Laurasjoquist's Blog

arts, crafts, photography, and joy

New Paintings-Finally



I will be showing new work at Gallery 317 for Rockford First Fridays in February.

Friday February 6th, 2015 will be a great night to hang out in downtown Rockford.  Eat local and shop local!  If you can’t make it Friday, my work will be up through the rest of the month.

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2013 Top 5 Books

I completed my goodreads book goal of 36 books for the year.  It was actually 38, and I will probably finish one more before the end of the year, but who’s counting…Oh, wait, I am.  I spent the second half of the year reading books for classes, so my list isn’t that exciting this year, but I will see what I can drag out of it.

1. Ishmael by Daniel Quinn-hands down the best book I read this year.  It was required reading for my Environmental Biology class and really put Western culture into words for me.  It is always nice to find a book that puts into words your own incoherent, internal musings.

2. The Walking Dead Compendiums 1 & 2 by Robert Kirkman- I know, we are all so over the whole zombie thing, right?  Except I’m not, it makes for good bonding with Jack. (Not that I would let Jack read these adult themed comics.) Sadly, as much as I enjoyed the books, the show is better.

3. I Am Half Sick of Shadows and Speaking From Among the Bones(Flavia de Luce Novels 4&5) by Alan Bradley- Murder, mystery, and chemistry. Need I say more?

4. Changes In the Land:Indians, Colonists and the Ecology of New England by William Cronon- I can’t tell you how many times I shelved this book in the many years I worked at the bookstore on campus.  I finally had to read it for a class of my own and of all the books I had to read, I liked this one the most.  I think the title it the best description.

And 5.  Tyrannosaurus Sue:The Extraordinary Saga of the Largest, Most Fought Over T-Rex Ever Found by Steven Fiffer- I enjoyed this book because: a)I have seen this T-Rex at the Field Museum in Chicago and b) I volunteer as a tour group docent at the Burpee Museum on Natural History here in Rockford.

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The Rum Diary book club discussion questions

My second attempt to come up with questions for the book club meeting.  We really need to pick a book with questions included next month.

Discussion Questions for The Rum Diary


Thompson chooses to start the novel with a prologue that introduces the reader to Al’s Bar.  Does this prologue offer information that is helpful to the over all plot of the book?  Would the novel be harder to read/understand without the prologue?

The Rum Diary appears to be a novel written by a young man for other young men.   Is it just an entertaining tale of adventure in a foreign land?   Or is it a warning, a caution against pinning your hopes on elusive dreams?

Does The Rum Diary have an actual plot?  Since it is labeled a “diary” does it actually need one to be successful?

Character Development

Why does Kemp go to Puerto Rico?  Do you think he finds what he was looking for there?

Despite being in his early twenties when writing the novel, much of The Rum Diary appears to be based around the Thompson’s fears of aging. This is portrayed most notably as Kemp wonders how his life’s experience has helped him as he sits around “trying to decide if I was getting older and wiser, or just plain old.”   Does Kemp come to terms with the way he has lived his life?  Is it significant that this novel wasn’t published until much later in the author’s life?

Discuss Kemp’s relationship with Yeamon. What impact does Yeamon have on Paul? Does Yeamon teach Paul anything, or is he simply a part of the story to cause trouble and or add entertainment value?  Do any of the other characters have anything of value to teach Kemp?

Thompson attempts to describe the bums, drunks, psychos, crooks, and dealers who in habited Puerto Rico in the 1950s.  Are the characters realistic or just caricatures?  Do the situations presented in the book seem plausible?

Politics and History

How does this novel (written but not published in the 1950s) illustrate the post war attitude of Americans’ towards developing ethnic cultures such as Puerto Rico?  Do the American characters in the book act jaded, superior or condescending towards the indigenous peoples?  Towards their fellow American tourists and developers?  If so, where do you think they fit (or feel they fit) in to the unfolding global dynamics of the 1950s?

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