Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Reading Wrap-Up for 2013

2013 Reading Wrap-up


Every day I read, along with scriptures, a variety of books both fiction and non-fiction.This is my reading wrap-up for 2013. When I am up at night because my super sensitive skin is driving me crazy with itching and soreness, I can count on my trusty electronic reading device (a regular kindle) to help me focus my mind on something else so I don't scratch myself bloody. I just grab it from my night stand, start reading, and I am transported to another place and time.

I have had a goal of reading 50 books for the past three years. The first year I came up a few short of the goal, the next I made my goal, and this year I surpassed my goal! My grand total for 2013 was 61 books. This year I will set my goal at 60 books, with hopes of surpassing it once again. This will include regular books, kindle books, and books on CD.

2013 breakdown: E-books: 31,   Books on CD: 5,    Regular Books: 21
Fifteen of the books were in my TBR (to be read pile) YAY!

A bit of discussion now...

Shattered, and Graveminder were written by authors I had never read before but from the descriptions put forth that helped me decide to download them, I was pleased with the reads. I just recently downloaded part two of the Shattered series and am looking forward to reading it. Both books had likeable female main characters and entertaining stories. Shattered is a fantasy and Graveminder was a unique story of a family with paranormal abilities leaving a legacy in their town. Do you like zombie tales? Graveminder is for you, (it has low gore level, I am not a fan of gore, I don't watch The Walking Dead, but I did like the movie I am Legend with Will Smith- it was better than the story as the character was less pathetic in the movie).

Cry of the Peacock and Mermaid were also from authors I had never read before and I was pleasantly pleased with both, Peacock was a good standard Gothic-type tale, and Mermaid was a nice retelling of that fairytale. The sleeping surprise for the year was Alexie's The Absoultely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, I listened to it while commuting and driving here and there, it was narrated by the author which added to the depth and charm of the tale. Highly recommended, though sometimes can be a bit shocking. It is classified as Young-Adult literature, definitely for older youth. Kids these days are way more sophisticated than I ever was in high school! It was a let's bare all the warts type of story but very touching and sure made you think. I also discovered an internet site with short stories by Ivan Turgenev, a Russian author, what I have read so far is really good, the tales I've read are mostly categorized as Gothic. All in all, I have learned, been creeped out a bit, and been carried on some amazing adventures from my reading this year!

I read The Strega and the Dreamer for the Immigrant Book challenge, it was about Italian immigrants settling in the North-east and the story of their families trying to fit in. The immigrants worked in the mines in Pennsylvania and that resonated with me as my Grandpa had relatives that did just that. The twist was the wife of one of the immigrants- she was a wise-woman, herbalist, mid-wife, witch, or whatever you want to call her, (hence the "Strega") using her skills/knowledge in the communities where she lived.

I like reading about history so Voices of the Ancients, Women of the Sea, Doomed Queens, Mad Kings and Queens, The Children of Henry VIII, Francis Poor Man of Assisi, Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe, True Stories of Pirates, and a few other books that cross categories were all interesting to me. Doomed Queens was especially interesting, Mad Kings and Queens was rather sad and disturbing because most of the unfortunate royals mentioned within were victims of their own circumstances because of inbreeding, and the seemingly ever true mantra that 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely', and especially if you are King or Queen, someone is always ready to betray you to steal your riches and power. I was surprised to learn about the generally violent history of France in the Castles and Cave Dwellings book because many of the castles discussed were located in France and the so called noble families were always fighting each other, having power grab wars, and trying to rid the earth of their rivals every family member. Families also killed each other in the power wars, so much of it seems to be such an unfortunate commentary on the nature of humankind. Pirate stories are usually always full of action and adventure, and the women pirates seem to be just as ruthless as the men.

Science topics are a nice change from the fantasy and sci fi I usually like to read. Spook was a study on the nature of death and what happens when we die. The Disappearing Spoon and Napoleon's Buttons were both really engaging and I learned things about various elements, the periodic table, Gallium, Silver, and the Tin buttons that may have contributed to the fall of Napoleon's great army. Good stuff there.

