Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I Give Up!

Dakota: A Spiritual Geography by Kathleen Norris (1993)
224 pages
Rating: 3/5
I have been reading Dakota: A Spiritual Geography for the last two weeks. I'm only on page 95. I can't do it anymore! I was reading it for the Something About Me challenge. It was beachreader's pick. She never did say why she was picking the book. I thought it had a interesting title and looked it up on The reviews were good, so I started reading it. Dakota is about Kathleen Norris' journey back to Dakota from New York. South Dakota that is, the place where she spent her childhood and where her mother and grandparents grew up. Norris did a pretty good job describing not only South Dakota but also North Dakota and the problems both states are having with a dwindling population and ecomony and the small-mindness of the inhabitants there. Outsiders are the enemies though they are really needed. Norris lives in the town of Lemmon where there are only 1200 people, down from the 4000 that lived there in the 1970s. Norris also does a great job with raising the question where is the reader's spiritual geography? What place is home to you and why? It made me think about Long Beach in a different way. Is this city really my spiritual geography? But the problem with the book is that a lot of times the description weighed the book down. A lot of it could have been taken out. But I give it a rating of 3 out of 5 because of the questions it asks of the reader and also of people who live in the many small towns that are dying.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Readers in Peril (R.I.P.) Autumn Reading Challenge

Here's one more challenge I'm signing up for! I really don't read horror, but why not have nightmares? I'm tired of sunny California. I'm ready for winter. Mind you I don't want the flooding that's going on in other states, but can't I have a little cold weather? I'm going to go for Peril the First and also the Sunday Short Story Peril. Here's my list of possible suspects:

Bradbury Stories: 100 of his most celebrated tales -Ray Bradbury

Strange Happenings- Avi

Dracula - Bram Stoker

His Dark Materials Trilogy -Philip Pullman

Dreamcatcher - Stephen King

The Stand - Stephen King

Mayfair Witches Series- Anne Rice

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Memoir Challenge II

Okay I just launched the blog for the memoir challenge. I'm calling it "In their shoes" reading challenge. I'm just throwing it a name.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Inspire me Thursday

I just found this website about twenty minutes ago and already I'm in love! I'm a big journal writer and InspiremeThursday is a website full of great journal prompts when you need it.

Memoir Challenge

I'm thinking of hosting a non-fiction challenge next year. It'll cover memoir, biography, and autobiography. The details (though not final):
* will start January 1st until December 31st
* can cross-challenge
* you pick how many books you want to read and you can change your list anytime
* have to sign up by January 1st
* I think I will have prizes, have to figure out what though
I just need a title. Someone on ANovelChallenge came up with Someone else's shoes. Maybe.
What about "In their shoes"? I would say "In her shoes" but someone might want to read about a man. I have to figure out how to make a button.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mothers who think

Mothers who think:Tales of real-life parenthood
ed. Camille Peri and Kate Moses
pages: 279

Why haven't I heard of this book sooner? Granted I wasn't a mother in 1999 when this book came out, but I was a mother-in-training, since that's the year my younger twin sisters were born. I didn't really know what to think when I first picked up this book. I heard some good but vague reviews on it already. I'm glad I picked it up.

Out of thirty-seven essays, less than five felt flat to me. These really are tales of real-life parenthood told with passion and fierce honesty. This book is a dream for any mother who want to hear about more than just changing diapers and being that good wife to their husband. This is a book about it all. The topics range from worrying if your black child is becoming too "white" (Young, Black, and too White,) to being angry with your child (Mother Anger: Theory and Pratice,) to being a mother without daughters.

I laughed, cried, shook my head, and at times gave a silent prayer of thanks for finally knowing that someone else knew what I was going through as a single mom. One essay that made me do all of the above is "One Drip at a Time" by Susan Straight. Her essay is straight forward and simple, truly telling of being a single mother with no dad as backup and having to be all and do all. Here's an excerpt:
"This is what always gets done, because it means a lot to me: The kids wear clean, unwrinkled clothes, and their hair is always clean and styled. We eat really good breakfasts and dinners, and we are never out of Swiss chocolate, English Breakfast tea, or Vermont maple syrup. The sink is never full of dishes, and all trash is taken out of the van when children exit.

This is what doesn't get done, because I can't do it: If they lose a button or need a strap sewn back on, they'd better pray they grow slowly, because it could be months before I get to sit down and mend or sew. We are sometimes out of juice boxes or bread, and they have to take water bottles and peanut-butter-smeared crackers in thier lunches. The oustide of the van is so dirty we could grow corn in the soil collected on the windshield wipers and potatoes on teh roof.

