Friday, August 30, 2013

That's Disgusting ; Rachel Hertz ~~~~ Trick or Treat; Lisa Morton

Now that I have your attention, I wanted to share a few newer books that crossed my path at work this week. I couldn't resist checking them out. Both sound fascinating to me so I thought I'd share them with you.

When I saw the cover art on That's Disgusting, I immediately thought of  "over-ripe bananas" UGH, but, I know I could make a lengthy list if I tried.  

How about you are you easily grossed-out by certain things?

Rachel Herz

“A lively look at all things revolting.”—New York Times

Why do we watch horror movies? What is the best way to persuade someone to quit smoking? Why are we more likely to buy a given item if an attractive person has just touched it? And what on earth is the appeal of competitive eating?

In this lively, colorful new book, Rachel Herz answers these questions and more, shedding light on an incredible range of human traits—from food preferences and sexual attraction to moral codes and political ideology—by examining them through the lens of a fascinating subject: disgust. One of the most complex human emotions, disgust is the product of both culture and instinct and so it allows us a unique perspective on the relationship between nature and nurture. A component of fear and prejudice, it also gives us powerful—sometimes disturbing—insights into the fabric of society.

Herz draws on the latest psychological studies and neurological research to offer surprising observations about human behavior and biology. For example, we learn that a man’s scent matters more than his looks or his income in determining whether or not a given woman will find him attractive, that lust and disgust activate the same area of the brain, and that watching a gory movie triggers your immune system as if you were facing an actual threat. We even learn that washing your hands after thinking about a past misdeed—à la Lady Macbeth—can help you feel less guilty.

What makes That’s Disgusting so remarkable is Herz’s ability to weave these curious findings and compelling facts into a narrative that tackles important questions. What matters more: our brain wiring or our upbringing? Is there such a thing as “normal”? And how might politicians and marketers use disgust to manipulate us?

Combining lucid scientific explanations and fascinating research with a healthy dose of humor, That’s Disgusting illuminates issues that are central to our lives: love, hate, fear, empathy, prejudice, humor, and happiness.

Trick or Treat provides a thorough history of this most misunderstood phenomenon. Offering a fascinating overview of how Halloween has spread around the globe, it asks how festivals as diverse as the Celtic Samhain, the British Guy Fawkes Day and the Catholic Holy Days of All Saints and All Souls could have blended to produce the modern Halloween. The holiday was reborn in the United States – where costuming and ‘trick or treat’ rituals became new customs – with parallels in the related, yet independent holidays of Central America, in particular Mexico’s Day of the Dead. The recent explosion in popularity of haunted attractions is discussed and we see also how Halloween’s popularity is rising in non-Western countries like Russia, Japan and China. Finally, Morton considers the impact of such events as 9/11 and the economic recession on the celebration as urban legends and costuming wax and wane.

Halloween’s influence on popular culture is examined via the literary works of Washington Irving and Ray Bradbury, films such as John Carpenter’s Halloween and Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas, and television series including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Simpsons and True Blood. 

Examining Halloween in the context of its increasing worldwide popularity, and illustrated with over 40 images, Trick or Treat leads us on a journey from the spectacular to the macabre, making it a must for anyone looking beyond the mask to the deepest roots of this modern holiday.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

R.I.P. VIII - September 1st - October 31st 2013 (COMPLETED)

Completed Books  
1.Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives; Sarah Weinman - 4.5/5  
2.Poppet; Mo Hayder - 4/5
3.Doctor Sleep; Stephen King - 5/5
4.Bellman & Black; Diane Setterfield - 4/5
5.Night Film, Marisha Pessl - 4.5/5

I went challenge-free in 2013, except now I cave.

I can never resist Carl’s annual RIP Challenge (Readers Imbibing Peril) -- This is my 6th time participating. The college student's are arriving on campus, we've had a few fall-like days, and this is the time of year I crave, Gothic, thrillers, psychological suspense and maybe even a horror or mystery. 

There are different levels of participation, but for me I'm taking the easy route --- Peril the First, which means reading four books that fit the categories between now and October 31st.

