Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Review-The Common Bond, by Donigan Merritt

I read this book for the Early Reviewer program for Library Thing. This was the first time I read anything by Donigan Merritt, but I enjoyed his writing so much I can't wait to read other works by him.

The Common Bond
by Donigan Merritt
ISBN 1590513061
Other Press


A dream takes you out of the present and seduces you to read more, as an afternoon affair is uncovered. In the dream, Morgan Cary and Victoria Novak are discovered by Tioni Kamakani who has a common bond between both of them; as Victoria’s boyfriend and Morgan’s best friend. It is Morgan’s dream, a reality of a time in the past, but upon waking he is landing in Hawaii. He is moving back home after the death of his wife, Victoria.

Flashing back to Victoria’s displaced childhood it is easy to understand her desperate need for a committed relationship providing reassurance and dependency. She finds in Morgan a man who she believes will not betray or leave her. She can be volatile, impulsive and act crazy if this stability is challenged. Their marriage becomes a complex series of twisted tales and lies by both of them, even as they profess their love.

Morgan is racked with remorse and questions of self-guilt over her death. He turns to living a life as a drunk to anesthetize, to forget, to be able to cope with life. He will ultimately turn to his love of fishing to survive, at least on the surface. When he befriends the young Ben Iki Kamakani, a small boy whose grandfather taught Morgan to fish.

I wondered as I read the book, what The Common Bond referred to. Could it be the common bond of friendship two friends had, lost and regained? Could it be the common bond of lies and deceit in a marriage that presented a false love? Could it be the common bonds made by members of the Kamakani family and Morgan? Could it be simply the common bond of love shared? There are parallels and common bonds throughout this book making the title The Common Bond an appropriate one.

Intoxicating poetic prose and aromatic stimulation of all senses would best describe Donigan Merrit’s writing. I was drawn to his descriptive style as I could imagine myself chasing the magnificent marlin, or diving for black coral in the cold ocean depths of darkness. The Common Bond was an uplifting seafaring tale of triumph over self loathing and learning about love. With writing so captivating, I have put his book Possessed by Shadows on my TBR pile.
Highly recommended.

Wisteria Leigh

Review-The Year the Swallows Came Early

I read this book for First Look Harper Collins and I wanted to share it with everyone.

The Year the Swallows Came Early
by Kathryn Fitzmaurice
Grade Level: 4-7
Release Date 2/3/08


Kathyrn Fitzmaurice has captured all the flavors of a successful first novel in The Year the Swallows Came Early. The year the swallows came early is not the only anomaly that occurs during the year you follow Eleanor “Groovy” Robinson in this delightful debut novel by Kathryn Fitzmaurice.

Eleanor Groovy Robinson is an endearing character with a heart as big as sunshine. As the story begins, Groovy is disturbed when her daddy is picked up by Officer Miguel and taken away in the backseat of the police car. Hadn't her mom read the horoscope at breakfast and it said, "Expect the unexpected." Well,she was warned. What is even more troubling to her, is discovering that her mother is the one who had him arrested. She faces a tough challenge of forgiveness when she learns why her daddy is in jail. Most troubling of all is that it is her daddy who has ruined her dreams and plans for the future.

Fitzmaurice offers a descriptive prose so precise you feel painted in her background as a voyeur to her story. Groovy’s language and character is so genuine, kids will find her naturally appealing and easy to relate to. Groovy’s dialogue is further enhanced by the author’s use of simile, metaphor and a humorous wit wise beyond the character’s age.

When you look for a great book to read, The Year the Swallows Came Early has everything you could want. It offers a picturesque setting on the Pacific coast, offbeat characters with memorable personalities, imagery that evokes an awakening of all senses and an interesting story that captures your attention.

I highly recommend this book for read aloud, read alone, literature circle or reader’s workshop groups.

Monday, December 29, 2008

December 28th Giveaway Winners!!!

Congratulations to the following winners of my Giveaway for December 28th.

Northanger Abbey...Kristi
Mansfield Park.....Lesa
Hound of the Baskervilles...Meghan


Handmade Scarf.....Tisa

Please send me your snail mail address to this
email: bookwormsdinner (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

or the one listed on my blog
Thanks for everyone's comments and Happy New Year to all.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays to All

Sunday Salon December 28, 2008

2009 Book Buddy Blogger Challenge

I'm going to try and host my first challenge as we head into 2009. It will be called Book Buddy Blogger Challenge 2009.

Rules: The challenge will run all of 2009. You will be required to read 5 books from a list of 10 that are recommended by a book blogger buddy. The books should be from their list of best books from 2008. It's that easy. Then let us know what you think of your friend's choices. Do you agree or disagree and why?

Post Your Five Book Choices with Your Comments.

Haven't you always wanted to read books that your blogger friends rave about? Now is your chance. Look up those reviews, ask your buddies for a list and pick five for 2009! Then go to Mr. Linky and sign up. I'm hoping I did the Mr. Linky part right.

There are a couple of graphics to use for now. One is of my dog "Wizard" with his favorite book Waggit's Tale by Peter Howe. The other is just a simple graphic that I'm working on. See posts coming up. Good Luck!!

Giveaways: Last Chance Today

....Drawing at Midnight with posting tomorrow!
Someone will win the handmade grey crocheted scarf, or one of the many book raffles.
Happy New Year Week Everyone!!! Don't forget to leave comments for those chances to win.

War Through the Generations Challenge

This challenge I can't pass up. Hosted by Anna and Serena at War Through the Generations you must commit to read at least five fiction or non-fiction books about any aspect of WWII. I have decided to challenge myself and read at least seven books covering this topic. Great challenge and I can't wait to start. Thanks for hosting the challenge Anna and Serena!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Salon, White Christmas in Connecticut

When you're a teacher there is nothing like a snow day to give back a little bit of your childhood and a few memories of waking up to hear that school was closed. Friday, was one of those special days of simple quiet solitude spent reading while the snow covered the ground like a thick layer of whipped cream over a chocolate cake. You love the whipped cream, but then too much can make you feel sick. When morning came and I looked out at fourteen inches plus, images of shoveling began to appear as the dawn of my awakening brain thought, "Too much whipped cream for sure!!!" But like whipped cream, you still eat too much and love every bite no matter how sick you feel afterwords. So as I wake up this morning to more snow I smile thinking of another day of peace, solitude, reading time and sharing Sunday Salon. I'll worry about the shoveling later. Who knows, maybe we'll get another snow day.

