Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Great line from........

.....The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen  
"Because we're connected, as women. It's like a spiderweb. If one part of that web vibrates, if there's trouble, we all know it. But most of the time we're just too scared or selfish or insecure to help. But if we don't help each other, who will?"

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beyond the Bougainvillea by Dolores Durando

"She found her place in a turbulent era of deep passions, heartbreaking sacrifices, and grand dreams.

When scholarly, smart Mary Margaret is sixteen, her father marries her off to a drunken neighbor in return for a tract of land. The year is 1924, and Mary Margaret's motherless childhood has already been hard as a farm girl on the desolate prairies of North Dakota. Abused and helpless, the new Mrs. "Marge" Garrity seems destined for a tragic fate.

But Marge is determined to make her life count, no matter what. Her escape from her brutal marriage takes her to California, where she struggles to survive the Great Depression and soon answers the lure of the state's untamed northern half. There, embraced by the rough-and-ready people who built the great Ruck-a-chucky Dam on the American River, she begins to find her true mission in life and the possibility for love and happiness with an Army Corp engineer of Cherokee Indian descent.

This vivid saga of one woman's life in the early decades of a turbulent century is told from the heart of a true storyteller in the grand tradition of women's sagas.

Author Dolores Durando knows Marge's world very well. She grew up ninety years ago on the plains of North Dakota." ~~ From

The main character of the book, Marge, has to endure so much hardship in her life, starting with her mother dying when she was young. Even with all she has to go through, she manages to keep a fairly positive attitude. She always lends a hand to others and is very generous even when she has so little herself. She encounters more than her share of 'bad' people and things in her life but she also has a lot of 'good' people that are there for her and help her along the way. 

I enjoyed this book because I like reading about strong women that can overcome all that is put in their way and still make the best of things.  The author did seem to jump around a bit so sometimes it was hard to follow her train of thought but once I was able to get past that, I was able to get into the story and became immersed in the character's lives.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest opinion.

Monday, April 18, 2011

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Food. There’s plenty of it around, and we all love to eat it. So why should anyone need to defend it? Because most of what we’re consuming today is not food, and how we’re consuming it — in the car, in front of the TV, and increasingly alone — is not really eating. 

Instead of food, we’re consuming “edible foodlike substances” — no longer the products of nature but of food science. The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become. ~~ from author's website

This book was selected by one of the members of one of my book groups to read and discuss. I am not one that reads a lot of non-fiction books so I knew this one was going to be a tough one to get through. My husband thinks I should read more books 'with indexes'. That is his opinion. Did you ever consider all the research that some authors do when writing their stories? I think I learn a lot about a lot of things when I read my fiction! 

Anyway, I digress - I could go on and on about this in a whole other post! 

This book was a struggle for me, even though the author does have some very excellent points. And basically, we have all heard it before, how to eat right, etc. but do we all practice what he preaches? I think not. At least I know I don't. 

I think one of the most interesting tidbits that I gleaned from this book is to think back to your grandmother's or possibly great-grandmother's day when you are shopping. If they would not recognize the product in your hand (for example - Yoplait GoGurt), you probably shouldn't eat it. Plain yogurt, yes but not GoGurt. 

So his tag line is 'Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants' - those are good words to live by.

Amaryllis in Blueberry by Christina Meldrum

In the stirring tradition of  The Secret Life of Bees and The Poisonwood Bible, Amaryllis in Blueberry explores the complexity of human relationships set against an unforgettable backdrop. Told through the haunting voices of Dick and Seena Slepy and their four daughters, Christina Meldrum's soulful novel weaves together the past and the present of a family harmed--and healed--by buried secrets.

"Maybe, unlike hope, truth couldn't be contained in a jar..." 

Meet the Slepys: Dick, the stern doctor, the naive husband, a man devoted to both facts and faith; Seena, the storyteller, the restless wife,  a mother of four, a lover of myth.  And their children, the Marys:  Mary Grace, the devastating beauty; Mary Tessa, the insistent inquisitor; Mary Catherine, the saintly, lost soul; and finally, Amaryllis, Seena's unspoken favorite, born with the mystifying ability to sense the future, touch the past and distinguish the truth tellers from the most convincing liar of all.

When Dick insists his family move from Michigan to the unfamiliar world of Africa for missionary work, he can't possibly foresee how this new land and its people will entrance and change his daughters--and himself--forever.

Nor can he predict how Africa will spur his wife Seena toward an old but unforgotten obsession.   In fact, Seena may be falling into a trance of her own. . . .
~~ from

This book first caught my eye because of the cover. OK, I admit that covers do influence me. But I ended up loving this book. The characters are all a little quirky and it takes some time to figure them out but in the end I really cared for all of them.

This is a book that I am definitely going to read again. I really think I will get so much more out of it the second time through. Some books are just like that, aren't they? 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rosewood Casket by Sharyn McCrumb

Randall Stargill's four son's have gathered at their mountain farm to build a coffin for their dying father. His passing causes a dilemma for his sons, who must come to terms with their dysfunctional family, and also decide what to do with the farm, which has been Stargill land since 1790. Only Clayt, the youngest, a naturalist and Daniel Boone Re-enactor, who loves the land like a latter-day pioneer, wants to save the farm from a real estate developer bent on despoiling the mountain.

For Appalachian wise woman Nora Bonesteel, Randall's sweetheart of long ago, his imminent death poses another problem: the small box that must be buried with Randall, as she tells his family. When the Stargills open the box and find the bones of a child, Sheriff Spencer Arrowood is brought into the matter, but Nora refuses to say where she obtained the bones, or to whom they belonged. The sheriff dreads charging Nora Bonesteel for murder, even more than he dreads evicting his old friends the Stallards from their farm, which has been bought for unpaid taxes by the same real estate developer who wants the Stargill place.

But land is more than a place to the people of the Southern mountains--land is who they are; as much blood kin as the folks in the family cemetery. Their Celtic forebears were willing to die for the land, as were the Cherokees who came before the settlers. Now the settlers' descendants must lose the land--but, as always, someone will die in the process. ~~ from the author's website

I just reread this book for one of my book groups. I had read it years ago when it came out and loved it. I thought it was such a beautiful story. I think it was one of the first hardcover books I ever bought brand new.

When it came time for me to select a book for our group, for some reason this one just popped into my head. I enjoyed the book just as much the second time, although it did seem to be sort of a different story this time from what I remember. But I think that comes with reading a book again at a different time in one's life.

As it turned out, I had to miss our discussion of this book because I had to travel. I was really hoping that my book club members loved it as much as I did. They promised me that they did.

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