Monthly Archives:: August 2011

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Teaser Tuesdays – The Most Beautiful Walk in the World

August 30, 2011 Books 8

I’ve been struggling to read the past week or so. Distractions include, but are not limited to, Doctor Who (I’m trying to catch up) and well, Doctor Who. I guess they are limited. ANYWAY, the only thing I’ve managed to read a few pages in a day, is The Most Beautiful Walk in the World: A Pedestrian in Paris by John Baxter. So my teaser comes from there…

From page 88:

I’d known Dorothy since I first came to France. She was one of the longtime America residents who, from behind the scenes, and largely out of love, manage its society of expatriates.

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B at Should Be Reading. Head on over to find out all about it, and how to join in!

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

August 29, 2011 Books, Reading Challenges 11


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books.

If my reading this weekend is any indication, I won’t be reading much of anything this week! I was in a brain fog, couldn’t focus on anything more complicated than magazines and television. I think I’m so excited that RIP is starting on Thursday and I know all I want to read is books for that. Plus, I know I have a copy of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern winging its way to me and I seriously can’t wait to get started on it. So I may not be reading much until Thursday.

Since I couldn’t seem to get into any books this weekend, I used the time to make my RIP pool. See:

I have:

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Daphne by Justine Picardie (group read with Debi, Chris, Ana and Kelly)
The Seance by John Harwood (only been trying to read this during RIP forever)
Will Storr vs. the Supernatural by Will Storr
The Nature of Monsters by Clare Clark
Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel
The Heretic’s Daughter by Kathleen Kent
The Map of Time by Felix J Palma
Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott
In the Devil’s Snare by Mary Beth Norton
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters (I’m itching to reread it for some reason) (oh, cause it’s awesome)
The Sister by Poppy Adams
The Monsters: Mary Shelly and the Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy Hoobler
The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by  Kate Summerscale
Inamorata by Joseph Gangemi

Not picture are The Night Circus, which hasn’t arrived yet, and The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson, which I haven’t bought yet, but will be reading with Carl, Kelly, and whomever signs up for the group read. To say I can’t wait for Thursday is an understatement. RIP always signifies the beginning of my most favorite season.

So, how about you? I hope your attention span is better than mine and you’re getting some reading in. What’s good? Are you reading for RIP? What’s in your pool?

Egnéus

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What Momma Left Me vs. Bleeding Violets – The NerdsHeartYA Showdown

August 26, 2011 Book Reviews, Books 5

What Momma Left Me

Serenity Evans and her brother Daniel have not had an easy life. Their father was abusive emotionally and physically and their mother, while loving and attentive, allowed it to continue – up to the point where it finally cost her her life. After her murder, their father abandons them to fate. Now, Serenity and Danny live with their grandmother and grandfather, who is pastor of theRestorationBaptistChurch. As if that wasn’t enough to deal with, Serenity has to move to a new school and start afresh. New friends, new (bad boy) crush, and new dangers are in store for her. Serenity finds her faith in God, in herself, and her family challenged in new, unexpected ways.

Bleeding Violet

Hanna Jarvinen is a beautiful, biracial teenager who is a bit of an enigma. Her loving (white, Finnish) father, who she clearly adored, has passed away. She has been living with her aunt who barely tolerates her. Having had enough, Hanna runs away to live with the (black) mother whom she has never met and by all appearances wants nothing to do with her. As if that wasn’t enough, Hanna has been diagnosed as manic-depressive, bipolar, and when she doesn’t take her meds? Well, things get kind of crazy, with hallucinations being one of the tamer of her symptoms. Soon she discovers that she will actually fit in quite well in her mother’s home town ofPortero,Texas, a town where the strange and unusual are actually pretty commonplace.

Serenity Evans is a fantastic character. She is a strong African-American teen who is not only a great example for other African-Americans; she is a great example for all young teenage girls. She faces extraordinary challenges with an inner-strength that, while faltering in a typical way for her age, is enviable. She acts like a typical teenager in her struggle to do what’s right while staying true to herself. When her brother gets mixed up the wrong crowd, Serenity is torn between wanting to help and protect her brother or keep silent like he so desperately wants her to. Her story feels, sadly, true to life and I can see this book being a valuable resource to teens living through similar experiences.

Hanna is a lot like Serenity in that she is struggling to find a place where she can feel safe, stable, and loved. Unlike Serenity however, she does not have an adequate support system to help support her in her journey. She is left to fend for herself. Her father has died. Her mother wants nothing to do with her. She is in a new, strange town, where she has no friends or even acquaintances. And she has a mental illness that she is not mature enough to manage on her own. After making a bargain with her mother to fit in within two weeks or move out, she has to make friends and make them fast. All of this makes her a very unreliable narrator.

