Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mid Year Reading Update - 2013 and a 5 year Giveaway --


A look at the first 6 months of 2013 -

So back on January 1st, I set a goal of reading at least 125 books in 2013; today June 30th I've read (71) books. So unless things fall apart in the second half of 2013, I think I have a good chance of reaching my goal.

A few things that were different for 2013 was that I did not join ANY reading challenges and I am happy that I made that decision. I part years, I always joined: eBook challenge, audio book challenge, reading my own books challenge, classics challenges etc, and while I am still reading these types of books, for me it feels a lot better not having to keep additional lists and post about it on other blogs. I think I'm just getting lazy in my old age.

My Favorite Books reads in 2013 - 

Plans for remainder of 2013 -
  • Read a few more books off my Bucket List.
  • Pull and donate some more books off my shelves that I don't want to read
  • Read some eGalleys that I was so happy to have received.
  • Find a few books I just can't stop talking about after I finish them - That didn't happen yet in 2013, even though I did enjoy several quite a bit.
Happy Reading
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
So Bibliophile By the Sea turned 5 this week. What I initially thought would be good way for me to track what I've read and what I want to read, turned out to be so much more.  
  • 339,598 page views
  • 2004 posts
  • 37,185 comments
There is a lot I love about blogging....
  • The friendships that I formed with so many sweet, caring book lovers, flower lovers, cat lovers and cooking fans
 But there are weeks when I just feel like walking away quietly as well.
  • Spammers, endless requests to review books by individuals who do not even bother to read my review policy, self-imposed pressure to post, feeling bad about not responding to everyone who leaves a comment, and oftentimes, just not wanting to spend my evenings on the computer when I spend all day on it at work M-F.

The Giveaway
  • I'd like to say thanks to my loyal readers by offering them a chance to win a new, Factory Sealed - MP3 player -- load audio books, download music, summer is the perfect time to enjoy a new gadget.
  • Anyone who leaves a comment about this post will be entered in giveaway.
  • Winner will be chosen next Sunday - July 7th.
  • Good Luck to All

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saturday Snapshots - June 29th

A big Thank You to Alyce at Alyce of At Home With Books who has hosted this meme for a number of years. She is taking a summer hiatus at her blog. Our new host is Melinda at
West Metro Mommy Reads.

To participate, simply post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on West Metro Mommy's blog.
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.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

About a month ago I visited the museums in Springfield, MA, located a few towns away from where I grew up.  I hadn't been to back there since my children were little in the 1980s, and although the dinosaurs, and bears in the science museum looked familiar, there was so much new to see, including a brand new building which houses Connecticut Valley history. . -- that was pretty interesting as well as a bit sad to see all the industry that has left the area in the last 30-40 years.  A fun day and trip down memory lane.

Room by Room: An Original Sculpture 

by Patrick Dougherty

(click above for more info)

 
 Even this Bird seemed to love it!

(click above for more photos and info)
(Theodor Seuss Geisel - was born in Springfield, MA in 1904)

Don't think I'd like to live in this teepee.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen; Jim Bailey


Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.~ February 2013

As a life long New Englander, I am always looking for new ways to tweak some of our favorite foods that many people consider regional. I admit, at first, I was taken by the pretty cover of this book, but it's way more special than that. I was amazed that it had some 550 recipes. I wouldn't consider ALL of the recipes to be "Yankee or regional", but there were at least 100 recipes at first glace that I thought would be worth trying at some point. I was especially thrilled with the soups, stews, seafood and dessert sections.

I liked the way that the chapters were divided. They cover the following: Breakfast Treats; Breads, Sweet Breads, Biscuits and Stuffings; Beverages; Soups, Stew and Chowders; Vegetables; Snacks, appetizers, dips and spreads; Poultry; Fish and Seafood; Beef, Lamb and Pork; Pasta, Rice, Grains and Legumes; Cakes, Cookies and Confections; Desserts; Pies as well as an appendix with measurements and conversions.

