Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fabric by Fabric One Yard Wonders




5 out 5

Fabric by Fabric One Yard Wonders by Rebecca Yaker, and Patricia Hoskins, the second One Yard Wonders book by them covering many types of fabrics, is simply fabulous. The range of patterns for little people and big people, for yourself as well as a plethora of gift ideas, is amazing. When I say gift, I mean after I make one for myself. I lost count of how many projects I wanted to make. In fact when I first started reviewing this book, I had a momentary lapse and ran out to the fabric store to pick up a copy so I could make a few of the baby items since we have two new grandbabies. Silly me, I said as I realized only after I was there that I was reviewing a book that wasn't due out until December.

This book will definitely be mine before Christmas, I just hate I won't have time to make any of the items for presents. Well, I can get ready for all the birthdays.

The book has great references for fabric, needle use according to the fabric, a glossary, and is in sections by the different types of fabric. There is a bio of each of the pattern designers, which is great since many times there are other patterns that they have created. This book will be an instant best seller.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Salon




I am at the decision crossroads, and I need some help. I am going to be gifted my choice of an iPad, a Kindle, a Sony Reader or any other device that I want to use to read books on. I know there are many other things I can do on the iPad that I can't do on the e Readers, but I have also read all the pros and cons about the screen viewing on the Kindle for book reading vs. devices that have backlighting. Is there anyone out there that owns multiple devices, that can critique them against one another for me? I currently read a few ebooks on my laptop with Adobe Editions and I am comfortable with it but I still like holding a book and being able to be in different positions while reading.

My reading has been catch as catch can this week. I am diving into The Foreigners tonight, Maxine Swann's new novel to be released August 18, 2011. I am very excited by this book, and even my husband was interested which is extremely, and I do mean extremely rare, so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Plum Gorgeous Again



5 out 5
I am re-posting this review because Romney Steele's wonderful book has just been released, and I feel that it deserves all the press it can get. No one suggested I do this, but from one "California Sunshine Girl" to another, I feel like she has captured the essence of so much that is California.
I would give this book a 10 out of 5 if possible. Plum Gorgeous by Romney Steele is not just a memoir, or just a cookbook, or just of food photo book, it is simply all of those things and more. It had the ability to bring back my memories of the smell as you walk out the backdoor to the orchard, in the heat of the summer, and smell only ripe peaches. And not just any peaches but those varieties that you barely see any more, like the Fay Elberta. It brought back the memories of the canning of summer's bounty with my grandmother, jams, fruit, pickles and more. The scent of the fruit pies coming out the oven with beautiful lattice tops.

I must warn, do not read this book while hungry. You will want to run out and get all the ingredients to several or maybe all the recipes she shares with us. I am making the "Marmalade Chicken" for dinner this evening. I love that she also offers alternative items to substitute based on the weather or time of the growing season. The photography in this book provided by Sara Remington is eye candy for all food lovers, and created "artist envy" in me.

This is a book that I will gift to those I know who love to cook, those I know who love to eat good food that stimulate all their senses, and to all the artists I know. I urge everyone who reads this book to not keep it to themselves, pass or gift this bounty just as you would a wonderful sumptuous meal for 10.

Thank you, Romney Steele, for keeping the spirit of the orchard in California alive. You are what my husband fondly calls a "true California sunshine girl" because you appreciate, and have created works of art out of nature's bounty so abundant here in California.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Sunday Salon



This has been a wonderful week for the mailbox. It brought soon to be released The Foreigners, by Maxine Swann, The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker and My Life After Life by Galen Stoller. They have entered the TBR pile and I have actually started The Winters in Bloom. As usual I am listening to a Librivox recording as well, as I go about my daily chores as a way to stay sane. Truly, I don't know what I would do without audio books in some form! Since Librivox is a storehouse of classics, I have taken to rewarding myself with an instant Nextflix movie of the book after I have finished listening to it. Sometimes there are multiple versions that have been made on a given book over time.

