Monthly Archives: March 2010

>Library Loot March 31st, 2010

> Starting to gradually catch up to my large, looming stack, I requested 10 books at the library today for upcoming weeks. These, however, are what I found on the shelves today.

Hosted by Eva at A Striped Armchair and Marg at ReadingAdventures, Library Loot is a fun weekly meme that allows others to peek in your bookbag to see what you came home from the Library with this week. Here’s what’s in my bag:

Seen on book blogs everywhere, no further description needed. Usually I read books in the order they were checked out so I’m not stuck with having overdue books. However, since there are still many people waiting for this one, I will be reading it immediately following the book I’m reading now.

Lia and Cassie were best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies. But now Cassie is dead. Lia’s mother is busy saving other people’s lives. Her father is away on business. Her stepmother is clueless. And the voice iinside Lia’s head keeps telling her to remain in control, stay strong, lose more, weigh less. If she keeps on going this way- thin, thinner, thinnest- maybe she’ll disappear altogether. In her most emotionally wrenching lyrically written book since the National Book Award finalist Speak, best-selling author Laurie Halse Anderson explore’s one girl’s chilling descent into the all-consuming vortex or anorexia.

In 1851 Bishop Latour and his friend Father Vaillant are dispatched to New Mexico to reawaken its slumbering Catholicism. Moving along the endless prairies, Latour spreads his faith the only way he knows- gently, although he must contend with the unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness. Over nearly forty years, the two friends leave converts and enemies, crosses and occasionally ecstasy in their wake. But it takes a death for them to make their mark on the landscape for ever… (A friend told me this was thier favorite Willa Cather book. Since I had never read her before I thought this would be a good one to start with.)

Being bad never tasted this good… With hundreds of recipes for mouthwatering candies, chocolates, pralines, cremes, fudges, toffee, holiday treats, and no-bake cookies, this step-by-step candy bible for beginners and accomplished candy-makers alike covers everything from the traditional to the exotic. (our family is notorious for their sweet tooth. Couldn’t pass this one up!)

Now all devoted Fluffernuts can expand their repertoires with the most complete collection of Marshmallow Fluff dishes ever. The Marshmallow Fluff Cookbook offers over 110 delicious and easy recipes, and you’ll be making homemade Chocolate Cheesecake, Never-Fail Fudge, and Fluffy Blackberry Sorbet in no time. Also included are brand new recipes like Fluff-filled Chocolate Madeleines and Mocha-Almond Fudge contributed by contemporary chefs and food experts who love Fluff. (Seriously? A whole recipe book devoted to Marshmallow Fluff? I had to check this out just to see what it was about. The ONLY thing I have ever used Fluff for was Peanut Butter Fudge, but there is a recipe for brownies in this book that looks pretty darn good!)

How about you? What is your favorite thing to use Marshmallow Fluff for? Enlighten me. Then tell me what you think of this week’s loot!

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>The Geurnsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows *Review*

> I am enchanted. I want to grab my passport, hop a ship (yes, a ship,). and sail to the Channel Islands. I want to live in Guernsey.

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society has become my favorite book so far this year. A very rare 5 star book.

The novel, written entirely in letters, starts out with Juliet conversing with her best friends Sophie and Sidney. Sidney is Sophie’s brother and Juliet’s editor who has sent her on a book tour.

Then a letter comes from Dawsey in Guernsey, a fan of Juliet and a fellow admirer of author Charles Lamb. Having something in common, they start to write each other quite often. In Dawsey’s letters he writes about a society he is a member of- The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society. Juliet is intrigued and wants to know more. Dawsey convinces other members of The Society to write Juliet to tell her about how a group of people during the war came to become a book club of sorts. The Society’s members not only inundate Juliet with letters they encourage her to come for a visit.

Feeling she has found new friends, and wanting to learn more about the Island, it’s inhabitants, and its German Occupation during the war (could there be a book in it?), Juliet consents.