I have a seemingly insatiable desire for old ghost stories a la 1800's style. I like the fact that there is a lot of atmosphere created in the stories and rarely any blood and gore. The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood is the perfect example. It's incredibly creepy but nothing bad really happens, the author takes you for a fascinating ride. If there is any gore, it is not the main point of the story and is glossed over rather quickly, while the psychological aspect of creepiness still lingers. It seems anything by Poe, usually gives you a kick in the gut so I can't take a steady diet of his stuff, but do occasionally read it so I can keep up on it for my Dark and Stormy Night Blog and facebook page. Paranormal, Gothics or Ghost stories under this category from the reading list would be the following: 1.Superstition, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore of Bocas del Toro, Panama, 2.Clermont,3. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, 4.Scottish Ghost Stories, 5.Ghosts I have Seen, 6.Classic Vampire Stories, 7.Strange Brew, 8.Mean Streets, 9.12 Black Cats, 10. Mysteries and Legends, 11.Reiko, 12.The Open Door and The Portrait, 13.The Habsburg Curse, 14.Death Masks, 15.Paranormal Casebook, 16.The Book of Werewolves, 17.Blood Rites, 18.Twelve Gothic Tales, 19.Cry of the Peacock, 20.The Empty House, 21.In Search of the Unknown, and 22. Pure. Hapsburg, Werewolves, and Pure could also be counted for some history, too.

Hapsburg was informative and kind of sad, but I don't really believe in curses, it's more of a case of 'what goes around-comes around' and a family legacy of power lust, being disagreeable, and inbreeding. Werewolves was rather shocking and the more for it because it was written in the 1800's and dealt with a rather gory subject trying to explain the werewolf phenomenon and giving a bit of a distasteful history lesson of persons who wanted to eat other persons! That salve the people who supposedly turned into werewolves used (and claimed was given to them by the devil or a witch) sent them on the equivalent of a bad mushroom high or something like that and they would believe they were a werewolf and attack people. (Sounds a bit familiar to some crazy drug episodes and face eating in the not so ancient news of our day.)

Pure was a rather unique tale on the odd subject of the Cemetery of the Innocents in Paris. A nicely Gothic subject and interesting story, weird, but interesting and I pretty much raced through it. It gives some French history leading up to the time of the revolution, too. I happened upon that one while looking for things to post on my Dark and Stormy Night facebook page- The Paris Catacombs! Very strange, but not half as strange as the Capuchin Monks of Palermo. Although I look at those pictures of bones I don't think I could make myself actually go into a catacomb at all. Too dang creepy and weird to gaze at other peoples bones, no thank you! Morbid curiosity I guess.

Ethan Frome was a pretty stark story of New England, stark is a good word to describe it, written by an nobel prize winning American author and in a unique genre, worth reading. My biggest disappointment was Kitchen Confidential, I started reading it for the Foodie book challenge, what a waste of time. Why is that guy a famous chef? He brain is addled from drugs and alcohol and he thinks we all need to know about sexual escapades more than the world of the chef. Just don't bother. The next disappointment was The Book of Lost Fragrances, it left a bad taste in my mouth, it was unsatisfying even though the description seemed pretty interesting. I think maybe it was because the main character was (spoiler) - a let down.

I always enjoy Lois Lowry, and find her books to be thought provoking even though they are classified for young adults. I think that studying The Giver when you are too young (like they always seem to do in school) could almost be a disadvantage because you can't really understand it in the right way and many teens wind up hating it because of that. I happen to like dystopias, they get you thinking.

The three things I read from Atlantis Rising were compilations of articles from the magazine of the same name, some of it needs to be taken with a grain of salt but it usually always delivers something entertaining and if you wanted to write stories there is an abundance of interesting ideas within those pages!

Listing of books read in 2013:

