“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

-Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

Monday, September 29, 2014


      This morning I finished Egg and Spoon and it was so good I thought it deserved a second post.  I'll do my best not to spoil anything, but I will say it had one of the best endings I've ever read.  It was as if Gregory Maguire somehow channeled Mother Teresa and wrapped the whole beautiful message of caring for the wants of those around you in Russian Folklore.  I can't imagine it getting much better.  When I finished the last page I wiped the tears from my eyes and felt like giving it a standing ovation.  It could easily be the best book I've read this year, and there were many.  And for those, like me, who crave happy endings I think I can safely say without giving too much away, you won't be disappointed.  Bravo Mr. Maguire. Bravo.  You have outdone yourself and I thank you for such a delightfully told story.  I never thought I would wish Baba Yaga as my grandmother, but the way she was written in this story I can't picture a better one.

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/alexpierre/4345424066/">AlexPierre.com</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Friday, September 26, 2014

A Love Letter to Gregory Maguire

Right now I'm reading Gregory Maguire's latest book, Egg and Spoon and I just want to say it's AMAZING!  He's hit it out of the park yet again. This might be my favorite of his yet, and that's saying a lot because I read Wicked twice and loved almost everything of his I've ever read.  What I love about Gregory Maguire's writing is the way he writes his characters and his wry sense of humor.  In Egg and Spoon of course my favorite character is Baba Yaga.  He sure does write a good witch.  I've always loved the character Baba Yaga, going back to when I took a course on Russian fairy tales in college.  I think that was my favorite class.  Maguire's Baba Yaga is a little scary, which she should be, very sarcastic, and slightly insane, but you end up routing for her anyway.  I haven't finished the book yet so I don't know how it will end, but a Russian story can never have a truly happy ending. If you liked his other books run out and get yourself a copy of Egg and Spoon today!  If you haven't read anything he's written I highly recommend you do, if you like fantasy on the dark and gritty side.  I'm crazy about Wicked the musical but the books are definitely more grown up and even a little raunchy.

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/cecilydevil/5128209311/">cecilydevil</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Have You Read a Banned Book Today?

     The United States stands out from the world as a pillar of freedom and liberty.  At least I thought that was the idea.  And yet amongst all our so called freedoms there is still a need to stand up against censorship.  It is still a place where many think it perfectly appropriate to tell others what they can and can't read.  This makes no sense to me at all.  In my opinion, censorship more often than not is the product of ignorance.  The books under attack have frequently never even been read by those who think they should be banned.  How do you fight ignorance?  With education.  Hence a week to promote those books that have made the naughty list.  If you're curious about which books have been challenged the American Library Association has a list here.  I bet you'll be surprised by some of the titles on the list.  It's not all 50 Shades of Grey.  To Kill a Mockingbird, for example, has made the list more than once.  For ideas on how to celebrate banned books week check out this site.
     Alright, I'll get down off my soap box now.  
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjlaflaca/163862635/">mj*laflaca</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Guilty Pleasures

    I read a lot of different types of books.  Plenty are thought provoking literature.  Many are classics.  But I have a confession to make.  I am a hopeless romantic. Okay, that might not come as a surprise to those who know me, and I actually prefer the way Kathleen Turner phrases it in Romancing the Stone.  She calls herself  a "hopeful romantic."  I love a good romance novel.  The cheesier the better.  In fact my favorites are the ones that actually make you laugh out loud at how over the top they are.  The one I just finished was one of the Pink Carnation Series by Lauren Willig, and the hero was actually contemplating "how much agony there is in a fingernail."  I prefer the Regency romances that don't have quite as many bodice ripping and throbbing manhood scenes.  Just good old fashioned seething passion and pent up frustration.  The Pink Carnation books are doubly fun because they're also spy novels. And that's what I read them for.  Fun.  I'll get back to broadening my horizons eventually, but for now bring on the duels at dawn and heart fluttering moonlight trysts.  What's your literary guilty pleasure?

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/goranpg/99665557/">goranpg</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Friday, September 12, 2014

Groupie Alert

     Well, I was finally able to tear myself away from the woods long enough to finish a book!  I tend to binge read, reading one author or genre till I reach the saturation point and switch to something else.  This time I was on a T.A. Barron kick and just finished The Ancient One.  For those of you not familiar with T.A. Barron he is most well known for his best selling The Lost Years of Merlin Saga.  I read the 12 books in that series in 4 weeks!  Yes, they're that good. They're middle grade fantasy, one of my very favorite genres.  The book I just finished was one of his earlier novels. The second in the Heartlight trilogy.  I liked it a lot, especially the Native American mythology and nuances that permeated the story.
     I met T.A. Barron once at a writer's conference, shortly after reading all the Merlin books and I gushed like a groupie.  I tend to do that when I meet favorite authors. The time I met Jane Yolen I practically fell at the poor woman's feet. T.A. Barron was a truly lovely man. He was warm and charming and an inspiration to other writer's. It was such a pleasure to meet him and I highly recommend his books. There is a positive, love fueled message in all of them that children need to hear and characters that are easy to fall in love with.
     Now I've changed tracks slightly and I'm reading one of the Pink Carnation books by Lauren Willig, a Regency, spy romance, that is mostly fluff and completely over the top and I'm enjoying it thoroughly.

