Sunday, November 30, 2008
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Grade: A - All Ages
This is a really great book, full of fun and creative projects for desserts for kids. The beginning of the book goes through all of the equipement that would be usefull to make the cakes. There is then a section on decorating techniques, with step by step instructions of even things as simple as filling an icing bag. Then are all of the great cake, cookie and frosting recipes. Finally, the last half of the book has directions for the specific projects (such as the monster cake on the front of the book). Once again, each step is given in great detail, there are even templates that can be copied.
This book uses fondant a lot, which is not something I have ever worked with, most of the full sized cakes, and some of the cup-cakes use fondant for the smooth outer frosting. I can't even pipe frosting in a straight line, so I doubt that any of my finished products would end up looking like the ones in the book. But, I bet they would taste good!
The recipe I tried out for my review was: Vanilla Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.(Like I said, I am hopeless with icing, I'd love to blame it on the kids.)
The cookies turned out well, they were very tasty - slightly crisp on the outside with a soft and buttery inside.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thanks to Anna at Hatchette Book Group I have 5 copies of Confetti Cakes For Kids to giveaway!
Description from the publisher:"Elisa Strauss of Confetti Cakes has created confections as elaborate as a platter of sushi, a wine bottle in a crate, and a designer handbag. Now she focuses her talents on her younger fans with this enchanting collection of cakes, cookies, and cupcakes for kids. Strauss starts readers off with 20 delicious recipes and all the basic techniques needed to complete any project in the book. Then she offers step-by-step instructions for 24 jaw-dropping designs that can become the centerpiece of any celebration. Projects span the imagination--from a charming sock monkey, to an MP3 player, to playful hula gingerbread girls and boys--and will appeal to anyone looking for the perfect way to thrill a child with a delectable, spectacular creation."
This book has great ideas, and very detailed directions.
For your chance to win:
1. Leave a comment on this blog telling me about the best birthday cake you have ever had. If you have trouble with, or are unable to leave a comment you may e-mail your entry to me at: email@example.com
2. Sorry, only USA and Canadian addresses. No PO boxes please.
3. Contest ends Saturday, December 6, 2008, Midnight MST.Good Luck,
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Remember to count your blessings. I know that I include a good book, and people to talk about books with when I count mine!
Enjoy your turkey day. My daughter made a picture of a turkey at school, and they had to write an essay to paste on the cute little turkey 'Three Reasons Why you Shouldn't Eat Me'. Apparently her contemplation of this convinced her that we should not eat a turkey for dinner. I'm sure she'll get over it once the bird is on the table though!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
(Hosted by Boston Bibliophile )
Today's question- Blog Widgets. Do you use them? Do you have them on your blog? Do you know what I'm talking about? :-) A blog widget is that list of books "From my LibraryThing" and such, that you'll sometimes see on someone's sidebar. If you use it, do all of your books show up or do you have it set to only show certain books? Do you have a search widget, which would allow your blog readers to search your library? Have you ever made a photomosaic of your book covers? You can find widgets and photomosaic information on the "Tools" tab in LibraryThing.
Yes, I use them. Yes, I love them. I found the widgets shortly after signing up for Library Thing, and immediately added the 'random books from my library' to my blog. I love hitting the refresh button, and seeing assorted new books come up. (BTW, to read my blog post after finding Library Thing click here
As for the other widgets, I did have a search my library button, but part of it was cut off on my sidebar, and I was too lazy to try and solve the problem, so I just removed it.
I haven't ever made a photomosaic, that sounds intruiging.
Monday, November 24, 2008
(Now hosted by Just One More Page )
How do you feel about wide-spread reading phenomenons - Harry Potter, for instance, or the more current Twilight Saga? Are these books so widely read for a reason, or merely fads or crazes? Do you feel compelled to read - or NOT to read - these books because everyone else is?
I tend to be very sceptical when a book is super popular. If everyone and their dog has read a book, that tends to turn me off from wanting to read it. So, I usually hold off; wait to see if the buzz is going to die down. I do have an open mind, though. After about 38 weeks on the top of the NYT bestseller list, I finally decided maybe I should read The Davinci Code, and when I read it I could definately understand its popularity -- it was a very compelling read. I think the third or fourth Harry Potter was out before I decided to join the frenzy; once again, I saw the reason for the craze, and no one was more suprised than I was to find myself loving the books. With the Twilight Saga, I waited until the fourth book was out, and just read them all this summer.
Even if I some of the books are not my style, I have yet to read an extremely popular best seller and not see some of the reasons that they sell. Wether they will still be selling 70 years from now, I have my doubts about, though.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
We have winners!
Congratulations to: Wrighty from Wrighty's Reads; Lauren from shooting stars mag; Sherry from Bedford Book Club; Melissa from Home Sweet Home; and Sara from Walk a Nutt.
Winners have been contacted. If they do not reply within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
Check back soon for more great giveaways.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thanks to Anna at Hatchette Book Group I have 5 copies of I Like You by Amy Sedaris for giveaway.
