Saturday, February 27, 2010

Keeping The Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, And Healing In Italy by Paula Butturini

Keeping The Feast: One Couple's Story of Love, Food, and Healing In Italy by Paula Butturini
272 pages
Published: February 2010 by Penguin Group
Source: the publisher for a Winter Reading Series

Paula Butturini grew up surrounded by a family of wonderful Italian cooks for whom the kitchen really was the heart of the family. After a divorce, journalist Butturini decided to move to Italy where she fell in love with not only the land, the food, and the people, but also John Tagliabue, an American journalist nine years her senior. When John was transferred to the Warsaw office after the two had been dating two years, Paula decided to join him.

Two years later, while covering the Czechoslovakian "Velvet Revolution," Paula was severely beaten by riot police. Less than two weeks later, the two were married in Rome. Three weeks later, John was sent to Romania to cover the fall of that government. Two days before Christmas, Paula received a telex informing her that John had been shot. Within five days, Paula had traveled to Romania and gotten John safely out and to Munich where he would undergo many surgeries and begin his physical recovery.

"But even a single bullet takes at least two paths: one through a body, the other through life itself. The first path is visible, gory, dramatic. The second path is imperceptible, hidden and therefore far more fraught. The second path cuts through a once-seamless life, splitting it into two: the old life before the bullet and the new life after."

Just as John was starting to get back on his feet, he was stricken with hepatitis, the result of tainted blood he received in Munich. Paula and John found themselves adrift in the U.S., unable to settle in a home or return to work as John battled to see whether or not he would survive this blow. Even as John began to win the battle with hepatitis, he began to lose another battle, slipping ever so slowly in to a deep depression. It was a disease that Paula was all too familiar with since her mom had begun suffering from depression after Paula's birth. John decided that his recovery would be aided by a return to Italy, but even so, he would get much worse before he got better.

"A ringing phone--an emblem of the outside world, his old job and life--was the most likely event to provoke the floods of sobs and tears. Some days John's sobs and tears were howls which rang and echoed through the flat. Some days his sobs and tears were silent, accompanied by a heaving chest, clenched fists, or occasionally by the hollow, horrifying sound of him banging his head against the iron bedstead or the bedroom wall."

Because of her own mother's suicide, Paula essentially waked on eggshells around John, afraid that if she let loose with her own anger at the situation she found herself in, she might push him over the edge. But, in the end, releasing her anger turned out to be just the thing she needed and once she began to worry about herself and to demand more of John, John began to recover. Paula also devoted much of her time in Rome to the three meals a day that became the one constant of their lives.

Butturini begins each chapter of this book recounting the role that food played in her life. Some readers, I understand, have found the shift from this part of the chapter to the part that recounts Butturini's life with John to be jarring. I felt that Butturini did a wonderful job of tying those memories into the narrative of the "personal tornado" that she and Tagliabue were going through. As a journalist, Butturini knows how to tell a story; her descriptions of food and cooking are mouthwatering. Early on she talks about cooking asparagus, which is not one of my favorite foods, and she had me imagining how much more I would enjoy it if only I prepared it in one of her favorite ways. The food passages also keep the book from becoming maudlin.

Once in a while, I did feel descriptions of meals and food went on a bit long and I felt like Butturini really skimmed over her own assault and the repercussions from it. But overall, I really enjoyed Butturini's writing style, both unadorned and lush, and the extreme honesty with which she writes.

This is a memoir that I will definitely be sharing with others---but not until I make some notes about all of those wonderful food ideas I need to incorporate into my own life!

For more about the book with Paula Butturini, check out Books On The Brain, where Lisa led a discussion that included Butturini answering questions from readers.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Favorite - February 26

The Birth House by Canadian author Ami McKay was one of the books I noted on Wednesday as one that I think would make a great movie. Michelle, of Red-Headed Book Child, asked if I had reviewed this one. The answer is no--I read this one a few months before I started blogging as part of my face-to-face book club. It was one of my favorite books we have read and lead to one of the liveliest discussions we've ever had (and that's really saying something!).

