Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy holidays I will be reading...

Macedonia passage: Dangerous Cargo by Wright Gres! That's what I' ll be reading during the break. I met the writer at the Okefenokee Public Library some months ago so I'm looking forward to an interesting read. Five star rating by six amazon readers so far.

Enjoy the holidays y'all.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Curiosity + Library Book = Success for William Kamkwambe

Just finished reading the book, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwambe. It's a very interesting story told in the voice of a teenaged boy. William was 14 and a high school drop out when he built his first windmill.

The idea to harness the wind did not come up until page 153. This means quite a bit of the book is about William's life in Malawi: the traditions, the superstitions, the poverty, and the hunger. I was eating while reading about William's intense hunger and had to skip a few pages. This is a book that will awaken all kinds of emotions: anger at the indifference of government, horror at the awful famine, and tears of joy when William's story receives attention from the Malawian journalists.

This is the story of a curious innovative young man who discovered marvelous science books within a very disorganized library and did wonders for his family and community with his primitive creation.

Check out William's blog!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Books into Movies: Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones, one of our bookclub selections in the past, is now available in film format. Hope they do the book justice.

It is a story told from the point of view of a dead teenaged girl, Susie Salmon, from heaven. She watches from heaven how her family deals with her death and how they track her killer. Sounds morbid but it was extremely well written.

Having written about death, I feel like I should take a moment and pause to remember two men who passed this year; Buffalo Soldier and faithful Kiwanian Lester Young and faithful Rotarian Akinyele. May their souls rest in peace. It was a joy to have known them both in Waycross.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

New Garwood Book: Sizzle

It's cold and a good time to get sizzling hot with a book day or night :). That's my cue to segue to my book of the day. I got an email from Julie Garwood promoting her latest book, Sizzle. It will be in stores December 29. Ms. Garwood says in the email that "you will meet Lyra Prescott, a film student working on a documentary project, who soon discovers that nothing is as it seems. Lyra has two great obsessions: movies and chocolate". Ms. Garwood is therefore giving away a box of her favorite chocolates from Andre's Confisserie and also a $100 gift certificate for AMC Theaters.

Go check out her really cool website for more information.

Friday, December 04, 2009

TOP Five Best Sellers

According to USA Today, these are the nation's best sellers:

Going Rogue: An American Life by Sarah Palin

Eclipse, New Moon, Twilight, and Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

No big surprises there.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Butterfly Beauties


I took this pic of these butterfly beauties last week in Gainesville, Florida.
Now let's get back to books. I am trying to read The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind byWilliam Kamkwamba in preparation for book club meeting in January.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Fall Fiction

The Week magazine dated November 20, 2009 has book reviews on page 25 under the title, Fall Fiction: New Novels from Four Old Favorites. The four "old favorites" are Stephen King, John Grisham, Barbara Kingsolver, and Philip Roth.

The New Novels are Under the Dome by Stephen King, Ford County Stories by John Grisham; a collection of short stories, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingslover, and The Humbling by Philip Roth; referred to as "the most entertaining depressing book".

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

70 Years of Best Sellers 1895-1965

I am browsing a book by Alice Payne Hackett called 70 years of Best Sellers 1895-1965. The writer points out that best sellers does not refer to the best books but rather to the books that people love the best. The writer got much of the information from Publishers Weekly.

Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush by Ian Maclaren and The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope were bestsellers in 1895. That's the year that the first American Bestseller lists were published.

The Marriage of William Ashe by Mrs. Humphry Ward and The Gambler by Katherine Cecil Thurston were bestsellers in 1905 and Hackett says novels were beginning to write the new inventions into their plots: cars and wireless telegraphy.

An Austrian archduke was murdered in Sarajevo in 1914 and triggered a war in Europe and The Eyes of the World by Harold Bell Wright and Penrod by Booth Tarkington became bestsellers.

In 1940 the year Hitler and the Nazis attacked England, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn and Country Squire in the White House by John T. Flynn were bestsellers.

Interesting 280 page book written by Hackett and published in 1967.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Andre Agassi's Memoir

Ah! The trials and tribulations of Mackenzie Phillps, Hulk Hogan, Valerie Bertinelli and Andre Agassi. I guess I won't be writing a memoir any time soon. I have nothing shocking to say.

Read about Andre Agassi's book appropriately called, Open: An Autobiography. I hope Chris Rock took note that Agassi was obsessed about his hair. I also like what he said in the interview in USA Today,

"The true Andre. I continually change and differ and grow, but this is my look at who I was and who I became. But it's ever-evolving".

We are all evolving. Good thing to remember when we come across some folks with whom we can not stand to be in the same room. When they evolve and change, you may want to have them back in your life.