Here are some of the types of books that qualify for this challenge: Mystery, Suspense, Thrillers. Dark Fantasy, Gothic, Horror and Supernatural.

How about joining us?  Be sure to link back to Carl's original post.

Here are the ones I'm considering for this challenge (I plan to read 4/6):

The Illusion of Separateness; Simon Van Booy

Author: Simon Van Booy 
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher: Harper
Edition: arc/eGalley
Source:  publisher
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Rating: 4/5

The Illusion of Separateness was my first experience reading something by Simon Van Booy, and although I had a few issues with this book, I am still anxious to try another book by this author.

The novel is told in a series of interconnected stories, beginning with -- Martin's Story, which takes place in Los Angeles in 2010.  Martin is working at the Starlight Retirement Home, the place where the once rich and famous, but now elderly call home.  Martin is some sort of caretaker at the home,  He is a quiet, older man who knows very little about his family. He was adopted and lived in Paris when he was younger. Just as Martin’s story is wrapping up, a new resident, by the name of Victor Hugo (disfigured and dying), is being welcomed at the home. 

"Martin had planned to watch car racing in his room. Saturday afternoon is usually his.  But twenty minutes won't hurt, and there will probably be sandwiches and cookies.  The new resident, Mr Hugo, might even have an interesting story.  Maybe he too was once married and now forced to live alone.  Maybe his childhood is a mystery.  We all have different lives, Martin believes--but in the end probably feel the same tings, and regret the fear we thought might somehow sustain us."

The next story is Mr Hugo's story, flashing back to Manchester, England 1981. There are several more characters and stories which follow, which include: an American soldier, a German soldier, Amelia, a blind woman who works at an art museum in NYC, a young French boy named Sebastien and Danny a film producer.

Each story within the story takes place in a different time period and locale within and outside the US. The stories begin in 2010, then go back to 1981 England, 1968 France, 2005 NY, 1944 France, 2010 England - frankly, all over the map. I'm not a fan of nonlinear narrative, so this novel could have been a disaster for me, had it non been for the author's writing skill. The writing is simple, yet beautiful.

 "Rain says everything we cannot say to one another. It is an ancient sound that willed all life into being, but fell so long upon nothing.

The silence after it is always louder.  Birds whistle from low tree branches, tying their wishes in knots.  I imagine their hearts and feel one in my hand like a hot seed."

It's a book that could be read very quickly, yet I suspect that most will want to take their time with this one. A patient reader will be rewarded with a good story with wonderful passages that leave you with much to think about. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Books Read in 2013

Books Read in 2013

  1. Me and You; Niccolo Ammaniti - 4/5 (my shelves) (Jan-2013)
  2. The Twelve Tribes of Hattie; Ayana Mathis - 4/5  (eGalley) (Jan-2013)
  3. Let's Take the Long Way Home; Gail Caldwell - 5/5 (my shelves) (Jan-2013) (NF)
  4. Tyler Makes Pancakes; Tyler Florence and Craig - 3.5/5  (review) (Jan-2013) (kids)
  5. The Peace Book; Todd Parr - 4.5/5 (library) (Jan-2013) (kids)
  6. Hearthbroken; Lisa Unger - 2.5/5 (audio-library) (Jane-2013) 
  7. In the Woods; Tana French - 4/5 (my shelves) (Jan-2013)
  8. Williams-Sonoma Soup of the Day - 365 Recipes for Every Day of the Year; Kate McMillian - 4/5 (Jan-2013)
  9. The AARP New American Diet: Lose Weight, Live Longer: Secrets to Slender Longevity; Dr. John J. Whyte - 4/5 (eGalley) (Jan-2013)
  10. Naomi; Tanizaki - 4.5/5 (my shelves) (Jan-2013)
  11. The Good House; Ann Leary -  4.5/5 (review copy) (Jan-2013)
  12. Salad for Dinner: Simple Recipes for Salads That Make a Meal; Tasha DeSerio - 3.5/5 (eGalley) and softcover (Jan-2013)
  13. Salad for Dinner: Complete Meals for All Seasons;  Jeanne Kelley - 4.5/5 (library) (Jan-2013)
  14. The Forgotten; David Baldacci - 3.5/5 (library audio) (Jan-2013)
  15. The Lonely Passion of Judith Hearne; Brian Moore - 5/5 (my shelves)
  16. The Racketeer; John Grisham - 3.5/5 (library audio)
  17. Walter's Muse; Jean Davies Okimoto - 2.5/5 (my shelves)
  18. Are You Sleeping Little One? - 4/5 (NetGalley)
  19. Reading Makes You Feel Good; Todd Parr - 5/5 (Library)
  20. Dear Life: Stories; Alice Munro - 4/5 (library-audio) 
  21. Care of Wooden Floors; Will Wiles - 4.5/5 (eBook)
  22. We Sinners; Hanna Plyvaiinen - 4/5 (ARC) 
  23. The Shining; Stephen King - 4/5 (audio)
  24. Weight Loss for People Who Feel Too Much; Colette Baron-Reid - 4/5 (eGalley)
  25. Taffy Salt Water's Yummy Summer Day, Michael Paraskevas - 4.5/5 (eGalley) (Random House Kids)
  26. Ten White Geese; Gerbrand Bakker - 3.5/5 (eGalley)

