Oct 31, 2010

Sunday Salon: Halloween Grinch

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 Halloween Grinch
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Though I may change my mind,
You may very well find
A darkened door,
A displeasure even for me

- Harvee Lau

Halloween Grinch has spoken. What about this Grinch in November? After eye surgery I can barely see and decided not to give out treats this year, so I don't fall over myself trying to fill blurred hands and bags in a darkened doorway.

I'm also listening to audio books, though I sneak every now and then, in between multiple eye drops, a quick read of more pages of a novel set in the French mountains, The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton.
The Secret Life of Bees

I'm also fascinated by The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and am on chapter 3. The audio book is read by a young girl who is superb in getting the nuances of the novel down.

What did you read/do last week?

Oct 27, 2010

Book Review: The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate

"Dear Diary:.... After a week of my recipes, they come with different expectations than a scotch and a newspaper. They come home kinder. Peering into the mysterious pots on the stove. Sniffing the air and smiling."(Camilla Constantina's diary, ch. 5)
Broken hearted after a failed love affair in California, Holly Maguire is glad to find that her grandmother Camilla has left her a pastry shop and kitchen thousands of miles away in Maine. Holly leaves California, finds friendship in Maine but also competition in work and in love.
Her grandmother, whom she called Nonna, was known as the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island and was famous for her Italian cooking, her cooking classes, and her fortune telling. Nonna had told Holly that the right man for her would love eating sa cordula, a traditional but unusual Milanese dish. Many people found the dish unappetizing, but the right man would love it!

Holly has to learn to cook and give cooking lessons at her shop, Camilla's Cucinotta, just as her grandmother used to do. When Holly discovers Nonna's private diary, she realizes her struggles to become a successful cook mirrors what her grandmother went through years before.

Comments: A light but pleasant read about women, food, friendship and love.  Add Italian and Milanese customs, adjusting to a new environment, and a good story.  Recipes and a reader's guide are nice extras at the end of the book.

Title: The Love Goddess' Cooking School: A Novel
Author: Melissa Senate
Published October 26, 2010, Simon & Schuster Gallery Books
Objective rating: 4 out of 5

Book provided for a virtual blog tour by Gallery Publicity of Simon & Schuster, Oct. 28.

Oct 26, 2010

Burmese Lessons by Karen Connelly

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to choose two sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

Burmese Lessons: A true love story
Burmese Lessons
"I don't want your protection, Maung, I want to keep doing my work. I need to spend more time eating, drinking and breathing Burma." (ch. 23)

Goodreads description of Burmese Lessons: A true love story by Karen Connelly, May 18, 2010: :"Unlike conventional love stories, this one takes the reader into a world as dangerous and heartbreaking as it is enchanting.
When Karen Connelly finds herself in Burma in the late 1990s, she is immersed in a world of students staging mass demonstrations in opposition to Burma’s dictators, revolutionaries fighting an armed insurgency against that same military regime, and refugees living in hellish limbo in Thailand. Connelly first comes to love a wounded, remarkably beautiful country, then a gifted man who has given his life to its struggle for political change. Burmese Lessons is illuminated by the sensual language and flashes of humour that have won her fans around the world."
Publisher: Nan A. Talese, 2010.
Source: Personal copy

Oct 24, 2010

Sunday Salon: New Reads

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I'm reading several books at once, nothing unusual for all of us, I'm sure! Reviewed The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag, the second book with 11-year-old genius sleuth, Flavia de Luce. Loved it.

Have started reading a novel that just arrived from the author, Rosy Thornton of Cambridge, England. A history professor, Rosy has turned her hand to writing novels as well. Her latest, The Tapestry of Love will be released Dec. 14 in paperback. It's set in the rustic mountains of France, where a retired Englishwoman has bought a farm and house in order to make and sell tapestries and drapes. The cover suggests that life in the French countryside may be a bit more challenging than it would seem. I suspect this is also a love story, from the title. Armchair traveler that I am, I'm enjoying the book so far.

I've borrowed a few audiobooks from the library, an M.C. Beaton among them,  Death of a Dreamer (Hamish Macbeth Mysteries, No. 22), set in the Scottish highlands. Inspector Hamish Macbeth is such a colorful and eccentric character, both in how he solves crimes and in his up and down love life! A confirmed bachelor, he is always just escaping the traps laid for him by would-be brides.