I just finished Room with a View and so I tuned into the wonderful movie with Helena Bonham Carter as Lucy Honeychurch. Truly a beautiful performance not only by her but by all the actors. Truly a stellar cast. I was trying to figure out how I had passed up on this movie when it was first released. Don't know..... but as I was perusing the instant Netflix list, I realized I could listen to several more books that have been made into movies in the classic catagory. Now I will probably have a backlog of movies to watch as well. Oh, well, if this is the only dilemma I have, I have nothing to complain about.

Did anyone else sign up for the 2011 Reading Challenge, and if so, how are you doing at this point in the year? I am 28% of my goal but I am still holding out hope that once the girls go back to school, I will somehow have more time to read. At least, I can dream that I will. At one point, I considered changing the goal but I have decided to leave it and maybe I will adjust next year's goal.

Hope everyone is able to get some reading in today and everyday.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Room With a View


4 out 5

Another English Classic down and too many to count left to listen to. Room with A View, one of the many E. M. Forster greats, as a Librivox audiobook was very satisfying. I must give credit to the reader, Kara Shallenberg, for reading with feeling and lilt. It so makes a difference. I wear my iPod and listen to books whenever I am doing mundane work or knitting or sewing. I find that many of the classics calm me and humor me at the same time and needless to say, there is an unending supply waiting to be heard.

Lucy Honeychurch was a breath of fresh air for a time period when young single women were mostly at the mercy of their mothers or the men they had promised to marry. Lucy and a senior cousin take a trip to Italy to immerse themselves in the art of Florence. They stay at a pension that caters to English travelers and it is there that Lucy meets Mr. George Emerson and his father. The Emersons are different from your typical English gentlemen. George was somewhat a bohemian for the day and an atheist. Lucy seems to even doubt herself and how she became immediately enchanted by someone so different from her circle in society so she denies her feeling for as long as possible and almost loses the one thing she was sure she wanted. Love.

Forster illustrates class, and gender issues with great feelings but he also draws beautiful nature settings with words.

I am now going to treat myself to a viewing of the film, with Helena Bonham Carter. Said to be one of her best roles.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Original Sin



5 out of 5

Given that Beth McMullen has chosen to call this first book, Original Sin, a Sally Sin Adventure, I am assuming there will be more adventures to come. I am, in fact, counting on it as I have truly fallen for Sally or Lucy or whatever name she goes by. This is a refreshing take on the Espionage, Spy genre with a wonderful sense of dry humor thrown in and is based in San Francisco. Although, Sally has traveled all over the world in the pursuit of the "bad" guys, enemies of the state and the like, she now resides in San Francisco.

She decides to give up "The career" for a wonderful, caring man named Will that she fell head over heels in love with but the "career" isn't quite ready to let go of her. Old enemies start appearing from her past quicker than she can drop her adorable toddler off at preschool. It's not like she didn't know her past could pop up but she really wanted to believe maybe it would wait until old age. None of her acquaintances, casual friends, or even her darling Will know of her past adventures and near misses with death and she truly wants to keep it that way. The action is quick paced and the humor is continuous from beginning to end. My only wish was that I could have changed the interruptions of my daily life that prevented me from reading this in one sitting.

A Year and Six Seconds




RATING: 5 out 5


In this follow-up memoir to It Happens Every Day, Isabel Gillies, bares her heart and all the raw emotions that came in the aftermath of her separation from her husband who has fallen in love with someone else. She leaves her home, most of her possessions, most of the possessions of her children, and the Midwestern town she has called home.

She is honest with her hurt and pain as she heads back to her parents’ apartment in New York with her two very small little boys. My first thoughts when I began this book was why would she move back in with her parents but once the scene unfolds, you realize that it was the best move she could have made for all of them in terms of a safe, warm, loving cocoon that helped both her and the boys heal. Her frankness about the obstacles, uncertainty, and the depression that comes to her in waves almost every day, is a wonderful gift to other women who may be going through this kind of separation and loss of a relationship and will help them see that they are the only out there with the same or similar problems.

