Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Wrap-Up


January just breezed by with some cold, and some very mild temperatures for us as well.  It seemed everyone around me had some sort of flu symptoms, but I guess my flu shot worked - I was healthy all month ...yay.  The highlight of January for me was finalizing the sale of my parents house which happened last week...finally. It wasn't hard to sell the house, it was just getting there and making the closing happen!  I think I'm still haunted by it all as last night I had a dream that I was at the house getting a few last items there and when I tried to get out, it was all boarded up and I couldn't get out -- yes a nightmare.

On the reading front it was a good month (14) books, and I enjoyed just about everything I read.
 (7) fiction books (2) were audio books; (5) non-fiction books and  (2) childrens books.
  1. Me and You; Niccolo Ammaniti - 4/5 (my shelves) (Jan-2013)
  2. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie; Ayana Mathis - 4/5  (eGalley) (Jan-2013)
  3. Let's Take the Long Way Home; Gail Caldwell - 5/5 (my shelves) (Jan-2013) (NF)
  4. Tyler Makes Pancakes; Tyler Florence and Craig - 3.5/5  (review) (Jan-2013) (kids)
  5. The Peace Book; Todd Parr - 4.5/5 (library) (Jan-2013) (kids)
  6. Hearthbroken; Lisa Unger - 2.5/5 (audio-library) (Jane-2013) 
  7. In the Woods; Tana French - 4/5 (my shelves) (Jan-2013)
  8. Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day - 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year; Kate McMillian - 4/5 (Jan-2013)
  9. The AARP New American Diet: Lose Weight, Live Longer: Secrets to Slender Longevity; Dr. John J. Whyte - 4/5 (eGalley) (Jan-2013)
  10. Naomi; Tanizaki - 4.5/5 (my shelves) (Jan-2013)
  11. The Good House; Ann Leary -  4.5/5 (review copy) (Jan-2013)
  12. Salad for Dinner: Simple Recipes for Salads That Make a Meal; Tasha DeSerio - 3.5/5 (eGalley) and softcover (Jan-2013)
  13. Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons;  Jeanne Kelley - 4.5/5 (library) (Jan-2013)
  14. The Forgotten; David Baldacci - 3.5/5 (library audio) (Jan-2013)
February Plans 

 
Jill at Fizzy Thoughts is hosting a February read-along of The Shining by Stephen King. Anyone can join in on Twitter (use hashtag #shineon) or comment on the blogs who are joining in.
Hope you all have a good February.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Forgotten; David Baldacci

Title: The Forgotten
Author: David Baldacci
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Hachette
Edition:  audio book

Source: library
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 3.5/5 
Recommend: ?


I always enjoy listening to a good thriller while driving and the blurb I read about David Baldacci's latest novel, The Forgotten seemed to intrigue me:

"In Paradise, nothing is what it seems."

Army Special Agent John Puller is a character that was introduced in Baldacci's earlier novel, Zero Day. He is a war veteran experience in combat and still works on tough cases for the US Army's Criminal Investigation Unit.

Puller's father suffers from dementia and now resides in a nursing facility. The senior Puller thinks his son is his former Executive Officer from back when he served in the military.  He shows his son a letter sent to him by his sister who resided in the wealthy, Gulf Coast community of Paradise, Florida. The letter states that things in Paradise are not as idyllic as they may appear to be.  Puller's dad sends him on a mission to check out what exactly she is referring to. Puller hasn't seen his aunt in a long while and feels bad about that so he decides to pay his aunt a visit.

Taking some leave time, he heads down to Paradise. Once he arrives, he learns that his aunt is dead.  The police have ruled her death accidental saying she must have slipped, fallen and then drowned in her backyard fountain. The fountain had just just 3" of water in it. Puller is convinced that his aunt's death was not an accident, and is determined to find out what happened to her.  He soon realizes that he is being followed and is determined to dig deeper. In the process he learns that a local couple was found dead on the beach and some children are missing. Did his aunt discover something that someone did not want anyone to know? Are local officials trying to hide something as well?