As a child, Dora Rare, the first female in five generations of Rares, is taken under the wing of Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for storytelling and a kitchen filled with herbs. As she grows into adulthood, Dora becomes Miss Babineau's apprentice, and together the pair help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labour, breech births, unwanted pregnancies, and even unfulfilling marriages.
But their idyllic community is threatened with the arrival of Gilbert Thomas, a brash medical doctor armed with promised of sterile, painless childbirth. Soon some of the women begin to question the midwives' methods - an uncertainty that erupts in a war of gossip, accusations, and recriminations after a woman dies. Overshadowed by this powerful, determined male doctor, Dora must summon all her strength and wisdom to protect herself and the birthing rituals of her ancestors, and the village she loves.
We all loved the story (so much going on!) and McKay's writing style. Then we got going on our own birth experiences. One of us had even used a midwife for a home birth. Best laughs of the night were generated when we talked about the treatment Dr. Thomas was using on women who were "hysterical." According to the website for The Birth House:
"At the turn of the century, a woman might be diagnosed with hysteria for the following symptoms - speaking her mind too often, reading too many novels, writing cramps, headaches, fear of impending doom, and being overly 'fretful'. (just to name a few)."

Wanna know what the treatment for hysteria was? Let's just say, we'd all be going to the ob/gyn more than once a year if they still treated women for hysteria!

Doctors often prescribed vibratory treatments to control the condition. It's no surprise that women were quite pleased when companies such as Sears and the Lindstrom Smith Company began advertising home vibrators in many of the ladies' almanacs and journals of the early 1900's."

To learn more about this book and to see how many treatments you might need check out the web site for The Birth House where you can also learn about McKay's new book due to be released this fall.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Book List Meme - February 24

This week's Book List Meme, hosted by Rebecca of Lost in Books, asks for three books that should be made into movies. As hard as last week's was for me, this one was a piece of cake.

1. The Birth House by Canadian author Ami McKay (one of my book clubs favorite reads last year)

2. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks--this one would have to be done very carefully so as not to overlook any of the great historical pieces.

3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

I would also include Jennie Nash's The Last Beach Bungalow. I wish there was some way to do Bel Canto by Ann Patchett but I think there's just too much there to do it justice.

Monday, February 22, 2010

American Rust by Philipp Meyer

American Rust by Philipp Meyer
400 pages
Published by Spiegel and Grau January 2010 in paperback
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Isaac English and William Poe and two young men living in a former steel town in rural Pennsylvania that has long since seen its glory days. Isaac, who is brilliant, yearns to get away, from the town and the handicapped father whom he has felt tied down to since his mother's suicide and his older sister's departure for college. Poe practically symbolizes the town itself--once a star football player who could have gone on to college football but chose not to, he is now two years out of high school and unable to maintain a job. He drinks too much and is prone to get into trouble with his temper. In fact, he's had to be bailed out of serious prison time on an assault charge by the local police chief who used to date his mother.

When Isaac steals $4000 from his father and decides to take off for California in hopes of getting into college, he talks Poe into walking at least part of the way with him. When it starts raining, the two seek refuge in an abandoned building but soon run into trouble with a group of homeless men and the result is a confrontation that changes the course of the young mens' lives.

And all of that happens before page 20. But to tell you more is to tell you what happens in that building and I can't do that!

Meyer successfully uses multiple narrative points of view, primarily Isaac and Poe's but also Lee (Isaac's sister), Grace (Poe's mother), Harris (the police chief) and Henry (Isaac's father). Much of the book is written in a stream of consciousness, which didn't always work for me, mostly because I really felt like there was just too much of it and I felt that it was sometimes repetitive. Not that we don't sometimes think about the same things over and over again, but I don't necessarily want to read about it. Isaac, interestingly, does have an alter ego, "the kid," who the reader only gets to know when Meyer puts you into Isaac's head and it's "the kid" who helps Isaac survive when he is on the road.

Meyer does a great job of painting a picture of the beautiful valley the story is primarily set in and of giving the reader a feel for what the town was once like and what it has become.

"You should have been here for the seventies. the department was buying cruisers with Corvette engines maybe every three years. And then came the eighties, and then it wasn't just that we lost all those jobs. It was that people didn't have anything to be good at anymore...There's only so good you can be about pushing a mop or emptying a bedpan. We're trending backwards as a nation, probably for the first time in history, and it's not the kids with the green hair and the bones through their noses. Personally I don't care for it, but those things are inevitable. The real problem is the average citizen does not have a job he can be good at. You lose that, you lose the country."