Not all of the recipes are new, but there seems to be just something different (a new ingredient or two added here and there), as opposed to the traditional way i had prepared certain recipes previously. Most of the recipes are definitely not low-calorie, but every once in a while we all like to try a few recipes without regard to the calories or fat content right?
Some of the recipes that jumped out at me immediately were:
  • Crunchy Corn Muffins
  • Maple Streussel Muffins
  • Chef Jack's New England Cake Donuts
  • Apple Cheese Bread
  • Peppermint Mocha Coffee
  • Yankee Seafood Bisque
  • Chicken Stew with Dumplings
  • Cauliflower Crab Chowder
  • Caesar Green Beans
  • Maple Glazed new Potaoes
  • Potato Pancakes (I miss my dad - he made the best ones) 
  • Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Pesto
  • Chicken Croquettes
  • Lobster Stuffed Flounder
  • Spicy Lobster Gumbo
  • Apricot Upside-down Gingerbread
  • Orange cappuccino Cheesecake
  • PB & J Bars
  • Coconut Cream Pie
There are beautiful colored glossy pictures to go along with the recipes, but the pictures are kind of small as is the print. I loved most of the recipes, as well as the scenes of New England. There is also a bit of New England history as well in this lovely father and son cookbook.

 I am planning on buying a copy for a bridal shower gift along with some cookware for a special New England bride-to-be. Don't get me wrong, I think this book will be a hit with anyone who enjoys seafood, comfort food and recipes that offer a bit more than your basic cookbook, yet most every ingredient you will need are ones you would find in most of our pantries and cabinets.
4.5/5 stars

The Silver Star; Jeanette Walls


Title: The Silver Star
Author: Jeanette Walls
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: Scribner
Edition: eGalley

Setting: CA and Virginia
Source: Edelweiss

Date Completed: June - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5


The year is 1970 and 12 year-old Jean (know better as Bean) Holladay and her 15 year-old sister Liz, llive in the town of Lost Lakes, CA with their irresponsible mother Charlotte.  Charlotte hasn't "found herself" yet, so it isn't unusual for her to take off for a few days or more leaving the girls to fend for themselves.  While she is gone, we are never sure what she is doing, but she is bent on making it big: actress, singer or whatever else she might be keen on at the time.  Bean and Liz are used to not staying in any one place very long thanks to Charlotte.  

The last time their mother leaves, she is gone for several weeks. There are no calls, and the $200 she leaves the girls for food is dwindling fast. One day, the girls get nervous when they see the police car in front of their house. They don't want to have to answer any questions about their absent mother so they come up with a plan. They buy two bus tickets for a cross country trip to visit Uncle Tinsley, their mother's brother, who they have not seen in years.  Uncle Tinsley lives in a big old crumbling mansion in the small town of Byler, VA; he is somewhat of a hoarder. When the girls arrive, they are not sure their uncle is happy to see them. In fact, the first night he has the girls sleep in the barn.  Before long he invites them inside, feeds them and becomes somewhat of a father figure to them. Uncle Tinsley establishes some routines, gets them enrolled in school and really wants to see the girls thrive.

Although UncleTinsley provides a safe environment for the girls, it is not always possible for him to protect them from bullies and others in town who do not have their best interest at heart.  Liz and her sister, grown up fast. In a short period of time, they learn about their fathers, their mother, as well as some other very real issues like racism and predators.

I liked this story and thought that Bean made the perfect narrator. She was smart, brave, spunky and someone that I rooted for throughout the book. The author did a good job with this story, but at times I wasn't sure whether she intended it for adults or young adults as it had a feel of both genres at times. The setting,1970s South seemed realistic, or at least how I imagined small-town life to be at that time. Jeanette Walls knows how to write about painful situations and abusive adults.  Her first book, The Glass Castle, a memoir, was wonderful as well as brutal. I also enjoyed her second book, Half Broke Horses.

Readers who enjoy stories about dysfunctional families, especially ones with strong, resilient youngsters, will cheer for the young champions of The Silver Star.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Humanity Project; Jean Thompson

Title: The Humanity Project
Author: Jean Thompson
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: Blue Rider Press/Penguin
Edition: audio and eGalley

Setting: Ohio and CA
Source: library/NetGalley

Date Completed: June - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5


Do you like reading stories with flawed characters? If the answer is yes, then The Humanity Project, may be a story that will appeal to you.

First there is Sean, a divorced, single dad to Connor. Sean is an out of work carpenter who is about to lose their house to foreclosure in Marin County. He does a few odd jobs, but his body is tired from years of physical labor. Connor is a good student, but worried about their sick dog. When he responds to a personal ad on Craigslist, things even get worst.

