Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Bartender's Tale by Ivan Doig, 414 pages

This is billed is a Western, which frankly, is not my genre of choice.  Set in a small Montana town in 1960, it may be a Western but it is also a coming of age story.

Rusty lives with his bachelor father, Tom, who owns the locally famous bar, the Medicine Lodge.  Rusty's mom left when Rusty was just a baby, but the two do just fine on their own.

The summer Rusty turns 12 brings changes to their lives.  This is a slow paced tale that totally captivated me from the beginning. 

Thursday, April 13, 2017

A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen, 50 pages

This is a little gem of a book that reminds readers to enjoy family, nature, ourselves . . .life.  It includes lovely pictures too.

I picked this up at the library's book sale last fall and finally took the time to read it.  Note to self: maybe a clue that I really needed it!  There is a post-it in the front from a previous reader or giver of the book that says "deserves to be read as a weekly reminder of what life should be."  Yep, couldn't have said it better myself.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Mischling by Affinity Konar, 344 pages

This is a World War II novel that tells the story of identical twin girls, Pearl and Stasha.  They are sent to Auschwitz, along with their mother and grandfather, in September 1944.

As they come off the train, Dr. Josef Mengele selects the girls for "the Zoo," the area of the camp used for his experiments.

Mischling was the legal term used in Nazi Germany to denote a person who had both "Aryan" and Jewish ancestry, but the term was never explained in the book.

There is not just death and horror in this book, there is some surviving and triumphing also.  I do have to admit though, I am glad I am done with this one.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino, 208 pages

I am a HUGE fan of the HGTV show, Fixer Upper, so when I saw this book come through I knew I had to read it.  And you know what?  It's just about as adorable and sweet and fluffy as you'd imagine that Chip & Joanna were in person.  They built their business from the ground up and appeared to have a few struggles along the way before finding the success and fame that starring in a reality TV show granted them.  There really wasn't a lot of meat to this book.  No decorating tips.  No business tips.  And most conflict was glossed over.  I skimmed the last 40 pages or so.  In my opinion, there weren't enough pictures of their projects.  Fans of Fixer Upper will likely still want to check this out though.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Bicycles: Love Poems by Nikki Giovanni 109 pages

A beautiful, funny, witty, sad, hopeful, inspiring book of poems by the poet Nikki Giovanni.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings and Life by Kate McDermott, 352 pages

This is a cookbook with a dash of philosophy added.  I know how to make a pie, but I am still seeking the perfect pie crust and Kate McDermott shares lots of recipes for crusts and pies, along with step by step directions and tips both for pie making and life.  To sum up her technique: Chill. 

For pie makers, she offers a variety of crusts, including gluten-free and vegan.  Don't think you'll just get fruit pies here, there are also some meat pie recipes too.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, so much so, that I actually bought the book which is almost unheard of for me.  

Ego-tripping and Other Poems for Young People by Nikki Giovanni, 37 pages

The award winning poet, Nikki Giovanni, is visiting St. Joseph in April and will be offering a public presentation on April 6th, on the MWSU campus. 

I didn't want to miss this chance to meet Ms. Giovanni but wanted to brush up on her poetry so checked out some books from the library.  This book, originally published in 1974, is still relevant today and is about growing up black.  Race, and how we treat each other, is still an unresolved issue and that makes this book of poetry timeless, for now.

The Magnolia Story by Chip & Joanna Gaines with Mark Dagostino, 208 pages

I don't get HGTV at home but that doesn't mean I haven't heard of Fixer Upper and Chip and Joanna Gaines.  This seemed like a fun book to listen to, and I was not disappointed.  Read by the Gaines, it was a treat.

They talk about their lives before and after they met, their faith and of course, their business.  They just seem like good people and the book makes me want to watch their show more than the little snippets I've caught here and there so far.  

Friday, March 24, 2017

Faithful by Alice Hoffman, 258 pages

Hope. I tend to love books that are hopeful.  In this story, 17 year-old Shelby practically walks away from an accident that leaves her best friend incapacitated.

Shelby was always popular and the tragedy plunges her into depression and guilt and a belief that her life is over, or should be.

This is a story about Shelby eventually learning how to enjoy life again.  5 stars and thumbs up from me.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson, 396 pages

This book was originally published in Sweden and was translated into English by Rod Bradbury.  It is a comic caper about Allan Karlsson, who escapes from a nursing home on his 100th birthday.

First stop?  The bus station where a criminal with a suitcase full of cash needs to use the bathroom and entrusts Allan with the suitcase.  Oops.

The book fluctuates between the present and Allan's storied life.  Remember how Forrest Gump was present for A LOT of stuff in history?  Yeah, so was Allan.  I rate the book enjoyable, but not lovable.