Congratulations Jessica James for Shades of Gray

Shades of Gray has moved to #3 on Amazon's Romance/Historical category.This book is one of my top picks for 2008. (See my review)

This Weeks Reads

Lima Nights

by Marie Arana
This book had me flipping pages frantically expecting a great finish, as the author crafted increasing suspense. As the story ended, I felt like I ran into a brick wall. Lima Nights is a wonderful sensual love story depicting racial and class prejudice and society’s intolerance. Arana’s obsessive lovers, have an allure and chemistry that will steam glass with their passion. (Complete Review)

The Common Bond

by Donigan Merritt- Review next week

The Year the Swallows Came Early

by Kathryn Fitzmaurice-Review next week
The Scramble for Africa by Steven Fake and Kevin Funk-Review next week (Awesome, compelling, needed overview of the crisis in Dafur. Extremely well researched with extensive bibliography for further study.)

On the Nightstand

Red Clay Blood River

, by William J. Everett

The King's Daughter
, by Sandra Worth

Don't forget the great Holiday Giveaways!!!

Leave a comment this week to enter again.

Review-Lima Nights, by Marie Arana

Lima Nights,by Marie Arana, The Dial Press,pp,246pages,978-0-3458-2,
Release date: December 30, 2008

Lima in 1986 is a pluralistic society of race, economics and social class. Carlos Bluhm, white, married and father of two sons, comes from money and lives in a mansion. Maria Fernandez, a marginalized member of the city is a Peruvian with dark-skin who lives in the slums. She struggles to survive by working two jobs. At night, Maria works in a tango bar, where she is hired to dance with the male customers. The salacious dance club is in a seedy section of the city and Carlos happens to be there one night when Maria is working. After meeting Maria he becomes obsessed with a monomaniac drive to be with her. He even goes so far as to make a comparative checklist to weigh pros and cons between Maria and his wife. The game begins as Carlos wonders what can he be thinking? In his mind he knows they are diametrically opposed in all ways.

My favorite character was Maria who demonstrated a vivacious spirit and tenacious will, with a personality full of contradictions; complex yet simple, young yet wise, childlike yet mature, poor yet rich.

This book had me flipping pages frantically expecting a great finish, as the author crafted increasing suspense. As the story ended, I felt like I ran into a brick wall. Lima Nights is a wonderful sensual love story depicting racial and class prejudice and society’s intolerance. Arana’s obsessive lovers, have an allure and chemistry that will steam glass with their passion.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Sunday Salon-More Giveaways & Win a Scarf

Happy Sunday everyone.

The weather has been so strange everywhere, I hope everyone is all right. My heart goes out to all those who lost power in the ice storm. Luckily, I missed the ice by about 30 miles, but it was hovering at that freezing mark.
Just in time to keep you all warm, I'm giving away a home made knitted scarf. Just leave a comment on my blog between today and December 28th. I will choose the winner at midnight on the 28th. Good luck to everyone. This is called a Fisherman's Scarf and it is a medium grey color. Yes, I made it myself. LOL

Crown in Candlelight

I have been reading a historical fiction book called Crown in Candlelight by Rosemary Hawley Jarman. This author is a bestseller in both the US and the UK. Her first novel, We Speak No Treason sold out its first printing in seven days. She won The Silver Quill Award for this book. She has since written many more historical fiction novels of British royalty. Crown in Candlelight was originally published in 1978. It was published recently in 2008 by TORC (Tempus Publishing). If you are a fan of historical fiction and haven't read her books, you might want to check this or another one of her books out.

In the TBR Pile for the week!

1.The Scramble for Africa by Steven Fake and Kevin Funk
2.The Common Bond by Donnigan Merritt
3.Lima Nights by Maria Arana

Have a great week everyone. Good luck with the giveaways. :-)

My Current Book Giveaways

Classic Book Giveaway
Political Fever Giveaway

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Celebrate a Classics Giveaway

I hope everyone had a great week. I know some of you had snow, some more than others. Last night we had our first snow in Connecticut and it is now looking like Christmas and the holidays. I just love the first fallen snow when the stillness settles on everything, everyone and we pause. Good luck on the two holiday raffles I have for this month, and check back, because I may add one more. Tis the season!!!
Happy hustle and bustle time...remember its the season not one day. Don't let is wear you down. Try to relax and enjoy what it is intended to be...a season of giving and love.

As a celebration of the holidays I am holding two raffles one is called:

A Classics Holiday Giveaway

and the books to be raffled off are:
Northanger Abbey...Jane Austen....Vintage
Mansfield Park.....Jane Austen....Vintage
Dracula............Bram Stoker....Capuchin
The Hound of
the Baskervilles
...Arthur Conan Doyle..Capuchin

Rules: Each week you comment on my blog you will receive a chance to enter. If I have posted more than once during the week, each time you comment to a different day's topic you have another chance. The winner will be chosen on December 28th as a year end thank you. In the comment, please tell me your book preference if chosen. Good Luck!

Thanks to Independent Publishers Group for providing the copies of these classic books for the raffle. (These paperbacks are not ARCS, but newly published editions).

Political Fever Giveaway

The second raffle is for a copy of GIANTS, by John Stauffer, the parallel lives of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. This book is awesome and if you are into history, you will definitely want to enter this raffle. Thanks to Hachette Book Group for this hardcover first edition copy.

Rules: Each week you comment on my blog you will receive a chance to enter. If I have posted more than once during the week, each time you comment to a different day's topic you have another chance. The winner will be chosen on December 28th as a year end thank you. Good luck.

Here is a review of an historical action adventure that will keep you on the edge. A great holiday read to enjoy.

Red Sky in Morning

RED SKY IN MORNING: A Novel of World War II, Patrick Culhane, William Morrow, 2008, $24.95/C$26.95,hb, 338pp, 978006082555

(published in Historical Novels Review, Nov. 08)

During World War II, Ensign Peter Maxwell is preparing himself for amphibious landing duty overseas. However, his orders are changed and he is told to report to the U. S. Naval Training Station in San Diego for duty as a choir director and trainer. While there, he and three of his buddies form a quartet called the Fantail Four and become the best of friends. When Peter decides he isn’t doing enough in the war, he seeks a ship looking for officers. He finds a posting for a ship needing four officers, quite rare. He persuades his buddies to sign-on with him. Once granted transfers, they discover that the Liberty Hill Victory, is an ammunitions ship with a crew of unskilled and in some cases illiterate African American sailors. The captain of the ship is a monomaniac racial bigot who has only disdain and loathing for his crew. Peter knows the crew’s survival will depend on cooperation, communication and camaraderie. Sometime before shipping out, Peter takes his horn to an all black club where he meets Sarge, an ex-detective. Sarge and Peter form a friendship that night that will transcend race. They are destined to meet in the future aboard the Liberty, when a body is discovered and Peter asks Sarge for help. Is it murder?