  27. Cold Light; Jenn Ashworth  - 3/5 (eGalley) March-2013
  28. The One and Only Ivan; Katherine Applegate - 5/5 (Library) March-2013
  29. Indiscretion; Charles Dubow - 4.5/5 (eGalley) - March-2013
  30. American Psycho; Brett Easton Ellis 5/5 - (audio) - March-2013
  31. There Was an Old Woman; Hallie Ephron - 4/5 (arc/eGalley) March-2013 
  32. Five Funny Bunnies: Three Bouncing Tales; Van Leewuen and Wilsdorf -4/5 (Amz-vine) - March-2013
  33. One Breath Away; Heather Gudenkauf - 3.5/5 - (audio) March-2013
  34. With or Without You (memoir); D. Ruta - 4/5 (arc) - March-2013
  35.  Death of Bees; Lisa O'Donnell - 4/5 (arc) - March-2013
  36. The Storyteller; Jodi Picoult - 3/5 (audio) - March-2013
  37. Have You Seen Marie? ; Sandra Cisnaros - 3.5/5 - (Library)  March-2013
  38. Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation and GPS Technology; Caroline Paul - 4/5 - (eGalley) March-2013
  39. The Giant's House; Elizabeth McCracken - 3.5/5 (bucket list) - April-2013 
  40. Parlor Games; Maryka Biaggio - 4/5 (audio and eGalley) - April 2013
  41. Benediction; Kent Haruf - 4.5/5 (eGalley/ARC) - April 2013
  42. The Middlesteins ; Jamie Attenburg - 4/5 (eGalley & audio) - April 2013
  43. Telling the Bees; Peggy Hesketh - 4/5 (eGalley/ARC) - April 2013)
  44. The Cat; Edeet Ravel - 3.5/5 (eGalley) - April 2013)
  45. The Garden of Eden; Ernest Hemingway - 3.5/5 (my shelves) - April 2013
  46. Power Foods for the Brain; Neal Barnard, M.D. - 4.5/5 (eGalley) - April 2013
  47. The Comfort of Lies; Randy Susan Meyer - 4/5 (eGalley) - April 2013
  48. Chinese Whiskers; Pallavi Aiyar - 3/5 (library) - April 2013 - no review yet
  49. The Unfinished Life of Elizabeth D; N. Bernier 4.5/5 (audio and eGalley) May 2013
  50. Hikikomori and the Rental Sister; Jeff Backhaus - 4/5(audio and eGalley) - May-2013
  51. Lake People; Abi Maxwell - 3/5 (ARC and eGalley) - May 2013
  52. Reconstructing Amelia; K. McCreight - 4/5 (review copy)- May 2013 
  53. The Chosen; Chaim Potok - 4.5/5 (my shelf and library audio) - May 2013 
  54. Magnificence; Lydia Millet - 3.5/5 (audio and eBook) - May 2013 
  55. Looking for Me; Beth Hoffman - 5/5  (review copy)May 2013
  56. The Dinner; Herman Koch (audio) - 5/5 May 2013
  57. A Reliable Wife; Robert Goolrick (audio) - 4/5 May 2013 
  58. Flora; Gail Godwin - 5/5 (eGalley) - May 2013 
  59. The Obituary Writer; Ann Hood - 3.5/5 - library - May 2013 
