Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tiny Little Thing

 
From Goodreads:
In the summer of 1966, Christina Hardcastle—“Tiny” to her illustrious family—stands on the brink of a breathtaking future. Of the three Schuyler sisters, she’s the one raised to marry a man destined for leadership, and with her elegance and impeccable style, she presents a perfect camera-ready image in the dawning age of television politics. Together she and her husband, Frank, make the ultimate power couple: intelligent, rich, and impossibly attractive. It seems nothing can stop Frank from rising to national office, and he’s got his sights set on a senate seat in November.

But as the season gets underway at the family estate on Cape Cod, three unwelcome visitors appear in Tiny’s perfect life: her volatile sister Pepper, an envelope containing incriminating photograph, and the intimidating figure of Frank’s cousin Vietnam-war hero Caspian, who knows more about Tiny’s rich inner life than anyone else. As she struggles to maintain the glossy façade on which the Hardcastle family’s ambitions are built, Tiny begins to suspect that Frank is hiding a reckless entanglement of his own…one that may unravel both her own ordered life and her husband’s promising career.
 
From Me:
For the longest time I didn't read Women's Fiction, then, I read one of Karen White's book  (Long Time Gone) THEN I read  'The Secret Life of Violet Grant' by Beatriz Williams and I was hooked!  I always thought it too light for me.  I wanted to read something with substance--but here's the thing--I ENJOYED these books.  They weren't a chore or something I felt like I had to finish.  I liked the characters and the stories.
Yes, sometimes there is too much of a 'happy ending' but I haven't found that in Williams' books.  Usually a semi-happy ending, but with not so black and white that it's like a fairy tale.
Williams has a witty way of writing that I love.   I am enjoying reading about the Schuyler sisters.  Her stories pull you in and I take pleasure in seeing the dynamics in the sisters relationships.
The setting and time line were perfect too!  East Coast, 1960's!
3.8 stars!
 
I am adding this to my Women's Fiction Reading Challenge!
Which is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.
 
 

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

 
From Goodreads:
From the author of the internationally bestselling 'A Man Called Ove', a novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother's fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa's best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother's stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa's grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa's greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother's letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.
 
  
For the record-- I don't really  review books.  I don't feel qualified, BUT I do love to talk about them and like to feel part of the book blogging world. And this is a great way for me to log my books --besides Goodreads that is.
 
From Me:
I'm going to say it again---I didn't really want to read this one --- but I'm so glad I did.
We had just finished "A Man Called Ove' and I was reading reviews that said this book didn't live up to his first (Ove).  But you know, it's book club and I try my hardest to read all the books I should.
Well....and I might be the only one around---but I liked this one better than Ove!  (and I really liked Ove)
Sometimes the fairy tale part of the story got me a little bogged down, but I loved how it all came together at the end.  I liked how we are all entwined  and how we need each other. 
I do have one problem with Backman's books---In OVE the curmudgeony old man was '57'.  and in this one the little girl is 7.   I have to get his ages out of my head, because 57 is NOT OLD and 7....Hmmmmm  if the main character Elsa is really only 7, she's the smartest 7 year old EVER.   As I said, I had to let his age descriptions go.
 
I listened to this one on audio and loved, LOVED the narration.
 
4 stars from me!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Last Words

 
From Goodreads:
In March of 1975, as New York City hurtles toward bankruptcy and the Bronx burns, newsman Coleridge Taylor roams police precincts and ERs. He is looking for the story that will deliver him from obits, his place of exile at the Messenger-Telegram. Ever since he was demoted from the police beat for inventing sources, the 34-year-old has been a lost soul.

A break comes at Bellevue, where Taylor views the body of a homeless teen picked up in the Meatpacking District. Taylor smells a rat: the dead boy looks too clean, and he's wearing a distinctive Army field jacket. A little digging reveals that the jacket belonged to a hobo named Mark Voichek and that the teen was a spoiled society kid up to no good, the son of a city official.

Taylor's efforts to protect Voichek put him on the hit list of three goons who are willing to kill any number of street people to cover tracks that just might lead to City Hall. Taylor has only one ally in the newsroom, young and lovely reporter Laura Wheeler. Time is not on his side. If he doesn't wrap this story up soon, he'll be back on the obits page--as a headline, not a byline.

Last Words won the Bronze Medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs) and was named a Finalist in the 2015 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Awards. It was also a Finalist in the mystery category of the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards.
 
For the record-- I don't really  review books.  I don't feel qualified, BUT I do love to talk about them and like to feel part of the book blogging world.
 