The characters in this novel were so well drawn I felt like I had known them for years. They felt like my friends. I found myself cheering them on, hurting for them when they were grieving, and laughing at their antics. I loved Dawsey, the quiet, reserved, gentle man whom Juliet first encounters; Kit, the wary 4-year-old; Elizabeth, Kit’s mother who was so brave and full of love for everybody; and especially Isola, the quirky, neighborhood busybody who made me laugh throughout the novel.

I was saddened to come to the last page of this book and leave my friends behind but I was so glad I had finally decided to read it.

If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and do so right away. I know you will love these wonderful people of Guernsey just as I did.

>Angel’s Crest by Leslie Schwartz *Review*

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Ethan is a single father who has fought his alcoholic ex-wife for custody of his young son Nate, and won. Ethan is a good father who loves his son and takes care of him very well.
One chilly day while out driving, Ethan sees some deer entering the woods. Enchanted, he parks the truck, gets out of the cab and watches them. Soon, he’s left his sleeping son to follow them a short ways down the trail. Soon, the short jaunt becomes a longer distance until he realizes he’s been absorbed with watching the deer for too long and has wandered farther then he should have. He hurries back to the truck only to find it empty. Nate is gone.
The search for Nate begins. Townspeople, friends and strangers join the local authorities to find Nate. Nate is found. He is dead, the chilly temperatures to blame. Tired, Nate laid down and went to sleep, the bottoms of his footed pajamas worn through from walking.
I did not give away a spoiler. The reader is prepared for this. Now the book can begin. Because the book is not about Nate. It’s about how lives in a small town can alter and take on new meaning when a tragedy like this occurs.
The characters in this story are unique and filled with enough pain of their own. We come to know Angie, whose daughter left her child on Angie’s doorstep to raise. Glick, the man who was falsely accused of a crime he did not commit. Roxanne, whose father abandoned her, and Roxanne’s lesbian lover Jane who had abandoned her won child. And Jack, a judge whose son Monty steals from him. Each character’s problems are unique, and while they aren’t resolved, they learn to live within their lives.
I got this copy from the library as an audio book. It seemed to take me an extraordinary amount of time to get through. At first I was disappointed in the story because I thought it would be more about the search for Nate and the trial that ensues, but that was not the case. The book was good but for me it did not work in audio format. The reader’s voice did well on the female parts, but the children’s voices all sounded like high-pitched old people and the men all sounded constipated. If interested, check out the novel, pass on the audio book.

>The Friday 56

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Rules:
*Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
*Turn to page 56.
*Find the 5th sentence.
*Post that sentence (plus one or two others if you like) along with these instructions on your blog or (if you do not have your own blog) in the comments section of Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Post a link along with your post back to Storytime with Tonya and Friends.
*Don’t dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.
My excerpt today comes from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows:
Dearest Sidney,
I haven’t heard from you in ages. Does your icy silence have anything to do with Mark Reynolds?
I have an idea for a new book. It’s a novel about a beautiful yet sensitive author whose spirit is crushed by her domineering editor. Do you like it?
Love always,
Juliet
Dear Sidney,
I was only joking.
Love,
Juliet
I had to take a few liberties with this Friday 56 since these were the only words on the whole entire page!

>Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler *Review*

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Liam Pennywell is not the sort of man to argue…about anything.

He doesn’t argue when his sister offers to bring him a pot of stew even though he hasn’t eaten red meat for months, and he doesn’t argue when he loses his teaching job to someone with less seniority. He just accepts.

But there’s one thing that Liam can’t accept, and that’s having no memory of the brutal attack that left him bandaged and in a hospital bed.

Liam see this incident as a hole in his life. While others remark how he is lucky not to remember, Liam views the attack he can’t remember as something that was taken from him that he wants to recover. He becomes obsessed with trying to figure out why bits and pieces aren’t coming back to him. Shouldn’t he remember a voice, a sound, a physical characteristic?

Then he meets Eunice Dunstead, a professional “rememberer” that he brings into his life to help jar his memory. Falling in love with this dumpy, overweight, bespectacled younger woman causes him to remember, but not in ways he would have thought.