The audio book readers, Ron McLarty and Orlagh Cassidy were very good.
I hadn't read the earlier book when Puller made his debut, but it didn't seem to matter really. Most of the book held my interested, but certain parts seemed a bit far-fetched, and the ending was somewhat disappointing. Although there were some twists and turns along the way, the story ended up being just okay for my taste.

Waiting on Wednesday - The Silver Star; Jeanette Walls


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

I haven't participated in this weekly even in a while, but when I saw this one yesterday, I decided to share my "can't-wait-to-read" selection: The Silver Star; Jeanette Walls - June 2013 - Scribner.

(Amazon Description)
From one of the bestselling memoirists of all time, a stunning and heartbreaking novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world—a triumph of imagination and storytelling.

It is 1970. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister Liz is fifteen when their artistic mother Charlotte, a woman “who flees every place she’s ever lived at the first sign of trouble,” takes off to “find herself.” She leaves her girls enough money for food to last a month or two. But when Bean gets home from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz board a bus from California to Virginia, where their widowed Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying antebellum mansion that’s been in the family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean discovers who her father was and learns many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Money is tight, so Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town, a big man who bullies workers, tenants, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister, inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, non-conformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz in the car with Maddox.

The author of The Glass Castle, hyper-alert to abuse of adult power, has written a gorgeous, riveting, heartbreaking novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love the world despite its flaws and injustices.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros



Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (2) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.  Care to join us? Feel free to grab the image and link your post below. 

This week I'm featuring an intro from Walter's Muse by Jean Davies Okimoto.


"By the time Maggie heard the wail, she was convinced she'd really better check on Walter.  At first she hadn't been too concerned; the odd noise sounded a bit like the foghorn on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge only with a higher note, like a falsetto foghorn.  Maybe they'd been working on it and the horn had ended up with a higher pitch, maybe they installed some type of new fancy digital equipment.  Or would it be analog?  She got all that sort of thing mixed up and frankly didn't know the difference.  Then Maggie looked out at the water and realized this didn't make sense.  There wasn't any fog.  Not a trace or even a misty wisp.  A brisk wind rippled the surface of the cove, but the evening was perfectly clear with the sky the deepening blue of dusk and at least another hour 'til sunset.  Probably a boat horn somewhere had gotten stuck was more like it, she decided.  But as the wind picked up and Maggie listened more closely, the wail got louder and she knew that cry had to come from the lungs of a living creature.  Part wolf howl and part Bessie Smith bone-crushing blues, it completely unnerved her. And although she couldn't pinpoint the exact location, she was pretty sure it was coming from Walter's place, which unnerved her even more."

What do you think ? -- Would you keep reading?  (I have not started this one yet - but hope to later this week)

Please feel free to link below:



Monday, January 28, 2013

Mailbox Monday - January 28


Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share their new book acquisitions each week. January's host is Lori of Lori's Reading Corner. new books for the past (2) weeks:


Friday, January 25, 2013

Salad for Dinner (times 2)

(2) Reviews for (2) Cookbooks, both released in 2012 with almost identical titles: Salad for Dinner


Tasha DeSerio; Taunton Press (2012)
 
This book features sections on: Simple Salads; Leaf Salads; Veggie and Fruit Salads; Grain, Bread and Pasta salads and Legume Salads.  There are also recipes for different types of vinargrette dressings, page on metric equivalents (a plus) a section on kitchen tools and equipment to make things easier for you in the kitchen, and of course many good recipes I'll be anxious to try. 
 
Some of the recipes that I plan to try are:
  • Cannellini bean salad with grilled shrimp and cherry tomatoes (no photo)
  • Whole wheat pasta with roasted broccoli, black olive vinagrette and ricotta salata (photo)
  • Slow roasted salmon with beets, cucumber and horseradish vinagrette (no photo)
  • Frisee with seared scallops and blood oranges (photo)

It's a nice book - roughly 200 pages, but one I probably would borrow instead of buy. There are not enough photographs in this book, and as a visual person, it's a requirement for me when purchasing a cookbook.  The photos that are included are great -- it's just that there are not enough of them. (3.5/5 stars)

 
 (Hardcover - 2012 - Rizzoli International)
 
This cookbook is a beautiful hardcover, and the recipes looked very appealing as well.
 
