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Archive for March, 2012

Children’s Book Review – Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile

by Gloria Houston, Illustrated by Susan Condie Lamb

Review by Brenna B. (demiducky25)

 

I saw this book in a display at the library and the cover image immediately caught my attention.  In concept, it reminded me of one of my favorite childhood books, Clara and the Bookwagon, so nostalgia caused me to pick this book up.

This book tells the story of Miss Dorothy, a young woman who grew up with a love of books.  She went to college and studied hard with the hopes of one day becoming a librarian in a library similar to the one in her town.  However, Miss Dorothy got married and ended up moving far away with her husband to a very rural town without a library.  After living in the community for a while, Miss Dorothy spoke at a town meeting to convince everyone that they needed a library.  The townspeople agree, and a collection was taken to purchase a bookmobile.  It’s not what Miss Dorothy wanted as her dream was to work in a brick library like the one she grew up with, but it’s a start.  Eventually, Miss Dorothy’s bookmobile becomes an important fixture in the community, and she provides a service that the people in this spread out rural community wouldn’t have had otherwise, but will Miss Dorothy come to see that it isn’t the physical structure that makes a library a library, but rather the love and enthusiasm that the librarian brings to the people?

The colorful illustrations in this book really help to bring this story to life.  Although the exact time period is never stated in the story or in the author’s note afterwards, you do get a sense that it is in the past from the illustrations, but nothing is so clearly “dated” that you can really even estimate a time-frame.  The author’s note at the end does provide some information about the real Miss Dorothy, Dorothy Thomas, but the only hints in figuring out that the events in the story happened quite a long time ago was the fact that it was mentioned that she had died and no one today seems to know where she’s buried.

Being the history buff that I am, of course I had to research the real Miss Dorothy so I could find out anything else about her life.  I’m still conducting my search, but there were very few references to her that I could find.  One reference I found was a quote by a Dorothy B. Thomas, librarian in North Carolina from an article about interlibrary loans written sometime in the 1950s and a county officials list from North Carolina written in 1967.  I’ve estimated her years of service to be 1948 with the start of the bookmobile to sometime after 1967 if that list of county officials refers to the same Dorothy Thomas (perhaps she served until the early 1970s or so).

Besides those brief references, the only two other sources that I could find with some information were an article about the county libraries celebrating their 50th anniversary of joined services: http://averyjournal.com/Centennial/story/AMY-at-50-joins-in-Averys-Centennial-Celebration-id-008643

And an article written in the Yancy community paper about the same event (on the second page there is a picture of Dorothy Thomas with the bookmobile): http://www.yanceytimesjournal.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=46&Itemid=18

Otherwise, the information on Dorothy Thomas has been fairly sparse.

Although Miss Dorothy and her Bookmobile is meant for ages 6-9 according to the book jacket, I recommend this book for any child (or adult), especially those who just love books.  It gave me a warm feeling of happy nostalgia since it reminded me of the bookmobile book that I enjoyed growing up, and I hope that reading this book will help a child out there today discover their love of books.  The dedication page says “For all Librarians, who bring the world to our door(s).  So thank you, Dorothy Thomas and all the other librarians out that for opening those doors for us! 🙂

 

Erotica Review – Tempting Turquoise

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012

Tempting Turquoise: An Anthology

by Amy Ruttan, Elaine Lowe and Regina Carlysle

Rain God / Feral Moon / Veins of Turquoise

Review by Cynthia F. (frazerc)

 

 

Very loosely themed anthology – all stories have turquoise in them.

 

Rain God by Amy Ruttan

This is a futuristic – all surface water has vanished from earth – people live in space stations and L5 colonies.  Our heroine is looking for water that might be hidden deep in the earth – but finds a piece of turquoise instead.  She returns to her station only to find out the turquoise contains a hunky guy who claims to be the God of Rain.  He tells her all they have to do is make love in the ‘Heart’ and rain will return the waters to the earth.  If you can ignore all the ‘Huh?’ moments, it’s an OK read.

 

Feral Moon by Regina Carlysle

Shifter story – lots of angsty lust – followed by lots and lots of wild sex with various numbers of partners.  And the turquoise in this story is in the h/h’s rings – which pop out and get used as vibrators.  Yeah, made no sense to me either.

