Saturday, November 28, 2015


When I review a book, I usually try to say something positive. I also try not to judge too harshly because I am aware we all experience books in our own ways, from our own perspectives. That being said, I'm going to make a bold statement here:

If you've been thinking about reading The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick, I would suggest you give your valuable reading time to another book. I hear the Amazon series, based on the novel, is really good. Why don't you go for that? I can't say how good the series is for myself because I haven't watched it yet, but...I'm thinking it must be better than the book. (Did I just say that out loud? Yes. Yes, I did.)

First, let me say, I thought the concept of the novel was a good one. I knew, going in, it was supposed to give the reader an alternate ending to World War II (a topic I am continually fascinated by). I understood I was going to be given a view on what the world might be like if the Axis Powers had won the war. What I need you to understand is I wanted to like this book, I was looking forward to it. My gosh, I gave it part of my Thanksgiving Break (prime reading time for a teacher, in case you didn't know)!

I was disappointed. It wasn't horrible, needless to say, it just wasn't...great. I hate giving reviews like this, but I have to share my personal opinion of "HIGH," which is what I've come to call it. If you ever read the novel, you'll know why - but, hey, it's the holidays, let me save you the trouble.

  1. It is painfully obvious the author has a very HIGH opinion of himself. And, yes, I could tell it from reading the novel. In fact, I left a tab on page 133 that says, "PKD is an egomaniac!"
  2. I feel sure the author was HIGH when he wrote, at least, some of the book.
  3. After I read the book, I kept trying to find excuses why it received the Hugo Award in 1963. Perhaps,...there was no good sci-fi back then? I've decided it must be because the awards people were HIGH.
  4. Then I thought, perhaps, the Hugo Award committee had never read a novel before about alternate universes or alternate endings or, maybe,...they'd never seen episodes of "The Twilight Zone" before?  If that was the case, I could understand why they gave more credence to the novel than it deserved. I decided to test my theory and looked up the Hugo Awards for 1963 and found that "The Twilight Zone" actually received the Hugo Award that year for Best Dramatic Presentation! Okaaaaay, so...I'm back to thinking the committee must have been HIGH to slobber over this novel. (And, yes, I took into consideration that World War II had not been over very long for that generation, but still...)
  5. And, finally, the interesting viewpoint that the novel reveals is that if the Germans and the Japanese had won World War II, it would have been acceptable to smoke marijuana to relax (as common as a cigarette, comes in brands, and is carried around by your average businessman). This only loops back to another reason why I will forever refer to this work of fiction as HIGH and helps to support my suspicions about the author (see point #2).

To sum it all up, I'm glad I read it as a reference, but my time would have been better spent reading one of the numerous books on my "to read" list, all of which I set aside to read this novel because I wanted to read it before watching the series I've heard so much about. So, for those of you who are avid readers beating yourselves up because you fell in love with the show before reading the book, let yourself off the hook. Enjoy the series. Leave the novel on the the bookstore.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Good Problem

I'm sitting here grinning to myself. I am a very happy girl today, and...I guess I just wanted to share my giddiness with you!

I woke up with a wonderful, delightful dilemma this morning, and I have yet to solve it. I've been working on the problem all morning. It's now noon here, and I have yet to make a decision,...but I have wallowed in the joy of the problem. 

I need a new book to read, and I can't decide what I want to read next.

You see, I just finished my book club's book choice yesterday afternoon, and we met last night to have dinner and discuss the book. I spent the evening talking about the book we read, but also talking about other books we're interested in or have heard about. I thought I knew what book I wanted to read next until I got up this morning with all those conversations floating in my head.

I've spent this entire morning looking over all the books on my bookshelves. I've read every title I own (except for picture books and young adult fiction - I keep those on separate shelves). In my search for something good to read, I have pulled some old friends from the shelves to remind myself how much I enjoyed reading them. I've smiled at some of them, run my hand over more than a few book jackets, and - yes - even kissed one (or two) and hugged it close to my heart. For a brief moment, I even considered what it would be like to spread out all my books on the floor of my library and just roll around in them, but...I would never risk damaging a book that way. Still, the thought did occur to me.

I love my books, and I have a fondness for them that I don't reserve for anything else. I'm not a materialistic person, I never have been, me...books aren't things. Books are people's thoughts on paper, they contain the minds and emotions of others. I love words, and books contain words that are strung together in the most amazing ways (if they're not amazing, they don't stay in my home). I have to love a book to keep it.

In my treasure hunt this morning, I did find a couple of weeds among the roses, and I threw them away. Yes, threw away. No, I won't sell them to the second hand book store. I won't be responsible for passing on bad literature to others, even at a discount price. I did find a few other books that aren't quite me. They were gifts, once upon a time, but it's time to re-gift them. They weren't bad books, just...not my style. I also realized I have more than one copy of a couple of good books, so I'll be happy to give those away to someone I know would enjoy them.

