Category Archives: Book friends

A Delightful Surprise

I’ve bought quite a few used books through Amazon, although Powell’s Bookstore is always my first choice. But I was looking for a particular book by Miss Read, and it was available through a third-party seller on Amazon, so I ordered it and it arrived yesterday. It was a very rainy afternoon, and our mail often arrives in a rather wet condition on those days. This book, however, was wrapped well in waterproof packaging (do they do that when sending books to the Pacific Northwest?) and was in great condition. But the delightful part was the personal note I found with the book. With that note, Texas Exile Books, in Oro Valley, Arizona, has won my heart!  I’ll happily recommend them and order used books from them again.

Here’s what the note said in case you can’t read it easily in my photo:

Dear Mrs. Rice,

Thank you for choosing Texas Exile. We hope you enjoy The Market Square by Miss Read (Dora Jessie Saint).

We also suggest – as firm fans of Miss Read & even the old grump, Mrs. Pringle – The Fairacre Series and the Thrush Green novels. Also The Howards of Caxley & the author’s memoirs, A Fortunate Grandchild & Time Remembered.

…Texas Exile Books

Blogging, Friends, and Lots of Life

Book blogging buddies

There has been a lot of LIFE happening in the last few months, some of it difficult and some of it absolutely lovely but also time-consuming. As a result I have gone missing from my blog once again! But  I have continued with my reading, just not with writing about it, and have quietly visited many of your blogs when time allowed.  But after meeting two lovely blogging friends for lunch yesterday, Les @Coastal Horizons, and Kay @Kay’s Reading LIfe, I am inspired again to return to my writing and sharing about books and life. Thank you, Les and Kay!  But before I tell you what books I’ve been enjoying (I promise another post devoted to the books I’ve read since April), I must tell you what LIFE has been like around here recently.

The major focus for me in the last few months has been my mother’s health. Those of you who have followed me over the years, know that my mother is a great reader, my mentor and best friend, and my reading buddy. Since we live in different states, this blog was started as another way to communicate with her and share what we are reading. My amazing and resilient mother is turning 99 years old in August! And she continues to be an avid reader. We always talk about books  during our daily phone conversations, but recently she has begun to have some more serious health problems, so we fully realize that these days and our daily conversations are precious.

In the last six months, I have made a number of special trips to see her. On one trip, I took my daughter, and then a few months later, I took my son and grandson to see her. Each trip was wonderful and full of special memories. My husband and I visited her in May, and we are heading out next week for another, longer, visit with her. My brothers and their wives will all be there as well, so it will truly be a celebration of family and an early birthday celebration for her. She and I will definitely be talking about books during that visit and I will treasure those moments.

The other focus in the last few months has been on my garden! Yes, gardening is definitely therapy for anxiety and anticipated loss, but it is also my new passion. My husband, my daughter, and I all share in the work on these garden projects, and it’s been a delightful way to spend our time!

The garden project we’ve been working on (started last Fall) is my “Butterfly Garden,” a project inspired by the butterfly garden built by the 2nd graders in my school before I retired. We have turned a narrow piece of our property, on the south side of the garage and along the alley way, into a beautiful garden! We can’t see it from the house, so we’ve put chairs out there so we can sit and watch the flowers grow, the bees do their thing, and a few butterflies that are finding their way to a place designed specifically for them. I hope you enjoy this slideshow of the butterfly garden as it has progressed!

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A Special Visit

A panorama of the view from our hotel…

This week, Hubby and I are vacationing on the Oregon coast to celebrate my upcoming birthday. It’s been a nice trip although January weather on the coast has been gray, rainy and windy. That’s okay with us, though, because it is just so beautiful here!

But the best thing about this trip happened this morning when we visited my long-time blogging friend, Les (@Coastal Horizons) and her husband, Rod, and her mother, Andrea. It’s an amazing experience to finally meet in person someone you’ve gotten to know quite well online over a 10-year period of time! It was a very special visit for me!

A wonderful dream: I would just love to travel the world to meet all of my book blogging friends!

Birthdays

classic_birthday

Today is my birthday, and this week is also marks the 8th anniversary of starting this reading blog. I’m celebrating becoming an official senior citizen (according to the Social Security office) quietly today because I’ve been fighting a mean cold all week. The day will definitely be filled with books, however!

