Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another thing I hate

Okay, so I don't want to sound like Andy Rooney just griping about stuff but a few things came up lately and it made me want to write them down.

First, a little while back I wrote about disliking when people I don't care for show up on Sesame Street. Well, I have another Sesame Street issue. I watch quite a bit of Sesame Street because of the babies and I do really like it. There's something soothing about that show and I have pleasant sense memories from both when my kids were little and when I was little. Anyway this Sesame Street gripe has to do when people I don't care for are on the show and rock it. You know being on Sesame Street is like being on the Simpson's. Probable better even, since it's been around for so long so you're excited about being on a show you grew up with and it gives you major cool points with your kids. So, when someone is on it I really want them to be into it and not everyone does a great job with it. I mean some people just go through the motions (I'm looking at you Kobe) and other people are totally into it. Here I'm looking square at Brian Williams who I'm crushing on big time due to at least two awesome Sesame Street appearances. I will go to my grave smiling over "Come back with my microphone, chicken" and "Squid, squid, squid, squid".

That leads me to my point. I liked Brian Williams even before his turn on the Street. But what happens when some one you don't care for shows up? I don't really care for Elizabeth Hasselback. I thinks she screechy and annoying and she just irks the crap out of me. The other day she showed up on Sesame Street to talk about "camouflage" and she was terrific. She just got it and was really into it which is what you need to do. Gack, now I have to kind of like her cause she rocked Sesame Street. Oh well, I guess I can deal with it But I'll say this Sarah Palin best not show up and do a great job. I just may have to explode if that happens.

Here's the other thing. I HATE when phones of T.V. shows have the same ring as my phone at home. We watch "The Glades" and it's a pretty good show. I like the main character and he and his partner have good chemistry. It's snarky but not to mean spirited. The romance in the show is good and it doesn't make me think too much. Anyway, the phones in the police station have the same ring as my home phone. You know what phones in police stations do? They ring. They ring all the time. Really all the time. We have to check our phone at least half a dozen times an episode. Aaaaarrrrrgggggg, it makes me crazy. You think if I write the production company they would change the ring? Probably not.

Oh well, on with the rest of my day.

Book # 39 "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" by Betty Smith

Every year I think about rereading books I loved when I was younger. Every year or two I'll reread "To Kill a Mockingbird" or I'll take another read of "Camille". It's like getting back together with a old friend and I always feel better after.

Now these two books I've read rather consistently since I first fell in love with them but others I loved in High School and earlier I haven't read in years and in some cases decades. An example of that is "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". I don't think I've read it in 20 years or more. This month my book club decided to "A Tree" and I realized I haven't read it forever. But I began to get nervous that I wouldn't love it the way I did when I first read it.

Well, I didn't have to worry. It was everything I remembered it being. Francie Nolan and her family live in turn of the century Brooklyn. Poverty and cruelty is everywhere yet the Nolan family they're family and neighbors work hard to simply live, an accomplishment in itself. Francie's father Johnny is a lovable entertaining man who drinks to much and finds it hard to grow up and take care of his family the way he should. The job of providing for the family falls to Katie Nolan, Francie's mother. Katie works hard to earn money and take care of her family and also pushes each of her children to get an education, knowing it's the only way they will ever escape life in the tenements of Brooklyn.

A vivid picture of a time and place that doesn't exist anymore "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" is, at heart, the story of how one little girl, with the help of those who love her, survives with hope and a remarkable resilience that makes you root for her to become everything she hopes to be.

I loved this book so much. The old chestnut of "I Laughed, I cried" really does fit this book. I think one of the things that struck me most is how fast children had to grow up in those conditions. We talk today about how fast our kids grow up but it seems nothing in comparison to that way children had to fight to survive in this time period. Children went to work to support their family and while I'm sure it still exists I wonder if it is prevalent. Just with the child labor laws it must be different.