This is a humorous, tongue-in-cheek view of entertaining and cooking. Be warned, this book has adult humor. If you are looking for some light relief to the stresses of the holidays, this book may be for you. See my review here . To read an excert from the book, visit the publishers website: Hatchette Book Group .
For your chance to win:
1. Leave a comment to this post.
2. For an extra entry either post about this contest on your own blog (sidebar is fine) leaving a link to your post in the comments, or become a follower of my blog.
3. Sorry, contest is only open to US and Canadian residents. No PO boxes.
4. Entries must be in by Saturday, November 29, 2008, Midnight MST.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Author: Amy Sedaris
Rating: 4/5 (rated on merit for what the book aims to be)
Recipe Rating: 4/5
My Rating: 2/5 (how well I actually liked the book)
Grade: D - 18 and up (profanity, drug description, drawing of naked woman examining her "parts")
This book had gotten a bunch of great reviews, and I can see why, it is very funny if you are into this kind of humor. That would be a Comedy Central, Saturday Night Live, absurd, vulgar, humor. A farce of entertaining and cook books I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence is written in a very tongue in cheek style. The pictures, recipes, crafts, and clothing in the book come from the 60's and 70's. The recipes are actually decent home-cooking style recipes. There in all of the bizarreness, are actual tips for being a good host. But I found myself with wrinkled brow as I read, between chuckles, wondering what on earth this book was supposed to be. It is supposed to be funny. Do not take this book as a serious guide to entertaining - only someone very dense, or very inexperienced could take this advice seriously. But, if you would like to poke fun at Martha Stewart, and her like; if you find pictures of Amy Sedaris in granny panties, covered with sprinkles funny; if you can laugh at tongue-in-cheek stereotypes of old people, alcoholics, gay men, or gypsies; this just may be the book for you. I have a very dry sense of humor, I don't like stand up comedy, so this was not my thing. But a realize that many people do not share my sense of humor.
An example of actual advice mixed in with bizarre humor:
Bizarre Humor: pg. 99
"I once gave a toddler a string of colored light bulbs and his reaction was no different from when he opened the blocks or the stuffed turtle. Of course, I say that gifts don't matter to children under five, but this is coming from a person who has given a hand-tailored cape to her rabbit. But that's different, rabbits know."
Good Advice: pg. 99
"Organizing a child's party is also a great time for your own child to begin learning how to be a good host or hostess. Make sure they greet and say good-bye to everyone and send thank-you notes, even if they just say 'Thanks'."
Since this was a recipe book, I had to try out a recipe before reviewing. I chose: Peanut Butter Cookies. This was a really good recipe. Peanut Butter Cookies are my husbands favorite cookie. We have been married for ten years, and I have probably tried out 20 peanut butter cookie recipes in that time. These ones passed his strict taste test. Definitely a keeper! They were soft and crisp and buttery-- just like they should be.
Suggested by JM:
I receive a lot of review books, but I have never once told lies about the book just because I got a free copy of it. However, some authors seem to feel that if they send you a copy of their book for free, you should give it a positive review.
Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?
I really don't understand how this question can even be an issue. If a book review is not honest, what is the point? If I wanted to read only positive biased reviews I would go to the authors website, or read the blurbs on the book cover. I don't think it is kind to bash books, but to fairly point out the flaws that you see in a book is your perogative as a reviewer. And if I want my review to be of any value, or have people trust my reviews, it is important that I be as honest as possible.
As for authors, I think that they need to think of a review by an independent reviewer the same way that they would that of any professional reviewer. You wouldn't expect to see only positve reviews in the New York Times, or any other paper; and you shouldn't expect only good reviews from bloggers.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I snapped this picture of my two year old tonight. He fell asleep while turning a page in his book (which happens to be Ebb and Flo and the Baby Seal which I reviewed a couple of days ago).
So, how about you? Do you read yourself to sleep? Is it intentional, or does your body just give out on the battle to stay awake?
I have never been able to read myself to sleep. I know many people who have used it as a way to cure insomnia; but it has the opposite effect on me. As long as I am reading, I am awake. If I want to go to sleep, I have to put the book away.
I just found out that the book I am currently reading - An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott - has been made into a movie and will be premiering on Hallmark Chanel on November 22, 2008. Watch the trailer and learn about the movie and story at Hallmark channel
I will have to hurry and finish reading the book before Saturday. If anyone wants to join me, feel free.
Read it online for free here.
In anticipation of the upcoming LIFETIME movie debut of Jane Porter's book Flirting With Fourty, A Novel Menagerie is hosting a giveaway. Check it out here .
Oh… THE PRIZE!!!!
Of course, there’s a great prize!
You will receive a fabulous beach tote, stuffed with goodies.
In addition, you will receive a copy of Jane Porter’s Flirting With Forty.
You will receive a copy of all tropical drink and food recipes submitted by the bloggers.
It’s like Summer in November!
Contest ends November 22, 2008. So hurry on over!
So… for the LOVE IN THE TROPICS CONTEST, I’m giving you a few choices for your entries:
What is your favorite tropical food or drink recipe (I’m Posting MaiTai’s on the 5th)
What was your favorite tropical vacation?
