Excuses and Books FIFTEEN THROUGH EIGHTEEN.

Hello there! For the masses reading this blog who have noticed my recent hiatus (I joke, I joke), it's been a wonderfully busy few weeks. But busyness took over, and as much as I thought, I should post, it just didn't happen. Instead, I was finishing up a creative writing course online through Stanford University Continuing Studies (I loved it and only wish I'd made more time to read/write for it), visiting friends and watching things burn in the city of Valencia at the annual festival known as Las Fallas during an extra-long weekend break (post coming soon), and spending ten days in central Europe visiting Munich (again!), Salzburg, Bratislava (and Trnava, where I studied in college), and Prague. Whew. That was a long sentence. 

More on our trips later, but I'll leave you with a couple of photos for the moment. Come back later for more about our little journey to the heart of Europe.

Prague, Czech Republic at night. Yes, it is as beautiful as it looks!

Prague, Czech Republic at night. Yes, it is as beautiful as it looks!

There were signs of spring even though it was COLD and SNOWING or raining for a majority of the trip...

There were signs of spring even though it was COLD and SNOWING or raining for a majority of the trip...

No trip is complete without a goat sighting. #thankgoodnessforgoats

No trip is complete without a goat sighting. #thankgoodnessforgoats

I've also been continuing to read (and buy books every time I wander into an English bookstore, it seems...), so here are the latest titles that have been on my bookshelf:

BOOK FIFTEEN: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling. AH--I finished the HP series! If you are a hater, stop hating and start reading. If you know and love the series, then I believe I have now joined your ranks. I was very attached to the characters, and there were a couple of times in the last two books that I was nearly in tears. So, so good.

BOOK SIXTEEN: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. OK, so I'll admit that I judged a book by its title on this one. I'd heard of the book and something about the title (maybe the title mixed with the cover?) made me think it would be a silly book. But it wasn't. It was a sweetly written story about a girl who escapes her past and comes to terms with it. The thing I loved most about this books was the voice of the main character, who was also the narrator. I laughed out loud a few times. Favorite quote: "Stories have to be told or they die, and when they die, we can't remember who we are or why we're here."

BOOK SEVENTEEN: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Once I got into the book's style of magical realism--I don't think that's what I was expecting at first--I really enjoyed it. It was a fun read, imaginative and mysterious, light-hearted at times and serious at others. It's a story of no ordinary circus.

BOOK EIGHTEEN: 11.22.63 by Stephen King. For years, I have seen Stephen King's books at the bookstore and mistakenly thought, Ugh, trashy literature. I think I assumed that because the man had written so many books, they must be equivalent to romance books sold by the newspapers at Publix, churned out one after another with little substance. But how wrong I was, because he is a great writer. I flew through this book in a week and had a hard time putting it down. It deals with time travel related to the shooting of J.F.K., and poses questions about how we could change the past for the better--or the worse--by going back in time. Favorite quote: "For a moment everything was clear, and when that happens you see that the world is barely there at all. Don't we all secretly know this? It's a perfectly balanced mechanism of shouts and echoes pretending to be wheels and cogs, a dreamlike chiming beneath a mystery-glass we call life. Behind it? Below and around it? Chaos, storms. Men with hammers, men with knives, men with guns. Women who twist what they cannot dominate and belittle what they cannot understand. A universe of horror and loss surrounding a single lighted stage where mortals dance in defiance of the dark." (Not sure how much I agree with the theology of that statement, but it's beautifully written, is it not?!)