Thursday, October 29, 2009

Blog Award: One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you to Jo at Once Upon a Bookcase for giving me the One Lovely Blog Award. I really appreciate it!

Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link. Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered. Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

15 is quite a list but here goes...

1. A Bibliophile's Bookshelf
2. All About {n}
3. Library Queue
4. The Literate Housewife Review
5. Melissa's Bookshelf
6. Nomadreader
7. lucy was robbed
8. Terra Garden
9. the epic rat
10. Unmainstream Mom Reads
11. Wrighty's Reads
12. Peeking Between the Pages
13. Rhapsodyinbooks's Weblog
14. Birdbrain(ed) Book Blog
15. Cafe of Dreams

These are all fantastic blogs that I follow regularly. I hope you will take some time to check them out.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

Title: Benny & Shrimp
Author: Katarina Mazetti
Translator: Sarah Death
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publication Date: July 2009
Format: Paperback, 209 pages
Age Group: Adult

Benny and Shrimp are two lonely adults who meet in the cemetery. He tends his parents' heavily decorated grave while she sits on a bench attempting to mourn her husband. Can the dairy farmer and the librarian make a life together when sparks start to fly? Or are their lives too far apart to bring them together for more than a short affair?

Benny & Shrimp was originally published in Sweden and has been an international hit. I can certainly see why. I greatly enjoyed this quirky tale of love between people with such different perspectives on life. One of the things that really made this book work for me was that the chapters alternated between being told by Benny and being told by Shrimp. This really lets the reader get the entire story instead of just one person's side. The chapters were also quite short which made Benny & Shrimp a fast read for me.

Although the characters' emotions run high, I did not feel them the way I have felt the level of emotion in other books. I felt more like an outside observer, rather than becoming overly engaged in the story. I think the observing really is the point though as the book examines one relationship in quite a detailed manner. The author has taken the story farther in a second book but I do not think that one has an English translation yet.

Have you read Benny & Shrimp? I would love to hear your thoughts on the book. Please leave a link if you have reviewed it on your blog. If you haven't read this one, would you like to?

Thank you to Caitlin, at FSB Associates, for sending me another wonderful book to review.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Sunday Salon October 25, 2009

The Sunday

Last week actually turned out to be a pretty good reading week for me. I completed Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks and then I read The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel in two days. It is really rare for me to get through a book that quickly these days but the format combined with my enjoyment of the story made it a quick read.

This week I'm hoping to read Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti, although I haven't started it yet. I would love to start it today but I think grocery shopping, laundry, and other household chores are going to take most of my day.

A recent post over at J. Kaye's Book Blog discussing writing book reviews has me thinking about my reviews and if the information that I am providing is meeting the needs of my readers. I would love some feedback - what do you like to see in book reviews? Is the information that I provide at the top of each review sufficient or would you like me to include the ISBN as well? I have been trying to write my own little book blurb - are those working or would you rather see the blurb from the back of the book or listed on Amazon? While I am not going to totally change how I write my reviews (because then it just wouldn't be MY review :-) ), I want my reviews to be as user-friendly as possible. Please let me know your thoughts on writing book reviews, I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel

Title: The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship
Authors: Andrea Israel & Nancy Garfinkel
Publisher: Polhemus Press
Publication Date: October 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 363 pages
Age Group: Adult

Lilly and Valerie grow up as the best of friends until college when everything changes. Twenty-six years later, after the death of Valerie's mother, the two attempt to reconnect only to discover that time has not healed any of their wounds. When Lilly's father dies, will Lilly and Valerie finally make peace with their past or will a new secret destroy their friendship forever?

The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship is mainly told in emails and letters with lots of recipes included. I have never read a novel with this format before and I was pleasantly surprised by it. The letters provided insight into Lilly and Valerie as each of them told their side of the story. The authors did a great job channeling the strong emotions of both the main characters. When Lilly and Valerie attempt to reconnect after the death of Valerie's mother, I was shocked at how quickly they angered with each other and how fast they both started blaming what happened on anyone other than themselves. The letter format also made this book a fast read for me. I was able to read a few letters and then put the book down if I needed to do something else and it was easy to pick up right where I left off.

Lilly and Valerie were very different characters and I wonder if they would have remained friends for so long if their families were not closely tied together in other ways. The creation of the recipe club seemed to give them some common ground when they would have otherwise gone their separate ways. There are definitely some recipes shared by the characters that I want to try!

The third section of this novel threw me off for a little bit as the writing switched back to a more traditional narrative. In reading the letters between the girls, I felt like a part of their recipe club and that I actually knew each of them. The change in style felt like it pushed me back to the outside as a mere observer of the action. For me, the change in style also lessened the emotional impact of that section of the story, which is actually quite an important bit.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship and I am looking forward to trying out some of the recipes.

