The Worst Hard Time


The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust BowlThe Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl by Timothy Egan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an amazing book.  It makes me sad that this is a story that I was only peripherally aware of.  The conditions and the tenacity of the people caught up in the thick of the dust bowl is in a word, unbelievable.  For me it tended to get a little tedious and I had a hard time keeping the people the author used to move the story along straight, but it still didn't take away from the sheer magnitude of the account.

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A Song


I never quite know what it is about any one particular song that catches my attention.   Normally I'm not a big fan of the Bob Dylan-esque camp where good song writers have license to be terrible singers, but this band has captivated me and I love his scratchy vocals.

The White Tiger


The White TigerThe White Tiger by Aravind Adiga

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book had a very fresh voice.  The main character was interesting to say the least.  There was much about him that was amoral and a bit anti-social, but his detachment made the setting pop.  The social injustices present were highlighted by his ability to make you question right and wrong.  Nothing endearing or pleasant about the main character but the narrative is funny and witty and smart.  Great book.

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Happy Pi Day!  We celebrate with pie of course!

An Object of Beauty

An Object of BeautyAn Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book to me because of its setting in the art community.  Not a world that I know much about so it was kind of fun to inhabit that mind set through the characters.  I also found the protagonist to be extremely interesting.  I wouldn't say that I really liked her or would enjoy making her a friend in real life, but she certainly showed me a different way of approaching life.  This book had a similar flavor to Martin's others even though it had such a different setting.  Good descriptions, interesting cast of characters, very enjoyable.

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Brain dump


I've been feeling a little absent from my recent posts, so I figured it's time for a rag-tag state of the Amber address. I've started blurbing the second year of my blog and going back through like that always make me appreciate this little record and how it helps me remember. But must write it down first...

I'm working 30ish hours a week right now rather than my usual 20. Just helping out temporarily while a researcher at another college is out on maternity leave. I'm still able to fit my hours in before my girls get home from school, but the level of efficiency required to achieve this is taxing my brain. I am exhausted by the end of the day.

I'm enjoying much my Daytum project. I've been surprised how easy it is for me to maintain, it doesn't feel like a chore yet which was my biggest concern. The trends are fun for me to watch, but the biggest real benefit has been the improvement in my scripture study. It was my only real outcome goal I had when I started the project. I have never been a consistent scripture reader even though I always see a benefit in my daily life when I am. Not since high school do I remember making an iron clad daily habit of it for more than a handful of weeks. But I feel a real shift in the way it fits in my life and it feels like a habit that it here to stay. So if nothing else, that is more than enough reason to keep my Daytum page going.

Yoga and I are good friends right now.  To help fit my extra work hours in, Dave is taking on the morning routine with the girls twice a week so I can attend an early morning class from one of my favorite teachers.  It is crazy hard and crazy wonderful.  I've been practicing yoga for about 9 years now and it is such a thing of beauty to me.  Every month I find improvements in my practice, mentally and physically.  That is an amazing and infinite journey I'm on.

I'm still prepping for my Grand Canyon hike at the end of this month.  I haven't made it to the stair machine quite as often as I had hoped, but my legs feel good when I do so I'm feeling confident about it.  And super excited.  Ask me again when I'm half way up the canyon :-)

I'm still serving in the primary presidency at church and I love working with the children.  As I do with the other great adults that serve with me, but mostly I just love those kids.  I miss going to Relief Society for the spiritual nourishment and adult interaction, but there is much gospel to be learned among the children.

We've been in our house coming on three years now (um, wow!) and there are still lots of projects to be done.  This time of year always requires much attention to the yard, but the inside is needing some love too.  Namely the family room where we spend giant chunks of our free time.   The furniture still doesn't fit and the room is an embarrassing configuration that lacks my stamp of approval.  The walls are dingy and there's not much style anywhere to be found.  The Amber that painted so many walls so many colors in Phoenix would be shocked at my lack of inertia when it comes to getting this room done.  I used to spend many free hours contemplating home design but that vein of my creativity seems to have been laying fallow for some years now.  I had half formed thoughts of doing it over spring break before the world gets hot and muggy, but I just haven't put in enough time planning to make it a reality.  Oh well.

Music and the consumption thereof may soon overtake my life.  Subscribing to Rhapsody has made it possible to listen to pretty every album that come out each Tuesday.  At least the ones that I have a glimmer of interest in.  And that as it turns out, is a lot.  Fifty seven thus far to be exact.  I'm pretty sure no one other than music critics and DJs listen to that much new music.  And maybe not even them.  I might drown.  But drown happily. 

What else?  Books, yes.  TV, yes.  Running, mostly.  Chocolate, yes.  iPad, definitely.  Mommy life, the best!

Island Beneath the Sea


Island Beneath the SeaIsland Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the first half of this book without much enthusiasm. It was a real chore and I simply wasn't connecting with the characters. I love Allende's work so it was a big disappointment for me and I finally just put it down for a few months. I picked it up again recently and became totally caught up in the story. Absolutely loved the second half. It's hard for me to know if it was me or the book, but if definitely had a strong finish. Typical of her work, it is a richly woven tapestry of characters, slowly unfolding over time. Very interesting subject matter and I enjoyed reading both about Haiti and New Orleans. It's hard to know what to rate it since I had such different experiences with the book, but I guess most recent impressions matter most because I give it four stars.

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Be Mine


I am listening to a rediculous amount of new music right now which is great, but sometimes old favorites get lost.  I haven't listened to R.E.M. for the longest time and this gem came across my playlist this morning.

School Choir


Tessa joined the 4th grade choir this year and she has really, really loved it.  Dave and I got to go to her concert this morning and it was just the ultimate elementary school moment.  Brought back memories.  Cheesy songs, kids that have worked so hard and are beaming with innocent pride, lots of kids packed in the cafeteria.  Some things don't change.

Wild Swans


Wild Swans: Three Daughters of ChinaWild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the third time I've read this book and it's still amazing to me.  It is an amazing education in the events in 20th century China.  I think the author does a great job of explaining it all using outsider's eyes.  The story is an amazing narrative, even if difficult to comprehend the level of hardship.  Should be required reading.

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