Author Archives: Robin

About Robin

I’m a wife, mother, grandma, retired teacher, gardener, knitter, and avid reader. I live near Portland, Oregon, USA.

Day of Remembrance

Monument at Manzanar Cemetery

“Our differences in beliefs do not truly separate us or elevate us over others. Rather, they highlight the rich tapestry that is humanity.”
   ~ George Takei

In the United States during World War II, about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, most of whom lived on the Pacific Coast, were forcibly relocated and incarcerated in concentration camps in the western interior of the country. Approximately two-thirds of the internees were United States citizens. (Wikipedia)

A few books I have read and recommend highly on the subject of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II:

A Flurry of Mysteries

Albert Bartolomé, 1883: The Artist’s Wife Reading

I think it’s a winter’s day thing…curling up with a good book on a gray cold day. We’ve had quite a few of those days in the last month, plus a lot of fog that keeps the gray in place almost all day. So I found myself craving mystery books! Good detective work, a captivating puzzle to solve… So there has been a flurry of mystery reading here.

  • Mrs. Pollifax Pursued, by Dorothy Gilman. The 11th book in the series that I am rereading for fun and pleasure. It’s lots of fun reading about the antics of this spunky elderly spy!
  • Murder is Binding: A Booktown Mystery, (#1 in the series), by Lorna Barrett. A small town in New Hampshire full of bookstores…a murder in the next door cookbook shop…and a new bookstore owner with a knack for solving the mystery!
  • Shakespeare’s Landlord, by Charlaine Harris. A kick-ass heroine in a small town in Arkansas. Lily Bard is a survivor of a brutal attack, and moved to Shakespeare because she thought it was fitting place to start over given her name.
  • Shakespeare’s Champion, by Charlaine Harris. The second book in the Lily Bard series because I didn’t want to stop reading about her.
  • Shakespeare’s Christmas, by Charlaine Harris. Third book in the series that I just can’t stop reading!
  • Booked to Die, by John Dunning. The first book in a series I’ve long been interested in but never read.

Two Books on Courage

For the last few years I have chosen one word to be my guiding theme for the year. My word for 2022 is Courage. (You can read about my reasons for choosing this particular word by clicking here.) I am planning to read many different books on courage this year and started this project by reading the following two beautiful stories.

I was delighted when my friend, Marlo, sent me a wonderful little picture book called Courage, by Bernard Waber. It was the perfect gift — heartwarming and deeply appreciated support for me.

It’s a poignant little picture book for the very young and the much older, reminding us that courage comes in all sizes and shapes!

From the publisher:

What is courage? Certainly it takes courage for a firefighter to rescue someone trapped in a burning building, but there are many other kinds of courage too. Everyday kinds that normal, ordinary people exhibit all the time, like “being the first to make up after an argument,” or “going to bed without a nightlight.” Bernard Waber explores the many varied kinds of courage and celebrates the moments, big and small, that bring out the hero in each of us.

 

In January, I also read the Newbery Award winning book of 1941, Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry. It is a classic tale of a young boy overcoming his fear of the sea.

From the publisher:

Maftu was afraid of the sea. It had taken his mother when he was a baby, and it seemed to him that the sea gods sought vengeance at having been cheated of Mafatu. So, though he was the son of the Great Chief of Hikueru, a race of Polynesians who worshipped courage, and he was named Stout Heart, he feared and avoided the sea, till everyone branded him a coward. When he could no longer bear their taunts and jibes, he determined to conquer that fear or be conquered– so he went off in his canoe, alone except for his little dog and pet albatross.

I have read it and reread many times over the years, and my copy of this book from my teaching years showed that it was read often by my sixth graders. It is a moving story and one that teaches us to face what we are most afraid of.

February Update

Margaret by the Window, 1915, by Edward Dufner

It is already mid-February! We’ve been busy here with overlapping visits from our daughter and our Grandson — the first time both have been with us since the holidays (they’ve both been staying away because of concerns about Omicron and Byron’s compromised immune system). It was delightful to have them here, absolutely therapeutic!

Although I haven’t been posting as often, I was still able to finish a few books, even though my usual reading times were taken up by long conversations with our daughter and fun computer demonstrations by our grandson (after he finished his online school for the day).

 

Although I actually read this book in January, I wanted to review it for Black History Month.  The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, illustrated by Nikkolas Smith, is a powerful reading experience for young and old. My review on Goodreads stated, “WOW!”  I think that’s the most accurate description! It is an incredible little book, and in this new era of book banning and curriculum warping, I think this book should be required reading for all. It is beautifully written and illustrated, and is a profounding moving account, in verse, of the beginnings of slavery, the slavery experience, and the beginnings of black families, in the United States.

