April 2021, readathon

The Battle of the Grid: Humanity’s Real Power Struggle

By Melissa Roe 

Greetings Readers, 

I hope everyone is safe and healthy, and preparing those stacks for the next Dewy’s Readathon on the 24th. I’ve almost completed mine, and looking forward to seeing you guys there!

How do you usually read these days? Do you plug into the Audible app on your commute to work, the gym or to run errands? Do you read them with a Kindle or any other electronic reading device? Or, do you actually pick up a physical paper or hard-cover book? Say it isn’t so! 

Well, no matter how you read, you’re hopefully enjoying the hours of scrolling and page turning for the readathon and beyond. For me, I used to read my books in Braille since I’m totally blind, but all of my books are in audio or E-text, so I can’t exactly go off the grid when I read. In almost every area of my apartment there is a computer, phone or tablet available for me to read or jot down notes. I’m thankful for the technology that has granted me an independent and fulfilling life, but it’s my only way of staying informed. This can become frustrating at times when we go on vacation and people can’t seem to understand why I can’t fully disconnect like they can. I’m also spreading my wings as a creative writer, and when I turn to writers for advice, I sometimes get, “Disconnect, and take time to reflect. Go off the grid for a while. Take a journal to a park or into the woods and just write.” No matter how much walking or self-reflecting I do, I’ll eventually find that this journaling thing requires me to be tethered to an outlet. 

The corona virus has had a deeper impact, more than just the tragic loss of countless lives. Quarantined inside our homes, we turned to our beloved devices as our only link to the outside world. While the video calls to loved ones were precious and needed more than we could say, the internet also bombarded us with news about rising case numbers and political chaos. This made me increasingly depressed. Here I was just trying to keep up with friends and family, and I get a story that pops up on my screen about people refusing to wear a mask and causing a riot at a store. I know I wasn’t alone in that sentiment however. I imagine you probably were feeling the same way, overwhelmed, frustrated, maybe even crazy at times. Imagine what this pandemic would be like if we were in the 50’s. We wouldn’t be able to attend work meetings from our couch, the television would only have a few channels, and the only reading material available was the Bible along with a few dogeared books from the attic. A quarantine under those circumstances would have driven me insane, which brings up the question, are we relying on our machines too much? 

The struggle to maintain a balanced lifestyle has become increasingly difficult, so who really has the power now? I know of two people in my life who lie on either end of the spectrum, and both of them drive me crazy. One friend is who I call the conspiracy theorist, insisting that the government is using machines to control our minds, and that there could even be microchips in the covid vaccines. On the other hand, another friend responds to her phones notifications the minute they come in, and doesn’t think to put down her phone and join the rest of human civilization. It’s important to remember that no matter how much we love or hate our machines, they all are a reminder of the genius of the incredible human mind. Humans invented these machines, and it is our individual choice to use them or not. 

What about the tasks these machines are allowed to perform? As someone with a disability, I can benefit from new technology, but when do we draw the line? I’m perfectly content with a computer reading the latest best seller to me, but how about a sighted guide robot? Basically, sighted guide refers to a technique in which a blind person holds the elbow of a sighted person, and walks beside them, or behind them sometimes in congested environments. For decades, this usually only required a human with a working pair of eyeballs who also could make the blind person aware of approaching steps or other obstacles. Malls and stores, for example, are more crowded than ever, and severely understaffed. On one hand, I’m trying to keep an open mind and view these robots as just another invention designed to help those who want to be more independent. Going shopping usually requires me to ask for assistance, and when there is none available, I become frustrated because I can’t complete a rather simple task. Having a robot handy would certainly alleviate this problem, but I also don’t feel comfortable putting my life in the hands of a robot. If more jobs keep getting allotted to machines, however, I may not have a choice in the near future. If they’re safe and effective, then I’ll give it a go. Let’s just hope he or she has the decency to learn human conversation. 🙂 

If you’re curious to read more because you know someone who is blind, or you like reading about cool tech, then 

this paper

Details a collaborative university effort to design and study the efficacy of building service robots for blind people. I love the concept and think it could be extremely helpful, but at what price? 

