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Saturday, March 26, 2016

#14 - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver

Title:  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Author:  Barbara Kingsolver
Read by:  Barbara Kingsolver, Stephen Hopp, Camille Kingsolver
Listened to:  3/7/16 - 3/26/16
Published:  2007
CDs/Hrs:  12/14.5
Genre:  Non Fiction 641.097
Rating:  A

Barbara Kingsolver has written a piece of non-fiction that is also memoir and journalistic investigation.  Together with husband Stephen Hopp and daughters Camille Kingsolver and Lily Hopp the family moved from Tucson, Arizona to Virginia where Stephen's family farm is located.  For a year they lived off the land and reduced their burden on the planet by using and cooking food raised and bought locally.  I loved that this was a family project with Stephen, a writer for a farm magazine, providing side-bars of scientific content designed to emphasize the sustainability of agriculture.  Camille, a teenager at the time, wrote her take on this type of life-style, telling us the menu throughout the year for each day of the week.  Most Fridays included home-made pizza with all sorts of local veggies.  Lily, bless her six-year-old heart, took it upon herself to be in charge of the chicken contingent of the farm and made a profit in the process.

At the end, Barbara did an interview where she explained that the book idea had been always in their minds as they lived this year of their lives and how they determined what parts both Stephen and Camille would contribute to the cause.  Interesting to me was her description of how non-fiction and fiction are alike and dissimilar and that both are important ingredients of how the book was born.  I liked how she said how much it means to decide what to leave in and what to remove from their personal lives, that its ok to not divulge things you want to keep private.  Amen!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

#13 - The Invisible Wall - Harry Bernstein

Title:  The Invisible Wall
Author:    Harry Bernstein
Read by:  John Lee
Genre:  Biography
Rating:  B+
Published:  2007
Dates:  3/11/16 – 3/24/16
Cds/Hrs:  8/9.5

Set in pre-WWI Lancashire, England, Harry Bernstein and his Jewish family and other Jewish families live across the street from the Christians.    Day after day, Harry, youngest of five, and his family live a working-class life, experience social divide and forbidden love.  The narrow lane on which Harry grows up appears identical to countless other working-class English neighborhoods – except for the invisible wall that runs down the middle of the street, dividing the Jews from the Christians.  The geographical distance may be yards, but socially, it is miles.  Families on either side do not speak or meet.  But when Harry’s older sister, Lily, falls for Arthur, the boy across the street, Harry becomes a go-between for the lovers, crossing the great divide to keep the secret.  When the truth inevitably comes out, Harry has to decide, at the tender age of eleven, what he believes to be morally correct.
In the epilogue Harry and his wife, Ruby, go back to Manchester to locate the house he grew up in.  It’s a poignant moment when he meets one of the neighbors and learns the tragedies that have occurred during the years of his absence.  It was a tearful book for me at the end but joyous in an earlier moment.

Friday, March 18, 2016

#12 - Cinnamon Mornings and Chocolate Dreams - Pamela Lanier

Title:  Cinnamon Mornings and Chocolate Dreams
Author:  Pamela Lanier
Pages:  152
Genre:  Non-Fiction/Cookbook
Published:  2003
Read:  2/26/16 - 3/17/16

Not much plot but short and fun to read with recipes from a number of Bed and Breakfasts around the US and Canada.  Places include:  Casual Corners B & B, Lititz, Pennsylvania with Filled Peach Crepes from the chapter on Breakfasts; The Tranquil Cherub B & B, Indianapolis, Indiana and Cherub Nectar from the section about Hors d'oeuvres; Dunbar House, 1880, Murphys, California and Artichoke and Salsa Bake in the category listing Brunch; Prospect B & B, Prospect, Nova Scotia, Canada and Prospect Cheesecake Trifle in the Desserts; and last but not least Bird and Bottle Inn, Garrison, New York with Chocolate Pate from none other than the food group - Chocolate!

I'm not a cook but one Sunday morning from the Breakfasts I tried a very simple concoction of Pear Sauce for Waffles featured by Woody Hill B & B, Westerly, Rhode Island.  The recipe called for canned pears but I had fresh and it worked wonderfully and deliciously.

#11 - The Man from Stone Creek - Linda Lael Miller

Title:  The Man from Stone Creek
Author:  Linda Lael Miller
Read by:  Buck Schirner
Published:  2006
Listened to:  3/1/16 - 3/11/16
Genre:  Fiction
CDs/Hrs:  10/11

Set in Southern Arizona in 1903 close to the Mexican border, Ranger Sam O'Ballivan arrives as the new teacher in town.  He settles in to teach the children of Haven and get acquainted with the manager of the local mercantile, Maddie Chancelor and her little brother.  Trouble brewed and Sam was determine to sort it out.  His first chore was to bring the rough ranchers' youngsters under control.  This included Maddie's brother and some of the locals including the owner of the mercantile and his adult sons.  Along the way Maddie and Sam find themselves falling in love yet both denying their feelings for each other. 

This is a sweet western that I really enjoyed and I highly recommend it for those who love romance novels which I'm not necessarily into.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

#10 - Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus - John Gray, PhD

Title:  Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
Author:  John Gray, PhD
Read by:  George Guidall
Genre:  Non-Fiction 646.78
Rating:  B
Published:  1992
Listened to:  2/23/16 – 3/7/16
CDs/Hrs:  8/9.2

Although this is an outdated version of how to love and please your mate it had its merits.  Gray listed 100 ways the male of the species can please his woman, and vice versa.   Among them – offer to take the garbage out, tell her how nice she looks when she gets her hair done and wash her car for her.  I found it helpful that to get my dh (that’s dear husband, not designated hitter though, at times, that baseball term could apply) to do something for me I need to say “would you” instead of “could you”.  It works!

For a heavenly relationship we are told we must realize that our partner is an alien.  This approach has worked to help many couples find happiness and passion.  The story goes that the men of Mars and the women of Venus came to Earth and suffered amnesia: they forgot they were from another planet.  Some of what Gray offers is really humorous yet introduces the serious and common conflicts between the sexes that can interfere with fulfilling unions.  As we used say back in the ‘90s – try it, you’ll like it!