Brava, Valentine

This second novel featuring the Roncalli and Angelini custom shoemaker families did not disappoint my expectation that it would be rich in humor, full of color and abiding family ties. I have a big Italian family of my own, therefore  such comments as ‘Why does this family always have to yell?’, and words like ‘whisper-shouts’ bring a shout of laughter and make perfect sense to me!

I can always rely on Trigiani books for a light, fun read–the characters, the locations, the author’s descriptiveness and humor…they add up to a good story every time.  In this particular book, the grand dame of the family, Teodora, is (among many things) a life-long Sinatra fan.  As a nod to that love, each chapter title is a title taken from a Frank Sinatra tune–isn’t that neat? A fetching quirk to the book…I liked it.

There were several words/phrases that particularly caught my eye whilst reading…like midnight blue ink and ‘unspool like a long, endless ribbon’ or ‘glorious Italian script’ and ‘buttery fresh biscuit’…to name just a few. Such words or turns of phrases were common in this book, all evoking rich and colorful images for the reader.

Valentine’s quest for a fulfilling life–in creative pursuits, in her work and in love–brings about some self-discovery as well as the realization that without putting true love first, the rest really doesn’t measure up to fill one’s soul.

‘The only urgent thing in life is the pursuit of love. You get that one right and you’ve solved the mystery’– June Lawton in Brava, Valentine

A good read, give it a look sometime soon!


Listen To…

There is a voice inside of you

That whispers all day long,

‘I feel that this is right for me,

I know that this is wrong.’

No teacher, preacher, parent, friend

Or wise man can decide

What’s right for you–just listen to

The voice that speaks inside.

~~Shel Silverstein

Would You, Could You…??

I just love Sundays.

Around here Sundays are a day to spend as we choose…whether it be morning church services or sleeping in…lunch out n about or one-big-late meal at home…yard tending, book reading, road-tripping …whatever suits us. I hope your Sunday is just that…whatever suits you.

In the spirit of choosing what you will this Sunday, would you please follow me over to 5 Minutes For Books today? I’ve a guest post spot on the stage over there, talking about one of my most favorite topics–kids and reading. Click on over and tell me your thoughts!


Rainwater by Sandra Brown

The fact that I read this book from start to finish in one sitting has very little to do with that it is only 245 pages in length, for the pages turned effortlessly as I was drawn into the story of David Rainwater and Ella Barron. The story of a man, a woman, a boy… The story of kindness, of racial tensions and misunderstood ways, of getting by day by day in the tough times of 1934, of changing times yet the enduring resilience of human nature.

The author’s own true ‘behind the book’ story was so intriguing to me–even though I found it after having read the book.  All great stories spring from a root of truth… the more truth, the better the story. The main characters are believable and real, the kind of characters that you cannot help but like and wonder what happens next.

Both the ‘behind the book’ and the ‘about the book’ writings on the author’s website are good hooks, go take a look and let yourself be reeled in…tis a good story, a good read.

What’s On Your Nightstand–March Madness version

Tis time yet again for another ‘What’s On Your Nightstand’ go ’round with those over at 5 Minutes For Books. I  know I have said it before and I am certain I will say it again in the future, I have SO enjoyed participating in such great book talk!

I mentioned a few books in my TBR stacks in a post yesterday, but I’ve plenty more titles to share today–I’m on a roll with stacking up the good books from the library lately. I have read some worth buying for my own shelves, and that’s saying alot in that I don’t buy books unless they’re worthy of marking passages in!

Here’s my currently reading/will be reading soon list…so many that I’m excited about!

*Strange Pilgrims- A short story collection by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I stumbled on this one when I went in search of “One Hundred Years of Solitude’ after reading an author interview featuring Nicole Krauss where she mentioned it. I’ve much to say about Nicole Krauss and her novel ‘The History of Love’…soon. Some things take awhile to pull together and form a proper description or expression of the thoughts, ya know? This is one of several circumstances lately where I’ve found myself reading a bit about authors and really enjoying them–Nicole Krauss then, subsequently, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

*Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos

*The Keep by Jennifer Egan– Having just finished reading ‘The Invisible Circus’ by this same author, I’ve high expectations for ‘The Keep’.

*When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson

*Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury–To date, I have never read any Bradbury that I recall.  My teenage son brought up Bradbury for some reason recently, checking out a book of short stories and this one that has now made it to my pile.

*Brother I’m Dying- Edwidge Danticat— I had already put this one on my list when I recently read an article by Ms. Danticat in The New Yorker magazine. Just that article alone further encouraged me to check out the book I’d seen mentioned several times.

This list, coupled with yesterday’s list, comprise what I am joyfully diving into around here. I’m so excited about many of these, so much so that I am merely listing on paper any other new ideas  I run across and avoiding the library for a bit *gasp*–otherwise I end up stacking and stacking and taking forever to get around to books. These have me too excited to lose track of them!

I’m off to see what everyone else’s stacks are like–always looking for more to add to the list, ya know!

Food Talk…Yum.

I always do a menu plan around here, I just don’t always do a menu plan post…but it appears that I will be doing just that today, as my typing fingers got all busy with it. Sometimes I like it when they have a mind of their own!

I’m just a wife n momma who likes to cook–not loves, likes. I get so excited when I make something that’s a delicious hit.