 

Veins of Turquoise by Elaine Lowe

Another futuristic which manages to blend avatars, virtual sex, cyberspace, hacking, and an intelligent planet all into one story.  The heroine manages to discover real sex, commune with the alien consciousness and save the world – all in the space of 90 pages.  The whole thing jumps around a bit but I thought it was the best read of the lot.

 

 

The Places Where We Live – West Virginia

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Welcome to Wild and Wonderful West Virginia by Linda (Angeleyes)

 

 

Yes, you read it right.  Wild and Wonderful West Virginia.  So many times when asked “Where are you from?  West Virginian’s hear “oh Western Virginia?”  No, not Western Virginia.  Noted for its mountains and rich terrain, West Virginia became the 35th state of the union on June 20, 1863.

With a population of only 1,816,856 in 24,231 miles 75% of the state is covered with forest, giving reason to the nickname “The Mountain State”.   Myself, I’m a transplant to this great state.  I came here almost 26 years ago and fell in love with the mountains, the trees, the wildlife.  Much different than the concrete jungle where I grew up.  One of my favorite things to do is just jump in the car and go for a ride.  The state is absolutely beautiful no matter what time of year.  And it is such a diverse state that there truly is something for everyone.   Small towns with warmth and charm, larger cities, camping, biking, hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing, spelunking, and some of the best white water rafting in the country.   Whatever you’re looking for you can find it here.  Another neat aspect of West Virginia is its history which is filled with as many twists and turns as our famed country roads. Here you’ll find Native American burial mounds, re-creations of frontier forts, sites that recognize the heritage of our early presidents and in many of the small towns it’s like stepping back in time with general stores, outhouses, antique tools and appliances.

West Virginia is not a leading agricultural state because its rugged terrain and mountainous landscape have made farming difficult. The state relies on its rich mineral deposits and natural resources, oil, natural gas, timber, clay, limestone, salt and sand. Chemical production is West Virginia’s most important industry.  Coal deposits can be found under about two-thirds of West Virginia’s land, making it one of the leading producers of soft coal in the country.

If you like college football, West Virginia is the place to be.  WVU and Marshall University football are what bring this state together. And tear it apart.  Everywhere you go, no matter what time of year, you’ll see the blue and gold of WVU or the green of Marshall proudly displayed.  And once a year the day the two stare each other down on the field is an unofficial holiday.  Pick your team, get a cold drink and a good seat because you are in for a great show.  Go Mountaineers !  Go Thundering Herd !  (as you can see I’m sitting on the fence for this one.)

And there can be no discussion of West Virginia without mentioning the Hatfields and McCoys.  Most of us remember the story from our childhood.  Two families feuding across state lines: the Hatfields in WV and the McCoys in Kentucky.  The feud has entered the American folklore lexicon as a metaphor for any bitterly feuding rival parties. More than a century later, the story of the feud has become a modern allegory on the perils of family honor, justice and vengeance.

If you ever get a chance plan a trip to West Virginia.  I’m sure you’ll fall in love with it just like I did.

 

Did You Know:

  • The first brick street in the world was laid in Charleston, West Virginia, on October 23, 1870, on Summers Street, between Kanawha and Virginia Streets.
  • The first organized golf club in America was formed in West Virginia.
  • The first rural free mail delivery was started in Charles Town on October 6, 1896, and then spread throughout the United States.
  • Mother’s Day was first observed at Andrews Church in Grafton on May 10, 1908.
  • The New River Gorge Bridge near Fayetteville is the second highest steel arch bridge in the United States. The bridge is also the longest steel arch bridge (1,700 feet) in the world. Every October on Bridge Day, the road is closed and individuals parachute and bungee cord jump 876 feet off the bridge. Its West Virginia’s largest single day event and attracts about 100,000 people each year.
  • The first free school for African Americans in the entire south opened in Parkersburg in 1862.
  • Fairmont native Mary Lou Retton became the first woman to win a gold medal in gymnastics at the Los Angeles Olympics. She also took home two silver medals, two bronze medals and went on to become an official spokesperson for Wheaties, appearing on several breakfast cereal packages.
  • Outdoor advertising had its origin in Wheeling about 1908 when the Block Brothers Tobacco Company painted bridges and barns with the wording: “Treat Yourself to the Best, Chew Mail Pouch.” – so yes you can blame all those billboards you see on WV. It’s our fault. : )
  • The favorite karaoke song sung in the state is “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver.
  • The first state sales tax in the United States went into effect in West Virginia on July 1, 1921

