Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all.
When I was a child, 10-12, I lived in North Africa. We celebrated 3 Christmases in Tripoli, Libya. At first it didn't seem like Christmas, but then I realized that I was celebrating in an area of the world that would have had this type of climate at the first Christmas. The nights were clear, cold and full of stars. Our base chapel presented, each year, a living Nativity complete with a baby Jesus, always a child up to 18 months old, sheep, goats, donkeys and three Wise Men arriving on camels. It became a true Christmas for me, and to this day I do remember those celebrations.
Peace to all.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"Backyard Tribe" a novel by Neil Shulman

"Backyard Tribe" a novel by Neil Shulman

I read this delightful novel back in 2002, so I don't know if it will still be available on your library's shelf.

Mobile, Alabama will never be the same, and neither will Dr. Bud Payne, his wife, Gail, their family or the neighborhood. What starts out as a "Good Samaritan" deed, quickly becomes a comedy of errors that grows beyond Bud's wildest dreams. Having traveled to Kenya to donate his medical services, and have a few day away with his wife, Bud stumbles upons a Maasai girl who needs life-saving heart surgery. Bud believes that he has simply made arrangements for the girl and her mother to travel to Mobile for the surgery. Imagine his surprise when her entire tribes disembarks from the 747!

Hope, if you can locate this book, that you will consider this one. I might not have read it, had it been set someplace other than Mobile - James graduated from Mobile High.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Max Headroom

Max is back!!!!!!!! Max Headroom is now on DVD!

We started watching the series back in the late '80's. I really was sorry when it disappeared. The other day when I was returning material at the circ desk, I came across the boxed set of Max........ So, over the week-end we started watching the series.

James and I do not recall having seen the first 2-3 episodes, so it was fun to watch from the beginning. We have now watched 7 episodes, and still have 3 DVDs to go...... Whooppee!

Now, in addition to the tires I want for the car, I want the series of Max. Are you listening, James?

Have fun.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 17, 2010

"The Last Station" a film

"The Last Station" a film that was up for several Oscars for 2009.

We just finished watching this film last night. James was NOT impressed with this one - he thought it was a soap opera - even with Helen Mirren playing the "Countess", nothing could save this film for him.

On the other hand, I thought it was interesting, and Helen did an admirable portrayal of the "Countess".

Set in Russia in 1910 - revolves around Leo Tolstoy, and his last days.

Just a warning, there is one very explicit "sex" scene.

"Paperboy : confessions of a future engineer" a memoir by Henry Petroski

"Paperboy : Confessions of a Future Engineer" by Henry Petroski

A loving, interesting look at the growing up years of Henry in Cambria Heights (Queens borough) of NYC, during the early 1950's. Henry's family moves from Brooklyn to Cambria Heights and the life of the eldest son evolves from a child supported by his parents to a young man who learns the intricacies of becoming an independent business person.

Many interesting vignettes regarding the days when the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers vied for the World Series penants.

Hope you will try this one. I really did enjoy the stories he shared.

"Almira" a wine from Spain

One day while shopping at the Co-op in Mt Vernon, WA. I stopped dead in my tracks as I saw a bottle of wine with my name on it.

Well, I had to purchase it, James really enjoyed it, so now I order it by the case, rather then just buying one bottle at a time.

It is a pretty good wine for a blend, and it certainly makes for conversation at the check out stand as they all know my name.

If you ever see it, and like Spanish reds, try it and see what you think.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Housewrights" a novel by Art Corriveau

"Housewrights" a novel by Art Corriveau.

I read this several years ago, and have always enjoyed doing reader's advisory on it for library patrons. Several of the staff here at the library have also enjoyed this one very much.

At the beginning of the 1900's in a small town in Vermont, Lily Willard meets twins Oren and Ian Pritchard when her father hires their carpenter father to build the Willard family a new home. Ten years later, Oren returns to claim Lily as his bride. As the town Librarian, Lily has certain moral standards imposed upon her by the powers that be, so that when Ian returns from World War I shell-shocked and injured, he moves in with the the young married couple, only to set tongues awagging at that! But when the three of them dance together at the local Grange dance, with all the town watching, the scandal that it causes, causes them to make changes to their lives - a PROBLEM not easily overcome, especially with twins.

