Sunday, June 30, 2013

Help Thanks Wow by Anne Lamott

My 2 cents:

Have you ever heard of a God box? Anne Lamott explains what she does with hers in a new little volume full of grace, mirth and truth called Help Thanks Wow (The Three Essential Prayers).

I do not know much about God and prayer, but I have come to believe, over the past twenty-five years, that there's something to be said about keeping prayer simple,” says Lamott. “Help. Thanks. Wow.”

I like Lamott's style:

If you told me you had said to God,” she writes. “It is all hopeless, and I don't have a clue if You exist, but I could use a hand, it would almost bring tears to my eyes, tears of pride in you, for the courage it takes to get real – really real. It would make me want to sit next to you at the dinner table.”

Just over 100 pages, this gift of a book is divided into five short sections: Prayer 101 (Prelude), Help, Thanks, Wow, and of course, Amen.

Length: 102 pages

Worth Your Time? Very, and it doesn't take much.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Bridesmaid by Beverly Lewis

My 2 cents:

Beverly Lewis writes about Joanna Kurtz in The Bridesmaid, a 24-year-old Amish girl who harbors a secret, two secrets, actually. She loves to write stories about the Amish people in her notebooks, and she's been exchanging letters with Eben Troyer, an Amish farmer who lives 10 hours away from Hickory Hollow, for over a year. Are Joanna's secrets creating a wedge between Joanna and her younger sister, Cora Jane? Is the prized, antique wedding-ring quilt Joanna receives from her great-aunt a sign?

The Bridesmaid is the second book in Lewis's popular Hickory Hollow series, novels set in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country.

Length: 314 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes.

Monday, June 24, 2013

requiem by Lauren Oliver

My 2 cents:

Lauren Oliver may be the best Dystopian writer of Young Adult Literature out there. Requiem, the final book in the Delirium trilogy, is out this summer, and is hot, hot, hot.
Lena, Alex (who is not dead), and Julian must find their way out of The Wilds as attacks from the “cureds” heat up in intensity and frequency.

Portland's cruel, new mayor is Hana's husband-to-be, and Lena faces danger on every side, even as she learns that feelings make life worth living, as well as messy and complicated. The book's stunning conclusion is still reverberating inside me, days after I've finished reading the final pages.

Take down the walls.”

I will do it if you will do it, always and forever.”

Length: 391 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes!!

Bonus: An exclusive short story for readers about Lena's first love called “alex.” 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Wedding Quilt by Jennifer Chiaverini

My 2 cents:

June is the month for weddings and Jennifer Chiaverini delivers with another bestselling Elm Creek Quilts Novel, The Wedding Quilt. When Sarah's daughter, Caroline, returns home to Elm Creek Manor at age 25 to celebrate her wedding, Sarah is thrown into a “trip down memory lane.”

Reminiscing about Elm Creek, preparing for Caroline's wedding, and opening the manor to a full house of family and guests fills Sarah's week brimming full to overflowing. And, as always, there's a quilt to make – this time, it's a Memory Album quilt to commemorate Caroline and Leo's nuptials.

Length: 321 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, especially if you're a Chiaverini fan or a quilter.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

My 2 cents:

You regular readers of my blog out there (hello and thanks for checking in) know I seldom review books I don't enjoy reading. That said, I enjoy reading some more than others.

If you're looking for a book to read this summer that just plain makes you, well, happy, check out This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. Smith's newest Young Adult novel is set in the spring and summer of 2013 (really) in Henley, Maine. Henley is a small, coastal town where 16-year-old Ellie O'Neill works part-time in an ice cream shop called Sprinkles, and part-time in her mother's Main Street gift shop, where the main attraction is a giant, stuffed red lobster. Ellie's greatest wish is to go to a poetry camp at Harvard University for three weeks at the end of summer, but the $2,000 fee may as well be two million as far as she's concerned.

But, then Ellie gets an e-mail (mistakenly sent to her), and she strikes up a friendship with a virtual stranger, until . . . the summer of 2013 happens. A Hollywood movie is being filmed in small, picturesque Henley, Graham Larkin's coming to town, and Ellie's life is about to change forever.

Length: 404 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, whatever your age is. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

My 2 cents:

pandemonium by Lauren Oliver is riveting. Familiar plot, but riveting, nonetheless. 18-year-old Lena escaped, barely, from a totalitarian futuristic society, where love and passion are diseases that must be “cured.” The Wilds, a place where people live free, is not even supposed to exist. But, Lena discovers it is real when survivors rescue her after she escapes. Her great love, Alex, is not as fortunate.

So Lena must heal and learn to live in this strange, new world without him. When she joins the resistance and is pitted against the leader's only son, who will she trust? Julian? Raven? Herself? Or will Thomas Fineman, president of the DFA (Deliria-Free America), discover Lena and crush the resistance?

