So THIS Is A Weekend

I had completely forgot what the meaning of a weekend was. I have to say that I’m enjoying it though I don’t know what to do with myself really…I feel like I should be working still :/ I’m trying to finish The Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card so that I can complete the Margaret Edwards challenge which ends today, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. I just can’t get into this book for some reason. It’s not grabbing me and that’s a first for an OSC book. Oh well. I have to finish it though because I can’t leave an OSC book unread! One of my compulsions…Looking forward to The Worthing Saga though! That’s another one by him that I’m reading for Becky’s reading group and the discussion for that one starts on Monday, so consider joining in please! It’s supposed to be excellent!

I’ve been battling a bad cold all week which I think has added to the high stress levels. The cold came on the day that I started work…lucky me…But I think it’s finally going away, so hopefully next week should be better. It just came on at a horrible time because it’s hard to take care of my dad when one of the biggest concerns for him is pneumonia. Definitely don’t want to get him sick. So good riddance to this cold! Hopefully it will be completely gone by Monday.

The theme for this weeks weekly geeks is catching up on your book reviews and it looks like I’m off the hook this week! I’m such a slow reader as it is that I’m usually caught up with all of those. I tend to read a book and then do the review immediately after…so no catching up required here. What I do plan on catching up on though is blog reading and commenting! I feel so horrible for not being around lately in blogland. Things have just been really stressful. But I’ve missed it so much, so hopefully I can get back into the swing of things now. So that’s my goal for this weekly geeks.

One last thing, Lisa Snellings-Clark has a very cool Bug-Out sale going on right now where you can score some very cool poppets and pieces of art that incorporate bees that have passed from this life but once lived in Neil Gaiman’s very own hive! He sent her some of his bees to make art with after they died and she made some cool stuff…check it out. Creepy? A little….cool? Yes! Can I afford them? No!

The Tides Are Turning (All For The Better)

Well it’s been a really long few days since I’ve posted. It feels like it was about a year ago since I’ve last posted here but in reality it’s been a little under a week. Amazing how time slows down when you’re not having fun. But that’s behind us now. Dad’s open heart surgery went really well!!! Thank you all so much for your prayers, thoughts, support, etc. I can’t thank you all enough. You’ve all been a great rock to lean on during all of this with your comforting words and stories of past surgeries!

The surgery itself went perfectly. The doctor said that he couldn’t ask for better and the recovery has been painful to watch, but he’s doing really good. I know he’s in a lot of pain and he’s frustrated that he’s not just hopping right out of bed, but he’ll feel so much better once he’s made the recovery. Unfortunately, one of his ribs was broken during the surgery, so he has that added pain on top of everything else. But he’s doing great with his recovery and they’re looking at letting him go home tomorrow! Surgery was Friday, so that’s not bad at all. We’ll all be taking good care of him.

I started my first day at the new job today too and I really enjoyed it, but I was a little overwhelmed to say the least! I’m sure I’ll feel better once I get acclimated to everything, but there’s so much paperwork and insurance stuff involved working in admissions in the mental health field…it’s enough to drive you mad! I did get to do a couple of assessments today and I was thrilled to do that. It felt so good to have some interactions with clients again. It’s like a rush to me. I’ve really missed that. I just need to learn the ropes as far as all the behind the scenes paperwork goes and I’ll feel much better over there. That will all come with time. The people over there are all great and made me feel welcomed right away which makes a big difference. I think this will be a really good one!

Believe it or not I’ve done little to no reading since I last posted. In fact I’ve only read about 75 pages of The Folk of the Fringe. You’d think that with as much as I’ve been in the hospital I would’ve gotten tons of reading done, but I just couldn’t concentrate and I haven’t been able to make myself read. Hopefully that changes soon. I miss my books, but I can’t bring myself to stick with one right now…

Just like last time I was in the hospital with Dad, I’ve been reading everyone’s blog posts on my phone, I just haven’t been commenting because I can’t on the blackberry….but I do know what everyone’s been up to and I’ve been enjoying reading everyone’s posts! Looks like I need to go see the new Indy from many people’s reviews (though there were one or two that said NO!) and quite a few books have been added to the wishlist :p I think I’m also going to join Becky’s Stephanie Myers challenge…like I need that…

Hopefully posts will be back to usual now that dad is safe and sound and the new job jitters have settled down. Now if I can only get myself to read again! Oh…and don’t forget to sign up for the drawing for Charles Vess’ Book of Ballads this Sunday!

