Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy Birthday EM Forster, born January 1, 1879

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2014

A Book I'd Love To Read

I'd really love to read Ruth Goodman's new book, about How to Be A Victorian.  It sounds fascinating.  I'd love to see some her shows, too,  I just love this kind of stuff!

When I was a kid, I really wanted to work at the local heritage museum on Long Island, Bethpage Village.  When I grew up, I found out working there was truly a privilege, and that there actually is a waiting list!  Dreams...

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Tutor

Well, I've been busy.  Moving, working, etc.  But now, I'm reading this:

Among other things of course.
But this one is exciting!  Will Shakespeare!  Thi is an advanced reader copy, not due out until next year.

Other books I'm reading are Green Darkness by Anya Seton, just out of curiosity, and Ian McEwan's The Children Act.

And while tis has not been a banner year for me as far as quantity of reading is concerned, I did read some fantastic books.  Next year, will be even better, I hope.  I'm really looking forward to Kate Atkinson's spin off of Life After Life, God in the Ruins.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Please read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel!

I've been raving about this wonderful book for a few weeks now.  I'm still thinking about it just about every day since I've read it.  You can find my review here on Goodreads.

If you enjoyed The Bone Clocks (which I did!), you will adore Station Eleven.  Yes, it is post apocalyptic/dystopian literature, but it is so superior to mostof the write-alikes out there these days (not to down The Hunger Games/Maze Runner, etc., there is a place for such novels, but this books, which would be fantastic Young Adult read!), but this novel completely transcends the sci-fi/end of world genre.  It is beautiful and honest, and more about people and art and beauty than about fierce survival (although that is part of it, too.).

I came across this charming logo on the blog Liz and Gianna's Adventures in Bookland.  A very charming blog!  I love the logo.  I need this as a button or t-shirt to promote my new favorite novel.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 4th

Happy Fourth of July!

Seen in Venice.

Book steps to reading!

Anthropologists' behavior examined: Lily King's Euphoria

In online photos, the cover of the Lily King's Euphoria is fairly innocuous and unexciting.  But in person, it has a definite "wow factor"! 

The cover is actually a close up of a Rainbow Gum tree.

(for more photos/info click here.

I will admit, I took way too long to pick this book up, but once I started reading, I was immediately taken in by the story of Nell Stone and her fellow anthropologists and lovers. One is her husband and one is not, and the trio is found initially deep in the jungles of New Guinea.

Nell Stone is (very) loosely based on world renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead.  Many aspects of the story are nearly exactly like Mead's own life, including her recently published book (the title is different, but the subject of the book is nearly identical to the actual book Mead published), as well as her relationships.  Names are changed, but even those remain similar.  But take note: this is not a biography of her life, and that does becomes clear at the end of the novel.  This is a work of fiction.

At the time, between the two world wars, anthropology was still finding its footing, and was not necessarily regarded as actual science, or even as necessary.  Even the anthropologists themselves had very different and often extreme manners of going about their studies.   And truly, it was a science of observation.  This book brings up a lot of points regarding how anthropology works, and how does one observe without becoming part of the observation, or changing it with your presence.  All three of these anthropologists handle this differently.  They also regard their subjects differently, and part of that is due to their individual temperaments.

King touches on many different aspects of the difficulties faced by these explorers.  Their interactions with the native tribes they study is often dangerous;  physically, emotionally, and mentally.  Nell has lost a baby with their last tribe, and while details are not given but only alluded to, she's experienced some rather traumatic scenes with that tribe.  She and her husband Fen are looking for a new tribe to study, or else they will leave New guinea and seek refuge in Australia.  They meet up with another busy anthropologist, Bankson, a Brit, and he leads them to their next refuge.  But even in these deeply embedded jungle villages, the western "civilized" world finds its way in, as do the problems and affairs of the three outsiders.

