Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal (audio)

Title: Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal
Author: Conor Grennan
Narrator: Conor Grennan
Genre/Date: Non-fiction/2011
Audio Length: 9 hrs and 37 mins
My Rating: 5/5

This true story, as told by the author, Conor Grennan, is his account of the time he spent in Nepal,at first volunteering at an orphanage, and then proceeding to make an incredible difference in the lives of so many young children stolen from their families for the nefarious purpose of making money. The families of these children are lied to and told that they will get an education and will not have to fight in the civil war going on in Nepal at this time if they send their children with the traffickers.  The author unexpectantly falls in love with the children and with Nepal, and he vows to help seven missing children, but then succeeds in helping so many more than that including himself.

I'm really enjoying Little Princes on audio. I'm actually driving in my car and laughing out loud at the author's honesty. I admire his adventurous spirit and his tenacity to see things through. But at the same time his compassion and his sense of responsibility is never taken lightly. When he promises the children he will return in a year, he keeps his promise. I felt a connection with him in his love for children. I would not be able to take care of the Nepali orphans without forming a bond too. I admire his ambition as he forms a non-profit organization without any prior knowledge in doing so, all because seven Nepali children who were trafficked and stolen from their families went missing after he returns to the States and now he feels extremely guilty and responsible for them. 
He states exactly how he did this - each step of the way including his to-do list. It's funny but honest and the drive inside him - to work hours and days at this task - is admirable. This book should be read by all young people to encourage them to follow their dreams, in whatever area they are following in their lives. I can't wait to finish this book, amd I will seek out the author's blog and hope he writes more books in the future.
I'm nearly through the story now and feel triumph for the author in his goal of reuniting some of the stolen children with their families and to see and feel the range of emotions of the families as they hear news of their children. It seems strange how all things fell into place for him, one obstacle after another, and then somehow a light in the forest would show him a sign and an answer to his dilemma would appear. 
It's truly remarkable how one young man could accomplish so much for others especially small. weak children, and then he brings his story to the public to inspire other young people to do likewise. He never set out to make a difference, just thought it would make him look cool to the girls to say he volunteered at an orphanage. But his heart melted and he allowed himself to feel their pain and joy at the same time. 

If the author can shake things up in his quiet yet driven way, the rest of us can surely make a difference in our own small way too.
I won't forget this book for a long time, and I'm sure I'll be listening to it again soon. 
The author of Little Princes is also the narrator on the audio version. What an amazing job he did with this. His passion shines through!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Salon - 8/5/12

  • This week I continued with my exercise routine that I started 4 weeks ago. It entails going to a gym, just for women, with a 30 minute circuit of machines as a trainer motivates us to really give it everything we've got. And then most evenings I go for a fast walk lasting ≈ 45 minutes while listening to my current audiobook. I've noticed improvements in both inches and energy levels. It's been difficult in the heat and humidity, but I feel great when I'm finished! I'm currently listening to A Discovery of Witches. At about a a third of the way through, I'm really starting to enjoy it. I don't really like to read books about vampires and romance, but this one has a lot of references to historical events and I am intrigued.

  • Spent a lot of time sending out invitations for my daughter's party - it should be fun on a boat!

  • Visited friends who live on Shelter Island during the summer months. It is gorgeous there! My daughter and her friends went tubing in the bay, and we both had a great day. I didn't take any pictures but here are some I found online:

  • Having a hard time finishing the last 30 pages of Let the Great World Spin. I need to just finish! Reading during the summer months should be easy and enjoyable, but I find that with the family home and going on lots of day trips - I have little time to read. I will make more of an effort.

Have a great Sunday!


