Wednesday, January 30, 2013

review: Wild (from lost to found...)

Title by Author: Wild by Cheryl Strayed
Series (if applicable): none
Publisher: Knopf
Publication Date: June 2012
Page Count:  311
Source: library e-book
A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—-and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—-and to do it alone. She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than “an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.” But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail. Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

My Interest in this book is: Saw a blurb about it right after watching The Way with Martin Sheen and hiking El Camino in Spain.  I thought that this might give me more insight into long-distance hiking.  Loved the cover, too!

My Review:
When Cheryl got divorced from a man that she loved, but cheated on, she was able to choose her last name; she chose Strayed: “to wander from the proper path, to deviate from the direct course, to be lost, to become wild…” This new last name was a moniker she carried because she felt lost and gone from the proper path.  Cheryl needed to be found!

This book was more than just a recount of her journey of hiking 1100 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, it was all of the drama that led to her taking a hike that she was quite ill-prepared for.  However, you have to give this woman kudos for completing the hike, in not quitting, and in losing all of her baggage by the end of the trail and ready to start a new life.  It was like a trial by fire to be able to pass in to the next phase of her life, but hers was a trial by trail.

I know that there are people out there who are lost in their lives.  They do things that are harmful to themselves, mess up good relationships with bad choices and it is amazing that they even survive.  Cheryl Strayed did more than survive, she conquered her past and was able to move forward with change.  This is the tale of that journey.  It is more about the emotional journey than the physical one – as she was healing the scars from her former life, the trail attacked her body along the way.

Monday, January 28, 2013

a letter of thanks to Jane Austen

My Dear Miss Austen,

I must say, you have created quite a stir.  I am fairly positive that you merely wrote those stories to get the characters out of your head.  What else is an intelligent woman to do who is not allowed to have a profession on her own; one who is not inclined to marry simply for the sake of taking over housekeeping for some boorish man, if one does not love him?  However, I must say that I am quite pleased with your stories and am ever so glad that your friends demanded to have their stories told!

I understand that today is an anniversary of sorts for you.  How exciting it must be have to sent your ‘child’ out in to the world and then seeing that your creation has touched so many lives!  And countless lives it has touched.  To know that Elizabeth Bennet is a person upon whom many have felt a deep and abiding friendship.  To know that many are shocked at the duplicity of George Wickham, and that few can stand the imperiousness of Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  It serves the old woman right that her nephew would rather fall in love with an upstart such as Miss Eliza Bennet instead of her sickly Anne.

But enough of the characters of your story that has now been known to the world for two hundred years.  TWO HUNDRED YEARS!  Oh, the felicity of knowing that your labour of love has existed for two centuries and delighted readers for all of those minutes and hours!  Let us turn to how it has affected this humble reader.

First, I will have you know that I was able to find my own Mr Darcy quite some time before I had discovered your treasured works.  It was actually several years after my own blissful union, with three wee lasses running about that I had the opportunity to discover the wonderful worlds you had created.  A friend had actually lent to me the lifelike reproductions, a visual story telling of sorts, of your beloved First Impressions (which was much better titled Pride and Prejudice).  I was captivated to say the least.  It was so pleasant to have the worry of nappies and running a household dissolve as I fell in to the lives of the Bennet girls and their pursuit of happiness, in whatever form it would take. (What a dreadfully silly girl Miss Lydia turned out to be!)

Shortly after my effusive compliments to my mother about this story, she had wisely obtained beautiful renditions of your four most read novels.  Once again, I was captivated and enthralled that an author from the early nineteenth century could so capture the true essence of a young lady finding her way about her small world, in hopes of finding love that she can call her own.  It was fascinating to see that men and women of our present day were not too different than those walking about this great Earth during the Napoleonic Wars.  What was even more diverting was how apropos your words and advice are today!  It is still true that a girl likes to be crossed in love once in a while, it helps to hone what is truly desired in a life companion.  It is also still true that one cannot know a person simply by looking at them and mis-interpreting their character.  I could detail all of the wonderful lessons that we modern ladies have gleaned from your stories, but I am sure that you are quite well aware of what you wrote and what it means to you.

I will say this, though, that your stories, to this day, have meant something to a vast audience of people, from women to men (yes, men quite enjoy your little novels), young and old, and even those that speak different languages.  We all read your novels with anticipation, even if it is for the fourth or fortieth time, wondering how the story will advance and if true love will prevail.  It is awe-inspiring to me to have an author who still is revered to this day, two centuries later.  Many try to emulate your style, but it remains to be seen if any will have the longevity that your novels, your characters, your life lessons have engendered.

Thank you for having created a truly remarkable work that I will turn to often in times when peace and happiness are needed.  My Dear Miss Austen, your novels, which you were afraid to publish as you were a woman during a certain age and time, have touched my heart and those of many others, giving us the hope that all will turn out as it should.  Strength of character and being true to one’s own heart are lessons that all of us need to learn and practice and your stories have helped with this.  Thank you for allowing the stories to flow from your heart, through your pen, and into published works that have been enjoyed for the past two hundred years.

