Nov 30, 2008

The Sunday Salon: I Love New Books!!

Good Morning Saloners! This week I finally finished OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson, a Norweigan author. I say 'finally' because it took me three times longer to finish it than it really should have. You can read my review of the book here.

I also received a few new books in the mail this week that I'm excited about. I'm a member of The Literary Guild and they are always having special savings. This time it was get a book free with each one you buy AND 1.99 shipping! I couldn't resist! These are the books I chose:

THE AUDACITY OF HOPE by President-Elect Barack Obama

THE THIRTEENTH TALE by Diane Setterfield


Three of them are pretty chunky books, but I'm due for a chunkster! I'm especially excited about THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON. I've read positive reviews about it and honestly, I love the cover with that staircase! I'm a sucker for beautiful staircases!

A few weeks ago on Good Morning America they were talking about the audio version of THE AUDACITY OF HOPE and they played a portion of when Senator Obama met George W. for the first time at the White House. It was really interesting (and funny). It was even better because it was Senator Obama's own voice telling the story. I didn't get the audio version, but I think I'll enjoy the book all the same.

Have any of you read these books? The one I know the least about is THE THIRTEENTH TALE, but it sounds very intriguing and I'm really looking forward to it. But first I have a few ARC's I need to read. Well I'm off to church, but when I get back I'll check in on the blogs to see what the rest of you are reading today!

Nov 28, 2008

Friday Fill Ins

Sending Get Well Wishes to your Dad, Janet!

1. My stomach is so full right now.

2. Potatoes (sweet and mashed) is what I ate the most of on Thursday.

3. The yard needs some attention from me.

4. At home is where I'd rather be at any given time.

5. The smell of warm cider reminds me of winters in my childhood hometown.

6. Uninterupted, restful sleep is what I need right now!

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to eating leftovers and hanging out at home, tomorrow my plans include watching the Florida/Florida State football game and Sunday, I want to read and blog!

If you'd like to play Friday Fill Ins, click here! To read other answers click here!

Nov 27, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: What I'm Thankful For

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S.
Now, you may have noticed that the global economy isn’t exactly doing well. There’s war. Starvation. All sorts of bad, scary things going on.
So–just for today–how about sharing 7 things that you’re thankful for?
This can be about books, sure–authors you appreciate, books you love, an ode to your public library–but also, how about other things, too? Because in times like these, with bills piling up and disaster seemingly lurking around every corner, it’s more important than ever to stop and take stock of the things we’re grateful for. Family. Friends. Good health (I hope). Coffee and tea. Turkey. Sunshine. Wagging tails. Curling up with a good book.
So, how about it? Spread a little positive thinking and tell the world what there is to be thankful for.
This is a great BTT on Thanksgiving. Here is my list of 7 things:
1. I'm thankful that both my parents are healthy and are able to get around and do the things they enjoy doing in their twilight years. And I'm thankful I get to spend time with them.
2. I'm thankful that in this sluggish economy I still have a job, unlike many, many others in the field of construction in my area.
3. I'm thankful for my boyfriend and my other close friends because without them, life just wouldn't be the same.
4. I'm thankful that my eye disease hasn't yet prevented me from reading all of the wonderful books I enjoy so much.
5. I'm thankful for the internet that has enabled me to pariticipate in a book blogging community where I have met some incredibly wonderful people that I otherwise would not know and that we can share our love of books with each other.
6. I'm thankful for all of the wonderful writers of the books we all love so much and for their creativity. It's a wonderful thing to be able to escape daily life simply by opening a book and going to another place and time.
7. Lastly, I'm thankful to God for making everything possible and for His love of all things.
I want to wish all of my friends out there a most wonderful Thanksgiving! I appreciate your friendships and look forward to interacting with you every day. For someone like me, who doesn't have the ability or independence that I once had before my eyesight got bad, having the blogging community has been so important to me. My world doesn't seem quite so small anymore and you all are the reason for that. Thank Your for your friendships. Happy Turkey Day!!

Nov 26, 2008

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Bound South (Paperback)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we share titles that are soon to be released that we can't wait to read!