What was your favorite “girls only” vacation?
Facing Forty… is Forty “The New Thirty”?
Finding Love a 2ndTime Around
Here is a recipe that combines tropical food with something all of us from the U.S. will be eating in just over a week. If you are tired of the marshmallow variety of traditional thanksgiving sweet potatoes, give these a try:
Aloha Sweet Potatoes
4 to 5 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup shredded coconut
Boil sweet potatoes in their jackets until tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool, then peel and cut into slices 1 1/2-inch thick. In a large skillet melt butter. Stir in brown sugar and water and cook on medium heat about 5 minutes. Reduce heat and add sweet potatoes to skillet. Cook gently; tossing lightly until sweet potatoes are glazed. Sprinkle with coconut before serving. Makes 8 servings.
I have just finished reading Flirting With Fourty, for the December Blog Tour, in which I will be participating. A full review will be posted on the 5th of December, the day of the blog tour. Check back for more Island fun and giveaways. For now just let me say that I really enjoyed the book, it was more than I was expecting.
Remember, go visit A Novel Menagerie for your chance to enter the contest.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!
"Brunch requires me to gather in the early afternoon or late morning with other people so we can talk while we eat a big meal and then when it's over, what? I'm stuffed, I'm talked out, I'm tired and lazy as if all my bones left my body and it's not even one o'clock in the afternoon."
I like you by Amy Sedaris hospitality under the Influence
Monday, November 17, 2008
by Jane Simmons
Grade: A - All ages
It is raining out, and Ebb has nothing to do. She barks to get Flo, Flo's mother, or the ducks to play with her; but they are all too busy. Finally she heads outside and finds a baby seal. They have fun together, splashing and playing in the waves. But, when it is time for Ebb to go home, the baby seal follows and will not turn back. Ebb gets the attention of Flo and her mother, and together they solve the problem.
This was a delightful book. The beautiful muted illustrations are perfect for the seaside. The story is fun, and the text has good rythme. I love Jane Simmons' books, and always prefer to read books that are written and illustrated by the same person. Such talent and ability!
Rebecca of “Just One More Page…” will be taking over the MUSING MONDAYS feature as of next week! Please be sure to bookmark her site, and go there next Monday!
WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW?
WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING, and WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL READ NEXT?
WILL YOU READ ANY HOLIDAY-THEMED BOOKS SOON?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Grade: C - 14 and up (just because of the whole murder theme, and finding a dead body, even though the grisly details were left out)
This book is part of the Hannah Swensen Mystery Series written by Joanne Fluke. I believe this is the fourth one I have read. They are all pretty similar. Hannah lives in a small town in Minnesota, where she owns and runs a cookie shop. She has the unfortunate habit of finding dead (murdered) bodies. Which is totally unrealistic in and of its self. There is no earthly way that a town this size - rural - would have that many murders, especially within the short space of time these books span; maybe within a lifetime, you know, 80 years or so. Also unrealistic is that she would be the first one to see all of these bodies. But, that having been said, I really enjoy these books for a bit of light reading: cozy mystery, I believe is what you would call them. I have to admit that part of the reason I like these books is because of the covers. And another part is because of the food in them. Yum! All of the books come with recipes of the cookies and deserts that are made in Hannah's shop, or elsewhere in the story. These are good recipes, too. I have tried some of them, and read the others; there are some very original recipes, and they all look good.
The books generally only cover a few days to a few weeks of time, and this way the story of Hannah's life - her romantic interests - moves very slowly. I believe this is the fifth of sixth book in the series, and she is still only casually dating two guys.
The 'Sugar Cookie Murder' however, covers only one event. A christams party where recipes from the whole city are being sampled to see which ones will go in the cookbook which Hannah is publishing. The murder, and solving of the murder take place on this evening at the community center. The book was very sh0rt, the story only ran for 168 pages; but the last half of the book was dedicated to the recipes that were being tasted and tested at the party, and this time there are more than just desserts. Some of them look very tasty. I want to try the Hawaiin Roast Beef, it has a ton of brown sugar, and pineapple in it (among other things).
So, a fun and predictable read, but not so good to read when you are trying to drop 20 lbs.
I just signed up to be a part of the 'Book Bloggers Christmas Swap' hosted by Things Mean a lot .
Those participating are assigned another blogger to send a simple gift to. Deadline for Registration is November, 18 2008.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Grade: B - 8 and up
First of all let me just say that I rate books based on what they are. If I were rating this book as a comprehensive biography, it would do poorly. But, since it is a picture biography, it rated well. The pictures and layout are very well done. The text is interspersed with the pictures expertly.
Barak Obama's life story - starting with a brief introduction of the life of his parents - is told in a spare, and yet comprehensive manner. I felt that the writing was very bi-partisan, and the forces that shaped him, and what he chose to do with those influences, were the focus of the book.
I would recommend this book to anyonewho dosen't know much about our -soon to be - president; regardless of political persuasion. We all should know a little something about our commander in chief. I knew very little, and even if I do not agree with all of his politics, can't help but admire the man. And for those of you who do know about Obama, this is a very beautiful book to collect.