Let’s talk about one of the most basic, but beautiful tasks performed by human beings, raising children. Do you think robots are capable of this? I know when I was a little girl, I thought it would be cool to have robotic parents. Of course, as a child I didn’t understand the concepts of honesty, charity and love, but I know them now thanks to the loving guidance of human parents. If we could code computers to solve insurmountable equations, then can we teach robots to perform such a vital, thankless task? 

We wouldn’t be getting ready for the readathon if I didn’t give you a couple of book recommendations. The first is a collection of short stories written by Ray Bradbury, one of them entitled “I Sing The Body Electric”. You can find this collection 

(https://www.amazon.com/Sing-Body-Electric-Other-Stories/dp/0380789620)here on Amazon.

This is also a title of a poem written by Walt Whitman, and an episode of The Twilight Zone, which also happens to be written by Ray Bradbury. His stories are great reads, but it is the Twilight Zone episode I’m currently interested in. In the episode, a busy single father struggles to raise his children after the death of his wife. In order to provide a maternal role model in his children’s lives, he. Gets a robotic grandmother to help look after the children, but not all of them accept her so readily. His daughter Anne does everything she can to avoid this new robotic grandmother, yet behind her blatant rejection is a hidden source of pain that gets resolved in an unusual way. I’m not going to spoil the episode for you. You simply must watch it. I’m the same way about books. I don’t like to give book spoilers away, and I don’t like receiving them. I’d rather read and be pleasantly surprised. 

Recently, I came across another book, “The Mother Code” written by Carole Stivers. 

(https://www.amazon.com/Mother-Code-Carole-Stivers/dp/1984806920)Here it is on Amazon.

When a biohazzard agent is released into the atmosphere, the human race slowly begins to die off. A group of scientists, in a desperate effort to save humanity, create robots that will not only raise children, but actually give birth to them. The embryos would be housed in an egg-like incubation system inside the robot, and they would be genetically engineered to be immune to the deadly virus. This book is an excellent read, and I love watching the impossible become possible through the power of fiction. 

As you read, I encourage you to enjoy the suspension of disbelief, but to also think about where you believe the boundaries of possibility should lie. Do you believe robots should be allowed to do anything we program them to do, or should some tasks be left to those with a loving soul? Should we put ourselves in the trust of machines to save us, or remind our future generations of the real reason for survival, a love and dependence on one another, and the flame of hope that guides us to our fullest potential? Where should the power of machines be harnessed, and where should we cut back? 

Finally, I want to wish you a happy Spring, and thank you for taking the time to read this. Happy reading, and be blessed. 

From Melissa Roe and Guide Dog Zappa 

April 2021

Dear readathon people,

My name is Cindy, I’m a Swedish-speaking Finn with two native languages and English is my third language. I have often tried to read books in the original language, the language they were written in. My Dad has influenced me a bit in this, he also enjoys books in many languages. This might be my fifth year of participating in Dewey’s readathon. I’m excited and happy! My TBR usually is very flexible but I will try to read at least a little of a few books I’ve started before. Those include: Loiri by Jari Tervo (Finnish) It’s a book about a great singer and actor: Vesa-Matti Loiri, Die Unendliche Geschichte  (The neverending story) by Michael Ende (German), Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (English) and two books in Swedish by Maria Gripe: Agnes Cecilia (a kind of a ghost-story) and Tordyveln flyger i skymningen (it has not been translated into English but it means “The beetle flies at twilight”). I have read Die Unendliche Geschichte before, in Swedish and Finnish and Tordyveln flyger i skymningen is also a re-read. I have the audiobook in German to Die Unendliche Geschichte and am hosting a book club meeting with my friends later about it. I am not so perfect in German but I understand better than I speak and write. 

I was blessed to be adopted into a family with two languages when I was 3 months old and so I have become bilingual. When I graduated from school at 20 I moved to Stockholm, Sweden and studied English and Finnish at the University of Stockholm on/off for almost 12 years. Now I live in Finland again, i am on early retirement but I blog a lot, mostly in English. 