My pick for this week's "Waiting On" Wednesday is BOUND SOUTH by Susan Rebecca White. I love southern fiction and I'm really looking forward to this debut novel. There is no available cover image as of yet so you'll just have to picture it in your mind.
From Publishers Weekly: White's wonderful debut charts the clash of Southern tradition with present-day issues from the perspective of three white females over the years of 1998–2008: Louise Parker, a frustrated, pampered matron living in an affluent Atlanta neighborhood; Caroline, her rebellious teenage daughter; and Missy Meadows, the young daughter of Louise's impoverished housekeeper, Faye. While Missy yearns to reconnect with her father who abandoned the family to become a preacher and Christian TV soap star, Caroline embarks on a scandalous affair during her senior year with Frederick Staunton, her high school drama teacher, and they run off to San Francisco. The relationship fizzles, but Caroline chooses not to come home; back in Georgia, Missy and Charles, Louise's gay son, make a fateful journey to Durham, N.C., to surprise Missy's father. White's wit and graceful prose yield sharp insights about family, friendship and faith in the ever-changing South.
Author: Susan Rebecca White
Publisher: Touchstone
Pages: 368
Release Date: February 9th, 2009
(I have no idea why my spacing isn't working on blogger, so you'll have to excuse the crammed-up look - Ugh!)

Nov 25, 2008

Book Review: Out Stealing Horses

All this that Franz talked to me about was news to me then, but I had no reason to doubt anything he said. Why he should tell me about those times, when my father had never done so, was a question I sat pondering as he talked on, but I did not know whether I could ask him that and have an answer I could live with, for he must certainly have thought I knew all about it already and was merely amused to hear another version. -page 130

OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson is a story about fathers and sons, families and secrets. The story is told by Trond Sander in late 1999 when he is sixty-seven years old. It's a time when he has chosen solitude over the bustle of city life after the deaths of both his wife and sister. Trond decides that he wants to live out the twilight years of his life alone in the remote north forests of Norway. However, the unexpected happens when one night he meets a man who lives not far from his own riverside cabin. There is something familiar about this man that brings back memories of Trond's teenage years, specifically the summer of 1948 when everything as he knew it changed.

Trond tells the story of that summer when he and his father left their family home in Oslo to help fell trees high in the forests of Norway and the simple life they led there. But when Trond returned to Oslo in the fall, he would not be the same boy as before, and neither would his father be the same man, for he learned things about his father's life that he had no knowledge of until that point.

This is a story told with simplicity and with the beauty of the place and time they lived. At sixty-seven, Trond re-lives that summer in flashbacks as he settles into his new life. The story is not hard to follow and flows smoothly between time. It's all very picturesque in your mind and you can almost hear the river rushing and feel the snow falling, as winter time approaches in 1999.

I had heard a lot about this book and was looking forward to reading it. The premise of the story seemed interesting, but I have to be honest and say that I had a hard time getting through this book. I've read other reviews that were glowing, but I just didn't love it. I don't know if it was something in the translation from Norwegian to English that lost me somewhere or not. For me, this was a very slow read. I found myself back-tracking and re-reading whole pages to make sure I was getting what the author wanted me to feel. Also, I couldn't get used to the extremely long sentences that seemed to go on and on. Another thing is that the last fifty or so pages were the most interesting for me. Per Petterson has a simplistic way of writing and it was impressive, however I just never connected with it the way others did. Like I said, I didn't not like it, it just wasn't one of my favorites.

Matt at A Guy's Moleskine Notebook loved this book very much and wrote a great review. I encourage you to click here and read his review to get a different perspective of this very interesting book.
Author: Per Petterson
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Date Published: April 2007
Pages: 250
Rating: 3 out of 5 (I liked it but didn't love it)

Nov 24, 2008

Musing Mondays: Book Fads

This is Rebecca's first week hosting Musing Mondays and I'd just like to say good luck to her! Here's this weeks musing:

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?

Personally, I'm not a big fan of the wide-spread phenoms. I haven't read any of the Harry Potter or Twilight books. It's not that I don't think they're worth reading, they're just not my favorite types of books. I guess you could call them fads or crazes, but I've never been one to follow fads. I would rather spend my time reading a book I'm really interested in - there are just way too many great books out there that I want to read than to spend time reading something just because its the 'in' thing to read.

I have to mention one thing though and I'm not sure it's relative to this subject, but this reminded me of it. As I was lying in bed the other morning listening to my radio trying to get the cobwebs out of my brain before getting up, I heard two local disc jockeys talking about the new 'Twilight' movie. One was commenting that he'd never heard of it. The other said something like: 'I guess it's taken from some books some lady wrote.' Wow! I'm sure Stephanie Meyer really appreciated that. I don't even read her books and I was irritated for her. I really wanted to call them up and tell them what idiots I thought they were. But then again, maybe I'm just too touchy about it because I'm a reader.
If you'd like to read other comments for Musing Mondays click here.

