Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Summer Reading Revisited


Friends, I am going to be honest with you, I honestly thought Autumn would never get here, and now, I am a bit concerned we may never see cooler temperatures for more than a day or so.   I am one of those who is distressed when seasons and holidays are rushed.   Though Autumn is my favorite season, I refuse to welcome it before summer takes her last bow.  

Now that Autumn is officially here, it is time to look back on this past summer's books.  Early in the season, after listening to a podcast questioning the definition of "literary fiction", I made the decision to mostly read authors new to me, genres I normally do not gravitate to and books I could find at my local library.  It was a great reading summer!


With a To Be Read list several pages long, I always had a book ready to be opened.  I am not an exceptionally fast reader... I read about 20 books over the summer.  I found new authors, a mystery series I fell in love with and now want to read from the beginning to the end (I will never catch-up),  and I discovered books so moving I had difficulty recuperating.

Here is a recap of books I most enjoyed over the summer.

Gods in Alabama, Joshilyn Jackson
What would you do for those you love?
Plot driven, strong character development.
There is a bit of a mystery, and a twist at the end.



The Night Circus, Erin Morganstern
WOW! WOW! WOW!
Atmospheric, strong character development,
beautifully crafted.  I can't believe I kept moving this
book down on my TBR list.



Reading People, Anne Bogel
non-fiction
A simple yet enlightening look at why we do the things we do
and why some folks drive us crazy.  A good reference for deciphering the
many personality test available.   Find someone to read along with you.
Take some of the tests.... loved this one.



The Lost for Words Bookshop, Stephanie Butland
For anyone who loved Elinor Oliphant is Completely Fine, will
enjoy this one.   It begins a little slow...
layers are gradually peeled away, making this a really good read.



Southernmost, Silas House
This one is at the top of my favorites for the year.
It grabbed my attention from page one, and slowly
stole my heart.   A profound statement on just loving.



Into the Water, Paula Hawkins
I enjoy how this book started slow and
gradually, gained speed.   This mystery is not solved until
the very last page.



Where the Crawdad's Sing, Delia Owens
 I loved this book!  Oh my gosh, from page one I felt as if someone
was holding my heart in their fist and squeezing.   Heartbreaking, but so full of hope.



Perennials, Julia Cantrell
The perfect ending to my summer reading.  
Set in one of my favorite towns, Oxford, Mississippi, this is a story of
family bonds, what cements them and what shatters those bonds.  
Perennials is not a fast paced tale... 
do you really want to rush a beautiful sunrise?  
One word description....
Bittersweet. 


Now the series that hooked me?  
Louis Penny's Three Pines Mysteries.

     
I have been hearing about this series for awhile; not wanting to get tied up waiting, I have avoided anything labeled number "whatever" in a series.   I actually began somewhere around #7 and realized I probably should go back to the beginning, #1,  Still Life.  I am still a newbie to "Three Pines", but I am loving them.  As I moved from one to another a nostalgia I can't explain enveloped me...  I not only want to read them.... seriously?  I just want to move to Three Pines and be a character in these books.

  My summer reading was an eye opener and ever so enjoyable.  There are a lot of good, entertaining, well-written books to be picked up and read, not considered literary fiction.  I believe there is a book out there for everyone (let me know if you need help finding it).

So... Autumn is here.  I've finished my first book, bought a pumpkin scented candle and baked pumpkin bread.  Now I just need Mother Nature to kick it into gear and give us some autumn like temperatures. 

Happy Reading friends!
  

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Milk and Cookies - BEE


How do you feel about bees? 
 I know they can be pretty scary to children and adults alike.  The years I have spent in the garden I have learned a lot about these little yellow and black creatures.   I discovered they are most often more intent on finding nectar than using me as target practice.   The times I have been stung we were two moving objects fated to collide.  


Britta Teckentrup's beautifully illustrated book follows a day in the life of a bee, as she searches for food, all the while spreading pollen along the way.   BEE, is a gentle lesson on the enormous importance the bee has on our landscape, and ultimately our survival. 



