Saturday, April 30, 2011

31. I'll be Seeing You

By:  Margret Mahew
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library

Well this wasn't exactly a Romance novel but it was a nice, well written and well plotted sentimental WWII novel about a woman's search for the American airman who fathered her.  It filled the hole my monthly need for a sappy book very nicely.

Publisher Summary 3
A superbly romantic and moving wartime saga of a young woman's quest to find her American father, formerly a B17 pilot. Juliet Porter loved her mother. She thought she loved her father, too. It is only when her mother dies, leaving her a letter of confession, that she learns the truth: the man who raised her was not her father at all. Instead, her mother, like so many other English girls during the Second World War, fell passionately for an American pilot ? only to lose him in the chaos of the war. With no name, no clues, and only a photograph to guide her, Juliet must learn the truth. Shot down over France in 1944 and presumed killed for so long that Juliet's mother married another man, her father never learned of her existence. But Juliet is determined to find him, and sets out on a journey that will take her from the old wartime Suffolk airfield in England all the way to California, to meet not only her past, but her future

30. Quilters : Women and Domestic Art : An Oral History

By: Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen
Rated 5 Stars
From Library

I find the history of these strong women who learned to make to in the days before Wal-Mart and Shopping Mall's fascinating.

Publisher's Description

Those forms of creativity dominated by women-weaving, potting, quilting-have long been called "crafts," as if to imply that women weren't capable of artistic inspiration. These domestic arts were, however, often the only artistic outlet historically available to women, and the skills were passed down from mother to daughter. Poignantly revealed here, through interviews with quilters all over the Southwest, is how these women gained inspiration for their art from their daily lives. The quilts aren't idle pictures to hang on the wall; they are alive as dynamic parts of everyday life, reflecting family, community and history.

31. Stitched from the Soul : Slave Quilts from the Ante-Bellum South

By:  Gladys Marie Fry
Rated 5 Stars
From Library

This is a fascinating book on this history of quilting by early African American Quilters.  Not very many examples of these quilts survive since the purpose of making them was the need for bedcovers and most saw heavy usage and simply wore completely out.  There are a few examples of the lucky ones that have survived over the years and it's very interesting to see their distinctly styles and to read about the experiences of some of these early quilters.

Product Description

This richly illustrated book offers a glimpse into the lives and creativity of African American quilters during the era of slavery. Originally published in 1989, Stitched from the Soul was the first book to examine the history of quilting in the enslaved community and to place slave-made quilts into historical and cultural context. It remains a beautiful and moving tribute to an African American tradition.Undertaking a national search to locate slave-crafted textiles, Gladys-Marie Fry uncovered a treasure trove of pieces. The 123 color and black and white photographs featured here highlight many of the finest and most interesting examples of the quilts, woven coverlets, counterpanes, rag rugs, and crocheted artifacts attributed to slave women and men. In a new preface, Fry reflects on the inspiration behind her original research--the desire to learn more about her enslaved great-great-grandmother, a skilled seamstress--and on the deep and often emotional chords the book has struck among readers bonded by an interest in African American artistry

28. Breaking In - Breaking Out

By Nicholas Monsarrat
Rated 4.5 Stars
From:  Library

This 2 volume autobiography of Nicholas Monsarrat was published as one book titled Breaking In - Breaking Out in 1970.   I find Monsarrat's writing style very entertaining and his life, while kind of sad overall, still fascinating.  I always wonder what it is about someone's life that makes them turn into a very good writer.  Wistfulness on my part I imagine.

I've read most of what Monsarrat has written and consider this his best work. It is the story of his life, told in glimpses with 5-year intervals and gives the most vivid portrait of the pre-war era (social customs, education, family life and general way of thinking) that I have ever read.  

Monsarrat seems to hold nothing back and gives what effectively amounts to the story of his life, wonderfully condensed. Reading it feels like being inside his head, but he never goes too far. If you are at all interested in the pre-war era, Monsarrat as a person or how other people live and think you want to read this. I knew Monsarrat was a good writer, but the quality of this book still shocked me.


Nicholas Monsarrat was a noted English novelist, best known for THE CRUEL SEA. BREAKING IN, BREAKING OUT is an engaging and candid autobiography in which we follow Monsarrat to Cambridge, the Royal Navy, South Africa and Canada. We learn much about him, much more about the world through which he traveled. Monsarrat resists sentimentality while clearly expressing his hopes and frustrations as a writer and man.