Nov 23, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Ramblings and a Recipe

Here we are arriving at another Sunday Salon and working our way to the holidays! I can’t believe Thanksgiving is here! Although it is my favorite holiday, it just doesn’t seem possible that the year is almost over.

This week was pretty interesting on the blogs. On Monday I participated in Musing Mondays, which is now being hosted by Rebecca from Just One More Page. If you’d like to participate, click here on Monday morning for the day’s question. Last Monday’s musing was a short book meme. One of the questions was: Do you plan on reading a holiday-themed book this season? Most responders said no. I was a little surprised by that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not rushing out and buying the first holiday book that comes out, but I thought I was more the exception than the rule. What about you? Do you read holiday-themed books?

Booking Through Thursday
posed a very good question about reviewers being honest about books they really didn’t like when asked by an author to review said book. There was quite a bit of discussion on this topic and it was unanimous that reviewers should always be honest, even if they are getting a free book from an author. It all comes down to integrity and being constructive with the criticism if the reviewer didn’t care for the book. I was a little surprised to learn that some bloggers don’t accept review copies at all and that some reviewers choose only to write reviews on books they like. Personally, I write reviews on every book I read, mainly to help keep track of the books I’ve read for my own purpose. Fortunately, there hasn’t been many books that I didn’t like. If you’d like to see some of the comments left on my blog about this topic, click here.

I joined Book Blogs this week. It’s a social networking site where you can meet other bloggers and book lovers and discuss anything bookish! I’ve only had a little time to nose around but from what I can see, it looks like I’m really going to enjoy it. I’ve already found many of my blogging friends! If you’d like to check my page out, feel free to click here. Maybe I’ll see you there!

In non-book news I just have to mention the fantastic hair cut I got yesterday! I had very long hair that was in desperate need of some change. Because my hair is so long and I like to have it highlighted, it cost a fortune so I’m not always able to have it done like I want to. But I couldn’t put it off any longer! I went to the salon yesterday and had 41/2 inches taken off and highlights put back in and I am back to looking like my old self! I was beginning to feel frumpy! I’m so happy now and feel like I lost 10 pounds! (If only that were true!) Just in time for the holidays! Isn’t it great what a pair of scissors and someone who knows how to use them can do for your attitude??
As for the rest of today, I plan on just hanging out at home, finishing OUT STEALING HORSES, which has taken way too long to read and doing some cookie baking. I put some pork chops in the slow cooker for supper later. I found this great recipe on Recipe Zaar that has an Asian twist to it. Check it out:

Slow Cooker Pork Chops
6 boneless pork chops
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp ginger
¼ cup ketchup
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper

Just put the pork chops in the slow cooker, mix the remaining ingredients together and pour over the chops. Cook on low for about 6-7 hours. You can thicken the juice with a little corn starch and serve it over rice. How easy is that?

Well, I’m off to clean up my mess in the kitchen, then find my book and start reading. I’ll be checking out the blogs later to see what everyone is up to today. Thanks for visiting!

Nov 21, 2008

Friday Fill Ins

1. The last band I saw live was Clint Black (front row - thanks Sis!).

2. What I look forward to most on Thanksgiving is being with my family and of course THE FOOD!

3. My Christmas/holiday shopping is short.

4. Thoughts of having a long holiday weekend fill my head.

5. I wish I could wear my comfy slippers to work!

6. Bagpipes make me feel sad.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to housework, tomorrow my plans include getting a drastic hair cut (at least 5 inches) and hightlights and Sunday, I want to bake, read and relax!

For more Friday Fill Ins click here! Thanks Janet!

Nov 20, 2008

Book Through Thursday: Honesty

Here is this week's BTT question, hosted by MizzB:

