Friday 27 March 2015

Library Loot

I have ended my self imposed TBR challenge a week early.  I am missing library books too much.  I read lots of book blogs and book reviews and there are books I want to read. Many of them are older books that I have passed by for one reason or another.  Now my Play Reading class has begun again on Tuesday afternoons through U3A (University of the Third Age) I have my library afternoon after that. The class takes place just a few blocks away from the library.

I have been reading reviews of children's reviews, young adult reviews and of course adult books reviews. I decided to randomly pick some reviews and choose those books from the library to read. I had not read any of them and I needed something to motivate my reading a bit. This has done the trick.  I'll still get to the books on my shelves. But this week here is my Library Loot.

Ash Road by Ivan Southall:  A story about children that are dealing with talk of bush fires from their parents when they find themselves faced with them but everyone seems to have disappeared except for an old man.

The Fish Ladder by Katharine Norbury: A woman who loves to wander faced with the issues of adoption, a miscarried child and finding a stranger who knows all about her.

The Millstone by Margaret Drabble: I have never read a Margaret Drabble book before. It is 1965 and sexual liberation in the UK is on the way. A young woman is found pregnant after a one night stand and must deal with being a single mother - finding herself transformed along the way.

Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis: The Sequel to Parvana which I talked about in my last post. A young Afghani woman must leave Kabul, looking for her family, caring for her father as she escapes to a refugee camp under the Taliban.

Mrs. Bridge by Evan Connell Jr. :  Turn of the century America, in a mediocre experience within her family who faces the dilemmas that arise in daily life. The back book cover states, "She is an interesting, pathetically comic, a tragically lonely figure." and "It is sad, somewhat terrifying to reflect upon the numberless Mrs. Bridges trotting befuddledly through this urgent age. This one, you will understand. This one, you won't forget."

 A House is Built and The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne.  I know, I know. Every now and then the inner child  screeches across the library floor, sliding across the lino, wanting to spend time with the wonderful friends of Winnie. One is never too old.

 I like to keep up with what is popular with young people and these two books are both talked about with respect. The Fox by Margaret  Wild and Ron Books.  I love children's books especially to look at the illustrations. How I wish I could draw.

 The Arrival by Shaun Tan: A Graphic Book with the most beautiful images in sepia that is one to see in a book. Very strange tale. This may have to be reviewed separately.

I Capture the Castle by Dodi Smith and The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne:
I have heard so much about these books that when I saw them at the library I decided it would not take long to read them and find out what the fuss is about. I know the Boyne book is taught as part of the 7th or 8th grade curriculum here. 

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Saturday 21 March 2015

Parvana by Deborah Ellis (Young Adult)

I have not been one to read young adult fiction. I never thought it would interest me. But I read something recently that of all adult fiction it is 49% of adults in our population that do read it.

I have always been interested in what our young adults/teenagers read but I have not been inclined to pick it up.

Being totally bored with my TBR challenge and missing the library terribly, in a moment of weakness I went to the library.  Whilst there I found this wonderful YA book by Deborah Ellis.  (Okay, sometime during the next six months I will trade my TBR challenge for new/different books.)

I came across the book list on Yahoo called 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. I had not looked through that though I had heard of the book. This title is one of those books that is recommended.

I picked this book up and today I sat outside in the yard with the dogs, in the sunshine (as it is the first day of autumn here) and became thoroughly engrossed in this wonderful book.

Parvana is a young Afghan girl who lives with her family in a one roomed flat in Kabul.  She lives there with her mother and father, younger brother and sister and her older sister who is 17 years old.  When the Taliban learns her father was educated in an England University he is taken away by the Taliban and the family are left without their breadwinner.  The only way this family is going to earn money is if Parvana dresses like a boy and takes over her father's place at the market reading and writing letters and also selling little trinkets.  Women are not allowed outside without a man and now there are no men in her life.

Her life is changed very much as a young boy instead of a young girl and this book details her encounters with other people in the area and her family life.

This book gripped me from the very beginning and I cared very much about this young girl's family. Descriptions of her home and work life were realistic under today's Taliban and the oppression of girls and women is certainly felt.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is able to read it. It is a lovely family story, but still manages to get across the horrors of war and doesn't pull any punches with some of the incidents that happen within this community.  I see there is a sequel to this book called Parvana's Journey and I have already reserved this and will pick it up at the library soon. I am interested in seeing what happens to this family as we are left hanging a bit. One story finishes in this story, but there are threads that do continue and it is necessary to read the sequel.

If all Young Adult fiction is as excellent as this book I think I will branch out a bit and read more of it. Stories such as this, with the details within would not have been in the books I read as a young adult/teenager.  Books were a bit more sugar coated in those days and I am happy that younger people in today's society are able to have more realistic life stories.  I'll let you know if the sequel is as good.

Thursday 19 March 2015

Life still travels its hectic path..

I know when people retire they say they don't know how they had time to work. I never believed that. Now I do. It is past ridiculous.  Our sister who was here for a month went home and things are still as busy.