I really enjoyed this story, the writing was very well done. Hope that you will consider this one,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

"The Open Door" a novel by Elizabeth Maguire

"The Open Door", a novel by Elizabeth Maguire

After reading Colm Toibin's "The Master" about Henry James, I decided that I wanted to learn more about Constance Fenimore Woolson, so I looked her up in our library catalog system, this title appeared under her name. This book was published 2 years after the death of Elizabeth Maguire, the author.

This is a much shorter book then Colm's, however, Constance's life ended abruptly. I was curious to learn if the events in "The Master" were accurate regarding Constance's and Henry's relationship. I was amazed how much like a jigsaw puzzle these two books were, all the pieces fit together perfectly.

All Constance ever wanted was to meet the "great" Henry James, and to become a friend of his. As did Henry, Constance left America to live in Europe, finally settling in Italy. Having a letter of introduction to Henry, she eventually does meet with him, little does she realize how much this will change her short life forever, as they begin a very unusual relationship.

Much more friendly, and open to people than Henry, Constance goes on to live in Europe's society quite comfortably, although she always longs for Henry's presence, which he greedily shares on his terms.

Both books do verify her tragic death, and Henry's bizarre behavior regarding the disposal of Constance's clothing.

If you want to read these books together, I would suggest that you read Constance's book first, then Henry's, only to give Constance her place in the world.

Both books are well worth the time reading. I enjoyed both, although I have more sympathetic feelings for Constance.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"The Master" a novel by Colm Toibin

"The Master" a novel by Colm Toibin.

After reading Colm's novel, "Brooklyn", I was very interested in reading something else of his, so I chose this novel. It is possibly the only novel that I have ever read that has been so thoroughly researched by an author, he listed EVERY book he read on the entire James family.

I am not sure that I would have found Henry a very nice person, one of America's best writers of his time, although he chose to live abroad in England, Paris, Rome and Venice.

Henry was born into a very wealthy family 20 years before the American Civil War, rubbing shoulders with many of America's most intellectual names in our country's history, maintaining relationships with most throughout his life, but not necessarily being friends with them.

One person in particular became a very "dear" friend of his, Constance Fenimore Woolson (niece of James Fenimore Cooper). More about Constance in another blog.

Colm's portrayal of Henry James is extremely well-done, showing a self-absorbed, lonely, sometimes intolerant figure. It was a great tragedy when his friend, Constance, died, yet Henry refused (much to the consternation of his friends) to attend her funeral. Henry chose a most bizarre way to dispose of Constance's clothes, and this event sheds an unusually disturbing personality trait.

With all of Henry's faults, he still stands out as an excellent writer. I did enjoy this book very much, and have already handed it off to a library patron, will be interesting to hear her thoughts on the book.

Hope you will consider it.

Monday, December 13, 2010

"The Owl and Moon Cafe" by Jo-Ann Mapson

"The Owl and Moon Cafe" by Jo-Ann Mapson
Four generations of women, from the same family, end up living, working, and sharing family secrets together - during which time, they must learn the secret of living together in harmony. An unexpected job loss to Mariah Moon forces her to move in with her mother, Allegra, and Gammy, so that her daughter, Lindsay, can continue to attend her fancy private school. Gammy waits tables at the Owl & Moon, Allegra does all the baking and cooking, when Mariah arrives and pitches in to make ends meet - until, her mother is diagnosed with leukemia, at that time Mariah take over running the Owl and Moon. Lindsay moves ahead with a scret and dangerous science project with her "sometimes" rich friend Sally.
The biggest surprise to all is when Allegra meets her former lover, who just happens to be her cancer specialist - things start to unravel, and yet start to fit together again.
Read this one back in 2006, still brings back memories when I check it out to a library patron, or return it.