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?
This is a very important question and I'm so glad MizzB brought it up! This is an easy one for me. I, also receive many ARC's from marketing directors, publicists, publishers and many direct from the authors themselves and I always make it clear that I pride myself on writing honest, forthright reviews. There have been times when I was a little concerned that the author would be upset about my less-than-glowing review, but I've never had any bad experiences.
There was one book in particular I really didn't like and when I forwarded the review to the publishing agent, I explained that I hoped the author wasn't too upset. The agent responded that it was fine as long as it was my honest opinion. A few have even come right out and stated that 'just because we send you a book, doesn't mean we expect you to write a favorable review'. If I don't care for a book, I try to give constructive criticism and not just negative comments. I believe that the author wants to hear all reviews and even if its not a positive one, the book is still being talked about and sometimes a negative review can lead to even more attention for the book in the long run. I think that's a good way to look at it.
I have wondered sometimes about how other reviewers feel about this. I've seen a few book blog websites that review many, many books, but I rarely see a negative review. Can they all be great books? Maybe, but I doubt it.
I hope it doesn't get to the point where we reviewers have to put disclaimers on our sites. I think it should be understood that our opinions are that - opinions and its OK to not like a book. This is a changing time for book reviews. With the fast-growing book blog community, I believe the average consumer is relying more on us book bloggers for reviews and recommendations than the paid reviewer. It's everyday people who buy the books, and I think they look to us for honesty. I certainly hope it stays that way. We can do our part by continuing to be forthright and honest in our reviews.
Where do you stand on this issue?

Nov 19, 2008

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Saints In Limbo

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we share titles that are soon to be released that we can't wait to read!

My pick for this week's "Waiting On" Wednesday is SAINTS IN LIMBO by River Jordan. Although I only learned of this author very recently and I haven't read any of her five books, I am intrigued by this one. I guess you could call it Southern Christian Fiction with a Stephen King twist. Check this out from the author's website:

Ever since her husband, Joe, died, Velma True's world has been limited to what she can see while clinging to one of the multicolored threads tied to the porch railing of her rural home outside Echo, Florida.

Then one day a stranger appears at her door. Without knowing why, the agoraphobic widow welcomes him into her kitchen for coffee while she tells him stories of how life used to be, before her purposes were "all dried up." Just before disappearing as suddenly as he came, the man presents Velma with a special gift, one that allows her to literally step back into the past through her own memories to a place where Joe still lives and the beginning is closer than the end.

While Velma is consumed with the man's gift, her son Rudy is also being presented with a challenge to his self-centered, complacent lifestyle. And a teenage girl winds her way to Echo, determined to unravel the mysteries her dead mother left behind. As secrets old and new come to light, Velma finds herself unmoored from the fears of the past and feeling her way toward freedom.

This lyrical, Southern novel weaves mystical elements with tangible touches of God's redemptive grace to reveal a pattern of irresistible hope.

This sounds like a truly interesting book and I am looking forward to its release on May 19, 2009. What new book are you anxious to read? To read more responses from other "Waiting On" Wednesday's bloggers, please click here.
Update at 1:40pm: Ms. Jordan has seen this post and has graciously offered to send me an Advanced Reader Copy next month and has asked me to read and review her book! I'm so excited! You'll want to be sure and check back for that review! Thanks River!

Nov 17, 2008

Musing Mondays: What Are You Reading?

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is a short meme:

WHAT ARE YOU READING RIGHT NOW? Right now I'm (still) reading Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson. It's a slow read, but very good.

WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING, and WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT? I recently finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and I loved it! What an interestingly different sort of book. It was a very enjoyable read. You can read my review here if you like.

WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU WILL READ NEXT? It's a toss-up between Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagan or The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent . I'm having a hard time deciding!

WILL YOU READ ANY HOLIDAY-THEMED BOOKS SOON? I haven't really thought about it, but there is one holiday-themed book I enjoyed awhile back that I wouldn't mind reading again. It's Mary Kay Andrews' Blue Christmas. (She's the author of Savannah Blues, which I loved!) In fact, I believe it's being re-releasing for the season. It's a cute story and it's only 208 pages, so you can read it pretty quickly.

Nov 16, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Good Will Hunting

Good Morning Saloners! Unfortunately, I didn't get a whole lot of reading done this week. In fact, I don't think I read a single page. It's been a tough week for me at work, and I found it very difficult to concentrate on reading. The economy has really hit my industry (new construction) very hard here in central Florida, which makes it nerve-wracking just to go to the office. I work for a small contracting company and its us 'little guys' who are struggling to keep the doors open, literally. Thankfully, the week ended on a more positive note than it started, but even so, I was emotionally drained by Friday. Even though I'm only an employee and ultimately the responsibilities don't lie on my shoulders, I just don't want to see all that my boss has worked for over the years go down the tubes. I've been his bookkeeper and friend for almost ten years and he's never treated me as anything other than his 'team mate' in business. Maybe soon, things will start to turn around, but until then it's hard not to worry and when I worry, I have a difficult time reading.

