January 31, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

Oregon Coast
January 2018

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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

January 30, 2018

Eleanor and Hick

Eleanor and Hick: The Love Affair that Shaped a First Lady by Susan Quinn
2016 Penguin Audio
Read by Kimberly Farr
13 hours and 44 minutes
Finished on February 25, 2017
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A warm, intimate account of the love between Eleanor Roosevelt and reporter Lorena Hickok - a relationship that, over more than three decades, transformed both women's lives and empowered them to play significant roles in one of the most tumultuous periods in American history.

In 1932, as her husband assumed the presidency, Eleanor Roosevelt entered the claustrophobic, duty-bound existence of the first lady with dread. By that time she had put her deep disappointment in her marriage behind her and developed an independent life - now threatened by the public role she would be forced to play. A lifeline came to her in the form of a feisty campaign reporter for the Associated Press: Lorena Hickok. Over the next 30 years, until Eleanor's death, the two women carried on an extraordinary relationship: They were, at different points, lovers, confidantes, professional advisors, and caring friends.

They couldn't have been more different. Eleanor had been raised in one of the nation's most powerful political families and was introduced to society as a debutante before marrying her distant cousin, Franklin. Hick, as she was known, had grown up poor in rural South Dakota and worked as a servant girl after she escaped an abusive home, eventually becoming one of the most respected reporters at the AP. Her admiration drew the buttoned-up Eleanor out of her shell, and the two quickly fell in love. For the next 13 years, Hick had her own room at the White House, next door to the first lady.

These fiercely compassionate women inspired each other to right the wrongs of the turbulent era in which they lived. During the Depression Hick reported from the nation's poorest areas for the WPA, and Eleanor used these reports to lobby her husband for New Deal programs. Hick encouraged Eleanor to turn their frequent letters into her popular and long-lasting syndicated column "My Day" and to befriend the female journalists who became her champions. When Eleanor's tenure as first lady ended with FDR's death, Hick pushed her to continue to use her popularity for good - advice Eleanor took by leading the UN's postwar Human Rights Commission. At every turn the bond these women shared was grounded in their determination to better their troubled world.

Deeply researched and told with great warmth, Eleanor and Hick is a vivid portrait of love and a revealing look at how an unlikely romance influenced some of the most consequential years in American history.

I've always been fascinated with Eleanor Roosevelt's life story and thought this new biography might give a little more personal (and honest) insight into her life, as well as that of Lorena Hickok. My husband and I watched The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (a wonderful Ken Burns' documentary) and after reading Quinn's biography on Eleanor, I'm inclined to watch the program a second time. My mind wandered a little bit while listening to this audio book, and overall I liked it, but it probably would have been better to read the print edition.

January 29, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I'm currently reading The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne and have reached page 160 (of 580!) and I'm beginning to question whether I want to continue. It's very readable (unlike The Portrait of a Lady, which I ditched after 50 pages), but I'm having a hard time caring about the characters, especially now that the main character in the introductory chapters has all but vanished. I have a library copy, which I've already renewed once and only have another week before it needs to be returned. However, with all the glowing reviews for Boyne's novel on Goodreads, I'm tempted to continue...

As I mentioned above, I gave up on The Portrait of a Lady, which I was reading with Bellezza and a few others who joined in on the Read-A-Long. I managed to read 50 pages, but it felt like a chore and I wasn't enjoying it one bit. I've never read Henry James and probably never will. I made a note of one of the early sentences that I came upon and it had three semicolons, one colon, sixteen (!) commas and two parenthetical quotes. I can't be sure, but I think it took up well over a page. Not for me!

I haven't been listening to my audio books as much as I have in the past, but the weather was cooperative yesterday, so I headed out for a walk into town and listened to a big chunk of Joe Biden's Promise Me, Dad. It's an ok listen, but I'm not overly enthralled. Biden reads his book and his voice can be a little too gravely, soft and, at times, even slurred. I did find myself getting choked up as he shared one part about sitting by his son's hospital bed and as he read the passage, I could hear the catch in his voice as he struggled not to cry. A couple of long walks and I should be finished.

