31 December 2014

Here we are at the end of the year 2014.

Did you read any great books?

I may actually still finish one or two books tonight but here is my list for the year:

27 books, total

7 - 5.0*
4 - 4.5*
9 – 4.0*
7 - 3.5*
8 Memoirs
4 Adult
5 Non
4 Young Adult Fiction
1 Children’s
4 graphic novels

Findings: I really don’t like graphic novels. I still enjoy a well written Young Adult novel. I love memoirs.

January 2014

Still Foolin' 'Em: Where I've Been, Where I'm Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?, Billy Crystal 4.5* 

What's So Funny?: My Hilarious Life, Tim Conway 4.0*

February 2014

Cave Paintings to Picasso: The Inside Scoop on 50 Art Masterpieces,
Henry M Sayre, 5.0*

The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia de Luce Novel, Alan
Bradley, 4.5*

March 2014

Mouseton Abbey, Nick Page, 4.0*

April 2014

The Life and Times of Call the Midwife: The Official Companion to Season

One and Two, Heidi Thomas, 5.0*

Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times,
Jennifer Worth, 5.0*

May 2014

Greetings from Nowhere, Barbara O’Connor, 4.0*

Call the Midwife: Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth, 5.0

Call the Midwife: Farewell to the East End, Jennifer Worth,

Hollow City (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children), Ransom
Riggs, 4.0*

The Potty Mouth at the Table, Laurie Notaro, 3.5*

July 2014

Lessons from the Mountain, Mary McDonough, 4.5*

August 2014

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden: A Novel, Jonas
Jonasson, 4.0*

I Kill the Mockingbird, Paul Acampora, 4.0*

Talking Pictures: Images and Messages Rescued from the Past,
Ransom Riggs, 4.0*

September 2014

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye, Robert Kirkman, 3.5*

Outlander, Diana Gabaldon, 4.5*

The Walking Dead, Vol. 2: Miles Behind Us, Robert Kirkman, 3.5*

The Walking Dead, Vol. 3: Safety Behind Bars,Robert Kirkman, 3.5*

October 2014

The Walking Dead, Vol. 4: The Heart's Desire, Robert Kirkman, 3.5*

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, Cary Elwes, 4.0*

November 2014

Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good: The New Mitford Novel (A Mitford Novel), Jan Karon, 4.0*

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek (A Memoir), May Van Wagenen, 5.0*

The Word Snoop, Ursula Dubosarsky, 3.5*

December 2014

Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, Jim Lovell, 5.0*

Who is Tom Ditto?, Danny Wallace, 3.5*

This was actually my second time reading Lovell's memoir. I read it with our 13 year old son over the course of a few years. His retention is remarkable so it is fine that we read from it only a couple times a month. I highly recommend it.

21 October 2014

The science of comprehension as it relates to reading actual books versus ebooks...

I just read an article about comprehension. A couple years ago I think I would have been skeptical of the findings. These days I am thinking that I agree with the article.

I do find that my vision pattern is not the same when I read an article on my iphone. I find that my reading is very "skippy". I don't track well. Why? My theory is that I am looking for "just the facts, Ma'am". I want instant gratification from online articles.

I haven't paid much attention to how I read an ebook on my Kindle or nook ereaders though. Lately, the books that I've been reading are from a favorite series or they are titles that I anticipate wanting to keep or wanting to lend and so I've been buying and reading actual printed books and not ebooks, for the most part.

I've also found that my brain power has ebbed a bit the past couple of years. I do not think it is a coincidence that I have read less the last couple years. We will choose not to pay heed to the fact that time rolls on and I have a birthday tomorrow. I'm sure age has nothing to do with it. 


What say you?

01 October 2014

Outlander (book 1) by Diana Gabaldon

I was aware of this series of books for a long time. I don't recall why I didn't begin reading them while we were living in England. So many of my friends have read them. 

The Starz network just began airing a television series portraying the events of the books. That got my attention. I knew I needed to read the books before watching the series. Time to get started!

I wanted to hurry up and begin so I bought the Kindle eBook and received an offer to buy the audiobook at a reduced price. I'm so very glad I bought the audio version. It was fantastic to hear the Scottish reader's accent and pronunciation as I read along. The ability to listen along whilst driving was a boon as I had many appointments this month. 

Claire is the main character of this series. The book opens by introducing us to her. She lives in England in 1943. She and her husband have spent the past five years apart, both serving in the war effort; him as a commander and her as a nurse. Finding themselves suddenly back together they head off on a getaway to get to know each other again. 

On the trip, her husband plans to continue some research of his family's history. One night the two of them venture off to secretly observe a midnight ritual at the stone henge in Craigh na Dun, Scotland. The next day Claire returns to the henge to gather some unusual flowers. As she does so she touches the main stone and is inexplicably transported though time. She ends up in 1743 and the story brings along Jamie Fraser. That's where things really become interesting.

I really enjoy a good story. This one has great depth; I can already tell that some seemingly small things that have happened in the book are going to turn out to have great significance later. 

I plan to continue reading this series, and watching the show. The filming of it is spectacular but the portrayal of the characters is even better. Caitriona Balfe plays Claire and Sam Heughan is Jamie. The chemistry between the two of them is spot on. (Parental Guidance recommended) Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, available at Amazon

05 August 2014

My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir by Dick van Dyke

Ahhhh...Dick van Dyke. He makes me swoon. Looks and laughter all packaged together. I find it interesting that Mary Tyler Moore is the celebrity crush of one of my brothers. 

Dick manages to tell his story without really telling tales for the most part. The things he does tell seem to be common knowledge, at least of certain people, if not myself. 

He starts from his earliest memories. I like a memoir that does that. It gives one the sense for how a life has changed over time. He grew up in the same general area where my dad grew up. His story carries on through the date of publishing, which was 2011. 

There is only one facet of his life that made me sad. He had an affair while still married to his first wife. He never exactly states that it was absolutely a wrong thing to do, either. I think he realizes that it was. I think he also must realize that he'd never have had his second (happier) marriage though, if things hadn't happened the way they did. Perhaps that is why he never comes out and says he regrets his actions exactly. 

Following the end of his book, I am aware that he has since married a makeup artist. She is many years his junior but they seem to be very happily married. I wish them many happy years together.

27 July 2014

Lessons from the Mountain by Mary McDonough

When I was a child our family often gathered to watch Hee Haw and The Waltons together. I've been watching The Waltons with a couple of our kids recently, thanks to Netflix. 

As for books, I love memoirs and autobiographies. After reading Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim, Mary McDonough's book Lessons from the Mountain came to my attention. 

The book happens to have reached me on two very different levels. The first, of course, has to do with the part of her life during which she played Erin Walton. The second has to do with her fight against Lupus. One of our children is fighting a neurological disorder, and  is struggling with some additional issues also. I was fascinated by both parts of the book. 

The Waltons' cast seems to have been a rare one that really got along as if they were family and loved each other. Mary grew up on the show. Fortunately, she avoided many of the typical pitfalls that many actors succumb to. 

I'm glad I read her book. I'm also glad to be watching the show again. We are in season three of nine. I'd like to visit the Walton's Mountain Museum someday: http://www.waltonmuseum.org/
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