Monday, May 9, 2011


The Goodbye Quilt
Susan Wiggs, Author
ISBN 978-0-7783-2996-1

When I read the description of this book I knew that this was a book I wanted to read. You see I am a mother of a 6 ½ year old daughter and an avid crafter/fiber-artist. This book follows the story of a mother who loves to quilt, and a trip she makes with her daughter across country to take her daughter to her new college.

This book is a coming of age story not of the daughter but of the mother. We always think that we come of age only once in life, but we have many ages and many ways to enter our new life. The main character, Linda, was someone I could relate to on almost every level. She was honest about how she felt and I could relate to all of her fears and concerns not only for her daughter but for herself and her families future.

I enjoyed the pace of the book more as I got into it. The first chapter felt a little rough at first but soon I was rolling right along with it. Much like the car as it was traveling across country. I especially like the ending. It was a surprising extra treat. The only thing I think I could say I did not particularly care for was the cover art. While I got the sentiment of it, coming from a crafting background I knew that a true quilter would never be satisfied with the stitching of the appliqu├ęd heart. However, I think that to be a very small issue and easily looked past once you open the book.

This would be a great pick for a book club or a crafting group anywhere.

Friday, January 29, 2010

My Life in France
ISBN: 978-0-307-47485-8
Julia Child with Alex Prud'homme
Anchor Books

As many of us have, I picked this book up at the bookstore because of the movie Julie and Julia. I had received a copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by chance and have found that, that cookbook has changed the way I cook.

This book is simply a memoir of, for the most part, how "Mastering" became. It is about Julia's life in France among other places and her views on the world. It is also the love story of Julia and Paul Child. Since I love to cook, I love France, and I love to hear about peoples lives this book is a natural for me. I was pleased to be able to connect many things I have experienced with experiences of Julia's.

Since reading this book I will never apologize when something I cook does not come out exactly right. (Easier said than done by the way) I also now plan to send more Valentines Day cards. Many things within it have left an impact on the way I see things.

This book I have to admit is not a page-turner. I did not find myself rushing through any thing in order to be able to get back to reading. I prefer to look at it more like so many cookbooks that I enjoy, a book to be wandered through a bit at a time. Isn't that what good cooking is all about anyway, taking your time and allowing the flavors to blend.

Bon Appetit

Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Impact Man
By Colin Beavan
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Publishers
ISBN: 978-0-374-22288-8

I love to read environmental writing. There are so many good books available right now on the subject of the environment and global warming that a person can become overwhelmed. I believe this book is a must if you have to limit what you read in this category. (But please don't limit yourself!)

There are so many things to like about this book that I will try to do it justice in this review.

First of all I like the subject. I think that this timely subject must be written about if there is any possibility for changing the status quo. Mr. Beavan takes on the subject from an if not me then who perspective that shows his willingness to step outside of his safety zone and do his part to find some answers.

Secondly I like the fact that one of the main focuses of this book is how changing our way of life to one that does not impact the earth also has an equally positive impact on our personal relationships. I think that it is important that people start to realize the benefits that we all receive when our lifestyles are no longer focused on the act of consumption.

Third, I like his commitment throughout the whole project to do the best he could. Sometimes we are not perfect (thank heavens) but the act of trying is what makes the biggest impact. This commitment carried over to the production of the book itself. It was produced as low impact as possible and shows what can be done if the desire is there.

From a writing standpoint I feel that Mr. Beavan did a wonderful job of making the transitions from information that he has researched, His own personal feelings, and anecdotes on the affect this project had on his family. My interest was always kept happily looking forward to reading just a little more and for the most part I found the flow of the book to move well. Occasionally, I did find some sentences that I had to go over a time or two to make sure that my comprehension was correct. In general it was a very relaxing read. I also appreciate the fact that he included in the back of the book additional places to find information.

What this book does not have a great deal of is detailed information on how they accomplished going off of the grid. Mind you there was a lot of discussion of mason jars and bicycles and a specific change that had to find a solution in each chapter, but not very many more details on how to go off the grid. Near the end of the book, however, you will find a brief outline of a typical day in their household. For the most part the book seemed to be about how they went about researching the information that they needed to accomplish their goals given their specific situation. I think that if this idea is to work for us we all need to do a bit of our own research. I live in Los Angeles. What I have to do to have no impact, especially in the area of transportation is much different than it is in New York. So instead of being told exactly what to do, I found myself being inspired to find the way that works best for my family and my self.

"Tis a gift to be simple, tis a gift to be free"
Thank you for such an inspiring work.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


GREASY RIDER by Greg Melville
Published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
ISBN: 978-1-56512-595-7

Take two men, a 1985 Mercedes diesel station wagon, a grease car conversion kit, and the first cross country automobile trip made by H. Nelson Jackson as inspiration, mix it all together and you have a funny, informative, and thought provoking look at the future energy independence of our nation.

One of the things I liked most about this book is that it did not preach any one environmental doctrine. There is never one answer to a problem as complex as the one facing our environment today. This book takes a good hard look at our attitudes and how they work to move us forward or hold as back in the “fossil fuel age”. Not only does it give us a very humorous look at two men on a cross country trip and what it takes for them to make it without relying on anything but used fry oil. It also gives us a beautiful snapshot of out vast country and the way one answer in one region most likely is not the answer in another.

