2014 NYC Marathon recap

Hello friends, Grab something to drink, get comfy and enjoy... this is a long post.  If you aren't interested in the details, just skip to the bottom to see how I did.

There are three strategies for most runners on marathon day: to race, to run, to survive.  Looking back on my experience, I was prepared, felt great, I was ready to run.  I have one experience of surviving so I know how rough marathon day can be. I ran the 2014 NYC marathon, as planned.

Books: oh... the choices!

Hello everyone, 

I walked my dogs this morning, bundled up in a scarf, jacket and mittens... it was 39 degrees out.  I love fall, the cool weather and the colors changing, layers, a cup of tea.

As I wrap up training for the marathon I'm starting to think about the rest of the year: a trip to MN, a Thanksgiving feast for 25(!), a trip to Asia, and Christmas. Time passes quickly these days. 

Let's talk Books!

Below is a review, what I'm reading this week, and two book I bought over the weekend.

Five Days Left: If you enjoyed Tuesday's with Morie you will enjoy this book.  It tugs at your heart and forces you to wonder 'what would I do' in this situation.

It's a sad story, but an important one. Exploring family, love, and situations when making the right decision means letting go/accepting that your life plan has taken a turn.

I rated this 4 stars on goodreads

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This week I'm listening to Rooms, and reading Big Little Lies.

Rooms: A tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways. 

Big Little Lies:   A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?  What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

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Have you read any of these books? I loved most of Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers so I'm hopeful that I will enjoy her new book.   Sold is an older title, looks similar to The Blue Notebook which is a book I will never forget.  

The Museum of Extraordinary Things:an epic tale of love, loss, and the astounding city of New York in the early 20th century. The two main protagonists are Coralie, a girl with a curious deformity who becomes an attraction at her father’s museum of oddities, and Eddie, a photographer who’s abandoned his Jewish Orthodox faith and makes a living documenting the wonders and tragedies of the city. Eventually their paths cross when they become wrapped up in the mystery surrounding a missing garment worker.

Sold: Lakshmi is a thirteen-year-old girl who lives with her family in a small hut on a mountain in Nepal. Though she is desperately poor, her life is full of simple pleasures, But when the harsh Himalayan monsoons wash away all that remains of the family’s crops, Lakshmi’s stepfather says she must leave home and take a job to support her family.

Glad to be able to help, Lakshmi journeys to India and arrives at “Happiness House” full of hope. But she soon learns the unthinkable truth: she has been sold into prostitution. Lakshmi’s life becomes a nightmare from which she cannot escape. Still, she lives by her mother’s words— Simply to endure is to triumph—and gradually, she forms friendships with the other girls that enable her to survive in this terrifying new world. Then the day comes when she must make a decision—will she risk everything for a chance to reclaim her life?

What are you reading this week? Have you discovered any new must books you can't wait to ready?
I'm adding Lust to my list based on Lisa's review.  This might be a good audiobook for my next long run.

Have a lovely week, Mari

Books I can't wait to read!

Most of you know I loved Her Fearful Symmetry and The Time Traveler's Wife.  I'm currently reading Every Day (about a boy who wakes up every day in a different body), so the first two books mentioned below appear to be perfect choices for me.

I believe in 'ghosts,' not the idea of them but believe they exist.  I have a friend who owns an old schoolhouse turned into a cafe in a small town in Minnesota, with a ghost.  She pushes pots off the counter and slams doors.  It's a really good story, one for another day... 

Michel Faber... I love his writing and devoured Crimson Petal on holiday.  I can't wait to get lost in the language and depth in which he writes.

I hope you have a few books you are anxiously waiting to read this fall, the excitement of buying a book the day it publishes, opening the spine and getting to know the characters... it's divine.

What are you reading this fall?

Rooms (publishes Sep 23): Wealthy Richard Walker has just died, leaving behind his country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His estranged family—bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna—have arrived for their inheritance.

But the Walkers are not alone. Prim Alice and the cynical Sandra, long dead former residents bound to the house, linger within its claustrophobic walls. 

The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths that will soon surface with explosive force. When a new ghost appears, and Trenton begins to communicate with her, the spirit and human worlds collide—with cataclysmic results.

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The Cure for Dreaming (publishes Oct 14): Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud.

These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women.

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The Book of Strange New Things (publishes Oct 28): 
Peter, devoted pastor, dedicated missionary, and loving husband to his wife, has just accepted a demanding and perilous new job. He's to travel to a new planet, Oasis, to work for a mysterious corporation called USIC. 

He's tasked with reaching out to the indigenous race, to make sure they are as peaceful as they seem. Resolutely devout and strengthened by his letters from Bea at home, Peter undertakes his job with complete focus. 

Peter is suddenly faced with an impossible-and dangerous-decision: to follow his faith, or follow his heart. His life depends on it.

Travel: visiting Hamburg

Hello friends,  Last month I flew to Hamburg for a long weekend, to explore the city and  celebrate a friend's birthday.

We arrived early morning Thursday, taking a red-eye from NYC to Germany. 

Hamburg is a bicycle city, women in dresses, men in suits... they bike to work.  It's such an odd sight, at 7:30am, to see 50+ bicycles at a stoplight when you look out the taxi window.

After dropping off our luggage and enjoying a European breakfast, we climbed to the top of the church tower behind our hotel, a lovely 360 view.

