September 21, 2015 at 8:46 pm (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

September, when you’re a stay at home mom, is an easy going month.  It’s when the weather cools to the point that you spend every waking moment outdoors soaking up sunshine in a relaxed state.  It’s when you read and collect your thoughts and make plans for your “school year” while all the other moms are scrambling.  It’s always my favorite part.

But I’m not a stay at home mom for September this year.  So I’m scrambling with the rest of y’all.  Instead of basking in the stay at home mom/professional writer glory that I’ve enjoyed (don’t get me wrong, it’s work, but it’s my favorite kind of work… so I’m saving that discussion for another post), I’m back in the store full time AND keeping up my professional writer work AND homeschooling my kiddo.  But at least homeschooling a preschooler involves mountainous amounts of play time and audio books.  So while she buries herself in legos, I’m taking advantage of one last chance to make our family debt free and figure out our lives…

Of course, that simply means I’ve been posting less, not that I haven’t been reading.  So here’s to September, all in one post.

It’s Abo51SHSApT9nL._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_ut Time – Liz Evers

This is a fun history of clocks and time keeping.  I enjoyed it quite a bit, after checking it out from the library, and read it fairly quickly.  It’s a good one to add to the homeschooling reference books for a middle grade student, I think.  Evers writes on the level of Dava Sobel in both content and vocabulary.  Worth owning if you have kids.

The Secrets of Droon – Abbott

Between what we can findcvr in audio at the library and me filling in with my vocal performances where the library is lacking, we have been binge reading The Secrets of Droon.  It’s fun adventure like the Magic Tree House series without the educational twist.  Me? I’m partial to the educational twist.  Kiddo? She’s digging reading a fantasy story where someone isn’t sneaking a lesson in on her.  I think magic carpet rides void of research material on Mummies is refreshing after all the information she gets plugged with.  As much as we moms love to douse our kids with education, it’s good to remember that sometimes they just want some brain candy, and that’s ok.

UnknownBetter With You Here – Zepeda

This is not my typical reading cup of tea.  But I read it because it had tea cups on the front cover. Ha! The marketing gives you a sense that the book will be a cozy one about friends partaking of scones and quiche while they solve their problems over southern tea – but the reality is that it’s about some pretty real and raw struggles of single moms in the ghetto of Dallas who can’t take time for tea if their life depended on it.  Despite the conflict between the marketing and the story, I had a hard time putting the book down.  Zepeda nailed my old neighborhood (which I didn’t know I’d be reading about until a chapter or so in, it was not included on the back jacket and had no bearing on me picking up the book in the first place).  Oak Cliff, when I lived there, was exactly how she described it – and she did a lovely job of describing it by describing the people rather than the streets and buildings.  Although I’m on the fence as to whether I should keep this book or donate it to the library, I am not on the fence about whether or not to read more of the author’s work in the future – I’d definitely read something by her again.

218202Rain – Kirsty Guns

This is a short novel that I read in a series of lunch breaks at work.  It’s one of those pieces you’re not sure whether it’s meant to be for teens or grown ups until you read the first chapter and then you’re sure – it’s for people.  I will always house Gunn in the adult literature section, if I have a say, but I would certainly hand her work to high school students as well.  She reminds me of Frascoise Sagan in the Bonjour Tristesse sense, except there’s far more true sadness in Rain than Sagan ever touched on.

sackett_9780553276848Sackett – Louis L’amour

I’ve officially begun a kick.  I want to write at least one western under the name of one of my characters from my Bookshop Hotel series, but to do that I decided I must actually read a few.  I grew up watching westerns with my dad, most of which were based on books, but I hadn’t actually picked up a western to read until I read The Quick and the Dead last month.  I have to say, I’m kind of in love and hope to read at least one western a month till the day I die.  They’re so calming and quick, and I find the men that star in them familiar and pleasant to be around.

Transcendental Wild Oats – Louisa May Alcott51fKrdzHatL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Anyone who loves Louisa May Alcott or the transcendentalist movement, will find this an interesting read. It was originally published in 1873 as a bit of satire to illustrate Bronson Alcott’s utopian dream commune (that quickly failed).  I can’t help but snicker at descriptions like the one for Miss Jane Gage who “was a stout lady of mature years, sentimental, amiable, and lazy.  She wrote verses copiously, and had vague yearnings and grasping after the unknown, which led her to believe herself fitted for a higher sphere than any she had yet adorned.”  How many times have you found yourself face to face with a Jane Gage in your life?  Daily! Haha.  Daily.

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The Quick and the Dead

August 29, 2015 at 3:49 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , )

Unknown-1Title: The Quick and the Dead

Author: Louis Lamour

Genre: Western

The phrase “the quick and the dead” is an old one.  Ancient.  Biblical.  It even inspires a line in the Apostle’s Creed, made easy to memorize by an popular Rich Mullins song:

I believe in God the Father almighty
Maker of Heaven and Maker of Earth
And in Jesus Christ
His only begotten Son, our Lord
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
Born of the virgin Mary
Suffered under Pontius Pilate
He was crucified and dead and buried 

And I believe what I believe
Is what makes me what I am
I did not make it, no it is making me
It is the very truth of God and not
The invention of any man 

I believe that He who suffered
Was crucified, buried, and dead
He descended into hell and
On the third day, rose again
He ascended into Heaven where
He sits at God’s mighty right hand
I believe that He’s returning to
Judge the quick and the dead
Of the sons of men

Despite my religious background, I first knew this phrase from watching the western with my dad.  I think it was the Sam Elliot one, if I recall.  (Not to be confused with the unrelated story starring Sharon Stone that came out in the 90’s.)

Unknown-2Sadly, however, I’d never read the book.  I grew up on westerns.  I’ve seen every John Wayne movie a dozen times over.  A running joke growing up was when the song The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence came on and my dad would snicker and say “John Wayne, he did it.”  By the way, that’s my favorite Jimmy Stewart movie… not It’s a Wonderful Life.  Not Shop Around the Corner.  But the western where John Wayne swoops in and delivers all his token John Wayne lines.  (Maybe it’s my second favorite Jimmy Stewart movie, actually.  I really love Shenandoah.)

Despite all this western movie culture that was instilled in the very fiber of my being – I’d never read a western until this week.  Historical fiction, sure.  But not an actual serial western.  Which is even odder when you take into consideration how I enjoy taking the western paperbacks under my wing at work, running them most Saturdays until you couldn’t squeeze another title on the shelf even if you tried.  I love the old men that shop there.  Some are wonderfully sweet.  Some are highly inappropriate and should probably never go out in public.  But I love them all, and I love helping them find their Comptons and Cottons, Keltons and Grey, and above all – Louis L’amour.

The realization that I have made a point to read a title from every section in the store yearly but never tackled westerns came slow and tickled at the corners of my brain for quite awhile.  I wanted to try the Sacketts first, but the first one wasn’t in stock that day.  So I grabbed the first familiar title I knew.

It’s such a marvelous book.  It was such a relaxing and easy read, despite the suspense of it all.  I have half a mind to read the whole dang section now.

In time. I will, in time.

Until then, I think I feel a movie night coming on…

What’s your favorite western (book or movie)?

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