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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - Book Review

Between Shades of Gray if a book about Lithuanian refugees deported to Siberian work camps by the Soviets during World War II. The book is a side of a story that everyone thinks they have heard, but it's not. These work camps were different. They continued on long after the war and even after the refugees came home they were kept silent with promises of more torture.

Truthfully I had trouble connecting with the characters. At least until the last moments. (I don't want to give away exactly why, but let's say the main character does something very selfless after all she's been through.) Although the book is written in first person there is a detachment as though we are still watching the story from above instead of through Lina's heart and eyes. There are times when we really feel her pain - being overwhelmed by the tight space in the train, a soldier inappropriately touching her, her sketching a woman she saw beaten by the Soviets. I don't know if it's a mechanism for the author to protect herself, and the reader, or if it's a way for the ending to have that much more impact.


Drabble Dienstag - Don't Leave Me Alone

I need some prompts for my drabbles. Leave me an idea in the comments. Either a whole sentence or just a word. And I always love a critique, tell me what you think! I can only get better with feedback.

He woke with a major headache, his head pillowed on a rock. The devastation of the bomb had left the landscape worse than a desert. The ground was crackled like someone had balled up tinfoil and then laid it back flat. He sat up. The devastation made him suck in a sharp breath. The love of his life had been thrown yards away but he could see her head was bent behind her body, flesh dripping off her bones in a grotesque, melted way. He lay back down to let the bleeding and headache take him to be with her.


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath - Book Review

I put off reading The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath first because everyone in college had read it and it just seemed cliche. Then I put it off because I was worried it would scare me with all the craziness inside. It's not scary, but perhaps in the mundane and normal way she is insane it is more scary than if she was a true nut. Because that means I could be just like her.

The writing is beautiful, simply beautiful. Such normality made into such vivid imagery. The change in Esther is so gradual and yet so prominent. It begins with moments of silence and then strange sounds. It becomes utter calm almost to the point of lethargy. Then she just gives in to the fact that the world is monotonous and she doesn't want to deal with that.

Some of my favorite lines from the book:

"Every so often a beam of light appeared out of thin air, traversed the wall like a ghostly, exploratory finger, and slid off into nothing again."

"It dazzled and danced with light like a heavenly ice cube."

"Wrapping my black coat round me like my own sweet shadow, I unscrewed the bottle of pills and started taking them swiftly, between gulps of water, one by one by one."


Book Club - The Book Thief

This month we are reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.

If you would like to virtually join in: read the book, post a blog post, and I will share your post on the night we meet. (Right now that is tentatively October 18th.)

I'm not sure what our themed party will be this time. Maybe since it's October and the book is narrated by death we can have a Halloween/Grim Reaper themed party!


Drabble Dienstag - The Jump

I've been watching a TV show called Heartland. It's based off of a series of books I read as a teenager that are about a girl and her gift to heal battered horses. The show is pretty good, but it's really making me want to ride my horse and he's 5,000 miles away.

The clock was counting down, but I didn’t focus on it. There was too much else to hold my gaze. Pegasus was sailing over the jumps with ease. But then we came to the jump. There were flower pots, and Pegasus started to snort like he was going to bail on me. I softened my hold on the reins, tightened my grip with my knees, and pushed him through. We flew over the poles and landed with a certain grace that our other jumps didn’t have. The clock stopped, and I wrapped my arms around his neck with a smile.


Senior and Professional Portrait Photography

I had the express pleasure of photographing two sisters last weekend. One was for her senior portraits and the other was for a professional set for a website. We had a lot of fun changing outfits and climbing through flowers. They are really beautiful young women.


Drabble Dienstag

I had a horrible situation this last week. Well, I suppose it started a few weeks ago. My husband has been gone during the week every week for a few months now. On night a while back I found a ginormous spider in our bedroom just before I feel asleep. I tried to smash him but he ran fast. Then I called a friend to come catch him, but he disappeared. I didn't sleep.

This past week I found him again. I went to go to the bathroom before bed and he was in there. I tried to put a bowl over him but he crawled away and freaked me out. So I just shut the door. Again, I didn't sleep.

The next night Albert came home. I told him to immediately go in the bathroom and find it. This spider was so big he couldn't even fit under the door, he was still there. So now I can sleep.

The spider didn’t mean any harm, at least initially. He skittered across the floor and hid in the corner of the room. The shadow covered him, and he thought no one would see him. But the little girl came into the room and flicked on the light, illuminating every crevice. She put her teddy down and saw the spider. She screamed. He ran. Her parents calmed her and put her to bed. She sat shivering, thinking that big spider would eat her. When she finally dropped off, the spider crawled up and chomped a good chunk out of her cheek.


Book Club Themed Flapper Party

We had sooooo much fun at the book club party. We all dressed up and had macaroons and martinis. It was truly swell. I'll let the pictures tell the story.


Macaroons and truffles!

The whole group.

(It's a wig, but I like it!)

We had a lot to talk about concerning the book. There were a few people who hate Ernest Hemingway. A few people thought his mistress planned it all while other thought she was innocent. We all agreed that it was overall a good book. We discussed some of the other history around Hemingway and his psyche. There was a lot to talk about besides just having fun dancing around and dressing up.

