Friday, October 20, 2017

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

Fans of historical fiction -- here's a book for you!  Ken Follett's 3rd installment in the "Pillars of the Earth" series takes place in the years 1550 - 1610, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth.  Religious intolerance reigns throughout Europe, and the various royal families and their courts have endless plots against one another.

The book follows the descendants of the original Kingsbridge families (from "Pillars"), and Follett inserts them into key moments from the period.  We encounter the tensions between the followers of Elizabeth and Mary, Queen of Scots, witness royal assassination attempts, the smuggling of Catholic priests into England, the smuggling of French language Bibles into France from Switzerland, sea battles, and a bit of the Spanish Inquisition. 

What a turbulent time in history!  It really comes down to those who advocate religious tolerance against those who would impose a state religion upon their citizens, and Follett portrays it all in a compelling, readable book.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

200 Best Panini Recipes

I just picked up this book and thought, "Hey, I have a little panini appliance!
So I began browsing and wow, what a lot of recipes you can make if you have the time and the imagination. You can make breakfast... I saw a wonderful French Toast Panini. There are sections on beef, pork, chicken, and seafood, not to mention Vegetarian Paninis. There are also Leftovers Paninis and Paninis for Kids. Don't forget dessert! Yep, there are those too. Time to try it!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Just to clear it up before you even ask the question—yes, it’s that Tom Hanks.  He’s decided to try his hand at writing short stories and this book is his first collection of those.  All of the short stories are independent works but tied together by the fact that they all, in some manner, feature a typewriter or typewriting as a plot point.  Released to rave critical reviews, this book is a new step into fiction writing for a person who could be considered the “everyman” actor of our time.   It’s a short story collection and, since the stories are short, what have you got to lose?   Definitely worth a look, especially if you are a fan of Tom Hanks.  If it’s anything like his acting, his voice will come through loud and clear, no matter the scenario.  Verdict: It’s worth a shot.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dodge City by Tom Clavin

Tom Clavin's Dodge City fills in many-a-gap in the transient lifestyles of Wyatt Earp, the Earp family, and Bat Masterson. If there is any one thing you pick up from reading this book is that nobody stayed in one spot for very long in these families; and, that seemed to be a trend for people in the American West of the 1870s and 1880s.
Clavin does due diligence in keeping tabs on all branches of the Earp family tree. He does a nice job of highlighting their stay in Pella and relating some anecdotes that I wasn't that familiar with concerning the Earps and their marriage to Pella-area girls - very interesting.
You will also find Wyatt Earp's personal life a bit challenging too - was he married, wasn't he, and to whom, when? Not a part of the Earp history many know about. Clavin is also very fair with Earp, making a point that he was not the blood-thirsty killer that many seem to see him as.
Masterson is even more of a character than Earp. Both feared and respected, he held as many jobs in as many locations as Earp, but he would eventually get out of The West and spend time in the newspaper business in New York City.
Clavin does an excellent job in covering these men, there relationship with each other, and with many of the "characters" of Dodge City and the western United States.  Dodge City is not just about the town itself, it covers a lot of ground with the people who passed through there as well.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Grohl

Mom of rock star Dave Grohl (Foo Fighters frontman and Nirvana drummer) meets with other rock moms to hear childhood stories of their future music stars.  We learn how they were drawn into musical careers, and what paths-including obstacles-they took as they achieved things they never expected.  If there is a creative child in your life, whether musically talented or something else, familiar scenes and challenges can be found in these stories.  Parent perspective makes this an interesting read!


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

Many of us have dogs and cats as family members, but for Bailey, she had a woodland snail as a comforting companion while struggling through an unknown illness.  Bailey chronicles her observations of this often-overlooked small animal given to her by a friend.  She checked out literature to learn more about snails and became attached to it.  Her connection with this tiny being made her feel less alone despite her isolation.  The snail completed a life cycle while being kept in the terrarium by her night stand!  Animal and nature lovers will enjoy Bailey's story.