Thank you so much to Caitlin at FSB Associates for sending me an advance review copy of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks

Title: Armageddon's Children
Author: Terry Brooks
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover, 371 pages
Age Group: Adult
Series: The Genesis of Shannara (Book 1)

I have so many books in my personal library to read and it seems that I will never get enough time to finish them all. I cannot believe Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks has been sitting on the shelf for so long and I just got to read it for the first time!

The first books of Terry Brooks that I ever read were the Kingdom of Landover books and from there I moved to the Shannara books. I have really enjoyed reading the various series set in Shannara over the years. Reading those stories, it was very easy to forget that Shannara takes place in the future after some catastrophic event nearly wipes out humans and technology. In the Word and the Void series and the Genesis of Shannara series, Brooks returns to the beginning of the Shannara story. When I first heard about the Word and the Void series I was actually not interested in reading it because it sounded so different from the Shannara books and I didn't realize that it was a related series. The Genesis of Shannara series bridges the gap between the Word and the Void series and the rest of the Shannara books.

Armageddon's Children is full of action from the very first sentence. Every main character is in danger and has a battle to fight just to survive much less accomplish the task they are destined to carry out. The demons and once-men control much of the world and take joy in slaughtering and enslaving humans. Much of the human population has taken refuge in compounds, although a few have taken their chances on the streets. Some have been permanently altered from exposure to unnatural toxins and radiation.

It is in this ruined world that two remaining Knights of the Word continue to fight against the Void in a futile effort to save mankind. A street kid named Hawk tries to keep his chosen family safe from the dangers that lurk around every corner even as he dreams of the day he can lead them to safety. Hidden away from the humans, the elves watch the destruction of the world and argue among themselves whether or not to even become involved in the battle.

Although it is not necessary to have read the Word and the Void series before reading Armageddon's Children, I believe it would be helpful. The events in that series lay the groundwork for the Genesis of Shannara trilogy and characters and events from that series are mentioned in this one.

Terry Brooks keeps the story moving at a fast pace and conveys the various emotions of each character strongly. With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, I'm eager to start on the next book in the series, The Elves of Cintra

2009 Reading Challenges

1st in a Series Challenge

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Sunday Salon October 18, 2009

The Sunday

This is my first ever post for The Sunday Salon. I can't promise that I will be able to do a post every Sunday but I would like to try making this a regular feature on Library Girl Reads.

This past week was pretty light on the reading because I had so many other things happening. Thursday was my daughter's first birthday! Last weekend we headed up to Michigan to have a birthday party for her at her grandparent's house. I love getting to see my family but being gone for the weekend really messes with my schedule. I spent most of this week playing catch up which didn't leave much extra time for reading.

I'd hoped to finish Armageddon's Children by Terry Brooks but that didn't happen so this week I will definitely finish reading it.

Next up on the reading list is The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel. The format of this novel is very intriguing to me as it is a combination of letters and recipes. I know I've never read a book set up this way so I'm interested to see how it flows.

My daughter got a great set of Winnie the Pooh books for her birthday so I know we will be exploring those as well. She loves to read her stories and definitely has her favorites. Now if I could only get her to help put her books back on the bookshelf instead of taking them all off!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Article by authors Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

The next book on my reading list is The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel which releases today. To whet your appetite for this tale, here is an article written by the authors.

You are What You Say . . . When You Talk About What You Eat
By Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel,
Authors of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

Everyone knows the old saying, "You are what you eat."

But there's an even greater truth: you are what you say about eating.

That gleam in your eye, when you reminisce about eating pasta in Rome, is probably less about the fettuccine than it is about Federico, the handsome guy at the next table.

The ache in your heart, when you tell the story of spoon-feeding soup to your beloved, ailing grandma, is undoubtedly more about loving and missing her than it is about the lousy soup.

How do we know this? Well, through a surprising and wonderful turn of events, we have come to recognize the inextricable connections that exist between the foods we eat, the ways in which we talk about that food, and our deepest -- sometimes hidden -- emotions.

And we've been given this glimmer of wisdom by our recently published novel-cookbook, The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship. The story charts the ups and downs of a lifelong friendship between characters who stay connected, despite a bumpy relationship, by forming their own two-person Recipe Club.

When readers of advance copies began asking us to help launch their own food-themed friendship-and-storytelling circles, we knew we were on to something wonderful and important.

So from coast to coast, we are running Recipe Clubs, intimate gatherings in which members share real-life stories associated with personal recipes. Yes, Recipe Clubs are about food and cooking . . . but they're about creating community. Each member, at every meeting, has a chance to speak out with honesty and be heard without judgment. Honoring the age-old, oral-history tradition, we're helping to create a tradition: building new friendships and deepening existing friendships through the prism of food, friendship, and storytelling.