Ultimately this book just didn't work for me, although by page 50 I could easily see it being made into a movie and I'm sure it is as much a fact that it was just not the right book for me at the right time. I felt, as I so often do, that the book should have been shorter and would not have lost a thing. But it's definitely a promising first effort by Mr. Meyer.

Thanks to Lisa, and TLC Book Tours, for including me in this tour!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Salon - February 21

I haven't been getting much reading done this week. I'd like to blame it on the fact that I had book club one night and a sick kid that really wanted nothing more than to snuggle up with her mommy a couple of nights (and who am I to turn that down when the kid in question is almost 15?). Or I could choose to blame it on a book that I'm really having a hard time getting in to. But the truth of the matter is that I have been watching the Olympics. A lot. There is not a sport that I won't watch. Which is what lead me, four years ago, to discover curling. Basically it's shuffleboard on ice. Without the beer. Hockey it is not--there is no chance of physical contact and it is exceedingly slow. Honestly, they will come out with a fancy measuring stick periodically to determine who has won an "end." But I can't help myself--I love it!

I mean, hello, anyone of Scottish descent has got to love the fact that the competition opened with a bagpipe procession. And the fact that all of the 42 pound "stones" used come from Scotland.
The fans are supposed to quiet and polite, like golf or tennis fans. But this year it turns out that some of them have really taken it up a notch. National pride has become such a part of this Olympic competition that the Canadian fans broke into "O, Canada" midway through a close match.
Imagine how excited I was to discover this week that there's a curling league here in town. I've been looking for years to find just the incentive to get myself in shape. The chance to be a sweeper might just do the trick!

Friday Finds - February 19

Okay, okay, I know it's not Friday. But Friday I was celebrating Christmas. Yeah, I know that Friday wasn't Christmas either. Not for anyone except, perhaps, my family. We weren't all able to get together in December, thanks to Mother Nature, and this was the earliest we could celebrate with each other.

I do seem to have something of a theme going this week--must have been hankering for books that were really centered on character.

The Girl Who Fell From The Sky by Heidi W. Burrow

The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw

The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell

The Man From Saigon by Marti Leimbach

Of these, I think that The Man From Beijing is the one I'm most anxious to get my hands on. I had, earlier in the week, heard a radio program about the Chinese presence in Africa and then Friday I heard about this work of fiction which deals with that same subject. Mankell is also the author of the series of books featuring Kurt Wallander, which have been seen on Masterpiece on PBS starring Kenneth Branagh.

Thanks to Miz B, of Should Be Reading, for sponsoring Friday Finds.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Book List Meme - February 18

The Book List Meme, brought to us by Rebecca of Lost In Books, asks this week for three books that make me long for warmer weather. I figured that I could wrap this one up quickly enough. Turns out that I don't really read "beach" reads so there really weren't quick choices. But I do tend to steer away from the heavier fare--both literally and figuratively. These are the kinds of things that make me think of summer reading:

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Last Beach Bungalow by Jennie Nash

Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar

The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar
384 pages
Published April 2009 by Harper Collins
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Frank and Ellie Benton have built a wonderful life for themselves, the center of which is their son, seven-year-old Benny. But when Benny dies of a sudden illness that comes on while Frank is out of the country, their lives are shattered. Frank blames Ellie for going to sleep even though she knew Benny was sick; Ellie blames Frank for not being at home when it happened.

When a job opportunity arises in India, Frank is hesitant at first but Ellie looks at it as their chance to get away from all of the constant reminders of Benny. They soon find themselves plunked in Girbaug, India, nothing more than a village. The "cottage" they live in is tended to by a couple who live on the grounds, Prakash and Edna, along with their son, Ramesh. Although nothing like Benny, Ramesh's intelligence and vivacity capture Frank and he becomes more and more caught up in caring for Ramesh. First he begins tutoring Ramesh every night, then they are going for runs every morning, and soon Ramesh is even taken along on a trip to Mumbai, against Prakash's strong objections. Edna is only too glad for the attention to her son, feeling that everything Frank is doing will benefit him; Prakash becomes more and more jealous of the things that Frank and Ellie can offer that he cannot.