 

Literary West Virginia

Pearl S. Buck – Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize winning author was born in Hillsboro WV


The Good Earth:
Pearl S. Buck

 

Homer H. Hickam, Jr. – Author of Rocket Boys: A Memoir, the story of his life in the little town of Coalwood, WV that Inspired the #1 Bestseller and Award-Winning Movie October Sky.

Rocket Boys: Homer K Hickam Jr.

John Forbes Nash Jr. – 1994 Nobel Prize winning mathematician who was the subject of the 1998 biography and 2002 film “A Beautiful Mind.” Born and raised in Bluefield WV

A Beautiful Mind The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash: Sylvia Nasar

 

Carlene Thompson – Author of numerous books set in WV.  Born and lives in Point Pleasant, WV

You Can Run: Carlene Thompson

 

The Coffin Quilt: The Feud Between the Hatfields and the McCoys: Ann Rinaldi


 

 

Mystery Monday – Waking Hours

Monday, March 26th, 2012

 

Waking Hours by Lis Wiehl with Pete Nelson

 

 

Review by Cynthia M. (clariail)

 

Book Synopsis:
All towns have secrets. Some have demons. — Welcome to East Salem. A deceptively sleepy town where ancient supernatural forces are being awakened. A local high-school girl is found murdered in a park amid horse farms and wealthy homes of northern Westchester County, New York. The shocking manner of her death confounds the town and intrigues forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris, who is determined to unravel the mystery. All the suspects are teenagers who were at a party with the girl, yet none remembers what happened. Could one of them be a vicious killer? Or is something more sinister afoot — something tied to an ancient evil?

But it’s not just her waking hours that challenge Dani. Each night, her eyes open at 2:13 due to troubling dreams. Dreams filled with blood, water, and destruction. Is it a clue — or a supernatural sign?

Across town, former NFL linebacker Tommy Gunderson finds his state-of-the-art security system has been breached by an elderly woman. Mumbling threats in Latin, she attacks him with an uncanny, preternatural strength. Before he has time to process the attack, someone close to him is implicated in the girl’s murder at the park. He agrees to help and finds himself working with Dani, the only girl who could resist his charms years ago when they were in high school.

A heavy darkness is spreading. Yet a heavenly force is also at work.

My Thoughts:
I love to read Christian Fiction, especially mystery/thrillers. I also like to read books that have elements of spiritual warfare in them. This book contains both.

One of the two main characters in the story is Dani, forensic psychiatrist. I wouldn’t say that she is a non-believer but she looks are everything from a scientific stand point. If she can’t explain it scientifically then she more readily accepts the spiritual application.

Tommy is the other main character for the story, who is a believer and sees things from the view point of faith and what the bible says.

Both of these come into play as the story goes along and I did like reading the discussions between the two view points.

Even though the book was written by two people, I thought that it flowed very well. It was a slow reading book to me but it kept me intrigued to see what was going to happen. The mystery part of the book concerning the murder was resolved by the end of the book but I believe that the ground work was being laid for the next book in the series as far as the spiritual elements were concerned as there wasn’t any resolution or explanation for the events that had taken place.

The only complaint that I had, and not a real biggie, was that they used words occasionally that I either wasn’t familiar with or thought that they were using a fancier word than necessary. For instance, instead of saying they were running blood tests, they used serology. That’s just me though.

International Waffle Day

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Today is International Waffle Day!

 

 

By Margaret (Yellowdogs1)

 

 

Waffle day originated in Sweden. March 25th originally was celebrated as a religious holiday, Annunciation Day on our calendar or Vårfrudagen – Lady Day in Sweden. It’s exactly 9 months before Christmas.

The Swedish word Vårfru and the Swedish word våffla (waffle) sound almost the same, and over time Vårfrudagen slowly changed into Våffeldagen. Yes, poor phonetics begat a day of eating one of my favorite foods. Today, Swedes enjoy heart shaped waffles for any or all meals to celebrate Waffle day and the beginning of Spring.

