What’s On Your Nightstand: June edition

Always books, books and more books abounding in this house.  Lately I’ve read quite a wide variety–some from ideas gathered whilst surfing online, some from magazine suggestions or articles I enjoyed and pursued the authors further and  yet others stumbled upon in browsing amid the library shelves.

Without further ado…a listing of some recent reads:

*Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas–loved this one, posted about it here.

*Yada Yada Prayer Group Gets Real by Neta Jackson–a good enough read.

*Days of Gold by Jude Deveraux–don’t think I’ve ever read one by this lady that wasn’t good. This particular story takes a character from Lavender Morning and goes back to her youth.  (no need to read in order)

*Storm Prey by John Sandford–a Lucas Davenport novel. While I’ve been away from the mystery/suspense/horror/crime genre for the most part for quite some time, I could not turn down a new Davenport installment–I like him and the characters that flank him. Sandford delivers as always–although I must admit that in every novel of his I have read, the crescendo moment seems to be delayed…you’re reading along, almost there and bam–another  few chapters stalls it out. Must work for him, though, cause I’m still reading!

*Cather’s Kitchens by Roger L. and Linda K. Welsch–a non-fiction look at the kitchens and food that impacted author Willa Cather’s life. I stumbled across this one when skimming an article about the author–books and food, right up my alley! This is one I’ve browsed more than I’ve settled in to read–and that actually fits it well, I think.

*Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford–this one I resisted…I’m not sure why. Maybe because every.single.book.blogger. has read it–which is in itself a lame excuse, why else to we blog about books if not to share and garner ideas?!? *rolling eyes at myself* My library book club chose this one for June’s read, so coupling that with seeing it acclaimed all around, I am happy to say I did not let such lame-ity(heh) get in the way of a good story–I read it and I really enjoyed it tremendously. Click the title or here for my full review.

*The Mist by Carla Neggers–a short n sweet post about this one is  here.

Click on over to 5 Minutes For Books where the “What’s On Your Nightstand” carnival is going on–you’re guaranteed to find lots of book ideas!


Surprising Find–That’ll Teach Me!?

I confess– *nods* yes,  confess– to a  bit of ‘popular book discrimination’ when it came to this book. All too often, in my experience, a book gains a cult following and I cannot for the life of me see why. I’m tired of so many ‘trendy’ topics and those books often fall under such.

I know better than to blanket-judge any book out there, I do! So…I just now read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet after it has ricocheted around book blogs and articles for quite some time. It wasn’t that the book didn’t sound good enough, however, the descriptions didn’t grab me enough for it to make the stacks–maybe it was the mood? ~shrug~

All of that being said,  I read it and I really enjoyed it. The story is wonderful, the writer’s prose so catching and moving…loved it.

“Like so many things Henry had wanted in life–like his father, his marriage, his life–it had arrived a little damaged. Imperfect. But  he didn’t care, this was all he’d wanted. Something to hope for and he’d found it. It didn’t matter what condition it was in.”

This was so much more than another book about life, war, loss and love…twas a story about human nature, about the will to not only survive, but be happy as well. Without trying to spoil anything, I do want to say that the ending for this book is much like what I had hoped for Fireworks Over Tococca…and that’s all I’ll say about that.

“The more Henry thought about the shabby knick knacks, the forgotten treasures, the more he wondered if his own broken heart might be found in there,hidden among the unclaimed treasures of another time. Boarded up in the basement of a condemned hotel. Lost, but never forgotten.”

I also really liked the conversation with author Jamie Ford that I found in the back of my copy.(click the author’s name there for a partial version online) I love people. I love knowing what they are thinking, what inspires them, what depresses them, how they see things…there’s not much I don’t want to know! The author talks about where his ideas for this book came from as well as the fact that The Panama Hotel does exist–the basement belongings are real, as well.

That’ll teach me…maybe?!?


The Mist by Carla Neggers

The Mist by Carla Neggers was one of those reads in which both the descriptiveness and characters kept my interest and was easily finished in one good sit-n-read. A suspense/spy/romance novel all-in-one type always makes me wonder if it’ll be a book with depth–this one certainly was. I had never read any of this author’s work until this one, but I have already gone in search of more.

I found Ms. Neggers’ site once-upon-a-surfing-wave recently and entered a contest to win a signed copy of the above mentioned book. I won that contest and, along with the book, received a neat tshirt souvenir from the author’s Ireland tour. How fun!