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/torres21/2266719758/">torres21</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A New Life Bird!

     I'm finding it very hard to tear myself away from the entertainment in the woods behind our house.  I've been enjoying my morning coffee on the back porch each day watching and listening to the cacophony of bird calls and I find my self so entranced that I can't even read!  I'm afraid I might miss something.  That is saying a lot if you know how much I love books. This new found source of enjoyment is just so exhilarating, as many more experienced birders have known for ages.  Today was especially exciting because I was able to add at least one new bird to my life list. Lot's of people love Warblers and it's easy to see why.  They're cute and colorful and not often seen, so when I spied an American Redstart I was super stoked.  But when the Pileated Woodpecker flew over my head right after I actually jumped up and down and pumped my fist.  Yeah, I know, I'm kind of a dork, but it was really exciting. I think I also saw a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, which would be another one to add to my life list, but I can't be sure so I'm holding off.  All in all a great start to the morning with 16 species before 11am. 

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/38983646@N06/7190990592/">Putneypics</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/">cc</a>

Monday, September 8, 2014

Woodpeckers Galore!

     Some of my favorite birds that we've seen at the house are woodpeckers. We've had flocks of Flickers, a Hairy or two, quite a few Red Bellies, a Downy, and this weekend I was thrilled to see the granddaddy of them all a Pileated, right from my own back porch!  I knew they were in the woods behind our house because I'd heard them a few times, but never was able to catch a glimpse.  But Saturday morning I basically stalked one for the better part of the morning, running outside with my binoculars every time I heard that distinctive call, so much like the infamous Woody Woodpecker himself, whom my kids love by the way.  Finally I just decided to stay outside until I spied him and my luck paid off.  I was able to get a peek of that  distinguishing pointed red head through the trees.  What a gorgeous bird.  It made my whole day!  Now I'm on the look out for a Yellow Bellied Sapsucker.  Wish me luck!

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/infiniteciel/14155534105/">infiniteciel</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/">cc</a>

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blue Jays, and Titmice, and Hawks, Oh My!

     I've always enjoyed birds, it's in my blood.  My parents raised us with a sincere interest in the natural world and my mother is an avid birder.  But it wasn't until we moved to a new house, out in the country, partially surrounded by woods, that I first felt the total exhilaration that comes from bird watching. We only have a couple feeders, but I plan to get more. I think my favorite part is sharing the excitement with the kids.  Our best day we counted 22 different species in our own backyard.  Now, I am a complete novice. I'm sure I misidentified one or two but we were only counting for fun.  And we got some pretty impressive visitors on our list, including a Pileated Woodpecker and a Broad Winged Hawk.  Though the family favorite was the feisty female Ruby Throated Hummingbird.  I've named her Hortense and will probably devote at least one post just to her.  I won't list every bird we saw but there were four different types of woodpecker and lot's of little ones at the Finch feeder.  We've yet to have another day quite like that one but to be sure, I'm out there for at least some part of each day with my bird book and binoculars.  I'm learning more everyday, matching calls to their owner, and I've bookmarked the Cornell website to help with Id's.  It's a great sight.  If you've never used it and you're a beginning birder like me it's your go to identification page, with sounds and all.
Here's the link: All About Birds
photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/pmillera4/13963984847/">PMillera4</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>

Thursday, September 4, 2014


     My favorite book of all time is Jayne Eyre, it's why I named my daughter Charlotte, so when I decided to write a blog about my love for books and my adventures in birdwatching the above quote from the book seemed like the perfect fit for my blog title. It fits me too.  I'm a bit of a free spirit and I'm sure my husband would confirm that I have a determinedly independent will. Why do i love Jayne Eyre?  Well, I do tend to be drawn to melodrama, and it sure is choc full of it. I'm old fashioned and I completely relate to the plain, educated heroine with a fiery temper. And I'm pretty sure Mr. Rochester is one of the most romantic characters ever written and I am a fool for a good romance. As I write this blog you'll find I don't limit myself to romance though.  My book tastes are pretty eclectic. As varied as the species of birds we've been delightedly watching in our back yard.

photo credit: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/eckhartpubliclibrary/6887712467/">Eckhart Public Library</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">cc</a>