Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Thinger

This week's Tuesday Thinger from the wonderful Wendi's Book Corner...

Questions: When you click on the Local tab, do you see any information? Do you find the information you see useful? Have you added any information? If you don't already use the Local tab, is it something you would use more often if there were more events listed?

In my case, I see quite a bit. Now I realize that I live in a metropolitan area that is quite addicted to anything that has to do with books. Book stores have readings, book signings, Libraries have reading events, we have a Book Festival once a year and on and on.

So there are a lot of listings. I have not had an occasion to post anything as it seems to be done by all of those that are hosting events. I consider this to be a great asset as the newspaper has almost completely done away with the Book Section which I used to rely on as a source of info for upcoming events. Just another example of the virtual taking over the job of the printed matter. As long as there is a source available to point me in the right direction, I will use it. Just another reason that I am happy to be a lifetime member of LibraryThing.com

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday Musings

Today's question for Monday Musings from from Just One More Page,
Do you have an account with an online book database site (LibraryThing, Shelfari, GoodReads etc)? If so, do you have a preference? Do you use it for - your own record keeping? finding new books to read? social networking?

I always love to see the responses to questions like this as I am interested in the different uses of the same applications that I have been using. You never know what you might learn or be able to pick up from someone else.

1. Use both LibraryThing and GoodReads. Use both to catalog my own library. Also catalog books that I have read but do not own. I note the difference. I post reviews on both sites.

2. Have been participating in Early Reviewers on LibraryThing since 2007. That also led me to ARC Junkies, a group that also solicits advance copies of upcoming releases to read and review.

3. Just recently discovered a similar group on GoodReads, which are book giveaways, however, not all of those are upcoming releases.

4. Am much more detailed in my cataloging on LibraryThing as far as tags go, and I probably network more on this site as I have found groups that I have with collections much like mine.

Look forward to reading what others do with these sites.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Sisters one and all, if you are in need of a new book TO entertain you, rush out and get Sassy by Gloria Mallette. If you are not near a bookstore, click on the Amazon.com link to the right, and order your copy to be delivered directly to your door right away. You won’t be sorry. Ms. Mallette certainly has herself a winner with this book. Sassy is a romance, mystery, and suspense all rolled into one.

When I started the book, I was so into hating Norris that it was difficult for me to get beyond him. But I hung in there, and I am so glad that I did. There are several characters to love and embrace and enough twists and turns to keep you turning the pages. And, of course, as is always important with a mystery, she keeps you guessing, (I was incorrect about three or four times) right up until the end of the book.

For a sneak peek of the details of the book, watch the promo video from YouTube.

If you are hooked on Gloria's style of writing, visit Gloria’s website to see a complete list of all of her other books. This is an author that truly deserves the attention. Check back and comment on the book. I would love to hear how others feel.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tuesday Thinger

This week's question is

Have you checked out your ER list? Is it accurate? Did you need to mark any books as not received? Any suggestions for upcoming topics??

I love this new accessory as it means that I don't have to save all the previous emails to keep track of the ones that I received from Early Reviewer rather than from Shelf Awareness or a cold request as sometimes they do overlap on their offers and the book does not always say it is part of the Early Reviewer Program when it is sent to me.

I have checked it to confirm that all my reviews show and that part also keeps me on my toes as I do want to fulfill my commitment to review. All I can say is that LibraryThing.com just keeps getting better and better.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Perfection: A Memoir of betrayal and renewal

RATING: 3 out of 5

Perfection is about almost everything but perfection. It is about death, marriage, family, children, lies, adultery, deceit, betrayal, loss, self-destruction, and on and on.

Julie Metz was living one life until her husband died unexpectedly. She then learned that it had been a fraud for quite some time. How long she was not even sure about. The fraud was not on her part but on the part of her husband as well as many friends, some well meaning, and others by outright betrayal. She had a six yr. old daughter and life to try to salvage from this wreck. Suffering a loss of a loved one is hard enough without having to relive your life and inspect all the episodes to find the memories you want to keep, and those that now have to be thrown away.

