Sunday, June 28, 2015

Trip to Europe Day 1 Dublin, Ireland

One year ago today, Josh and I got married.  This week we are going to vacation in the Texas Hill Country where we spent the first part of out honeymoon.  For that post you can go here.  The rest of our honeymoon was spent in Europe.  Here is the first post of a series that will be descriptions and photos of the places that we traveled a year ago. 
For the second part of our honeymoon,  Josh and I flew to Dublin, Ireland, for a couple of days. We arrived at midnight our time, six in the morning Dublin time.  Our hostel room wasn't available until 2pm.  That gave us quite a bit of time to tour the city before checking in.  Luckily, the hostel let us store our baggage in one of their closets so we didn't have to drag it everywhere. 

After finding a small cafe for breakfast we trucked the ten blocks or so to Trinity College.

The  Library at Trinity College is where the Book of Kells is kept.  I have a facsimile copy at home and was excited about seeing the original.  You only get to see four pages of the original because they keep the books intact underneath glass, but I'm glad I got to see what I did.  The library alone was worth the ticket, even though I think the library itself is free to tour.  The ticket was only to see the Kells.

For those who don't know, the Book of Kells is an illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the Bible.  I don't know if it's intricate Celtic art can be surpassed.  I'll include some photos.

The book was found buried in Kells, Ireland and dates back to 800 AD.

 The library was just incredible.  I can't describe it.  The photos speak for themselves. This post is the first of a thirteen day tour of Ireland and Germany.  The Kells only took up the first couple of hours of our morning.  The next post will describe our visit to the National Museum of Art and St. Patrick's Cathedral.

I believe I could happily live in a library like this.  Maybe I should look into summer jobs there.  This summer I will be alternatively posting reviews and photos of Europe.  I hope you enjoy them.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Hobbit by J.R. Tolkien

What can I say about The Hobbit that has not been said by wiser or more insightful people than I ?

Only my own individualized, fresh and sparkling take on a wonderful tale. 

Ha, ha.  I jest, yet it's true that this post contains my own thoughts on why The Hobbit resonates with me.  I can't presume why other people like it.  That in itself is an interesting topic for discussion:  why do very different people love the same book?  Is it for the same reasons or not?  Does a cerebral software engineer enjoy the Hobbit in the same way a right-brained musician enjoys it?

Being a right-brained musician married to a cerebral soft ware engineer, I can only say that as much as we both love the same story, we like it for very different reasons.

Having said that, I am going to focus on why I like The Hobbit, even though I am not a fan of fantasy.

I like The Hobbit because, I am a hobbit.  I like my little hobbit hole, filled with books and tea and coffee.  I like my old comfortable furniture for visiting with friends, reading, or watching old "Columbo" episodes with my cerebral computer wonk.

I don't like evil.  I don't like thinking about evil and I certainly would hate to leave the comforts of my hobbit hole to fight evil.

But sometimes that is exactly what we are called upon to do.  Sometimes the evil doesn't take an obvious form like a troll or Orc.  

Sometimes it's a really mean person who makes life hard at work.  Sometimes it's your mother being diagnosed with stage three lung cancer.  Or being afflicted with our own chronic illness.    Or terrorism, or war or rumors of war.
We wish these things didn't happen to us.

  I wish it need not have happened in my time, said Frodo.

So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.


That quote is from Lord of the Rings and not The Hobbit and, while Frodo had his adventure thrust on him, Bilbo's was  voluntary, even if he was reluctant at first.

It's hard to leave our comfortable existence and venture out into the unknown on an adventure. 

But on the other hand, what were we made for?  Simply to exist and be comfortable?

Bilbo finds out that the Tookish part of him says, "No!"  This ultimately decides him.  So off he goes with Gandalf and a troop of dwarves whom he has never met and doesn't particularly like (the feeling is mutual on the dwarves' part) and goes off on an adventure with no guarantees of ever returning alive.

Why did he do it?  For his share of the treasure?  I doubt it.  The comraderie?  Certainly not. Bilbo did not find the dwarves to be pleasant people and they had serious doubts about his usefulness.

