Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Liebster Blog Award

 “Liebster” is a German word for favorite, and the Liebster Blog Award is given to bloggers deserving wider recognition, and who have less than 200 followers. The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to spread the word about these folks and their fine work.
Thanks to Yvonne Anderson, yswords.com, for nominating me. I hereby take up the gauntlet and pass it on to eleven more bloggers.
Here are the rules for participation on the Liebster Blog Award:
  1. Tell 11 things about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  4. Post 11 questions for those who will be nominated by you.
  5. Get in contact with those 11 bloggers in order to inform them that you nominated them.

Eleven Things About Myself

1. I am a Christian imbedded in NW U.S., protestant, charismatic culture
2. Married over 40 years to the only man who would ever put up with me.
3. Mother of five children and grandmother of five grandchildren.
4. Obsessed with gardening.
5. Obsessed with reading and libraries. (read hundreds of books a year)
6. Went to Rwanda three times on short mission trips.
7. Helped Pastor Nahoyo of Butare Christian Mission introduce golden grain amaranth to Rwandan farmers.
8. Helped Come And See Africa  and Africa New Life start 11 elementary school libraries.
9. Helped Pastor Nahoyo help a 39 woman cooperative become successful in growing mushrooms and increasing their incomes from 30$/mo to 45$/mo. Yay!
10. Enjoy watching movies, but tend to over analyze into plot gaps, nonsense, and flying snowmen.
11. Discovered at age 45 that I have Asperger's. SHOCK. So my wookie got her autism honestly rather than out of the blue as previously assumed.
1. Why did you start blogging?
After spending a long time trying to remember the impetus, I finally recalled that it was to make a way to interact with readers.
2. What is your favorite genre to read?
Science Fiction hands down. But I also love horticulture, science, history, mysteries, spiritual life, etc. I hate most horror and dislike most romance.
3. What fictional character do you most wish were real?
Cheshire cat.
4. Describe your dream office for writing.
The mess of a one I've got is ok. My computer here, my husband's desk over there, everywhere boxes filled with books for Rwanda, a hundred books I intend to review someday, papers, papers, papers, and a window I can look out to see birch and cherry trees.
5. Name one thing you couldn’t live without.
6. If you could only keep one book, what would it be?
The Bible.
7. If you could magically transport yourself into any book, which one would you choose, and what character would you be?
Most books have more drama than I care to live with, but perhaps Narnia.
8. Do you have any phobias?
Heights. Spiders dropping onto me from heights. My husband still laughs about the time I was floating on a tube under a railroad trestle and a spider fell onto my chest. That's when he may have lost part of his hearing.
9. What is your biggest pet peeve?
Misspelled words in a projected song during Church service.
10. Describe yourself in five words.
Creative, slow, Child of God.
11. Who is your favorite well-known author and your favorite rising star author?
I love so very, very many authors I cannot truly say, but I can mention among them C. S. Lewis. The two authors I have discovered recently and am now buying all their works are John C. Wright  and China Mieville.

I pass this on to the following bloggers:

My Photo
He Lives 
Phil's Author Blog  
Nissa's Writing Diary
Patricia PacJac Carroll
The Least Read Blog on the Web

Friday, January 18, 2013

Busy busy : draft of a post I forgot to publish from last year

The weeds are outpacing me, so I think I'll buy a yard of barkdust and bury them!

So we got Dad in assisted living, and he likes it! And he attends chapel at the new place too! As my sister said, maybe we have misinterpreting Dad.  And my husband and I have been digging up rocks and trying to help empty out the house. I've been keeping up the little flower gardens, hoping that will help sell the house.

Our houseguest, now in rehabilitation and never coming back home, is looking poorly. We think he may be hallucinating from the pain meds as Dad did when he first broke his neck. He keeps asking for more stuff from his room and we keep running said stuff to him. And I had to buy him some more sweat pants. Most of his clothes are church wear

