It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading, is where we gather to share what we have read this past week and what we plan to read this week.  It is a great way to network with other bloggers, see some wonderful blogs, and put new titles on your reading list.

 I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme.  I offer a weekly contest for those who visit 10 or more of the Monday Meme participants and leave a comment.  You receive one entry for every 10 comments, just come back here and tell me how many in the comment area.

   Last weeks winner:

Kristen from Bookworming In The 21st Century

Congratulations!  Please choose an item out of the PRIZE BOX and email me your choice with your mailing address as well!


Whew!  What a week!  I have been busy and well…. the usual.  😀  Pre posting and planning on the weekend does have its benefits 😉  Here is what this past week looked like:


Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekkanen (Oh sooooooo good!) 

 Author Chat with Sarah Pekkanen – Author Of Skipping a Beat!    SQQQQQUUUEEEEEE 😛 


Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Bonus Bookies read and food fest…. oh the food!)

The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia ( A deep read that I wish I would have had more time to dig into)

Water Wars by Cameron Stracher (Hmmmm…. great topic but didnt quite make it for me)

YUMMY The Last Days of A South Side Shorty (True story told in graphic novel style… wow!  This book won a Cybil award)

Certain Women By Madeleine L’Engle (Our Faith ‘n Fiction read)


All that – plus I finished another two books and two audios that I have yet to review.  (Driving 3+ hours to the cabin each way this weekend really gave me a little audio time 😀 )


As for this week…. looking at my schedule I do not have a lot of evening meetings this week which helps me plan out my reading…. so here is what I will have on the plan:



The true story of Courtney Miles’ rescue of over 300 people in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. While government officials posed for cameras, a boy from the projects with no driver’s license stepped up and showed what “drive” is all about. LAST BUS OUT tells how Courtney Miles stole a bus, charged past a police roadblock, and argued with a National Guardsman who threatened to lock him in the makeshift jail at the Greyhound Bus Station. Sick with worry about his missing grandmother, he drove his passengers to safety, then went back into the city at midnight to help others. His adventure would ultimately lead to starting his life over on the opposite end of the country, far away from the three women he loves – the mother who abused him, the grandmother who taught him to survive, and the girlfriend who would betray him. LAST BUT OUT chronicles Courtney’s life alone while his mother was repeatedly jailed for selling drugs. At seven he woke up on Christmas Eve with a gun in his face. At thirteen he witnessed the murder of a man three feet in front of him. As a high school junior he lived alone in an empty house without electricity or water. Courted by gangs who knew he was hungry, “Streets”, as he was nicknamed for his solitary life on the streets, lived apart and kept his record clean – until the day he risked his freedom to save his neighbors.



War has come to Melengar. To save her kingdom, Princess Arista runs a desperate gamble when she defies her brother and hires Royce and Hadrian for a dangerous mission. As the power of the Nyphron Empire grows, so does Royce’s suspicion that the wizard Esrahaddon is using the thieves as pawns in his own game. To find the truth, he must unravel the secret of Hadrian’s past–what he discovers could change the future for all of Elan.


I received this series last year and totally dropped the ball on finishing it.  The series is good and with this third book I plan on doing all three reviews together. 

 As the reader is guided through the author’s libraryAhis “Magic Kingdom”Avarious books, manuscripts and mementos become the stimulus for meditations about Christian faith and about the people who have touched his life. We read at length about the folly of writing a novel about Jesus; to do so, the ordained minister writes, “would be to cheapen and somehow dishonor the bond between us.” We see the author’s fatherAwho committed suicide at the age of 38Anot only as a distant figure, alcoholic and adulterous (“the empty place at [the] center” of Buechner’s childhood), but as a charismatic Princeton alumnus who once seemed so full of promise. The memoir’s penultimate chapter is a tribute to the author’s beloved brother, Jamie, who died as Buechner was finishing the bookAhe had called and said he had “incurable cancer of virtually everything and didn’t intend to be around for more than two weeks if he could possibly help it.” Such a momentAa pitch-perfect blend of tenderness and sardonic lyricismAtypifies the poetic intensity of the memoir. Also of note is the second chapter, about Buechner’s friend, the late poet James Merrill, who appears in the author’s dreams: “and it is always goodbye that we are saying again as if to make up for never having had the chance to say it properly.”