From Me:
I love a good series!  Love to get connected to the characters  and watch them grow throughout.   The setting and time are important also in a series and this one takes you right back to the mid 1970's, New York City...I grew up in the 70's, so it was fun to be transported back in time.  Loved all the references to music!
What makes a book good is when the author can make you love the characters and the setting and I feel Zahradnik does that in this series.
This Coleridge Taylor mystery is new to me, but I really liked it.  I even bought the 2nd in the series already.
3.5 stars!
 
I am adding this to my Cloak and Dagger Challenge hosted by
 
 
And the Literary Loner Challenge hosted by
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday Snapshot

 
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by
 
Last month, we had a little get-together with a group we call our 5x5.
( 5 couples....it began as a church dinner/small group  and none of us knew each other  well at all.  The point was to get to know each other better.  And now we do. So well, in fact that we refuse to switch to another group, even tho we are supposed to...to keep getting to know others better.  But we have secrets now.  It's best we stick together. )
And it was hosted at our friends Theresa and Mike's house (they are the youngest in the group) and they made us play a kind of made up "Name That Tune" game and then all of the sudden T had us up DANCING, because she is a dance teacher (owns her own studio) and it just got crazy after that.
 
Crazy like a bunch of old people with a little bit alcohol around!!
 
I know these first three pictures are almost exactly the same, but I just got a kick out of Rolly, the man in the front.
And if you look close you can see the Handyman's cute little tummy --- I just want to poke it!  (Uh oh-he might divorce me now)
 
You can guess what song was playing right?
 
 






And then all of the sudden,  Tiny Bubbles came on and she was teaching them how to do the Hula!
Rolly was the best sport ever!



 
 








And the official  5x5 photo!


 
And just so you know it was a real church meetin'  (even if alcohol was involved)
FIRE from the fingertips!!  Hallelujah!
 
(actually I think the song was JUMP)





 I even stayed up past my bedtime this night!
 
 
 ~
 
It was a fun night with friends!




 
 
 

Thimble Summer

 
From Goodreads:
When Garnet finds a silver thimble in the sand by the river, she is sure it's magical. But is it magical enough to help her pig, Timmy, win a blue ribbon on Fair Day?
 
Paperback, 144 pages
Published July 1st 1987 by Yearling (first published 1938)
           
Literary Awards
 
 
From Me:
At the beginning of the year, I signed up for the Newbery Reading challenge hosted by Julie at Smiling Shelves.   
Children's literature has always held a special place in my heart -- just this past December, the week between Christmas and New Year's,  I read Charlotte's Web with 2 of my grandchildren. I love to see their reactions when reading-- and I've always wanted to read all of the Newbery Award Books.
I don't know if I'll get all of them done this year, but I do plan on reading at least one a month.
I started out with one that has been on my shelf for quite a while, Thimble Summer, first published in 1938.
While it didn't quite live up to "Little House on the Prairie"  in my mind, it was still a cute, fun read about a young girl on a Wisconsin farm in the 1930's.
The thimble did not play a big a part as I thought it might tho.
I have read other's by Enright and enjoyed them more  (Gone Away Lake was a favorite of mine), but the writing was good, simple enough for kids to really read and understand.  Sparks the imagination by  transferring you to a different time.  I would give it 3 stars.
It would be a good read-aloud also. 
 
And that is #1 in my 2016 Newbery Countdown.
I have almost 100 years to chose from!
 
 

Friday, January 29, 2016

We Are Called to Rise


From Goodreads:
An immigrant boy whose family is struggling to assimilate. A middle-aged housewife coping with an imploding marriage and a troubled son. A social worker at home in the darker corners of Las Vegas. A wounded soldier recovering from an injury he can't remember getting. By the time we realize how these voices will connect, the impossible and perhaps the unbearable has already happened. We Are Called to Rise is a boomtown tale, in which the lives of people from different backgrounds and experiences collide in a stunning coincidence. When presented the opportunity to sink into despair, these characters rise. Through acts of remarkable charity and bravery, they rescue themselves. Emotionally powerful yet tender and intimate, We Are Called to Rise is a novel of redemption and unexpected love.

For the record-- I don't really  review books.  I don't feel qualified, BUT I do love to talk about them and like to feel part of the book blogging world.
 
From Me:
I had to read this book for my  Library Book Club.
It is a  novel by a Nevada author with a Nevada setting, recommended by the Nevada State Library Association.
(We always begin our year with the book recommended by them.)
 