This book is a raw, honest exposure of relationships. Sometimes it is too raw, too honest, too exposing, almost like you are looking through someone’s bedroom window. I am sure that not everyone could put themselves out there for the scrutiny of all, but Ms. Metz does, and I take my hat off to her for taking such risks. I think she took the risks as a means of cleansing and healing herself .

There were parts of this book that were difficult or maybe the word is uncomfortable for me to read. It felt like I was receiving too much information. There was still this lack of self assurance on her part that disturbed me. The whole section devoted to her Match.com escapades could have been omitted, and the story would still have survived. I felt Henry had left his mark on her, and I wondered would she ever regain all her love of self.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Orange Prize Project

I was inspired the other day when I came across this blog and read the challenge. It sounded like something I would recommend. Prize winning books only by women. Sounded like the book club from the 1990's. Some of you will remember that.

I started looking at the list of nominees and winners since 1996 and reading about the history of the prize. Women like Toni Morrison, Zady Smith, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Sandra Cisneros. Some of my favorites. Then, I saw books that I had been in love with or couldn't put down until the last page like The Time Traveler's Wife, The Bonesetter's Daughter, From Caucasia with Love, The Secret Life of Bees, and Lovely Bones. Finally, I saw ones that I owned but had not gotten to yet, and I realized that this might just be the beginning of a new list of must reads. After all, they were all nominated, many were shortlisted, and there were at least two winners every year, one for the best fiction and one for the best fiction by a new writer.

But don't just take my word for it, read some reviews of any one of these books, either at Amazon, GoodReads, or LibraryThing, and you will see that they all fall in the category of worthwhile reads. I did, and I was blown away by the synopsis, and editorial reviews of books that, 1. I had never heard mentioned before in my circle of reading friends, or 2. had never seen on the front table of Borders. I had to finally stop because my wish list was getting too long.

So if you are currently without a good book to read, or waiting for your favorite author's newest release, this list or Project is a great resource of wonderful women writers from all over the world.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tuesday Thinger

This is my first time participating in Tuesday Thingers which is sponsored by Wendi's Book Corner. I have been a die hard LibraryThing.com user since Sept. of 2007, so I feel like I have some info to share. Today's question is:

Questions: Do you tag? If so, do you tag for your own purposes (make lists, sort, clouds, etc)? Do you tag to help classify a book (historical fiction, self-help, sci-fi, mystery, etc)? What is the most helpful thing for you about tagging?

Yes, I tag. For many reasons. I read a lot of different genres, and I have a fairly large collection of non fiction. I also read a lot of diverse authors from all over the world. So my tags not only catalog the book and it contents, but they also catalog the author, i.e., African American Author, African American, Japanese Author, Japan, and so on. I do think it is helpful if someone visits your library and they are interested in, or want to discuss a certain category of book or author. I try to tag in the same order each time so I don't forget anything, and then, I check my collected tags to make sure I have no spelling or format errors. So I start first with, FICTION, AFRICAN AMERICAN AUTHOR, AFRICAN AMERICAN, AUDIOBOOK, ETC.

Additionally, I do believe that tagging helps determine who is selected in the Early Reviewer process based on collected interest. That being said, I don't think it is weighted towards the large collection holders. It is based on percentages compared to your individual total library, so if you have 50 books and 10 of them are mysteries your odds are probably greater than someone with a library of 100 books and 10 mysteries. I joined Early Reviewers in October of 2007, and I have received 16 books to review. Also, I believe I read at one point that your tags have to be in place a month in advance of a selection process i.e., so if you saw a cookbook was being offered this month and you had not yet cataloged your cookbook collection, it would not do you any good to rush and input it as it would not count towards the selection process this month.

I will be curious to see if anyone tags by the author's name. I tag biographies by the name of the person they are about but that is all. I do not tag my memoirs by name. Maybe I should????

Feel free to stop by and visit me at LibraryThing.com and look at my tags. If you like, add me as a friend.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Julie & Julia

Rating: 5 out of 5

There was no way I could resist this book. I am and have been a die hard Julia Child fan since the 60's. I was not caught up in the MTAOFC frenzy of housewives in the 60's but as a single woman watching Julia on public television during her first show, right there along with The Galloping Gourmet, a whole other story.