29. Finders Keepers

By:  Fern Michaels
Rated 2 Stars
From:  Library

I try to throw in a Romance novel every month or so just to keep my reading balanced and to keep me from taking myself too seriously and turning into one of those insufferable snooty readers that make everyone laugh at them behind their backs.  Sadly this novel came very close to turning me  into one of those insufferable snooty readers that make everyone laugh at them behind their backs.  It was bad.  Badly written and what was worse, badly plotted.  I finished it but I will never understand why I did.

Jessie Roland always knew that her feelings for her parents--dislike and disgust for her mother, less than love for her father--were anything but what a child should feel, especially for the parents that had given her a privileged childhood filled with private schooling, lavish vacations, and any gift that her heart desired. But try as she might, something always kept her from truly loving the Rolands. Strange dreams of a yellow dog and a stroller hinted at the truth, but Jessie couldn't recall the fateful day when Thea and Barnes Roland had stolen her from her stroller, leaving her pet retriever Jelly to chase after their car for miles, only to return to Jessie's stunned parents without the golden-haired little girl. Now a woman, and armed with a sizeable trust fund, Jessie moves far away from her parents to start a new life in Washington, D.C., where a new job, new apartment, and a new man awaits her. Tanner Kingsley is handsome, charming, and hiding something. Jessie's involvement with him will lead to happiness, heartache, and the full realization of her hidden past--a past she must come to terms with before she can find true peace.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

27. Building a Home With My Husband

By Rachel Simon
Rated 4 Stars
Format:  Hard Cover
From:  Library

Publisher's Summary
The bestselling and highly acclaimed author of Riding the Bus with My Sister returns with an illuminating and tenderhearted memoir about the unexpected ways a home renovation can change a life.

Rachel Simon's historic home on a charming tree- lined street was hardly ideal. It was too small, too dark, and there was a gaping hole in the dining room ceiling. So when the house is burglarized, Rachel and her husband, Hal, agree it's time to sell. But in a difficult housing market, and with Hal being an architect, they soon realize: Why leave when they can renovate?

Rachel prepares herself for the disagreements and disasters that can accompany a major home renovation. But what she isn't prepared for is the emotional journey that will blow open the seal around everything she thinks she knows about herself, about family, and about the misunderstandings and resilience of love. From Hal's first design sketch to the last stroke of paint, memories of a difficult childhood, friendships left behind, challenges with siblings, and an improbable path to marriage come bursting out. Once the dust settles, Rachel is astonished by the many gems revealed along the way—and comes to discover profound insights about the construction, demolition, and renovation of personal connections.

26. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

By:  David Mitchell

Rated 4.5 Stars
Format:  Audiobook
Currently Listening

Publisher's Summary

The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancée back in Holland.
But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur, until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

25. West From Home

By Laura Ingalls Wilder
Rated 5 Stars
From: Library
Format:  Hard Cover

Laura Ingalls Wilder had a huge impact on my lifelong reading tastes.

Publisher Summary

Letters written by the author of the Little House books to her husband reveal her impressions of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition:"It is like a fairyland."So Laura Ingalls Wilder described her 1915 voyage to San Francisco to visit her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. Laura's husband, Almanzo, was unable to leave their Missouri farm and it is her faithful letters home, vividly describing every detail of her journey, that have been gathered here. Includes 24 pages of exciting photographs and completely redesigned jacket art. Children's Books of 1974 (Library of Congress)

Saturday, April 2, 2011

24. Minding Frankie

By:  Mave Binchey
Rated: DNF

I have always liked Maeve Binchey and the description sounded good.  Therefore I was very surprised by the fact that this book didn't hit a single chord with me.  Boring!  I couldn't force myself to listen past 60 minutes and that was after a couple of tries.

Publisher Summary 
Maeve Binchy is back with a tale of joy, heartbreak and hope in a close-knit Dublin community.

When Noel learns that his former flame is terminally ill and pregnant with a child she claims is his, he agrees to take care of the baby girl once she’s born. But as a recovering alcoholic whose demons are barely under control, he can’t do it alone. Luckily, he has an amazing network of family and friends who are ready to help: love-starved Lisa, who becomes his round-the-clock partner in little Frankie’s care; his American cousin and pep-talker Emily; and the many eager babysitters from the neighborhood, including old friends like Signora and Aidan, Dr. Declan and his parents.

The unconventional arrangement works out beautifully—until a nosy social worker becomes convinced that Frankie would be better off in a foster home. Now it’s up to everyone in town to persuade her that each of them has something special to offer when it comes to minding Frankie.