Yesterday I did some retail therapy, which did help my mood. I didn't go crazy or anything, just got a few things I needed. But I did take some clothes to the Good Will and while I was there I checked out the books they had. Wow! I had never considered looking for books at Good Will! What a surprise it was to see the entire back wall filled with books! I was with my mom and she was such a good sport while I scoured the shelves! I limited myself to two books, but they are beautiful hard covers in pristine condition! I picked up John Grisham's THE INNOCENT MAN and Jennifer Weiner's GOODNIGHT NOBODY.

I used to be a major John Grisham fan. I have almost all of his books. However, there was a time when I grew tired of his stories. THE INNOCENT MAN is his first, and I believe only non-fiction work. I have been wanting to read it ever since it came out. He has a new fiction book coming out on January 27th, 2009 titled THE ASSOCIATE that I'm hoping will be the one to get me interested in his stories again.

As for Jennifer Weiner, I have GOOD IN BED, although I haven't read it yet. I've heard she is a really talented writer and I look forward to both of them.

As for today, the weather turned much cooler overnight and it's only supposed to be in the mid 60's here today, so I dug out my crockpot and put beef stew on for later. My boyfriend arrives home today from a week-long hunting trip so I thought it'd be nice to have a hearty supper ready so I wouldn't have to be in the kitchen. The only thing I have left to do is make a banana bread or dessert. I love this time of year when it's cool outside and it smells so yummy inside. Who knows, I may even get the chance to do some reading later.

What are your plans today?

Nov 14, 2008

Friday Fill Ins

Happy Friday Everyone!

1. Please feel free to tell me how you really feel.

2. When I sharpen a pencil I can't help sniffing it occasionally. ( I know, its wierd)

3. My favorite thing to cook is anything stir-fried.

4. Good music is something I can't get enough of.

5. That's the thing I love most about blogging - I 'meet' soooo many great people who also love books .

6. When I hear people say with a smirk that they hate to read, it always makes me think to myself, what the heck?

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to sorting clothes for Good Will, tomorrow my plans include taking clothes to Good Will, then going to the new Kohl's store for comfy new pajamas and Sunday, I want to spend time with my honey when he gets home from his week-long hunting trip!

Nov 13, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Why Buy?

I'm really running late, but here is the BTT quetion for today:
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?
Yes, I'm a regular buyer of books and I make no excuses for it! Although I went through a spurt earlier in the year of borrowing from the library, which was nice, I do prefer to own the books I read. One reason I choose to buy is that I don't want a time schedule on the books I read. What if I am reading more than one book at a time? (Which I often do) If its a popular book, I'd feel bad if I returned it late or needed it longer. Another reason is if I really like an author I like showing my support by buying a copy. Most of the books I get from the public library are books that I want to read, but they may not necessarily be that special to me.
Most importantly, I don't mind shelling out my hard-earned money on a book occasionally because that is my one vice. I'm not one to go out and spend a lot of money on clothes, shoes, or things like that. I don't waste my money on alcohol or drugs - I chose to buy books. Books are important to me and I enjoy them immensely and I have no guilt about it at all. Besides, many of the books I buy are from the used book store, so I'm not having to pay full price. I know people who will spend $200 on a purse! That's not me. Do you know how many books I could get for $200??

Nov 11, 2008

Teaser Tuesdays: Out Stealing Horses

Each week 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!

This week my teasers are from page 130 of OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson.

All this that Franz talked to me about was news to me then, but I had no reason to doubt anything he said. Why he should tell me about those times, when my father had never done so, was a question I sat pondering as he talked on, but I did not know whether I could ask him that and have an answer I could live with, for he must certainly have thought I knew all about it already and was merely amused to hear another version.

This from sixty-seven year old Trond Sanders remembering back to when he was fifteen and learning things about his father for the first time.

Nov 10, 2008

Musing Mondays: Giver or Keeper?

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”?
This is easy for me. I'm definitely a Book Saver. I enjoy seeing the books I've read, and some I haven't read on my book shelf. I have two bookcases full of books (mostly hardcovers due to being a long time member of Double Day Book Club). I live alone in a three bedroom house, so space isn't a huge problem. I do lend my books out at times, but I am anal about getting them back. I don't participate in Bookmooch or any of the other sites that trade books, but I did sort through my books last Spring and took about 20 of them to the used book store. They were books I'd had for years that I wasn't attached to and they were all in great shape. This winter I'm hoping to convert one of my extra bedrooms into a 'reading room'. I'm putting book shelves along one wall, repainting, adding track lighting to light up the shelf area and I want to find the perfect comfy reading chair. It's something I've wanted to do for awhile.
What about you? Are you a keeper or a giver? If you'd like to participate in Musing Monday click this link.