Yesterday I did a pork roast in the crockpot that was just fantastic…butter tender with a sauce that had just enough wang…yum. Recipe, you ask? Well…that’s where I have to say “I’ll work on that”. This was one of those times where I took a recipe, left out this, added that and scored–ya know, I just love it when that happens!  We loved it so much that I quickly repeated the process with another pork roast to have on hand, since the first one was fairly small and is long gone.

*pork roast, rice, green beans, cornbread or biscuits…maybe sandwiches on a ciabatta roll or bun…we’ll see…

*breakfast for supper–biscuits n gravy n sausage n eggs

*chicken stir fry with rice

*fried chicken cutlets on biscuits…chicken, bacon, cheddar cheese, a bit o’ gravy on a homemade biscuit…oh my… This is inspired by a ‘Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives’ episode the girlie and I saw over the weekend…mercy me. We need to think of a name for it, yes we do.  (We’ll toss in a salad here if we’ve room after those biscuits mmMM!)

Only four meals thought out this week as Friday we’ll be eating out n about and I haven’t thought much past that!

For more menu plan talk and ideas, click on over to OrgJunkie’s Menu Plan Monday.

One Monday in March…

I spent last week out-of-town,  gathering with far-flung family–sharing morning coffee, antics in the kitchen, much laughter, many hugs, some tears, lots of great food, precious memories and abounding joy. There is a part of my soul that can be filled no other way.

Sitting down here to talk about books is a soothing, comforting way to ease my aches of missing the above mentioned family…distance is a heart breaker sometimes. However, life is so good…

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about tbr books.

Where do you keep the books on the top of the tbr pile? Not the bunk of the mountain, but just the tip of the peak – the ‘almost up to’ books?

Oooh boy…the TBR(to-be-read) pile in my house begins at the big basket where I put my library stack–notice I say that’s where the pile begins… it becomes a trickle, then a trail about the house.

The books I am reading at the moment are usually found on the arm of the couch, on the coffee table, on the end table, on my bed, in my hand…and so it goes. I don’t really have my TBR pile organized as to what’s next in line, although I do try to get the 7 day or 14 day library books to the top of the heap.


Speaking of my TBR stack… I thought I’d list a few of them–in no particular order, as I’m excited about each of them–there’s not one book that looks ‘ho-hum’ in my stacks at the moment–whoot!

I am currently reading–about to finish– The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan. I recently read a short story called ‘Safari’ by this author–I’m not sure where, probably the Saturday Evening Post…wait, no…the  New Yorker, that’s where it was.  Anyway, I enjoyed it and went in search of more. So far, so good.

A few of those waiting nearby:

*The Camel Bookmobile by Masha  Hamilton— this one came into my stacks via my reading a review of another book by this author.(the title escapes me and it’s >>>in the other room)  After googling, I was intrigued, so I went amongst the library shelves to find said reviewed book and ended up with this one as well.

*Beach Trip by Cathy Holton–jumped off the shelf into my hands by merit of the title and cover art alone.  I’m up for it, yes I am.

*Have A Little Faith by Mitch Albom— I like Mitch. I really liked The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

*Rainwater by Sandra Brown— I can always depend on Ms. Brown for a good read.

This Monday in March is windy and rainy…while any time is a good time to read, such days really fit the bill!

~As The Pages Turn~

Kid Picks

Let’s see what the teenagers have been reading lately, shall we?

Both resident teens are avid newspaper readers–every evening when that Husband o’ mine comes home, they tussle over the paper–I love that.

The girlie(14-just-a-bit-longer):

* adventuring her way through a Chronicles of Narnia collection–tis a classic for her, she really likes it. I’m not sure of the title of her current read, as she’s reading them in an nice-looking anthology bought from the bookstore recently.  I think she likes the look and feel almost as much as the story!

*Math Doesn’t Suck by Danica McKellar– while Daddy was the one to notice this book and buy it for her, Meghan has been spotted reading it and laughing…

*Food Network Magazine–she’s trying to decide what’s cookin’ next week…yum.

*The Time Traveler’s Wife— mentioned in her stacks last month, she says she is deliberately taking her time because she doesn’t want this one to end. We have seen the movie, so tis spoiled–so to speak.

The boy(17) is a voracious,  read-multiple-books-at-a-time reader. Here are a few reads found in his stack:

*The Know-It-All by AJ Jacobs –I have ordered him a copy of this one, since he keeps the library one endlessly. He’s an info junkie, to say the least. I posted a bit about it here.

*Salmandastron–the fifth book in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.

*The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. — a grammar handbook the boy discovered along his writing journey and asked me for a copy. I think he first saw it mentioned in Writer’s Digest magazine.

*Writer’s Digest Magazine–we ran amok about the house ‘fighting’ for the latest issue when it came in the mail this week.

*1984 by George Orwell

Click on over to 5 Minutes for Books to see what other folks’ kids are reading lately…I always enjoy reading posts over there and never leave without fresh book ideas!

The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs

This book is a fun one, especially for info/trivia junkies like myself and –well, my whole family.  The boy has enjoyed it so much that I’m going to have to buy a copy so the library can have theirs back!

A fun, informative, humorous book, The Know-It-All by A.J. Jacobs is written about the author’s journey through the Encyclopedia Britannica. Here’s a quote from the site:

“Part memoir, part Cliff’s Notes to every topic under the sun, The Know-It-All is about the year I spent reading the Encyclopaedia Britannica from A to Z (or, more precisely, from a-ak to zywiec). All forty-four million words of it. The book is many things…

Click over to the webpage and read further, for the page itself is a treat– a greatly entertaining  read that I think  will nudge you to put this book on your list.