Friday, January 29, 2010

Still brushing up on the stuff I used to know

I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From SchoolI didn't finish I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School before Trivia Night last week, but it did come in handy. 

Right now, I'm kind of stuck in the middle of the Science section.  It wasn't my strongest subject in school, and it appears that more than a decade out of school hasn't changed a thing!  I am getting a refresher on things that I don't remember (or blocked out) from science class and more.

I'm on page 95 at the beginning of the Physics section.  I never took physics so I guess this will be stuff that I'll mainly be learning for the first time.  Or, I guess I'll see what things I've picked up along the way that was in the field of physics but I didn't realize it.

My new goal is to have this done by the end of the month which gives me all of three days which means I have to read just under 30 pages each day.  Oy.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two books read and counting!

On Tuesday, I finished reading The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough.  It was a good continuance into the lives of these women who formed this unlikely prayer group.  While the first three books in the Yada Yada series weren't as heavy, this fourth novel was particularly heavy tackling the issue of racism head on.

Neta Jackson's novel is very well worded, and thought provoking.  She writes about this issue bringing in perspectives from each of the ladies.  Through it all, no matter which walk of life the women are from, they are united in their faith and the strength they find in prayer.

While the men in the series have always been a part of Ms. Jackson's other books, they are more at the forefront of Yada Yada #4.  We get to see exactly how this prayer group has not only affected the women, but has also influenced others: husbands, children, siblings, and...well...others they would have never expected to influence.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 5) (With Celebrations and Recipes)So now with Yada Yada #4 under my belt, I have now moved on to #5 titled The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Caught.  So far, I''m on page 3, but I'm sure this book will go just as swiftly as the others.

This book is 401 pages long, so I have 398 pages to go.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Slowly making my way through Chicago's biography

Chicago: A BiographyI'm on page 40 of Chicago: A Biography (I know...I've been really slow in reading it) which is also the beginning of Chapter 2.

At the end of Chapter 1, Dr. Pacyga discusses immigrants who chose Chicago as their home.  I enjoyed reading about all the ethnic groups and the communities they built in their new residence.  Chicago was and still remains quite the melting pot of ethnic diversity.

Here's a particular portion that struck a nerve with me:

"Already in the 1840's Chicagoans asked newcomers, 'What are you?'  Early immigrants did not see this as an ethnic insult but as a celebration of American liberty." (page 32)

I think this is a messasge that tends to get lost in today's society.  It's my take away lesson for the day from Dr. Pacyga.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Forgive me, Father, for I have shopped...the bargain books were calling...

...and I bought two more books for my stuffed shelves.

I couldn't help myself!  I had both a 30% off coupon and a $5 credit at my bookstore.  I actually bought three books, but one is a gift so I'm not counting that one.  In all, I spent only $5 out of pocket, so I guess that's not too bad for a trip to the bookstore.

So what did I buy?

Water Ghosts: A Novel
Water Ghosts: A Novel by Shawna Yang Ryan.  I have to admit that the cover is very pretty, and that is what first caught my eye about the book.  When I read the story description, I knew this was one to add to my shelf.

The book takes place in 1928 and is about Chinese immigrants who come to live in California in a town on the Sacramento River. 

I don't know when I'll get to reading this book, but I'm happy to add it to my collection.

Housekeeping: A Novel
Housekeeping: A Novel by Marilynne Robinson.  The description on the back of the book had me at hello:

"Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt."

This novel was also the winner of the Pen/Hemingway Award as well as being noted as a National Endowment for the Arts Big Read Selection.  Yet another book on my shelf I'm looking forward to reading.

This brings my bookshelf count to 315 books.  And...I still have room!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

3 days and 105 pages left to read...Will I make it?

I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From SchoolI'm still working on reading I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School before our trivia night this Saturday.  Having a nasty cold for over a week has put quite the damper on my reading since all I really want to do is sleep!

So far, I'm in the middle of the Math section.  I have Science, History, Geography and General Studies left to get through.  I am really dreading the Science part.  I was never really good with Science in school.  I am to this day very proud of the D I got in high school Chemistry!  At least I didn't fail the class!

