Saturday, April 30, 2011

My Kindle is Coming!!

I broke down and ordered it.  The Kindle.  The list of unread books is still long.  Somedays I feel I'm plowing through the list in record speed.  Then I look at it and the titles on the unread side never seems to get lesser in number.

So now the wait begins.  I ordered the new cheaper Kindle with ads.  I wanted to save a little money and I don't really care about the ads.  But that didn't really work out for me.  Why?  Because I broke down and ordered a leather case with a light which cost far more money than what I saved on the Kindle.  The case came today and it's gorgeous.  I ordered it in green since green is my favorite color.  I've stared at it's beauty, caressed the soft leather and carefully stored it in its box so the cover will be perfect when the Kindle finally arrives.  The anticipation is killing me.

Now that I'm not working and have more free time, I've been itching to visit the bookstore.  But I can't.  The last thing I need is more printed books when, if I can just find an ounce of patience, I'll soon be able to download the e-version and carry it with me wherever I go.  I'm dreaming of setting the font size so I can read without glasses, turning the page with a press of my thumb and never again need a bookmark.  I'm really afraid I'll love the Kindle so much, I'll download all the unread titles I already have in paper versions thus buying them twice.  Staying out of the store makes me feel like I'm somehow in control of my book buying addiction.

Originally the Kindle itself was set to arrive around May 9th. But today I got an email saying it may be here by May 3rd.  Amazon could sense how anxious I am for their device.  They must know by the number of my book reviews how bad my addiction is.  They wanted in on a sure and steady revenue stream sooner rather than later.  I'll be watching the mailbox. And trying to cross a few more books off my list before it arrives.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The River of Doubt by Candice Millard

When looking for the next victim from my list of unread books, I decided to look for something that had been there awhile.  The River of Doubt by Candice Millard was published in 2005.  I figured 6 years was plenty long enough and it deserved my attention. 

Being that the book is a biography of Theodore Roosevelt, I had serious doubts I could make it all the way through.  I was wrong.  The River of Doubt is a captivating view into a trip the former President and his son took down an uncharted river through the center of the Amazon jungle in 1913.  Adventurers at heart, even the Roosevelts had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

Starting with the bungled preparations that overloaded the party with unnecessary luggage, through underwear eating termites, to lost canoes and starvation, the story mesmerized me.  The author's research was first rate.  Her descriptions of the jungle and all its inhabitants, plant and animal, made me feel as if I was there scratching my bug bites.  I learned so much about a piece of history I'd never heard of before. 

I know I have eclectic reading habits and The River of Doubt fits right in.  I can still see myself selecting it from the shelf at Costco.  I have no idea what would have drawn me to it, but whatever it was I'm truly grateful.  I loved it and I learned so much!  The River of Doubt gets 5 out 5.

My Annual Firing

I've fallen behind in my blog posts lately.  Maybe you've been wondering what I've been up to.  Tax season ended last Monday.  I spent Tuesday and Wednesday packing up the office and cleaning it up for its summer rest.  Lord knows it needs it.  And I've spent the past few days trying to get my energy back.

I'm currently unemployed again and exhausted.  My annual firing seems to suck the life out of me even though I know it's coming. I know the exactly time and date, one day after the close of tax season.  This year that fell on April 18th.  And for the next two years it will also be extended past the usual April 15th. And yet I always feel unprepared for what is about to happen. 

There is something about working that gives a person purpose in life.  I feel a sense of accomplishment when I prepare a tax return and the client leaves smiling.  I feel needed when I can answer a tax question for one of the tax preparers working under me.  And I want to go home and throw back a few glasses of wine when those same employees start to quibble over who's supposed to make the coffee or empty the trash.  Ahhh.  Working and earning a living is so fulfilling!

And now I have time to indulge my passion, writing, and my mind is completely and utterly blank. I seemed so full of ideas while I was working and without enough time to set pen to paper.  Now I've settled into my home office, and turned on my favorite Chinese classical music. Now I wait.  Inspiration will come to me.  I know it will.  I've got nothing but time on my side.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

I Think I Love You by Stephanie Bonds

For the past few months I've been struggling to find my writing voice.  I like to write in a humorous, lighthearted style but lately that hasn't been working for me.  I'd been working on a more serious manuscript and when it was critiqued by my writing mentor she said it was way too depressing and made a very long list of the reasons why.  She was right so I scrapped that story altogether.