  60. On Chesil Beach; Ian McEwan - 4/5 -audio - May 2013  
  61. The Perfect Ghost; Linda Barnes - 3.5.5 (arc) - June-2013
  62. The Other Typist; Suzanne Rindell  - 4.5/5 (audio/eGalley) - June-2013
  63. Where Do the Animals Go When it Rains?; Janet Crown - 4/5 (eGalley) June-2013)
  64. Sleepover Larry; Daniel Pinkwater - my shelves - 3/5 - June 2013
  65. Gulp; Mary Roach - 4/5 (audio and print) - June 2013
  66. The Hedgerow Cookbook: Wild at Heart; 4.5/5 - (eGalley) - June 2013
  67. Under the Dome; Stephen King (eBook and audio) - 4/5 - June 2013
  68. Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls; David Sedaris - 3.5/5 (audio) - June 2013
  69. The Humanity Project; Jean Thompson - eGalley - audio - June 2013
  70.  The Silver Star; Jeanette Walls - 4.5/5 -eGalley - June - 2013
  71. The Yankee Chef; Jim Bailey - 4.5/5 - eGalley - June 2013
  72. The Burgess Boys; E. Strout - 4/5 - (eGalley) June -2013
  73. Tenth of December: Stories; George Saunders - 3.5/5 - audio - July 2013
  74.  Dog-Gone School; Amy and Ron Schmidt - 5/5 - eGalley - July 2013
  75. Penguin Cha-Cha; Kristi Valiant - 3.5/5 - eGalley - July 2013
  76. The Woman Upstairs; Claire Messud - 4/5 - print - July 2013
  77. After Her; Joyce Maynard - 4/5 -  eGalley - July 2013 
  78. The Translator; Nina Schulyer - 4/5 -eGalley - July 2013 
  79. Inferno; Dan Brown - 3.5/5 - audio - July (no review yet)
  80. Big Brother; Lionel Shriver - 4/5 - arc/eGalley - July 2013 
  81. Always Watching; Chevy Stevens - 3.5/5 - audio - July 2013
  82. Too Bright Too Hear, Too Loud to See;Juliann Garey - 3.5/5 - eGalley/audio- July 2013 
  83. You are Stardust; Elin Kelsey and Soyean Kim - 5/5 - library - July 2013 
  84. Henri, le Chat Noir: The Existential Musings of an Angst-Filled Cat; WIlliam Braden - 5/5 - my shelves - July 2013
  85. We Need To Talk About Kevin; Lionel Shriver 4.5/5 - (audio book and movie)
  86. The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls; Anton DiScalfani -audio and eGalley - 4/5 - July 2013 
  87. The Mouse-Proof Kitchen; Saira Shah - 4.5/5 (eGalley) July-2013
  88. Open This Little Book; Jesse Klausmeir - 5/5 (library) - AUg-2013
  89. Baby and Toddler on the Go Cookbook; Kim Laidlaw - 5/5 (my shelves) Aug-2013) 
  90. Building Our House; Jonathan Bean - 5/5 library - Aug 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - Still Life With Bread Crumbs - Anna Quindlen