The kids always go to the doctor, for checkups and shots and immediately, incessantly, it seems, when they are ill. They take their medicine when they should.

But I haven't been to the doctor since I had Rosette, who just turned three. Before that, I had seen my primary-care physician once in five years, for severe bronchitis. She had no idea who I was. Usually I drink herb tea, light a sain't candle and pray that I won't get sick, and go to bed...
So my clothes are hand-me-downs. My glasses are nearly three years old, and the baby girl has bumped them so many times that they hand askew. One eyebrow shows and one doesn't. Okay, it's not that bad. But my hairstyle-long hair in a bun and bangs I cut myself when I can't see anymore-has worked for three years now. That's when I made my last annual salon trip. Two hours sitting in a chair? With no kids? And it costs money? Please.
This is my life exactly. I thought I was the only one. If you are a woman and a mother, you will find stories in here for you. It doesn't matter if you were black, white, or Hispanic, poor, middle-class, and higher up the food chain, married, or not. Being a mother is something that can bring most women together.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Happy Birthday, Oliver!

Tomorrow is my oldest son Oliver's fourth birthday. I am so happy. It really does seem like he was born just yesterday. Now he's this little guy telling me what he thinks of Blue's Clues or what book he wants from paperbackswap. I'm so happy that he and his siblings are in my life. They teach me so much. Maybe more than I teach them. So tomorrow I'm going to have my kids and my sisters make their own pizzas, watch movies, go to the park, and eat cupcakes all day long since Olie doesn't want a cake. My birthday is Monday and I think he's the reason I even attempt to celebrate my own birthday. When I was 20, right before my 21st birthday, he was my present. Instead of going out to a club or something to celebrate, I was at home nursing my newborn. Something that suited me better. I'm just so happy that my babies are in my life. I love you, Oliver. Happy birthday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Poetry Prescription

Claiming the Spirit Within

Edited by Marilyn Sewell
368 pages
5/5: rating

I was reading one of my other favorite books yesterday, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach. In the book, Ban Breathnach's essay for August 22nd is titled Poetry Prescription. She talks about reading potery and connecting back to ourselves again. Which brings me to one of my favorite anthologies of poetry, Claiming the Spirit Within.
Claiming the Spirit Within was published in 1996 by Beacon Press. It's a sourcebook on women's poetry with themes such as aging, the body, generations, mothering, death, conception and birthing, and so much more. There are poems from women like Joy Harjo, Jane Hirshfield, Audre Lorde, Tess Gallagher, Rita Dove, and so many more.
I had just happened by chance to pick this book up years ago at my local library and took it home. I'm so glad I did. On days when there's a cloud over my head, I'm so glad to have this book close by. Some of my favorite poems come from Tess Gallagher (With Stars; I stop writing this poem).

Leave me Alone, I'm Reading

Leave me alone, I'm reading (2005)

Maureen Corrigan

240 pages

I give up. I just can't do it. There were parts of it that I loved so much like when Corrigan was talking about her family especially her mother and grandmother. Even when she was talking about Eyre, she was Corrigan was so interesting to read. But everything else just dragged on. She was so wordy. I'm a firm believer in being concise and using just enough words and nothing more. I'm sorry but I just couldn't even find her adopting her daughter in China interesting. I am not a believer in finishing a book that I don't like. The bad parts out weighed the good ones, so around page 100-and-something, I put the book down.

Monday, August 6, 2007

My Yahoo Avatar

Yahoo! Avatars
Now if only I can figure out how to put this where my profile is.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men (1938)

John Steinbeck

103 pages

Rating 5 out of 5

Of Mice and Men by the American John Steinbeck is a masterpiece running the length of a novella. It is the story of two men, Lennie and George, bound together by loneliness and their dreams of having more than a life of working on farms with little to show for it. Lennie is a giant who needs the protection and company of George to navigate through the world, while George is a small man who needs Lennie as much as Lennie needs him. They go to a farm in Salinas, California to work and save up for their dream. In the book when George is telling of their dream to have a "small house with ten acres," it's told so vividly that you can picture it in your head. But it's there at the farm, that their dreams go awry. I felt my stomach almost boiling over with suspense while reading the end of the novel. Even now as I think about the book, I try to picture what happened to the characters after.

