Monday, April 30, 2012

The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen

The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen

Date Published: April 3, 2012
ISBN: 978-0307956309
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Pages: 128
Genre: Poetry
Rating: 4 out of 5

Publisher’s Book Summary: From one of the most inventive and celebrated filmmakers of the twentieth century, and co-creator of such classics as Fargo, No Country for Old Men, and True Grit, a collection of poems that offers humor and insight into an artist who has always pushed the boundaries of his craft.

Ethan Coen's screenplays have surprised and delighted international audiences with their hilarious vision and bizarrely profound understanding of human nature. This eccentric genius is revealed again in The Day the World Ends, a remarkable range of poems that are as funny, ribald, provocative, raw, and often touching as the brilliant films that have made the Coen brothers cult legends.

My Thoughts: I used to read poetry pretty regularly but it’s been years since I’ve spent any serious time on poetry. When I received an email offering me the opportunity to review The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen I said yes almost immediately because the author is one half of the amazing Coen brothers filmmakers. I know very little about either Coen brother other than the movies they’re associated with such as Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Raising Arizona and Barton Fink. But that’s all I need to know. Based on these movies, many which are on my list of favorites, I think Ethan Coen (and Joel, too!) has a terrific, quirky sense of humor, understands dark, black humor, is very intelligent and also eccentric, is good at reading and understanding people and has experienced good and bad in life which he draws on for his work. I was very interested to read Ethan’s poems for these reasons and curious what he’d write about in his poems.

I thought The Day the World Ends had many wonderful poems. I’ve read many of the poems more than once and, I admit, I have a few pages of poems left to read because I’ve been enjoying this book so much and not rushing through it. In this book no two poems are alike and differ in almost every possible aspect. The subject matter varies greatly and anything is fair game. There are poems about birth, death, aging, relationships, love, sheep, bugs, regrets, therapy, poetry, cards, the English language and so much more. The length of the poems also varies from a few short lines to several pages. Some of Coen’s poems are sweet or poignant, some are angry or disappointed, a few are elegant and melodic, others very funny and some, such as ‘Limericks’  are written with very colorful language and I found very amusing! I enjoyed not knowing what to expect of the next poem. Several poems made me laugh out loud and several were very thought-provoking.

I highly recommend this book but caution anyone who is offended by cursing and harsh language. Thank you to Jonathan Lazzara at Crown Publishing Group for sending me a copy of this book.

Mailbox Monday!

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a weekly meme originally created and hosted by Marcia of A girl and her books and hosted this month by Cindy at Cindy‘s Love of Books. Below are the titles I received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the course of the past week.

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones (for review from Harper via TLC Book Tours)
With some apprehension, the Torrington family is about to celebrate the twentieth birthday of Emerald, the second of three children. Their housekeeper, Florence, plans an elaborate dinner for the family and a few close friends. Charlotte and her children—the romantically handsome and callow Clovis; nine-year old Imogen, known as Smudge, who plots a “Great Undertaking” for the evening; and Emerald herself—are disconsolate at the thought of losing Sterne, their beloved family home.

Originally purchased by Horace Torrington, Charlotte’s first husband and the children’s father, Sterne has become too expensive for the financially strapped family to maintain. Since Horace’s death and Charlotte’s remarriage to Edward Swift, the house remains an important link to the past, a symbol of the family’s position that is intertwined with their sense of identity.

As Edward sets off for Manchester in hopes of obtaining a loan, the rest of the family begins preparing for the dinner party. An evening unlike any other awaits them. Little can the Torringtons imagine, that more than just a few intimate friends are about to arrive at Sterne . . .

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown (swap with friend)
The three Andreas sisters grew up in the cloistered household dominated by their Shakespearean professor father, a prominent, eccentric academic whose reverence for the Bard left its imprint on his daughters' names: Rosalind (As You Like It), Bianca (The Taming of the Shrew), and Cordelia (King Lear). The siblings eventually left home and escaped their ponderous monikers with nicknames, but their mother's medical maladies brings them back. Before long, their unwelcome reunion reveals that they all have problems: Rose is force-feeding a troubled relationship; Bean is entangled in a big city case of embezzlement; and unmarried Cordy is pregnant. Eleanor Brown's first fiction has justly won praise as "thought-provoking... poignant... sparkling and devourable."
Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle (flea-market purchase)
Over the past twenty-five years, T.C. Boyle has earned wide acclaim and an enthusiastic following with such adventurous, inimitable novels as The Tortilla Curtain, Drop City, and The Road to Wellville. For his riveting eleventh novel, Boyle offers readers the closest thing to a thriller he has ever written, a tightly scripted page turner about the trials of Dana Halter, a thirty-three-year-old deaf woman whose identity has been stolen. Featuring a woman in the lead role (a Boyle first), Talk Talk is both a suspenseful chase across America and a moving story about language, love, and identity from one of America’s most versatile and entertaining novelists.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Salon

I hope you’re all having a terrific weekend! This will be a brief Sunday Salon since I was sick most of the week so it was a rather unproductive week. I’m feeling better, finally, and slowly getting back into the swing of things!

I participated in a discussion of The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers for Book Club at Nicole’s blog, Linus’ Blanket early in the week. It was a very interesting discussion because there are a lot of themes and issues in the book. I didn’t get a chance to review the book last week but I will do so this week.

I was shocked to wake up the other morning, freezing cold, it was 39 degrees! What’s up with that?! I don’t think it’s so good for the flowers. I wanted to plant some but I’m not sure what to do now. I think I’ll be taking a trip to the garden center this week for some advice (and flowers/plants!). I don’t know what I’m doing anyway when it comes to gardening. I used to help my mom with planting, trimming, pruning and everything else when I was a kid but I don’t remember the specifics. Getting some help and advice is a really good idea, especially because I want some very pretty, as well as living, flowers!

I’m behind in reading right now. I picked up Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall the other day and will review it Tuesday for TLC Book Tours. I’ll hopefully finish Pocket Kings and Behind the Beautiful Forevers this week, too.

Somebody seems to want my attention right now! I’m being meowed at and head-butted by the little Lola.  She's the youngets and most spoiled! Sometimes these cats are a little bit like small children...They don’t like when my attention is completely taken up by something else when it isn’t them!