**There were no strings attached to winning a copy of the book. I blogged my enjoyment in order to share this book with folks ’cause that’s what I do!**

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

“…what is more basic than the need to be known?”

Befitting the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife, I found Her Fearful Symmetry to be a strangely compelling story of love and human folly. The central story, around which several other threads spin, belongs to Elspeth and Robert–yet the background story of Elspeth and her twin Edie is an important vein that runs throughout the book–from beginning to end. Twas really more like a root from which several tendrils spring and run, some reaching a conclusion, others just piquing interest.

“…without her, the flavor, the manner, the method of living were lost to him…”

The entire cast of characters was a rich one, I wanted to know more about every single one of them. In some cases, that desire was obliged; in other cases, only a few details were given. The story of Martin and Marijke had my attention just as much as Elspeth’s story–and in this case, the thirst for details was attended to.  Quite an enjoyable ‘subplot’ story, that one.

“…sometimes a thing is–too much–and it has to be isolated…put away. So what’s in the boxes is emotion. In the form of objects.”– Martin

Being the info junkie that I am, I also enjoyed the author’s comments about the cemetery featured in the story–a very real place with much history and allure.

Good read, this one.


Eenie Meenie Miney Mo…Teen Kid Picks!

As I was thinking about my kids’ latest readings in preparation for this post in the Kid’s Picks carnival over at 5 Minutes For Books , I realized that even though I notice what they’re reading and they talk with me about different books, every time I ask my teens to consider which books I might mention for this post, I learn even more. Listening to what they tell me about the books everyday is always a treat, but when I ask about books for this post specifically I really enjoy their perspective in how they talk about why they want to share this or that book. Y’all, I’m striving not to blink these days!!

The boy(17) is always buried amid a sea of books–and I do mean a sea! For this post, I chose to mention a couple of his latest YA library checkouts.

He has returned to the Redwall series–specifically Martin The Warrior. Having dabbled in a book or two before but not having read the entire series as of yet, he usually has one or two of them on hand.  He says they’re ‘classically good’ and his favorite parts are battle scenes. I plan to buy the set for him, so it’ll be there on his shelf–the way he likes to dabble with them, read a bit now and then–sometimes more, sometimes less.

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel–this one has piqued my interest, thanks in no small part to the coolie website(click the book title). I just might have to give it a look myself. The boy says he’s checked this one out before but did not get to read it before it was due, then forgot about it. (covering in case I’ve mentioned it before!)

Now for the girlie’s(15) recent picks. She is slowly lingering on the last volume of the Vampire Kisses series, not wanting it to be over. I canNOT do that! While I want to do that sometimes, I never actually can contain myself and draw a book out.  A recent library jaunt found her still smitten with Egyptology–she has been entralled with the topic since she was six or so and has quite a personal collection of such books.

Rulers of Ancient Egypt by Russell Roberts(which looks to be a great history resource) and Handbook to Life in Ancient Egypt by Rosalie David are two of the half a dozen or so books about the subject that made it home in her library bags.

Happy Summertime! o/


Wondrous Words Wednesday

The latest word I have found that piqued my interest  is:

Gallimaufry— a hotchpotch(hodgepodge), jumble or confused medley.

“This word has been around since the sixteenth century, is still in use, but isn’t particularly common today. It’s one of those terms sometimes trotted out to give a literary feel to one’s writing, or spoken in a facetious tone for a quick laugh… “So now,” a writer lamented in 1579, “they have made our English tongue a gallimaufry, or hodgepodge of all other speeches”

I saw gallimaufry whilst blog surfing recently–such a great word! I cannot recall where I saw it, for I made a quick note of the word and moved on.

Click on over to Bermudaonion’s place for more words–any word junkie will not regret it!

****Edited to add pronunciation help below, so sorry it didn’t occur to me before!!(hopefully my commenters will return and check it out!)****


Pronunciation: ˌga-lə-ˈmȯ-frē
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French galimafree stew
Date: circa 1556

: hodgepodge <a gallimaufry of opinions>

Double Feature: Alice McDermott

Alice McDermott is mentioned in Book Lust by Nancy Pearl as one of the notable ‘Alices’ an avid reader should experience. Deciding to give this advice a try, I brought home from the library shelves two of Ms. McDermott’s works–Charming Billy and Child of my Heart.

The titles of both novels drew me–Charming Billy cued a childhood song my teens were fond of years ago  and Child of My Heart simply tugged at my heartstrings, for I love children of all ages.

