Monday, 29 September 2014

Martha's Vineyard : Book 2

Our booklist for BookWomen always includes books to familiarize us with the area.
This book is perfect for that!

"Home Bird: Four Seasons on Martha's Vineyard"
 by Laura Wainwright
This book contains 27 essays of everyday life on Martha's Vineyard.  The author is very poetic as she writes about birds, animals, sunsets, water, beachcombing, plants, trees.
"The vibrant world is always there.  It's just a matter of paying attention."

As some birds pass through Martha's Vineyard while others stay, so also, many visitors come for a season but leave. The author is a 'home bird'.  But she is a 'home bird' who is able to describe everyday life in beautiful lyrical ways.  Since food is very important to her life on Martha's Vineyard, she includes 8 of her favourite recipes.

This book not only familiarizes you with Martha's Vineyard, but it also helps you remember to connect with nature at every opportunity.

"Occasionally water and movement and beauty create an alchemy that is the closest I get to rapture".
Wow!  Rapture on Martha's Vineyard!  Can't wait to get there!

P.S. I just got more info about the trip and our group has been invited for tea with Laura Wainwright.  Fun!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Martha's Vineyard : Book 1

Martha's Vineyard
This month, I will be attending a 'Bookwomen' event on Martha's Vineyard.
"BookWomen' is the name of a bimonthly magazine created by The Minnesota Women's Press in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1985.
A year later, book groups began at this location and grew in popularity, leading to 'reading on the road' and 'book retreats'.
My friend Terri discovered this group and we recognized that we could combine our love of reading with our love of travel.  This will be our fourth event- having explored Arizona, North Carolina and Bath, England.

We have five books to read for this trip, where we will have discussions as well as meet authors and learn about the area.

I began my reading with "Death and Honesty" by Cynthia Riggs.
This author is most fascinating.  She was educated as a geologist, then taught at the Annapolis Sailing School.  She lived on a houseboat for 13 years while running the Chesapeake Bay Ferry Boat Company.  She wrote for the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian, spending two months living in Antarctica.  She also raised 5 children.
In her 60's she began writing novels about an amateur detective named Victoria Trumbull- age 92!

Last year, Cynthia, at 81, married a man that she had worked with sixty years ago.  They live on Martha's Vineyard and we have learned that we will be meeting Cynthia as well as discussing her books.

"Death and Honesty" is the seventh book in this detective series.  The eleventh book has just been released.  I have read that the author plans to write 20 books in this Victoria Trumbull detective series.  We could chose any book by this author, so I chose this book because of the cover!

I don't know much about mysteries but this novel has a few storylines with some interesting characters. The novel takes place in a week, with  3 murders.  The basic problem is a tax collector and 3 assessors who are skimming money off of the property taxes.  Also, a T.V. minister is running a porn scam.  Lots of action for a small town, but the 92-year-old sleuth solves the crimes and confronts the murderer on her own.
The language is simple and straighforward.  It was a fun read!

Monday, 22 September 2014

The Husband's Secret

"The Husband's Secret" 
by Liane Moriarty

   This author was recommended to me and I decided to start with this title.
   The premise was interesting.  A wife finds an envelop with a letter to be opened after her husband's death.  But he is alive and away on a business trip.  Tempting!   What to do????     

I raced through the first half of the book to find out what the letter said.  Then I really lost interest.  What was disclosed in the letter could never be resolved in any way and would just lead to misery for the rest of the story for all of the characters.

The ending was sadness added to sadness.  Do we ever really know anyone?  Can we ever atone for the sins of the past?  Can one sadness cancel another sadness?

The novel takes place in Australia and I was hoping for more description of the setting.  But the book was focussed on plot.  Very simple language and characters whose lives are all in turmoil.

