Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cleopatra's Daughter

by Michelle Moran

I learned a lot from this enjoyable book.  In my way of thinking that's like icing on the cake.  It's obvious that Michelle knows her stuff but she doesn't force feed it to the reader.  Instead she tells an engaging story and the 'heavy' stuff just softly settles around it.

The story is told from Selena's point of view.  She is the daughter of Cleopatra and Marc Antony and twin sister to Alexander Helios.  At the beginning of the book the Roman army is overpowering Alexandria.  Octavian takes Selena, Helios and their younger brother Ptolemy as his prisoners and transports them back to Rome.

The rest of the book tells about the next several years as Selena goes from an 11-yr-old to sixteen, wishing all those years for her return to Egypt with Helios as the ruler.

Read more about Cleopatra's Daughter on Michelle Moran's website.
Watch the cool video trailer.

My daughter is looking forward to reading this one after she finishes a few that are already on her plate.  I think she's going to love it, too.

In addition to a wonderful story, at the beginning of the book Moran has included a Time Line that briefly reviews some major events prior to the book's setting.  There's also a map of  the Roman Empire during the age of Ocatvian (later known as Augustus).  I love maps in books.  There's also a map of Rome.  A much needed resource for me was the list of major characters.  I referred to it often to remind me of who was related to who.  Divorce and mixed families were as common as they are in America today.  A final resources is the glossary.  All these resources may make you think you'll be slogging through this book.  Not so.  The story is very readable and the resources are the additions made by a thorough and thoughtful person. 

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.  Check out her blog to find more Mailbox posts.

I've been trying to add the beginning books of several of the series I'm interested in reading.  So into my mailbox this week came some of those books.

The Irene Kelly mystery series by Jan Burke
Book #3 - Dear Irene
Book #4 - Remember Me, Irene

Book # 6 - Liar

The Kenzie-Gennaro mystey series by Dennis LeHane
Book #3 - Sacred
Book #4  Gone Baby Gone

The Lady Emily Ashton mystery series byTasha Alexander
Book # 1 - Only to Deceive
Book #3 - A Fatal Waltz

Tiffany Aching fantasy series by Terry Pratchett
Book #3 - Wintersmith

Erast Fandorin Russian mystery series by Boris Akunin
Book #1 - The Winter Queen
Book #2 - The Turkish Gambit

Contest Wins
The Castaways: A Novel by Elin Hilderbrand  (audiobook)
The Lacemakers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

Sent to me by Jenclair fro A Garden Carried in the Pocket.  Thanks so much, Jenclair.
Shadowmagic by John Lenadan

One I don't remember who recommended it
Speak of the Devil

Review Copies
Chin and The Magic Stones: Book One - Becoming Guardians by L.J. Salzar
13 1/2 by Nevada Barr

Friday, September 25, 2009

Saturday States - Blogging Around the States

I'm thrilled to bring you the second edition of Blogging Around the States.  Last week I was able to share a list of book bloggers from my own state of Utah.  This week we're looking at my neighboring state, Colorado.  When I contacted Heidenkind and asked if she would be my first 'real' interview I didn't know she lived next door in Colorado.

Let me introduce my guest:    Heidenkind can be found at Heidenkind's Hideaway where her first blog appeared in November 2008 with a list of some of the scary books she's read.  Heidenkind is a relative newby to the bookosphere but she is already making her known by hosting an Art History Challenge that sounds enticing and she provides several different categories and lots of helpful suggestions. (Thanks from me and other art-challenged readers.)

Heidenkind interests include art, history, music, movies, television, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, vampires, mystery and YA. 

Before I start with the interview questions I wanted to share a quote on Heidenkind's header that I think is thought-provoking and wise:   "We always want to see what is hidden by what we see."

A now for some question/answer time.

Me: Tell us a little about yourself.
Heidenkind: I'm a nineteenth-century geek, and when I was teaching class, I would try to dress up like characters from the nineteenth century.  I have brown hair, which I'm growing out, blue eyes, and I'm tall-ish and skinny.  My favorite book is Jane Eyre, my favorite movie is Thunderheart, my favorite food is miso soup, and my favorite animal is the octopus--so basically, I'm all over the place.  Oh, and my favorite color is purple.  I grew up in the middle of a prairie and I've been a book addict since I was, oh, five or so.  I have a master's degree in art history, which believe it or not is the perfect major for bookaholics.