I have no idea what I'll read next. I have a couple of library books and several new books that I bought last month. I usually just wait to see what I'm in the mood to read after I finish whatever I'm currently reading.
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date. It’s a place to meet up and share what you have been, are, and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

Last Week's Posts:

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana

The Long Hello

Looking Back - Sights Unseen

Blogmate Visit!

Wordless Wednesday

The Book That Matters Most

January 28, 2018

Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana

Out here on the rainy Oregon Coast, we are smack dab in the middle of soup season! I've been making a lot of my favorites (Chicken and Dumplings, Taco Soup, Cheeseburger Soup, Chicken Tortilla Soup, etc.), but I've also been trying out new recipes that have caught my eye on the Internet. Last month I stumbled upon a new blog (Homemade Hooplah), which was featuring this yummy recipe. We aren't huge fans of Olive Garden, but we love their soup, so I decided to give Chrisy's recipe a try. Winner, winner! We're definitely going to have this soup a lot this winter!

Homemade Hooplah's
Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana 
(an Olive Garden copycat recipe)
Photo Credit: Homemade Hooplah


1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 onion, chopped
4 russet potatoes, diced
Salt & pepper to taste
4 cups chicken broth
Up to 2 cups of water
1 bunch of kale, bite-size pieces (stems removed)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Brown the sausage in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until cooked through (approx. 10 minutes). Add the onion and garlic, cooking until the onion begins to soften. Drain fat from pan.

Place the cooked sausage mixture in a 6-quart crock pot. Add the diced potatoes and season with salt & pepper. Add the chicken broth and up to 2 cups of water so that the potatoes are completely submerged. Stir and cover.

Cook on Low for 5-6 hours (or High for 3-4 hours).

After desired time has elapsed, remove lid and add kale and heavy whipping cream. Stir until well combined.

Cover and cook on High for an additional 30 minutes.

Garnish with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese and serve while hot.

Yield: 8

My Notes:

The original recipe calls for hot Italian sausage. I prefer to use Sweet Italian.

I've seen other copycat recipes that use sliced potatoes rather than diced. I may try that next time, since the diced pieces have a tendency to overcook.

If you don't have kale, spinach is a great substitute.

Please visit Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

January 27, 2018

The Long Hello

The Long Hello: Memory, My Mother, and Me by Cathie Borrie
2016 Arcade Publishing (First published 2015 Simon & Schuster Canada)
Finished on February 25, 2017
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A stirring memoir of a daughter caring for a mother with dementia that is sure to become a touchstone for many others.

The Long Hello explores the emotional rewards and challenges that Cathie Borrie experienced in caring for her mother, who was living with Alzheimer’s disease, for seven years. Between the two, a wondrously poetic dialogue develops, which Ms. Borrie further illuminates with childhood memories of her family, and her struggle to maintain a life outside her caregiving responsibilities. The Long Hello demonstrates how caregiving creates an opportunity to experience the change in a relationship that illness necessitates, one in which joy, innocence, and profound intimacy can flourish.

Written in spare, beautiful prose, largely in the form of a dialogue, The Long Hello exquisitely captures the intricacies and nuances of a daughter’s relationship with her mother.

I almost quit when I reached the halfway point, but since it's a very short memoir, I decided to continue. In spite of the terribly sad subject matter, the author does a nice job conveying her frustration and love as her mother's caretaker. Dementia or Alzheimer's is never definitively named, but the illness is there and as an only child, the author is the sole caregiver. She handles her mother's confusion and questions with grace and patience. I liked the book, but didn't love it.

January 26, 2018

Looking Back - Sights Unseen

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons
Published November 1st 1996 by Avon (first published January 1st 1995)
Finished in July 1997
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Kaye Gibbons' award-winning novels of Southern family life have won rave reviews coast to coast. Now, she tells the "story of family dislocation and crisis in restrained prose of unflinching clarity, with a honing eye for the small domestic details that conjure a time, place and emotional atmosphere." (Publishers Weekly)

To the people of Bend of the River Road, Maggie Barnes is "the Barnes woman with all the problems." To her family, she is the unpredictable wife, elusive mother, and adored daughter-in-law, and to her maid, Pearl, she is the mistress who must be cared for like a child.