This was a well written novel, with fairly well rounded characters.  I understood King's reasons for leaving out some of the key information about certain events that happen prior to meeting Stone and her husband, but a part of me felt like some of it was too ambiguous.  A little  more information might have helped me to understand Nell better.  I think Bankson's character gets to reveal the most about himself, and I loved that.

Definitely a good read, and one to pick up.  I'm giving it 4 stars, only because I wish it wasn't quite so restrained.

4 stars

Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Whale of a Tale: Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

There may be some spoilers in this review, but mostly related to character and not plot.  I don't want to spoil the book for anyone about to read it, since the element of surprise is definitely part of the novel.

I didn't LOVE this book, but I was amused by it.  The writing is quite good: sharp, witty, clear.  I love how Shipstead creates her characters here.  They've existed long before we meet them, with their foibles and hang ups, but now that we're introduced, we are almost overwhelmed by the family, and the event that is bringing them together, Daphne's wedding.

I'd like to address a few things that really captured me about this novel.  Primarily, the use of the whale as a symbol, intentional or not. The whole island is dominated by whale imagery, and it is also a preppy symbol, which embodies Winn's entire life.  He is a man who wants to belong.  If you hang a wooden whale on your house on the Island, Waskeke, you belong.  If you wear a belt with ha;es on it, you also belong to a special club. The club that Winn currently wants to join is called The Pequod, which is also the name of the whaleship in the novel, Moby Dick.  A sperm whale washes up on the shore, and of course, Livia, a marine biologist in the making, must see the whale in person.  It becomes symbolic for her, too.  Even Dominique has a whale experience.  I had to laugh when Winn becomes like Ahab himself, with his bum leg after an unfortunate bike and golf cart accident.  I also couldn't help but think of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest--another novel that relies heavily on whale imagery.

Another symbol that I enjoyed being tossed about was that of the club that Winn was so very proud to have belonged to back in his Harvard days, the Ophidian.  The name implies, a snake or dragon, a creature full of greed and full of itself.  And Winn is so caught up in his college glory days, and his time spent at the Ophidian and what he just knew it meant to his family that he belonged to the club, that he becomes rather monstrous and obsessed.  He has had daughters, and Livia (the one who attends Harvard) is not admitted to the club.  He is disappointed first and foremost by this fact, and the fact that he has never had a son.  he is a a man caught up in his own self image and desires, and while he doesn't always act in those desires, he behaves as a man who does, causing much pain for his long suffering wife.  he also insults and hurts people around him with this tunnel vision, this long term course (he is almost 60) that he has set for disaster.

The main event of this wedding is the wedding of Winn and Biddy's daughter, Daphne, who is already well into a pregnancy, to Greyson Duff, who has several caddish brothers, and is definitely the catch of his family.  Livia has been dumped, after becoming pregnant, by her boyfriend, who never really felt much for her in the first place. Their relationship heavily mirrors one that Winn had with jack's mother many years prior, sans pregnancy.  Livia has told everyone she is pregnant and has also terminated the pregnancy, and has no qualms about continuing to pine for her lost relationship with Teddy, who is clearly finished with her:  not because she is pregnant, but because they are not a good fit. Being at her pregnant sister's wedding i very difficult for Livia, and she is rail thin and pale, and looking for "love" (or something like that) on the rebound.  Obviously, this is a big mistake.

Bad things happen to these people, and they have no shame.  They are all trying to behave like some superior class of people, but their behavior is equal to something we'd see on a Jerry Springer show.  There is embarrassment for what they do, and rarely any kind of apology (although efforts are made to get apologies, so many times.).  Everything they do is done to themselves, or the ones that they have chosen to surround themselves with for this wedding: in other words, their closest friends and family.  Dominique, Daphne's dear friend from prep school is the only sane one of teh group, who long ago threw away her whale belts and polo shirts.  A beautiful Egyptian girl, she is both in with the family, but clearly the outsider looking in at an American family she once felt a part of, but can now see so many ways they've gone wrong, yet continues to be a friend, a lighthouse, a beacon in their dark hours.  

