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Archive for April, 2008

Basically this is my to-do list for the next two weeks, which I’m sharing with you in hopes of justifying the fact that I probably won’t post again any time before mid-May.

In the next two weeks, on top of my regular classes, I have to complete two final projects for my two metals classes (Forming and Enameling). I have to run four Habitat fundraising sales. I have to organize and run the Metals Jewelry Sale (also make jewelry for it), on the same day as one of my Habitat Sales. I have to write a final essay for my education class. I have to study for my History of Jazz final. I have to glaze everything I’ve made in Ceramics in the last month. I have to go shopping for, then make hundreds of bagged lunches for, and then participate in Midnight Run through Habitat for Humanity. I will be spending next weekend with my Habitat group on a retreat. I will be moving out of my apartment the weekend after that. I have to make a Mother’s Day gift for my mom, I have to make a birthday gift for my brother. I have to figure out my work schedule for the summer. I have to finish festival applications and processes for the summer.

I maintain that I am not a negligent blogger just because I’m too busy actually living life to find time to write about it.

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Book: Sugarcane Academy: How a New Orleans Teacher and His Storm-Struck Students Created a School to Remember by Michael Tisserand
Pages: 192
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 9.5/10
Books Read Total: 20/50
Pages Read Total: 3875/15,000

This book may be small, but it packs a punch. Riding on the wave of emotions from my recent trip down to NOLA this book could not have come at a time when I was more vulnerable. Frequently I found myself in tears over the hugeness of it all. The hugeness of the hurricane and the aftershocks, the hugeness of the indignities forced upon so many citizens, and the immeasurable outpouring of awareness on the part of those capable of giving something to the people who had nothing. In a society where education is so bound by rules and regulations, this small section of a community banded together to give families what they needed. This is education as it should be: active, responsive, aware. What these children needed was not a standardized test or even a normal classroom. They needed time and space to express their experiences, to learn about their relations to the world around them, and to make sense of all that they experienced in such a short time. Much was lost during Hurricane Katrina, but the disaster laid bare the strength, courage, determination and love that human beings are capable of giving.

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Book: The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer
Pages: 495
Entertainment Rating: 4.5/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 8.5/10
Books Read Total: 19/50
Pages Read Total: 3683/15,000

This book is the sequel to The Sea of Trolls. I can’t remember the last time I had such a hard time putting down a book as I do with Farmer’s. Even Harry Potter doesn’t hold the control over me that she does. Her stories are excellent, witty, vivid and fun.

In Silver Apples Jack’s little sister Lucy disapears, and saving her is up to him and his new “friends”, a recently freed slave with a “froggy” face by the name of Pega, a wishy washy guy named Brutus, a monk named Aiden and some newly acquired skills. Together they experience the beauty and danger of the magical world of the silver apples, where time never passes. Their quest is filled with surprises, both good and bad, and the end results may not be what you think!

As a sequel this book was excellent, just enough plot overlap to be related, but a totally new adventure and many new characters. Also, way less of the bratty Lucy dialog! The religion humor is excellent, as always. I really admire Farmer’s even keel in that regard. She makes fun of everyone’s gods equally, while never actually putting any of them down, and giving all opinions without seeming contrived. Another great book!

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Book: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: N/A
Snooty Rating: 5/5
Total Rating: 10/10
Books Read Total: 18/50
Pages Read Total: 3188/15,000

This book will blow your mind. It will probably give you nightmares, and if you have any soul at all it will make you cry. It will make your stomach turn, your heart ache, and your palms sweat. There will be times when you absolutely must put the book down and walk away, but I promise you it is worth it. I cannot describe this book to you in any way that will do it justice, but I beg you to read it.

From the website:
A gripping story of a child’s journey through hell and back.

There may be as many as 300,000 child soldiers, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s, in more than fifty conflicts around the world. Ishmael Beah used to be one of them. He is one of the first to tell his story in his own words.

In A LONG WAY GONE, Beah, now twenty-six years old, tells a riveting story. At the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he’d been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. Eventually released by the army and sent to a UNICEF rehabilitation center, he struggled to regain his humanity and to reenter the world of civilians, who viewed him with fear and suspicion. This is, at last, a story of redemption and hope.

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Book: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Pages: Audiobook
Entertainment Rating: 4/5
Snooty Rating: 4/5
Total Rating: 8/10
Books Read Total: 17/50
Pages Read Total: 3188/15,000

Let me preface by saying that I listened to this book more than a month ago. A lot has happened since then, including a week in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity, some emotional meltdowns and a lot of work. Anyhow, I do remember enjoying this book quite a bit. I was pleasantly surprised, in fact, thinking from my past attempt at the book that I wouldn’t particularly enjoy Vonnegut’s style. Only my brother’s devotion to him made me give him another try (my brother hates to read, but he’ll read Vonnegut).

I’m sorry I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this book but it feels like it was years ago. So much happens in a month of my life, it feels like ages.

For sure a good book, interesting, emotional, weird. Read it.

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