I have a couple audios I am starting as well but this post has been a real “opportunity”.  First my lap top appears to have moved on to greener pastures.  Using my husband’s lap top tp put this post together in Internet Explorer has turned out to be an evening of formating and missing pictures…. and well…..  at this point I am just trying to get it posted.  😀

I am excited to see what you are reading so please remember to link up your “What Are You Reading” post below where it says “click here”.  😀


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YUMMY the last days of a southside shorty by Neri. Duburke

Robert “Yummy” Sandifer was a real person.  He was born in 1983 and lived in the Roseland area of Chicago.  He received his nickname “yummy” because he loved his sweets.

Yummy, at just eleven years old, became a poster child for youth gang related violence.  A series of tragic events led to his appearance of the cover of TIME magazine in September 1994.


this same series of events…

also led to his death.



I am not a big reader of graphic novels, but occasionally one will catch my eye, much like this one did.  Based on the true story of Robert “Yummy’s” life, this story is told with a fictional character Roger, who tells the story through his eyes of how Yummy became initiated into a gang called the Black Disciples, how we killed a girl, and how eventually he was killed as well.

When I think of a story like this – I do not think of it as a graphic novel.  But it is.  And in this case, it works.  Following Yummy’s story through the pictures was much like there and illustrator Randy DeBurke creates emotion and feeling through his illustrations of Yummy as well as the extended family and the gang members. Author G. Neri writes with great feeling as well and together – this book won in the Cybils.

Yummy’s dad was in prison for drug possession.  Yummy’s mom was in and out of jail – 42 times on convictions for drug use and prostitution.  Yummy was left in the care of his grandmother who at times had up to twenty of her grandchildren staying with her.   It was easy for Yummy to sneak out to the troubled streets of Chicago for days at a time and not even be noticed as missing.

What is frightening about what I have just described is that this is a common occurrence in many areas of our world.  Kids looking for a play – for a way – to belong.  I have seen this when I have traveled to Honduras – the gangs are even greater and more dangerous now then when I went for the first time in 2004.  Currently they have 14 murders a day in the main city of Tegucigalpa.  But I am not taking only of a third world country problem…. no… this is all too common in the Unites States as well.  New York, California, Florida, and of course Chicago – Yummy’s area, just to name a few.

What I did not know is that the laws at the time of this book were that young criminals would go to Juvenile Facilities and then be out once they turned 21… this is why gangs liked to recruit young kids to do the crime, as if they were caught – it was not a life sentence.  The fact that the gangs found this “loop-hole” in the system floors me… who thinks this way?

What is apparent in this book is that Yummy is a kid that wants to belong.  Unfortunately he finds that acceptance through the gangs.  As you read through this book you will see Yummy as this tough mean-spirited kid trying to make an impression…. and at other times you can find him in front of the tv with his teddy bear.

Who was the real Yummy?  In and out of trouble for years, he was desensitized from authority.  What can be done about these gang crimes and especially saving the young ones like Yummy?

Photo out of Time Magazine

While this book was an emotional read, I am so glad I did read it.  I finished this book on Friday and have not been able to stop thinking about it.  When you look at all the circumstances that played into Yummy’s life… all the pieces that were missing in his life (love, family stability, a safe home, a positive adult influence, security…) Honestly?  It makes me want to hug my kids and tell them how much I love them.

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You reading map has been updated to include YUMMY


I borrowed this book from my library

Certain Women by Madeleine L’Engle

David Wheaton is on his death bed.  From his boat in the Pacific Ocean, he shares his life memories – hopes and regrets with his daughter Emma who has come to be with him these last days.  Having had 9 wives and eleven children, David has had quite a life.  As an actor, there is one role he had always hoped to play and now regrets deeply he never had the chance to do so – and that was the role of King David. Emma’s husband had struggled writing a play for David Wheaton to create the much coveted role for him.

While Emma works to gather the family for David’s final moments on earth,as readers we see the parallels between the two David’s – in some cases even hitting a little close to home for the Wheaton family.

Luke 24:22:  Certain women made us astonished

I read this book as our first read of 2011 with the Faith N Fiction group.   Madelaine L’ Engle is most known for her work with children’s books, probably mostly known for writing A Wrinkle In Time (a book I have never read).

I thought this would be a book I could read within a couple of days and be done in plenty of time for our discussion that started in early February.  This turned out not to be the case.   I spent much time getting to know the characters as tends to happen for me when a book is loaded with characters such as this.  I back track and try to capture who each person is as they are introduced.  That fact, as well as just a busy time of life caused me to pop in late to the discuss points of what was an interesting read.

A theme that was brought up that I personally enjoyed was how as David recalls his marriages (all eight of them!) as they often reflected the life and wives of the Biblical David.  You could almost hear the whispers of the Biblical David’s wives coming from between the lines.  Written with a witty and lyrical pen, I found L’Engle’s writing to be just what I would have expected from a family such as David’s who was deeply embedded in the arts of acting, producing, and such.