Have you read this book? What did you think?


Book Club

Our book club meeting is on Tuesday. So if you have had a chance to read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and have something to say, write a blog post and I'll share it at the party.

We're having a 20s themed party. Martinis, fringe, and flapper style. I'll take pictures and blog about the party and what we all think of the book. Have a good labor day to all you American people, and have a good Monday to everyone else!


101 in 1001 Goals

I have a to-do list of challenges for myself that I've been working on since January 2009. That to-do list is 101 Things in 1001 Days. It ends in October of this year, just in time for my 25th birthday.

You can check out the 101 in 1001 Project here. Red is my finished color, orange is in progress, and yellow is a failure. I'm trying to finish these up so I can say I did it! But I think at this point I'm happy with how much I accomplished.

1. Finish this list 1/20/2009

2. Buy a house (it's an apartment but a house in the German sense)
3. Decorate the house
4. Plant a garden
5. Start herbs 4/7/2009
6. Build a snowboard hanging swing
7. Keep the house picked up for 2 months
8. Have the dishes washed after dinner every day for 2 weeks
9. Organize the back room 1/19/2009
10. Organize the “stuff” closet 1/19/2009

11. Have $5,000 in bank by December (had it, and spent it)
12. Put $10 in savings for every completed task
13. Have a “non-spending” month each year 2/2009 5/2010 4/2011
14. Pay off credit card debt and then only use a credit card when necessary

15. Take 100 photos in 100 days, one a day (6/25/2009)
16. Finish the first scrapbook 7/21/2010
17. Buy a new video camera 1/21/2009
18. Buy a new camera 6/16/2009
19. Buy a new fancy lens
20. Learn to play 5 songs on the guitar well (this is changing to violin since that's what I'm learning now)
21. Draw with my charcoal

22. Test 4 times a day for a month 7/14/2009
23. Take a dance class
24. Work out twice a week for a month
25. Play tennis every weekend for two months
26. Snowboard 10 times in one season
27. Drink 5 glasses of water each day for a week
28. Take 50 leisurely walks
29. Go snowboarding in Alaska (Or perhaps Germany?)
30. Go surfing in California

31. Freerice.com – 15000
32. Have a girls’ weekend 5/3/2010
33. Visit Angie in Guyana
34. Write to Angie
35. Take photos at Bri’s baby’s birth 6/9/2009
36. Take photos of Samantha at 6 months 3/29/2009
37. Take photos of Samantha at 9 months 6/22/2009
38. Take photos of Samantha at 1 year 9/19/2009
39. Make freezer food with Mom and Kelli
40. Learn a language with Christie (although we are on different continents)
41. Write my dad a note listing the top 50 reasons why he means the world to me 2/18/2010
42. Write my mom a note listing the top 50 reasons why she means the world to me 2/18/2010
43. Write my sister a note listing the top 50 reasons why she means the world to me 2/18/2010
44. Buy gifts for others on etsy

45. Learn a language
46. Read 100 books (172/100)
47. Read 20 non-fiction books (32/20)
48. Read Beowulf 9/1/2011
49. Read 10 classic novels
50. Learn about Buddhism
51. Learn about Henry the VIII 2/20/2009
52. Finish all of Jane Austen’s novels (7/7)
53. Watch all of the BBC Jane Austen movies
54. Learn to become a better photographer
55. Learn the publishing world
56. Understand Photoshop better 2/6/2009

57. Travel to 3 countries I haven’t been to (Germany, Switzerland, Austria)
58. Trade something on Freecycle.com (just gave things away instead)
59. Go backpacking
60. Climb 5 14ers
61. Adopt a pet
62. Take a completely impulsive, spur of the moment road trip 7/25/2009
63. Watch 5 sunrises together
64. Test drive fancy cars
65. Go to a Yankees game
66. Camp in the front yard
67. Go to Alaska
68. Work on the Mustang with Albert 5 times 6/16/2009
69. Have a meaningful date once a month for 6 months
70. Climb Devil’s Head
71. Climb the Rock 3/23/2009
72. Go stargazing with hot chocolate
73. Read 3 books with Albert (8/3) 3/25/2009
74. Write Albert a note listing the top 50 reasons why he means the world to me
75. Read Just Do It by Douglas Brown
76. And…Just Do It!
77. Go ice skating
78. Play hockey
79. Visit Paris
80. Write 5 letters to Albert (1/5)
81. Go to Niagara Falls
82. Play Scrabble 20 times (and some in German!)

83. Have a one sentence journal everyday for the duration of the challenge
84. Get published
85. Start a business 4/4/2009
86. Help Kelli with the non-profit
87. Step out of my comfort zone
88. Read the Bible
89. Find my niche
90. Write 5 short stories in 2 months 6/22/2010
91. Dye my hair again 2/24/2009
92. Take 10 bubble baths
93. Work on Papa’s book
94. Have a spa day
95. Write some letters of advice to my future kids
96. Stop swearing
97. Create my etsy shop 4/4/2009
98. Buy something on etsy for myself at least twice a year
99. Finish setting up my goodreads.com profile
100. Update the blog every week for 2 months 3/20/2009
101. Be content with life

This is the best way for me to accomplish goals. I'm always writing to-do lists. How do you accomplish goals?