She was the kind of person I think, you either love or hate. Her quirky voice, her sense of humor, her way of handling food and most of all her attitude. No matter how complicated the recipe she either said it was easy or made it look easy.

Julie and Julia is written in style very much like I described Ms. Child. Quirky, funny, and with an attitude. None of which are bad things when you are trying to keep someone's attention. For all of us that have been able to read this journey through the Art of French cooking, I personally think we are very lucky to have it in book form rather than in installments, as those who originally followed the blog. Remember, Ms. Powell was blogging during the early days. Not all the bell and whistles that we have now days. No photos, no embedded buttons or moving objects, no videos from Youtube, literally showing you what she was talking about. No, the readers of her blog had to imagine all the foils and follies that she went through to create each dish, or to simply get the ingredients for each dish and had to wait for the next dose of humor and recipe.

One of my favorite aspects of the book, is the way that she is able to weave in the entries from Paul Child's letters or journals or the ones from the archives of Julia Child. She is able to identify with Julia in a way through space and time and value changes that is really remarkable, and adds so much to the book. Julie has also been able to show the value of family and friends. Her wonderful husband is a gem and should be protected, and she has some life long friends that were there for her when she needed them most.

I laughed from the beginning to the end of this book even though I was in bed with the flu. But, maybe that was a good thing as I did not have the desire to eat which would have been the case if I was well, or maybe even get out the recipe book and try to stir something up myself.

I am now sitting waiting for August 5th for the movie release. I hope everyone else can agree with me at the brilliance of casting Meryl Streep as Julia Child.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Mighty Queens of Freeville


Your favorite bathrobe, your Birkenstocks, a bowl of Tapioca, whatever your favorite comfort is, that is what I felt I was getting as I read more and more of Amy Dickinson's, The Mighty Queens of Freeville.

I read a lot of books of varying genre and topics, literary fiction, lots of memoirs, mysteries, and on and on. It seems that the subject matter can be more and more dramatic and touch lots of raw nerve these days. It seems the more dicey the subject matter, the more attention the press gives it, and it becomes the latest syndrome that everyone pulls up from their or their family's past.

What I realized early on as I read Amy's memoir, was there were still everyday people out there that may have had the regular ups and downs in their lives but not the heavy, heavy, earth-shattering kind of drama that seems to be coming up on a regular basis. They weren't completely free of pain or grief but the majority of their life was committed just sharing and learning from one another the value of family, of supporting the ones you love and caring about them to the best of your ability.

It was refreshing, and reaffirming to read about "normal" people across this land. And I don't mean that in a negative way. Maybe because "reality" TV tries to make us think we are "not normal", it was time for this book to come along and remind us what normal family life can be like. Thank you Amy, for bringing back some normalcy to my reading life.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Wife in the North

RATING: 4.5 of 5

The subtitle of this book is three young children, two aging parents, and one absentee husband 350 miles from home, but it should end with `one very funny woman'.

As I started reading this book, I got out my little sticky tabs because there were so many funny, sarcastic sometimes, but very funny comments. After a while the edge of my book looked like it had been sprinkled with a heavy dose of confetti.

The honest feelings, sometimes bordering on blatant, that Ms. O'Reilly uses to describe her life as it unfolds during her transplant from London to Northumberland can resonate with many women. Every time you think she has run out of expressions or comparisons up pops another one. Her definition of a "health visitor", and then soon to follow, the description of her body in a surfing wet suit had me practically rolling on the floor.

However, the book has a touching side to it as well. There were times when I wanted to pick up the phone and call her husband and tell him that he would later regret it if he did not go home and help his wife with their children during such a trying time and for Gosh sakes, at least pump the petrol. For someone who wanted to have his family raised in such a rural location, he was spending way too much time in London.