By the end of the novel, you find yourself asking, what else could possibly happen?  This is not an Austen novel (a friend who read it made this suggestion), with weddings and happily ever afters, and Livia and Daphne are no Elinor and Marianne, or Jane and Lizzie.  But I can see where the structure could be regarded as quite similar, but no respectable Austen heroine would behave like a Lydia Bennett.  Mopsy, the matriarch from the Duff family, is constantly complaining of being cold (no one ever suggests she bring a sweater, either, the Duff boys do everything to care for her every complaint, even when the air conditioning is not even on!), and at one point even she observes, "This family is falling into the middle class." (Of course, this is after a particularly stinging retort from the stoned and drunk Winn.)

This is a novel very much about fitting in, and getting what you want, even if you don't know that not only do you not really want it, but that you don't need it, and if you finally get it, it's going to hurt (kind of like a large, rotting whale corpse on the beach.).  There were moments in the novel I felt like I was reading The Stranger, set on a tony up-East island instead of Algiers.  At other times, I was laughing out loud, and that reminded me more of the feeling I had when reading Cuckoo's Nest--bittersweet.

I was surprised by the end.  Although I don't believe anyone over the age of 25 is really ever going to change, I do believe there can be redemption and realization.  And there is still time to move to the village of truth tellers. A fun summer read, if you can get past the initial obnoxiousness of these characters, who are really a bunch of people in pain.

4 stars

Friday, June 13, 2014

Reading for Comfort.

I am most definitely a creature of habit, and one that turns to the familiar when in need of comfort. Sure I love a cup of tea and something yummy to eat when I'm feeling blue, but sometimes, nothing but a book will do.

There are several books that I have turned to repeatedly for a dose of comfort on many occasions.  Not only are some of these books my most favorite of all the books I've read over the years, but they are safe to read, with nothing scary, or uncertain in them: partly because they are so familiar and partly because there is no Stephen King and no thrillers on the list.

The above book is one of those reads for me. It's not the first copy of A Room With A View I've owned (I own several copies), but this one was nice since it had Howard's End as well.  I love EM Forster, and he is definitely one of my favorite go to comfort authors, and A Room With A View is one of my favorite books. There are no major tragedies in the novel (although lots of minor ones, and plenty of muddles).  And I love knowing what's going to happen next, although with so many books I adore, I'd love to back in time to read this book for the first time again!  But I am so glad I can turn to this one and feel a sense of warmth and coziness.  I love Mrs. Honeychurch, and old Mr. Emerson.  The sweet romance that develops between Lucy and George is one that's I'm sure transcends their own prim time, of chaperons and propriety, and can imagine that couple living in a London neighborhood these days.  But just look at this book! It's loved--it' s been bent, packed, and read and well loved for years.  I'd never get rid of it, my most well worn copy of these novels.

There are more of course.  I love Jane Eyre- and have been known to turn to her on my Kindle in heavy New York traffic (while my husband drove and cursed, of course!).

To Kill A  Mockingbird, is another. Yes, horrible things happen, but one you know how it all ends up: the courageous Jem, the elusive but ever present Boo, and Atticus, all intersecting at the end., their presences as comforting to Scout as to the repeat reader.
Gone With The Wind and A Tree Grows In Brooklyn are two more, and I've also found that as I get older, and the circumstances of my life change (from kid, to being a teen, to young adulthood, and into motherhood), I am often affected very differently than I was earlier by these novels.  As a young teen, I just loved spunky Scarlett--but as a mother, many years later during a re-read, I wept as Melanie talked about decorating the graves of the Yankee war dead, just as well as the Confederate ones;  her compassion and sweet spirit were what moved me to tears.

And Jack Finney's Time and Again, the world's greatest time travel novel!  I think I was 12 or 13 when I first read it. I was excited! this book was incredible!  Who wouldn't want to read this fabulous book over and over again in the course of a lifetime?

