Monthly Archives: November 2011

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday!  What Are you reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.  It’s a great way to catch up on everyone’s reading week, see what’s coming up for them and add some wonderful new books to your TBR pile!

Last week I kept my reading goals low.  Thanksgiving and Black Friday kept this Electronics Department Manager really busy so I knew attempting to fit in one too many books would be a disaster.  I committed to reading Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, a non-fiction account of the Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving, and what happened to them when they got greedy for more and more land from the indians.

This week I’m going to try for two books.  Hey!  It’s still the busy season!  The first book I’m going to start is Christmas Wedding by James Patterson.  This is our book club read for December and it finally came in at the library for me.  Knowing the waiting list is still long for this one I’m going to get right on it and get it back for the next patron on the list.

The tree is decorated, the cookies are baked, and the packages are wrapped, but the biggest celebration this Christmas is Gaby Summerhill’s wedding. Since her husband died three years ago, Gaby’s four children have drifted apart, each consumed by the turbulence of their own lives. They haven’t celebrated Christmas together since their father’s death, but when Gaby announces that she’s getting married—and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day—she may finally be able to bring them home for the holidays.

But the wedding isn’t Gaby’s only surprise—she has one more gift for her children, and it could change all their lives forever. With deeply affecting characters and the emotional twists of a James Patterson thriller, The Christmas Wedding is a fresh look at family and the magic of the season.

After that I’m going to read The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.     

A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers  beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

So that’s what my week looks like.  How about yours?

Kid Konnection: Gladys Goes Out to Lunch

Kid Konnection is a weekly meme hosted by Booking Mama.  Every Saturday she features a children’s book and encourages us to link up with her and do the same!  My 4 1/2 year old future granddaughter and I love reading books together and have made a trip to the library one of our weekly outings.

This week we picked up Gladys Goes Out to Lunch by Derek Anderson.

At the zoo Gladys eats bananas for breakfast, bananas for lunch, and even bananas for dinner.  But one day Gladys smells something even better than bananas.  Could it be pizza?  Ice Cream?  Or something altogether better?

Growing up watching the Grape Ape on Saturday morning cartoons, Gladys, the purple gorilla on the cover of this book immediately caught my eye.  I picked it up based on that more than the synopsis of the book (because I don’t like bananas!)  I’m glad I did because I loved Gladys.

Unfortunately, when Princess Grace and I read the book, Gladys turned into a boy.  Gracie insisted that Gladys was a daddy gorilla and not a mommy gorilla so I had to change all the pronouns from he to she and her to him when I read it!

I loved this book and Gracie did too.  The bright illustrations filled each page with color and we couldn’t wait to see what Gladys’ nose was leading her to!

This is definitely a book I am going to pick up for Gracie’s book shelf.  Two sticky thumbs up!

Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick *Review*

From the perilous ocean crossing to the shared bounty of the first Thanksgiving, the Pilgrim settlement of New England has become enshrined as our most sacred national myth. Yet, as bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick reveals in his spellbinding new book, the true story of the Pilgrims is much more than the well-known tale of piety and sacrifice; it is a fifty-five-year epic that is at once tragic, heroic, exhilarating, and profound

I love history, especially American history.  That wasn’t always the case though.  Oh sure, in ninth grade I got an A+ in Mr. Kuelb’s history class, but he was an easy teacher and he offered lots of extra credit.

By high school, more than once I had fallen asleep in class.  I hated  it.  At that age, I don’t really think you can understand the significant role of our forefathers in our lives.  At seventeen, history is too  far in the past to warrant your attention.  That’s why I think an American History course should be mandatory…for forty year olds.  By then you know enough to understand its importance. 

But enough rambling.  What did I think of the book?  Well…it was good!  not fantastic, but it was well worth the time I spent reading it.  I learned a lot about the Pilgrims and the Puritans and the violence in the lives of these Christian peoples.  I think I learned even more, however, about the Pokanokets, Massachusetts, and Naragansett indians though.

It’s true the Pilgrims would not have made it through their first winter if it hadn’t been for the indian sachem Massasoit.  Starving, weak and ravaged by disease they were losing up to 3 people a day from the small group who had traveled all the way from Leidener, Holland to be able to worship in their own way.

It’s also true that Massasoit relied heavily on the Pilgrims as well.  Trading with the Pilgrims they were able to try new foods (they didn’t like mustard) and advance in weaponry from the bow and arrow.  But soon the New Englander’s greed for more and more of the indian’s land started to cause problems among Massasoit’s tribe and neighboring tribes as well.

Within half a century the Pilgrims and Puritans had so incited the rage of the natives that a war was imminent.  Many lives were lost in the bloody battles on both sides.

War is not something I like to read about so the last third of the book dragged a little for me, but all in all Mayflower was an interesting account of the people responsible for one of my favorite holidays.                    3/5 stars

Lisa at Buttery Books was the person who turned me onto this book.  Thanks Lisa!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It’s Monday!  What Are you reading is a fun weekly meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey.  It’s a great way to catch up on everyone’s reading week, see what’s coming up for them and add some wonderful new books to your TBR pile!

This week I have but one book on my agenda.  It’s going to be a busy week in the retail world I work in and with the holiday I figure I can only manage one.  To stay in the spirit of the holiday I chose Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.     

This book was featured last week by Lisa at Buttery Books.  I have just started reading it a learned so much already.  I love that books are always teaching me something new!

So that’s my week.  Tell me about yours!