The book is divided as: A Salad Primer: Glossary of Greens; Foraging for Salad; Washing and Storage; Growing Greens; The Salad Pantry - I found all of this information very informative and something I haven't seen in previous books - a big plus.
 
The Recipe Section was divided into sections: Vegetarian salads; Salads with fish and seafood; Salads with poultry; salads with meat and One Sweet Finish (a home made chocolate cream pie :)
 
Some of the recipes I marked off as ones I'd try were:
  • Seafood Stuffed Avocado dalad
  • Spinach salad with Grilled Shrimp and Peppers
  • Red Mustard and Bread Salad with Roasted Chicken
  • Grilled Chicken Caesar with Parmesan Crostini
  • Roasted Balsamic Chicken and Green Bean Salad
  • Steakhouse Salad
This book had about the same number of pages as the other cookbook by the same name, but lots more color photos -- a big plus for me.  There were also more recipes that I would be likely to try in this book, and I loved the way that meat and potatoes and other grains as well as nuts were worked into many of the recipes.  I would definitely BUY this one. Check it out! (4.5/5 stars)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Good House; Ann Leary


Title: The Good House
Author: Ann Leary
Publication Year: 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Edition:  review copy
Source: publisher
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes



Hildy Good, the story's protagonist, is a woman with her fair share of baggage.  She's 60, divorced, one of her descendants was hung during the famous Salem Witch Trials, and she is just out of rehab - pressured by her daughters to spend some time there to help her with her alcohol related issues.  She is also well known in her in her tight-knit coastal community on Boston's North Shore as a top-notch realtor in the area.  Hildy claims that her instincts about people come from her years of experience visiting their homes as part of her profession.....
 
"I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist could after a year of sessions. I remember joking about this one evening with Peter Newbold, the shrink who rents the office upstairs from mine."
 
" ' The next time you get a new patient,' I offered, 'I'll sneak to their house for a walk-through. While you jot down notes about their history, dreams, obsessions, whatever, I'll shine a flashlight into the attic, open a few cupboards, and have a peek at the bedrooms. Later, when we compare notes, I'll have the clearer picture of the person's mental health, guaranteed.' I was teasing the doctor, of course, but I've been selling houses since he was in primary school, and I stand by my theory."

When Rebecca McCallister a wealthy newcomer to the town, has moved into one of the mansions, she has trouble being accepted by the other women in the town. She thinks that moving there with her husband and two young sons may have been a mistake. Hildy befriends her and soon finds herself privy to a sensitive issue that she wishes she hadn't found out about.  Between some financial pressures, this newly discovered secret, and getting herself reacquainted with her first love, who is now the the town's garbage man/Mr. Fix-it, Hildy not only feels the pressure mounting, but also her old friend "the bottle" calling her name. One thing is for sure, life for Hildy is anything but dull in this small New England town.

This book was just the type of lighter read I needed this past weekend.  It's a book that made me smile all the while I read it.  Hildy and the townspeople are characters you'll fall in love with (well maybe not all of them).  Treat yourself and spend a few hours with The Good House;  I think you'll be glad that you did.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Naomi; Junichiro Tanizaki


Title: Naomi
Author: Junichiro Tanizaki
Publication Year: 1924
Publisher: Vintage - 2001
Edition: Trade 

Source: my shelves
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 4.5/5 
Recommend: yes


Naomi, translated from the Japanese was an entertaining read. I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading this one, but by the time I was finished I had a big smile on my face.
 