What are you reading today? I hope it’s somethinggood!                  
Enjoy your day and have a great week!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Saturday Snapshot

This is Huxley. He's very cute and sweet but not smart, not at all. He has two speeds most days: resting/sleeping or running from one spot to asnother like a crazy cat...frequently stopping for a cat snacks to fuel up!  He plays well by himself with cat toys but welcomes most other cats to play, too. Usually once per day he has a 'freak out' session during which he goes a litle nuts, runs up walls, hangs from the bottom of the bed and shimmies the length of it...things like that.  Huxley's very  fun and entertaining!

In the above photo Huxley is with his sister Hennessey. They get along for short peiods and then one of them, usualy Henny, gets annoyed, hisses and runs off.  I think it's because Henny is smart, has common sense and she doesn't suffer fools gladly!  Huxley's just sweet and playful. 
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce on At Home with Books. It's easy to participate, just post a photo taken by you, a friend or a family member and link to the Mister Linky at the bottom of Alyce's post

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

~ Wondrous Words Wednesday ~

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Bermudaonion's Weblog where we share words that we’ve encountered in our reading. Feel free to join in the fun (please do!) Be sure to leave a link to your post over at Bermudaonion's Weblog.

The following words are from Oxford Messed Up by Andrea Kayne Kaufman :

" The Jacobean house, which had been in his late mother‘s family for over four generations, was called Equanimity, probably due to its serene panoramic views of green on all sides, including acres of tranquil gardens with bright variegated flower beds, unspoiled grounds with mature trees, and large areas of open grazing.”

1. Equanimity
: mental or emotional stability or composure, especially under tension or strain; calmness; equilibrium.

"Akin to a bimah in a synagogue, altar in a church, or the central dome of a mosque, the very inside of the toilet bowl was the site of her most sacred worship."

2. Bimah
: a platform in a synagogue holding the reading table used when chanting or reading portions of the Torah and the Prophets.

" In my dissertation, I want to argue that this actually inspired his whole career and can be encapsulated by what I am calling Van Morrison‘s fatalistic optimism. ”

3. Fatalistic
 : the acceptance of all things and events as inevitable; submission to fate
 : In Philosophy, the doctrine that all events are subject to fate or inevitable predetermination.

Monday, April 23, 2012

~ ~ Mailbox Monday ~ ~

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a weekly meme originally created and hosted by Marcia of A girl and her books and hosted this month by Cindy at Cindy‘s Love of Books. Below are the titles I received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the course of the past week. Although I only received two books, I’m very excited about both and looking forward to reading them.
The Folded Earth by Anuradha Roy (for review from Free Press/Simon and Schuster) LONGLISTED FOR THE 2011 MAN ASIAN LITERARY PRIZE SHORTLISTED FOR THE HINDU LITERARY PRIZE FOR BEST FICTION 2011 WITH HER DEBUT NOVEL, An Atlas of Impossible Longing, Anuradha Roy’s exquisite storytelling instantly won readers’ hearts around the world, and the novel was named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and The Seattle Times. Now, Roy has returned with another masterpiece that is already earning international prize attention, an evocative and deeply moving tale of a young woman making a new life for herself amid the foothills of the Himalaya. Desperate to leave a private tragedy behind, Maya abandons herself to the rhythms of the little village, where people coexist peacefully with nature. But all is not as it seems, and she soon learns that no refuge is remote enough to keep out the modern world. When power-hungry politicians threaten her beloved mountain community, Maya finds herself caught between the life she left behind and the new home she is determined to protect. Elegiac, witty, and profound by turns, and with a tender love story at its core, The Folded Earth brims with the same genius and love of language that made An Atlas of Impossible Longing an international success and confirms Anuradha Roy as a major new literary talent.

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh (for review from Random House)
The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, aster for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.
Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes that she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market inspires her to question what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

~ Sunday Salon: Reading and Relaxing ! ~

Today, so far, has been a wonderfully lazy-ish day but with quite a lot of reading! My favorite kind of day! Today’s been especially nice because I’ve been sick for the last couple of weeks and I'm finally feeling a little better today. It started with bad allergies in reaction to the warm weather. I have always had allergies but nothing like how they’ve been this Spring. Blech! Then I developed a cold and sinus infection. Hate both those things. On top of it all. I’ve been dealing with a lot of pain in one hip and thigh and my lower right arm. I keep expecting to wake up and have the pain gone but so far that hasn’t happened. During the worst of the pain I’ve been able to distract myself well enough with a couple of light books. Today I was able to focus on something heavier - yay!

The cats are loving this day and the bad weather, so night they'll go a little stir crazy! Most of the cats like to be able to go outside for a little while but because of the rain they sit on the window sill and just watch. Only Magoo and his shadow, little Lucky...go out in the rain without pausing. It's as if it's nice and sunny out. Almost everytime Magoo goes out in the rain, when he comes inside he wants to sit in on my lap. When he gets up after a while, I have kitty-cat footrpints all over my upper legs. So cute! 

I finally started making some boards on Pinterest.  At first I found it a little frustrating but once I got the hang of it, it became addicting! And fun!  Of course, instead of continuing to improve my blog I spent too much time on Pinterest! But it was fun! I’m still working on understanding SEO and writing a post about it. I’m hoping to finish this weekend. I got stuck on title tags - it took me some time to figure them out but I think I have (fingers crossed!)

In addition to reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo and The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers I’ve been watching a great movie, The Visitor with Richard Jenkins and Hiam Abbass. I’ve seen it before but I always like to watch it when it‘s on tv. It’s happy and sad and so much more!

What are you reading and doing this Sunday?
Enjoy the rest of your day, Read something great!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

This Life Is In Your Hands by Melissa Coleman

This Life Is In Your Hands by Melissa Coleman

ISBN: 978-0-06-195833-5
Pages: 352
Release Date: April 10, 2012
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Non-Fiction; Memoir
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Book Summary: In the fall of 1968, Melissa Coleman’s parents pack their VW truck and set out to forge a new existence on a rugged coastal homestead. Inspired by Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the homesteading bible Living the Good Life, Eliot and Sue build their own home by hand, live off the crops they grow, and establish a happy family with Melissa and her two sisters. They also attract national media and become icons of the back-to-the-land farming movement, but the pursuit of a purer, simpler life comes at a price. In the wake of a tragic accident, idealism gives way to human frailty, and by the fall of 1978, Greenwood Farm is abandoned. The search to understand what happened is at the heart of this luminous, heartbreaking, and ultimately redemptive memoir.