This picture book has everything I love,  bright and beautiful illustrations, simple text and a lesson.



*****
I may have made bee skip cookies.

Children love iced sugar cookies.  Even more, they love to decorate them.  I've tried a lot of sugar cookie recipes, and this may be my favorite.  I am almost sure it is from a long ago episode of The Pioneer Woman.


Sugar Cookie Cutouts

1 1/2 cup butter
 (yep, that's 3 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
5 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
zest from one orange
1 tsp. salt

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Using a mixer (on medium) cream butter with sugar until light  and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low and slowly add in flour mixture; mix well.

Divide dough in half.  Form into disks, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least an hour or overnight.  If I am making these with my grandchildren, I usually freeze one disk for later.

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper, and pre-heat oven to 325℉

Let dough soften then roll out to about 1/4" thick.   Place cookies on pan and bake until lightly brown.   I start checking at about 15 mins.  

Let cool and ice using your favorite cookie icing.

Royal Icing
(I don't usually measure ingredients for my icing,
these are approximate amounts.  It is all about the consistency you want.)

2 2/3 cups Powdered sugar
4 to 6 tablespoons milk ( depending on consistency)
you can use water
1/2 tsp vanilla
(most recipes don't call for vanilla.
I think the icing taste better)
2 tbsp meringue powder

In a mixer with the whisk attachment combine 4 tbsps.  of milk and the meringue powder.  Whisk until it begins to get frothy.  Add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Add milk, a little at a time,  to obtain desired consistency.

I tend to start with a thick icing to pipe around the edges.... thin and flood the inside.  Tint icing using your favorite food coloring.  I actually like the powdered, but can sometimes be hard to find.

When doing this with children I eliminate the meringue powder, hand them a plastic knife and let them have fun.


Someone in my house thought they were pretty yummy without the icing!

Happy Reading friends! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Book Talk Wednesday - The Dinner List

"WE'VE BEEN WAITING FOR AN HOUR."
That's what Audrey says.  She states it with a little bit of an edge, her words just 
bordering on cursive."
                                                                                                      The Dinner List



There is a section in the Sunday edition of our local newspaper titled High Profile.   The front page is taken up with the picture and biography of someone who has accomplished good things, usually as a philanthropist, a politician or in their career.  Though the article can be a little lengthy at times, there is a small insert on the second page where the guest is ask several questions.   Almost always one of the questions is  "who would you like to invite to dinner?"  Do you know who you would invite?

Sabrina is urged, by her roommate, to put together a list of five people, living or dead, she would invite to a fantasy dinner.  The list is made and put away.  Fast forward ten years.  Sabrina shows up to her 30th birthday celebration to find the table filled with those from her list: a favorite professor, her dad, her boyfriend, her best friend and Audrey Hepburn.  Sabrina is confused, but as the night evolves the reason this dinner is taking place on this night becomes apparent.

The Dinner List is a bittersweet character and dialogue driven story of betrayal, abandonment, redemption and learning to let go.  Once the layers begin to peel away we discover the true reason this group is brought together.  I promise, Audrey does have a role at this dinner party.  Oh, there is a big OMG moment I did not see coming.

   Structuring a chapter, let alone a complete book around food can be a bit risky.  The story can stall and become a bit boring.  Rebecca Serle successfully keeps the story moving by alternating dinner conversation and events of the last ten years.

I received an early copy of The Dinner List from Flatiron Books and Goodreads for an honest review.  When I first began this book, I was a bit concerned, but soon became engrossed.   It may not make my top five list... it is a good read.

Have you made your dinner list?
Please share!

The Dinner List hits the bookstores September 11th.

Happy Reading Friends!

Oh, my list? 
My mother, my seventh
grade English teacher, Laura Bush,
Ann Lamont and my daughter.
(readers and writers)

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Back to School




It's  my first day back in school. 
 It is always exciting.   
There's always a little bit of a honeymoon period, 
then the children figure out I'm pretty much a push over.