Between the suicidal lows and delirious highs, young Hattie Barnes struggles to find a place in her mother's heart. She observes her mother's vain attempts at normalcy, and then watches as she is driven off to the hospital psychiatric ward. Only later will Hattie discover the deep-seated hopes and fears of the woman she loves unconditionally, and her inevitable connection to her family's past.

In heartfelt and potent prose, through Hattie's hushed voice, Sights Unseen tells the story of a troubled relationship and the courage it takes to see it through.

My Original Notes (1997):

Good, but not great. A quick read, but not light. Heavy theme - mentally ill woman with two children and a husband. Told from daughter's perspective. Depressing. Southern family. Hattie, Maggie's daughter, is desperate for a normal mother who will love her.

My Current Thoughts:

This is the fifth and final book by Kaye Gibbons that I read in 1997. All were read within just a couple of months of each other and the details of this particular novel are long forgotten. It sure sounds pretty bleak!

January 25, 2018

Blogmate Visit!

Look who came to town! 

You may not recognize Robin (or her husband Byron), but you might recognize her blog, A Fondness For Reading, which I've been following for almost 11 years. I have enjoyed reading Robin's thoughts on the books she's read, as well as her posts about her home, garden and community near Portland, Oregon. What a joy to finally get the opportunity to meet in person! We had a delightful visit and even ventured out to the bluff, in spite of the rain.

My mom is also a faithful follower of Robin's blog, so they enjoyed chatting about books and Robin's mom (who is also a voracious reader), as well. 

Thanks so much for taking time out from your birthday vacation, Robin. We're looking forward to visiting you now!

January 20, 2018

The Book That Matters Most

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood

20106 W.W. Norton
Finished on February 22, 2017
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

An enthralling novel about love, loss, secrets, friendship, and the healing power of literature, by the bestselling author of The Knitting Circle.

Ava’s twenty-five-year marriage has fallen apart, and her two grown children are pursuing their own lives outside of the country. Ava joins a book group, not only for her love of reading but also out of sheer desperation for companionship. The group’s goal throughout the year is for each member to present the book that matters most to them. Ava rediscovers a mysterious book from her childhood—one that helped her through the traumas of the untimely deaths of her sister and mother. Alternating with Ava’s story is that of her troubled daughter Maggie, who, living in Paris, descends into a destructive relationship with an older man. Ava’s mission to find that book and its enigmatic author takes her on a quest that unravels the secrets of her past and offers her and Maggie the chance to remake their lives.

I really enjoyed this book! I was quickly drawn into the story and was happy that the author had her characters actually discuss the books they chose for their book club rather than just use the meetings as a device to establish and develop their relationships. One of the character's unwise decisions made me feel frustrated and impatient with her immaturity, and the plot was somewhat predictable, but overall I savored the story, enjoying my time reading, drawing out the finale until I could no longer keep from finishing.
Ava glanced around the room, at John wearing his befuddled expression; and Monique nodding enthusiastically; and Ruth standing there gripping her index cards, flustered; and Honor lecturing them; and Diana with her dramatically made up eyes and dark red lips; and Kiki taking notes in her Moleskine; and Cate, such a good friend for letting her come here in the first place, sitting back and listening to their voices rise in their love of books. The sight of them all filled Ava with a warmth and comfort she had not felt in a long time.

What reader doesn't enjoy a book about bookstores or book groups? I am such a sucker for this sub-genre and have read quite a few entertaining novels and thought-provoking memoirs in this category, many of which that have expanded my TBR shelves with even more to read. The following are the books that Hood mentions in her story:

Pride and Prejudice
Like Water for Chocolate
The Great Gatsby
Anna Karenina
One Hundred Years of Solitude
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Lord of The Rings
The Golden Notebook
Dinner at The Homesick Restaurant
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The Leopard
Dr. Zhivago
The House of Mirth
As You Like It

Ever since I finished reading The Book That Matters Most, I've been pondering the title, wondering what one book matters most to me. What an impossible question! It's like asking me what is my favorite book. Or who is my favorite author. It's futile to try to narrow it down to a single answer because so much depends on when I read the book and what was going on in my life. So many books have touched me in one way or another for a variety of reasons. And yet, if I had to give one answer I would pick Neil Peart's memoir, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road. (Yes, that Neil Peart, the drummer for Canadian rock band, Rush.) I read it shortly after we lost our daughter and it was the first book about grief that had me nodding my head in complete agreement. All my thoughts and feelings were echoed in Peart's own words. He had not only lost his daughter, but ten months later his wife died, as well. He knew grief. And he was able to convey to me, through his own stories, that I would not only survive this unbelievable pain and suffering, but ultimately come to enjoy life once more. He was right.