I was pleased to see the true story of the Port Chicago explosion included in this novel. An often overlooked horrific accident, including the event adds dramatic suspense and tension. Patrick Culhane based his story on the real ship, USS Red Oak Victory. He points out that the language and social themes in the novel are reflective of the period. This is a well thought out and realistic story of life aboard a naval vessel, during military segregation. Highly recommended.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Winner-Barack Obama Book Giveaway

The winner of The American Journey of Barack Obama published by Little Brown & Company is Jen from Devourer of Books. Jen, please send your snail mail or email address to me in reply. Thanks to Anna Balasi and The Hachette Group for making this contest possible by donating my copy for reviewing and the winner's copy. I loved this book. See my review.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Salon-Barack Obama Book Giveaway

The American Journey of Barack Obama
Published by Little Brown & Company
176 pages

This colorful chronological compilation of stunning, photos and candid text makes this book an enjoyable read. This is no simple coffee table book. It is a chapter by chapter biography starting with Barack Obama's intriguing family tree to his rocket rise to top political ranks.

The introduction by Ted Kennedy is inspiring. He sets the tone and theme of the book when he says of Barack Obama,
"he refuses to be trapped in the patterns of the past."
How many of us have put our hope and faith in this man to lead our country during these tenuous time?

Published in October 2008, prior to knowing the election outcome, this beautifully crafted book follows the life of Barack Obama and his orbital spin from Senator in 2004 to Presidential Candidate in 2008. His personality shines through each chapter with dialog and exceptional photography capturing just right moments in time.

He admits being shaped by his maternal grandparents and mother. It was fascinating to read that his mother was a child of the 60's who had a Utopian view of a better life common to youth of the time. She instilled in him her ideals of fairness and freedom. It was noted that Barack remembers his mother's lessons of tolerance, equality and standing up for the disadvantaged. Themes he echoed in his campaigning.

This is the type of short biographical stories, snippets and sketches of Barack Obama that are presented in this multi-chapter book. The chapters are, The Family Tree, Roots, Boyhood, Young Man on the Rise, Chicago, Washington, Aspects of Obama, and lastly, The Journey Continues.

Fascinating stories, captivating pictures and a compelling subject will make everyone want this on their Christmas Wishlist. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the Hachette Group, a copy of this book will be raffled off.
Leave a comment on my blog anytime until December 4th to be entered into the giveaway drawing. See the original post for details.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22 is America Unchained Day!!!

The American Independent Business Alliance has declared November 22nd to be Unchained Day in America and Canada. You can read their National Press Release here.

The objective of AMIBA's plan today, is to support local independent sellers and ask buyers to unchain themselves from the large chain stores for one day. The potential to pump millions into local communities is enormous. Just imagine the impact one day of sales from people who have made a choice to shop locally can make. According to AMIBA, the day long event was planned to occur before the holiday rush in order to maximize awareness and revenue.

Anyone buying books or planning to buy books for the holidays, think about doing your shopping today, November 22nd at one of the bookshops in your community. Check out the Indiebound.org site where they have tips and suggestions to help you. They have an easy to use electronic wish list that you can use to stay organized. They, along with many other organizations, are joining today to support the AMIBA and their initiatives. When shopping today think local, not global as they each stand to benefit.

I recently blogged about Indiebound.org on this blog. One helpful idea they mentioned was to visit a local bookshop, write a review about the store and to also make sure the store was on the Indie Bound map. Today I'm excited about visiting a small bookshop up the road.

It is possible to make a huge impact with a small effort by each one of us. However, it will take a huge collective effort by "all of us" to realize the potential gains possible for your local independent sellers and ultimately your community.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Bookworm's Award

Lesa at Lesa's Book Critiques just awarded me The Bookworm's Award. Thank you!

Thank you Lesa for sending this surprising Meme to me along with the Bookworm Award. Of course I will participate. What fun to enjoy in the middle of the week.

Along with the award, there are a few rules. Open the closest book to you-not your favorite or most intellectual book, but the book closest to you at the moment-to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence as well as the next two to five sentences. Pass this on to five blogging friends.

The book closest to me is The King's Daughter by Sandra Worth. I will be reviewing this book in the next couple of weeks having received an ARC from the author. Thank you Sandra. Page 56, the fifth sentence begins:
I dimly remembered a man who was unkempt and frightening, for he had worn a bloody apron then. But the old man who stood before us bore no resemblance to my childhood memory. He was dressed most elegantly in a black velvet cap set with a jeweled brooch, an attire of rich green silk and camlet, and a black mantle edged with beaver trim over which was hung a massive gold chain.

"Your Grace," he said, flourishing a deep bow, "I am sore distressed to find you in sanctuary once more."

"John Gould," my mother said, offering her hand, which he kissed.

The King's Daughter is a novel about the first Tudor Queen, Elizabeth of York, also known as the people's queen, "Elizabeth the Good." This passage selected by chance from the designated page 56 requirement for this Meme, describes in colorful vivid detail the character of John Gould. This is just one excellent example of how her rich imagery places us in the same room and time period in history. Just a little bit of a tease while you await my review of The King's Daughter a page turning historical novel from this passionate period of Tudor England.

So, I'm passing on the award to five people. Tag, you're it! And, if you're not into memes, here's my apology. Remember, you never have to pass one on, if you don't want to play.

Ruth at Bookish Ruth
Marie at Boston Bibliophile
Jen at Devourer of Books
Iliana at bookgirl's nightstand
Maggie at Maggie Reads

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hachette Book Group.. Celebrate History Book Giveaway

With grateful thanks to Hachette Book Group, I am hosting a book giveaway. The winner will receive a copy of THE AMERICAN JOURNEY OF BARACK OBAMA by The Editors of LIFE Magazine. History was made on November 4th this year with the election of our first African American President. On January 20th, Barack Obama will take the oath of office and become the 44th President to the US.

According to the publisher,
The American Journey of Barack Obama covers the candidate from his childhood and adolescence to his time as editor of The Harvard Law Review and his Chicago activist years, culminating with the excitement and fervor of the historic 2008 Democratic National Convention. The unfolding drama of Obama's life and political career is cinematic in scope, and never has it been presented so compellingly.

In addition to a powerful array of photographs that were taken by many of the country's greatest photographers (and some that were snapped, in the quiet moments, by Obama family members themselves), this book also includes a Foreword by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, an incisive narrative biography and original essays by some of our finest writers, including Gay Talese, Charles Johnson, Melissa Fay Greene, Andrei Codrescu, Fay Weldon, Richard Norton Smith, Bob Greene and several others. Many readers will find a new understanding of Obama. All readers will feel that they are bearing witness to a singular, undeniably American story.

The Rules:

To celebrate this history making event, anyone who leaves a comment on this blog post dated today, November 18th will receive one entry. You will receive another entry for each subsequent comment you leave when I write a new posting. For example: Leaving a comment today is one entry. If I write three posts between now and December 4th and you comment on all three, that would be a total of four entries. Good luck to everyone.