I read What Momma Left Me first, followed by Bleeding Violet. Upon finishing Bleeding Violet, I immediately said What Momma Left Me was the better book.  I had a hard time with Bleeding Violet. When I first started reading it, I just wanted to put it back down. I couldn’t connect with Hanna. There were many scenes in the book that I had a very large aversion to, and still do in some ways. It is a violent, graphic book. There is violent death, sex, torture, and I could find very little to love about it.  Yet, as I’m writing my review, I realize there is something to love about this book. And it’s Hanna. She’s had a hard life, something I can identify with, and she’s just trying to survive. A lot of fantastical things happen to her in the course of the story and I don’t know how much of it I can reliably believe of her. It could all be in her head. And I delight in narrators like that, always have. And I love a book that makes me think, which Bleeding Violet certainly did.

But then I have Serenity to think of. And Serenity is awesome. The things she goes through in the course of What Momma Left Me left my heart aching for her. Serenity stands up to so much, she stood strong, and she survives. There is something so admirable about someone who can face the things she faces; the death of her mother, the abandonment of her father, a new school, new friends, drugs, the death of a friend, and questioning her beliefs in God with such strength and grace.  And that’s only what I’m telling you; she goes through more. She’s a plucky girl, is Serenity, and her story is so real, so genuine, so vitally something that should be read.

And that’s why I’m picking What Momma Left Me to go through to the final round of the NerdsHeartYA tournament. What Momma Left Me is a book everyone can read, that everyone should read. Bleeding Violet, in the end, is a book I only feel comfortable recommending to older teens and adults for its graphic violence, sex, and torture scenes and how they are all handled with a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders. The lack of care that the 16-year-old characters are engaging in an active sex life, that death is just a matter of course, and the torture of a 16-year-old boy at the hands of an adult and teenager (together) and then narratively forgotten, never to be dealt with again, were just too much for me. Both books are great reads, but What Momma Left Me is the stronger book, for me.

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Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden

August 25, 2011 Books 6

My Dear Readers,

You know how it seems like everything begins on Twitter?

I read this because of Twitter.

You see, back around the time of last October’s read-a-thon, I saw several of my favorite bloggers discussing the above book and expounding on how much they loved it (and the series). I thought it sounded like a great read-a-thon book and got my hands on a copy.

And promptly forgot about it.

Flash-forward about 6 months, to when I started gathering books for the April read-a-thon. That’s right! I found it again! And this time, I read it. And let me tell you; those girls were so very, very right. Tomorrow, When the War Began is one of the best pieces of YA lit I’ve read, dystopian or not.

The novel begins with the main character, Ellie, and six of her friends (all teenagers) going off on a camping trip in the bush (this takes place in Australia) together for a week or so. When they return, they find things completely wrong. No one is at home. The streets are disserted. Pets and livestock are dead. As they investigate, they come to understand – their country has been invaded, their families have been taken prisoner.

To say more would be to spoil one of the most tightly written, on-the-edge-of-my-seat books I’ve read in quite awhile. The tension between the characters and their situation is palpable. Marsden takes an intense situation and thrusts you inside, making you feel like you’re there. It’s your country that has been invaded, by whom, you don’t know. Your family has been taken captive. You have no idea what has happened to them, if they are alive, being tortured or worse. And that is your dog that is dead, lying on the floor, abandoned, starved, and alone. He makes it all feel horrible. And he makes you want to fight. Tomorrow, When the War Began is a riveting look at how it feels to be the invaded country and makes you think, “what would I do in such a situation?” And it is, in a word, fantastic.

To say I can’t wait to read the next installment would be a gross understatement. I have it. I haven’t forgotten I have it. I am biding my time, for the next read-a-thon. I think I might make it something of a tradition; to read the next in the Tomorrow Series and see how the gang is holding up.

Favorite quotes:

We’d thought that we were among the first humans to invade this basin, but humans had invaded everything, everywhere. They didn’t have to walk into a place to invade it.

People just sticking names on places, so that no one could see those places properly any more. Every time they looked at them or thought about them the the first thing they saw was a huge big sign saying ‘Housing Commission’ or ‘private school’ or ‘church’ or ‘mosque’ or ‘synagogue’. They stopped looking once they saw those signs.

No, Hell wasn’t anything to do with place, Hell was all to do with people. Maybe Hell was people.

icon
iconTomorrow, When the War Began
By John Marsden

Pub. Date: June 2006

Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
Format: Paperback , 277pp
Age Range: Young Adult
ISBN-13: 9780439829106
Source: I bought it mate. 