Me:  What do you love about your state?
Heidenkind: My state is Colorado.  I love the mountains and the fact that things around here are pretty laid back and egalitarian.  I love the mix of cultures here as well.

Me: Is there anything you don't like about where you live?
Heidenkind: Well, it's not exactly the best place for someone pursuing a career in art history.  There aren't many job opportunities in that field around here--there aren't a lot of museums, and what there are operate on a shoestring budget.

Me: If job, money, family did not enter the equation, would you prefer to live in another state?  Which one?  And why?
Heidenkind: I really don't know.  The other places I've lived, I didn't like.  I would love to live in Paris.  My town is kind of a black hole, though....

Me: If I visited your state what cities, sights, and/or activities would you recommend I check out, see and/or do?
Heidenkind: There's a lot to do around here if you're an outdoors person--drive to the top of Pike's Peak and freeze your butt off, go to Estes Park, visit the mountain towns like Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge; visit Mesa Verde and see the Cliff Houses; hike through Pinon Canon and see the rock art and dinosaur tracks.  Or you could just go to Cripple Creek and gamble.  Or go to a mall. *gag*

Me: Who are some authors that currently live in your state?
Heidenkind: Frank Perretti used to live here; I'm not sure if he still does.  Sherri Tepper, Barbara Samuels, Delores Johnson, and Dan Simmons.  That's all I can think of at the moment.

Damon Runyun (wrote Guys and Dolls) is from my home town, but he's dead so he's not really living here anymore.  I did always think it would be fun to see if he based any of his characters on people he knew here when he was growing up, though.

Me: Do you have a favorite book set in your state?
Heidenkind: Erm... no.  I don't read books set in my home state.  I did once and I wanted to burn it.  Does this make me a terrible person?

I want to thank Heidenkind for taking the time from her busy life to answer these questions.  If you have more you can ask them in the comment section.  I had fun visiting back and forth through email and getting to know more about a fellow blogger and I hope you did, too. 

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thankksgiving at the Inn

by Tim Whitney

Ever since his mother left, life hasn't been easy for Heath Wellington III.  Between his father's bouts with alcoholism and literary rejection, and Heath's own wrongful suspension from school, there hasn't been all that much to be thankful for.

This is a heartwarming story of love and forgiveness, but there's another message in this little gem - people need friends.  We learn somethings from members of our family, but it's often 'outsiders' that teach us how to live and love our family. 

When Heath's grandfather dies and leaves his fortune to he and his dad, he added one catch - They needed to manage the Thanksgiving Inn.  This is not a elegant B&B even though it's billed as a bed-and-breakfast is more like a rundown apartment building for four some of the strangest people Heath has ever met, such as
  • Winsted, the old, wise Jamaican man who used to lead the prayers in Senior’s factory;
  • Mrs. Farrel, an elderly woman giving away her late husband’s fortune letter by letter;
  • Mustang Sally, the muscle-bound, tattooed grease monkey who doubles as a children’s author;
  • Carter, the silent TV news junkie and secret Harvard graduate. 
The characters, especially Winsted, wormed their waysright  into my heart.  I liked the way Winsted would allow Heath to learn and grow from his own mistakes and life experiences rather than preaching what he could do or should do.  There is also the young autistic girl who lives close by who makes an impact on Heath.

Thanksgiving at the Inn is told from Heath's perspective and is therefore a great book for middle school and older readers who will be able to identify with some of the turmoil in Heath's life.  It's also a perfect read for all the rest of because it teaches us the need to forgive and grow beyond past patterns in our lives and past disappointments.  We can also learn about expectations. 

I can see this becoming a favorite book for young people to read over and over again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Summertime Pasta

Kristina's Favorites hosts Midweek Morsels.  And since I actually cooked something this week, tonight in fact, I thought I'd join in the Midweek Morsels fun.

I got the original recipe for this dish from Pioneer Woman.   If you are a foodie and haven't stumbled across her site yet, let me encourage you to do so. The recipes are awesome and her photography is unbelievable.   I suspect you''ve been there, though.  Her comment numbers are astronomical - i mean several hundred to a couple of thousand when she hosts a giveaway.  I've spent hours reading her blog.  And gathered several yummy recipes, too.

Pioneer Woman named her version Farfalle with Zucchini but I changed the name because I thought the farfelle (bowties) was too substantial (heavy) for this dish.  I made it the first time just like she said, but tonight I substitued angel hair for the farfalle and we liked it much better.

