Posts Tagged ‘Books’

Thirteen Items Faith Checked Out From the Library Today

  1. Songs Without Words – Ann Pack. This is Izzybella’s book for the May book club meeting.
  2. Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? – Peter Walsh
  3. Harvest – Tess Gerritsen
  4. The Devil’s Disciples: Hitler’s inner circle – Anthny Read
  5. Mein Kampf – Adolf Hilter
  6. The Super Fi: The high fructose fallout that is making you fat and sick – Richard J. Johnson, MD with Timothy Gower
  7. Children in the Holocaust and World War II: their secret diaries – Laurel Holliday
  8. Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust – Daniel Jonah Goldhagen
  9. Martyrs to Madness: The Victims
  10. Auschwiz – Clive A. Lawton
  11. Hilter’s Women – Guido Knopp
  12. DVD–Nazi Medicine
  13. Animal, Vegetable, Micracle: A Year of Food Life – Barbara Kingsolver

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Thirteen Books Faith Has Read About the Holocaust

  1. Diary of a Young Girl – Anne Frank. I was so moved by this when I first read it as a child. As I’ve gotten older, I find her story even more extraordinary. Anne, her family, and another family go into hiding in Amsterdam above her father’s place of business and protected by Dutch friends and colleagues. They were betrayed most likely by an employee of the business, and Anne died just a few days before the camp she was in was liberated.
  2. The Devil’s Arithmetic – Jane Yolen.  12-year-old Hannah is tired of hearing all the stories about the Holocaust. One night during the Passover Seder, she is whisked back into 1942 Poland, where she and her family are taken to a concentration camp. Her memories of her former life fade and vanish, and she is completely caught up in her identity as Chaya and the things that are happening around her.
  3. I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust – Livia Bitton Jackson. Jackson describes the experiences she and her family had when they were sent to Auschwitz.
  4. Number the Stars – Lois Lowry. 10-year-old Annemarie has a Jewish friend, and helps shelter her from the nazis in German-occupied Denmark.
  5. Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl. Frankl not only survived the concentration camps, but found spirituality in his life there.
  6. The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom.  Ten Boom describes her experiences in the death camps with a great level of spirituality that enabled her to survive and forgive. This is a most remarkable book.
  7. Exodus – Leon Uris. This epic novel of a family caught up in the Holocaust and all the associated ordeals is a must-read.
  8. The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum – Michael Berenbaum. This book tells and illustrates the story of the Holocaust beginning with the Nazi rise to power.
  9. The Upstairs Room – Johanna Reiss. Two sisters are hidden in a tiny room in a Dutch farmhouse for two years.
  10. We Remember the Holocaust – David A. Adler. This book discusses the events of the Holocaust and shares personal accounts from survivors.
  11. Behind the Bedroom Wall – Laura E. Williams. 13-year-old Korinna is a member of the Nazi youth who is shocked to learn that her parents are hiding a Jewish family.
  12. Anne Frank and Me – Cherie Bennett, Jeff Gottesfeld. A girl suffers a concussion while on a class trip to a Holocaust exhibit, and finds herself living the life of a Jewish teenager in Paris.
  13. Last Seven Months of Anne Frank – Willy Lindwer. What happened to Anne Frank after she and her family were captured by the Nazis and transported to the death camps?

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here! The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others’ comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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The Canterbury Tales


On Saturday afternoon, after we’d been working hard and then running errands all day, Joe graciously agreed to go to Barnes & Noble with me. Well, strictly translated, “can we go to Barnes & Noble” really means, “will you please buy me a book or five?” That’s what I mean about his being gracious. What I didn’t realize when I made the request was that since our Barnes & Noble is moving to a new location, a lot of their books are marked down to 40% off. He was happy; he got one of those BN University courses on CD about the history of ancient Rome (I got him interested in that, I’m proud to say–he’s been studying ancient Rome along with me for some years). I browsed and browsed and browsed, and then I saw my holy grail. A nice hard-bound copy of The Canterbury Tales with illustrations by William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. Mmmmmm.