Good news from Rwanda

Best Beloved returned from Rwanda with some great news and great videos. He went there to speak at an apologetics conference at the Kim Foreman Bible Institute, to give presents to two students we sponsor, and give money to some of our ministry friends. How good to see how much our students have grown. But the thing that gave me the biggest buzz was seeing the mushroom barns built by Pastor David Nahayo and the 40 women cooperative he started. The diggers, with about 4 children each, used to make 30 dollars a month. With the money they make from growing mushrooms, they now make 45 dollars a month. Because they kept such careful records, the government has promised to give them 4 cows!! I provided the books that explained how to grow mushrooms and some spawn. The spawn may have all died, though the pictures Frank showed me look a lot like oyster mushrooms, so maybe some did live. Yay!!! for Pastor Nahayo who kept trying until he found the method that worked in Rwanda!!!! He is one of the kindest, most competent men I know. He started Butare Christian Mission, and has built prayer rooms and display gardens and sewing rooms etc etc. And he has received back the pastorate of his Anglican church. Long story there. He is also the one through whom I introduced Golden Grain Amaranth to farmers around Butare. They love the plant. I wonder if he has gotten any of them to eat the seeds yet. Everybody I fed amaranth seed to at the Come And See Africa house liked the stuff. But so far as I know, they would still rather feed the seeds to their goats. And I wonder if any of them eat purslane yet.
Some years ago I pleaded that no crop is easier to grow than weeds and purslane has good omega oils in it etc, but all insisted they weren't going to eat weeds. And they would all laugh when I pulled it out of the ground and ate the purslane in front of them, insisting how good it was. Then they would run away when I tried to offer it to them.
And professor Mary Jane thanked us in one of her scholarly articles about botanical medicines. Which makes me think, "No, THANK YOU!" for she is the one doing all the work. I gave her seeds for a lot of different kinds of plants, most of which I am sure failed in the new land and climate, but she took the ball and ran with it. I had so much fun with her showing me around the University gardens and a clinic using traditional herbs in an effort to learn what really works and what doesn't.
I hope that someday I will get to visit Rwanda again.

Monday, January 14, 2013

One phrase reviews for a bunch of books

Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks: Great read but at the end, yeah, what was it all about?
Too Far by Rich Shapero: Odd parents pushing kids into an imaginary parable.
The Homecoming by Barry B. Longyear: Cool MG about dinosaurs. They're baaaack!
The Last Guardian of Everness by John C. Wright: Wonderful YA fantasy. You should check out his Christmas story on his website. If you enjoy language, you should read everything by him.
Red Shirts by John Scalzi: Funny but a little too meta for me. I don't want stories to keep reminding me they are stories.
Subterranean by James Rollins: I didn't understand the physics, but I enjoyed this thriller.
Quicker Than The Eye by Ray Bradbury: With the conceit of each story being a magic trick. What can I say about Bradbury? He's a Master.
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making: Felt a bit periodic, but fun.
Beckon by Tom Pawlik: A thrilling thriller.
Fountain of Age by Nancy Kress: Another Master whose writing awes me.
The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue: Gripping fantasy.
Rise of the Magi by Randy Blackwell. The story is readable, and lots of people should enjoy the fantasy, but I wish he had practiced writing another thousand hours before he published this. I will check him out again in a few years.
Gravity by Melissa West: I don't understand the ending.
Riven by Jerry B. Jenkins: Thought it was okay until the absurd ending which the president would have sent troops to prevent.
The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan: Absorbing. Well worth reading.
Lucky Baby by Meredith Efken: Really Great story. Learned so much. Enjoyed so much.
The Outback Stars by Sandra McDonald: Enjoyed until the romance became too explicit.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Review of The Croning by Laird Barron

Somebody somewhere, I wish I could recall, told or wrote that The Croning was a good book, a literary horror. Well, I hate horror, but I am willing to expand my mind, and this was, you know, good.
I have spent decades trying to understand why Anybody likes horror. I wake up from a nightmare and feel awful for another two hours. My husband can dismiss his feelings upon waking from a nightmare. I have accidentally read horror stories (Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke can write stories that you don't know are horror until The Very Last Line!) and the unwanted images have stayed in my mind forever. Others love the stories and make Twilight Zone episodes from them. I think that I may have figured out why some people love horror movies and I DO NOT. I must process adrenaline differently from those folks. Adrenaline makes me feel sick.
The first chapter of The Croning made me feel sick, though not from adrenaline. The story told was foul. I nearly threw away the book.
I waited some time and started again with the second chapter. I hated the story, but it was well written. Well written nastiness, but thoroughly engrossing. I got perhaps halfway through the book before I couldn't take it anymore. That night I woke up from a nightmare of spectacular grossness (not sexual, just gross) and now I have another unwanted image to last the rest of my life. I thought the book was innocent until I remembered That Scene.
I skipped to the end, and the horror never relented.
I cannot recommend this book to anyone. I am not turning in this book for credit. I am throwing it away.
So why did I give it five stars? Because the book was well written and as far as I could tell handled the tropes of horror deftly and should make anyone who reads it feel the sensation of horror.
And as for whoever it was recommending the book, just, just don't ever talk to me again.
P.S. I was not paid to give this review.

