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January 28, 2012

Remembering the Bookstore

Isn't it amazing how things have changed in just the past 50 years? Despite sounding like my Grandmother who always reverted to stories of "I remember when..." and me always thinking that she is so outdated that she probably remembers when rocks were soft. I remember when we finally had a color TV. It was a huge one but most of it was cabinet and it had rabbit ears. I also remember we went high class one year and actually bought an antenna that sat on the roof like some high tension power tower reaching up to touch the stars. We only had about 5 channels but it didn't matter. We watched it when our favorite programs came on which were Saturday morning cartoons and of course the normal shows such as Dark Shadows, The Sixth Sense, and Night Gallery. When I wasn't out playing ball with the neighbors (back then you went out to play without scheduling a "play date") or skating at the local rink, I was somewhere nearby reading a book which I picked up at the local bookstore.

It didn't matter where we were going , we would either pass by or have a bookstore just a couple of blocks away so chances were great that if I accompanied my mother I would be able to pick one of these paged escape into fantasy land. Of course my biggest problem was which one to get. After all, there were no computers to tell you what was available. No Internet to look up books in the subject of what I was in the mood to read that day. It was something I would have to decide once I get there. Once I saw what lies on the shelf in "my section", even though I knew this, it still didn't stop me from being lost in thoughts. I was trying to guess what I wanted, thinking about the hundreds if not thousands of titles under one roof, excited knowing I can have one of these cherished items to bring home with me. I was so lost in my own thoughts that I rarely even remember the drive there. The sound of my Mother's voice is usually what snaps me out of it since all that stands between me and my book is the walk across the parking lot.

Even the sight of the store makes my excitement grow and my heart quicken. Look how huge it is! All those signs in the windows of the latest "best seller" and of course there are some children's book signs too. Once I pull open one of the doors and enter the store I am overcome with sheer delight as my eyes take in all these books. Shelves and shelves of them! And the smell! Most people might think it stinks but not me, I love the smell of the paper and I swear I can even smell the ink. Oh how I wished my room smelled so good.

Some lay out on tables marked down in price which is where I always check first since it is right inside the door. Most of the books are more to my Mother's liking as they are adult romance but I forage through the table any way in case there is something to my suiting. Sometimes there is and because they are marked down I can get two books for the price of one. Most of the time it is full of things like Harliquin Romances and DIY books. Either way I am not disappointed because I am going to the area where there are tons of books just my speed.

As I walk over to the department where I would find books for myself, I sometimes hold my hand out and let it slide across the books on the shelf much like Huckleberry Finn would do with a stick on a picket fence. I was always careful not to knock any off the shelf but just lightly touch them, feeling my fingers slip across the curve of each binding, smelling the aroma of the paper in the air, knowing right up ahead I had an important decision to make about which one of the books am I going to pick.

Finally I get to the books that are somewhere between adult and children's books. Today they call it Tween or Young Adult but to tell you the truth I don't know what they called it back then. I just knew where to go to get to that section and I didn't need signs to tell me when I was there. I have shelves and shelves of books to choose from. Finally my heart slows as I pick the first one up and open it to read the inside cover. If this one doesn't suit me that day I would place it back on the shelf and move on to the next. If I find one I liked I would set it aside until I found another one even more to my liking. Then I would put the first one back carefully on the shelf and set the latter aside.

As I open the cover and read I transformed into some sort of character and lost in the world that only books provide and they never disappoint me. If I am not lost in a world where cats talk and tell me about their 9 lives then I might be back in time where boats crossed the ocean in search of a new land or somewhere off into a fantasy place surrounded by fantasy creatures. No matter where I am, it is these stacks of binded pages and colorful covers that take me there. I am so lost into them I don'tsee my Mother standing next to me or hear her talking to me. What? Did I find something is what I think she asked. What does she mean we have been here two hours? I tell her I did find something which of course I always do. I grab the book I had  sitting aside and off we go to the cashier.