The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess

The Book of Ballads is a book that I think should be in the collection of any lover of folklore, fairy tales, ballads, myths, legends, and fantasy. It’s one of the most well compiled collections I’ve seen in a long time and it’s presented in such an amazing format with a lovely introduction by Terri Windling, beautifully illustrated throughout in graphic novel form by Charles Vess, stories told wonderfully by some amazing authors, and it includes a discography of ballads at the end.

The book begins with Terri Windling giving us the history of ballads and how they have been passed down throughout the ages from their earliest roots where they were tales sung and rarely written down, an “ancient folk poetry” as she puts it, to their more modern roots of being recorded and reinterpreted by modern novelists. She explains the different instruments used to perform the ballads and explains to the reader the different types of ballads that exist: mainly magic, love, death, and family troubles. Those are all illustrated throughout The Book of Ballads.

It’s impossible for me to go through all 13 ballads in this collection, but they were all exquisite. There wasn’t a single one that I didn’t enjoy. As I said, they’re presented in graphic novel format and beautifully illustrated by Charles Vess. He was made for this project and it was a project that was his own vision as he is a long time lover of ballads. Here’s the amazing table of contents for this project:

The False Knight on the Road by Neil Gaiman
King Henry by Jane Yolen
Thomas the Rhymer by Sharyn McCrumb
Barbara Allen by Midori Snyder
The Three Lovers by Lee Smith
Tam-Lin by Elaine Lee
The Daemon Lover by Delia Sherman
Twa Corbies by Charles de Lint
Sovay by Charles de Lint
The Galtee Farmer by Jeff Smith
Alison Gross by Charles Vess
The Black Fox by Emma Bull
The Great Selchie of Sule Skerry by Jane Yolen

I had no idea that some of these amazing stories were actually ballads. Honestly, I didn’t know where many of them had originated and now I do. Each author interpreted the story in their own way but most of them stuck pretty close to the original story. What I loved most about this book is that at the end of each story, the full text of the original ballad was included, so this is really a treasury of some of the most well known ballads. It’s such a special book really.

At the end of the book, they’ve included a discography that includes a list of recordings for each ballad in the collection where you can find numerous musical performances of the ballads. I can’t wait to listen to some of them.

This was truly an amazing read and I’m so happy to have read it. Hope you do the same! In fact, I loved it so much and think that it is such a great resource that I’d love to give away a copy! So if this sounds like something that you’d be interested in, leave me a comment and I’ll draw a name next Sunday, May 31st (plenty of time) and you’ll be entered for a drawing for it!

Random Ramblings and Weekly Geeks #4

Summer is definitely here in New Orleans…or almost here at least as we’re managing to climb over 90 and that wave of heat is radiating out of my car everytime I open the door…don’t you hate that? My favorite place to read is my back patio, even at night, but I can’t read there at night anymore because of the damn june bugs. As soon as I turn the light on at night it’s like this swarm of june bugs comes attacking me and it takes all I have not to scream bloody murder even though they don’t bite…I just don’t like creepy little beetles flying at me. Summer also brings plenty of wasps that like to build nests under the patio…fun, let me tell you. The squirrels are also out in full force and have been planting acorns and pecans all over the back lawn and we now have oak trees and pecan trees popping up all over the place. I have to weed every day otherwise it would be a forest in a couple of years back there!