For this post what are your thoughts about the election? What would you like to say to Barack Obama? What are your hopes for his administration?
How do you think your life will change? What is your vision for the next few years?
I'd love to know what you think about the election, and the impact on the US. What would you like to know about President Elect Obama from the book?

Monday, November 17, 2008

I Joined IndieBound Today

indieboundIndieBound.org is an organization that has grown to include more and more independent booksellers in communities around the country. IndieBound was formed to raise awareness and help to keep revenue at the local level. Don't you just love to go snooping around the quaint and quiet cozy bookstores that just open their arms and wrap you tight safe, like the feeling a newborn baby gets cuddled close to her mother's chest. I know when I walk into a small independent bookstore, I either know the people working there, the owners or will get to know them very soon. Helpful is not even close to describing my experiences with the small booksellers approach. Call me crazy, but I just really love to shop where service and familiarity are paramount to numbers lining up at the register. I love being called by my first name. Recommendations, holding new releases, personal phone calls about new arrivals are just a few other perks I enjoy. Somehow, having the book wrapped up in a nice bag, maybe a ribbon or sticker, a smile and a thank you with all sincerity make all the difference when that is the last moment you have contact prior to leaving the store. It's so amazing too, I always leave happy and looking forward to visiting again.

What about you? How about joining IndieBound.org and help pass the word to keep these remarkable book suppliers among our community by spending your money locally. What would we do without these local shops with that obscure old treasure of a book you've been searching for everywhere tucked among the tall shelves.

This is a copy of the Declaration of IndieBound from their website.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Romance Reading Challenge 2009-List

Here is my tentative and subject to change list. I also have a couple of back-ups listed because my personality won't allow me to pick 5 books.

1.Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
2.Written on the Body by Jeanette Winterson
3.The Host, by Stephenie Meyer
4.Into the Wildernes by Rosina Lippi
5.Possession: A Romance by A.S. Byatt (1991)

Backup possibilities
+Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
+Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
+Stardust by Neil Gaiman
+Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen

Romance Reading Challenge 2009

I don't participate in many challenges, however Nadia at The Bookworm has offered a romantic book lover's paradise. This one should be fun.
I will list my books a little while later as I think about the perfect list.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sunday Salon, Debut Novel, A Thousand Veils

D. J. Murphy is an intoxicating writer who showcases his talent in this debut novel that is part fiction and part true story.

A Thousand Veils
396 pages

After reading the first paragraph of A Thousand Veils, you will come to realize as I did, that this writer has a brilliant gift of creative language and deep emotional feelings. I was unconsciously glued to every word and I was compelled to read the paragraph repeatedly as if in a trance. Often throughout the book, I would stop and find myself rereading sentences, paragraphs so eloquently written, once was just not enough. D. J. Murphy is an intoxicating writer who showcases his talent in this debut novel that is part fiction and part true story.

The book is about a woman he calls Fatima Shihabi who grew up with four brothers, her favorite being Omar. Fatima was educated as were her four brothers a luxury not always presented to woman in her country. Fatima showed an early interest in expressing her thoughts and opinions through poetry. Her brother Omar convinced her that she had a gift to share. With his encouragement Shihabi continued writing.

When she comes of age she is required to don the black veil known in Iraq as the abayah. Fatima resists this the figurative and literal representation of the abayah as by nature she is rebellious and free spirited. The black draped cloak that envelopes the female form is a symbol of Muslim womanhood and When her father describes the black draped cloak enveloping the female form as a symbol of Muslim womanhood and its religious and cultural necessity, Fatima acquiesces. Once she disappears behind the veil she immediately notices the difference in her role as a female in her society. The veil, the abayah, will present many contrasts in her lifetime. It will be hated and loved, confining and liberating, sexually alluring and yet asexual, life altering and life saving. Perhaps this is why the author called his book A Thousand Veils.

Fatima Shihabi writes from her heart and soul about life in Iraq during the rein of Sadam Hussein. She believes she is careful when writing her poetry to remain neutral, but realizes that the middle ground is impossible. Words twisted, intentions misconstrued, a threat to the regime, Fatima becomes a wanted, hunted woman. When ultimately caught she suffers severe inhumane torture, unspeakable experimental interrogation techniques and left near death.

She realizes she must leave Iraq to survive and save her daughter. It is at this time she first decides to remove her abayah (the veil) and escape to Saudi Arabia. When she arrives at the airport she is detained by the Saudi guards and pulled aside. What happens to Fatima will have you nail biting for her safety, weeping for her suffering and praying for her life. Given a talent for intense lyrical poetic communication and the ability to convey meaning through the printed word this petite survivor is up against a tyrant with a tremendous reach. Her story is a true to life adventure.

It has been weeks since I finished this book. I honestly, stopped everything I was doing to read it in one sitting. It is a deeply moving drama with romance and intrigue. I was essentially in a trance and couldn’t break away until I found out what happened to Fatima. D.J. Murphy has written one of the years ten best books on my list for 2008. I have since read over many chapters, and hate to pass this book on to Book Crossings. However, the story was a gift to me and now it is time to gift it to someone else. Keep your eye out for the copy that will be starting out somewhere in Connecticut. Otherwise, buy the book or borrow a copy of A Thousand Veils. You will thank D.J. Murphy a thousand times.

Thank you

My sincere thanks to everyone who has reached out to send hugs and condolences to me. I was touched by so many who sent caring messages either by blog or email. It means so much to me to have such awesome cyber blogger friends. The book A Thousand Veils is so appropriate a tribute to how precious life is. Make each moment count. Best to all....Donna (Wisteria)
I was so touched by all of you. Donna (Wisteria)

Friday, November 14, 2008

That Book Woman by Heather Henson

That Book Woman
by Heather Henson
Illustrated by David Small
40 pages

Heather Henson and David Small collaborate with great success as if they have been a team for years. I thought That Book Woman was an unforgettable historical fiction delight. The author captures the history of FDR’s WPA projects of the 1930s. There was a group known as the Pack Horse Librarians who lived in the Kentucky mountains. These were mostly woman who stepped out of their traditional roles and saddled up to deliver books; becoming a traveling bookmobile on horseback. They were tenacious in their willingness to travel over rough terrain and wild weather to get books to people.

This story is about one such librarian who travels to homes in the rural Appalachian mountains to bring books to people who would otherwise not have any. Lark is a little girl who loves to read. Her brother Cal is the direct opposite and thinks the librarian on horseback is just a bit strange. Week after week she brings books to Lark, but Cal doesn't see the point. Cal respects her tiresome ride and one day his opinion of reading books changes. It is a story you won't want to miss.

Henson makes her writing look simple when in fact it is royally rich on every page. Your senses become acutely aroused with the careful imagery, simile and metaphor. You know exactly what Henson means when she writes “stoney still”, “dusky dark” and “red as clay”.