This is wonderful personal story that takes you through all the different stages of the failing of a relationship. You wonder at times if Isabel will come out on the other in tack or will she withdraw with the help of her aging parents. Her story is one that can be recommended to a friend who might be going through a separation or divorce, to someone you know who is finding it difficult to move on just yet, or simply anyone who want to see that there is light on the other side of any bad situation.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Long Goodbye


4 out of 5

Meghan O'Rourke's memoir, The Long Goodbye, is a very sad and beautifully touching memory of her mother's battle with cancer and eventual death and Mehgan's loss. This is the fourth memoir that I have read and reviewed on death and loss of a very close loved one in the last 5 years. I guess you could say that I have been looking for answers that were not presenting themselves to me otherwise regarding loss and grieving. With each one, I have confirmation of my own feelings of loss and endless grief that have been otherwise very difficult to put into words.

Early in the book, she says "When we are learning the world, we know things we cannot say how we know. When we are relearning the world in the aftermath of a loss, we feel things we had almost forgotten, old things, beneath the seat of reason." These are the kinds of things that we find impossible to share with those even very close to us. It was how I felt when I lost my son 5 years ago and I still feel that way today. I was glad to read that she felt the five stages of grief were a deceiving chart that did not necessarily flow in order and did not go through all stages for everyone and that most of us "grieve in private, at night, alone."

The only part of the book that I struggled through was after the death of Meghan's mother, Barbara, was when Meghan went through the review of the text versions of loss and grief. I liked who her mother was and would have loved to continue to read the stories of her life and her relationship with her family and friends. Finally she finds when she has therapy, and continues to search through texts on dealing with grief that she is not fitting the examples of grief patterns. It is interesting how each person's journey is so different and I am glad that I continued to read to come to her acknowledgement that "I will carry this wound forever. It's not a question of getting over it or healing. No; it's a question of learning to live with this transformation." It is a great message for everyone. As a young writer experiencing grief that her contemporaries may not experience for many years to come, she gives a voice that will resonate with many across all ages.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Night Road


5 out of 5

My first reading experience with Kristin Hannah was when I read and reviewed her book, Firefly Lane back in June 2009. Now comes her latest book, Night Road, which was just released on March 29, 2011. All I can say is WOW! A powerful story of tragic loss, grief, in all it stages and then some, and redemption.

Since I am surrounded by teenagers all the time, I was more than 130 pages into the book with three very likable teens, before I was sure I wanted to continue on, not because the story was dragging or dull but because I sensed that something, possibly something terrible, was going to happen and I was not sure I wanted to be subjected to it. I liked all the characters, each for different reasons, and I wasn't prepared to lose one of them or hate any of the others. Each of us come to a book's theme with our own set of baggage. I don't like to post spoilers in a review so I will just say that having experienced some of the topics covered in this wonderful, deeply moving story, I came away with a renewed sense of how we each must find our own peace. This is a book that you can recommend to teens as well as their parents.

There are many lessons to be learned about family,lessons for teens, lessons for friends, and lessons for parents, some of them are subtle and others are the ones that are right up there "in your face". Share this book with someone you care about.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Knitting Diaries



4 out of 5

I was very pleased with these three short stories. If you like Debbie Macomber, you will like the first story, The Twenty- First Wish in this collection, The Knitting Diaries. Even more than that, you will have possibly discovered two new writers, at least they were new to me, in the process. The first story by Debbie brings back one of the characters from Blossom Street, Ann Marie Roche, the owner of the bookstore, who adopted a young foster child after she become a widow, only to learned that the child's biological father wanted back in his daughter's life. Their lives are picked back up from the last Blossom Street book, as Ann Marie has just bought a new home since their little apartment over the bookstore was simply not big enough for her and Ellen and their little dog, Baxter.

As always there are some good moral lessons here as well as a some laughs, smiles, and good feelings.

The second story, Coming Unraveled takes you to Texas and another yarn store owned by a lovely grandmother. It is the story of her granddaughter, Robyn, returning home after several years from pursuing an acting career in New York. Robyn, is thrilled to see everything as she left it except for one thing. There is a man, T. J., in the shop's knitting group. Someone who looks terribly out of place and does not seem to like Robyn at all. He is even maybe a little hostile. As this story unfolds, it becomes obvious that both Robyn and T. J. are not being honest with each other, their friends at the knit shop or themselves. The depth of friendship and loyalty in this story was quite moving and kept the story moving.