There are not specific amounts for this dish since a regular-sized zucchini means different things to different people.  In my neck of the woods, people let them grow way too big.  I like young, small zucchinis and since most plants produce a thousand, why not pick them smaller than larger?  The size you buy in the store are probably regular-sized. 

Summertime Pasta
1 med onion, diced
4-5 regular sized zucchini, crookneck or other summer squash
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced in half
3 cloves garlic, minced or diced
olive oil
10-oz angel hair pasta
2/3 C chicken broth (or white wine)
1 Tbsp Arrowroot (for thickening)
1/2 - 3/4 C cream
fresh herbs - basil, lemon thyme, chives (whatever you've got)
Parmesan cheese

Set a pan of water to boil for the pasta.  Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables.  I had a banana pepper from the garden so I diced that up, too.  It's very mild and tastes just like a yellow sweet pepper.  I quarter-cut yellow crookneck for the sauce and, using a mandolin slicer, I thinly sliced zucchini to cook with the pasta.

When the water boils cook pasta and zucchinni for 4-5 minues.

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over med high heat.  Saute the onions and garlic, until onions are
translucent; add squash (and diced pepper).  When the squash is almost cooked but still has a slight crunch, turn the heat to medium and toss in the tomatoes.  Cook for a minute or two.  Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in the Arrowroot, immediately the sauce will start to thicken.    Remove from heat and pour in the cream.  Stir gently.

To serve, pour the drained pasta into a serving bowl.  Add lots of fresh herbs - I forgot the herbs tonight and that makes me sad because they add so much yumminess to the dish.  I have oregano, basil and rosemary growing in the garden, too.  Pour the sauce over the top.  Add parmesan cheese and gently stir.

I served this with corn-on-the-cob for a very satisfying dinner with all the yummy goodness of summer flavors.

***Sidenote:  My daughter thought that little red serano pepper would look pretty on the plate for the picture, and it did, but unless you want some hotness I wouldn't suggest adding it to the recipe. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

This is one of my favorite weekly features in the blog world.  It was started and is hosted by Raidergirl3 at An Adventure in Reading.  Every Tuesday she asks where we are in our reading.

This Tuesday I am still in Rome with my twin brother, Alexander.  We were taken there by Caesar Octavian after the battle in Egypt that killed our father, Marc Antony.  Our mother, Cleopatra, took her own life before she could be taken captive.  We've been in Rome for over 2 years where we live with Octavian's sister Octavia.
                             (Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran)

Where is your reading taking you?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.  Check out her blog to find more Mailbox posts. Too many books again this week.  I need help!   But I'm not looking to hard for help because it's really fun to get books in the mail.  Sounds like I'm still in denial.
Rough Country by John Sandford - The too kind Lydia Hirt wanted to send me another book because I didn't care for the first book she sent which was The Holy Bullet.  I feel bad when an author or publisher sends me a review copy that I end up not liking, but I've never been offered a replacement book before.  Like I say Lydia is very kind.

Junius & Joseph by Robert S. Wicks - was recommended by my delightful sis-in-law when she was visiting a few weeks ago from Ohio.  It's about Joseph Smith's candidacy for U.S. President.  Sounds really good!
Twice Dying by Neil Mahon - blame this on someone's great review.  I love mystery/suspense so whoever it was didn't need to twist my arm too hard.

Hocus by Jan Burke - another mystery/suspense that received a good review on someone's blog.

City of Dreams by Beverly Swerling - Is a novel of Nieuw Amsterdam and Early Manhattan. 

Absolute Certainty: A Crime Novel by Rose Connors - A legal thriller set in Chatham on Cape Cod.  I think this is the 3rd or 4th book I've bought this month set in Cape Cod.

Looking After Pigeon by Maud Carol Markson  - A review copy.  Offered to me by Trish Collins for a TLC Tour.

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon  - I read several positive reviews for this book in the last few months.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Saturday States - Blogging Around the States

This idea popped into my head earlier this week and I thought it just might be one of those rare ideas that has some merit.  So I'm going to run with it.  The idea is to feature a blogger from one of the U.S. states each Saturday until all the states have been represented.  Then maybe I'll start over again.  The problem I face is I'd like to feature bloggers that don't live in the states as well.  I know - I can do a Tuesday Touring or Tuesday Travel or Wednesday World post.  I like it!  Or maybe I'll find that I don't have to alliterate and I'll do a Sunday Drive or Wednesday Visit. 