Ellie falls in love with India. She makes a dear friend, volunteers in the local clinic and tries to really understand the people. It isn't as easy for Frank, who is in charge of an American-owned factory that harvests the leaves from a tree that only grows locally, to use it to make a drug to treat diabetes. He must deal with worker demands, corrupt institutions and a village that is angry that the forest that they believe is theirs has been leased to the Americans by their government.

You know you're in for a treat when the first few sentences of the prologue grab you:

"A few days after Benny's death, Ellie and Frank Benton broke into separate people. Although they didn't know it then. At that time, all they could do was concentrate on getting through each bewildering day, fighting to suppress the ugly memories that burst to the surface like fish above water."

A few pages later, this description of where they were almost two years later, as they sat on their porch in India:

"It was a contrast to most of their interactions these days, which were laced with bitterness and unspoken accusations. He knew he was losing Ellie, that she was slipping out of his hands like the sand that lay just beyond the front yard, but he seemed unable to prevent the slow erosion. What she wanted from him - forgiveness - he could not grant her. What he wanted from her - his son back - she couldn't give."

Their situation was so real to me. Umrigar made me understand the emotions that Frank and Ellie were experiencing. In the middle of the book, Umrigar takes readers back to the time when Benny got sick. Frank, who was in Bangkok, must fly back to Ann Arbor, Michigan. When he gets there, he is picked up by his brother and a friend. As they talk to Frank about Benny's condition, it hits Frank how close to death Benny really is.

"His task was to sweep out of his mind the debris of Scott's words. He was so involved in this benign task that he heard the awful sounds coming from his mouth at the same time the other two did and was therefore as startled as they were. He sounded like an animal with a bullet in its leg, which is how he felt, wounded, crippled, helpless."

"The sounds that came out of him were old as the world itself. He had never known that the human voice was capable of this range. He knew he was worrying Scott, felt he should reassure him, but human speech seemed beyond his ability at the moment. He was gripped by a fear so large it was swallowing him alive. It felt almost prehistoric, existential."

Ellie begins to understand that she must move on with her life: "...she would not let herself believe that grief was a tribute to her dead son, that she was honoring his memory by not living a full life." But Frank has only substituted Ramesh for Benny and he begins to fall apart, unable to work at all when Prakash takes Ramesh away for a few days, going so far as to involve the police. Five days after their return:

"...Frank was still smarting from the insolence of the man [Prakash]. Prakash had wandered back home as if he'd had every right to take off with his son. And now he acted as if he was completely oblivious to the havoc he had wreaked - the anxiety he had caused Edna, the expense of the police search, the lost days of work the episode had cost Frank."

I'm sure that by now you have figured out that I loved this book. Umrigar's writing is beautiful, the characters so real, the settings so vivid. I felt that I really came to know these characters and understand what made them tick. Umrigar is also able to incorporate bigger ideas into the story: who really owns natural resources, is globalization a good thing, government corruption, and religion.
Umrigar's "The Space Between Us" has been on my radar for some time; it will soon be on my nightstand. I cannot wait to read more works by this wonderful writer. Thanks to Trish and TLC Book Tours for allowing me to read and review this book.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Sunday Salon - February 14

Happy Valentine's Day! I know from reading everyone's posts this week that love has been on everyone's mind. I figured the subject of love in literature had pretty well been covered but I started to wonder what books might have been overlooked. A lot of books show up on almost every list: Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, The Notebook, The Time Traveler's Wife and Gone With The Wind. Three works that receive less attention, but provide unique tales of love are:

According the the publisher's blurb, Sayonara, by James Michener, "tells the story of Major Lloyd Gruver, son of an army general stationed in Japan, dating a general's daughter, and happy with his life. He didn't understand the soldiers who fell in love with Japanese girls. Then he met Hana-ogi. After that nothing mattered anymore. Nothing but her...." I may just have to pick this one up for The Michener Challenge.

Possession, by A. S. Byatt, is a Man Booker prize winner. It explores the love lives to two present day scholars as they research the romance between Victorian era poets. Amongst readers of Byatt, this one definitely seems to be a favorite.

Beneath A Marble Sky, by John Shors, "recreates the remarkable lives of those responsible for the Taj Mahal's existence" according to the books website. How can I not want to read about a love so great that it inspired one of the most incredible buildings in the world?