The idea belonged to Gandalf the Wizard.  Why did he persuade the dwarves they needed Bilbo and why did he persuade Bilbo that he needed to accompany the dwarves?  For what purpose really?  For some Treasure? Understandably, Thorin was determined to gain the rightful property and possessions of his family, but how were they going to fight a dragon for it?

I believe that Tolkien tapped into a universal truth that there are greater powers at work in our lives than we see.  Because Bilbo or the dwarves could not have known it, but their adventure set off a chain of events that led ultimately to the defeat of a great and insidious evil.

As a Christian, that makes perfect sense to me.  I can only see threads not the entire tapestry, yet I know the tapestry is there and an unspeakably beautiful picture is being woven. 

That is why I love The Hobbit.  It's a marvelous demonstration of the juxtaposition of small and large.  We as individuals with our tiny lives are nevertheless working towards something truly great.

As great as learning to love unloveable people.  Because Bilbo learned to love those hard-headed dwarves.  And they came to love him as well.  When Thorin finally repents and gives up his life for the greater good, Bilbo weeps like a child.  Every time I read that section, I find it hard not to cry myself.

And it's a journey that requires hardship, even suffering.  One day my cozy hobbit hole may be taken away from me.  It's happened to better men than I.  

I love Bilbo because as a Hobbit he so effectively exposes human nature.  Placed in a fantasy setting we can more clearly see our own reality. 

If there are any Hobbit lovers out there.  I would love to hear your own musings about the story.

J.R. Tolkien

Sunday, June 14, 2015

High Rise Stories: Voices From Chicago Public Housing compiled and edited by Audrey Petty

 Years ago, I attended graduate school in Chicago.  Even then I liked climbing to the top of the tallest edifices in the world so one fine morning I was standing on the top floor of the John Hancock building.  Back then, the John Hancock building was the second tallest building in Chicago (the Sears Tower, now called the Willis Tower, being the first).  As I looked out the window of one side I saw, according the to map on the wall, Cabrini Green.

I had heard of Cabrini Green.  The government housing had been made famous by the seventies TV show, "Good Times", but I was surprised to see that it was situated smack dab in the middle of some of the most expensive real estate in all of Chicago on the near north close to Lake Shore Drive.  I had assumed it was on the South Side where the bulk of public housing and where most of Chicago's ethnic minority lived.

Apparently the thought behind putting Cabrini Green in the near north was that a projects housing development would thrive surrounded by wealth rather than poverty.

It didn't work.  Cabrini Green became infamous for being the most dangerous neighborhood in Chicago.

High Rise Stories are a collection of essays written down as they were told by people who lived in the government housing experiment that began in the 1940's and ended in the late nineties when the buildings were finally razed to the ground.  The book includes stories by families that lived in Cabrini Green as well as the Robert Taylor Homes, Ida B. Wells Homes and a few other housing development that were built inside mixed income neighborhoods in hopes that the association would allow the black community to integrate with the larger society.

That the experiment became one of the most catastrophic travesties in the history of human rights is a matter of record and the reason why these neighborhoods were ultimately destroyed.  While this book does not try to answer how this came to be, the stories from the twenty-five tenement dwellers offer a lot of insight.

Stories from the older inhabitants, people who moved into the apartments during and after WWII, have mostly good memories of living there.  The renters had jobs, they paid the affordable rent, their lives were centered around their families-which were intact  and nuclear- and the neighborhood community.

Then, starting in the sixties the neighborhoods started changing for the worse.  They became more and more dangerous throughout the seventies until in the eighties, they were virtual war zones. Gang violence and drug trafficking were so prolific that it wasn't safe to leave your apartment.  Snipers from different gangs staked out on top of the buildings and would shoot passersby, often for random reasons.  The most famous incident was when seven year old Dantrell Davis was killed by a sniper as he walked to school.

The stories by people who lived in these homes during the seventies, eighties and nineties have very different stories to tell.  Families are no longer intact.  None of the narrators in their forties or younger come from a home with a mother and a father.  Each had children before reaching their twenties, some were involved in gangs, all of them had gotten involved in drugs.  It was the same story of poverty, violence,  and criminal records that prevented them from breaking out of a vicious cycle.

As the violence got worse, so did the living conditions.  The land lords and maintenance workers refused to make repairs, which caused the apartments to become rat and roach infested,  utilities didn't work.  People began using the halls for toilets.  The elevators wouldn't work and eventually the shafts became filled with trash.