I'm working on a routine of writing and scheduling, rather than writing and posting.  Stay with me, it may take me a few weeks to build my stamina.  I'm fully expecting to need a nap when I get home this afternoon.

Okay,
I'm going in....
It is going to be a great year!

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Introducing Milk and Cookies

"Children are made readers on the 
laps of their parents."
Emilie Buchwald

Friends, it is back to school time.   I have had so much fun this past week and a half, following  my former pre-schoolers and sending happy messages on their first day.  There is just something exciting about a new school year.  I still have a little over a week before I head back, but I have been working in my classroom cleaning, sprucing-up and organizing.

One of my "jobs", besides teaching Pre-K 4, is taking care of our children's library.  Just before the school year begins, a teacher friend and I get to go to a local bookstore, spend a few hours perusing children's books and selecting a really nice bunch of books to bring back to the school for parent's to purchase and donate to our school library.  I may not be the perfect person for the job; I assure you, no one enjoys it more.

Now this is going to sound off track, but it is just an example of how my rambling 
crazy brain runs.

A few weeks ago, playing around in the kitchen, I was mixing up a batch of my, go to, chocolate chip cookies.  I am a bit like the the mouse in If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  I can begin one thing which will make me think of something else, which will make me think of something else, and so on and so on.  You're following me, right?

image from Goodreads

So, while tossing together all the ingredients, I ventured down that street (you know the one I'm talking about) named Memory Lane.  I had those warm fuzzy memories of coming home from school, finding a plate of M &M cookies and a glass of milk waiting on the table.  I would sit on the kitchen stool while Mother cooked supper, and we would talk about my school day.    A couple of cookies and a glass of milk and I was an encyclopedia of all that happened in the classroom and on the playground.... no holding back... no secrets kept.  Trust me on this one, I was pretty much a sell-out for a good cookie.


I moved on from thinking of the past, to wishing I could share the cookies cooling on the rack with my grandchildren, after their first day of school.   I thought about how fun it would be to sit, with a warm cookie, a cold glass of milk in hand while sharing a book.

The light bulb went off!

Milk and Cookies
(and children's literature)

Again, I am throwing together a couple of my favorite things to share.


In addition to sharing my thoughts on the books I am enjoying, I am going to occasionally
share a favorite children's book and perhaps...
a cookie recipe (because you know I love to play in the kitchen).



I believe...

When we read, and share a love of reading, with children,
we are creating readers.
If you can read you can do anything.
If we create readers, and they can do anything...
Imagine the possibilities!

****

Readers, I love sharing the things that excite me, and make my heart smile, with you.   I love hearing your thoughts and ideas.  Writing and putting this out into space, tying it to my Instagram account,  is totally out of my comfort zone.  You make it easy, safe, and so much fun.  So.... using my best southern manners, I say....
Thank you so very much!

Have a great weekend friends,
do something that makes your heart sing
 and
Happy Reading!


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Talk Wednesday-- Southernmost

'The rain had been falling with a pounding meanness without ceasing for two days and then the water rose all at once in the middle of the night, a brutal rush so fast Asher thought at first a dam might have broken somewhere upstream.  The ground had simply become so saturated it could not hold any more water.  All the creeks were conspiring down the ridges until they washed out into the Cumberland.  There was no use in anyone going to bed because they all knew what was going to happen.
They only had to wait.'


I don't usually begin by copying the complete first paragraph, but I can't remember the last time I read a book whose first paragraph so symbolically sets the stage for the story that is about to unfold.

Asher Sharp, a small town Pentecostal preacher, wanting to help two men, after their home is destroyed, finds himself questioning long held beliefs.  He alienates his wife, his congregation and his community.  After serving up a sermon on tolerance,  Asher is fired by the Church hierarchy. 

When the Courts award Asher's wife full custody of Justin, he takes his son and leaves for Key West in hopes of finding and reconciling with the brother he turned against years earlier.  In search of a brother, Asher and Justin discover the importance of just loving.
   