Then we meet 14 year-old, Linnea from Ohio, whose life is turned upside down when a shooter at her school changes the trajectory of her life.  Out of control, she is sent to live with her absentee father, Art, who coincidentally also lives in Marin County.  Art is ill equipped to raise a teenage daughter. 

Then there is Christie who heads a non profit organization called the "Humanity Project." Christie was a nurse to the founder of the project, Grace Foster. Grace is an eccentric, wealthy, elderly woman who wants to help troubled, down on their luck people, as well as the feral cat population.  

There are about 7 characters in this story whose lives intersect in one way or another. Most are broke, out of work, disable, traumatized or just plain directionless.  The "Humanity Project" brings the people together, but doesn't miraculously "fix them".  It's not a happy story, but it is a very realistic look at modern contemporary life. While some of the characters get back on their feet, others do not -- but that, to me was the good about this story; although some situations in our life we can control, there are other things that we simply have no control.

I thought this story was pretty good and left me thinking, but it wasn't perfect, the lives of these individuals intersected just a bit too conveniently.  I would still recommend trying it, especially if you enjoy flawed characters.

Waiting on Wednesday - Burial Rites; Hannah Kent


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pick is for  a debut novel that I think sounds good. What do you think?

Little, Brown and Company
September 2013

Kent's debut delves deep into Scandinavian history, not to mention matters of storytelling, guilt, and silence. Based on the true story of Agnes Magnúsdóttir, the novel is set in rural Iceland in 1829. Agnes is awaiting execution for the murder of her former employer and his friend, not in a prison—there are none in the area—but at a local family's farm. Jón Jónsson, the father, grudgingly accepts this thankless task as part of his responsibility as a regional official, but his wife and daughters' reactions range from silent resentment to outright fear. After settling in to the household, Agnes requests the company of a young priest, to whom she confesses parts of her story, while narrating the full tale only to the reader, who, like the priest, provide her with a final audience to her life's lonely narrative. The multilayered story paints sympathetic and complex portraits of Agnes, the Jónssons, and the young priest, whose motives for helping the convict are complicated. Kent smoothly incorporates her impressive research— for example, she opens many of the chapters with documents that come directly from archival sources—while giving life to these historical figures and suspense to their tales.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Under the Dome; Stephen King - a summer readalong

 I was determined to finish this book before last night's premiere of the 13 week Under the Dome series.  I finished the book and liked most of it, but was exhausted and couldn't stay up from 10-11pm to watch it, BUT I was able to DVR it. 


I avoiding reading about the tv version until I get to watch it this weekend......just tell me, those of you who watched it....did you like the kick off of the miniseries?????

Here's and overview of the novel and some of my thoughts:

The 1,000+ page novel focuses on of the rural Maine town of Chester Mill, which is instantly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible "dome".  Trapped inside, the residents (good and evil) work both together and against one another to save their town, which is set off from the rest of the US and for that matter, the world.

What I Liked and What I Disliked:
  •  I thought it was an interesting premise for a novel, and I was hooked early on. I'm not a fan of the SF genre, but this story will make me take a closer look before rejecting something based on the genre alone.
  • The characters were fairly well drawn, especially the evil ones. Big Jim Rennie, a used car salesman and a town council bully, is the biggest of the "bad guys".  His son, Junior, isn't far behind when it comes to evil. There are dozens of characters in this novel.
  • I would have liked to see the "good guys",  Dale Barbara (AKA...Barbie) explored even deeper. He was a man who spent time in Iraq as a former Army Captain, and just can't seem to find his place after the war. He is a short-order cook in town, and he's haunted by memories of something that went terribly wrong for him in the war. When the "dome" descends on the town, the President (Obama) puts "Barbie" in charge of maintaining order. Other "good guys" in the novel are Julia Shumway, the editor of the local newspaper, a physician's assistant, and a computer wiz kid to name a few.
  • Although there are not any real elements of horror in this novel, there is a good amount of gore, as well  a couple of rape scenes, but compared to some of King's work, I would not consider this one over the top. 
  • For all the foul language, there is some humor/satire as well which I loved. King's "good versus evil" takes things a step further, extending into the political arena: democrats versus republicans, which made me chuckle.
  • The story started out fast paced and kept me turning pages and some some cases listening longer than I planned to, but then there were parts that really seemed to drag as well. 
  • Overall, there is plenty of entertainment factor in Under the Dome: people dropping like flies, political corruption, large scale drug operations, ego manics, power struggles and even religious zealots. For me though, reading about what happens when humans are isolated and how differently people react when feeling desperate was what I enjoyed the most about this novel.
  • What caused the "dome" to appear over Chester Mill?  It was somewhat silly, but actually I couldn't have come up with an alternate ending if I tried, so who am I to criticize Stephen King? 
  • Overall rating - 4/5 stars.
Are you participating in the readalong? How is it going for you. A Big Thanks to Natalie for hosting,