This book has been a good refresher on little things that I didn't remember about all those things I had to study hard for when in grade school and high school.  I will do my best to keep plugging away and get through as much of the book as possible before trivia night, although I can't make any promises.

Friday, January 15, 2010

One book many more to go!

Yesterday, I finished The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real!  It's the first book I've read this year, and I'm excited to move on to book number 4 in the Yada Yada searies, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 4) (With Celebrations and Recipes)Since I'm in the middle of the book series, I am trying to read all of the Yada Yada books in a row.  The next book in the series picks up right where the last one left off. 

As I've said before, the Yada Yada Prayer Group Series by Neta Jackson is fun, enlightening, and thought provoking.  I wish I had time to lock myself way and read all the books in one sitting!

Visit the following link to read more about The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Tough (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 4) on

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

So close I can almost taste it!

I found the point of no return of The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real.  It's pag 307.  I can't say that parts of that point weren't a little predictable, but I wasn't expecting what happened to happen.

I'm now on page 330 and with less than 100 pages to go, I want to block out the rest of the world and read.

So with that said, I'll post more later and get reading!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Starting to find it difficult to put down Yada Yada #3

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 3)I'm currently on page 256 (Chapter 29) of the The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real and I'm finding it really difficult to put it down.  Not quite at the point of no return, but getting very very close.

This particular book in the series takes place in 2003.  I'm finding that I didn't remember that so many of the things I remember from the past decade happened in 2003.  For example,  the explosion of the Columbia Space Shuttle is a historical item that is mentioned.  And of course, if you were conscious of your surroundings in January of 1986, you can't help but think of the Challenger explosion.

Both instances seem like they were yesterday instead of years ago.  I can remember sitting with my second grade class in in the first grade class room in 1986 as we all watched the space suttle take off, and the unforgettable look on the faces of our first and second grade teachers after the shuttle exploded.  It took a minute or so, but the next thing I remember was being told to pray with the rest of our class for those on the space craft (I went to a Catholic school).

It's amazing how this novel evokes all those memories, and how ironic it is that this particular one involved prayer considering that I'm reading a novel about a prayer group.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I read 62 pages last night, and yada yada yada...

I think if I could maintain this pace, I could finish reading The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real by the weekend.  But that doesn't get the laundry, house work, or work-work done.

And this is where I can relate to much of what's going on in the lives of the Yada Yada Prayer Group women.  All twelve women are from various walks of life and are in different stages of life.  Neta Jackson weaves the sweet and sour parts of each woman's life in her story, making you want to laugh out loud at one time and cry with the charactes at another moment.

I am waiting for the "WHAT?!?!" moment of the book that Neta Jackson puts in.  It happened with the first two books and I am patiently waiting for it in the third book.  It's usually a life or "wrong place wrong time" circumstance that is thrown in, but you're just not expecting it when it happens.  Usually when it does, the story reaches what I call the book's point of no return.  It's the point at which you can't put the book down, and no matter how much you try to do something else, you need to finish reading the story.

I have a feeling that I will come upon this point soon, and my weekend may be occupied by it!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Progressing nicely on my reading journey

Even though I've been busy working and running around after two little ones, I've made some progress on my reading.  Here's where I am so far:

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 3) 
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 3)
I'm on page 87 which is in the middle of Chapter 10.  I was hoping to be a little farther than this, but I'll take what I can get!

Chicago: A Biography
Chicago: A Biography
I am on page 28 which is the middle of Chapter 1 titled "Location, Location, Location!"  I'm working on this one slowly but surely, taking in a little at a time each day.

I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School 
I'm on page 21 at the moment, keeping up with the 10 pages per day goal I set for myself.  I'm trying to soak up enough of this book before trivia night!

My goal for today is to work my tail-end off so I can curl up in a blanket and read while I watch the snow fall.  That's my plan...we'll see what actually happens!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Uh oh....I added another book to my reading list!

It's only 6 days into the new year, and I've added a third book to my currently reading list.  But I have a good reason for it.  Honestly, I do!

