Monday, September 24, 2012


It's Hispanic Heritage Month!  This event celebrates and recognizes the contributions that Hispanic Americans have made to America's culture.  Hispanic Heritage Month runs from September 15th through October 15th.

Hispanic Heritage Month began as Hispanic Heritage Week in the late 1960s under President Johnson.  The observation was expanded to a 30 day period by President Reagan in the late 1980s.  The start date of September 15th is important as it is the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.  Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence in the month of September (the 16th for Mexico and 18th for Chile).

Want to celebrate this month-long event?  Check out some of these titles by Hispanic authors:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Zorro: A Novel by Isabel Allende
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
Extraordinary Hispanic Americans by Cesar Alegre

Or, try reading a book in Spanish:

La Mala Hora by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
El Amor en los Tiempos del Colera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
El Cuaderno de Maya by Isabel Allende
Zorro: Una Novela by Isabel Allende
Harry Potter y la Piedra Filosofal by J.K. Rowling
Los Juegos del Hambre by Suzanne Collins
Cuando Te Encuentre by Nicholas Sparks
Sonar en Cubano by Cristina Garcia
El Tiempo Entre Costuras by Maria Duenas
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

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Monday, September 17, 2012


I just finished reading The Serpent's Shadow, the final book in the Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan.  This series follows Carter and Sadie Kane as they try to save the world from Chaos.   Carter and Sadie are not your typical brother and sister pair.  They are descended from powerful Egyptian magicians, and they have the power to work with and combat the Egyptian gods themselves!

Rick Riordan has two other mythology based series: The Heroes of Olympus and Percy Jackson and the Olympians.  Riordan's books introduce the readers to ancient mythology which may pique their interest in learning more about the original stories and cultures.  I thoroughly enjoy reading all three of his series and want to read more books based on ancient myths. 

If you're a fan of Rick Riordan, or mythology, check out the titles listed below!

Mythology Based Series:

Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan:
1.  The Lost Hero
2.  The Son of Neptune
3.  The Mark of Athena (due out in October)

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan:
1.  The Red Pyramid
2.  The Throne of Fire
3.  The Serpent's Shadow

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan:
1.  The Lightning Thief
2.  The Sea of Monsters
3.  The Titans Curse
4.  The Battle of the Labyrinth
5.  The Last Olympian

The Abandon Trilogy by Meg Cabot:
1.  Abandon
2.  Underworld

Sisters of Isis by Lynne Ewing
1.  The Summoning
2.  Divine One
3.  Enchantress
4.  The Haunting

Goddess Girls by Joan Holub
1.  Athena the Brain
2.  Persephone the Phony
3.  Aphrodite the Beautiful
4.  Artemis the Brave
5.  Athena the Wise
6.  Aphrodite the Diva
7.  Artemis the Loyal
8.  Medusa the Mean

Mythology Based Stories:

Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams by Alexander McCall Smith is a retelling of the ancient Celtic myth about Angus.  Angus is the god of love, youth, and beauty; he is also a trickster.  The story follows five men named Angus as their lives parallel the god's story in their respective searches for love.

Ilium by Dan Simmons is a work of science fiction based on Homer's Iliad.  Thomas Hockenberry travels back in time to witness the Trojan War.  Once there, he is recruited by one of the gods to participate in a war against other gods.  You will find the ancient themes of love, honor, duty, and courage as you read this epic tale.

The Iliad of Homer translated by Samuel Butler is an epic poem set during the Trojan War. It is full of battles and events throughout the fight between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles.

The Odyssey of Homer translated by Samuel Butler is often seen as the "sequel" to the Iliad. This poem mainly focuses on the Greek hero Odysseus and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes him ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten year war. 

Children's Books:

Pandora Gets Angry by Carolyn Hennesy follows Pandora and her friends on their journey to Persia to find the fifth evil: Rage.

The Gray-Eyed Goddess by Mary Pope Osborne retells the part of the Odyssey where Penelope and her son Telemachus are warding off men who wish to marry Penelope as Odysseus continues his journey home.