I am often met with disapproval:  Why would you spend time on books you've already read, when there are so many new ones?  My response is that I re-read the ones I love because I know they make me happy, and they beautify my life with their very presence.  I'm not always re-reading a book. In fact, I often pick up these favorites and just read a few chapters or a favorite scene that I love.

I hope every reader has some comfort reads. What are some of yours?

Monday, June 9, 2014

A review of Anthony Doerr's Incandescent novel All The Light We Cannot See

Incandescent! The most beautiful writing! Lovely book, beautiful story!  Anthony Doerr achieves that connection that is so important in great writing and literature. The characters connect with each other, even though they cannot see all that the reader can see.  Doerr also successfully builds a bridge between that time and this one, reminding us that these were people living their lives when this monstrous war barged into their lives, wreaking havoc and changing their plans and their lives.

I cannot recommend this book enough--Doerr is obviously at the top of his game: a genius storyteller, and an artist--painting the most gorgeous pictures with the words he chooses.  I wept through half this novel, not because it was sad (and it is sad), but because the writing is so perfect!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

And a little E.M. Forster for the weekend.

I work in a bookstore (a chain, not an indie).  I noticed these awesome new covers on Nancy Drew last week, and I just adore them. I know people are attached to the iconic covers from when they were kids, but the first four books were actually published in 1930, and these seem much more appropriate!

I think they are gorgeous.

Sounds like another way of saying heaven.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review of The Bees by Laline Paull

There's lots of "buzz" about this book, and most of it is well deserved.  It's the story of a hive and of a particular bee in that hive.  Flora 717 is a sanitation bee in an orchard hive (humans placed it there), and she is a little different from her fellow sanitation bees.  Sanitation bees do the dirty work in the hive: they clean up bodies of dead bees and other messes that occur. They are low in the bee hierarchy, although most of the bees, be they foraging bees, nursery bees, drones, etc, all repeat the mantra of the hive "Accept, Obey, Serve."  But our bee, Flora 717, has a different story.  She is different from the other bees.  She is a breakout bee, who thinks for herself, and has abilities the others don't have, even though she si regarded as not only ugly by the others, but as the lowliest kind of bee. Until the queen bee takes notice.

This book is truly a cross, or homage to Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale and Orwell's 1984/Animal Farm. The setting is dystopian, a society struggling to survive, but reluctant to adapt as the world around them is changing.

Well written and with a fairly compelling story line, there were a few sections where I became mired down, and wished for sharper editing: the bees activity, even that of the heroine, Flora, sometimes became repetitive. I guess that reflects the life of the hive, and the hive mind: dull, repetitive, mechanized, without feeling, or more importantly, without time or energy fro feelings. Flora, a sanitation bee with her own mind and a voice, cannot help but fight against the Melissae, and the fertility police.  I did love the references to the Melissae, which means "the bees" in Greek. The Melissae in ancient Greece were a group of priestesses that were honored as having regenerative and magical powers, much like bees, and the Greeks did indeed keep bees, and appreciated their magical powers to create honey and come back after the winter to make more.

This is a physically beautiful book, I love the cover, even the ARC copy was gorgeous, as is the hardcover.

4.5 stars
I'm giving this novel 5 stars on Amazon, although I feel 4.5 would be more appropriate: great novel, (although not perfect) and I expect great things from this author in the future.  It would have been really cool if she expanded the connection to the ancient Greeks and bees in human history, as well as some of the other insects that appear in the story.

For further reading on The Melissae and bees throughout human history., go here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Peter Heller's wonderful sophomore effort, The Painter. My review.

If you loved The Dog Stars by Heller, you'll probably really like The Painter. Heller's main character, the painter, Jim Stegner is very much like Hig in that first novel. 

A feeling of loss pervades our lives, and many of us use creativity as a way to repair those broken parts of ourselves, or find the lost ones.