The story takes place in 1920's Tokyo, where Naomi, a 15 year-old from a poor background  works as a waitress at the Diamond Cafe. She is an attractive girl with "Eurasian" features.  When Joji, a 28-year old Engineer, first sets eyes on her, he thinks she is beautiful, and before long he becomes obsessed with her.  He thinks she has the perfect blend of eastern and Western features and a beautiful if not somewhat unusual name.  Joji in contrast is nothing to look at, he's short, has "bad teeth" and is socially inept.
 
Initially Joji sees himself as a father figure for Naomi, but deep down thinks he can transform her into the perfect Western woman.  She comes to live with him and initially does some household chores for him. He tries to teach her English and even pays for her to take music lessons. She isn't very good at either, but he still has hopes of molding her into the perfect woman, and then making her his perfect, beautiful wife.
 
They do marry, but it isn't long before Joji's plan backfire. Naomi soon begins to take total control over him. She becomes manipulative, spends more money than he makes, and quite plainly does what she wants to do and sees who she wants to see including other men. She makes a fool out of Joji.
 
Joji the protagonist of this story is really a pathetic man who has lost all respect. Even when he tells Naomi to move out, he finds he misses her and, she knows what cords to pull to keep him interested in her, and finds reason after reason to return to the house when he is there. Having lost all self-respect, Joji feels like he has to put up with Naomi calling the shots.
 
I really liked this story and it packs a punch for a short book -- about 250 pages or so, and it made me chuckle at times as well. I found Naomi to be almost a cautionary tale about what can happen when you try to make someone into the type of person you want them to be. I think we all know that it rarely works and the person, in most cases, just resents the other person for having tried.
 
It's a great read - Try it!

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (2) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.  Care to join us? Feel free to grab the image and link your post below. 

This week I'm featuring an intro from a New York review Book, The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne, by Brian Moore. It was first published back in 1955.


"The first thing Miss Judith Hearne unpacked in her new lodgings was the silver-framed photograph of her aunt.  The place for her aunt, ever since the sad day of the funeral, was on the mantelpiece of whatever bed-sitting-room Miss Hearne happened to be living in. And as she put her up now, the photograph eyes were stern and questioning, sharing Miss Hearne's own misgivings about the condition of the bed springs, the shabbiness of the furniture and the run-down part of Belfast in which the room was situated."

What do you think ? -- Would you keep reading?  

Please feel free to link below:


 

Monday, January 21, 2013

AARP New American Diet: Lose Weight, Live Longer; John Whyte, MD


Title: AARP New American Diet; John Whyte, MD
Author:  John Whyte, MD
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Wiley
Edition: eGalley

Source: Net Galley
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes


Every January you can count on me checking out at least one healthy eating or weight loss book, and there are certainly plenty of these books out there to choose from.  As a baby boomer, this new book seemed like a wise choice.

Although I enjoyed this book, I have to admit that there wasn't much in the way of new information.  I think we all know, as the book suggests, we should: limit eating out, choose healthy snacks like nuts, baby carrots and low fat dairy choices.  Also, eat more fish instead of red meat and fill up on fruit, veggies and whole grains. It is sensible eating, not eliminating everything that we like that makes a weight loss program work.  

There are some chapters on diet, exercise and disease as well a chapter about emotional eating and cravings that I enjoyed.  I did like that there were some good menu plans to follow for either 7, 14, 21 days or even for an entire month.  There is also a section with questions and answers about certain foods and beverages like coffee, soda, processed foods and meats, but again, much was familiar.  I do plan on trying a few of the recipes provided which includes soups, side dishes and even some main dishes.  One thing that I did notice is that with a few of the recipes the portion side seems inaccurate so I will use my judgment if that seems to be an issue with one of the recipes I select.

As with most weight loss books, the goal with this book is make the plan work for you and your lifestyle, with the goal of long term healthy eating to minimize our risk for cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure etc. I think most of us know what we need to do, it's doing it that is the hard part.  