But when I came to the August 4, 2007 entry, and she described what the loss of child meant for her new friend, The Yorkshire Mother, I was very surprised that she was able to see it so clearly. I lost my only son and I have only found a kinship in that pain with other women that have lost a child. No matter what anyone says, it is a loss very different from the loss of a parent, spouse, or sibling.

I recommend this book to anyone who needs to appreciate their present station in life, anyone who wants to laugh their way through a book for a change, and to let them know that the best part is once you finish the book, you can continue the story by visiting her blog. I have waited until I finished the book to make my first visit, so I would not read any spoilers. :>)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rules of Vengeance


As I finished reading the ARC of, Rules of Deception last summer I felt that the door had been left open for a sequel with Dr. Jonathan Ransom. (See my review of that book below.) So when I saw the announcement of the upcoming release in August 2009 of Rules of Vengeance, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Thank you, Mr. Reich, for not disappointing me on several counts. First of all, Dr. Jonathan Ransom and his wife Emma do return, and the level of intrigue and suspense takes off almost from the first page. Jonathan Ransom is the kind of character that you can't help but like. You are rooting for him all the way throughout the book. His wife Emma, is another story. She has a dark past that continues to be a mystery even to her husband. However, in this new release, Jonathan is not willing to spend the rest of his life in prison for his wife's terrorism, no matter how she wants to justify it. He is willing, however, to become the hunter all over Europe to save himself, with or without her. Two new characters have entered the plot and instantly become the nemesis of Jonathan. Colonel Graves and Detective Chief Inspector Kate Ford, both of Britain, don't necessarily like each other or agree on tactics but their single focus is to bring in Jonathan Ransom. Again, Mr. Reich gives us a large cast of characters but they quickly form a fast paced, clever plot that will leave you wanting more. If 21st century international espionage excites you, you will not want to miss either of these page turners.

Rules of Deception.

RATING: 4.5 out of 5

Christopher Reich absolutely has a winner with this book. Rules of Deception has it all. With a full and varied cast of characters, current political climates in different parts of the world, and enough action it keeps you up all night trying to figure out the roles of everyone. No one should be turned off in the beginning by the large number of players in this world wide tale. They all melt together very quickly and have you picking up speed through each phase of this very complex adventure.

Not only does Mr. Reich weave a great plot of espionage in the 21st century and all very believable, I am hoping that the ending purposely left room for Dr. Ransom and his lovely Emma to come back in a sequel. I took this book on vacation and it did not last two full days.

(I reviewed this book in July of 2008 just prior to its release.)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Taking a Deep Breath

The fireworks were popping all over the place at the beach last night but I had to retreat to the car to finish the last few pages of fireworks that were happening in Christopher Reich's upcoming new release, Rules of Vengeance, a sequel to his successful, Rules of Deception in January 2008 which I read, loved, and reviewed while on vacation in Jamaica last summer. I am trying to gather my thoughts for my review of "Vengeance" and will post both reviews soon.

Trying to pick up another book to start or finish, and it is difficult. I need a change of theme and yet something that will grab me. I have received several new books this week and have had several wishes granted on PaperBackSwap.com. One I am surprised I received so soon was The Girl She Used to Be, by David Cristofano. I put this on my wishlist as soon as I read the review on Shelf Awareness. I was ahead the crowd I guess, so I received one of the first copies posted. Little Fingers also arrived, as did Julia & Julia which I need to move up the pile since I won't go to see the movie without reading the book first, and the movie is coming the 5th of August. Can't wait to hear Meryl do Julia's voice. Well, I am off to the library to get a few audiobooks for one of my girls. I will probably end up with a few as well. Have a great Sunday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Laws of Harmony

Rating: 4.5 out 5

This is the first of Ms. Hendricks' books that I have read and she most certainly has captured the voices of generational women. I read in her acknowledgments that she always fears that she will mess up when writing especially if it is about something she does not know well or at all.