I remember seeing Lake Alster from the tower, it looked like it was ten miles away but was less than a mile walk from our hotel.

Book Reviews: Crafting/Knitting


Why I picked it: I declared 2014 a year to nest, and have read some amazing books leaving me inspired with the hope to discover more.

Synopsis: As spinners, knitters, and weavers know, the characteristics of fleece -- its structure, grease content, and fiber diameter -- vary widely depending on the breed of sheep the fleece comes from. These factors are crucial when you're deciding how to spin your fleece and use your finished yarn. In this comprehensive reference, Beth Smith presents a thorough overview of 21 sheep breeds, including each breed's characteristics and history, a photo of the animal and its locks, the best methods for washing its fleece, and specific techniques for preparing, spinning, and finishing the fleece. You'll discover how to select the fleece that is best for your project and how to spin exactly the yarn you need.

Quick Take:

Rating: 3 stars
Source: review copy (Netgalley)

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The Handmade Marketplace: thoughts...

Synopsis: Since its original publication in 2010, Kari Chapin's The Handmade Marketplace has inspired thousands of crafters around the world to find the courage and know-how they need to make money -- and even to make a full-time living -- from doing what they love best. Now, this best-selling guide has been completely revised and updated to include solid information on the latest on-line and social media opportunities for sales and marketing, as well as fresh advice and invaluable tips from successful crafters and artists. With Kari Chapin at your side, you can live a more creative life and enjoy a lucrative career at the same time.

Rating: 3 stars
Source: NetGalley

Book Review: The Vibrant Table

Why I picked it: In the last two years, I have become obsessed with cookbooks.  I enjoy reading personal stories, and find it amazing to discover how a list of ingredients transforms into an experience for one, or many.

Synopsis: Walk with Anya Kassoff through farmers' markets, local food shops, and her garden and you too will start to see fresh fruit and vegetables as the raw materials for artistic expression. Rose petal and honey sundaes, lemongrass and raspberry tiramisu with cardamom cream, amaranth pumpkin porridge: with these recipes in hand, you will never run out of ways to enjoy fresh, whole foods at home.

Anya's family-focused food blog, Golubka (Russian for "dove"), has a well-earned reputation for unique recipes that please the palate and senses. Her recipes are healthy by most standards--always vegetarian, mostly vegan, gluten-free, and often raw--and every dessert can serve as an energizing breakfast. Her food is fresh, seasonal, homemade, handcrafted, and 100% delightful.

Over 100 recipes include lighter interpretations of familiar classics and embody a fresh, bright sensibility that will inspire you well beyond the table. From breakfasts through sweet indulgences, every recipe tells a story of a balanced and nourished lifestyle, centered around the family table and a bustling kitchen.

Anya's kitchen is part workshop and part art classroom, so many recipes double as food projects that can be done for or with kids. Anya's love for fresh and seasonal ingredients prepared with love is clear.

Quick Take: Have you taken the time to flip the pages of a cookbook recently?  If you read the introduction and the pages between each recipe, you can really get to know the author.  Cookbooks today are part memoir. The author of The Vibrant Table shares a glimpse into her life growing up in Russia, during the 'iron curtain' days. She mentioned her mother spent half her life waiting in lines and learned to use every last bit of food to feed their family.

Food blogger, turned author, this book is extremely useful.  The author explains how to use the book, teaching the reader/user about ingredients and everyday items to keep in the kitchen. She explains oils, nuts, flours, sweet options, etc...

The photography is stunning, the page layout is lovely, and the recipes are creative.

Ingredients for each recipe are listed in a column to the side, making it easy to glance at and confirm you have everything need before getting started. I have made several recipes from the book and can't wait to buy a copy to add to my cookbook collection.

note: I read this book in January (pub date Jun 10), on a cold, snowy weekend. Looking at the photography and reading each recipe warmed me as I sat on the sofa, with a fire roaring, and the football playoffs being consumed by my family. Sharing recipes and ideas with them, we all enjoyed it!

Rating: 5 stars
Source: Netgalley (review copy)

Book Review: Cold Antler Farm

Why I picked it: If I'm completely honest, the cover grabbed my attention, then my eye dropped to the bottom of the cover where I read... memoir (which I love to read).

Synopsis:  Author Jenna Woginrich is mistress of her one-woman farm and is well known for her essays on the mud and mess, the beautiful and tragic, the grime and passion that accompany homesteading. In Cold Antler Farm, her fifth book, she draws our attention to the flow and cycle not of the calendar year, but of the ancient agricultural year: holidays,  celebrations, seasonal touchstones, and astronomical events that mark sacred turning points in the seasons.

Amidst the "lost" holidays of the equinoxes, May Day, Hallowmas, and Yule, we learn the life stories of her beloved animals and crops--chicken, pig, lamb, apples, basil, tomatoes. May apple blossoms are sweet fruit for rambunctious sheep in June. And come September, the harvest draws together neighbors for cider making under the waning summer sun. The living beings she is tending fuel one another--and the community--day to day, season by season. 

Quick Take: I read this book in two days, during a snowstorm, snuggled on the sofa with a fire roaring. 

Jenna Woginrich is a talented writer, reading her craft challenges me to become a better writer, and I'm forever grateful to her. In addition to the amazing writing, the author shares the struggles and triumphs of owning a homestead.  The daily/seasonal tasks that MUST happen can be overwhelming at times, but equally satisfying. 