Friday, November 06, 2009

New Cookbooks

I love to cook but I love to look at cookbooks more than I love cooking. From time to time I feature cookbooks in this blog. I am intrigued by the recipe in People Magazine, November 16 issue, for Comfort Meatballs taken from the book, The Pioneer Woman Cooks. I never thought of putting milk in meatballs or browning them then baking them. The book is by Ree Drummond and this is the link to her blog.

Some of the other books featured in People are The Pleasures of Cooking for One , Ad Hoc at Home, and Bubby' Brunch Cookbook.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Book Club Selections

We are flexible. We could make changes but right now these are our selections for 2010.

January 15

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba

February 19

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

March 19

If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino

Monday, October 26, 2009

I am reading Steve Berry

I am finally getting a chance to read Steve Berry's 2007 book, The Alexandria Link. Yes, I am behind because Steve Berry already has information on his web page about another book to be released in December 2009 ... The Paris Vendetta.

I am only on page 39 of The Alexandria Link. So far, I know it has something to do with the conflict between the Jews and the Arabs. It starts in Palestine when the State of Israel is about to be reestablished. I know that the protagonist, Cotton Malone, has been targeted by the bad guys because he knows some secret and the US government is involved. I feel like I am reading a mystery thriller that is a cousin to The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown. This is because some of the same key words have come up already: order/chaos, puzzles/codes, and secrets.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Okefenokee Book Club Selections 2009

I think my favorites this year were Secret Life of Bees, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Shadow of the Wind I highly recommend these books for your reading pleasure.

January 16
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Kidd Monk

February 20
Dewey the Small town Library Cat by Vicki Myron

March 20
The Keepsake by Terri Gerritsen

April 17
March by Geraldine Brooks

May 15
Straight by Dick Francis

June 19
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

July 17
Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

August 21
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

September 18
Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith

October 16
Silks by Dick and Felix Francis

November 20
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson, and David Oliver Relin

We want to start off next year with The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope by William Kamkwamba.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

New Book by Jeanette Walls

Remember Jeanette Walls the writer of one of our favorite book club selections, The Glass Castle? Well, Ms. Walls has a new book out. She has written the story of Lily Casey Smith, her grandmother. Ms. Walls is also featured in this month's issue of Reader's Digest. Remember Walls mother in the memoir? She is now 75 years old and no longer chooses to be homeless. She lives with Walls and is the source of the story for the second book, Half Broke Horses.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Book Club Selection

It will be Three Cups of Tea next month. That's the title of our book for discussion. November will be the last meeting for the year and we may try out Captain Joe's next time as the venue.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Brief review of The Lost Symbol

I hope the Dan Brown fans, particularly the readers of The Lost Symbol, saw him on televsion last night on NBC. I finally finished this action filled novel and decided that the themes are transformation, death, and secrecy. It's not a simple story. There are subplots and unexpected twists. Every character is looking for something inthis story. It could be a pyramid, a place, a person, a clue, a lost word with magical powers.

The transformation theme is the primary focus: transformation of a cube into a cross, transformation of body and soul, transformation of the world through human thought, and the transformation of man into God. We learn, in this novel, about symbols of death and transformation and the alchemicals that facilitate transformation.

The theme of secrecy was equally fascinating: secret underground locations in Washington D. C., secret pyramids that reveal secret locations, secret symbols that reveal lost secret words with magical powers, the Masons - a society with secrets rather than a secret society. In this novel some secrets are hidden and some are in the open waiting to be noticed and interpreted.

I loved the combination of science and mysticism in this novel. I loved the revelation of secrets of the buildings and the artwork within the buildings of Washington, D.C.

The way the novel focused on Noetic Science at the beginning of the book, I was led to believe that at least one character would use his or her mind to transform events but that did not happen.

Key words in this novel are: Apotheosis, Ancient Mysteries, Apocalypse or enlightenment, and Circumpunct. I think that in the end, the writer wants us to think about those words.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Graphic Novels by Jeff Kinney

Jeff Kinney and his creation Diary of a Wimpy Kid were featured on the View this morning. I was hearing about this series of graphic novels for children 9 to 12 years old for the first time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lost Symbol and Marilyn Schlitz

Very interesting article about the Institute of Noetic Science and its female President, Marilyn Schlitz. Dan Brown has made her really popular.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Lost Symbol

I am only one page 165 and I see that transformation is a key theme of Dan Brown's fascinating new book. One tatooed man transforms himself with make up and seems to want to transform himself to be more God like. A mysterious room in the subbasement of the US Capitol has symbols of death and transformation. The sulfur and salt in saucers in the room are alchemicals that facilitate transformation.