I must say that she has nothing to fear about her choices in this book. She picked two very different locales and yet she is able to make you feel that she has lived in both of them all her life.
The contrast between the commune in Armonia, New Mexico and a small island village in Harmony, Washington is huge but she brings them both up close and allows you to feel like you are walking through them with Sunny Cooper or Soleil as only her mother calls her. Here is a young woman born and raised in a commune in New Mexico who never felt comfortable with the experience. She leaves the commune to attend the University of New Mexico where she finds friends and love. But life is not simple and as life turns upside, Sunny realizes she not only has to leave her past life but her present as well. She overcomes her fear of flying this once, and gets on a plane for the farthest point northwest of Albuquerque, which ends up being the San Miguel Islands. It is there that we learn "The Laws of Harmony" and Sunny is able to come some resolve with her past and present.
A very satisfying read. A good life lesson for younger women, in that we don't also control what comes into our life but we most certainly can decide and determine what stays in our life.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The School of Essential Ingredients


Lillian has loved cooking since she was a young girl. As she put it, "she thought smells were for her what the printed words were for others, something alive that grew and changed. She also knew that many people did not comprehend the language of the smells that she did."

She became one of the lucky few who were able to follow their passion and not only cook for others to enjoy but to teach others to see, smell, touch, and taste what different foods had to offer.

Ms. Bauermeister serves us up a cast of characters that are different as night and day and yet they come together to learn to cook from Lillian. Well maybe that isn't exactly right. They come together in a cooking class but we soon learn that they are each receiving something different or more than just cooking lessons from Lillian. Some are searching for love lost, while others are trying to lose the feelings of love, and still others are adjusting to the changes that aging brings about.

Early on in the story, the one thing that stood out for me was how much I was able to get into the characters. It was more than just reminiscent of two other wonderful books that are high on my list of all time favorites to read and re-read. Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner, and Light Years by James Salter. The characters were complex, with deep emotions. You would want to have these people in your life.

For anyone who likes to cook or enjoys the art of eating, or both, this is a wonderful to book to savor. You will be left wanting more when it over.

Salon Sunday

This day has been unusual in many ways. I have been following and visiting links to a number of sites and a common theme has been rising to the surface. Writers of color, writing, publishing, etc. etc.

It started when I visited Bernice McFadden's site, Naki and read her referral to Nordette Adams' commentary about Penguin's decision to throw more exposure to their under-served books and authors. Nowhere was there a mention or category for the African American authors or books.

I, then found a link to Clareen Brice's blog, White Readers Meet Black Authors where I enjoyed her video on the African American Section of the bookstore. Very Funny.

From there I worked my way to an interview of Toni Morrison by Tom Ashbrook of NPR, On Point that discusses her new collection of essays, Burn This Book, from PEN writers all over the world on the issue of banning not just books but writing and thought as well. Well worth listening to the 45 min. interview. During the interview, Tom also asked her about the letter that she sent to President Obama during his campaign and wanted to know if her hope for him and our country was still as strong as it was before the election. She provides an interesting response which I agree with but won't give away.

From there I found myself at another site, Literary Obama which follows the writing, readings, and book news of the President and First Lady, where I learn that the President just read the latest book by Dave Eggers, fellow San Franciscan, entitled What is the What. I feel like I have been on a trip around the world and somehow just magically returned home through the power of books, writing, and reading. And of course, I have several new books to add to my wishlist and some new blogs in my Reader. Hope you are having a wonderful trip today.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Literary Blogger Award

I am very honored to have received this award from Gwendolyn at A Sea of Books. Thank you so much. I will try to measure up by continuing to bring you new and exciting books and book reading news. I am just starting but loving every aspect of the process.

The Literary Blogger Award acknowledges bloggers who energize & inspire reading by going the extra mile. These amazing bloggers make reading fun & enhance the delight of reading!

As part of the process, I would like to pass on this Award to three blogs that I have been following for quite some time. They are in my Google Reader so I never have to worry about missing a single post.
The Rules:

1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

I am pleased to pass this award on to:

1. In an earlier post, I sang the praises of one of my nominees, Annie Coleman of St. Louis, Mo. who has devoted untold hours recording classics for Librivox. For me, it is much like those who wait for the author to publish the next book in the series, I wait for the next book that Annie records. I would like nothing better than if she read the whole series of Anne of Green Gables as well as all the Jane Austen books. Needless to say, I think she has great voice.