Yes, I already own at least 3 copies of the book. What?

It’s a measure of his respect for my obsession that he didn’t complain about buying me what is at least my 4th copy of the book. But, but, Morris & Burne-Jones!  I love the pre-Raphaelites.

Joe’s back in Chicago. He wanted to fly me out there next weekend, but there’s just so much we’ve got to take care of at home. I hope he’ll be able to get back here instead. Otherwise I won’t see him again until the 25th. It was a good weekend, for the very most part. My monster even decided she likes my blue hair–surprised me, I must confess!

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I was just browsing blogs (what would that be called? blowsing? brogging?) and found OldGuy’s tip on how to avoid ruining the covers of books you read while soaking in the tub. Packing tape.

I like to read while I’m taking a nice soak. We have a lovely big bathtub, just perfect for lolling in scented bubbles and reading. But in my time I’ve dropped a book or two in the tub, so I learned to only read cheap paperbacks while I’m in the bathroom, the kind I paid 50 cents for from the clearance shelf at Half-Price Books, the kind I won’t get too uptight about should I happen to drop it. (actually, that’s not strictly true; lately I’ve been reading my paperback reprints of the John Bellairs books, and I’d be a little annoyed if any of them got ruined). And, as OldGuy points out, the covers can swell up and get a little mucky, even if you don’t drop the book. He suggests covering the books with packing tape.  Obviously it wouldn’t help with the whole dropping the book thing, unless you covered the whole book with packing tape, in which case you wouldn’t be able to read it.

I’ll let you know how it works. 

And speaking of John Bellairs, his books are frequently challenged by people who make it their business to decide what others should read. The one I just recently finished rereading is The Vengeance of the Witch-Finder, a Bellairs book finished by Brad Strickland. It features Lewis Barnavelt and his uncle Jonathan on holiday in England. It’s a very fast read, and a pleasant way to thumb one’s nose at would-be censors. Go ahead, she says encouragingly, you’ll be glad you did. They’re all deliciously spooky–scared the stink out of me when I was a kid, and even now they can creep me out just a titch. 

In case you’re curious, here’s a list of the Bellairs series and the books in those series. A lot of them are easily available at Half-Price Books and probably eBay for not too much money.


  • The House With a Clock in its Walls – frequently challenged/banned due to necromancy.
  • The Figure in the Shadows
  • The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring
  • The Ghost in the Mirror – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Vengeance of the Witch-finder – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Doom of the Haunted Opera – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Specter from the Magician’s Museum – by Strickland
  • The Beast Under the Wizard’s Bridge – by Strickland. I haven’t found this one yet (makes a mental note to check library/eBay)
  • The Tower at the End of the World – by Strickland
  • The Whistle, the Grave, and the Ghost – by Strickland (another one I haven’t found yet)
  • The House Where Nobody Lived – by Strickland (and ditto)


  • The Treasure of Alpheus Winterborn
  • The Dark Secret of Weatherend
  • The Lamp From the Warlock’s Tomb
  • The Mansion in the Mist


  • The Curse of the Blue Figurine
  • The Mummy, the Will, and the Crypt
  • The Spell of the Sorcerer’s Skull
  • The Revenge of the Wiard’s Ghost
  • The Eyes of the Killer Robot
  • The Trolley to Yesterday
  • The Chessmen of Doom
  • The Secret of the Underground Room
  • The Drum, the Doll, and the Zombie – by Bellairs, completed by Strickland
  • The Hand of the Necromancer – by Strickland
  • The Bell, the Book, and the Spellbinder – by Strickland
  • The Wrath of the Grinning Ghost – by Strickland

The ones completed by or entirely by Brad Strickland are, in my opinion, as good as those written by Bellairs.

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Book Review: The Cake Thief


The Cake Thief is a charming picture book written and illustrated by Sally O. Lee.