The basic storyline so far is simple in that Professor Robert Langdon has been tricked into going to meet his friend Peter Solomon at the Rotunda in the US Capitol. The mystery person who tricked him is referred to as a lunatic by the professor but he is obviously highly educated in symbolism. But this is Dan Brown so there are more complexities to this story: Ancient Mysteries - a body of knowledge that is dangerous in the wrong hands, the Masons - a society with secrets but not a secret society, an amputated hand with tatooed finger tips, symbols, pyramids, Noetic Science. I am loving it.

This has to be read slowly. There is much to learn. I think I will recommend it for our book club.

I found this link about the US Capitol and it is clear that Dan Brown has also read William Henry's book or similar works.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Silks - Book Club Selection

Our book selection for October is Silks by Dick Francis and son, Felix. This books got some low ratings on amazon.com but so far I am enjoying it.

The main character is Geoffery Mason also known as Perry, as in Perry Mason, by his racing associates. This Mr. Mason is a lawyer and an amateur jockey. I am enjoying the legal aspects of this novel as Geoffery tries to defend jockey Steve Mitchell in court for the murder of another jockey called Scot Barlow also known as a snitch in jockey circles . I am enjoying the romance aspect as the vulnerable widow Geoffery falls in love with an attractive hardworking vet.

There seems to be a link with the suicide of Scot's sister and Scot's murder. There seems to be a link to a missing photo of Scot's sister and Scot's murderer. Geoffery Mason is under pressure from a thug named Julian Trent and Trent's unidentified accomplice, to deliberately lose the case. What is puzzling is that Geoffery gets beaten up and threatened by Julian from as early as page 52 but does not go to the police. I am on page 280 and I still don't know what the connection is with Julian, the murder victim and the accused.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Social Networking and Authors

Well, well, well, Dan Brown is on Twitter and Facebook. See an excerpt of The Lost Symbol, Brown's latest book. That's the way to go!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

BooK club Selection for September

We chose Sunday Philosophy Club by Alexander McCall Smith for our September discussion. The setting is Edinburgh, Scotland and the protagonist is Isabel Dalhousie, a reviewer of peer reviewed articles on Applied Ethics. The book has a great attention grabber as the opening sentence: "Isabel Dalhousie saw the young man fall from the edge of the upper circle, from the gods."

Did he jump, did he slip, or was he pushed? Isabel felt she had a moral obligation to find out. The word moral comes up a lot in this story as in moral responsibility and moral cowardice, for examples.

Anyway, Isabel discusses her concerns about the young man to her housekeeper Grace, her niece Cat and her niece's ex boyfriend Jamie. All agree that she should mind her own business. Of course, she doesn't.

Sounds like an interesting story? Well it wasn't. I would rate this 2 1/2 stars out of 5. It had lots of potential but the writer included too many irrelevant details and the end was not very satisfying to me.

Interestingly, the title is the Sunday Philosophy Club but the club, we are told, is inactive. What we got were several philosophical discussions about love, moral obligation, lying, poetry, gambing, truthtelling in sexual relationships, truthfulness in genetics, forgiveness. We also got some interesting points of view, cats are natural sociopaths for example.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Angel's Game

The club enjoyed Shadow of the Wind so much that I decided to read another book by Zafon. I read Angel's Game. The writing was excellent but the end was very unsatisfying; there was no resolution so it left me with questions. It was a very strange and very gothic book with an element of the supernatural. It is about a writer, David Martin, who lived in a strange towerhouse. It turned out that the previous owner shared his initials; D.M., shared his love for writing, and was a writer. The labyrinth called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books mentioned in Shadow was also mentioned in this story. David was introduced to the Cemetery by Sempere Senior of Sempere and Son, the same bookshop mentioned in Shadow. This Sempere Senior is, however; the grandfather of the Daniel Sempere mentioned in Shadow. David returns to the Cemetery as an adult to hide his novel and to choose a novel. Of course he just happens to choose a book on religion by D.M. The book makes several references to the soul, great expectations, and religion.

The most interesting characters are David and his mysterious parisian publisher who wore an angel broach, smiled like a wolf, and seemed to be the devil himself.

Worth reading if you like the gothic genre. I would actually give it 4 stars.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Philippa Gregory's new book

Philippa Gregory has the wonderful reputation of being "The Queen of Royal Fiction" read more here. Her new book is the White Queen and it is about Elizabeth Woodville who married a King. The setting is Tudor England.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Rachel Manley has a book signing

Rachel Manley, grand daughter of former Jamaican Premier Norman Manley and first daughter of former Jamaican Prime Minister, Michael Manley, is having a book signing in Jamaica today. This is her third memoir about her family. This one apparently focuses on her grandmother, Edna Manley.