"I've studied on it a lot, Lydia.  You know I don't believe that way anymore.  All my life I've thought I've understood everything in that Bible, but now I know that none of us can know the mind of God. He's too big for that."

Southernmost is a timely and beautifully told story of re-evaluating ones beliefs and the consequences incurred.   Asher discovers, what I believe, "love thy neighbor", truly means.   I promise this is one of those reads that will make you sit and ponder long after you've turned the final page.    Southernmost  touched my heart and conscience in so many ways, and is going to the top of my "best books of year" list   

  If you are looking for a book that will stir up a great book group discussion...
this may be the one. 

*****
Perfect Pairings

May I suggest you pour yourself a nice tall glass of iced tea and head out to the porch.   Heck,  just take the whole pitcher outside, you are not going to want to put this book down. 



Happy Reading Friends, and
Enjoy!


Friday, August 10, 2018

Banana Bread

I've often confessed here, and on instagram, reading makes me hungry.  What can say!  If food or a meal is an important element in the book I'm reading, I am usually up trying to find something to grab to satisfy my craving.  Often it means dinner plans are changing, or I am going to be pulling down a cookbook and stirring up something in the kitchen.  (This may be the reason I can sit down with a cookbook and read it like a novel.)  A  good book is always better with a beverage and a snack.  Do you agree?

In the novel The Lost for Words Bookshop, Loveday, is taken aback by a cookbook mysteriously delivered to the shop where she works.   While perusing the pages she feels there is something familiar about it and memories of her mother are stirred.  

My mother loved to cook.  There are so many aromas from the kitchen that take me back home and to my mother.  Banana Bread is one of my fondest memories.  No one else in my family particularly cared for banana bread.  I loved it!   It was a special treat, and something Mother made only for me.

This is not my mother's recipe.  I dearly wish it were; her recipe is in hiding somewhere, hopefully to be found.   I have tried several banana bread recipes, and nothing really made me happy.  With a few over-ripe bananas, more in the freezer and a sudden desire to experiment,  I mixed up a recipe that brings back those memories.  And, most importantly,....   it has my sweet Bonnie Rose's approval (wink wink).

To compliment The Lost for Words Bookshop  I am offering up

Bee's Banana Bread




1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 heaping tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup buttermilk
4-5 ripe bananas, mashed
(This is a lot of bananas, you may feel the need to decrease the amount.)

Pre-heat oven to 350℉.  Prepare two loaf pans.
Cream butter and add sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Add salt and eggs, one at a time, and mix until well blended.  Add flour and soda alternating with buttermilk.  Stir in bananas.  (I leave my bananas a little chunky.)    Pour mixture into pans and bake for about 45 mins.   Test the center with a toothpick before taking out of oven.  It should come out with no crumbs. 

This bread is moist, dense and tasty.

 Happy Reading
and
Enjoy!   

******
I hope you like this idea I have of pairing a book with a beverage, food, meal, or perhaps an outing.  This, like everything I do, is an experiment and a work in progress.  Let me know your thoughts.

Hugs!


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wednesday Book Talk -- The Lost for Words Bookshop

"A bookshop is not magic, 
but it can heal your heart."
The Lost for Words Bookshop


When I see a book about books, bookshops, libraries or people who read books, it is a safe bet, I will be picking it up, (quoting my grandson) "because it is my favorite".  Perhaps I am drawn to these books because I understand the healing power of books and rooms filled with books.  If I begin to feel the world tumbling down, and that "half-full glass" of mine springs a leak,  I am most at home among books.  I can walk between the stacks of a library or bookshop, touch the bindings, breathe in aroma of paper and glue, and absolutely know, without a doubt, I am in the company of good friends.  There is someone somewhere within all those pages who can talk me off the cliff and ease whatever is worrying me.     

Sometimes... it is just the perfect place to hide.

The Lost for Words Bookshop is more about this refuge and the comfort we bibliophiles find within books and in those rooms filled with books, than books.   