Nov 9, 2008

The Sunday Salon: Soups On!

Hello Saloners! I hope you’re enjoying a weekend full of great weather and books! This past week I read a book I didn’t count on reading. It was THE GUERNSEY LITERARY and POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. You can read my review here. Last week I participated in MizzB’s Teaser Tuesdays, in which I shared sentences from the book. I received many comments from people who haven’t yet read the book. Apparently my teasers were enticing them into wanting to read it. It’s an interestingly different sort of book that you can get through pretty quickly. I really liked it.

As for today, I’m reading a book I’ve been muddling through for weeks. I have no idea why it’s taking me so long to finish it, especially because I really want to read it. The book is OUT STEALING HORSES by Per Petterson, a Norwegian, who received awards such as Book of the Year in 2007. It’s not a book that you can sail right through. Maybe it’s the translation from Norwegian to English, or simply its the way Petterson writes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good book, but just takes time to read. It’s not a huge book either, only 238 pages. Have you read this book? If so, tell me what you thought of it.

I’m planning on getting close to the end by tonight and probably finish it tomorrow. That is if my eyes hold up. Some may know I suffer from a retinal disease and sometimes I have what I call ‘bad eye days’. Today happens to be one and I’m finding it frustrating just to putter around my house without bumping into things that I know perfectly well are there. It’s very tiresome (and at times painful!). I probably shouldn’t be reading too much today and just resting my eyes, but this is the perfect day for me to get caught up. Usually I spend Sunday’s with my honey, but he is off on a bow-hunting trip to Illinois so I have the whole day to myself! Not to mention the week ahead, but I don’t get much reading done during the week with my job and all.
So, I’m off to read for a bit, then I’m going to make some homemade potato soup for supper. One of the reasons this is my favorite time of year is that its Soup Season!! I love soup! Do you have a favorite food for this season? I’ll be checking out the blogs later, so I’ll see you around! Thanks for stopping by! Please leave me a comment and tell me what you’re reading today.

Nov 7, 2008

Book Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

When THE GUERNSEY LITERARY and POTATO PEEL PIE SOCIETY by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows came out this past August, there was so much talk about it and it was said to be one of those you-just-have-to-read books. I resisted. One reason is that I typically don't run out and buy a book because 'everyone' is reading it. I tend to shy away from the mainstream top sellers and I'm perfectly happy reading authors no one has heard of or books that don't even come close to the New York Times fame. Secondly, I didn't know how I could possibly read a book with such a title! Now I am from the south and I do love sweet potato pie, but I had no idea what a potato peel pie was! However, my curiosity got the better of me and when The Literary Guild had a special I just couldn't pass up, I ordered it, thinking, I'll probably regret this. I didn't think that a book made up entirely of letter correspondence would be able to tell a story that would hold my interest. Boy, was I wrong!

I'm embarrassed to admit that I knew nothing of the history of The Channel Islands, Guernsey or the Occupation by the Germans in WWII. But that is exactly what The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is about. It only took me reading a few of the letters to realize I had misled myself into thinking I wouldn't care for this book.

The protagonist of this story is Juliet Ashton, a Londoner who stumbled upon a writing career during the war and lost just about everything to the bombings of London. The letters tell the story of how, in early 1946, Juliet received a note from a Dawsey Adams from the island of Giuernsey explaining he had come by a copy of a book by Charles Lamb that had once belonged to her and could she possibly help him in finding more of his writings. He explained further that he, along with other islanders belonged to a literary society that was formed during the Occupation and that they still met regularly to discuss books. So began a friendship between two book lovers that would eventually lead Juliet to Guernsey to meet Dawsey and the other members of the society and to begin work on a new book she hoped to write about the German Occupation of Guernsey.

This is not just a book about the German Occupation of Guernsey. It's a story of the tragedies of war, friendship, loyalty, family and even love. Through their letters the reader gets to know the characters and the stories behind them. It's hard to say which of them was my favorite as they all are endearing people with big hearts. You instantly want to be included in their group. One character did stand out to me. Her name was Elizabeth McKenna and there were no letters from or to her, but through the others you learn that she is a loyal and courageous woman that is loved so very much.

