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

I think the only reason I would ever have read The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, is because of the Reading Challenge; it’s really not my cup of tea. A 19th century British Who-Done-It describing the mysterious disappearance of a gem, the Moonstone, and the events which follow. While I enjoy a good mystery, this one exhibits some of the characteristics of mystery stories which annoy me most – too many narratives in many different voices; new characters being thrown in too late in the story; the disappearance of principal characters for a great deal of the narrative and then their sudden reintroduction for the obvious convenience of fixing a narrative problem. I’m afraid I also found the end(ings) unsatisfactory.

Completed 1/26/18, current balance 681.5 points

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. She paints quite a picture of family life in the early 20th century borough of Brooklyn; a patriarchal society where women’s power derived from cunning and smarts, where kids were raised by the streets and subject to any mother, aunt or grandmother within earshot and family meant everything. This book broke my heart in places, brought back memories, taught me things I hadn’t known and made me laugh right out loud over and over again!

Completed 1/25/18, current balance 647.5 points

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. What a powerful story of love and loss, and the words, oh the poetry of language, of feeling, of light and darkness painted into print, into prose. This author captures living and loving and light and song with her words and draws you in to the world of one woman, her memories, her life and the discovery of her self. Beautiful.

Completed 1/23/18, current balance 624.5 points

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas is a classic, certainly…but I wasn’t fond of the writing style and I wavered between sometimes liking a character here and there and other times finding them overly simplistic and a bit idiotic. My biggest hang up with the novel was the absence of the key characters from chapters 51-59, which were devoted entirely to a secondary character who didn’t really need nine consecutive chapters of exposition. I think the story could easily have been told far more succinctly and with better characterization and have been more enjoyable on the whole.

Completed 1/21/18, current balance 614.5 points

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