"I weed my garden bursting with life, I see weeding as a metaphor for the lifelong process of winnowing out that which does not serve me, giving space for all that feeds me and lets me flourish."

"People are drawn to the lives they want to live, at least the stubborn ones are." 

Her story is anchored by an ancient calendar, a year of holiday's and celebration that I found fascinating. I'm a city gal who longs for a simple life, day dreams bring chicken coops, sheep, and the joy of growing my own vegetables. Ah... daydreams.  You can see why I loved this book.

I have also decided I need a handmade broom, clearly every home needs one. 

Rating: 5 stars
Source: Review Copy (Roost Books)

Books I can't wait to read!

Do you know what I love about air travel? When I have nothing but time, to get lost in a book, I'm a pretty fast reader.

Today I had a two hour flight, to Orlando, gifting me time to finish the book I was reading, The Never Never Sisters.  Sadly I didn't love it, it was good but not a must read.

I took a quick nap once I arrived and started The Marrying of Chani Kaufman.  A book I'm VERY excited to read.

After reading this book, I will be ready for a summer selection.  I can tell Summer is approaching based solely on books like the ones listed below.  Beach reads, with substance.

Have you read any of these books?  They have caught my attention.

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A Triple Knot (pub date: July 8, 2014) Joan of Kent, the renowned beauty and niece of King Edward III, seems blessed with a life of royal privilege until her father is executed for treason and she becomes a ward of the king, living amongst those who deem her the daughter of a traitor. Joan begins to understand the brutal constraints and dangers inherent in being of royal blood. There is one at court who loves her, but his love proves the greatest threat of all.

As an impetuous teenager, she escapes into a clandestine marriage in a bid for freedom, then must hide it for nearly a decade, as her guardians marry her off to another man. After her first husband’s death, Joan—now a mother of four—enters into another scandalous relationship, this time with the heir to the British throne, Prince Edward, hero of Crécy and Poitiers, who has loved her all along. But his devotion comes at a terrible price. Haunted by nightmares of her father’s execution and the ruthlessness of her royal kin, Joan must reconcile her passion for the crown prince with her own conscience.

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Little Island: Grace, Flowers, By the water, Have fun!

These are Grace’s mother’s last words – left behind on a note. A note that Grace interprets as instructions for her memorial service. And so her far-flung clan will gather at their inn on Little Island, Maine, to honor her.

Twenty years ago, a tragedy nearly destroyed the Little family – and still defines them. Grace, her husband Gar, and their three grown children, Joy, Roger and Tamar each played a role in what transpired. But this weekend, they will discover that there is more than pain and heartbreak that binds their family together, when a few simple words lift the fog and reveal what truly matters.

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One Hundred Names (pub date: May 6, 2014): Scandal has derailed journalist Kitty Logan’s career, a setback that is soon compounded by an even more devastating loss. Constance, the woman who taught Kitty everything she knew, is dying. At her mentor’s bedside, Kitty asks her, “What is the one story you always wanted to write?”

The answer lies in a single sheet of paper buried in Constance’s office—a list of one hundred names—with no notes or explanation. But before Kitty can ask her friend, it is too late.

Determined to unlock the mystery and rebuild her own shaky confidence, Kitty throws herself into the investigation, tracking down each of the names on the list and uncovering their connection. Meeting these ordinary people and learning their stories, Kitty begins to piece together an unexpected portrait of Constance’s life . . . and starts to understand her own.

Book Review: Goodnight June

Why I picked it: I will read almost anything written by author Sarah Jio, her stories are simply readable.

Goodnight June Publishes May 27 - a must read!

Synopsis: Goodnight Moon is an adored childhood classic, but its real origins are lost to history. In Goodnight June, Sarah Jio offers a suspenseful and heartfelt take on how the "great green room" might have come to be.

June Andersen is professionally successful, but her personal life is marred by unhappiness. Unexpectedly, she is called to settle her great-aunt Ruby’s estate and determine the fate of Bluebird Books, the children’s bookstore Ruby founded in the 1940s. Amidst the store’s papers, June stumbles upon letters between her great-aunt and the late Margaret Wise Brown—and steps into the pages of American literature

Quick Take: Goodnight June is the first book I have read in a long time that I read in a day or two.  I know what to expect from Sarah Jio, a well written story that's absorbing and pulls me from life for a few days.  She has a talent for weaving a current day story with the past.

What did I love about this book? The backdrop is a much loved children's bookstore, filled with first editions. June inherits but doesn't have time for the store, she's planning to close/sell the building until her Aunt sends June on a treasure hunt that uncover family secrets, including letters with the author of the much loved book Goodnight Moon.  While her family history begins to unfold, she realizes that her life in NYC may not be perfect and is forced to make decisions regarding her future.

Recommend for book clubs? Absolutely

Speaking of book clubs, the Manic Mommies Book Club met with Sarah in 2011, to discuss The Violets of March, click here to listen to our discussion.

Rating: 4.5 stars
Source: Review Copy (NetGalley)

Book Review: On The Island

Why I Picked it: I accepted reading a book for review, for an author who was new to me... after doing a little research I wanted to read this book.

Synopsis: When thirty-year-old English teacher Anna Emerson is offered a job tutoring T.J. Callahan at his family's summer rental in the Maldives, she accepts without hesitation; a working vacation on a tropical island trumps the library any day.