But it didn't start out that way.  The tenants of the forties and fifties did not live like that, so what happened? 

One can only form conclusions since the book only provides us with stories told by individuals who lived there.  One thing that stuck out was the break down of the family.  The book records this fact through the narrators but gives no explanation as to why this happened.  Neither does it provides any explanation as to why drug -related and gang violence became so prevalent. There is an apparent correlation with the break down of the family unit, parent absenteeism, and crime and violence, but how did this develop?

Another obvious conclusion is that government assistance doesn't help.  Families started out strong and ended up dysfunctional under this limited socialist experiment.  The government cannot do the families' jobs for them.  

The reason for building these neighborhoods is also very telling.  Both World Wars left Chicago with an acute labor shortage.  This caused a massive migration of black families from the South to come to Chicago for work.  The white communities in the city did not want their neighborhoods integrated and riots broke out.

In an effort to quell this, the government created neighborhoods where black people could live safely.  That was the original intent of these homes: to stop racial violence.  This also explains why the government homes are entirely of one race of people.  

It was really a make shift solution at best.  Perhaps it did initially quell violence but it also prevented large communities of people from integrating into society and becoming productive members of that society.  With government assistance, the short result may have been positive but in the long run it created generational poverty and a horrible environment of squalid living conditions that sounds like something out of Somalia.

 When the CHA (Chicago Housing Authority) removed people from their homes to raze these building, they gave them housing vouchers so they could move into the new government buildings they were constructing to replace the old ones.  It seems the powers that govern Chicago are so committed to their socialist ideologies, they believe that if they start over with the same plan but with brand new buildings, the results will turn out differently.  Isn't that some kind of insanity?

The buildings are unnecessary because the original reasons for building them no longer exist.  All neighborhoods are open to every race and there are laws that ensure it be so.

A majority of the former occupants of Chicago's Government Homes seem to agree.  Less then ten percent have agreed to use the vouchers.  The rest have chosen to assimilate with the rest of Chicago.  That should tell the housing authority something.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett; The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle, Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet by Harry Kemelman; The History of Christianity by David Bentley Hart; The Club of Queer Trades by G. K. Chesterton

I've done it again.  I've let too many books pile up so here's the skinny on the last five books I've read:
The Dain Curse by Dashielle Hammett

Dashiell Hammett wrote The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man both of which became popular Hollywood movies in the thirties and forties of the last century.  Hammett was a prolific author who wrote many murder mysteries, defining the hard nosed private eye.  The Dain Curse starts with what else? a murder.

Mr. Leggett is found dead in his diamond making laboratory in the second floor of his home.  At first we think it's the wife.  She has the motive.  But no, it turns out it's the daughter who actually has the motive.  Wait a  minute, the daughter is just the desperate junkie and member of a cult and needs saving by her fiance.  So he did it.  No he didn't!  He gets murdered too.  Looks awfully like the daughter did it.  Guess what!  She didn't and you'll never guess who did it because there are so many characters and suspects and it really is the least likely one who did it after all.  A nice fun read when you need a break from the heavier stuff.

The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle

I had heard so much about this book and I finally got around to reading it.  It is worth reading, even if you're not interested in WWII stories.

A  troop of British soldiers gets caught by the Japanese and is put to work to build a bridge yes, over the river Kwai in Thailand.  This will enable the Japanese to drive their trains with supplies across the continent.  It is an essential traveling point for the Japanese and any sabotage would seriously hamper their efforts to win the war.

Naturally, the soldiers do their best to make as defective a bridge as possible.  

But they are called up short by their commander, Colonel Nicholson, who is also prisoner.  He informs them that, as Englishmen, they are going to show these Japanese their superiority by making the most perfect bridge ever.   Colonel Nicholson tyrannically presides over the building of this bridge, indifferent to the health or welfare of his subordinates.  They are going to make a bridge that will publicly establish the superiority of the English over their enemies.

Little known to Nicholson, a British intelligence operations group is watching and making preparations to blow up the bridge.

This book is filled with suspense and is fascinating in its psychology.  How someone can become so obsessed with his idée fixe that he loses sight of the reality of the situation.  The British objective was not to prove their superiority but to win a war, which meant defeating their enemies, not aiding and abetting them.