David Small, an experienced illustrator has won a Caldecott Award for illustrating So You Want to Be President? by Judith St. George and a Caldecott Honor Award. He uses ink, watercolor and pastel chalk to create the subtle soft colorful setting of a quiet slow paced time period, when life was less hurried. He evokes a pastoral image that enhances Henson’s text, each a complement of the other.

To appreciate the charming poetic prose of this book consider this as a read-a-load. Strongly recommended for all libraries as a first choice on their next list.

Friday Fill-Ins

1. Please feel free to give buy me a book anytime.
2. When I receive new books in the library, I love to open each one to a new page. I can't help sniffing it occasionally.
3. My favorite thing to cook is breakfast.
4. Buying new bookshelves for my library is something I can't get enough of.
5. That's the thing I love most about being a book addict.
6. Making stacks of books useful furniture always makes me think to myself, what the heck?
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to reading a new ARC, tomorrow my plans include writing and reading and Sunday, I want to read and take out the garbage!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Salon, Losing a Friend

Life and death are not far apart, and yesterday my very close friend, lost her husband in what can only be described as too sudden, too young and too unexpected. I spent the day at the hospital with her, until we were told he did not survive. This man was always a special person who watched over me during the depths of my sorrow and bad luck. He was one gentleman of class who taught me to fight the battle. I just wish he had won his. My dear friend, you will be missed.

Please read my posts this week of book reviews, as I will not be able to focus on anything else today. Remember....life is precious and can be gone in a moments time.

For my friend:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

Maya Angelou quotes (American Poet, b.1928)
Now playing: Natasha Bedingfield - Pocketful Of Sunshine
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Drinkwater, by Erik Hopkins

Many of you know I love to read books by debut authors. Here is another one that I know you will really like. I won't be a spoiler, just trust me that you will love his writing. Review below. Highly recommended.

Drinkwater, by Erik Hopkins
232 pages. Crackjaw Publishing

Amber, a young girl of nineteen accompanied by her younger brother Guy have arrived in Toronto. After misfortune changes their lives they arrive in Canada to meet their Uncle Ian, who they will now be living with.

After some time passes, it becomes apparent, Uncle Ian, has shirked his responsibility and forgotten them. Amber tries to reach her uncle by phone with no success. Rather than calling their dutiful case worker Janielle, Amber decides she can handle this situation. With the independence and eagerness of a young owl learning to fly, she takes flight. Without her Uncle’s help, Amber faces the challenge of self sufficiency with a sense of pride and determination.

The story unfolds as Amber settles into her role as caretaker and provider. Hopkins captures the eager essence of Amber’s desire for freedom and independence commonly shared by most teens of her age. Amber faces life on the streets of Toronto with rose colored glasses only to find out they will become shattered lenses. Her relationship with her brother Guy is an interesting story within the story as she drifts further from her original role as his guardian. How will Amber handle the harsh realities of the streets and take care of her brother?

Hopkins builds suspense throughout the novel in the disappearance of Amber’s brother. Amber receives a rude awakening and a true life lesson is realized as the story ends. You will weep for Guy and empathize with the stubborn and spirited Amber. Erik Hopkins leaves us with many questions. Could there be a sequel in the future? This coming of age novel is realistically relevant, unpredictable and heartfelt. An outstanding debut.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sunday Salon-Presidential Proclamation

Is is really November already? It just doesn't seem possible that the end of the year is approaching. The election is a couple of days off, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and CMTs....LOL! That's for all teachers out there, this writer included. Actually the CMT celebration begins sometime in April at our school. How about you?

November has been set aside by Presidential Proclamation to be celebrated as National American Indian Heritage Month. Therefore, you will notice my PIP has changed to that of a Native family of Utes. At the Library of Congress there is a vast collection of artifacts, images, primary sources and much more, available online. I wanted to share one blog that I read regularly through the RSS feed. The blog is
American Indians in Children's Literaturecreated by Debbie Reese, a professor of American Indian Studies. I will share what she says is her purpose for writing her blog, "The thing is, U.S. schools, from pre-school through college, do a poor job of educating Americans about American Indians. It isn’t a deliberate effort to mis-educate, and there is no point in laying blame on anyone, or feeling guilty if you’re doing something in your classroom or library that is stereotypical. The point is to start doing things differently.

Through my blog, I try to share a lot of information that I think helps my readers understand the diversity that exists across the 500+ federally recognized Native tribes (let alone the 200+ state recognized tribes and the many groups who are completely unrecognized by the state or federal government). I am confident that more and more people are learning how to look critically and let go of problematic books, and instead, select books that present American Indians as we are—not savages and not heroes—but people with good and bad qualities.
Full article is entitled: A Native Blogger in Pursuit of Educating about American Indians from ALSC.org

Have you or your children been mis-educated about American Indians? What stereotypes do you believe still exist?

Studs Terkel(1912-2008)

Before I go, on a sad note, Studs Terkel at age 96 still writing and ready to release another book, passed away. I loved reading his oral histories probably because I love memoirs so much. I'll never forget his book, The Good War. It helped me to gain insight on my parent's generation and with it understanding. Never getting to study WWII in school, this book shed beacons of light on a subject difficult to comprehend. Studs Terkel, ever the historian, brings the war closer to everyone who reads this book.It is a masterpiece. America has lost a giant who has preserved so much of our past through his oral histories. See video below with Jon Stewart(Comedy Central)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir

I recently read the book Tears of the Desert for the Early Reviewers program on Library Thing. Halima Bashir's memoir touched my soul so deeply that I couldn't sit back any longer. I have also read The Translator by Daoud Hari for Library Thing. Both of these memoirs had me in tears and drained emotionally. How lucky for me that I am only reading about the horror. How lucky for me they are visions of the rape, torture, suffering, pain and genocide. It was gut wrenching to think, what about the real victims and witnesses of the crimes and tragedy being committed daily? They may escape the country, but as Bashir would tell you, sometimes she would have rather died than live. I can only imagine that they hold the atrocities they witnessed or submitted to, in some deep cavern of their soul forever.

Review of Tears of the Desert

by Halima Bashir is a poignant memoir capable of producing copious empathetic tears. During the first part of the book, the author recounts her childhood and family life growing up in a village in South Dafur. She establishes a beautiful picture of the Zaghawa tribe culture, her feelings, her aspirations and how she relates to all family members. An extended family surrounds her, most importantly, a father who adores her and her feisty Grandma Sumah, a traditionalist with an iron will. As the pleasant images of her upbringing unfold there are also some which are considered barbaric in other cultures. However, involving the reader in this way she makes you a captive caring companion to her feelings and ideas.