Weekly Geeks 4! I was going to skip this week because I’m horrible with talking about social issues, but I figured that I’d go ahead and give it a go because there’s one thing in particular that’s really important to me as you can imagine and that’s the mental health of children and adolescents. The mental health of everybody is important to me really, but children often get overlooked or misunderstood and the resources available to them are very limited compared to those available to adults.

Here’s my thing…doctor’s and psychiatrists are quick these days to give children medication to solve their problems without looking at the bigger picture. I have no qualms with medication if it is truly needed. I’ve seen it truly work wonders with some kids and help them turn their lives around. But some kids just need someone to talk to…they’re calling out for help. Some kids are just going through a temporary rough time. And some kids just need to be rescued! Some kids get a diagnosis that puts the problem on them when the problem actually lies with their home situation or surroundings which is really quite sad. When I was interning on the children’s psyc unit, I’d honestly say that 90% of the children came from very troubled homes. No wonder they were severely depressed, suicidal, self-harming. They had no one to turn to. What this country needs is more resources for children and better education of how to handle children’s mental health. These kids just need someone to talk to.

I haven’t read very many books on the topic but one of the best that I’ve ever read is What it Takes to Get me Through by David L. Marcus. Here’s my review of the book. It’s a non fiction book about a therapeutic home for adolescents that took a great and unique approach to kids with mental health issues and I really think that it’s a must read for any parent or practician or teen. It changed the way I look at counseling and I think it will change the way anyone looks at what people with these issues actually go through and the stigma that’s associated with it.

There are plenty of fiction books that I’ve read throughout the years that deal with some of these issues and show children naturally overcoming some great obstacles. I’ve always thought that Kate DiCamillo does an amazing job with her books of illustrating this with books like The Tale of Desperaux, Edward Tulane, and The Tiger Rising. All feature characters that have to overcome true tragedies in their lives and she handles that with such grace but doesn’t hide the fact that tragedies do occur in life.

Recently I’ve read Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson that shows a young girl that has to battle a very traumatic situation and is afraid to speak of it to anyone and she slowly becomes more and more secluded because of it. This is something I saw all of the time in the hospital.

Speaking of trauma, there’s a book that’s sitting on my shelf right now by an author named Lenore Terr called Too Scared To Cry: Psychic Trauma in Childhood. As I said before, so many mental health issues of children are caused by traumatic situations which are basically things that have happened to them that they had no control over. Yet they put much of the blame of the even upon themselves and this can result in a severe depression among many other things. These days instead of sitting down and talking through some of these problems, many doctors just give them a pill which is unfortunate. One thing I love about the hospital that I’m working for is that we do a LOT of therapy and I’ve seen quite a few breakthroughs there.

So there’s my weekly geeks post for the week. I’m hoping to join up for the book awards II challenge this year that was just announced! It starts in August, so I still have some time to make all of my picks and hopefully I can make up a list that encompasses all of my other challenges, because I really can’t fit anymore challenge books onto the TBR stacks :p I regret missing that challenge last year.

And one last note, My dad’s surgery is scheduled for Friday, so I’ll probably be gone for a few days again starting tomorrow. Tomorrow’s all of his pre-op stuff. But hopefully I can get up a review of The Book of Ballads tonight before I head off.

The Dead and The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

The Dead and The Gone is a companion novel to Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life as We Knew It that gives a terrifying account of a young family in New York City as the moon strikes a little closer to home. Unlike Life as We Knew It, we jump almost right into the disastorous event with this book – an asteroid has struck the moon causing it to shift closer to Earth. With this comes a change in the gravitational pull and the tides and life as we knew it disappears. Food becomes scarce, entire cities wash away, volcanoes erupt blocking the suns rays and creating below freezing temperatures in August, earthquakes, flu, cholera…But those are all events that man cannot control. What is central to the story and what makes this book the incredibly moving story it is are the powerful characters that Pfeffer has created and the way that they interact in this bleak time where little hope is to be found.