Loveday is hurting.  She is wounded by the events of a childhood ended far too early.   Seeking shelter, she finds employment where she is most comfortable, a bookshop... a used-book bookshop owned by the most charming Archie  (oh, how I fell head over heels for this man).  Loveday is not a people person, and  enjoys the solitude she finds sitting at a hidden counter preparing newly acquired books for shelving, leaving the owner to most often handle the customers.

Three separate deliveries of books mysteriously appear, threatening to bring Loveday's past crashing into the present.    This collision may be what she needs to reconcile with her past and begin healing, but first she must discover if these books are a coincidence, or does someone know about her past and want to do harm.  

This one started a little slow.  It took a chapter or two to engage with Loveday, but I soon became very protective of her character.   There is mystery with a little bit of romance, and a lot of feel good.   The Lost for Words Bookshop is a nicely told tale with equally good character development.  If you enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine (I loved it) or you know the healing power a room full of books can offer, The Lost For Words Bookshop may be your next perfect read!

Have you read this one?  
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts
and what you are reading.


*****

The Perfect Pairing

Archie is by far my favorite character in The Lost for Words Bookshop.  Oh how we all need an Archie in our life.   He would often treat Loveday with a hot chocolate and nibble from the cafe next door.   So to honor Archie, and to pair with The Lost for Words Bookshop I am offering up banana bread this morning.

Enjoy!



I will be sharing the recipe later this week!

Happy Reading Friends!

Monday, August 6, 2018

A Few Technical Problems




I signed on tonight to begin writing my post for Wednesday.   While checking around,  I noticed a message saying I had 14 comments awaiting my moderation.  In the past I have been notified of these by email.  I have received nothing.   Please be assured I love hearing from you and am not ignoring your comments.   These only showed up tonight.  I will be honest... I have checked and thought I stayed away too long.  I was okay with that.  

Now here is my second problem.  I have spent the last hour trying to reply to each individual comment.  Blogger will not let me.  Again, your comments are so appreciated and I do not take them for granted. 

Perhaps this is only a glitch tonight.  We will see.

Again, I love hearing from you and will continue to try to respond.  

Hugs! 

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Wednesday Book Thoughts .... Why We Do the Things We Do

"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances;
if there is any reaction, both are transformed."
C.G. Jung


(If you are finding this duplicated on your feed, I'm sorry.  There was a glitch!)

I discovered Anne Bogel around the first of the year.  Okay, this is not exactly true.  I discovered her blog, "The Modern Mrs. Darcy" and her podcast "What Should I Read Next" awhile back.  I only started faithfully following and listening around the first of the year.  I am embarrassed to admit I resisted enjoying Anne's writing and reading thoughts out of, perhaps..... envy?  She is doing what I have dreamed of for so long, and she does it really really well.   Her podcast is one source and cause of my TBR list being so long and growing.

When I discovered she had a book, Reading People, published last year, it immediately was placed on my summer reading list.   Seriously a book titled Reading People.  This was a book made for me.... a book about people who read.

Yep, here I am red-faced once again.  It only took a quick Goggle to find out Reading People is not about lovers of a good read, but about "seeing the world through the lens of personality" (it says that on the cover)... reading (a verb not an adjective) people.  It may have dropped a book or two down my list, but I was still intrigued.

Long ago in a faraway land and in another life, I administered personality test for a bank.   Part of the training to prepare for this project was to actually take the test.  I remember being told, along with my results,  I was perfect because I was a planner,  a people pleaser, and, this last description will be  branded in my brain forever,  pretty dull.

Today, this would not be much of a surprise, nor would it bother me so much, though being told you are dull is still a bit hurtful.    As a 26 year old.... I was devastated!

I spent years working to prove my results were manipulated... just plain wrong!  I worked tirelessly to overcome being shy and be the life of the party.  When you have to work at it, it is not always pretty.   I am here now, older and wiser, to tell you it was exhausting.  Oh, had I only had Reading People as a reference.