This is the first thing that I have read by Susan Mallery so I had no point of reference but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't think it was just because of the yarn connection that I was taken with the story but rather the way she handled how people hide behind their pain and block out the very people that can ease that pain.

The last story, Return to Summer Island,by Christina Skye, I think, resonated with me the most, because of the animal connection rather than the yarn connection. As with Ms. Mallery, I had not read anything else by Ms. Skye, so I had not reference to her style or theme of writing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My One and Only



5 out of 5

Kristin Higgins has a real winner with this new novel, My One and Only. I must say that the main character, Harper, could not have come from a more dysfunctional family. Yet she has a sense of humor that carries you throughout the book. I can't count the number of times that I just laughed out loud as she was able to lighten what could have been an otherwise pretty sad story about mother, daughter relationships and how they affect every aspect of one's future relationships with others. Harper's mother walks out of her life the day after her 13th birthday never to return. Her father walks in to their house a few weeks later with a new wife and little step sister and so the saga begins as these lives are intertwined for the next 20 years.

It is a moving story of the impact that we humans all have on one another, whether intentional or not. Be glad for the humor as otherwise you might only cry throughout the whole book. When you first meet Harper she is a tough as nails divorce lawyer who seems to have her whole life very organized. However, the organization is really a way of compartmentalizing her life to not let in any more hurt. This story takes many twists and turns and leaving you guessing right up until the end. Ms. Higgins has given each character full dimension of personality so you truly feel a part of this extended family.

This is my first read of Ms. Higgins work, but I will pick up her other titles as they come along. Enjoy the Read!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Invisible Wall




5 out of 5

There are so many amazing aspects to The Invisible Wall, the first of three volumes of a memoir by Harry Bernstein, I am not sure where to start. I guess the most amazing fact I learned was that it is never too late to write your story. Mr. Bernstein started this first book at the age of 96. Almost unbelievable given the clarity of the story. His memory of the pain, poverty, and racism that prevailed in his early life is still as vivid in his writing as it must have been then.

He retells the story of his life as well as the lives of his families from his first memories of being brought up in a small mill town in England where the segregation is block by half block. Jews on one side of the street and Christians on the other side of the street. They seem to interact only on Friday evenings when the Christians will help them by coming into their homes to light their fires after sundown for the sabbath evening meal.

With the bleak weather, bleak living conditions, bleak education options for the Jewish children, this could easily be a very bleak story but it is in fact a story filled with love, a son's love for his mother, a daughter's love of her Christian neighbor, and a mother's love for her family that enables her to rise above huge obstacles, the largest being her alcoholic, abusive husband. The backdrop of all of these smaller stories is the story of England during World War I. The Great War seems to be a uniting factor in some ways for all the families of this small town but it is not enough to overcome many of the roadblocks between the different factions residing there.

I am ready to dive into the second volume of Mr. Bernstein's life as he immigrates to the United States and finds his way. Be uplifted and read this amazing story of life and how giving up was not in the vocabulary of the Bernstein family.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Everything I Was



4 out of 5

Irene is very much like a lot of kids I know, or know of, these days. Maybe her parents were a little more well-to-do than some kids I know but they were really just a middle class family with a job and living a very nice life, maybe too nice a life. When Irene’s father loses his job as a part of a corporate downsize, Everything she was, changes. And it changes rather quickly.

Corinne Demas has captured the delicate balance bubble that most kids seem to be living in today in her soon-to-be released YA novel, Everything I Was. They place a lot of face value on the materialistic side of life, the school they attend, what they wear, where they go on vacation, and many times they seem unaware of the important basic family values that are far more important and count for more when times get tough.

Irene’s world seems to have been turned upside down, as she is being uprooted from their beloved New York Manhattan apartment, her private all girls school, and are moving in with her grandfather outside of New York in a small town in the countryside. For kids in high school, any change can seem like the world is working against you and you alone, but this was beginning to feel like the end of the world to Irene.