And now to announce THE WINNER!!!!
The winner chosen by http://www.random.org/ is:
Mollishka from A geocentric View .
The winner will be contacted, and if I do not hear a reply within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.
Thanks to all who participated.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
(Thank you to Hatchette Book Group for providing this book for my review.)
Grade: A - All ages
From the publisher:
"In KATIE BROWN CELEBRATES, Katie gives readers a reason to host a party every month of the year. From a festive New Year's Eve dinner to a lavish Christmas brunch, from the perfect child's birthday party to a down-home family reunion, readers will delight in Katie's signature approach to making any celebration simply wonderful. With delicious recipes, straightforward craft projects, and tips for casual entertaining, Katie shows how any host can make a delicious meal and create gorgeous ambiance without the hassle. KATIE BROWN CELEBRATES is a must-have for anyone who ever gives--or has ever thought of giving--a party"
This book really is every thing it claims to be -from the glossy full page pictures, to the simple yet elegant recipes. Katie Brown gives us a dinner party to host for every month. Each month has a specific theme which she carries through the recipes and table decorations and setting. Three projects are given for the table layout for each month, and these are all so simple and inexpensive that even I could do them - and that is saying a lot. I do not craft.
The book is very beautiful, I will make sure to keep it out of the kitchen when I am using the recipes though, mine tend to get encrusted in all sorts of unidentifiable substances.
One of the really great things about this book is that the dinners were actually prepared and eaten by Katie and her guests. The pictures of them enjoying the food are fun and natural. (I especially love that Katie is not made-up to within an inch of her life, but is photographed in her natural state - freckles and all.)
I could not, of course, do a review of a cookbook without trying one of the recipes. So, today I made the Honey-spiced almonds to eat on our salad for dinner. The instructions were clear and simple. The ingredients I had on hand. The finished product absolutely delicious.
I am not a professional food photographer, the pictures in the book looked much more appetizing, but here it is anyhow.
And now for the giveaway!
Hatchette Book Group is making available five copies of this beautiful book to my readers! If you would like the chance to be one of the lucky five please folow the rules below for entry:
1. Sorry, as the book ships from the publisher it is only availabe to U.S and Canada address'.
2. For 1 entry simply leave a comment on this post, or e-mail me at: lisalouhoo at msn dot com.
3. If you would like to have 2 entries, and double your chance of winning, become a follower of my blog. I just would love to see all of your faces smiling at me.And then you will be notified of my upcoming giveaways: three more books to come in the near future.(Hint: click on follow this blog on the sidebar.)
4. Contest ends Saturday, November 22, 2008. Entries must be in by midnight MST.
If you can't wait for the contest to end, or don't win a copy, you can buy the book at Powell's.
I’ve asked, in the past, about whether you more often buy your books, or get them from libraries. What I want to know today, is, WHY BUY?
Even if you are a die-hard fan of the public library system, I’m betting you have at least ONE permanent resident of your bookshelves in your house. I’m betting that no real book-lover can go through life without owning at least one book. So … why that one? What made you buy the books that you actually own, even though your usual preference is to borrow and return them?
If you usually buy your books, tell me why. Why buy instead of borrow? Why shell out your hard-earned dollars for something you could get for free?
I sometimes get books from the library, mainly new books, especially if the book is by an author I have not read before; but most of the time I purchase books. I rarely, however, buy books new. I don't like to buy paperback books, and I can't see spending $25 dollars for a book. I search out books at yard sales, used book stores, thrift stores, etc. The last couple of years I have gotten most of the specific books that I want from http://www.paperbackswap.com/ I might have to wait awhile, but the book isn't going to change in that time, and by then maybe the sequels will already be out, and I can read them all at once.
So, why buy instead of borrow?
1. So that I can re-read. Yes, I am a re-reader. I like that I can read a certain book when I want to feel or certain way, or when I am in a certain mood. Some people can't understand this - why read it again if you already know the ending? But for me reading is more about the words and the feelings than the story. Besides, most people have a favorite movie that they watch repeatedly: same thing.
2. Books look pretty on my bookshelves.
3. I can lend to other people (if they promise to be nice).
4. In case of the collapse of our society, I will still have enough to read for pretty much the rest of my life. Which is another great thing about an unread TBR pile. (To see my library on librarything click here.
5. I am just a born book horder, I get a thrill from looking around me and seeing all of my books (friends in waiting).
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Author: Dayle Ann Dodds
Illustrater: Kyrsten Brooker
Grade: A - All clear
The king and queen are out for the evening, and nanny can not get the prince to go to sleep. Nanny has tried everything she can think of, and is soon seeking input from the cook, the guard, and other members of the Royal Court. The castle is filled with all sorts of silly chaos as each person suggests what the prince must be wanting, but each effort meets with failure as the prince repeats in every loudening words, "WAA! WAA! WAA! I WILL NOT GO TO BED!" Finally, the princes sister comes and gives him just what he needs to go to sleep.