What's your favorite love story ever?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Friday Finds - February 12

Friday Finds is hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading. This is my first time to give it a go--frankly, it's the first time I remembered to write down a few of the books I discovered this week. What great books did you hear about/discover this past week? Share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

I've seen the ads for the movie version of The Last Station but only just discovered that it, like so many movies was a book by Jay Parini first.

The Immortal Life of Henriette Lacks was first brought to my attention by All Things Considered on NPR. I'm generally not one to read much about scientific matters but this case really intrigues me so I'm going to give Rebecca Skloot's book a chance.

Last but certainly not least is Citizens of London by Lynne Olson. The subtitle to this one is "The Americans Who Stood With Britain In It's Darkest, Finest Hour." One of those Americans was Edward R. Murrow whom I find endlessly fascinating. And after being immersed in history growing up, a love for it was bound to wear of on me!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Awards--And Two Bloggers You May Not Have Checked Out Yet

The Happy 101 award was given to me by Book Sync of Books In The City. Book Sync is a member of several book clubs but her day job is in Pharma research and development. Talk about working both sides of your brain! This award asks that you list ten things that make you happy. Here's my list:

1. My family--the hubby, my kids, my parents and siblings and all of the inlaws--I am blessed!
2. Chocolate--my favorite food group
3. A beach on the ocean
4. A great book--of course!
5. My bed--oh how I love to crawl in to it at the end of a long day
6. White wine -- especially when I'm drinking it at the winery in Rocheport Missouri
7. My friends
8. Having my kids' friends in the house
9. Watching my kids swim or in plays
10. Football

I'm passing this one along to:
Jane at Reading, Writing, Working, Playing
Angie at By Book or By Crook
Ash at English Major's Junk Food

Thanks to Jane from Reading, Writing, Working, Playing for this one! A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content. I recently passed this one along so I'm going to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit about Jane. The first thing you need to know is that Jane is the author of Intimations of Austen, a collection of nine short stories that give backstories, sequels and what-ifs for your favorite Jane Austen stories. Jane is first-generation to this country, a mom to three teenagers, including a set of twins, and the PR manager for a high-tech company in Colorado.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek

The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
367 pages
Published February 2010 by Harper Collins
Source: the publisher and TLC Book Tours

Richard is a one-hit wonder playwright who continues to live the life of a playwright despite his lack of success and Marilyn is a theater actress who's seen better days when we are first introduced to the Haas family. To say that they are neglectful parents is an understatement. Their four children, Finn, Kate, George and Amy, are left to fend for themselves most of the time. Kate, being the oldest daughter, takes on the responsibilities of mother. The back cover of the book calls her a "Daddy's girl," but it would be more accurate to say that she desperately wants to be "Daddy's girl". Unfortunately, Richard never seemed to have much time for any of his children. Kate is also an overachiever and a perfectionist. Finn is clearly Marilyn's favorite, despite his addictive and destructive behavior. But it's George, who is gay, that always rushes to Marilyn's defense. Amy, the baby of the family, is George's closest ally and the child who always ends up helping her parents.

The book is told from each of the children's perspective with an epilogue from Marilyn's point of view. Amy's story begins the summer preceding her senior year of high school, the summer the family fell apart. Finn and Richard have gone on a trip to Europe, Kate is away at college and Miriam has arrived at the family's home. Miriam--whose exact reason for being there is unclear, except that Richard has sent her there as a foreign exchange student. When Finn shows up unexpectedly, after a fight with Richard, he and Miriam begin a relationship that will last for years as she struggles to help him deal with his demons. Amy's section skips years as the chapters progress, giving the reader a look into the family dynamic. In the final chapter, Amy is happily settled in New York City with boyfriend Owen, when she is called in to care for Richard as his battle with a brain tumor comes to an end. Finally the four children come together, as adults, for their father's funeral, and it doesn't exactly bring out the best in them.

In George's section, the reader sees George as a teacher in a wealthy prep school, alone and frustrated by the lack of interest shown by his students. As the advisor for the one student that does show potential, Asa, it falls to George to have a conference with Asa's father, Sam. As soon as George meets Sam, he is smitten and the bulk of George's section is devoted to the relationship that develops between the three of them.