 

 

 

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Wordless Wednesday – Don't Stare

August 24, 2011 Photos 8

You don’t want him writing your name.*

Legend has it that if you look at these spiders they’ll write your name in their web and you will die. **

Probably a Southern thang.

More Wordless Wednesday fun here.


 

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It's Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

August 22, 2011 Books 8


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? is a weekly event to list the books  finished last week, the books currently being read, and the books to be finish this week. It was created by J.Kaye’s Book Blog, but is now being hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books!

 I woke up very, very early this morning, so I took advantage of the peace and quiet and finished a book. It was Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves, my second read for the NerdsHeartYA tournament. I have no idea when my decision is due, and it’s going to be a hard one, but watch for the results soon.

That is, unfortunately, the only book I read this week. I am partly through The Most Beautiful Walk in the World by John Baxter, and it is fantastic. I have always loved all things French, so I am loving this vicarious look at living, and walking, in Paris. Baxter has a lovely, personable voice; it rather feels like chatting with an old friend. And I adore nonfiction that reads like that.

I’m still plodding through the monster that is Gone With the Wind. Not monster in personality, monster in size. There is no telling how many times I’ve read GWTW, but this is my first time listening to it. I can read it faster and who knows, I may even switch over. The reader is lovely, but gosh darn it all, it is just taking forever and I have other books I want to listen to! You know? Do you have trouble listening to epic novel audio adaptations? Really, I’m curious to know.

Up next… I’m not sure. I’m free to read what I want again, pretty much, now that I’ve finished my NerdsHeartYA books, so it could be anything. I picked up several books from the library, but something gothic is what is calling to me. I have to cull my stacks and see what I can find.

I managed to review two books this week! I KNOW. I am shocked too. When She Woke by Hillary Jordan is, with all likelihood, going to wind up my favorite book of the year. And Tolstoy and the Purple Chair by Nina Sankovitch was just lovely writing. I hope to get a couple more up this week. I started a few things weekend.

How was your reading week? Did you read anything good? Have any good gothic reads to suggest? I’m starting to plan out my R(eaders) I(mbibing) P(eril) books (for Carl’s beloved yearly challenge) so look for a post on that very soon.

Egnéus

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Capricious Reader Weekly

August 21, 2011 Books 5

 

 

It was a long week, (the first week of school always is!) without much time for blog reading. I did manage to collect a few things to share though.

I’m not usually one to want to encourage the destruction of books in favor of art, although there are a few exceptions, and this is one of them – a Gadget holder. I’d like to make one for my Nook, Jackson Wilkie! Maybe out of an old copy of The Woman in White? Hmm….

Patrick Ness, one of my very favorite authors, reviewed Ship Breaker, one of my not so favorite books and gave his thoughts on dystopias and it’s very interesting. Have I mentioned how much I love him???

RIP time is drawing closer and I’m already considering my pile. The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson keeps popping up on my radar. I think I have to read it.

Matt Phelan, who wrote (and illustrated) the gorgeously illustrated The Storm in the Barn has a new book coming out in October.  Around the World sounds just as amazing as TSitB and I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

I love blank books and these Journals look gorgeous. I may have to break down and get one. Or two. Or possibly three.

Now that I’ve made Tomato Basil Jam (I tried it this morning and it was just as delicious as my friend’s version!), I think it may be time to try Peach Vanilla Bean Jam.

That’s it from me. Did you see anything interesting in your internet reading this week?

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Weekend Cooking – Tomato Basil Jam

August 20, 2011 Weekend Cooking 15

You don’t know this about me, but I am addicted to recipe magazines. You know, those obscenely priced magazines they bombard you with at the register of most stores, especially of the grocery variety. A couple weeks ago, I picked up one called Ultimate Italian, a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication. It’s fantastic, full of yummy looking recipes from lasagna, to fococcia, to cannolis. But the first thing to really catch my eye was a recipe for Tomato Basil Jam. I mean, look, doesn’t this catch your eye?

I know, not the best picture, but in person, it is gorgeous.

I showed my magazine to a friend at work and, long story short, she made the jam and gave me a small jar of it on Wednesday. I finished it off last night (Friday) and promptly went to work making some for myself. It. is. delicious. I did that thing up there, in the picture, with the bread and the jam and the mozzarella and it is heavenly.

So, anyway, last night. I made the jam. And this morning it hadn’t set. After conferring with  Ms. Beth Fish Reads herself this morning over Twitter, I decided to boil it again, longer (much! longer), this morning.

Oh my goodness, but it does smell good.