During the next part of the story, she shares the tragic atrocities that were inflicted upon her. She details her eyewitness account of horrors of death and suffering in her village and country. Several times during the retelling of her brutal beating and gang rape by the Sudanese Government supported army, Halima prays for death, prays for an end to her suffering. She would rather die than live. A Memoir of Survival in Darfur, the book’s subtitle really is her survival from despair, hopelessness, and the dark depths of depression. She now believes she survived to be a messenger, to be able to share her personal tragedy with the world community.

As the book concludes, you reflect on this story of survival, courage and tenacity of will few of us can even fathom. The atrocities she witnessed and the torture she endured are graphic and uncensored. This is a reality that every world citizen must face. Her hope is that her story will shed more light on the situation in Darfur so that the international community will help end the pain, suffering and genocide.

Readers will find the epilogue with the details of the history and causes for the current situation in Darfur informative. Organizations are listed for those looking for ways to assist the people of Darfur.

I was moved to tears by this memoir of Halima Bashir. There were difficult moments while reading where I just couldn’t even comprehend the sick savage inhumane treatment inflicted upon Ms. Bashir. I hope that she will find her family and continue to have the will to fight the fight as Grandma Sumah would have. Highly recommended.
Cross posted on Library Thing (loves2read)

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Translator by Daoud Hari

Cross-posted from Library Thing

February 4, 2008

A disturbing, suspenseful, emotional success!!!!!! Prepare to stay in your seat when you begin this book. I received my Early Reviewer copy in the mail in the afternoon and couldn’t go to bed until I had finished this book. Daoud has written a masterful memoir about his homeland Darfur and what life, survival and death is like in his region of the Sudan. He takes you through his travels as a translator risking his life to get the story out. You feel his pain and suffering as he is a spectator to the sick senseless loss of family and friends. Often he is the unwilling bystander to the complete annihilation of villages and people. He will have you quickly turning pages as he describes the way of life for the villagers, their fears of looming death and the brutal sadistic torture they endure. Chills and trepidation abound as they face the thunderous approach of the ruthless rebels. He observes all the chaos and continues to risk his life to help his people. In the book he escapes one day from rebels and, you weep for him when he sees a little girl, waving goodbye. He knows she will not survive the day. He cannot save her. Then you also weep for the little girl and all the other pointless dead. I was not prepared for the contents of this book, but I am grateful to Daoud Hari. His memoir is a requisite read for the world toward gaining a better understanding of the plight of the people of Darfur.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunday Salon, Saye by Jeremy H. Walker

Debut Author

This week, it is with pleasure that I present to Sunday Salon, the review of a debut author and illustrator, who is not only a talented writer, but a gifted artist proficient in multimedia presentations. His book SAYE, is the first of five books in a series of science fiction, fantasy. He is currently looking for a literary agent who will represent him. Jeremy Walker is someone to watch!!!

SAYE, by Jeremy Walker

is a deeply rich debut fantasy novel by a young author whose name you will not want to forget. The story is brilliantly crafted with characters he has developed over many years from his early sketches. This refreshingly original book is futuristically visionary and captivating.

The story takes place on the planet Valiku near the constellation Cephues. The planet is inhabited by living beings of two races the kinth and the kolntas. The story is about a thirteen year old girl named Saye, who is abandoned after a long bloody battle. The war between the two races of Valiku,ended in the defeat of the kolntas. Saye has mixed heritage and has been adorned with the beauty from her kinth mother, and the symbol of the kolntas on her forehead from her father.

Saye is discovered by Hilonya, a messenger of the kinth who is riding by on her endelo. She spots Saye as she is running into a cave. With reluctance and trepidation Saye decides to follow Hilonya to Jayxen City, making the wise decision that she has no other choice. Saye is always guarded and doesn’t care much for Hilonya, especially when she tries to cover Saye’s head with a blanket before entering the city. What Saye doesn’t realize is the symbol on her forehead, is a tatoo that will draw attention to her difference. Although she looks kinth, she has the trait of a kolntas. Hilonya fears for the girls safety and wishes only to protect her from possible prejudice and hate from the people of Jayxen.

As the story continues the challenge for Saye is developing her sense of self having kinth/kolntas heritage, in a world composed of kinth people. The path is not easy for Saye and she is full of fury and foreboding.

Readers will relate to this story on so many levels. Saye is a timeless tale told with a sensitive heart. I'm anxiously awaiting Book 2, I couldn't put this one down. Highly recommended.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Read-a-thon, October 18, 2008

1st update:
I had unexpected surprise company this weekend, obviously my plans to participate in the read-a-thon changed. I will begin reading once my guest retires at least for a little while. The first book I plan to read is Drinkwater, by Eric Hopkins. I guess I'll have to call this a mini-marathon for my first time. Next event I hope it will be 24hours. I hope everyone is doing well so far. Please let me know how you are doing. Good luck.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Bookworm's Dinner Children, Oct. 13, 2008

Please visit my new blog for children's book reviews. Click here. I will be blogging about children's picture books, teen novels, and young adult on this site. I hope you will continue to share your comments on this site as well as Bookworm's Dinner. I am holding a raffle on the new site as a kick off, so please check it out. As always, Donna

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Salon, October 12, 2008 Raffle Winner

Raffle Winner of Gap Creek

Congratulations to Lesa from Lesa's Book Critiques. The winner of Gap Creek.
Lesa please send me your snail mail address to my email so that I can send the book out.

This week's excitement

...Thursday I had a day off which was great. I had hoped to spend the day reading, but an appraiser and appointments interrupted that plan. Oh well, the house looks great anyway. A friend is visiting from Vermont and we managed a long visit at the Hickory Stick Bookshop in Washington Depot, CT yesterday. This is a fabulous independent bookstore in the heart of the Litchfield Hills. The bucolic setting, the weather, and the idyllic ride in the country was perfect. Several books later my friend and I left the shop and walked around the town. I bought the best hat and my friend bought an awesome jacket. We topped it off with a couple of lattes and headed on to another venue. It's great to have the kind of friend that can be comfortable for hours in a bookstore.
Ok..I haven't bought any books in a long, long, time. I couldn't contain myself yesterday. I purchased:

Blood River by Tim Butcher
Angel of Grozny,Orphans of a Forgotten War by Asne Seierstad

Asne Seierstad is the author of Bookseller of Kabel, a book I really enjoyed.
My comments on Library Thing were noted: Well done!!! What a fantastic view of the life of a family in Kabul, Afghanistan as they live. Seierstad, a journalist convinces Sultan Kahn to live with his family and write about their daily life. This is not a journal or diary as you may expect. The author crafts this book to read like a novel and you are there as a member of this family. Surprisingly, she does not seem to hold back in her portrayal of the male role in the family especially Sultan (father) and eldest son (Mansur). I highly recommend this for anyone looking to experience as the author did, "life behind the burka."