This was a delightful, entertaining and interesting book that I am so glad I read. I enjoyed learning about the history of Guernsey and the people connected to the island, the friendships that were more like family and the lives they led. Because the stories were told through letters, it was a quick read that moved swiftly. One of my favorite things about the book was the many references to classic literature, the authors and the characters in their books. It really was a joy to read and although I don't re-read many books, I would consider changing my view for this one. I just have to mention one more thing about the actual book that I really appreciated. It has a sewn-in dark green ribbon to keep your place as you read. Not many books have those anymore and I know it's just a small thing, but I thought it was a really nice touch.
Click here to watch a very interesting video about the book.

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Publisher: The Dial Press a Division of Random House
Published: August 2008
Pages: 274
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 (I really liked it a lot!)

Friday Fill Ins

1. My blueprint for success includes hard work and determination.

2. A chocolate Tootsie Pop was the last candy I ate.

3. The best facial moisturizer I've ever used is Mary Kay.

4. Physical exercise can be good therapy.

5. I'd like to tell you about my mother, whose birthday is today.

6. Honesty is my strongest characteristic.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to watching a movie, tomorrow my plans include housework and then reading and Sunday, I want to get up early, read as much as I can and later, try a new soup recipe for dinner!

Nov 6, 2008

Booking Through Thursday: Presents

In honor of MizzB's birthday today, the question is about presents!

What, if any, memorable or special book have you ever gotten as a present? Birthday or otherwise. What made it so notable? The person who gave it? The book itself? The “gift aura?”

First of all, Happy Birthday MizzB! This is a great question! Although I have received books as gifts, usually it's because I've requested it. Unfortunately, even though I love books, my family members are not big readers so unless I specifically ask for a certain book, I generally don't get many as gifts.

That being said, my most meaningful book gift was for my birthday in 1997 when my cousin, Denene, gave me a beautiful, personalized Bible. We often attended church functions together so it was special coming from her. Aside from that, when I was in the fourth grade, my aunt and uncle gave me the entire Little House on the Prarie set by Laura Engalls Wilder. They were beautiful hardcovers in a nice case. I treasured those books and read everyone of them.
Actually, I just remembered another unexpected book gift I got just this past March for my birthday! My aunt who lives in Ohio and is an avid reader, sent me a copy of THE KITE RUNNER. She knew I had just read it, but had borrowed it from the library. She knew how much I loved it and she wanted me to have my own copy. That was my special birthday gift from her.
I think books are a wonderful gift to give and receive! How about you? What special book gift have you received or given?

Nov 4, 2008

Teaser Tuesdays

Each week 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!

When Kit was born, Elizabeth kept her paternity a secret from the authorities. Not out of shame, but because she was afraid that the baby would be taken from her and sent to Germany to be raised.

This from a fellow Guernsey islander explaining the fear for a child born during the Occupation.

Nov 2, 2008

Guest Blogger: Jayne Pupek, Author of Tomato Girl

Writing a book is easy.

Selling a book is the hard part. People are creatures of habit. Readers know which authors they enjoy; when they stop by their local bookstore or go online to book browse, they tend to buy books by those authors. This is especially true for the avid reader who may have so many favorite authors that it is impossible to read everything written by them. If someone lives on a budget, as more and more people do in our current economy, book dollars have to stretch further than ever. Books are a bargain compared to many other forms of entertainment, but folks understandably spend money first on essentials like gas and groceries. To save money, they may buy used books, trade books with friends, and visit the library. When they splurge on a new hardbound book, it is more often than not by an author they know and love. Familiarity is a safe choice.

The struggle for the new author is to find readers willing to give the unknown a chance. It is a challenge that reminds me of the times I tried to convince my sons to eat broccoli when they were toddlers. I still remember how they scrunched up their faces and declared, "But it's green!" Only when my mother started calling the broccoli florets "trees" did my boys get excited about trying this new vegetable. The idea of eating "trees" appealed to their imaginations, and soon, broccoli became their favorite vegetable. If only selling a book could be so simple.

With the release of my debut novel, Tomato Girl, I entered the unfamiliar and daunting world of book promotion. I use the word daunting not only because of the challenge of competing for readers, but because I'm the prototypical reclusive writer who is happier in a cave than on a stage. Me pitch a book? I couldn't sell water to a goldfish caught on dry land.

