Monday, April 30, 2012

Among Schoolchildren, by Tracy Kidder

Read in 1990

Tracy Kidder received permission to "sit" in Mrs. Zajac's 5th grade class at Kelly school in  Holyoke, CO - where she grew up to become a teacher - for a whole school year.  We are introduced to all her pupils, their backgrounds, their personalities, pleasures, pain and problems.  One child in particular becomes not only Mrs. Zajac's "cross to bear", but the one she simply refuses to give up on.  All the children become family and dear to the reader.  It is a very sad day for the reader, author and teacher when Clarence is sent ot another school - one wonders what became of him. 

Tracy gave us yet another  well-paced, well-written book  ----  good insights into terrible teaching conditions nationally at that time.  Have teaching conditions changed for the better or worse?  Maybe someday he will revisit this theme.
This book was read back in 1993.

Two Against the Sahara, by Michael Asher. 

Due to having lived on the Sahara Desert as a child, I find reading accounts of folks trekking the Sahara very interesting.

Only married 5 days, Tom and his new wife, Mariantonietta, begin not only a new journey of marriage, but the journey of a lifetime, that few will ever experience, to cross the Sahara Desert from west to east.  Passing through many obstacles, man-made and nature-made, crossing on camels, the drifting sands come and go, as do various guides and government regulations.  Some of the tales told by Michael are frightening, some life threatening, some humorous, but put altogether they make a strong statement for the inner strength one finds when faced with insurmountable odds, and the joy one feels with accomplishment.  One can taste the sand, feel the heat, savor the cool of the shade, this was a great journey.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Revenge of the Middle-Aged Woman, a novel by Elizabeth Buchan.

According to my journal, I read this is 2006

She HAD it all, a good marriage, a great job, grown children, a home filled with....... But Nathan, can't compete with "long ago" memoris of why Rose married him, so when Nathan tells Rose he "wants out" of their marriage, especially with Rose's young assistant Minty, Rose isn't sure she is hearing this, and when Timon, her boss, informs her the paper no longer requires her services, she is REALLY sure she isn't hearing this!  Rose's life, as she know it, is over or so she thinks.  However, her children force her to put one foot in front of the other, in their own way.  Her former "beau" reappears, but is HE really what SHE wants?  Muddlying along, Nathan and Minty start having problems of their own, but Rose is pretty sure SHE doesn't care, nor does she want Nathan back, as his life begins unraveling, she does know that SHE has become a better person without him.

Tavern on Maple Street a novel by Sharon Owens

 Tavern on Maple Street, a novel by Sharon Owens

According to my journal, I read this in 2006

Untouched by the modern world, the quaint Victorian pub is a much loved place, by the locals and owners, Jack and Lily Beaumont.  Not just a business, a family tradition to all who work or enjoy "the stout".  However, bad times appear to be coming, as a property developer has hopes of demolishing the tavern to build a MALL - woe is me! - this event thrusts Jack and Lily into the limelight.  The countdown continues to D-Day (demolish day), UNTIL, yes, UNTIL a work of art is uncovered under a wall covering - BUT this work of art CAN'T be moved, it can only be seen if the building remains intact!   Thank Heavens for undiscovered ART!

Madonnas of Leningrad, by Debra Dea

The Madonnas of Leningrad, a novel by Debra Dean

Read in 2008

Marvelously woven tale of Marina, "then" a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum in Leningrad, during the WWII German siege of the city.  "Now" an aging woman, whose family must face the tragic fact that she is a victim of Alzheimer's.

"Then", an intricate history of the many art treasures of the Hermitage, how they were "rescued" before the Germans stormed Leningrad, with glimpses of how Stalin's regime "stole" works to fund the Communist party.

"Now", a loving look at how 2 people fled Soviet Russia, WWII and Europe to come to America for their children, and how they never want to be parted.

"Now" sequences set in the Seattle/ San Juan Islands of Washington state, "then" in Leningrad, Russia.

Lovely story of love both for individuals, and for one's heritage.

Hope you will consider this book.  Happy Reading.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Old Friends, a book by Tracy Kidder

Old Friends, a book by Tracy Kidder

I read this book in 1994.

Tracy chronicles the events of people for a full year, setting is Linda Manor, a "new" nursing home in Western Massachusetts.  The 2 main residents that Tracy "shadows" are Lou Freed and Joe Torchio, Lou is the elder of the 2 by about 20 years, he's in his 90's and a widower, Joe is in his 70's, his wife lives nearby.  Lou and Joe, from very diverse cultural backgrounds, become friends due to their unusual circumstances of becoming room-mates.

Tracy's gift of writing takes the reader right into Lou and Joe's lives so well, that "you" feel their joys, sorrows, frustrations, distrusts and silliness, as if you were in the room with them.

I really enjoyed this story and the writing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Tuscan Childhood" Kinta Beevor

Tuscan Childhood,  a memoir by Kinta Beevor

According to my journal this book was read in 1999.

Kinta's father, Aubrey Waterfield, a painter of the "upper middle" English class, purchased a castle "on top" of a mountain outside the Tuscanvillage of Aulla, consequently, Kinta and her brothers had a most interesting and unusual childhood, which was interrupted by WWI.  Legendary figures such as D.H. Lawrence, Robert Trevelyan, and Rex Whistler were among some of those who would be guests of her family.  With the onslaught of WWII, the family was uprooted and returned to their English homeland. Among all of the interesting people involved in her life, her great-aunt Janet Ross happened to have lived in the Tuscan area since the mid 1860's, all of these folks had a direct impact on her life.  This memoir was written in her later life.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Into the Forest, a novel by Jean Hegland

Into the Forest, a novel by Jean Hegland

A grim look into the future, when (and if) society and civilization fail.   Sisters, Eva and Nell, have been "left" in what is remaining of the Northern woods in California.  Before the phones and the electricity failed, they lived in this "paradise" with their parents, their mother died of cancer before the failures started, after things started failing, their father died from a horrible accident in the woods.