Jim Stegner is a fairly successful painter. he is also a bereaved father, a convicted killer, an alcoholic, and a fly fishing addict. He loves animals, women, poetry, and the outdoors. He is not from a privileged background. He is prone to violence when angered by injustice. But he is also intuitive and knows when to hide.

When he comes across a brutal scene unfolding outside of the New Mexico town he lives near, where a man is ruthlessly beating a small horse, he steps forward to intervene. Not because he's a tough guy, but because he's sensitive and every victim he sees reminds him of his murdered teenage daughter, Alce. The decision to take a stand and help this little horse leads to a series of events that he is not all that new to...

Clearly, Mr Heller is a lover of poetry and all things beautiful, whether created by nature or an artist. His fictional characters often seem cookie cutter/stereo-typical: especially the woman, and that might be what I found to be the biggest fault with his writing. However, in his defense, he is writing about a man from a man's point of view. And while there are a few moments where the writing falters (there is one similar scene in The Dog Stars as well), I can forgive Heller that. Because so much of this novel sparkles. 

5 stars

Thursday, March 6, 2014


"Books make you a glutton for life"

Today is a day of catching up on my review writing, my laundry and hopefully, some reading. Busy hardly begins to describe these days! Insane weather, college visits/auditions, competitions and work, not to mention the usual family obligations, have been taking up so much time. They are also quite exhausting. 

Today I finally finished a long over due review of Above by Isla Morley: I started it weeks ago, but due to that travelling, it fell by the wayside, and i feel terrible about it, since I had so much to say.  I was happy to see the book in person at work (at Books a Million), several copies in fact. Very pretty cover!

I actually enjoyed this book, a dystopian novel, one of my favorite genres that I have not been getting enough of lately. There were a few problems with the plot, but nothing I couldn't get past, with the decent writing. That's always a relief.

I also finished The Light Between Oceans by ML Stedman, which was alright; certainly not my favorite book of the year, but it ended better than I expected it to. I felt similarly about Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole, (a tad precious was my pronouncement at book group); it was okay, glad I read it, since I do enjoy epistolary novels, but this one was a bit preposterous at times. Both these books were for one of my book groups. I suggested the next book, The Collector by John Fowles. I am really looking forward to it, but I am stopping myself from reading it right now, until I finish the group of books I'm reading now!  Those books are Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings, Ann Patchett's This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (a collection of previously published essays and articles), and a DTB ARC called I Shall be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe, and is set in the Civil War.

I am so fortunate that I have so many books to read and review these days! Some new ARCs from work, quite a few electronic ARCs from NetGalley, and the usual array of books for book group and my own pleasure (I get pleasure from all of them, don't get me wrong!). Currently, my other book group, the one I've been in for almost 18 years, is just not fitting into my schedule, with my return to work and the kids' hectic schedules. Hopefully I can make a return this summer, or at least for the book they chose with me in mind!

I also wanted to share a link to a delightful list of 5 Reading Rules for Book Lovers of All Ages from Book Riot's Rebecca Schinsky.  In short, they are:

1. Never let someone tell you you read too much.
2. Love what you love.
3. You don't have to read what everyone else is reading.
4. Let books make your world bigger.
5. Know that there's no wrong way to read and now wrong reading for reading.

I just LOVE these rules and this is my favorite article of the week!  She has some fabulous insight, so please go and read further. (That's where the quote at the top of this post is from!)

Above by Isla Morley (Review)

(This is a review of an electronic advanced reader copy provided by Netgalley.)

Spoilers:  I am going to be addressing some major plot points and issues, so please do not continue reading this review.

     This books is not Isla Morley's first novel, and that definitely shows: the writing is good, often quite lovely, in fact, and she is a skilled storyteller. I was immediately taken in by the voice of Blythe Hallowell, a young 16 year old Kansan who is abducted by a local librarian and survivalist, named Dobbs.  The story begins in media res, with Blythe fighting against him, and being locked in a very scary dark place.