Kate's section deals a lot with her one-time fiance, Eli, and her inability to move on emotionally. When Eli shows up at Richard's funeral, Kate is plunged into the past. She dwells on the time she and Eli were happily living in Italy until Richard came for a visit and set Kate on another course. Kate, who is now a lawyer, takes a transfer to head up the firm's California branch. She's surprised to find that the only place she wants to live is a major fix-er-upper, not unlike the house where she grew up. With Finn's experience in construction, she decides to ask him to come help her, knowing that it may also be the chance Finn needs to get his life together.

Finn's is the last chapter. We pick up with him after he returns from California. With no where else to go, and with Marilyn gone, Finn has moved into her apartment where the doorman has befriended him. Finn, unable to overcome his addictions, can't get a job, can't eat without becoming sick and has become suicidal.

Antalek's did a wonder job of putting me into the scene and making me care about the Haas children. Like this scene where the four children and disposing of their father's ashes:

"The urns were smaller than I expected and I held mine in the palms of my hands like a coffee mug. I tried to pretend that it wasn't pieces of my father and when I couldn't convince myself of that, I became fixated on what part of him I did have. I hated to think of him all jumbled together like a Picasso painting. "

Although the book moves through each of the four children's point of view, the reader is always being carried forward and the different children appear in each other's sections. It allows Antalek to examine each character's relationship with the other as they try to become the family they've never been.

My only real complaint with the book was the very frank sex scenes that some readers may find offensive. Just as I think that there isn't a need for so much sex in some movies, I felt like some of the detail here could have been left out as well without effecting the story. I found it interesting that the places this was most prominent in where in George and Finn's sections and I wondered if Antalek felt that men would be more likely to think in this way.

I think there is much here for book clubs to discuss, but you definitely need to make sure your club is not squeamish about sex scenes. Finn's section is also very raw which may bother some readers.

Thanks to Lisa and TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. I'm looking forward to reading more from Antalek. To learn more check out these sites:

Monday, February 8, 2010

Over The Top Award

Thanks to Dana, of Rantings of a Bookworm Couch Potato, for awarding me the Over The Top Award. I discovered Dana's blog when she signed up for The Gilmore Girls Challenge--it turns out that Dana loves t.v. as much as she loves books.

For this award, I have to answer the following questions with one word answers and then pass the award on to 5 more deserving bloggers.
Here are my answers:

(1) Your Cell Phone? red
(2) Your Hair? greying :-(
(3) Your Mother? Loving
(4) Your Father? Wise
(5) Your Favorite Food? Chocolate
(6) Your Dream Last Night? none
(7) Your Favorite Drink? cola
(8) Your Dream/Goal? writer
(9) What Room Are You In? family
(10) Your Hobby? reading
(11) Your Fear? Loss
(12) Where Do You Want To Be In Six Years? writing
(13) Where Were You Last Night? home
(14) Something That You Aren't? Confident
(15) Muffins? cinnamon
(16) Wish List Item? desk
(17) Where Did You Grow Up? Nebraska
(18) Last Thing You Did? laundry
(19) What Are You Wearing? sweater
(20) Your TV? on
(21) Your Pets? None
(22) Friends? indispensable
(23) Your Life? happy
(24) Your Mood? calm
(25) Missing Someone? grandparents
(26) Vehicle? Odyssey
(27) Something You Aren't Wearing? Glasses
(28) Your Favorite Store? One?
(29) Your Favorite Color? Blue
(30) When Was The Last Time You Laughed? tonight
(31) Last Time You Cried? morning
(32) Your Best Friend? hubby
(33) One Place You Go To Over And Over Again? Rocheport
(34) Facebook? okay
(35) Favorite Place To Eat? out

Do you know how hard it is to answer some of these with only one word??? Okay, the other part of this award is that I'm supposed to pass it on. But it's my bedtime so I'm going to do this -- if you're reading this, consider yourself awarded and play along!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sunday Salon - February 7

It's no secret by now that I love football--at any level. But I was reminded once again, when I did a search for football books, that "football" is not universally the same thing. When I pulled up the first page of results, I was surprised not to recognize a single title. Then I realized my mistake--for most of the world "football" is what we, in the U.S., call soccer. I guess I should clarify, when I say that I love football, what I really mean is that I love the game where almost none of the game is played using the feet. Something else I guess I knew but was reminded of when I did my search is that you can read a book about almost any aspect of football from almost any angle. There are books by coaches and players; books that are instructional and books that are statistical; books about specific games; and books written about football at any level: Pop Warner, high school, college and professional. The Blind Side is only the most recent football book to be made into a movie. Others made into movies, that also make good reads, are Paper Lion: Confessions of A Last String Quarterback, Friday Night Lights, and Semi Tough.