Am I any closer to choosing my next book? Actually, I am. I've narrowed it down to three. One made me laugh out loud in the introduction (I'm leaning heavily towards that one), one is a beloved book I'd like to re-read (whose words are so beautiful I know I'll read much of it aloud), and the other is a random pick I bought from a bookstore some time ago (but I have a really good instinct for picking good ones). I can read more than one book at a time, and I do from time to time, but I prefer to give one book all of my attention. I feel I enjoy it more that way.

Hmmm,...which one shall it be? I don't know for sure, but it's a good problem to have.

Happy reading!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Seeing Red

There's no place quite like middle school, eh? I've mentioned before I love what I do, and I love that I teach sixth graders. I'd just like to give you an example of why middle school students are just too funny.

There are two seventh grade boys, who are former students of mine, that are like sons to me. They come downstairs to visit me, now and then, between classes to say hello and to tell my sixth graders they better be good to me. The boys also come down to let me know how they're doing in certain subjects or to talk about their sports and invite me to games, which I enjoy attending when I can.

One of their favorite things to do, when they visit in the hallway with me, is what I like to call, "You didn't do that with us!" Now, the way this goes is the boys will look in my classroom to see what my students are doing this year. If they see anything different, that looks like the students are doing something they didn't get to do in class last year, they turn to me and say, (yes, you guessed it) "You didn't do that with us!" It's absolutely hilarious! When I try to explain I don't do everything the same every year, they just give me sad faces and tell me I should have done that with their class. At this point, I usually remind them of something fun we did last year, and it makes them smile. They are both gracious gentlemen, so they usually end our conversation by telling me I should do that something for this year's class, too, because it was fun.

I thought I'd heard it all from their appraisals of my lessons this year. I didn't think they could surprise me with anything they observed or said, but...

I was wrong.

Today, the two boys came down to see me during their passing periods. They both stopped dead in their tracks when they saw me. "Whaaaat have you done?!" one said, his mouth hanging open. I looked very innocent because, in truth, I wasn't sure what he was talking about or what they were staring at.

They both walked up to me and one reached out to touch my hair. "Your hair! What did you do to your hair? I mean,...I like it! I do like it!" It was then that I realized they had not seen me since I dyed my hair a dark red last week, a big change from my usual blonde.

Both the boys recovered after a few moments, and then one of the boys looked at the other and grinned before turning to me and saying, "Honestly, it looks great, didn't do that with us last year!"
Ah, my middle schoolers... :)

Sunday, November 1, 2015


How on earth did I manage to get another day off from the world? How is it even possible?! I mean, last weekend I was desperate for a little peace and quiet, and now...I'm enjoying a second Sunday of reprieve! I feel like I've won the personal time lottery!

So,...what to do with my free Sunday?

The first thing I did this morning was pick up my Kate Morton book, The Lake House, to finish it. I opened up to my bookmarked page the minute after I hit the start button on the coffeemaker and settled in for a good read on the couch in my library. I took a brief intermission once the coffee was ready, to fix my cup just right, before completely immersing myself into the novel.

I just finished the book and,...I loved every single minute of my journey. I love Kate Morton's books! They're the kind of books I can lose myself in and see things through the eyes of her characters. Her books always center around generations and time-hops. Her stories emphasize how one, sometimes seemingly minor, event can change the course of generations to come. Her novels are always about mysteries and secrets, as well, with a good dose of faerie tales and folklore mixed in for good measure.

Up until now, The Forgotten Garden has been my favorite Morton book. I believe The Lake House runs a very close second to it now. I enjoyed the time-hops, understanding that what goes on in present day is haunted by the past. The truth it brings out that, no matter how far we go in our lives, people are all a product of what they come from, what stories they've been told, what perspective they had when they were young, good or bad. It's the kind of book that begs an answer to the age-old question about what people might do differently if they knew the chain reaction their small part plays in a bigger picture. Ah, much to ponder when the book is done! Just the way I like it.

As usual, Morton brings many stories into one. The timeline goes from 1911 to 2003, through both World War I and World War II. The novel primarily takes place in both London and Cornwall in England and surrounds the mysterious disappearance of a member of the Edevane family one summer in 1933. This novel has a little bit of everything in it and defines the many layers of love in its own way, a way I very much approve of. And, for fans of Morton's other books, she has a nice, little gem hidden in the pages of this book. I was both surprised and pleased by it.

I'm glad I finished the book first thing this morning, as it has set the stage for a perfect Sunday. Oh, I'm  not sure what all I'm going to do today, but for the moment? I'm still sitting on the couch in my library, quite comfortably, and I have the most ridiculous smile on my face. I just can't help it. To think, I was desperate for alone time last weekend and today I feel absolutely, delightfully decadent!

And, isn't that the way life should be (at least, once in awhile)? ;)

Happy reading!