My Thoughts: This Life is in Your Hands is a fascinating, mesmerizing and beautifully written story about author Melissa Coleman’s childhood growing up on the self-sufficient, back-to-nature farm and homestead her parents built, from the ground up, with their own hands. Melissa relates in a readable and authentic voice how her parents became homesteaders and turned a farm into their livelihood in the opening chapter of her memoir. Ms. Coleman explains that her parents came from middle-class loving families but chafed at the expectations placed on them, preferring the outdoors and simpler, freer lifestyles. She describes how her parents met at Franconia College when her mother was a sophomore and her father was teaching Spanish. There was an instant attraction between they as well as a shared mentality for an independent, healthy life away from society’s clutches. Ms. Coleman explains, in her straightforward writing, that Eliot and Sue’s decision to become homesteaders and farmers wasn’t rash. They’d lived and even worked, in Eliot’s case, in ’modern’ society and wanted something different.

There’s no judgment in Ms. Coleman’s voice as she relays that the farm began as a kind of experiment her parents went into somewhat blind but with ample guidance. They loved health food and healthy eating and were angered by the abundance of packaged, processed foods in the supermarket and fast-food restaurants. Ms. Coleman explains in some detail how, in one of the few health food stores in the New Hampshire-Vermont area, Eliot discovered a book that would change their lives. In Living the Good Life: How to Live Simply and Sanely in a Troubled World by Scott and Helen Nearing, a couple who left New York City to become homesteaders and turn a farm into their livelihood, Eliot and Sue found a way of life to embrace. Like the Nearings, who’d wanted to live a healthy lifestyle independent of the economy and, what they saw as, an unethical society, Eliot and Sue wanted to get away from reliance on modern conveniences and society‘s restrictions. Ms. Coleman deliberately points out that her parents weren‘t looking for a hippie lifestyle, their interest didn‘t lie in drugs or communes. They subscribed to a philosophy similar to Henry David Thoreau’s “to live deliberately“. Living the Good Life became the Coleman’s bible and their guide in this new life.

Ms. Coleman writes about how ‘the experiment’ began in the Fall of 1968 when Eliot and Sue moved to the sixty acres they’d purchased from the Nearings in Cape Rosier, Maine. Eliot quickly built the small, simple and sufficient house Melissa, 3 months away from being a baby in her mama’s arms, was born in and lived in until she was 9-years old. The closest neighbors were the Nearings who would figure prominently in Eliot and Sue’s life for many years.

Once she has set the foundation for their way of life, Ms. Coleman describes extensively, how her parents built the farm and took care of themselves, each other and their family. The land needed to be cleared of trees which became firewood to use in winter and tree stumps, cultivated for the garden which would supply the majority of their food and a water source as close by as possible had to be created. Additionally, there were many, many smaller but just as important daily tasks to be done, including making and storing food in the cellar for winter. Self-sufficient farming is hard, back-breaking work much of the time but Ms. Coleman tells, with vividly detailed descriptions, how the labor was balanced out with the plentiful rewards, including fresh vegetables and beautiful vistas, of her family’s lifestyles. She also describes extensively how her father becomes so proficient in self-sufficient farming that he eventually becomes a ‘minor celebrity’ of this lifestyle for to people with similar interest.

Ms. Coleman covers a lot of ground in her memoir but it doesn’t feel that way while reading the book. It’s apparent she did a lot of research because she ties in current events from the 1970s, the prevailing thoughts and opinions of society as well as the attitude of the townspeople towards her parents and the Nearings lifestyle. Ms. Coleman adeptly providing an authentic, informed look at life on the Coleman’s farm during this time discussing not only the things her parents had to consider and cope with while building and maintaining the farm but why this kind of lifestyle caught on and became popular with a segment of society at the time.

I most enjoyed the passages in the book where Ms. Coleman specifically talks about her parents who sound like fascinating people. Her parents are intriguing and have quite a bit of ambition and ingenuity. Ms. Coleman’s father, Eliot, is an intelligent, hard-working, ambitious man deeply in love with his family and self-sufficient farming. He learned a lot about farming from reading numerous books as well as from trial-and-error and regularly worked 16-hour days. Even being diagnosed with Graves disease didn’t slow him down. Her mother is quieter and more reserved and, like many women, worries a lot. She, too, worked hard gardening, cooking, making and storing food and caring for the children. Ms. Coleman obviously loves her parents but she doesn’t shy away from discussing their flaws, issues and occasionally disappointing behavior, such as their failure to establish boundaries for their children. As glorious as their life often is, it’s also quite stressful which takes its toll on her parents relationship. Ms. Coleman implies more than outright admits her awareness at a young age that her parents were having problems. When young Melissa wishes for the silence between her parents to end, I felt tears welling.

It was easy to get absorbed into this memoir. Even after just a few chapters, I was so lost in the pages, I forgot that the Coleman’s life wasn’t a typical one. Ms. Coleman’s description of her experience attending school brought me back to reality and impressed upon me how differently her family lived. Ms. Coleman writes with refreshing candor how when she started school she realized that she was different than other children. She relates simple differences such as most of the kids ate white bread sandwiches made with flat meat while when Melissa had a sandwich, hers was homemade, heavy dark bread spread with peanut butter. She was the only child with half an avocado and her treats, rather than Hostess cakes or chips were sunflower seeds and raisins. She recalls more important differences including she was expected to wear underwear everyday and, for the first time, she learned how to use an indoor toilet. Melissa was fascinated with the flushing of the toilet, seeing the disappearance of the water down the hole and its reappearance as a “miracle”. Melissa also loved the feel of the toilet paper, a novelty not used in their outhouse at home, so much she often used too much and clogged the toilet. Ms. Coleman also tells us she wasn’t so impressed with the school’s insistence that she wear shoes.

There’s a blurb on the back cover of This Life Is In Your Hands from the New York Times, stating, “A story so nuanced that it would be a disservice to reveal what was in store. If you want to know what happened, read it for yourself.”  Ms. Coleman has written a captivating story about her parents attempt to create a more simple, purer life. When tragedy occurs some wonder if that‘s the price for such a life. I’m not sure that reading this memoir answers that question. Decide for yourself by reading Ms. Coleman’s beautiful and heart-breaking story. Her honest, inviting prose, her vivid, beautiful descriptions of the world she saw everyday and the daily joys and sorrows, struggles and celebrations of her family’s life tells a rich and powerful story. This is a memoir you don’t want to miss. I have barely skimmed the surface of the wonders and pains in store for anyone who reads this book. There is so much more in these pages and much that is relevant to what is happening in our society today. I hope you pick up this book and get as much or more out of it as I have.

