for it; a love story, history, politics, murder. I enjoyed the hell out of it and definitely look forward to reading more of her books.

On a cool side note, this book was published as the first book in the Harper Collins imprint, Dennis Lehane Books. What a backer to have as an author! Dennis Lehane is one of my favorites so it was easy to trust this book would be a good one.

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
Publisher: Harper Collins (Dennis Lehane Books)
Genre: Thriller
Pages: 374 
Price: $25.99
Challenge: Sadly, this would be one of my first book reviews for my very own A-Z Mystery Author Challenge. Yay! Go me, I know.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child