Anna and T.J. are en route to join T.J.'s family when the pilot of their seaplane suffers a fatal heart attack and crash-lands in the Indian Ocean. Adrift in shark-infested waters, their life jackets keep them afloat until they make it to the shore of an uninhabited island. Now Anna and T.J. just want to survive and they must work together to obtain water, food, fire, and shelter.

Their basic needs might be met but as the days turn to weeks, and then months, the castaways encounter plenty of other obstacles, including violent tropical storms, the many dangers lurking in the sea, and the possibility that T.J.'s cancer could return. As T.J. celebrates yet another birthday on the island, Anna begins to wonder if the biggest challenge of all might be living with a boy who is gradually becoming a man.

Quick Take: I read this book a month ago and can't seem to shake it from my memory. The story had me captivated from page one, from the plane crash to the daily life struggles on the island.  Imagine living every day with fear of the other dying and being left alone, wondering if you will eat today, consider your daily hygiene, its survival at its core.

Now for the twist, dare I say it's written for women... it's readable and tugs at your heart.  There's an emotional creep factor in that the boy develops a crush on his teacher (in the most natural way imagined), mix in a longing for human comfort and years of snuggling for heat, emotions get in the way.  Time turns a boy into a man, a teacher into a woman.  

I want everyone to read this book, so I can talk about it! Recommend for book club? Absolutely! It's an easy read, with a LOT to discuss. 

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Review Copy

Book Review: Covet

Why I picked it: I was offered this book to read for review but had no idea that I would gain a new 'must read' author out of the deal.  Having read two books written by Tracey Garvis Graves, I connect to her writing, it's effortless and emotional.

Synopsis: What if the life you wanted, and the woman you fell in love with, belonged to someone else?

Downsized during the recession and out of work for a year, Chris copes by retreating to a dark place where no one can reach him, not even Claire. When he's offered a position that will keep him away from home four nights a week, he dismisses Claire's concern that time apart could be the one thing their fragile union can't weather. Their suburban life may look idyllic on the outside, but Claire has never felt so disconnected from Chris, or so lonely.

Local police officer Daniel Rush used to have it all, but now he goes home to an empty house every night. He pulls Claire over during a routine traffic stop, and they run into each other again at the 4th of July parade. When Claire is hired to do some graphic design work for the police department, her friendship with Daniel grows, and soon they're spending hours together.

Claire loves the way Daniel makes her feel, and the way his face lights up when she walks into the room. Daniel knows that Claire's marital status means their relationship will never be anything other than platonic. But it doesn't take long before Claire and Daniel are in way over their heads, and skating close to the line that Claire has sworn she'll never cross.

Quick take:

Rating: 4 stars
Source: review copy

Books I can't wait to read!

Friends,  Just a quick update, I'm off on an unplanned business trip for a few days... below are two books I can't wait to read, and the book I'm reading this week.

I am listening to Life After Life while driving about ten hours for a business trip. At the half point, I'm sorry to say not much has happened.  That's okay, I have a feeling it's going to have a strong finish!  My hopes are high since it did win the reader's choice for 2013 on goodreads.

Have you read it?  Did you love it?

I will be back on Thursday - in the meantime... please tell me what are you reading this week!

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Life After Life: On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. Sadly, she dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Clearly history (and Kate Atkinson) have plans for her: In Ursula rests nothing less than the fate of civilization.

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The Arsonist: pub Jun 24, 

From the best-selling author of While I Was Gone and The Senator's Wife, a superb new novel about a family and a community tested when an arsonist begins setting fire to the homes of the summer people in a small New England town.

Troubled by the feeling that she belongs nowhere after working in East Africa for 15 years, Frankie Rowley has come home-home to the small New Hampshire town of Pomeroy and the farmhouse where her family has always summered. On her first night back, a house up the road burns to the ground. Is it an accident, or arson? Over the weeks that follow, as Frankie comes to recognize her father's slow failing and her mother's desperation, another house burns, and then another, always the homes of summer people. These frightening events, and the deep social fault lines that open in the town as a result, are observed and reported on by Bud Jacobs, a former political journalist, who has bought the local paper and moved to Pomeroy in an attempt to find a kind of home himself. As this compelling book unfolds, as Bud and Frankie begin an unexpected, passionate affair, arson upends a trusting small community where people have never before bothered to lock their doors; and Frankie and Bud bring wholly different perspectives to the questions of who truly owns the land, who belongs in the town, and how, or even whether, newcomers can make a real home there.

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Save the Date: Have you read it? The plot sounds fun and quirky yet goodread reviewer either love or hate this one.  

Synopsis: Weddings. They’re fun, festive, and joyful, and at a time when people marry later in life—and sometimes not at all—they offer endless opportunities to reexamine love and what we want for ourselves, regardless of whether or not our aim is a walk down the aisle. In Save the Date, Jen Doll charts the course of her own perennial wedding guesthood, from the ceremony of distant family members when she was eight to the recent nuptials of a new boyfriend’s friends.

There’s the first trip home for a childhood pal’s big day, in which she learns that her first love has eloped to Hawaii. There’s the destination wedding attended with little baggage beyond a suitcase of strappy sandals and summery party dresses. Regrettably, there is a series of celebrations that mean the end to a valued friendship. There’s also the wedding that offers all the promise of new love.

Wedding experiences come in as varied an assortment as the gowns at any bridal shop, and Doll turns a keen eye to each, delivering a heartfelt exploration of contemporary relationships. Funny, honest, and affecting, Save the Date is a fresh and spirited look at the many ways in which we connect to one another.

