Saturday, August 23, 2014

Spring and Summer Reading List 2014

The question today is "Can I remember all of the books I read since February?".  The answer is "unlikely", but I'm going to give it a tray anyway.

1-2. A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons by G. R. R. Martin-- Going off of my February addiction to this series, I finished it off.  I will stand by my first review of the series and restate that the characters are vivid and the story is captivating. Some of the developments were shocking to me, but you got to love an author who is willing to kill of major characters because the story demands it.

3. Four: The Transfer: A Divergent Story by Veronica Roth-- With the "Divergent" movie finally making it to Turkey, I found this short story that outlines some of the back story of the male counter part to Tris, the female protagonist. There will be three more little short stories like this so keep your eyes pealed for them if you can't get enough "Divergent".

4. Torment by Lauren Kate-- This book is the second of a series that involves reincarnation and angles in an interesting way.  While not using magic, this book deals with magical thinking and the not so clear lines between good and evil.  The protagonist, Luce, suffers from a lack of good information and ends up being the most human of humans, making mistakes that lead to several catastrophes along the way.  Great for 12-15 year old readers.

5. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt-- After having rotted my brain with what amounts to literary candy since January, I decided to pick up something more literary.  This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 and seemed to fit the bill. I found myself hating, not just disliking but truly hating, Theo, the main character, by the end of the book, but that was a result of the journey that I had taken with him from his 13 year old self to the the 30 something that he is at the end.  The last literary character that I felt this strongly about was Holden Caulfield, and I had my reaction to Theo for similar reasons.  With out giving things away, there are similarities to the characters that I can see now which are in opposition to how I live my own life.  Since the writing is so captivating, I think of Theo as a real person and abhor his choices as I would if a person I know in real life would.  My one criticism of the book is that the last 30 or 40 pages or so get a bit preachy in an "Upton Sinclair "The Jungle" wedding scene" way. 

6. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell-- Wow. Just wow.  This book is destined to be part of the American Cannon for young adult readers. This book set in the 80s captures all of the charm of mix tapes, the horror of domestic violence, the difficulty of inter-racial family life, and the contrast between poverty and the middle class as two high school kids find love despite all of the social pressures they are trying to navigate. It is wonderfully teachable and I would love to see this in high school classrooms.

7. Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laina Taylor-- The conclusion to a trilogy that deals, again, with the existence of angels, but also with parallel universes and other creatures.  Offering a commentary on modern wars and political disputes that are based on age old prejudice, the books asks, "If people talked to each other, would they still hate each other?".  The answer in this case is no.  Not great writing, and the story is a bit hard to follow in places, but an approachable book with good themes about acceptance of  differences.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

July Travels with Family

My trip home this summer started on the 4th of July.

I got to see Josh and Krista in Spokane and we had lots of fun watching Harper run around in the park.

There was a wedding...

With lots of charm...

And lots of family!

While in Seattle, I got to see Jess! She is one of my dearest friends and I love that we pick up where we dropped off every time. No awkwardness, and no strange pauses ever... That's a great friend.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


 Adam and I both loved the Montmartre area of Paris.

Lovely macaroons

Great cafes for breakfast if you get there early.
On our last day in Paris, we came up here for breakfast and one last stroll.

Earlier in the week, we say the Moulin Rouge

One of the last windmills from the bygone area that needed them for power.

Adam found this great little park.

That's "I love you" written in over 300 languages over 1000 times.
You gotta pose in front of it.

And you need a kiss from your beloved too.

The Eiffle Tower

No trip to Paris is complete without a trip to the Eiffel Tower.

Gunseli and Cavid posing

The view from inside of the cart that takes you to the observation deck.  I took this shot thinking of my dad!

The observation deck.

You can see the Lourve in the foreground and Sacre Coeur on the hill in the distance.

The city of love and lights!

Great Churches of Paris

The Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois
 Some of Paris's greatest attractions are the many churches that have survived the many wars that have plagued Europe.

The Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois
While neither Adam or I are religious, we both enjoy visiting churches for the lovely art and sense of time and place each building has.

The Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois

The Church of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois-- One of my favorite things are the rose windows.

Notre Dame
The interiors of the grand churches really do make you feel small.  The spaces are dark and heavy feeling even though the ceilings are so high.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame
 I would love to hear this pipe organ play, but it was silent when we were there.

Notre Dame
Pictorial bible lessons from the times when very few people could read.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

Notre Dame
Notre Dame

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris
 This was my favorite of the three churches we visited.  They were very strict about not taking any photos of the inside.  This church also boasts being of having continuous prayer since 1885, that's 129 years.

The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris
There are about a million stairs that you need to go up if you take the direct route to the church.  It took about 20 minutes to climb them all. 

The Louvre

Waiting for the Louvre to open with coffee and a pastry.  Starbucks was the only place we could find filter coffee larger than 6 ounces!

Adam, me and the "Mona Lisa"

The "Venus de Milo" and I.

Sitting in the Louvre garden enjoying lunch like a Parisian.

Lovely Paris

We really got to know the subway as we stayed in the 19th, not the city center.

 The first week of April, Adam and I went to Paris for a week.  These are some pictures of things that don't really fit into any theme, but are just great shots of what Paris is in April.

Everything was in bloom while we were there.  This tree is in the Louvre Gardens.

We had lovely, lovely wine with nearly every meal.

Adam with a wine inspired smile

When we didn't have wine, we had coffee.  The coffee was often more than the wine!

Glorious, flaky croissants!

A fountain from in front of "Shakespeare and Co. Books"

A living building... I love vertical gardening!

A dope classic bike.

Lovely tulips that are the halmark of the season.

Totally cute cafe which are everywhere