Interesting covers!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Ernest Gaines

   Oprah started her book club in 1996, just in time for my retirement!
  In 1997, while we were travelling, I decided to read to John one of Oprah's choices.
  "A Lesson Before Dying" had an intriguing title and a more intriguing concept.
   In the 1940's, a young black man, Jefferson, is about to go to the electric chair for murder. His grandmother wants her grandson to 'die like a man'.  So she begs the school teacher, Grant Wiggins, to teach Jefferson some self-esteem and pride in his identity as a black man.
   We both found this book fascinating and as we were finishing the trip, in the rain, I was trying to get the book finished, hoping that we wouldn't crash and I would be found reading this title.
   The book was so sensitively written, and later, when we rented the movie, we found it even more powerful emotionally.  The photography of that movie was stunning! 
   I wanted to read more by this author and "A Gathering of Old Men" appealed to me as a title.  So I have been searching for the book and finally found a copy.  It was written in 1983.

   Once again, Ernest Gaines, writes about the search for black, male identity. He shows the two extremes- revenge versus co-operation.
   A white woman, Candy, discovered a Cajun farmer had been shot in a black man's yard.  She enlisted the help of seventeen old black men, who all swear to killing the man, in order to protect the real killer from lynching.
   The victim's father, "Fix", is known to be explosive and he also has a ring of black men who are looking for revenge.  But Fix's other son is a football player who is part of a 'salt and pepper' team.  They work for racial harmony.  Fix is persuaded that times have changed and vigilante justice doesn't work anymore.
   There are many characters and lots of dialect to confuse this story. But there is real farce in the idea of a ring of old men with guns waiting for the other group of old men with guns.  And it is more amusing because most of the old men can't see well enough to shoot- or even stand long enough.  But they are willing to die for the cause of 'being a man' and not allowing lynching.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

To Read or Not to Read? That is the Question.

  This week I met a former colleague.  Our paths had not crossed for possibly 19 years.  Of course, our conversation turned to books.  She told me about this book that she has started reading.  I was fascinated, but when I picked up a copy, I discovered that it is 832 pages long- and heavy!
  So I began to read the reviews.
  The reason that I didn't dismiss it immediately is that I do enjoy a good challenge.  Getting involved in a well-written story can fill my thoughts and control my life.
The Luminaries
  What a compelling cover!  I love the phases of the moon and this looks like a fascinating twist.
And so I began to research.  If I am going to give hours and hours of reading and more hours of preoccupation to this book, I had better check to see if it is worth it.
  The internet said:
"The plot follows Walter Moody, a prospector who travels to the fledgling West Coast of the South Island settlement of Hokitika, near New Zealand's goldfields in 1866 to try and make his fortune. Instead he stumbles into a tense meeting between twelve local men, who draw him in to the complex mystery behind a series of unsolved crimes."
  Throughout the book are charts of the signs of the zodiac.  I did not understand them and thought perhaps that is a sign that this book is not for me.
But, but, but.  I have travelled the length of New Zealand and loved it.  I have not read much from that country.  And this book did win the Man Booker Prize last year.
Here are some comments by readers
- story leaps around through time sequences (NOT GOOD)
- long-winded and repetitive (NOT GOOD)
- too many characters (NOT NECESSARILY GOOD)
- the only luminous thing is the title, which doesn't suit (OOPS!)
- why did it win the Man Booker Award anyway?
To Read or Not to Read?  That is the Question.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Benny and Shrimp

   I enjoy checking other blogs and add them to my bookmarks bar to get the flavour of the blog.  After following them for awhile, I decide if I want to continue with that blog or move on to others.  There are tons!
  On one blog, I found a very interesting idea: a quilters' book club.  Every year, each member makes a quilt based on a book.  This weekend, they are planning to display the quilts.  Since my daughter is a quilter and I am a reader, it seemed like a perfect outing for us to enjoy together.  One problem- the display is in Oregon! In my fantasy world, I would hop on a plane and go to that exhibit.  But, in reality, I will wait until that blogger puts the quilts on her blog.  She has promised to do that.
Check out her blog here.