Alex Morales is the second oldest son of an hispanic family living in New York when the disaster strikes. His father is away in Puerto Rico, his mother working in a hospital in Queens, and his older brother is in California serving with the Marines. He’s now alone after the disaster with no word of his other family but left in charge of his younger sisters Briana and Julie and they must struggle to survive the disaster slowly coming to the realization that they will most probably never see the rest of their family again and that life will never be the same again. Bodies begin to appear in the streets and the death toll rises and Alex must do everything he can to help him and his sisters survive as they rely on their faith and their hope that they can make it through together.

I have to say that this is a gut wrenching read. It was never easy to turn the next page yet I couldn’t stop turning the pages, but it was an amazing book. For those that have read Life as we Knew it, this one is even harder to read, but I’d say it’s just as good. The tragedies that unfold are terrifying and truly sad, but they are written with a constant balance of hope in the face of these same events through the faith of the main characters.

I’m glad to hear that Pfeffer has a third book in the works in this series that will tie the two books together tentatively called The World We Live In! Although I’m glad that there’s a break before I’ll read that one because my emotions couldn’t handle another book in this universe right now…though I have to admit that if it were published tomorrow, I would be reading it tomorrow. Also cool to know…Pfeffer keeps a really great blog! Check it out if you have the time.

Next up is Charles Vess’ Book of Ballads. I was going to start Orson Scott Card’s Folk of the Fringe as I need to read something by him by June 1st to finish the Margaret Edwards Challenge, but I need a break from end of the world lit!

The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling

Where do I even begin with this book? This one has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a little over a year now and it was one of those books that I was never really in a rush to get to. I felt sort of apathetic towards it. I hadn’t heard much about it, but I did keep in the back of my mind the fact that Orson Scott Card had recommended it awhile back! I finally decided to pull it off of the shelf for the Once Upon a Time II challenge and I’m so thrilled that I did. I’m just wondering now what other unknown masterpieces are sitting on my shelf.

The Bone Doll’s Twin is quite a complex story of fantasy, dark magic, wizardry, sexual identity (wondering how that works in?), and loyalties that is intriguing, addicting, and marvelously written. It opens with an older wizard and her apprentice visiting an oracle where they are shown a vision that leads them to the bedside of the king’s sister as she is giving birth to twins. They are sent here for a reason…Skala has always been ruled by a warrior queen and King Erius has now claimed the throne for himself naming his son the sole heir to the throne. But the oracle has foretold that the king’s sister will birth a daughter who will have the rights to the throne. The problem is, the king has been killing off all females and claiming their deaths to be accidents so that tradition does not pass the throne back to a woman where it rightly lies.

A witch is called to the birthing of the king’s sisters twins. His sister gives birth first to a girl, a girl who is to become future queen of Skala but would surely be killed if the king were to know of her. The second child is a boy. The witch sadly takes the life of the boy child, but switches the sexes of the children so that the living girl appears to be a boy until she can rightly take her place as queen of Skala. The boy now looks as if he were a girl and it is told to the king that she (in reality “he”) was a stillborn. The living “boy” is named Tobin.

The main story of The Bone Doll’s Twin follows Tobin as he grows up as a prince not knowing that he is actually a girl or what his destiny is. Tobin does however learn that he did have a brother that did not survive as his brother’s spirit is restless and comes back to be his twin afterall, eventually becoming known to the entire country as “Tobin’s ghost”. Tobin most certainly does not lead a normal life as you can imagine. His mother knows what has happened to her lost child as she also see’s the dead child and Tobin suffers for it as she is constantly in mourning often making muslin dolls without faces. One doll in particular seems to connect her with the ghost of her lost twin and it is from this that we get the title of our book.

I really could go on forever about this book, but I’ll just stop there. It’s fascinating, it’s wonderful, it’s everything I hope for in a book. It’s seriously one of the best fantasy books I’ve read and I’m really shocked that she hasn’t gotten more exposure for this series. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book in the Tamir Triad. This was just such a unique idea for a series and the writing was so exquisite. One main problem that I normally have with fantasy is that there’s some story line that I’m not interested in or that bores me to tears and when the author switches to a chapter from that perspective I think “oh no…” But that never happened with this book. I really loved every page of this novel.