This is the kind of book that I would recommend to not only my own high schoolers but also to middle schoolers who may be having great concerns as they get ready to make that transition to high school. One of the reasons I continue to read new YA fiction is to keep a perspective of how our young people approach new trials. Any time I able to place the right book in the right hands, and that book speaks to a child in a language they understand and relate to, it is a good thing.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Plum Gorgeous Meal - Marmalade Chicken



Just had to post that I DID make the Marmalade Chicken just as I said I would out of the inspiring new soon to be released work, Plum Gorgeous. It was absolutely amazing. The whole family loved it. The tastes were as wonderful as they sounded just reading the recipe. I will be trying more of the enticements Ms. Steele offers us up in this beautiful book.

The sauce that the marinade makes was delicious over rice flavored with cilantro and lemon oil. We completed the meal with a tossed salad with red onion and mandarin oranges, and a sprinkle of lemon olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

The Other Life



5 out of 5

Ellen Meister has posed the question in The Other Life that many of us have asked ourselves silently but have not expressed out loud or visited even in our wildest dreams. What would have my life have been like if I had taken that other life? The Other Life we have all had, those forks in the road, where we parted ways with or lost a love, a family member, or a course in our career. What if we were able to go back and revisit ourselves in that other life as it went along a separate dimension prior the fork in the road, separate from the life we live now? Would we choose the same one or "The Other Life"? Tough question, and for each of us, the circumstances both present and past are different but no less difficult to choose between.

In the novel, Quinn Braverman is trying to choose between her present life which includes her adoring husband, her first child, and occurs during the pregnancy of her second child or her previous life with a very famous but needy, non committal boyfriend of 10 years and her mother. Her mother had committed suicide shortly after her "fork in the road" and the marriage to her present husband, and before the birth of either of her children. Her mother is who she misses terribly, and needs to connect with her for advice. Even though she is angry at her mother for leaving all of them, she can revisit the place where neither of them knew what the future held or what part the past had played to set up their future lives. Unfortunately, for Quinn, when she visits this other life she does so through the apartment that she occupied with her boyfriend of 10 years and he becomes a participant in her other life.

This may be starting to sound like another version of The Time Traveler's Wife but it isn't. Don't get me wrong. I loved that book as well but I did not even associate the two until long after I finished The Other Life.

Enjoy this book, and see if you can answer the question and make the decision Quinn had to make.

Sunday Salon



Egalleys, ebooks. Love them or hate them. Is the jury still out or are they here to stay? I am now seeing them as an addition to my reading repertoire rather than the new only way to read. I think I will always love the feel of the book in my hand and the physical act of holding and turning the pages back and forth, the smell that many talk of, and the image of books on the shelves waiting to be explored.

I have become a member of NetGalley as a part of my book reviewing but I am still receiving hard copies of upcoming releases to review as well. I do not own a Kindle or any other kind of e reader so my electronic reads are limited to the portability of my laptop which is okay for now but somewhat limiting. What I love about reading on the laptop is the ability to set the scroll to a pace that allows me to read "handless" so to speak without having to hold the book or turn the page. Love it. It increases my mindless knitting time.

And then, there is the audio book! I wonder if we will see the egalley version with a time limit on availability like the egalley. Maybe they do exist and I just don't know it. Someone hip me if I am missing another form of reading!

I still always grab a current read as I walk out the door and stick it in my purse or bag to occupy those down or waiting moments in line times that occur in my life more often than I would care to count. There is also always a small knitting project in the bag and my iPod stocked with audiobooks from Librivox since there are areas where one or the other is more useful. Some areas are just too noisy or chaotic to read in.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Plum Gorgeous



5 out 5

I would give this book a 10 out of 5 if possible. Plum Gorgeous by Romney Steele is not just a memoir, or just a cookbook, or just of food photo book, it is simply all of those things and more. It had the ability to bring back my memories of the smell as you walk out the backdoor to the orchard, in the heat of the summer, and smell only ripe peaches. And not just any peaches but those varieties that you barely see any more, like the Fay Elberta. It brought back the memories of the canning of summer's bounty with my grandmother, jams, fruit, pickles and more. The scent of the fruit pies coming out the oven with beautiful lattice tops.

