Posted by: JulieAloha | May 29, 2018


You’re doing just great...for the most part,
We like what we the main,
We can tell you are
  some people have some complaints;
When you try to assist, they’re offended,
As if you think you know better than they;
They see you reach out
  to be friendly,
  they feel you’re overstepping your place.
We know it’s a case of perception,
You couldn’t possibly know what they thought;
They could have just come to you,
  talked to you,
  it's not really your explanation they sought.
So don’t offer to help, it’s too bossy;
Do your job without stepping on toes.
Keep your kindness,
  be careful that none of it shows.
Now try not to feel hurt or downhearted,
We can see the tears rise in your eye.
We hope that you won’t feel  
  that I do...
    and I'm terrified even to try;
I’m afraid now to trust those around me,
I’ll say or do something they think is wrong.
I cried all the way home
  in anguish,
    with sorrow
      and hopelessness
  I have to pretend that I'm strong.
So the mask that I wear is illusion,
The face that they see isn't mine.
A visage of confidence,
     and wholeness,
    I'm dying, a word at a time...

Malala Yousafzai is one of the bravest young women I’ve ever learned about and her book, I Am Malala, is an amazing journey through hardship, poverty, war, the cultural suppression of women and life threatening danger – but it is also a testament to a young girl’s conviction and strength, her faith and steadfast belief in the rights of all to be educated no matter their background, gender or means. She has become a leader for educational rights for women in her own country as well as all over the world; her name is synonymous with courage. Her story has a great purpose and her life’s journey is not yet finished – she has much more to do – but one of things I love best about her book is her use of language, her poetry of images and words, her descriptions of the world around her, of her beloved valley, so vivid and tangible, I felt as though I were there beside her and I longed to see it and for her to be able to see it again. Beautifully written, thought provoking and inspirational.

Last year I saw the movie, and loved it, and this year I read the book: Margot Lee Shetterly’s Hidden Figures is the true history of the contribution of black women “computers” to WWII, aeronautics and NASA’s aerospace success. I find it incredible that these amazing women had to work so hard for so long without the credit due them. As both minorities and females, their work was overlooked in a man’s world and industry, their names were not credited on the work they did and they had to put up with the shamefully racist practices of segregation both at home and at work, and yet they strove to learn more, work harder, and model their intelligence and ability to a new generation of bright young women and men, proving that they were a force to be reckoned. What a legacy these pioneers left behind!

Once again, Isabel Allende has made me cry – not just a few glistening tears, oh no – great wracking sobs of anguish and joy in an empathetic catharsis of emotion. This is not the first time she has undone me with her words, and I’m sure not the last. The Japanese Lover is a story which unfolds with grace and mystery. It begins by following a woman named Irina as she starts working at a residence for the elderly, leading to introductions of several other residents and staff. When Irina meets resident Alma Belasco and agrees to do some extra work for her, Irina starts to uncover the true history of Alma’s life and relationships and in the process begins to open the pages of her own painful past. Beautifully written and intriguing; couldn’t hardly put it down.

This novel is a careful blend of fact and fiction, a story pulled from the sad history of what was done to Native American culture and lives and the personal consequences the two main characters face as a result. Each man contends with restrictions and forces he isn’t allowed to resist, but reacts very differently in the choices he makes. One complies outwardly, but looks within, embracing quiet and tradition to draw spiritual strength and wisdom; the other seeks to circumvent, to escape the restrictions set upon his people and yet comes to resemble the worst part of the people he resents, turning his back on his own. An uncomfortable story, but as with most such stories, it has important lessons to impart.

P.S. This was one of the Admissions Challenge books I hadn’t been able to complete before the end of the Challenge

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk is a collection of stories by noted “out-of-the-box” author David Sedaris. His writing is witty, often cynical, he has a very dry sense of humor and very few boundaries. Don’t be offended; find the funny – oh, it’s there!

Posted by: JulieAloha | February 1, 2018

The Great Admissions Reading Challenge 2: Final Results!

After a small mixup and Oscars-like announcement of the wrong winner, the totals were re-totaled and the final result…

…with a book total of 43 books read…

…in three months…

…and a point total of 745.5 points…

…the winner is…


This year’s prize was a feathered flamingo pen, which doesn’t work, a golden cardboard bookmark with a tassel, a bag of sour neon gummy “book” worms and a copy of Tolstoy’s War and Peace, which was the top point level book this year and which I refused to read after killing myself to read Anna Karenina last year – guess I’ll be reading it NOW!!

I set my goal for 39 books and beat it by 4, which pleased me, and I read some amazing stories and histories and poetry, which pleased me even more! I’ve set a personal goal to read 100 books in 2018; last year I managed to read 88 books so I’ve got my work cut out for me. Luckily I’ve got a head start for the year and the Reading Challenge gave me some authors and series to continue!

Veni. Vidi. Lego.

I came. I saw. I read.

Read On!!

A Darker Shade of Magic is the first in a series of fantasy novels by V.E. Schwab about elemental magic and the Antari, who can cross the barriers between parallel worlds. It’s sometimes difficult to get into fantasy stories when they have to introduce a different reality and establish the rules of existence for those of us reading from the mundane world, but this author does a splendid job of dropping you into this world as if you already know all about it – she doesn’t hold your hand, but expects you to keep up. I also appreciate that not all of the story or backstory has been explained in this first of three, but there are hints and snippets to keep you intrigued. I’ve since learned the author plans to write another trilogy based in the same world – looking forward to that!

Completed 1/31/18, current balance 745.5 points

A classic novel by Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities is the story of the run up to the French Revolution in 1790’s London and Paris. The story particularly follows the lives of Dr. Manette, who was imprisoned in the Bastille for 18 years, his daughter Lucie, whom he’d never met until his release, and her husband Charles Darnay. I admit I grew to hate the sly Madame Defarge and her husband, who profess to be proponents of the revolution, “Liberté! Égalité! Fraternité!,” but mostly misuse their power over the mob to do away with those whom they dislike. Still, a good, fast read.

Completed 1/30/18, current balance 720.5 points

The Glass Castle is a memoir written by Jeannette Walls about her childhood and the escapades of her unusual family. She does an amazing job of capturing the child’s viewpoint of her family’s great adventures, then her view slowly changes over time as she grows older and realizes the reality of her situation and begins to take charge of her own life and work to struggle out of poverty, clinging to her brother and sisters to lift them up with herself. A beautifully written journey of strength and joy and pain and triumph.

Completed 1/29/18, current balance 693.5 points

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