But the problems, or maybe they are holes in the plot, also start immediately. I grew up in the 1980s. I thought maybe this was the 80s, even the 50s, with its lack of cell phones and internet, and a wholesome town picnic (the Horse Thieves Picnic) that a teenage girl is excited to be attending to meet up with her suitor.  But you find out she is being hidden away in an emptied missile silo. This does not make sense for either of those time periods. It must be after the 1990s. This caused a lot of problems for me thought the book. Does Dobbs not have access to the internet down in the silo/fallout shelter he's created? He saves everything (important historic documents, etc.) on microfiche instead of on  hard drive or disc, or even hard printed copies? This seems antiquated and not in line with the time period. I understand if an actual disaster like nuclear war or an electromagnetic pulse destroyed communications, but I would think those items would be protected on a computer in a silo.

I also feel as if there would be some way for Dobbs to communicate the actual situation "above" to Blythe, to at least make her believe she is actually safer below than above. Obviously, she does not take his word for anything, and he obviously is smart enough to know this: so why not prove it to her, by taking her outside, and releasing her from the mythology of the "old" above?

Aside from some major problems with the plot, the story is gripping and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Blythe's voice is fairly authentic, and the situations that present themselves in the silo are far from boring: there are moral dilemmas galore for poor Blythe, and she handles them in a realistic way (ie. normal for a teenage girl from a stable home). I shed some tears a few times. 

Prepare yourself for this novel, it is quite original.  I'd be interested to read a sequel to this one! Or anything else by this author.

4 stars

Monday, January 27, 2014

Review of Evie Wyld's All The Birds, Singing

This review is from an advanced electronic reader copy supplied by the publisher via NetGalley.

Jake Whyte is a good bloke. Problem is, she's a woman. A very damaged woman, physically and emotionally. We don't know why, and are given tiny hints as to why throughout her story. Jake is scared. Scared of something that is killing her sheep, and might be after her.

Jake is living with her sheep on an island off the coast of England. She is from Australia, and they saved her in a way. But they also make her more vulnerable. She is scared of an animal that has large teeth and is bigger than any predator ever seen on the island. But it has also made her more vulnerable, causing her to look outside of herself, both to help others, and to help herself. 

This book is suspensefully crafted, leaving the reader wondering if they will ever understand Jake, or what "animal" seems to be taunting her. Readers should not expect an ending with a neatly tied bow on it, that is clearly not Wyld's style. 

4/5 stars

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Review of The Bear by Claire Cameron: Harrowing yet insightful.

(This is from an electronic advanced reader copy from Netgalley, via the publisher.  This book will be on sale February 11, 2014.)

I guess I need to start by addressing my strange and urgent need to to read this novel. I saw a blurb and a link to Ms. Cameron's website for this book somewhere on my daily literary travels on the internet, and just felt a desire to obtain and read a copy of this book immediately.  Something about a wild animal/predatory attack on a human has always fascinated me and catches my ear and my imagination.  I've had an interest in sharks my entire life. Growing up on Long Island, learning to swim in the Sound, and seeing jaws at an early age struck some primal chord within my eight year old self.

A few years back, a very sad documentary came out by a German filmmaker, Werner Herzog,  about the bear enthusiast and nature lover, Timothy Treadwell, who spent thirteen years in Katmai National park in Alaska living among the wildlife and closely interacting with them. Treadwell filmed and focused on the bears in the park. Unfortunately, this story does not have a happy ending; Treadwell and his girlfriend were eaten by the very bears they loved and wanted to protect. (You can learn more about the film here or read Roger Ebert's excellent review to learn more.). These bears are blameless, as are the sharks. We humans invade their territory and of they're hungry,thus they bite. Seeing the title of this novel and hearing the synopsis of it made me anxious to read it, as it brought to mind the aforementioned case, as well as a few other bear attacks over the last few years, even closer to home.