About the novel:
  A young, childless, widow meets a bachelor farmer at the cemetery.  They are complete opposites.  She is a librarian- loves literature and the opera.  He is a dairy farmer, just trying to keep the farm running by himself since his parents are both dead.  His house is old and fusty!  Her apartment is white, clean and modern.  The premise provides the opportunity for great humour!
  It's a very short, fun read!  But, the ending is..well, you want to read more!  The author tells you at the end that she has written a sequel.  But I cannot find any evidence of that on the internet.  Frustrating!
  The novel was made into a film in Sweden and won awards.  I want more!!!

About the author:  Katarina Mazetti lives in Sweden.  She has been a journalist, and a teacher, as well as a children's author.  This is her first adult novel.

Monday, 8 September 2014

You Are Made For More!

Everybody needs encouragement, support and inspiration.
My friend, Carol, recommended this book.
Carol and I are life-long friends who have discussed every issue known to man (or woman)-
well, maybe not quite. But, for a number of years, we had a book club that discussed spirituality and religion from every angle.  That book club was called "Left Field".

This book is one of the most mainstream Christian books that we have read.  Lisa's brother is the pastor of the largest Protestant church in the United States and is well -known for his positive thinking.  In fact, some people think he smiles too much. But I have always appreciated being reminded of the importance of staying positive.  One of my favourite books is "The Power of Positive Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale.

The basic premise of Lisa Olsteen's book is that we are made for more than just surviving- we are made to thrive and flourish.
And so, she talks about things that can hold you back from the life you are meant to live.
Lisa, herself, has experienced some disappointments and heartbreak and has some great encouragement for every occasion.

Psalm 25: 12 "God will instruct you in the way chosen for you".

Reminders that I appreciated:
1.) Every season of your life has a purpose.
2.) You can look at difficulties as challenges.
3.) Nothing is impossible with God.
4.) Refuse fear- perfect love casts out fear.
5.) Simplify your life by simplifying your thoughts.
6.) Courage is a decision, not a feeling.
7.) Forgiveness is not an emotion but an act of the will.
8.) Believe the best in people.

Every life has a purpose.
Lisa often uses the phrase "What if"?  What if we didn't need to know everything?  What if we quit worrying?  What if we could do anything we wanted?  What would be a homerun for you?
These questions are interesting to ponder.
Lisa certainly gives you lots of encouragement, support and inspiration.  She reminds you to dream!  And expect more!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

August 31

I usually try to post on my blog on Monday and Friday ( or close).
This past Monday was a holiday but that is not the reason that there was no post.
I don't usually get this personal, but here goes.
Sunday was the anniversary of our son's death, so we had 18 family members for supper on Saturday, to start the weekend.
I began to get sick as Saturday evening wore on and was very sick in the night- large swelling on my neck, high fever and terrible headache.  With the house full of people, I stayed in bed for three days.  When they realized how sick I was they went to other locations.
My sickness had all the symptoms of mumps and I decided to wait it out, but after three days in bed, unable to eat at all, or drink much, I was just too lifeless, and the pain in my ear was unbearable as the swelling got larger.  And so we headed for Emergency.


Kathy had made some entries into the Paris Fall Fair competitions- many are beautiful quilts, but she also entered in the storyboard category- photos that tell a story. Here is the one that she prepared in honour of her brother's journey.

Some friends and family members hiked along the Grand River early Sunday morning, also in memory of our son, and were shocked to find his initials, written in paint on a rock. Not one of them knew it was there.  They just happened on it by chance.  Or not chance?

Other family members hiked around Chicopee Park.  I haven't heard if they saw anything extraordinary.

Everyone has gone home, and I just got back from the hospital, with more tests planned and doctor's appointments to attend. I will also need time to gain my strength in order to begin feeling well and strong. The lump is still there but the pain is gone -thanks to the intervenous I received at the hospital.    It wasn't mumps, but what was it?  Some virus- from where?