Am continuing to scribble little verses, some that are okay and some that may be just so-so, on my new poetry blog, Strummed Words. Hope you will visit and leave a hopeful comment or two :)

What have you been reading/doing this past week?

Oct 23, 2010

Book Review: The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag

The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag (Flavia De Luce Mystery) by Alan Bradley is the follow up to the successful  The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, and is just as good. In fact, it's better.

About the book: Flavia once again gets involved in solving a murder. Because she is only 11-years-old, she can often go snooping around and asking questions without arousing any alarm or distrust. Besides, she always has good excuses for being in places she shouldn't be. Her escapades and getting out of them are part of the amusement of the book. Her ongoing competition with her older sisters should get a sympathetic nod from younger sisters everywhere.

Rating: Glad I found the book at our local library. I gave this a 5!

Author:  Bradley, who lives in Malta,  is now writing the third in the series, A Red Herring Without Mustard.  It will be out on Feb. 8. Can't wait!

Oct 20, 2010

Harvey: Wordless Wednesday

More Wordless Wednesdays.

Other dogs remind
But never do replace
A central place for you,
On hearth and in mind.

Oct 19, 2010

Teaser Tuesday: To Surrender to a Rogue by Cara Elliott

Teaser Tuesdays asks you to choose two sentences at random from your current read. Identify the author and title for readers.

To Surrender To A Rogue (Circle of Sin Trilogy)To Surrender To A Rogue (Circle of Sin Trilogy) by Cara Elliott, June 2010.

"A pretty speech, cara. It appears you have learnt to stand up and speak for yourself." (p. 138)
About the book: Lady Alessandra della Giamatti is in Bath, England to look at antiquities, but must deal with a blackmailer who wants to reveal her past. The only one who can help her out of this situation is a rogue named Black Jack.

Oct 18, 2010

It's Monday: Three Old Books and One New

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

What I'm reading right now is a book I am keeping temporarily for a friend who is renovating. I have a bunch of her books; this is the one of those I've gotten from her pile.

Cloud Mountain
Cloud Mountain by Aimee Liu is based on the story of  the author's grandparents, one of whom was from China. The book was published 1998. I am interested what this book has to say about a period of history that interests me - 1930s-1940s China.

Tending Roses (Tending Roses Series, Book 1)

Tending Roses (Tending Roses Series, Book 1) by Lisa Wingate is about a young family relocating to Missouri and trying to persuade their Grandma Rose to leave her farm and enter a nursing home.  Emotional and full of memories and hard decisions.

Flower Net: A Red Princess Mystery (Red Princess Mysteries)Flower Net: A Red Princess Mystery (Red Princess Mysteries)A thriller set in Beijing and Los Angeles. The book was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best First Mystery.

All in all, I found a few good books in my friend's pile! What books are you reading this week?

The Love Goddess' Cooking School

Just arrived on my doors step: The Love Goddess' Cooking Schoolby Melissa Senate, from Simon and Schuster, Oct. 26, 2010. Thank you. A novel that combines  Italian cooking and love, amore!

Love the cover.

Oct 17, 2010

Sunday Salon: Halloween Reading/A Poem

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A very long list of Halloween Mysteries and cozies has been put together by Janet Rudolph in her Mystery Readers website. Check it out for some spooky and not-so-spooky Halloween reading!

 It includes titles such as The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts (The Cat Who...) by Lillian Jackson Braun, Nightmare in Shining Armor by Tamar Myers, and Witches' Bane by Susan Wittig Albert.

My 5-star reads: The Poisonwood Bible: A Novel (P.S.) by Barbara Kingsolver and Intuition by Allegra Goodman. I recommend both books highly. Excellent writing, plot, and character development. Both books I own.

My 4-star reads: Death of a Valentine (Hamish Macbeth Mysteries) by M.C. Beaton and Fatally Flaky (Culinary Mysteries)by Diane Mott Davidson, the 15th in the series. Fun cozy novels from the library.

Other than that I've been writing short verses for several poetry blogs which offer weekly word or picture prompts. This is the most fun, as there is lots of feedback from the community of poet bloggers. And almost all give positive and supporting comments!

Spurred words, unspurned,
A comfort for poets gives
The urge to say more.
                                       - Harvee Lau

What have you been reading or doing recently?

Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month: Four Novels

For  Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month   (May),  I'm posting my book reviews by several Asian American novelists. The f...