I have since read Ann Hood's latest book, Morningstar: Growing Up With Books and in the final pages she says,
This is why we all read, isn't it? To know the world and ourselves better. To find our place in that world. Even if you did have access to readers and guidance on what to read, even if you grew up in a family that loved to read and owned shelves of books, still, still, one day a book falls into your hands -- perhaps it's Beloved or A Wrinkle in Time or A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; perhaps it's Great Expectations or Pride and Prejudice -- whatever book it is, it falls into your hands at just the right moment when you need to read it. It transforms you. Perhaps it lifts you up when you are at your lowest; perhaps it shows you what love is, or what it feels like to lose love; perhaps it brings you places far away or shows you how to stay put when you need to.

January 19, 2018

Looking Back - Cause of Death

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell
Kay Scarpetta #7
1996 Berkley
Finished in June 1997
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

It is New Year's Eve, the last day of Virginia's bloodiest year since the Civil War. Dr. Kay Scarpetta plunges into the murky depths of a ship graveyard to recover the very human remains of Ted Eddings, an investigative reporter. What kind of story was Eddings chasing below the icy surface of the Elizabeth River? And why did Scarpetta receive a phone call from someone reporting the death before the police were notified? She soon discovers that Eddings' murder is merely the first layer of something much deeper --- a labyrinthine conspiracy that will put all of her criminal and forensic knowledge to the test like never before. For Scarpetts, the real challenge won't be cataloging the growing number of dead bodies, but preventing herself and those she loves from becoming the next victims.

My Original Notes (1997):

Good - Almost wonderful, but not quite. I kind of got bored with it toward the last third. Cornwell tends to state the obvious or spends too much time on details. Who cares what kind of mushrooms and pasta she (Kay Scarpetta) uses?! A good summer/beach read - not literature, that's for sure.

My Current Thoughts:

This is the seventh installment in the series and I'm fairly sure that I read the previous six. I don't think I've read any others in the series, which has now reached a total of 24 titles. It might be fun to go back and listen to the audiobooks and continue with the series. I do remember that I liked the characters (Kay, Lucy, Pete Marino, and Benton Wesley).

January 18, 2018

2017 Year End Survey & Top Ten List

2017 was quite an eventful year for me and my husband. We both retired, sold our house (in one day!), and moved from Lincoln, Nebraska (after almost 25 years!) to the Oregon coast. Oh, and we bought a 19 foot travel trailer, which I learned how to back up and pull behind our pickup truck without too many new gray hairs. It's been a great adventure and we are both very happy to be able to join my soon-to-be 85 year old mother in her gorgeous home on the coast. Life is very good.

However, I didn't do much in the way of reading until the latter part of the year. My final count for 2017 is a mere 28 books. How does that compare to previous years? I typically read an average of 60 per year with a high in the 80s and a low in the 30s. Now that I have more free time (but honestly, where do the hours go?!), I'm hopeful that reading will no longer take a backseat. I'm still catching up on my reviews for 2017, so links will be updated as the book reviews are posted.