I really had no idea how the story was going to end and I could barely wait to find out.  Highly recommended reading.
Wednesday the Rabbi Got Wet by Harry Kemelman

I picked this up from a book fair for a dollar.  The title appealed to me.  This is one of a series of stories by Kemelman about Rabbi Small.  It also is a murder mystery of sorts.  The most interesting thing about this book is not the storyline, however.  It is Kemelman's observations, as told by the Rabbi and other members of his synagogue concerning the culture of Judaism:  orthodox vs reform, Christianity compared to Judaism.  The purpose of religion, is Judaism a religion (hint:  not to Rabbi Small) and so on.  I have always been interested in Jewish culture and I found this book both interesting and enlightening.  In fact I went and bought the Rabbi's other days of the week.,204,203,200_.jpg
The History of Christianity by Davie Bentley Hart

A year ago I finished twelve volumes of the history of Christianity by a Roman Catholic publisher.  Needless to say, the account had a definite Catholic slant but was also fair and objective and extremley informative.

This books is written by a member of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  It is a much shorter and concise history, being one volume with fifty-one chapters, each only a couple of pages long dealing with an era of Christianity from the death of Christ to the present day.  Since Hart is Orthodox, his slant is somewhat different.  That is not to say the record of historical events are different, just his conclusions regarding certain historical events.

I enjoyed this book because it showed up certain facts that I had not previously appreciated, such as the role of certain men who developed the Cyrillic alphabet (named after Cyril, one of two monks who traveled to Russia and developed the alphabet so the Bible could be read in the heart language of the people) and also the Byzantine viewpoint of the schisms that took place between the Eastern and Western branches of the church.
The Club of Queer Trades by G. K. Chesterton

And lastly, my beloved Chesterton!  The Club of Queer Trades is typical Chesterton, always making one think outside the box.

The club of Queer Trades is a group whose members can only join if they are engaged in an unusual job but one they can make a living at.

There are six stories, each one a mystery- and forget about having any idea whatsoever of what's going on until the protagonist, Basil Grant, enlightens you at the very end.  The stories are fun and mysterious. My edition has Chesterton's own illustrations which I find cute.  That may sound strange but I don't know how else to describe them.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

In and Out of the Moon by Jeff Mcinnis,204,203,200_.jpg

In and Out of the Moon is a tale filled with adventure and imagination.  Readers of fantasy worlds from ages seven to ninety-seven will enjoy reading it.

A young boy named Kabe with his sister Meg and brother Troy live with their father in a normal house, leading normal children lives.  

At least as much normal as is possible after their mother has passed away and their father has emotionally checked out.  Each cope in their own way.  The oldest, Troy, simply buries himself in video games, so in a sense, he has learned to deal with life the same way his father has.  No human interaction, just keeping his mind busy on the small screen he holds in his hands.

Meg is six and still has a lot of the guileless cheer and trust a little girl of that age has.

Kabe shares much of Meg's innocence and optimism.  He has a close relationship with his grandfather who has stepped in to be a parent to all three children.

This comes to an end when the grandfather becomes ill.  The story begins with the children visiting him in the hospital.

"Papaw, can you show me what light is?"

Kabe, you see, is blind.

These are our main characters.  They lead not so abnormal lives, though it is unusual to be blind from birth and though not everyone has a parent die when they are young, too many children grow up in single parent homes.

As you might guess, things are about to change.   While playing fetch with his dachshund, Daisy, Kabe picks up what he thinks is an ordinary stick and throws it to her.  It is, in fact, not a stick at all but a magical, musical type wand.  Not a wizard's wand but something more.

This magical wand leads the three children and Daisy into another world where they meet all sorts of fantastical creatures and people.  As it turns out, this world is in grave danger.  There are shadow creatures trying to overthrow the leaders and absorb the population.

There are also brave men, like the gardener, who turns out to be a King, and rises up to lead his army against the destroyers.

Troy finds he now has better things to do than play video games.  One of them is protecting his sister Meg as the travel through this strange world.  They end up crossing oceans and sailing library ships. That particular scene really resonated with me.  I would love to sail the ocean in a ship filled with books.

