Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop Tour!!!

Welcome to the

Splash Into Summer Giveaway Hop!

This hop is hosted by I Am a Reader, Not a Writer AND Page Turners Blog. This is my second giveaway tour! The Lucky Leprechaun Giveaway Hop drew over 270 participating blogs! This one should be even better! Each participating blog offers book-related giveaways. We are all linked together so you can hop from one blog to another easily. The Hop runs from Thursday, May 25th to May 31st. (The post goes up at 12:01 AM on May 25th!)

My giveaway is simple. The prize will be a Barnes & Noble gift card for $25. The winner will be chosen using Random.org.

To enter, just FOLLOW this blog, leave me a comment, then complete the entry form on the right side panel. Last day to enter is May 31st. Until then, grab a link and hop around!







Saturday, May 21, 2011

BOOKTALK at Fresh Grounds -- April 27th Books set in the 60's

Our Book Club met at Fresh Grounds, our local coffee shop, on
April 27th to discuss our selection of the month -- books set in the 60's. We each read a different book and this is how our booktalk went:


Stella read "Couples" by John Updike and said that she just couldn't get into it. Couples were changing partners, etc. and that isn't her style of book. This is what it said on Goodreads: Couples is the book that has been assailed for its complete frankness and praised as an artful, seductive, savagely graphic portrait of love, marriage, and adultery in America. I can see why Stella didn't like it.

Betty read "The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd. She really liked it and said it went faster than several of the books she has read lately which meant it was good! Lily's mother died when she was 4 and her father was very strict. He used to make her kneel on grits if she did anything wrong. She had a nanny named Rosaleen, a black woman. Rosaleen was very excited when President Johnson passed a law giving blacks the right to vote. She and Lily walked downtown so Rosaleen could register, but on the way they ran into 3 white men who beat her up. Rosaleen got arrested and ended up in the hospital because she "fell". Lily went to see her and decided she was going to run away and she was taking Rosaleen with her. Lily's mother had had a picture of a black Madonna which was from a jar of honey. Lily and Rosaleen decided to try to find the place where the honey came from, so they left. When they got to the farm, they met May, June & August -- three women who lived there. Rosaleen and Lily decided to stay for a while. Every night, they all knelt down in the living room in front of the black Madonna and said the Rosary. Eventually, Lily's father figured out where she was and he came to get her. She decided to stay with the women because they showed her what love was and her father had no idea of what that meant.

Linda read "Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" by Beth Hoffman. Linda especially liked this book because it takes place in Savannah, GA, where she lived from 2003 - 2005. CeeCee Honeycutt was a young girl whose mother was mentally challenged. CeeCee tried to take care of her, but when she got to be around 12 years old, she began to be embarrassed by the things she did. The people in their town knew about the woman's condition, but they made fun of her anyway. One day, when her mother was out walking, she got hit by an ice cream truck and died. CeeCee's father didn't know what to do with her and left her on her own. Her only friend was an elderly neighbor. However, her aunt came from Savannah to take CeeCee home with her. Most of the book was about the little girl learning to live in Savannah. Her aunt had a black cook who took a liking to the little girl. The cook couldn't read, so CeeCee shared her books with her and the cook shared her life experience with CeeCee. All the characters in the book were women and several had eccentricities that were amusing. Linda says that there was still a definite division between races when she lived in Savannah in 2003-2005, so she can imagine what it would have been like in the 1960's. She said when she finished the book, she wished there were a sequel to show how CeeCee grew up after those experiences.

Pat read something that was very different from the books she usually reads:

"Stanyan Street and Other Sorrows" by Rod McKuen.

It is a book of poetry. She shared her favorite poem from the book -- "Thoughts on Capital Punishment". Here it is for you:

Thoughts on Capital Punishment by Rod McKuen

There ought to be capital punishment for cars
that run over rabbits and drive into dogs
and commit the unspeakable, unpardonable crime
of killing a kitty cat still in his prime.

Purgatory, at the very least
should await the driver
driving over a beast.

Those hurrying headlights coming out of the dark
that scatter the scampering squirrels in the park
should await the best jury that one might compose
of fatherless chipmunks and husbandless does.

And then found guilty, after too fair a trial
should be caged in a cage with a hyena’s smile
or maybe an elephant with an elephant gun
should shoot out his eyes when the verdict is done.