So, the stats:

Total Books Read: 28

Print Books: 21

Audio Books: 6

Page Count: 6,103 (excluding audios)

Listening Time: 71 hours and 46 minutes

Ebooks: 1

Female Authors: 24

Male Authors: 4

New-to-Me Authors: 18

Fiction: 19

Nonfiction: 9

Classics: 1

Sci-Fi: 0

Mystery/Thrillers: 2

Essays: 2

Memoirs/Biographies: 5

Epistolary: 2

Childrens: 0

Young Adult: 0

Re-read: 4

Borrowed: 9

From My Stacks: 17


5.0 stars: 5
4.5 stars: 5
4.0 stars: 6
3.5 stars: 1
3.0 stars: 6
2.0 stars: 5

Top Ten:

The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons (5/5)

The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs (5/5)

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (5/5)

84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (5/5)

Night by Elie Wiesel (5/5)

News of the World by Paulette Jiles (4.5/5)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (4.5/5)

The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer (4.5/5)

A Celibate Season by Carol Shields (4.5/5)

The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood (4.5/5)

Honorable Mentions:

The Meaning of Names by Karen Shoemaker (4/5)

Under the Harrow by Flynn Berry (4/5)

The Mothers by Brit Bennett (4/5)

A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White (4/5)

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (4/5)

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff (4/5)

To read more about the books I read in 2017, click here.

January 17, 2018

Wordless Wednesday

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For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

January 15, 2018

Mailbox Monday

Wow. I don't think I've shared a Mailbox Monday post since the summer of 2016. I guess I'm making up for lost time! Check out this great stack of new books that arrived last week. I splurged and did a little online shopping with some birthday and Christmas money and found several books that I've been eager to read. I also downloaded a few e-books, but I'll save those for another post.

When I was working at Barnes and Noble, I got A LOT of ARCs and rarely ever bought any books for myself. I can't make a habit of this, but it sure was fun to get the packages and stack these gems on my nightstand. It's going to be tough to figure out which to read first!

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool - This came recommended to me by my sister-in-law. She compares it to Fried Green Tomatoes.

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks by Annie Spence - I listened to the audio and once I finished, I knew I had to own a copy. I can't wait to go back and read it again!

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say by Kelly Corrigan - I have bought and read everything by Corrigan. I know she'll make me cry, but she makes me laugh, too. I love her writing.

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter - I never tire of this time period or subject matter and this book has been on a lot of Best Of lists. Sold.

The Knitting Circle by Ann Hood - I've recently read two books by Hood and I'm eager to read more. This is one of her earlier works, which was recommended to me many years ago.

The Cancer Chronicles: A Story of Transformation and Triumph by Alan Luber - I have actually read this already. Sort of. It's a compilation of emails to friends and family members by Alan Luber (a writer that my husband used to work with), which has now been published by his daughter, Mallory Luber Fannon. I'm looking forward to once again reading these wise and witty letters.

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate - This was another recommendation from my sister-in-law. She knows how much I love historical fiction.

The Crown: The Official Companion, Volume 1 by Robert Lacey - I loved watching this program and can hardly wait until Season 3 is released. Until then, this book is definitely going to satisfy my thirst for royal history.

So, which would you start with?

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.

January 13, 2018

Baked Ziti

I love Italian food, but with the exception of a simple Chicken Parmesan and Spaghetti & Meatballs, it's not usually on our weekly menu. I love Trisha Yearwood's Cowboy Lasagna, but rarely ever make it. (By the way, that post has received the most hits of all my posts with a whopping 19,715 - that is, if Blogger's stats are truly accurate.) I discovered The Pioneer Woman's recipe for Baked Ziti a few years ago, but have only made it a couple of times. Last week, I decided it was time for some gooey, cheesy, yummy pasta and Baked Ziti was at the top of my list. The first time I made this recipe, I used a regular 9x13 glass dish, which was fine, but it was very full.

This time around, I decided to use a disposable aluminum pan, which is a bit deeper. It is definitely better for this huge batch of pasta, but you really have to be careful and support it with a cookie sheet or baking pan. This recipe weighs a ton!

Baked Ziti
The Pioneer Woman


2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole large onion, diced
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 lb. ground beef
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice
2 cans (14.5 oz. each) tomato sauce or marinara sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper, to taste
16 oz. Ziti or Mostaciolli 
1 container (15 oz.) whole milk ricotta cheese
1 and 1/1 lbs. mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Fresh parsley, minced

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for several minutes. Once the onions have softened a bit, add the Italian sausage and ground beef. Cook until browned. Drain the fat.

Add the tomatoes (with their juice) and tomato sauce, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Stir and simmer for 30 minutes. After that time, remove 3-4 cups of the meat sauce to a separate bowl and allow it to cool.