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine.  Bloggers spotlight upcoming releases that they are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. 

A long time Anna Quindlen fan, I came across the news of a new book for 2014.How exciting!

(UK cover left)
(US cover right)
Have a favorite? 

Still Life With Bread Crumbs
January 2014 - Random House

A superb love story from Anna Quindlen, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rise and Shine, Blessings, and A Short Guide to a Happy Life

Still Life with Bread Crumbs begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two is a wry and knowing portrait of Rebecca Winter, a photographer whose work made her an unlikely heroine for many women. Her career is now descendent, her bank balance shaky, and she has fled the city for the middle of nowhere. There she discovers, in a tree stand with a roofer named Jim Bates, that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life.

Brilliantly written, powerfully observed, Still Life with Bread Crumbs is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a stunningly crafted journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, her days, as she discovers that life is a story with many levels, a story that is longer and more exciting than she ever imagined.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Dog Walks Into a Nursing Home:Lessons in the Good Life From an Unlikely Teacher ; Sue Halpern

Author: Sue Halpern
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Edition: hardcover
Source:  Library

Date Completed: Aug - 2013 
Rating: 4.5/5

Two things I'd like to point out about this book before going any further, A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home, is not just another cutesy dog story (although the cover is pretty darn cute), and, NO, the dog on the cover doesn't die in the end.  That being said, this is a terrific heartwarming story about a therapy dog named Pransky and his owner Sue.
Pransky, a 7 year-old labradoodle, named after the author's grandmother, lived a happy unleashed life in Vermont. When his owner was beginning to find herself with too much time on her hands, she decided that both she and Pransky would be trained so that Pransky could become a certified therapy dog.  After his training was complete, for 2-hours each week he and Sue, would visit nursing home residents at County Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center nearby.
Although Pransky's visits were a hit and put a smile on the faces of the residents, even more amazing is the fact that she seemed to sense what each individual needed. Sometimes she is bouncy, tail-wagging and puppy-like, and every now and then she just stands close by, sensing a pet or two coming her way. At other times when a resident is close to death, Pransky seemed to sense that just being close in a chair or even on the bed was what just what that person needed. 
The residents, some old, some with dementia, and some young or sick and terminally ill, the residents come from all walks of life -- some share stories or their younger days while others just sit quietly and enjoy their weekly visitors.  Although some of the people Pransky has interacted with do die, the story never comes across as too sad, but rather a reminder to the reader to make the most of the time we have left. 
The chapters headings bear the (7) Virtues for titles: Restraint, Prudence, Faith, Fortitude, Hope, Love and Charity, and the author ties each heading into experiences and observations from her time at the nursing home  with Pransky.  It did seem like Pransky seemed much more comfortable spending time with the sick and elderly than his owner.  The stories told by the residents and reflections by the author left me with a lot to think about. This isn't a book just for dog lovers by any means.
The book concluded with a finding reported by an Australian Hospice Nurse, regarding the 5 biggest regrets hospice patients expressed just before they died:
  • I wish I'd had the courage to love a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  • I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
  • I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
  • I wish I'd stayed in touch with my friends
  • I wish I let myself be happier.

    Give this book a try - I think you will be glad you did. It is also available as an audiobook and eBook.

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. Care to join us?
This week I'm featuring an intro from a book that I'll be starting over the long weekend.

Doubleday - 2013
"It was Friday Night, about nine weeks into the project. Tess's voice sounded normal, but I could see that she had been crying and her narrow face was pale.  For the first few minutes of the conversation, she leaned her head back against the wall behind her bed, gaze turned to the ceiling.  Then she righted it and looked straight at the camera.  Her eyes were as I'd never seen them:  both empty and terrified.  Mum sometimes had the same look, towards the end.

I'm scared she said."

Isn't the cover awesome? What do you think? Would you keep reading?  

Feel free to join us by linking your First Chapter post below.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Help for the Haunted; John Searles

Author: John Searles
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher: Random House
Edition: eGalley 
Source:  Edelweiss 
Date Completed: Aug - 2013 
Rating: 4.5/5