2. My second nominee, is Jen, Devourer of Books. I first read her on LibraryThing Early Reviewers and ARC Junkies and then started following her blog. She is always on top of new upcoming releases in genres that often appeal to me.

3. My third nominee, is Tina, at Tutus Two Cents, who just recently attracted my attention on LibraryThing, and was very helpful when I had questions about Book Bloggers. Thanks Tina.

My hat is off to all of those who are out there sharing their time and effort to spread the love of books and reading. If each of us bring one more new reader into the fold, we won't ever have to worry about the book industry. Teach one someone the love of reading.

Something Like Beautiful: One Single Mother's Story

Rating: 5 out of 5

Ms. Bandele has written a moving, and very personal memoir of the trials and triumphs of motherhood, in particular, single motherhood.

I was touched by much of the personal pain she was willing to share. I believe that there will be just as many children as there will be mothers who will benefit from her honest and frank discussion of the feelings that children have when they have lost their mother relationship. Let us hope that her discussion and revelations of therapy may help others not repeat the mistakes of their mothers. She is forthright in her acknowledgment that it is painful to admit the demons of hate that she had to overcome.

Her most profound statement in the book, "Parenting is not one moment or ten moments. It's not one year or five years. It's the whole thing, all the moments and years added up together. It's a lifetime......" This is something that needs to be a mantra to young women everywhere. Share this book with someone, a mother, a coming of age young woman, a good friend. Let us help Ms. Bandele get the word out about the worthiness of the "mothers" that raise children.
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Friday, June 26, 2009

Going Down South

4.5 out of 5

Reading Going Down South, was like going back in time in more ways than one. There was a period of time in my reading life when I became quite immersed in the reading of African American women authors. It seemed like the more I read, the more I wanted to read. One author led to another as I would read interviews or reviews as well as books. Alice Walker and Toni Morrison novels, J. California Cooper novels and short story collections. Tina McElroy Ansa, and of course, Zora Neale Hurston. And then I had finished the collections, and I sat waiting for the next books. Others came along over time as well as women of color from other countries.

So when I read a brief snippet of Bonnie J. Glover's new book on Shelf Awareness, I knew I wanted to read the book.

Going Down South takes you back to a time, the 1960's, when various parts of this country were very different from others depending on your race. The beginning of this book starts out with a very common occurrence, a young 15 year old girl who becomes pregnant the first time she has sex. However, what follows is not common. Olivia Jean is pregnant and her mother, Daisy is as unhappy as any mother for her only child, however, Daisy's solution to the problem is to take her back to her hometown, down South, to her mother, Birdie, to hide the problem from the neighborhood. Daisy hasn't seen her mother, since she left home with her now husband, Turk, 16 years ago, and she was secretly pregnant at the time. Daisy has many unresolved issues with Cold Water Springs, Alabama, but she doesn't plan on addressing any of them. Her plan is to leave her daughter with her mother, and return to New York with Turk to revive their marriage. Birdie also has many unresolved and secret issues and she has no intention of letting Turk and Daisy leave their daughter with her alone. She knows there is only one way to deal with her daughter, her granddaughter and this new to-arrive member of their unique family.
The story of these three women is powerful, touching, tough, and memorable. The characters quickly become three dimensional people you may have known and come across in your life. Birdie quickly became my favorite character. She made me laugh with her brutal honesty, and tough, tough demeanor, and also brought me to tears with the injustices that she endured and swallowed throughout her life.

There is inspiration and strength to be gained by any young woman that reads this book and feelings to be affirmed by any older woman that has experienced injustice for just being a woman.

Thank you, Bonnie J. Glover, you have given us such a touching, heart-warming portrait of three generations of strong women.

Firefly Lane


Don't let the size of this book fool you. It is one of the quickest reads I have had in a long time. And yet, it is one of those books you want to savor like a visit with a good friend that you haven't seen in a long time.