Clarence, who lives in a small house with a purple door, is anti-social and no one quite knows why. He also likes to steal cakes of every size, shape, flavour, and colour. This goes on for quite some time until the day when he finds under the cake cover not a cake, but a mysterious invitation addressed to The Cake Thief.  He is invited to a party, and only has to bring a cake.

Clarence doesn’t realize that everyone in town, including his cat, knows that he is the cake thief. He does know that he can’t steal a cake to take to a party. What shall he do?

Clarence’s dilemma is solved through some hard work, and he learns a few things that help him find different ways to handle things.

The story is simple and sweet, and the vividly coloured illustrations are delightful. There is a softness and sweetness to them that the reader will find very endearing.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. Kids will love it for the story and the illustrations.

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Tagged Again

Amethyst got me. (Have I mentioned how totally cool Amethyst is? She’s fantabulous!)

I think I’m supposed to turn to page 123 of the closest book and type in the first five sentence. As usual, I’m reading multiple books, so here goes:

Within this trust, you’ll learn that paint, paper, and implements may create unintentional dimensions of your work. Eventually you’ll come to look forward to the surprises rather than feeling a tense need to maintain control. The best way to develop this trust is to paint! Paint! Paint! – Freeing the Creative Spirit: Drawing on the power of art to tap the magic & wisdom within– Adriana Diaz.

Another practice that correlates interestingly with the yoga teachings is a Jewish tradition called davening, in which one sways one’s body forward and backward while praying. This swaying motion bears a relationship to something the meditator actually experiences with the beginning of kundalini movement in the spine. Davening is not a technique for awakening the kundalini energy, but is rather something that may occur automatically with the early awareness of that awakening. Thus, we see that the truths described here derive from universal realities, and have nothing to do with exclusive religious beliefs. Yoga is not a theory. – Superconsciousness: A guide to meditation – J. Donald Waters.

“What’s the matter, Auntie Mame?” I asked. “What are you doing in Apathy, and why are you disguised”

“I’m on a mission of mercy, child, and I need your strong arm, your agile young brain to help me.”

“You oughtn’ta be away from the ‘cademy, sonny,” the waitress said to me, “but what’ll it be?”

“A cheeseburger and a chocolate malted,” I said. – Auntie Mame – Patrick Dennis.

 “Impossible,” I said. “You don’t understand how this guy thinks.”

“Yeah, I know,” she said. “How come you do?”

I chose to ignore that. – Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Jeff Lindsay

And I’ll tag Janet, Calliope, and No Nonsense Girl. Blog on, oh friends, blog on!

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Or, to elaborate, it’s okay to say said. It really is.

I was just at Project Gutenberg taking a look at a girls’ novel published in 1921, Nan Sherwood at Palm Beach, by Annie Roe Carr.  After scanning the first few pages, I decided I’d go completely bonkers if I tried to read the book. Why? Well, in the first few pages, no one says anything at all. Not that talking doesn’t happen. There’s plenty of talking.

  • Nan ejaculated. (Get your mind out of the gutter!)
  • Her chum laughed
  • Nan admitted
  • Laura put in
  • Grace quoted
  • Laura came back
  • Grace remarked
  • Someone held out dubious comfort
  • The Professor interposed
  • Laura remarked
  • Bess put in
  • And I quit writing down names, but people assured
  • Remarked
  • Repeated
  • Explained
  • Admonished

And I said, “Say said already!”

Did your elementary school/junior high/high school teachers tell you not to use the word “said?” I know mine did, but I pretty much ignored them. I would much rather have a character who said something, than a character who remarked, repeated, explained, admonished, laughed, ejaculated etc. ad infinitum. It gets tedious very quickly, and one tends (okay, I tend) to focus on the words the author uses in a desperate attempt to avoid using the word “said.”

Just say said and get on with the story!

One more thing–have you ever laughed anything? I mean besides ha-ha-ha or snorting laughter or whatever. Because anything I try to say while I’m laughing doesn’t sound like anything except laughter.

I’m just sayin’.