**first let me meander a bit---I belong to 4 book clubs, but most times I hate the books chosen by others.    I don't HATE the books after I read them tho--they are usually just books I wouldn't have chosen on my own. 
9 times out of 10 I really enjoy the books from all my book clubs.  It's just that I like to be in control of what I read.  (lately I've noticed how anal I am!! )
So I will write this sentence that I seem to say all the time at book club:
I didn't really want to read this book, but I'm very glad I did! 
I ended up giving it 4 stars!
I'm not sure if those 4 stars are because of the writing or because I liked the story line and the setting.
 
I was struck by a few lines in this book--so I did something I never do.  NEVER DO! 
I dog-eared a couple of pages!
And now, looking back, I cannot remember the lines that struck  me.
I'm probably going to library hell! 
 
The book is set in Las Vegas, the most southern part of Nevada,  I  live 500 miles away, in Northern Nevada (it's a big state).  This story is about war,  and the many different ways and people it effects, and I remember one line from the book (even tho I didn't dog ear this page) was that the landscape of Southern Nevada is like Iraq and Northern Nevada is like Afghanistan.
It's probably true.  Southern Nevada is more traditionally desert and we are more mountainous.  Both very dry.
So, it was a good setting -- a setting that became part of the story.  It really was an unforgettable and poignant story of war in today's world.  But there are no war scenes in the story, just what happens 'after the fact'.
 
I didn't really want to read this book, but I'm so glad I did!
4 stars!
 
*******************************
 
To be fair to my dog eared pages--- I feel I must put something from those two pages in here.
 
First...Nevada is a great state! As all of them are, but sometimes we get a bum rap.  It's the gambling.  And the prostitution.
The rest of the United States thinks we are ONLY those things, but we who live here are like  "Wha???  oh yeah, I guess those things do exist"
But they are not part of our lives.  We have good schools and churches and clean air and hardworking families! 
And gold.  We have gold.
Nevada is the world's 5th largest gold producer.
But that's another story.
 
Anyway, here are two sentences from the book that stood out to me:
 
I grew up, the bastard child of a dirt-poor mother, in downtown Las Vegas.  I raised my son in a town nicknamed Sin City, in a place most American families wouldn't dream of bringing their children, in a state where prostitution is legal and gambling is sacrosanct.
 
 
Home.  For a Las Vegas kid, the lights and sounds of a hundred slot machines are more natural than rain, and a public space backgrounded in the bells and chimes and gravel rolls of bored travelers standing at the kaleidoscopic games is as commonplace as sky in Montana or snow in Vermont.
 
BUT IT ISN'T ALL LIKE THAT!!
Living here, we don't notice those things.  But we know they're there.  It's what tourists come for, but us? Naw.  Why would we?
 
We don't notice those things, but yet we do.
It's hard to explain.
 
 
I didn't really want to read this book, but I'm so glad I did!
 
 
 

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Friday Friend Recipe #92--Marge's Cinnamon Rolls






Friday Friend Recipe #92 -- Marge's Cinnamon Rolls
Making my way thru my Friday Friend Cookbook, one recipe at a time.
What is the Friday Friend cookbook: I have about 50 of my closest friends and family on an e-mail forum which I called the Friday Friends (from all over the county). At first, most of them didn't know each other, (they knew me) but over the past 15 years, we've answered and shared silly--and serious---questions, exchanged Secret Santa Christmas gifts, had a dieting contest in which we paid a $1 a week and that money went to a scholarship fund for a Friday Friends son's memorial scholarship, and we went on a great vacation for my 52 birthday.

AND, we contributed recipes for a cookbook.
I was looking at the cookbook the other night and I said, "I should make every recipe in here for my blog."
The Handyman--who knows me better than I know myself (this happened to be a question on the Friday Friend forum once---does your spouse/partner know you better than you know yourself?)--said,  "you'll never, EVER do that."

WELL---maybe I'll show him!  Maybe I will.
Which brings me to this... recipe #92
Ashley's
Marge's Cinnamon Rolls






Yummy, yummy, goey, ooey, cinnamon knots!
I might never make another cinnamon roll recipe again-- these were warm and moist and cinnamony, and just GOOD!


