Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Moloka'i - Book Review

Rachel is a happy seven year old living in Honolulu when she is diagnosed with leprosy (now known as Hansen's Disease) and sentenced to live the rest of her life in Kalaupapa, the leper colony on the island of Moloka'i. The historical novel Moloka'i, while spanning the years from the 1890's to 1970's, brings dignity and compassion to those who were quarantined to the island and separated from their families.

Moloka'i is an enchanting novel by Alan Brennert. It is the story of Rachel and her life on Moloka'i but ultimately it is a story of hope and faith. It is a heart wrenching story but the people on the island also experience laughter, love and joy.

The character development is well done. I especially appreciated the attention paid to Sister Catherine, a nun serving the people of Kalaupapa. The nuns are not the stock characters that inhabit most media, but thoughtful, tormented and realistic people with desires and dreams. The setting of the beautiful islands of Hawaii is described by one who loves it. Hawaii and its people are alive in this beautiful, stunning novel.

Because I became completely absorbed with the novel I was talking about it all the time with Utah Dad. He was reminded of a video clip that he had seen recently about a woman searching for information about her grandmother who had lived in Kalaupapa. He found it for me and I was touched by the tender and heart breaking emotions in the segment.

There is a longer, more in depth video about the Kalaupapa, Moloka'i that recently aired on BYUTV.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Winner of the Spring Cleaning Book Give-away

Wow! There are a lot of book hoarders/collectors/lovers out there. It's nice to know I'm in such good company.

Last summer during some bad weather, the kids and I created a data base inventory of the books in the house (with the exception of one shelf of children's books--the weather improved before we finished). This totally satisfies that hidden librarian inside me. I can now sort by genre, author, title and several other categories.

We have at least 1920 + books in our house.

Children's Books : 641 +
Fiction (including adolescent, YA and the classics) : 618
Memoirs/Biographies : 56
History : 120
Politics : 27
Religion : 156
Science : 23
Writing : 14
Geography/Travel : 63
Reference : 60 (yes, we still have a set of encyclopedias)
Other (cooking, music, philosophy, photography, etc . . .) : 141

But you don't really want to know that. So, on to the good part . . . the announcement of the winner of a box of my books. The winner is . . .


Congratulations! Please send me an email with your information so that you can receive your new books!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Cleaning Book Give-away

You already know I'm a "book hoarder". I like to find pre-read books at thrift stores and at library sales and online. Relatives and friends often give me books that they think I will like. And I often receive books from publishers to review. My book shelves are full! Utah Dad and I have plans to build more, but in the mean time it is essential that I give some away (can you believe it?).

To participate in the Spring Cleaning Give-away Hop, I have gone through my shelves and put together a box of books. One lucky winner will receive this box of literary goodies.

Rules :

1. Enter by leaving one comment on this post. Just for fun--share an estimate of how many books you have in your home. (This number will not be used to determine the winner. It's just for fun.)

2. The contest will be open to entries until Sunday, March 25th at 11:59 pm MST.

3. This contest is open to residents of the US only.

4. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced on Monday, March 26th.

5. Be sure to check out all the other blogs participating in the hop. This is your chance to win a lot of books!

Elegy for Eddie - Book Review

Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear is the latest installment in the Maisie Dobbs mystery series. I read Maisie Dobbs, the first one, earlier this year but have not read the other seven novels between. You can read my review of Maisie Dobbs *here*.

Elegy for Eddie is Maisie's quest to discover whether or not a childhood acquaintance, Eddie--a gentle horse trainer, was murdered. Police have written Eddie's death at a paper factory as an unfortunate accident. Maisie isn't so sure and once she begins investigating it becomes painfully obvious that there are more powerful people involved in Eddie's death.

Jacqueline Winspear writes an exciting and fun mystery that flows along at a pace appropriate for the historical period. In Elegy for Eddie, things are not so black and white and Maisie's own sense of right and wrong is questioned. Set in London during the 1930's, Maisie must accept that there are others, more powerful, with a greater understanding of the imminent danger and that national security must be protected.

The novel is well written and while it would probably help to have read all of the Maisie Dobbs novels in the series (I did appreciate the background I had of Maisie's past because of my reading of the first novel), Elegy for Eddie can stand alone.