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Our kitten - Link (also known as Paul) - getting ready to catch the ball.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Salon

  • My decluttering challenge has been going along very well. Ever since I started on April 18, 2012, I have been throwing away or giving away one item every day. It has become a habit for me. Sometimes it's difficult to find an item, but I just keep looking in my drawers or closet, and I am able to find something unnecessary. I feel lighter and happier. It seems to come with having more space for the things I love and need. I just got rid of 4 pairs of hockey skates and helmets today from my garage. Some else will be able to use these. They were collecting at the local ice-skating rink. It feels good! I plan to continue this for a year and then see what happens. I love being able to know what I have in my closet.
  • I read The Power of Habit  and I decided to see if the author's method would work for me with my nail biting. Now this isn't why I took this book out from the library. My friend had said it was good and I'm always trying to come up with good habits to get the most out of life - like cleaning, writing, etc.  Anyway, he mentions how one woman used his method to stop biting her nails, and I thought I should try this! I can't believe it - in just a little over a week I had stopped biting and now it's been about 6 weeks. I get manicures to encourage me to continue and I think it helps to strengthen the nails. But I'm really happy not to have to spend a lot of money on nail tips. 
  • I have been listening to so many great books lately that I am so glad that I started listening to audiobooks. Thank you to my fellow bloggers!! I listen all the time - mostly when driving, but also while watering my lawns, waiting on supermarket lines, and waiting for appointments. I love to hear some of these beautiful stories come alive through their narrators. Just recently on audiobook I loved American Dervish and Middlesex. I love to drive anyway, but now I'm the driver for all trips to amusement parks and friends' homes no matter how far away they are. I always have my books to listen to on the way back home.
  • Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sunday Salon

I have been missing for quite a while from writing reviews for my blog. I have decided to publicly announce my efforts to write at least one review or post a week. I have recently read The Art of Non-Conformity based on the recommendation of Erin Reads blog, and I have found it to have had the wonderful effect of motivating me more than any other book on the topic of changing one's life (and I have read many!). Chris Guillebeau, the author of The Art of Non-Conformity, has a blog which I hope will continue to inspire me to make genuine, lasting changes to my life, as well as the new blog by Erin of Erin Reads - {re}made by hand. These past 2 weeks I have started to declutter one or more similar objects everyday. And the feeling that comes from releasing items, which had only made me feel guilty for the money I wasted on the purchase of this unnecessary item, is wonderful! There is a greater sense of peace and clarity of mind by having less clutter around. I feel more in control and in possession of a greater knowledge of the things I want in my life. Reading has been an important part of my life since my earliest memories of childhood. It makes me happy! This is one of my passions I wish to pursue on a more consistent basis and in greater depth (actually review the books). Guillebeau recommends writing 1,000 words a day. For now, my goal will be to just write my thoughts everyday after reading and then count up the words. This will help me to then write the review more easily.

The past few months I have been reading a lot of great books. I always find myself drifting towards non-fiction titles. I don't know if it is because they are quicker reads or I'm just interested in a variety of topics. But I must remind myself of the feelings evoked inside me when I read fiction: weeping as Lady Jane Grey, an innocent young girl, is beheaded in Innocent Traitor; changing my feelings daily for Jaime, the Kingslayer, in A Song of Ice and Fire fantasy series; feeling as though I am a part of the magical circus in The Night Circus - I remember practicing with my brother to be circus performers day after day when we were youngsters.

I would like to read 6 books a month, with 4 being the minimum. As life changes from month to month and the crazy trials that come with being in a family of six, this will be my goal!

Hope we all have a great reading week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: The Night Circus (audiobook)

Title: The Night Circus (audiobook)
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Narrator: Jim Dale
Genre/Date: Fantasy/2011
Audio Length: 13 hrs, 39 mins
Source: Audible purchase
My rating: 4.5/5

I really enjoyed Water for Elephants which is a book whose characters are part of the circus, so I figured another book about the circus would be of interest to me. However, The Night Circus is completely different. It is a magical, lyrical, and imaginative work with all the characters completely engrossed, enmeshed, and consumed by the circus called Le Cirque des Reves.

Its very soothing prose set to the melodic voice of Jim Dale lends itself to daydreaming about running away to the circus and forever living as either a circus performer or a spectator for eternity. In a world filled with black and white striped tents, ice gardens, and all sorts of chocolate sweets, Celia and Marco are set against each in a contest of magical abilities. Celia has been trained by her father, the famous magician Prospero, since the age of 5 after her mother committed suicide; Marco has been selected from an orphanage while a child to be trained by A.H., the "man in the gray suit". Neither of them fully understands the true meaning of this contest, either the rules of it or how one wins it. When they do realize the true meaning of the contest and what a folly it is, they must figure out a way to change it. They realize they are completely in love with each other, and cannot continue to be pawns in their teachers' game.

