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Sunday, February 21, 2016

In Memoriam: Harper Lee

When I recently heard that Harper Lee had passed away, it made me very sad for what the world had lost. What I should have thought about is what the world has gained by her words. To say that "To Kill A Mockingbird" has influenced generations of women and men would be an understatement. It continues to have an influence on the way we look at race relations in the world today, but more importantly it continues to have an influence on all those who read it. 
So don't be sad that Harper Lee died, but be happy and thankful that she lived and wrote a timeless story of a Southern family and one little girl that continues to live in all of us today. She pushed me to be my own person and helped me realize that I am a lover of words. Someone who reads them ferociously on some days and who writes with words on other days. Words that flow out in tidal waves or drips, but continue to come no matter 

The following is my original blog post from August 27th, 2015:
Harper Lee's classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, has always been one of my favorite books, as I am sure it is for many others. I can not count the times I have read and re-read it over the years, which is a rare thing for me to do. I had forgotten how much I liked it, until I read it again recently. It is a timely reminder that race relations have been effecting our lives in this country for many years unfortunately. 

Scout is one of the best female characters, which has been written into life by an author, in any decade. She is fearless, smart and vulnerable at the same time. Throw in Jem, Atticus, Dill and Calpurnia and the cast is one you will not be able to forget. 
Scout's father, Atticus, usually gets all the attention, but I feel that Scout steals the show. 

While Atticus, the small town lawyer and state congressman, is busy trying to raise his motherless children in small town Alabama, he is assigned the task of representing an innocent black man in a no-win trial. Parts of this book could have taken place in any small town in the South during this time period of our history. While many people concentrate on the lesson of fairness this part of the book relates, the empowerment of women and the discovery of one's true self should be the themes we discuss as much. Unfortunately this book too accurately portrays the truths of the South and other parts of our country during this time in our history concerning the color of one's skin.

But more importantly it shows us the special time of innocence many of us were lucky enough to experience in our youth. How many of you slept with your doors unlocked? Were you ever inside during your summer in daylight hours except to eat? School pageants that the whole town would attend were once standard fair in small town life.

I choose to concentrate on the well-written story of one family living through a special time in their lives, when the kids were innocent and walking to school was the norm. While the famous movie concentrates on the trial and the rescue of the kids by Boo Radley, I think the best part was Scout and her brave outlook on life. The thought of not studying to be a lawyer just because of the norms of the day, did not stand in Scout's way.

Next blog post on 9/10/15 will be on the recently released prequel by Harper Lee, 
"Go Set a Watchman".

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Patty Pick for 2/18/16 is "The Last Anniversary" by Liane Moriarty

The Last Anniversary

Sophie seemed to have it all, a good job, a handsome boyfriend and a zest for life. 
After she dumped Thomas on the night he was going to propose, her life suddenly 
took a 180 degree turn around. Suddenly she is an older woman in a dead-end job 
while she watches her biological clock tick away.
Then Aunt Connie, Thomas' aunt that Sophie has only met a few times, dies and 
leaves Sophie her house on Scribbly Gum Island. Sophie is welcomed by most of the 
family and taken in as one of their own. The family operates the Munro House with 
it's tale of disappearing parents and a baby left behind. Connie and her sister, Rose, 
adopted Baby Enigma and have raised her as their own. 
Now with Scribbly Gum Island her home, Sophie is seeing more of the family members that live there. She is drawn to Callum, but he is married to Grace and has a brand new baby. While Sophie is intimidated by Graces' beauty, she senses that there is something going on behind the scenes. There is something behind all the closed doors in this family. They all seem to harbor their secrets. 
As Sophie settles into life on the island, she will discover a few secrets of her own and 
her life will change directions a few times. As usual, Liane Moriarty delivers us another well-written, engrossing novel about family life - some conventional and some not so much. You can count this one as a good read!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Wishing Pat Conroy all the best!

This is my fortune from lunch! Not a truer statement ever written, 
especially if reading a Pat Conroy book. Wishing him victory over cancer! 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Patty Pick for 2/11/16 is "A Tale for the Time Being" by Ruth Ozeki

This book by Ruth Ozeki reads between a middle-aged author of Japanese descent who lives on an island on the Alaska-side of Canada named Ruth and Nao, a Japanese teenager who was raised in Sunnyvale, California but is living in Tokyo when she wrote the journal. The journal with a packet of other mementos washed up on Ruth's island and she is captivated by the young girl's life in her own words. The juxapostion of these two main characters is engaging and will keep you involved in the story line. 

As Ruth reads the diary, she tries to find out the time origin of the items included in the package. There is a packet of letters, a watch and the journal, all neatly wrapped up in a Hello Kitty lunchbox. During this same time, she is struggling with writers block in her own life. The elements are harsh on the island and Ruth and her husband, Oliver, face periods of no electricity and the fear that nature can attack at any time. She turns to her neighbors to help her determine how long the packet has been floating in the ocean currents. 

As we read Jao's dairy with Ruth, the harsh realities of her life in Tokyo are slowly revealed. She is being horribly bullied by her Japanese schoolmates and even by the teachers in her new school. At the same time, her father is dealing with depression over the loss of his job in the US and the reality of relying on others to help provide a suitable household for his family. Jao watches her father spiral down at the same time that she 
is experiencing excruciating pain at the expense of her classmates. She handles it 
all with quiet humor but she becomes determined to kill herself and stop the misery. 

Ruth feels responsible for Jao's life after reading the diary and searches to find a way 
to connect with the family and make sure that everyone is okay. In Jao's time, her 
great-grandmother who is a buddist nun comes to Tokyo and takes things into her 
own hands. 

As we read these two struggling lives playing out at the same time, you will be 
cheering for them both to overcome their circumstances and live a better life. 
Reading this book gave me insights into Japanese life and the devastation of the 
tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. More importantly, it gave me a small window into 
the world of Ruth and Jao.  

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Patty Pick for 2/4/16 is "The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry" by Gabrielle Zevin

Image result for the storied life of a.j. fikry

Recently I pulled this book out of the huge stack on my desk and started to read. 
I had heard many things about it but you know how it is, there are so many good 
books out there to read! I am so glad that I didn't wait another day - it was wonderful!

Mr. A.J. Fikry is sad, he has unexpectedly lost the love of his life, his wife, to 
a strange accident. He has withdrawn from the daily life of his bookstore - the only 
bookstore on Alice Island. As his life continues to go downhill, he receives his annual
visit from the Knightley Press rep, but this time it is someone new. Amelia shows up 
tries to talk him into buying her new set of books. To say the least, it does not go well. 

With the help of Amelia, his sister-in-law, the Chief of Police and other Island natives, 
AJ starts to change his life around. The appearance of a baby girl who is left in his 
store, changes everything. He finds the love he has been missing all along. This story 
was terrific and don't miss this book! You will love it!