Interestingly, her grandparents Edna, famous Jamaican sculptor, and Norman were not only husband and wife, they were first cousins sharing a common grandmother. Can you imagine how scandalous that was at the time? I read the first book, Drumblair, and it was an eye opener if you are interested in the Manley family. One of Edna's carvings of Jesus on the cross stands in a prominent place in a church I used to visit often in Jamaica, All Saints Anglican Church on West Street.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Frank McCourt is dead

Just noticed on amazon.com that author, of Angela's Ashes: A Memoir, 'Tis: A Memoir, and Teacher Man: A Memoir, Frank McCourt died on Sunday, July 19. I read all three but preferred Angela's Ashes. It is inspirational that Angela's Ashes which made him famous, was published when he was in his sixties. Never too late to be a writer.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Book Club Selection

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon is our book club selection for discussion on Friday. Wow, this was some book. There is an interview with the writer on this site.

This was a fascinating historical gothic thriller about destiny. It's about people and things that were meant to be connected. The setting is Barcelona, Spain from 1945 to 1966 but also looks back to the 1930s and the Spanish Civil War which occurred just before the World War. Love is a constant theme: forbidden love, romantic love, unrequited love, fatherly love, motherly love, love between friends, and love of books. However, hate and vengeance were always lurking in the shadows.

The story starts off with a 10 year old boy, Daniel, being taken by his father to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books; a labyrinth of passageways and bookshelves that store books that were no longer remembered by anyone. Daniel was told to adopt one of these forgotten books and make sure that the book would always stay alive. The whole thing was to be a secret even from his best friend Tomas. Daniel chose a book called The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax. He felt he was meant to be connected to this book. His fascination with finding out about the author from the age of 10 until his twenties, led him to a life of adventure filled with danger, fear, and love. We soon learn that one of the reasons that The Shadow of the Wind was so rare, was that someone had destroyed all other copies of Carax’s books.

The first sign that Daniel was about to embark on an adventure filled life because of the book, was when he looked out his window and saw the shadowy figure of one of the characters in the book, Lain Coubert also known as the devil. Who was Lain Coubert is one of the mysteries of the storyline.

Also as a child, Daniel became fascinated by a pen that was once allegedly owned by the writer Victor Hugo. Like the book, the pen linked Daniel to Carax and became part of his destiny. I would give this 5 stars.

Free Ebooks for a Month

Yes, tis true. You can have free access to electronic books for a month.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

What to Read Next

The July 13, 2009 issue of Newsweek has an article titled What to Read Now. And Why

I am sorry to say that I have never read any of these 50 books, not even Frankenstein by Mary Shelley which is on the list.

I also found an interesting Top 100 Books: The Meta-List in Newsweek online.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The King is dead 1958-2009

The King of Pop is dead; long live his music. I did not attend his concert in Jamaica but I remember when this took place.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dr. Jerri Nielsen is dead

On July 20, 2007 we met to discuss Icebound. The writer, Dr. Jerri Nielsen, is dead. We just mentioned her book at our meeting on Friday as one of the "must reads".

Monday, June 22, 2009

July 17 Book Club Selection

Shadow of the Wind by Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafon is our July pick. Link here for discussion questions.

We have to put off Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet till August when we hope most people can get it to buy or borrow through Interlibrary loan.

Shadow is a long book, over 400 pages. One amazon reviewer says it is a mystery, a fairy tale, and several love stories all in one and suggests that the book should be read slowly and carefully. Hmmm.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What to read for the rest of 2009?

I read a book some time ago called Breadfruit, by Celestine Vaite. The setting was Tahiti and the story was about a woman named Matarena, mother of three, who was determined to marry the father of her children. The tales were unusual, funny, and very interesting - great insight into the culture of the French Polynesian island.

Apparently Breadfruit is a sequel to Frangipani, the book I am now reading. Frangipani is mainly about Matarena's relationship with her only daughter. Again, there are unusual stories about Matarena's family that are quite funny. You can read each book on its own; you don't have to read them in sequence.

I personally feel that Breadfruit has the better stories. The third book about Matarena and her family is called Tiare.

So, if I am to make a list of books that I'd like to read for the rest of the year, I will have to include Tiare, and also Devil's Banker by Christoper Reich, and Northern Thunder by Andy Harp.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Okebookclub Selections 2009

We have actually been meeting in Waycross since 2002. Yeah! Here is what we have read and discussed in 2009 so far:


January 16
Secret Life of Bees by Sue Kidd Monk

February 20
Dewey the Small town Library Cat by Vicki Myron

March 20
The Keepsake by Terri Gerritsen

April 17
March by Geraldine Brooks

May 15
Straight by Dick Francis

June 19
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

I am still hoping to get this book on our schedule:

July
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Global Citizens

Here is one visionary mother preparing her children to be global citizens by giving them a global education so they can fit in the new global economy. See article about Maya Frost's book, Global Student, in USA Today.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What do Presidents read?

