Monday, November 28, 2016

The Lonely Teddy Bear

by Chelsea Radojcic

I started this book, then stopped because I thought it was a children's book minus the pictures. My copy was a galley so I thought they just hadn't been put in yet. Then I saw several 5-star ratings on Goodreads so I started over and read to the end.

I had a hard time buying into the idea of a stuffed animal who could walk, talk, and drink tea. And then the teddy bear left home and met up with other people on his journey to find his best friend Janie. These people interacted with the teddy bear like it was just part of everyday life. It was too silly. Even the ending was silly.

I cannot recommend this book. I felt like it was a waste of my time.

The Whole Town is Talking

by Fannie Flagg

I loved the other two Fannie Flagg books I've read: Welcome to the World, Baby Girl and Can't Wait to Get to Heaven.  They were upbeat, a little wacky, and definitely fun.  So when I saw this title offered by NetGalley I jumped on it.

Although, The Whole Town's Talking was upbeat I did not enjoy it as well.  I really can't say that character develop was totally lacking because, over the course of the book, I felt like I knew a few characters pretty well, but there were too many characters.  Names zipped by in quick succession.  Time zipped by, as well.  I feel like one of the themes of the book was the fleetingness of life, so the way the story was told supported that theme.  

I did a bit of research on this book as part of writing this review and discovered that there are three prior books set in Elmwood Springs, Missouri - the two I mentioned above and Standing in the Rainbow.  I suspect that reading these books first helps in knowing the characters.  

I was delighted to see some characters I was familiar with, especially Aunt Elner Shimfissle, who is a breath of fresh air.  Norma & Macky were included but I missed hearing more from Neighbor Dorothy and her radio show.

The Whole Town's Talking is published by Random House and will be released on November 29, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of this book from Net Galley.  This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Light Between Oceans

by M.L. Stedman

Oh my gosh!  What a book!  This is book has been around for a few years but I just barely read it.  I've been rather busy with life and haven't read others' reviews as much as I use to so I didn't know very much about the story line.  In many ways that adds to the anticipation as I am reading trying to unravel what will happen.

I must live in a bubble because I didn't know The Light Between Oceans was made into a movie.  Just now as I was looking for a picture of the book for this post I discovered the movie.  Can't wait to watch it!

What I liked about this book: 

1. The slow, mesmerizing build up that is quite tantalizing.  How Tom & Isabel meet and fall in love, then move to their own little island with a lighthouse.

2.  The setting.  The island of Janus, the small community where Isabel grew up, both in Australia during the 1920's, mostly. 

3.  The idioms.  Some of them had me guessing as to their meaning.  Many I shared with my husband.  One even showed up in a movie we watched the very day I read the phrase in this book.  Serendipity I guess.  It amazes me how often that happens.  I need to share a few with you. 
"She chucked a wobbly."  Which means she threw a fit.  
"I'm hardly a full bottle on it."  Meaning, I guess, I'm not an expert on the matter.  
"You're carrying on like a two-bob watch."  ??   
"What was he thinking?  He must have had kangaroos in his top paddock."  
"No. This was the place for the child, with her true family.  She'd have the top brick off the chimney."  "People will think he's got no lead in his pencil."  The way we would say that around here is, "He was firing blanks."  
"They get a bit dark with us if the prisoners cark it before trial."

4.  The story.  It's beautiful and heart-wrenching.  Excellent.

5.  The symbolism.  I'm a bit fuzzy on how to put it into words but I'm aware that it's there.  The lighthouse that safely guides boats through the darkness, the island and the desire to be isolated from others, the two oceans that come together at Janus Point and mixing and clashing of two families lives.  There's more, I know.  This is where a book group would come in handy - sharing the meanings picked up by other readers.

6.  The telling of the story.  I think Stedman did an wonderful job of telling parts of the story about the different characters and revealing those tidbits at just the right time.

I think I've covered enough of the highlights of the book - at least the highlights from my perspective. There are more but reviews can only drag on for so long before they become tiresome.

