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.