Help for the Haunted begins with nine year-old Sylvie Mason overhearing a phone call that her parents received one snowy, February night.  At first she doesn't think too much the phone ringing late into the night, since her parents received lots of phone calls at odd hours ever since they placed an ad claiming an ability to save "haunted souls".  Sylvie is whisked off from her bed by her parents on this cold, snowy night, so they can meet with Rose, Sylvie's older, runaway sister. The meeting place is an old church, and Sylvie is told to stay in the car while the parents go inside hoping to talk with Rose. 
Something feels creepy and just plain wrong for Sylvie but she stays in the car as she was told. Nodding off in the car she wakes to the sound of gunshots. He parents shot and killed, but by who? From that point on, nothing is ever the same for Sylvie. Teased by classmates, her mess-up sister Rose as her guardian, things go from bad to worst at times.  Sylvie, however, is resilient and determined to uncover secrets about her parents that may have lead to their death. 
This was such a terrific story from the get-go. I loved the way the story unfolded, the creepiness surrounding the mysteriousness of the basement of the family home, a place the parents warned the girls to stay away from. There are so many layers to uncover, and nothing is as it first appears to be. Sylvie is bright, very sensitive and makes for a sympathetic narrator. She does a fabulous job describing the stranger aspects of her childhood, what her parents did for a living, and rehashing the incident at the church in the middle that changed her life forever.  Everything is revealed in very small doses, making the reader want to finish the book without interruption.  I had a few small issues with this story, but I was still very happy I got to read this novel.  A perfect read for a cool evening by the fire, and don't you just love that title? 
Well done -- be sure to read it.

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house during the last week. Bermuda Onion is hosting Mailbox Monday this month.
3 new print books this week
(have you read any of these?)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling; Robert Galbraith

Author: Robert Galbraith
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Edition: audio 
Source:  publisher

Reader: Robert Glenister (nice job)
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Rating: 4/5

I finished the audio version of The Cuckoo's Calling a few weeks ago, and I was immediately thinking about the possibility of a next installment -- Hopefully, it's in the works.

In this crime/detective novel I was hooked immediately.  A super-model, Lula Landry (aka Cuckoo) has fallen to her death from her penthouse balcony in London. Was it suicide or murder?  Her (adopted) brother, John Bristow, does not believe Lula would take her own life, but the media has caused all sorts of rumors to fly.

Private detective Cormoran Strike, a former Army military man who lost his leg in Afghanistan has been hired to find out what really happened. He's a strong and  interesting character who has a lot of baggage, but he's really intelligent and he knows the difference between right and wrong. He, combined with his female partner, 20-something Robin Ellacott, worked for a temp agency and was hooked up with Strike. She thinks she might want to be a PI. She's smart and bit abrasive, and together they made for an interesting twosome.

There were a lot of characters in the novel -- plenty rich and famous models and rock stars etc. Too many characters is usually a problem for me with an audio book, but I didn't find it too difficult to stick with the story. After Lulu's death has been established at the very beginning of the novel, I'd say the remainder of the first half of the book is about getting to know a little bit about each of the characters/suspects.  The author does a great job of dosing out info slowly. The first half was mostly about getting to know the players but with no real clues to make you say, "he/she did it".  It is only later on in the novel that more helpful info is revealed which made me anxious to try to narrow down likely suspects.  I was satisfied with the way the story ended as well.

Although the story dragged in parts, I thought that the writing was very good.  I would definitely read the next in a series if there is one.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Wild Animal Neighbors: Sharing Our Urban World; Ann Downer

Author: Ann Downer 
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher:  Lerner PUblishing
Edition: eGalley
Source:  NetGalley
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5

We've all heard of reported about some unusual types of wildlife showing up in our neighborhoods. I'm not referring to raccoons, possums or even deer. Some seven billion humans are encroaching on the space that animals had previously claimed as their homes. Their private habitats of many animals have been disturbed, and as a result, while looking for new homes or their mates that may have run off in different directions, little by little, we are seeing more and animals who previously lived in wooded areas roaming the streets and backyards in our own area. Just recently a moose was wandering the streets of a nearby town, and bears were reported in the backyard of a major urban city neighborhood where I live.

This book is (64 pages) and likely targeted toward a YA audience, but it is so well done and interesting enough for adults alike. Some of the stories and critters featured include stories about a coyote that wandered into a Quiznos sandwich shop in Chicago, Il; a young male mountain lion that roomed the busy streets of Santa Monica last year, Gators in a Texas garage after periods of extremely heavy rain; Logger-head turtles calling a Florida beach house home, and many more interesting stories, including some outside of the US.

Many different varieties of animals are profiled. Each has a wonderful, glossy photo, a description and lots of additional information about each animal including facts about what they eat, scientific name, size information, where each is typically found and whether the animal is endangered or not, and also information about what brings these critters, big and small, to our neighborhoods. 