I liked this one well enough, but you might want to browse a copy at your local bookstore or library to see whether it's for you.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Williams Sonoma Soup of the Day: 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year



Kate McMillan (Author), Erin Kunkel (Photographer) (Wendel Owen Publishing - 2012)
 
I've rarely been disappointed by a Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. We are a soup-loving family so I couldn't resist checking this one out.  It is both lovely and well designed with a calendar-style with loads of recipes soups and stews for every season  and every day of the week -- 365 recipes.
 
There are lots of great recipes that should please vegetarians and meat lovers alike. All the bases are covered in this book. At least 3/4 of the recipes are ones that I would consider preparing, although a few seemed like ones that I might like to add more spices to based on my family's taste. 
 
The color photographs are gorgeous, but there were not enough of them, in my opinion. There were a few minor things that I did not like about the book:
  • Some recipes like the ones for pureed soups require a food processor
  • As a visual person, I would have preferred more photographs, and the photos should have corresponding text to tell you what recipe is being displayed.
  • The print is also very very tiny (at least for my eyes), so for readers who may be visually impaired, and are still interested in this book, that might be an issue. If available,  I would recommend an eBook version so you can enlarge the print to a size that is comfortable for your eyes.
Some of the recipes that I plan to try include:
  • Savory Barley Soup with Wild Mushroom and Thyme
  • Cauliflower Soup with Cheddar and Blue Cheese
  • Shrimp Bisque
  • Broccoli Soup with Parmesan Lemon Frico
  • Orzo, Delicate Squash and Chicken Soup with Sage
  • Chickpea and Roasted Tomato Soup with Fried Rosemary
 Other than the few things I've mentioned, this is a beautiful book to add to any collection.
 
Rating 4/5 stars

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

In the Woods, Tana French


Title: In the Woods
Author:  Tana French
Publication Year: 2008
Publisher: Penguin Books
Edition: Trade
Source: my shelves (courtesy of Jenners)
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes



Most have raved about this book,  yet others were left disappointed by the way it ended.  I went into this one knowing that I would not see closure, and because of that I did think this book was very well done.

At the onset we know that something happened "In the Woods", in the Dublin neighborhood of Knocknaree, 25 years early to Rob Ryan and his little friends Peter and Jamie when they were about 12.  Rob (Adam) was found with blood on his shoes and clinging to a tree, unable to recall what happened. His friends were never found. 

Now 25 years later Rob is a detective for the Dublin Murder Squad. He and his partner Cassie Maddox are investigating a new case missing child case which turns into a homicide. The 12 year old victim was Katy Devlin who was found in the same woods where something terrible happened to Rob and his friends years earlier.  Rob's past is unknown to his coworkers (except for Cassie).  The case feels very similar to him and in the process of the investigation, vague memories of that day begin to surface.

As Rob and Cassie work through the case, their relationship heats up as well. Their relationship seemed very realistic and I loved the witty exchanges between the pair.  It's one of those relationships that I found myself rooting for the pair.  Despite their relationship Cassie begins to have her doubts about her partner.  Are Rob's dreams and flashbacks a key to those lost memories or are they alcohol induced?   What really happened, "In the Woods" to Rob and his friends? That is what readers will hope to learn, but this is one book that doesn't wrap everything up in a neat little bow. 

There is a lot to like about this story. It's a very atmospheric psychological thriller that will have readers anxiously turning the pages.  The writing is addictive and at times even funny.  I love flawed characters flawed and Rob fits the bill. He is key to the story. I found myself constantly trying to get inside his head to determine what was real and what was imagined or embellished -- early on in the first few pages Rob tells the reader [ he craves the truth and....he lies]

This story should appeal to readers who enjoy dark stories and stories with secrets, truths and lies.  Readers that like all the missing pieces to fit when they finish a book might me disappointed. Despite that I do recommend this first in a series.  I'm looking forward to the Likeness (book #2 in the series)

Heartbroken; Lisa Unger


Title: Heartbroken
Author:  Lisa Unger
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher:  Books on Tape - Crown
Edition: Audio

Reader: Amanda Carlin (very good)
Source: Library
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 2.5/5 
Recommend: no


Lisa Unger's latest novel, Heartbroken, is part psychological suspense, part ghost story and also multi-generational in nature.  It's a story about (3) flawed women whose lives converge in unexpected ways during one fateful summer.