If anything, I found, as well as a few in our group discussion that the parallels between the two David’s became a bit much.  Not so much the parallel itself, but the fact that the author had a habit of pointing out that this was a parallel with things like “…. much like the David of the Bible….” I prefer to figure these things out for myself more than feeling like I am led by the hand through a read.

Another part of our group discussion was a heavier topic in the book that I do not wish to give away but unfortunately is a topic that is all to real for many of us.  Some felt it was tiring to constantly see this come up, while other found it as I mentioned here – something that is real.  (Hope I was not too cryptic here but trying  hard not to give anything away.) 😀

A well-rounded read that covered many topics.   David has really had the life and Certain Women, being told in a reflective manner is a brilliant way to write this particular story.

I found the book descriptive and while more work to read than I had planned for, I am glad I had the opportunity to read and discuss this book.

For me personally I recall the part where David (Wheaton) reflects on how badly he has screwed it all up and how he wishes he could change the way he handled many things in his life.  David in The Bible also lived with much regret, and this reminds me of how God used those of us who are broke, damaged, vessels and fills us up.  A reminder, that we all are human – we are going to screw this thing up, and God will still be able to use is if we only let Him.

Please stop by and see what the other Faith N Fiction Participants have to say:

Amy at My Friend Amy

Hannah at Wordlily

Heather at Book Addiction

Carrie at Books and Movie

Julie at Book Hooked Blog

Jennifer at Crazy for Books

Ronnica at Ignorant Historian

Nicole at Linus’s Blanket

Thomas at My Random Thoughts

Liz at Roving Reads

Sherry at Semicolon

Florinda at The 3 R’s Blog

Tina at Tina’s Book Reviews

Brooks at Victorious Cafe

I purchased my book from Amazon

Morning Meanderings… From The North Shore


First off brrrr….

I started my car this morning to drive into town from the cabin for internet service and it was -13.  That’s a negative.

But – I am here…

and that’s a positive.

Last time I was at the cabin was the first weekend of November when we had a girls baking and crafting weekend here.  I made it to the cabin yesterday around 3:00 pm…. got settled and watched a little tv. set up my paperwork, read a little…. and promptly fell asleep.  😯

Ok… so much for day one.

However today is a new day and I am excited to get started.  I am in a little cafe in Silver Bay Minnesota.  There is a table of 4 older men… and another table of a family.  I am the only one with a laptop…. much as it has been any time that I have come in here for internet.  Even the internet is mine… we have Verizon so I get internet wherever I have phone service.

There is a new sign in the cafe.  It reads:

“No Work Boots Allowed In This Dining Room!”

If I ever do write that fictional story in my head – that line above has to go in it somewhere.   😛

Today when I go back to the cabin I will be writing the day away.  I am ready.

Tomorrow morning I need to head back home early as it is our week serving the homeless and I have to help set up at noon.  I plan to be on the road about 7 am.

But – I still have today.  😀

For my picture today for Alice’s Saturday Snapshot I leave you with this:


Ahhhh….. the North Shore.  😉


Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

Vera and her older brother Will live in a futuristic world where Water is the new money.  As the kids help their father take care of their ill mother the search for water is a daily task and forever on their minds.  Vera’s friend Kai and his dad have a rare wealth due to Kai’s dad being a  water driller.  When Kai fails to show up one day, Vera and Will discover that Kai has been abducted.

The search for their friend will take them beyond their republic of Illinowa and through the republic of Minnesota and Canada.  As they travel they are befriended by pirates and at one point even taken hostage by terrorists.  Eventually making their way to Bluewater, the area that has the monopoly on the water desalinization process.  This is where they find Kai and his father and a whole world of trouble beyond what they could have ever imagined.

Water Wars was a fast read of dystopian fiction that hits on a topic all too close to home.  With talks of real life water shortages in the world’s future I found this book to be a look into a possible reality which for me, hit real close to the scary mark.  I could picture the people fighting for water and the look of them from the lack of it.  I really had to take a long hard look at my own water waste in my life (Ie… running the water to hot before stepping into the shower… letting a faucet run while I grab the phone or take out the garbage…)

I have to talk cover:  Awesome awesomeness!!!  I love it!  Very eye catching.

Cameron Stracher writes a novel that I think will appeal to YA readers who don’t dive too deeply into the read and discover the lack of character development or the conflict details.  I felt as though this book left something to be desired in the middle but in the end pulls together a good finale.

Just because this book did not fit me, doesn’t mean it will not fit someone else.  I have an additional advanced copy of this book for someone who would like to give it a try.  Let me know in the comments if you would be interested in reading this book and I will choose one commenter at the end of the week using to mail this to.