See Melissa Coleman’s Website and Facebook page.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review This Life Is In Your Hands and to Harper Perennial for a copy of this book.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty

Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty

Date Published: March 27, 2012
ISBN: 978-0062094667
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

Book Summary: “I study the photo in the same way that a spy might study the face of a counterpart in a rival organization. I am calm as I make this promise: I am going to find out what you love, then whatever it is, I am going to track it down and I am going to take it away from you.” After the death of Laura’s nine-year-old daughter, Betty, is ruled an accident in a hit-and-run, Laura decides to take revenge into her own hands, determined to track down the man responsible. All the while, her inner turmoil is reopening the old wounds of her passionate love affair with Betty’s father, David, and his abandonment of the family for another woman. Haunted by her past and driven to a breaking point by her thirst for retribution, Laura discovers the unforeseen lengths she is willing to go to for love and vengeance.

My Thoughts: Whatever You Love begins with Laura’s recollection of the day she opened her front door to find two police officers. They entered her home and delivered heart-breaking news: her 9-year old daughter, Betty, had been hit by a car and killed. In this powerful scene it feels as if Laura is reliving the moment as she recounts her reactions to this devastating news. Laura experiences the same raw emotion and fog of grief in this retelling as when she first heard of Betty’s death. As Laura details the events that followed, her numbed behavior and despair at having to identify Betty’s body, I felt her intense pain and found it easy to understand her wish for unconsciousness.

Louise Doughty‘s prose is simple and straightforward but her words pack a punch as we read about Laura’s life from her childhood up until Betty’s death. Some of Laura’s life experiences are delivered in matter-of-fact prose with words that have a strong impact such as when we read that Laura, by age 15, was quite capable of "changing the incontinence pads" of her Parkinson’s stricken mother. I’d imagine this is an extremely painful and humiliating experience for a child and her mother. Other descriptions of Laura’s life provide graphically vivid images of her emotional state, such as when Laura is incensed at her school career adviser because the woman suggested Laura go into nursing. Laura is so mad she wanted to ‘bite’ hre adviser. The more I read about Laura and her life experiences, the better I understood her and felt connected to her. She’s a passionate, emotionally-needy woman who’s been through a lot of angst-filled, intensely stressful happenings in her life. She wanted to be cared for and loved.

A majority of Whatever You Love is about Laura’s relationship with David. Laura was initially interested in David because he seemed experienced and acted much older than the boys her age. I was irritated at first when Laura began discussing her relationship with David because I wanted to read more about Betty. I realized, though, Laura’s relationship with David further explains and rounds out Laura. It also helped me understand, a little better, Laura’s behavior after Betty died. Ms. Doughty clearly depicts Laura as a woman infatuated and obsessed with David more than in love. Laura relates instances of David’s erratic, bizarre behavior towards her which she tolerates without objection. In a hair-raising scene, Laura recounts the time he dragged her towards the cliffs on one of their walks and pretended he was going to throw her over. Most women would have run as far from David as possible once they were free of him. Not Laura, she stayed.

I expected Laura to be devastated when David left her for another woman and to take drastic action. She's upset but she has Betty. Laura’s love and relationship with her daughter kept her grounded. Ms. Doughty adepts depicts Laura as a very good, proud mother in love with her daughter. Betty’s loss is more than the loss of a beloved daughter for Laura. Although she has her son, Rees, whom she loves, Betty was Laura’s life, her anchor to sanity, the reason she stayed afloat. When Betty died, all of the pain, stress and heartache Laura has kept inside herself for years, bubbled to the surface and erupted.

Grief is specific to the individual with each person grieving in their own way. Ms Doughty contrasts Laura’s grief with Sally, the mother of Betty’s friend Willow. Willow was in the accident with Betty and dies as a result.. Sally’s grief is more formal, neat, orderly and mindful of others which angers Laura. And irritated me. Sally’s grief felt fake not real. Laura worries people in the community are comparing the two women and that she’s being criticized. She’s angry at them, anyway, and hates families and mothers after Betty’s death. Laura becomes distant, vague, closed-off and angry in her grief. Ms. Doughty depicts these emotions so clearly I felt distanced from Laura in this part of the novel. The connection I’d felt with her seemed to be gone. I no longer understood Laura or felt I knew her. I thought this was a clever aspect of Ms. Doughty’s writing since it made Laura’s grief feel extremely real.

Laura is a complex woman experiencing a myriad of emotions. She’s grieving not only Betty’s death, but also the loss of David and her marriage. Laura receives some bad news about the driver of the car that hit Bet. It’s the last straw for Laura. She contemplates inflicting pain similar to the pain she‘s been feeling. This woman feels very different from the Laura I‘ve come to know. Some of her behavior is difficult to understand, shocking and almost reprehensible. I’m still at a loss to explain or understand some things she does. It felt like Laura was on an emotional roller-coaster ride after Betty‘s death. I hoped Laura would regain her composure and common sense and shake off the anger and revenge she‘s feeling.. I rooted for Laura to regain her foothold on sanity.

Whatever You Love is a mesmerizing and fascinating book. Ms. Doughty has written a compelling, engrossing portrait of a woman pushed to her breaking point by the loss of the people and life she loved. Ms. Doughty doesn’t coddle readers in this book She depicts the emotional wreckage wrought on the life of one woman due to the death of her daughter and the more distant loss of her husband due to divorce. And shows us with unflinching honesty where Laura’s grief takes her as she faces a furture without most of her family. Ms. Doughty posits some powerful questions of her readers. I finished this book several days ago but I’m still thinking about Laura, her emotions and her behavior as well as what I might do in similar circumstances. It’s a somewhat frightening notion. I thought this was an amazing book. I think for some people, such as the mothers of young children, this may be a very difficult but I highly recommend it to everyone.