I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School
I just started readin the book I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School by Caroline Taggart.  My excuse for starting to read this now?  I'm participating in trivia night at my old church in a couple weeks and need to get my brain cells engaged for it.

The book isn't very long - only 175 pages - so it shouldn't take me too long to read it.  But since I'm reading other books now, too, I'm limiting myself to 10 pages each day.  My goal is to have it finished before trivia night on January 23rd.

Can anyone say over ambitious?

Read more about this book on by clicking the following link:  I Used to Know That: Stuff You Forgot From School

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Made it to the middle of Chapter 7 of Yada Yada #3

In case you're wondering, that's page 63 of this 422 page book.  I'm still in light weight territory, but chipping away at it day by day.

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real has 45 chapters in all which are not too long and comfortable to read even if you have just a few minutes to catch up with the girls. 

Another aspect of the Yada Yada series that I find appealing is that it's set in Chicago.  It talks about many of the things that are constants in the lives of Chicagoans including public transportation options, radio stations, locations, and for many, the suburbs.

I was particularly surprised in the second book of the series, The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down, that two of the characters were actually talking about my college radio station which can really only be heard if you're in the city.

I'm hoping at some point this week that I can actually have an hour or two to sit down and just read, but that may be wishful thinking at this point!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Getting Re-Educated about Chicago's History

Chicago: A BiographyI have a terrible habit of trying to multitask just about everything.  Reading is no different for me.  It's not uncommon for me to be reading two or even three books during the same time period.

When I do this, though, I try to pick my books wisely.  I may have a novel I'm working on plus a book that helps me learn something, and maybe another book that has daily devotionals or lessons.  If you ask me, learning books are best read in small doses.  I find that I retain more of the knowledge that way.

With that said, I am currently reading Chicago: A Biography by Dominic A. Pacyga while I'm reading Yada Yada book #3.

As I stated in a past post, I'm a sucker for books about the great city of Chicago, and I have Dr. Pacyga to thank for that.  I am proud to say that I've taken Dr. Pacyga's History of Chicago class at Columbia College Chicago.  While I was interested in the history of the city, Dr. Pacyga brought a whole new dimension to my grasp of the history, and the lessons he taught made a huge impression on this student.

That's why I was so excited to hear that he published a book about the history of Chicago.  Now Dr. Pacyga has published many books in the past about the city which are wonderful (about Polish immigrants and neighborhoods, in particular Bridgeport, and other niche topics), but this book is more broad in the topics about Chicago that it covers, kind of like his class.

Dr. Pacyga's book is more of a "Chicago - This Is Your Life".  It's done in biography form which makes the reading go by fast.

I can honestly say that reading this book is much like taking his class.  When I read it, I feel like I'm back in the second row of seats as a student hearing him lecture.  No book could ever replace the experience of being in his class, but it definitely enhances the memory.'s giving me a great refresher about the city!

Currently, I'm about 24 pages into the book.  The way I see it, it took me 12 weeks to take Dr. Pacyga's class so I'm in no big hurry to quickly finish reading it.

If you're wondering, I completed Dr. Pacyga's class in the winter of 1999 with a B+ which I am proud of to this day.  His History of Chicago class is not for light-weight students, and I was grateful for the additional challenge in my academic career.

Oh -- and if you happen to find this post Dr. Pacyga -- I am still waiting for the day that you decide to sell t-shirts that say "I Survived Dominic Pacyga's History of Chicago Class."  I'd be proud to wear it!

To view this book on, please click the following link:
Chicago: A Biography

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Day 2 - Chapter 2 - Making Progress Slowly but Surely

The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 3)I made it to chapter 2 of the book The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real by Neta Jackson.  At this point, I wish I could lock myself in my room with a nice cup of tea and my Snuggie and finish the whole book in one sitting!

I think I picked the right time of year to start reading this particular book because it begins at New Years.  Just like the second book in the series, Yada Yada book #3 picks up right where the last one left off.

I first started reading the Yada Yada Prayer Group books when it popped up in my recommendations.  So far, I've read the first two books which I found gripping and touching and fun.