Leaving the store I am not sad, in fact I am quite happy and fulfilled. Today I got to spend two hours of absolute pleasure lost between the covers off in some other place and some other time. Although it is ended, it has only ended for today. I know next week I will be back to run my fingers across the books as I make my way back to my section just to get lost between the covers of yet another book. In the meantime I have one to take home and read. Today I will visit Time Square in NY with a Cricket. Now what can beat that! I take one last deep breath before I walk out the door with my bag in hand. One last whiff of all that paper that I hoped it would somehow last in my nose until next week when I walk back through the doors again.

Here I sit some fifty years later and all the local bookstores have gone, closed their doors forever. In fact, I only have seen one big chain bookstore, Barnes & Noble, and it isn't even in my town. Now I read books electronically like millions of other people. If  they aren't reading them on a computer, tablet, or phone then it is on an devise such as a Kindle or Nook. I personally use the Nook.

Since I don't drive often and as the years go by it is harder to see the print, I do love my Nook. I just press a button to buy the book of my choice and it somehow magically appears on this devise for me to read instantly. I can even change the font size myself so now I can see it without straining my deteriorating eyesight. It is amazing how things have changed in just my lifetime never mind my Grandmother's. But I can't help but wonder what the future holds for books and this one last bookstore. Are they going to close their doors too? Will there be a real brick and mortar bookstore any where? Will all my grandchildren know what it is like to walk into the doors and see rows and rows of books? Will they smell the paper and run their fingers across the bindings? Will they know what it is like to turn a page made of paper? Or will they be robbed of this experience that I have treasured all these years and never forgotten? I guess only time will tell.

So there you have it! My memory of going to the bookstore when I was younger which I entered into the competition at The Bookplex. Why not write your memories down and enter too? Look for the competition for the rules on their site. The winner will get $25 and that can buy a few books!

Book Seven of MY 2012 Goal

Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer is about a nine year old boy who finds a key along with the word Black and searches the five boroughs of New York for the lock that this key opens. He use to play scavenger hunts and other word games with his father but his father was killed on September 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers collapse. He thought the key was his father's clue to open something really important, something he should know, so his search begins.

We come to know nine year old Oskar and follow him through New York on his secret mission. He learns about interacting with other people, connections people have, and some questions that have no answers. Jonathan does some soul searching of his own, learns more about his father, plus dealing with the guilt he is feeling. We feel his pain and disappointment along with his hope and excitement along the way.

The biggest problem I had with the book is the style of writing. It was so repetitious, at times downright irritating, and most of the time didn't make any sense. I had to reread many parts of the books just to be sure I read it correctly the first time just to find I did. So much time was spent on the symbolism and trying to interpreted what is being said and who is saying it that what I thought would be an enjoyable book turned into a word game of its own. By this I mean...

What the?
I don't talk.....sorry.
As I stir my coffee.
I flip to the page and point to "Either you will love this book or hate it."
Then I flip a few pages back and point to "I hate it!"
As I stir my coffee.
I repeat...What the?

You know what is sad?
A person who missed their train home by only a minute.
Was that minute a mere tick of the clock....tick tock?

I do not call that literature, creative writing, or a great story...I call it nonsense. Spread it out across 10 pages then it becomes irritating.

These pages of this nonsense in addition to all that scribbling didn't add to the story, they were just more pages to turn by.

The story was choppy and almost seemed like random thoughts were just being thrown in there trying to add more to the story then needed. One example is the bombing of Dresden during WWII. I don't know if it was meant to show that each generation had its tragedies or what the purpose was. If there was some comparison of the two events (Dresden and 9/11) other than both being tragic events then I missed it. Maybe the true plot of the book wasn't concerning 9/11 but of the survival of the bombing in Dresden. I don't know because it just isn't clear.