My next problem was where to start  - at the beginning of the alphabet, the northeast and work my way west, or just totally random.  I hadn't decided that when I learned that Natasha from Maw Books had done a guest post for BBAW about Utah bloggers.  I found my starting place - my very own home state.

I for sure wanted to let people know about Natasha's terrific post.  Really, you need to check it out if you haven't already.  She tells a story which every blogger in the world will be able to relate.  And she tells about the two Utah socials held in 2009 where bloggers and authors rubbed shoulders, shared food and good company, and had a wonderful time.  She provides a list of all the Utah bloggers that she knows of and shares a link to the Utah Bloggers group on Book Blogs.

While on the subject of Book Blogs let me just point out to anyone who doesn't know yet - it was started by the blogosphere's very own Tricia from Library Queue.  Book Blogs is a social  network for readers set up Triscia using Ning.  Stop by and say hello to Tricia and find out about joining.  (How did that little bit of North Carolina slip into a Utah post?!) 

I'm not going to feature a specific Utah blogger this week.  Instead I'm going to share a link to each of their blogs and encourage you to stop by and say hello.  I'll bet there are several you know about already, but I'll bet there are some that are new-to-you.   There are several that did not know about before Natasha's post on BBAW.

Utah Book Bloggers - stop by and comment - make Utah feel good this weekend.
Finally, I would personally like to thank Natasha for all the work she has done and continues to do to bring Utah bloggers together.  She has arranged the socials, sent out invitations to bloggers and authors, created the Utah Blogger group on Book Blogs, and who knows what other behind-the-scenes work is going on with that competent, energetic girl.   She makes my head spin.  Thank-you, Natasha, for gathering the troops.

One more mention that includes Natasha along with several other book bloggers.  This last Wednesday evening, Natasha, Amy from My Friend Amy, Kathy from Bermudaonion, Adam from Letters on Pages and Katie from Babbling About Books and More were all featured on Blog Talk Radio.  You can listen to this program by going to this post of Natasha's.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Some of My Favorite Book Blogs & a Vlog

The Assignment from BBAW Headquarters:  What book blogs mean something to you?  Who are your most trusted sources for recommendations, your greatest help, the blogger you turn to for a laugh or to vent?  Whose writing do you admire or who introduced you to a whole new genre you didn’t know about?  We want to hear all about them…because we want to know them too!  Please share about the blogs we haven’t had a chance to meet via BBAW and let the party begin!

My first mention is something new and exciting.  Instead of a blog, Katie has started a book vlog.  She has such a bubbly personality and her love of reading is evident.   I encourage you to watch her first post and see if you aren't hooked as well.

What did I tell you?!  Isn't she fun?  Last night she posted her review of Hunger Games and Catching Fire (no spoilers).

Isn't this a great way to hear someone's feelings for a book? Subscribe to Kate's Book Club for future reviews.

Other bloggers who are my most trusted sources of recommendations are:

Lesley's Book Nook - I find her reviews very reliable and pretty much in line with my tastes.  I think we've felt differently on a couple of books, but most of the books she recommends I have loved.  I buy books based on her recommendations.  In fact, I've probably bought more books because of her than any other book blogger.   My bulging bookshelves are on your head, Les!

Jenclair from A Garden Carried in the Pocket -  another trusted friend who I hold responsible for tempting me to buy more books than I can read.  Jenclair reads books that stretch her thinking and skills in many different areas.  Her example inspires me to stretch my learning.

Framed from Framed and Booked - I trust her reviews because she tells it like it is.  I have added many books to my shelves and TBR lists because of Framed.  She reads a wide variety of genres and her reviews are well-written, often filled with wry humor.

Some of my other favorites, blogs I love to visit and usually give me a boost:

Raidergirl3 from An Adventure in Reading - I love her weekly feature, It's Tuesday, Where Are You?  Heck, I love her whole blog.  Raidergirl3 is one of the first bloggers I met f2f.  It was so fun.  Every time I listen to my maritime music or think of Anne of Green Gables, I think of Raidergirl3, and I think of all those with a smile.

SuziQ of Whimpulsive - I love her blog name and her blog.  The fact that she lives in one of my favorite cities is just icing on the cake.  (Okay, so maybe it makes me a bit jealous!)  Every click on her page brings up that beautiful view of the ocean. Her reviews are always well written and I often buy books that she rates positively.  I met SuziQ when we visited Oregon last October.  We enjoyed a very pleasant hour of visiting in Powell's coffee shop.  It was a highlight of our trip.