If you one of the few who have put of reading this book, as I did, I suggest you quit the stalling and read The Light Between Oceans.  You'll be glad you did.

I checked this ebook out from my local library.

The Visit

The Delightful History and Origin of The Night Before Christmas as recalled by Dinghy Sharp.

by Mark Kimball Moulton

I love this book.  Moulton has written an easy-to-read and easy-to-listen-to poem about the history of The Night Before Christmas written by Clement Moore.  The background for this book came from Moore's great-great-granddaughter, Dinghy Sharp.  (Where did she get a name like Dinghy is another story I'd like to read!)

Growing up my parents and 6 siblings gathered in the living room for a Christmas Eve program, of sorts.  We sang Christmas carols, read the story of Christ's birth from the Bible, and shared various stories and talents before setting a bowl with our name attached on the sofa so Santa would fill it with a few nuts and an orange.  One of my siblings, usually the second oldest brother, would read The Night Before Christmas. 

I am now 65-years-old and as many of us and our families who are in town still gather on Christmas Eve for a program of singing, present exchanges, reading the nativity story, and reading The Night Before Christmas.  I've always loved hearing it reread through the years.

Another Christmas tradition dealing with Christmas stories started when we children grew up and had families of our own.  My mother would buy each family a Christmas book and give it to us in early December.  It was a tradition much loved by her offspring.  

In view of these two traditions, I bought this book to share with my family since Grandma isn't with us anymore.  I am looking forward to gathering them around after a Sunday dinner in early December to share The Visit with them.  And on Christmas Eve I will share it with all the siblings & spouses, and nieces & nephews after we first hear The Night Before Christmas.

I am in awe of  Moutlon's ability to tell this story in such a delightful and lively poem.  I read it to my husband when it first arrived in the mail a few months ago and we both adored it.

The Visit is published by Lang Books.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Passenger

by Lisa Lutz

The write-up below is why I chose to read this book:
Forty-eight hours after leaving her husband’s body at the base of the stairs, Tanya Dubois cashes in her credit cards, dyes her hair brown, demands a new name from a shadowy voice over the phone, and flees town. It’s not the first time.
Two short sentences packed with information but the left too many questions I needed answered.  Did Tanya kill her husband?  Who did the shadowy voice belong to and what was Tanya's relationship with that person?  Why did Tanya have to flee the first time?  

The Passenger is told in the present with flashbacks that reveal Tanya's first lives and why she is on the run.  This is a technique that I like and this author used it masterfully.  

Tanya meets a girl named Blue who plays a major part in the story.  Blue is likable but I was always questioning her motives and if Tanya was wise to trust her.  Tanya is a likable character, as well, which usually makes for an easier reading experience.  

There are a few unexpected twists and turns that added to the tension.  I would definitely recommend this book to mystery lovers.

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz was published by Simon and Schuster and was released on March 1, 2016.

**I received a complimentary copy of the book. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**

Tuesday, November 01, 2016


by Beatrice Ojakangas

I love to read cookbooks and this one was lots of fun.  It's not your typical cookbook, even though there are recipes.  It's more of a memoir with recipes that go with the family stories thrown in to satisfy the reader.  After reading the stories that encompass the recipe, you want the recipe!

The University of Minnesota Press explains what I'm trying to say so well:
This memoir-cum-cookbook from celebrated cook Beatrice Ojakangas is chock-full of recipes, anecdotes, and a kind humor that bring to vivid life the Finnish culture of northern Minnesota as well as the wider culinary world. Homemade delivers the savory and the sweet in equal measures and casts a warm light on a rich slice of the country’s cooking heritage.

I decided to read this book because I have a sister-in-law who is of Finnish descent and I have enjoyed her stories.  She grew up in Minnesota, as did the author.  I thought if I enjoy Homemade that I could recommend it to her and her children.  I do recommend it.  I think they will enjoy the humor, the stories, and the recipes. 

**I received a complimentary copy of Homemade from NetGallsy. This review reflects my honest opinions. No compensation was received.**