The hope that flows through this story is what really touched me. I truly believe Francie would be one who made it out but unlike others shown in the story who made it out and turned their backs on their life in Brooklyn you're left knowing Francie would never forget or hate her past life. Thanks to the love and support of all her family Francie would never really leave Brooklyn.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book #38 "The Sugar Queen" by Sarah Addison Allen

Josie Cirrini wakes up to find a woman has moved into her closet. The closet she kept her secret stash of candy, cakes, and romance novels. The closet where she hides from her mother. Her mother who has never forgiven Josie for being a wild child when she was just a little girl. A mother who has made Josie her personal servant and chauffeur, ensuring Josie will have no life of her own.

That is until the woman took up residence in Josie's closet. She pushes Josie into making a new friend, declaring her love for the mailman Josie pines for, and generally learning to live her own life.

"The Sugar Queen" in another magical book from Allen. I love that each character gets a full story, from the woman in the closet to the Cirrini's housekeeper. They all have the touch of magic I love in her books. There are so many wonderful aspects to them that just light up the story. Does it get any better then having books magically find one of the characters? Even a character who is generally unlikable finds happiness in the end.

I don't think I could say I have a favorite of any of the three books Allen has now (can't wait for the fourth, but at least it will be a fine birthday present to myself)I love them all equally. They all will definitely be on my reread list.

Monday, September 20, 2010

I fear I'm becoming.......

obsessed to the point of looneyness (I know not a word but it works for me) with Sarah Addison Allen. I love her books, simply love them. I am now a little less than half way through with my 3rd book of hers (though it's her 2nd) and I find myself quite upset with the notion I'll have no new books from her until March 2011. While I do find it nice she getting a new book to me for my birthday I'm sad there aren't 10 already here for me to read.

I love her yet I would prefer she had no family life, no social life, didn't take breaks to eat or sleep but instead kept writing continuously in order to keep me in books. I would like her to be my Scheherazade and have 1001 nights of stories available for me. All this while I have a large stack of books in my "To Be Read" stack all waiting for me.

I feel better having gotten this out there. I know she's doing her best to keep me in stories so I will have to settle for that and be grateful, which I am.

Well, now back to my book.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Book # 37 "Lemon Meringue Pie Murder" by Joanne Fluke

My husband jokes about the various mystery series I read and the professions of the solvers of said mysteries. He loves to pick some far fetched job or hobby and then have them solve the crime. Topiary sculptor or glass blower, teapot collector or professional sock darner you name it they solve crimes. I myself am perfectly okay with this idea but then, I do have a remarkable ability to really suspend disbelief. So it all works out.

I'm just fine with Hannah Swensen being a baker who just happens to solve murders. I'm good with the idea the police in her town can't seem to solve any of these murders without her input. I'm alright with the fact Hannah stumbles on dead bodies more often than most people come across litter. This series works for me and I do enjoy most the characters.

In this outing Hannah's mom discovers a body in the basement of a house recently purchased by one of Hannah's love interests, Norman. (See she didn't stumble on the body this time so it works) In no time Hannah is investigating the murder and even has the okay of her other love interest, Mike, a detective in the local police. There's also a sub plot of stolen money and a local boy being led astray my his cousin and all of this takes place during 4th of July festivities.

I had a hard time sticking with this story. It moved just a little slow for me and it wasn't to hard to figure out who and why the murder was committed. The side stories of Hannah's diet and her little sisters visit didn't really move the story along (though I did like the character of the little sister). There were also time where Hannah came across as a little prudish or behind the times which just struck me as odd.

None of this turned me off to the series and I'm sure I'll keep plugging away. Plus, there are some really good recipes throughout and I love a good cookie recipe.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book # 36 "Barefoot" by Elin Hilderbrand

I'm never really sure about what qualifies as "Chick Lit". Is it just books about mainly women or is it women empowerment novels? Either way I guess on the whole I'm not attracted to stories just because they're deemed "Chick Lit" but then again, I'm not totally turned off by them either.