Book Review: Waking the Buddha

Why I picked it: The book cover and title grabbed my attention.

Synopsis: Is there more to Buddhism than sitting in silent meditation? Is modern Buddhism relevant to the problems of daily life? Does it empower individuals to transform their lives?

Waking the Buddha tells the story of the Soka Gakkai International, the largest, most dynamic Buddhist movement in the world today—and one that is waking up and shaking up Buddhism so it can truly work in ordinary people’s lives.

Readers will be inspired by the struggles and triumphs of the three founding presidents— These three men dared to revolutionize Buddhism by restoring it to its true purpose: to help people transform their lives and the world they live in. The result is a uniquely relevant form of Buddhism—one that “just makes sense” to the modern mind and is ready to meet the challenges of a global age.

Quick Take: I'm not sure what to say about this book, it read more like a thesis/research paper and wasn't at all what I expected.  I have several books on Buddhism, lifestyle, yoga... they all have a quiet feel to them.  This book was hard to read, mostly because I was expecting something completely different. 

The only review I found on goodreads was a DNF: I found it difficult to read and to follow. I got to about half and then gave up

Have you read this book?  Did I miss something? I didn't love it, but that doesn't mean you can't enjoy it.

Rating: 2 stars
Source: Review Copy (NetGalley)

Books I can't wait to read

I'm so excited to read the books I'm sharing with you today.

One of my favorite, must read, authors are publishing this summer, Thrity Umrigar.  Like many, The Space Between Us remains at the top of my life list of favorites.  The Story Hour sounds promising, a twist on a common theme I'm reading this year.

The other two books below are new discoveries for me...  The cast of characters in Cutting Teeth reminds me of Little Children by Tom Perrotta.  The Vacationers is a book that grabs my attention; a family drama (I'm not sure why, but I just love these books).

I'm expecting a better than average reading summer; I would say 'I can feel it' but I'm seeing it.  So many great authors publishing, and new discoveries with so much potential. Do you have any books you are patiently waiting to read this summer?
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The Story Hour (pub date, Aug 19): An experienced psychologist, Maggie carefully maintains emotional distance from her patients. But when she meets a young Indian woman who tried to kill herself, her professional detachment disintegrates. Cut off from her family in India, Lakshmi is desperately lonely and trapped in a loveless marriage to a domineering man who limits her world to their small restaurant and grocery store.

Moved by her plight, Maggie treats Lakshmi in her home office for free, quickly realizing that the despondent woman doesn’t need a shrink; she needs a friend. Determined to empower Lakshmi as a woman who feels valued in her own right, Maggie abandons protocol, and soon doctor and patient have become close friends.

But while their relationship is deeply affectionate, it is also warped by conflicting expectations. When Maggie and Lakshmi open up and share long-buried secrets, the revelations will jeopardize their close bond, shake their faith in each other, and force them to confront painful choices.

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Cutting Teeth (pub date, May 13) Taking place one late-summer weekend as a group of thirty-something couples gather at a shabby beach house on Long Island, their young children in tow.

Including a neurotic hostess terrified by internet rumors that something big and bad is going to happen in New York City that week; stay-at-home dad Rip, grappling with the reality that his careerist wife will likely deny him a second child, forcing him to disrupt the life he loves; Allie, one half of a two-mom family, and an ambitious artist, facing her ambivalence toward family life; Tiffany, comfortable with her amazing body but not so comfortable in the upper-middle class world the other characters were born into; and Leigh, a blue blood secretly facing financial ruin and dependent on Tenzin, the magical Tibetan nanny everyone else covets. These tensions build, burn, and collide over the course of the weekend, culminating in a scene in which the ultimate rule of the group is broken.

Cutting Teeth captures the complex dilemmas of early mid-life—the vicissitudes of friendship, of romantic and familial love, and of sex. It confronts class tension, status hunger, and the unease of being in possession of life's greatest bounty while still wondering, is this as good as it gets? And, perhaps most of all, Julia Fierro’s thought-provoking debut explores the all-consuming love we feel for those we need most, and the sacrifice and self-compromise that underpins that love.

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The Vacationers (pub date, May 29): For the Posts, a two-week trip to the Balearic island of Mallorca with their extended family and friends is a celebration: Franny and Jim are observing their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia, has graduated from high school. The sunlit island, its mountains and beaches, its tapas and tennis courts, also promise an escape from the tensions simmering at home in Manhattan. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

This is a story of the sides of ourselves that we choose to show and those we try to conceal, of the ways we tear each other down and build each other up again, and the bonds that ultimately hold us together. With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole.

Book Review: The Here and Now

Why I picked it: I've read a few books written by the author, I enjoyed My Name is Memory (time travel with historical content) and my book club read one of the traveling pants books (summer fluff selection).  Just good fun.

Synopsis: Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

Meet seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth. But everything changes when she falls for Ethan Jarves.

Quick Take:  I'm not sure what to say about this book, it's YA and a quick read. It's much lighter than the Divergent series, but good. The adult version would have delved more into the impact of everything on the future, global warming, disease, etc.  

If you are looking for an entertaining, quick YA selection this is a good choice. I'm curious to see if reader's will love this one... I really enjoyed My Name is Memory, click here to read my thoughts/review.  