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Book Review: Astro Socks

Astro Socks is Leigh LeCreux’s first book, and it’s a delightful children’s story. Ten-year-old Chris finds his daily routine disrupted more than he imagined when his baby sister Rachel was born. But he loves her, and does his best to adjust to the changes. He particularly enjoys watching her play in her bouncy swing. One day he becomes aware of how often her socks slip off her tiny feet. In fact, Mom refers to her as the “one sock wonder.” Chris, who enjoys math and science and researching, decides to solve the sock problem. He begins working hard, and his efforts pay off to a degree that he never would have imagined possible.

LeCreux has written a charming tale that shows children that anything is possible with imagination and hard work. Illustrations are provided courtesy of her son and his 5th grade classmates. There are some copy errors, mainly in respect to punctuation, but otherwise this is a lovely little book. I think children would be delighted with the story, and it will inspire them to begin working on their own inventions. Well done!

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Book Review: KillRod by Bill Ison

I got home today to find review copies of two different books waiting for me in my mailbox.  The first of these is KillRod: The Cross of Lorraine Murders, by Bill Ison.

Hart St. James, Vietnam Special Services vet and sculptor for the film industry in Hollywood, meets lovely star Kelly Moran. A few days later she is murdered as he lies in bed next to her. Initially a suspect but ruled out due to the nature of his injuries, St. James is obsessed and determined to find out who killed Moran. He leaves a trail of corpses in his wake as he is attacked multiple times by different people, and hobnobs with a high-ranking Senator in his quest. He solves the mystery at hand, but there is perhaps another waiting in the wings.

Ison has crafted a respectable mystery, one that would perhaps have fared very well in the hands of a good editor. The characters are, for the most part, believable, and the action is tight and suspenseful. There are a few typos and some rather glaring misspellings. Those issues are minor and easily fixed. The chapters go back and forth in time, with headings such as “Then,” “Yesterday,” “Long Ago,” etc. It can be a little difficult trying to follow the trail of the story when it’s hopping around like this. Again, a fairly minor quibble, one that’s easily fixable.

My biggest beef is with the antagonist, Monk. His back story is a little preposterous. One has the feeling that it’s there more so we can fully establish why the bad guy is a bad guy even before he starts killing. But in addition to being somewhat unrealistic, it’s also sketchy and incomplete, thus furnishing a distraction rather than the background Ison intends it to be.

Where the story really comes to live is where Ison, in the person of St. James, talks about his craft. It is evident that he is extremely well versed in the art of sculpture and has a deep love for it. Those bits flow well and draw the reader in.

I hope that Ison continues to write, and that he finds a good editor who will help him clean up the technical issues so that the beauty of his story and characters can shine through. 

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Guest Starring: Kaza Kingsley


I’d like to thank Chauceriangirl so much for hosting me today, on the last day of my blog tour. It’s been really fun! I’ve been asked fantastic questions, and here are some more that live up to the rest.

I’d also like to thank all the great readers who have followed the tour and have left wonderful questions and comments.

Below is a teenage picture of me. As this is the last day of my tour I am now “grown up!”

1.      How long did the process of finding a publisher take? Do you have the proverbial drawer full of rejections? If so, how did you handle those? And if not, share your secret! 🙂

The year that Erec Rex took from searching for an agent to finding a publisher was stressful, to say the least. I went into the details in a previous post on this blog tour, so I won’t repeat them all here. But I do have something important to say on the subject, that I hope your readers will take to heart!

At some point when I was writing The Dragon’s Eye, it became obvious to me that it was working as a book, and that I would have no problem finishing it. I was beyond excited, because I truly believed that if I just finished the book I would be completely happy and satisfied. I just wanted to have done it. To have written a book I loved. Then I could go on, life the same, whatever happened with it.

Well, I’ll never forget the night I finished Book One. I lay in bed, buzzing, unable to sleep. I knew my life had been changed, dramatically. It was like getting married, having a child. It was introducing something new into my life, something that would change everything.