What books do Presidents of the United States read? Well if you ever wanted to know what Presidents Obama and Clinton have read, check out this article right here. Apparently President Obama's reading tastes has the same effect on book sales as Oprah's reading tastes.


I am no President but I am reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and I highly recommend it even though I have just reached page 109.

It's about a writer named Juliet and the whole story is a collection of letters. Somebody on the island of Guernsey contacted Juliet about a book by Charles Lamb. He mentioned in his letter something about a roast pig leading to the start of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society during the period of the German occupation of the island in the 1940s. Naturally, Juliet had to write back to find out what was the connection between a roast pig and a literary sociey. Juliet decided that she wanted to write articles about the society so all the original members began writing to Juliet to tell her their perspective of the society and about the books they read. All wrote except one, Elizabeth, who is supposed to have been imprisoned by the Germans on the continent and though the war has ended, up to page 109, no one knows her fate. Juliet also got letters from Adelaide and also Clare Saussey. Their letters demean the members of the society.

In the meantime there seems to be a little romance growing between Juliet and a brash American publisher.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Monkey Hunting: A Novel

I am reading Cristina Garcia's Monkey Hunting, published in 2003, about a Chinese man who thought he was going to Cuba to work and get rich but instead was enslaved. The story covers 4 generations of Chen Pan's family from China to Cuba and to New York and Vietnam. Crude language in parts but interesting story. Read an Excerpt here!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Book Club Pick: An epistology

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society: A Novel is the suggestion for June. It is an epistology. If this word is new to you; think of the word "epistle". The novel is mainly a collection of letters. Setting is the British Island of Guernsey during the mid 1940s. I don't recall learning that the Germans occupied Guernsey during the war so I am interested in reading this historical fiction and epistology.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Elizabeth Edwards' Resilience

Lately, it seems that every news medium is interested in Oprah's interview with Elizabeth Edwards. Edwards is now promoting her new book, Resilience on various talk shows. Elizabeth's and John's wedding photo posted on the Oprah website is gorgeous, by the way. So unfortunate that the focus on the couple and the adultery episode will always be referred to as "North Carolina's long-running soap opera".

Book Buzz: Sisters & Husbands & More

I read Sisters & Lovers some time ago so I was very interested in the USA Today article about Connie Briscoe and a sequel called Sisters & Husbands.

USA Today's May 7 issue is also highlighting other new books:

My Remarkable Journey by Larry King

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

South of Broad by Pat Conroy

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Julie Garwood on YouTube

Just got an email from Julie Garwood with a youtube link promoting her book, Fire and Ice. Isn't it "cool" to have video previews of novels just like we have previews of movies? See what readers on amazon think about the book.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Book Club Selection May

We chose Straight by Dick Francis. hope to start reading this weekend. We meet on May 15.

I am now reading Dean Koontz's new book, Your Heart Belongs To Me. It is holding my interest so far but I am eager to know what the subtext is. He writes a lot about the subtext or deeper meaning of a novel. This has a low rating among readers in epinions.com and on amazon.com but so far I am deeply involved in the book.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jude Deveraux or Dick Francis?

We have a decision to make. Karen is not recommending, for our book club discussion, the Jude Deveraux that she read recently. She and Linda are recommending a Dick Francis book published 2006 titled Straight. Kathy is recommending her Jude Deveraux book titled Knight in Shining Armor.

So here are our choices, on one hand we have historical romance fiction, Knight In Shining Armor

On the other hand, we have murder mystery, Straight. In addition Linda says, "How's this for an opening sentence: "I inherited my brother's life. Inherited his desk, his business, his gadgets, his enemies, his horses and his mistress. I inherited my brother's life, and it nearly killed me."

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet will be our June selection, giving our members time to get this newly published book (January, 2009).

Friday, April 17, 2009

What are you reading?

I am reading The Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Lee. The setting is Hong Kong in the 1950's.

Take a look at this link that gives my tips for a successful life. What do you think?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hatshepsut

Did you see the latest National Geographic (April 2009)? It features The She-King of Egypt ... Pharoah Hatshepsut http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2009/04/hatshepsut/brown-text. We discussed a time travel novel featuring Hatshepsut at our book club meeting in September 2006, Reflections in the Nile by J. Suzanne Frank.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction, also known as fanfic and sometimes written as fanfiction, is my new word for the day. One of the reviewers on amazon referred to the book, March by Geraldine Brooks, as falling into the genre of fanfic. Fan Fiction are new stories created as "offshoots " by fans of someone else's original fiction. March, for example, is an offshoot of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Fanfic writers are really targetting fans of the original work.

