Wednesday, January 8, 2014

3 reviews

A lighthearted story about a computer tech, Lincoln, who's job is to monitor and read flagged company e-mails. He becomes fascinated with the back and forth between Jennifer and Beth and sees their communiques as too endearing to be turned in for further action. He finds himself falling in love with Beth even though he has never seen her. How does he ever have a chance with her in real life after this invasion of privacy?
A fun yet shallow story of a different sort of office romance. 3 stars.

Blockade Billy and Morality by Stephen King. I am not generally a fan of short stories since I never feel as if the story or characters are successfully developed enough for me to really care about. These were fair, I liked Morality a bit better than the baseball story. 3 stars.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. A classic, written in 1953 about a futuristic world where people are basically managed by the government. The firemen have the job of burning all books, no one is permitted to own any or really have independent thoughts or strong opinions. A bit chilling in some ways as I see so many parallels in our society today. Anything slightly offensive, no matter how mild or ridiculous, was not allowed in this dystopian world. Eventually nothing was okay and everyone was to be the same so there would be no conflict. The story holds up after five decades and I would highly recommend it. 4 stars.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 2014!

Happy New Year! May the year ahead bring many beautiful blessings to you and your family. I have not made any grand resolutions this year, I just am going to try and live each day a little better than the one before. Little goals are so much easier for me. I've begun a daily written journal to see where I may have room for improvements.

We just got back from the second part of The Hobbit (in 3D). I loved it and was so immersed in Middle Earth, it felt weird walking out of the theater in broad daylight. I read this book back in 1973 and read it about 3 more times after that. One of my favorites of all time and I think they did a pretty respectable job on screen.

The book pictured above I just finished and really enjoyed. This House Is Haunted by John Boyne takes place in the late 1800's in the London area. A governess takes on a new job to care for two children in a very haunted house where the spirit of their dead mother tries to kill anyone that gets near her children. A bit of a mix of Charles Dickens and Jane Austen's styles with a strong heroine and a very well paced plot. Four stars (out of 5).

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Long overdue update

It's hard to believe it has been a year to the day almost that I last posted. It has been a difficult year for me with the loss of my Dad, who was my hero and confidant. The last time that I spoke to him was to tell him of the loss of our sweet dog of 12 years, Bella. If only I had known that it would be our last conversation, there were so many more things I wanted to tell him. I still feel him as a strong presence in my life and I know he lives on through his children, grand and great grandchildren.

I was so happy to have completed my reading goal for 2013 of 110 books. Many of these (almost half) were audio. I am rarely without my earphones in, engrossed in a novel as I busy about the house or go for a walk.
I wanted to share all of my five star ratings from the past year, in no particular order.
1. Doctor Sleep- Stephen King
2. Nos4A2- Joe Hill  
3. The Rosie Project- Graeme Simsion
4. The Girl You Left Behind- Jojo Moyes
5. Me Before You- Jojo Moyes
6. The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving- Jonathan Evison
7. Life After Life- Kate Atkinson
8. Wonder- R.J. Palaccio
9. Roses- Leila Meacham
10. The Art of Racing in the Rain- Garth Stein
11. Beautiful Ruins- Jess Walter

Honorable mention and my new favorite find is author Joe Hill. I am not a huge fan of horror anymore, but he is so darn good. Check out Horns and Heart Shaped Box, they should not be read right before you go to sleep though. :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Twelve Tribes of Hattie

by Ayana Mathis. 3 stars

Ayana Mathis is a gifted writer but I really did not enjoy this book as much as I expected to from the glowing reviews. I was really hoping to connect more with the characters, especially Hattie. My parents were from Philadelphia as well and stuggled through the Depression also. We had a huge family and very little money but my mother always gave us love and affection, which didn't cost a thing. I think Hattie's tragic losses during this time pretty much altered and mostly ruined her other children's lives and this was so frustrating and sad to me. She raised all of them like an automaton, never giving them the love and tenderness they needed, I guess she couldn't give of herself again after that kind of pain. Life is about choices we make too and she picked a drinking, philandering, gambling man for a husband and we see this same trait in just about all of her sons. The women all seemed to be filled with serious emotional mental health issues, some totally debilitating. Hopefully Hattie saves one from the next generation at the end but the rest was just so very depressing to me.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Thomas Jefferson's Creme Brulee

This combines two of my favorite topics- American history and food. In 1784 Thomas Jefferson makes a deal with his slave, James Hemings. James will travel with him to France and be trained in the fine art of French cooking, and will then bring this knowledge back home to train the slaves at Monticello. After this service is completed, James is to be granted his freedom. Much of the story involves the events that are going on in France at the time, the revolution against the monarchy of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. I found it fascinating to see what people were eating in those days both in France and America, necessity and availabilty played a factor in the daily diet. Jefferson was always on the lookout to bring new ideas back home to his beloved country to make it the best place it could possibly be. He kept amazingly detailed records of every little plan and item puchased in regards to his estate and the care of his slaves, and was always experimenting with new ways to improve life for himself and those around him. The history of food is a fascinating story all in itself. So much of what is now Southern and American food is a fusion of so many different cultures, not just of French influence. Many of the foods and dishes were African in origin, what the slaves were used to in their native homes- Ngombo (gumbo), okra, black-eyed peas, hoppin' john, and so many more. Some of the French ideas brought back were macaroni and cheese, creme brulee, French fries, Champagne, and sauces. My biggest disappointment in this story is the lack of information about James Hemings. I would have loved to have had some perspective from his point of view, what his life was like both in France and then when he returned to America, and then when he finally became a free man. It is so sad that his experiences and feelings are lost to us.

Friday, October 5, 2012

A Discovery of Witches

By Deborah Harkness. 4 stars.

If you liked the Twilight series, you may enjoy this much more sophisticated version. Scholar Diana Bishop comes across an ancient manuscript in Oxford's Bodleian library that draws the attention of the supernatural characters of witches, daemons, and vampires. I love the little tidbits of historical events and figures that are woven through the story and am quite looking forward to the next installment where the two lovers, Diana and Matthew, step back into the past. They must try to make sense of the Discovery of Witches texts and what this means for the survival of the three races. Will they able to solve the riddle in time as they battle the forces that are out to stop them? Can't wait to find out!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

On The Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves

5 stars

I loved this book and really hope that they make it into a movie. This is a wonderful story of survival and a strong and enduring bond of love that develops between these two beautifully drawn characters.

TJ is a sixteen year old cancer survivor who is on his way with his tutor for the summer, thirty year old Anna Emerson, to meet his family in the Maldive islands. The charter plane they are on crashes in the Indian Ocean and the pilot is killed. They wash ashore on a deserted island and must find a way to survive until help arrives. Only it doesn't...

I don't want to give too much away, I'll just say this was a riveting read that taps every emotion.