The women in this story are 75 year old Birdie Burke, a cold, bitter woman who thinks she may be seeing ghosts on Heart Island. Heart Island has been in Birdie's family for years and years.  Birdie lives an isolated life and because of her harshness, some family members no longer visit her each summer on the remote island, a place accessible only by boat in the middle of a lake in the Adirondacks.

Emily, is a young woman with potential who drops out of college. She has always felt something was missing in her life Searching for what was missing from her life, she lets her loser boyfriend Dean control her. In the process she finds herself in one bad situation after another and ends up hurting people who cared about her. She retreats to Heart Island where things only get worse.

 Kate, is Birdie's daughter, a woman and mother who was raised to believe she'd never do anything with her life, yet still has a desire to please her miserable mother Birdie. Kate, using the journals left behind by her aunt and grandmother has written a novel that sheds light on buried secrets of the family's past. Secrets which help the reader to understand in part why Birdie is the way she is.  While other family members have stopped their summer retreats to visit Birdie on the island, because they find her unbearable, Kate, in an effort to please her mother, continues to visit more out of sense of duty. This particular summer, she takes her daughter and a friend. They arrive around the same time as Emily turns up there and before long things spiral out of control.

Although I typically enjoy stories with flawed characters and dysfunctional relationships, this novel did not work for me.These women just couldn't get out of their own way and made their own misery. None of the characters, even the minor ones were sympathetic. Although the reader and story initially drew me in, by the 1/2 way point, I could not wait to be done with this one. The audio book reader, Amanda Carlin was very good, but by listening rather than reading, I found parts of the story a bit confusing, but with patience and careful listening, it was easy enough to figure out. I do recommend trying this author's earlier books. Beautiful Lies, Sliver of Truth, Black Out, Die for You. I have read all of them enjoyed them.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (2) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.  Care to join us? Feel free to grab the image and link your post below.

This week I'm featuring an intro from an advance reader copy I received from St. Martin's Press. It is called The Good House by Ann Leary and is a January 2013 release. (I haven't started it yet, but plan to later this week.)


"I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist could after a year of sessions.  I remember joking about this one evening with Peter Newbold, the shrink who rents the office upstairs from mine."

" ' The next time you get a new patient,' I offered, 'I'll sneak to their house for a walk-through.  While you jot down notes about their history, dreams, obsessions, whatever, I'll shine a flashlight into the attic, open a few cupboards, and have a peek at the bedrooms.  Later, when we compare notes, I'll have the clearer picture of the person's mental health, guaranteed.' I was teasing the doctor, of course, but I've been selling houses since he was in primary school, and I stand by my theory."

What do you think ? -- Would you keep reading?  

Please feel free to link below:


 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mailbox Monday - January 14th


Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share their new book acquisitions each week. January's host is Lori of Lori's Reading Corner.



(3) books arrived by mail last week - all seem good to me. Have you read any of them?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Snapshot - January 12th

Saturday Snapshot

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.  



 The buttons still need to put attached, but here is a new sweater design by my daughter for my granddaughter. She did a beautiful job and I just love it and the earthy colors.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Tyler Makes Pancakes; Florence and Frazier and The Peace Book; Todd Parr


Food Network chef Tyler Florence and Illustrator Craig Fazier team up in this cute book.  Tyler, is a little boy who dream of pancakes when he wakes up he decides to surprise his parents with pancakes for breakfast and heads out on his bike with his dog Tofu. [ hmm.... young child heading out on bike while parents sleep to buy ingredients for pancakes??]

Mr. Jones from the local market gives Tyler an education as to where all the ingredients for pancakes come from -- eggs, wheat, butter, milk, maple syrup etc, [ this aspect of the book was well done and informative for young children]

When Tyler returns home he gets a little help in preparing breakfast for his parents and all sit down to enjoy a tall tall stack of pancakes.