It looks at different philosophies from a place of inquiry. Finding the merits of each idea and trying to find a common ground and complete understanding of what a particular environmental philosophy is trying to really say.

The book switches back and forth from the actual road trip memoir to specific tasks designed to learn more about different ways to become more energy efficient. I liked this on the level that everything in the book was very interesting to read. On another level however I sometimes found this distracting and seemed to slow down my reading progress. Overall the information throughout was great. At the end of the book a comprehensive list of sources is offered to learn more about what was discussed in the book.

I would suggest this book to anyone, period. We must make changes in the way we live. We can no longer live with the illusion that life can continue as it presently does at the rate that we are consuming our natural resources. The best thing about this book is that it puts many ideas into perspective and how all of the little pieces fit together. I hope readers will embrace this book for everything that it offers. The more we as citizens of the earth explore what is going on around us the better the outcome for all of us.

Monday, October 6, 2008


GUERNICA by Dave Boling
Bloomsbury, Publisher
ISBN: 978-1-59691-563-3

One of the things that I love about books is their ability to change my perception of the world. This book is no exception to the rule. I will forever be changed because of the journey through its pages. The writing took me to this place in spirit.

The book starts out with a view of the town “Guernica” shortly after a terrible event has occurred. You see the broken remains of many of the people but mostly the pain and sorrow of Justo (WHO-stow) who is the character that much of the book’s story revolves around if at times only remotely. Now that the book has set up the future it returns to the past to give you a much better picture of the people of the village of Guernica and the Ansotegui family.

Justo is the strong man of the town and also oldest of three brothers who has to care for them and the family’s farm. Becoming the “father figure” at such a young age in many ways made him the boy that never quite grew up having to bypass his boyhood to become a man to young. As the story progresses you see the story of his family and the joy that is what being Basque is all about. If there is a culture that can find an excuse to be happy any time and anywhere it is the Basques.

The book takes a fictional family and places it during a very real, very deadly, and horrific act that was perpetuated against them in the name of the Spanish Civil War. The bombing of this town was done by Nazi planes using it mainly as a training mission of young flyers to prepare for the impending WWII. The town had more bombs dropped on it in one afternoon than were dropped during the entirety of WWI.

This bombing is one portion of what this book is about. Unfortunately history books often only tell us the statistics of war. This book beautifully tells you about the people of war, especially a very proud people who refused to be victims of war.
I fell in love with all of the characters in the book. They were not perfect people, they had troubles, and they had flaws. But they did their best to overcome and maintain who they were as people and as a culture.

To be honest I could not read any other books for awhile after I read this one. I just did not want to let go of the characters. I even went out and got some books on Basque cooking and made a Basque meal for my birthday. The Basque people like to celebrate and if you would like to read about the celebration of life even under the shadow of adversity you will love this book.


This week's question: -LibraryThing's Recently Added feature: do you look at it? Do you use it for ideas? Is there something listed there now that looks interesting to you? What have you added to your LT library recently?
On my home page I like to look at the books that people who have similar libraries as I do have posted. Sometimes I already have the book they are adding or sometimes it is on my wishlist. Most of the books that I have been adding recently have been mostly Children's Fiction. I seem to have a hankering for some light fast reads lately. I will be getting some reviews up for them soon.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


WHEN WE WERE ROMANS by Matthew Kneale
Nan A. Talese, Publisher
ISBN: 978-0-385-52625-8

I had not been reading a whole lot lately and decided that I would ease my way back into my 20 plus ARC pile. I chose this book out of the pile mainly because it was only 224 pages long and I figured I could blow through it fairly fast. What follows are my thoughts on this book. Please read the entire review before deciding on this book.

I was hoping for something reasonably light. What I found was a well written book with lots of characters that I did not like. All of them had issues and not a tremendous amount of redeeming qualities. The early reviews likened this book to “To Kill A Mockingbird” and I spent most of the book wondering why. I truly fought my way through the book. The entire book was about the frustrations that the 9 year old protagonist was feeling. It starts out with his mother, his sister, and himself fleeing their cottage in England because of an abusive father that was stalking the family. They run away to Rome to stay with the mother “Hannah’s” friends from years before. The troubles just seemed to get from bad to worse. Slowly throughout the book certain truths started to become more and more apparent to the reader. Even though the story was sad and frustrating I found myself wanting to read more and more. I wanted to have something good start to happen. I wanted the truth to finally come out. Finally when I was done I could feel satisfied. The ending was the best that could have come out of a very bad situation. During the book I got the sense of being a voyeur watching a train wreck taking place. It was painful yet I just could not look away.
After I was done reading the book I started to really think about the character of the boy Lawrence that Matthew Kneale created. I don’t think I have ever seen a better job of creating the voice of a nine year old child hopelessly trying to hold his family together. Torn between his needs as a child and his desire to care for his mother was so perfect that I was unaware of anything but his view of his world. Then in the end the difficulty of overcoming the situation that he was placed in was perfectly portrayed.
If this book is not put on the classic shelf I expect that a hole will exist there than can never quite be filled. If you are looking for a light beach read this is not the book for you. If you want a book that makes you feel and explore the relationships of life this is for you. Highly Recommended