  1. Shatter (The Children of Man)- Elizabeth C. Mock (e-book)
  2. Graveminder-Melissa Marr (e-book)
  3. The Strega and the Dreamer-Theresa C. Dintino (e-book)
  4. Voices of the Ancients-Stephen B. Shaffer (e-book)
  5. Plain Tales from the Hills-Rudyard Kipling (e-book)
  6. Spook by Mary Roach
  7. Ethan Frome- Edith Wharton (e-book)
  8. Superstition, Pirates, Ghosts and Folklore of Bocas del Toro, Panama by Malcolm Henderson (e-book)
  9. Weekend Homesteader- Anna Hess (e-book)
  10. Clermont- Regina Maria Roche (e-book)
  11. Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (book on CD)
  12. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (e-book)
  13. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (e-book)
  14. Doomed Queens by Kris Waldherr
  15. Mad Kings and Queens by Alison Rattle and Allison Vale
  16. The Children of Henry the VIII by John Guy (e-book)
  17. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  18. The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
  19. The Book of Lost Fragrances by M.J. Rose (e-book)
  20. Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
  21. Scottish Ghost Stories by Elliott O'Donnell (e-book)
  22. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (book on CD)
  23. Ghosts I have Seen by Violet Tweedale (e-book)
  24. Classic Vampire Stories Edited by Molly Cooper
  25. The Long War Against God by Dr. Henry Morris
  26. The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales.....by Sam Kean
  27. Strange Brew- Ed. By P.N. Elrod
  28. Mean Streets- Butcher, Green, Richardson, Sinegoski
  29. Elantris by Brandon Sanderson (book on CD)
  30. 12 Great Black Cats and Other Eerie Scottish Tales by Sorche Nic Leodhas
  31. Women of the Sea: Ten Pirate Stories by Myra Weatherly
  32. Francis: Poor Man of Assisi by Tommie De Paola
  33. Mysteries and Legends: Utah True Stories of the Unexplained by Michael O'Reilly
  34. Mermaid by Carolyn Turgeon
  35. Forensics Science: A Very Short Introduction by Jim Fraser (e-book)
  36. The Absoultely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie (book on CD)
  37. Reiko- A Japanese Ghost Story by James Avonleigh (e-book)
  38. Castles and Cave Dwellings of Europe by Sabine Baring-Gould (e-book)
  39. The Open Door and The Portrait by Margaret Oliphant (e-book)
  40. Napoleon's Buttons by Penny LeCouteur and Jay Burreson
  41. Down in the Darkness (The Shadowy History of America's Haunted Mines, Tunnels and Caverns) by Troy Taylor
  42. The Giving Plague by David Brin (Novella) (e-book)
  43. Three Bags Full: A Sheep Detective Story by Leonie Swann (book on CD)
  44. The Habsburg Curse by Hans Holtzer
  45. Death Masks (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
  46. A Paranormal Casebook: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium by Loyd Auerback
  47. Shaking the Family Tree by Buzzy Jackson
  48. The Book of Werewolves: being an account of a terrible superstition by Sabine Baring-Gould
  49. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (e-book)
  50. Blood Rites (Dresden Files) by Jim Butcher
  51. Content Area Reading by Vacca, Vacca, and Mraz (text- yes I read the whole thing))
  52. True Stories of Pirates by Lucy Lethbridge
  53. Twelve Gothic Tales Edited by Richard Dalby
  54. The Alloy of Law Prologue by Brandon Sanderson (e-book)
  55. Cry of the Peacock by V.R. Christensen (e-book)
  56. The Empty House and other Ghost Stories by Algernon Blackwood (e-book)
  57. In Search of the Unknown by Robert W. Chambers (e-book)
  58. Pure by Andrew Miller (e-book)
  59. (Atlantis Rising compilation) Future Science by J. Douglas Kenyon (e-book)
  60. (Atlantis Rising compilation) Beyond Science by William Stoeker (e-book)
  61. (Atlantis Rising compilation) Lost History by Philip Coppens (e-book)
  62. (Various short stories-internet and e-book form, Turgenev, Poe, Blackwood, Bierce, etc.)





Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy 2014

Time has flown away from me. I have been wanting to post for weeks now and finally I am getting the chance. I am not sad to leave 2013 behind, it was a difficult year health-wise, financially, emotionally, I am looking forward to a fresh and new year. My motto is like this picture with a character I like- Captain Picard, from Star Trek The Next Generation...




As I am no longer working in a laboratory, I realized I really loved my job at the U of U, when I was Laboratory Coordinator and did a lot of teaching in the laboratory. I wanted the hospital lab experience and I got it for four years, it became very taxing emotionally and physically, one reason being the long shifts. I made a lot of wonderful friends there, but it was not meant to last for me personally. It is a relief for me actually, even though I suddenly found myself on the way to the poor house if I did not find another source of employment. I have struggled to get a replacement job, so I thought things over and realized that; yes, it is about time I got to stay home because less stress helps my health via not having as many skin breakouts, even though they still do happen periodically. Also, I really do like taking care of my home and family, even cooking, when I have time available to me. About staying out of the poor house... I have an Education Masters, and since I am not working in a lab any more, or teaching college students or adult learners, maybe I could see about using my education experience to become say...a high school science teacher. That is what my new focus is becoming- to become a certified secondary education science teacher. I've earned some money here and there by being hired as a substitute teacher for a local charter school. I really like the school and look forward to subbing there, even though there is no set schedule for when I go. I also have been merchandising for a new clothing store that recently opened up nearby, in a nice new shopping center and earning a bit there. I am finishing up the few classes I need to get secondary teacher certified in my state and am going to be taking the Praxis science test soon. Last fall semester I had three classes and was very busy reading text books and writing assignments, making lesson plans, and doing a practicum for student teaching at a high school (in preparation to doing actual student teaching this coming fall). Whew! That's what I've been up to.