Here is the end result:


And here is the recipe:

Tomato Basil Jam

Adapted from Ultimate Italian magazine 2011
Prep: 1 hour Cook: 11 minutes Process: 5 minutes (all in your dreams)

4 1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and finely chopped ripe tomatoes (about 4 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup shipped fresh basil (I used African Blue Basil)
1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups sugar
1 1/75 ounce package powdered fruit pectin for lower sugar recipes

1. In a 6 or 8 quart kettle or pot, bring tomatoes to boiling over medium heat, stirring frequently; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Stir in basil, lemon juice, and salt. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar with the pectin. Stir sugar mixture into tomato mixture. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir in the remaining 2 3/4 cups sugar. Return mixture to a full rolling boil; boil hard for 1 minute, (Or in my case, gently boil 20 more minutes to remove some of the water. But my tomatoes had a LOT of water in them. If you wind up with 6 pints instead of 5, like me, keep boiling), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; quickly skim off foam with a metal spoon.

2. Ladle at once into hot, sterilized half-pint canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe jar rims; adjust lids. Process in a hot water bath for 5 minutes (start timing when the water returns to boiling) (also, I processed for 10 minutes, but I’m anal like that). Remove jars; cool on wire racks. Makes 5 half-pints.

Per tablespoon: 40 cal, 0 mg fat, 0 mg chol, 11 mg sodium, 10 g carb, 0 g fiber, 0 g protein.

weekendcookingWeekend Cooking hosted by BethFishReads every weekend.  It is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog’s home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

August 19, 2011 Books 11

 

I know it’s early, since When She Woke doesn’t publish until October 4th, but this is one of those cases where if I don’t write it now, I never will. I can’t get it out of my mind until I do.

When this little ARC arrived on my doorstep, it was all I could do not to drop everything I was doing and start reading. Which I could not do because I was packing for a trip. It wasn’t long before I did do just that. I dropped everything and dived in.

Hannah was a good, devoted, Christian girl, living with her loving, is somewhat over-protective and stifling, family in Texas. She was devoted to them and to her church. She had a good job, a job she enjoyed, sewing in a wedding dress shop. She was happy, or what she thinks was happy.

Then she fell in love and had an affair, an affair with a married man, a public figure, a prominent man, a man respected by many, many people. During the affair, she got pregnant. And she had an abortion. And got caught and was arrested, tried and convicted for it.

Now she is a Chrome. Her very DNA, her chromosomes, have been reprogrammed to make her skin Red. Not pink, not sunburned; RED. She awakens in a solitary cell, walled in by mirrors and TVs watching her every move. Every move she has to make, clothed in only a paper gown. Every minute she sleeps, every shower she takes, every meal she eats. The world is watching. She will have to stay there thirty days before she is moved out into the world to serve her sentence, as a Red, for the murder of her child and her refusal to give up the name of the abortionist, or the father.

The life she had is over. The world outside, full of fear, hate, and a revulsion for Chromes is waiting for her; a confused, lonely, outcast, and naive woman…and I don’t want to tell you much more than that about the plot, which is intricate, complex, and completely, totally absorbing.

It’s easy to see where this book was inspired by The Scarlet Letter, one of my favorite classics. Even our heroine’s name, Hannah Payne has echos of Hester Prynne. This retelling is set in a not-too-distant future where a new pandemic has rendered many adults sterile. So by committing the crime, yes crime, of abortion, Hannah has committed a major wrong and so is punished as a murderer. The new gold-standard of punishment (instead of long-term imprisonment) is, to put it mildly, harsh. Hannah is forced to live her life as a pariah, standing out brilliantly red, in a world where almost every person she comes in contact with refuses to even act like she’s human and are not afraid to make her remember it. It is a cruel new world.

There is so much to discuss in this book, it would be impossible for me to even chip the surface. I’m not even sure where to begin; mainly because I don’t want to give to much away. There is much food for thought; issues of race, religion, feminism, and rights. This is one of the more elaborate coming-of-age stories I’ve ever read, for even though Hannah is in her 20s, she is so naive, she feels like a teenager. Her sheltered, religious, upbringing has left her with a very limited world-view. Her world has been small, her relationship with God limited by the teaching of others, and she has a long journey towards finding her true self. And what a journey it is. Watching Hannah find a new inner strength she never dreamed she had is empowering. This story is powerful, it’s upsetting, it’s gripping…it’s almost impossible to put down until the last page has been turned, with the satisfaction of a tale well told. Book clubs will love this book and should provoke interesting discussion.

icon
iconWhen She Woke
By Hillary Jordan

Pub. Date: October 2011
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Format: Hardcover , 352pp
ISBN-13: 9781565126299

Thank you Algonquin Books, for the early copy of this book.

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