This book was a welcome diversion from the heavier books of late. It was not a book I felt I had to concentrate too hard on. It just kind of flowed. I thought the characters were well developed- right down to his teenage daughter Kitty and her “praying mantis” pose that had me laughing as I had used that same “please, please, please” position on my parents when I was but a teen.

A good book, not action packed, but enjoyable.

>Day After Night by Anita Diamont *Review*

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Day After Night is based on a true story of an escape October 10th, 1945 of over 200 Jewish immigrants from Atlit, a detention center in Israel.
Anita Diamont spins the tale of 4 young women, each very different but now sharing a common experience. Shayndel is a Polish Zionist and is somewhat of a war hero who unconsciously reaches for the holstered gun on her shoulder that’s no longer there. Leonie is a French beauty who used her looks in ways no girl should have to. Tedi is a Dutch girl who was hidden during most of the war and Zorah is a concentration camp survivor who is ashamed of the numbered tattoo on her arm and hides it every chance she gets. Each of these girls did what they had to in order to survive and each waits for the day when they will be free from the barbed wire that surrounds their lives.
With the help of the Palmach an escape is planned. Each of these girls has a vital role to play in getting everybody out as quickly and safely as possible. Once on the outside, they board buses to be taken to a kibbutz, a Jewish collective community, where the fences are used to keep others out instead of keeping the Jews in.
I was very interested in reading this since it was about an event I once again knew nothing about. I had read Anita Diamont’s The Red Tent several years ago and loved it. I was hoping for the same reaction to this one. It was a very good book. It was well written and researched. However, I never felt like I connected with the characters. I was left wanting to know more about each of them, and I felt more time could have been spent deepening their friendship while inside Atlit. If you are going to read this one, read it for the war story or because you like books about true events, don’t read it for a story of female friendship or you might be disappointed.

>Library Loot 3/23/2010

> I’m still being very restrained. I’m desperately trying to get caught up with my huge pile of TBR books sitting on my coffee table that my two sons keep teasing me about.

Hosted by Eva at A Striped Armchair and Marg at ReadingAdventures, Library Loot is a fun weekly meme that allows others to peek in your bookbag to see what you came home from the Library with this week. Here’s what’s in my bag:

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the edges of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before- and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love. (This is not my type of book at all, but hearing bloggers out there as well as my friend Sheila gush about it, I felt I had to give it a try. It just might be the first book I return to the library unfinished.)

An amoral young tramp. A beautiful, sullen woman with an inconvenient husband. A problem that has only one grisly solution- a solution that only creates other problems that no one can ever solve. First published in 1934 and banned in Boston for it’s explosive mixture of violence and eroticism, The Postman Always Rings Twice is a classic of the roman noir. (I felt it was time for a classic. I have never read this or seen the movie so when this one caught my eye on the shelf I figured it was high time I did)

In 1996 a rare book expert is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of a mysterious, beautifully illuminated Hebrew manuscript created in fifteenth-century Spain and recently saved from destruction during the shelling of Sarajevo’s libraries. When Hannah Heath, a caustic Aussie loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in the book’s ancient binding- an insect-wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair- she begins to unlock the mysteries of the book’s eventful past and to uncover the dramatic stories of those who created it and those who risked everything to protect it. (I nominated this one at book club a year or two again and alas it didn’t make the cut, but the story still intrigues me so I finally had to pick it up.)

Retired to the English countryside, an eighty-nine-year-old man, rumored to be a once-famous detective, is more concerned with his beekeeping than with his fellow man. Into his life wanders Linus Steinman, nine years old and mute, who has escaped from Nazi Germany with his sole companion: an African gray parrot. What is the meaning of the mysterious strings of German numbers the bird spews out- a top-secret SS code? The keys to a series of Swiss bank accounts? Or do they hold a significance both more prosaic and far more sinister? Though the solution may be beyond even the reach of the once-famous sleuth, the true story of the boy and his parrot is subtly revealed in a wrenching resolution. (Sounds different enough to maybe be good!)

Well, that’s it for this week. How were my choices? Which can you recommend, and which can you recommend I stay away from?