While the meat sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Do not overcook. Drain the pasta and rinse under cool water to stop the cooking process. Allow it to cool.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a separate (large) bowl, mix the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper. Stir together until just slightly mixed. Add the cooled pasta and toss until slightly combined. Add the 3-4 cups of reserved meat sauce, which should now be cool.

Prepare a large casserole dish with olive oil spray or PAM. Add half the coated pasta to the dish. Spoon half of the remaining sauce over the top, then top with half of the remaining mozzarella cheese. Repeat with another layer of the coated pasta, the sauce, and the mozzarella. 

Bake, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes (or until bubbling and the cheese is just beginning to brown). Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

Yield: 12

My Notes:

Ziti vs. Mostaccioli vs. Penne. I don't think it really matters which you use. I usually have Penne Pasta on hand, so that's what I used. 

I blended the whole tomatoes just enough so there weren't a lot of big chunks in the sauce.

I allowed the sauce to simmer for a couple of hours rather than just 30 minutes. 

This really makes a lot, so once the dish had completely cooled, I put a couple of servings in quart-size freezer bags for future meals. We ate some of the leftovers (that weren't frozen) over the next few days and while the sauce was a little bit drier, it was still delicious. You can probably just add some marinara to your leftovers, if you like.

Please visit Beth Fish Reads for Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.

January 12, 2018

Looking Back - The Book of Ruth

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

The Book of Ruth by Jane Hamilton
1989 Anchor Books (first published in 1988)
Finished in June 1997
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Winner of the 1989 PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award for best first novel, this exquisite book confronts real-life issues of alienation and violence from which the author creates a stunning testament to the human capacity for mercy, compassion and love.

My Original Notes (1997):

Very, very good! I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, so much so that I bought her second book, A Map of the World.

The novel wasn't very uplifting and kind of depressing at times. However, it was so well written, I could't put it down. 

Disturbing and beautiful.

My Current Thoughts:

I have no recollection of this book, which is a shame since it's one I apparently enjoyed.

January 11, 2018

Book Club Recommendations

Last month I asked my Facebook friends for recommendations for my book club, which is meeting next week to select the books we'll read this year. I was overwhelmed by the tremendous response, although I guess I shouldn't have been, as most of my friends and relatives share my enthusiasm for reading. But goodness, how to decide which to recommend! Here's the list of suggestions for your perusal. I wish I had the time to include the cover art images and links, but you all know how to use Google so I won't worry about it.

1. The Almost Sisters by Joshilyn Jackson

2. My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

3. If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

4. The Song of Hartgrove Hall by Natasha Solomons (I loved The House at Tyneford, so this one gets my vote.)

5. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (After hearing so many good things about this book, I decided to buy a copy - in hardcover - which I never do!)

6. Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain

7. This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

8. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (recommended twice)

9. The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

10. The Star Thief by Lindsey Becker

11. Origin by Dan Brown

12. The Son by Phillip Meyer

13. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (just snagged a copy of this at the library)

14. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (you can read my review here)

15. Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromanaco

16. We Are All Shipwrecks by Kelly Grey Carlisle

17. White Teeth by Zadie Smith

18. Lincoln In the Bardo by George Saunders (two recommendations)

19. News of the World by Paulette Jiles (I read this last month and loved it)

20. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

21. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

22. The Day the World Came to Town by Jim DeFede

23. Heating and Cooling by Beth Ann Connelly

24. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (this was my #1 read in 2017)

25. The Chilbury Ladies' Choir by Jennifer Ryan

26. The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn

27. The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

28. Nuclear Family by Susanna Fogel

29. Sourdough by Robin Sloan

30. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley

31. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

32. Swing Time by Zadie Smith

33. Born A Crime by Trevor Noah (I just posted my thoughts here)

34. Salem's Lot by Stephen King

35. 7 Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey

36. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

37. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep by Joanna Louise Cannon

38. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

39. The Man He Would Become: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency by James Tobin

40. Roosevelt's Centurions by Joseph Persico

41. Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

42. The Elephant Company by Vicki Croke

43. Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

44. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman (I loved this one!)