Kid Konnection: Llama Llama Misses Mama

Kid Konnection is a weekly meme hosted by Booking Mama.  Every Saturday she features children’s books and encourages us to join along with her!

This week Princess Grace and I read Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney.

Time to get up, get dressed, and get going because it’s Llama Llama’s first day of school!  Meet the new teachers, find new friends, but wait…why is Mama Llama leaving?  It’s too much for Llama…Llama Llama misses Mama!

With excitement Llama Llama heads to his first day of school but when he gets there he feels shy and alone.  It’s all a little overwhelming for little Llama Llama and he starts to cry.  Soon the other children are taking Llama Llama under their wing-showing him how to play all kinds of fun kindergarten games.  Llama Llama finds he doesn’t miss Mama quite so much anymore.

I loved the canvas like illustrations in this book.  They were so full of color!  A sweet book about overcoming fears and being open to new experiences, Llama Llama Misses Mama is sure to appeal to your youngster.  Princess Grace could relate to this book because she just started preschool this year and this is one of her favorite books we have read.

Two sticky thumbs up!

Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff *Review*

Her palace shimmered with onyx, garnets, and gold, but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Above all else, Cleopatra was a shrewd strategist and an ingenious negotiator.

Though her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world. She was married twice, each time to a brother. She waged a brutal civil war against the first when both were teenagers. She poisoned the second. Ultimately she dispensed with an ambitious sister as well; incest and assassination were family specialties. Cleopatra appears to have had sex with only two men. They happen, however, to have been Julius Caesar and Mark Antony, among the most prominent Romans of the day. Both were married to other women. Cleopatra had a child with Caesar and–after his murder–three more with his protégé. Already she was the wealthiest ruler in the Mediterranean; the relationship with Antony confirmed her status as the most influential woman of the age. The two would together attempt to forge a new empire, in an alliance that spelled their ends. Cleopatra has lodged herself in our imaginations ever since.

I nominated this book last month for our book club.  The back cover made it sound lurid and fascinating.  I should have read it more thoroughly.  Not that this book wasn’t fascinating in places.  I just didn’t pick up that this was a non-fiction account of Cleopatra’s life.  I totally thought I was going to be reading a historical fiction novel.  My bad.

For most of this book I felt  I was not reading about the Queen of Egypt, but more about Caesar and Mark Antony.  Not much is truly known about Cleopatra so what we know of her comes from her involvement in the lives of these two world renown men.  Little exists in print or chiseled portraits of this intelligent and manipulative woman.

Cleopatra was an enigma; very knowledgeable in science, politics and the arts, she had riches beyond measure, and she was charming to boot.  So charming in fact, that most men who met her fell hopelessly in love with her despite the fact she was not the great beauty Elizabeth Taylor portrayed her to be.  I did learn a lot about Roman and Egyptian culture and their forms of government at the time, but I wish I would have learned more about this fascinating and beloved ruler.    3/5 stars

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Last week even my days off weren’t free days as I had a house full of company due to the opening of hunting season.  In our family deer hunting is taken seriously.  Hunters wake up at 5am to get coffee in their thermos and head out to the deer stand before the sun comes up.  They’re usually back for a big breakfast between 10-10:30 then they are out again until after dark where they come in for a big supper before curling up under a warm blanket and watching a little TV before hitting the sack to do it all over again the next morning.  Last weekend my husband shot a 7 point buck with a drop tine that he was kind of excited about and my future daughter-in-law also got a young buck.

Me?  I’m the head chef and babysitter!  I don’t like guns, myself.  I have went bow hunting before, but that’s the extent of it for me.  Reading during the week and weekend came only late at night where I would read a few pages before falling asleep.  I finished Cleopatra: A Life which was our book club read and I also finished Redemption, but I haven’t got around to writing the reviews on either one yet.

This week I will be reading a few I had on request from the library that finally came in.  They are:

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain                                                                                                      

A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

Chicago, 1920: Hadley Richardson is a quiet twenty-eight-year-old who has all but given up on love and happiness—until she meets Ernest Hemingway and her life changes forever. Following a whirlwind courtship and wedding, the pair set sail for Paris, where they become the golden couple in a lively and volatile group—the fabled “Lost Generation”—that includes Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. 

Though deeply in love, the Hemingways are ill prepared for the hard-drinking and fast-living life of Jazz Age Paris, which hardly values traditional notions of family and monogamy. Surrounded by beautiful women and competing egos, Ernest struggles to find the voice that will earn him a place in history, pouring all the richness and intensity of his life with Hadley and their circle of friends into the novel that will become The Sun Also Rises. Hadley, meanwhile, strives to hold on to her sense of self as the demands of life with Ernest grow costly and her roles as wife, friend, and muse become more challenging. Despite their extraordinary bond, they eventually find themselves facing the ultimate crisis of their marriage—a deception that will lead to the unraveling of everything they’ve fought so hard for. 

A heartbreaking portrayal of love and torn loyalty, The Paris Wife is all the more poignant because we know that, in the end, Hemingway wrote that he would rather have died than fallen in love with anyone but Hadley.

And, Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two-year-old Realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever-patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor pulls up in a van as she’s about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all.

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent captive in a remote mountain cabin—which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist—is the second narrative recounting the nightmare that follows her escape: her struggle to piece her shattered life back together, the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor, and the disturbing sense that things are far from over. 

Still Missing is a shocking, visceral, brutal, and beautifully crafted novel about surviving the unsurvivable—and living to bear witness.

**It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila of Book Journey.  It’s a fun way to catch up on the reading week of my fellow book bloggers and share what has happened in mine**