Captain Saturday, a novel by Robert Inman

"Captain Saturday" a novel by Robert Inman
He was Raleigh's favorite TV weatherman, he had it all, a beautiful wife, a son in medical school --- Life was good UNTIL a heartless conglomerate purchases the TV station, and releases him from his job. Will goes on a rampage, is arrested, is locked out of his home by his wife, and to top it off, he finds out that his son isn't too crazy about him either. Enter long-lost cousin Wingfoot Bagget, who comes to Will's rescue, although Will isn't too sure he wants to be rescued by this "river cousin", however, as Will has no place or anyone else to turn to, he blindly follows his cousin. Things get a bit out of wack for Will, but things start to fall into place, he figures things out, becomes "Captain Saturday", winning back his son, and his good name.
This was a fun read, with some really good humor, and a couple hilarious scenes with his cousin. Hope you will consider it and enjoy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Books, book, books

Just a rambling here.
To me, a house without books is like a body without a soul LIFELESS.
I don't understand people who have no books around their homes............

Among Schoolchildren by Tracy Kidder

"Among Schoolchildren" by Tracy Kidder
One of the first books I ever read by Tracy Kidder. This was a very enjoyable read, well-paced, well-written, a very good insight into terrible conditions (at the time it was written) that teachers face on a daily basis.
Tracy received permission to "sit" in Mrs. Zajac's 5th grade class, for a whole year, at Kelly School in Holyoke, Connecticut,( where she had grown up and eventually became a teacher.)
Tracy takes the time to introduce the reader to all of Mrs. Zajac's students, their backgrounds, their personalities, pleasures, pains and problems. One child in particular becomes not only Mrs Zajac's "cross to bear", but the one student she absolutely refuses to give up on. All the children become family, and dear to the reader. It is a very sad day for the reader, writer and teacher when Clarence is sent to another school. One wonders whatever happened to him.
Tracy is such a great author, approaching subjects that will be of interest to various folks.
Hope you can locate this one, and give it a shot.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

"Last night at the Lobster" a novel by Stewart O'Nan

"Last Night at the Lobster" a novel by Stewart O'Nan
Only 4 shopping days to Christmas, stressful time for shoppers, but it should be a regular time for business at the "Lobster", if not busy. Christmas should be a time to look forward to with pleasure, however, that is far from Manny DeLeon's mind these days. Manny, manager of the Red Lobster, is faced with the fact that corporate headquarters is closing this Lobster down. Manny's staff is ready to mutiny, but they still are expected to man their shifts on this the last day being open....
But will Manny and his staff be able to get through this last day?
Snow, unscheduled tourists, a party, and all the normal regulars show up and add to the stress of this last day.......
Read this book just as the economy was starting to tank back in early 2009 - therefore this was a timely story to read.......

"The Island" a novel by Victoria Hislop

"The Island" a novel by Victoria Hislop
Consider finding out that one's great grandmother was the victim of leprosy, BUT not learning from one's own parent, but from an "old" family friend, and that one has to travel to another country to gain this knowledge.
Alexis, well-off from England, travels to a small Greek village, over the course of several days Alexis discovers all of her mother's family secrets........ Well, that could be a shock to the system.
The writing is well done, the unfolding events are thoughtful, and sympathetic to the subject of leprosy, a subject that most people, currently, have little or no knowledge of.
Hope you will consider this title.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Box of Delights" by John Masefield

Recently, on NPR, John Masefield's book "Box of Delights" was being discussed by an author. Naturally, I needed to see why this book, written in 1937, was being discussed, so........
I am nearing the end of this "delightfully" told story. Kay Harkin has been "given" a box to protect from the evil doers, a box that can make him small or take him on very speedy trips of his choice. Magic is involved in many aspects of this book - which precedes Harry Potter by so many decades, and the writing is so much better than J.K.'s (s0rry if you are a big fan).
This is one that should become a holiday classic, but will probably fall by the wayside in our current scheme of things.......
Hope you will give it a look-over.