Louise Doughty’s website

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review Whatever You Love and to Harper Perennial for a copy of this book.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

~ The Sunday Salon: Is it Spring or Summer?! ~

April is turning out to be great outdoor reading weather! It’s almost 80 degrees today -unfortunately with a slight bit of humidity - but sunny with a breeze. Perfect for sitting on the deck putting my feet up, a tall glass of half and half on the deck next to me (half iced tea/half lemonade) and a good book (today it’s This Life Is In Your Hands: A Memoir by Melissa Coleman). Now if only the sun would bake away my cold I’d really be rockin’! I haven’t been blogging much or visiting blogs as much as I’d like or responding to comments because I’ve been dealing with a bad cold that’s just kicking my butt. I’ve been sooooo tired, it’s ridiculous. I don’t like it! But this morning I woke up feeling stronger and better than I have in a while. So far, so good! (Fingers-crossed!)

The cats are lovin’ the warmth and the sun. They lie stretched out anywhere the sun is shining from the windowsill to the front steps to the middle of the sidewalk. They loll around, drunk on the sun, occasionally shifting position, lazily waving their tails if somebody stops to say hi. I recently found out that my furry felines can be referred to as a clowder- a group or cluster of cats. I can’t believe I didn’t know that. It sure is about time I learned it!
UPDATE: The Bunny-Cat, named Angel by my 11-year old neighbor, I posted about in a March Sunday Salon post is still around. Angel comes around in the early mornings or evenings and sits on the front lawn, plays with some of the other cats and chases bugs. Angel shows n interest in food which, in my experience, is odd for a cat and Angel looks as if she hasn’t missed many meals. I prefer homeless cats be a little chunky rather than too thin. Angel has hopped up on the windowsill a few more times, but once she sees a human being (Ack!!) she turns and runs. I’m hoping that will change. I want to clean Angel up, get her to a vet and give her some TLC .

I’ve been reading a lot the last couple of weeks but haven’t been very good about reviews. I just haven’t felt like writing then. I have some scheduled reviews due this week so I hope that’ll get my writing juices flowing!  I have been working on a post about SEO but I realized while writing up what I learned that I still don’t quite get ‘title tags’ and a couple of other things. I’m want to figure it out this week and will add it to my post to share with you! I noticed the Facebook “like” button suddenly disappeared from my blog posts. I’d like to figure out what happened to it!

I’m finishing up This Life Is In Your Hands by Melissa Coleman. It’s a very interesting and compelling book and so sad in some parts. I’m also reading Pocket Kings by Ted Heller and Skipping A Beat by Sarah Pekannen. These books are all so different and all so very good. I'm going to try to start Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo or Open City by Teju Cole this week.  There are so many good books available it's hard to decide!

What are you reading today? I hope it’s something good!
Enjoy your day and have a great week!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

~ Saturday Snapshot ~ Jazzy! ~

This is Jazzy. She doesn't get a long with most of her siblings because she doesn't like other cats! She would like to be the only cat in the family! Jazzy chooses to spend most of her time in the basement. When she wants to, she has a great personality. She's goofy, playful and sweet. Othertimes, she's grouchy, obstinate and a little aggressive! I have had a few scratches and cuts from Jazzy! They're mostly from teaching her things such as,  to drink from a bowl instead of what she's doing in the last photo!   Jazzy actually barks, as in "ruff, ruff"sometimes alomg with a "grrrowlll" when she plays with and chews catnip. I want to get that on video!
Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce on At Home with Books. It's easy to participate, just post a photo taken by you, a friend or a family member and link to the Mister Linky at the bottom of Alyce's post

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Three Weissmann's of Westport by Cathleen Schine

The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Schine

Date Published: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Picador
Pages: 304
ISBN: 978- 0312680527
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Publisher’s Book Summary: Betty Weissmann has just been dumped by her husband of forty-eight years. Exiled from her elegant New York apartment by her husband’s mistress, she and her two middle-aged daughters, Miranda and Annie, regroup in a run-down Westport, Connecticut, beach cottage. In Schine’s playful and devoted homage to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, the impulsive sister is Miranda, a literary agent entangled in a series of scandals, and the more pragmatic sister is Annie, a library director, who feels compelled to move in and watch over her capricious mother and sister. Schine’s witty, wonderful novel “is simply full of pleasure: the pleasure of reading, the pleasure of Austen, and the pleasure that the characters so rightly and humorously pursue….An absolute triumph” (The Cleveland Plain Dealer).

My Thoughts: Poor Betty Weissmann is 75 years old when she finds out Joseph, her husband, wants a divorce after 50 years of marriage. He also wants Betty to move out of the Central Park West apartment she has painstakingly decorated and cared for all these years. Joseph’s young, conniving, new girlfriend, Felicity has convinced him that he’s doing the kind and generous thing making Betty move out of their large, beautiful apartment.

Betty isn’t the only woman in her family in the midst of a life crisis. Her passionate, melo-dramatic and self-centered daughter, Miranda’s life is a mess. Her literary agency, the center of her life, is in ruins and she’s heading towards bankruptcy after a journalist discovered that some of the memoirs Miranda’s been promoting, the bread-and-butter of her business, are fraudulent. Angry and humiliated, Miranda is anxious to get out of New York City.

Betty’s other daughter, Annie, practical, smart and reasonable has a stable job as a librarian with a small subscription library. But she’s not without her flaws and faults. She’s been divorced for a long time and with her grown sons off in college, she’s feeling restless and unhappy. Annie, also a constant worrier, is concerned about how Betty and Miranda will manage. The three dysfunctional women retreat to Westport, CT where Betty’s Cousin Lou has offered them a cottage on his property. The cottage is more of a shack, according to the women, but it’s on the water. Still, Betty and Miranda have plenty to say about their new home, despite having no where else to go.

Cousin Lou is loud, boisterous and a braggart. He’s also generous. He offers a refreshing contrast to the rampant greed infecting many of the characters including his wife and her gold-digging young friends and Joseph’s girlfriend, Felicity. There are few dull moments in the lives of Betty, Miranda and Annie in Westport. They meet some very interesting people, some more likable than others, while they attempt to straighten out their lives. Betty and Miranda are particularly self-centered in the first half of the book. Annie isn’t without her selfish moments but, if not for her kind and giving nature, Betty and Miranda would have very little, if any, money to live on. It takes Betty and Miranda some time to see this but the flagrant greed of other characters and the three women’s growing love for and understanding of each other helps them work out their issues.