There ought to be something, something that’s fair
to avenge Mrs. Badger as she waits in her lair
for her husband who lies with his guts spilling out
cause he didn’t know what automobiles are about.

Hell on the highway, at the very least
should await the driver
driving over a beast.

Who kills a man kills a bit of himself
But a cat too is an extension of God.

We thought it was outstanding!

World of Pies by Karen Stolz

First-time novelist Karen Stolz has created a cozy, poignant and exquisitely written episodic tale of family, food, and love. Set in a small town in Texas in the 1960's, where "there wasn't a lot to pick from, summer-wise: counter-girl at Jerry's Dairy King, shampoo girl at Barb's Tint n' Clip; the maid job at the Bluebonnet Motel," a young girl named Roxanne comes of age.

I wanted to read this book because it looked fun! It was on a list I found of books whose story took place in the 60’s and the author of the list said it was her favorite. This book just begins in the 60’s. Each chapter deals with a different social issue. The first one is about equality. Roxanne’s father thought up the idea of a Pie Fair to attract people to their little town of Annette, Texas. Her mother played bridge with a number of ladies in the town. One of them was planning to enter a pie made by a colored woman, Mary Ellis, who did her cooking. Roxanne’s mother said that shouldn’t be allowed – that each woman should bake her own pie -- and her husband eventually backed her up, but she was ostracized from the bridge club that summer.

The following chapters follow Roxanne through her life and stops at eventful periods to give us a taste of how it is. I liked it because I remember some of the things that were happening. I grew up in the 60's too. Roxanne would have been a little older than I, but not much. The story tells how it was to live in a small town, but the things they were dealing with could have happened anywhere -- racism, old flames coming for a visit, the assassination of President Kennedy, the war in Vietnam and its affect on those who fought it, homosexuality, losing a parent, getting married, deciding whether to have children, aging parents...this book dealt with everything! And it was entertaining while doing it. Roxanne discovers that women can hold jobs she never imagined, that her father would do anything for her mother – even take swimming lessons with children, and all the relationships she formed with co-workers and friends. The author sent one of the characters, Roxanne’s cousin, to Vietnam to return a broken man with typical postwar issues who wanders through life for a while escaping through drugs and alcohol until Roxanne convinces him to get help. Later in the story he takes over her father’s business in Annette, gets married and settles down.

The book was very easy to read because the language the author uses just flows along. Granted it is a short book, but even a short book can be boring. This one wasn’t. I really felt as though I was there in Annette, Texas experiencing the things that Roxanne was experiencing. It is a typical coming-of-age story, but I could relate to it. Even though I never experienced some of the things Roxanne did, I could have – I knew others who did. The author wraps up the story really well. There are no questions about what happened to this one or that one. The book was satisfying and I enjoyed it.

Thanks for checking out our Booktalk! Our May selection is Gardens of Water by Alan Drew, we agreed to read The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson for June, and we are reading a "cat mystery" for July!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In 1665, Caleb Cheeshah-teaumuck was the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College. Here, Pulitzer Prize winner Brooks imagines that Caleb was befriended by Bethia Mayfield, whose minister father wants to convert the neighboring Wampanoag and makes educating Caleb one of his goals. Bethia, herself desperate for book learning, ends up as an indentured servant in Cambridge, watching Caleb bridge two cultures.

I'm definitely a fan of historical fiction and this time period -- America in the 1600's is especially interesting to me. "Caleb's Crossing" is more about the female narrator, Bethia, than about Caleb. Having read "Tale of Wonders," I could hear the similarities between Bethia and Anna, narrator of that work. As I was reading, I just naturally fell in love with Bethia and admired her ambition and her love of learning and her desire to prove that women were just as capable of great thought as men. Her friendship with Caleb was so dear and so sad. The spark that Bethia ignited in him to begin his journey through the educational wilds of English schooling was exciting. The fact that that journey virtually destroyed him was quite sad. For most of the book, I thought thst Bethia would end up with Caleb because she loved him so, but she truly did love him as a brother. At the end of the book, I asked myself this question, "What benefit was gained to try to impress English ways of speech and literature on this native American?" He did show his prowess and his genius in his efforts, but living among the English/Americans caused him to lose the health and strength he once had. If I wasn't an optimistic person, this book would have depressed me. There were so many deaths of characters that became so beloved and even those that you didn't even get to know. So many deaths. Is that what life was like in the 1600's? Could have been, I guess. Don't forget to read the Afterword. It explains a lot. I truly liked this book, even though so many people died. I liked experiencing things from Bethia's perspective. As in "Year of Wonders," as I read I felt I WAS her. In my opinion, that is one sign of a great author. And Geraldine Brooks is a great author, in my opinion.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 6, 2011

Blog Hop Tour - Friday, May 7th

Book Blogger Hop

Haven't blog hopped in a while. It's nice to be back.