Not only does Ms. Bogel share her love of reading by offering book suggestions on her blog and podcast; she has given us an enlightening guide to explore why we are who we are and how we relate to those around us.  She shares her own stories, her curiosity, knowledge, and research in giving the reader the resources to discover the potential in not only ourselves, but those around us.  I felt like I was having a comfortable and fun discussion with a good friend.  Oh, there is plenty of literary comparisons for the bibliophile.  Yes, the books we love, the movies we watch, the characters we identify with may be a result of our personality.  Who knew?

If you have ever wondered why you couldn't understand a friends actions... plans... why you hear one thing and your spouse hears something totally different, this may be a book for you.  I loved it!   

Have you read this one?  I would love to hear your thoughts.
And let me know what you are reading!

Happy Reading Friends! 

        



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wednesday Book Thoughts -- A Night Circus

"The circus arrives without warning.

No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions or advertisements in local newspapers.  It is simply there, when yesterday it was not."

The Night Circus
Erin Morgenstern



I wish I could tell you how many times I have picked up this book and placed it back on the table or shelf in various bookstores.... my mistake!  

Published in 2011, I may be telling you something you already know, Erin Morganstern's The Night Circus is a treat for the senses.  I found it a bit slow in the beginning, but soon realized I was completely immersed and pleasantly drowning.   It is a fantastical tale of a mysterious circus, and those who are manipulated within it's grounds. 

 Is it slight of hand... smoke and mirrors... or is it truly magic?     
Who is the magician and who is the puppeteer?

This breathtaking fantastical tale has something for everyone.... mystery, manipulation, betrayal, murder and romance.  Beautifully written, with well-developed characters.  
(There are no clowns in this one.)

 "You will be fine", the fortune-teller says. 
"There may be decisions to make, and surprises in store.  Life takes us to unexpected places sometimes.  The future is never set in stone, remember that."

This may be one of my favorite reads this summer!



To compliment you reading enjoyment might I suggest a rich dark red with a sliver 
(or two... you're not going to want to put this one down) of nice chocolate.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this one.
Happy Reading my friends!




Monday, July 9, 2018

Where to Pick Up


July!!!

It was a busy busy spring... wrapping up the school year, enjoying extended visits with my beautiful daughter and amazing grandchildren, and of course... reading.

You know I do the reading for you... right?
Yes, it all for you!

  I've been posting a lot on my  (somewhat) new instagram account, bee_tweenthelines.  It is a heavy on book suggestions, with a sprinkling of blooms and fun in the kitchen.  It is a public account. If these things interest you, I would love for you to join me.

I have warned you in the past...
 When those squeaky wheels in my brain start turning, I can be a bit dangerous.  Stir in time and a few conversations with my daughter (there may have been some bubbly involved)...
it can get explosive around here.



I don't know if anything will become of all this talk; hopefully I'll have something to share this fall.
I'll keep you posted.  

In the meantime, I'll be reading, cooking and sharing with you here.




Now I'm off to see what you have been up to.

Happy Reading Friends!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Book Talk - Literature at it's Best

"And yet, what Ada had written about joy was entirely true. When she stands before you with her long, naked limbs and her mysterious smile, you must embrace her while you can."

The Snow Child
Eowyn Ivey


I have a new favorite author to add to my list. 

  I am so excited to talk about Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child.   I want everyone to run to your nearest bookstore or library and grab this book.  If you are snowed in, perfect... download it.

Ivey takes her inspiration from a Russian folktale by the same name, The Snow Child, and in fact, the children's book has a role in her novel.   Stunning scenery... tightly woven narrative... well-developed characters.  Set in a valley near the Alaskan Wolverine river, this book is brutal, magical, mysterious, romantic and heartbreaking.  I wanted to make this one last and savor every sentence, but I couldn't put it down.
  

Grab a blanket, a cup of tea (or beverage of choice... wink, wink), and perhaps a few tissue... yes I was crying at the end of this one... plan to spend this weekend in Alaska.