My friend, Judy gave me I Think I Love You to help me search for my elusive voice.  And you may think, "Gee.  She's been plowing through the reading material lately."  I kept I Think I Love You at the tax office for those slow and quiet nights while I waited for an anxious taxpayer to come in and file a return.  It's a quick read but a couple days ago I brought it home knowing that as the tax deadline looms there would be no time for leisurely enjoyment.

Regina, Justine and Mica are unlikely sisters different from each other in every way.  Regina, the studious book editor, Justine, the wild executive at a cosmetics company who never thinks twice about sleeping with a married man and Mica with the flowing locks of hair who stars as the Tara Hair girl.  As a decades old murder unravels they all end up together in their parent's home.  And the fighting and bickering begins.

I Think I Love You has a good story line, interesting characters but not enough depth to keep me engaged.  There wasn't enough spark, for me anyway, between Regina and her love interest, Mitchell. The fact that their father's alibi was that he'd secretly checked himself into rehab seemed odd.  And I figured out that Uncle Lawrence was guilty from the get go.  Not much to keep me going.  As usual when I'm reading with an eye toward writing, I can't stop in the middle of the story just in case I might miss exactly what I'm looking for,

I'll rate this novel 2 out of 5.  Thanks to Judy for lending the book.  It helped me to understand that I need to return to what I love, humor.  I've known that all along, I needed a nudge to realize it.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Velva Jean Learns to Drive by Jennifer Niven

Velva Jean lives at the top of a mountain in North Carolina during the depression of the 1930's.  She's desperate to be saved by Jesus yet when it happens she's never sure of her faith.  She's fast friends with her brother, Johnny Clay and together they try to find their way into adulthood.  As the Blue Ridge Parkway was being built, life changed for everyone who called the mountains home.

Velva Jean loves to sing and has the voice of an angel.  Without the guidance of her mother, she rushes into a marriage while still a teenager. She loves Harley but he changes in ways Velva Jean is afraid of.  But it's truly Velva Jean who is changing, growing up in a new world.

I loved this book.  The author has perfectly crafted the story.  There were parts I thought moved a little too slowly but on second thought life moved slowly Appalachia. Every time a chapter disappointed me, I thought for awhile and then decided that was exactly how life is.  We are all on a path out of our own control.  Ms. Niven captured the essence of life in the depth of each character.  She also plotted the story perfectly through to the climax and joyous life changing end.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer by Gregg Braden

I thought it was time that all of my readers got to see my spiritual side.  God is my very good friend and I tell Him that I love Him every morning before starting my day.  My faith has brought me through many dark days and I'm forever grateful for my many blessings.

What's really kind of funny about this book is its history with me.  It was given to me by my dear friend, April.  When I opened it up, out fell a prescription for Percoset written by the dentist about 3 years ago after having a root canal.  Why I would have stuck a prescription in this book or any book for that matter, is a mystery.

And then I started reading.  It is about how to develop a deeper and more meaningful prayer life.  The author uses examples from ancient traditions.  The one driving theme however, is that we need to feel our pain and work though 'a dark night of the soul' in order to face our deepest fears.  Facing my dependence on alcohol was one of those very dark nights that seemed to last for years.  That this book came from April also made me face the pain of losing her friendship over something stupid.  And for that prescription.  I guess I worked through that physical pain without the help of drugs.  Pain takes on many different faces in our lives.

If you're looking for spiritual guidance on how to take your prayer life to a different level, Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer will give you plenty to think about.  God's waiting to talk to you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Street of A Thousand Blossoms by Gail Tsukiyama

I remember distinctly being attracted to the brilliant red cover sprinkled with pink cherry blossoms, while in the book store several years ago.  Like many others, on the shelf it sat.  With the tragic earthquake and tsunami in Japan, I thought it was time to read this one.

The Street of A Thousand Blossoms is filled with tragedy from the start.  Kenji and Hiroshi are orphans who are being raised by their grandparents.  Then World War II happens impacting their lives, setting them on an unexpected path.  After each sadness, they appear to move forward only to have misfortune follow them again and again.

Recently I asked one of my writing mentors to give me a critique on a story I was working on.  Her first words were that it was too depressing.  Depressing doesn't lure in the reader.  Then she listed all the reasons it was too depressing and trust me, the list was long.  Her advice taught me a great lesson about writing.  I wish someone had given Ms. Tsukiyama a list.  Maybe we would have had more happiness in this novel.

This novel gave great insight into the Japanese culture.  For that I'll give it credit.  The story however, was so depressing it was often a struggle to keep reading.  Add to that what I thought was poor editing and I was even more disappointed.  The outside of the book is beautiful.  The inside was too sad to be enjoyable.  I rate this book 2 out of 5 stars.

City of Thieves by David Benioff

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