Frankly, I am not enjoying March. Mr. and Mrs. March are not likeable characters and the story has too many uninteresting details some of the details about the civil war are gruesome. The story introduces Grace, a biracial slave, in the first chapter and I liked that the story links back to Grace at the end. I appreciate the detailed research that went into writing this novel but it was not an enjoyable read for me.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Celebrity Authored Books

On television, anything related to celebrities seems to be popular, for example, Dancing with the Stars which airs tonight. Well I noticed that in the latest People magazine there are a number of new books being featured that have been authored by celebrities. There are books by singer Marie Osmond, and actors Cloris Leachman, Michael J. Fox, and Marlee Matlin and they all have very good ratings on amazon.com and in People.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

World's Most Infamous Family: The Bin Ladens

We read and discussed the book, Inside the Kingdom by Carmen bin Ladin, former sister- in-law to Osama, way back in Januray 2005. Carmen met her husband in the country where she was born and raised, Switzerland. The book was fascinating and gave a good description of her life in Saudi Arabia. Now I see, in the current issue of People magazine, that there is a new book out titled, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century by Steve Coll. Amazon readers have rated it an overall 4.5 stars out of 5.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

The title of this book first attracted my attention. Jamie Ford is a Chinese-American and this is his debut novel. He has written a story about the bittersweet memories of a Chinese-American man named Henry. It's a story that deals with the father-son relationship, Japanese internment, forbidden love, and the bonds of friendship.

Perseverance in adversity is a theme that runs throughout the story.

The setting is Seattle in 1986 but Henry flashes back to 1942 when he was 12 years old and also to 1945 when he was 15. The hotel referred to in the title is really called the Panama Hotel and it was owned by a Japanese man in the 1940s. In 1986 the new owner discovered personal items that once belonged to the Japanese residents in the area and had been hidden in the basement since the war years. The discovery brought back bittersweet memories for Henry.

Father-son relationship

Henry and his father had a language barrier and a cultural barrier. The language barrier was forced on Henry when his father forbade him from speaking Cantonese at home. At the same time, the parents spoke and understood very little English. The cultural barrier existed because the father was fixed in his traditional nationalistic way of thinking and behaving while Henry was American by birth.

Unfortunately, Henry repeated the pattern in his own life by re-creating the communication gap between himself and his own son. Henry’s wife acted as go-between for Henry and his son thus replicating the role that Henry’s mother played in his own childhood.

Forbidden love

We learn from the first page of the book that Henry was a devoted and loving husband. However, we also discover that Henry had a first love, a Japanese-American classmate named Keiko. This friendship which blossoms into youthful love is initially kept a secret because Henry's father hates the Japanese who are enemies of China and of America.

Japanese Internment

I think the writer painted a detailed picture of what life was like when Japanese-Americans were evacuated from their homes and forced into camps and also what life was like for Henry an Asian-American at home and at school during this period. Henry's father forced him to wear a button that said, I am Chinese, so that he would not be mistaken for Japanese by those who couldn't tell the difference.

Bonds of Friendship

Henry was a loyal friend to Keiko and her family but the friendship that really stands out in this story is the one between Henry and an African-American sax player, Sheldon. This is a friendship that lasted despite the differences in age and race. It was reinforced by their love of jazz.

Final Comments

I thought this historical fiction was told in a very loving and respectful manner. I would give it 4 ½ stars out of 5.

You can not help but be moved emotionally by the treatment of Japanese-Americans in the story, the bullying of Henry at school, and the bonds of friendship in the story.

I liked the writer's use of symbolism. I especially liked the symbolism of the ume tree on pages 82 -85. Ume is a Chinese tree that symbolized perseverance in adversity and this particular one mentioned in the book was grafted from a tree in a Japanese garden. A broken jazz record was also cleverly used as symbolic of the broken relationship of Henry and Keiko.

I liked the touch of humor when Henry deliberately mistranslates a conversation between his father and a Caucasian businessman.

The only thing I did not understand was why Henry's father wanted him to speak only English at home when his intention was to eventually send Henry to China for three to four years.

If you like multi-cultural stories you will enjoy this book. Find out more about this book on the author’s website http://www.jamieford.com/. The photos of the era that inspired this story are on the site: Japanese at Camp Harmony, the Panama Hotel, the No Japanese signs. Check it out.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Oke Book Club Selection

Our book for April is March. That's right. March by Geraldine Brooks. Remember Louisa May Alcott's Little Women? Well this is about Mr. March the absent father and husband in the original Alcott story. According to a Library Journal review on amazon, Mr. March was loosely based on Alcott's real father. The setting for the story is the Civil War era.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Jamie Ford's debut novel

This is what I am reading and so far it's holding my interest: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The writer is Jamie Ford, a Chinese-American and it is about a Chinese -American family in Seattle in 1986. The main character, Henry, flashes back to the World War 11 era, 1942 and 1945 to be specific, and on his first crush, a 12 year old Japanese-American classmate.