And I celebrate my 8 years of blogging, quietly, too. I’ve been an off-and-on blogger for the last few years, disappearing for months at a time while I focus on life happenings. But I return and check in, and share what I’m reading more often now. And I so appreciate my friends in the blogging world (hugs to each of you!), and all of you who visit me and comment on my sporadic posts. Thank you so much for being part of my reading life!

Enjoying Reading Stevensons

I’ve recently had the pleasure of reading three books by a new-to-me author, D.E. Stevenson. I discovered her work through book blogging friends, and she’s quickly becoming a favorite. I read and wrote about Miss Buncle’s Book, then enjoyed Miss Buncle Married, and am almost finished with The Two Mrs. Abbotts. What a pleasure they all have been! (And a new book blogging friend just told me that there’s a 4th book in the series being published in June!)

In reading about D.E. Stevenson, I discovered that her father was a cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson, another author I really enjoy. What wonderful writing genes run in that family! During the winter months, I downloaded the audiobook of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but hadn’t gotten around to listening to it yet. Realizing the Stevenson connection to all my recent reading, I decided to give it a listen.

Illustration by Charles Raymond Macauley

Illustration by Charles Raymond Macauley

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a fascinating exploration of the duality of human nature. It is such a classic and so much a part of our cultural heritage, that I felt I knew all about it even though I had never read it. I did not. The storyline in one thing and makes for great horror films, but Stevenson’s writing is beautiful and the ideas so well presented, it deserves to be read. That’s the joy of reading something written by Robert Louis Stevenson — beautiful, intelligent writing and a compelling story!

So this month has really been my “Read Stevenson” month, although I didn’t plan it that way. I recommend them both: D.E. Stevenson and R.L. Stevenson!

The Once and Future King, part 1

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Painting by Alan Lee…

The stories of King Arthur have long captured my imagination. I’ve read many different versions and enjoyed each one. Many years ago, (to be truthful, it’s been 41 years!), I read T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. I loved it! So for Carl V’s annual Once Upon a Time reading challenge this year, I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this wonderful classic, and revisit an old friend, so to speak.

It’s a very long book, divided into four parts which were written and published at different times. The Sword in the Stone tells of the boyhood of Arthur, called “Wart” by his family, and of his education by the wizard, Merlin. And what a wonderful education! –full of nature and folklore and imagination! It was a very enjoyable “listen,” and, if I were still teaching 6th grade, I would consider reading it aloud to my students as a stand-alone book.

The Sword in the Stone is very much about learning and about the relationship between this special student and his teacher. I retired last year after 27 years of teaching, and one reason I chose to become a teacher in the first place was because I love to learn, so this quote from the book speaks a particular truth for me about the joy of becoming a lifelong learner.

“The best thing for disturbances of the spirit is to learn. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your veins, you may miss your only love and lose your moneys to a monster, you may see the world about you devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honor trampled in the sewers of baser minds. There is only one thing for it then–to learn. Learn why the world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the poor mind can never exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and never dream of regretting.”

Other hidden pleasures in this section of the book were the many quotes from Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and also the inclusion of Robin Hood in the story. What fun! This part of The Once and Future King was written for the child in all of us.

1916_Wyeths_Merlyn

Painting by N.C. Wyeth…

2014 Sci Fi Experience Challenge

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“For my part I know nothing with any certainty,
but the sight of the stars makes me dream.”

~Vincent Van Gogh

I love Carl V’s, (of Stainless Steel Droppings) reading challenges!  My very first reading challenge as a book blogger was in 2007 — his first Once Upon a Time challenge! (I’m looking forward to this year’s OUaT starting in March.) It’s been a few years since I participated in his Sci Fi Experience Challenge, but I’ve been reading many classics recently and decided it would be fun to read a classic of science fiction. Since I am late starting this challenge, which is already underway from December 1st through January 31st, I will focus on just one book:  The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. I have the audiobook version from the library, narrated by the author, which should be especially interesting. As always, this will be an enjoyable reading (and listening) experience!

Martian_Chronicles