I have, and will always be…

your Servant,

                              Kate Maxwell

Kate Maxwell will always have a special place in her heart for Pride and Prejudice, as it was the first introduction to Jane Austen.  However, truth be told, Persuasion with Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth holds the highest place of honour in her heart and on her bookshelf.  She is, however, in the midst of writing a story of Margaret Dashwood, and a new friend of hers, Catherine Kingsley.  Kate hopes to one day be brave enough like Miss Austen and put her novel out for general consumption.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

not another one...

...yup - another book challenge!

UniFlame Creates is hosting the Wish List Challenge!

Here are the deets:
Read 12 books (one for every month of the year) that you would like to read, but don’t already have on your shelves. 

1. The challenge runs from January 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013.
2. You are to read 12 books from your current wishlist. If you don’t have a list anywhere, write down books that you are eager to read, that you don’t own yet, and choose 12 books off that list.
3. If you can’t find a book that’s on your wishlist (your library doesn’t have it, or you don’t want/can’t buy it) then you can use another book. But: you are not allowed to include any NEWLY added books for this challenge. So, whatever your list is now, that’s it. I.e. you can’t read amazing things about a book on someone else’s blog, decide you want to read it, then read it for the Wishlist Challenge. The opposite is true: you want to read something for the Wishlist Challenge, so you go to your wishlist, find a book that was on that wishlist before January 1st, 2013, and read it for the challenge.
4. You can overlap with other challenges, as long as you read books that were on your wishlist before January 1st, 2013.
5. Sign up here by leaving a comment with a link to your announcement post for this challenge.
6. When you’ve read your 12 books, come back here and leave a comment with a link to your final post about the challenge. Make sure you’ve done this by January 15th, 2014.

I have a WishList - I have had it for quite some time... and it just keeps growing.  When I saw this challenge, I culled through it to find which ones were at the Library in our quaint, little town - and they had these from my WishList!  So, in the spirit of the other challenge that I signed up for today (can you tell I finished my schoolwork?!?) The Library Book Challenge, I might get to graduate up to Middle School!

Here are MY books!

Wishlist,  in no particular order! 

1. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
2. Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
3. Don’t Expect Magic by Kathy McCullough
4. Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay
5. The List by Siobhan Vivian
6. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
7. My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison
8. Matched by Allyson Condie
9. Madame Bovary’s Daughter by Linda Urbach
10. Mr. Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
11. Greywalker by Kat Richardson
12. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

Those below, were not found at the library, sadly… I just might have to buy them… OR! if anyone is looking for a gift pour Moi! here is a small start - a gift card to Amazon would do very nicely, too! 
*wink wink*
(oh...and this is just a small listing!)

My Sparkling Misfortune by Laura Lond
The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
A Summer in Europe by Marilyn Bryant
Never Sit Down in a Hoop Skirt, and other things I learned as a Southern Belle by Cricket Rumley
A Breathe of Eyre by Eve Marie Mont
Bumped by Megan McCafferty

signed up for a challenge...

I really wasn't going to sign up for other reading challenges, but this one fits so nicely with my current reading scheme, that I couldn't pass it up!

Library Book Reading Challenge by My Book Dragon.

This is do-able, as I love going to the library, and really am trying not to buy books unless absolutely necessary. (you should see just how many book cases we have in our house!  There are books everywhere!)

Here are the deets:

Our love of reading can be expensive! Not only are we purchasing books but we also need space to keep them. I've started using the library (again) but couldn't find a challenge to help me. Here it is. There are a number of levels, for those who don't have a library card yet to those that live there. Enjoy!


  • choose a level - you may move up as needed, just not down.
  • check books out of the library
  • books may overlap with other challenges
  • any format allowed (print, ebook, audio)
  • reviews are not necessary but a list of books read is.
  • a blog is not necessary, just comment that you want to join in

  • board book - 3
  • picture book - 6
  • early reader - 9
  • chapter book - 12
  • middle grades - 18
  • Young adult - 24
  • adult - 36
  • just insert IV - 50  
I think I am only going to be a Chapter Book reader for now.

Remember those book cases, I still have book challenges from last year that I never completed, to include the TBR Pile Challenge that I still need to get through, and those books are on my book shelves!  (love the categories... especially the 'just insert IV")

Wanna join us?!

january reviews for Challenge

Hi All! Here is the place to put links to your reviews for Reading Outside the Box Reading Challenge.

When you put your name in the for the Linky, PLEASE put which category you focused on for the review.  I look forward to reading your reviews.  

OH! You can put up more than one review in a month, if you have read a couple of books that fit Outside The Box!

Here's a quick recap of the Categories:
  1. To the Screen
  2. Another Voice
  3. Opposites Attract
  4. Five Star Day
  5. XyZ pdQ
  6. It's My Birthday
  7. From One Place
  8. It's All about Me
  9. Visit an Old Friend
  10. Look at the Pretty Pictures
  11. She Made Me Do It
  12. I Couldn't Help Myself
  13. To Be or Not to Be
Remember - the Linky is only open until February 6th!  Don't forget to share the love with others who have posted!