This is the first of Kristin Hannah's books that I have read so I had no preconceived notions about style. She has captured the true essence of female "BFF" friendship in this story of "KateandTully". The kind that endures not only through time and growth, but the kind that endures through the trials and tribulations that can sometimes end or cool a friendship that is not destined to be forever.

Even if you weren't of the exact same era as Kate and Tully, all you had to do was substitute the music and current events and you felt like it was you and your best friend. I was the Kate in my life and yet I was able to identify with Tully through my granddaughters that lost their mother like Tully did. It is a powerful lesson to see the impact that mothers, and fathers have on teaching values, developing self assurance, and all the other necessary traits that all of us girls need to make it in this world.

Highly recommend this wonderful story of two women and their lifelong friendship.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Wednesday Sisters


Meg Waite Clayton has definitely captured the essence of friendship among women and proved that while "blood may be thicker than water" you get to "pick" your friends while you "inherit" your relatives.

We meet Linda, Ally, Kath, Brett and Frankie, the narrator, during 1969 in Palo Alto, California where they are all young married women. All but Ally have children and in fact, that is was attracts Ally to the group in the first place as she observed the others in the park each week with their kids. Slowly, this group of women decide they should meet every week to write. Write for writing's sake, you know, that burning desire to release that one "great book" that each of us has in us. The current events of the time have influence on the course that some of them take, but others are simply curious sideline observers. At one point in the book, I almost left the women in frustration, because this had been a prime time in my life. I was a young woman, not married, but on my own and experiencing first hand many of the issues i.e., Equal Rights for Women, Vietnam, Peace Movement, Racism that they wavered on because of the values that had been instilled in them by their families.

I am glad to say that I hung in there with the "sisters" and they grew, matured, and learned that they could choose a different course than their parents, and the world would not come to an end. The depth of the friendship and bonds that developed for these women was heart wrenching at times, and heartwarming at others. This is a book that can be enjoyed by any generation but it is a wonderful read down memory lane for those of us that came of age during the 60's.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I want to sing the praises of a wonderful source site with everyone that I have been using for about the last two years. For those of you who already know about Librivox , join in and comment but for those of you who don't, I invite you to go, visit, use, and enjoy it, then tell all your family and friends about it.

Here is a place made up of volunteers who have painstakingly recorded the great classics for your listening pleasure for FREE. Yes, I said free. Now don't get me wrong. This is not Hollywood style recording but it is for the most part recorded by people who cared enough to volunteer to read, to record with their own equipment, and to listen and edit each others' work as well. Many of them are quite good, actually better in some cases than the ones I have bought commercially.

I know we all know people who love to listen to audiobooks on their commute or while they are doing something else like, housecleaning, laundry, walking, running, knitting or just like to be read to rather than reading to themselves. Although many of our libraries have rather large collections of audiobooks to borrow, they may not contain many of the classics. Librivox is the place to get almost every book that is now in the public domain and not just in English either.

Don't think of this as simply a site for Highbrows. I have listened to children's classics. My all time favorite being Ann of Green Gables read entirely by Annie Coleman of St. Louis MO.

My 16 yr old and I have listened to Sense and Sensibility, and Frankenstein for her 10th grade Literary Criticism Class this year and my 15 yr. old is listening to The Hounds of Baskerville and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on her iPod for her summer reading list for 9th Grade. I have found that it takes more than a fancy new cover to get today's youth into some of the classics that are still required reading for them. I found when we were listening to Jane Austen, we were able to pause the story, and talk about the ornate language and how it compared to the way we would have said the same thing now. This allowed my daughter to really appreciate the character development. I believe she will read or listen to other Austen books now that she was able to enjoy the full meaning behind the language of yesterday.

Many of my friends over at LibraryThing have been discussing audiobooks in general but a thread developed where others were listing their all-time favorite readers on Librivox and it created a new list for me to download to iTunes so I can load them onto my iPod. Do not worry, that is not the only way to listen to them. All the instructions are listed on the site.