Needless to say, then, that I'll be in front of my television tonight as the Indianapolis Colts take on the underdog, but undefeated, New Orleans Saints. I'll be cheering for the Saints--I'm a big fan of underdogs especially when the underdog hasn't ever been to the Super Bowl before. And when it's all over, I'll slip into a bit of a funk--I don't quite know what to do with myself when that last game is played. There's always Australian rules football to look forward to, I guess.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet" giveaway

I'm so excited to announce that Random House has offered a copy of "Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet," by Jamie Ford, to one of my readers! You know how much I liked this book and I can't wait for one of you to be able to read it, too. The only requirement for entering is to be a follower. To enter, just leave a comment. If you'd like, you can send a separate comment with your email address that I won't post to avoid spam. Just be sure to leave one somewhere. Giveaway ends February 13th.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Favorite - Where The Lilies Bloom

Picture this: the year is 1974 (yeah, yeah--I know I'm old) and a 13-year-old, highly hormonal me plops herself down in a darkened theater. The movie starts and it's beautifully filmed and it's all about a culture I don't know anything about and it has a father and his four children struggling to make ends meet in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. And then the dad gets sick. And dies. Hello. I'm crying already. And the movie has hardly started. So of course I had to get the book when I found it in the bookstore.

"Where The Lilies Bloom" by Vera and Bill Cleaver is the story of what happens to the Luther famiy. Because the oldest sister, Devola, is "cloudy headed," father, Roy asks his next child, 14 year old Mary Call, to make take care of the family after his death. He makes her promise to keep the children together, hold onto their home, and to keep Devola from marrying Kiser Pease, their landlord. While Roy is ill, Kiser also becomes ill and Mary Call is able to basically barter his care for the deed to their home and land. Then she finds a book on "wild-crafting" left by her mother. This enables the children to use the wild herbs they pick on their property to sell in town for their medicinal properties. It seems the children will be able to make it on their own after their father dies until they discover that Kiser never owned the land they live on, his sister does. She turns them out and the children are left to survive the winter in a cave. And, yes, I did cry while I was reading this book. Even though I just told you yesterday that I hardly ever cry during a book.

The movie starred Rance Howard (father of Ron Howard), Harry Dean Stanton, and Jan Smithers, who would go on to play Bailey on WKRP in Cincinnati. Which, of course, many of you have never heard of because you weren't born yet. But trust me, it was a huge t.v. hit. Sadly, this is another movie that can only be found used. It really is a timeless movie, that, like the book, is a wonderful story for young adults.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thanks, Ladies!

Thanks to Missy of Missy's Book Nook for this award. The rules of this one say that I have to tell you 10 things about myself, but let's be honest, you're all tired of hearing about me. Instead I'm going to tell you a little bit about Missy. Missy has a big thing for pajamas, New York style pizza, peppermint ice cream and books about dysfunctional families. Her own family includes a husband, two dogs and three cats. I wonder which causes her more trouble?!

The Honest Scrap and Prolific Blogger Awards are from both from Reagan at Miss Remmer's Review. For those of you who don't know Reagan yet, she's a future English teacher (just what I want to be when I grow up!); she'll graduate this May. Since she grew up in Minnesota, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that she played hockey for 13 years. If those students of hers are smart, they won't mess around with her!

Receiving this award means:

A Prolific Blogger is one who is intellectually productive… keeping up an active blog that is filled with enjoyable content.

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!
2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.
3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.
4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners. (Click here for the Mr. Linky page.)

I'm passing this one along to:

Amanda from A Bookshelf Monstrosity

Gaby at Starting Fresh

Bonnie at Redlady's Reading Room

Missy at Missy's Book Nook

Diane at Bibliophile By The Sea

Deb at Book Magic

Mari at Bookworm With A View