So, when nothing happened for a while I got pretty bummed out. It took months to find an agent (which really isn’t too bad!) but it felt like years. And I kept telling myself that all I wanted was to get an agent. Once I got an agent then I could hand the project over to them. I’d be happy. Content. It would all be downhill from there. Wrong. After I got an agent all I could do was obsess, daily, about whether the book would find a publisher. That was all I wanted, then I’d be happy. Was that correct? Of course not! After the book was published, and on the shelves I didn’t feel content and finished at all! Happy? Yes. Thrilled and enthralled beyond belief to see my book on endcap at all the Barnes and Noble in the country over the holidays? Oh yeah. But content? “Done?” Not a chance. I wanted the book to sell well, so I could put out another! I was extremely lucky that Book One hit the fantasy bestseller list last year. But was I content? No! I was freaked out about how long it would stay there, worried about the future.

Suffice it to say, at some point, this process sunk in. I think it’s the human condition. We always are shooting for the stars. And that’s a good thing! But, it is SO important when going through all of this to remember to appreciate the little things, the day to day things, that are making up the reality of our lives. I can easily see how one could get caught up in what might happen next, and miss what is happening today.
So, my advice to your readers who may be writers (or have any other aspirations they are working toward!) is to try not to let it eat you up. It’s so true that the greatest part of writing is the writing itself – and later the readers reading it. All the in between junk – the waiting, the rejection, etc., – can really get in the way of living. Try and see it for what it is. The current phase in your life – that is also filled with some incredible other moments.

2.      Did anything trigger your idea for Erec, or did he just sort of spring into being? Tell us a little about your creation not just of these incredible characters, but of their worlds.

The idea behind Erec was structured from the Hercules legend – but that was more the framework for Erec (that he had to do twelve quests like Hercules twelve labors, etc.) But the details of his personality, who he is, sprung up quickly as I wrote him. I think a part of me made him into the older brother I never had. But then he grew into much more than that to me.

It’s an odd thing, when I invented some of the worlds, such as Alypium and the wilds in Otherness, I could picture them almost like I had been there in a dream. I didn’t sit and figure out the setting. But when I sat and figured out the plot the setting just jumped right in, as if it was waiting for me. I think the more visual parts of the writing are more automatic for me, somehow.

3.      I noticed a so not-subtle reference to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion in book two. I love how you’re playing with the ideas of discrimination based on completely ridiculous factors, and the effects of prejudice based on forged writings. Any particular reason you made that choice?

I did have fun with that. When I was writing this segment of the book I researched what the Nazi’s did with their propaganda. They forced all of the artists in Germany to register with them and do free artwork for posters that made their enemies and scapegoats look evil, gruesome and distorted. But Germany was not alone – other countries did similar things!

The problem of isolating and persecuting people because they look or act different is such a global one. In Book Two, my thoughts on that had a lot to do with the place called “Otherness” where Erec found himself. I wanted to give him a taste of what it is like to be different. And, even more than that, to have to make a tough choice. What would you do if you could have everything you wanted, but at the expense of someone else? And what if that someone else was so different from you it was easy to not relate to them as well?

I just finished Blink, by Malcolm Gladwell. It was a terrific book that talked about how our perceptions of what people are like are affected by first impressions, and things we get all in one glance. It was a great read, and even gave me more to think about on this topic!

4.      As a writer, I often find it very difficult to write the chapters where my characters are in trouble, or making decisions that will cause them a lot of pain. Do you experience this? How do you deal with it? (If this is a completely inane question, please feel free to ignore it–a book my sister and I wrote together has two sisters who are very loving and close, but for a few chapters they’re not speaking to each other. It just about killed us to write that!!!)

This is totally not an insane question – it just shows that you are really getting into your characters’ heads, which is great! Interesting – I find my heart pounding when I am writing really tense scenes. I don’t actually resist putting my characters through their difficulties. It feels at times like I am watching them in a movie, watching the scene unfolding before me. I definitely get affected by what happens to them, though! I’m sad when they are, thrilled with things work out. But I don’t feel myself stopping or pulling back … if that makes sense!



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