Click here to read Ti's review (Book Chatter) 

Rating: 3 stars
Source: Review Copy (NetGalley)

Book Review: To a Mountain in Tibet

Why I picked it: Mountains, Tibet.. the title says it all right?

Synopsis: In the wake of his mother's death, Thubron sets off to Mount Kailas in Tibet, a peak sacred to one-fifth of the world's population and the source of four of India's great rivers. Kailas has never been climbed: the slopes are important to Tibetan Buddhists.

It is the poignant evocations of his mother and sister (who died at 21), interwoven with his profound respect for the Tibetan culture and landscape that make Thubron's memoir an utterly moving read.

Quick Take: I listened to Thubron's journey while walking my dogs last month.  This book is not for everyone... but I loved it, mostly for the cultural bits.

The author shares a few stories with us, from family legacy, loss and how this impacts the author; the physical journey in the mountains; and a cultural / spiritual aspect. Did you know the folklore suggests Tibetan Mountains fly and that Buddha nailed them down. There's a reason we turn clockwise, Hindus say shooting stars are sky gods descent to bathe in water, and Tibet has a holy month?

I have been working on the idea of a visit to Nepal/Tibet/India - I would love to hike Annapurna and/or base camp of Everest.  This book only adds to my passion for getting there!

If a book on Tibet is too much for you, here's an article about the book published on The Guardian that you might enjoy.

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Personal Copy

Book Review: Tempting Fate

Why I Picked it: This topic interests me, even knowing it's fiction it still provides insight to 'risking everything'.  I have mentioned in previous posts that I know/have heard stories of women dealing with their version of this story. It's also the stage of life I'm in, mid-forties with children no longer the primary focus and most of us have time to observe, think, wonder.  As the author says, 'the afternoon of life'.   

Synopsis: When Gabby first met Elliott she knew he was the man for her. In twenty years of marriage she has never doubted her love for him - even when he refused to give her the one thing she still wants most of all. But now their two daughters are growing up Gabby feels that time and her youth are slipping away. For the first time in her life she is restless. And then she meets Matt . . .

Intoxicated by the way this young, handsome and successful man makes her feel, Gabby is momentarily blind to what she stands to lose on this dangerous path. And in one reckless moment she destroys all that she holds dear.

Consumed by regret, Gabby does everything she can to repair the home she has broken. But are some betrayals too great to forgive.

Quick Take: I chose to listen to the audio vs. reading this novel, it was like listening to a friend tell me the story of another friend over a glass of wine.  Understanding the feelings the main character was dealing with and why she felt the way she did at times was interesting. 

If women are honest and read/listen to this book, we are familiar with the emotions and work/life balance struggles Gabby encounters.  It's the choices and actions that predict the outcome. 

I especially liked reading the post betrayal depression, coming to terms with what happened, the impact on her family, and their future.  The husbands reaction felt real.  The last book I read covering this topic with a compelling story was Jane Porter's novel, The Good Woman.

This isn't a happy, life is wonderful book but well worth the reading experience.
Have you read it?  Did you enjoy it?

Rating: 4 stars
Source: Personal Copy (Audio)

Book Reviews... in a flash!

Sharing a memoir and two cookbooks with you today. While I enjoyed reading each, I struggled to 'rate/review' two of the three. 

Glitter and Glue When Kelly Corrigan was in high school, her mother neatly summarized the family dynamic as “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.”

After college, armed with a backpack, her personal mission statement, and a wad of traveler’s checks, she took off for Australia to see things and do things and Become Interesting.

This is a book about the difference between travel and life experience, stepping out and stepping up, fathers and mothers. But mostly it’s about who you admire and why, and how that changes over time.

Quick Take: I often struggle with mother/daughter/family stories, and this was the case with Glitter and Glue.  While I did not love this book, I did appreciate the story, and like I often say 'who am I to rate someone's life story'.

I read several reviews on goodreads hoping to have an ah-ha moment before writing my review.  For me the story has a good message, yet reads bland at times. My favorite part was probably the last page, when she looks for the family online.

Source: Review Copy (netgalley)

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My Paris Kitchen (Pub Date, April 8): A collection of stories and 100 sweet and savory French-inspired recipes from popular food blogger David Lebovitz, reflecting the way modern Parisians eat today and featuring lush photography taken around Paris and in David's Parisian kitchen.

In My Paris Kitchen, David remasters the classics, introduces lesser-known fare, and presents 100 sweet and savory recipes that reflect the way modern Parisians eat today. You’ll find Soupe à l’oignon, Cassoulet, Coq au vin, and Croque-monsieur, as well as Smoky barbecue-style pork, Lamb shank tagine, Dukkah-roasted cauliflower, Salt cod fritters with tartar sauce, and Wheat berry salad with radicchio, root vegetables, and pomegranate. And of course, there’s dessert: Warm chocolate cake with salted butter caramel sauce, Duck fat cookies, Bay leaf poundcake with orange glaze, French cheesecake...and the list goes on. David also shares stories told with his trademark wit and humor, and lush photography taken on location around Paris and in David’s kitchen reveals the quirks, trials, beauty, and joys of life in the culinary capital of the world.

Quick Take:  I enjoy reading cookbooks for the stories, ingredients, and understanding how a dish is made more than the actual process of cooking! This book is filled with stories and having spent time on the streets of Paris I was able to imagine the places, kitchens, moments. 

The photography is wonderful, the recipes are well planned and easy to follow.  This book contains everything you could ever want; it's a good must have cookbook for any kitchen.