Have you read The Snow Child?  If so let me know your thoughts.  

I have a question...

Do you participate in reading challenges?  I actually do sign up on Goodreads (I don't know if this is a good thing), but I don't really make it a challenge.  I do it more or less to keep up with my reading habits during the year.  I don't think I have ever committed to more that 25 books in a year.  While I sometimes go well over, I don't want my desire of quantity to take away from my enthusiasm for reading.   And... I have been told (blushing) I am a pretty picky reader.  

  Do you read to log an impressive number of books a year or do you savor a good book searching for themes and messages?  As I tell my children.... there are no right or wrong answers.  We read for different reasons... I am just curious.  

I am building my 2018 TBR list, and would love to hear want you are reading or want to read.  Let's meet here and chat about it.

Stay warm friends and
Happy Reading!  

   

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Favorites of 2017

Happy New Year friends!

Do you love the expectation of a new year?  Do you view it as a fresh slate, or is it just the day after December 31st?   I am a big fan of the fresh start.   I like the thought of the old year with all its wrinkles and warts swept out to sea, as a new sparkling unblemished year gently washes ashore to be collected with all 
the promises of tomorrow. 
   
What are your hopes for 2018?


I am dying to tell you about my first read of the year, but in line with putting away the old year I want to share a few of my favorite books I read in 2017. 

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles.
I first heard about this book, while listening to NPR and loved the premise of a Russian aristocrat living out a life sentence of house arrest in a luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin.  I fell madly in love with Count Alexander Rostov as he comes to terms with his fate and discovers his purpose through his encounters with employees and patrons of the hotel.  When I finished the last sentence, I wanted to stand up and cheer. 
We are never too old to discover our purpose.

Reading with Patrick , Michelle Kuo
This amazing memoir should be required reading for everyone studying education.  Michelle Kuo tells of her time spent in Helena, Arkansas, one of the poorest areas in the US, teaching for Teach America.  This simply told story is of one teacher, one student and the power of literature to save.  This is what teaching should be about!

Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult
I hadn't picked up a Picoult novel in many years, until I read an article by one of my favorite authors stating "Small Great Things is Jodi Picoult's best book, and one of the best books of 2017.  I don't know where to begin with this one.  I think one reviewer puts it nicely... "With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice and compassion -- and doesn't offer easy answers."   Reading Small Great Things, I felt I was helplessly watching a train wreck.   I wanted to shake a couple of the characters and scream, "what are you thinking".  Though, in my opinion,  the ending was wrapped up a bit too comfortably, I did have to sit for awhile with this one and wonder where I fit into this story.  It will sound, maybe, a little clique, and it is perhaps a nod to Reading with Patrick, good literature can be the spark to ignite conversation for change. 

Just one more.... I promise!

To the Bright Edge of the World, Eowyn Ivey
This is a book I picked up because it was late evening, the book I wanted to download from the library, Ivey's first book, was not available.   Ivey gives us a beautiful descriptive story of adventure, love, loyalty and heartbreak.   Using journal entries, letters, news articles and artifacts we are lead on a  treacherous journey with newly commissioned, Colonel Allen Forrester and a few men as they navigate and chart  Alaska's Wolverine River.  Sophie, Forrester's pregnant wife is left behind never knowing her husbands fate.  Writing an epistolary novel would be difficult, giving each person her/his own uniques voice.  Ivey brings to life multi-deminsional characters throughout.  
 The characters... the writing... exquisite!

What were your favorite books of 2017?
If you have read any of my favorites, I want to hear your thoughts.  If you are looking for a good book to open, perhaps one of the above peeks your interest.  There are so many good books on the shelves, and more released every week.  I love hearing what you are reading or want to read.

What will be our favorites of 2018?  
I think I may have just finished one on my list.

A good book, a crackling fire and a cup of tea....
perfect prescription for our cold weather.

Stay warm and
Happy Reading!