Review of Kid vs. Squid by Gred Van Eekhout

Squeeeeeee! This fun novel leaves me wanting to sleep in a hammock in the cleaning closet of an oddities museum. Okay, so the crazy uncle is a bit of a problem, though I'm not sure why the protagonist Thatcher thinks that talking to seagulls is an indication of his craziness. I've talked to every bowl and table in the house, and live things like the dogs and chickens, and I'm not crazy. Pretty sure, anyway. And as it turns out, the uncle had a good reason to talk to the seagull.
The museum reminded me of Marsh's Museum at Longbeach, Washington, back when I was a little girl and all the music player machines worked and it had a lot more nasty things in jars than it does now. The whale skeleton has disintegrated, the museum has moved across the street, and the aisles have widened. But it is still the home of Jake the alligator boy.
One slowly finds out the entire town is a museum of oddities, and then there is Atlantis, and a princess, and badboy squids. And then comes battle. And then....
I was surprised by the ending. It doesn't end with a lot of slashing and cutting. Oh wait, there is cutting. But not the kind you are thinking of. I was so pleased that Thatcher could go beyond dichotomies and find a third way.
I can recommend this book to anybody who likes fantasy.

A Review of Murder a Cappella: A Sweet Adelines Mystery by James R. Callan and Diane Bailey

What a hoot this novel was! I would love to see this made as a  movie with all the music provided by Sweet Adelines and Barber Shop Quartets. There are so many quotable lines, such as those in Princess Bride and UHF. (What? Mine are the only kids who memorized those movies?)
quote: Shutting down the speculation was about as likely as teaching armidillos not to become roadkill.
quote: Some of the habits I'd developed as a single working mother clung to me like staticky clothes from the dryer.
Delightful paragraph:  They say being famous is not as easy or glamorous as it looks. As the afternoon stretched on, I believed it. Dozens of women approached to compliment our performance. I accepted their congratulations with as much grace as I could muster, but after several hours my graciousness had leaked out. I squirmed in my seat, hot, and hungry for something better than another hotdog. . . . By the end of the day, the only things holding me together were bobby pins and the vice grip of my makeup.
     I love books that show me another world, another process, another way that I would never see on my own. I know I did not learn the whole of the world of the Sweet Adelines, but what I did see was fascinating. There was little blood to the murders, but there was lots of police investigation told from the viewpoint of a singer at a Sweet Adeline competition, held at the Alamo, who was also a policewoman.
I can recommend this book to anybody who doesn't need a lot of explosions in their literature to stay happy.

Review of Life of Pi by Yann Martel

     I have not seen the movie, though I am told the film is beautiful and inspiring. The book was entirely puzzling to me. With the conceit of a reporter interviewing the lone survivor of a shipwreck, the story purports to make us the readers believe in God. I admit that I am obtuse about a lot of things; and I have no idea how the story was supposed to do that. Maybe one of you can tell me, but don't despair if I still don't get it.
     I did love the descriptions of the zoo and the behavior of multiple animals. Since I agree that people are being foolish when they natter on how animals should be free in the wild, I found congenial the descriptions of how much better off animals are in good zoos and what wild lives are like.  Do people really not know that living with nature is living with fleas and mosquitoes and ticks and parasites and leeches and cold and scarce food?
     The protagonist's incidents of his attempts to love God by using every religion he can are amusing, and his Hindu perception of my Lord Jesus Christ are fascinating. I wondered if the name of Pi, an eternal number, reflected on his belief of eternal life.
     The use of operant conditioning by Pi to keep the tiger from eating him was well done. (My husband's first degree was in Psychology in a school that focused on operant conditioning.)
     I was following the story with great interest until it got bizarre near the end with a blind fellow floater Frenchman who wants to eat him and then the floating island, um, okay, with the human-eating tree, Not Okay. So....hallucinations there toward the end. He comes ashore in Mexico and is hospitalized, where he is visited by some Japanese insurance representatives. They tell him that they don't believe his story, so then he tells them an ugly, even more harrowing story.
     Near as I can tell, the moral of the novel is that it is better to believe the beautiful story that may be false than the ugly story that is plain fact.  Um......That would seem to undermine belief in God. Or maybe Yann Martel is saying that belief is good (even if in something false) because it makes the world look better and you feel better. If so, that is an argument that does not impress me.
     I know that conclusion is superficially like the argument by the Marshwiggle in The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. If I were more erudite and capable with philosophical language, I could tell you what the differences are. Perhaps one of you could grant language to my inchoate thoughts.
     I would recommend the book only for adults without ADD.