Thoughts of Joy - has long been a favorite.  She quite often reviews mystery/suspense which is one of my favorite genres.  Whatever genre she reviews she writes good, succinct yet informative reviews.

Bookfool from Bookfoolery and Babble - always lifts my spirits with her good humor.  I would like to meet Bookfool in person because I know she would be fun to be around.  If you haven't made her one of your favorites yet it's because you probably haven't been introduced.  Now you have.  Stop by for a good southern visit with Bookfool.  You will be so glad you did.

I've been writing this post on and off throughout the day.  It's now 7 pm. and I am choosing to quit though there are many more blogs that I would like to mention.   All the bloggers I have listed are those that I have been friends with for over 2 or 3 years when the book blogosphere was much smaller.  I can't believe how it has grown.  It makes my head spin!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Mailbox Monday

The mailbox presented me with a cornucopia of books this week.  It felt like Christmas at my house. Here's the haul:

Still Life by Louise Penny
This is the first in the Inspector Gamache series that I've come to love so much.  I read this book and then passed it along.  Recently I finished book three and decided I was going to want to reread this series.  So I remooched it so I can reread it.
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny
Book #4 in the Inspector Gamache series was released on Sep 1.  This book should have arrived last week.  I've put off any serious reading so I could start this the minute it came.  I finally gave up waiting for it and started Cleopatra's Daughter.  Now A Rule Against Murder is on hold.
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
I read a delightful review of this children's book and well, with a name like Miss Rumphius, how could I not order this book to read to my grandchildren?
Relentless by Robin Parrish
Another blogger convinced me with her review that I'd enjoy this one.  I wish I kept track of who recommends books that I buy.  I keep thinking I'm going to start an spreadsheet to help me,  but I keep procrastinating.
City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
This purchase goes in my daughter's library.  I buy new books for her.  Don't know why because I only buy used for me.  Hmm... need to rethink this.
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Another for my daughter's library, but this is one I'm going to read as soon as I finish Hunger Games, whenever that might be! Kate already finished Catching Fire and   Candleman's reading it now.
In Sheep's Clothing by Susan May Warren
This is another recommendation from a fellow blogger.  Wish I knew who to blame for my hobby of buying more books than I can read.
The Archangel Project by S.S. Graham
Hmmm. . . Another I can't remember why I bought it, but it does sound good.
The Likeness by Tana French
Haven't read In the Woods yet, but I suspect I will love it, after all everyone that's read it did.  Read lots of positive reviews for both books by French.  Something tantalizing to look forward to reading.

The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively
Someone in the blogosphere loved this book and gave it such an enthusiastic review I succumbed to temptation.  I've been a bad girl this week!

A Drink Before the War by Dennis LeHane
I own book two in this series and figure that I better start with book #1.

The Air We Breathe by Andrea Barrett
I absolutely love Andrea Barrett's short stories in Ship Fever and Servants of the Map.  If you need to read one short story for a challenge, let it be Ship Fever which is the longest story in the collection with the same name.  The Air We Breathe, though entirely self-contained, extends the family of intertwined characters that began in Ship Fever
I was reading someone's blog who was reviewing The Narwhal, also by Barrett, which I've had for years.  I checked to see if there was anything else by Barrett that I have not yet read and that's how I found The Air We Breathe.  I look forward to reading more by this gifted author.
Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.  Check out her blog to find more Mailbox posts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Find an Online Store Asssociate When You Need One

A short time ago Bermudaonion shared a list of things she is going to do to improve the feeling of community among book bloggers. One of her ideas was  "When I purchase something from amazon, Barnes & Noble, or an indie bookstore, I will try to find a blogger who is an associate of that site and go through them."

I really like that idea. I purchase quite a few items (mostly books) online and instead of just going directly to the store I would be happy to go through an associate first so that person gets some benefit from my purchase.  But if this is going to work for me I need a list of people who are associates close at hand.  When I'm ready to make a purchase I don't want to search all over the net in hopes of finding a store associate.

A few days ago I was on someone's blog who mentioned The Book Depository.  That was a store new to me.  Luckily she provided a link to their site and I bought a book.  I was happy that that store associate would get a little kick back from my purchase.  I have since become an associate for The Book Depository myself.  I'm also an associate for  The problem is I cannot buy through my own links so when I do buy books nobody gets a kickback.

In view of this I decided to start a new blog, Polka dot com, that would serve as a directory for online store associates.   Let's say you are a store associate for an online store and you'd like to increase your sales.  You can get your blog and store listed.

The best part is for those who want to purchase online.  They can quickly find an associate, no hunting for one or keeping a paper list, and they can make that purchase through a store affiliate.  It doesn't cost the costumer any more money, but it does help out a fellow blogger.

Polka dot  com is just a baby and it won't be extremely helpful to shoppers until it grows some.  It's entirely free of charge to get your name included or to use, but it will take some help from those who visit here to join and use the site.  I hope you'll stop buy Polka dot com and see what you think.  If you are a store associate/affiliate I hope it will help boost your income and if you shop on the internet I hope you will stop and shop through one of the associates you find there.  Feel free to spread the word.  Remember I won't be making money on this enterprise, UNLESS someone clicks on my name as an associate and then buys through one of my shops.  The same holds true for anyone who joins and is a store associate.

The shopping categories include apparel, books, electronics, jewely, house & garden, music, and toys.  I may include others if there is enough interest.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

House and Home

by Kathleen McCleary

At every turn of the page I was reminded of one of my favorite places - Portland, Oregon.  That was both a good and a bad thing.  Good because it brought back sights and experiences but a bad thing because it made my longing to get in the car and drive there so much stronger.  Just read this and see if you don't long to go to Oregon with me:
When she moved to Oregon, it wa like moving from black and white Kansas to a Technicolor Emerald City.  Yes, the sky was gray and the rains came, but the ground was green, green all year long, and the laurels and Douglas firs and cedars were green even in winter. . . And she fel, finally, that with all that rich color, her life came into focus, too, that she somehow grew more vivid and became the person she was meant to be, the one who was just a ghost in Michigan.
House and Home is the story of Ellen Flannigan, who seems to have it all - 2 precious daughters, a cozy neighborhood coffee shop, a terrific best friend who lives next door and a sexy, if irresponsible, husband.  And she adores her house.  But as her 18-year, roller-coaster marriage heads toward divorce, she's about to lose it all - her house, her husband and her sanity.
If only she could hang in that moment forever, suspended like a cocoon dangling from a silk thread.  She'd never have to move forward then, into the moment when she'd actually walk out the door of this house for the last time
I liked House and Home, though there were times that I wanted to shake Ellen.  Part of that might be because I don't usually get overly attached to things.  I could walk away from my house today, though the back yard would tugged on my heart strings.  Maybe I'll fall in love with my house after the remodeling is finished, but I don't think so.  I can imagine a house that would break my heart to leave, but I don't think I'll see it in this lifetime.

This would be a good movie.  Some of Ellen's shannigans would be hilarious to watch played out on the big screen.  Even as I'm thinking about saying the movie would be a chic-flick, I wouldn't say the book is chick-lit.  I'm not sure why because I certainly don't see men reading House and Home.  Let me step out of my confusion long enough to say this is a good, fun, entertaining and light read.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Travel Writing Guest Reviewer

When I received an ARC from author David Ferry of Travel Writing I appreciated the cover for a few minutes before reading the first few pages.    I was intrigued that the main character had the same name, job, and hometown (Chicago) as the author.   It says 'novel' right on the cover so I knew I wasn't reading a memoir, but at first it sounded like a memoir.  It's not.

The first few pages dealt with the power of a make-believe story.  I automatically thought of Candleman, my own live-in storyteller and thought he would like to read this book.  When I suggested it he was willing and even anxious to read Travel Writing.  For the review on my blog, I interviewed him.  To read his original review check out Live And Learn.

Me:  Did the author capture your attention early in the book?
Candleman:  Ferry begins the book by telling a story to his High School students.  Four times in the opening two pages he points out to the kids that he is making the story up as he goes.  Even so, they are on the edge of the seats and demand to know how it turn’s out.  He clearly demonstrates to them that “that is why stories are so powerful.”   On the second page, I am hooked!

Me: I was quite taken with the cover.  The paint-by-number picture of a girl with only her eye painted intrigues me.  Does the cover correlate with the story?
Candleman:   The cover is drawn from an interesting quote from early in the book.  Ferry is spending time with a mentor, hoping to impress him with his writing.  His mentor critiques his work in these words, "I like what you are doing.  I really do.  I think you are sincere, and I think you are talented.  You haven't much to say, but you say it very well."

Ferry already knows it, he describes himself this way, "I was like that person you know who acquires a friend or a girl friend or a wife or even a child because someone says he should, who does and says all the right things, but who is only painting by numbers.

Actually, the eye is not painted on.  That portion is torn away revealing the real subject.  I think the tear represents the pain that brings the revelation of the meaning behind the motion. The narrative is about one who has spent much of life going through the motions, painting by numbers so to speak, with no understanding of reality or why anyone would triy to depict it.  He's trained to depict it in words, but is totally clueless as to what he is really looking at. The stories show us how gradually his shallow view of life gets torn away revealing truth behind the illusion.

Me:  Did you identify with the main character?
Candleman:  Yes, on several levels.  I too, aspire to be a writer, value a good story, have an uncertain future, am confused about my direction and am inexplicably compulsive.  While our stories are entirely different, our emotional circumstances match!

Me:  Why did Ferry write this book - what was the message he was attempting to make?  Did he succeed?
Candleman:  I think he wanted to show that there is a very fuzzy boundary between reality and imagination.  A story, even a “true” one may be true or it may not.  I think he wanted to show that we are writing our own stories, but in a very real way, our stories are also writing us.

Me:  Were you satisfied with how the book ended?
Candleman:  Yes, it was marvelous.  He finishes by telling us how his personal story was going to end, but you’re not sure if it will happen that way, or if it already has.  Again, is Ferry inventing the story, or is it inventing him.

Me:   What is something your really liked about Travel Writing?
Candleman:  I was interested in the way the author told several stories, all revolving around a central story.  It worked for me, because in the end it wasn’t what the stories were about, but rather who they were about, that mattered.  The collection of stories all resolved into a settled, understanding of the author’s self.  Something he lacked in the fragments and acquired in the whole.

Me:   Was there anything you did not like?
Candleman:  There was too much coarse language for my taste.  I don’t seek such company in life, nor do I in literature.  There is plenty of good stuff I’ll have a hard time getting to read to be crowding any of it out with trashy stuff.

Me:  Would you recommend this book?

Candleman:  Not really.  It wasn’t a waste of time for me, but I’m no better for having read it.  I do have a greater appreciation for the power of story, but I got 95% of that by page two.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Winner for The Holy Bullet

My daughter just drew the  name of our winner.   It is

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Mailbox Monday

I received 3 books in the mail this week.   I was holding my breath that #4 in the Inspector Gamache series would arrive before the weekend, but it didn't.  It was released on Sep 1 and I pre-order it, but I guess I'll have to hope it shows up on Tues. since today is a holiday.  I've also been anxiously anticipating the arrival of Cleopatra's Daughter as an ARC.  It will be released on Sep 15 and I need some time to get it read before then.

The 3 books that did make their way to my house were either mooched or bought from used bookstores online.   They all have a theme - Cape Cod.  Dawn from She is too Fond of Books told of her vacation there and the friendly people at the local library.  She also shared a nice list of books set in Cape Cod.  Hey - I only bought or mooched three.  I thought that showed great restraint.  After spending time looking at the cape on Google Earth, I mentioned to Candleman that we really need to spend a week there.  Plans are cheap - we have a million vacation spots planned.

Anyway, back to the books.
Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman
Dying to Sea by Frank Heavey

Remember Me by Mary Higgins Clark

I read this one years ago, but I remember liking it better than most of Clark's, and I liked Clark a lot in those days.  Still read each new book as it comes out.  Since this was on the Cape Cod list and since I'm going there someday, I thought it would be worth a reread.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Win The Holy Bullet

by Luis Miguel Rocha

I did not finish this book.  I just couldn't keep track of what was happening.  There was a lot of jumping around in time and place.  I had the feeling the author was well educated  in the subject matter and the history of the Catholic Church.  He often threw in delectable tidbits of information that, though interesting, caused my mind to wander from the main story.   I tried to keep reading, but I felt lost most of the time.  Perhaps it's all that multi-tasking that 'they' say interferes with our focusing skills. I know my focusing skills are minimal at best.  I don't know but I finally said, "Enough!"

My loss could be a win for you.  Since this was an ARC I feel responsible for reading it and since I couldn't I'd like to pass it on to someone else.  I have seen some good reviews and suspect that someone willing to make the effort would be well satisfied.

If you would like your name thrown into the hat to win this book just leave me a comment saying you'd like to win.  This drawing ends on Aug. 9.