Currently Reading

Drinkwater by Eric Hopkins
The Last Undercover by Bob Hamer

Have a great Sunday. See you next week. The dogs are getting hungry and won't let me write until I feed them.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Sunday Salon October 5, 2008

Murderers in Mausoleum, Riding the Back Roads of Empire Between Moscow and Beijing

by Jeffrey Tayler
Publishing Date Jan. 27, 2009

Reading Murderers in Mausoleums, you will gain a vital understanding of Russia and China; their culture, their ideals, their fears, their struggles as our global neighbors. Jeffrey Tayler, is a correspondent whose purpose in writing the book is to find out for himself how the people who were once the oppressed are now viewing a renaissance taking place in their countries. He also wants to talk with the people deep within the country, to get a sense of how they feel about the West, especially the United States. What he hears will astonish you.

The book is a journal of his 7,200 mile trip that begins in Red Square and ends in Tiananmen Square. Travel is undeniably a hardship with many obstacles to overcome. Schedules are not always followed. Passports are checked with no consistency. The ubiquitous guards perusing papers will often hold Tayler for a payoff, or just to be officious and obnoxious. He endures extreme hostile climatic conditions, stress from potential threats to his life and difficult barriers that others would not have crossed. I applaud with my deepest respect his valiant pursuit to achieve his goal. Some areas he visited he claims no westerner has ever seen. Amazing!

Tayler uncovers spectacular lies told and perpetuated throughout Russian history. Tayler pays close attention as a citizen of Karaganda, ( the second largest city in Kazakhstan) discusses when coal was discovered in his town during Stalin’s reign. The story of Karaganda is a sorrowful one and amazingly a work camp called Karlag, created by Stalin did not close until 1958. This cover-up speaks to the cruelty and prejudice of Stalin’s nature which is an astonishing story to read.

Murderers in Mausoleums a reference to the leaders who we know now were murderers, not rulers, has the excitement of a novel. At the same time it contains a valuable visual and oral history. This plurality creates a harmonious balance that should capture the attention of those readers who shun history books. Jeffrey Tayler the transcontinental traveler who stops at nothing to get an interview offers a rare insiders look from so far away. Shocking and alluring, this book offers both. Highly recommended.

In the notebook...

1.If you like Children's Literature see Saturday's Blog for seasonal selections.
2.Don't forget to enter a comment so that you will be entered in the raffle for Gap Creek, Drawing to take place October 8th midnight..

New Children's Books,Saturday Oct. 4th 2008


Homemade Halloween by Fox Chapel Publishing (Author), 2008, $14.95, 79pp. ISBN 978-1-56523-382-9

Just in time for family fun without too much fright this colorful comprehensive manual of easy, quick ideas to decorate for Halloween is here. The book is segmented into four parts. Under Dandy Disguises, you will find step by step, how to instructions including the materials needed to make great costumes for kids. Ghoulish Gatherings, as you can imagine will give you the best recipes and games for a paranormal party with panache. The Haunted House section includes just what you need to change your home into a spooky surprise. All this is can be accomplished by using the patterns and cutout in the last section of ten pages at the back of the book. The photographs are in color showing detailed angles to support your successful finished product. The publisher used real models and photos are of the real objects. Highly recommended.

Little Dragon and the Haunted House by Anni Axworthy, September 1, 2008, $9.95, 32pp., 978-1840894776.

Adorable and fun Halloween story of Little Dragon who dreams of owning his own haunted house. He could do this because he is a very special dragon. No one fears him. He can't blow flames. He can't even fly and he is a brilliant bright blue. However, he has lots of money because something strange happens when Little Dragon cries. His tears turn to pure gold. He lives with his friend Jago and Jago's family in a very small house. After watching a television movie on day Little Dragon decides to buy a haunted house. When Little Dragon finally finds a haunted house he likes, he buys it and they all move in. He begins to frighten the previous occupants of the house and he surprises you with his cleverness. Highly recommended for ages 4-8.

Anni Axworthy has also written another story of Little Dragon called, The Dragon Who Couldn't Do Dragony Things

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun

Miles from Nowhere, by Nami Mun

Memorable and moving with remarkable sensitivity, this writer has a distinct talent that has made her book one of my top ten for 2008. Spectacular imagery can be expected when you read Mun’s work. Your vision of setting and character requires little effort to conjure up what she vividly depicts in poetic prose.

I received Miles from Nowhere, about a week ago, and decided to glance over the first few pages as I do with all ARC’s I receive. I began thumbing through the book and reading a little. Within a few pages it became apparent that I wasn’t going to put this book down. I spent the rest of a dreary drizzly day buried in this amazing book.

The book takes place in the 1980s in New York City. As the story begins, Joon a Korean girl lives with her parents. Their marriage is a rocky relationship always on the brink of failure. One day her father finally has enough and decides to leave home. This sends her mentally ill mother, unable to contend with difficulties with his desertion, on a tragic trajectory of wacky behavior.

When Joon takes to the streets she fights for survival wearing the scars of pain. Joon is the main character, and will always be my favorite person in the novel. Who can forget her? She is confused, vulnerable, sweet, gullible, trusting, and generous. You are a part of her as a twin the entire book, difficult to leave her, hard to not feel her pain.

Her battles become narcotic addiction, failed friendships, and lost loves. She tries to climb out of the streets by working in a variety of jobs from dance girl hostess to an Avon door to door sales representative.

The story is written episodically with Joon as the narrator. We learn about all the friends, parents and the people Joon meets through her point of view. You can’t help but love Joon and want to protect and embrace her and tell her it’s just a bad dream. Time passes in Joon’s mind, sometimes rational, sometimes fragmented. You feel her confusion, her sense of loss and despair all through her cognition. Mun makes it look easy the way she has manages to create the passage of time over five years as Joon ages to eighteen.

This is a sensitive, heart-wrenching story, sometimes amusing, sometimes dispiriting yet carrying a message of hope. Nami Mun’s novel is a tale that will leave you deep in thought. With a late December release it just might make the perfect holiday gift for some. This debut work of Nami Mun portrays a veteran of her craft, a talented and compelling author. I hope we see more from her soon. Highly recommended.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Sunday Salon & Raffle September 28, 2008

Banned Book Week Raffle

This is a raffle to celebrate our freedom to read!!! Please leave a comment on my blog to be entered in the raffle to win a copy of Gap Creek,by Robert Morgan. The drawing for Gap Creek will be on October 6th. Good Luck. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this book, it was an Oprah Book Club pick, winner of the Southern Book Critic Circle Award, and a NYT Notable Book. Besides that...I highly recommend it!
If you link to my blog and write about the raffle on your blog you will get two (2) additional chances.