There’s magic galore, mystery, darkness, love scenes, sword fighting, war, and a beautiful coming of age story with one of the most clever twists I’ve read. On a scale of 1 to 5, this one gets a 6! ok…that’s cheating…a 5. Ok…maybe an extra point too for the cool John Jude Palencar cover 😉

Oh, by the way…I joined 2 more challenges :p Becky’s 42 Challenge and Darla’s Irresistible Review Challenge. Find out all about them by clicking on the links! They’re both incredible challenges 🙂

The Bone Doll’s Twin by Lynn Flewelling

Where do I even begin with this book? This one has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a little over a year now and it was one of those books that I was never really in a rush to get to. I felt sort of apathetic towards it. I hadn’t heard much about it, but I did keep in the back of my mind the fact that Orson Scott Card had recommended it awhile back! I finally decided to pull it off of the shelf for the Once Upon a Time II challenge and I’m so thrilled that I did. I’m just wondering now what other unknown masterpieces are sitting on my shelf.

The Bone Doll’s Twin is quite a complex story of fantasy, dark magic, wizardry, sexual identity (wondering how that works in?), and loyalties that is intriguing, addicting, and marvelously written. It opens with an older wizard and her apprentice visiting an oracle where they are shown a vision that leads them to the bedside of the king’s sister as she is giving birth to twins. They are sent here for a reason…Skala has always been ruled by a warrior queen and King Erius has now claimed the throne for himself naming his son the sole heir to the throne. But the oracle has foretold that the king’s sister will birth a daughter who will have the rights to the throne. The problem is, the king has been killing off all females and claiming their deaths to be accidents so that tradition does not pass the throne back to a woman where it rightly lies.

A witch is called to the birthing of the king’s sisters twins. His sister gives birth first to a girl, a girl who is to become future queen of Skala but would surely be killed if the king were to know of her. The second child is a boy. The witch sadly takes the life of the boy child, but switches the sexes of the children so that the living girl appears to be a boy until she can rightly take her place as queen of Skala. The boy now looks as if he were a girl and it is told to the king that she (in reality “he”) was a stillborn. The living “boy” is named Tobin.

The main story of The Bone Doll’s Twin follows Tobin as he grows up as a prince not knowing that he is actually a girl or what his destiny is. Tobin does however learn that he did have a brother that did not survive as his brother’s spirit is restless and comes back to be his twin afterall, eventually becoming known to the entire country as “Tobin’s ghost”. Tobin most certainly does not lead a normal life as you can imagine. His mother knows what has happened to her lost child as she also see’s the dead child and Tobin suffers for it as she is constantly in mourning often making muslin dolls without faces. One doll in particular seems to connect her with the ghost of her lost twin and it is from this that we get the title of our book.

I really could go on forever about this book, but I’ll just stop there. It’s fascinating, it’s wonderful, it’s everything I hope for in a book. It’s seriously one of the best fantasy books I’ve read and I’m really shocked that she hasn’t gotten more exposure for this series. I can’t wait to get my hands on the second book in the Tamir Triad. This was just such a unique idea for a series and the writing was so exquisite. One main problem that I normally have with fantasy is that there’s some story line that I’m not interested in or that bores me to tears and when the author switches to a chapter from that perspective I think “oh no…” But that never happened with this book. I really loved every page of this novel.

There’s magic galore, mystery, darkness, love scenes, sword fighting, war, and a beautiful coming of age story with one of the most clever twists I’ve read. On a scale of 1 to 5, this one gets a 6! ok…that’s cheating…a 5. Ok…maybe an extra point too for the cool John Jude Palencar cover 😉

Oh, by the way…I joined 2 more challenges :p Becky’s 42 Challenge and Darla’s Irresistible Review Challenge. Find out all about them by clicking on the links! They’re both incredible challenges 🙂