Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

For a raw, unfiltered, emotional look at a side of World War II not many are familiar with, try Svetlana Alexievich's "The Unwomanly Face of War".
A winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Alexievich's book looks at the military careers of Soviet women during the war. "Career" may not quite be the proper term, as these women went to war and saw some of the bloodiest, most cruel action any soldier in any nation saw during the Second World War. Many left home at the age of 15 and 16 to do their part against the Nazi invasion of their country.
These women saw action on the front line as nurses, infantry, snipers and pilots, right along side the men. Many found themselves braving the front lines, dragging or carrying wounded soldiers back to the aid stations.
"The Unwomanly Face of War" compiles the first-person narratives of these women, showing the dangers they faced, the emotions they struggled through, and the bravery that saw them through to the end of the war.
For many, the war's end was just as cruel, as they were shunned by their government and ridiculed by their neighbors and townspeople for their actions. Their gallant hours and deeds fell on deaf ears until their encounter with Alexievich and they were able to share their pain and memories.
"The Unwomanly Face of War" is very much in your face and graphic, and a very important look at an area of history that has been far understudied.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

HANDPICKED by Ingrid Carozzi

I love flowers. Unfortunately, I always have a difficult time making flower arrangements. I think my garden provides a good variety and has plenty to pick from (although there is always room for more!) to make some nice arrangements. I wish I could just cut them and stick them in a vase and they would look gorgeous, however they seem to look less than beautiful if you don't put some effort into it. So I really enjoyed looking at this book. The author lists her favorite varieties to use when making arrangements. She also gives instruction on how to use green foliage in your work, suggestions for what king of containers to use, and guidelines for small, medium, and large creations. She uses a lot of beautiful blooms that coincide with the season, so you can make an arrangement with spring, summer, mid-summer, fall and winter flowers. Soooo lovely! I guess I will try again and see what kind of flower arrangement I can come up with.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Based on true events, "Before We Were Yours" tells one family's story involving the Tennessee Children's Home Society and its infamous director, Georgia Tann.  While Tann can be credited with popularizing the idea of adoption, she also ran a network that stole poor children from their families and sold them to wealthy families who wanted a child.

1939: Rill Foss, 12, is the oldest of 5 siblings.  When their mother & father rush to the hospital one night, leaving Rill in charge, strangers show up and take the children to an orphanage.  Conditions are miserable, but Rill is sure that their parents will come back soon to claim them.

Present Day: Avery Stafford was born into a life of status and privilege.  A chance encounter at a nursing home leaves her with questions about her grandmother that she is determined to answer.

Alternating chapters chronicle Rill's and Avery's stories in this very well written book. I highly recommend it!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Travel Book by Lonely Planet

The Travel Book is a beautiful, high quality journey through every country in the world.  Photographed in an awe-inspiring National Geographic style and featuring write-ups, and data of each country by the superb folks at Lonely Planet travel guides, this book is more than just a simple atlas and more than just a simple photography book.  It’s an excellent read for any armchair traveler, with one exception: it might not fit in your armchair. This book is enormous, clocking in at 11x14 inches and about 10 pounds, which makes it better suited for a dining room table than a La-Z-Boy.  But it is also a worthwhile adventure for anyone who’s ever wanted to get a sense of the richness and diversity of all of the countries of Earth. Definitely recommended.

Class Mom by Laurie Gelman

"Class Mom" by Laurie Gelman is a romp through kindergarten from the viewpoint of a class mom; you know, the person that is designated to round up volunteers for treats and events throughout the school year. Gelman approached her subject with vigor, humor and plenty of snark.
She embraces her story speaking from experience, having been an actual class mom herself. Gelman served as a class mom and was even fired from that role. She takes that experience and it applies it to her main character Jen Dixon.
Jen's emails to parents are loaded with sarcasm and the aforementioned snark, and at times are either found hilarious, or offensive, depending on the parents they are sent to. The story, however, does not stay in the world of email alone. "Class Mom" looks at the relationships of parenting - family, friends and getting along with new people. Some of these new people have a few issues of their own that are revealed as the book plays out. At times there is even a little bit of a mystery to be solved.
"Class Mom" takes place during the course of one school year, and it keeps you involved throughout as you go from class event to class event. Sometimes saucy and even a little suggestive, the story is filled with humor and keeps you turning pages to see who you can learn more about next. My wife and I both thoroughly enjoyed it. A great read with school starting up in the next few days.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Always by Sarah Jio

As Kailey Crane leaves a restaurant with her fiancĂ©, she comes face to face with a homeless man whom she recognizes as her former love, Cade.  What has happened to him and why did he disappear from her life so many years ago? Kailey needs answers and sets out to find this man though aware how her search and concern could jeopardize her relationship with her fiancĂ©, Ryan. How did a successful millionaire now live on the streets?  Helping Cade get the care he needs and spending time with him reignites old feelings but she feels love for Ryan too. A love story with some mystery also delves into issues with the homeless and social justice.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

"You Say Tomato" by Joanne Weir

Are your tomatoes starting to ripen rapidly in your garden?  Mine are, and I've found a book full of ideas to deal with all of them.

"You Say Tomato" has information on the basics of peeling, freezing, drying, and canning tomatoes, as well as lots of great looking recipes for sauces, soups, salads, entrees, spreads -- even some desserts and drinks!  I'm excited to get into the kitchen and cook up some tasty tomato dishes!