Another angle of this book that caught my attention was the fact that is told from the point of view of a five year old girl.  Most of my reader friends know about the phenomenal success of the Emma Donoghue novel, Room, in which the narrator is also a five year old, a boy, in terrible circumstances. A five year old narrator is not really looking back that far into their life; they are innocent and honest, unencumbered by too many cynical observations. Donoghue's story teller, Jack was eloquent and heartbreaking, and Ms. Donoghue did an excellent job with that. A five year old narrator can easily sound annoying, or worse, inauthentic.

Claire Cameron takes us on a camping trip the Whyte family: five year old Anna, baby brother Alex (he is three, so toddling and growing up, as she so often observes), and her parents. What happens to them is horrific, and the unfolding of the story is very much based around the actual bear attack in the darkest hours of the night. Anna describes the bear attack, mainly through what she hears and what she already knows in this world. Five year olds are sheltered. They are babies still, but on the cusp of having a different awareness of life. Anna also intuits there is a problem with her parents' marriage.  Her observations are frighteningly immediate, even if they are not anything like the observations of an adult. In fact, based on her previous experiences, she describes a very nuanced scene regarding the bear attack, her brother, their situation and her feelings.

This novel is very much about family, love, and the comfort of familiarity. These two children are so tuned in to themselves and their surrounding with all their senses: taste, smell, and touch,  as well as the obvious sight and sound, which all play a huge part in every thing they do. They survive off their primal child wit. And Anna's mental ability to handle fear and threats to their well being is absolutely believable and amazing at once.  Theirs is the kind of story you read in the paper or hear on the news, and your jaw drops. 

This was a book that evoked many emotions in me. There were tears of both sadness and happiness, and there were times when I just had to put the novel down.  This book reminds you what sponges children are, and how they latch on to every word spoken and every move made.  So teach them well, and they can survive.

5 stars

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Taking down the tree

It is now December 9, and I have still not taken down our Christmas tree. Unlike most of our friends and neighbors (who put the tree up on Thanksgiving evening!), we do not put our tree up until it is nearly Christmas.  I like it that way. I have an old fashioned tree: a mishmash of ornaments (no themed trees around here!) and tons of lights. I enjoy its soft light in the evenings, and its fragrance. The tree is a warm reminder of life that goes on throughout the year, even in the darkest winter. I just love our tree.  It must stay up until Epiphany, January 6, and after that, it comes down as the schedule allows. Looks like this one will be around until Saturday!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Favorite Books of 2013

So, here we are already in 2014, and I posted this list on my Facebook page in December.  I though maybe this would be a great way to start off the New year. I need to pay more attention to this blog, I get so many good ideas, and I'd like to be more active here in 2014. So without further ado...

These are my favorite reads of 2013:
1. Longbourn by Jo Baker
2. Burial Rites by Hannah Kent 
3 Life After Life by Kate Atkinson 
4. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

***These top four are basically interchangeable. They are listed randomly, because I can't pick one. I love them all. Note all four were highly anticipated reads by me for this year, as well as for many other folks.
5. The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
6. Arcadia by Lauren Groff
7. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
8. Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
9. Schroder by Amity Gaige
10. Harvest by Jim Crace
11. Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan
12. A Tale for the Time Being Ruth Ozeki

Non Fiction
1. The Creation of Anne Boleyn by Susan Bordo
2. How to Create the Perfect Wife by Wendy Moore
3. Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

Honorable Mentions
1. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini
2. The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
3. Familiar by J Robert Lennon
4. The Paris Wife by Paula McClain
5. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier
6. The House Girl by Tara Conkin
7. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
8. The Storied Life of AJ Fikrey by Gabreille Zevin
9. The Impossible Life of Greta Wells by Sean Andrew Greer
1. You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt
11. The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam
12. Instructions for a Heat Wave by Maggie O'Farrell

I may have forgotten a book or two. Heck, I could add a lot more to the HM list.
They aren't in any particular order either.