Neta Jackson does an excellent job in telling the story of this unlikely group of friends.  The stories are as much about the relationships between the women and their families as it is about their faith and practices of worship.  She's not "preachy" in her words but considerate and honest.  Just like us all, these women have their faults and challenges as well as advantages and gifts.  Through Ms. Jackson's story, we read about the womens' journeys while learning about the lessons they learn along the way.

To view this book on, please click the following link:
The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 3)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Over 250 Books...What is a girl to do??

Happy New Year, 2010!  In the spirit of the new year, I decided to straighten up my bookcase and make a list of all the books I've collected over the past few years.  To my surprise, I had over 300 books in my bookcase, and I hadn't read 250 or more of them.

And that's not counting the books I have on my Kindle!

So I figured I better start cracking and get reading.  And then I said the same thing to myself that I've said the past few years:

"I'm going to read a new book every week" or "every 2 weeks" or "every month."

And how many times have I stuck to that?  NONE!  To keep myself accountable and on target for this ambitious goal, I decided to start a blog.

Do I plan to read all of these books this year?  HEAVENS NO!  After all, I work from home full time and I have 2 kids.  The little hope I do have is that I read more books last year than I have in a single year in the past.  I read a total of 16 books last year.  So I guess a reasonable goal for me will be more than 16 at this point.  But...I reserve the right to tweak that goal at any given time.

Here's a little info on my reading interest.  If they are similar to yours, feel free to check back.  Or, if you want to see if I sink or swim in this endeavor, by all means, keep coming back!

  • My favorite book of all times is To Kill a Mockingbird.  It's a classic and a beautiful story, and the movie is a favorite of mine as well.
  • My favorite author is Jodi Picoult.  Even though I don't like every book she's written, I like her writing style, admire her ambition, and am always amazed by her creativity.
  • I enjoy reading books that include some of my other interests: crochet, faith (in particular, Catholicism, but I enjoy many faith-based books), being Italian, food, and Chicago.  
  • I am a total sucker for bargain priced books.  I can't help it.  If I find a sale and books are really low priced, they end up on my shelf (leading to how I acquired over 300 books on my stuffed shelves).  So if I happen to be reading something kind of obscure, this is most likely the reason!

Overall, I would consider myself to be an eclectic reader.  I'm pretty much up for anything.  However, I am normally a slow reader, so I hope that those who stick with me are patient.  No matter how good my intentions and plans, sometimes God decides to put up a detour.

From time to time when I'm a little backed up in the reading, I'll talk about a past book I read and my thoughts on it.

Also, if I've gotten started on a series that has more than one book, I will try to work my way through those in a row.  When you get on a roll, sometimes it's just easier to read them all instead of picking them up at a later time.

So what am I reading now?

I am actually reading two books at the moment:
  1. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 3) by Neta Jackson
  2. Chicago: A Biography by Dominic A. Pacyga
My plan is to not add to my collection this year with the exception of just a couple books (House Rules: A Novel by Jodi Picoult which is due out in March and A Stitch in Crime (A Crochet Mystery) by Betty Hechtman which is due out in February).  Now a good clearance sale or coupon from one of my favorite stores could change all that, but I will try to stick to this as much as possible.

Before I get back to reading, here are the books I read in 2009:
  1. Sin in the Second City: Madams, Ministers, Playboys, and the Battle for America's Soul by Karen Abbott
  2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. The Yada Yada Prayer Group (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 1) by Neta Jackson
  4. Handle with Care: A Novel by Jodi Picoult
  5. The Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Down (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 2) by Neta Jackson
  6. Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
  7. Hooked on Murder (A Crochet Mystery) by Betty Hechtman
  8. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe
  9. Doubt by John Patrick Shanley
  10. Dead Men Don't Crochet (A Crochet Mystery) by Betty Hechtman
  11. By Hook or by Crook (A Crochet Mystery) by Betty Hechtman
  12. Push: A Novel by Sapphire
  13. The Bunko Babes by Leah Starr Baker
  14. Christmas Jars by Jason F. Wright
  15. The Christmas Lamp: A Novella by Lori Copeland
  16. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

With just a few minutes left of the first day of the new year, I'm off to crack open a book and get reading!