Some of the characters in this story are fascinating. I loved the red-haired twins, Poppet and Widget, who grow up in the circus as performers. They are honest, funny, and oddly mesmerizing. They have a wonderful relationship with a boy named Bailey who becomes entwined in the circus after a dare with his sister. This part of the story brings the circus to life and entices the reader to want to run and get tickets to the circus. Anyone would want to visit tents filled with clouds that you can fly from, wishing trees, or jars filled with the magic to transport you to places of extreme beauty.

As I was listening to this story, I was wondering where it was leading me. Part of me felt that this story was similar to Alice in Wonderland. In both of these stories, I thought that the authors were writing and following along where their imaginations rambled - that the plot of the story was not thought out in advance. I am probably wrong about this, but I could not help these thoughts from surfacing in me from time to time. Maybe this is what interests me about both of these books. 

I plan to visit this book again in the future. I will want to return to the innocent times during the late 19th century when the circus was one of the most entertaining places for both children and adults to visit.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Review: A Game Of Thrones (audiobook)

Title: A Game of Thrones
Author: George R.R. Martin
Narrator: Roy Dotrice
Genre/Date: Fantasy/1996
Audio Length: 33 hours, 50 mins
Source: Audible Purchase
My Rating: 5/5

This is a fantasy series I have heard a lot of great things about, and I'm very happy that I began it. It was hard to begin another lengthy audiobook, but this production was fascinating and very difficult to put down. I liked it so much that when I was about four-fifths through it, I decided to begin all over again, just to make sure I understood all the characters and their families and histories. There is much to grasp here, and I knew I wanted to continue with the next book soon. Also, when I first began the audiobook, I had a difficult time understanding the narrator, Roy Dotrice. He has a distinctive yet somewhat gruff voice. But I grew to love his interpretations of the various characters, in particular the female ones. Now I think he is the perfect narrator for this book!

The winter is coming! And the seven kingdoms should be preparing for it. They have had many years of summer and only the old ones remember and tell the stories of winter. Instead all are focusing on who will be the new king and have power over the seven kingdoms. They are not realizing what is happening up north. The children of the forest and the undead with blue eyes are returning. This is where the armies should be amassing. Instead the Lannister family have seized power after King Robert Baratheon has been suspiciously killed by a boar. The Stark family of Winterfell are comprised of: Lord Eddard; his wife Catelyn Tully formerly of Riverrun in the South; Robb, the eldest of their 5 children at 14; Sansa the eldest daughter at 11 and betrothed to Prince Joffrey Lannister, a pretender to the throne; Arya, a spirited 9 year old girl (one of my favorite characters); Bran at 7 who succumbs to the treachery of Jaime Lannister; and the toddler Rickon. But not to be missed is Eddard's bastard son Jon Sno, just months younger than Robb, who is a Eddard's son by a mysterious woman no one ever talks about. Jon has gone to the wall protecting the seven kingdoms from the north to be a brother of the Night's Watch. Meanwhile, across the sea in the land of the barbaric Dothroki there is the only survivor of the Targaryen family, Daenerys, whose brothers and father, King Aerys, were killed years ago and their family's throne wrenched away by Jaime Lannister. She is from the family of dragons who no longer exist, but may return. She plans to come back from exile and reclaim the throne.

This story reads very much like historical fiction because the details are very accurate to what could have happened in the the middle ages in Britain. However, the magical parts add another level which is fascinating with the inclusion of dragons, the undead, the children of the forest, the trees with faces, and the dark magic.

This story relates each important characters' perspective, even through the eyes of a child, and it is done masterfully. I enjoyed all the varying viewpoints and would be sad to leave one part of the story, only to once again become intensely engrossed in another part of the story. This was a wonderful listen and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.