What are you reading?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Free Book on Wealth Management

Download another free book from Oprah.com! You just have to join the Oprah Club. This time it's Jean Chatzky's book The Difference. Hopefully there are money saving tips that will make a difference in our lives at this time. And if you're a fan of the Oprah magazine, watch out for the upcoming issue where she shares the cover with our trendsetting and smart First Lady, Michelle Obama. There is an extra special discount to the O magazine ... $18.00 for 12 issues.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen

See the book trailer for Keepsake, our bookclub selection for this month ... really scary.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Eat and Meet the Author - Andy Harp Part 11


The Eat Pizza and Meet the Author Event was very successful. There was a good turnout of students and community members. Colonel Harp gave us some scary information about North Korea. All I can say is start paying attention to the news about North Korea.
Colonel Harp is writing a second novel about Al-Qaeda and is already thinking about a third novel on the Mexican drug war on our border.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Eat Pizza and Meet the Author - Andy Harp

Colonel Andy Harp (Ret.) of the United States Marine Corps Reserve and writer of A Northern Thunder, will be the special guest author at Waycross College tomorrow at 12:15PM. The protagonist in this military thriller and spy novel is a small-town Georgia lawyer and Marine veteran who has been recruited for a dangerous North Korean mission.

Colonel Harp, a lawyer and resident of Columbus, Georgia will be the second guest author at the college. Gwen Roland, writer of Atchafalaya Houseboat:my years in the Louisiana Swamp, participated in the first Meet the Author event.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Books and Foods

I just saw an article in Relish dated March 2009 by Monica Bhide that suggests that we go to the site bookclubcookbook.com. There is a link on that site that pairs books with foods. Take a look and you will see that the book, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, by Janelle Brown, for example is paired up with the recipe for Janice's Chocolate-Lavender Pots de Creme. Janice is the name of the desperate housewife character in the book.












Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Jodie Picoult's Book to Movie

Oh no! They are making a movie of Jodie Picoult's book, My Sister'sKeeper, and they are changing the ending. The surprise ending is what made the book so fascinating for me and apparently for some of Picoult's fans. There is now a Facebook group devoted to restoring the oringal ending of the story to the movie version. The group is called, of course, Save my Sister's Keeper.

Cameron Diaz is one of the stars in the movie.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Book Club Selection - Keepsake

Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen is our book club pick for the month of March. Gerritsen is a writer who uses her background as a physician to write her thrillers. I have never read anything by this writer and since our members always choose really exciting books, I am really looking forward to this medical thriller.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Much Ado About Books 2009

It's time again for the annual literary fundraising event, Much Ado About Books in Jacksonville, Florida. Author Readings are free to the public. David Baldacci who wrote Divine Justice will be there. Steve Berry, a past visitor to our bookclub and to the local public library, will be there plus others.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Get Yourself a "Soulmate'

It's the week-end for love and romance but some of us have not found Mr. Wonderful. Last year I watched some episodes on the Bravo network of a third generation matchmaker who helps millionaires find their true love. I found the episodes very entertaining. On The View yesterday morning the matchmaker herself was a guest promoting her book Become Your Own Matchmaker. This must be for the poor woman who is not likely to travel in the same circles as a millionaire.




Also plugging his self help book for women was Steve Harvey, one of my favorite comedians. He was a guest on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show yesterday talking about the book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. I liked his presentation of the 90 day Rule. He says Ford requires 90 days of probation to get to know their employees, to see if they are worth keeping and so on. After the 90 days, the employees are entitled to benefits. He thinks women should do the same thing with men. His advice then is, Don't give men any benefits unless you have known them for at least 90 days. Furthermore, he says women should ask men early what their short term and long term plans are. Women should find out if men are just playing or if they are planning a future.

Friday, February 13, 2009

More of Find A Soulmate

There are more Valentine books. Take a look at the books highlighted in USA Today. One is titled The Soulmate Secret. You can manifest the love of your life using the ancient formula the Law of Attraction.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Jill Scott movie

Remember our book club selection from the series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency , by Alexander McCall Smith? Well, watch out for the movie version. Singer and actress, Jill Scott , will play the lead role of Mma Ramotswe.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Freebie - ebook about President Obama

I was browsing through bukisa.com and came across information about this free ebook about President Obama. I have not downloaded it so I can't comment on the content but here is your chance for a freebie.

