May Book Photo Challenge: Day 4


Late for Day 4 of May’s book photo challenge: Favorite series.

This one is really hard, because I love so many–how can I pick just one series? But I had to go with Carol Berg’s Lighthouse Duet. Beautiful epic fantasy.

I could have gone with Patrick Rothfuss’ KINGKILLER CHRONICLES, or GRRM’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, or Jim Butcher’s DRESDEN FILES or CODEX ALERA, or any of Carol Berg’s other books (try THE BRIDGE OF D’ARNATH series). I just keep going back to these books. They make me happy.

May Book Photo Challenge: Day 3


Late, as usual. Challenge day three: quote.

THE FOREVER KING is the first fantasy book I remember reading on purpose. I was twelve, and I have loved King Arthur stories ever since.

“My king,” he whispered.
For a moment the field was utterly silent. Not a whisper of breeze, not the chirping of a single insect. It was the sound of time turning backward. And then, ringing across the rolling hills came Arthur’s command, rough with tears and pain and loss:
“To arms! Your king calls you to arms!”

May Book Photo Challenge: Day 2


Day two: bookshelf.

This is one of many in the house. Some of my favorite books are here, but not all. Every shelf is two books deep. I may not know what exactly is on each shelf, but I have a general idea where every book is.

May Book Photo Challenge: Day 1


May Book Photo Challenge

I’ll try to be good and post these on the right day (I posted this on Instagram on the right day, at least). Day 1: Introduce yourself.

I’m Jen, and I read a lot of books. I’m rereading Robin Hobb’s “Liveship Traders” series right now so I’m ready for her new book coming out this summer.

Cathedral of Stars


I’ve always loved looking up at the stars. I guess it’s odd that I never had a telescope.

Enjoy in full screen and let yourself marvel for a little while. I especially like the part where the radio telescopes look like they’re doing a little dance.

School Day


I just finished listening to a program on St. Louis’ NPR affiliate (@stlonair) where they talked about chronic absenteeism in public schools. The guests mentioned that most chronically absent students fall into three groups: The ones who can’t get to school (elder or family care keeps them away), those who won’t (kids who get bullied or feel unnoticed), and those who don’t (ones who feel like school isn’t for them). I listened and felt sad. I went to public school for all of my elementary and secondary education, and I always wanted to go to school (except for that bit in high school, but I think most people encounter mean folks at some point in their schooling, and mine wasn’t that bad). I can fully understand those who can’t make it to school, be it that they are helping care for family members, or they can’t find a ride, or they have to work to support their family. I understand those who feel the only way to avoid bullying is to just not show up. But school was always fun for me. I liked to learn. And I just wish that those who don’t want to go, who feel like they will never get anything out of education, that they would discover that one thing that makes school fun, whatever it is for them.

Of course, I realize that not everyone had the upbringing that I did–my parents cared about my education and did whatever they had to do to make sure I was doing well–and I was able to come home to a stable environment every night, and these are powerful tools in schooling. But what makes one person love learning, and another one shake it off? Sure there were boring days in history class, and trigonometry still gives me headaches. But for every unfathomable bit of esoteric and useless trivia I encountered, there was a new phrase in English class or a new artistic skill, or those silly clocks in Geometry class and the lathed chess pieces from Shop.

Education is so important. The folks on the program talked about the need for mentors, someone kids can go to if they have questions or to be the stable force to advocate for them. One of my biggest fears is that my future kid won’t want to read or learn, and there will be this great gap between what makes me indescribably happy and what makes him or her smile. I can only hope that I can be a mentor to my kid, and any that I come across. I benefited from my education, and I hope we as a culture can find a way to make sure that all kids enjoy (and are able to go to) school.

A horse, of course

Galloping Horse Lanterns #6

Galloping Horse Lanterns #6 (Photo credit: chooyutshing)

Gung hai fat choi! Welcome to the year of the horse!

Last night I conveniently remembered that I still have the t-shirt from the previous year of the Horse, in 2002. I participated in Wash U’s Chinese New Year Festival, singing the US national anthem with a fellow showchoir member, and presenting a fashion show of Chinese clothing. I wasn’t skinny enough to fit into any of the dresses, but I did get a nifty gold robe. And the t-shirt I’m wearing…bright red with a hand-drawn logo that wraps around to the back, where a horse leaps.

Hard to believe it’s been 12 years since I did that.

Anyway, the year of the Horse traditionally¬†an optimistic time, with opportunities for travel, surprises, and sudden victories, but it’s the year of the Wooden Horse, which could mean explosive events. I guess we’ll see…May your year be filled with happiness and optimism!

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