My Thoughts - Well from the cover of this book, one would think a cute kids book for very young  preschoolers, but the story, although well done left me feeling iffy about a young child heading off too the store on a bike while parents sleep, using the stove to cook pancakes? Perhaps the real audience might be 6-8 year range.  The illustrations are a bit simplistic, and not all that colorful, but it was very informative for children to learn where our food comes from.  In the end, I probably would not buy this book, but suggest borrowing it from the library instead. - 3.5/5 stars

(2009 - Little Brown & Company)

Todd Parr's books for children embrace diversity and teach children at an early age that it is okay to be "different".   "Peace" a concept which might be a little more difficult to explain to very young children is explained in an easy to understand way. From keeping the streets clean, our water clean for the fish, planting trees and giving shoes to those who need them, giving a hug and learning to say you are sorry when you hurt someone, as well as many other illustrated examples of "peace".  

My Thoughts - The message is "Peace" is being different, feeling good about yourself, helping others to in turn making the world a better place because of your actions. Illustrated with a quirky multicultural mix of blue, green, brown, yellow, and purple faces, that children will love, it's a picture book with simple words that will help young children better understand the concept of peace, love and differences. - 4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Let's Take the Long Way Home; Gail Caldwell



Title: Let's Take the Long Way Home: A Memoir of Friendship
Author:  Gail Caldwell
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher:  Random House
Edition: Trade
Source: my shelves 
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 5/5 
Recommend: yes


Gail Caldwell's, Let's Take the Long Way Home, is not just another memoir. It's a beautiful written piece about friendship, love and loss.  It's about (2) women, friends for just (6) years, but who had so very much in common. Two women who knew much more about each other than any other person in their lives.

Both writers, the author Gail Caldwell, grew up in Texas but moved to Cambridge, MA, and worked as a book review editor for the Boston Globe.  Caroline Knapp, grew up in Boston and also lived in Cambridge. She worked as an editor for the Boston Phoenix when she and Gail became friends.  Together they shared a love for the outdoors, physical activity and dogs. Privately, they won their battles with alcoholism, and each craved solitude at times as well.

Caldwell, (9) years older than Knapp, writes in a way that most readers will relate to. By the time we get to a certain age, most of us have lost a person or a pet we have loved and have had to deal with intense emotional grief.  However,  I suspect fewer of us have lost a person who knew your every secret and your every fear. This is the kind of intense friendship that Gail and Caroline shared in just (6) years that they were friends.

Over long walks with their dogs, often "taking the long way home", rowing expeditions, and deep private conversations, these two women shared something that many may never experience in a lifetime.  But in just a few months that was about to change. In June of 2002, just (7) weeks after learning she had stage IV lung cancer, Caroline Knapp passed away at the age of 42, and Gail was left to cope with her overwhelming sense of grief and loss.

There were so many passages that made me stop and reflect and reread.  I rarely write in books, but my copy has stars and stripes throughout. Here are some of the passages I loved: 

[p.13]
"Finding Caroline was like placing a personal ad for an imaginary friend, then having her show up at your door funnier and better than you had conceived ---Apart, we had each been frightened drunks and aspiring writers and dog lovers; together we became a small corporation.

---------------------------------
[p.107]
"But as much as I complained about solitude, I also required it.  I put a high price on my freedom from obligation, of having to report to no one....The truth was that I had always fled. The men I didn't marry, the relationships I walked away from or only half-heartedly engaged in -- there were always well-lit exits, according to building code, in every edifice I helped create."

[p123]
IT'S TAKEN YEARS FOR ME TO UNDERSTAND THAT dying doesn't end the story; it transforms it.  Edits, rewrites, the blur and epiphany of one-way dialogue. Most of us wander in and out of one anothers lives until not death, but distance, does as part-time and space the heart's weariness are the blander executioners of human connection."