First Chapter ~First paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Translator; Nina Schuyler

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. Care to join us?

This week I'm featuring an intro from a book that I am hoping to start soon:


Pegasus - July 1, 2013

Chapter 1

Standing in the kitchen munching on pickled cucumbers, watching a stray dog pee in his yard, Jiro hears something crash into the garage door. The entire house trembles as if it were about to fall off its foundation.

He runs down the hall and yanks open the door.  The electric garage door is broken, boards desperately clinging to the frame.  Fragments of glass shimmer on the cement car port.  The black Honda's engine is still sputtering, spilling gassy blue smoke from the exhaust pipe.  And there is his wife, sitting rigidly in the driver's seat at a forward tilt, staring straight ahead, as if she is pondering whether to plow into the wall. 

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  Feel free to join us by linking your First Chapter post below. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday Salon - Weekly recap - June 23rd


This week really flew by, and after being home sick all of the previous week, I'm pleased to say I made it through a full week of work and actually felt pretty good.  I haven't had any exercise in 2 weeks as I did not want to hinder my recovery, but then, I don't need much of an excuse to avoid exercise...LOL  despite that, I am still down 26lbs in 5.5 months so I'm thrilled.

My husband is in Philadelphia this weekend, visiting a friend. He's going to a Phillies game today and having dinner with his son whose birthday is tomorrow. So I've been having a fun "single" weekend. Time with my kids and sweet granddaughter.

 14 months - not walking yet but ready

Off to visit my son and his wife this afternoon in woods. Lots cooler where they live.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Snapshots - June 22nd

A big Thank You to Alyce at Alyce of At Home With Books who has hosted this meme for a number of years. She is taking a summer hiatus at her blog. Our new host is Melinda at
West Metro Mommy Reads.


To participate, simply post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post on West Metro Mommy's blog.

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.
 

Mr and Mrs Bibliophile By the Sea's
colorful feet

Spring in NYC

Elmo in Times Square

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Hedgerow Cookbook; By: Wild at Heart

 
The Hedgerow Cookbook; By: Wild at Heart
Anova - July 2013

It was the title and the pretty cover that made me curious about this cookbook, as well as the fact that it seemed a bit different -- focusing on "wild food plant sources".  After finishing this book I was totally impressed. This lovely book contains 100 different recipes, and there is a gorgeous color photo for just about every delight in this book. As a visual person, this was a definite plus.

The book is divided into sections which covers: flowers & hips; leaves; berries; fruits with stones; fruits wit pips and nuts.  There is a section on the "basics" of preserving, which was very good for a novice like myself.  I liked the fact that they also discussed useful equipment.

Each "wild food source" gets a page devoted to the specifics, and then also a photo and a page with a gorgeous high gloss color photo and a recipe, such as Dandelion and Dandelion Flower Wine and Dandelion Marmalade; Elderflower and Elderflower Cordials, Brambles and Bramble Apple Jam with Cinnamon. How about whipping up some tasty delights using rose petals (rose petal jam), rose hips, wild berries and fruits such as wild plums and there are plenty more that I thought were worth trying as well.  

Admittedly, if there was one drawback to this book, it was the fact that some of the "wild food sources" may not be readily available to many of us here in the US. Even if this proves to be true for some, there is plenty to make this book worthwhile. Nature lovers who is just kind of bored with traditional recipes I think will especially like this one. Here are a few examples of the beautiful photos (taken with my iPhone so please forgive quality and glare).