First off we have a very old dog who keeps throwing up health issues. Wally is making us go even grayer than we normally are. It is very hard when you know your beloved dog is going to pass on. He is pretty good now so fingers crossed for more time. The needs of the other 2 cats and 2 dogs we have continue. We love all that involves but it is busy.

I am reading a Michael Connelly book now. When harried I turn to crime.

I also have just signed up for a journaling class short course online through Monash University. It runs for 6 weeks with two assignments a week, some quizzes and a final exam at the end.

Then we won't talk about all the food and drink we had when the family got together. I now have a choice between a whole new wardrobe or the 30 minutes exercise program every day.

I must say I am well and truly tired of the TBR challenge. I have a few new books I am wanting to read but then I guess 1 April is not that far away.

We are having the last of summer days here and the weather is lovely lately. A few motorbike rides have been the norm.

During May we have a 6 week holiday coming up but more on that later. Getting everything booked for that is finally over and I am ready to take off now.

I am always amazed at how some of my blogging friends manage to read so much and then write so much about their books. I keep thinking our winter is around the corner and once our holiday is over I will have lots of time beginning 1 July. We'll see. I hope all of you are doing well.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Another Saturday- They Sure Roll Around

Saturday and a few things on for today. I stayed up last night finishing off To Kill A Mockingbird and then had to think about it all. I will never comprehend the racism that went on in the south of the USA. Were people really that ignorant? I guess so.

Today is a shop at the local discount department store. We are having a fund raising BBQ tomorrow in front of one of the major hardware stores to raise money for the Dog's Home Auxiliary. I am in charge of bringing 100 cans of soft drink.
We raise money to buy things for the dogs. I don't do volunteer work AT the dog's home because I bond with all the dogs as soon as I make eye contact so I joined the Auxiliary and just help raise money for them. Three dogs and two cats is enough and I don't need to "bond" with anymore.

I have to buy the drinks for the BBQ and of course the store that has the cheapest one wins.  I think I'll pop my Kindle in the car and listen to The Rosie Project on the way down. It is one of those books that has been hanging around and I am sure I have listened to the same passage a dozen times. Need to get on with it and finish it. So the Rosie Project is the goal for today.

I am sure I am the last person in the world to read it. It is about a man with Aspergers Syndrome who uses a spreadsheet to record the traits he would like a future wife to have. Of course it all goes haywire and he ends up with someone who does all of the things on his list he does not like.  Of course everyone already knows that as I said, I am the last person to read/hear this book.
It is a fun book to listen to but not worth spending the amount of time hanging around as has happened.

Why is it we just have some books we don't get through but they're still interesting enough to hang on to. I hope to finish this off today and put it on the shelf.

The BBQ begins at 8:30 tomorrow morning and I'll be done with it by noon (my shift anyway).  We hope to raise over a $1000.00 on this thing. Fingers crossed.

I think another thing on my list for today is to choose the next book I want to read. I am still working away at books on my shelf for the TBR. I think I'll try to choose something a bit different so stay tuned to see what it is.

I need to do a walk around the yard today and pick up all the branches that fell during the terrific wind storm we had the other night. As there is no land mass between Tasmania and the continent of Africa the winds really can fly over the Southern Ocean and hit us head on. We had a cold front come through the other night and winds over 100 km per hour were pushing off the mountain and slamming into our yard. Branches, lawn furniture and even bark from trees were flying around half the night. Only one of my dogs was a bit nervous about it and she kept getting up to look around a bit. It really is impossible to sleep when a heavy wind is around. Looking forward to a quieter meteorological weekend.

This is a three day weekend for Labour Day or 8 Hour day as it is sometimes called. Three day weekends don't affect me as they did when I worked but I still seem to like them. A good excuse and as Mr . TP is working on a friend's farm maybe I'll shut myself in with a reading stint of uninterrupted time.  I would like to get a couple of more books caught up, started and finished by the end of March.

Friday 6 March 2015

T0 Kill a Mockingbird: Memories of an Earlier Time

Friday has rolled around and I really have no idea where the days go. This year, like last, seems to be whizzing by.  We definitely need a pause button once in awhile.

Sadly, our company has gone back to Canada but it is nice to get back into a bit of a routine again. The first week of the month is always busy as the Dog's Home Auxiliary meets the first of the month and we're doing a big BBQ on Sunday to raise money for the home. Then my senior's association meets for dinner and meeting the first week of the month. We deal with community and political issues that relate to older people. Then the local book club meets the first week of the month but I think I am going to give it up as I have now joined my Class of 68 (Grand Ledge, Michigan) book club and am having great fun with that. Also it is not quite so prescribed as the one run locally in our wonderful Indie Book Shop.

This week I have really enjoyed pulling out the book To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee for the GL Class of 68 book group and am reading it.
I have seen the film with the wonderful Gregory Peck (1962) in it several times but had never read the book. No idea how I have gotten this far in life without reading it but it is a great book. I mean, what can I say about it that has not already been said.