That being said I'm not sure whether or not "Barefoot' would be fall in the category but it was a girly kind of book. The story of three women and their summer in Nantucket. Two sisters and one of the sisters friend come to hide and heal in the families summer cottage. One sister is fighting cancer, the other sister is hiding from a scandal that cost her her job and reputation at the college where she taught, and the friend has found out after seven tries she's finally pregnant just as she also finds out about her husbands affair. So, yeah, I guess this is "Chick Lit".

I've never read any of Elin Hilderbrand other books but I believe she is quite popular. I got this one for $1.99 on my Nook so I thought what the heck. It was not a great read. I thought she dealt with the character's cancer fairly well but the rest left me kind of flat. None of the characters jumped out at me and made me really care about them. Well, that's not true - the twenty-something guy they hired to be their babysitter - his story line was interesting but not enough to carry the book.

If my reading list wasn't so long I might try another of Hilderbrand's novels from the library but for right now I'll have to leave her to her fans. Maybe next year.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Book # 35 "Garden Spells" by Sarah Addison Allen

She's done it to me again. I was minding my own business ~ really I was minding the business of Clair Waverley, her sister Sydney, and their cousin Evanelle ~ and sneaky old Sarah kept me awake all night. This is my second novel by this author and I'm absolutely in love with her stories. She really works her magic over me and both her books so far are just filled with magic.

"Garden Spells" tells the story of the Waverley sisters and the cousin. All have a certain talent that make them stand out from and sought out by the people of Bascom, North Carolina. Clair can use the mystical flowers and herbs growing in the Waverley garden to help people calm their children, remind lovers of past good times, or discourage the amorous intentions. Cousin Evanelle has always been driven to give people things, unusual items to unsuspecting recipients whose uses become clear. Enter long lost sister Sydney and her daughter Bay. After 10 years on the run from a family legacy she didn't thing she wanted Sydney is back trying to forget the dangerous life she left behind. Sydney soon discovers her Waverley gift and that Bay is a Waverley too.

There's a lot of love and magic and happiness in this story. The character are flawed but lovable and I found myself hoping they all have a happy ending. The love interests and secondary characters all help to make the story richer and more interesting. Plus who doesn't love a story with an ornery apple tree whose apples will make you see the most important event of your life and wants to tell you so much it will throw it's apples at you.

I've been swept away by both of Sarah's books. The third one is one the waiting list at my library and I'm waiting to get all three books she's published through Paperback Book Swap. She has a new one coming out soon but not soon enough for me. Please Sarah hurry and write faster. I need another night I don't get to bed until 2AM.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Book # 34 "Southern Ghost" by Carolyn Hart

A few weeks ago I was listening to "Book Club Girl's" BlogTalk Radio show and she was interviewing Emily Gray Tedrowe about her book "Commuters". I book I've read and reviewed earlier.

Well, in the course of the interview Emily mentioned how she found it odd more author's didn't write about their characters reading and I believe she also talked about how they didn't talk about other books or authors in their books. I had to agree with her. I always find it weird that characters don't read or talk about books and authors they like. Sometimes I think they may be afraid readers may think "Holy Cow, that sounds like a better book" and run back to the books store to exchange the book they're reading for the book mentioned in the novel. Now, I'm sure that is not really the case. (Well, maybe it is in some cases) But gosh, come on you're a writer shouldn't some of you characters read?

I think on of the things I like best about Carolyn Hart's Death on Demand series is not only does her main character read (after all she does run a mystery book store) she mentions authors, book titles, and even characters in the books. I will admit I'm caught off guard when she mentions herself but it does make sense since she's a pretty popular mystery author and she would be a big seller in a mystery book store.

Anyway "Southern Ghost" was one of her middling Annie and Max Darling mysteries. The set up of a missing girl didn't work for me. While the main mystery - a murder and suicide that occurred 20+ years earlier was a good one - the solution came together rather quickly and seemed a bit disconnected from the investigation they had done. Really it was solved by another character in the story which I didn't mind but you missed her investigation so the conclusion was a little forced. But I do really like these characters and the location of the story so I really did enjoy the book overall.