Marge's Cinnamon Rolls
FF Ashley Ferguson
Meridian, ID

1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup sugar
1 pkg yeast
** mix in blender and let set until it begins to bubble. (15-20 mins) 
Then add:
2 eggs (room temp)
2 cups warm water
1 t salt
2/3 cup soft margarine (I used butter)
**mix in blender and pour into large bowl
Add:
4 cups flour
**mix  and then let stand for 15 minutes
Add:
3 more cups flour
**mix and cover with town or covered Tupperware bowl. Put in refrigerator over night.
Next day:
**melt 2 cubes margarine (I used butter) in bowl.
In another bowl mix:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 T cinnamon

Grease pan with margarine (I used butter) and sprinkle small amount of sugar mixture into bottom.  Take globs of dough and stretch into small ropes.   Dip into melted margarine/butter and then into sugar/cinnamon mixture.  Tie into knot and put side by side into  pan.
Pour more sugar mixture and margarine/butter on top.
Cover with waxed paper and let rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes.
Invert rolls onto a plate.




Yes, this is a recipe that you have to plan for, as it takes a bit of time, but it's so, SO worth it!


This post will mark Ashley's 3rd recipe in the FF Cookbook Countdown.  You should check our her other recipes here! (just click)

And now for the fun fact/story about Ashley!
Ashley has loved the character of Winnie the Pooh for years.  I've known her for  over 18 years, and she has loved Pooh since way before then.
Whenever I get a birthday card it's a Winnie the Pooh card, and whenever I get small 'friendship' gift from her, it's Winnie the Pooh.
She collects certain small things  for her house, but they have to be very special---she doesn't want  a bunch of Pooh clutter/figurines.  I understand that, because sometimes when you tell people you 'collect' things they start giving you tons of random stuff.
Besides Winnie the Pooh  Ashley also likes to cook.  She is a foodie.  Owns a few restaurants. They do "home cooking"

Me? I collect cookbooks.
I have something she would love.
One day she  just might get a surprise in the mail--- when I am done with it.






I'm almost done with it.


And here is a picture of Ashley with her step-daughter, Rose.




And Ashley and Rose with our friends Paige and Gloria.
(Hi Paige and Gloria!!)

Notice wine glasses in everyone's hand? 
They were 'stops' on our wine walk (for work-- The Chamber of Commerce's Summer Wine Walks)
One restaurant here in Winnemucca, 3 up in Idaho with a 4th coming soon!


**so the Winnie the Pooh cookbook was one I got from a library sale, along with these two other great cookbooks!
The Nancy Drew Cookbook
The Little House on the Prairie Cookbook
and
The Pooh Cookbook.




No great recipes here---I'm just sentimental.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Everything I Never Told You--An opinion


From Goodreads:
Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet.

So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. 

A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing,Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.


For the record-- I don't really  review books.  I don't feel qualified, BUT I do love to talk about them and like to feel part of the book blogging world.

From Me:
When I begin to write what I think about these books I list, I read the good read summary and then I think--well, I can't say it any better than that.  So I won't go into my own summary.
Did I like it?
Yes, I did.  
It was a bit (lot) melancholy, but of course how can a book about death not be, but even when they looked back on their lives, before their daughter's death, which should have been happier times, HOLY COW, it was still melancholy.
Lives so sad-- it made me think of the things we do and say to our children that impacts them in ways we can't even imagine.
Do we have favorite children?
How do we show that without meaning to?
It's a question that is underlying in the book thru-out the story.

The story had a saving grace at the end (family makes a break thru)  ( I don't feel that's a spoiler), it  left me with tears and smiles.
And still that awful nagging in the back of my mind--- do we favor one child more than another?

3.7 stars.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Outdoor Wednesday--Train Ride Over the Mountain




On Wednesdays I'll sometimes join A Southern Daydreamer and her Outdoor Wednesday meme to share some pictures.
Stop by and check out other great photos of the outdoors!


 Last weekend we took a trip on the train to see the snow up in the mountains.
(while we were gone, the whole east coast got snowed in!)




I thought it might be like this....



But it was more like this on the trip over..... 





It was still very beautiful tho.

The Handyman and his Friday night friend, John,  start the train ride by playing cribbage.


We had a wonderful few days, and then, time to head back over the mountain....


As we're waiting to board, I say, look at me, I'm going to take your picture.
The Handyman never can play along, as seen below.  He's never conformed.
He is.... a bit.....frustrating sometimes.
WHY can't he just look my way?



The mountains (the Sierra Nevadas) got a good dumping of snow while we were having fun in Sacramento, so we saw much more of it on the ride back.














And all of the sudden we went right under a ski lift!



Almost home!  
You can see the front of the train from my window.


And how do they end the weekend?
The way they began.