I am enjoying the children, Jem and Scout, their hardworking father, Atticus who is a lawyer in the depression south (USA) representing a black man, wrongly accused of rape.  The fall out for the children due to this case is as you would expect with several of the white townspeople not enjoying this situation at all. The racism is rampant.  I don't enjoy books with racism as the thought of it is totally abhorrent when people are simply trying to live their lives and those of different race, religion, creed just won't let it happen.  It is Scout (the young, about to be adolescent girl) and her older brother that bring the joy to this book.

Their neighbour Boo Radley, who never comes out of his house, is a constant source of curiosity and pranks and I remember living in mid Michigan in the 50's also having a house with an elderly lady in it who we were always fascinated with.

I remember Mrs. Wiseman. She lived alone in a neighbouring house in our small town of about 5500 people.  She walked with a cane, stared at the children as we played near her house and the odd thing was she attended every funeral in the town. There was probably a funeral about twice a week. She could always be seen walking to the funeral home, in her black coat and heavy shoes, leaning on her cane.  I don't think she knew all the people who had died but she attended their funeral.  Now as an older person myself it is quite sad as she was probably just wanting some social interaction but as 10 year olds in the 1950's it was a lot scarier to us.

I remember as 10 year olds my best friend at the time and I went to her front door, rang the bell and asked her if we could do some work for her.To raise money for the movies of course, which at the time was 25 cents for children and 35 cents for adults.  She invited us in, sent us upstairs to an old bedroom that was filled with newspapers and magazines and had us move them somewhere for her. I can't remember now. I remember we were overwhelmed by the old stories we saw on the front pages of the stacks of newspapers and knew those papers had been there since World War II and before.

Of course we were scared to death when we rang the bell on the porch, climbing the stairs was even scarier and we were convinced we would probably be locked into the room and no one would have any idea where we were.

We were old enough to know she wouldn't have eaten us.  I have no idea what had possessed us but we did live to tell the tale and tell the tale we did.

Those were the days, when our parents threw us out first thing in the morning during our summer holidays and didn't expect us to return home until dinner time that night. The freedom we had was wonderful and no helicopter parents for us.  Times have certainly changed but the book To Kill a Mockingbird certainly brings back those different, quieter times and I am finding the book very nostalgic in many ways.  Living in mid-Michigan in the 50's and 60's I never saw a person of another race until I left for university when I was 18.

Like Scout and Jem did others have these people in their neighbourhoods that they were fascinated with as children?

Sunday 1 March 2015

Sunday Wrap Up

The Travellin' Penguin had the very best weekend and almost lost his footing on this outdoor seat at MONA.

The month long visit of our Canadian sister (in-law) is at a close tomorrow with her trip back to Canada. We have certainly done the tourist thing while she was here. Now we are all exhausted.

The other day we went to MONA.  MONA is the creation of a Tasmanian man, David Walsh, who has travelled the world and made millions gambling. He has come back to Tasmania and built this underground Museum of Old and New Art and given it to the Tasmanian community. It has really opened our island state up to international tourism and is absolutely amazing. We spent the day out at the museum on Friday.

They have four levels, three of them underground of art displays. The modern art can be quite confrontational to some people but the traditional is also there. The building is made of sandstone from Tasmanian rock and is representative of stunning architecture on the River Derwent.

I have shared some of our photos from the day with  you.  Then on Saturday we spent the day with friends at the Salamanca market and I found the most wonderful sunflower. Sunflowers are my most favourite sunflower and I absolutely fell in love with it. You will too.
I hope you enjoy the travels of our Penguin and it inspires you to visit here one day.

MONA Museum Link:  here

Salamanca Market Link: here 

MONA on the River Derwent, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia  (Get there by car or ferry from city centre wharf)
All the walls are made of local sandstone. Tasmanian Rock
Well known artist Sidney Nolan's Aboriginal snake. This is only 1/3 of it and with person in forefront you can see how tall it is.  Each square is a drawing of a face or abstract art piece complete in crayon and dye. The photo does not do it justice.

A very large brain on display on the floor with windows looking inside. This is photo of inside of flashing moving activity.
A representation of all of the activity inside one's brain. Very busy.
A piece from an ancient Egyptian grave. Approximately 3000 years old. I love the etchings.
This San Francisco artist from California is obsessed with the works of Norman Mailer. It is enshrined in a salted base.

Outdoor sculpture of a cement truck. Very impressive with all the wires that comprise the truck.
A very modern car in a bubble plastic. Brilliant red.
A roomful of spider webs that have been spray painted with enamel paint of various colours and then transferred onto
a canvas and framed.  Interesting work.

There are many more exhibits but flash photography was prohibited and space does not allow them to be seen. There are more traditional arts as well as some R rated work.  You will see more on the web site if you are interested. MONA Cinema also has excellent programs screening. I discovered a large library on the bottom floor and people are invited to come in and peruse the books   with plenty of seating in the reading room. I will have to go out there one day and explore the library. 

Saturday we went to Salamanca Market and experienced sun, clouds, rain, lunch, cappuccinos and beautiful flowers. Enjoy this sunflower called the "Double Double Sunflower". I must find the seeds for it to try to grow next year. Stunning flower.