Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Hello Goodbye

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Hello Goodbye
By Emily Chenoweth
Publication Date: May 5

From Amazon:

"The summer after Abby Hansen’s first year of college, several months after doctors find a malignant tumor in her mother Helen’s brain, she and her parents drive to northern New Hampshire to say goodbye to a lifetime of friends. During a single week at a historic resort, the family welcomes a small procession of visitors, and shares with them the pathos and heartache of Helen’s imminent passing. As the week progresses, the Hansens and their guests deal with Helen’s illness in varied, sometimes surprising ways, and Abby, drawn to the youthful, mischievous staff of the hotel, is torn between her duties to her family and the pleasures and temptations of her new life as an adult. For all involved, the occasion unexpectedly becomes one of awakening rather than farewell, as they discover how life inevitably blossoms in the face of death."

What's your "waiting on" pick this week?

Leave a comment with either the link to your own "Waiting On" Wednesday post or just your answer (if you don't have a blog).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Library Loot: 2-20

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by A Striped Armchair and Out of the Blue that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Here's what I got this week:

Sima's Undergarments for Women by Ilana Stanger-Ross

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Irreplaceable by Stephen Lovely

True Colors by Kristin Hannah

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday: The Walking People

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Walking People
By Mary Beth Keane
Publication Date: May 20

From Amazon:

"Greta Cahill never believed she would leave her village in the west of Ireland until she found herself on a ship bound for New York, along with her sister Johanna and a boy named Michael Ward. Labeled a "softheaded goose" by her family, Greta discovers that in America she can fall in love, raise her own family, and earn a living. Though she longs to return and show her family what she has made of herself, her decision to spare her children knowledge of a secret in her past forces her to keep her life in New York separate from the life she once loved in Ireland, and tears her apart from the people she is closest to. Even fifty years later, when the Ireland of her memory bears little resemblance to that of present day, she fears that it is still possible to lose all when she discovers that her children—with the best of intentions— have conspired to unite the worlds she’s so carefully kept separate for decades."

What's your "waiting on" pick this week?

Leave a comment with either the link to your own "Waiting On" Wednesday post or just your answer (if you don't have a blog).

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review: The Sweet By and By

"Maybe we figure out that the only thing we wanted all along was that simple and elusive kind of revelation in which all is known, all is forgiven, and most important, all that's left is celebrated with a victory cheer."

In The Sweet By and By, author Todd Johnson deftly depicts the relationship between four Southern women, as their unlikely friendship crosses lines of age, race, and class.

The novel centers around the Ridgecrest nursing home in North Carolina, where Margaret and Bernice are residents, faith-filled Lorraine is a nurse, and Rhonda is the new, young hairdresser.

As Margaret struggles with her limited mobility and freedom in the facility, and Bernice struggles with a failing mind, Lorraine and Rhonda step in as providers of compassion and care. They all will teach one another lessons about life, in the face of adversity, each woman bringing to the table a past full of pain and heartache.

The women are lovable, and it's easy to root for them to find joy in their days and answers to the questions about life that elude them.

Johnson's debut is tender-hearted and, indeed, "sweet," as the bonds between these women strengthen through difficult circumstances. Also, he captures the regional element brilliantly, especially reflecting the particular nature and personality traits of women in the South.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Library Loot 2-12

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by A Striped Armchair and Out of the Blue that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Here is what I checked out this week:

Dream House by Valerie Laken

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

The Women by T.C. Boyle

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday: The Castaways

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

The Castaways
By Elin Hilderbrand
Publication Date: July 1

From Amazon:

"Greg and Tess MacAvoy are one of four prominent Nantucket couples who count each other as best friends. As pillars of their close-knit community, the MacAvoys, Kapenashes, Drakes, and Wheelers are important to their friends and neighbors, and especially to each other. But just before the beginning of another idyllic summer, Greg and Tess are killed when their boat capsizes during an anniversary sail. As the warm weather approaches and the island mourns their loss, nothing can prepare the MacAvoy's closest friends for what will be revealed. Once again, Hilderbrand masterfully weaves an intense tale of love and loyalty set against the backdrop of endless summer island life."

What's your "waiting on" pick this week?

Leave a comment with either the link to your own "Waiting On" Wednesday post or just your answer (if you don't have a blog).

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Waiting On" Wednesday: Fatally Flaky

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Fatally Flaky
By Diane Mott Davidson
Publication Date: April 7

From Amazon:

"It's been a long, rainy summer for Goldy Schulz, who is engaged in planning wedding receptions for what seems to be all of Aspen Meadow. It's bad enough that Billie Attenborough, the bride from hell, has changed her menu six times and the event date twice. Now she wants to move the location to the Gold Gulch Spa just a scant two days before tying the knot to her doctor fiancĂ©. Then Doc Finn, beloved local physician and the best friend of Goldy's godfather, Jack, is killed when his car tumbles into a ravine. At least that's what appears to have happened. But Jack thinks Doc was murdered because of the research he was doing at the spa—allegations that are confirmed when Jack himself is attacked. So Goldy dons chef's whites and goes undercover at the spa, where coffee is outlawed in favor of calming smoothies, and the fruit cocktail doesn't include fresh fruit. Add in the obstreperous owner, who years ago tried to sabotage Goldy's fledgling business, and she's got her hands full."

I'm always happy to see a new installment in this series...Goldy never fails to entertain, and I love a novel that includes recipes. :)

What's your "waiting on" pick this week?

Leave a comment with either the link to your own "Waiting On" Wednesday post or just your answer (if you don't have a blog).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Review: The School of Essential Ingredients

"This isn't eating. It needs its own word."

In The School of Essential Ingredients, author Erica Bauermeister shows the power of food and how it can bring people together, heal wounds, and teach valuable lessons.

As a child, Lillian developed a talent for and love of cooking as a means of drawing her mother out of the books into which she retreated after Lillian's father left them. Now, as an adult, she owns a restaurant that hosts a monthly Monday-night cooking class.

Her latest batch of students comes from all walks of life, and they will learn as much from each other as from Lillian herself. They all have different reasons for attending the class, as well as different levels of cooking experience.

The group consists of Helen and Carl, an older married couple with a rich and complicated history together; Antonia, a beautiful Italian kitchen designer; Claire, a mother of small children trying to rediscover herself and what makes her happy; Chloe, a young and clumsy waitress; Isabelle, an elderly woman in the early stages of Alzheimer's; Ian, there by his mother's desire for him to find his passion; and Tom, a lawyer "whose sadness seemed to have been pressed into his shirt."

The book is divided into each character's story, detailing what led them to Lillian's school and showing what they will gain from the experience. Tentative at first, tightly knit at the end, the group comes together over the "essential ingredients" of a good life and good food.

This novel was so satisfying on so many levels. It was such a sensory experience, as the writing was so evocative that I could feel, smell, and taste all of the dishes prepared. Bauermeister does an excellent job of lifting the food off the page and giving it a powerful life of its own.

And, the characters are so richly drawn and well-developed that I was tied to them nearly instantly, relating to them, feeling sympathy for them, and hoping that they all ultimately found exactly what they came to the class looking for.

This a must-read.