Waffles can actually be traced back to the ancient Greeks. In the 13th century, they would cook flat cakes called Obelios, between 2 hot irons over hot coals.  The word “waffle” came into play during the Middle Ages. The word is related to the communion “wafer” which was one of the only things that Catholics could eat during fasting periods. The “wafers” that the monasteries made were just flour and water, so you can imagine how bland they were. Bakeries decided to get in on that action and began making wafers that were far tastier. The batter was cooked on hinged plates that were pressed together with wooden handles. The bakers would hold them over a hearth fire to bake and flipped them manually. Bakeries soon began engraving their irons with religious symbols, coats of arms, landscapes and what we now use, the honeycomb pattern made up of interlocking crosses. The different patterns were used to brand the waffles from different bakeries.

Waffles from different areas of the world have unique characteristics and flavors. Both the US and Swedish Waffles use baking powder as leavener while Belgian waffles use yeast to create the light fluffy texture. .

I actually own 4 waffle irons. 1 Swedish waffle iron, 2 Belgian waffle makers and one regular one, I told you I loved waffles. Here are 4 of my favorite recipes.  Make a big batch and stick the extras in the freezer. Just pull one out and pop it into the toaster for your own homemade frozen waffles.

 

 

 

Swedish Crispy Waffles- frasvåffla

This recipe is from my husbands Swedish great grandmother, Sunny- for Sunderland. This is a very traditional Swedish waffle and they are not sweetened.  Her original notes are in ( )

  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream, whipped (Top Cream)

    Photo by Margaret

  • 1 1/4 cup flour  (use the blue tea cup to measure)
  • 1/3 cup ice-cold water (or snow)
  • 3 T. butter, melted  (ball of butter the size of a small egg)

Fold whipped cream into the flour. Add the water and melted butter. Let set for one hour, then bake in a waffle iron.

Serve with powdered sugar and lingonberry or strawberry jam.

 

Swedish Soft waffles- “vafler”

  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ cup melted butter

Whisk the eggs and sugar together. Add 1 ½  cups milk

In a separate bowl whisk 2 cups flour with 1 tsp baking powder

Add the wet and dry ingredients together then add ¼ cup melted butter.

Bake in waffle iron.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream and strawberry jam.

 

Best Waffles Ever- makes 2 ½ waffle irons full.

1 ½ cps flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

¼ tsp salt

Photo by Margaret

3 Tbs sugar

3 eggs separated save yolks and in clean bowl beat egg whites to soft peaks

¾ cups sour cream

¾-1 cup milk

¼ melted butter

Mix dry ingredients together in large bowl. Add sour cream, egg yolks and ¾ cup of milk. Mix together until well combined. Add melted butter then fold in beaten egg whites.

If batter is to thick, add additional milk.

 

Belgian Waffles

  • 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm milk about 110 degrees F
  • 3 egg separated
  • 2 1/2 cups warm milk
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled to lukewarm
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

In a small bowl mix the ¼ cup of warm milk and the yeast together. Let sit about 10 minutes until foamy.

In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, melted butter and ½ cup of the milk. Add the yeast mixture, sugar, salt and vanilla. Stir in 1/3 of the flour, ½ of the remaining milk, 1/3 of the flour the rest of the milk then the rest of the flour.

Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form and then fold then gently into the batter.

Cover the batter and let sit on counter for about 1 hour to rise.

Preheat your Belgian waffle maker with oil and pour ½ cup of batter or the amount needed for your waffle iron. Cook until golden brown. Serve with powdered sugar or syrup.

 

Photo by Margaret

Non-Fiction Review – The One-Straw Revolution

Saturday, March 24th, 2012

 

The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming

by Masanobu Fukuoka

Review by Jennifer (mywolfalways)

 

Masanobu Fukuoka left his job as a customs inspector at the age of 25 to become a farmer.  Making plenty of mistakes along the way, including killing an entire grove of his father’s citrus trees, Fukuoka found a life of self-sufficiency possible.  Even more astounding is the fact that he managed to remain self-sufficient and still have food leftover to sell at markets without the use of pesticides, herbicides, and many of the other modern conveniences most farmers use.  But how did he do it?

