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Archive for July, 2010

The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Anne Barrows.

Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback (May 5, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0385341008

 

 From Publishers Weekly

The letters comprising this small charming novel begin in 1946, when single, 30-something author Juliet Ashton (nom de plume Izzy Bickerstaff) writes to her publisher to say she is tired of covering the sunny side of war and its aftermath. When Guernsey farmer Dawsey Adams finds Juliet’s name in a used book and invites articulate—and not-so-articulate—neighbors to write Juliet with their stories, the book’s epistolary circle widens, putting Juliet back in the path of war stories. The occasionally contrived letters jump from incident to incident—including the formation of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while Guernsey was under German occupation—and person to person in a manner that feels disjointed. But Juliet’s quips are so clever, the Guernsey inhabitants so enchanting and the small acts of heroism so vivid and moving that one forgives the authors (Shaffer died earlier this year) for not being able to settle on a single person or plot. Juliet finds in the letters not just inspiration for her next work, but also for her life—as will readers.

What a great little book !!  I couldn’t put it down and I didn’t want it to end!!!  .. and now, of course, I would love to visit Guernsey !!!!

This whole book is letters written between an author, Juliet, and people from Guernsey about the times they went thru when Germany occupied their island.  Now, having said that.. I wasn’t sure this was a book I’d want to read, but so many people were reading it , I sent for it. As all my books it sustained a waiting period in my TBR pile.  But .. wow! When I got to it I couldn’t get enough of it!

It was historical but also you got to know a group of people you wouldn’t have even known about had this book not been written.

I am not good a book reviews (which is why I always include the Amazon review), and I don’t want to give away *anything!* because it is such a wonderful book and so small ..it will leave you wanting more.

Just because most people who read my blog are “book-nuts” I will give you a small quote from page 11 of the book:

“That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book and another bit there will lead you onto a third book.  It’s geometrically progressive- and with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment”.

This is a book that I can safely say: if you haven’t read it, do so!

For me, this is a keeper, for I know I will read it again one day.

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Flora Segunda

Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S Wilce

Hardcover: 448 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books(January 1, 2007)
ISBN-10: 0152054332

From Publishers Weekly

In her first novel, Wilce imagines a living castle—a kind of blending of Gormenghast and Hogwarts—and she breathes life into her tale with a wry sense of humor. The book opens as narrator Flora Fyrdraaca, the heroine of the title, is about to turn 14, a rite of passage that qualifies her to enter military training. She spends her days mostly alone inside her family’s castle, Crackpot Hall. Its 11,000 rooms have started to decay since Flora’s mother, the Warlord’s Commanding General, fired the magical Butler. Flora’s father “only comes out of his Eyrie when the booze and cigarillos run out.” Rushing to avoid being late to school, Flora takes the forbidden Elevator and ends up lost within her home—and meets the banished magical Butler, Valefor, in a forgotten library. Valefor convinces Flora to give him some of her “Anima,” her “magickal essence,” and he grows stronger. The plot detours into a convoluted back story about warring kingdoms; this leads to the tale of the “Dainty Pirate,” whom Flora and her friend Udo then rescue from the gallows. The pirate warns Flora that Valefor is actually sucking her “Will” away, and the two friends begin a hunt for a “Semiote Verb” that will restore Flora’s strength. Wilce takes the kitchen-sink approach to storytelling—at times the narrative borders on self-indulgent (e.g., “Oh ugh and disgusting and yucky-yuck”); hence some readers may feel that the book is overlong—though certainly good-natured and enjoyable.

When I purchased this book I thought it sounded light and humorous.. and it was just that.  Quite a turnabout from the books I have been reading and a nice break.

I have seen that there are more books with this character and although I enjoyed this book it had a conclusion (stand alone) and it was just enough, so it’s doubtful I will read more of them. (but who knows?!)

I was enjoying the beginning of the book when we meet Flora and her family and the banished butler Valefor. The fact that she could get in an elevator in her home and not sure where she would wind up was a great touch and I thought the book might go in that direction with all sorts of discoveries and humor along the way ..but it did not.  It seemed to me to take a step down and all the “war and warlord” stuff wasn’t the fun I thought the is book would be.  It is not a bad book!  Just not what I expected or hoped for.

It is a YA book and as such I think young folk would enjoy this book and the characters and the fact that other books are out there.  If the other books are like this one they can also be stand alone books which I find nice that you can go on or not and not feel like you didn’t finish something. Plus if they are all stand alone you don’t find you “have to” read the next one right away.  So it has more good points than bad.

All in all it was a good relief read.

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At the Pond

Yesterday I looked out and saw both the Heron and the Egret right in front of my apartment… I knew if I went outside they would fly away

so these two photos are taken thru my glass sliding doors.. not the best but at least it’s a picture.

Today I saw the Anhinga was back.. I love looking out now and then and just spotting her neck and head out of the water.  I guess I will never get used to the fact that this bird swims underwater so much.

 

This is a long shot.. trying to let you see a group of the family.  Here are 4 babies, 2 teenagers and one parent.

 

After I fed them Papa came out for a stretch and a break from all the kids!

As I looked up I saw the Egret coming in for a landing.  He surprised me and landed in the tree rather than on the ground, so I quick took a few snaps..

such a graceful bird.

And I leave you with this shot…

… and what is this?  Sharks in the Pond????

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Around the Pond

When I went to the sliding doors one time I noticed this dragonfly just resting on the cement…

Later in the day the Anhinga finally came around!!!

One of the adult Moorhens with a few of the “teenagers” close by.

One of the new babies below..

The new babies still try to stay a bit hidden.. I think they are the smallest babies I’ve ever seen!