In the spirit of the Twitter Friday Follow, the Book Blogger Hop hosted by Crazy-for-books.com is a place just for book bloggers and readers to connect and share our love of the written word! This weekly BOOK PARTY is an awesome opportunity for book bloggers to connect with other book lovers, make new friends, support each other, and generally just share our love of books! It will also give blog readers a chance to find other book blogs to read! So, go to Crazy-for-books.com, grab the logo, post about the Hop on your blog, and start HOPPING through the list of blogs that are posted in the Linky list!!

The Hop lasts Friday-Monday every week, so if you don't have time to Hop today, come back later and join the fun! This is a weekly event! And stop back at Crazy-for-books.com throughout the weekend to see all the new blogs that are added! There are over 200 links every week!!

RULES - of course there are rules:

Your blog should have content related to books, including, but not limited to book reviews.

1. Enter your book blog link in the Linky List, including the genre that you review!

In your link, please state the main genre that you review: eclectic, contemp. fiction, ya, paranormal, mystery, non-fiction, etc.  Example: Crazy-for-Books (contemp. adult fiction)

2. Post about the Hop on your blog. Spread the word about the book party! The more the merrier! In your blog post, answer the following question (new question each week!).

This weeks question comes from Twitter! Thanks to Melissa (aka Miel_et_Lait) who blogs at Miel et Lait.

"Which book blogger would you most like to meet
in real life?"

My answer: Hmmm...I would like to meet Julie from Booking Mama! She seems to have the same ideas I have -- or used to have when my kids were younger. I like that she started a book club that meets after school. I worked with a group of kids 6-7-8th grade several summers when we were in reading competitions. We would read books and get together and talk about them (and eat pizza, of course). Our group ended up WINNING the competition the last year we entered. We only had 1/2 the students of the other teams, but we read ALL the books and the kids were AWESOME!

3. Visit other blogs in the Linky List! Make new friends! Follow new book bloggers! Talk about books! Rave about authors! Take the time to make a quality visit! Check out other posts and content, make a new friend! Don't randomly follow someone if you never intend on actually following them! No spamming please! (Please do not leave your link and not visit other blogs - it's just not cool and not in the spirit of the Hop!)

And just as an FYI - this event is not something you should feel that you have to participate in every week. If you want to join in and link up once a month, GREAT! It's up to you how often you participate!

So get on over to Crazy-for-books.com and link up!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

4MC5 -- I did it! I actually read all the books!

Once again, I participated in the Four Month Challenge. This one extended from December 1st through April 30th and I completed it! It's the first time I actually read for each of the categories! Here's the rundown of the books I read:

5 point challenges
Favorite author - The Masque of the Black Tulip by Lauren Willig
YA book - Harry Potter & The Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
book written in 2010 - A Bolt from the Blue by Diane A.S. Stuckart
color in the title - A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
set in another country - The Time of the Doves by Merce Bodoreda

10 point challenges
family name in the title - Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
book you've read before - Harry Potter & The Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Fantasy - Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
been meaning to read - Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
set in your country - State of the Onion by Julie Hyzy

15 point challenges
written before your birth - The Cricket on the Hearth by Charles Dickens
suggested by a blog - Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
set in a country you want to visit - Fortunata & Jacinta by Benito Perez Galdos
A memoir, bio, of someone alive - Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
1st in a series - Heist Society by Aly Carter

20 point challenges
memoir, bio of a person passed - Queen Dolley by Dorothy Clarke Wilson
classic you've never read - The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
need for another challenge - Santa in Montana by Janet Dailey
1st in a series - The Thirteenth Chime by Emma Michaels
book with food in the title - World of Pies by Karen Stolz

That's it! Yay! Bring on Four Month Challenge 6!