This can be a new source for your sole listening pleasure or it may be a new way for bedtime stories with you and the kids, or a family hour in the evening. Whichever way you decide to use it, I hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


I feel like I am back in a Book Club again after a long dry spell. It has always been important to me to be able to discuss books that I have enjoyed. It is like anything else good that you want to share with family and friends. You want everyone to like it as much as you did, and then you want to affirm the aspects that were most pleasing to you. Although I miss the get-togethers and pot luck (sometimes themed) meals that we all shared when my last book club was meeting, this blog seems like the next best thing.

I hope you will put me on your "Reader" so you can visit at the most convenient time for you and come back often to check out the latest book off the shelf or book news.

Speaking of which, I was thrilled to hear that Eat, Pray, Love is now in film production and I am anxiously awaiting the next and maybe last Harry Potter film. I am proud to admit that I am a fan and have been right from the first book and film. We have had themed parties and cakes around those books as well.

Have a great day, and I hope you got to pick up a book today and read for a while.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Hotel on The Corner of Bitter and Sweet

RATING: 5 out of 5

This is one of those books that might not come along very often but when it does no one should miss the opportunity to savor it.

Many of us tend to lump history into that category of “we should know it but it is kind of boring.” Don’t make that mistake with this book.

The story of Henry and Keiko is a beautiful blend of the best kind of friendship, young love, and loyalty all rolled into one. The entire backdrop is the history of Seattle, its diverse communities, and World War II. Jamie Ford’s ability to draw you in even if you knew nothing about any of this history before is amazing. Soon you are familiar with the streets and neighborhoods of Seattle, and the characters are people you want to get to know even better. I would give anything to have had a best friend, kind of mentor, like Sheldon. My one hope is that this book, being released now in this time of great hope for change and tolerance, will help many see that there is very little difference in the dreams, aspirations, and feelings of all of us regardless of ethnic differences. It is something we need to be reminded of more than ever and Jamie Ford does with such love and compassion.

This is one of the most endearing books that I have read in long time and I will recommend it to many of my fellow readers.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Work Hard. Be Nice

RATING: 5 out of 5

An absolutely engaging, amazing “listen” about the formation and execution of a middle school design known as KIPP by two teachers driven by their thrill of seeing kids learn.

This is an inspiring story of two young men who find their mission in life early, and don’t waiver from it no matter how many obstacles are placed in front of them. As their story unfolds, you find yourself cheering for them at each triumph, and ready to jump in and help them fight off the naysayer who throws up the roadblocks.

The manner that Mr. Mathews uses to weave all the individual stories together is very appealing and helpful in putting a personal face on the story of public education with all its flaws. So many books have been written about different aspects of K-12 education, charter education, and different models, but this book will engage anyone regardless of their exposure to the subject. Without an overload of statistics or rankings, this story is told with the clear,concise pictures of success and the rewards of that success.

If you have an interest in education, listen to this book, if you have children entering the public school system, listen to this book, if you are a new teacher looking for a successful curriculum to embrace, listen to this book, or if you just love a real world story of success, listen to this book.

I have been involved in the charter school movement since 1999 and have 4 children that have attended charter schools. Two of them have just graduated from a KIPP school and one is entering the 7th grade. That being said, I did not know the story of Mike Feinberg and David Levin or how the design was conceived and refined, I just knew it worked for my kids. The two graduates are both headed off to private schools on scholarships, and I am thrilled that I have been able to listen to the story of KIPP which has given them their head start to college.


After much procrastination and rumination about whether I should take the plunge to blog my book reviews, I am jumping in. I have been reviewing for quite some time. I started out reviewing for my girls' school library as a way to get books for the library, and as a way to encourage the students to read and share their love for a book with their classmates. I was the volunteer librarian for six years and loved the connection with students. It was a thrill to see them fall in love with reading even if they didn't want to be classified as a nerd. The reviews were a simple way to engage with the students and get excited about the same book. Soon they were looking at my latest reads as a way to select their next book.

After leaving the school library, I found LibraryThing.com and their Early Reviewer program. It has been a joy to find and network with other bibliophiles like myself and see many with the same taste in library collections. I will be reviewing not only the ARC's that I receive from different sources but also books from my collection, old and new.

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