Find a copy of pandemonium and dig in to uncover the answers to these burning questions and much, much more. Hint: Lauren Oliver is super-skilled at writing cliffhangers that will leave you gasping.

Length: 375 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, if you're a fan of Dystopian Young Adult literature. Or if you've already read the Hunger Games novels, and need something new to read, while you're waiting for Catching Fire (the movie) to come out this summer. Oliver is the best-selling author of delirium, Before I Fall, and Liesl & Po (for middle readers). Check out her bio and blog for a cool little video chat ("bookish things") at

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Guardian by Beverly Lewis

My 2 cents:

I'm not a Beverly Lewis fan, or at least I wasn't until I read her latest novel, The Guardian. Set in the Amish country of Pennsylvania, The Guardian is the third in Lewis's “Home to Hickory Hollow” series. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lewis has written more than 90 (yes, 90) novels, with over 17 million books in print, published in 11 languages. That's a serious following.

Lewis's work of fiction allows readers a window into the Amish way of life, into the customs, the cooking, the clothing, the language, and the transportation

The horse sets our pace,” said Maryanna, “the tempo of our lives. When he stops for water and feed, we stop and pause for breakfast, and then the noon meal. When he needs to rest on a hot afternoon, we, too, have a natural break in the course of our daily living. And like horses, we to go to sleep early and rise with the dawn.”

Maryanna is a devoted young mother of four small children, who has recently lost her husband to a farming accident. When her little daughter, Sarah, falls out of a buggy and is lost, a vacationing “English” woman finds her. How will this one night's event change the course of all of their lives?

I was sucked in by the end of the first chapter. My guess is you will be, too.

Length: 345 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, but be warned. This book will make you want to get in the kitchen and bake.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy

My 2 cents:

The second best thing about listening to an audio tape of a book set near Dublin, Ireland is that you can hear Ireland in the reader's voice. The best thing is the book itself, A Week in Winter, by Maeve Binchy. Beloved Irish author Binchy died in December 2012 at age 72. This, her last book, is wonderful. Read by Rosalyn Landor, it makes you want to sink into a cozy chair by a warm fire, then jump up and walk on the beach to see the waves and the birds. Which is exactly what the characters in A Week in Winter do.

Binchy weaves a tale of an 18th century stone mansion called Stone House, renovated by an unlikely crew of Irish folks, who form a sort-of family, reminiscent of Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. Located by the sea in western Ireland, Stone House attracts an even more unlikely group of guests in its first week of operation; including an American movie star, an Irish accountant and musician, a nurse and her disapproving, future mother-in-law, two doctors (married to each other), a librarian, a retired school headmistress, and an English couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary.

The advantage of listening to Binchy's story on CD is hearing the Irish lilt bring the characters and place to life. Also, there's learning the correct pronunciation of words like row (for small fight, rhymes with pow, wow and cow), tousled, wizened and duvet.
Turns out I've been mispronouncing those little buggers all my life.

Length: 11 hours (Unabridged, on 9 cds)

Worth Your Time? Yes. And, thank you, Maeve Binchy.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Savannah Seasons by Elizabeth Terry (with Alexis Terry)

My 2 cents:

Good recipes never go out of style, they just season with age. Same with good cookbooks, like Savannah Seasons (Food and Stories from Elizabeth on 37th) by Elizabeth Terry (with Alexis Terry).

Published originally in 1996, the cookbook is a collection of recipes created, honed and served in Elizabeth and Michael Terry's Savannah, Georgia restaurant, “Elizabeth's on 37th”. Each recipe was tested by Elizabeth's daughter, Alexis, and includes bright original artwork by Alexis Terry, as well as stories and cooking tips by both women. Opened in 1981, the iconic restaurant is now operated by brothers Greg and Gary Butch. For many years, the Terry's lived above the restaurant with their two daughters (Alexis and Celeste), a renovated, turn-of-the-century mansion on the corner of 37th Street and Drayton Avenue.

Elizabeth Terry was awarded the James Beard Award in 1995 for “Best Chef in the Southeast” and her restaurant was named one of the Top 25 Restaurants in the Country by Food and Wine Magazine. The cookbook features gourmet Southern recipes for soups, salads, vegetable dishes, fish, shellfish, poultry, meats, sauces, desserts, bread and beverages. The hallmark of Elizabeth's cooking is quality ingredients and fresh herbs.

I do ask that you use the finest of ingredients, but the preparations are not difficult,” advises Elizabeth in her introduction. “Remember to cook with love and have fun in the kitchen.”

Length: 352 pages

Worth Your Time? Yes, especially if you like to read cookbooks. This one has a lot of flavor. Also, Pat Conroy fans will appreciate his remarks in the foreword.