Thursday, December 29, 2011

"The Hunger Games" is USA Today's Best Selling Book This Week.

I read The Hunger Games last summer and really enjoyed it.  This book is now number one on USA Today's best seller list.  If you are looking for a good book to read this weekend, consider picking up a copy.  It's an entertaining read for both adults and young adults.   Here is a link to my review of it.

Monday, December 26, 2011

What was the Worst Book You Read in 2011?

From  Click here for Erin Collazo Miller's three worst/most overrated books of 2011.  I read one of her picks, The Cut, and agree that it was a yawn; the book did not live up to its hype.

What about you?  What was the worst book you read in 2011?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

The jury is out.  It's a waiting game now.  What will the verdict be:  Naughty or Nice?

Mexican Wedding cookies baked this morning for Santa.    

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Gifts for Those Who Enjoy Suspense Novels: Reprints of Two Classics by Ira Levin.

Picked up a genius idea today for a holiday gift:  Two classic, chilling novels from Ira Levin, A Kiss Before Dying (first published in 1954) and The Boys from Brazil (published in 1976).  Good books to give, and great books to read during these long winter nights.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Reason to Read Nonfiction

From Dwight Garner's review in the New York Times of  Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil:

"In this regard," writes Garner, "Extra Virginity is another reminder why subpar nonfiction is so much better than subpar fiction. With nonfiction at least you can learn something."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Nice Mystery from Louise Penny: "A Trick of the Light: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel."

Sometimes lightening strikes:  Within days of  reading NYT columnist Marilyn Stasio's list of notable crime books for 2011, I found myself browsing for books and spied a copy of the title she selected as her favorite cozy mystery, A Trick of the Light by Canadian author Louise Penny.  I pounced on it!  And after reading it over the course of a few winter evening, I absolutely agree with Ms. Stasio:  It is a very good cozy mystery.

A Trick of the Light is book seven in a series featuring Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, head of homicide at the Surete du Quebec.  In this story, the Chief Inspector and his team are in the small village of Three Pines investigating a murder.  Lillian Dyson is found dead - her neck snapped - in Clara Morrow's garden the morning after a large party celebrating the opening of Clara's solo art show.  The pool of suspects includes the art world personalities gathered together in the isolated village.  The back-biting and jealousy running rampant among them provides plenty of drama for the Chief Inspector to sift through.  And as Armand Gamache unravels the mystery, Ms. Penny does an excellent job keeping us in suspense all the way to the very last pages.

For a cozy read on a winter night, A Trick of the Light is highly recommend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Best Books List for 2011: Random House Collected Them All!

Check out this comprehensive collection of lists of the Best Books of 2011 from Random House.  Very nice!

Cookbook Shopping

Remember Michael Pollan's advice?  "Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants."

If you, or someone on your holiday shopping list, are working on point three, or plan to in the New Year, here is an interesting list of vegan cookbooks from  I would add to this list my favorites, Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.  You don't have to be a vegetarian - I'm not - to enjoy cooking with these books.

Gift brainstorm:  A cookbook andproduce bags to keep veggies fresh.  A nice combination.

Photo:  ChicoBag Hemp-Cotton Produce Bags for keeping leafy greens fresh.

Monday, December 12, 2011

More Criticism of Kindle Fire

An article, linked here,  from the New York Times summarizes complaints about Amazon's Kindle Fire.

Photo:  Grazing horse, east of Arivaca, Arizona; completely unconcerned about e-readers.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Music We Like: "This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark."

The beautiful melodies and exceptional lyrics in the songs written by Guy Clark are showcased in This One's for Him:  A Tribute to Guy Clark.  This collaboration, produced for Mr. Clark's 70th birthday this year, includes performances by Rodney Crowell, Lyle Lovett, Suzy Bogguss, Joe Ely, Rosanne Cash, Steve Earle, Shawn Colvin, and many more.  These wonderful singing voices are front-and-center in This One's for Him, masterfully interpreting and displaying Mr. Clark's songbook, including Instant Coffee Blues,  L.A. Freeway, Better Days and Desperadoes Waiting for a Train.

In addition to the great music and amazing performances, the packaging of this collection is very cool.  Nice photos, notes, and of course the lyrics to every song.  I also love the L.P. look given to the discs.   In every detail, this is a first-class tribute to Guy Clark.

Good stuff.    This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

E-Reader Info for Holiday Shoppers

A couple of news items concerning e-readers:

First, if you are shopping for a Nook Color, is selling refurburished units as well as accessories.

Second, if you are considering a Kindle Fire, be sure to read this article from PC World about possible problems with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Photo:  Sonita Creek, Sonita, AZ.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Gem of a Novel: "The Buddha in the Attic" by Julie Otsuka.

Everything about The Buddha in the Attic reminds me of a precious gem:  Beautiful, intense, petite.  The book itself is a slim volume, pocket-book sized, 129-pages long.  In these few pages author Julie Otsuka whisks us along on a tremendous journey.

The journey starts in about 1900.  Sailing to the United States is a group of Japanese "picture brides", paired to their new husbands via photos, letters and a matchmaker.  These women narrate the book, not as "I", but in the first person plural, "we":
Most of us on the boat were accomplished, and were sure we would make good wives.  We knew how to cook and sew.  We know how to serve tea and arrange flowers and sit quietly on our flat wide feet for hours, saying absolutely nothing of substance at all . . . We knew how to pull weeds and chop kindling and haul water, and one of us - the rice miller's daughter - knew how to walk two miles into town with an eighty-pound sack of rice on her back without once breaking into a sweat.
This style allows Otsuka to provide, in a small novel, a great deal of individualized detail about the women and their new lives in the United States.  The women arrive here hopeful.  But hope turns into hardship as they find themselves married to a stranger in a society where the deck is stacked against them because of their race, gender, the language barrier, even their diminutive size compared to Americans of European ancestry.  Otsuka shows us these lives by using words sparingly, but with maximum impact; her choices can knock the wind out of you.

The novel ends in 1942, with the internment of all people of Japanese ancestry who lived in the Pacific Coast area of the U.S.  This is a turn of events that the women on the ship, sailing to their new lives in the United States, could never have foreseen.

The Buddha in the Attic is a wonderful writing accomplishment, unique like a valuable gem, and highly recommended reading.