Source: Review Copy (netgalley)

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Simple Thai Food (pub date, May 13): Thai takeout meets authentic, regional flavors in this collection of 100 recipes for easy, economical, and accessible Thai classics—from the rising star behind the blog She Simmers.

All of Leela’s recipes have been tested and tweaked to ensure that even the busiest cook can prepare them at home. With chapters on key ingredients and tools, base recipes, one-plate meals, classic rice accompaniments, and even Thai sweets, Simple Thai Food is a complete primer for anyone who wants to give Thai cooking a try. By the end of the book, you’ll be whipping up tom yam soup and duck red curry that will put your local takeout joint to shame. But perhaps more importantly, you’ll discover an exciting new world of Thai flavors and dishes—including Stir-Fried Chicken with Chile Jam, Leaf-Wrapped Salad Bites, and Crispy Wings with Three-Flavored Sauce—that will open your eyes to all the wonderful possibilities that real Thai cooking has to offer.

Quick Take: This cookbook was a challenge for my family since I'm a vegetarian and my husband doesn't like chives or onions. {ha}.  It has sparked an interest to go to the local Asian market for spices, which I view as a step in the right direction.

Have you tried cooking traditional Thai? Do you have any favorites?

Source: review copy (netgalley)

Book Review: Great Little Gifts to Knit

Why I picked it: Learning to read the language of knitting has opened my horizons to the art of 'making'. 

Synopsis: Today's knitters are avid—and busy. Although they love to knit for friends and family, and enjoy trying out new patterns and stitch techniques, they're constantly faced with the challenge of finding enough time to complete their projects.  

Great Little Gifts to Knit solves this problem. Jean Moss, author of Sweet Shawlettes, has designed 30 fun, fresh, beautiful patterns that incorporate traditional knitting techniques from all over the world: from Fair Isle and Aran knits to Peruvian intarsia patterns and Japanese shadow knitting techniques.

Beautiful, clever, and, most of all, quick to knit, these projects offer knitters a chance to learn and experiment with new techniques—all in projects that can be made in less than a weekend.

Quick Take: Take one step into my workspace, and you will find yourself surrounded with skeins of yarns, supplies, patterns, bookshelves and my desk.  I'm enjoying making small items, knowing the difficulty and challenge can be high for me.

This book is filled with lovely projects, of the thirty included I'm planning to make several.  I'm quite excited to make the mittens in the photo; the hat and socks are must make items for me.

Rating: 4 stars
Source: review copy (Netgalley)

A funny moment: The World Traveler came home this week, pleased so see my progress... he looked at a pattern sitting next to the mittens I'm making and said 'are you cheating?'
 I asked what he meant and he thought I invented everything I make! {funny}

Book Review: Fresh from the Farm

Why I picked it: Middleton wrote one of my favorite cookbooks making this book an easy choice for me.

Synopsis: Part cookbook, part memoir, Fresh from the Farm chronicles a year of Susie Middleton’s life on her farm as she nurtures both her seedlings and her soul, weathers life as a farmer, and creates 125 simple recipes that celebrate cooking with the seasons.

The fresh, accessible recipes developed by Susie, pay homage to the vegetables and fruit she harvests on her rural farm and sells at her farm stand. Woven throughout the tantalizing recipes and luscious photos of food and farm life is Susie’s witty, engaging story of trading in her corporate life for something more meaningful, simple, and satisfying.

Valuable tips for both cooks and aspiring market gardeners are peppered throughout the book, and design ideas for four projects will inspire would-be backyard farmers. Fresh from the Farm is for anyone who enjoys cooking with fresh ingredients and eating seasonally—or anyone who wants to indulge their inner farmer.

Quick Take: This is a lovely cookbook, filled with photography and recipes yet reads more like a memoir.  Don't worry though, you will find a variety of recipes from easy to complicated, arranged seasonally... with what's fresh in the garden that day. 

Reading a few reviews, some mention the layout being a distraction for them (see photo). It may not work for everyone but I found this format interesting. I was engrossed by stories while glancing at recipes, learning and enjoying the author's farming/life experiences. It worked for me.

I can't wait to make this recipe, Gingery Strawberry-Rhubard crisp. {yum}

Interested to learn more about Susie Middleton? Click here for a great article on the HuffPo.

Rating: 4 stars
Source: review copy

Book Review: Madapple

Why I picked it: I have been wanting to read this book since reading Amaryllis in Blueberry, which I loved.   

Synopsis: Madapple tells the story of Maren Hellig and her 16-year-old daughter Aslaug, who live off the land in rural Maine, foraging for wild plants that nourish them physically and spiritually. The pair's mysterious existence is laid bare when Aslaug has to stand trial for her mother's murder.

Addictive, thought-provoking, and shocking, Madapple is a page-turning exploration of human nature and divine intervention--and of the darkest corners of the human soul.

Quick Take: The sentence just above caught my attention, and with my book club often preferring YA I thought this would be an interesting choice. 

Told in flashbacks while Aslaug is on trial for murdering her mother, I was kept engaged with an always twisting plot that sometimes took a strange turn.  Aslaug's knowledge/education comes from books and her mother's teachings, but she lacks life experience, she and her mother are hermits.

Reflecting back on the book, Aslaug was a victim of circumstance. I lost interest in the botany details, there's also mythology and religion, suspense and love, incest and the 'r' word. I appreciated this book and the authors imagination but my book club didn't care for it... if you want to read a Christina Meldrum novel, I might suggest starting with her second novel which I enjoyed it very much.    