This was a delightful book. The story was silly and swift, perfect for reading aloud to two year old compulsive page turners, but witty and interesting enough that my seven and nine year olds enjoyed it too. The illustrations were perfect for a medieval court. The textures and details of the painted and collaged pictures nearly jump off the page.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
All of her life Aislinn - like her mother and grandmother before her - has been able to see what noone else can see: the faeries that constantly surround us. They are not the delightful helpful little creatures the children's stories would have us believe in. Rather they are human-sized, and extremely dangerous. Aislinn has seen the horrible and viscious things they do to eachother; the way they tease and torment humans. Her earliest memories are of her grandmother teaching her about the faeries - that the faeries must never know that she can see them. The rules for safety: 1. Don't ever attract their attention. 2. Don't speak to invisible faeries. 3. Don't stare at invisible faeries.
For 17 years Aislinn has followed the rules, and has been safe from detection, but one day that begins to change. She is still following the rules, but the fey are not. They begin to notice her. Two in particular - a male and female - start to stalk her, and talk to her, putting on their glamour which makes them visible and disguised to humans. These changes convince Aislinn to confide in her good friend Seth, who lives in a steel train car where she has always felt safe (the faeries not being able to be to close to steel or iron). When the faeries do not lose interst in her, she and Seth begin their quest to find out what they want from her.
This book was very dark and seductive -wicked and lovely. The first few chapters were a bit hard to get into, but I soon found myself entranced. I think it was the realationships which made this book. The unspoken atttraction between Aislinn and Seth was so real. I almost felt like it was me feeling the emotions and uncertainties of a new and undiscoverd love.
The faery characters were also very well developed. Other than the bad guy, the winter queen, who was pretty one dimensional. But when your good guys are already the bad guys, I suppose it is hard to make a convincing villain.
A well paced story, plenty of action, and a satifying ending. At least satisfying for a first book in a series.
TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.
Share with us two (2) “teaser” sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!
Please avoid spoilers!
My Tuesday Teaser:
"It was a snapping turtle that brought that enchanted period to an end. My unquestioning trust and adulation of Stephen was severd as abruptly as the falling of a blade."
Shadow Mountain: A memoir of wolves, a woman, and the wild by Renee Askins
Today's question: LT Things- t-shirts, bags,cue cats - are you into the "stuff"? Do you use a cuecat to enter your books, or do you enter them manually? What do you think of the stuff?
I never did get around to buying a cuecat. I kept thinking that as soon as I had some extra cash I would ; but as we have five kids and one income, somehow the extra cash never appeared. It sure would have been nice when I opened my account and entered in my piles and piles and shelves and shelves of books. But I did have an eager eight year old, who thought typing in ISBN's was just about the funnest thing imaginable.
I have never bought any other merchandise. Not that I have a promblem with being an ad., I just have too much stuff in my house as it is. And if my house is going to be crowded with stuff I really don't have to have to survive, it is going to be books. (Though I am not actually sure I would survive without them)
Monday, November 10, 2008
Today’s MUSING MONDAYS is about the giving & keeping of books!
If you keep your books, where do you keep them? And, if you give them away, who do you give them to? Do you participate in Bookcrossing, BookMooch, PaperbackSwap, or the like? Do you give your old books to family & friends, or donate them? Are any of your books in storage due to not having enough space for them all? Or, are you one of the lucky ones who has their own “library”? Feel free to share pictures, if you have them!
I keep most of my books. I have the hardest time getting rid of the darn things! For those I don't wish to keep, I post them on PaperbackSwap - the only problem is that I don't have enough listed, and find too many books that I want, so I end up buying credits to purchase books. I also donate books I don't want to second hand stores.
We don't have any books in storage, but we do make our children share rooms so that we can have a room as a "library". It is in the basement with no windows, so it is not as luxurious as it sounds. And we only have the cheap Wal-Mart bookshelves. My husband refuses to buy nice ones until we have a permanent residence; he wants to have built-ins when we own our home. We pretty much have bookshelves in every part of the house: living room, play room, bed-room. But, on the plus side, if your walls are lined with bookshelves you don't have to decorate!
See most of my bookcases here
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Auhtors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Grade: C - 14 and up (for thematic elements involved in WWII)
This book begins in January of 1946, just after the end of World War II. Juliet Ashton has been a war correspondent under the name of Izzy Bickerstaff, using humor to report on the horrors she saw around her. Her columns were compiled into a book, which was doing very well. After touring the country in an exhausting book tour, she settles down to try and come up with a topic for the new book her publisher is expecting from her. But the bombed out remains of London, and all the aftermath of the war has her downspirited, and unable to think of anything suitable.
Then one day, out of the blue, she recives a letter from a man from the Island of Guernsey, who has a second hand copy of a book she had given away - and from this letter a correspondence is born. She soon learns of the literary society they had invented to keep them out of trouble with the occupying German forces, and how this society - and the books they read - helped to pull them through five years of occupation, hunger, and horrors.
