Tuesday, January 28, 2020

When We Were Vikings

When We Were Vikings When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

      Zelda feels there is no greater way to live your life than as a Viking. A Viking legend, no less. And if you are going to aspire to be a Viking legend then there needs to be a code of conduct, rules to live by. Zelda and her brother Gert are trying to make a go of life in less than comfortable circumstances. Their father is gone and their mother is dead and living with Uncle Richard was not a viable option anymore. Armed with a code of conduct taped right to the wall, Gert and Zelda share an apartment and their lives. Gert would die for Zelda and vice versa.
      Zelda has fetal alchohol syndrome. She is twenty-one years old, has a boyfriend and she really feels like she needs to get on with her own life, to not be needing people telling her what to do anymore. Gert is so protective he can’t quite agree to that yet. He worries about her but things are tough and in trying to make things better for himself and Zelda Gert falls in with the underbelly of life and finds himself in a lot of trouble.
      Zelda is armed. She is armed with the Viking code of conduct and that means she must be more than a fair maiden, she must be a fierce warrior – a female fierce warrior – a legend. Zelda’s list of things a Viking legend needs include: a hero skilled in hand to hand combat – check; a powerful weapon – check; the love of a fair maiden in danger – check; a wise man – check; pillaging for treasure – check; defeat the villain – check. It takes some doing and she is put to the test more than once but Gert would die for Zelda and vice versa and oh, yes, she’s one determined young woman. Zelda is a legend.
      Let this be your first feel good book of the new year.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Hello out there!

    Well, I'm back.  I wasn't ignoring blogland but sometimes I just wander away-kind of like when PH and I enter a store and I wander off in a direction he isn't looking in and we spend a goodly amount of time searching for each other.  That's kind of what happens.  I wander off and think there's nothing of worth to blog about, certainly not something that warrants a photo.   But this week I caught myself telling a group of school kids that keeping a diary or journal doesn't have to have the big events listed.  People will want to know how you spent your day...someday....because the future days will be so different from the now days.
     Already you can hear your voice echo in blogland as everyone runs to Instagram and I have to say I do miss the friends I've made through blogs.  They've moved on to instant gratification on Instagram-all pics, no talk.  Yes, I have an Instagram account but use it rarely.  
    So, I'm back.  You don't have to listen to my rant about those two books.  But I stand behind my rant.  JoJo Moyes books is absolutely everywhere and it's the inferior book.  Enough.

     This has been my evening project.  I do love looking at people's beautiful quilts but for me, I'm just drawn to the grandma quilts.  The old patterns, old styles and scrappy look. As Friend Marilyn said, "not art quilts but the Little House on the Prairie quilts."  Until she said that I hadn't put a name on what I gravitate to.  So, this simple blue and white nine patch is quilted in big stitch perle cotton, and the binding is almost completely sewn down. And it's very pretty.
    Because we put corn out for the squirrels to keep them away from the bird feeder, we have now attracted these cuties.  They're cute but come spring when nature greens up, they're very hungry and destructive.  For now, I can't help it.  I put the scoop of corn out for the squirrels and somehow these young deer send out the word.  We have to be so very still or they bolt.  Sometimes there are as many as seven out there.

      My birthday is coming up and yesterday we celebrated with the family.  We went to a Chinese restaurant on Chinese New Year but they knew we were coming and were prepared for us so it was all good.  I sat down at the end of the table with the kids as I always do.  I miss out on the conversations at the adult side of the table but I don't mind, these guys are the sprinkles on my cake.
 Chopsticks were challenging but Ceci gave it the ol' college try.

 Adelaide uses chopsticks often at home when eating noodles so she knew the tricks. 

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Book wars

     The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek: A Novel    VS         The Giver of Stars: A Novel
    Since I was an adolescent I have been fascinated with the Appalachian culture.  I have many books in my personal library and like to keep them on the shelf by subject. My interest in the area started with Catherine Marshall's book Christy and never left me.  A particular part of the region's history is really fascinating.  During the Depression of the 1930's Eleanor Roosevelt worked hard to promote getting books to people who lived deep in the hills and hollows of the mountains. The people were desperately poor and didn't have the means and opportunity to access books.  Enter the book horse librarians.  These women would pack saddle bags with books and by horse or mule, get reading material to book starved people. I have some picture books for children about these women, I have some photographic books and I was very excited to hear of and receive an advance copy and do a blog post of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.
  The historical record in her book was fascinating, I learned a lot about how the system ran,  I learned about the blue people,  and that the book women carried more than reading material into the hills.  They also carried medicines, messages, food, and seeds between the families.
   Not long after reading that book I saw publicity for a book called  The Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes.  I haven't read one of her books before but was, at first, excited to see there was another book on the subject of the book women.  I put the title on my bulletin-board-for-remembering-things.
   And then, because I read book reviews and trade journals I started hearing things about Moyes' book.  Things that I didn't like.

 There was this:

and this


    I took Moyes' book off my bulletin board, not planning to read something that was so questionably presented to the readers.  A book I had planned to purchase and add to my library was now persona-non-grata in my life.      Until.  Until I started to see her book everywhere.  Absolutely everywhere...grocery store book shelves, bookstore feature displays, features on internet selling sites, in warehouse book sections, magazine features, newspaper articles and then Reese Witherspoon chose it for her book of the month.
      I was both curious and upset.  A book I had decided on moral principles not to even read was sitting front and center at the library, available.  I checked it out, and immediately, immediately saw what the hub bub was all about.  In my opinion, I don't think there was a way in the world Ms. Moyes didn't know what was in Ms. Richardson's book. You don't write an "original" book and put the same people in it from another book. 
     I was disappointed, too, because I didn't see Ms. Richardson's book anywhere.  Not in bookstores, not in libraries, not featured anywhere.  If you knew it existed you could order it or get it online but you had to know it was there to ask for it.  Not so Ms. Moyes' book.  You couldn't help but trip over it everywhere you went.  Quite obviously the publisher's marketing department was doing its job and Ms. Moyes' name was an asset.    I was also disappointed in Reese Witherspoon.  Clearly the controversy was out there before she chose the title, which gave the book even more attention and publicity, recognition and acclaim.   It makes me suspect all of her choices.  It made me suspect her respect for us as readers.
     I also felt a little insulted as a woman.  Ms. Moyes' book made me feel like I was reading fluff, the kind of thing you see featured on display tables for Mother's Day (  I'll tell you another time about THAT.)  This was a "girl book" set in 1930's  Appalachia featuring women who rode horses and mules to deliver books to the far flung.  It barely skimmed the surface in character development. I didn't learn anything and I didn't care.  The only feelings I had was anger, disbelief and disappointment at this story and author for thinking her story was all I was capable of understanding.
     But you know what?  If you got this far in this little tirade of mine, I want to tell you, this dissing a book publicly is new for me. Once publishers started sending books to me for my opinion I decided I was not going to post negative reviews.  If I couldn't find something I liked I wouldn't post.
      If you are out looking for something and you trip over JoJo Moyes' book, skip it and go to the help desk and order The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. It's written better, it is researched with purpose and depth,  it teaches us more,  the characters are people we want to know.  Give your reading time to a book and author who respect YOU as a reader.

Thursday, January 2, 2020


If, in early January, the sun is shining, the sky is blue, the little bit of snow we have is melting, you go for a walk.  We thought a nice walk across the new pedestrian bridge over the river would be pretty.  


 Oops.  When your town sits at the intersection of two major rivers flooding can happen a lot. I just didn't think we had that much rain recently.