Amazon Rating

I have updated the 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map to include Water Wars


I picked this book up from the publisher

Morning Meaderings: Adventures Beyond My Home and a winner!


FRIDAY!!!!!  Friday Friday Friday Friday!   YEAH!

Ok… one more…. Friday!  😛

I went to the 5:45 am Group Power Class with my friend Wendy.  At this point I am not sure which of us is crazier… she who is now on her way to work until 7 pm tonight, or me who needed to come home, get ready for a breakfast date at 9 am and packing to leave town right after a quick stop at the library after breakfast.

I am itchin’ for spring and for activity and I think I am finally starting to see things coming up that are exciting!  In three weeks (oh man… it may be less now) I am in for the Polar Plunge is Edina Minnesota for Special Olympics.  I have never done this before… but enjoy adventure.  Although today is currently -4 for a temp so really thinking more and more about that icy water.

Then – yesterday a group of my friends were planning a girls weekend that I thought at first I would not be able to attend as they had picked a weekend I had other commitments… and then – the email came and the date has changed and I am in!!!  IN!!!! AND we are seeing Rick Springfield in concert which is oh so 80’s of me… but that’s the way I roll.

Rick Springfield.... then and now

May 1 is the first Minnesota bike ride of the year and my friends Amy and Wendy are committed to doing this with me and I am super uber pumped to do this ride -and hopefully this year the weather is nice enough for us to do the 75 or 100 mile route instead of the 30 due to poor weather the last two years.

And the end of May – is BEA.

And from there – spring and summer means bike rides and a garden and apparently a run this year that still freaks me out a bit but…. I feel I need to do things now because some day I might not want to.  🙂


This weekend, well today actually I am going to our cabin up North for the first time since November.  I am taking time to get away and write.  I will be back on Sunday.  Posts will still go up as I should have internet when I go out for coffee at a cafe in Silver Bay.  A 3 hour drive each way means lots of audio time too… and I am thinking about a stop at Barnes and Noble in Duluth…. just because. 😀

Oh and yes, I have a winner from the Literary Blog Hop.  My winner using is:  Amy from The House Of Seven Tails.   She chose The Things They Carried by Tim O’ Brien.  Congratulations Amy!

Have a fabulous day!


The Fifth Servant by Kenneth Wishnia

16th-century Prague, Wishnia’s outstanding debut convincingly transforms a Jewish sexton and his rabbinic mentor into a plausible pair of sleuths. Just before the start of Passover, the discovery of the bloody corpse of Gerta Janek, a blond girl, maybe seven years old, inside the store of Jacob Federn, a Jewish businessman, triggers the inevitable revival of the blood libel and threat of mass retribution against the entire Jewish community. Benyamin Ben-Akiva, the newly arrived shammes, has three days to prove that someone other than Federn is guilty of Gerta’s brutal murder. He faces opposition from his own people, but manages to win the respect and support of the legendary Rabbi Loew, who helps him gain access to the body so that a rudimentary examination can be done, though many Gentiles are offended by the very notion.


I love reading about different cultures and that is what initially drew me to this book.  That, a little historical fiction and I do love a good mystery.

Highly detailed and full of 16th century imagery – this part of the book I really enjoyed as author Kenneth Wishnia truly has a way with words.  And speaking of words… on the flip of that this is a book that would be a delight for those who love learning languages as the Hebrew, German, and Yiddish words are used throughout.  For me – it started to feel a bit like work to stop and roll the words through my mind, however I can see me going back and reading this book again when I have more time to really spend time in the language of it.  (*There is a glossary for the words in the back of the book).
The Fifth Servant opens up to many colorful characters and much of the book is seen through Benyamin Ben Akiva eyes and as such is a witness to the hideous murder.  This book reminds me strongly of another that I have read but for the life of me I can not seem to put my finger on that tile.

While maybe not so historically correct – I did like the way women were portrayed in the book as strong and capable.  That was refreshing for someone who like me enjoys reading about strong women.

There were parts that I did not enjoy – at times it felt like the religious/political aspect of the book became more important than the mystery itself and the plot felt lost for a time until suddenly the ending pulled me back into the story.

Final thoughts…  there was more to this book then I originally anticipated but still I found it to be a good read.  Due to my own procrastination I started this book later than I should have and feel I could have spent more time in it, working through some of the details.  This is one I will probably pick up again soon and spend a bit more time with it.

You can see Kenneth Wishnia’s website here

Amazon Rating

I received this book for review as part of the TLC Book Tour