 

Through careful analysis and deconstruction of both traditional and modern technique, he learned what was necessary.  He found that many of the traditional techniques only caused more damage to crops, as did many things that are so popular in modern technique.  He discovered that the many insects, plants, and animals that are commonly considered as pests can actually be utilized to encourage growth.  Many times when his neighbors’ crops were devastated by swarms of insects, despite having used insecticides, his crops were saved by natural predators, like swarms of spiders or large infestations of reptiles.  Oddly enough, Fukuoka found that nature takes care of itself.

 

Fukuoka was generous with his knowledge.  In fact, until a few years before his death, Fukuoka let others join him at his farm. While many visitors were only tourists with a passing curiosity, many of them came to live alongside him and follow in his footsteps of self-sufficiency.  He would teach them his way of living.  His way of teaching was not through the traditional means of a step by step process, but instead by total immersion.  He believed this was the best way to illustrate his beliefs and practices, while at the same time helping to free the minds of his visitors from the common misconceptions of farming taught by modern agriculture.

 

Like the buds of life that peek through last year’s straw, seeds of Fukuoka’s wisdom reveal themselves in the most unlikely places.  While reading, I found that many of the simple techniques he applied to his fields could also be applied to keeping my mind and spirit healthy.  Perhaps the most important lesson that can be gleaned from this text is that nature must be observed and studied as a whole being, rather than just focusing on select parts.  We must focus on how all of its parts interconnect and work together and in doing so, we can do the same for our whole being as well.

 

First published in 1978, this book on self-sufficiency has proven it’s worth even today.  The latest publication date for this book is listed as 2009.  Masanobu Fukuoka’s wisdom is so treasured that another book is being published postmortem entitled “Sowing Seeds in the Desert” (ISBN: 1603584188).  There is even a website kept by Larry Korn to share the ideals of Fukuoka at http://www.onestrawrevolution.net .  I hope that many others will read “The One-Straw Revolution” and find it useful to their own goals of self-sufficiency and mindful action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy Friday – The Crystal Cave

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

 

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

 

Review by Jerelyn (I-F-Letty)

 

A little bit of magic and genius; is Mary Stewart’s take on the Merlin myth.  When I read this book for the first time it was in the late 1970’s, and it was a revelation. The Crystal Cave is one of those books that I just have to take out and re-read.  It is timeless and still as good today as it was when published.

We meet Merlin as a six year old boy, the bastard grandson of a Welsh King. The myth about him starts very early because his mother refuses to name the boy’s father.  She allows people to think that he is no man’s son, thinking to protect him, but it only places him in danger. There was something about the small boy, separateness, something dangerous, and something to be feared.  He has the sight and untrained he cannot control it. Then as now what men do not understand they fear.   The Romans have only just abandoned Britain  The Saxons have come, Christianity is still very new to Wales and the old ways still hold sway but times are changing. The Saxon King Vortigern is aging and fears his much younger enemy in Brittany, who has spent his time gathering and training an army to take back is birth right.

Merlin meets his first teacher one day having escaped his tutor who has a bit of a drinking problem.  Galapas the hermit has things to teach the boy whom he has waited for, living within the crystal cave of the hollow hills.  Over the years, Merlin learns language and music and mathematics from Galapas, he learns herb lore and healing, and is beginning to understand his psychic powers, while the dangers of war come closer and even members of his own family want him dead.  Finally he must flee into the unknown world, after an attempt on his life.  He puts his faith in the Gods that he realizes have been guiding his path all along.

The Gods are good and Merlin finds himself in the house of Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon, in Brittany.  Ambrosius has a claim on the throne of Britain and had plans to unify the many kingdoms into one.  Under one High King himself.  He too has been waiting for a sign; a sign which is Merlin.

I think the thing I love about this book and the others that follow is the completely different take on the Merlin myth, and Arthurian legend.  Stewart is a master story teller and these books were a departure for her.  She had been know up to this point for a genre she pioneered, romantic suspense. With the Merlin series she tried her hand at historical fiction/fantasy and it worked out very well Crystal Cave, Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment and the last The Wicked Day where her best selling novels. Crystal Cave is one of my 5 star reads.  If you or your teen loves the dark ages and historical fantasy I really believe you will enjoy this book as well. It is already considered by many as a classic.