I won't retell the story.  Suffice it to say that there are all sorts of wonderful places and creatures that Kabe, Meg and Troy encounter while helping the King fight evil forces.

To me, it is the perfect kind of story.  A story where a child's fantasy comes true.  Didn't we all imagine ourselves meeting bears that could talk and unicorns that let us ride them and fighting along with centaurs? 

The storyline is of course the basic good vs evil. One reads a book like this for the vicarious experience.  McInnis spends a great deal of time describing the world the children have entered and succeeds in producing a highly satisfactory, charming setting.  If I could compare this story it would be to George MacDonald's fairy tales, C.S. Lewis' Narnia Chronicles, and The Neverending Story all wrapped into one.

This is not surprising because the author is a MacDonald and Lewis scholar, receiving his PhD in English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.  These authors' influence of McInnis' writing is unmistakeable.

What I also appreciate about In and Out of the Moon is that it is refreshingly free of the dystopian angst that is so prevalent in fantasy novels today.  Our heroes suffer setbacks but never lose their hope or optimism.  There is a sense of overriding compassion  throughout.

Another thing I like is that there is no "heroine saving the world" which seems to be cropping up in a lot of YA today since The Hunger Games have been so popular. Each child rises to the occasion and shares an equal role in working with the citizens of this other world.  Even more importantly, Meg, Kabe and Troy become the family they needed to be before setting off on this extraordinary adventure.

The story ends somewhat mysteriously but there are supposed to be sequels which I hope will tell us more.

  It is a perfect book to read aloud to elementary age children but I encourage fantasy lovers of all ages to read In and Out of the Moon.

 Dr. McInnis is also the author of Shadows and Chivalry:C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald on Suffering, Evil and Goodness.  For my review you can go here.

3.99 on Kindle

Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Princess Priscilla Piggybottom shared her thoughts and insights with me on The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  Amazingly, her opinions exactly reflected my own.  What can I say?  Great minds think alike.  Here's what we have to say.

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  Reading a novel by Dostoevsky is like stepping into a world wind.  There's no down time.  Just when you think a certain scene or situation is coming to an end, someone else shows up and away we go again with nary a pause for breath.  No character possesses neutral emotions either.  Everyone is either turning white with rage or red with...with...even more rage.

The story starts on a train where we meet our hero Prince Lev Nikolaevich Myshkin.  He is returning to Russia after many years in Switzerland.  On the train he meets Parfyon Semyonovich Rogozhin.  Little do these two men know but they are going to play profound roles in each other's lives.

While riding Prince Myshkin relates his background.  Some years past he suffered a mental break down and was sent to a hospital in Switzerland until he recovered.  Now, though still a young man, the Prince is returning to Russia.  He knows no one but hopes to make a few contacts.

Rogozhin immediately brings up the topic of a woman he is obsessed with, Nastasya Filipovna Barashkova.  He is going to propose to her.  He has raised an insane sum of money, which she has demanded, in order to achieve his desire: her hand in marriage.

Insane is an appropriate word here.  Because all the major players in this novel are insane.  Or desperate.  Or angry.  Or emotionally out of control.  Hence the unalleviated excitement that relentlessly rides the entire novel.

Natasha is a fascinating character study in her own right.  One doesn't know whether to hate or pity her.  Born into a poverty-stricken family, she was orphaned very young but being very beautiful was soon taken up by Afanasy Ivanovich Totsky, a wealthy man of high society, who took her and basically kept her for himself.  No need to spell that out.

Being orphaned and helpless, Natasha had no choice but to submit to Totsky's..let's call it what it is... sexual abuse.  But a time comes when Natasha is no longer the helpless one.  She realizes that she holds Totsky's reputation in her hands, especially since he now wishes to marry into an important family.  Totsky understands that he is no longer the one in control of their relationship and his one objective is to get rid of her.  He attempts to acheive this by marrying Natasha off to a clerk of General Epanchin who also happens to be the father of the woman he wishes to marry.

Totsky offers this clerk, Ganya Ivolgin, 70,000 rubles to marry Natasha. Ganya was pursuing General Epanchin's youngest daughter Aglaya but he breaks his relationship with her and everything looks settled.  Natasha holds an evening party at her apartment to seal the deal.  