(note the tiny featherless wings on the baby closest to the bottom!)

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Rain Village

Rain Village by Carolyn Turgeon

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Unbridled Books (October 10, 2006)
ISBN-10: 1932961240

From Booklist

Tessa is a very small girl in a family of giants. And, much to her family’s bewilderment and ridicule, she isn’t cut out for farmwork. Instead, Tessa gets a job at the local library, where the enigmatic librarian, Mary, with her stories of the circus and potions for the lovelorn, takes Tessa under her wing and teaches her the art of trapeze flying. When life gets difficult at home and Mary unexpectedly drowns herself, Tessa escapes to the circus. Over time, Tessa finds a home among the circus performers, falls in love with a wonderful man, and becomes a mother. However, when a stranger comes around talking about Mary, all of Tessa’s old feelings bubble back to the surface. She must decide between the life she knows or risk it all to follow this stranger, who can lead her to the place that may hold the secret to Mary’s death. Turgeon’s quirky first novel explores the power of secrets and how happiness is found in searching for truth. Carolyn Kubisz
Copyright © American Library Association.

Some time ago I read Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story (excellent book!) by Carolyn Turgeon, and although I am not a fan of “retold fairytales” I loved the story and the writing so I decided to see what else she wrote and found Rain Village.

This book covers incest and death, love , saddness and happiness.  I was surprised that I still managed to like the book.  Turgeons writing is quite good to make me read thru more horrors and sadness than I need to read about.

However.. I do have to say I was a little disappointed in the ending.  Not horribly, but it felt unfinished to me, I think I would have liked to known just a bit more…yet for all intent and purposes it was finished.

It’s a good book… but I think it would not be for everyone.  I will however watch for more books by this author.

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A Mixed Bag..

When we get our (often) daily storms.. it looks a lot like this ..

one day I noticed Boo seemed awfully interested in something..

… ah.. and THIS is the something!

Yesterday I looked out and noticed this black ..ummm butterfly? moth?  Whatever, it was enjoying some of my flowers.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention the Moorhens!.. I need to get some pictures but it’s been sooooo hot I don’t even want to go outside!..

Anyway… the Moorhen babies are growing in leaps and bounds!  The Teenagers are being chased away and their beaks are turning “golden” like Jr’s did when they chased him away.. meanwhile the last brood is nearly as big at the teenagers..

Now, for the shocker.. for a long time George and Gracie have been chasing other adult Moorhens around the pond until I half expect them to have a stroke.. well.. they never did make them leave the pond and now there are babies at the other end of the pond!!  Aggghhhhh!  So now we have George and Gracie and 6 teens (ready to leave) and 5 youngster and Two other adults with 4 babies!  No wonder the bigger birds are staying away this year!!!  They constantly get chased by the Moorhens no matter where they land now!

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An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears.

Paperback: 704 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Trade;(April 10, 2000)
ISBN-10: 1573227951

 

 Amazon.com Review

An Instance of the Fingerpost is that rarest of all possible literary beasts–a mystery powered as much by ideas as by suspects, autopsies, and smoking guns. Hefty, intricately plotted, and intellectually ambitious, Fingerpost has drawn the inevitable comparisons to Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose and, for once, the comparison is apt.

The year is 1663, and the setting is Oxford, England, during the height of Restoration political intrigue. When Dr. Robert Grove is found dead in his Oxford room, hands clenched and face frozen in a rictus of pain, all the signs point to poison. Rashomon-like, the narrative circles around Grove’s murder as four different characters give their version of events: Marco da Cola, a visiting Italian physician–or so he would like the reader to believe; Jack Prestcott, the son of a traitor who fled the country to avoid execution; Dr. John Wallis, a mathematician and cryptographer with a predilection for conspiracy theories; and Anthony Wood, a mild-mannered Oxford antiquarian whose tale proves to be the book’s “instance of the fingerpost.” (The quote comes from the philosopher Bacon, who, while asserting that all evidence is ultimately fallible, allows for “one instance of a fingerpost that points in one direction only, and allows of no other possibility.”)

Like The Name of the Rose, this is one whodunit in which the principal mystery is the nature of truth itself. Along the way, Pears displays a keen eye for period details as diverse as the early days of medicine, the convoluted politics of the English Civil War, and the newfangled fashion for wigs. Yet Pears never loses sight of his characters, who manage to be both utterly authentic denizens of the 17th century and utterly authentic human beings. As a mystery, An Instance of the Fingerpost is entertainment of the most intelligent sort; as a novel of ideas, it proves equally satisfying.

Gads,… I did not expect to pick up this book when I did.. nor… did I expect to enjoy it quite as much as I did… nor.. did I expect to be able to read some 700 pages as quickly as I did!  I guess you could say: this is a good book!

Written much in the style of Wilke Collins, this is a murder mystery which takes place in England in the 1600’s, and it told by 4 people who were there at the time, but see the characters and events quite differently.   Which bodes well for the old saying:  Do not believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.

As you read the story by each person you begin to feel like a person on a jury.. who is telling the truth?  … who do I believe? .. and why do so many people see the same incident in so many ways?

I quite enjoyed this book, and once again I don’t remember who’s reviews sent me to Amazon to purchase it some time ago.  I think I remember reading more than one review for me to chance such a large book!  But if you like historical mysteries I would say that you would most likely like this book.

I didn’t even realize that I have a second book by the same author in my tbr pile, but it is another rather large read.  I think I will choose a book a bit shorter before going into another chunkster as the Fingerpost is.

So if you are not afraid of a book over 700 pages long.. I’d recommend this one and see if you can figure out “who done it” before the end of the book!

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