I must warn, do not read this book while hungry. You will want to run out and get all the ingredients to several or maybe all the recipes she shares with us. I am making the "Marmalade Chicken" for dinner this evening. I love that she also offers alternative items to substitute based on the weather or time of the growing season. The photography in this book provided by Sara Remington is eye candy for all food lovers, and created "artist envy" in me.

This is a book that I will gift to those I know who love to cook, those I know who love to eat good food that stimulate all their senses, and to all the artists I know. I urge everyone who reads this book to not keep it to themselves, pass or gift this bounty just as you would a wonderful sumptuous meal for 10.

Thank you, Romney Steele, for keeping the spirit of the orchard in California alive. You are what my husband fondly calls a "true California sunshine girl" because you appreciate, and have created works of art out of nature's bounty so abundant here in California.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Turn in the Road



4.5 out of 5

Blossom Street is branching out in this newest work from Debbie Macomber’s series. I thoroughly enjoyed this individual story with a few of the characters from Blossom Street.

Bethanne is a likable, savvy woman of 40-something who was left by her husband of 20 years for a younger woman. It took that heartless act to allow her to come into her own as a business woman but nothing had happened in her love life since her husband had left. Now after 7 years, she has a happenstance meeting with a biker in small town cafĂ© which turns her world on end. She thinks she is on a harmless road trip with her ex-mother in law and her grown daughter but what actually happens is each woman is secretly carrying her own love lost burden. I will not post any spoilers but this is a delightful read about love and love lost across three generations of women with a lot of twists and turns. Mrs. Macomber did not disappoint with this new release. Her characters are like familiar close friends that you can visit and re –visit and enjoy each time. If you are a Blossom Street fan, you will enjoy this book.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Four Ms. Bradwells



2.5 out 5 stars

I really wanted to like this book. I read The Wednesday Sisters and loved it. I was simply unable to get into these characters and I could not "hear" their separate voices. I kept going back to see who was suppose to be speaking and then I would have to try to remember what their history and relationship to other was. I finally gave up after 120 pages. I may pick it up later and see if it was just timing. But I am resolved this year to stick to Nancy Pearl's reading rule and not feel like I have to finish a book whether I am enjoying it or not.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mailbox Monday




Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists!
Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at The Printed Page, is on a blog tour! March 2011's host is I'm Booking It.

This past week's book arrivals were more than the usual one ARC or a trade from PaperBackSwap.com.

The ARCs were

The Girl Who Would Speak for the Dead by Paul Elwork

Wrecker by Summer Wood

A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Windspear

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

My lone receipt from swapping was

Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway

which I read many years ago when it was first published, but wanted to reread. Something recently reminded me of this book and I wondered if I would feel the same way about it now as when I first read it. I don't do this very often since I have so much that I still want to read for the first time but occasionally it does happen. I am always surprised what I get out of it the second time around.

Guess I better get cracking because I am getting farther and farther behind. Hope your mailbox is kind to you this week!

A Widow's Story: A Memoir



3 out of 5 stars

I immediately requested the ARC of Joyce Carol Oates', A Widow's Story: A Memoir when it was first offered. I had had such strong reactions to Joan Didion's memoir, A Year of Magical Thinking, which I read shortly after the death of my son. I thought maybe my reaction would be different since 5 years have passed. Not so. Although the two authors' styles are miles apart, the raw pain and emotion are the same.

Joyce Carol Oates is a well known, "instant recognition" name in writing but her private life for the past 48 years was that of Joyce Smith, wife of Raymond Smith, a well known editor. That private life collapsed, disappeared, and became a kind of nightmare when Raymond suddenly died. Like death of any kind, we never prepare for it. It doesn't matter if the loved one is older or young. We simply stay in denial about the mortality that we all have. How we deal with the loss is another matter. I am jealous of these writers that they are able to express and put to paper the madness, angry, rage, and all the other emotions that cannot be suppressed. All of us who have suffered such a loss feel and experience this wide range of emotions but we are unable to verbalize or explain them to our friends and family. Some of us are lucky enough to maybe have a close friend or a therapist that has also had such a loss that can identify with the feelings that are surging through us and help us survive those waves, but many are left to flounder on their own.

