Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Booker Award

I received this award from my hubby, Jeff Whelan, who had received it from a fellow author. This award is passed around from author to author (or to other bloggers) so that they, too, can share their top five books. Of course, in his very eloquent way of writing, Jeff beautifully detailed why each book was so important to him and what he was able to take away with him. To try to emulate him would be fruitless, so I'll just have to do it the way I know goes!

For me, the merit of a book depends on how long it stays with me. For example, when I read a book, I give it all of my attention; however, a good book will suck me in and not let go--even if it has been years since I read it. Jeff had asked me to recall the books I read recently that I insisted he read at a future date. I remember telling him that, but I don't remember the books. So even though the books were good, it did not have any lasting impact on me. In essence, I have to look at how a book makes me think outside my comfort zone, forces me to view other realities, challenges my own ideals, and all around makes a difference in my life. I would also be remiss not to mention that I am a teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing. I look for substance in the books that will stimulate deep and thoughtful discussions with my students.

That being said, I had a difficult time narrowing my choices down to just five (well actually, I took some liberties and made two sets of trilogies into just "2 books"--forgive me, I just couldn't pick one without the others.) So, after having slept on it, this is what I have come up with!

1. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. This book centers around a family, The Tucks, who accidently discovered a fountain of youth and the ramifications of never being able to die. Prior to reading this book, I pose the question to my students: "Who would like to be able to live forever?" The answer I receive more times than not is "yes". It is interesting to see that idea challenged as the read the book.

2.  The Giver by Lois Lowry. This book focuses on a Dystopian or possibly Utopian (you will have to be the judge) society where rules are of the utmost important and adhered to in order to maintain order in this community. Everything on the surface of this community looks perfect. This has been a tremendous book to share with my students. For example, a society without pain? That sounds fantastic, right? Hmmmm....makes one think a bit deeper about that...hopefully a reader will come away with a sense of the necessities of hardship and pain in order to promote healthy growth.

3. Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness: book 1: The Knife of Never Letting Go, book 2: The Ask and the Answer, book 3: Monsters of Men. This is probably one of the most unusual series I've ever had the pleasure to read. Instantly, I was hooked. Patrick Ness has invented this Dystopian society where people can hear your every thought--at least the thoughts of the men. Women's thoughts, however, are never heard. The way Patrick Ness shows us the struggle of these men is beyond description. You are, without a doubt, pulled into these novels, and its grip far-reaching and long-lasting--I still remember them in such vivid detail.

4. His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman: book 1: The Golden Compass, book 2:The Subtle Knife, book 3: The Amber Spyglass. The first book takes place in an alternate reality (maybe even a parallel universe to ours). People have daemons which are physical manifestation of their souls that are part of them. (Note to parents: I didn't understand the heart wrenching pain that people went through when their daemons were taken away from them until I became a parent and I had to leave my first born with a sitter while I went back to work.) Now, if you've seen the Golden Compass movie--I'm sorry--that was a horrible depiction of the book. They had such a wonderful opportunity to create a masterpiece, but failed miserably! So put all of your thoughts about the movie away, and enjoy the book.

5. And my all time favorite book, without a doubt is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. In my opinion, there has never been a book that has explored society with such depth that I walked away from it feeling exhausted and exhilarated at the same time. The emotional, intellectual, and moral themes are so abundant in this book that scholars have spent years researching it. I have read it at least seven times, and I come away with something new EVERY time! What I really love about it is sharing this with my students. So many of them have come away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of life back in the 30s, that it has contributed greatly to their knowledge of the depression, oppression, racism, and humanity in general. This book has often been one that my students remember vividly in the passing years.

So there you have it! My five most favorite of all time. And now it's time to pass the torch. Here are the five people I have chosen to pass this award to:

1. Jen Vincent and Kellee Moye at Teach Mentor Texts
2. Roz and Patty at
3. Lindsey Mead at
4. Kathryn Markolf at
5. Susan Buchanan

 Please do not feel obligated to do this--only participate if you have time and inspiration to...this is just for fun! Enjoy!

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Blog with a Twist

I recently had the privilege of reading a book penned by co-authors Rosalind Burgess and Patricia Obermeier Neuman, called The Disappearance of Mavis Woodstock (a Val & Kit Mystery Series). I found myself glued to my Kindle, and when I wasn't, sneaking back to just read a page or two. It was over before I was ready for it to be, but they have another book in their Val & Kit book called The Murder of Susan Reed. I really suggest you check them out! Click on their names to direct you to their blog and their books! Enjoy!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Four Months Gluten Free!

I find it absolutely unbelievable that I've seen such benefit from becoming gluten free. The biggest plus, of course, is that my pain goes from non-existent to manageable. I have not had a huge flare up for over four weeks, even with gardening! That is just huge.

What it makes me wonder is how much of our diets affect who we are, how we feel, how we behave, and how we view the world around us. I have found that the world looks a bit brighter, even on bad days, than it did four months ago when I was in the throes of unmanageable pain. The medication that I take for managing my pain has decreased, and my hope is that the longer I'm on this diet, I will be able to cut it out of my life once and for all.

I look at the future with rose-colored glasses when I feel this good, which worries my hubby, since I crash when I have a flare-up. But I do believe with a positive attitude, my need for medication will be a thing of the past. (Jeff, if you're reading this: Don't worry, I'll take my medication so that I'm nice to be around!)

The only thing I miss on occasion is being able to go to a restaurant and order anything off the regular menu without a thought of what I'm putting in my body. I guess the up-side of this is that I am practicing being more mindful which of course brings me back to the present.

Note to everyone who is reading this: Please know I don't live this positively all the time , but it is my intention to catch myself when my mind goes in a bad neighborhood without backup, so I can calmly bring myself back to center and focus what is around me. I hope you all are taking the time to enjoy October and the beautiful leaves and their brilliance of colors. Namaste.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My First Addition to the Toothsome Story Game

 I get tagged to add FIVE WORDS ONLY to this ongoing story, I added my words here at this post, link my post to like so, then tag one other blogger to add their five words. My addition is the bottom line, along with the optional picture contributors can also add. I tag Martha Bourke!

Once upon a Toothsome Day,
a truck full of donuts
pulled up at Al’s house,
leaking glazed all bran crullers
which delighted all the birds.
Al however was rather perturbed.
The birds stole Al’s car
And made a fast getaway