I am going to take some time to find out more about lulu.com's self publishing services. I may want to publish an ebook myself.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Freebie - ebooklet

Need some guidance on how to approach 2009? It's February but it's not too late to refocus. Dr Richard Shrapnel wants to guide you. Download his free booklet from Wilkinson Publishing.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Freebie - Harlequin Ebooks

The Hey it's Free site has a link to Harlequin Celebrates. Harlequin is offering free ebooks. I don't know how long these free ebooks are for but if you love Harlequin novels, try them out and enjoy.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Author Buzz

Valentine's day is approaching so you may want to check out these books on Dear Reader's AuthorBuzz here . Love in 90 Days sounds intriguing. Also, Second Chance Pass in Author Buzz by Rita-Award winning author, Robyn Carr ,was just published.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Freebies

Hey readers let me introduce you to, Hey, It’s Free! one of the leading sites on the internet for freebies. They filter out all the spammy freebie offers. I got a free detergent sample and address labels. Now the man who runs it, Goob, is giving away a $50 giftcard to Walmart this week! All I have to do is help him promote this really cool site. You can try to win a gift card too so check out HIF and start getting some freebies in your mail! Since this is a site promoting reading, check out HIF's post about getting a free Martha Stewart magazine.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Inaugural Poem

I still remember how fascinating Maya Angelou's poem, On the Pulse of Morning, was at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993.

I was at work so I did not hear all of Elizabeth Alexander's poem at President Obama's inauguration. I found it at poets.org the title is Praise Song for the Day. According to shmoop.com a praise song is a traditional form of African poetry. Apparently, Alexander was praising the day as well as the people of America who built this country: those who laid the train tracks - the Chinese, those who picked the cotton - the Africans, those who picked lettuce - the Mexicans. Read the interesting interpretation on shmoop.com.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Inauguration Sermon

This is going to be an unusual post but it's been an unusual week. This post is not about a book or an author but about a sermon and a prayer. I heard in church this morning that the sermon delivered by Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, from the Disciples of Christ Church, the day after the inauguration of President Obama was really good. I looked for it, read it, and am posting it for all to read here.

I also came across an article in the Jamaica Observer on Friday written by Barbara Gloudon, Jamaican journalist and radio talk show host. She had this prayer in the article for the new President:

"Not this time. Let us hear out this one, this time. Let us see the fulfilment of this dream. Let us step away from the ugliness... too much death, destruction, and dishonesty...too much loss of dignity. Time to respect ourselves and others. Time to sing a song of change, change to something better, cleaner, more life-affirming... Keep him safe".

Friday, January 23, 2009

Books into Movies

A wide range of popular books were adapted for the big screen in 2008-2009 and the Waycross College Library has got some of the books in its collection:

Young Adult Shelf
Chronicles of Narnia, YA PZ7.L58474
Inkheart, YA PZ7.F96624 In 2003
Tale of Despereaux, YA PZ8.D525 Tal 2003

Main Collection

Revolutionary Road, PZ4.Y335 Re6
Secret Life of Bees, PS3611.I44 S38 2002

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Love in Six Words

I think I'd like to read this book which is hot off the press: Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak by Writers Famous & Obscure, from Smith Magazine, edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith.

Let's see if I can get one of my own: Beloved, man with intelligence and integrity.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Political book

Congrats America! Congrats Mr. President! A new era began yesterday.

In view of all this political change that will affect world politics, here's a book I'd love to read by political journalist, Gwen Ifill, The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama. If you followed the political debates during the 2008 campaign, you will recognize the name Gwen Ifill. She moderated one of the debates. Because of the title of this book, some people thought she ought not to have been the moderator.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Free Book - 2009 Action Plan

If you want free financial advice then download a free Suze Orman book on oprah.com. This is the last day to access the book for free on this website.

The book is also mentioned in the book buzz on USA Today.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Book Club Meeting

I just wanted to have a picture of the tree that was in my front yard on my post. I love this silhouette of the tree. My neighbor hated my tree, all the leaves were shedding on her side. In the name of neighborliness I gave permission for my tree to be cut down. It's gone, gone, gone but my photo will be in cyberland forever.
We meet tomorrow bookclubbers for the first time this year. Our book for next month is Dewey: the Small- town library Cat.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ann Coulter on the View

I watched a bit of the View yesterday with the very controversial Ann Coulter. I had to look for the transcript for the View and post it here for those who missed it. Transcript.

Of course Ann's books have been best sellers, here is a list of her books found on amazon.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

New Book by Azar Nafisi


Hey there book lovers and book clubbers,
Thought I'd upload my beautiful photo of the entrance to Waycross College taken on December 6, before the leaves all shed.
Remember Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi? We read, enjoyed, and discussed this book ages ago. Well there is a new book out by the writer about Iran called, Things I Have Been Silent About.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

USA Today Staff's 10 Top Book Picks

Happy New Year readers! It is two thousand-and-mine (2009); my year to do whatever I want.

Take a look at USA Today's Top 10 Books for 2008: Click here. What was your favorite book last year? Share your thoughts with us and with USA Today. USA Today has also chosen Stephenie Meyer, writer of the Twilight series, as the Author of the Year.