You hear about the families and friendships that break apart after such a loss, and you can clearly see why when you read of the near insanity that Ms. Oates is able to reveal in her grieving testament. I really struggled through parts of this book. I wanted to shout to her to get help from her close friends. I felt her anger at the medical community prevented her from getting the help she might have benefited from if she had sought grief therapy. And ultimately I realized that each of us must bear these feelings and sense of loss on our own terms.

Needles and Pearls



4 out of 5 Stars

This was a very quick read and I am really coming to not only like Jo MacKenzie and her family and friends, but would really like to have them among my family and friends. She is definitely a woman that I can relate to on many different levels. I admire her resilience when facing the death of her husband and taking control of her life's direction. She is a wonderful mother and a loyal friend.

In this second novel by Gil McNeil, Jo continues on with her new life outside of London in a small town at the seaside. Her yarn shop is progressing and growing and she is making more new friends.

Ms. McNeil has expanded Jo's personality and added more complex issues into the lives of Jo, her family, and friends. I am not going to add any spoilers but if you enjoyed the first novel at all, you will love this one for all the added adventures and relationships that are blooming and the way she handles life's ups and down on so many different fronts. This is a series so you should not skip her first book. If you enjoy England, knitting, friendship and family, a little of life's ups and downs, you will enjoy this second installment of this series.

Sunday Salon



It would appear that I have not been able to read at all this week but the real problem is that I have been having writer's block in getting any reviews written.

I am still listening to Mrs. Mapp and I am working my way through The Other Life by Ellen Meister but I can't seem to put reviews to paper. I think part of it is because I have had very little alone time. Kids off from school for a whole week, helping husband, and a lot of sewing seem to be preventing me from the quiet "alone" time that I usually use for review writing. May mean I need to get up earlier or go to bed later, not sure which. I also have been guilty of way too much blog reading on many different topics but there seems to be nothing I can do about that. I am carving out some time this afternoon. Let's see how long it can last. I have so many books on my night table that it will soon collapse. It really isn't as bad as it sounds. I can think of a whole lot of things that I am glad are not happening to me, and having too many books to read is at the bottom of the list. Hope you are enjoying your Sunday.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Salon



This was one of those rare Sundays where I actually was able to stay in bed for some uninterrupted reading for a few hours. Those Sundays have been rare lately and so it was that much more enjoyable. I had wonderful coffee and had just started Needles and Pearls by Gil McNeil. This is the second novel with Jo McKenzie, owner of a yarn shop in a small seaside town in England. Light, enjoyable reading but I have to say I appreciate Ms. McNeil sense of humor even more in this second book. It was there in the first book, but this second novel really gets her on a roll. I was laughing out loud to myself page after page and chapter after chapter. I am more than half way through and I would love to be able to finish it tonight. Will reserve the rest for my review. This has been a pretty good week for new arrivals and there are several I would like to jump right into but I really need to finish some that I have started and get caught up on pending reviews. Hope everyone is having a wonderful reading Sunday.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Heroic Measures: A Novel



4 out of 5


Really enjoyed this compassionate e-read about life in New York for seniors and the animals they love. Ms. Ciment's technique of alternate chapters from the point of view of the couple Ruth and Alex, and their dog, Dorothy creates the connection between owner and pet. I also appreciated her realistic portrayal of seniors and their needs and desires. Not all seniors are bumbling or senile, and it is important to remind the rest of world of that point as often as necessary so that seniors can be given the respect they deserve. The feelings of Dorothy, a small dachshund who is the baby of Ruth and Alex, is well conveyed in my opinion. A series of events build on one another as the story unfolds, from the sale of their coop apartment, to a tanker truck stuck in a New York tunnel and the ensuing traffic jam on the streets of New York, and Dorothy's illness which requires a cab ride to the vet, ultimately all converge in one weekend. If you are a pet lover, you will enjoy this book, if you are a soon to be senior you will enjoy this book, but I recommend you read this book even if you don't fall into any of those categories as it renews your faith in mankind.