Reading This Week

Finished reading The Fire, by Katherine Neville. I am a huge fan of her novel The Eight, written twenty years ago. I would recommend the Eight to anyone who loves drama, excitement and intrigue. In my opinion, The Davinci Code, often compared to The Eight, pales in comparison hands down. The Fire on the other hand was very disappointing to me after such a long wait for another book from this talented writer. It was difficult to stay focused and I lost interest easily. Unlike The Eight, I struggled to finish the book. If you want to experience Katherine Neville's finest work, read The Eight.

Finished reading Murderers in Mausoleums, Riding the Back Roads of Empire Between Moscow and Beijing by Jeffrey Tayler (Review to follow during the week)

Surprise Read of the Month...Miles from Nowhere by Nami Mun

Miles from Nowhere, by Nami Mun
I received Miles from Nowhere, by Nami Mun about a week ago, and decided to glance over the first few pages on Saturday. When I receive an ARC I thumb through the book, read a little and try to obtain an overview before I sit down and read it.
It soon became apparent that I wasn’t going to put this book down, and it quickly landed on top of my TBR pile. I can’t think of a better way to spend a rainy day. As I began to read Miles to Nowhere, I came to know Joon, a thirteen year old run-a-way, living on the streets. The story takes place in the 1980’s in New York City.
As the story begins, Joon a Korean girl lives with her parents. Their marriage is a rocky relationship always on the brink of failure. One day her father finally has enough and decides to leave home. This sends her mentally ill mother, unable to cope with his desertion, on a tragic trajectory of wacky behavior. When Joon takes to the streets she fights for survival wearing the scars of pain. Her battles become narcotic addiction, failed friendships, and lost loves. She tries to climb out by working in a variety of jobs from dance girl hostess to an avon door to door salesgirl. The story is written episodically with Joon as the narrator. We learn about all the friends, parents and the people Joon meets through her point of view. You can’t help but love Joon and want to protect and embrace her and tell her it’s just a bad dream. Time passes in Joon’s mind, sometimes rational, sometimes fragmented. You feel her confusion, her sense of loss and despair all through her cognition. Mun makes it look easy the way she has managed to create the passage of time over five years as Joon ages to eighteen. This book does not come out until December 26th, but you will want to get a copy as soon as you can. This is a warm, sensitive, reflective story, sometimes amusing, sometimes dispiriting but carrying a message of hope. You will close the cover and say ahhhhhhh.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday Salon, September 21, 2008-Book Raffle Winner

Book Raffle Winner. Congratulations Ti, from Book Chatter and Other Stuff. Here is her announcement card.

Autumn Beginnings

What will be your first book to read in Autumn? I will be reading Saye, by Jeremy H. Walker a debut novelist. Stay tuned to hear more.
I will also be reading Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir for the Early Reviewers Program at Library Thing. I started reading Murderers in Mausoleums by Jeffrey Tayler.
Tell me what are your first intended reads for Autumn? Let's celebrate our new reading season wherever you live. New Englanders like me will likely relish in the crisp chill in the air and breathe in the sweet smells of the harvest. My cozy book nook is ready. How about you?

Reviews of the week

Going Down South

by Bonnie J. Glover
One World,
978-0-345-48091-0, 272 pp.

Going Down South just blew me away. This is the story of three ordinary yet extraordinary women, Grandma Birdie, her daughter Daisy and her 15 year old granddaughter Olivia Jean who come to live in Cold Water Springs, Alabama. Ms. Glover has created an amazing cast of characters in this beautiful story of forgiveness. The dialogue is so amazingly genuine, offering a glimpse of a culture through conversations that are honest and rarely seen in literature. You can’t get closer to real life than the story Going Down South. As the story spans the lives of the females in one family over generations, they all face life against difficult odds, and harbor deep anger. Through it all they manage to rise to independence and gain a sense of self.

Sometime during the 1960's, Olivia Jean becomes pregnant, and her mom and daddy Turk decide to leave New York to take her down south to live with Daisy’s mom Birdie. Thinking she has protected her daughter from the stigma and shame of an out of wedlock pregnancy Daisy’s life is turned upside down when the preacher Percy Walker singles out Olivia Jean at church. He labels her a whore and and admonishes her for her indiscretion as he preaches from the pulpit.

Moving down south proves to be a tension filled proposition as Daisy and Birdie have been at odds for years. They both conceal secrets from the past that have stirred up malevolent memories. As they choose to let anger and the past fester, conversations are strained, ugly, and hateful, until one day Grandma Birdie decides she has had enough.

Grandma Birdie, is a colorful character with witty jailhouse toughness and sage wisdom with a soft heart for family. Daisy, on the other hand has so much anger, time will only tell when tempers will flare. Olivia Jean at fifteen helps to uncover the many secrets with astounding strength for one so young. These feisty heroines are reason alone to read Going Down South. This book touches on all emotions, and you will laugh out loud. Outrageous at times, honestly human and heartfelt. Fabulous fiction with remarkable realism. Don’t miss this Bonnie Glover’s glorious gift. Highly recommended.

My published review in Historical Novels Review for August Issue

Elizabeth Stoddard, edited and with intro. by Jennifer Putzi, Univ of Nebraska Press, 2008, $19.95/C$21.95/£10.99, pb, 271pp, 9780803293472
Originally published in 1865, Two Men begins when Jason Auster, a carpenter, leaves home to start a new life. His stagecoach makes a stop in Crest, a seashore village in New England where he decides to settle. Finding work at a local church, he meets dark-eyed Sarah Parke, a woman of wealth and social standing. He learns she is the granddaughter of the well-known Squire Parke. Despite their differences in social class, Jason soon becomes a frequent visitor at the Squire’s home, playing whist with Sarah’s grandfather and backgammon with her. They marry and have a son, who they name Parke.
A stroke takes the Squire’s life, and fate puts Jason in control of his estate. Some years later, Osmund Luce, Sarah’s co-heir, shows up with his daughter, Philippa, who he intends to leave with Sarah. Upon learning of his grandfather’s death, Osmund gives Philippa his inheritance. The novel continues as a complex story of love and romance, relationships left unsatisfied, and surprising, difficult choices.
Two Men takes place during the antebellum period, when men, not women, were allowed to express passion, and marrying beneath your class, interracial relationships, and choosing to be a single woman were all considered taboo.
This is not a Civil War novel. It is a period piece that gives a sense of what it was like to live in mid-19th century American society. The language is indicative of the period, and today’s audience won’t find it shocking. Yet, reading the book I kept wondering what the Victorian attitudes of Stoddard's readership would think. No doubt there were many whispers and raised eyebrows. Stoddard was an author ahead of her time; her portrayal of strong women seems almost anachronistic, her descriptive writing flows, and she conveys much of her characters’ thoughts through dialog. Two Men is a remarkable tale; highly recommended.