My only real complaint with the novel is Maisie Dobbs herself. I appreciate her education and her brilliance at solving crimes, but I am not yet reconciled with her personality. I can't quite put my finger on just what bugs me about her--perhaps it's the same personality traits/flaws that are frequently pointed out to her by other characters in Elegy for Eddie

With the Maisie Dobbs series, Jacqueline Winspear offers readers a woman detective this historical period between the World Wars. Winspear expertly captures the emotion of the period and the people still healing from the first war and yet preparing (perhaps unknowingly) for the next. Elegy for Eddie is compelling and haunting.

**I received a complimentary copy of Elegy for Eddie in exchange for my honest review. **

My Baby Turns 3!!!

Molly shares her birthday with her very favorite baby sitter Jessica (she loves Jessica's sisters too). When Jessica comes to baby sit she brings boxes of Polly Pockets and Littlest Pet Shops. Last week when Jessica baby sat Molly they planned their birthday party.

After dinner, Molly and Jessica blew out candles on the cake made by Kathryn, Jessica's sister. It was such a darling cake and yummy too.

I can hardly believe that my baby is already three years old. She growing up much too fast but she's so much fun. We're constantly amused by her busy and fun personality.

Happy birthday to my Molly!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Beginner's Goodbye - Book Review

I appreciate good food, especially when someone else is cooking. I love to savor the rich, subtle flavors in French cuisine and the taste bud thrilling bursts of spice and sweetness from Thai food. I enjoy the mysteriousness of tastes from other countries, but sometimes (especially if I'm cooking) I just want good old comfort food--cottage cheese and sliced tomatoes; stroganoff, goulash and butternut squash soup--warm and heavy and soothing.

It's the same with books. I love a good thriller or a mystery or history. I enjoy reading books about other cultures and peoples. I like the cerebral novel that makes me think. But sometimes I really just want good old comfort books. For this I regularly turn to Anne Tyler.

Anne Tyler's novels have a calming effect on me. Every word is soothing and compulsively readable. She writes stories about normal people, dealing with normal life events and provides amazing insights into their souls and very nature. Even in The Beginner's Goodbye, a ghost story, Tyler's story isn't melodramatic or ostentatious--She writes simply of a husband dealing with the grief and healing after the death of his wife, though his wife assists him and helps him realize that there is life after death. He can still have a life after her death.

When Utah Dad and I were first married we used to play a game when we were driving in town. When we saw someone, maybe a student crossing the street toward school or a young father holding hands with his son, we would make up a story about them. It seems that Anne Tyler does this very thing. Her characters could come right out of the grocery store or farmer's market, as the case may be. They are so real, so believable, so honest, so fallible and often so inspiring.

The Beginner's Goodbye is Anne Tyler's newest novel. It will be published in April of this year. Fans of Anne Tyler will be pleased. And those who have never wrapped up in a warm blanket, savored a cup of hot cocoa and enjoyed one of Anne Tyler's novel should experience the pleasure that is The Beginner's Goodbye.

** I received a complimentary copy of The Beginner's Goodbye in exchange for my honest opinion. **

Monday, March 12, 2012

Love, Fiercely - Book Review

I was excited to read Love, Fiercely : A Gilded Age Romance by Jean Zimmerman for several reasons. First, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton is one of my favorite books. I was entertained by the novel The American Heiress, to which Love, Fiercely is compared. I've long been simultaneously fascinated and repulsed by the excess of this era at the end of the nineteenth century. I enjoy narrative histories and biographies, so needless to say I looked forward to reading this book.

Love, Fiercely is the history of Newton Stokes and Edith Minturn, both born into extreme wealth in New York City. Eventually they would marry, travel the world, influence art and society, and play their hand at philanthropy.

Full of information and details about everything in the era, Love, Fiercely excels as a history of the excess of the very wealthy and privileged class. Each home and summer "cottage" is described in detail, including having a Tudor manor house built in 1597 in England dismantled and shipped across the ocean and rebuilt in Connecticut. The author gives full histories of the art of the time period and especially the portraits of Edith and the famous statue for which she posed. Their service to society and Newton's career are discussed at great length.

What Love, Fiercely is lacking is the feeling of passion between Edith and Newton. Described as "the greatest love story never told" in the prologue I was anxious to read of their romance. However, the characters still remain flat and lifeless. The author shows only brief glimpses into their relationship and spends most of the time with describing the world they inhabit.

There were many interesting details about the era but ultimately, I found the book dull and disappointing.

** I received a complimentary copy of Love, Fiercely in exchange for an honest review. **

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Winner of the Peeps Eyewear Give-away

The winner of the princess dress-up set from Peeps Eyewear is . . .


Congratulations! Please send me an email with your information so you can receive your prize.