I read this book in a PDF format as it was offered for a brief time on Oprah.com. It was extremely easy to read. I am not sure if it was font or size of font but it made for a quick, fast read. I am not a Kindle or iPad owner so I have only read books on my laptop. Not all have been as easy to focus on as this book was.

Resilience



5 out of 5

Elizabeth Edwards was honest, and forthright about prioritizing the losses one may suffer in their lifetime. I was drawn to read this book, after hearing her interviewed several times. We shared the common bond of mothers who lost their son. It was an important read for me to affirm my feelings regarding my loss and to also gain some insight into the act of moving forward no matter how many times you fall back.

Elizabeth was able to convey the message that women need to honor themselves in all that they do. She was spiritual, without being "preachy". A tiger of a Mom, and always giving her kids the gift of love. I admire the way that she handled her husband's indiscretions and failures. He did not know what he had until he lost it and he was never man enough to "man up" and acknowledge his poor judgment. Ego will cost him in the long run if with no one else but his children.

I recommend this book anyone who may need a boost to their spirit and also recommend that you suggest this book to young women who are just starting out on the road to life. Perspective is everything. May Elizabeth Edwards rest in peace knowing she has given so much.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Salon

The Sunday Salon.com


Finished up Homer's Odyessy by Gwen Cooper this morning and got the review out of the way and posted to all the sites where I share my reviews. Loved the book, wished I had finished it earlier, but that is a waste of my energy. I have decided here in the new year to try to lay out some goals and organization to my reading. That may sound like work but I am frustrated that I have so many books that I really want to read and share with others but can't seem to make as much progress as I want. So I want to tie up the loose ends, like reviews I need to do for books from the Early Reviewer books on LibraryThing.com, and then chip away at the other ARC's that I have waiting in the wings. I think along these lines I also need to adopt the reading rules that I read I believe in a Nancy Pearl post. You allow yourself to read the number of pages equal to your age, and if you aren't hooked, you may put the book down and pick something else up that will grab your interest. Time is short in this life and as much as I love to read, I do not want to read anything that is not grabbing me. My interests are so varied, so I won't become bored reading the same topic. Wish me luck, and I will continue to share my reviews of those that I finish and my comments on those that I don't finish and why.

This week I am going to work on finishing Joyce Carol Oates', A Widow's Story, A Memoir which I am enjoying. Next I will chip away at the LT Early Reviewers ARC's that are left on the table. I also want to move on to the second memoir of Harry Bernstein, and get the review of The Invisible Wall,the first part of three, done.

Homer's Odyessy



5 OUT OF 5

One of the most touching true animal stories I have ever read. Now, I must confess I am a “cat lover” and have had a cat or cats as pets, most of my life. That being said, I have learned more about these wonderful creatures from this book, and the story of Homer’s life up until now than I could have learned from all of my wonderful kitties.

Here we have this precious little kitten with a severe eye infection before he ever opened his own eyes. His eyes are removed to save his life. Then the vet starts to look for an individual to adopt and care for Homer for the rest of his blind life. Gwen accepts the challenge even though she is not sure that she is up to it. One of my favorite lines in the book has to do with the fact that Homer does not only “not know” that he is blind, but none of his furry friends are going to tell him that he can’t see either. As a result, he believes he can do anything any other cat can do, using the same techniques. Instinct is powerful. His highly developed other senses are amazing to read about.

I don’t want to give away any of the delightful stories and antidotes that Gwen shares about his life because each of them are special, some very funny, hilarious, heart touching, and unbelievable. However, as Homer’s story unfolds you soon recognize that there is no exaggeration in any of these stories. There were moments when I gasped as I read the adventures and antics of this little guy. Others are laugh out loud moments. Woven in with all of these tales is Gwen’s story of coming of age and maturity, which is engaging as well. There are lessons to learn for everyone about relationships not only with animals but with humans as well.