Great books for libraries and animal/nature lovers

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Apple of North America: 193 Exceptional Varieties for Gardeners, Growers and Cooks; Tom Burford

Author: Tom Burford
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher:  Timber Press
Edition: eGalley
Source:  Net Galley
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Rating: 5/5

September then October are soon approaching, and that comes apple season around these parts.  This book looked lovely so I couldn't wait to preview it. (I can smell the apple pies already).

The intro starts with some interesting history about the "apples" which began in the Asia Minor region of Kazakhstan and by 2500 BC apples were being grown throughout Mesopotamia and Persia, and soon became part of the food cultures of the world.
  • Part 1 of the book is all about  -- Apple Varieties A-Z 
  • Part 2 is  -- The Orchard Primer -- covers: Planning and Design, Planting and Cultural Management, Propagation and Apple Products
  • Apple Varieties section was awesome - each variety of apple has: a photo of the type of apple, other names (if any), history, exterior and interior description, tree characteristics, disease resistance, season of ripening, storage qualities, and uses (cider varieties, pie varieties etc -- did you know you could pickle and fry apples?
I really enjoyed browsing this book and came away with good information. I only wish I had enough land to plant a small orchard now.
If you are looking for an all-encompassing reference book about apples, the author's background can't be beat. Tom's family has been growing apples in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia since 1715. 

These Hamptons; Phillip Andrew Lehans

Author: Phillip Andrew Lehans

Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher:  Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.
Edition: eGalley
Source:  Net Galley
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Rating: 5/5

This is a really impressive collection of photographs of everything "The Hamptons". The book is 192 pages with over 180 wonderful photos: ocean scenes, sailboats, lighthouses, storm clouds, fireworks, forests, farms, art work, craftsmen and wares and more. Each photo has a very tiny tiny blurb about the photo.

This book should have a wide appeal to people living in "the Hamptons", those who vacation there, or just most anyone who loves nice photography. A great coffee-table book.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The House at the End of Hope Street; Menna van Praag


Author: Menna van Praag 
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher: Viking (Pamela Dorman Books)/ Recorded Books 
Edition: eGalley and audio 
Source:  Edelweiss and Library-audio
Date Completed: Aug - 2013
Rating: 4.5/5 

Was there ever a time in your life that you wished that you could just run away? Perhaps there was a time when you needed some time to figure out what you should be doing with your life, and whether starting fresh might be the answer? Just maybe, The House at the End of Hope Street  is the kind of place we all could have benefited from at one time or another. You see The House at the End of Hope Street, in Cambridge, England is magical.  It's a place that can only be seen by women in need -- desperate women who have "lost hope".  Whoever stays at the house, has an opportunity to change their life and fix the problems that they are facing, but they must do so within ninety-nine nights.

Alba Ashley is such a woman. She's a young PHD student who has been humiliated at the university; she is also estranged from her family. Feeling hopeless, one day while walking in her hometown of Cambridge, England, she finds herself in front of a house (11 Hope Street) that she doesn't recognize -- it's a rather unusual house as she learns from Peggy the elderly woman who invites her to stay.  With no idea what is in store for her and feeling that she has nothing to lose, Alba decides to give it a try and moves in. Some of the current residents include an actress named Greer, a singer by the name of Carmen who is running from her past, and there were many more have come and gone. From the portraits on the walls, some of the woman who came there before Alba included: Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie, Beatrix Potter, Dorothy Potter and more. 

All sorts of magical things happen at this house, and it isn't long before Alba realizes that this house has the power to heal. Like her, those who have stayed there were suffering from loss, heartbreak and were at a new lows in their lives when they enter, but by the time each leaves 11 Hope Street, they find just what they need to begin again. 

The story is told from the third person point of view, which changes rather quickly from one character to another. It's one of those stories where you are pretty sure that everything will turn out well for the characters, and it does.  The House at the End of Hope Street  is a feel good story that was fun to read and also to listen to. This would be a good book to choose if you need a lift or a story to get you out of a reading slump, but don't get your hopes up - reality will still face you when your finished. Menna van Praag is an author to watch for - a very imaginative debut novel that will make you smile.