Rating: 3 stars
Source: Personal Copy

Travel: Australia (part two)

Going through my travel posts, mostly to reflect, I realized I didn't get to share our adventure in Australia.

Australia... have you been?

I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in Sydney (click here to read part one: our time in Sydney), and one week in the Blue Mountains.

The World Traveler had a few day trips for work commitments, but I wasn't able to join him (puddle jumpers), so I explored via ferry, hiked, ran.  I loved everything about this place.

Sydney: I would move there in a minute, especially if we were able to live near the quay/Sydney Cove.

Our hotel was right under the bridge, giving us easy access to run across the Harbour Bridge every day, every day! There's a carnival just on the other side (you can't see it in this photo).  I would then cross back, around the cove and past the Opera House, and along the Royal Botanical Gardens on the left side of this photo.

Book Review: The Splendour Falls

Why I picked it: I have only read one book by this author and I know so many love her work.  It piqued my interest.

Synopsis: Emily Braden is intrigued by the medieval story of Queen Isabelle, and cannot resist when her cousin Harry, a historian, suggests a trip to the white-walled town of Chinon, nestling in France's Loire Valley. But when Harry vanishes and Emily begins to search for him, she stumbles across another intriguing mystery -- a second Isabelle, a chambermaid during the Second World War, who had her own tragedy, and her own treasure to hide.

As Emily explores the ancient town of labyrinthine tunnels, old enmities, and new loves, she finds herself drawn ever closer to the mysterious Isabelle and their long-kept secrets.

Quick Take: I enjoy learning while reading, and since I was in the land of a thousand castles recently (Aosta Valley) I was able to envision the setting for this story with little imagination.

Before you read this one you might want to take a few minutes to glance at goodreads reviews from friends who read this genre.  So many didn't take for elements within the book, I fall into this group.  I didn't have a connection to the guests befriending Emily, and found myself not interested in the outcome.  I did enjoy the writing, descriptions of the valley, and the little girl's sub plot.

I also thought it was odd that Emily and her family didn't seem concerned that Harry was missing.

Have you read it? It wasn't a favorite for me but I'm thankful for the historical part of novel.

Rating: 3 stars
Source: Review Copy

Book Review: Homemade Gatherings

Why I picked it: We host several socials in our home every year, from four to fifty guests, making a book like this perfect for me. ~ April 8, 2014 release date

Synopsis: From the décor, to the entertainment, on down to the recipes themselves, Handmade Gatherings presents inspired suggestions for thoughtful, flavorful, festive communal dining.

Here you'll find sixteen parties built around the rhythm of the seasons. Frosty winter fetes, lush springtime soirees, sultry summer get-togethers, and crisp autumn affairs--it's all here. Food, décor, crafts, and more are part of each event, all collectively assembled and executed. Throw memorable gatherings with your loved ones, enjoy the food, connect with your community, and get caught up in the splendor of it all.

Quick Take:  I should hold off sharing this review until April, but I read this book in one day, so excited that I want to share the book and a some weblinks with you.  I know a few of you are crafters, interested in local/organic, and gardening so I can't imagine holding this a secret any longer.

The book is filled with tips from concept to invitation, coordinating the menu and helping with the decorations.  As a hostess, you want your gatherings to be lasting memories of delicious food, enjoyable company, and most importantly you shouldn't overlook the setting.  Taking the time to create a mood/decor for the gathering is a must.

- Photography: I found myself looking at the details, getting ideas, seeing the end product along with the written descriptions.  Just lovely.

- Potluck socials are simple and delightful.  I'm planning to embrace the potluck a few times in 2014 (I already have an idea brewing).  This book shares great tips to ensure the meal comes together seamlessly: the hostess may want to provide plates for a spring theme, remind guests that when they bring a dish... ALWAYS bring a serving utensil.

- Recipes: I plan to try several, including these: rhubarb buttermilk bread, apple and fennel slaw (with buttermilk dressing), and the wild rice stuffed mushrooms.

- Flora and Crafts are included: teaching us how to make seed starters with newspaper and a juice glass.

- Host thoughtful gatherings

Rating: 5 stars
Source: NetGalley (personal copy when the book publishes)

Small Measure (Ashley English's blog)
Squam (ecourses +community)
12 steps to homesteading (article)
Author interview (before it's news)

A question from the q&a that sums it up nicely...

KA: One thing that’s always impressed is your seemingly effortless way of creating community within the walls of your home. I always leave with a full belly, a warm heart, and a new friend. What’s your secret?

AE: I really believe that spaces create certain experiences. If I wanted to be awed, I’d climb up to the top of a nearby mountain, or gaze at a sacred image. So too with desiring comfort. In my home, more than anything else, I want guests to feel welcome, and comfortable. I work to achieve that by, well, bringing the outdoors in, so to speak. Our walls are painted soothing earth tones, our furniture is all meant to be lounged on (and has the cat scratches and dog indentations to prove it!), there are wooden and metal and glass objects everywhere, and lots and lots of blankets. I can’t begin to tell you how many people have told us they completely lose all sense of time when they’re in our house, and, more recently, two friends said our home felt like a “big hug.” When you’re in an environment that feels inviting, you loosen up physically and, for some, mentally, too. Such a state is super conducive to making new friends and lingering over good food.

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