WILD GARLIC and Wild Garlic Pesto


BLACKBERRIES and Blackberry Post & Almond Trifle


Blackberry and Apple Crumb Cake


The authors, Wild at Heart, operate a small business: www.wildatheheartfoods.co.uk. The Company makes award-winning jellies, relishes, and fruit cheeses based on traditional English recipes, using wild, native, or ancient fruits.

 (eGalley provided to me via NetGalley)



RIP - James Gandolfini - Tony Soprano dies at 51 in Italy


James Joseph Gandolfini, Jr., American actor, best known for his role as Tony Soprano in The Sopranos, about a troubled crime boss struggling to balance his family life and career in the Mafia.
His wife Deborah Lin, who he married in 2008, gave birth to their baby daughter this past October. He has a son by a previous marriage.

Waiting on Wednesday - Goat Mountain; David Vann


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pick is by an author that I've enjoyed a few times in the past. His writing tends to be a bit dark, but is very well done.

September 10, 2013 

In David Vann’s searing novel Goat Mountain, an 11-year-old boy at his family’s annual deer hunt is eager to make his first kill. His father discovers a poacher on the land, a 640-acre ranch in Northern California, and shows him to the boy through the scope of his rifle. With this simple gesture, tragedy erupts, shattering lives irrevocably.

In prose devastating and beautiful in its precision, David Vann creates a haunting and provocative novel that explores our most primal urges and beliefs, the bonds of blood and religion that define and secure us, and the consequences of our actions—what we owe for what we’ve done.

David Vann is the award-winning author of Legend of a Suicide, Caribou Island, A Mile Down, and Last Day on Earth.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence; David Samuel Levinson



Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. Care to join us?

This week I'm featuring an intro from a book that I am hoping to start soon:


 Antonia Lively Breaks the Silence
David Samuel Levinson
Algonquin - June 2013 

 In Media Res
 " We thought ourselves good people who lived good lives.  Some of us had lived in the town for generations and had never considered leaving.  Many of us, though, had relocated there from the city, in the process learning what it was like to desert the place we loved, longed for, and hated.  Winslow wasn't a big town and couldn't offer the charms of Manhattan nothing as remarkable as the rooftops at twilight or Central Park in the rain.  While many of us had grown sick of the city's neon signs and glass towers, many others of us put up photos to remind ourselves daily of what we missed."  

What do you think? Would you keep reading?  Feel free to join us by linking your First Chapter post below.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Mailbox Monday - June 17th


Mailbox Monday is a chance for book lovers everywhere to shout out all of the new books that they've recently acquired. Dolce Bellezza, one of my favorite bloggers, is hosting for the month of June. Feel free to join in the fun. 

  • San Miguel; T.C Boyle  (paperback swap) - On a tiny, desolate, windswept island off the coast of Southern California, two families, one in the 1880s and one in the 1930s, come to start new lives and pursue dreams of self-reliance and freedom. Their extraordinary stories, full of struggle and hope, are the subject of T. C. Boyle’s haunting new novel.
  • The Woman Upstairs; Claire Messud (paperback swap) - Nora Eldridge, an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, Massachusetts, long ago compromised her dream to be a successful artist, mother and lover. She has instead become the “woman upstairs,” a reliable friend and neighbor always on the fringe of others’ achievements. Then into her life arrives the glamorous and cosmopolitan Shahids—her new student Reza Shahid, a child who enchants as if from a fairy tale, and his parents: Skandar, a dashing Lebanese professor who has come to Boston for a fellowship at Harvard, and Sirena, an effortlessly alluring Italian artist.

    When Reza is attacked by schoolyard bullies, Nora is drawn deep into the complex world of the Shahid family; she finds herself falling in love with them, separately and together. Nora’s happiness explodes her boundaries, and she discovers in herself an unprecedented ferocity—one that puts her beliefs and her sense of self at stake.