The unexpected delight for me along this journey has been my discovery of the online book community. I have met so many enthusiastic book lovers in communities like GoodReads, LibraryThing, and Shelfari. I've also gotten to know many book bloggers, and I can say with certainty that these folks are not lukewarm about books. They take books seriously. They not only devour books with great passion, they spend their time and energy to share their reading experiences with others. It is an amazing network of book aficionados who write detailed reviews, share book news, host giveaways, conduct interviews, make recomendations and welcome new authors with enthusiasm. I have been honored to see Tomato Girl reviewed on so many blogs and to be invited to particpate in this growing and dynamic community. I may never have a knack for sales, but I am deeply grateful to all the generous and hardworking book bloggers who seek out books by new writers and then do what they do best: spread the word.

Jayne Pupek is the author of the recently released novel, Tomato Girl (Algonquin Books), and a book of poems titled Forms of Intercession (Mayapple Press). She resides near Richmond, Virginia. Visit Jayne Pupek's website to learn more about her and what she's working on now.
I'd like to thank Jayne Pupek for agreeing to be my guest blogger today and her generosity in sending me a copy of TOMATO GIRL to read for myself. To read my review, please click here.

The Sunday Salon: Tomato Girl - A Book Review

This Sunday I wanted to do something a little different. I’d like to share my review of an amazing book, TOMATO GIRL by Jayne Pupek. I’d like to thank Jayne for sending me the book and for being my special guest blogger tomorrow on Books & Cooks.

It was Spring in the late 1960’s and 11 year old Ellie Sanders should’ve been doing what other kids her age were doing - coloring Easter eggs and getting ready for the Easter Bunny. But Ellie’s life was different than most kids. She had to keep an eye on her Mama and make sure people didn’t notice the strange things she did or see her in her sad moods. And that took a lot of Ellie’s time.

Things changed when the tomato girl came to stay in their home after her Mama had her accident on the cellar stairs. She was supposed to be there to help out, but it didn’t take Ellie long to figure out what was really going on. Before Tess came, it was just Ellie, her Mama and Daddy and even though they weren’t exactly a normal family, it was ok because Ellie knew her father was there to make sure things were alright.
Soon after her Daddy invited Tess to move in, things quickly got worse for Ellie. As events unfolded, she was left to handle situations that any adult would have trouble dealing with, forcing her to stray from her innocence as a child and be on the edge of adulthood, but without the maturity of knowing how to handle things.

TOMATO GIRL by Jayne Pupek was one of the hardest books for me to get through, but it’s also my favorite book this year. It will pull at your heart, make you smile, choke you up and make you cry, but mostly it will make you mad. It’s one of those books that breaks your heart, but you can’t quit reading.

The story is told in it’s entirety by Ellie Sanders, who you will immediately fall in love with. Ms. Pupek is very consistent with her characters and develops them perfectly. Her storytelling is compelling and believable. Even though the subject matter is disturbing, and may not appeal to everyone, I applaud Jayne Pupek for her daring courage in this, her debut novel.
What I liked most about this book is the innocence of Ellie and the constant struggle for her to remain unscathed by what is happening around her that she has no control over. Along with Ellie, my other favorite character was Clara, the ‘colored’ woman who comes into Ellie’s life at just the right time. All of the characters of TOMATO GIRL are unique and will stay with me for awhile, but I will never forget Ellie, the strong little girl who suffered so much loss, and wanted nothing more than to have a normal life.

The publisher, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. They’ve published such books as MUDBOUND, WATER FOR ELEPHANTS and the forthcoming THE MUSIC TEACHER, which is sure to be a success as well. They have wonderful writers of southern literature that I’m especially fond of.

TOMATO GIRL is the kind of book that will stir up a lot of emotions that people will be talking about long after they’ve read it. Some will love it and some may not, but they will always remember it. For those reasons, it would make the perfect choice for any book club.
Please come back tomorrow when Jayne Pupek will be my special guest and she will be talking about her experience in becoming a published author and how the promotional side of writing has been for her. I also encourage you to check out Jayne Pupek’s Blog to learn more about this gifted writer and what she’s working on now.

To read a interesting interview with Jayne Pupek, visit Emma Larkins blog. Emma is a fellow book lover, blogger and writer, who features interviews with authors, editors and publishers each Friday. The book trailer for TOMATO GIRL is also available and you can watch it by clicking here.

For additional reviews visit: Caribousmom, Breaking the Spine and Bibliolatry

Author: Jayne Pupek
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Date Published: September 2008
Pages: 298
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars