Thursday, October 29, 2015

If Anything Should Happen

by Bonnie Hearn Hill

Introducing radio talkshow host and amateur sleuth Kit Doyle in the first of this thoroughly entertaining mystery series.

When Kit Doyle’s near-perfect mother tells her about the letter she’s written and locked away – a letter to be read only ‘if anything should happen’ to her – Kit thinks she’s being melodramatic. But the next day Kit’s mother is dead – and what she reads in that letter will change Kit’s life forever.

Armed with nothing but the secret letter, a tight-lipped father, and some good friends at the radio station where she works, Kit sets out to learn the truth about the shady past her mother has kept hidden for so many years.

But when a dead body turns up, Kit realizes that at least one person is determined to stop her finding out the truth – whatever it takes.

I think I would have like this story better if there wasn't a gaping hole, a major event that happened near the beinning that is never addressed.  Kit's mother tells her about the letter in the safe and then the next day the mother is dead.  The mother is beautiful, healthy, trim and fit, but passes away at 51.  This is the women who raised Kit and who Kit believed was her biological mother and yet Kit doesn't mourn the loss and nobody even questions the death.  What?!

You need to know that I only read half the book, so maybe something develops in the last half but I don't think so - at least, I didn't get that impression from any of the reviews I read.  I can understand that Kit is anxious to find answers to the secret her mother reveals in the letter, but I still thing there should be some thought for her mother and some investigation into her death.  

I just couldn't connect with the story that was happening because of the story that got left behind. If you have read the book or do so in the future, let me know if I should finish it.  All the reviews I've read so far are praiseworthy with high ratings, so maybe I'm giving up too soon.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Three-year Swim Team

The Three-Year Swim Team:  The Untold Story of Mau's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory
by Julie Checkoway

In 1937, a schoolteacher on the island of Maui challenged a group of poverty-stricken sugar plantation kids to swim upstream against the current of their circumstance. The goal? To become Olympians. 

I loved the story of Soichi Sakamoto, the schoolteacher who couldn't swim himself, and his dedication to the poor kids he taught to swim with everything they had.  Interwoven with the personal story of Soichi and the members of the swim team is the backdrop of what is is happening during this time period with world politics as well as the IOC.    

The book reads like a novel - easy to read and captivating. I always like it when a book enlarges my understanding and learning.  It was interesting to see the reactions of the Hawaiin swimmers to their treatment when they visited the south for swim meets. I think we've made progress in racial relations.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Slade House

by David Mitchell

My husband recently read Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and loved it. Then we watched the movie and with his help I was able to follow the imaginative story.

So when I saw a new book by Mitchell being offered on NetGalley, I requested it.

Slade House is a perfect Halloween ghost story.  There's a good plot, interesting characters, and an imaginative story line. I liked how every nine years when the twins needed a new soul there was more information about their methods and history.  

Not a typical genre for me but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I'm glad I got to read it just before Halloween.

Thirteen Ways of Looking

by Colum McCann

Both the cover and titled caught my attention on this book. Thirteen Ways of Looking is a collection of short stories.  This is one of those books that I have a hard time reviewing.  I loved it but I don't want to give anything away.

The writing was beautiful, but it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the book.  At times the voice was an old man loosing his mind and at other, even within the same paragraph, was the voice of a narrator.  I didn't notice that as I got further into the book.  Maybe the editing got better or I got used to the style.

Other than that complaint, the writing was beautiful and descriptive. The reason I don't know what to write is because I suspect there was symbolism that I missed or didn't understand.  This is a book I want to read again and study the poem about crows so I can understand their connection.   

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Magic of Jello

I love reading cookbooks and looking through the pictures.  And even though I don't cook often I do enjoy adding a sticky note to recipes that look yummy and are easy to make.  If they promise to be worth the effort I will occasionally spend the time necessary to wow my family with something special.  For instance, I don't bake cookies but I have to try the Gingerbread People because they are made with butterscotch pudding!

I have tried and loved many of the recipes in this books or variations of the recipes.  My mom use to make Sunset Salad every time she served Sloppy Joes.  Sunset Salad is orange Jello with shredded carrots and crushed pineapple stirred in.  Sometime mom would add cabbage instead of the pineapple.  We loved it.

This book includes lots of kid friendly ideas like Worm Cake, Witches Brew, No-Drip Pops, and a favorite treat of my family - Jigglers.  Remember Jello doesn't have any fat and is low in calories but high in flavor so it's perfect for kids treats.

Another family favorite is Poke Cake.  This book includes a recipe for Rainbow Cake which is a layered cake with each layer featuring a different color Jello.  Every year for his birthday, my husband requests Raspberry Poke Cake frosted with Cool Whip.

Something I haven't tried yet is Slurpies made with Jello and Ginger Ale (or pop of choice).  The picture looks like shaved ice from one of those expensive stands.