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors, having read East of Eden and The Pearl. Of Mice and Men is now one of my favorite books. I recommend it to everyone.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Book Awards Reading Challenge

It has taken me forever to pick the books I want to read for the Book Awards Reading Challenge hosted by 3M. The challenge started July 1st of this year and ends June 20th of 2008. The rules are that you read 12 award-winning books from the eligible lists picked by 3M ranging from Pulitizer Prize to Commonwealth Writers' to Nobel Prize and much more. There are so many lists to choice from and so many great books to pick. But here's my list:
  1. The Singing - CK Williams (National Book Award Poetry 2003)
  2. Angela's Ashes - Frank McCourt (Pulitzer 1996)
  3. Love Medicine - Louise Erdrich (National Book Critics Circle Award 1984)
  4. The Inheritance of Loss - Kiran Desai (Booker 2006)
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee (Pulitzer 1961)
  6. Vernon God Little - DBC Pierre (Booker 2003)
  7. Middlesex - Jeffrey Eugenides (Pulitzer 2006)
  8. Anything by Nobel Prize Winner Orhan Pamuk 2006
  9. Anything by Nobel Prize Winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez 1982
  10. Anything by Nobel Prize Winner John Steinbeck 1962
  11. Anything by Nobel Prize Winner Shmuel Yosef Agnon 1966
  12. On Beauty - Zadie Smith (Orange Prize 2006)


  1. Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones (Commonweath/South Pacific and Overall 2007)
  2. Vandal Love - Dy Bechard (Commonweath/Canada and Overall 2007)
  3. Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (National Book Award Poetry 1978)
  4. New & Selected Poems - Mary Oliver (National Book Award Poetry 1992)
  5. The Shipping News - E. Annie Proulx (N.B.A. Fiction 1993)
  6. The Year of Magical Thinking - Joan Didion (N.B.A. Non-Fiction 2005)
  7. The Echo Maker - Richard Powers (N.B.A. Fiction 2006)
  8. The Worst Hard Time - Timothy Egan (N.B.A. Non-Fiction)
  9. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (Booker Prize 1981)


  1. Passing Through: The Later Years - Stanley Kunitz (N.B.A. Poetry 1995)
  2. Out Stealing Horses - Per Patterson (Impac Dublin 2007)
  3. When I lived in Modern Times - Linda Grant (Orange 2000)
  4. The Penderwicks - Jeanne Birdsall (N.B.A. young people's literature 2005)
  5. Small Island - Andrea Levy (Orange 2004)
  6. Bel Canto - Ann Patchett (Orange 2002)
  7. Novel Prize Winner Joseph Brodsky 1987
  8. This Blinding Absence of Light - Tahar ben Jelloun (Impac 2004)
  9. The Elementary Particles - Michael Houellebecq (International Impac 2002)

Yes I do realize that I have alot of alternates but since I am a very moody reader, I picked enought books that I should always be able to find something off the list to read thet will interest me. The prizes are credits ranging from 1 to 3 from Paperbackswap is what's going to keep me motivated.

Blogging Tips Meme

Jill from The Magic Lasso has tagged me for this meme. It's simple. When this is passed on to you, copy the whole thing, skim the list, and put a star * next to the ideas you like. Add the next number and write your own blogging tip for other bloggers. Try to make your tip general.
After that, tag ten other people. (I have to find 10 people.)
1. Look, read, and learn. *****
2. Be EXCELLENT to each other. ***
3. Don’t let money change ya! *
4. Always reply to your comments. *******
5. Link liberally — it keeps you and your friends afloat in the Sea of Technorati. *
6. Don’t give up - persistence is fertile. ***
7. Give link credit where credit is due. ****
8. Pictures say a thousand words and can usually add to any post. ****
9. Visit all the bloggers that leave comments for you - it's nice to know who is reading! **
10. Thrown in something humorous occasionally, to keep things fun.**
11. Sometimes, less is more. Step back and look at your blog - is it too busy? Are there enough pictures to make it interesting? Think about how a visitor would perceive your blog - making it visitor-friendly will help get you return visits. *
12. Variety is a good thing. Don't let your blog be about just one thing (books, ice cream, celebrities...). By telling people a little bit about you and your life, you keep people interested even more.
Now where are my ten victims? =)

Thursday, August 2, 2007


Below is an excerpt from "Thanks" from The Rain in the Trees by W.S. Merwin. I love the whole poem, but I love that excerpt just a little bit more.


with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridge to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water looking out
in different directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you
in a culture up to its chin in shame
living in the stench it has chosen we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the back door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks taht use us we are saying thank you
with the crooks in office with the rich and fashionable
unchanged we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us like the earth
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

W.S. Merwin