Cathleen Schine’s writing is humorous, witty and compelling. Betty, Miranda and especially Annie, come to life through Ms. Schine’s words. She also displays a talent for biting social commentary that reminds me of some of Jane Austen’s writing about society in her day. The Three Weissmann’s of Westport can be read as lighter women’s fiction but I there’s a deeper side to this story as it progresses as the women are reminded that life isn‘t just fun frolicking. Betty, Miranda and Annie are forced to confront their faults and behavior and deal with some of life’s heavier issues. They finally realize that there’s more to life than money, materialism and appearances. It’s too bad this lesson comes at a high cost.

I highly recommend this novel. It’s fun and entertaining but also powerful and captivating. I laughed out loud at times and almost cried a few times. I enjoyed The Three Weissmann’s of Westport from beginning to end.  It make's a good choice for book clubs because it offers several areas of discussion including mother/daughter relationships, marriage and women remaining single, male/female relationships when one side has children, divorce and how it's handled.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

~ First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros ~

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros is a weekly meme hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea every Tuesday. To participate share the opening paragraph or two of a book (I have a third one, today, sorry!) you've decided to read based on that paragraph. I enjoy books that are set in Ireland  or include Irish characters since, with half my family Irish, Ireland has always been an influence in my life. This book, first published in 1929, is set primarily in Cork, during the Irish War of Independence, or the Anglo-Irish War, a time of unrest and violence in Ireland when, in a fight for independence, the Irish Republican Army attacked the British government forces in Ireland.. A movie based on this book came out in 1999. I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie, although it seems it's taken me a while to get around to reading the book!

Don't forget to drop by Bibliophile By the Sea and read Diane's selection this week and be sure to visit and read the contributions of other participants in this fun meme.
The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen
About six o'clock the sound of a motor, collected out of the wide country and narrowed under the trees of the avenue, brought the household out in excitement on to the steps. Up among the beeches, a thin iron gate twanged; the car slid out of a net of shadows down the slope to the house. Behind the flashing windscreen Mr. and Mrs. Montmorency produced--arms waving and a wild escape to the wind of her mauve motor veil--an agitation of greeting. They were long-promised visitors. They exclaimed, Sir Richard and Lady Naylor exclaimed and signalled: no one spoke yet. It was a moment of happiness, of perfection.

In those days, girls wore crisp white skirts and transparent blouses clotted with white flowers; ribbons threaded through with a view to appearance, ap-peared over the shoulders. So that Lois stood at the top of the steps looking cool and fresh; she knew how fresh she must look, like other young girls, and clasping her elbows tightly behind her back tried hard to conceal her embarrassment. The dogs came pattering out from the hail and stood beside her; above, the large façade of the house stared coldly over its mounting lawns. She wished she could freeze the moment and keep it always. But as the car approached, as it stopped, she stooped down and patted one of the dogs.

As the car drew up the Montmorencys unwound from their rugs. They stood shaking hands and laughing in the yellow theatrical sunshine. They had motored over from Carlow. Two toppling waves of excitement had crashed and mingled; for moments, everybody was inaudible. Mrs. Montmorency looked up the steps. "And this is the niece!" she exclaimed with delight. "Aren't we dusty!" she added, as Lois said nothing. "Aren't we too terribly dusty!" And a tired look came down at the back of her eyes at the thought of how dusty she was.
What are your thoughts about these paragraphs? Would you read this book based on these paragraphs?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

The Garden Of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

Date Published: February 11, 2012
ISBN: 978-1905802623
Publisher: Myrmidon
Pages: 448
Genre: Historical Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Rating:  4.5 out of 5

Book Summary: Malaya, 1949. After studying law at Cambrige and time spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh, herself the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle fringed plantations of Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the Emperor of Japan.

Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in Kuala Lumpur, in memory of her sister who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses, but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice 'until the monsoon comes.' Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to her sensei and his art while, outside the garden, the threat of murder and kidnapping from the guerrillas of the jungle hinterland increases with each passing day.

But The Garden of Evening Mists is also a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? Why is it that Yun Ling's friend and host Magnus Praetorius, seems to almost immune from the depredations of the Communists? What is the legend of 'Yamashita's Gold' and does it have any basis in fact? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?

My Thoughts:  Teoh Yun Ling is the narrator of The Garden of Evening Mists and a remarkable and fascinating woman. One of Malaysia’s first female Supreme Court Justices, she’s returned to Yugiri, the former home of Nakamura Aritomo the man from whom Yun Ling learned the art of Japanese garden and so much more thirty-six years ago. Yun Ling was a damaged, angry and guarded young woman when she first meets Aritomo. She’s in her late 20’s and staying at Majuba Tea House, the neighboring property, owned by Magnus Pretorius, a friend of her family. She visited Yugiri to ask Aritomo to build a Japanese garden as a memorial to sister, Teoh Yun Hong. Yun Ling approaches this task with trepidation because she detests all Japanese after she and her sister were held in a brutally violent Japanese internment camp during WWII. Yun Ling, tenacious and impetuous, was the only survivor of the camp. She believes Aritiomo must do as she asks because his people destroyed her family.

Tan Twan Eng’s prose is elegant and lyrical like poetry. His words are evocative, soft and gentle, enhancing the vivid descriptions of gardens and the mountain vistas of Malaysia. His writing style also stands in sharp contrast to the narrative sections in the book that recount, in detail, the brutality and violence of several wars discussed in the story. The Garden of Evening Mists is primarily a reflection of Yun Ling’s past life interspersed with chapters about her present life. She’s recently retired from her Justice position and is focusing on recording her memories. Yung Ling was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia and knows she will soon lose her memories and her voice. Yun Ling fears she will forget everything that‘s happened in her life so she retired earlier than planned to write down her memories and make the most of this time in her life.

Tan Twan Eng portrays in the first couple chapters the two very different Yun Ling’s encountered in the story. It’s only six years since she was freed from the camp when Yung Ling travels to Malaya. She’s all sharp corners with hard, prickly skin quick to anger and very defensive. She was working as a Judge in Kuala Lumpur, thanks to her father pulling some strings, when the government signed the Japanese Peace Treaty with Japan. Yun Ling became incensed and disparaged the government aloud every chance she had. She was fired. The Yun Ling who arrives in Yugiri thirty odd years later is a reserved, intelligent and confident woman who although concerned about her memory, seems at peace with herself. Yun Ling is a remarkable woman and it was wonderful to read as she grew into a mature, secure woman while apprenticing with Aritomo.