This book is written entirely in letters and telegrams, not usually my favorite median, but in this case it is done with absolute perfection. Each character who writes has a distinct and original voice which is kept true throughout the book. And those characters are absolutely delightful and feel as real as anyone I have known. I think this is due in part to Juliet's introduction to them. For the first half of the book, she only knows them through letters, and you, as a reader can know them just as well as Juliet did, because you are also reading those letters. Then, by the time Juliet meetts them in person, they are already so real that you can believe you are there seeing them for the first time with her.
Even though the book describes many of the hardships and tragedies of the second world war, there is an overall lighthearted and cheerful attitude. I had known nothing of Guernsey during the war, I didn't realize that the Germans had occupied anything that close to England. The histroy was as fascinating to read as was the story.
I originally saw this book as an Early Review copy on Library Thing. Immediately, I was enthralled by the title. I knew I had to read it. But, alas, I was not chosen to review the book, and had not thought of it again untill I saw it at the library this past week. Someties titles enchant, but the book does not carry through on the promis. This is not one of those cases. I was pleasantly surprised and read the book with a huge smile, and the occasional tear.
Read this book! You will not be dissapointed. It goes to the top of my list of books read this year, and I am going to buy a copy as soon as payday comes.
To purchase this book follow this link to: Powell's Books
Where you can also read: Interview with co-author
If you have done a review of this book (or any other books I have reviewed) please feel free to leave a link to the review in your comment.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I am hosting the giveaway of this beautiful book published by The Editors of Life Magazine. This book is so generously being made available to one of my readers by Anna from Hatchette Book Group
The American Journey of Barack Obama covers the candidate from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention. The unfolding drama of Obama's life and political career is cinematic in scope, and never has it been presented so compellingly.
In addition to a powerful array of photographs that were taken by many of the country's greatest photographers (and some that were snapped, in the quiet moments, by Obama family members themselves), this book also includes a Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an incisive narrative biography and original essays by some of our finest writers, including Gay Talese, Charles Johnson, Melissa Fay Greene, Andrei Codrescu, Fay Weldon, Richard Norton Smith, Bob Greene and several others. Many readers will find a new understanding of Obama. All readers will feel that they are bearing witness to a singular, undeniably American story.
Rules and Directions for entering this contest:
1. You must be a resident of the U.S. or Canada. (No P.O. Boxes Please)
2. Leave a comment - breifly explaining why you would like to win this book - to this post. Include your blog URL or email address so that I can contact you if you win.
3. For an extra entry (and better chances at winning) blog about this contest and leave a link to the post here.
4. Deadline for entry is Friday, November 14, 2008, Midnight Mountian Time. Winners will be announced and contacted the next day: Saturday, November, 15,
Thank you, and good luck!
WINNER CHOSEN ON 11/15/2008: Mollishka
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Rating: 3/5 (this rating is for the book only, the CD which comes with gets 5/5)
Grade: A - All ages
Evan Darling has long kept a life-changing experience which happened to him as a boy a secret - even from his children and wife. But one Christmas Eve, as a blizzard is raging, and his children show no enthusiasm for the traditions of christmas, he realizes it is time to share his story. When he was a boy of ten he felt similarly. He wondered what was the point of all of the traditions that most of the time just seemed like work. After recieveing a beautiful snow glove from a travelling christmas sales men, Evan begins a journey that teaches him the real meaning of Christmas.
The writing in this book, especially the beginning, was beautiful. But by the end of the book I have to admit that I was groaning. In ways the plot was original, but there were so many elements of it that have been done many times in Christmas stories. I didn't feel that the point was very well made either. Which was that the traditions of Christmas are important, they have meaning and value to us even today. For being the point of the book, I thought this part was skimmed over. What I really think is that they were trying not to offend anyone. I mean Christ as the reason for Christmas was not mentioned, which is fine as they were going into the roots of the Celtic traditions of the holiday - what it was even before the Christians turned it into the celebration of Christ. But they didn't go into enough detail, and they hinted at Christianity through mentioning the origins of the Christmas tree ligths and Martin Luther. And the whole Santa theme, with them all being touched by this Christmas spirit at the end, and saving christmas...Well, lets see, it was rushed, and didn't make much sense. Sorry, I am not feeling it.
However, it was a cute story, it had a good message: that family and tradition are the reasons we celebrate christmas, and that we materialize it too much. I think it could be a fun family read, and that children would enjoy it, and maybe learn something from it. I guess I put it on the same level as all of those made for TV holiday movies. Yes, they are rather corny and unrealistic, but we watch them anyway, because they make us feel all warm and fuzzy, like a little kid again.
In Where Angels Go Debbie Macomber brings back her mischevious angels; Shirley, Goodness and Mercy. Three prayer requestes have reached heaven just days before christmas, and the three angels are put on the cases. An elderly man, knowing he is not much longer for the world, sends a prayer that his wife be set up to be taken care of before he dies. The mother of a young divorced woman prays for her to let someone into her heart. And a young boy prays for what neither santa nor his parnets can bring him: a dog for christmas. All of these prayer requests hit snags, and all must be fulfilled before christmas.