We've been privileged to hear stories from Recipe Club members in small towns and big cities alike, from stay-at-home moms to corporate executives, from those who love to cook to those who just love to eat. And with each tale, we've come to realize that talking about food -- at least in the safe, intimate environment of a Recipe Club -- is a powerful lens through which to understand your life, your family, your friendships, and your attitudes. Food in its entirety -- as an ingredient, as a cooked dish, as something eaten, something fed, something given, something cherished -- is intrinsically loaded with emotional content. It crosses barriers of race, age, gender, nationality, and culture because it ultimately relates to the most universal aspects of the human condition!

Take the story of Carolyn. In college, she had a mad crush on a boy. Since she was an excellent cook, her roommate persuaded her to throw a lavish dinner party, citing the old adage, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

Working day and night, Carolyn created a perfect meal. Her pièce de résistance: a Baked Alaska. Heart beating and dessert about to be flamed (a stand-in for her burning passion, no doubt), Carolyn poked her head out the closed kitchen door to present her masterpiece -- only to find her roommate and the boy she adored locked in a mad embrace!

Carolyn's response: a slammed kitchen door and a sledge-hammer fist-punch to the Baked Alaska. And the satisfaction of feeling emboldened by a powerful rage -- rather than being beaten down by the pain of betrayal, disappointment, and humiliation of the moment.

Or hear the tale of Debbie, who grew up in a food-friendly family of five. Decades after leaving home, Debbie still cooked pasta for five. The problem was, she lived alone. The bigger problem: she ate for five, too. Her Recipe Club tale chronicled her slow journey of learning to accept and embrace the fact of living alone, and of learning to nurture herself with the foods she still loved -- but adding in healthy servings of self-respect.

These real, touching revelations (and many others, about subjects as wide-ranging as sharing with sisters, fighting with parents, finding self-confidence, coming out to a family, struggling with self-esteem, and the joy of not cooking when there's someone else to do it) are all honestly expressed and respectfully received at the Recipe Clubs we run. While each story evokes its own response -- laughter, tears, resonant recognition, surprise -- all the Recipe Club stories we hear share some basic ingredients: food, feelings, family, friendship.

When we wrote the final sentence of our novel, The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship, we thought we had completed the book. But now we understand that the story is ever-unfolding . . . and our journey has just begun!

©2009 Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel, authors of The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

Author Bios for The Recipe Club: A Tale of Food and Friendship

Andrea Israel is a producer/writer for ABC's Focus Earth. She was a producer/writer on Anderson Cooper 360, Dateline, and Good Morning America (which garnered her an Emmy Award). Her story In Donald's Eyes was recently optioned for a film. Ms. Israel is the author of Taking Tea. Her writing has appeared in many publications.

Nancy Garfinkel is co-author of The Wine Lover's Guide to the Wine Country: The Best of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino (Chronicle Books, 2005). A creative strategist, design consultant, writer, and editor for magazine, corporate, and non-profit clients, she has won a host of graphic arts and editorial merit awards. She has written extensively about food and graphic arts.

For more information please visit

This article has been posted with the permission of FSB Associates.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Awakening
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: April 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Age Group: Young Adult
Series: Darkest Powers (Book 2)

Spoiler Alert: The Awakening is the second book in the Darkest Powers trilogy and events follow immediately after the ending of The Summoning. If you have not read The Summoning, please do not read this review as it would reveal significant events in that book and it probably won't even make sense. I posted a review of The Summoning in February.


Chloe Saunders and three other teens are on the run. They escaped from Lyle House only to be brought back to a different building and kept under lock down by the Edison Group. There Chloe learns that they are all genetically modified supernaturals and are part of an experiment which was supposed to help young supernaturals transition into their powers while remaining integrated into normal society. As 'failed' experiments, it is very possible that Chloe and the others will be terminated, meeting the same fate as their friend Liz. Now the teens are on the run again, trying to determine who they can trust, and trying not to turn on each other in an effort to survive. Not to mention learning how to deal with their growing powers that at least Chloe and Derek are having difficulty learning to control.

Kelly Armstrong ended The Summoning with a major cliff-hanger, leaving me wanting more immediately. Unfortunately, even when The Awakening was released I was placed on a wait list at my library and was unable to read it until now. Armstrong definitely did not disappoint with the second book in the Darkest Powers trilogy. The Awakening has a great blend of action and information discovery. The emotions of the characters run high throughout the book and I think Armstrong did a great job capturing the voices of the teens as they face fear, confusion, and loss. While there is a slight bit of relief or a glimmer of hope at the end of this book, Armstrong still leaves many unanswered questions and leads in to the possibility of a great confrontation in the third and final book. I can barely wait to read The Reckoning which is expected to be released in May 2010.