Saturday, February 28, 2009

Library Check Out

The library is a great place to be. In the children's section there are books, toys, crayons, puzzles, and friends. Because I usually have my children with me, it's the only area I spend any time in. Books for my own personal enjoyment I reserve before hand and pick up at the check out. Here is a list of my daughters library choices (actually they're my choices),
  • The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch
  • First Space Encyclopedia by Caroline Bingham
  • Fancy Nancy Bonjour Butterfly by Jane O'Connor
  • Little Cloud by Eric Carle
  • He's Got the Whole World in His Hands by Kadir Nelson
  • Clara and Asha by Eric Rohmann
  • Pop! a book about bubbles by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • Earth by Seymour Simon

Nancy Bagget: The All American Cookie Book

Fantastic. I borrowed this book from the library. Renewed it a whole bunch, and then I bought it for myself at christmas, two years ago. I will never make brownies from a box again, or feel daunted by the time commitment involved with cookies. Truly the only reason I can claim competence at cookies baking is because of the detailed yet easy to follow instruction found with each recipe. I love this book. Along with the directions each cookie has a little anecdotal write up. The introduction gives some details of early cookie baking in America, including a little bit about chocolate. There is helpful information about measuring and substituting ingredients in the "How to Use this Book Chapter". And peppered throughout are little tips and historical interest blurbs. It's a fun book to peruse, and the pictures are gorgeous. I only wish there were pictures of each cookie. Did I forget to mention the cookies- you'll have to see for yourself.

Now if I could only find good recipe books for Muffins, Pastries, and Vegetarian food. Any recommendations?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Connie Willis: Bellwether

This is a funny book. It's a commentary about chaos theory and herd mentality. It’s full of running jokes, witty remarks, science anecdotes, fad histories, facts about rivers, and lists of books. Oh and a little about sheep. It clearly took a lot of effort to research and to set up. I think the author enjoyed herself a lot while writing. I can just picture her chuckling and pulling her hair out alternately. Sometimes I would think, enough with the jokes already, but it never felt over the top like Hitch Hiker’s Guide (which really really made me laugh; even now just thinking about it). I liked the plug for literacy, and the plug for creativity. I liked the book. I think I might like to read Browning after this.

I also like love stories. I didn’t expect there to be any love, but there was. It’s not dewy in the least. Here’s a quote that caught my attention. It could be a thesis statement, except the author clearly endorses chaotic systems with unknowing guardians. In it Sandra Foster offers her critique of the vastly popular book, Led On By Fate, which she has just finished reading:

“It’s premise was that everything was ordained and organized by guardian angels,
and the heroine was given to saying things like “Everything happens for a reason, Derek! You broke off our engagement and slept with Edwina and were implicated in her death, and I turned to Paolo for comfort and went to Nepal with him so that we’d learn the meaning of suffering and despair, without which true love is meaningless. All of it – the train wreck, Lilith’s suicide, Halvard’s drug addiction, the stock market crash – it was all so we could be together. Oh, Derek there’s a reason behind everything.”

I liked this book. I would read it again. I would own it.

From the week of January 29

The books I’ve read this week:

Shout Down the Moon, by Lisa Tucker
The text is simple. The crisis was gripping, the resolution a little rushed, and the romance was undeveloped. If there is any artistic posturing it’s subtle. Unlike Tucker’s other novels, this novel features a protagonist who is not a genius. Actually she is, but it’s mostly unschooled instinct, and not ever really stated. Also, she’s weak and vulnerable and very much the saint of taking a lot of crap. I would like to dedicate the poem Invictus to her.

This year I’ve read all her books: The Cure for Modern Life (I like the romance), Once Upon a Day (I liked the humour), The Song Reader (I liked the mystery). What I get from her stories are: No one is perfect, everyone deserves happiness.

Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris
This book is about Love. The kind of love that burns because we hold it so desperately close and it never finds expression until it’s almost too late, and most often is. Actually, it’s about fear of destroying what you love and waiting until it’s too late. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. It didn’t make me happy. And there was a lot of arty posturing. For example: 1. paralleling fishing and catching old mother to the narrative, and 2 the seamless back and forth-ness of past and present events. There was even poetic justice, which I liked but it wasn’t crafted as carefully as Old Mother. Also, I felt dissatisfied with not knowing more about Mirabelle Dartigen. I admired her strength. While the daughter was supposed to be a clever mirror of her, I don’t even like Framboise at all. No one in this book is happy, although the book does try for a happy ending. It’s a deflated compensation for what could have been.

PS, I love you, by Cecilia Ahern
A woman is grieving for her dead husband who was her soul mate. Not a fantastic book, and not very well written is some places. Also there is a lot of swearing and a lot of drinking. I’d like to think there is more to life than those two things. Which brings me to what I liked about the book- the protagonist often laments that the only thing she was good at was loving Gerry (her dead husband), and now that he’s gone she has nothing to do for the rest of her life. Which explains all the swearing and drinking right? Ha! Well it turns out she can do other things, and she does, or she makes a start anyway. Its like her husband helped and hindered her life pursuits. What I appreciated more was how the author fleshed out a marriage with little insider details, good and bad. It showed a surprising level of maturity, considering the swearing and drunken revelry (I can't bring myself to use a happy face symbol, so just imagine it here), and what I gathered from the little author blurb, which unfortunately came across as pompous.

The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
Now this is a book about Love. And I loved this book. Death made the most horrific events matter of fact and funny and sad and ugly and beautiful. Somehow Death is one of those loveable creatures that can say the most irreverent things and get away with it. He’s (she?) a person, but not quite human. The writing is very clever, very witty, very well written. Now, it is a little AnneOfGreenGablesEsque that a little girl could weasel her way into the hearts of so many people. And Mama’s character was a wonderfully cliché. I almost wish she would swear at me. But I'm probably just jealous, and cliché exist for a reason. I didn't exactly cry at the end, but I know people who did.

Announcing the Book a Day Club

Ignore your children, husband, and responsibilities. Don’t get dressed, or eat. Join Sheri and read a book a day, everyday.

Weeks ago at church I filled out a survey. It asked about my talents. Truthfully, I know very little about almost nothing. Sometimes I feel rather pathetic about this. But that's easy to forget since I’m usually too busy reading a book. Anyhow, I don't normally confess to being talentless so for survey purposes I dug down deep came up with a skill. Two actually.

I bake very delicious cookies. If I were willing to bake hundreds of them a day I could be a cookie baker.

Also, I can read a book a day. And I do.