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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Winter in Madrid

Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom

Winter in Madrid centers on a soldier-turned-spy, Harry Brett, who is stationed in Spain in 1940 and instructed to connect with a former classmate, Sandy Forsyth, who is a shifty character with suspect business ventures and even shadier government ties. Sandy is also pretending to be married to Barbara Clare, who is biding her time with him while looking for her true love, Bernie Piper, a British communist who was believed to be killed in the Spanish Civil War but is actually being held prisoner in a Spanish camp and who is also a former classmate of Sandy and Harry.

With all the intrigue, deception and romance, Winter in Madrid would seem, at first glance, to be a typical action novel--plot-driven and melodramatic. It doesn't take long, though, to realize the characters provide the depth here. Sansom has made them all--even the unscrupulous Sandy--appear genuine and intense. The plot is unpredictable, but it always seems correct. And the ending is absolutely appropriate for the characters in whom you have invested so much throughout the novel.

Sansom has also been scrupulous about the historical details, and there are several actual historical figures who figure prominently in the novel. I didn't know much about this period in Spain's history, and, truthfully, there is still a lot I don't know. The country's particular struggles are often overshadowed by World War II, I suppose. So all this new information was equally fascinating and disturbing.

It's always amazing how cruel humans can be to one another given the power or opportunity. But it's equally amazing how we can also be good to each other and connect through tragedy. Winter in Madrid reminds us of both possibilities.

Favorite quotes...

I found a book in the library...It's amazing what you can find out if you look. Things people want to keep hidden that might come in useful.

It doesn't matter how useful the work you do is, the word bureaucracy always stinks.

Barbara worked on, dealing with exchanges of prisoners and enquiries about missing persons, but side by side with her sense of helplessness in the face of murderous chaos was an inner warmth, a lightness.

Many of the local party members were middle-class, bohemian intellectuals and artists. He knew that for many of them communism was a fad, an act of rebellion, at the same time as he realized he felt more at home with them than the workers...Yet there was still a part of him that felt rootless, lonely, neither proletarian nor bourgeois, a disconnected hybrid.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Very Quick Links

Your friendly neighborhood librarian now has a Certificate of Education and Ministry. This is me with my fellow graduates (I'm the one who appears to be tall!).

Meanwhile...


And the latest from Google's Librarian Newsletter (after nine months, it's about time!)...

That's it! Have a happy weekend! Book review coming next week for sure!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Certified...as in Bonafide

This week, I received my Certificate of Education and Ministry from SWBTS. Here I am with my fellow graduates...



(I love that I look so tall in this photo.) Anyway, the certificate program is actually really cool. As a seminary spouse, you can take courses for a teensy fraction of the cost of "regular" tuition. And I thought it was nice that it counted toward something like a certificate instead of just taking classes for the heck of it, which I guess would be fine, but I'm easily motivated by rewards. :)

So, here are the classes I took: Wife of the Equipping Minister, Greek, Spiritual Development of Children, Old Testament, Basic Christian Doctrine and New Testament. They were all excellent, but Greek and Basic Christian Doctrine were both absolutely incredible.

Because the classes are offered on a rotating basis, you get your certificate without having to take each one in the program...but you also miss out on some cool professors and classes. So I'm hoping to continue to take classes until Jason graduates. (Next up is Woman to Woman Ministry in the Fall.) It won't count for another certificate, but they've got me hooked now. ;)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Confession...

I had planned to read and read and read this weekend, but instead, I watched this:


and this...

and took a nap.

The end.

New Version of Me...the 30-Year Edition

I meant to post about my New Year's resolutions when 2009 was still actually a new year. But life is busy. Plus, you get all year to master these, right?

So...resolutions. There are 30. Because I'm turning 30 this year, and
I like doing things like that.


But, this time, instead of just coming up with 30 items for the sake of having that many, I really spent a lot of time thinking of what I'd like my life to look like as a 30-year-old--identifying some areas that need improving (hello waistline), some goals that need accomplishing, even relationships that need mending or at least enriching. And lest you think it's all boring, there are plenty of random goals as well--planning to hit 30 libraries, enjoy more of Texas, learn how to host people in a teeny-tiny apartment. Good stuff in these goals.

And it's all going OK so far. Not perfect...but acceptable.