Eva had dreams of being a dancer, Nell had her sites of attending Harvard, however, with the failures both girls must come to grips with what the future really holds for them. 

This is obiviously NOT a light and fuzzy read, however, the writing is excellent.  I read this title in March of 2000.   It seems to still be a popular book, as I see it go in and out of the library frequently.  Consider this one when you need something with a bit of "meat" to it.

Sacred Horses a book by Jonathan Maslow

Sacred Horses  a book by Jonathan Maslow

I read this book in 1995, according to my journal. 

A very interesting history lesson, as well as a social commentary.  The Sacred Horses of Turkmenistan, otherwise known as the Akhal-Teke breed, was very nearly wiped off the face of the earth under the Soviet domination of Turkmenistan.  This breed is found in the desert area of Turkmenistan, and is considered to probably be the forerunner to the modern day Thoroughbred, it is valued not only for its unique beauty, but for its amazing stamin (can cover 125 miles a day for weeks on end).  Jonathan not only examines this incredible breed of horse, he also explores the unusual side effects of the downfall of the Soviet Union on many of its former states.  Turkmenistan is one of the more unusual former Soviet states, as it is almost entirely Muslim, with few amenities. 
I don't know if this title is still available for purchase, it seemed to be listed in Amazon when I was doing a google search for the title.  I do know that Sno-Isle does not currently own any copies.  I do recall that I enjoyed reading this title very much, and I learned quite a bit about this unusual, and unknown to me, breed of horse.     If you can find a copy of this title, I would strongly suggest you give it a shot.

Thought for Today------Everett Daily Herald

Today's Everett Daily Herald's "Thought for Today"  

I try to avoid looking forward or backward, and try to keep looking upward.

Charlotte Bronte, English author of Jane Eyre, born on April 1816, died in 1855

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics" book by Ross Douthat

No, I have not read this yet, however, I do have a copy on order at the local bookstore.

Author was on Diane Rehm's show this morning, he makes some VERY interesting points about religion in America. Whether or not you are a "believer" this is a book that I think most Americans should read. His demeanor on the program was one of calm, intellectual insight.

Hope you will consider this one.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Quote of the Day-----Goodreads

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud. Coco Chanel

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"Blott on the Landscape" by Tom Sharpe

"Blott on the Landscape" by Tom Sharpe

I read this book several years ago. It was a fun read, however, I don't know if it is still available.........

Unprincipled, Sir Giles, has plans to do away with his wife, Lady Maude, who has brought to their marriage her family's sizable estate. Lady Maude is a "large, overbearing" woman who deeply loves her family's estate and will go to any means to save it from the unsavory, powerful lobby who wish to run a highway straight through the village and the estate. Bring on the "heavy guns" - large equipment, lions, giraffes, a rhino or two, and Blott, the gardener who loves Lady Maude, will build a fortress to save her and her estate. Watch out for LIONS, especially hungry ones, Sir Giles............. You may have "bitten" off more then you can chew.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Two Cents' Worth quote of the day

Everett Daily Herald Two Cents' Worth quote of the day
The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.
Abraham Lincoln

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Quote of the Day-----Goodreads

Each moment is a place you've never been. - Mark Strand The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet was born on this day in 1934.
And read some poetry during that moment.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

"The Beginner's Goodbye", novel by Anne Tyler

Well, I have been waiting for Anne to return to her "golden" days of writing, with her previous novel, "Noah's Compass" she started the journey back. With "The Beginner's Goodbye" she has RETURNED to her "golden" art. This is a "simple" yet wonderfully written story. When I picked up my copy at the local bookstore, not only was it a first edition, it was autographed - SPECIAL!

Thank YOU Anne!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anne's signature location is Baltimore. Aaron's family has owned a "vanity" press publishing firm, that more or less fashioned books on the "dummies" series books, hence the titles always begin with "the beginner's"...... Consequently, "The Beginner's Goodbye" deals with how to say farewell to the dearly departed. Aaron's wife, Dorothy, a physician, dies in a "freak" accident when the huge tree next to their house falls and crushes the room she was working in. Aaron can no longer abide in the house, especially after the rains come, so he moves in with his sister, Nandina who resides in the house where they both grew up. Walking one day near his and Dorothy's home, he sees her on the street. Aaron's sightings of Dorothy continue over the course of time, until one day she seems to be finally saying "goodbye". The ending was simply Anne Tyler at her best.

Hope you will read this one.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Wild Grass", a French movie

"Wild Grass", a French movie by Alain Resnais, with subtitles.
James and I watched this film last night.
The new French films are most intriguing nowadays.
Marguerite loses her wallet, and by chance Georges finds the wallet by the wheel of his car in a shopping center's parking garage. This one item opens the door to a strange relationship between the two. One has a sense that Georges has a very "dark" secret about his past - like having committed a crime. Marguerite on the other hand has very unique feet that require having her travel to a special store to obtain her shoes, this is when she "loses" her wallet.
The ending will leave you wondering exactly thinking "what really did happen?"
We thoroughly enjoyed the movie, wonderful music, great photograpy. Hope you will give it a try!