    Told with urgency, intimacy and piercing emotion, this brilliant novel of passion and artistic fulfillment explores the intensity, thrill—and the devastating cost—of embracing an authentic life.
  • Quartet in Autumn; Barbara Pym (purchased in NH) - This is the story of four people in late middle-age - Edwin, Norman, Letty and Marcia - whose chief point of contact is that they work in the same office and they suffer the same problem - loneliness. Lovingly, poignantly, satirically and with much humour, Pym conducts us through their small lives and the facade they erect to defend themselves against the outside world. There is nevertheless an obstinate optimism in her characters, allowing them in their different ways to win through to a kind of hope.
  • Some Tame Gazelle; Barbara Pym (purchased in NH) -Belinda and Harriet Bede live together in a small English village. Shy, sensible Belinda has been secretly in love with Henry Hoccleve—the poetry-spouting, married archdeacon of their church—for thirty years. Belinda’s much more confident, forthright younger sister Harriet, meanwhile, is ardently pursued by Count Ricardo Bianco. Although she has turned down every marriageable man who proposes, Harriet still welcomes any new curate with dinner parties and flirtatious conversation. And one of the newest arrivals, the reverend Edgar Donne, has everyone talking.
    A warm, affectionate depiction of a postwar English village, Some Tame Gazelle perfectly captures the quotidian details that make up everyday life. With its vibrant supporting cast, it’s also a poignant story of unrequited love.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Saturday Snapshot - June 15th 2013

Alyce at At Home With Books has decided to take a break from blogging and from hosting Saturday Snapshot. We will miss her, but all of us understand a need to step back, regroup, and prioritize one's life. We hope to see her back soon. Saturday Snapshot is now hosted by Melinda at West Metro Mommy while Alyce is away.
 
To participate in the Saturday Snapshot meme post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky (at West Metro Mommy). 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.
-------------------------------------------------

Last Week we spent a few days in Portsmouth, New Hampshire which is a wonderful seaside town. Once you've visited, you'll want to return again and again. Fantastic shops, book stores, coffee shops and all are so very unique.  My husband found a great runners store and made a few purchases and I found a few books I had on my [to buy] list. What we both loved was the outdoor seating (tables and benches) everywhere along the brick walkways which made for some great people-watching while we were there.  The weather was perfect but we had to cut our trip short by a day as I came down with a horrible earache and sore throat that required a doctors visit Tuesday and antibiotics.  I've been out of work all week and actually feel worst today with a horrible cough now:(

Here are a few of the photos I took with my phone while we walked around town, had lunch and shopped



 How about those big eyes?

 This cute guy was actually quite happy relaxing
 in the shade where we sat. Dog bowls and bike racks
are everywhere in front of shops around town.

 Hope to return again in the fall on our way to Maine.
  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal; Mary Roach



Title: Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Author: Mary Roach
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: Tantor Audio / W.W. Norton
Edition: audio
and print
Reader: Emily Woo Zeller (very good)
Source: library

Date Completed: June - 2013
Rating: 4/5
 

Definition of ALIMENTARY CANAL (according to Merriam Webster) : the tubular passage that extends from mouth to anus, functions in digestion and absorption of food and elimination of residual waste, and includes the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine.

Who would think reading about digestion would make for an entertaining and informative read?  As a fan of this author's earlier non-fiction work: Stiff:The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, I thought this one might be fun as well. Once again, the author Mary Roach, manages to make this one both informative and entertaining. 

In Gulp, the author actually begins with the nose, pointing out that without sniffing, we miss as much as 90 percent of the smells going on around us, and how dogs who hang their heads out of the car windows, and motorcyclists experience something that the rest of us miss. The nose and sniffing also have much to do with tasting. There were some interesting studies with olive oil (some rancid) and cheap wine vs expensive wine.  Did you know that Elvis had a colon that was 2-3 times larger than average? Did that contribute to his early death? How much contraband can be transported in "prison wallet" (rectum)?   There is even a section on pet food studies that was very good, as well as an investigation on competitive eating, and whether a person can, in fact, eat themselves to death.

The author has written a book which is both entertaining and informative. It was interesting to learn about the many ways that our internal plumbing can fail us, yet  even though the subject is serious you'll often smile or even laugh as you read about it. Scientific studies and trials can be dry and boring, but this book is written in a manner that is anything but boring. If you are in the mood for a bit of non fiction and would like to try something different, this one may be the book for you.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Where Do The Animals Go When It Rains? ; Janet S. Crown and Sleepover Larry; Daniel Pinkwater


Janet Crown; 2012
NetGalley selection
Where Do the Animals Go When It Rains? is a book that was written by, Janet Crown, after many many bedtime discussions with her young children about where the animals that lived outside would go when it rained. Together they would often make up rhymes after their discussions, and this cute, well crafted book is the result.