The purpose of this post is to recommend a few of my favorite books from Finland, Sweden and Norway. (I haven’t read a Danish or Icelandic book yet, sorry!). 

My most favorite book written in Finnish is probably “Sinuhe egyptiläinen” (Sinuhe the Egyptian) by Mika Waltari. I was “forced” to read this in senior high school, and I fell in love with it. It is about exiled Sinuhe, writing the story of his life. Starting at his birth and ending where he is right now. It’s an epic historical fiction, I love it because it has so many interesting things happening, a love story and is just very good. 

My most favorite Swedish book would maybe be “Låt den rätte komma in” that is “Let me in” by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It’s horror, I read it back in 2004 for the first time, I couldn’t put it down! I loved it because it was just sooo gruesome and scary. It took place near where I lived in Stockholm, too, so it felt close There were two movie adaptions made: one in Sweden and one in the USA. They’re both pretty okay, but I prefer the one made in Sweden.

I have only read two books from Norway, both in Swedish, because I haven’t studied it enough yet. Both are my favorites. The first I read was “Sofies värld” That is “Sophie’s world” – a book about philosophy by Jostein Gaarder. It’s so good. It has mystery, it’s maybe middle-grade, I read it when I was 15. It teaches a lot about philosophy. It’s a little on the “heavy” side, since there is so much information but I still really recommend it.  

The second book from Norway I’ve read is “Det som er mitt” in English: “What is mine” by Anne Holt. It is a thriller. It is just so exciting, I couldn’t stop reading it, I read it in a few hours while on vacation in Gran Canaria. It’s a mystery thriller about a kidnapper. I recommend it. 

Me trying to choose my TBR books is an ever ongoing inner struggle and debate by myself. I will continue with Washington Black at least, it’s by a Canadian author It is about a slave who is invited to help his master’s brother in his scientific endeavours. It is so well written and I might finish it before the readathon lol. It takes place in Barbados and all over the world. I love it. The neverending story is a kind of fairytale about Bastian who discovers a book and is immersed in the universe of Fantasia. It’s one of my favorites from my youth. Vesa-Matti Loiri is a very well-loved and esteemed singer and actor from Finland He is charismatic and very interesting. The book by Jari Tervo is a book about Loiri’s life. I also have it as an audiobook. Agnes Cecilia is a ghost story about a girl that moves into a new home with her family and strange things are happening…. Then Tordyveln flyger i skymningen is a mystery middle-grade book, which I have read before but remember almost nothing of. There were some mystical phone calls and a tape recorder, that’s all I remember. 

Good luck with the readathon! i hope you decide to pick some literature from the Nordic countries! 

My blog can be found at 


And my bookstagram is:

April 2021

10 of My Favorite Things to Find in Secondhand Books by Amanda Lockwood

10 of My Favorite Things to Find in Secondhand Books by Amanda Lockwood

As far as I can tell there are two main groups of book lovers. Those who prefer pristine new books and those who prefer second hand copies. I fall into the latter category. One of my favorite things is to find notes and hidden surprises in books. I’ve found a number of interesting things. Here is a list of my 10 favorite things I’ve found in second hand books –

  1. Photographs from top to bottom pressed plant in note next to illustration in Gray’s Lessons in Botany and Vegetable Physiology published 1881; pressed plant found in the index of The Dispensatory by George B. Wood and Franklin Bache published 1873; plant matter in Dominicalia & Festivalia Evangelia, Graeco-Latina printed 1687.
  1. Photographs from top to bottom inscription in Green Lantern Sleepers Book Two by Christopher J. Priest and Michael Ahn; dedication in book of hymns; inscription to me in a used copy of Someplace to be Flying by Charles De Lint.

  1. Photographs from top to bottom note next to illustration in Gray’s Lessons in Botany and Vegetable Physiology published 1881; notes on illustration plate from Neill on the Arteries published 1845; translation notes in Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Primer Ninth Edition revised by Norman Davis.

  1. Photographs from top to bottom crossed out names and ex libris stickers/stamps in Dominicalia & Festivalia Evangelia, Graeco-Latina printed 1687; name and date in a pocket bible published by William Rutter & Co; names and dates of medical students from Neill on the Arteries published 1845.