The characters were unbelievable starting with the mother who seems way too detached. First off, if I had a vase in one of my closets and my child broke it and threw it in my waste basket without saying a word to me, I would know it and would be wondering what they were doing in my closet to begin with. Maybe this is the unwritten part and is how his mother turned out knowing what Oskar was doing. But if that is the case then the mother must have known about the key before hand so why didn't she confront her son? Then there is the biggest question of all of why she would let her son travel the streets of NY alone going to strangers' houses. It definitely questions her abilities as a parent.

Another example is how can you have two people living in the same house with one typing page after page of a story to the tune of something like 500 pages and the neither one not noticing there are no words on the paper and no ribbon in the typewriter? What was that all about? Is this some symbolism or just some more "detached" members of the family? Then they move and live at the airport!

Hmmm...I really am not getting this book at all. I found it a senseless story with a really annoying writing style and no real clear cut conclusions to the problems of the characters from the beginning other than what lock the key opens. I do NOT recommend this story due to the above reasons and plus when I was done reading it all I could think of was "What the?"

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January 24, 2012

Book Six of My 2012 Goal

Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Mockingjay is the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy and by far the one that made me explode with emotion. It's also the one that had me talking to myself while reading it by saying things like "you have got to be kidding" and " Oh no". Maybe it was because I knew it was the last book and I wanted to know what happened or maybe it was because of the roller coaster ride I once again I find my self on by the brilliant writing of Suzanne Collins. The fast pace and area it covered left me seasick (in a good sort of way) by lifted me up in one part just to let me down in the next. I thought this one by far had more violence and downright ugliness in it. I soon figured I better stop trying to guess what will happen next because chances are I was wrong.

I still can't believe what happened at the Capital with the children and who died there. I never would have thought that was her fate in a million years. Just as I never would have thought what the Capital has done to Peeta and what he kept trying to do to Katniss. Intense! Even Katniss herself, I found at times I didn't even like her. I think if I had an arrow I would have shot her myself.

There was just so much going on in this book that I can't even comment on it all (without spoilers) plus I am still digesting this myself. It just blew me away with all the information, happenings, and fate of the characters. Then that totally unexpected ending... Brilliant! (I bet Collins will hear from a lot of people about them hating that ending.)

Although I have mixed feelings because who I loved in the previous books is either dead, may as well be dead, or so changed that I can't stand them anymore and wish they were the ones dead, I still loved the book. I figure any book that makes me that crazy and blows my mind that much deserves 10 stars, never mind 5. I totally recommend this book and this series.

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January 21, 2012

Book Five of My 2012 Goal.

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games Series, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Catching Fire is the second book of the Hunger Games trilogy picking up where Hunger Games left off. It is an action packed story following Katniss and Peeta through the 75th Hunger Games. It slowed where it needed to so we can get to know the characters (or maybe it was so we can catch our breath) and more about the districts and the people in them but it never became boring. There were so many twists and turns throughout the book that I thought were totally unpredictable. The suspense was at an all time high however Katniss' character seemed too hollow.

Katniss always seems 'out of it' and doesn't seem to think for herself or at least come to decisions and stick with it. Maybe it was because she just resigned herself to the situation and numbed herself to the outside world since she lived in District Twelve in less than perfect conditions, she fought for her life in the Hunger Games, and now has President Snow's threat to her, her family, and those she cared looming over her head. I am not sure the reason but she seemed laid back emotionally without making her mind up about Peeta and Gail. She was a little emotionally flat in book one but I took that as shock and immaturity however her character never seems to grow with all she has gone through. I don't mean she is without total emotions as she did show raw emotions concerning Peeta and even in Hunger Games with the fate of Rue but she seemed to run on the instinct to survive and keep those dear to her alive. She couldn't even function without Petta by her side and being her voice.

I thought the 75th Games were going to be a repetition of the the previous game but it wasn't. I was wondering how Collins was going to pull this off but she did. The arena set up and the clock and the sections was brilliant. Again a surprise ending to the games that wasn't suppose to happen.

The sparks Katniss created in Hunger Games catching fire in the districts (uprising) was a great twist leading to her being the symbol of the rebellion. The dress she wore that took her from the "Girl on Fire" to the "Mockingjay" was brilliant! In fact, I was wondering the significance of the Mockingjay. I know it was explained what they were and how the Jabberjays backfired on the Capital in Hunger Games (which I found amusing) and the pin Katniss wore but the significance of the birds were was a mystery to me until now. It is a fantastic symbol and I even want a pin of a Mockingjay now.

Just like when I was reading Hunger Games I couldn't put the book down. Not only did I totally enjoyed it, I highly recommend it.

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January 18, 2012

Book Four of My 2012 Goal

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

To be honest about Hunger Games, I was really unsure about reading this book and even put off getting it. What I knew about the book (word of mouth) is it is about a bunch of little kids killing each other for the fun of it. I found out how wrong that is!

The missing pieces are that this dystopian novel takes place in the future of North America now known as Panem. The "Capital" forces each of the twelve districts in Panem to send one boy and one girl to play the Hunger Games. This is done as a punishment toward the people of the districts and it was also for entertainment and a way to gain some profits for the Capital. These games are played until death and there is only one winner. In district twelve when Katniss hears her little sister's name called, she volunteers to take her place since she has a better chance of winning. So she goes to the Capital with Peeta, the boy chosen from district twelve to these games.

Enough background information was given to make sense of the scene yet I wasn't bogged down with pages of overkill. I felt the characters had depth and I was able to follow them even through their thoughts and feelings. The story was full of action and it slowed just enough at times for touching scenes without stalling or become boring.

I couldn't put this book down once I started it. I wanted to read it in one sitting since the pace of the book was good and there was nowhere I felt I could stop because I wanted to know what came next. I definitely recommend this book.

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January 16, 2012

Book Three of My Goal in 2012

Dead AnglerDead Angler by Victoria Houston

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

At the beginning of the book a dead body is found. At the time no one recognized the female although judging by the way she was dressed, she was an angler. Then the rest of the story is about who she is, how she died, and if she was murdered then who did it and why.

I really found the book a little on the hard side to stay interested in. Maybe I am not into these murder mysteries as much as I thought or because I never went fly fishing in my life. I really can't say but I found it had too much talk about too many characters to keep straight. Thank goodness the author knew some of her readers would be of 'bad memory' and had reminders in there or I would have been totally lost.

The "action" scenes....well, other than reading about everyday life there really wasn't any until the end to speak of. Of course in the author's defense, she never claimed it was an action packed book. If I was into fly fishing then it may have been more appealing because the action of the fishing was fantastic. (If I found a place like that I would take up fly fishing instead of my deep saltwater fishing).

The author was incredibly descriptive in her scenes and in her writing and I could almost smell the fish frying as I read it. That is why I think it was just me and I just don't happen to be 'into' this genre.

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January 7, 2012

Book Two of My 2012 Goal

Wiccan Baby Girl Names: Unique and Popular Names of Wicca for GirlsWiccan Baby Girl Names: Unique and Popular Names of Wicca for Girls by Jeffrey Fisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book of girl names and their meaning did go through many unique names however there were no pronunciations.
I thought there would be more names of the Goddesses and was a little disappointed they were not covered instead of several of the same name just with a different spelling.
What was covered was the name and for the most part the one word meaning. They were listed in an easy to read manner.

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Book One of My 2012 Goal

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The book is about going back in time to save Kennedy from being shot thus changing history and what effects this would have at present date. I found the story to be extremely interesting and I just couldn't put it down. From beginning to end I wanted to know what happened next.

The characters and their development were great. The story kept moving and was fascinating. The ending was far from what I thought would happen and it was completely unexpected. It was done in a way that everything about the story from the beginning becomes much more clearer. Although I thought I was clear on what was going on while I read it.

Even if you hated history or politics...this is a book that definitely worth reading.

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