In the opening pages of Charming Billy, I was introduced to a cast of characters in which every single person loved Billy.  Every one who ever knew him, it seemed, loved Billy unconditionally. Despite the undeniable fact that his drinking made Billy quite a needy, failing friend and a far from considerate husband, he loved wholeheartedly-with every fiber of his being- and the people in his life recognized this about Billy and returned that love–that  being said, there was one exception in his  life that likely shaped  Billy’s relationships in some way or another from then forth.

Dennis says, “When Billy sets his heart on something there’s no changing him. He’s loyal. He’s got this faith–which is probably why he drinks”

Dorothy says that Billy was “maybe too sensitive for this world, if you know what I mean”

Child Of My Heart, while very different from Charming Billy, was a page turner for me as well. In similiarity to Charming Billy, this novel’s basis was about love–the main character Theresa’s love for children in general as well as her specific love for her young cousin Daisy Mae was her true heart. Theresa’s love and ability with the children around her is quite magical. The author clearly must love and understand children, so rich and detailed were Theresa’s interactions and experiences with several children on a regular basis.

The long, misty summer days passed with very little drama, but were described in an almost poetic way both through the character herself  and the author’s prose.

In both of these books, it was the work–the artist’s craft–is what caught me, kept me reading and stayed with me.  The reader is left with indescribable feelings and connections more than anything shown there in bold print.

Prayers For Sale: I Read It

Prayers For Sale by Sandra Dallas proved, yet again, that this writer is a wonderful story teller. I have read several of her books and have enjoyed every single one.

Such depth of characters and history weaves a colorful, rich tapestry of a story that highlights the strength and courage of mountain women living in mining towns way back when. I wanted to sit and listen to Hennie’s stories, to talk the woman who faced such tragedy and hardship and went forth to be grateful for her blessings and even to forgive the one who caused a deep terrible, life changing sorrow. When a book makes the character that real, it’s magical!

This post is participating in ‘I Read It’ over at 5 Minutes For Books–and thanks to my beloved Google Reader and the ability to ‘star’ posts, I can recall that I first saw this title when Lisa posted her review over there. I had completely forgotten about her post–as the book title languished amongst my many pages/scraps/snippets of paper scribbled with book titles and author names–and then on a library trip recently I randomly picked up this title, thinking it sounded great. My brain must have filed away the fact that I had wanted to read it!

If you’re in the mood for story-telling, for sittin’ with a friend and listening to life experiences spun so eloquently, give this book a look–tis perfect for such!


In The Neighborhood by Peter Lovenheim

In The Neighborhood: The Search For Community On An American Street, One Sleepover At A Time by Peter Lovenheim reads like an appreciative personal essay, one where the reader learns quite a lot  about the writer’s feelings/thoughts as well as the topic being written about.

In writing this book, in chronicling this journey, the author not only achieved a neighborly circle of his own in which  to share lives together, but he shows clearly that most people want to know their neighbors–they just don’t know where to start, for  putting yourself out there is a risky move.


Quotes from the book:

Most folks truly want “…to live among others with a sense of common humanity, expressed through a willingness to know and be known…”

…”neighborliness: it means to be responsible for each other…you’re my neighbor and I’ll do anything to help you…not just in times of crisis but everyday and to affirmatively offer that help. And you have to reach out to your neighbor, to know the rhythm of your neighbor’s life enough to know when something is wrong…However, I’m not sure these days many people are interested in knowing another person that well…”

…”There’s talk today about how, as a society, we’ve become fragmented by income, ethnicity, city vs. suburb, red state vs. blue… But we also divide ourselves with invisible dotted lines. I’m talking about the property lines that isolate us from the people we are physically closest to: our neighbors.”


This book resonated with me. Not just in the sense of a physical neighborhood, but with making connections overall. Connecting meaningfully with folks in daily life is an intentional pursuit of mine. I firmly believe we’re on this planet to support and love one another. Those who scoff at such, I am truly sorry for whatever events have happened in life to make you feel that way and I hope you’ll work to overcome such–I still unwaveringly believe  that we’re all in this together, that our actions every one are a fiber in the fabric of life, of lives we share paths with.

In The Neighborhood is a humorous as well as thought-provoking book about real life–now go talk to your closest neighbor, have a cup o’ coffee/glass o’ tea, start something!


**my thanks to the Penguin Group for my complimentary copy of this book, there were no strings attached. I blogged my enjoyment in order to share this book with folks ’cause that’s what I do!**