From the publisher:

The 1619 Project’s lyrical picture book in verse chronicles the consequences of slavery and the history of Black resistance in the United States, thoughtfully rendered by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and Newbery honor-winning author Renee Watson.

A young student receives a family tree assignment in school, but she can only trace back three generations. Grandma gathers the whole family, and the student learns that 400 years ago, in 1619, their ancestors were stolen and brought to America by white slave traders.
But before that, they had a home, a land, a language. She learns how the people said to be born on the water survived.

And the people planted dreams and hope,
willed themselves to keep
living, living.

And the people learned new words
for love
for friend
for family

for joy
for grow
for home.

With powerful verse and striking illustrations by Nikkolas Smith, Born on the Water provides a pathway for readers of all ages to reflect on the origins of American identity.

You can read two sample pages below. (They will enlarge if you click on them.)  This is a book that I continue to think about. I borrowed it from the library, but have since bought it for my bookshelf because it is a book that I need to revisit many times.

 

New!

Welcome to the family, new computer! It’s a late Christmas present to ourselves. We couldn’t decide what we wanted for Christmas 2021. Finally settled on a new desktop computer. I can sit in the bay window area and work on my photos and my blog. Heavenly!

New Books


A number of new books arrived this weekend for my birthday. It’s so fun to see what my family chooses for me when they buy me books. My daughter sent me a Kindle book I’ve been interested in reading for a long time. My brother and sister-in-law sent the two hilarious squirrel books along with a very interesting-looking book written by their friend. And not in the photo is the first book in a Japanese Manga series from Byron, because he knows I’ve been enjoying those. My reading heart is warmed by all this book love!

 

A Busy Week


It’s been a busy week even though we are spending most of our time at home these days. We are trying to avoid exposure to Omicron because of Byron’s impaired immune system, and earlier in the week I found myself feeling quite blue about being so housebound. But then I started looking at how we are spending our at-home time and decided that we are actually spending our time very well and I have nothing to complain about! The photos above are of this busy week:

First of all, I read three books this week. Love in an English Garden, by Victoria Connelly, was a gentle read, a light romance with garden at the heart. Then, The 1619 Project: Born on the Water, by Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson, was a powerful and beautifully written and illustrated story about the first slaves brought to America in 1619. I highly recommend it!  And then, I listened to an audiobook of the first book in a new-to-me mystery series, Murder is Binding (a Booktown Mystery), by Lorna Barrett. It was fun.

We watched Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth, starring Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand. It was an awesome production, and I thought it was very much like a film by Ingmar Bergman. That’s a high compliment!

I have been working each morning on my Spanish, using the app/program, Duolingo. I’m really enjoying the challenge, and am hoping to regain some of the Spanish I have lost over the years by not speaking it often enough.

And one last activity…Byron and I trapped and relocated a pesky squirrel that moved into our attic recently. This seems to happen almost every winter so we’ve become quite skilled at using our trap and taking these squirrels to a decent relocation spot.

Overall, a pretty interesting week. Feeling blue can definitely be part of this ongoing pandemic, but I am trying to make positive choices about how to spend my time  and emotional energy.

 

15 Years Old


Fifteen years ago on a quiet January morning, I started this blog. During those fifteen years, I’ve made many wonderful reading friends. I’ve been inspired by all of you, dear friends, as I’ve shared with you my own love of reading. The book blogging community is warm and supportive, and my life is greatly enriched by my interactions with all of you. So today I celebrate fifteen years full of great reading and great friends. Cheers!

My 2007 reading spot and my blogging spot in the background…

A Sci-Fi Experience

I was happily reminded this month of the very enjoyable January/February reading challenge hosted by Carl V. Anderson (@Stainless Steel Droppings) years ago. His “Sci-Fi Experience” was always a highlight of my winter, and expanded my reading horizons exponentially. It was something that recently happened to my husband, Byron, that reminded me of that fun, immersive experience.

A couple of months ago, when Byron was sleepless due to some side effects of his cancer treatments, he would read articles and listen to podcasts about his cancer. It was fine that he was learning as much as he could about it, but I worried that such reading in the middle of the night would add to his insomnia and would raise his anxiety levels.

As an early Christmas present, our daughter sent him an audiobook, the first in a science fiction series she liked called The Expanse. Byron was not much of a science fiction reader, but we had watched the TV series and liked it. Our daughter told him the books were even better, so he started listening to that instead of those podcasts. The first book was called Leviathan Wakes, by James S. A. Corey (actually two men who collaborate on writing this series), and he became completely hooked on the series! He’s just about to finish the sixth book, the seventh book is ready to download, and he is loving his winter “Sci Fi Experience!”

“Quality of Life” is a phrase we are using often in our home right now. Reading and special book-related experiences like this one greatly enhance our quality of life and are so deeply appreciated during a difficult time.