A main theme in the book is memory and, as Yun Ling, recalls moments of her life, she also considers the concept of ‘memory’ and how it shapes who you are, who you become, how it changes over time and the way in which memories can be both vague and dreamlike or so sharp and clear they feel manufactured not real. Tied in with memory here is the smaller theme of control. Yun Ling, as a young woman, was extremely anxious to control her own life, to follow her own desires and to be sure no one tells her how to live because she had no control while interned in the camp Yun Ling realizes as she grows and matures that, like memory, control can be elusive and you can only exercise so much control so much control over even your own life because life and people are always changing.

Yun Ling is besieged by memories of her time in the camp when she visits Yugiri. She wants to hate Aritomo. Although it’s been six years since WW II ended, her anger, pain and hatred are as powerful as when she lay in a hospital bed after the war Smells, sights, manners of behavior, words and so much more bring memories of those awful, frightening days in the camp back to her. Yun Ling recalls how her sisterdistracted them from the pain, torture and suffering by talking about the Japanese gardens she’d fallen in love with during a family trip to Japan. The girls used to design gardens together, taliing about how they would create them for hours. Yun Ling wants to honor her sister with a garden and is angered when Aritomo refuses to create one for her. But then he agrees to teach Yun Ling how to build one herself. Little does she realize that she will learn so much more than how to make a beautiful garden.

Tan Twan Eng displays, through Yun Ling and Aritomo, a remarkable understanding of people, their thoughts and emotions. During her time in Yugiri, Yun Ling comes to grips with the realization that the people around her have all been touched by war. She sees that, although their experiences with war may be different, it has deeply effected many people. Yun Ling learns that what’s important is what she does with her experience and memories of her time in the camp. She can chose to be bitter and angry or she can understand that not everyone is to blame and open her heart and mind to life. There are Japanese people who have suffered and carry the marks and pain of loss, too. Yun Ling learns to let go of her hatred, to redirect and forget her pain from this mysterious, quiet, and gentle Aritomo. He helps Yun Ling to come to terms with her suffering and loss through the principles of gardening and, as their relationship grows and they become close, she better understands herself and others.

Tan Twan Eng effectively compares memories and gardens. Memories grow and improve when nurtured but can only be shaped so much before they become distorted and fake. They often surprise us with the unearthing of forgotten secrets, with delightful surprises and unexpected twists. Yun Ling is surprised by how one memory will uncover things she’d forgotten about as she records her life. She also learns about the Art of Borrowed Scenery, shakkei, from Aritomo, the master of shakkei. An important concept in the story, shakkei is “taking elements and views from outside a garden and making them integral to his creation”. This concept translates into memories, too. It’s not uncommon for people to borrow from loved ones memories to fill in or create their own particularly when they’ve lost someone important to them or cannot return to a place they loved. In a way memories are also shaped and created, Yun Ling learns as she and Aritomo share some memories with each other.

Tan Twan Eng has written a quiet but powerful and complex book. It contains passages that are both beautiful and breath-taking, shocking and painful. It will make you think about your own life and experiences as well as the memories you have. This absorbing book is worth taking the time to savor and enjoy. I highly recommend it.

See Tan Twan Eng’s website

Thank you to Myrmidon for the opportunity to read and review The Garden of Evening Mists and for a copy of this book.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

~ First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros ~

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros is a weekly meme hosted by Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea every Tuesday. To participate share the opening paragraph or two of a book you've decided to read based on that paragraph. When I had the opportunity to review this book, I read the information provided by Trish at TLC Book Tours and then searched for an excerpt. When I read the excerpt, I was hooked and knew I had to read this book despite how painful and sad it might be.

Don't forget to drop by Bibliophile By the Sea and read Diane's selection this week and be sure to visit and read the contributions of other participants in this terrific meme who can be found in the comments!

Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
Muscle has memory; the body knows things the mind won’t admit. Two police officers were at my door - uniformed, arranged - yet even as the door swung open upon them, which was surely the moment that I knew, even then, my conscious self was seeking other explanations, turning around and around, like a rat in a cage. Muscle memory - not the same thing as instinct, of course, but related: pianists know about this, and tap dancers, and anyone who has ever given birth. Even those who have never done anything more physical than toe their shoelaces know it. The body is quicker than the mind. The body can be trusted.

It has taken them longer than it should have to come to my house with the news. Betty was not carrying any form of identification. When this policewoman explains this she does so gently, neutrally, but I choose to hear criticism. I am sitting on my sofa, perched on the edge. The gas fire is on. On the carpet before me a magazine from the previous weekend’s newspapers lies open where I left it - I was reading it this morning, crouched before the fire. The more junior of the officers, a young man, thin and pale, is standing by the door. The woman in charge - older, blonde - has sat down next to me but her body is half-turned to face me. I have invited them in I have asked this news across my threshold.

I am trying to understand what they are telling me, the larger picture, but I seize upon a detail. They weren’t carrying identification. They. She was with her friend Willow. Willow and Betty. “She’s nine,” I say.
What are your thoughts about these paragraphs? Would you read this book based on these paragraphs?

Monday, April 2, 2012

~ Mailbox Monday ~

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a weekly meme originally created and hosted by Marcia of A girl and her books and hosted this month by Cindy at Cindy‘s Love of Books. Below are the titles I received for review, purchased, or otherwise obtained over the course of the past week.
This Life Is In Your Hands by Melissa Coleman (for review from Harper Perennial)
Set on a rugged coastal homestead during the 1970s, This Life Is in Your Hands introduces a superb young writer driven by the need to uncover the truth of a childhood tragedy and connect anew with the beauty and vitality of the back-to-the land ideal that shaped her early years.

In the fall of 1968, Melissa Coleman’s parents, Eliot and Sue—a handsome, idealistic young couple from well-to-do families—pack a few essentials into their VW bus and abandon the complications of modern existence to carve a farm from the woods. They move to a remote peninsula on the coast of Maine and become disciples of Helen and Scott Nearing, authors of the homesteading bible Living the Good Life. On sixty acres of sandy, intractable land they begin to forge a new existence, subsisting on the crops they grow and building a home with their own hands.

While they establish a happy family and achieve their visionary goals, the pursuit of a purer, simpler life comes at a price. Winters are long and lean, summers frenetic with the work of the harvest, and the distraction of the many young farm apprentices threatens the Colemans' marriage. Then, one summer day when Melissa is seven, her three-year-old sister, Heidi, wanders off and drowns in the pond where she liked to play. In the wake of the accident, ideals give way to human frailty, divorce, and a mother’s breakdown—and ultimately young Melissa is abandoned to the care of neighbors. What really happened, and who, if anyone, is to blame?