Graphic Novels:

Egyptian Myths by Gary Jeffrey
African Myths by Gary Jeffrey
Roman Myths by David West
The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds


Mythology: The Gods, Heroes, and Monsters of Ancient Greece by Hestia Evans
Treasury of Greek Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli
In the Beginning: Creation Stories From Around the World by Virginia Hamilton

Mythology Based Movies:

The Water Horse
Clash of the Titans
Wrath of the Titans

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Monday, September 10, 2012


I recently finished watching the first two seasons of Downton Abbey.  I was a bit late in catching on to the growing trend and did not see any of the show on television.  However, I checked out Season 1 and was instantly hooked.  Upon finishing Season 2, I was happy to learn that Season 3 will be airing in January.

This series is set in the early 1900s in England.  It follows the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them.  The first two seasons take the viewer through the sinking of the Titanic and World War I.  This is a fascinating period in history as so much is changing politically and socially throughout the world.

If you haven't watched it yet, be sure to check out the first two seasons of Downton Abbey!

Downton Abbey, Season 1
Downton Abbey, Season 2

Books related to Downton Abbey:

The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era for Family, Friends, Lovers and Staff by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis
The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook by Emily Ansara Baines
The World of Downton Abbey by Jessica Fellowes
Lady Almina and the real Downton Abbey: the Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by Fiona Carnarvon
Upstairs & Downstairs: the Illustrated Guide to the Real World of Downton Abbey by Sarah Warwick
Below Stairs: The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" by Margaret Powell

Books that take place during the same time period:

Fall of Giants by Ken Follett:  Follows the lives of five families of different backgrounds, American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh, as they move through the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women's suffrage.

The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott is a historical novel about a young seamstress who survives the sinking of the Titanic only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the disaster.

The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices From the Titanic by Allan Wolf  recreates the sinking of the Titanic as observed by John Jacob Astor, a young Lebanese refugee, the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown, Captain Smith, and others including the iceberg.

No Graves As Yet: A Novel of World War I by Anne Perry reminds the reader that love and hate, cowardice and courage, good and evil are always a part of life, in our own time as well as on the eve of the greatest war the world has ever known.

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo follows Thomas Peaceful who, like many other English soldiers in World War I, is too young to fight, but he lies about his age. Now at the front in France with his older brother Charlie he stands a nighttime vigil for reasons that are not explained until the book's end.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque is narrated by Paul Baumer, a young man who fights in the German army on the French front in World War I.  Paul and several of his friends from school joined the army voluntarily after listening to the speeches of their teacher.  After experiencing weeks of training and the unimaginable brutality of life on the front, Paul and his friends have realized that the reasons for which they enlisted are simply empty clich├ęs. They no longer believe that war is glorious and honorable, and they live in constant fear.

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is the story of a tragic romance set against the brutality and confusion of World War I.

To the Last Man: A Novel of the First World War by Jeff Shaara focuses on the experiences of four historical figures.  Although the story is told primarily from an American perspective, the narrative gives attention to the attitudes and aspirations of both ordinary and prominent German military figures as well.  Shaara presents the horror of trench warfare in gory but necessary detail.

All Our Worldly Goods by Irene Nemirovsky is a story of war, family life and star-crossed lovers. Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and his grandfather.  Their marriage provokes a family feud that carries down through the generations.

A Good Woman by Danielle Steel follows Annabelle Worthington amid the glamour of New York society.  However, everything changed on a April day in 1912, when the sinking of the Titanic shattered her family and her privileged world forever. After being betrayed, and pursued by a scandal she does not deserve, she leaves New York for war-ravaged France, hoping to lose herself in a life of service.  During World War I, she finds her true calling. When the war ends, Annabelle begins a new life in Paris until a  meeting opens her heart to the world she had left behind and she returns to New York one more time.

Maria Takes A Stand: The Battle for Women's Rights by Norma Jean Lutz is a children's book that takes place in 1914, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  As the war in Europe increases general hostility towards German Americans, Maria Schmidt finds her calling in the women's suffrage movement.