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

review: The Selection

Title by Author: The Selection by Kiera Cass
Series (if applicable): The Selection #1
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date:  April 2012
Page Count:  327
Source: library
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

My Interest in this book is: Loved the cover!  I did see mixed reviews on this, but when I saw it at the library, I wanted to judge for myself.

My Review:
Cast of Major Characters
Aspen – boyfriend who’s a Six
Maxon – prince and not what he originally seemed.
May – younger sister and very excited for America
Marlee – best friend of America at the castle
America – lead character, musician and one of The Selected

It is after World War IV (you don’t find this little tidbit out until after the halfway point of the story) and the world is fractured and run by the Chinese (I think).  There is a caste system in place with eight different castes.  America Singer and her family are called Fives, as they are a part of the fifth caste which is comprised of artisans of varying types.  For instance, America and her mother are musicians while her father, younger sister and old siblings are artists.  There is also a monarchy that rules over the land (a map would have been very helpful; but, alas, it was non-existent) and the king and queen’s only son, Prince Maxon, should be married off.  The current queen was picked through The Selection, a gathering of 35 girls between the ages of 16 and 21 years old.  A girl is picked from each region, thus the number of 35, regardless of her caste.  It is supposed to be a lottery, by why do the girls have to go in and have their photo taken if it is by chance.

America happens to be in love with a Six – Aspen.  It is a forbidden love, especially since Aspen is from a lower caste, and America’s mother hopes for so much more for America, and from her!  Aspen barely has enough money to feed his family, so he is not quite ready to marry America.  However, he encourages her to put her name in for the lottery, because he doesn’t want a “What If” hanging over their relationship.  Little did either of them know that America would be picked from their district (sound a little Hunger Games to you, too?!)

hodge podge - takin' a trip!

1. Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's's the list for 2013-

fiscal cliff, kick the can down the road, double down, job creators/creation, passion/passionate, yolo (an acronym for you only live once), spoiler alert, bucket list, trending, superfood, boneless wings, and guru

Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen.

There are a few that I would like to ban, but most have their place and most are already on their way out.  My eldest daughter uses YOLO way too often…but what can you do, she is young and trying to justify what she is doing in life.  However….

I would ban Superfood – believe it or not!  I am currently taking nutrition classes and everywhere I turn, there is yet another Superfood! Do we really know anything about this new berry found in the Amazon that will not only cure your every disorder but will also remove fat by rubbing it on your thighs, and smearing it on your face?!? (I don’t know if something like that does exist, but it seems that the health claims of all of these new Superfoods make these types of claims, and I am tired of it.  What about good old fashioned fruits and vegetables?!?

"It's food. It's either healthful or it's not. There is no 'super' involved."

2.  When was the last time you rode a train?  Where did you go?

It was April of 2011 when my daughter and I rode the EuroStar round trip from London to Paris for a nice weekend together!  That is a trip I wouldn’t mind repeating – and spend longer than a weekend too!

3. Bagels-yay or nay?  Favorite 'flavor'?  Favorite topping?

YAY!  If it weren’t for this stupid gluten sensitivity, I would eat bagels an awful lot!  I would have to go with Onion bagels with ‘Schmear!’ – cream cheese, red onion, avocado, maybe a little fancy white albacore tuna (keep your dill pickles to yourself!), and sunflower sprouts and a piece of sweet, nutty baby Swiss cheese!  (Did I also mention that I am lactose intolerant and vegetarian as well?!?)  Oh…in my Dreams!

4.  'Tis the season of awards shows...if you could star in a movie already made which one would you choose?

Easy – Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, or Persuasion!  A Jane Austen movie of any of these three would be fabulous!  I would have to be Elizabeth Bennet, Elinor Dashwood or Anne Elliot!  I think it would be fabulous to rumble around the English countryside, reside in manor homes and wear Regency clothing.  That would be ideal to me!

5. The move towards single gender classrooms has been making the news in recent months....what say you?  Do you think kids perform better if seperated by gender and are taught differently or is that discrimination?  If you're a parent, is this something you'd support in regard to your own children?

I don’t think so… even though it proves as a distraction, it also helps to ‘train’ our youth to deal with the opposite sex for when they will have to in the workplace.  Also, I personally think that the girls would prove more catty towards one another as they aren’t able to focus some of their attention on the boys.  However, I am for school uniforms!

6. What's your favorite thing about staying in a hotel?

It would have to be a perfect hotel, first of all!  Probably the Lounge area, maybe out by the pool!  Nothing like foofy drinks with umbrellas served while sipping poolside in a tropical area!

I would have said the bed or the bathroom… but we have a wonderful, deep garden tub for two, very fluffy towels and a great bed for sleeping with quality sheets.

I do like it when other people cook for me…. B)

7. Do you have a 'word' for 2013?  What's the story behind your choice?

“Re-empowerment” – my husband was talking with our eldest and this is going to be her word for this year, and I thought I would adopt it as well – I want to get my body back from the BabyFat Monster! I also want to find that perfect job that I look forward going to every day!

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

Speaking of taking trips... we will be heading to South Carolina next week for our daughter's Graduation from Basic Training, then up to DC to see her twin at her new digs while she is working at Walter Reed!  *Proud Mama Beams*!

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