I really enjoy reading Debbie Macomber's Christmas novels. They are just as sappy and heartwarming as I could want. This one fell a bit flat, though. It seemed to be three very short stroies that were strung together, and fleshed out in a hurry. There didn't seem to be as much of a feel for the characters or place as she usually manages to convey. And the stories were pretty predictable, without much saving writing or detail. But still, a sweet story to read at christmas time. And since we have snow on the ground here in Wyoming, I don't think it too early for christmas stories.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
by Stephen Kellogg
Grade: A - All ages
Gloria is attending witch school, but she dosen't fit in. For one thing she likes to smile, and smiles are absolutely not allowed. Then one day, when she is writing lines for punishment, she hears voices and follows them to see a group of elves listening to a christmas story. She decides that she wants to be a christmas witch, and is transported to another planet full of fueding little men. Her task is to bring the fued to an end, and save the planet from darkness by bringing them the christmas spirit. A huge task, but not too much for Gloria.
Stephen Kellogg is a childhood favorite of mine, and it was fun to be transported back in time by his familiar illustrations. The Christmas Witch is a mix of spooky witches and goblins (halloween) and Christmas Cheer. This is a brilliant combination, which children love (as proven by The Nightmare Before Christmas).
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Today's question: Work multiples. Do you own multiple copies of any books? Which ones? Why? Can you share your list?
OK, WOW! According to the statistics I have 62 duplicate works. I was expecting to see maybe 4 0r 5. It isn't really as bad as it seems though, some of the duplicates are of different volumes in a series, which for some reason showed up as the same work. Many of the others come from my father-in-laws library, which we inherited when he passed on last year. And most of those multiples have been sold or given away.
Don't worry, I am not going to inflict a list of the 62 on you. Only the multiples that I have on purpose, or am aware of having:
1. Little Women: Children Classics (Children's Classics Series) by Louisa May Alcott (Children's Classics (1988), Hardcover, 400 pages)
Little Women (Wordsworth Collection) (Wordsworth Collection) by Louisa May Alcott (NTC/Contemporary Publishing Company (1998), Paperback, 224 pages)
Reason: One was my husband's before marriage, and the other mine. It is a great book. His is in a set of paperback classics, so we didn't want to get rid of it; and mine is a nice hardcover.
2. The Picture of Dorian Gray (Modern Library) by Oscar Wilde (Modern Library (1992), Hardcover, 272 pages)
The Picture Of Doria by OSCAR. WILDE (Wordsworth Classics (1992), Paperback)
Reason: Basically the same reason as little woman. The paperback is part of a set, and when we upgraded to a nice hardbound modern library volume, we kept the other. Besides, then if you lone out a book you still have one on hand.
3. William Shakespeare: The Complete Works, Deluxe Edition by William Shakespeare (Gramercy (1990), Leather Bound, 1248 pages)
Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Wordsworth Royals Series) (Wordsworth Royals Series) by William Shakespeare (NTC/Contemporary Publishing Company (1997), Paperback, 1280 pages)
Reason: We actually have two more copies of the complete shakespeare. One from college days with notes written in the margins; and one with commentary. One of the copies listed is a nice Deluxe puffy hardcover edition. And I mean really, who could get rid of Shakespeare.
Reason: The paperback I bought in a grocery store when I needed something to read and didn't have anything else accesable. I had never read the shopaholic novels. I did not think I would like them since I destest shopping. But...Loved them, and got all of them in hard cover from paperbackswap. Why do I still have the paperback? Don't know.
5. The Illearth War: The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, Book Two by Stephen R. Donaldson (Del Rey (1987), Mass Market Paperback, 544 pages)
Th Illearth War (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever) by Stephen R. Donaldson (Holt Rinehart Winston (1977), Hardcover)
Reason: Finally found the out of print hardcover copies, and didn't get rid of the paperback becsause...
I could go through many more, but the reasons are all pretty much the same: got better editions because we really like the book, but couldn't part with the old one; or didn't realize I had a duplicate; or kept one to give to someone when they appeared out of nowhere and were in need of it; or kept one copy for reading, and the other for looking pretty on the shelf.
Monday, November 3, 2008
by Christopher Morley
Grade: B - 8 and up
Parnassus on Wheels is the story of Helen McGill, a nearly 40 year old woman, who lives with her brother on a farm, and keeps house for him. The balance of their calm existant is upset when her brother begins writing and publishing books, and seems to become obsessed with them; slacking off on the farmwork and leaving her to carry on alone for long periods of time. When a travelling booksalesman comes to try and sell his outfit to her brother, she goes to drastic and impulsive lengths to keep her brother from buying more books and leaving the farm again; and in so doing begins an adventure of her own.
This is a delightful little book. I don't know how I have missed reading it, or even knowing of it. I chanced on it at the library book sale for a quarter, and am so glad I did, else I might have gone my whole life never knowing of its existance. I would not call it a literary masterpiece, but I had a smile on my face while reading it, and I think that is a pretty good judge of a books merit.