My husband says it reminds him of this song, but I'm not really a Tim McGraw kinda girl. So I was thinking of this one instead. I was a big Felicity fan in college--after all, we were on the same timeline (the show started my freshman year)...and I liked the idea of reinventing myself then. College is an appropriate time for that sort of thing.

But I like myself now...and I like my life. I don't want a totally new, reinvented version of me...just perhaps a slightly better version, one that fits 30. We'll see.

Anyway, what about you? Goals for the rest of the "new" year?

Meanwhile, any advice on how to live up the last few months of being a 20-something?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Twittering

I'm joining the Twitter madness!

Follow me at http://twitter.com/mrsmcbookworm.

Before & After

I got my hair cut--ok, whacked--on Friday. It had been a year. A year is way too long. My hair was way too long...





Relief...a little windblown, but it's much healthier...


Thursday, April 09, 2009

Lazy Links

Title says it all. :) Have a good weekend!

Economy got you down? Here are some resources for understanding the situation.

One way one library is helping...

But sometimes it's tough on the libraries, too...

One library says goodbye to the past...

While another gets a glimpse of the future? Perhaps...

Another possible glimpse...

And a very funny glimpse...

Online research info...

Copyright info...

And, finally, what's going on with the DC branch of the ALA

Motherhood?

Comforting a fussy Fred with one hand while stirring dinner with the other. Is this what motherhood is like?

*Disclaimer: No puppy hairs were transferred to the soup, and hands were promptly washed after the photo was snapped. I promise we're not those dog people.*

Friday, April 03, 2009

Hating Classics and Loving Bama

I finished reading The Great Gatsby for next week's book club.

I didn't like it.

Again.

I had read it in high school and just couldn't get behind it then either. I was hoping for more this time (I am still hopeful that we'll have our usual excellent book club discussion). But I think it's sort of like some modern art--I can appreciate it for its cultural value, but I wouldn't want it on my wall (or, in this case, on my bookshelf).

But Gatsby is one of those books you're supposed to like--a classic, right? Many classics I do like, but there are a few that leave me thinking "Huh? What am I supposed to get from this?" If you read my Love in the Time of Cholera review, you'll know that 100 Years of Solitude is another one that I didn't enjoy...putting it mildly. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides has become one of those modern classics that I just hated. And don't even get me started on The Scarlet Letter.

What about you? Any classics that "everyone" loves that you just don't care about or left you thinking "Huh?"

Moving on to Alabama news...

SLIS at UA hosts the always enjoyable and delectable edible book festival...

Meanwhile...the SLIS student ALA chapter is doing some great blogging here...


Another SLIS student makes the national scene...

And a Birmingham-area school is getting historical...

(The picture is just a random one from the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.)

Think I can finish a couple of books this weekend? That's the goal. Hope your weekend is the perfect balance of productive and restful as well.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Water Water Everywhere

When we decided to move to Fort Worth, my librarian instincts kicked in, and I began doing research on the area. This included checking out IMDB for movies about Texas or filmed here. We discovered that the final scene of Logan's Run was actually filmed in downtown Fort Worth at a place called the Water Gardens. (Side note: This was a strange, weird movie, and I don't really recommend it...unless you're moving to Fort Worth.)

Anyway, we've driven past the Water Gardens many times and kept meaning to go...but you know how it is. Spring Break=perfect opportunity.


I'm so glad we went! It was lots of fun. They have four main sections--the water garden itself, a raised area called the mountain, a quiet pool and a pool of lights. Definitely an urban garden.

The quiet pool was supposed to be peaceful, contrasting the noise of the water garden (more on that later), but it was so dirty that it distracted me from the peacefulness. So no pictures from there. The ones from the mountain were just OK. But we got some really cool ones of the water garden and the light pool.

You climb down spiral stone steps into the water garden, and the water is rushing all around you. It produces a sense of vertigo because you feel like you should be traveling along with the water (it's also very very loud). Lots of fun, though!







A rare shot of the two of us together...





Grazing in the grass...



These are just a couple from the light pool that Jason took...




He got a lot of really good ones from here, but I'll let him show you the rest on his blog sometime. :)

The next day we took Dad back to the airport, did a tour of various Half-Price Books in the area and got some extra sleep before heading back to the real world! Ah, Spring Break...I miss you already!

Read from the beginning...