  1. Newspaper clippings – to date I’ve only found one of these. I’m still very excited about it though I don’t know which side the original owner was interested in. Photographs two sides of newspaper clipping found in Dispensatory by George B. Wood and Franklin Bache published 1873.

  1. Recipes – these always remind me of an old cookbook my mother has. Though the ones in my library all come from the Dispensatory. Photograph personalized recipes for prescriptions found in Dispensatory by George B. Wood and Franklin Bache published 1873.

  1. Photographs from top to bottom drawing by artist Steve Lieber on title page of White Out Volume II; cat drawing by artist Benjamin Dewey on title page of I Was the Cat; drawing of unknown subject on pages of Gray’s Lessons in Botany and Vegetable Physiology published 1881.

  1. Photographs from top to bottom grocery list and receipt in The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson; cryptic note in Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams; original New Hampshire purchase receipt for The Foxfire Book from a copy I purchased in Portland, OR.

  1. Photographs from top to bottom advertisements for dictionaries and microscopes in Gray’s Lessons in Botany and Vegetable Physiology published 1881; promotional giveaway dictionary from Wolbach & Brach in Hasting Nebraska.

  1. Photographs from top to bottom dog eared page in book of hymns (title page missing, signature in front of books dated 1859); dog eared page in The Dragons of Eden by Carl Sagan.
April 2021, readathon

Warm- Up Post: Feel-Good and Escapist Books for the Readathon or Just Because

Hi everyone, it’s Katherine from Just Katherine https://justkatherineblog.wordpress.com. Find me on Twitter·@theglitzqueen Pinterest @silverfairy81 Instagram @purplestar81 and Goodreads.

Another Readathon is coming up and right now feel-good and escapist books are essential. I want to share some of my recommendations with you.

My favourites from other years are:

The Beachside Sweet Shop and The Beachside Flower Stall by Karen Clarke
Finding Henry Applebee by Celia Reynolds
Any book by Darcie Boleyn
Eudora Honeysett is Quite Fine Thank You by Annie Lyons (titled The Brilliant Life of Euudora Honeysett in the US). 
Any book by Mandy Baggot, including her 2021 novel, Staying Out for the Summer. 
Any book by T.A. Williams 
Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde 
Where The Heart Is by Billie Letts
A Very Lucky Christmas by Lilac Mills 
That Long Lost Summer by Minna Howard 
The Vets at Hope Green and The Pets at Primrose Cottage by Sheila Norton 
Cloud Bay series by Emma Douglas
The Postcard by Fern Britton 
The Note, The Postcard and any book by Zoë Folbigg
What If? by Shari Low
Any book by Samantha Tonge 
Sun Sea and Sangria by Victoria Cooke 
The Grace Kelly Dress by Brenda Janowitz 
Alaskan Christmas Redemption by Belle Calhoune 
The Woolly Hat Knitting Club by Poppy Dolan
Any book by Nicholas Sparks but in particular The Notebook 
Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. 

Of the books I have reviewed this year, my favourite feel-good and escapist books are: 

Summer in Andalucia by Lucy Coleman. 
Chasing the Sun by Julie Leigh
What Now by Shari Low
Finding Love at Mermaid Terrace by Kate Forster
The Juggle by Emma Murray
Dreaming under an Island Skye by Lisa Hobman
The Women Who Ran Away by Sheila O’ Flannagan
On the Road to Love by Melissa Baldwin. 

You can find more  general information about each book and buy links on Goodreads or on the publisher’s site. 

So far, all the books in this article apart from Pay It Forward, Practical Magic, Where The Heart Is and the Nicolas Sparks books are reviewed on my blog if they are from previous years and at the time of publishing of this post, Chasing the Sun and On the Road to Love are not yet on my blog but they wil be by the time of the Readathon. 

Have a great Readathon whatever you are reading or listening to. What books will you read or listen to this Readathon? What are you most looking forward to?

Find this post on my blog: https://justkatherineblog.wordpress.com/2021/04/05/feel-good-and-escapist-books-for-the-readathon-or-just-because/