Christopher Morley does not, however, pull off a woman narrator very well. It was very hard not to think of the person telling the story as a man, even with his frequent reference to self as a heavy, fat, large, spinster. This was overlookable, though, for the story was very fun, and the character of the professor (owner of Parnassus on wheels) extremely vibrant.
From the book: "'when you sell a man a book you don't sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue - you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night. - there's all heaven and earth in a book, a real book I mean. Jiminy! If I were the baker or the butcher or the broom huckster, people would run when I came by - just waiting for my stuff. And here I go with everlasting salvation - yes ma'am, salvation for their little stunted minds - and it's hard to make them see it."
Isn't it true that those who read seem to think of those who don't as having small minds. There seems to be a prejudice on both sides of the matter. As Christopher Morley points out through his character at the beginning of the book. Helen McGill opens up her story by saying, "I wonder if there isn't a lot of bunkum in higher education. I never found that people who were learned in logarithms and other kind of poetry were any quicker in washing dishes or darning socks...I've also seen lots of good, practical folks spoiled by too much fine print. Reading sonnets always gives me hiccups, too." Of course, Helen changes her views by the end of the story, but it is a good point. I certainly can't say that any 'book learning' I have acquired has helped me out much in the day to day mundane tasks, and reading does take me away from these things.
I don't believe that one point of view is right or wrong. And I don't believe that enjoying reading makes me in any way better than people who don't. I think the best we can hope for is to find someone who shares the same views. Someone who dosen't mind floor to celing books in the house, and the dishes left undone when an especially tantalizing book is calling.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
My November Guest
My sorrow, when she's here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.
Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She's glad the birds are gone away,
She's glad her simple worsted grey
Is silver now with clinging mist.
The desolate deserted trees,
The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauty she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
And vexes me for reason why.
Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow;
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.
- Robert Frost -
Solitude Late at Night in the Woods
The body is like a November birch facing the full moon
And reaching into the cold heavens.
In these trees there is no ambition, no sodden body, no leaves,
Nothing but bare trunks climbing like cold fire!
My last walk in the trees has come.
At dawn I must return to the trapped fields,
To the obedient earth.
The trees shall be reaching all the winter.
It is a joy to walk in the bare woods.
The moonlight is not broken by the heavy leaves.
The leaves are down, and touching the soaked earth,
Giving off the odors that partridges love."-
- Robert Bly -
November has long been one of my very favorite months, and yet finding poetry that talks favorably of this month is extremely difficult. This may be part of the reason why I love it. I have always been a supporter of the underdog; I have always loved the least loved the very most. And November is the left out month, the dreaded month. As Joseph Addison wrote:
"The gloomy month of November, when people of England hang and drown themselves."
Or, in the words of Thomas Hood:
"No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds -
There is something so wild and desperate in the cold winds and rains of November. Mist and gloom is extremely satifying to some echoing wild part of my nature. Here, in the desert mountians we get so little of steady rain, soggy leaves, gray skies; even the winter, after the snow storms are over, parade cheerful skies of blue. Possibly if I lived in England, and had an abundance of gray skies, instead of an abundance of sun, I would want to drown or hang myself. But, as it is, I watch the rain falling against the gray lifeless trees, and I feel exhilerated. I walk in the freezing rain, catching my breath at it's fierceness, and enjoying the "odor that partridges love". At least the two Roberts seem to have some of the vision of this months beauty.
Today is the second day of November, and the second day of rain. One more day of it to enjoy, and on Thursday we will get snow. I will enjoy the "cold November rain" while I can.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
by Denys Cazet
Grade: A (Appropriate for all ages, a bit scary)
A cantankerous old man dies while eating his beloved pie. But apparently the grave is not strong enough to keep him away from his search for the perfect pie.
This book was fun for halloween, having a nasty ghost and all. There was repeating rhyme in the story, which I find always holds the attention of even the smallest listener. It was just scary and gross enough to be slightly spooky, but the live people in the story were not afraid of the ghost at all, so that made it less scary. I thought that some of the illustrations were a bit over the top on the gruesome side, which is OK for a spooky, funny story I suppose, but I found them rather gross. The story was original, and did not make me wish to bash my head into a wall during the repeat readings.
Grading: A (Appropriate for all ages)
I read this last week to my own First Grader. She and her nine year old, and four year old sisters enjoyed it very much. When I first read a Junie B Jones book, I had warring emotions. I was at first appalled by the horrible behavior being modeled, and concerned with the phonemic spelling in the book. How are children suppossed to learn to spell if the don't read correctly spelled words! And I would never allow my child to act the way Junie does, especially toward grown-ups. But, by the time I had completed that first book, I had laughed so hard that I forgave any inappropriateness. Now we just enjoy the character that is Junie.
This book carries on in this delightful style, and fills one with the spirit of the holidays. Junie is faced with the impossible decision of pleasing herself and getting back at her nemisis; or seeing the hated one as a person with feelings and needs, and giving of herself. A great Christmas read, will hopefully help children feel the spirit of giving instead of getting - all the while keeping them interested with plenty of immature potty humor.