This Life Is in Your Hands is the search to understand a complicated past; a true story, both tragic and redemptive, it tells of the quest to make a good life, the role of fate, and the power of forgiveness.

Make It Stay by Joan Frank (for review from The Permanent Press) In the tree-nestled Northern California town of Mira Flores, writer Rachel ("an aging typist with an unprofitable hobby" and her Scottish husband Neil prepare dinner for a familiar "crew" of guests - among them Neil's best friend, the burly, handomse Mike Spender, an irrepressible hedonist - and Mike's wife, the troubling Tilda Krall, a hard-bitten figure who carries her dark unknowability like an accusation.

Mike and Tilda have produced an enchanting daughter, Addie - who will also appear, unexpectedly, that night. As they ready the meal, Rae begs Neil to retell her the strange, twisted story of the Spenders - to include Mike's secret life, and what happened once Tilda learned of it. Neil and Rae cannot guess how the shock waves from that story will threaten to destroy their own marriage - after a mysterious catastrophe propels all five individuals into uncharted realities.

The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers (ARC from Harper Perennial) Jessie Lamb is an ordinary girl living in extraordinary times: as her world collapses, her idealism and courage drive her towards the ultimate act of heroism. If the human race is to survive, it's up to her. Set just a month or two in the future, in a world irreparably altered by an act of biological terrorism, The Testament of Jessie Lamb explores a young woman's determination to make her life count for something, as the certainties of her childhood are ripped apart.

The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen (for review from Broadway Books/Crown Publishing) Ethan Coen’s screenplays have surprised and delighted international audiences with their hilarious vision and bizarrely profound understanding of human nature. With his brother, Joel, Coen has written, directed, and produced some of the most original and beloved movies in the history of cinema, including Raising Arizona; Miller’s Crossing; Barton Fink; The Hudsucker Proxy; Fargo; The Big Lebowski; O Brother, Where Art Thou?; Intolerable Cruelty; an adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men; Burn After Reading; and—most recently—True Grit, which was nominated for ten Academy Awards. Coen has also written collections of critically acclaimed plays (Almost an Evening), short stories (Gates of Eden), and poetry (The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way), all presented in his distinctly humorous and oddly brilliant literary voice.

Coen’s eccentric genius is revealed again in The Day the World Ends (Broadway Paperbacks Original, on sale April 3, 2012), a collection of poems that offers humor and provides insight into an artist who has always pushed the boundaries of his craft.  The Day the World Ends is a remarkable range of poems that are as funny, ribald, provocative, raw, and often touching as the brilliant films that have made the Coen brothers cult legends. Short, accessible, and nearly the same price as a movie ticket, this new poetry collection is a perfect treat for Coen’s legions of fans.

Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos (from Paperbackswap) When Martin Grace enters the hip Philadelphia coffee shop Cornelia Brown manages, her life changes forever. But little does she know that her newfound love is only the harbinger of greater changes to come. Meanwhile, across town, Clare Hobbs—--eleven years old and abandoned by her erratic mother--—goes looking for her lost father. She crosses paths with Cornelia while meeting with him at the café, and the two women form an improbable friendship that carries them through the unpredictable currents of love and life

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris (from Paperbackswap) David Sedaris's fourth book mines poignant comedy from his peculiar childhood in North Carolina, his bizarre career path, and his move with his lover to France. Though his anarchic inclination to digress is his glory, Sedaris does have a theme in these reminiscences: the inability of humans to communicate.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bloggiests: Finish Line!

My List from the Start of Bloggiesta:

1. Make changes to sidebar
2. Link up with Twitter, Facebook etc.
3. Find out how to list social media icons on sidebar
4. List books read and/or by Title and Author
5. Figure out how to list above on a separate page attached to my blog
6. How to make additional blog pages
7. Find out what the above is actually called! (Maybe page tabs?!)
8. Clean up Google Reader
9. Clean up labels
10. Update Goodreads account
11. Reduce review backlog
12. Learn to write better and shorter reviews and write them faster!
13. Comment, comment, comment!
14. How to add a video to a posts
15. How to add an audio excerpt to a post
16. Pintrest
17. SEO - what is it, how to use it!

I was able to get a lot of the items on my list accomplished this weekend!
**I wrote a few reviews usung some of the tips from Bloggiesta
**I commented on several blogs yesterday amd Friday but didn't manage commenting today.
**I spent several hours reading up on SEO today on April’s blog, Good Books and Good Wine and trying it out on one of my old reviews. It’s a lot of info but not too difficult. I also found the article Biz Ladies:SEO Cheat Sheet at Design Sponge which Natasha from Maw Books tweeted about very helpful. I’m going to write a post over the next few days about it, as much to organize my thoughts and what I’ve read and to share what I’ve learned especially for the Bloggers who requested it.
**I did some work on my Sidebar and have started posting the blogs I like to visit. I think I might want to post just the blog name without the most current post and date.
**I learned how to link my blog to Twitter and Facebook and to post social media icons on my sidebar for my visitors to follow. The latter took me quite a while. For some reason I couldn’t follow all of the steps on the Lisa’s blog Adventures of 2.0  about the social media icons. I think I was missing a couple of steps or something. I was getting too frustrated so I did a search and discovered a blog with some steps that I managed to follow...and it worked! (I cannot find the blog name right now but will update with it when I do!)
**I learned how to create themed pages from Charlotte at Charlotte’s Library so I was able to make a blog page listing the books I’ve read so far this year. I need to alphabetize it still but I’m pretty excited about this! I’m going to make a list of reviews and probably a list of my favorite books from last year.
**I learned how to post a “Like” Facebook button on my posts in a mini-challenge at Liza’s blog Sockets and Lightbulb to help promote my blog on Facebook

I also read the posts at some other blogs hosting mini-challenges although I didn’t participate in the mini-challenge. I found all of the info very helpful!
 **Pam, Posted about The Top Ten of HTML Basics
**Jessica of The Bluestocking Society wrote a great post about Five Ways to Make Your Reviews Stand Out
**Melanie from Melanie’s Musing’s had very helpful Five Tips to Write Reviews Faster

I'm edited this post because I want to say a big Thank you to Suey and Danielle from organizing Bloggiesta!  You did a fantastic job!