While I was a little disappointed with the flow and rhyme of this story, the learning experience it offers about nature, climate, and the various animals themselves, more than made up for the flow of the story. Daron Rosenberg's illustrations were so well done, demonstrating things like how even animal families stick together where conditions aren't always perfect. For example, there is an illustration of a family of bunnies huddling close to each other to keep warm during the cold rain. The fonts vary in size and boldness to keep it interesting as well.

I think this is a book that will not only teach young children about animals and their environment, but will also be a favorite bedtime selection for some. Worth trying.


Sleepover Larry (Larry Series)
 Daniel and Jill Pinkwater - 2007
Amazon Vine


I wasn't familiar with the Larry Series, but I wanted to try this new installment as it sounded quite cute.

Larry, is a very cute polar bear who is hoping to have his first sleepover for his zoo friends. The party will be held at the hotel where he lives. What do animals do at Larry's sleepover? Pretty much what children do when their friends sleep over: order pizza, play games, and even watch a scary movie.

The illustrations by Jill Pinkwater are cute, but the story was just so so, and even though it's a book for young children, I think the grammar should have been corrected....just my opinion. I think children need to be taught proper English early on - no excuses. If you are curious, the Kindle Edition is available for only $1.00, while the hardcover is $15.00.

The Other Typist; Suzanne Rindell

Title: The Other Typist
Author: Suzanne Rindell
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Edition: audio / eGalley
Reader: Gretchen Mol (very good)
Source: library and Net Galley
Setting:
Date Completed: June - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5


The Other Typist takes readers back to the "roaring 20s" and Prohibition, a time when speakeasies, often run by organized crime, were an opportunity for fast money. Illegal booze, gambling and fast women were big business. 

Rose Baker was not one of these "fast women". She was a police stenographer, a lady who takes pride in her job, by carefully recording the confessions of criminals each day. She thinks that she is a pretty good read of people. She grew up in an orphanage run by nuns, she's very quiet, plain looking, very naive, and has no social life to speak of, but deep down she longs for companionship.

Odalie Lazare is "the other typist" who works with Rose. Odalie is everything that Rose is not. She's outgoing, has beautiful clothes, is noticed by men everywhere and she knows where to go to have fun when she isn't working. Rose notices quickly that some of the stories Odalie has been telling do not seem to add up. Rose becomes more and more obsessed with finding out more about Odalie, especially after she gets a glimpse into Odalie's life after work hours.

I really enjoyed this terrific debut novel. The writing is vivid, scenes memorable and characters that will stick with you. Rose initially comes off as a somewhat sympathetic character, but there is more to Rose than meets the eye, but there is also more to Odalie. Readers who enjoy stories with unreliable narrators, or readers who would like to read more about the roaring 20s, should enjoy this story. I'll definitely be looking for more books by the promising new author.

The Perfect Ghost, Linda Barnes

Title: The Perfect Ghost
Author: Linda Barnes
Publication Year:  2013
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Amazon Vine
Setting: Massachusetts
Date Completed: June - 2013
Rating: 3.5/5



Em Moore, an advanced degree in English, but quiet, insecure and anxiety-ridden when it comes to dealing with people. She was in the process of ghostwriting a biography about famous actor and director, Garrett Malcolm. When the other half of her writing team, Teddy Blake is killed in a car accident on Cape Cod, Em is devastated and frightened about having to take over his role on the project.. Now Em, must not only worry about doing the writing but the interviewing as well.

She does what she has to do and heads out to Malcolm Garrett's mansion to work on the interviewing piece of the project. She is taken by the handsome man, but before long there appears to be some secrets he is hiding. In addition the police are investigating Teddy's death, as it just may not have been an accident.

Initially, I had a tough time with the way this book is written. It starts out with Em talking to Teddy (who is dead), and then playing recordings of interviews that Teddy had taped while interviewing Malcolm. However, once, I understood what was going I was able to enjoy the rest of the mystery which had some good twists and almost a Gothic-like feel to the story.