[p.163]
"I had a friend who years before had lost her firstborn when he was an infant, and she told me one of the most piercing consolations she received in her early grief was from a man who recognized the fierce loyalty one feels to the dead. 'The real hell of this,' he told her, is that you are going to get through it. "Like a starfish, the heart endures its amputation".

So you see, for me this memoir is one of those rare books that I'm sure I'll reread at a time when I feel that need to revisit the subject of grief.  Let's Take the Long Way Home, will give the reader a reason to smile, a reason to shed a few tears and a reason to tell the people you love the most how much they mean to you over and over again.

(Thanks to Leslie@ Under My Apple Tree for sending this gem my way).

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

After being a "slacker"  busy for the last several weeks, I'm once again going back to my regular Tuesday feature -  First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro.  This week I'm featuring an intro from a book by a Japanese author that I've been meaning to read .This book is from my shelves. Have you read it?

Vintage International Edition (2001)

"I'M GOING to try to relate the facts of our relationship as man and wife just as they happened, as honestly, and frankly as I can.  It's probably a relationship without precedent.  My account of it will provide me with a precious record of something I never want to forget.  At the same time, I'm sure my readers will find it instructive, too.  As Japan grows increasingly cosmopolitan, Japanese and foreigners are eagerly mingling with one another; all sorts of new doctrines and philosophies are being introduced; and both men and women are adopting up-to-date Western fashions.  No doubt, the times being what they are, the sort of marital relationship that we've had, unheard of until now, will begin to turn up on all sides".

 
What do you thing of this intro (personally I love this story telling style) -- Would you keep reading?  

Please feel free to grab the logo and join in by posting the first paragraph (or 2) of a book you are reading now or hoping to read soon.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mailbox Monday - January 7th


Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share their new book acquisitions each week. January's host is Lori of Lori's Reading Corner.


(2) new childrens books arrive last week: The classic Velveteen Rabbit (purchase) and a new one Tyler Makes Pancakes (Amazon Vine) and one Europa Edition from a Paperback Swap member, Necropolis.


Off to check out your new books!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie; Ayana Mathis


Title: The Twelve Tribes of Hattie
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Knopf
Edition: eGalley
Setting: Southern and Northern states
Source: Edelweiss
Date Completed: January - 2013 
Rating: 4/5 
Recommend: yes
 
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is a compelling story about a woman named Hattie as well as a story about her "tribe" of eleven children.  Hattie was just fifteen in 1924 when she, her mother and a sister came to Philadelphia from Georgia as part of the Great Migration; her father was murdered by two white men down South.
 
In Philadelphia, Hattie meets August Shepherd, and by the time Hattie is 17 she is the mother of twins. Even in Philadelphia Hattie can't seem to escape tragedy.  Her twins become contract pneumonia and later die.  Her husband offers no support or comfort, yet as the years pass Hattie gives birth to nine more children.  Children that she seems incapable of expressing love or tenderness to.  In fact, she in many ways seems like contributes to her dissatisfaction about how her life has turned out.
 
The story covers a period 55 years (1925-1980), and is told in chapters that focus on each of her children and later in 1980, on her 10 year old granddaughter.  Each chapter has a year as well as the name of one or two of the children. It is through her children and their issues that the reader gets to see the real Hattie.  As her children are growing up and later on as adults, we see how Hattie's perpetual unhappiness and inability to nurture has affected her children.
 
The story is beautifully written and heart wrenching at times as well. Lovers of literary fiction will want to savior certain passages. Written almost like a series of interrelated short stories, mostly bleak, with certain characters dealing with real tough issues like abuse, physical and mental illness, alcoholism, homosexuality etc. However, a reader who hangs in there will be treated to a few brief and happy moments as well.  As much as I liked the book, it wasn't perfect.  I felt at times the flow felt somewhat disjointed, and I also wanted to know more about some of the children. The only character that I felt I got to know was Hattie, but perhaps that was the author's intent. 

I think this book would make for a lively book club selection, and I now understand why Oprah has selected it. Have you read this one? If so I would love to hear what your thoughts.