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.