World War I Nonfiction:

The First World War by Michael Eliot Howard
World War I by Simon Adams
World War I by Stewart Ross
Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy by Diana Preston
The War to End All Wars: World War I by Russell Freedman
Rites of Spring: The Great War and the Birth of the Modern Age by Modris Eksteins

Titanic Nonfiction:

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic's First-Class Passengers and Their World by Hugh Brewster
How to Survive the Titanic, Or the Sinking of J. Bruce Ismay by Frances Wilson
Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Legendary Liner by Rick Archbold

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012


It's time for the 93rd season of the National Football League (NFL)!  The regular season of professional football starts on Wednesday, September 5th with the Dallas Cowboys playing against the New York Giants.  More importantly, the Green Bay Packers season opener is scheduled for Sunday, September 9th against the San Francisco 49ers!

The NFL was formed by eleven teams in 1920 and was originally called the American Professional Football Association.  The league changed its name to the National Football League in 1922. The league currently consists of 32 teams from across the United States. The league is divided evenly into two conferences: the American Football Conference (AFC) and the National Football Conference (NFC).  Each conference has four divisions that have four teams, for a total of 16 teams in each conference.  The conferences are broken down as follows:

AFC North:                   AFC East:                             AFC South:                      AFC West:
Baltimore Ravens           Buffalo Bills                          Houston Texans                Denver Broncos
Cincinnati Bengals         Miami Dolphins                     Indianapolis Colts             Kansas City Chiefs
Cleveland Browns          New England Patriots            Jacksonville Jaguars         Oakland Raiders
Pittsburgh Steelers          New York Jets                       Tennessee Titans              San Diego Chargers

NFC North:                   NFC East:                             NFC South:                       NFC West:
Green Bay Packers         Dallas Cowboys                    Atlanta Falcons                   Arizona Cardinals
Chicago Bears                New York Giants                  Carolina Panthers                St. Louis Rams
Minnesota Vikings         Philadelphia Eagles              New Orleans Saints             San Francisco 49ers
Detroit Lions                  Washington Redskins           Tampa Bay Buccaneers       Seattle Seahawks

Since this is Wisconsin, the rest of this entry will discuss the Green Bay Packers.

In 1919, a group of young athletes, called together by Curly Lambeau and George Calhoun, gathered in the editorial room of the old Green Bay Press-Gazette building and organized a football team.  As the Indian Packing Company provided jerseys and permitted the use of its athletic field for practice, the club was initially tied to the company, and the name "Packers" was born.

The Packers have been around since the beginning of the NFL and have a very strong history.  Most notably, the Packers won the first two Super Bowls in 1966 and 1967.  The Super Bowl trophy is even named after one of their coaches: Vince Lombardi.  These two championships, combined with the Packers' NFL championships in 1961, 1962, and 1965 amount to the most successful stretch in NFL History: five championships in seven years.  In recent years, the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, and along the way obtained their record 13th NFL Championship win.

For more information on the history of the Green Bay Packers, check out this website:

The majority of the books listed here will pertain to the Green Bay Packers; however, I do have a few general works on football listed as well.

Football Double Threat by Matt Christopher
Football Hero by Tim Green
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff
Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica
Payback Time by Carl Lipsyte
Bleachers by John Grisham

A Football Cookbook by Sarah Schuette
Football Made Simple: A Spectator's Guide by Dave Ominsky and P.J. Harari
Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers: Super Bowl XLV by Michael Sandler
Green Bay Packers: Trials, Triumphs, and Traditions by William Povletich
The History of the Green Bay Packers by John Nichols
Green Bay Packers: Legends in Green and Gold by William Povletich
Before They Were the Packers: Green Bay's Town Team Days by Denis Gullickson and Carl Hanson
Packers by the Numbers by John Maxymuck
Bart Starr: When Leadership Mattered by David Claerbaut
Magnificent Seven: The Championship Games That Built the Lombardi Dynasty by Bud Lea
Vince Lombardi by Greg Roensch
Favre by Brett Favre
Brett Favre by Stew Thornley
Nitschke by Edward Gruver
Cold Wars: 40 Years of Packer-Viking Rivalry by Todd Mishler
Rising Stars, NFL by Joe Layden

The Blind Side
Remember the Titans
The Game Plan
The Longest Yard
Friday Night Lights

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