Why Ganya would want to marry Natasha, other than for the money is beyond me. She lets her contempt for him be known at every opportunity.  She delights in making a fool of him.  And she has one last trick up her sleeve.  

Late in the evening Natasha's party is crashed by Rogozhin and a bunch of rowdies.  He has come with the money Natasha has demanded to marry him.  Natasha grabs the money, throws it in the fire, and tells Ganya he can have it if he'll pull it out.  Then she runs off with Rogozhin.

  Where does the Prince fit in?  He loves Natasha.  But not the way the other men do.  He feels compassion for her and he wants to save her.  He also proposes to Natasha.  She understands his pure love but doesn't feel worthy of it so repels him.

Meantime there's Agláya Ivánovna.  Aglaya is a nut case in her own right.  She loves the Prince and wants to marry him.

Then she doesn't.

Then she does.

No she doesn't.  She hates him.

She's madly in love with him!

No, never!

That pretty much describes Aglaya. Strangely enough, the Prince also loves her and in a real romantic sense, but instead of doing the common sense thing and blow her off, his emotions corresponds to her mood swings.

I'm in ecstasy, she loves me!

I'm crushed, she hates me!



I really cannot figure the Prince out.  It's interesting how the other characters respond to him.  They all consider him a fool, even calling him an idiot to his face.  Yet, one by one, they each develop an attachment to him and soon find that they need him to turn to, confide in, be listened to.  He's the only one that genuinely loves and believes in the goodness in each person.

Dostoevsky digs deep into the human soul and bares the desperate sin that lurks there.  By doing so he reveals the light of God that shines on that darkness and disperses it.

There are no tidy endings in real life and Dostoevsky certainly doesn't provide any in his writing.  This book probably has the least satisfying ending of any of the books I've read, with maybe the exception of Demons (also titled, The Possessed).

Spoiler alert!  Don't continue reading if you don't want to know how the story ends.

As much as the Prince loves people, his belief in their inner goodness is finally shattered.  He finally breaks it off with Aglaya (or she breaks it off, who can tell?) and proposes marriage to Natasha who, after living with Rogozhin, accepts.  

Everything proceeds as planned.  Natasha, adorned as a princess, approaches the church where the Prince is waiting for her.  In the crowd she sees Rogozhin.  She screams and jumps into his arms.  They run off together.

After searching all over town and St Petersburg, the town where Rogozhin lives, he finally finds them.  Rogozhin, after hiding out in his family apartments, comes to the Prince and brings him home.  

The final part is surreal.  Rogozhin talks about all sorts of nonsense with the Prince but we finally become aware of Natasha lying under a sheet on a bed in the corner of his room.   Both he and the Prince spend the night together discussing what to do because the body will soon begin to smell.

Eventually they are found out.  Rogozhin is sent to Siberia and the Prince truly becomes an idiot.  Relapsed into madness he is sent back to the hospital in Switzerland.

There is ever so much more to this story than can be related here.  I cannot begin to count the number of characters in the cast.  As my husband, Josh, said.  "How many people can fit into one room? Can you imagine a stage production of this story?"

Every character is a story all by him or herself.  But if you want those stories, you'll simply have to read the novel for yourself.

Princess Priscilla Piggybottom says, "I would have married you, Prince."

Kindle .99

Thursday, May 21, 2015

When Pigs Read

Our family has increased with a couple of furry additions.  Luckily they're huge readers so they fit right in.

This is Little Bear.  She likes to start the day off with some Kale and the Wall Street Journal

Here is a piggie after my own heart.  She loves Dostoevsky, although she was saddened at how "The Idiot" ended.  When asked her name she informed us that she was called "Zorgon the Destroyer".  However, we prefer to call her Princess Priscilla Piggybottom.

Is it a bookshelf?

Of course not!  It's home to a pair of book loving piggies.

Both Little Bear and Princess Piggybottom enjoy Celtic Art

Little Bear was simply shocked at the language and subject matter of  D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover.  She found it so upsetting we had to quit reading half way through the novel.
She let her opinion be known in no uncertain terms.

These are our Hermit Crabs, Hermie and Kermie.  They're not much readers.

And that's enough silliness for one week.  I promise to post a book review next time.  (Princess Priscilla Piggybottom wants to impart her insight on "The Idiot." Stay tuned...)